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Making the World of Warcraft more trivial, one post at a time…

The average player is probably about where I am – heading into Ulduar weekly, doing some Heroics for sweet T8 loot, and starting to tidy up most of the solo content in the expansion. It's increasingly looking like I'll be "done" with Wrath by the time Cataclysm hits, with maybe enough time to get a second toon to 80. 

And that's why I don't subscribe to the "WoW is in decline" feeling you see expressed in the Blogosphere whenever another big name blogger quits. Almost by definition, if you're a big name WoW blogger, you're not an average player. And Blizzard is, more than ever, tailoring the game to people who are average. That means that the above average players are going to burn through that content quickly – but then, that's what the hard modes and weird-ass achievements are there for. For a small group, for the one who are dropping late-instance bosses a few weeks after new raid content is added, that may not be enough. But I have a feeling that they're a small, small part of the player base.

I'm actually enjoying the game more than I have ever done right now. Dailies in the morning, heroics with my guildies in the evening, raiding once a week most weeks, and some work on Loremaster when I have time left over. It's great fun, it's the right balance of time (my other half isn't grumpy about my playing any more), and I genuinely feel like I'm making progress each week, be that bosses down, new gear, reps done or cute little pets acquired.

I have a feeling that Blizz have WoW in a really sweet spot right now, one that will keep a very large number of players happy for a very long time to come. If they can up the pace of the expansions a little – getting Cataclysm out by the spring of next year and the next one by the summer of 2011, I think WoW will cruise into it's tenth anniversary with big numbers still playing.

Right now, I certainly hope so.

  • http://aspectofthehare.net Pike

    /agree

  • http://www.restokin.com Lissanna

    Problem is that people who aren’t super extreme casuals are getting bored with the game and running out of things to do. A lot of raiding guilds are having attendance problems. So, for being “just right,” for someone a tier behind in raiding content, they aren’t releasing content fast enough to keep the less-snail-paced people happy. I actually think they missed the mark on the “average” player. They catered to super casual people and they catered to super hard-core (with hard modes) and completely missed the middle ground people. Either you do super easy mode raids, or you have to do super hard mode DPS race. There’s no medium mode raid for everyone else.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/leafshine Leafy

    The problem I see with what you’re saying is that places me in the category of super extreme casual. And then I look at the people in my guild who raid with us every few weeks, or every few months, even; who sometimes don’t login for 10 days at a time; who are still working their way through Storm Peaks on their main and I think “what do we call them?”

    Super, Extreme, Ultra Casuals?

    The closer you are to the raiding cutting edge, by definition, the further you are from the average, and the more prone you are to selection bias in what you see as the average.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p0120a5f0a586970b Anea

    I feel the same way you do and I hope you’re right!

  • http://www.restokin.com Lissanna

    I’m not even at the raiding cutting edge. My guild doesn’t have enough people logging in to do hard-modes.

    I just don’t have anything to do. I log in 2 times a week to raid, where one day we do all the 25-man content at our progression level, and one day we do all the 10-man content at our progression level, and then I sit around in Dalaran bored out of my mind for the other 5 days a week with absolutely nothing in game worthwhile to do.

  • http://www.restokin.com Lissanna

    They catered to extreme casual and they catered to extreme hard-core and then FORGOT everyone else in the middle. That’s my real problem.

  • http://www.restokin.com Lissanna

    It’s not even about casual vs. hardcore. It’s about having enough variability in things available. If you log in and do the dailies every day, eventually doing that same exact set of quests gets boring. Re-itemizing the heroic dungeons to drop better badges doesn’t make doing them for the hundreth time any more fun. Hard-mode raid content for my guild feels like raiding while sticking one of your hands in a blender – because it’s the same content we can easily do on normal mode, but just frustratingly not something we can enjoy as a group…. so most non-raid days, my entire guild just doesn’t log in. Since there is only 1 or 2 days worth of raiding right now (where 1 day of raiding is about 2 hours), what am I supposed to do with the rest of my time when I’ve over-farmed all the dailies & heroics & hate PvP? They took out the option to raid more than 1 or 2 days a week, which SUCKS for everyone who used to enjoy raiding as the main thing we did in game.

