I made the mistake of dipping my furry toe into the official forums last night, briefly.
I didn’t post, I was just curious about the rhetoric currently in play.
Yes, I understand, as does everyone that plays WoW, that our monthly subscription fee is a maximum of $15 per month, per account. On the average, we pay .50 cents a day to continue playing WoW.
What do we get for that money?
Quite a lot, really.
We get the opportunity to interact in a persistent world full of people. Real, live people.
A make believe world, make believe characters, but very real people.
As a side note, I think that nobody should be allowed to use the term “lowest common denominator” in regards to other people without challenge, unless they first have spent some time reading /Trade Chat. That’ll give ya a newfound terror of the public at large, I’ll tell you that much for nothing.
Even better; all of them in /Trade can read and write. This is the literate body public. /shiver
Anyway, on the forums I see endless lists of folks expressing outrage over being prevented from playing various aspects of the game. Even more, I see how folks respond when a GM answers a trouble ticket with “Can’t do this? Go do something else, then.”
Personally, I agree with the complaints. I don’t agree with the self-absorbed “I pays me money, so I deserves me game NOW!” verbiage, but I do agree with the sentiment.
The reason I do goes back to the title of the post. How much game do we deserve?
I feel we deserve the amount of game we have been officially promised we would get, live, in exchange for our business.
For example, I do not feel that anyone has a legitimate complaint, if they demand player housing be implemented. Blizzard never promised you player housing, it was never part of the game, there have been no press releases, and it wasn’t reviewed on the cover of the box you bought. You thought you were going to have player housing? No soup for you!
Blizzard has announced from day one that a core feature of the game was the ability to enter instances unique to a group of friends, and those friends could play together without interruption by others.
On any server, the ability to enter instances is one of the core aspects of the game. It’s not peripheral to the game, it’s a core function, as vital as questing and PvP.
When a large amount of the gaming populace is simply unable to play in an instance unless they are max level and specifically entering a level 80 balanced instance, it’s a definite loss of a promised game component.
Not everyone IS level 80. Yes, there are other things to do… but this was a part of the game that was promised to exist, and it currently does not, and it has been broken for a while now without improvement on a large number of servers.
There are other things to do… but removing the ability to enter a vast number of instances is similar to removing or hindering the ability to turn in completed quests.
You could continue to do other things to level, such as grind monster kills or, now, PvP, but maybe you don’t WANT to only grind. Maybe you’d like to do the quests at your level as well. And maybe you’d like to be able to turn those quests in without having to try logging in at a special time of the morning when most people aren’t questing, hmmm?
If Blizzard promised less, then there would be fewer expectations they would have to deliver on. So, why raise our expectations so high? Why have such depth to the world, so many things to support?
You know the answer the same as I. To continue to attract new players, and to maintain the interest of the players they already have in the face of newer products. To bring new life to a game that has been out for years, and spark that burning excitement of exploration and adventure.
WoW is the WoW of MMORPGs. It used to be Everquest (EQ), and WoW mugged them and stole their lunch money with the sheer quality and quantity of content in the game (and accessibility, casual friendly content, etc etc etc… Tish Tosh Tesh has addressed that topic FAR better than I ever could.)
In the end, the bar gets raised in order to keep us paying that monthly subscription.
To make promises on features, to have those features in the game, and then to leave these core features bugged and unplayable for weeks and months without updates is pretty bad.
To continue yesterday’s maintenance analogy, when something breaks, yes you want to investigate, identify, and repair the core issue.
But production needs come first.
Sometimes, you just can’t leave production down for two or three weeks while you await the arrival of the ‘perfect’ long term solution for the core issue. Slower production is better than zero production.
BUT THE PRODUCT QUALITY MUST REMAIN THE SAME.
Sometimes, you need to apply a temporary ‘band-aid’ so production can continue to some extent, and perhaps with some limitations, while that perfect solution to the core issue is developed and tested.
That is what Blizzard is saying they have done. They have implemented a limit on number of instances, in order to temporarily address a widespread issue with instance server lag.
