I Would Like Flying Back, BTW

One thing I never mentioned in the last post.

I said I’m okay with their decision not to bring back flying in this or future expansions. I never said I LIKE that decision.

I can live with it. There’s a big difference.

It’s not a deal breaker for me, I’m not going to unsub based on flight at this point, so long as there remains these alternate fast travel and gliding modes available on cooldowns. Remove any way of bypassing things when it’s an emergency or time is very short or you’re focused on a goal and it’s a different situation. As things are in the game right now, I can adapt to it and live with it and not get overly cranky.

One thing that bothers me about the decision though is that I really don’t understand or agree with part of the argument as to WHY to remove flying.

Oh, I get that while players are leveling it is a quest design nightmare to have flying in the game. If your goals are to have the characters spend a lot of time traveling from place to place, making their way through dense populations of enemies and encouraging them to interact with all the nooks and crannies of your world as they level so it feels like a real place, you don’t want them able to fly.

What does flying get you? Drop down on golden exclamation point, get quest, fly up, travel to objective, drop down, kill target. Fly up, return and turn in quest.

No, I can totally see why they don’t want you to fly while questing.

From MMO Champion;

During Patch 6.2’s development, we continued to discuss how flight would fundamentally change the way players experience all of Draenor’s ground-based content, and carefully weighed that against the benefits flying would bring to the game. Ultimately, after much deliberation, we came to the conclusion that the world of Draenor would simply no longer provide the experience we envisioned it if we were to reintroduce flight in this expansion.

But I don’t understand from that how you make the leap to not allowing flying once the characters reach max level, or at the WORST once the expansion content is irrelevant and a new expansion with new rules and locations is released.

For several expansions now we’ve grown used to having flying gated.

It’s been very common, even expected to have no flying until reaching max level. Indeed, we’ev even grown to expect that once a new expansion comes out, the previous flying requirement gets dropped down from the previous max level to the level needed to enter the old content, making it more convenient to level new characters/alts.

What I haven’t seen Blizzard do is answer what has changed in that system that makes all flying banned?

If it’s a question of wanting brand new players to the game have the same experience existing players had, I’m sorry, I’m not seeing WoW being a game that will experience a massive influx of new players. It’s a bit… dated. I love it dearly, but it’s not the fresh new thing that makes all the kids bells ring.

All the comments I’ve seen from Blizzard developers address the leveling process. Nobody is debating that. What I don’t understand and where I see most of the upset is that they’re saying no flying at all, ever, in Draenor or future expansions, and no reason given that answers the question why?

Why no flying ever? Not why no flying during leveling, why NEVER.

Answer that with a reasoned, logical argument and I think a lot of us, myself included, would feel a bit better.

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11 thoughts on “I Would Like Flying Back, BTW

  1. You seem to be drawing a difference between levelling content and max-level content. But max-level open world content is pretty much the same as levelling.

    So if flight is a bad idea for levelling content, why is it not a bad idea for max-level open world content?

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  2. I do see a big difference between the two. Leveling content is a linear progression, while at max level it’s a sandbox environment full of minigames and raiding. Once the quests run out, there is no story to be spoiled.

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  3. I read your earlier post today, and my mind immediately melted with all the thoughts I had on it. So much so that I almost was going to reply to it on my phone…ALMOST.

    Glad to see a follow up post before I could comment. It clears up your meaning.

    Anywho, I agree with you that flying, back when you had to work so hard just to get it in BC was amazing. As a druid, with no cool down just a button and POOF now a bird, it was beyond amazing…Lets call it amazballs. But in all caps. AMAZEBALLS!

    I totally, 100% get why flying has not been allowed until max levels (or close to max a-la Wrath) in previous expansions (though as a druid in BC you got it earlier than everybody else! Tee-Hee!). I agree with it. Yes…I would have appreciated to be able to do it sooner on alts, but what ever.

    I will also agree with you that this expansion the leveling process was really good. Very enjoyable. I sped through it on my main to get into raiding, but when I did my first alt, I SOAKED IT UP. So much caps, sorry, been on some pain killers this evening. Anyway, the leveling in WoD is great, and with great timing with the push to bring in new people and give the insta 90 thing a try. I’m a fan.

    That all being said…I fucking HATE that I log in every couple of days to roll followers and collect resources and mining/herb/whatever nodes. I realize that you point out tons of stuff to do in this expansion, but I find your argument really, REALLY lacking when you say this is the “Catch Up Expansion”. Dude, Eff that in the EFFING A-hole. Seriously. I mean great for you and those that want to take time from this expansion to go do the stuff you missed from Mists. But I don’t. I sat out the majority of Mists, and still fill like I had my fill. I had my fill of Caty and Wrath too.

    This garrison thing, which is modified farmvill/clash of clans/whatever popular free to play app is out now is for the birds, and I’m sick of it. The free loot from well optimized follower missions, I’m sick of. My hunter, my beloved alt, is iLvl 658, and insanely geared. But he is not a raider. He doesn’t do anything, I just have amazing followers (thanks in some part to your advice on followers).

