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Okay, I’ll admit I’m not as on the ball over Warcraft content as I once used to be, but I have my reasons, and they’re pretty important. So when I see someone showing me the Appearances tab and their efforts towards unlocking a ‘hidden’ appearance, only then does it register that I’ve probably got the same. Except, because I transmog, it really doesn’t matter. This knowledge is not relevant to my interests, and so is largely overlooked. However, what does fascinate me is this number you can see in the top left hand corner of my header image. I assume that’s a level, but for what? Twitter is of course it’s above and beyond helpful self, and when I go and mouse over that in game? All is revealed.

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So 24 = spell ranks earned, and this also tells me (if I hadn’t worked it out via the Mobile App) that I need to be researching Artifact Knowledge. That caps at 25, and suddenly there is a LOLWTF moment which I’ve covered at length in the week, and the understanding that this weapon’s become something more than simply the legendary embodiment of your journey during Legion. It is literally your yardstick. 

This is the way a Progression raid can measure player intelligence and commitment. This more than adequately explains why people got banned (and finally their AP removed) for exploiting game mechanics. This is is also the reason I see people quietly sympathise with their actions and muse that this would be something they’d do, because there’s already a notion of ‘being behind’ even before ActiBlizz make it easier to ‘buy’ AP going forward. It’s why the ‘grind’ to max this out was highlighted BEFORE THE EXPANSION BEGAN as being just that, but (amazingly) no-one in development seemed that fussed. This is the new Gear Score, people, because it allows a quick and simple means by which your level of interest in this Expansion can be summarily judged. The fact I didn’t know it existed until an hour ago?

I suspect these are figures that should have a greater priority on being hidden in game than those ‘unnecessary’ stats that vanished when Legion launched.

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I thought the sole point of this screen was to just fill in everything, until I learnt there were people Theorycrafting what traits to take as priority. This game was built on this platform, that numbers ultimately beat intuition, and as ActiBlizz continue to offer notable game theorycrafters employment at their Irvine campus there’s clearly no desire to amend a UI that relies on maths to drive progression, because that’s what this is. Even using the most basic theory, it takes less time to kill stuff with more power. However, if to do this you have to dedicate more time to collecting stuff? That’s how you create longevity. Time has always been the ultimate enemy in Azeroth, and that won’t ever change however sophisticated the mechanics become. If you can’t beat the grind, you’ll never win. Before with stats that players could influence via crafting, reforging and extensive gemming? There were ways and means to nullify the time required, but now all that has been summarily removed.

The only way you can beat this game is with effort, pure and simple.

I look at a lot of people in my social media circles of late, who seem to be waking up to the harsh realities of real life around them as if they had never been this bad, and overnight something suddenly changed. The real truth is individual ignorance and arrogance are often the bigger problems to surmount, that things have always been this way and you just never grasped it. This game, as it now stands, is becoming less and less obsessed with the notion of progression for an increasing number of players who simply do not have the time to take part. As that happens, the compensatory action of the company would appear to be to create an illusion of progress, and content as distraction. The thing is, it totally works, especially for people like me who don’t really give a fuck about getting anywhere in a hurry, as long as we are not penalised for being late. This game is very good at providing a notion of achievement via individual action to begin with, so that’s not really ever going to be an issue.

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My surprise therefore at discovering this new ‘number’ exists is at the belief we’d gone past this stage in the relationship. If you want a measure of attainment that you will strictly measure, then maybe it is time you stopped quoting numbers at us. Telling me 300,000 people have done Karazhan when I’ve not even finished the Attunement is roughly akin to allowing your Lead designer to quote subscriber numbers when you promised you’d not do that any more, because it deflects interest away from the point of making the game. Showing me I’ve slacked and I’m not grinding AP every day has the same effect as restricting my access to content when I don’t have the right iLevel. Both can either become encouragements or barriers to entry, depending on my point of view. Whether I choose to take part or not is largely irrelevant, if you took both numbers away no-one would ever care. That’s what the plan was with the paper doll stats, yes? Not important, so let’s get rid of them.

The fact these numbers exist tells me someone somewhere clearly thinks they matter.

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In the end, I am at the shallow end of the progression gene pool, yet my sympathy for those attempting to keep their head above water at the deep end is not as misguided as some might think. The argument that ‘nobody’s telling you to do this’ only works if your priorities over game time and effort mesh. A lot of people who have put many years worth of time into this game also feel it still owes them something for all that commitment too… so if you filter out all the noise, from all sides, are you left with an issue? In effect, you’re probably not, and I’m yet again pissing in the wind. However, I will say this before I go. If the only things that really matter in your design process are numbers? You are missing an important part of this process. What matters empirically will never have the same effect emotionally, and if you have to warn players every time you suggest change because you know there will be negative reactions? There might be another way to do this than the one you’re suggesting.

