Friday, October 21, 2011

Things to Work on for the Next Release

Here's a list of some features that could use some work before they release the next patch. Please, readers, add more in your comments!

1) Fix the Flight Paths
How many times have you gotten on a griffon to fly from the Twilight Highlands to the Eastern Plaguelands and the route takes you by way of ... Ironforge.  Those FPs over Khaz Modan in particular are all sorts of messed up. Seriously, Blizzard, there is no way that flying half a continent in the wrong direction could be the "best" way to integrate the old flight paths with the countless new ones introduced after the Cataclysm.  I'm sure there are technical reason that you had to go to release before, but I hope you have fixed them by now.

2) Archaeology Specialization
At some level of archaeology, they needed to provide a means of specialization. Just ask anybody trying to accumulate Tolvir artifacts and keeps getting fields in Winterspring they have to go chase down instead.  I think archaeology was probably released this way so that no one could monopolize, or rush after certain rare artifacts, and I generally appreciate that too. But like, in the next expansion, there's bound to be a new racial group's artifacts unveiled and if I'm still forced to go pick up Troll artifacts instead, Imma gonna spew.

3) Cut Some Costs on Reforging
I have quite mixed feelings about reforging, now that I have some experience with it. I appreciate what it does and what it allows. But I think it's ironic that this was the expansion where they were going to simplify stats and gear selections, and yet they put in this whole new complex tool overlying those entire issues. For a while, I used reforging fairly sparingly and that was good. But then, I discovered the wizards over at Ask Mr. Robot, who showed me that one cannot reforge one piece of gear without adjusting six other pieces to maintain optimal stat balance.  As a result, I...

a) cannot even begin to consider reforging without using an web tool like Mr. Robot and
b) spend about 300g every single time I step into that shop with a new piece of gear.

I'm not sure that one could "simplify" reforging without losing the essence of what's valuable with it. I guess I could just settle with having to spend less gold on the whole thing.

And, let me get a plug out to Mr. Robot again. Their theorycrafting is among the best in the WoW business and the tool they have created is just Awesome. I looooove the iOS app as well.

4) Improve Sound Design
This is probably a controversial thing to say, but I think the audio design of WoW is pretty weak.

I spent a week or two trying to write an article about how I felt the voice acting in WoW had gotten out of hand and after circling around and around what I was trying to say, I realized that while the voice acting could be better, a bigger part of the problem was the voices not really fitting into the other noises in a scene.  Check out this spew delivered by Aronus as we fly into Mt. Hyjal:

I bet this actor got the direction "You are horrified!" and that was about it. But the reading is histrionics, not dramatic. There is a severe disconnect between the over-the-topness of these line readings and the basically peaceful flight of the dragon here. This drake is just floating along like every single other drake in game. Ragnaros pops up, and he decides he'll just go the other way instead. The music rises cuts and runs much too often as well.

The problem gets worse in that Cataclysm has a lot of these dialogue scenes that they never really attempted in earlier versions of the game. Suddenly, all this spoken dialogue appears and makes us realize that the graphics engine does carry the visual drama that over-the-top line readings and dynamic explosions don't match.

Another version of the same problem brings us to Sindra "you're magic BETRAAAAAAAAYS you" gossa. Raiders loathed and hated hearing that line 14,000 times a night while learning that fight and for good reason. It was a good warning for Unchained Magic, but still... it was over the top and, hence, so hated by players.

5) The Talent Trees
As much as I loath to say this, the talent trees are going to need another severe reworking. And I think that the developers were only partly successful in their stated intentions for what they did with it this past expansion. They did force some "hard choices" in the trees, just in several notable cases, it was between Crap Talent A and Crap Talent B. They tried to make survivability skills de rigeur for every player, but the PvE crowd really didn't like it.

Blizzard went out of their way to expunge "boring" talents like passive crit bonuses. But that only created the new "boring" like Pathing, which offers passive haste bonus. It's pretty arguable to say that haste is more exciting than crit in the first place, but even if it were, it's still the talent nobody is terribly interested in taking.

The lesson, I think, is that they busted their butts to improve the talent system, created about as many problems as they solved and still didn't really make the talent trees "more exciting!" They need to focus on making trees that will work for an extended future and less on making them exciting for now. The trees feel as cookie-cutter as ever, there are new boring talents.  And just look at how viable these trees are for the future.  The pacing of this tree is designed to get people to 85, not past it. Put two or three new skill points and players reach the next tier of their secondary trees and class balance will go all to hell.

The main reason I'm so despondent over more talent change is that I'm utterly sick of having to relearn my character every single time they add content to the game. I'd settle for the boring talents if it meant I didn't have to figure out a new rotation every few months.


Well, it is an hour and a half til the Blizzcon opening ceremonies, so I'd best post this and we'll see what we get.  More posting soon!

No comments:

Post a Comment