About the Author
Mass Effect
Final Fantasy X
Batman:Arkham City
Borderlands Series
Weekly Column
Champions Online
World of Warcraft
DM of the Rings
Good Robot
Project Frontier

World of Warcraft:

By Shamus
on Monday Jul 14, 2008
Filed under:
Game Reviews


I think I’ve finally been with this game long enough to tell the difference between newbie growing pains and actual design flaws. Despite the fun this game has to offer, it is not without its eccentricities and frustrations. This list is long. This is not because the game is rife with idiocy (at least, not more than other games) but simply because the game is so immense.

I actually considered making this a series, but then I decided to just dump the whole thing on you at once. Good luck. This does not mean I won’t write more nitpicks later. All of my efforts thus far have managed to raise a character to level 37, which means a vast portion of the game still remains beyond the horizon for me.

And now begins the nitpicking, which in this case takes the form of a numbered list:

1. Low drop rates for quest items

This is one of the most notorious hassles of the game. If you want me to kill 30 bears, then ask me to kill 30 bears. Don’t ask me to collect 3 bear claws and have only 1 in 10 of them actually drop a “claw”. Like, you want 3 bear claws? Then I should have to kill one bear, because a standard-issue bear has four of them. There is nothing like having a wild bear rend your flesh in battle, only to loot the body and find the animal has… not a single claw? Just like the last 5 you killed.

I’ve killed toothless wolves, headless boars, and clawless bears. I’ve wiped out an entire village of Murlocs, who had not a single eyeball among the lot of them.

Low drop rates are annoying, but they really tend to rile people when they are both low and nonsensical. Ideally the quest should just specify the number you need to kill. Barring that, the requested item shouldn’t be something that is an integral part of the animal. Have me collect Murloc spears or earrings or something.

2. Quest Locations are Vague

Let’s see… the quest giver enlisted me to, “Slay the King of Furbolgs, on the hill north of the ruins”. Do these broken pillars count as “ruins”, or am I looking for like, big stone buildings? That busted statue could count as ruins. I mean, it’s ruined. Crap, is that hill the he was talking about? Or the one beyond? Or was he talking about something mountain-sized? Damn it, maybe I’m in the right spot, but someone killed King Furbolg recently and he hasn’t respawned yet.

Far too many times I’ve found myself slaughtering an assigned wild animal, but finding they don’t have the required body part. Am I fighting the wrong kind? (Fighting “Elder Crag Boars” instead of just “Crag Boars”, which look the same.) Or am I fighting the right monster but in the wrong region? Or is this just another instance of problem #1, where some Tigers don’t have fangs and some Boars don’t have intestines?

Some quests are supposed to be a search, but far too many simply become a search because the quest giver was an unhelpfully vague jerk. This is made worse by the fact that moving around in the game means hacking through the endless waves of monsters that evenly coat the surface of the world. Backtracking and looking for something becomes endlessly tedious when it involves killing the same four bears a dozen times while trying to guess at all of the possible meanings of the directions you were given.

You can get a plugin to pinpoint required locations on the map. I consider the game to be nearly unplayable without this. A less sledgehammer solution – and one which might preserve the intended sense of mystery in the world – would be a button to ask the quest giver for more explicit directions for players who might not have the major landmarks memorized yet.

3. Bag space is outrageously limited

At the start of the game you can carry a maximum of sixteen items. As you progress, you eventually get more bags, so you can hold more items. But the game is mercilessly stingy with bag space, and the price of bags is preposterously inflated. Like, at level ten a formless burlap sack costs more than a dozen sets of armor. One of the best bags you can get early on (via a quest) is a 10-slot container which is a feed bag for a horse for crying out loud. You can afford swords, armor, magic potions, ammunition, and training in any number of professions, but a horse’s feed bag is right out of your price range.

Keep in mind that one of the things that makes this game such a rich experience is the number of different activities – leather working, fishing, cooking, first aid, enchanting, and so on. But these professions take up a lot of bag space, to the point where you can’t participate in the activities because you can’t carry the tools you need.

My guild set me up with a full set of neatherweave bags, which can hold 16 items each – some of the largest in the game. I don’t know what just one of these bags would normally cost, but I’ll bet it’s more than everything I’ve made with all of my characters combined. For one. And I have four of them. And yet space is still tight sometimes. If it weren’t for the generosity of my guild, I’d have spent nearly all of my money just to get bag space that’s about half of what I have now.

I really don’t see the point to any of this. Sure, getting more bag space is a nice reward, but less bag space = less activities, which means less fun. What exactly is the point, here?

Of course, this problem is exacerbated, or perhaps even caused by…

4. The Needless proliferation of ingredients

If you’re learning the cooking skill you’ll want to save the animal parts you pick up. Recipes call for certain animal parts, and you need to have the right parts from the right animals. So you’ll have boar ribs, boar liver, boar meat, boar snout, boar intestines, bear meat, wolf meat, stringy vulture meat, spider ichor. Each of those items takes up a slot.

But there is almost no re-use of items. A vast majority of the ingredients you collect in the wild are part of one and only one recipe.

I wouldn’t need so much bag space if there weren’t so many different types of animal parts. There are even certain recipes that call for meat from a particular breed of animal. Beer-blasted boar ribs can only be made from Crag Boar ribs, and not from the ribs of any of the other hundred types of boar in the game. I have a recipe for “roasted bear meat”. It requires I collect “bear meat”, but it doesn’t work with the “big bear meat” I get off of higher-level monsters. Frustrating nonsense.

The game needs to cut way, way back on the number of different meats. I understand that special dishes need esoteric ingredients, but this is excessive, particularly given how precious bag space is for people that aren’t being subsidized by rich guildmates.

Yes, there are mechanical reasons for this related to how the cooking skill is leveled, but there are a lot of ways the cooking system could be overhauled to be 1) More interesting 2) Make more sense and 3) Have a more acceptable impact on bag space.

The way the system is now, it eats up a lot of space, it doesn’t make sense, and it leads to…

5. The Needless proliferation of food types

There are just dozens and dozens of different foods that all confer the same bonuses. So, maybe a roasted boar leg and a cherry pie (or whatever) both heal the same number of HP when you eat them, but they don’t stack in inventory. So a boar leg and a cherry pie together take up more space than ten cherry pies. Again, it just takes its toll on bag space, which is already scarce and which already limits the number of fun things you can do in the game.

