Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Emblems, Time and Frustration

I rarely feel the inclination to talk about patches anymore. So many people cover them that I feel I have no need to add my voice to the crowd. Yet, sometimes, things pop up that I just feel I need to talk about, for no other reason than that typing it out and submitting it to the populace for scrutiny is a way to sort out my feelings. And so, I now present to you my personal feelings on the new Emblem system as it is proposed now for 3.2.

For some background, I'm a casualcore raider of Ulduar 25 and ten. I spend four or five nights a week in raids, though only three of those nights are progression raids and the others are simply alt-gearing raids I run in to give over geared heals or Ulduar 10 because for some reason I find Flame Leviathan to be fun as all get out (especially in a motorcycle OMG). I log in other times to lead no-drake OS since I still need Valorous gloves, sometimes do WG and otherwise level alts or do a couple dailies. Three nights a week for three hours I spend healing Ulduar 25 on normal modes with only relatively competitive progression without strict attendance requirements (thus casualcore).

When the Emblem change was announced as in the works for 3.2, I was honestly stunned. I found it to be...rather disheartening. The idea of banging my head against progression content and scraping together enough conquest badges for one piece of T8.5 after a month of wiping, grinding and pushing and then finding out that I could spend those three hours a night train-killing heroics for more benefit is disheartening, to say the least. Why should I push and frustrate myself with Ulduar and compete against other people and RNG for gear, when I could get competition-free heroics gear? Especially with the new content coming out, as Ulduar 25 gear will prepare you for normal 25 T9 level (it would have to).

At this point, I do Naxx 25 once a week. I cannot stand Naxx anymore, but it is something that is important for a lot of people who need to gear alts, new mains or even their current raiding mains with that last piece off of KT, so I go to be helpful. At times I am gearing up Bellbell just for something else to do, but a lot of the time I have to switch to Bellwether because her geared heals are needed to offset the difficulties that come with people playing Alts. I do this to help the guild, but with the hope that eventually we won't do Naxx anymore, that it won't be a raid night that rewards DKP and people will just pick it up on their own. I don't want another reason to go into Naxx. I don't want it to be a required night again just so people can attain a ton of Conquest badges quickly to get two piece T8.5. I don't want another reason to visit old, tired content. It invalidates Ulduar 25 as a farming instance once a new raid comes out, since Naxx is faster, easier, and has more badges attached. And, once again, no RNG or competition for emblem loot.

I understand the pull and attraction for people gearing up alts. And, from a progression stand point, I understand this is extremely helpful for people who are switching progression mains. Other people have pointed out that it's only two piece T8.5 and a few other epics. But the thought that a fresh 80 could rival my Druid in gear by running heroics while I'm smacking my head against a progression wall seems out of whack to me. You would almost get more benefit (time versus reward) from running 25 Naxx than fighting to Yogg. For an experienced raider in a progression guild or even a casual guild, this is actually helpful as it means more badges, KT loot, and less time spent with less difficulty and less repair bills. Helpful, but mind-bogglingly boring.

I also feel that this more encourages people to skip content, rather than play it. If you can gear up past Ulduar level through Emblems (Be Imba has placed my gear level, wearing a mash-up of H Naxx and Uld 10 loot at past H Uld), why visit it when you could skip right to the higher, newer tier of progression? There's no step ladder, so you're actually missing content. Isn't this counter-productive? Why would I bother running the coordination-reliant Malygos 25 when I could hop right into Uld 10 with my non-RNG-based-heroic-farmed-non-competitive T8.5 helm and chest, and T8 equivalent neck, pants and gloves? Or why even do Naxx 25 at all if you don't have the people or feel like joining/making a PUG, when Naxx 10 epics and heroic badge loot will let you waltz into Ulduar 10 or 25, perhaps even T9 introductory level?

I admit, as well, that the thought of someone in quest greens and two-piece T8.5 is...unsettling. I understand with Vault there's a lot of discrepancy, but this will just blow it out of the water, especially as Vault gearing relies completely on dumb luck. I would certainly take advantage of it on any alts I level if it is, indeed, implemented, and people don't seem to realize that this change would be extremely beneficial to raiding guilds. Suddenly have no mages, but too many Druids? Pull the one with the mage alt through Naxx 25 and 10 a few weeks and they've got enough badges and decent gear to be competitive. It's crazily better for casualcore to hardcore raiders than it is for strictly casual people, and yet I still don't want the change.

