The process of getting bored goes something like this:
- (new shiny incentive)
- make progress
- reconsider tactics
- make more progress
- first kill
- (no more upgrades available)
When I put it like this, you can see how closely tied it is with the learning process. Games are all about learning. This is why the most fun parts of a lot of games are right at the start when everything is new, everything you do is learning, and progression is fast (you learn lots of new things quickly). And in the best, most timeless games like Chess and Bejewelled, there’s always some way to learn more and improve.
WoW is not a timeless classic. This is mostly OK because there are other ways to have fun in the game than learning encounters. There’s exploring, PvP, collecting stuff, chatting to friends, meeting other players and griefing them, showing off in front of the bank … the options are unlimited! But the point is that it’s a social game as well as a pure gamist game so social interaction is part of the deal.
I generally start to get bored with an instance just after the first time I’ve completed it in a semi-smooth fashion. I can’t help it; I’m motivated by wanting to see the content, not by wanting to set records on how quickly I can kill monsters. Once I have seen it, there’s still some learning to do which keeps my waning interest. Then possibly the desire to show off to my guildies about how awesomely I can tank instance X (not actually sure they see it that way). And by the time I’m looking at the loot on Wowhead as if it was a shopping list and calculating how many trips to each ‘shop’ I need to get my stuff, I’m already bored.
So instances being harder or requiring more crowd control isn’t really going to keep my interest longer. For that, they’d simply need to be more ‘fun’ and I’m not sure how well I can define what that means.
For the record, I have no issue with needing more crowd control. I’ll happily mark mobs up for sheep/root etc until the cows come home. But I’m not thrilled by the prospect of more instances that are easy with the ‘right’ class composition but hard mode without. It may be challenging my ability to type ‘/invite mage’ but that’s not really increased difficulty or fun per se. What people really want is more chances to use their class specific abilities that aren’t pure damage, healing, or tanking. Crowd control is just one example of that. Unfortunately these things only really come into play in more uncontrolled environments, either PvPish or when a pull goes horribly wrong.
In any case, I know my class now. The instances are known as soon as someone posts maps and tactics to them, which is probably before they even go live. So that’s removed a whole tier of learning from the game.
Making them harder doesn’t necessarily make them more interesting to me unless we get to sit around thinking about tactics. I think I was bored of TBC heroics quite early on also.
More Diablo-style randomness of layouts and bosses would probably help. More puzzles and jumping games would be fun for me, but probably not for a lot of other people.
The holy grail of instances is simply being able to tailor the encounters to the group. So if you have a mage, druid or rogue, put in a puzzle that needs invisibility. If you have a warlock, make sure there’s stuff to banish. And so on.
Unfortunately randomness and tailoring runs against the desire to have carefully crafted instances with epic storylines attached. Which Blizzard honestly does very well when they want to. It was one of the big selling points of vanilla WoW. So do you pick the gamier option with more to learn or do you pick the narrative option with the better story?
I don’t know, I love stories but you only have to see each one ONCE.
The Alt Solution
This is the other way round heroics. You can sneak an extra learning curve in by playing an alt or respeccing your main to a new spec. Maybe fool yourself for a few more runs that you are doing something new.
My not-so-little-any-more warlock is good to go in heroics. I’ve run a couple. I outdpsed a death knight in one which I think probably reflects more on him than on me (I’m affliction). It’ll keep me busy for awhile at least.
Anyone else bored of heroics? How do you keep yourself interested? Would you be more interested if Blizzard brought in some new badge gear?