I love buzzword bingo, especially at this time of year.
One of my favorite buzzwords is paradigm. Not because I like it all that much, but because the people who typically use it around me have no idea what the hell a paradigm is, let alone what a shift of a paradigm would be, or why anyone would care if it happened.
I’m gonna use it out of pure perversity. It’s a new year, and I need to put the hammer down.
I’m arguing that World of Warcraft is a paradigm for an MMO. Ooh, controversial! Okay, no, not at all, pretty damn obvious.
World of Warcraft is wildly successful, and is often immitated by other MMO products in terms of structure, quest theory, group dynamics, etc. World of Warcraft is the example that inspires and teaches us what works and what doesn’t, what customers will respond to.
I’m also saying that the paradigm has shifted out from under our feet.
I listen to a lot of WoW community podcasts, I enjoy reading what WoW folks say on Twitter, I read a bunch of blogs.
One persistant theme is daily quests.
We used to have them, but they were a necessary evil that were thankfully limited. We only had a few at a time, they had specific rewards, and once you had what you wanted the only reason to ever go back and do them again was to chase gold.
Now, daily quests are everywhere, there is no limit to how many you can do, and there is a good reason to want what they can give you, world without end, amen.
In short, daily quests have gone from a sometime thing to being very nearly at the center of the core gameplay, and people resent the hell out of the change.
To go by the podcasts and Twitter comments I see, they’re a drag, a grind, a bummer, a thing stripped of joy and humor in a cold, cruel universe not of our design. Curse them, we curses the dailies my precious!
Well, I’m here to say, I think the core gameplay in World of Warcraft is now being built around daily quests, and if you’re still stuck thinking of dailies as something we will someday get past, good morning Mr Phelps it’s time for your 6:00 AM wakeup call. That smell in the air? That’s change. Oh, and bacon. Bacon and change.
Maybe what is called for are a few well chosen adages.
I can drag out the good old Marine Corps slogan “Improvise, Adapt and Overcome”, effectively saying brush it off and get over it. That’s what I’m thinking, so yeah.
Or perhaps I should simply reference Hank Williams, Junior and suggest you could use an Attitude Adjustment.
How is this a paradigm change?
Before patch 5.0, daily quests existed of course, but they were different from the daily quests of today in a couple of very signficant ways that have big implications.
First, we were capped by quantity. There were only so many we could do in a given day. We also usually only had one faction at a time, so if you were going to do dailies, the temptationw as to get out there and burn through them, get them over with, then move on to other stuff. Like queueing for heroics or LFR.
Second, they only gave gold and reputation. Once you had maxed your reputation and got what you wanted from that faction, you were done forever.
Argent Tournament added tokens, a new throttle to prevent us just buying everything when we hit max rep and were done. Still, even with the Argent Tournament, there was a limit. Once you had the pets and mounts yuo wanted, done. Gold was all that remained.
The Molten Front really shook the daily quest structure up, tossing out tokens but adding phased progression, advancing storylines, great upgrades, profession recipes and vanity items, and branching paths to keep unlocking new stuff.
As much of a success as the Molten Front was, it was still limited by points one and two. Limited dailes to do, only gold and reputation to gain.
Ah, how things have changed! Who would have ever imagined the difference tying Valor Points and Lesser Tokens to dailies would make?
The paradigm shift came when daily quests became something you could not burn through in a short time, and provided rewards that you would never stop wanting.
Who out there remembers where they were and what they thought when the word came out of 5.0 beta… “The cap on daily quests is being removed. You will be able to do as many daily quests each day as you could want without limit.”
Did you laugh? Did you look to your guildies in disbelief, thinking of the then-current system of gold/reputation dailies, wondering who the hell was out there praying for this change?
“Oh hell yes, sign my ass up, I want to spend my days grinding daily quests for gold, take that cap off because 25 quests a day is NOT ENOUGH to satisfy my hunger for money.”
Ah, but that before we saw the Valor Points being added to each and every quest. That was before we knew they were changing the way you could earn Valor Points from heroics, when you could still go in for just two days a week, run a bunch of heroics each of those two days, and max out your Valor gain from them. That was before tabards for reputation gains were removed…
And it was before they added the Greater Charms of bonus loot rolls, and item upgrades from Valor Points.
