Flying through the Possibilities

Flying in Warlords of Draenor continues to be a hot topic.

I see a lot of conversation coming from the bitter and cynical side of life. What I mean is, people assuming that the reasons we’re given for no flying in Draenor or future expansions aren’t the full reasons, that there are things they’re doing to cut costs or remove options to better control us, and then going on to speculate on what’s going on.

Everything from trying to slow our progress so we subscribe longer, all the way through to trying to cut developer time and costs so they don’t have to develop all of the world, just the parts we see from the ground.

Now, I’m a cynical bastard myself, I’m not going to lie. I also assume that there are multiple reasons behind the decision.

I guess one difference is, I’m not assuming the devs are out to get us, or that additional reasons are automatically out to screw us, the players, the consumers of content, the customers.

Say what you want, but I firmly believe Blizzard as a company and the developers as people love this game and want us to be happy playing it and giving them our money for value received. I have a hard time ascribing malice to any decision they make. Just saying, that may make me biased.

I’m used to the idea of multiple goals being accomplished with one task. It’s smart to try and do it, it’s efficient. If you have several goals you’d like to accomplish, it just makes sense to try and come up with a solution that hits several of them at once. You might run into a problem trying to hammer too many problems with one solution that doesn’t fit right, but if you can smoothly cover a few things with one change, that’s smart.

If you are solving multiple issues with one change, from a PR perspective it also makes sense to mention the reasons that will be viewed positively by the customers and downplay any additional tasks that benefit you, the company, from a cost savings perspective.

Saving time and money isn’t inherently evil, but if you went by the media any business trying to save money must be the biggest devils in the lower pits. Meanies. As if throwing money at a problem somehow automatically benefits the customer. I don’t know where that idea came from. Maybe the idea is, the more money thrown at something the more luxurious or triple-A the experience?

Whatever. I’m open to the idea that Blizzard as a company would like to improve the game experience for us, the players, and approach issues trying different things that will accomplish several goals. I also expect that in announcements they may choose to play up the things they hope benefit the customers and downplay the parts that may be seen as cutting content or saving development time.

I personally don’t care what the goals are, I just wish I knew them all because then we can more effectively look for comprehensive solutions that also allow us to keep flying.

For example, I do see the point of saying that removing flying helps to immerse players forcibly into the game world.

I look back on the game as I’ve played it over the years, and those areas that are most alive in my memory are those places from Vanilla where I had to work my ass off to travel from place to place and survive. Where I moved from tree to rock to bush killing things for a quest, and then having to take long boat rides back to island quest givers, trying to avoid wandering foes that I no longer had a quest to fight.

Man, some zones just flat out SUCKED for the distances traveled and the unneccesary fighting we had to do and all the travel. But. But I came to know those zones extremely well, to have mobs that I developed a real hate on for the way they intruded on roads and came to knock my butt off my mount and make me fight back or run away perma-slowed.

Was that a good play experience? Is that something to look back on with fondness or want back? That’s a different question. I came to know those areas as places somehow more real, more tangible to me as a player than stuff in later expansions. The world seemed so much bigger when I had to ride my mount or walk my happy ass from place to place, collecting flight points and trying not to get eaten.

I still remember that first death march I made as a lowbie Druid from Darnassus to Stormwind to Booty Bay in an effort to get flight points well before I should legitimately ever have seen those zones. Why? I don’t know, it’s been almost a decade now. I think I was all excited to be ‘getting ahead of the game’ by having access to all of these remote regions before I came across them in normal play. Like I was somehow getting one over on the game, getting that access.

It says something that a game experience from almost a decade ago is still well remembered because of how intense it was trying to get through those areas on foot.

But all that really says is, it’s a valid idea to limit flight until after all the quests and content in an area are complete. As a reason to say we never need to fly there at all? Hold that thought.

What about, just off the top of my head, Archeaology? Where the travel from zone to zone and even from site to site within a zone seems specifically designed to require flight to do anything without being tedious or having to constantly fight pathing elites.

It seems to me that if we were only trying to discuss ways of accomplishing the one goal, more immersion in the content, then there are suggestions we could make to help find an alternative to banning all flight.

For example, what if flight in a zone were gated behind the Loremaster achievement for questing in that zone? Or even the overall Loremaster achievement for the entire continent?

That would give you a goal that drives you to finish not just the quests needed to level to 100, but all of the questing content for that expansion. At least on one character.

