Category: QQ

Apr 14 2011

The Problem With [not] Healing PuGs

As Blizzard scrambles to bribe healers and tanks back into the LFG Randoms using pets and mounts, I would like to talk a little bit about one reason why we’re struggling to find people to fill these needed roles. More specifically, I’d like to talk about what it is like as a healer using the LFG tool this expansion.

The shortage of healers is due to many factors. It is true that some players just prefer DPSing. It is equally true that many people don’t like the additional responsibility that comes with playing a tank or a healer. It may also be the case that some healers were dissuaded from healing this expansion due to the increased difficulty. However, it is also because many healers have started queuing for heroics as DPS (or forgoing randoms entirely) because they are tired of being the punching bag for other players who can’t handle the increased difficulty. Of these points, only the latter one is a legitimate problem, and it is the one I am going to address.

Choosing Pew Pew Over Heals

I consider myself a decent healer on my restoration shaman. I have healed extensively since classic WoW, both in PvP and PvE, in hard modes and regular content, and doing so has been some of the most fun I have in the game. I like the increased challenge in heroic dungeons in theory, but I hate the indirect consequence that has turned every bad PuG into a nightmare of finger pointing and name calling. Healing for LFG PuGs has gone from something that was mildly frustrating on occasion to being completely unbearable anytime there is a bad player or two in the group. As a result, I just will not heal heroic PuGs anymore. If I need to random, I will take a queue that is 45 minutes instead of 5 minutes to do something I enjoy far less, just because I don’t want to deal with being the scapegoat for every other poor player in the game.

This is not an issue unique to me; I have multiple friends in the same circumstances: great healers who just don’t want to put themselves through the torture and abuse of healing PuGs anymore. I have spoken with many more who feel the same, both in-game and on the forums. Players like this may not be the majority but there are obviously enough of us to merit discussion. And while this is our choice, it does impact your LFG queue times by aggravating the existing healer shortage, which is an issue Blizzard is trying to fix as I write this very post.

LFG Heroic Dungeon Climate

In Cataclysm, heroics are designed to be more challenging than Wrath on several levels. Crowd control is more desirable and often mandatory if the team is not overgeared. Avoidable damage is far less forgiving than before, often one-shotting or severely injuring players who don’t pay attention. Healers are no longer responsible, as some like to put it, for “healing stupid.” Although design has shifted, player mentality about how heroics are “supposed” to go has not. Players still expect to be kept alive and at full health regardless of how they play. I would have thought this would have improved as the months passed and more and more players experienced the new content, but it hasn’t.

Of course, it is no surprise to anyone that there are a lot of bad players in heroic randoms because we’ve all encountered them. There are players who take the same nonchalant attitude towards heroics on their grossly-undergeared, fresh 85 tank as they might on their raid-geared main. There are tanks who refuse to use CC because their “threat is fine” even though they take massive amounts of unnecessary damage, or who are incapable of doing a pull without breaking what CC was used. There are tanks who don’t know how to kite, who are trying to tank in DPS or PvP gear, who don’t use their defensive cooldowns, or who chain pull without watching mana or waiting for the rest of the group. There are players of all varieties who stand in void zones, get cleaved by the boss, are terrible at interrupting, or who ignore the adds that need to be killed. There are lots of players that don’t run away from insta-gib mechanics, pull aggro by attacking the wrong mob or laying in too early, players who often suck at positioning, break CC or have no idea how to apply it in the first place. And of course, there are the garden-variety-bad DPSers who put out about half the amount of damage they should be, making the fights far too long.

Dual Spec:  Healer/Scapegoat

Healers have always had increased responsibility by nature of their job. They are also used to fingers being pointed at them when things go wrong (both with and without merit). Unfortunately the difficulty level of this expansion has made things far, far worse. In the past, healers could cover for people’s mistakes. And while PuGs have always full of jerks, before they were appeased by how smoothly runs went no matter how badly people played. All those stupid mistakes before really didn’t matter. Now they do. Now the people who play poorly will die. If they don’t die immediately, they run the healer out of mana later. And when that happens, the player who gets berated or booted isn’t a DPS or tank. The player who is punished the most for mistakes isn’t the person that made them: it is the healer.

