Today patch 5.2 goes live for World of Warcraft, and the feeds are a-buzzing about what the future brings.

When I look over the game since 5.0 came out though, what I have spent the most time doing and enjoying has been older content.

The new stuff is great, don’t get me wrong. I’ve enjoyed raiding, questing, dailies (yes, damnit I do!) and other fresh content.

The changes done to older content and the new things added to it, though, have made far more of an impact on me.

Pet Battles have had a profound impact on my gameplay.

WTF I hear you say? “But Bear, you haven’t even DONE a pet battle since finishing leveling a good team and doing the world collections. How could that mean crap compared to the coming of Da Burger King?”

It’s simple, all the new pets to tame through the world got my ass OUT in the world. Then all the pets added to old raids got my ass in the old raids sniffing around.

And that reminded me… hey, I love those old raids.

Remembering I love the old raids is part of why I fell for the Warlock experiment, because Dark Apotheosis.

It all goes back to Pet Battles.

Well, that and the addition of Transmogrification. And didn’t that open up our interest in the old content even more?

The old content functionally remains the same as it was in Cataclysm, what has changed for me is the addition of a new feature that casts old, ‘tired’ content in a new light.

Do you really think I’d have gone back into AQ40 as many times as I have without the allure of pets or transmog gear? Back in the day, I ran it to get a Red bug mount, and I was done. I could have done it more, but it takes more than a nice view to commit to a couple hours running old content. There needs to be something to seek, some prize to obtain, some treasure. Even the faint hope of rare treasure can breathe life in the hunt.

It’s all about giving us new objectives to send us into old places… at a higher level where the old places feel fresh because what we can DO in them has changed.

I’ve run Molten Core I don’t know how many times now across multiple characters and playstyles, and every character has been able to overcome the packs of smoldering hounds, but HOW they do it is frequently different… and I love it. I approach a familiar fight knowing what to expect from the enemy, and get to try new things.

Or remember how difficult it was to get past the Salamander boss with all those damn healers chain casting Dark Mending. Yeah, good luck with out-healing my DPS NOW assholes!

It’s not that they added new content as much as that they added the new features that interact with the content, and send us back in there to have fun doing it.

Also, when I’m raiding current content, I’m not looking around much. Raid leaders typically are on the clock, and want to push ahead to the next fight.

I go back into some of these old raids, and I’m so overpowered with delight that I can stop to sniff the slime, admire the skulls and chains, and wander through the hallowed halls of Ulduar thinking “Wow what a gorgeous, magnificent structure! What incredible artistry in the design!”

When soloing Karazhan or Blackwing Lair, there is time now to admire our surroundings without holding 9 or 39 other people back. I love that.

And there are still items to be found out there that were very rare, and tie into the lore. Special things.

One such thing is The Battered Hilt. It’s something I was lucky enough to buy on the Auction House for my old, abandoned Horde Paladin while Wrath of the Lich King was still current. Special quests to play through, unique adventures, and the result being a weapon design that is amazing and can be worn as a transmog even though the usefulness of the item is long past.

For years I’ve wanted that experience for Alex on his Death Knight, he loves Icecrown Citadel and the lore of Arthas and the ice dragons and stuff so much. With Wrath being such old content, and the Battered Hilt such a low drop rate, I never had it drop for me when farming, and I never saw one on the AH again.

Last night, thanks to another new feature, the Black Market Auction House, I was able to win one for my son. It sits in his mailbox right now, waiting for him to take the quest and begin that journey into the Wrath lore.

It makes me wonder, it really does.

What other new features could be added someday that would again revitalize the older, existing content?

I’ll tell you what the first answer that springs to my mind is.

Player housing, or to put it a bit differently, Player Strongholds.

Hold on, don’t jump down my throat just yet. Let’s think about this.

It’s become a very real possibility now. Instead of just releasing a feature, they’ve been adding the technology necessary to support it in bits and pieces, integrating it into the game.

We’ve been working on the farm… and now we’ll be able to ‘buy the farm’. Our own area, persistent, but phased so only we enter and leave it, or even see it unless we are in group with someone else and bring them into our phase.