Also: The various food types don’t give you a clue as to which is better. Which restores more health? Roasted wolf burgers or an Apple pie? Well, if you mouse over it you learn that Apple Pie is for high level characters and restores many, many times the HP. There is no rhyme or reason, there’s just this ladder of food types that don’t stack.

The system would be better if larger, more complicated food offered a bigger bonus, so a user could look at two different foods and immediately know which is better without needing to read tooltips.

6. Arbitrary Level restrictions

It has long been a pet peeve of mine: “You must be level 10 to use this item.” This isn’t so much a dig at WoW, but at about half the RPG’s out there that impose these ridiculous limits on otherwise mundane activities.

Yeah, I can see why you’d want this on armor and other combat-related items, but… food? Blacksmithing? Leatherworking? Do you really need to be a seasoned warrior before you can learn how to smelt better? Do you need to have a firm understanding of arcane magics before you can properly command a needle and thread?

I actually like the idea of a character that hangs around town and levels up crafting skills without needing to go out adventuring. For gathering professions you’ll need to have the chops to survive in high-level areas to get the more valuable resources anyway, so I don’t see the need to impose a hard limit.

And to the person at Blizzard who decided you must be level 5 to drink a glass of milk: You are a madman and you must be stopped.

My first character is level 21 now, which means she’s still a good thirty levels from being qualified to eat a pie.

Really. What the hell?

7. The realtime day / night cycle

I usually don’t get to see Azeroth during the day, because I’m at work. The in-game clock runs realtime, so if you play at the same time every day you see the sun in the same position and everything looks the same all the time, which defeats the entire purpose of having a day / night cycle. I’d rather the thing ran on (say) a three-hour cycle, which would let you see a good bit of the change while you’re playing.

Given the distances between locations (towns are a few minutes apart on foot) it’s clear this world is somewhat compressed and symbolic. If it takes (say) half an hour to walk from Menethil Harbor to Ironforge, then that would be four hours of game time, which is a more reasonable distance between towns.

8. Respawning monsters

Again, this is more about MMO’s in general, but we’ve been doing this MMO thing for… what? Ten years? At least? Are we at the point where monsters can stop beaming down from the Enterprise yet? Maybe try to have monsters appear in the spaces where player’s aren’t? At least make it so that a monster won’t respawn if a player is standing within attack range. It’s no fun being in the middle of a fight and having Scotty beam in reinforcements for the enemy right on top of you. Things like that tend to result in unjust player death. This goes double for those that rely on ranged magical attacks to do their thing.

9. Heavy Drinking Mages

Mages have to replenish their magic power by sitting down and drinking water. It takes a while. It’s a constant drag on performance, and means that everything just takes longer when you’re playing a magic user. Worse, you can’t put that time to use. You can’t work on leatherworking, or tailoring, or alchemy, or any of the other secondary activities in the game while you wait. You just sit there.

I don’t see a reason for this, other than as a simple timesink. Mages can conjure water using magic. Then they sit down and drink said water. What exactly are we accomplishing here, except to squander the player’s time?

Any game mechanic that requires you to constantly stop playing the game to do nothing for a worthless thirty seconds at a time is bad game design.

10. Wandering Elites are Asinine

In Desolace a vast portion of the desert is populated by monsters with levels in the low to mid thirties. Except, there are these massive level 39 giants roaming around. Given that you can’t see monsters until they’re thirty or so meters away, and given that you’re peering into the world through a 90 degree viewport without peripheral vision, it’s actually really easy for one of these bastards to get on top of you before you’re aware of him, particularly if you’re in the middle of a fight. What is the point of spiking the lower-level areas with these high-level monsters? Someone that wants to fight level 39 stuff will go to a harder region where he won’t have to wade through a dozen worthless level 34 mobs to get to the giant.

Suddenly being attacked by something you can’t fight and can’t outrun is more or less the same thing as being killed by a random bolt of lightning. Life is random and unfair, but when I’m playing a game for entertainment I’d like for penalties to be related to mistakes, not bad luck. This does not enrich the game experience. It’s just a pointless death to punish the player for… what? Playing the game in the first place?

And speaking of death…

11. Resurrection Sickness Sucks

If you die and can’t recover your body (because, say, four monsters spawned right on top of you and murdered you and now buzz around the corpse like flies) you can choose to re-appear in the graveyard. But you have to endure resurrection sickness, which reduces all of your stats by 75%. Fighting at one-quarter power is simply not an option in this game. There is nothing worthwhile you can fight. You just have to sit there and do nothing for ten minutes.

Ha ha. You were killed by teleporting monsters, or lag, or by one of those roaming elites we like to put in the game just to piss people off. Sucker. Go stand in the corner for ten minutes.

WoW can quickly shift from being immersive and fun to idiotic and dull, and once in a while I wonder if the people at Blizzard secretly hate me.

(People also complain about the length of the Gryphon rides in this game, although I use them to write the epic posts like the one you just waded through. Your mileage may vary.)

Comments (128)

1 2

  1. Allan says:

    You call them nitpicks, I call them 85% of my experience with WoW. That is why I quit.

    The other 15% was when I could adventure with my friends, which quickly stopped as they seemed to just ‘get’ the game and raced past me in levels faster than a… very fast thing. Atleast I can still stomp their eyes out on Halo.

  2. justaguy says:

    Well, I agree in general however… basically the game is a time sink. Everything you mentioned and complained about being a time sink? Yup, that’s sort of the point. The point is to make it take as long as they can, up to the point just before the player gives up. I agree the bodypartless creatures are rather silly.
    And bag space is related. Part of it is a money sink. The other part is a way to limit database size and how many items you can have. If you want more items you gotta pay for it somehow.
    Oh, BTW, up until a really recent patch that feed bag was a 4 (or was it 6… I think 4… it sucked) slot bag.

  3. Mengtzu says:

    Luckily a lot of that stuff drops away as you get into Outland – generally the newer the area, the better the quests are, as the annoyances correlate pretty closely with older design. Hopefully Lich King will go further towards eliminating them. Blizzard are learning to be better at WoW :)

    Some of the annoyances however are directly related to PVP (or at least PVP keeps them in the game). Arbitrary level restrictions and drinking times are a big one. PVP at the sub-70 levels is already pretty unfriendly when someone wearing the best blues for their level, enchanted to the gills rocks up. It’d be much worse if they could also use more potent food to instantly restore health and mana, and equip top-end BoE purples.

