You’ve probably read last Saturday’s New York Times interview with Warcraft’s lead designer Tigole, known offline as Mrs. Kaplan’s son Jeff. (NYT link for those returning from a lost weekend)
A little background, if you don’t follow the gaming gossip rags as closely as you should, Tigole was an EQ catasser and behemoth guildleader of some note who joined Blizzard a few years back, worked his way through the ranks to lead designer, and is now pumping out endgame content.
Back to the NYT interview that Tigole really wishes he hadn’t done, here’s the salient paragraph:
Q. Why not just let casual players get rewards comparable to those from raids?
A. It would be almost impossible for us to do, and this is a philosophical decision. We need to put a structure in place for players where they feel that if they do more difficult encounters, they’ll get rewarded for it. As soon as we give more equal rewards across the board, for a lot of players it will diminish the accomplishment of killing something like Nefarian. My favorite times in the development cycle are when there are encounters that are close to being defeated but have not yet been beaten. It really creates a sense of awe among the players that there is something big and truly dangerous in the world. But it would be very disappointing if the items found on Nefarian were the same thing you could get in your nightly Stratholme run. [Stratholme is a much easier five-person dungeon.]
On Monday, Tigole responded to The Outcry, or what the raiders would refer to as The Whining:
While I appreciate the passion with which everyone is responding to the recent article in the New York Times, I think it’s important to clarify a few things:
The author of the article specifically wanted to discuss the raid game, so that’s what we talked about. We did briefly discuss some of the upcoming casual content, such as the new armor sets. But the focus of the article was Naxxramas, so that’s what we centered our conversation around. But please bear in mind, this isn’t the only content we’re working on. We’ve been working on all sorts of things ranging from casual level 60 quest improvements and armor sets, reviving Outdoor PvP, epic 10 man dungeons for the expansion, and various other improvements to the game.
While I understand that a certain audience would rather hear about more “casual” oriented content, I cannot force the hand of a journalist to skew his story. In fact, I think it’s pretty cool that someone who writes for a newspaper as esteemed as the New York Times shares a common interest with us as World of Warcraft players. It’s refreshing to talk to someone from the mainstream press who is intimate with the issues we face as players and developers of this game. It speaks to this community as a whole.
So I think it’s very important not to get up in arms over the fact that the article focused on part of the game that you might not necessarily be interested in. We’re definitely committed to supplying content for all audiences of this game . It’s not an argument as simple as “hardcore versus casual”, it goes way beyond that.
For the people who seem to be upset, you might find it encouraging that a big focus of patch 1.10 is supplying more content for casual, max-level players. While I cannot promise “the ultimate fix”, I can at least hope to show you guys that we’re working on making things better. I think it also needs to be mentioned, that players need to keep in mind that by railing against content that you don’t personally enjoy — whether it be raids, casual content or PvP — it won’t improve anything. In fact, it’s detrimental to our community. As a development team, we’re going to add content for everyone. Just because we might be adding PvP content in a certain patch, does not mean we’re forgetting about PvE players. What is helpful to us, is when you identify what you liked and want more of. But leading a crusade against something which other players enjoy nightly is counter-productive to everyone involved.
Moving right along, please keep in mind that there are two voices present in the article you are discussing. There are some direct quotes from me and then there’s the voice of the author of the article. I’ve seen numerous misquotes in these threads attributing the author’s words as my own. It’s very dangerous when you start to misquote someone. If you base your whole argument on a misquote, your argument doesn’t have much value to it other than to unjustly make someone look bad. The simple fact is, there’s nothing to argue here. We want to — and we’re going to — add more content for *everyone*.
Lastly, I’d like to clarify the misconception that I am new to this design staff and that’s the only reason we’re focusing on raid content. For those of you who didn’t know, I am one of the original designers on the game. My first project was to help co-design the quest system. I don’t think anyone can claim that the quest system is “too hardcore” or biased towards anyone type of player. I guess if you find zones like Westfall, Mulgore, Tirisfal Glades or Duskwood “too hardcore” than I stand guilty as charged. The original design vision of this game has remained intact. We focus on all aspects of this game — from casual content to raids to PvP to tradeskills to user interface. Nothing has changed.
