Warlords of Faff
The one thing I have to give this expansion credit for is that they really have embraced the gospel of faff. There are more widgets and thing-a-ma-bobs for me to fiddle with in this expansion than any in any mmo to date. It seems like I can lose entire mornings with all of the little goals that I seem to have. Garrisons are a big portion of this, requiring just enough effort to make it worth doing… but requiring just enough time to eat up large blocks of your time. They are this glorious black hole for people who are like me and are huge fans of short term goals. On the other side of the equation there are folks who absolutely hate them, because they represent an end to the way certain portions of this game worked. For the folks that loved farming resources and then using those resources to play the auction house… unfortunately that time is over. To a lesser extent you can do this with savage blood because on my server that is going for 2000g each. However it takes 50 primal spirits to get a single blood, so the amount of farming to the reward is pretty minimal.
I like the way you gradually level your tradeskills and gathering skills through the use of the Garrison. I was never one who enjoyed grinding either of these things, and being able to know that through doing daily snippets of mining and crafting I can eventually max out makes me a happy person. I realize there will be a point where I run out of things that I want to do… but it is going to be a long time down the road. For example I am already plotting removing either my inn or my lumber mill once I have gained all that I can get from them and I figure there will be other buildings that I do the same with. In other faffy news you notice I am riding an Onyxia mount in the above picture. As part of this mornings faff while waiting on a cat to decide she was done laying on my arms… I took my mage over to onyxia. For some time I have been killing her on every single level 90 character that I thought could reasonably do it each week. Finally the mount dropped this morning and I can stop that extremely time consuming process. However I am sure there will be a new target of my mount farming obsession.
WoW Xmas Wishlist
One of the best parts of playing any Blizzard game is the integration with Battle.net so that you can communicate with your friends regardless of what game they happen to be playing. This was awesome in that even when I was not playing World of Warcraft, I still had access to my friends playing the game through the ease of the battle.net launcher chat. The system is extremely awesome for what it does, and the wow implementation is great as it works fairly well cross server allowing you to group up with your friends even if you don’t happen to be on the same server. The problem is however it is still very limiting in that you have a fixed maximum number of friends. You are allowed to have a maximum number of battle.net based friends be it through the Real ID system or the newer Battle Tag system.
Folks look at me like I am crazy but after being a guild leader for well over a decade you end up with a lot of people that you want to keep up with. Once you factor in places like twitter and other social media… the 100 slots are just too limiting. I hate the process I have to go through regularly of trying to find someone I don’t really talk to that often to delete… in favor of adding someone new to the list. So the first item on my Xmas wishlist is for Blizzard to greatly increase the number of available battle.net slots. I hate to admit it, but I would even be willing to pay some sort of premium subscription to have this number uncapped, or at the very least tripled. Especially once you factor in that I have different groups of friends that play different blizzard games… bumping this number up is going to become crucial.
Cross Server / Cross Game Social Channels
One of the ways we have managed to get around the limited size of friends lists in the past was through the use of social channels. During the heyday of non-guild based raiding, we had several channels that served the purpose of giving us a much larger extended guild chat for both the Late Night Raiders and Duranub Raiding Company. These were great, and I would love to see this concept come back into vogue. The problem is at this point single server channels are just too limiting. Our raid currently pulls in folks from other servers on a somewhat regular basis, and if we had a raid chat channel, we would really need it to work across realms. I realize you can have some limited chat functionality with battle.net but what we need are persistent channels similar to the way Diablo 2 used to have them. That way regardless of server you can keep in touch with your social friends.
To take this to the next step we really need these channels to also exist across all of the current battle.net enabled games. As it stands currently we have House Stalwart folks that are playing all of the available Blizzard games. Last night we had groups in Diablo 3, World of Warcraft and a whole bunch of us in Heroes of the Storm. It would be so much easier to keep a common guild continuity if we could all hang out in the same “guild chat” in the form of a shared cross game battle.net chat channel. Essentially Blizzard has the beginnings of something amazing here, and they keep building these really infectious games in different genres. Coupling them all together in a shared communications infrastructure will only serve to reinforce the “stickyness” of each of the individual games. That way players can feel like they can have the freedom to play ANY game in their line-up without losing any aspect of that rich social structure they have built already.
The final wish I have for blizzard is to let me have European friends, or friends from other regions in general. I find it maddening that I live my life in a connected world that allows me to have friends from all around the world… but I am playing a game that tries to separate off these players into regional buckets. I realize this is likely a tall wish but I know so many people thats lives would be made better by it. Sure I would love to have cross region grouping… but I would settle with just being able to have some basic “hey how are you doing” style communication between the server regions. I realize that you guys kinda screwed yourself early on by recycling server names between the regions. However it seems like your current battle.net connection system takes this into account by referring to the servers by the fully qualified names of “Argent Dawn US” or “Argent Dawn EU”.
Blizzard already does some pretty amazing things, given the age of the game and what has to be an insane server infrastructure. At the end of the day however we just want to be able to play freely with our friends, without having to ask them to completely uproot their established social structure and server transfer… or in the case of other regions start completely from scratch. Warlords of Draenor is an expansion where you have very much learned the lessons of just how important nostalgia is. Players don’t want to abandon their servers and their existing pools of friends, but at the same time keep meeting new people from around the world that they also would like to play with. If you can somehow leverage this social connectedness it is only going to serve to strengthen the player bonds to your game. Here is hoping that you are at least working on some of the things I have talked about, because you have some really good systems at work here, but you are one or two steps away from absolute greatness.