Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Whole Lotta Slimming Going On

Courtesy of Rohan of Blessing of Kings, I found out about this little tidbit from MMO-Champion:


  • The Jade Forest quests had a very clear story, but it also had a lot of side quests that could bog you down.
  • In Warlords of Draenor, your map will show you where to go to continue the main storyline, along with the locations of bonus objectives.
  • The bonus objectives no longer have any story text that go with them, just a list of objectives. Now when there is quest text, you will know that it is really worth reading."*
My first, flippant remark on Blessing of Kings' comment section was that Blizz is cutting corners rather than being innovative. And really, on the face of it that sure seems to be the case. But I wonder if this is just another nail in the coffin for all previous WoW content.

Consider: you buy WoD, you can get an instant L90 upgrade. You'll also be allowed to purchase additional L90 upgrades as well. Both of these, taken together, mean that you don't have to play any of the previous content at all to play WoW. 

Now, add the quest "slimming" to the mix, and you've got a recipe tailor made for people who say "the game only starts at max level". The only way it could get easier to get to max level would be to show up in different places, watch a cutscene, battle a boss, and move to the next location.**

I'm sure Blizzard is viewing this as a win-win situation. After all, consider the following positives:
  • Less time coming up with clever ways to describe how to kill ten rats.
  • Shuts up the complainers who say that leveling is a bore and takes time away from raiding.
  • Partially cuts the legs out from under the shadowy business of third party "we'll level your toon for you" routines.
  • Focuses the storyline so that authors don't have a myriad of new names to keep track of when writing novels.***
  • Makes the game seem more like Guild Wars 2, which has a similar mechanic, but on a reduced scale.
  • Allows Blizzard to put more time into Scenarios and Raids for important content, rather than spending time trying to explain side quests.
However, all I can think of is one thing:

Mankrik's Wife.

Side quests give a zone a flavor just as much as art and music. Were it not for the side quests, the "kill ten rats" quests, we'd never have come to know Mankrik's Wife, one of the most well known memes in the game. The original Green Hills of Stranglethorn quest --that maddening quest that would fill up your bag space-- gave pre-Cata Stranglethorn Vale as much flavor as all the ganking going on. The old questline in pre-Cata Thousand Needles to assist Magistrix Elosai in searching for a cure for the Blood Elves' magical addition would be gone, as would Apprentice Mirveda's attempts to cleanse the Dead Scar in Eversong Woods.

Life --even online MMO life-- is filled with little quirks and oddball things. Quest slimming would eliminate a large part of that, in favor of speed and efficiency. Which begs the question: is this a game, or a job?

*MMO-Champion is referencing this developer interview held at PAX East 2014 on YouTube.

**Or you could just buy a max level toon. Opening up Pandora's Box by allowing people to buy an expac's starting level means that it's not out of the realm of the possibility.

***Any expanded universe of novels --Dragonlance, Thieves' World, Forgotten Realms, Star Wars, or Star Trek, for starters-- has to deal with this problem. And, I've been told, it's not pretty.


  1. Damn, I wish I had thought of Mankrik's Wife. It's the perfect example of a throwaway side-quest that would be lost under this system. Crystallizes the problem perfectly.

    1. Thanks, Rohan.

      Afterward, I thought of a bunch of old Vanilla era quests --like those that sent you to Azshara-- that were completely throwaway, but highlighted the distrust that the Horde had with the Blood Elves.

      Or the tortuous "have to go run Stratholme fifty times" and then "go run Lower Blackrock Spire another bunch of times" to go and satisfy the demand of Eitrigg and the shade outside of Stratholme. Sure, that wasn't fun, but it sure lent flavor to the game world.

  2. Oh, dear, this sounds like it has the potential to make leveling alts much less exciting. Sometimes I level alts almost exclusively on the side-quests, ignoring the main storyline of a zone as much as possible. Or I pick and choose among the side quests based on the personality of the character I'm playing. How am I going to make each alt's leveling experience a little different without side-quests?

    1. This might actually kill any interest I have in the WoD story, because the big surprise for me in Jade Forest was how much of a return to Wrath era questing it was (Dragonblight in particular, which culminated in the Wrathgate event). Where the devs see inefficiency, I see flavor.

  3. Presumably, the fun of levelling is also going to be worsened by scaling XP rewards yet again so that it will take as much time to level from 1-100 as it previously did to level from 1-60, meaning more and more grey quests in every zone, and more and more storylines whose quests will be trivial by the time you get halfway through them.

    1. I think what'll happen is that --outside of PvP-- Blizz simply won't care about old content. Saves them having to tune things, and since they're focusing completely on end game content, it only makes sense.

      Still, I feel like Blizz is completely throwing away their greatest advantage over all other MMOs: this metric ton of old content.

  4. This sounds awful, the quests they except and the people who they help along the way are how I get to know my characters. I don't think I'm the only one who's here to live in the world, not endgame.

    1. I can't imagine you playing Cat and not meandering down different rabbit holes, and this pretty much takes that away.