It is no consolation to a healer to know that they were not at fault when booted from a group after already investing 45 minutes in a dungeon; knowing it was someone else’s mistake does not give back time lost. The fact that it is the DPS who fails at a mechanic does not make the healer feel better when they have to spend an entire dungeon being berated every time that lousy player dies. The knowledge that healing is designed so healers can’t always keep everyone topped constantly does not filter out the players demanding heals, cursing or name calling when they don’t get them immediately. It doesn’t console the healer to know that after they leave the party (either by choice or by force), the party is going to have the same problem with the replacement since the issue is the group itself. The healer is not comforted through the scapegoating just because they know that the reason they ran out of mana wasn’t because they were using improper spells but because the DPS was so bad that the fight lasted twice as long as it was supposed to. It doesn’t matter who is really to blame when a dungeoning experience has ceased to be fun and started to be legitimately stressful and draining any time a healer gets a group that is less than stellar.

Now What?

To clarify for people who tend to skim articles: this is not a complaint about Cataclysm heroics being more challenging. While I understand that some healers don’t like the new design, I’m not concerned with those players; you can’t please everyone. Overall, most healers — myself included — seem to enjoy actually having things to do in heroics, unlike Wrath heroics where we were barely needed. And the reality is, healing is not really that much harder once you learn how to manage the new playstyle assuming people aren’t taking excessive damage.  However, it seems like a design failure when an indirect result of the difficulty level is that players who like healing and prefer to heal refuse to do so because being brutalised by other players — who regularly do take excessive damage — has made a job they previously loved into a miserable experience.

Blizzard obviously can’t control the actions of their players, but their design does influence the environment and attitude, and one could argue it is precisely that design that is encouraging players to act poorly. As long as the punishment for failing at a mechanic is damage to a player, healers will be blamed regardless of whose fault it actually is. Between this and the fact that you need addons for tracking fails or discerning death reports (the default combat log is too incomprehensible for the average players), it far too easy to shift the blame towards the healer because the punishment for every mistake is damage, the very thing healers are tasked with solving.

I don’t know of an elegant solution to these circumstances without reverting heroics to super easy and giving healers godmode again, which I don’t think anyone wants. However, I think the issue is worth discussion. There has to be some other way to keep the challenge level while keeping individual player responsibility from drifting to other players. Perhaps possible alternative solutions should be explored, whether it is changing the consequences for failing at mechanics to something that gimps DPS or threat (like Putricide’s slime debuff) rather than damage or deaths, or making it easy to see why someone died or why things went wrong within the default UI.

What do you think?  Have you had similar experiences?  Have you been kicked from a PuG you were healing for someone else’s mistake, or seen it happen to another?  Do you still heal in LFG PuGs?

Aug 12 2010

Shared Bloodlust & Shaman Impact

In Cataclysm, the mage class will be receiving an ability that duplicates Blood Lust called Time Warp. Blood Lust (for confusion’s sake, also known as “Heroism”) is such a strong ability that very few raids today are without a shaman, and many raid leaders consider the ability a necessity. Currently, no other class – except maybe a paladin – finds itself in the same position of being mandatory in a raid

As a raid leader (and also as a person who loves shaman enough to have three of them), I am very excited with this change. It is a royal pain to feel obligated to scrounge up an obligation shaman for just so you can have the edge on DPS race fights. Sometimes that means taking someone I don’t like or who doesn’t know the fights or who is undergeared, or it can mean excluding someone I really like and who is a good player but doesn’t bring what we “need.” I would love the additional level of flexibility to know that I could choose people based on more criteria than a single unique buff and not feel I was willfully gimping my raid if I choose another class for another reason.

However, this change is highly controversial among shaman, as many of them very much enjoy their status as the sole provider of a very critical buff. Shaman everywhere are concerned that in Cataclysm they will lose their raid spots to mages who put out higher personal DPS once raid leaders are no longer forced to chose them.

Although I can understand why this makes shaman players apprehensive, to me this is an obvious case of “Chicken Little syndrome.” Looking at the current scenario with other duplicated buffs, we have yet to see classes excluded from raiding rosters simply for being redundant (even if the other class does more personal damage). No raid dropped all their warriors because rogues can duplicate the buff or abandoned shadow priests because moonkins also provide the same spell hit. In reality, even if Blood Lust really was the only reason shaman were getting raid spots, you’d find raids taking one obligatory shaman healer and leaving the hybrid-taxed DPS shaman at the door – something which doesn’t happen now. Amusingly, if raid leaders excluded every class that didn’t have a unique buff to offer, then every roster would consist of one shaman and 24 empty spots, because every single raid buff and debuff in the game except bloodlust is already provided by more than one class.

