If you’ve been on the internet, you’ve heard of World of Warcraft. It’s the granddaddy of online gaming, the reason the acronym MMORPG exists and a cash money all star in terms of players, subscription cash, and lonely, lonely shut ins pretending to be badasses in a virtual world to compensate for their own crippling, real-world shortcomings.
Though it boasts over 11 million subscribers worldwide, that number used to be much higher and, according to folks at Blizzard, the maker of the game, there are now more ex-players of WoW than current players. People have discovered the out of doors. Or, more likely, just a different game. Keep on shunning reality, kids.
After WoW’s last expansion, the game lost nearly 1 million subscribers – people are becoming dissatisfied with the game and are leaving in droves. For every system put in place to try to lure new players or keep old ones, it seems even more are getting fed up.
Some speculate this is the natural decline of Warcraft – like your real grandfather it’s confused and tired and people just want it to go away; and it will soon, because it’s decrepit. But some think there are ways to salvage the game, like a cougar in a tight dress trying to pretend it’s not old anymore. And in that tradition, I have some suggestions for Blizz.
The Asshole Server
Warcraft currently offers four types of servers – PVE, PVP, RP and RP/PVP. Doesn’t mean anything to you? S’cool. PVE is “player vs environment” which is the “normal” method of gameplay. You fight monsters and can only fight other players under certain conditions. PVP is “player vs player” where at any time you may be able to fight an enemy player. RP means “nerd” “role playing” where you’re supposed to stay in character at all times and, of course, rp/pvp is a mix of RP and PVP.
The problem with these four server types is that you’re always playing with the same people, despite the mechanics being different. What Blizzard needs to do to improve the quality of gameplay is to add an additional server dimension where you weed out assholes.
Assholes, of course, are the people who demand you be online Tuesdays from 6-9 because you need to raid The Temple of Shweddy Balls and if you’re not there you’re going to be booted from the guild. Assholes have mods to tell them Gear Score and will, upon entering a random dungeon, make fun of your Gear Score before even speaking with you, if your score is even 10 below theirs. Assholes explain how they have 15 level 85’s, including one the same as yours, so you should respec your character according to their suggestions, because they know.
Some call Assholes “hardcore” gamers and there is some crossover, but it is a false syllogism. Many assholes are hardcore gamers but not all hardcore gamers are assholes. But the assholes do need their own server as this is one of the biggest drawbacks for a casual gamer, having to endure the pompous “I don’t realize how sad it is that I’m this arrogant in a video game” attitude of asshole players.
WoW offers chat filters for those who don’t want to see someone in trade chat making jokes about Chuck Norris’ penis. Still, if you go on a foul mouthed rant, someone will report you because WoW is full of whiners. This is exemplified by every content patch when every character suffers a nurf, or downgrade in powers, because players of another class complain (constantly) about how overpowered druids/mages/paladins/warlocks /rogues/shaman/death knights/hunters are. No one ever complains that warriors are over powered. Anyway, back to the point.
WoW frowns on your constant foul language and it will also not allow you to name your character Ballsackius Extremus or Dickstache. And that’s fine on a server where 12 year olds may be playing whose parents will get up in arms if they see their precious angel reading such words, but for the rest of us who want to act like children (but aren’t children) there should be a dedicated raunchy server which, for PR reasons, could be called the “mature” server, or something just as mundane, but really just serves as an excuse to curse like an army of drunken stevedores.
Harder to implement, totally inflammatory and discriminatory, but 100% essential is the need for Blizzard to cut their losses and just remove morons.
Morons likely represent a massive customer base, not just for Warcraft but for arguably every service on earth, but the fact is the morons ruin the game for the non-morons. They don’t ruin it for each other because, like zombies, morons don’t attack each other. Or if they do, no one can tell because the end result is no different than how things started.
Leeroy Jenkins, hero to the moron cause, is just one example of moronicide in the World of Warcraft. Every day idiots are dropping groups right before a boss fight, putting stacks of wool cloth on the auction for 100 gold, starting a new round of the Murloc game in trade chat or begging for gold in a main city. These people suck and are a menace. Better to simply deny them the right to even play the game
Greed is the engine that keeps Warcraft moving. The desire to consume and to attain more things is pretty much the only reward in the game. If you have Green gear you are pursuing Blues. Then Blues give way to Purples and, in some cases, the odd Orange.
You want epic gear and rare flying mounts that can only be attained after days worth of grinding and farming, weeks worth of 25-man raids until the day comes when you are the only person on your server elite enough to wield Lou Bega’s One-Hit Wonderer, an epic, two-handed mace that has a chance on hit to cause your opponent to Mambo while he bleeds from his eyes. The moment you get that weapon, you are the King of your server.
And then next week the new patch comes out and there’s a new boss who drops three better weapons. And then next year there’s an expansion and on your first day playing you kill an Enchanted Bushpig who drops a green Sock Full O’ Quarters that has better stats and your prize possession is as useless as the shiniest purple turd.
End game content is becoming increasingly pointless for most players who, by the time they power up enough to handle end game, and confronted with easier content that offers rewards just as good. The market is flooded with super powered that turn obsolete within weeks and the difficulty presented in achieving most isn’t worth the payout. So hardcore gamers see no reward in raiding and casual gamers see no point in trying to be hardcore.