I guess I just don't like handouts. I raid for the sense of accomplishment, which I suppose is why I don't like Naxx anymore. I don't find any feeling of accomplishment or sense of earning my gear when I go into content I farmed as a fresh 80 and get T8.5 for it. I suppose, at the root of the problem, is that it feels condescending, and I do not like being condescended to. I do not like to just show up and Blizzard to go "Aw, how cute, you killed King Ymiron. Here you go, sweetie, some T8.5 and a popsicle. You run along now, go get 'em, Tiger." I don't want things easier, I don't want to be forced into continuous Naxx farming to remain competitive (like Kara farming of BC, it gets old really, really fast).

Some have mentioned that this is how the PvP system works, so it's how PvE should work, too. However, this is completely off-base. The raids don't scale with each patch. While each season your same opponents get tougher with better gear, Naxx does not get an upgrade each patch. In fact, more and more content is nerfed so it is easier and requires less gear, less coordination. You're doing less for more, whereas in PvP it's the complete opposite. You need better gear to do the same thing each season in PvP; in PvE you do not, and in fact can get by with less. To do the new thing you need more gear, but there were already steps put into place before that new thing that provide the gear. I could understand giving better gear rewards if they buffed heroics and Naxx, but when they're leaving it the same? It actually makes less sense than the PvP system.

So there's my two pennies chucked into the pile. I recommend also reading Tree Bark Jacket's opinion on the state of the game and how hardcore raiders are perceived because of it; she's done a fine job and I agree with her wholeheartedly. I'm honestly rather sick of people devaluing others' opinions because they disagree or dislike the changes. You're entitled to your opinion and so is everyone else. Agree to disagree, but telling people flat out to shut up and belittling them by calling them elitist or wanting to be a special snowflake or all the other sorts of demeaning language because they do not like the changes (or calling them "casual in an insulting tone on the flipside) is simply rude and hypocritical.


Averna said...

Thank you. 100% agreed.

Kayeri said...

The great thing about WoW is that there IS room for us all, no matter how hardcore, casual, or non-raider type. That's why we have 11million or however many now playing this game.

As for the badge changes... I think in the end it will be good... I just cant rid myself of a nagging feeling that its just being done too quickly, perhaps they should have waited a few more months yet. There is an element of de-valueing the previous content that can't be written off, it's true and I think all us raiding types feel that on some level.

But that feeling isnt going to stop me from taking advantage of it, certainly not. If an item is an improvement for me, you can bet I'll be happy to get my hands on it.

In the end, its the player, not the gear. Access to better gear is not going to turn anyone with mediocre skills into a dps, tank, or healing machine. That's why overall, this is a positive change.

Rhidach said...

I agree completely. In BC I never really raided, so as you'd imagine I have a huge sense of accomplishment right now with my gear, and all the hard work I put into acquiring each piece feels a bit tainted now that someone can achieve the same level of gearing with a fraction of the effort I put into it.

I can see the need for new 80s to get some kind of boost to a higher iLevel so they can experience the new content, but to go from iLevel 200 to 226 as the entry-level raiding number is a bit of a leap. 213 or even 219 would have made more sense, I think.

Shawn said...

To chime in with my perspective from the other side of the changes - I'm not happy with them either.

My little group of friends and I are just now running our first heroic 80. We only play about 1 night a week and just putter along at our own pace. Regardless of our part-time pace, we still enjoy the allure of content ahead of us - the carrot and stick if you will. However, system changes like this really take the sparkle out of the objective. Each time Blizzard makes this game easier it just feels a little emptier. They aren't doing us slow progress folks any favors at all, just making us feel lame.

Ratshag said...

Is a very solid, well-writtens post. I's very impressed (though not surprised).

I thinks the buggers what'll benefit mostest (assuming Blizz sticks with the current plan) is gonna be thems tryin' ta catch up to a guild raid out in T9 country, and them guilds what'll be able to get new blood and not haveta ninja raiders from other guilds ta make up fer attrition. As the gap between the raid and fresh 80s gets longer and longer, I think something needs ta be altered fer ta keep the fresh meat coming in. Jumping straight up ta EoC's seems kinda a lot, though. Can't help but think what merging EoH's inta EoV's woulda been enough.

Fer guilds like me little uber-casual one, is gonna be mad-crazy loots we ain't gonna know what ta do with. Sure, a T8.5 helm would look damn spiffy on me head, but I sure won't need it fer ta do H-VA.

Pookies said...

First of all, I find the term "casualcore" adorable and I am adopting it for my own guild.

