I 100% absolutely failed. You see, with my post about the difficulty of WoW for the average player, I was trying to stay away from the raiding debate, and look at things from a whole-WoW perspective. But, unfortunately, people saw it as being about them and their playstyle, and that was not my intention at all. Lissanna was clearly quite upset about it, and posted this as the intro to her follow-up post:
Okay, so I got frustrated at poor leafshine’s post today. Why? Well, because she says that the pace of the game is just right – and that the average player is happy just doing the same content over and over and over again – and that anyone who is unhappy with the game right now, you are basically all alone because no one else is unhappy… because the game is in a perfect place right now, because it caters perfectly to her.
She's since rewritten the intro. But I'd just like to say: if that's how I made you feel, I'm sorry. I apologise for any upset caused. It was not my intention to lecture or criticise those who are frustrated with the game in any way shape or form. I am an occasional raider, at best, and I'm not in a position to make any comment at all about the difficulty level of the end-game raid content, 'cos I'm just starting Ulduar.
I certainly wasn't suggesting that the average player is happy doing the same thing repeatedly - I'm certainly not. Ulduar is brand-new to me. Most of the quests I'm doing as I work on Loremaster are, by definition, new to me. And I certainly made no suggestion that people who aren't happy are alone. Just talking about "average" people implies that that are non-average people. I was talking about the peak of the bell curve, the bulge in the middle, and not those who are on the further parts of the slope either side.
In a sense, Lissanna reinforced one of my points, rather than countering it. She filtered my post through her own experiences, and saw it through the lens of raiders, who are, quite literally, doing the same thing again and again while they wait for Icecrown Citadel to emerge. It's interesting that, on the whole, the people who responded negatively to my post are the people who play WoW mainly to raid1. This reflexive assumption that any post about WoW difficulty is about raiding is a characteristic of the blogging demographic who are, by and large, raiders. That's what the game is about, on the whole, to them. I'm not one of them. I'm a WoW player who raids sometimes.
I think the Fluid Druid sums it up best, in fact:
If you are a casual player (hint: If you read WoW blogs, you are probably NOT a casual player), then WOTLK is absolutely awesome for you. Unlike BC where most content was far too difficult to accomplish, 90% of the current content is puggable. Gear progression is easy, and getting easier. There are lots of paths for character advancement besides raiding; achievements, WE’s, PvP, etc.
If you are a raider, then things are very meh.
He just summed things up in a few sentences that it took Lissanna and I a few thousand words to say between us. :)
My guildmate Dale has also plunged into the debate, with a lengthy and, I think, quite insightful post from the perspective of someone who is pretty hard-core in his game time by anyone's standards:
And... I am not bored with WoW yet. Ok, I go through phases lasting 2-3 days where I might just "not feel like playing", but not because I am bored, rather because I want to do a different kind of activity. (ie. non-computer) So why am I not bored, while less "hard core" players like Lissanna are? I think it's because for Lissanna, and many of the people who commented on her Blog, Raiding is the main reason they play WoW, and they have run out of fresh raid content. I play far more broadly than that.
I think the nub of this issue is that WoW has become a lot less forgiving, over time, of those who choose to only concentrate on one aspect of the game. I went through a bad period of WoW ennui, similar to that being felt by the raiders now, because I'd run out of Northrend questing to do. That's my absolute favourite thing to do in the game: PvE questing, both solo and in groups. I enjoyed the Northrend questing experience. It was simply fantastic. And it was done. I had no more of it to do. No more questing, in fact, until the next expansion. I nearly quit then, because I realised I had precisely two choices: find something else to do, or quit the game until the next expansion. And that "something else" proved to be, well, everything. I craft, I raid, I do heroics, I do dailies, I grind reps, I pvp and I do Achievements. I mix them all up, so I don't get too bored of any one thing. If I get bored of all that, I still have alt levelling to do.
And perhaps that's the point I was really trying to make on Saturday. WoW is a game that, in the Wrath age, rewards a broad-brush approach to play. And which can be very unforgiving if you only have one or two aspects of the game that really appeal to you. Questers are faced with the knowledge that they have no major new content until the next expansion. Raiders can easily get bored or frustrated if a tier of raiding doesn't meet their expectations. Even PvPers get bored of fighting the same battles again and again. The trick for Blizzard, with the next expansion, will be to try and square this circle; to reward the generalist without boring the specialist to tears. Or maybe that can't be done, and both Blizz and each of element of the player base will have to make their choice.
1 Something of an aside, but this is one reason I stopped listening to Twisted Nether for a while. There was a whole succession of guests who were only interested in the raiding game, and I just got a little bored. Once there were enough other episodes, covering other playstyles, I listened out of order and caught up.