    Of course, I spend most of my time playing my Enhance Shaman and Paladin, neither of whom really stop to eat or drink outside of instances or battlegrounds, so I may have lost sensitivity to the issue :)

    As for bag space: get a bank alt. Keep a character parked near the bank/AH of a major city, and anything you’re planning on saving or auctioning, just send to them. Saves you trips back to the city when you’re out levelling, keeps your money somewhere where you’re less likely to spend it, and gives you access to a full extra bank.

  4. Pedro Santos says:

    Well, I have to agree with you on that subjects and there are a bunch more that we could point out. I have played as a mage and I know you pain… and it’s even worse on PvP realms, where mages <40 are so easy to kill that you always have to be on the run!

    Having said this, and knowing the game flaws, I’d like to point out what I *really* like about WoW: the instances! The way you have to team up with several other players, each one having one class, and you have to play as a team, doing your job, to finish an instance. Going trow some instances with friends or sparring against players of the other faction are the things I miss.

  5. LemmingLord says:

    I played WoW on a free private server, and by the time I hit level 25, I felt like I was wasting my time for mind-numbingly repetitive gameplay, and solely for the far-off reward of “the actual game” at level 70. It amazes me that anyone can derive enjoyment from killing palette swaps for 40 levels, and then claim that randomly combining elements from these monsters (skins, body parts, etc.) constitutes “deep gameplay”. If I wanted to do that, I’d play a bad adventure game. I thought there was hundreds of hours of different gameplay- and really, all there is is a few hours dragged out into eternity. In any other game, time-wasting behavior would be dinged as bad design, but with MMOs it’s heralded as “adding value” or some such BS argument.
    Maybe I’m the one person on the planet who is incapable of enjoying WoW. and I’m glad at least that everyone else seems to like it fine.

  6. Tacoman says:

    I actually kind of like the wandering elites aspect. They give you an especially difficult challenge where you weren’t expecting to find them. I’ve never found one again where I left it if I go back to town to buff up a bit. You can take the risk to get the reward with them then. If you defeat them, then you get some especially high quality item for your level (like my shiny new pants), and if you are defeated by them, then at least you were up against a worthy opponent when you were beaten, and not just running in haphazardly or overrun by respawns. I really do hate the respawns on top of you that you mentioned above.

    By the way, have any of those sweet ten slot bags you could send my way? Phonar would love a horse’s feed bag to help with his quests.

  7. James Pony says:

    On some of the items mentioned, I must agree. On some, I must say it’s not the game, it’s you. But in the end, it’s all about how one takes it. Relax, man! Stop with the negative waves!

    …That, or just kill a thousand bears and their families, and sell whatever bodyparts you find to that blacksmith who has billions of goldcoins in his pocket and an unsatiable appetite for useful items such as broken sand, rocks or bear gore.
    Just remember this: When in doubt, kill your bags full.

  8. Yspoch says:

    You may call me crazy, but I believe if those points you listed would all be NOT in the game, it might suck MORE. ;-)

    Now, I don’t want to say that the game is perfect (altough I do like it very much), but there can be found answers to WHY certain things behave like they do.

    You only have to look hard enough… *g*

  9. Stephen says:

    1. The Horde has a quest in Hillsbrad to get vials of cougar blood. Who’d have thought so few mountain lions had any blood at all?

    This is one of my favorite parts of Age of Conan, and it’s the first MMO I’m aware of that’s fixed the problem: if it makes sense for the mob to drop at least one of an item, it always does. Early on, I got a quest to get 120 molars from the warrior mobs in a zone, and bemoaned how long it would take, until I realized each of said mobs dropped 4 molars each.

    I don’t know why WoW does it this way. At the very least they could tag “pristine” at the front of the quest object more often to indicate that you’re looking for pieces that haven’t been messed up by you chopping up the animal.

    2. Sadly, the other side of this is quest locations that are unnecessarily specific. In AoC, an NPC will send me off looking for a mysterious location, and I’ll wonder why he didn’t just follow the exact waypoint he gave me. It’s somewhat immersion breaking to know where you’re going all the time.

    3. And when you’re a hunter, one of your bag slots is all ammo.

    WoW seems to have designed to make space one of their economy drains. Check out the prices of upgrading your bag slots in the bank.

    4. I suspect that this is a database limitation. I can’t remember any WoW quests or recipes that allow you to use a variety of options. Most likely, their database has no way of indicating that items X, Y, and Z are all sub-entries of category A, so all recipes have to reference the specific item.

    5. The proliferation of food types seems to mostly matter when you’re a hunter and have a hungry pet to feed. Running around with a wolf that only ate meat, I’d never bother to pick up any other kind of food. The wolf could eat meat, and so could I… apple pie, vendored.

    6. As you noted, most MMOs do this to one extent or another. Hell, until they patched it out Neverwinter Nights 1 even did this (even though the campaign was in control of when you got access to higher-level gear). It all feeds into game balance: the designers have tested a challenge with characters using appropriate-level gear, and want to make sure you can’t easily beat the challenge by outgearing it. This mindset spreads to other aspects of the world, like crafting.

    I believe earlier MMOs had a huge problem with twinked alts running around in top-level gear, such that no equal-level players could compete. Designers have been trying to limit this ever since.

    10. Wait until you meet the Devilsaurs. They’re ninjas.

  10. Dave says:

    The reason I quit WoW was quite simple.

    The only reason to do anything is to get new loot(as the PvP is mediocre at best, and you can only do so many Kill X for Y drop quests before your eyes scream with rage and murder your mind). The reason why you want new loot? To be able to fight more and varied monsters. Why do you want to fight them? To get more loot so you can… etc, etc.

    There is nothing else to the game. The zones never change in any appreciable way, after playing off and on since release, those peasant are still building the Westfall Inn. So the exploration game dies after about 40 hours in. Add to this the sadness that comes with being run through instances(the norm on aged servers, as there are not enough lowbies to actually run instances) and the cool dungeon bits die as well.

    So you have a game that makes these great zones that are interesting, fun, and awe inspiring into sources of tedium and lament. Great Job guys.

  11. Novarum says:

    Shamus, #2 on your list had always been one of the larger problems for me. I would constantly be jumping back and forth between wow and a browser (where thottbot or wowhead were up) just to have an idea of where I was going for a quest. It was always a big wall in the way of my levelling an alt.

    I FINALLY found a mod that cuts out the middle man. This may be something you already have, although from what you said I interpreted you were just using a map with loc, and still having to go online to find out what loc you wanted.