There is a primitive shack there, and stairs, and there are persistent items that you can interact with and pick up.

Consider for a moment the backend programming that has gone into the farm tools. If you pick up the shovel and have it in your bags, there is no shovel on the farm. If you throw the shovel away somewhere, when you return to your farm, there it is, ready to be picked back up.

And now we’ll be able to bind our hearth there, if we choose. We can’t rest there yet, but we can hearth to our farm, our ‘home’.

I think, I hope we’re seeing the test bed for Player Strongholds, and someday in the future some out of the way area near to capital cities or as part of a new land will become available for us to stake our claim and hold as our ‘own’… phased and overlapping with everyone else.

Perhaps even something we earn as a reward for our part in the Horde/Alliance offensive? It used to be common to bind a particularly powerful ally to you by granting them land and a title so long as they swore fealty to you as their overlord. Can anyone deny that our characters, individually, have been groomed and presented as powerful heroes and trusted allies?

King Varian Wrynn seemed to trust me with the life of his son once, and I was asked by the prince to intercede for him with Jaina Proudmoore. These leaders trust and value my opinion… would it be such a surprise if I was bound by oaths of fealty to the King, through the grant of land and a title… said land being an old, ruined tower in the middle of a highly contested, dangerous zone that could use taming?

What could we expect from a Player Stronghold, based on what we’ve seen on the farm?

It could start small, a stone tower or other minimal fortification. Then, over time and completing quests it could be ‘upgraded’ into a larger, reinforced stone structure. And ever again larger in stages as we progress.

And it could have a hearth set there, or be made into a place to rest. And it can be as remote as Blizzard wishes, because now we have the capability to grow/create our own portals!

It can have NPCs that stay there, making their home in our Stronghold as vendors, reforgers, daily quest givers, etc. They could be our friends, our servants, or our honored guests. As we quest in the outer world and rescue NPCs or befriend them, we could invite them to come to serve us in our Stronghold, or even offer them sanctuary from the war there.

In the privacy of our own Stronghold, we could even host refugees from the other faction as part of a quest series… and play host to ambassadors, and even in time perhaps a cross-faction peace treaty?

And our large, empty Stronghold would need furnishings. We could go out into the old content, raids, instances or in the world itself to find items to interact with that binds to account, that we can then place in our own home. Furniture. Rare treasure mechanics, anyone?

Perhaps even stuffed monster trophies through the new profession of Taxidermy (minor spoiler for those that haven’t done the new Nesingwary quests in the valley yet).

The fascinating thing is, the technology is all there right now.

All the bits and pieces we’ve played and enjoyed in Pandaria, if it were taken and placed in a new way, would be a massive game changer pulling in all of the old content again, just like Pet Battles did.

I know that some players would be pissed, “Oh my god, now I’m supposed to raid Firelands for a couch to match my loveseat, wtf Blizz”, but you know… some players are pissed every time the wind changes direction. I could give a shit less what pisses some players off. The whole concept excites the hell out of me, especially because it’s so possible now.

What I think of is the test of any new content… will it be accessible to everyone? Will the time spent programming it equate to more hours played, more fun had, more investment in the game, more feeling of belonging and identity within the game world, encouraging me to renew my subscription? Will it all fit in to the existing story?

Hell yes. Take what has been created and tested, roll it into a new Stronghold I can unlock through a quest chain, give me people I can befriend on an individual basis like the Tillers that will come to my Stronghold to chill, and let me go out in the world and old content looking for rare drops and loot to decorate with.

Do I think a new class of loot, furniture drops, would ever be added? No. I would expect them to be ‘found’ items in the environment like the Treasures are. Go through Karazhan and find a nice couch you can click on to loot in the Concubine quarters, for example. Or a painting on the wall.

I for one would welcome the opportunity to loot and pillage Shadowfang Keep. :)

Will we see this someday?

No idea, I’m just passing the time on a snowy Tuesday Patch day morning.

But tell me, when you look at all that they’ve done, doesn’t it make you feel, maybe just a little, like it’s a possibility?

Oh, and to everyone of you that read this far… I hope you enjoy the new content. As great as it is, it’s still the next step on this incredible journey we take, not the last step.

