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KoЯndog
#1 11-02-2010, 13:02:06 PM
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While Morhaime's statement sounds a bit damning, he hasn't said anything about the number that really counts -- of the remaining 30% that makes it past level 10, what portion are converted into sales? If it's anywhere near the full 30%, they're doing fantastically and deserve a "Everything is fine, nothing is ruined" sticker.

70% of people getting bored of a game they are offered for free is nothing new; some of those people who failed to break level 10 probably ran out of time (though two weeks for that is a looong time), and decided not to pay. Some of them just got bored, of course.

Now then, let's break the issue down. First, the 70%. Some small percentage of these people are your gold-sell-spammers, but Blizzard has cut down on this number by limiting trial capabilities (namely, trial accounts can no longer talk in public chat channels or send unsolicited messages -- now, they have to invite you to a group first. You don't see a lot of this anymore).

Next, to play along with what Luke wants me to play along with -- why is the beginning of WoW so boring to new players? Of course, WoW is most boring at the 1-10 range; you have the least number of skills, it's all relatively easy-going, and nothing is very complicated. Pretty boring - it's hard to convince folks that it gets better than this when there's no one to really talk to at those levels, which brings me (sort of) to my next point.

Traditionally, World of Warcraft is two games. We'll go over them here, then talk about their ramifications afterward.

First, it is levelquest. Your objective is to run around completing quests, killing things, etc etc, whatever it takes to reach the max level. The vast majority of this portion of the game is completed solo by most players, with the occasional dungeon or group quest thrown in for flavor. Player interactions of all sorts are low, PVP included. You may choose to participate in organized PVP before level 80, but it is largely fruitless for reasons beyond the scope of this discussion. Eventually, you hit level 80, and it becomes:

Gearquest, AKA World of Warcraft. Here, the game blooms. All of a sudden there's a rich amount of content to be completed -- tons of five man dungeons, harder (not hard, but to someone who is just hitting 80 and does not know what is what, it's probably hard) versions of all the Lich King dungeons, 10/25man raids, again with a lot of difficulty variability involved, lots of battleground PVP and the competitive arena system. Here, a player's objective is to get the best gear possible to compete in whatever space(s) he is interested in (10man raiding, 25man raiding [not necessarily exclusive], Arena PVP). Almost all of this requires groups of players to complete (BGing can be done solo, you can get some epics solo -- but not the good ones), and as such the game becomes much more social. The process of almost never-ending character advancement that anyone who isn't at the tippy top of their game may play through provides motivation to continue doing what they're doing. The social aspect of the game at this point is what keeps many raider-types hooked. In addition, there's still solo stuff to be done (some reputations, a bajillion achievements, daily quests, tradeskilling that is now actually relevant [let's be serious, it's not relevant pre-80]).

Problems with Gearquest that Blizzard has looked at:

Players originally had trouble finding raidwork to do in the BC/Classic eras if they weren't guilded -- those raid encounters were largely very difficult for pick up groups, due to gear gap and organizational gap issues. Those gaps have been pushed closer together in WotLK, where gear gaps are much smaller (there are heroic 5mans that give rewards on par with the 10man second-hardest raid, iirc, and all heroics award tokens that give even better rewards than that -- so anyone investing in their character can get at least passable gear even without a steady guild). Back in the Classic WoW days, the same level of effort that gets you "good" gear now would have given you a series of blues that were totally useless in all but the easiest raid situations.

I've highlighted a critical issue with Gearquest as evidence that Blizzard is capable of breaking an issue down and restoring/broadening the appeal of part of their game. Hopefully this can extend to the problems with Levelquest, which I'll go over here.

Levelquest is almost a disingenuous representation of what World of Warcraft is. Most people who really play the game today are playing Gearquest - they've got at least one level 80. They regularly group up with random people using WoW's relatively new/wonderful Dungeon Finder (literally, you choose either a dungeon or a random dungeon, wait a few, and you get a group of people to play with). They join 10/25man pugs for things and PVP on occasion. They chat with people in Trade chat and many are in guilds. Levelquest's problems are a total lack of social interaction and a lack of variability on how to do it - grinding quests is pretty much all you've got (I think you can get XP in battlegrounds now? But I don't recall hearing that being a viable way to go about it).

The problems, then, for Blizzard, at the core of his issue, are the disparities between Levelquest and Gearquest, given that the server populations are largely mature -- meaning the lower levels are largely bereft of players. Everyone wants to play Gearquest, people rarely want to play Levelquest [especially after they've done it once]. Note that on nascent servers this isn't as much of a problem; when there are tons of lower level players, you don't really bump into as many of these isolation issues. The solution seems relatively simple on paper at least - integrate Levelquest into Gearquest Proper. Encourage the same social interaction building up to level 80 that exists at level 80. Open up the Dungeon Finder for every dungeon (done!) and add content for those first few levels -- even if it just means a scaled down super easy version of RFC/Deadmines that doesn't require any level of skill to complete. Give substantial experience for anything a new player could want to do. Award massive experience for exploring. Boost the gain for battlegrounds. Award heavy experience gain for leveling tradeskills. Make the equipment picked up through low level dungeons meaningful, so you won't just replace them in a few levels (unless it's with better dungeon gear - point is, add equipment to *everything* as added incentive for doing it).

Yes, it might 'trivialize' the earlygame, but it's already trivial -- just time consuming. Why not let new players do whatever they want and be rewarded for it? What have you got to lose by incentivizing letting a player follow his/her whims? You could argue that you'd end up with level 80 players who don't know how to function in their roles if they spent too much of their leveling process doing non-combat stuff -- I would concede that this might exacerbate and already extant issue, but only in part. Most fresh level 80s already do not really know what they're doing in groups, and this integration won't change that. Much of the learning of how-to-play-at-80 already happens at 80.

Ironically I feel like I've said all this a bit curtly - there's a lot more I could say here, but I've already said plenty. Sorry if this was a bit long-winded, folks


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Jemina
#2 11-02-2010, 14:00:35 PM
tl;dc


Skrag
#3 11-02-2010, 15:57:28 PM
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#4 11-02-2010, 17:02:27 PM
someone tell me a short version cuz i dont want to spend a unicorning hour to read it


X23
#5 11-02-2010, 20:55:59 PM
- Last Edit: 12-02-2010, 20:38:37 PM
MMOS are real bad



x33
Jemina
#6 11-02-2010, 21:04:16 PM


ywoc
#7 11-02-2010, 21:38:55 PM
tl;dr


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