    Anyhoo, the name of the mod is Quest Helper. It’s been fantastic for as long as I’ve used it, goes well with cartographer, and keeps you pointed in the right direction. It’s also very useful when you’re partied with other people who have it, as you can see what quests they have and how far done they are with them. I strongly suggest picking it up for all your questing needs, so long as you don’t feel it’s too much of a spoiler :)

  12. JoeTortuga says:

    Almost everything you cite as a nitpick is there as a reaction/evolution of MMO games, or is there as a beachhead against player knowledge.

    The nitpicks about quest locations, exactly what animals to kill, etc are things that, as an experienced player, I have no difficulty with. Knowledge of the game space — both where quests are, the best order to do them in, which foods are the most efficient to cook to raise skill, and so forth are an advantage that an experienced player has.

    Sure, the first run through and second were harder, but as we played for years (gradually building up high level characters in every class), it got clearer. It also encourages us to form into social groups and guilds as things like bags and gold were passed down to the newbies.

    That sort of thing is part of most MMOs, and is the reason for the level restriction. It got silly in EQ where a level 1 paladin is decked out in some level-60s cast offs (which were way overpowered for them). Sure, I could do it in a pen and paper game, but I think this makes it better.

    As far as the drinking mage goes, I dunno. The mage always seemed like a tactical character to me. Deciding when to drink, where to drink, and how to pull monsters in the most efficient ways possible. I spent most of my points in mana-boosting abilities, and at level 70, I drink a lot less.

    But every class is like that, one of the things that Blizzard got right was that it feels different to play a Mage, a Rogue, and a Warrior. They fit different playstyles, and that’s a good thing.

    Not that I want to be a WoW apologist, I’m the grumpiest WoW player in my group, and have cancelled my account several times just because I got bored with it. It’s a fun game, but it’s not the be-all end-all in this space. I look forward to the MMO that does to WoW what it did to the EQ and the others in that space:)

  13. Helge says:

    I read complaints like yours and wonder why people play the game at all. I guess there must be rewards to the game that make it fun in spite of those flaws, because otherwise you’d be doing something more rewarding with your time, like poking yourself in the eye with a sharpened pencil…

  14. Randolpho says:

    Excellent post, and of course, spot on.

    These problems seem typical of MMORPGs in general and, like Mengtzu said, are mostly related to the PvP aspect of the game.

    Ironically, the only really fun part of WoW is PvP. I really enjoy the capture-the-flag and hold-this-zone games, but I really really really hate all the twinks who play in those games. That’s why I prefer PvP games that have the players on a more or less equal footing, like Halo or Quake.

    Or, if you want MMO, like Jumpgate Evolution ( http://www.jumpgateevolution.com/ ). Man, I hope I get into the Beta. The first Jumpgate was slick but slow, and they promise to really pick up the pace with the new game.

  15. Randolpho says:

    Helge —

    There are rewards. As I mentioned in my last post, PvP is actually usually pretty fun, provided you have a decent team and aren’t going against mega-twinked bastards. Unless you *are* a mega-twinked bastard… ;)

    The fun aspects of the game are the social aspects of the game. The rest is just a grind to get there. And a grind it is, too. :(

  16. Liz says:

    I am so with you on most of that… Though just as a suggestion – when I’m stuck with rez sickness, I take that as an opportunity to head to the nearest capital city, visit the bank and the auction house, train up any professions, restock on trade gear, etc. (Don’t forget to get armor repaired, either!) By the time I’ve done that, the 10 minutes of rez sickness are done or close enough to hop that flight back to where I was questing.

  17. Sarah says:

    Well, it’s annoying, I’ll agree, but a lot of things you just have to tack up to ‘that’s the way it is.’

    I mean…take your pie-based complaint. There has to be some way of making food items that work rediculously well not function for characters with less HP. Yes, it’s silly that you can’t eat a certain pie at level 37. But, this also keeps people below the intended level from getting huge heal-quicks out of food, thus negating strategy.

    But, the food had to be something. And, no matter what the food was, pie, or cake, or roast duck, or whatever, it was going to be silly that you couldn’t eat it. It’s food. In real life, it’s fairly simple to eat just about anything.

    When food can magically heal wounds, convey temporary super-strength, endurance, or cure cancer…maybe the process becomes a little more complicated than “grab food, stuff face.”

    It also makes no sense that certain boars and what-not don’t have fairly vital organs in most of the species, and those quests could be reworked a little, but in the end, it’s sort of the thing to make quest-length have a little variety. some people will pick up claws on the first three bears. Others will ave to work a bit harder.

    Quests, especially in Darkshore, are excessively vague, especially given the vagueness of the landscape, there can be no argument there.

    Bagspace….ah, well. If you’re playing a hunter, bagspace is always going to be a bigger issue than otherwise. Quiver, leather-bag, quest-items…yeah, it fills up quick.
    Bag-growth is better if you start out in a Draenei or Blood-elf zone. You get some good bags quicker.

    …and not to nitpick on your nitpicks, but was it really so long ago that you were begging for items and armor in games to be easily described on tooltips? No, the heirarchy of food makes no sense, but it’s only food. It’s obvious via the tooltip whether you should eat it or not. If you can’t be troubled to move the mouse a few inches to hover over the icon, then there may be other issues here.

  18. Daath says:

    Requiring some specific level before you can munch on apple pie is a clumsy solution to a real problem described above. It would have been considerably better to set a cap on the maximum amount of health you can regain by eating food and base it on your level. There’d be no WTF moments when a lowbie finds out he isn’t allowed to eat a food by some mysterious, unexplained reason, but he might as well eat the dishes intended for his level, because he won’t be getting the full benefit.

  19. Luke Maciak says:

    The real time cycle annoyed me too. Since I usually play in the evenings, I have no clue how some locations actually look in the daylight.

    The bag thing is stupid but I think all RPG games have this. Some games like Morrowind keep weight of all the items you carry, compare it against your strength, and put penalties on you when you are encumbered. WoW took a simpler way and made you purchase bag space.

    In general WoW seems to favor simple solutions over elegant or realistic ones. That’s where the thing with food comes in. The hierarchy makes no sense, but the food/drink really merges 3 separate systems into something very simple to grasp and use:

    1. healing and buffing (which in many games is based on potions and/or rest)
    2. feeding Hunter pets (and some eat only certain types of foods)
    3. mana restoration (which in many games requires potions, rest or meditation)

    It is all rolled up into a nice and easy system of “food heals and drinks restore mana”. And you can use the same food to feed pets, use as ingredients for various stuff and etc. Simplicity trumps logic in this game a lot.