The solution to the problem is to level the gear with the player. Allow gear to be customizable, with a system that lets your weapon improve as you do so that all the effort you put into attaining it makes it last more than the week it takes to find something better. They added a Reforging system not too long ago that lets some stats be moved around, that could just be taken to the next level where you can farm materials to build your weapon up to greater, ass-kicking heights. Or not, I’m just an internet comedy writer.
Unless you’re the most hardcore of insaniacs, most likely you have had a bad guild experience. In fact, if you haven’t had a bad guild experience in Warcraft, odds are you were everyone else’s bad guild experience. Some people like the idea of a Guild being a second job, a place where you literally need to check in every day or face being fired, where you’re expected to complete tasks by tiny, power-mad tyrants who don’t understand that games are supposed to be fun and, at the end of the day, most of us don’t give a shit what happens on Azeroth. Most people don’t want this.
The Guild system is nice for people who enjoy a social aspect of gaming, where you work with the same people, maybe even chat to them on your cool mic headset, run dungeons, complete quests and crack jokes. The Guild system is awful if it stops being fun because your guild-leader is a 16 year old on Adderall who hates his step-dad and thinks he’s probably as smart as he’ll ever need to be right now so it’s cool if he drops out of school and anyway at least smarter than you, so shut up.
It’s easy enough to quit your guild if you don’t like it, but a superior service would be the ability to remove a crazy person from the guild if you don’t want them there. A guild leader or lieutenant can do that right now for a weiner low ranker, but it’s harder to get rid of the boss and often the boss is the most troublesome member of a guild. You may love the rest of your guild and not want to abandon them, so why not just axe the troublemaker based on a popular vote? They do it in dungeons already, so why not guilds. Of course, that brings us to…
Dungeons have been improved in the last couple of years by allowing dungeon groups to form randomly across servers and by allowing you to remove difficult dungeon group members. Both of these improvements have also ruined dungeons.
First and foremost, cross server dungeon runs have reduced the need to not be a twat. Now people join dungeons and act like complete trolls because they’re not accountable to the people they’re playing with. Who cares if that Druid on the Spruce Taint server calls you a ninja for rolling need on some Hunter weapon that’s really a Druid weapon, you’ll never see him again.
The ability to boot members is now used not to just get rid of ninjas or AFK players, it’s also used to get rid of you if the rest of the group are in a guild together and they don’t like your name, if you’re a warrior with an agility enchant on your weapon, if you’re a Hunter with a pet on aggressive, if you’re a mage who uses an AOE attack and aggros the boss or if someone forgets a soulstone. Some of you might even boot me for writing this paragraph which makes no sense to you if you’ve never played WoW before. What the f*ck does aggro mean? Is AOE a social disease? Is an agility enchant as gay as it sounds? Forget it, I’m reading the next paragraph.
Dungeons need more accountability and respect because, like everywhere else on the internet, being anonymous makes people into dinks. Of course, long ago, dungeon runs were limited to people on the same server and that didn’t work because you might spend 3 hours trying to find 5 people to run one with you, but surely there’s a happy medium. Like maybe a rewards-based system similar to achievements whereby everyone rates their run satisfaction with each other to help determine what grade of loot or reward is going to turn up. Maybe the amount of times you boot dungeon members or are booted can be tallied up and a system put in place to place you with other likeminded individuals in raids and dungeons. Or maybe every 10th time you boot someone, a dragon descends from the sky and craps on your head for being such a douche.
Raiding in Warcraft is just short of preposterous. You need a group of 10 or 25 people and you need to commit probably a good two hours to whatever you’re doing. If that sounds ridiculous, you should be aware that there was a time when you needed 40 people and as much as 6 hours. Imagine trying to cooperate with 39 other Warcraft miscreants for that length of time. This is why only certain guilds ever completed the big raid dungeons, because everyone else just couldn’t get their shit together enough to do it. Oh, and you also needed to be geared up the ass to defeat a raid boss and the only way you’d get geared enough to do that was by doing raids. It was a weird cycle.
Hardcore raiders don’t like raiding right now because the loot is the same for a 10 man or a 25 man, meaning why bother with 25? This, aggravated by the fact you can get comparable gear via things like honor points or arena points means you can get just as far ahead in the game pretty much alone as you can in a guild.
On the other side of the coin, casual players never raid because to do so generally means you need to “pug” the raid, which is snazzy WoW talk for pick-up group. A pick-up group is 25 people who couldn’t find anyone else to raid with. It works in much the same way you’d expect a party made up of 25 people who couldn’t get invited to other parties to work. Everyone is a smelly kid, or functionally retarded or has to go to bed in 20 minutes because tomorrow is class picture day. Except for maybe 3 of them, who will quickly get fed up and quit, thus ruining the entire raid.
Hardcore gamers want their raids back to the rewarding way they used to be and slack ass casual gamers just want to one day see a raid and have a snowball’s chance in hell of seeing what Deathwing looks like. And while they currently have a heroic mode that’s even harder for dungeons and raids, they need to go the other direction and do the opposite of heroic, some kind of pussy setting (but maybe with a nicer name) for gamers who maybe still have a set of green bracers but who want to fight the Lich King without literally exploding just from being in the same room with him. The loot can be scaled back to coincide, but give the kids a chance. Won’t somebody please think of the children?