I’m not for one moment is a position to offer what that different approach might be, but the numbers drive everything: reaction times, gear score, button bloat, kill margins, death stats… all we have is the maths, and even by introducing more ‘fantasy’ to the equation, that reliance on third party sites and addons refuses to go away. Perhaps the answer here is not to just try different maths as a solution.

Maybe the answer is no maths at all.

6 thoughts on “Crazy

  1. 3d6 – it’s always been maths. Even Ludo (i think) has role a 6 to start the game.

    No maths and we have a story book – that would be WoW designed by Telltale – and no one can tell me Minecraft Story Mode is anywhere as good or as popular as the game it is based on.

    Maths is our entire existence – its perhaps the only thing that really does exist and everything else we see is an illusion – little brains glossing over what we can’t comprehend.

    The important thing is that we have fun ways to grind – not like killing the Saber Stalkers in WoD…

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  2. I only happened to notice the number a few weeks into spending AP on abilities. I didn’t even know if you right click your weapon the tree popped up.

    Everyday is a school day.

    Did you know also that if you hover over the 22, or 23, that the multiplier for getting AP will show based on how much research you’ve done? I did not. Nor did I know there was a cap at 25 until I read this here today.

    The brief time I spend prior to release researching my class, saw forum post after post outlining the route to the ultimate stat needed to making the “must take” talent choice viable. And I ignored it all. It was all written by people that are committed to playing at levels I can’t achieve, and the time to farm up what every they need to get it.

    I have 4-5 more upgrades left and it’s full. For now. The way I look at it, is it not a gear score meter, but more a throwback to the old talent trees. You could look at a persons choices and know. When I was helping people on the Shadowpriest.com site, that was a first stop. Where were points being used that needed to change. Except I was not judgmental to people. I would see a choice made , ask why, and explain the reasoning for different. Now it is too much you do this you be gud player. The math is great. But you really need someone that can explain it in terms that are easy to comprehend.

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  3. Just a thought. And if anyone has the years of experience across all levels of playing up to running a guild. It would be you.

    Can the stock out of the box be played.

    I was told the other day that there are now add ones that will show world quests on your map that are about to expire. That the in game map stops showing them at a point. Want to find the most difficult treasures? You need an app. Want the Fishing Legendary? Wait there is a Fishing Legendary? Why didn’t I get a quest for that. You need a WoWhead guide.

    We wanted a challenge, wanted to thrill of discovery, of learning. I look at it as they decided it was a way to just not have to do stuff. Why add in some dialog to the Fishing guy off Dalaran, why add in a quest to point you out to the world.

    But that’s just me. I’m just taking my time doing what I feel like, when I feel like, and I don’t care if I am one tier or three behind any more. I am just playing the game to have fun and try to escape the world for a time every day.

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    • I guess you probably could experience everything in game straight out of the box without any addons or guides or other help, but it would likely be purely by accident. You would have to be committed to taking every quest, talking to every NPC and exploring every nook and cranny. And even then, it would be extremely challenging.

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      • I have had difficulties explaining what to do for someone that has had years of experience that left WoW at the beginnings of Pandaria. I don’t want to just brush someone off and go say read WoWhead, or sorry I don’t have the time to help. As it was they quickly breezed through Draenor, got to 110 in Legion, and wanted to know what their gear needed to be at to run normal raids. When they heard they were a bit down about it feeling like they would not catch up. I mentioned the world boss for the week, which got a reply, world boss for the week? A quick group and journey out, had them their first and a piece of 860 gear, this week RNG rewarded an 870. They are now almost caught up to those that have run things since the start. And that’s a good thing. But you have to wonder about all those with social issues. The ones that are afraid to ask, don’t know what WoWhead is, or MMO-C, or even forums. How would they ever figure out things that those here for 4, 6, 8, even 12 years have long forgotten. Many times I have gone to look things up and found outdated information. Things written when they were current and never updated. I try to do what I can, when I can. But know it’s not enough.

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  4. You’ve kind of lost me here – the new Gearscore is the same as the old Gearscore – ilvl. I’ve been pugging a fair amount this expansion, and I’ve seen a few people (but only a few) bitch someone out for low ilvl – I’ve never had anyone even mention anyone else’s trait progression.

    One of the interesting things about this expansion is that they have taken the “If you play more you get some reward” – which will always be there – and thought about how to modify it. In Diablo (which they’ve stolen some of the best ideas from of late) more ‘Paragon levels’ cost more XP, but they also let you take on more difficult content, with higher XP bonuses – and do it faster, because there is literally no end to Diablo content.

    There is an end to WoW though, there’s a limit in how much AP-generation you can do (with the possible exception of chain-running heroics, the rewards for which are rather low I think?). And Blizzard have done what they can to narrow the spread – the road rises in front of us with 30% more AP needed for every trait past 14, and the road rises behind us with 25% AP gains every 5 days. I’d imagine (and I am pulling stuff from the fundament here) that there’s less than a 10-level difference between someone who’s been getting All The WQs! and someone who’s just been hitting the Emissary Quests.

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