The band-aid was intended to ensure that one aspect of quality, the playability of the instances, was excellent. In order for that quality to exist, the maximum number of instances were reduced.
This is, to be perfectly honest, a perfect band-aid, or temporary solution. Quality standards maintained, production resumed, reduced capacity while a permanent solution is developed and tested.
The problem is, there is more than one aspect of quality for the finished product. Alongside playability, there is also accessibility. The playability has been addressed, the accessibility has been ignored.
It happens. Nobody is perfect. If you put something in place to get production back up and running, sometimes the production team will come back and tell you, “Hey, this isn’t quite right to maintain all the quality specs we have to deliver to the customer. We need to address these other quality concerns.”
In this case, one of the readers yesterday, Steevee, mentioned what I think is a brilliant solution to the accessibility issue. This solution has been used for years in other similar situations, and it is one for which we know the code already exists; Instance Queues.
Battleground Queues have long been a part of the game, and love them or hate them, they worked when the number of battleground instances was limited for the very same reason we have now; lag and playability. You could go to the batteground master, ask to join a battelground, get put in the queue for the next available opening, and have a timer to let you know when you could expect that to be… and then go off and DO OTHER STUFF.
Blizzard has even already implemented queueing as groups in battlegrounds in the past.
All the tools to make this change happen are tried and tested technology.
I don’t know about anyone else, but my greatest personal complaint is NOT that it takes me a long time to get into an instance.
My greatest single complaint, by far, is that I must stand there, physically at the instance entrance like a damn fool, jumping over and over, endlessly, waiting for the luck of the draw to have me hit the opening right when there is spare capacity for an instance to spawn.
I have, while jumping at Wailing Caverns, watched a Blood Elf Rogue come running up 15 minutes after I started single-mindedly jumping, spend 10 minutes jumping alongside me, and then get in and vanish… and there I am another 15 minutes, jumping at the entrance, and feeling like a schmuck. That is incredibly frustrating, isn’t it?
Implement the Instance Queue. Let us join as a group. Give us a timer so we can see how long we can expect it to take before an instance opens up, and then let us go off and do other things, fun things, silly little idle time things like /Duel at the gates of Ironforge or fishing in Wintergrasp or Argent Tournament dailies…
And when the instance is available, pop up that window asking if we want to be transported directly into the start location.
Implement a band-aid that addresses the quality concern of accessibility, and removes the requirement that we must stand there randomly tilting at windmills, hoping that soon, at some random time in the future, it will be our turn. Remove the stress, the tension, and the uncertainty.
I appreciate the consideration given to priorities. It is, indeed, a means to work on the accessibility issue.
The problem with a priority system based on content level, is it sends the message that what some players want to do is MORE IMPORTANT than what other players want to do.
But we are all players, all equally paying the same monthly subscription fee, and all of us differ in what we consider “fun”.
Heck, what we consider fun changes from day to day, as well!
If one concern is the number of people using a particular instance, and Blizzard wants to give top priority to 5 person teams over single person instance farming players, to make sure each instance provides the maximum amount of fun possible to to largest number of players… I don’t have a problem with that. SO LONG AS WE ARE TOLD THAT IS HOW IT WORKS. And also so long as those single instance farming players get a slot in the timer/queue as well. Baron Mount runs and Sethekk Halls mount runs don’t just happen on their own.
Tell us you will give priority to full teams, and hmm… I bet you’d see more people getting a full team together.
Maybe you’d see four of them drop out as soon as the instance starts, to let the one guy get his run in… but those other four were engaged in the process. And they might even feel some sense of joy out of being sneaky and thinking they scammed the rules.
Remember that “lowest common denominator” thing, right?
Instances are a core part of the game. I think the community is, as a whole, mature enough to understand that in a massive persistant online world, unexpected problems will happen. And we all appreciate the fact that Blizzard wants to get a permanent solution in place to fix the core issue.
But I personally feel that the current workaround does not address all the needs of the customer… and as such, it should be adjusted accordingly.
Now if only there were some communication to let us know what Blizzard was thinking, and my joy would be complete.