I swear this game gets better every patch.

21 Responses to “Putting the Pieces Together”
  1. Matty says:

    You took the words right out of my heart: great post. Thank you Bear

  2. Tesh says:

    “When soloing Karazhan or Blackwing Lair, there is time now to admire our surroundings without holding 9 or 39 other people back. I love that.”

    This, a hundred times, this. It’s the desire behind my proposal to make raids of all levels soloable. Sometimes, I just want to poke around and take a bunch of screenshots and not deal with the GOGOGOGOKILLIT crowd. Sometimes I do want to play with a hyperactive group, but not always.

    Oh, and housing. Yes. I’ve argued for it for a long time… so long I’ve about given up. It’s an obvious design direction for the game. It’s sticky, it’s a worldbuilding tool, it’s a personalization tool. It’s work, yes, but it’s worth it. I love your idea of swiping stuff from the dungeons, especially. Forget making them drops, with all the concurrent drama. Let’s just pilfer stuff directly. Maybe tie some to Archaeology if you want a secondary gating mechanism and a tie to the nondungeon world.

    Yes… I like this. Not enough to subscribe, really, but enough to buy in if they converted to a F2P monetization setup where they sold housing stuff. I spent money on that in Wizard101 and Puzzle Pirates, after all. (OK, technically, I bought ships in PP, but they are like homes to me in that game.)

    • Tesh says:

      …oh, and then there’s Minecraft, but let’s not talk too much of splicing Minecraft DNA into WoW. It would probably implode the internet. Minecraft is delightfully addictive because it gives you control over so much. Players *like* control, else we’d be watching a movie. Can you imagine not only housing but also the ability to muck around with your own Outland floating island or the like, terrain and all? Or a pocket dimension? It’s almost certainly a bridge too far for Blizzard, but I have to wonder, what intrepid game dev will play with those tools?

  3. Navimie says:

    I do love reading about people still living the game :) so I know I’m not the only one. Glad you still have the wonder, bear.

  4. Riegnman says:

    The problem that is see with this (in the eyes of blizzard) is that it promotes the “solo” experience and Blizz made it all too clear with Pandaria that they want to move toward the MMO and away from the solo.

    I like the idea. Sell BOA furniture on the blizzard store. Sell a jukebox so that I can play my music in game. Whatever.

    You also have to remember TITAN. Is that even still a thing?

  5. Ruldar says:

    That’s a pretty strong argument in favor of player housing. They have the tech for it in game as we speak, so why not?

    Hell, you could drop it down right in the middle of Stormwind or Orgrimmar. I don’t know if Org has a comparable location these days, but SW still has the destroyed remains of the Park District. I can see a set of quests to rebuild it into your own stronghold, right inside the city.

  6. [...] Big Bear Butt’s Putting the Pieces Together [...]

  7. Celendus says:

    Ghostcrawler does keep reiterating that the biggest change in the whole expansion is planned for the last raid patch, and that it would keep players occupied for a while; this would certainly qualify. I was also wondering if maybe it’s some sort of player-created content maker, like “here’s an empty instance and the tools to fill it with mobs and NPCs and adjust their stats and scripts. That could be outrageously cool.

  8. Barryhn says:

    Blizzard. Read this, take it as a design spec. And dammit MAKE THIS HAPPEN.

    Jesus I would never unsubscribe. Seriously that would keep me rolling for ever.

  9. Kobay says:

    One thing to be careful of in the BMAH….the Battered Hilt comes in two flavors, Alliance and Horde. Be sure you buy the right one for your toon!

  10. SirFWALGMan says:

    I like it. You should have guild like controls for your castle.. and it should allow you to specify people who can enter your castle. Then when you are grouped with your friends they can come over and visit your castle instance.. or you can visit theirs…

  11. Kal says:

    Still sounds like a pipedream, but a pretty cool pipedream. Certainly a feasible pipedream. Maybe even a possible pipedream. I guess not a pipedream at all. Player Housing for all! Cheers!

  12. Azwing says:

    There are problems with the idea though.