  • http://www.restokin.com Lissanna

    There is a way they can strive to cater to multiple levels of players, but only catering to 2 levels of players leaves out everyone else.

  • http://www.restokin.com Lissanna

    I’d just quit the game, but since I only play 2 days a week in the first place, I see even that step as a really pointless gesture.

  • http://www.hotsdots.com Lath

    I appreciate where you are coming from however I think your basing your views purely on what happens on your particular server and I can’t actually agree with it :)

    I find these posts enjoyable and at the same time frustrating because it always pinpoints the raiders as being the elitist hardcore group who are complaining that the game isn’t good enough and I don’t actually think that is a fair assumption.

    First, I think you could argue that perhaps you are to some players definition a hardcore player as you take the time to do activities like griding rep and getting incredible painstaking achievements like Loremaster which involve a lot of effort.

    From what you outlined in your post above I think you actually play more hours a week than I do… I just choose to spend my 12 hours a week in a raid because that is the part of the game I love the most.

    Raiding 25 mans also does not mean you aren’t a casual player – its very much a server based thing. Barthilas where I play, you can PUG everything except TOGC 25 on a weekend with no guild tag and these players are in the same place as what you classify the small “minority” of bloggers and hardcore raiders – bored with pretty much no PVE content to clear.

    Also I think there are a lot more bloggers out there who are raiding 10 mans or heroics and playing in more “casual” guilds like yourself – enjoying writing and expressing yourself does not mean your hardcore WoW player…surely it just means you really enjoy the game.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/leafshine Leafy

    My playtime varies wildly – some weeks, it’s four hours on a Monday night, and that’s it. Some weeks it’s none at all. Some weeks I manage around the 12 you do.

    Two points in response:

    1. I never use the terms “hard-core” or “casual” once in my post, quite intentionally. This post was not about raiding, but about the game experience as a whole.

    I dislike the terms “casual” and “hard-core” intensely. I find that they are terms used by two groups of people with different play-styles to insult each other. And I wasn’t setting out to insult anyone, just to present an alternative one to the view that seems prevalent in the blogosphere right now.

    2. How do you know you aren’t just basing your reply on conditions on your server? :-)

    Frankly, the server conditions don’t matter much to what I’m saying. I’m in a tight, small, recruitment-controlled guild that tends to do things together or not at all. Apart from stuff like Wintergrasp, most of the people elsewhere on the server don’t really matter.

  • http://the-forest-cat.blogspot.com/ Keila

    I have no idea what category I’m in. I use Wow to relax. I wonder aimlessly and do achievements I find interesting. I’m in a really tiny guild with people I like and we are not in any way raiders. We have a sister guild if we want to raid and they don’t seem to care that my experience level in dungeons is often way behind theirs. We just enjoy each others company. I never pug, I just can’t deal with the way some people act.

    I tend to fall behind on my blog as I get caught up in things and then load a bunch of my pictures in one mad rush. I have to get better at that :)

    I’m not close to bored because I have so many places to visit, so many achievements to attempt. I will never be caught up and I’m kind of hoping Cataclysm comes out a little later, not earlier, because there are so many things I haven’t done.

    So, no idea where this places me. All I know is I enjoy the escape and inspiration that the game gives me.

  • http://www.sideshowandsyrana.com Syrana

    I’m with you, Keila. I’m in a casual/social guild that sometimes attempts raids (generally through alliances with other guilds or pugging). I’ve seen 2 wings of Naxx and that’s it.

    And I’m fine with that.

    I tend to enjoy chasing achievements (like Loremaster) more. The times I’ve raided (and when I had a brief stint in a medium raiding guild back in TBC) I usually found it more frustrating and nervewracking than fun.

    (Not to say I *never* enjoyed raiding, just the overall experiences – scheduling, prepping, others not prepared, etc outweigh the fun I’d had)

    My playstyle and approach tends to be casual, but I spend a lot of time in games each week. But, I’m also a multi-gamer, so that shifts my style and perspective as well.