Things have shifted, big time.
Now, Valor Points are hard to get from heroics without logging in and committing to playing every single day, reputation upgrades cannot be obtained without running dailies at all, and Valor Points will forever play an ongoing role in upgrading all of your gear.
Now, you will never, ever truly run out of things to spend Valor on, you’ll just reach a point where you’ve stopped giving a shit if your items are fully upgraded or not.
For the progression raider, so long as new content is coming as fast as it seems, it will make more sense to relax about Valor. It takes one and a half weeks of Valor to fullu upgrade one epic. If you’re running progression, clearing all content and getting upgrades, it only makes sense to upgrade a few key items.
If you are not raiding or seeing a lot of drops in a short period of time, then using Valor to upgrade items is a nice way to continuously improve.
Bonus loot rolls? You get them from dailies, period. Reputation? Dailies. Even with the 5.2 farm changes coming, and being able to fulfill contracts on your farm to earn faction reputation, planting and farming still takes time each day. It’s just a new way of doing it.
Rumor has it, some players are motivated by new gear, and upgrading the gear they have. Who knew?
Well, Blizzard does, and the humble daily quest now fills an open-ended need.
There are so many quests available, and more coming all the time. And following up on the Molten Front design, we now have multiple daily quest hubs, each with a different theme, each having story advancement, phasing, and something fresh and new as you go.
Rumor has it, players like fresh story advancement and new shit. Again, who knew?
But the biggest wild card is how fast the new stuff is coming.
We just about had time to get our mains maxed in the 5.0 factions before Operation: Shieldwall and the Dominance Offensive dropped.
Now we’re going to have had time to finish and absorb those, and boom here comes the new war between the Kirin Tor and the Sunwalkers.
Things have changed in the game. Daily quests are at the heart of most of what we are doing, with the Black Prince threading through it all, adding a bit more meaning, bringing the threads together.
These days, even if you hate daily quests, it is strongly in your own best interest to pick a faction, grab some quests, and use them to fill the time as you wait for your heroics or LFR queues or BGs to pop.
Don’t expect things to change back the way you’re used to. Don’t expect there to be a day when you’ve got all you need and you’ll never have to do another daily quest again, ever.
And move past the idea that daily quests are something to focus on and burn through to get out of the way before moving on to the other stuff. There are too many of them for a reason, just pick and choose and fill in the gaps.
Above all, if you’re prejudiced against the idea of dailies, if the quests offend you by their very existence… you might need to adjust your attitude.
You can get your Valor from other ways, and you can decide you don’t need bonus loot rolls, and you can commit to getting your faction rep by planting flowers and fulfilling commissions, but the game is being built around dailies to fill in the gaps between doing all those other things you love.
Queue for a heroic, LFR, BG, whatever you want, the dailies are there to give you something to do other than stand around in Orgrimmar spamming Trade Chat while you wait.
Maybe I’ve made my case, maybe I haven’t, but the game feels very different to me now that before 5.0.
Before, there were big things to do, absolutely, but if you weren’t doing them, or if you were in queue waiting, there wasn’t much better to do than sit in a city, tab out with a warning timer, and read a book.
Now, there is a ton to do. Always. And it will reward you with upgrades or the potential for upgrades, either from upgraded epics, purchased gear from vendors, or bonus loot rolls.
And even if, somehow, you are playing World of Warcraft and could care less about gear at all…. Pet Battles. There is STILL something to do!
The world has changed around us, and the familiar needs to be looked at with a fresh eye.
Things will change in the future, maybe they’ll give us tabards, maybe they’ll do something else.
For right now, I know that if I log in, there will be a wide choice of things for me to do, and the hard part is figuring out what I want to do right then the most.
And I love it. Every single day, I love it.
Every day, for months now, when I log in there is something to do. Always.
And more stuff is coming out!
I think it’s well past time for people to stop talking about daily quests as an annoyance, an unwanted evil, and start looking at them as something fast and rewarding to do in between the big stuff.
They’re not just for gold grinding anymore.