I really appreciate Shawn's insight above. Dumbing down the game is really a hit to everyone, not just people who are ahead of the progression curve. Raiding is a time commitment, and those who don't have the time to learn how to play their classes or execute these encounters should not be able to succeed. Those of us who put the time in, whether it's a couple hours a week or 25 hours a week, should be able to look at what achievements we have earned and be proud of them--instead of being afraid that, due to nerfs, anybody is going to be able to sail through tomorrow what we have bled, sweat, and cried to do today. We may be selfish, but we are justified IMO.

Kayeri said...

Ratter's point is also a very good one that I hadn't considered.

In my case, its a very nice thing since my guild isn't even running Naxx25 anymore and I havent found a reliable pug yet to finish gearing my rogue alt. This way she won't fall too far behind the curve so I can continue to have her available at need, or just for a fun run here and there.

Thanks, Ratters. :)

Kalon said...

This is a really good point that I didn't address or even think about. I stated that Naxx would be great for farming badges - but doesn't that, well, kinda suck?

Doesn't it suck a bit to skip over Ulduar completely and do the next raid? Or just do Ulduar hard modes?

I'm trying to think about what my experiences were like in TBC. We started very late - March 2008 - and had Illidan down in June, IIRC. And there was no way in hell that we would have been able to do that without badge loot to fill in some of the gaps and boost us up here and there, and be able to farm T6 early content while working on hard T5. At the same time, there was definite incentive to go back and do T5 content. I think one of my bigger problems is not that you can get 226 level gear from heroics; you could essentially do the same in 2.4, and that was a good thing. No, I think the problem is that you simply can get tier gear and basically get every single slot covered adequately.

I think that if they toned down the amount of things obtainable from the vendors while doing this change, it would be good.

And I really hope that they don't add tier gear to the triumph vendors.

Talifalana said...

I'll start out by stating that I am not a raider. Never have been and probably never will be. So, take this comment with that in mind and weight it as you will.

I believe that those that are progressing through current end-game content should have a step up on the rest of us because of their dedication. It's not easy working through the content the first time.
There are always going to be players and guilds that are "above" everyone else.

Now I have no idea what the percentage of players raiding end-game content is but I bet it's not very high. 1-2% ? Maybe 3%? I asked this question on The Rawrcast Podcast #24 (http://rawrbitchrawr.blogspot.com/) and the hosts responded with 1-2%. If anyone has any real numbers on this, please correct if I'm wrong.

This group (whatever the percentage) is a very vocal group. They are the players who have websites, blogs, and podcasts devoted to this game. They are on the fine edge of performance where almost every change in every patch effects them greatly.

According to this group, most of these changes are bad for the game. According to 1-2% of the player base these changes are bad for 100% of the player base. Now 2% of ~ 11 million people is still a large number but the ratio is still very small. No matter what, a vast majority of the player base is not at end-game content and quit frankly these changes do not effect them.

Would some of these players like to see the inside of Ulduar? I'm sure they would. Do some of these changes allow this to happen? Possibly. Are these players going to progress through this content quickly? I would say not. They still have to find other competent players to group with and still have to fight the fights.

The real question becomes: Does this devalue what progression guilds have accomplished? The answer to that question is highly debatable by both sides. The next question is: Is this fair? Wow. Fair. That's even higherly (I know that not a word but I think it should be) debatable than the first question.

My thought is (bet you were wondering when I would get to the point) that this is good for non end-game players. There. I said it. *cringes awaiting barrage of flames and noob-bombs*

One last thing. I've noticed that many end-game players (mainly from blogs and podcasts that I have access to) are saying that end-game content is too easy and they are finishing it to quickly. Mmmmm. Some of these same players are also complaining that less equipped and less skilled players are doing the content as well. Mmmmm. Why are they upset when others do the content as well if it is so easy?

Disclaimer: As stated at the beginning of this post, I am not a raider and I am nowhere near being a raider. This are just my opinions from my point of view. That's what comments are for :)

Bell said...

@Talifalana - My guild has no hardmodes down, hasn't downed all the keepers, hasn't even seen Yogg on ten man, and is only mildly competitive with the rest of the server. There are many, many players in the same range as me. And I am perfectly content with how this is now. I am fine with the fact that I cannot simply hurl my Paladin alt into content that outgears her. I hate this change, even with a bunch of alts who are getting decently high in level.

I have heard from many casual players that they dislike this change. It's not just the 1-2% who raid end-game hardmodes.

Copernicus said...

I like the concept of the change, but not the stated implementation. I don't think Emblems of Conquest should drop from everywhere. They should leave emblems drop as they are, and have a trade up system to "buy" higher tier emblems.