    But you are right – bag space is silly. I used to carry wood so that I could cook in the field, but I no longer bother since the extra bag slot is much more useful. Besides, I hardly ever actually use food for anything other than feeding my pet. And so far it has been perfectly happy eating raw fish I catch for it.

    Steven mentioned the quest in Hillsbrad. It’s funny because I went from level 22 to 23 the other day doing practically nothing but killing those damn cougars and occasional bears that. Perhaps 1 in 20 dropped blood.

    The other funny thing about quest item drops is that the creatures may not drop certain items until you have a quest that requires them. Also, some drops that look like they would be quest items may never get used. When I started playing I tried to be smart and hold on to sets of claws, or beaks hoping there will be a quest for them in the future. There usually never was.

    Spawning points are unrealistic and I always wondered why can’t there be a better way to represent this. For example Quillboars usually spawn around little settlements they build in the hills. Why couldn’t they emerge from the huts instead of beaming down? Same goes for harpies who usually hang around nests hanging from big trees. Why not have an animation of a creature emerging from a structure then run to the assigned “post” in evade mode?

  20. Matt says:

    Shamus, Try Runescape, It has no restrictions on combat levels for other skills. If you want to craft, than just craft, cooks can just cook, fisherpeople can just fish, etc etc etc…

  21. Derek K says:

    1. This annoys me to no end as well. Drop rates should be reserved for loot, not quests. Tell me to kill 30. Be a man about it. ;)

    2. I’ve run in to extremely few of these, personally. There’s one in the Barrens that I can never find (a peak of some sort) and just ignore, and I get very lost in Stonetalon, but beyond that, I never have any real problem finding them. And it is a balance – if I’m just gonna get a waypoint to run to, why not just make it right beside the quest giver?

    3. I like d2. That being said, bag space is a limiter, but it’s a personal thing. My wife never runs out of space – she only picks up magic stuff, never worries about vendors, and has a couple food items. And she’s just fine. She doesn’t have as much money as me, she doesn’t do the tradeskills – she just plays. So you bring that on yourself, to some degree. Sure, that cougar claw might be used in some recipe, somewhere. But you know what? It’s not one of yours. Toss it. If you have to keep it because it might be useful, that’s your (and to be fair, my) own issue. ;) The bag space game tells you how you’re doing, and gives you something to aim for. Unless you’re just buying them with friend’s/main’s money. It’s a bit annoying, but it doesn’t really bother me.

    4. Again, you do it to yourself. ;) Why carry earthroot if you’re a skinner? Plus, if everyone could pick up and carry every item, then a bit of the value is lost. If everyone can very easily be a master cook, then why do I care about becoming one? But if it takes a decided effort, and sacrifice, then making master cook means something (and means my wares have a bit of value as well).

    5. Agreed. I understand that they want it to be interesting and varied, but then each one should be different.

    6. That’s never bothered me. If you haven’t been to Warsong Gulch in the mid range of your level, and fought people that were X9, with perfect gear, you should try it. Gear restrictions mean that you can’t just drop the uber equipment on your alt, and be a master at PVP and PVE. It also gives you that “DUDE! I hit 34, I can wear that headgear!” And makes a nice “what should I be wearing?” filter. Is that pair of pants worth it? Oh, min level is 5, and I’m 22. Probably not.

    7. I can honestly say I have *never* paid attention to the time of day cycle. I honestly didn’t know it was there for quite some time.

    8. I would definitely like a “zone of control” type of idea – granted, you could probably abuse it by getting enough players together, but saying that monsters can’t spawn within X feet of a player isn’t a bad idea. Maybe put a preferencing on it – they try not to, within Z feet, spawn within X feet of a player. If they can’t spawn anywhere else, they spawn within Y feet of A players. The issue that could come up, though, is clustering. If there are a lot of players in the area, either mobs aren’t respawning at all, or they’re *all* respawning in one isolated area. “Sure is empty out here…I wonder where all the OH GOD OH GOD THE RAPTORS ARE EVERYWHERE THEY’RE BITING ME OH GOD OH………..”

    9. Wah. ;) Mana management is how good mages learn to be good mages. Anyone can spam mage skills over and over. “Fireball, Fireblast, Fireball, Fireblast” until it’s dead is a way to play. It’s also gonna mean you drink every 2-3 mobs. Whereas “Frostbolt, crit frostbolt, wand, wand, wand” means you can keep killing, albeit slightly slower. My frost mage drinks once every 15 mobs or so, at most. If I have to take one 3 mobs at once, it means I’m probably thirsty, but that’s about it. Plus, I have evocation and a trinket to fill me up. To me, that’s sort of like warriors saying “Man, I have to heal up after every 2-3 mobs. That really sucks. I shouldn’t have to worry about my health.”

    10. My only beef with wandering elites is that they shouldn’t attack you other than in a very limited range, and should show on the map. I remember the first time I saw a Son of Arugal, and it slaughtered me (they wander in the undead area). Then I got to SFK, and went “OOOOOH! *THAT’S* one of those things!”

    11. L2P n00b. ;)

    Rez sickness does suck. I’d like a better mechanic. It hurts the casual player more than anything – often times my wife will simply quit playing, rather than wait – she’ll try a run a couple times, give up, and then rez, and log out, because she’s frustrated, and doesn’t want to wait to play the game.

    Re: Crafting/level limits – again, I think that’s to prevent people from making 1st level alts, sending them full supplies, and having a master everything on their accounts. You can have master everythings, but you’re gonna at least have to commit the time to level them. Otherwise, go interact with other players. You’ll looking at it from the point of view of an RP’er, or a non-combatant. I look at it from the PoV of a power gamer. If all it would take to have a master enchanter on my account is cash and skill grinding, you can bet I’m gonna pay my daughter $5 to sit there and get me up to max skills.

    Re: Food/level – look at it from the Power gamer’s PoV again. I’m level 25. I have 750 hp. I can get an item that heals 800 hp/20 seconds. Or I can get one that heals 7500/20 seconds. I can do math – in 2 seconds, I’m fully healed. Food goes from an out of combat item to a 2 second full heal. Why *wouldn’t* you carry high level foods on everyone? Healing potions? Those have a cooldown. I’m just gonna eat my mystical nether-ray gullet surprise!