Raid leaders have to fill the roster with people. With only 10 classes to fill 25 raid spots, even after every buff is covered there will still be extra spaces. What’s more, duplicate buff coverage is actually good because it provides a safety net for absences, deaths, phasing and range checks. The point of this change is to give raid leaders flexibility to choose good players or their friends and not get stuck with that atrocious mage just because the raid really need scorch and he’s the only option. If a shaman (or other class) is a good player and a nice person, there’s always going to be a spot in raids, even if every utility they provide can be (or is) covered by someone else, even if some other class does more damage than you. (If you’re a jerk and people are itching to replace you with another class and only haven’t because they need your buff, well, then, that’s a problem with the player, not the buff)

It’s also not insignificant to point out that shaman bring a lot of other abilities and buffs to the table besides ‘lust. The sheer quantity is overwhelming: We offer spell critical strike chance bonus for the raid, a spell damage buff for the raid, spell haste for the raid, melee haste for the raid, an attack power buff for the raid, a strength & agility buffs for the raid, an armor buff for the raid, a clone of Blessing of Wisdom to provide mana-per-five for the raid, a healing stream totem for continuous raid-wide healing, a tremor totem for breaking fears (unique, no less), a grounding totem for absorbing dangerous spells (also unique), magic resistances of all varieties, a ranged interrupt that is off the GCD and on a short cooldown, the ability to remove debuffs from our raidmates and the ability to purge buffs from our enemies. While some of these abilities are spec-specific, most of these can actually be offered by any shaman in some form or another. Additionally, shaman have the flexibility to provide ranged DPS, melee DPS, or healing, a flexibility that can also make shaman highly desirable in competitive raids that like to fine-tune their roster on a per-encounter basis. It is worth noting, as well, that shaman share their armor class with only hunters, and if you’re elemental or resto, your loot is exclusive to you; this makes shaman a good pick for raids wanting balanced loot distribution to help the raid gear up faster.

That’s a lot of very good reasons to bring a shaman before Bloodlust or personal DPS is even considered.

Shaman are not Bloodlust-bots. We are not one-trick ponies. We’re a great class that offers a lot of buffs, abilities and utility to our raids, and we will continue to do so in Cataclysm.

Jul 30 2010

Gear valuation and addons like “Gearscore”

The addon Gearscore is a very hot topic for discussion right now. At any given point in time, there are dozens of threads on WoW related forums on the issue, and if you ask just about anyone, they’ll have a strong feeling on the issue one way or another. That’s not to say people over-obsessing about gear is a new development in WoW: It certainly isn’t, and certainly not an issue created by Gearscore itself.   Gearscore is simply the flavour-of-the-month means to do something people have already been doing since the advent of MMOs.

To weigh in myself, I can understand the feelings of hostility people have. While in a vacuum, Gearscore can be seen as benign or even helpful, but it has been tainted by the community.  Although it’s not the addon itself that is at fault, it has had a very negative impact on the mentality of current players.  In addition to encouraging the usual gear-obsession, its extreme permeation and popularity has shifted the philosophy and approach to gear valuation for raiders. It has caused people to judge gear based solely on where it drops and the item level it has.  I have encountered new players that assume that “higher number” automatically equals better.  I have also noticed that it has made older players lazy about spreadsheeting upgrades to see if a recent drop really is better. Worse, I have crossed some who may even know an item is better but still wear the worse-but-higher-ilvl piece instead just because they know that half the people around them are judging them based on their “score.”  Players, good and bad, just end up so focused and obsessed on that bottom-line number that they’ve minimised the importance of actually being better in favour of looking better.

However, I absolutely support a raid leader’s choice to require a particular gear level when planning PuGs or investigating subs and new members. I disagree quite strongly with all the people who insist that gear is totally irrelevant or those who imply the people who care are just stuck up elitists. While personally I don’t use any sort of standardized gear scoring system (website or addon), I do regularly utilise the armory to check both gear and experience when seeking out players to fill open positions. I make no apologies for doing so.

If you are of the mind that such behaviour is unfair, consider the other side of that coin:

I am a “serious casual” raider, a raid captain, a raid leader, and a guild leader. I have hosted countless PuG and impromptu raids, including running weekly “farming” 25mans in at least four different instances over two expansions. I am the sole leader of an ICC10, and I am an officer who helps lead an ICC25 raid, which is where I find myself most frequently investigating newcomers. My raid is not “hardcore” or on the cutting edge of progression, but we share a commitment to clearing the content. We devote only a few hours each week to raiding, so we are diligent about making sure those precious hours are spent being productive towards our goals and towards becoming a better raid. So when it is time to fill an open spot, you can bet I’m going to make sure fill it with the best possible option, not just in terms of class balance but also gear and experience.

