Why is my weapon AP graphic at the top of this page? Have you people not had enough of the subject? Well, it appears not, and one assumes that arguments are going to rumble on and on until the Game Lead makes a blog post, and everyone then thrashes about a bit more. Until then, as nobody appears to have read Saturday’s blog post I’m going to repeat myself a wee bit, but it will be for a good cause. Here’s 5 Reasons why AP is the Best Thing Actiblizz has ever Placed in Game as a Grinding Mechanic. I’ll grant you, that title could be snappier, but as this isn’t for the paid job and I don’t give a flying fuck about SEO visibility? LET’S GET TO IT.
1 : It Keeps You In Game
This is first because really, it’s the one that matters. NOBODY MAKES YOU PLAY THIS GAME EXCEPT YOU. Whatever the reasoning, however you choose to rationalise process, it all boils down to an intractable fact. You’re the barometer, and make the terms. Therefore, Actiblizz simply provide the means by which you choose to stay grinding. As to why that happens? Well, there’s complex equations around peer group pressure, personal expectation and the opinions of your guildies. Needless to say, when AP was suggested as a mechanic, I have no doubt it was created as a way of maintaining long-term engagement, because that’s the biggest issue that followed the designers from Draenor.
How do you maintain player interest and at the same time keep them occupied?
That’s what Actiblizz tried (and failed) to do with the Garrison. You’d play the game, but it was so complicated you’d be mentally knackered by the end and not want to do anything else. So, they put the grind into an item you cannot do without, yet made it so that that process has a logical end. That’s where I am now, I’ve filled in all the traits, and if I keep filling my bar with AP it only gives a nominal increase to overall damage. It has taken this average player three months, but my first weapon’s done. Now I’m thinking about levelling an alt and if the number of people doing the same on my backwater server is any indicator? Well, that takes us nicely to the next point.
2 : This was the Intent all along
I saw someone mention yesterday that a player somewhere has all their Legendaries, and it only took them a couple of thousand Mythic Plus runs to get them. In Shock News you can play this game however the fuck you like, and then you can absolutely guarantee someone else will judge the Company’s design as wrong as a result. I’m going to suggest that the current status quo is EXACTLY how ActiBlizz intended things to be. If you want it badly enough, of course you can grind for it, and that’s what’s always been the case since Vanilla. However, I can absolutely guarantee that the designers did not make it this way so a) you were forced to grind and b) you’d feel you’re not keeping up if you’re not playing 24/7.
The bigger truth is that with social media as your weapon and indignation as a shield, anything seems to be possible. For all of those making a noise ‘in public’ there are millions of happy, content players too busy to even complain because they’ve only got a couple of days left on holiday and they want a second alt to 110. I know this to at least be partially true because that was Mr Alt on his Shaman last night. All those people who are millionaires now because they didn’t complain and kept doing Missions, believe it or not, really did have the right idea. It was never about raiding to begin with…
3 : AP is tuned for casual players, NOT Raiders
PvP is where the REAL pros live, people. You and I both know how much money is being thrown at that side of things. The ‘serious’ raiding in Warcraft is yet to receive any real kind of love on the eSports stage (though there was a tournament of sorts late last year that got a bit of publicity but nothing serious.) If you think about it, raiding’s now becoming less and less ‘high profile’ for anybody except those inside the Warcraft community itself. There does seem to be a growing belief that if you’re playing this game at raiding level, designers really don’t know what to do to either truly innovate or give your efforts a genuine sense of attainment. Tier and prestige, after all these years, are supposed to be enough.
This time around, AP isn’t tuned for the high end. It’s meant to reward players for completing their main weapon at about three months in, after a reasonable amount of playtime. All those ‘warnings’ from the high end raiding community that it would be the Father of all Cockblocks were completely justified, because this system appears to place casual players as the baseline. I realise how aggrieved and angry this would make certain hardcore raiders, because I’ve seen how vicious, mean and selfish those people can be when they don’t get what they want. I’ve had that abuse first hand. I also grasp that not all raiders are like this, and those with brains will understand that I’m not tarring everybody with the same brush. I’d guarantee that AP was never designed to hinder raiders’ progression. However, it is easy to see why many would think it is.
4 : It provides a tangible feeling of completion
Okay, so here’s a newsflash from the Casual end of the Warcraft pool: this actually happened. When I got my last trait, it was like I felt I was done. Only on further investigation does it become obvious I can still keep piling on the AP if I wish, but as I have nothing ‘new’ on which to spend it? I would rather go start levelling somebody else. Therefore, it is undoubtedly true that Pherian is ‘finished’ in terms of the daily World Quest ‘grind’ until they introduce summat else into that equation… you know, like 7.1.5. That doesn’t mean I feel anywhere close to committing to do the AP grind with anyone else. I will sort professions out first, if I hit 110 doing so then great, but I cannot see there being a need to flat out max everything straight away. That’s because this game beat that out of me with Vanity pets.
Now I’m thinking about going back to Draenor and finishing what’s left there. I have the opportunity to take a much needed breather and write out a To Do list that won’t get buggered by a desire to complete X to get Y in Legion. In effect, it’s the equivalent of me completing a Raid Instance for the first time. Last thing I want to do now is go back and get the damn thing on farm. I would far rather take the time to step back and re-assess my priorities than just keep grinding my face into the same stuff over and again. Maybe that’s one of the long term issues with raiding that Actiblizz could try to fix going forward, so people don’t feel beholden to the same peer group pressure, because that’s the only place you get the best gear. The experiment with gear having a chance to proc with a higher iLevel only works if people feel the journey to win it is worthwhile. That ‘idea’ still needs some work, fellas.
5 : It provides a genuine sense of progression/achievement
If you are one of those people who can stomach a bit of hard work without feeling as if it’s all too much and you need a lie down afterwards? There’s a lot of good in the AP grind. It is the currency that you can obtain through pretty much every form of game-play, including World PvP. You can choose how to spend it, and it’s not necessarily tied to just one weapon if you’re a hybrid. For me, as a pure dps spec, it’s even easier still, because I sure as fuck aren’t going to grind 3 weapons so I can swap from one spec to the next and eke the last grains of dps out of my abilities. It therefore makes progression and achievement both possible and, yes, rather satisfying. The problems that artifact weapons bring for hybrids is a discussion for another day, and I suspect it needs to be had before the next Expansion is delivered.
That’s the greater issue here: not that the grind exists, or that people like/don’t like it. The numbers will tell their story for the company: how many players have stayed on after three months was the straw that broke Warlords’ back, and changed how the company itself reports subscriber numbers to investors and the World. We no longer get to judge how popular this game is with a single number, yet that’s exactly what they’ll be doing in Irvine today. They know if the plan to give players a reason to stay will have worked or not. If it has, all the complaints I’m seeing over AP may simply be the true minority of disapproval, and nothing else.
Honestly, nobody else knows the truth this time except the Company. Only they hold all the answers, but the level of ‘complaint’ I’ve seen this time around in relation to the issues with Draenor are frankly incomparable. Either they cracked a vital part of the code with this AP thing, or there’s only 12 of us playing right now.
I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions as to the real truth.