We’ve Been Busy

Killing bosses, that is. Over the last 3 weeks, we have seen the fall of 4 more bosses marking the halfway point through Siege. We pummeled Pride, Jabbed Juggernaut, Slain the Shaman, and Nixed Nazgrim.  Garrosh, we’re coming for you!

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Pride? Yea we're proud.

Pride? Yea we’re proud.

Heroic 2/14

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A mere two weeks after returning to 25 man raiding, Civilian showed its strength by completing the first two heroics in the same night, defeating Immerseus and The Fallen Protectors. Great work!

Back in Business

Now to execute some heroic strategies

We don’t usually post when we kill a boss again but this one deserves merit. Civilian is back to 25 man raiding with our first 25 man Garrosh Kill! Thanks to our new Civilian brothers and sisters who mostly joined us from Casual Slander, we swiftly cut through the Siege of Orgrimmar like a hot knife through Yak butter. Great job everyone!

We’re still looking for capable raiders to join our 25 man roster. Inquire today!

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Immerseus Sunk

Immerseus-Heroic-10

We’re not really sure what happens when Immerseus is defeated. Does he drown? Evaporate? Does he go back to his underwater home because we just annoyed him too much? Either way, he’s been heroically defeated. Nice work everyone!

Civilian Coup: Garrosh Dethroned

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With a heart pounding finish, Civilian chalked up another end boss kill to open up the gates to heroic modes.  In classic Civilian fashion, a few deaths (including the tank!) in the last 1.5% made for an exciting night. Don’t take my word for it though – check out our kill in full gloriousness here: http://www.twitch.tv/cg_zafo/c/3300892

Next week we will be heading straight into heroic modes so check back for more frequent announcements!

Two Games in One

I wonder why Blizzard doesn’t get rid of leveling completely.

I mean, they keep making leveling faster and faster, with more xp at lower levels and all sorts of ways to get xp boosts on top of that. Then they add additional shortcuts like Scroll of Resurrection, Recruit-a-Friend, and the forthcoming “Instantly level one toon to 90, with gear”. Those changes acknowledge, if only tacitly, that for many (most?) players the game doesn’t really start until max level. Anybody who has leveled a toon since Vanilla has seen this: almost everybody you encounter is simply racing for 70, 80, 85…whatever…so they can start raiding or PvPing or whatever.

So why not get rid of levels completely? Just make every new toon max level, which means essentially no levels.  You could call it “Level 100″ or you could call it “Level 1″…or you could just remove the term from the game. Sure, there’s the learning curve of all those keybinds, but they effectively solved that for Death Knight and are incorporating it in the new Instant 90 feature: you run through a class specific chain of quests that lasts at most a couple hours where you learn what the buttons do.

Now, in Blizzards collective mind levels still serve a purpose: in each xpac getting from the previous current max to the new current max (e.g. 85 to 90 in MoP) is a vital part of the new game; they want you to enjoy the story arc. But: a) Lots of players don’t care at all about the story…they just click through quest text as fast as possible…and, b) the story arc could be imposed without levels being utilized. They could, for instance, bring back long quest chain attunements, so you can’t start raiding (or even doing arena, etc.) until you’ve completed the quests, earned the rep, whatever. They could also use gear levels as a soft-attunement: you’ll want to do all the content because you’ll probably need the new gear. Having quest chains end in nice blue gear, and their new feature of quests randomly giving epics as rewards, could reinforce that.

But that solution, or the suggestion of it anyway, reinforces a complaint I’ve made repeatedly: once you reach max level your “character development” isn’t really your character at all, it’s just gear progression. (What if Conan were only Conan because he had the best armor and weapons? Totally lame.) Soul-binding, of course, makes gear progression sort of like character progression, but it feels hollow. So making new toons max level, or even requiring a few hours of pre-questing, throws out the baby with bathwater.

The real solution is to eliminate levels and gear-based progression. That is, all characters are the same level, and the progression you work on is  skills, talents, reputations, relationships, and attunements.

Not that I think Blizzard will ever take WoW this route, but that just makes their changes to the game ironic.

Warlords of Draenor

Of all the official information to come out of Blizzcon, the bit that most caught my eye wasn’t a specific feature or change. It was this comment:

World of Warcraft is a game you play with friends. WoD will remove barriers that stop you from playing with friends and encourage you to make new friends.

This could be just mindless blather, but I’m hopeful that it reflects an new understanding  by Blizzard that their path of the last several years, of ever-increasing convenience for pugging, wasn’t actually making the game more fun. That what makes MMOs great is the social interaction, and that the easier it gets to play pick-up games, the less interaction is required. Blizz often pays lip service to guilds and friends and cooperation, but their behavior since Vanilla, in terms of changes to the game, says otherwise. Giving bonus rewards for x-server pugging in leveling dungeons (on top of the innate reward of efficiency) says it all: “We want you to group with total strangers you’ll never see again. Feel free to be rude and ninja loot.”

While they’ll never admit that was a bad idea, or probably even change it, maybe they are at last acknowledging that they need to push the pendulum the other way.

Some of the features seem to be backing up the rhetoric. Certainly Flex is a huge boon for social gaming…as Blue says, both for the friends you have and the new ones you can make. And making the fixed size for Mythic smaller than the maximum Flex size (20 vs 25) was inspired: it means that guilds can maintain a roster slightly larger than the Varsity team, giving J.V. players a way to participate. And Flex is perfect for try-outs.

There was also this, I hope related, blue comment:

“Group Finder will work cross realm and work for many different types of groups. Finishing Shadowmorune, RBGs, Raids and more!”

Is this going to be “OQ” kind of functionality, but with stronger social tools? In other words, optimized to not just assemble x-server pugs, but to build friendships. In a previous post I laid out suggested functionality for this kind of group finder, most notably incorporating a reputation system. OQ is a great tool, and a great prototype, but where it fails is that it does nothing to encourage persistent friendships. You join OQ, kill some bosses, and then go your own way. So it’s like LFR but with a raid leader.

The success of a cross-realm LFM/LFG tool should be measured not by it’s overall use, but by the percentage of group members that have worked together previously. If that number trends upwards it will be a positive indicator for the WoW community.