To summarize, please remember that the author wanted to talk about raid content. So naturally that article focused on the raiding game. But we, as a development team, are focused on all play-styles. Rather than get upset at some of the personal insults I’ve seen over the weekend, I am actually flattered that the players of World of Warcraft have such passion for this game. I want you to know that I personally share your passion. We’ll do everything in our power to make sure that we can deliver content for everyone, not just a select few.
And later in the day, Tigole
made up announced some of the non-raider content arriving with the next patch, 1.10:
We’ve been hard at work at Patch 1.10 and I’m excited to bring you a small sneak preview of some of the content. We’ll be offering a series of quests for maximum level players so they can obtain a really good, class-specific armor set. This should prove to be a great way for non-raiding players to upgrade their gear. Here are some highlights:
– Characters follow a new quest line to obtain an armor set
– The armor sets contain 4 rare and 4 epic pieces
– Some of the pieces can be obtained by soloing (including one of the epic pieces)
– The most difficult pieces to obtain require a UBRS level group
– We are adding new bosses to existing dungeons
– Some of the existing dungeons are being re-itemized
Lots of the better blogs have solid commentary on this whole discussion already, but I’d like to point out a few things that the newer people might not understand. I’ll have to do this bluntly too, because I don’t have a whole lot of time this morning.
1. (This point is becoming more and more obvious), the World of Warcraft endgame is moving ever closer to a state of EQness. If they announce the new alliance race in the expansion is dark elves, that will be your clue that this is a done deal.
2. There are two games in Warcraft, the game from level 1 through 59.9995 and the endgame, your life at level 60. Levels 1 – 59, happy happy joy joy skipping around the continents alone or with a small group of friends. Level 60, raid raid raid raid raid and on the offday(s), farm farm farm to pay the raid bills.
3. If you don’t like raiding (the 40-mans and to a lesser extent, the 20-mans) … let me reword that. If you won’t raid, ummm, the game is kinda over for you. There’s just not much here and maybe you should go do something else. That sounds harsh, and I do not agree that this is how it should be, but it is the truth.
4. I am a raider, I’m in a raiding guild, but like many raiders in raiding guilds, I don’t really LIKE raiding. It’s a huge pain in the ass. If there was an alternate means to grow our characters, many of us would take it. Therefore, I’m really puzzled why the more vocal raiders are so adamant that epic gear only be available in the 40-man zones. Who cares? I sure don’t.
5. I agree with the axiom … greater reward for greater effort. Unfortunately, it seems the only measure of greater effort seems to be greater time or greater pain in the ass. Almost seven years of MMOG raiding and this is the only idea that anyone has come up with — spend several consecutive hours coordinating a huge group of players.
6. Good news that the NPCs will eventually take over opening the Ahn’Queer gates for the slower servers. My own server’s efforts have completely broken down, which is actually quite entertaining.
First, the top guilds on both factions offered contests, similar to every other server … get free Molten Core gear if you win the lotto out of all the players turning in quest materials. My servermates said, “nah, not good enough. Learn2Bribe.” (HAHAHA, what whores we are.)
Then, the top guilds started calling out people in the other raiding guilds for selling quest materials on the AH at inflated prices. (again, whores.) They didn’t call me out, I have an Auction House alt. He’s now richer than God, thankyouverymuch.
The server contest prizes were expanded to be more attractive to the non-raiders. They remained disinterested and said, “Why should we care, this is for you not us.” The raiders said, “No No! There’s stuff for everyone to do in Ahn’Queer! You’ll like it!” The non-raiders, “meh.”
This weekend, the top Alliance guild, or DramaCentral as we like to call it, goes through YET ANOTHER disband, reform cycle, with the sceptor holder refusing to rejoin until his demands are met.
Needless to say, quest turnins have pretty much ground to a halt.
And that’s why the best quests and encounters are those that rip guilds apart and destroy inter-guild relations. Gives us something to talk about in Hour Three of Raid905.