I’m not doing this to be elitist. I’m doing this because the “raid” belongs to all 25 of us and it is not fair to my raidmates — who have put in hundreds of hours, thousands of gold on gear upkeep, consumables and repair bills, who have worked very hard on their accomplishments, who spent time outside the game researching their class, reading strategies, watching video guides, and participating in “how can we improve” discussions on our forums – to bring in people who have NOT done these things and expect them to make up the difference. It is irresponsible leadership to risk wipes on tough enrages in order to test out the skill of some guy wearing blatantly inappropriate armor. It is improper to ask them to waste their valuable time explaining the fights to new players just for the sake of “giving them a chance.” They did not sign up for that, it is not their responsibility or obligation, and it is simply unacceptable for raid leadership to compromise the raid’s hard-earned progress needlessly.

I have absolutely nothing against those people in non-raiding gear, nor do I have any ill will for those who are new to raiding (in fact, I wish them the best of luck in my favourite aspect of the game). Everyone has to start somewhere. But the caveat is: a progression raid is not that somewhere. So, yes, I owe it to my raid to be discriminatory. They shouldn’t be expected to concede — or even risk — their successes for a stranger. You’re not being fair if you don’t look at things from that perspective.

Being exclusionary in this context is not being snobbish or cruel to new players. They have other options. Those players can simply look for another raid in more-appropriate content for their gear and experience level, or seek out a raid that is dedicated to aiding new players (they exist; I know because I have also helped lead one of those). Most promising of all, they can start their own raid! Most current raiders did not ride in on the coattails of raiders before them; a large number of us headed fresh into the new content at the same time and moved forward together. If we could do it then, so can new players today. You just have to be willing to put in the effort to work your way up from more suitable content rather than waiting for an advanced raid to carry you along tiers above your gear level.

Finally: Yes, skill matters significantly. There are lots of bad, unskilled and/or lazy players across all gear and progression levels. But let’s be practical here: there is no means to “look up” someone’s skill or rank their performance. So raid leaders use what tools are available to them: checking past accomplishments and gear level. Yes, that guy in blues might be a better player than the guy in ilvl 264 epics (side note: why do people in these discussions always assume the circumstances to be where the guy in blues is amazing and the guy in epics is terrible?), but you’d be a fool to take the guy in blues over the guy in epics without knowing either of them. I have no reason to assume either of them is better or worse than the other, so I am going to suppose they are both average players. If they are both average, then you take the best geared and most experienced, of course. It’s common sense. The player in purples certainly has more potential, more experience and, on the off chance he does have weaker skills, more gear that will balance that out, and to push him ahead if he does exhibit proficiency; the odds are vastly in his favour.

The armory let’s us look at more than just gear: we can also tell if they were good enough that a raid kept them around for multiple kills (a raid might carry you through one or two kills but probably not months of them). Yes, it’s possible he’ll die to the fire 20 seconds in, but if he’s had eight kills worth of practice on the fight — and the new guy has none AND will also need us to spend 10 minutes explaining the fight — I’m going to bet on Mister Epics living longer and putting out better results with the added bonus of less downtime for the rest of my team. That is a bet I will win nearly every time.

And let’s not kid ourselves: gear matters. The best skilled player in the world still will be incapable of meeting our DPS requirements if he’s not wearing raiding gear. There is a DPS ceiling based on gear quality; Playing well will make you exceed other similarly-geared players of lesser skill and it can bring you closer to your perfect spreadsheet figure, but it’s not magical and it’s not going to put you on par with people who vastly outgear you because that’s simply a numeric impossibility.

Jul 13 2010

Nostalgia Gives People Rose-Tinted Glasses

I see a lot of requests on the official Suggestion forums asking for Blizzard to make special servers with the time rolled back to Classic or Burning Crusade. These requests often come with sharp critiques of the current expansion(s), going as far as to accuse them of “ruining WoW.” I see this even more with Cataclysm looming, where some of the quests and zones responsible for our fondest WoW memories will be going away.  And while I will miss those reminders of early WoW, largely I think nostalgia gives people rose-tinted glasses.

I remember classic WoW.

I remember because there was not much to do at 60, Blizzard drew out the leveling process by filling it full of tedious “busy work” that was designed to be time consuming but without the advantage of being more fun or interesting or even having better rewards.  They did this by doing things like sending you running (literally) all the way across the world to talk to someone, only to have them send you back again.  To further this goal, travel was intentionally made slower than hell.  You didn’t get your first mount until level 40 and even then it was the slow one.  People think it’s “too easy” that we get our mounts earlier and cheaper now?  Well, I’ll counter that my gaming experience was not enhanced, nor did I become a better player, from the “challenge” of running the full length of Azeroth on foot.