If future content patches are bringing new quests to a new, previously locked zone then that still works fine, because until all the new content is done that new zone can still be locked off from flying.

Is the concern not just quest content but also all the treasures to discover, the jumping puzzles to solve, the rares to find and kill?

Then add achievements for completing those to the overall meta achievement that you need tofinish to unlock flying.

After all, once you’ve completed all of the quests, found all of the treasures, killed all of the rares and solved all of the annoyingly coded and painfully bad jumping puzzles, haven’t you seen the content that you were intended to see from the ground? At this point, flying just adds another wonderful reward to all of that gameplay, and unlocks the ability to observe and enjoy the beautiful scenery of Draenor, take great screenshots, duck into those nooks and crannies you missed the first time around and play full on tourist, without detracting from the creative vision.

This is one reason why, even if there are multiple goals being taken care of with the removal of flying, I would like to know what all of them are.

Until we know what goals this is meant to solve, we have no way of effectively helping to discuss potential solutions that would be well received by the community in general.

As things are now, there are a lot of unhappy people who seem to feel that the core issue is ‘Blizzard isn’t listening to us because they’ve got secret reasons to do this to us’.

Do I want to fly my internet dragons through the skies of Draenor? Absolutely.

I spend all of my non-raid time in my Garrison. I don’t really want to get out there because traveling anywhere is a pain in the ass. I’d love to do Archeaology, but every time I get out there I get tired of the riding around from place to place on my ground mounts when the zones change.

I know Blizzard wants me active in the game world. Taking flight away isn’t doing it. Even with my badass raid geared characters that can steamroll rare mobs, I don’t want to get out there because of all the variable terrain. Moving from place to place when you’ve got to go a long way around the crevices, canyons, mountains and cliffs is a huge pain and, contrary to previous posts I’ve made, I don’t always want to use Avianna’s Feather. I like the RP aspects of mounting up and soaring into the sky on my dragon.

I know that’s just me, but I like to think that there should be a way to accomplish what Blizzard wants to get done while still opening the world up to us for flying.

I hope something gets worked out.

9 thoughts on “Flying through the Possibilities

  1. I don’t ascribe malice, I ascribe arrogance and cold calculation. I don’t think they were out to annoy players, I just think they literally don’t see things the way we do, and see no reason to try. They also need to make money, and in a sub game, that means making players take it slow.

    Even the recent Dev watercooler backpedal still has the smell of “we think this is better design, so we’re going to force you to the ground for as long as we can get away with it”. I maintain this is still bad game design, as a game ostensibly about the “world” of an IP should be more about investigating that world and less about constrained, tailored experiences. They think far too highly of their prepackaged content and far too little of emergent play.

    I strongly disagree with them for design reasons and financial reasons… but I don’t ascribe that to malice on their part. Developers who are just basically trolls simply don’t last long in the industry.


    • I agree with you, Tesh. I think the backlash against the no-flying-ever announcement–not just on forums, but also in sub numbers–must have forced them to move off their hard-line stance. But, there is an underlying we-know-best kind of air about their concession.

      I agree that I don’t think the decision to remove flight was done with malice, but I do think the designers were a bit lazy. There are many ways around flight making quests to easy to cherry pick. They chose instead to take away flight. Not very creative. Like you said, I don’t enjoy the constrained, tailored experience after having the ability/freedom to experience the world on my own terms.


  2. Pingback: Flying high in Draenor… | Bodhi Rana

  3. Well Bear, looks like you nailed it (pretty much). Just read the latest Dev Watercooler, looks like after a lot of slogging we will be allowed to fly in Draenor.


  4. I agree – I don’t think the devs have any malice behind their no-flying. But I do think they haven’t been very smart lately. They can articulate their goals as you say, for starters, to help us understand why they make decisions the way they do. It would’ve made me happy regardless of whether I agree with them or not. And they could’ve delivered the no-fly news upfront rather than sneaking it in in an obscure interview.

    I’m sure they love the game just as much as the rest of us do, but their approach and lack of communication is just a stupid decision. At some point, just have to call a spade a spade. The optimist in me really hopes they figure out and make the world fun again …and then the cynic in me remembers that saying – “the path to hell is paved by good intentions”.


  5. This is exactly why I’ve been e-following you since I stumbled across your Disney pictures post.

    Not to say you haven’t gotten worked up a time or two. You always come back to “alright, let’s look at this from every angle we can.”


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