Someone mentioned seeing raiders in T8.5 mixed with greens. I honestly don't think this will happen. You still have to run lots of dungeons to get the badged needed for the T8.5. Most of the greens should be replaced by blues and likely several purples by then.

I also think the emblem prices of items will go up. They're low now, because of the limited number of emblems available, but once they start dropping left and right, it will be completely out of preportion, which means even more heroic farming for emblems to get that one piece of T8.5.

YoungMasterCK said...

Couple thoughts...

First this change is great for me, I will give me something to do in WoW, other than level and alt or something. Let me explain, I can't raid. It is not a question of skill, or time. It's a question of the ability to commit to a regular schedule. This is true for most of my guild, part of the reason we are in a guild together. So, we run 5 mans, and lately we are rather bored. We still run 5 man's, but we have all the gear from it, have all the useful items from the EoH, and really just do it for fun. Unfortunately that get's old after a while. Recently we have lost about half of our guild to people moving on to other MMO's or just being bored with WoW.

Second I think this change has far more to due with 3.3 and the next expansion. At the start of WotLK blizz had a problem. You had people in sunwell gear blowing through the content like it wasn't there, and you had people who had never seen the inside of Kara who were struggling. Personally I think this is the first in a series of changes to prep people for the next expansion to be announced at blizcon.

Jorgen said...

I actually kind of like the badge changes. BC only had a single badge type, and that was my foot in the door to get into raiding in the first place.

I'm in a small guild, just running weekly 10's of Naxx, Ulduar, and Malygos. Naxx is an easy clear, working on Malygos, we can clear FL, Razorscale, XT, Kologarn, (not Ignis :( ) and are nearly there on Assembly of Iron.

We have been going to Ulduar for six weeks, two nights a week and as far as gear drops go, I've gotten two items for my resto druid. True, I do have some 25 pre-Ulduar gear from our guild alliance, but 10's are where I spend most of my time. It's nice to see the bosses, but when doing content for weeks on end for only two items, it gets kind of grating. I can't even buy valor emblem items because I'm only collecting them out of Ulduar 10 from four bosses. With conquest emblems coming out of heroic instances, I can now reward myself for all those weeks of running Ulduar with no upgrades.

We also have players that don't have time to raid on a regular basis hoping for a rare drop so that they can progress to the next raid level while it's still relevant. For these members, they can get decent gear so that when they do have time, they can join a raid and have fun playing a game with people they like.

We had at one point stopped doing Naxx 10, and those people that needed gear from there were pretty much SOL. Now we can happily drop Naxx 10 from our schedule and it won't be as much of a hit. I'm sure we will raid it still, for both drops and conquests but it won't be as urgent or important.

One final point. Bosses will always drop loot, and some it better itemized for specific styles of play or stats that you just can't get from conquest emblems. Ie. there are more options.

Corgii said...

100 billion% agree.

The gear I spent so much time and effort (and tears) to get is being completely nullified by it being spoonfed to people who didn't even spend a fraction of the time I did getting it.

It's a slap in the face :l

Armond said...

The only flaw I see with this argument (and many like it) is that you need... what, 555 emblems in order to deck yourself out in 226s? That's a *hell* of a lot of heroics. I can't help but think most people would do heroics for a while, get their blues and purples, buy three or four pieces of emblem gear, and then get super bored of heroics and start doing raids, at which point they are actually putting in time and effort. It may only be time and effort for two naxx runs and a jump into Ulduar, but I don't think it'll be as bad as some people might expect.

Talifalana said...

@Bell...Didn't mean to offend. Just expressing my opinion as a level 80 non-raider :)

Bell said...

Not offended, just saying :P

Talifalana said...

*wipes sweat from brow*

Adrian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bell said...

I really wish Blogger would write "Comment deleted by comment author" as people seem to keep thinking I'm deleting comments from this page...

Kayeri said...

I'm sorry... I admitted I didn't read that first one carefully... ::chuckle::

Bell said...

@Kayeri - it's no big deal, it's just I would hate for people to think I delete comments simply because I don't like what they say.

Hagu said...

Like a lot of modern discourse, I see too little in the middle. I strongly think this is a "step in the right direction" however I thing there is legitimate points on both sides as to whether it is too large a step and/or too soon.

The PvP Season analogy is more straightforward, but the same does happen in PvE, albeit more slowly and usually with an expansion. What level 60 item was better than a 65 green? Is there anything from Ulduar beside the mace that anyone expects to be better than a level 88 quest reward? Were PvE accomplishments in ZG any less because a level 80 mage now solos it?