    - how do you show other people? If it’s just a personal house, that would get old pretty fast, IMO.
    - related to the first point, doesn’t this just promote isolation? Blizz wants people out in the world. Personal housing just isolates them more.
    - how customizable can they make housing? Unless they go back and literally add thousands of items, there are a lot of limitations on how you could personalize. As someone above mentioned, for it to really realize it’s best potential, it’d need to be like Minecraft, where about the only limits are imagination. That’s an awful
    Ot of work to code into the game. It’s basically a whole other game. What do people want, housing, or new raid content, etc.? Because, that would probably be the tradeoff necessary.

    I think your idea revolves more around function, but I really think ascetics are the big appeal to most people asking for player housing. Not sure Blizz will want to invest the resources to really do it right, but…I guess we shall see.

    • Tesh says:

      When talking “new raid content” or “personalization” stuff… it seems Blizzard is at least happy with Transmogrification, the ‘farm and Pet Battles. They remade Plants vs. Zombies in the game, for crying out loud. I keep needing to remind people (even Blizzard designers, it seems) that not everyone raids. The main thing that housing does is let players have a little bit of ownership of the world, and that’s a precious thing when you’re finding ways to keep people emotionally and financially invested in your game.

  13. Herr Drache says:

    About resting on the farm, when I’m in “my” farm house, I get the “Zzz” and do not incur a logout timer.
    Clearly a better alternative to passing out in front of the bar in the inn after having too much Absinthe and apparently getting friendly with a Night Elf (awkward, for an Orc…) OK, perhaps not “clearly” better ;)

  14. Torcthaim says:

    I’d love a stronghold of some kind. The number one feature I’d want in it though would be armor stands. Let me take that complete set of tier 1 armor out of void storage and just stick it on an armor stand so I can look at it and not have it take space. And let me transmog from it. My biggest regret was selling off old tier sets to make bag/bank space back before void storage came along. And when you start counting how many pieces of gear that is (14 tiers later + PVP sets……) clearly void storage isn’t enough for it. Although “borrowing” Onyxia’s head from the giant post in Orgrimmar and putting it in my house would be cool too. :)

  15. Josh says:

    Yeah, that’s the best thing that Blizz has done this time around: giving us real reasons to go back to old content we kind of want to already, but never could really justify the time for with so much to do in the new content.

  16. Indy says:

    EQ already do this and it’s a BIG hit. They have both Guild Halls and personal housing – pretty much an industry of it’s own with players paid to design and decorate for others. And surprisingly addictive once you get started with it ;)

  17. E says:

    I’d love a small place near Silvermoon for my Hunter, would let me get a little bit of the RP/Lore stuff out of my system that has sat dormant since I moved to a PVE server instead of my original RP server. I’d love lodging that looked like a Farstrider lived there, let my leatherworker make me rugs out of pelts of animals I’ve killed, maybe my blacksmith could make me a tidy little fireplace for the corner…yes. I like this very much. Especially if I could have some place where my ‘pets’ could run around free until I needed them in my active stable. Come home to find random spider webs all over the place, left from a content shale spider!

    And I think it’s about time they commemorate you in game, isn’t it? All the other major bloggers have gotten their nods, I do believe you are well past your turn.

  18. Kauket says:

    Interesting speculations on where the developments for the farm could go. It would certainly keep my husband entertained. Ownership keeps people around.

    And since Minecraft was mentioned, we gave patch 1.4 a spin (1.5 should be out soon) and turns out you don’t need a separate server any more for LAN play: you can just open a single game for another person on your LAN to join. That rocks. We also went mildly more insane and gave Skyblock (http://www.minecraftforum.net/topic/600254-surv-skyblock/) a try. Holy crap, that is a hardcore test of your Minecraft skills and esoteric knowledge.

    And on another topic, it’s been a while since you’ve written a guide, and I haven’t found anything really good on the web yet, so how about a dark apotheosis warlock build and play guide please? My lock’s stuck at 85, and I didn’t enjoy him much in Cata (wanted to see the Worgen start zone and then the guild needed a worgen lock for the achievement), but what you’ve been describing sounds like a lot of fun!

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