  22. I agree with the comment about the devilsaurs. Thirty foot thunder lizards that can sneak up on you and tromp you to death in a second flat.

    I completely agree with the time-sink issue. My suggestion? Get Jame’s Leveling Guide for Alliance (or Horde), get the QuestHelper add-on, Cartographer and Auctioneer. They make your life a lot easier.

    As for the collection quests? They suck, and should be taken out behind the chemical sheds and shot.

  23. King of Men says:

    Obviously they are *epic* pies (and glasses of milk), which will instantly kill any mere peon of low level who tries to ingest them! The sheer magnitude of the surge of vitality you get from these foods will make your brains leak out through your nose if you’re not ready to handle it.

  24. Alexis says:

    1-2. Yes.

    I agree with a great deal of what you’re saying. In most cases the issues you’ve encountered can be worked around with a little metagaming or skill, or are better than the alternative.

    3-6. Crafting is expensive and time-consuming to level even with a guide. If you try to do it without one, full bags will be the least of your worries. I know you want to experience as much of the game as possible, all at once, but it wouldn’t hurt to leave one or two things until you’ve seen some of the (early) endgame.

    Buy a stack of appropriately-levelled food or water from an innkeeper. When you ding and lvl%5==0, sell the leftovers and buy a new stack. Remember, full bags = more trips to town. Buff foods are not, imho, worth the trouble until L70.

    Bandages rock. For warriors and rogues they’re essential but even mana-dependant healers can save time.

    I love the many varied food types. It gives the world some colour. It would have been very easy to make “Iron Ration: restores 2% total health per second for 30 seconds”, instead they chose to make all kinds of cheese, bread, meat, fish, more types of water than an associate marketer on speed, even lollipops and icecream. Don’t pick up, or drop, random bits of food off monsters. You don’t know where it’s been anyway.

    “Do you need to have a firm understanding of arcane magics before you can properly command a needle and thread?” – yes. You’re creating *magic items*. Similarly blacksmithing has a rich mystical tradition in RL lore. The greatest weapons were made by GODS, surely L50 is not too much to ask?

    The vendor bag prices are hyperinflated, this is true. This creates a rare market for player-crafted items.

    7. The plaguelands are strangely beautiful during the day. When you hit 60 or so, log on at the weekend and go gryphon touring. Your wife might enjoy watching, I’ve done this for a couple of non-wowhead ladies and they both thought the world was beautiful.

    8. Yes, it’s unrealistic and kinda sucks. Your suggestion though makes it impossible to camp spawns and allows players to deny others spawns. If they spawn anyway, but outside aggro range and walk towards their spawn point – that would still be unfair to melee classes and could cause even larger groups to chain-aggro onto you.

    If you can think of even a vaguely realistic solution for infinite spawns, which doesn’t encourage goldfarming or griefing, Blizz would like a chat I’m sure. Ultima Online tried the ‘living world’ thing and afaik the results didn’t merit the investment.

    Pragmatically, try to keep moving and remember which groups you killed. Mistrust clearings next to mobs, camps or caves. Pull mobs away from their spawn points. Usually you get 2-3 seconds to scarper, if you aren’t in combat.

    9. Kind of. At some point mages get evocation, which restores all their mana very quickly, in combat (6m CD). Druids and especially priests get a lot of mileage out of Spirit, with the right talents. I view drinking as kind of a punishment for screwing up and spanking all my mana inefficiently.

    Having said all that, yes mages have to drink too much. This is partly to compensate for the speed at which they kill. Most classes become less dependant on drinking around L40-50.

    10. You’re gonna love Un’goro. Really tho, maybe look around a bit (with left mouse)? They do help build character… I mean environmental awareness, which will serve you well when you start instancing.

    The real issue here is the clipping distance. Large mobs move faster but seem to clip at the same distance. You have to be quite spry to dodge some of them. Good ol’ Tyraninjasaurus Rex.

    11. You can res quite some distance from your corpse. This is actually quite innovative and helps prevent corpsecamping by mobs or players. If you can’t make it to a cleared area, res, run, die and res again. It costs less. Spirit rez is rarely necessary, last time I genuinely needed one I just got a mate to fly out and rez me instead.

  25. Thank you, Shamus. You post makes me somehow feel…vindicated.

    I’ve been complaining for years that drop rates for quest items should ALWAYS BE 100%. Period.

    There is nothing fun about standing around for an hour killing the same monster over and over again, waiting for them to drop an eyeball. Or a gizzard. Or whatever.

    When drop rates for quest items are less than 100%, the game begins to feel more like a job than a source of entertainment.

  26. Mike says:

    1. One of the things I hated about Everquest, and why I loved DAoC. In EQ – You get a quest to get an item off of something, you go kill ten of them to get the trophy. Or you’re farming said mob and you accidentally get a drop. You search Allakhazam to see if said drop is useful for any quest you might ever get so you never have to farm said mob again. Oh, and you’re competing against other people who know mob’s usefulness and are farming just so they can sell said drop.

    In DAoC – You get a quest to kill something, you go kill it, you get the trophy. If you have the quest, you get the trophy. You don’t have the quest, you don’t get the trophy.

  27. Changling bob says:

    For many of these peeves, be glad you aren’t playing Everquest 1. Specifically number 9: if you think down time is bad in WoW, Everquest made you (apparently) sit for 15 minutes at a time. Doing nothing.

  28. Justin says:

    You should be able to level your intestinal fortitude stat separately just like any of your craftsman skills.

    I know there isn’t such a skill.

    Also: Imagine a world where pie eating contests are decided by level of experience!

  29. Robyrt says:

    Having been introduced to WOW with a free trial a couple weeks ago (I’m Beruthiel on Kirin Tor), I’m seeing a lot of the same problems. From the popularity level of WOW, I didn’t expect to see a game I would be unfavorably comparing to Dungeon Siege.

  30. Jeff says:

    4. I suspect that this is a database limitation. I can't remember any WoW quests or recipes that allow you to use a variety of options. Most likely, their database has no way of indicating that items X, Y, and Z are all sub-entries of category A, so all recipes have to reference the specific item.
    Perhaps they should be less “creative” with recipes and more “logical”. Is it really necessary to have 4 types of wolf meat? Do they really taste so different?

    6. As you noted, most MMOs do this to one extent or another. Hell, until they patched it out Neverwinter Nights 1 even did this (even though the campaign was in control of when you got access to higher-level gear).