I remember having to sit at the computer through long taxi trips because you had to reboard the bat at every flight stop, which was aggravated by long, inefficient travel paths that often circled back on themselves or took long detours.

I remember if you talked a friend into joining the game to play with you, well, you better make a new toon to play with him because it’s going to be months and months before he catches up with your main… if he doesn’t get burnt out trying to do so and quit before then.  And boy, you better hope you like that class you’re leveling as much as you did when you made it, because if you have any semblance of a life, it’s unlikely you’ll have the time or energy to reroll after you’ve hit the level cap.

I remember doing long quest chains or completing arduous journeys only to be rewarded with a [white] item or something absurd like a +spirit 2h axe.  Some slots, like trinkets and necklaces, were just very hard to find in general.  I began raiding, as a rogue, with the +dodge Alterac Valley pvp trinket and the damage absorption one from Araj the Summoner because little out there was better.

I remember the amount of crap you had to carry back then.  Everyone’s bag space was filled up by reagents, specialty tools and class-unique items, not to mention materials needed for professions.  Of course, many common items only stacked in tiny quantities, if at all.  Many of your bag slots were also permanent inhabited by other crucial items like keys. Forget even carrying fun items like pets or more than one mount, which originally occupied bag slots unlike today.  And professions?  I remember items that gave you bonus to +skinning but were not skinning knives so you had to carry both, and mining picks that you could not mine with.  I remember when you had to keep every level of enchanting rod.  Of course, you probably never used those low-level enchants anyway because the profession UI didn’t used to have a search feature to find them even if you wanted to.

I remember missing entire dungeons leveling up, or else having to wait until everything was grey or green so three of us could underman the place, because it was next to impossible to find groups with the laughable LFG chat. Additionally, if you weren’t part of the first pack of people to hit 60, it was really hard to even find people to do “end game” dungeons as well; after so many 45 minute Baron runs, attunement chains, fire resist farming, or just from running them a million times because there wasn’t much else to do, everyone would rather eat glass than visit those places again to help you.

And I remember when running a single dungeon a full evening’s commitment, and even then you often didn’t finish.  I remember that it took a significant portion of time to traverse the map to get to their locations because summoning stones didn’t exist, and once there you could expect to spend four or five hours inside, much of that time spent being lost or mindlessly killing (or rekilling after they respawned) packs of trash.  Worse yet, we had to run some of them (like BRD) many, many times to get the gear and attunements and keys we needed before we could even think about doing cooler things.

I remember the ungodly long run back to Blackrock Mountain after a wipe.  Ask yourself, is it challenging to waste a quarter of your raid time because the run back after a wipe takes ten minutes, or is maybe just frustrating for no good reason?  Blackrock wasn’t the only offender; I remember dozens of other places where the nearest graveyard, flightpath, inn or mailbox was obnoxiously far away for no apparent reason.  You spent more time being inconvenienced by little things than actually playing the parts of the game that were fun.

I remember raiding was the only way to better yourself at 60, and unless you found a (large!) guild to do that with, it was farming twilight’s hammer in Silithus or grinding undead in Eastern Plaguelands to do, and that was pretty much it.  Practically every epic in the game was only available through devoted raiding.  There were no crafted or reputation based ones that a dedicated person could work towards on their own with effort.  If you didn’t have time to raid or know enough people, you might as well just cancel your subscription once you hit 60.  There were few solo activities, no dailies, no achievements, no titles, no cool rewards to unlock.

And for every person I hear pine for classic raiding, I remember a dozen people who swore if they ever saw lava again it would be too soon.  People frequently described Molten Core with the same adjectives they might use to talk about a kick to the groin.  I remember raids being a logistical nightmare to wrangle 40 people, although this was partly made easier by the fact that half of them only had to be “warm bodies” and there wasn’t really any need to contribute more than that.  Difficulty was often related to abhorrent resistance gear checks, aggro problems from white damage, or the aforementioned logistic struggles, rather than impressive and challenging strategies requiring teamwork and skilled execution.

I remember armor pieces, including class sets, being itemised as if they let a monkey pull random stats out of a hat.  Holy paladin wearing agility or a warrior with spirit?  Of course.  You wore armor with stats that were useless to you, because that’s all there was.  Dungeon sets had +armor bonuses, whether you were a tank or a healer or a mage, and nothing was oriented towards a particular spec or playstyle or role.