  • http://www.treehaelz.wordpress.com Fîrewood

    I guess I feel like perhaps WoW might be “just right” for people who don’t log-in to the game every night or 5/7 nights for raids. However, WoW is just not providing enough interesting things for me to do. I am bored sick of the daily heroics, I do not enjoy PvP, I’ve gotten sick of doing dailies; the game just doesn’t offer much else for me. So at this point… I just log on to raid. Unfortunately, we’re running out of things to raid. This week for example, we cleared regular and heroic 25 ToC in one raid night, 25 Onyxia 25 VoA and finished up 25 Ulduar (Yogg +1) the next night, and did regular and heroic 10 ToC the third night. Needless to say, by Thursday we were out of raids to complete. I believe that a players’ view of the game (and whether it is “just right” or not) is going to be very individualized by their playstyle, their guild, and their time-commitment to the game.

    So, perhaps you’re correct in reference to certain players of Wow, but I would argue that there are a great number of players that are utterly sickened by the lack of activities to complete in-game at this point. I think that in order to say WoW is “just right” you have to be speaking in reference to a specific category of players. Now, that might be the category of players you were speaking about, but the generalize nature of your post speaks too broadly and many players would disagree with the statement. In addition, many players will have a vastly different idea of what an “average” WoW player means.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/leafshine Leafy

    Yes, but I wasn’t talking about the perceptual average. I was talking about the hard, factual average. Now, neither you nor I can say for sure where that is, but Blizzard knows, because it has the figures, and it seems to be working very hard to cater for those in the mainstream part of the bell curve.

    And I never claimed that everything in WoW was “just right” – just that the difficulty curve suited the average player, and that was likely to be less pleasing to the less average… (And that includes those who are the other end from people like you, people whose mains are not yet 80. And yes, those people exist.)

  • http://profile.typepad.com/thinzalot Thinkzalot
  • http://fallingleavesandwings.wordpress.com Beruthiel

    I guess I’m confused by the people stating that there are only two nights a week worth of content to raid…

    Sure ToC/ToGC potentially only takes two nights. But if you are working the ToGC HM, it’s a few nights of work to get them down for most guilds. Really, the only folks that are “out” of content is that 1-2% of the population that has all of TotGC on farm already.

    We are still raiding 4 nights a week, with something to do every night, although some nights we do finish up a bit early. Why? Because we didn’t throw Ulduar HM in the trash when ToC hit. Every week we picked one of the remaining Ulduar HM to work, every week it got a little easier for us as our gear improved from our ToC/ToGC work. And you know where we are? 9% on one light in the dark. And you know what? Our raiders are TOTALLY STOKED with our progression…almost more so with our “months behind” Ulduar progression than how well we’ve been doing in ToGC.

    Sure…nobody is really getting upgrades out of those Ulduar hard modes. But raiding shouldn’t always be 100% about gear, and this is a good example about how setting and meeting goals can be equally as rewarding as looting shiny purple pixels. Nobody complains about the time we are spending in Ulduar, people still log in to raid, and when we asked folks last night after 4 hours of grinding Yogg if they wanted to work Anub tonight or go back to Yogg, 90% of the people wanted to see one dead squid.

    There *is* still content out there to be completed, you just need to opt to take the challenges still available.

    As for if WoW is in a good balance? Eh…the raid game *is* a bit unbalanced to where you either faceroll your way through normals or slam your head against the Hard Modes. There really isn’t a middle ground in the “current” tier progression (being the newly released tier). And that is hugely frustrating if you are in a guild that is above average, but also not bleeding edge. Largely I think ToC was just poor design all around, and that is what is unsettling most people in the raid game right now, but I could be wrong.

    That being said, I still see a fair bit to occupy folks. Many of our friends and family members still log in, still find activities to participate in, and still seem to be enjoying the game. I still play outside of raid time, achievement seeking on Beru or playing various alts. Is WoW “just right”? I don’t think so. But it’s not “wrong” either.

    Just my two cents! :)