    Which was a terrible thing, given that D&D controls it via access, not some stupid arbitrary limit. If you found a Hackmaster 9 and the DM said “Sorry, you can’t swing that your level isn’t high enough”, somebody is going to get a book to the face.

    There'd be no WTF moments when a lowbie finds out he isn't allowed to eat a food by some mysterious, unexplained reason, but he might as well eat the dishes intended for his level, because he won't be getting the full benefit.
    That would work really well. Just have it be percentage based (off your total), but also capped numerically.

    Regarding spawn points, wouldn’t it be better to have them not spawn if somebody is nearby? That prevents camping as well… have the respawn timer tick down, but not actually pop until someone else further away. Although that could lead to packs of mobs popping up for highly populated areas…

  31. Neal White says:

    I can understand all of the nitpicks you listed since I have plyed enought to have a 70 warlock (still hoplesly squishy) and a lvl 20 warlock (working at not being so squishy when he’s a 70)
    The food issue confused me for a while but I figured it out. If I am a low level toon with 800 HP and eat a pie that grants 3500 HP in 18 seconds I am at full health almost instantly, but when I drink a glass of milk it takes the full 30 seconds to get to full health.
    I do think the “Hey! This pig has no liver” problem should be investigated by the ingame EPA and maybe we’ll have to put a ban on DDT.

  32. Manticore says:

    Ugh, collection quests. The level 50 rogue class quest is especially nasty, because you have to collect a certain bag from a certain ooze in Azshara. Thing is, there’s maybe 5 of these oozes in the world, and I’d be amazed if its drop rate was as high as 1 in 20. That was not a fun several hours.

  33. […] write some thoughts about it. First off, what inspired me to write this was a blog post from the 20-Sided blog by Shamus Young. If you’re a WoW player, check it out because it’s a good read. […]

  34. James says:

    Reading through these nitpicks, I don’t disagree much; one thing that’s worth noting is that for the most part the section of the game currently being experienced (1-37) is years old, mostly unchanged since the game originally launched.

    While not perfect, the newer content (Mostly from the Burning Crusade Expansion) have resolved at least some of the more annoying issues. Not all though. I tend to just skip parts of the game that irritate me now instead of slogging through it. :P

    Level restrictions deserve a special note: They’re a solution to a problem, that being of low level characters getting way out of scope gear and trivializing content, not just in PvE but in PvP as well. Better discussions and comments about it have already been made however, so I won’t rehash them further.


  35. Arthur says:

    You know what I’d be interested in? An MMO where there’s NO PVP AT ALL, or where what PVP there is is resolved through roleplaying (faction politics, etc) as opposed to the combat system. It strikes me that if they yanked PVP from MMOs then half the problems with them would evaporate instantly.

  36. Dave says:

    Dang it, Shamus, you went and made me fire up a WOW trial. I quit in late 2005 to avoid what had become near-complete mind control. I ran into some of your cool guildies on KT, P&W does seem like a really great guild.

    I know what you mean about the unchanging world. It was funny to run through Dun Morogh and be like, dang, you STILL haven’t gotten Gol’balar Quarry cleared out? How many troggs could there possibly be down there?

    Not that it was terribly surprising, but there could be some kind of update after 3 years. Of course, with 80% of the population at the end game, why bother?

    I got my dwarf up to level 17 and am feeling your pain. You will learn grinding techniques that maximize your uptime as you go along. But there’s no escapin the meatless crocolisks and other non-dropping hacks. The dude at the Farstrider lodge wanted 5 chunks of crocodile meat. You’d think I could get that without having to clean the whole island out, like twice.

    My metaphysical thoughts about why my priest is such a bloodthirsty psychopath are beyond Blizzard’s control, of course. But really, does he not ever need to spend time pondering/meditating/praying (sorry, not real tuned in to his religion)? Some priest.

  37. Derek K says:

    “It strikes me that if they yanked PVP from MMOs then half the problems with them would evaporate instantly.”

    Eh. It’s not just direct competition. It’s indirect. I’m competing with you for AH items, for quests, for drops, for status. If you have an advantage over me, it may or may not hurt me.

    If you can get godly loot from a main, and just wipe out Wailing Caverns over and over again, 20 minutes per run, getting all the items you want, the fact that I struggled through it for 4 hours to get an item that I want to put on the AH becomes less important. Etc.

    “Not that it was terribly surprising, but there could be some kind of update after 3 years. Of course, with 80% of the population at the end game, why bother?”

    Eh. From a resources point of view, why delete a quest that people can still do? There are new players. They can do the quest. And really, it’s a quest. “Kill X Foozles in Y location” is really the baseline of a lot of the quests. Why drop one that works?

    “My metaphysical thoughts about why my priest is such a bloodthirsty psychopath are beyond Blizzard's control, of course. But really, does he not ever need to spend time pondering/meditating/praying (sorry, not real tuned in to his religion)? Some priest.”

    You assume that priest == pacifist in some way. ;) When there are wandering abominations about, it’s your sacred *duty* to make them dead.

    I haven’t worked out how exactly boars fit in to the equation, but I’m pretty sure they’re abominations in some way….

    But it’s a world of WARcraft, man! Ain’t no namby-pamby peace n’ love gods here. You worship ’em by makin’ things dead in their name! WAUGH!

    Wait, I may have just crossed IP boundaries there.

  38. Gary says:

    Shamus, I really have to agree with you on most of this. When you decided to take on WoW as your topic of discussion, I decided that I would play the trial once again,in order to:

    A) keep up with the rants.
    B) give the game another chance.

    The reasons you list here are some of my main complaints about the game (besides the monthly cost).

    I’m used to the drops being inconsistent in games, but in WoW I’ve found that one quest can take hours because the lousy Gnoll Paws refuse to drop no matter how many you kill!

    I agree about the bags being ridiculously costly too. In Guild Wars they cost a lot but in WoW they cost a small fortune. For a 6 slot bag you pay something like 2 silver, but you say you want an 8 slot bag, well I’m sorry, you’re going to have to hand over 30 silver. FOR TWO EXTRA SLOTS!

    The quest location aspect of the game however is my BIGGEST pet peeve. There is often no way to find some of these places without wandering the whole face of the land and then stumbling upon them by accident. Someone mentioned a 3rd party plugin or some such. In my opinion, if you have to resort to 3rd party software in order to perform basic gameplay functions, then that portion of the gameplay is broken.