So there is a reason to make it easier to level 1-79 and gear up so as to attract new players. But accomplishments that are universal are not accomplished. This seems like an aggressive move towards the acceleration. I believe it is driven a bit by the fact that the 10/25 raid system was flawed. If you had 8-12 friends who were going to be friends regardless of the guild, then 10-man raiding guilds worked great. But unless you saw your guild as a "join us for the first 3 weeks you are 80" gear-up and churn guild, it was tough to find people who were interested in progressing and logging on but not so ambitious as to insist on 25s. As a GM who folded his top 5 on realm 10 man guild said, it was not like hard mode helped. You needed Nax-25 gear to do OS3D, etc.

I think that every boss, in 10/25 and reg/hard needs to have an achievement and date downed recorded. So getting KT down is not the goal; it allows you to differentiate between getting KT down in November 08 in greens versus in November 09 with guildies in T9.

So I think it is *not* a valid complaint about PvE gear being made common (my Isle of Q gear was about as good as what a lot of people had to kill Lady V for. But they did more/sooner than I was expecting with Ulduar not yet farmed by many and the expansion in 2010.

Babael said...

What all the whining people, including me, must understand is that nowadays WOW is no longer about entertainment, it’s about net profit.

Unfortunately, for old school hardcore players like me, Blizzard cares more about their profit than with their level of entertainment/challenge of the game.

Which kind of player do you think Blizzard wants? A lifeless being that spends 30 hours/week raiding and clogging up servers or a five hour/week casual player?

They both pay the same but one costs more than the other... It is simple math.

That’s why they made it easier, that’s why they made it more popular, nothing to do with some people’s sense of disconnection with high end game… Since when they started granting wishes to minorities?

Get real. If they could transform it into a fucking PacMan knowing that it would double their players do you really think that they would hesitate?

It’s not about what WE like, it is about what WE pay!

Pookies said...

YoungMasterCK: If you can't commit to a raiding schedule then why do you need access to raid level gear? If you're not enjoying WoW for what you can do in the game with the schedule you can commit to, then you should be playing another game instead of trying to instigate or supporting changes that cater almost exclusively to your type of player.

Furthermore, I don't believe anyone was struggling in T7 on account of their gear or raid experience. Raids that couldn't make any progress in Naxx were just populated with lazy raiders, plain and simple.

Talifalana said...

@Babaela...I think Blizzard made it easier to level from 1-80 so that people could get to and enjoy
the newer content in Northrend quicker.

benji said...

spot on friend totally agree. It's a slap in the face to the work we've done. they're are skipping from heroism to conquest...why not make them drop valorous in heroics!!??

Aertimus said...

I think I will also be adopting the term "casualcore"!

Anonymous said...

You guys who are seeing as a slap in the face are forgetting the bottom line. Blizzard is a company. It exists to make money. If only a small percentage of its subscribers get to see content and/or gear upgrades, then they'll lose people as new games come out.

And giving out gear in an easier manner is not going to make good players of people who truly suck. They'll still suck. Hell we see them now in IF, where you look at some guy who has all his points in one tree, sporting AH greens and one piece of Naxx 25 gear.

Demonspawn said...

Here's what I think. On my server there are only 2-3 alliance 25 raiding guilds with any real level of accomplishment. That leads to a crapton of pugs being available. I've done a number of them as well as my steady 10 man group who is very accomplished and a 25 alliance which has seen Yogg.

Here's what I've found: there are players who can raid and players who can't. It has very little to do with quality of gear and a lot to do with quality of player. There are people who know how to follow directions and those who stand in the pokey-balls and die. Gear won't make much of a difference for those second class of players, they'll just die on harder stuff.

So for the hardcore raider, this is a good thing: You can now Ilevel your alts faster. For the casualcore raider, this helps you get better gear so you can take better shots at harder content with less time involved. For the non-raider, this sucks the most even tho they won't know it... they can get massive Ilevel to keep running heroics. They might get into a pug for higher level content, but they won't be asked back.

So yes, it will kinda suck to see the non-raiders in gear I worked so hard for, but ultimately it will do them little good. They won't have the player skill to be able to raid even if they have the equipment to do so.

That's the aspect of this I don't see anyone else mentioning.

chartroose said...

"Aw, how cute, you killed King Ymiron. Here you go, sweetie, some T8.5 and a popsicle. You run along now, go get 'em, Tiger."

ROFLMAO!!! So, so true.