It came from the PUG: Is there something in the Northrend water that turns people into idiots?

One of the big questions in WoW at the moment is what effect the lack of challenge in heroic instances will have on the playerbase as a whole.

The gear progression has been so steep in Wrath, and Blizzard have been so keen to make sure that new 80s can easily catch up (which is a worthy goal and has made a lot of players very happy!) that players race through the level 80 heroics with barely any need or knowledge of tactics. Everything gets pulled in clumps and AEd down. A dps class is measured on how quickly they can down trash – great for puffing up the damage meters. A tank is measured on how quickly they can grab AE threat and sustain it. A healer is measured on how invisible they are to the rest of the group while this is happening – plus ca change.

So the thought is that players are currently being trained to expect that all instances will be a 10 minute AE gankfest. And anything less will be met with screams of frustration. But is that really true?

I’ve run a few PUGs on levelling alts recently, and actually I found that players tend to adapt far better than that. If they need to communicate, then they will pause and do it. So on a BRD emperor run, even the newbies who were acting like twits sat and listened to instructions and used their torches correctly.

For sure, there are still players who forget that not everyone is in full heirlooms and try to run low level instances as if they were on their ICC geared mains. But I suspect that doesn’t last long. The tank who pulled half of Ragefire Chasm last night and then bitched at the healer when we wiped will learn that doesn’t work. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

And yet somehow, as soon as players cross the sea to Northrend, they forget it all again

What I have found in general is that aside from the odd tosser, low level groups do tend to eventually get it together.  But somehow, as soon as you start queueing for Northrend normal instances, everyone acts like an idiot again.

So my latest alt in Northrend is a DK tank, and yes I picked blood spec because I like it. The up-front AE threat isn’t as strong as others, but it’s a perfectly fine tanking spec. If I group with impatient dps, I usually mark the first mob with a skull so that they know it will be the one with the highest initial threat. Pretty simple, stuff you’d think. Or at least you might think that if you have never tanked, in which case you would know that inevitably the skull-marked mob will always be the last one standing.

The other day, I did this in a group and one of the other players went ballistic when I asked him to kill the skull first. It was all, “Screw your skull!!!!!” and the like.   I can’t be bothered with that type of hassle any more so I explained that there were lots of things I could be doing in the next 30 minutes and any of them were better than tanking for him, and left.

But what I don’t understand is why he was so angry. I wasn’t rude. All I asked was for him to target the skull first.

Maybe he associated marking as something that was bad, or a mark of a bad group or bad tank. Or just resented being reminded that he wasn’t in a group with a bunch of silent NPC minions who would get on and do their thing so that he could sit back, AE every group and then profit.

Maybe it’s all the saronite in the water, but something in Northrend seems to make players forget anything they possibly learned in instances while levelling.  It is all too easy to understand why people get put off tanking in Northrend. I will probably switch my DK over to dps and only tank with friends, at least until I’ve had a chance to gear up. It’s no skin off my nose and will be a lot less stressful.

Fall of the Lich King, End of an Era

arthas_2

Today, the final wing of the Icecrown Citadel is being patched to the US servers, and with it the final chapter in the Fall of the Lich King.

There are no spoilers in this post, but here are a couple of links if you want to know more:

The tone of the cinematic is sombre. It’s not a ‘Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” moment, even though Arthas was a dreadful monster. Instead, there’s a tone of mourning the passing of someone or something who meant a lot to the players, and to the game. The music is particularly poignant, and if you like that, mmo-champion has a link to a longer version.

If the storyline takes a Diablo-esque turn, it shouldn’t really be surprising. Wrath has always been coloured by the more gothic side of WoW, with its themes of damnation, duty, and morally gray decisions.

(It’s only ironic when you think that when players get to see this cinematic in game, they probably will all be bouncing around and wanting to know what loot he dropped.)

There are still plenty of hanging plot threads. But then again, there are still a few months before Cataclysm, there might be time to at least finish the Ebon Blade storyline before the next world endangering peril. Plus we still don’t know exactly what goes on in Icecrown when players get to fight the Lich King for themselves. It’s possible that more NPCs are involved than are in this cinematic.

And also, isn’t it impressive how great music and decent voice acting and animation can distract you from blocky graphics?

Foreshadowing vs The Twist in the Tale

Reactions I’ve read on boards are tinged with disappointment. Not because people hate the clip, but because they had already guessed the plot.

Sometimes, a storyteller just can’t win. Foreshadowing sets players’ expectations, it often leads to a more satisfying conclusion because of being known in advance. Surprise endings are frustrating if there wasn’t enough foreshadowing in the story or if it genuinely wasn’t possible to see that twist coming.

There aren’t many writers who can deliver a genuine punchy twist in the tale, which makes the readers say, “Oh that’s not possible. Surely. Wait. Oh damn, why didn’t I guess that? All the signs were there!”

For me, it works well enough. There is an emotional punch to the cinematic, and enough closure to inform people that we’ve done what we came to do in Northrend, and it’s time to move on. It won’t win Bookers, but it does the job. And the music is lovely.