    You know what would be cool? If there was some raid related thing that, if I wanted to contribute a little more, I could. Say for example, if I had to go Fish up stuff for fish feasts. I could flight form and just look for pools, drop down and fish. That would be cool. I spent a TON of time fishing in BC and Wrath for raid food. I like fishing. I get to rock my magic crawdad when I do it. Or my slow as hell turtle. But guess what, I don’t need to. Feasts don’t come from fishing, or even cooking anymore. They come from a barn, and a million people have it for the bloods. So no flying around. Besides, why would I need to…I have a pond in my garrison. I could go mine nodes on my DK…OH WAIT, no need I have a million of everything because of all my mines. So much so I don’t bother mining anymore. Or picking flowers.

    Garrisons KILLED the NEED for flying, so I get that Blizz says to each other in a meeting “welp, they don’t actually need flying, hell we hand them everything on a silver platter in their garrisons”. Then follow that up with a “Good, we can save some money on designing the tops of the mountains, and make things hard to get to just by using pathing issues. Well done folks, we can make the expansion smaller yet again!”

    The death of flying in new content leads to us actually getting less content, as shown in this expansion. The addition of garrisons is an easy mode bullshit mechanic, that they almost HAVE to maintain into the next expansion, or else the masses will cry about how “hard” the game is now that you actually have to DO STUFF.

    They only way blizzard can redeem themselves, is if they release patch 6.2, then immediately announce a new expansion that will come 4-6 months after it. They have been trying to have quicker turn around on expansions since BC though, so I’m betting we will have 9 months of 6.2 before our next disappointment.

    So, I hear Final Fantasy is actually pretty cool. Gonna check it out.

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  4. I’ve talked at length on my own blog about my unhappiness with Blizzard’s decision over flying at level cap. I’d been waiting patiently for it to be ‘turned on’ in Draenor, not imagining for one moment they’d take this step. I thought the backlash would be too great for them. But apparently, they’re willing to weather the storm and see how the land looks once the winds have whirled on and they can pick over the wreckage.

    Whenever I read their excuses as to why flying was being denied, some small but insistent *beep beep* of a bullshit detector kept ringing in the back of my head. The reasons didn’t feel real to me, because they could so easily by countered – as people have now done to great extent on forums and blogs. I can only think that the choice is because Blizzard want to release content quicker, and there is a price for that, i.e. landscapes rendered in less detail, so less work required on it. That to me feels like the only valid reason for no flying at all in this and future expansions.

    I get there has to be a cost if players want faster content releases, but what I don’t get is Blizzard’s dishonesty over this and the way the news was sneaked in by their ‘sacrificial lamb’ on a web site not hugely connected with WoW. Coupled with their continued sale and promotion of flying mounts in their store, it only comes across as them having contempt for their customers. That’s what galls me the most. Are they so proud they think they can rile up what must be a sizeable percentage of their player base with no consequences? If they’d told us the truth, revealed this news on the Blizzard launcher so that *every* player would see it, not just those of us who look at the WoW related web sites, the taste wouldn’t have been so bitter. If they’d opened it up to a survey on the launcher, so that players could vote for quicker content or continued flying, they would at least have got a true picture of what people want. If the Mystic Runesaber had been advertised as romping along the ground, that might have warned us. There could have been compromises also, to try and please everyone. But we got none of that, just half truths and in a couple of cases untruths, woolly statements that could be taken two ways and now this draconian decision.

    After writing two posts on my blog of a rather negative nature concerning flying, content dearth and store mounts, I followed it up with a piece about what is good in WoD. This was before the news we got on Friday. I wish I hadn’t done the latest post now!

    I enjoyed reading your post on this matter. Very sensible. I hope Blizzard see responses like this and are open-minded enough to see the truth in them.

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    • RE: content consumption (sorry, if somewhat tangential)

      In part, I blame Blizzard for letting convenience be the trump card (with the current exception of flying) in regards to content consumption. When they take the gating away, or make gear more accessible, or raids easier it certainly has the effect of increasing the number of players that can see the (raid) content (not a bad thing). But, it also has the side effect that people can and do blow through content more rapidly and end up needing more content.

      Looking back at TBC, I spent time getting geared for heroics, getting keys to run heroics, running heroics to gear up for raiding, running heroics for badges, PvPing to get filler pieces to gear up, farming crafting mats to make gear for raiding, farming and fishing for food. My guild struggled with T5 and barely scratched T6 before the pre-Wrath nerfs. But, we didn’t exhaust the content. Note, I’m not looking through rose-colored glasses. That paradigm had its problems, but it did allow for longer utility of the tiers and less calls for more content. Hell, people were screaming for more WoD content within a couple months of release.

