This is a long rant with a subsequent prediction. Wall of text incoming.
I played through some of the RIFT world event. I had zero trouble logging in for it and, I have to admit, fighting a raid-style boss at level 25 was pretty fun. Players were already accustomed to banding together on the fly to take down rifts, footholds, and invaders (especially with the build-up invasion waves these past weeks) so those skills came into their own as we amassed against these huge demon-things. The boss fight I was a part of – which was in Gloamwood – was not a simple tank and spank but wasn’t prohibitively difficult either. The boss flipped between two forms (one we could hurt and one it seemed we could not) did some minor aoe damage very close to it and every so often would do a burst of aoe damage, all the while smacking on the one brave player who managed to snag and hold agro. My little fledgling healer got to show off her sparkles, as more than once my key presses corresponded directly with the melee team’s health being replenished in large steps. After taking the boss down, we rode around and shut down all of the other RIFTs that opened and liberated our quest hubs. It was fun; not mind-blowing, but it was fun. I’m sorry for those of you who couldn’t log in for it due to logistics. It’s crappy, but it happens; that’s online gaming for you. When Trion says “they learned a lot from this event” you can read that as “We’ll be adding a few more rack servers before doing this again” and also maybe “We won’t do this on a free weekend in the future.” (Just speculation on my part, but perhaps not unreasonable.)
A lot of blogs I’m reading came down kind of hard on Trion, for both the server stability and the design of the event itself: some were disappointed in the event, asserting that the build up to it (the invasions) and even the mini-bosses (like the lv20s raid boss I confronted in Gloamwood) were far more fun and memorable than the conclusion – the opening of that raid instance. To be fair, I haven’t heard anything about the raid instance yet, but maybe they felt taking down the boss at the end of that was actually the climax. I can only guess. What I can also do is put in my vote for Trion, and developers in general. They are not trying to scare away players, or make their game less fun; nor are they not listening. They are definitely listening, and to things that even the big boys are disregarding.
Syp’s article over on Massively brings to light a few things Trion is doing to improve and expand their game, with two big ticket items. The first is a Looking for Group tool. Now, I do appreciate the quaintness of assembling groups the old fashioned way, but I’m already sick of it. It’s the equivalent of leaving my cell phone in my sock drawer and going back to using pay phones. Wait, what’s that? There aren’t any pay phones in your town anymore? That’s probably because of cell phones. You know, because they serve the same function in a far more efficient, more effective, and all-around better way. The Looking For Group tool may not feel authentic, but it goes a long way toward making content more accessible. It’s a good idea. If you don’t like it, you can still use pay phones. I’m pretty sure the YMCA still has one.
The second big ticket item is proof to me that Trion is listening: a vanity tab. I read that and I couldn’t believe it. It almost warrants an article all its own. I admit, I have already been saving pieces I’ve found that I like the look of. Meanwhile, after years of their fans clamoring for it and posting huge forum petitions, WoW has not done this. Why not? There is no technological barrier, and don’t try to tell me it’s a PvP-centric-thing, because a primarily PvE game shouldn’t hinge it’s PvE-centric design decisions on PvP. It’s even worse if you’re concerned with Gear Score. Seriously. The LFG tool is one of the best things to happen to WoW. Gear Score is by far the worst. If you oppose the vanity tab because of Gear Score, you deserve to play WoW. And nothing else. Forever. Actually, this is also potentially the issue: while there are many who want this feature, there are also a great many who oppose it. Their reasons are uniformly PvP-centric or Gear Score related. “If we don’t know what a person is using for gear, we can’t be certain as to whether we should admit them to our guild/raid/dungeon run.” If that’s the issue you’re addressing, just build the Gear Score-crap into your game and give us the vanity tab.
Okay, to be fair, I’m here hurtling my arm chair philosophies at Blizzard and I haven’t spent as much time as they have researching and reviewing the situation as they have. (Who does that?!) But, forgive me: I absolutely hated the lack of a vanity tab in World of Warcraft. At the end of BC, half of my tank’s armor was from that new 10-man troll-raid-instance or heroic tokens…and it looked like split mail made (poorly) out of tree bark. I didn’t look like a paladin. I looked like a weird tree-shaman. How am I supposed to feel mighty and heroic when I’m dressed like a clown? Why on earth would they ever think that mis-matched armor would make anybody happy? The only conclusion that makes sense to me is this: they must realize that a vanity tab is a cool idea, but they can’t bring themselves to do it, because then people couldn’t tell at a glance what instance you’ve been farming and – thus – what instance they should also farm, i.e. continue paying and playing. This is dumb, because people choose what they farm based on what wow-head and wow-wiki tell them to do. But what can we do? Blizzard calls the shots because they make the most money. They must be doing it right. I mean, that’s what making the most money means, right?
Hey, remember when WAR was announced and it came to light that they would have achievements in their Tome of Knowledge and then – just before WAR’s release – WoW was patched with achievements? Weird, right? Probably a coincidence. I mean, they got it out first, so it’s practically their idea. They’re making the most money, it must be right.
I fully expect WoW will now release a vanity tab, given that RIFT is smacking them around already. I’m calling it now. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if it they already HAVE code for a vanity tab and they’re just WAITING to drop it. You know. Like it was their idea all along.
Prove me wrong, WoW. I wont re-sub anyway. I set Arthas free. That was all I wanted, ever since I pulled you off that MediaPlay shelf in 2004.
I’m not bitter. @_@