I remember most classes only had one spec they could play on for PvE and many of those being just one trick ponies.  If you were a shaman, you were resto and it was just because your raid needed you to drop mana tide for the real healers.  Rogues were combat, warriors were tanks, and druids could do a wide variety of things poorly.  Shadow priest?  Ret paladin?  In PvE?  You’re joking, right?  Of course, the revelation that the class you picked may be laughably bad would often only be discovered after you’ve already invested months of work into getting it to the level cap.  Surprise!

I remember when talent trees were littered with stupid talents like rogue’s (original) throwing specialization or parry for hunters, or were totally schizophrenic like shaman’s enhancement tree where you would take absurd talents to improve your shield block because it was, ironically, a prerequisite to the tier that taught you to use two handed weapons.  Even if a particular talent tree had avoided containing useless talents, there was no guarantee it would be a balanced and playable spec choice.

I remember when there were no mage tables, soulwells, or summoning portals, and we brought those classes so they could spend the first thirty minutes of our raid just making water and cookies or summoning people one by one.  Mages were glorified venting machines, warlocks summonbots.

I remember when HoTs didn’t stack and only one healer in the raid could use them.  I remember when they increased the boss debuff limit from 8 to 16, but people had to be careful what they put on the boss lest it push off something more important.  I remember being a rogue who used sharpening stones instead of poisons for that reason.  I remember five minute paladin blessings.  I remember when hunters couldn’t trap in combat and feign death killed them if they did it for too long.  I remember when group buffs and max rank spells could only be learned from raid-drop books.

I remember before Guild banks and linked auction houses.  I remember nicknames like “Lagrimmar” and being nearly incapable of playing in those cities on even the newest machine due to the horrible crowding and resulting server latency.

I remember being so poor at 60 because there were no dailies to balance out my gold loss from raiding repair bills.  I had no epic horse because the only way to get one was to spend my precious little time in-game grinding mob after mob after mob for coins or playing ebay on the auction house just to get enough money to buy it.  My epic PvP mount sat in my bank until Burning Crusade, when I could finally afford to learn it.

I remember waiting hours and hours to get a single battleground match – if I was lucky enough to get one at all; I also remember sometimes logging off after hours of playing and never seeing the match pop.

I remember each faction arguing – justifiably — that the other had an edge in PvE and/or PvP because they didn’t even have access to the same classes, buffs and abilities, including staple buffs like Kings, Might and Wisdom.

I remember when you had to install addons to get many things that are base functionality now, like more than one action bar, auto-loot, scrolling combat text, and all the other great addon features that WoW took and made standard, including snazzier things like boss warnings, voice chat, threat management, instance maps, and gear-set management.  I remember the original chat window and auction house interface. I remember before you could shift-click links of quests and items into chat and before you could track quests on the side of your screen.  I remember the time before target-of-target.  I remember when they added the “dressing room” and the ability to buyback things you’d accidentally sold.

That’s not to say classic WoW wasn’t fun.  It very much was and we wouldn’t have stuck around if it wasn’t.  By pointing out the negatives, I’m not denying all the positives, too: The communities were smaller and more tight-knit. End game wasn’t so much of a gear-grind.  Getting a level felt like an achievement, and not just one minus on the “needed until 80” race, and hitting the cap was something to be really proud of.  Epics really were epic.

But the point is that as time passes, we remember these nice things we may have lost, but often overlooked how much really, really positive stuff we have gained, and all the great refinement on gameplay and the many additional features that have really enhanced our gaming experience.  I’m not saying I hate classic WoW, I’m saying – Wow!  Look at how far we’ve come!

Overall, the main problem with vanilla WoW was that it was stagnant.  It took a lot of time to reach the end, but once you did, there were only so many things you could do until you finished all there was to do, which wasn’t hard to do before long.  After that point, it was boring and it caused a lot of disinterest from people who had up until that point invested a lot into the game.  The only solution to this was to add more stuff, which Blizzard did and continues to do every time the content gets tired.  Do we miss the old content and some of the great things that were a part of it?   Sure.  But, at the end of the day, it seems fairly obvious to me that we’re where we are because of necessity to keep this game alive and compelling.  Demands for classic servers and critiques of the concept of expansions are shortsighted because they ignore this very critical fact.  Even if you’re one of those people who pines for the original game, you have to acknowledge all the positive changes and additions that Blizzard has made over the years.