      I don’t think going back to the TBC paradigm is the answer, but I do think it bears looking at in comparison to how things are now.

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  5. @Rohan, what open world content are you referring to exactly? You say it as if that something we have tons of. A handful of brain dead raid bosses are not nearly enough reason to cut flight.

    BBB pretty much hit it on the head as to why so many are upset. I have zero issue with the fact that I could not fly while leveling. It let me see some great artwork that if I had flight I would not have seen otherwise. But now sitting at max level, where before I would go out and explore the world on my flying mount and see stuff I hadn’t seen much of, now instead because it’s a PITA I just sit in my garrison making the outside world a lot more empty.

    Let’s also point out that a fair number of people dropped real cash on mounts that flew, and now have been told sucks to be you, or you know druids who lose an entire ability because of this (hey what can I say I got my flight form and epic flight form back when it was an actual quest, I LOVE my flight form)

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  6. I’ve written about flying in WoW more than once. This is not just annoying, I consider it Bad Design.

    Speaking as someone who has done environmental and architectural modeling and texturing in video games, I *want* people to see my work from all angles. I dislike Potemkin design, as it feels cheap, both as an artist and as a gamer.

    Beyond that, I’m cynical enough to think that it’s not really about design, but about dollars. I’ll concede that you’ll save a little by making a World of Facades, but it’s not a huge vector for saving. Artists still have to make things look interesting, and it takes *extra* work to make the facades look good in the absence of a more complete world.

    I did a ton of facade-based artwork for Tiger Woods games, and it was precarious stuff. Break the illusion of a world with a misplaced billboard of trees and the place feels cheap. It’s hard to get immersion back. Having complete buildings and environment pieces makes it faster and easier to fill out a space, and if someone happens upon an angle that you as an artist didn’t anticipate, they aren’t going to see “behind the curtain”, since *there isn’t a curtain*.

    You have to find ways to tightly control players if you’re building a Potemkin world. That’s bad for design since it’s a time sink to figure out the best pathing and ways to control players, and it’s bad for the player experience.

    Beyond that, as I noted over on my post about this mess, I think there’s a part of the calculus that says “if we slow players down by X amount of time by nixing flight, they are Y percent more likely to tick over into another month’s subscription”. I’m not sure how big of an effect that is, but it has to be in the mix somewhere. I’m just cynical enough to think it’s a significant part of the financials.

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  7. SWTOR currently has 12x XP on class stories for subscribers if you’re looking for something different to do.

    I’m using it to finally run the Republic classes (on Ebon Hawk.)

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  8. I don’t have a problem with no flying during leveling. I think that model has worked well (TBC, Wrath, and MoP). I don’t think flying during leveling in Cata was bad, per se, but it did make it a little too much cherry picking. I don’t think it worked as well. But, it was not game breaking at all. In fact, I think it (in the form of swimming) was pretty cool in Azshara’s Veil. I would not have had a problem with making flight a gold-sink at level 100. Annoyed a little, sure, for having to pay for flight yet again, but I could have lived with it. I do not, however see a good argument for not having flight at max level in WoD.

    As I said, I think design concerns about how players approach content are semi-valid for leveling. But, at max level…screw that. I’ve already done it. Riding some circuitous path to get up a ridge, around a ravine, over a lake…all bullshit. I doesn’t make it more immersive when, in the effort to fight the same mob for a daily over and over, I have to run the same stupid circuitous path to get somewhere. It makes me annoyed and less likely to do the task.

    I also think it’s just lazy game design to say flight ruins the experience. What about stealth? What about riding a ground mount through mobs? Those okay? If you don’t want players to skip things, then design the content better. Make more buildings, caves, aerial threats…whatever. There are more creative ways around the problem than simply removing flight.

    Another thing about design…I think part of the reason they’re so stubborn on this is that they invested so much time/effort into the jumping puzzles and they don’t want people to just fly right to them. But, for the most part, the rewards are worthless at 100, so who cares?

    For me, one of the most memorable things I ever did in WoW was getting flight for the first time in TBC. It was a big rush. I had worked for months to be able to afford it (enchanting mats, ftw). It was great. To me, it opened the world (or, at least Outland) up for exploration. It gave me freedom to go where I wanted to go, and get there on my own terms. Switching to a druid and getting flight form, just made flying even more special, to me.

    I hate flight paths…always have…they are passive and take me out of the world. Alt-tabbing out of the game is not something a player should ever want to do. I certainly don’t do it when I’m in control of flying. Portals are really just a lazy mechanic to make up for the fact that people can’t fly.

    I think the designers are wrong. But, hey, it’s their game. They can do what they want. But, that doesn’t mean I have to keep paying a sub fee. Sitting in a garrison unable to travel the way I want, and not really needing to much anyway because professions and gathering are wrecked, is not my idea of fun gameplay. Apparently, I must be missing something that the designers think makes it so much more compelling.

    Sorry if this got a bit long. Just something that gets me going.

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