    There were a lot of good things about this game in my second trial attempt. I was expecting to hate the game completely, but it has some really nice things going for it too. The landscape is a lot of fun and it is huge. At around Level 10 (human), I decided I wanted to go find the dwarf starting location. I tried many different paths to get there (invariably getting spattered by huge monsters) and discovered some really charming locations. (I also learned how to rez in strategic locations) Finally, I just swam up the western coast of the map (which took about 45 minutes) but was neat that it let me do that.

    I was almost swayed into buying the game. It has some powerful motivators, but in the end some of the “nitpicks” listed above and a couple of others became the deal breaker.
    They were just too annoying for me to deal with. So if I ever get the urge for WoW again, I’ll most likely just pop in a new trial CD and have at it until my time runs out again.

  39. 2. Can’t remember the quest, but the quest giver told me to go north east to get what I needed. So I went north and east. When I couldn’t find what I was looking for I pulled up wowhead only to find that what I wanted was in the north east part of the zone, not north east of the NPC’s location.

    Concerning food, and drink, and recovery time. In Everquest food and drink were simply required. Your character had to eat and drink on a regular basis. If you did not your natural health and mana recovery just stopped. Fortunately as long as you had food your character would automatically eat and we were never bothered by this mechanic. Unfortunately their was no warning that we were getting low on food or drink, only that we were hungry or thirsty. It made for an annoying and otherwise useless game mechanic.

    Coming into WoW its nice to see that food and drink are recovery items. Sit down, eat up, and miraculously recover from near death. Or drink up and completely refresh your magical energies. It gives food and drink meaning that EQ lacked. The other nice thing being that in EQ, we didn’t have recovery items. Or at least those rare ones we did have were extremely rare. Recovering mana took minutes, not 30 seconds while drinking milk, but many minutes in which the caster had to sit down to meditate their mana back. If it was the healer that was low on mana, it could stop an entire group in its tracks. No bandages to help a healer out, no mana or health potions. Just had to sit and wait.

    In this way I consider WoW a vast improvement and don’t mind what little downtime there is.

    I completely agree with you that there should be a way to allow players to level up in crafting skills separately from fighting skills. There should also be a mechanic that allows a person who is good at both fighting and crafting to make exceptional armor and arms.

    I use resurrection sickness downtime to visit town, empty pockets, replenish ammo, repair, and travel. Generally I’m ready to get back into the fight right as its wearing off, so I don’t usually notice it. In either case, punishing us with a little downtime is a far cry better than taking away our hard earned experience, especially when the experience was so much harder to earn as well.

    In this way I’m happy with WoW. I agree that level restrictions on food and drink items sucks. I would much rather see them all replenish a percentage of health or mana as appropriate. No need for level restrictions then, and as a social game we can all then have our own favorite foods. The different food types could allow for different bonuses. This is something you’ll see if and when you get to Outlands. The foods there offer bounses to agility, attack power, hit rating, and spell power, not just stamina and spirit. They still require levels, but theres more reason for having so many different types of foods.

    I don’t mind the vast amount of ingredients, but I am annoyed that each and every recipe has to have a whole new different set of ingredients. How about using wolf meat with mild spices for one item, wolf meat with hot spices for a different item, and wolf meat with soothing spices for yet another item? This would greatly increase the amount of items we can make while cutting down on the amount of raw materials we need. Personally I’d like to see more of that. With tailoring we could have different shirt patterns, but depending on the type of cloth used we could have different shirts made. But we’d only need one pattern. Makes sense to me.

    Bag space to me only becomes limiting when I’m farming. Granted I’m farming for tradeskills, quests, money… its almost a continual farm fest. I don’t mind the limited bag space, but when I’m skinning, I have to empty my kills of all their crap before I can skin the kill. This makes bag space even more valuable. I’ll admit that I’d like to see more drop on from creatures I kill. Regularly two eyes, a nose, two ears, 4 paws and 20 claws. But I’d also like to see more use for each of those parts. Whats with all this grey crap that is vendor fodder? Most of it gets destroyed anyway for bag space, why drop it at all?

    And whats with medium leather, heavy leather, think leather? Why all the difference. I could understand medium quality leather and high quality leather. But even then, what does the level of my kill have to do with the quality of its skin? My skill at skinning a creature should determine, or allow me to determine the quality of hide I get from a creature, not the level of the creature itself. For that matter how is it that I can skin a croc and get the same type of leather as I can get off a cat? Why can’t I skin a croc and expect to get scales? I could also understand having different types of leather for different types of creatures skinned, but make it consistent. If I’m going to skin a dragon, I expect to get dragon scales, not more rugged leather.

  40. krellen says:

    I’ve started playing City of Heroes again after you started this series on WoW (I tried it a couple years ago and didn’t continue in favour of WoW, which I quit a few months later). CoH has none of these problems.

    Your quests are to do something in a specific location – a cave, a sewer, a building, a warehouse – or to defeat X number of Y group – no collection to it. And you don’t have to go searching for your mission location; it’s a mark on your map. There’s no equipment, just enhancements – which often you can’t use because of your origin, but sell nicely for influence. No wandering elites – areas are marked by their level even within a specific zone, virtually nothing “wanders”, and most that do only have small patrol paths, and best I can tell things do not spawn around players. Some groups have “Bosses” in them, but the groups pretty much stay put and are generally easy to avoid or flee.

    It also doesn’t have as varied a crafting system, though inventions do lead to some interesting searching and combinations. There’s no first aid, cooking, and other such crafts to grind up, but there are badges to earn (and most tell you exactly what you have to do to earn them, if not concretely how much of it you have to do.)

    Their “resurrection sickness”, XP debt, also operates entirely differently. Instead of encouraging you to sit around and do nothing for ten minutes, it actually encourages you to go out and keep doing something, because you need to beat some foes to work off your debt. Half the experience you earn goes to pay off debt, and the other half you keep, so you don’t even feel like you’re needlessly filling in a hole; you’re still earning something, if not as much as usual. Plus, there’s a badge for paying off debt, so there’s a reward even for that.

    Plus, in City of Heroes, you can fly, from level 6, virtually anywhere you can see (there’s a sky ceiling, but it’s really really high and only the spire tops of the tallest buildings will be denied you.)

  41. Derek K says:

    CoH is, in fact, awesome. I can fully support that. ;)

    CoH is an entirely different beast from WoW, though. One I usually prefer – in CoH I shout “Level 22 scrapper, LFT” and within minutes, I have a group. Or, I simply start hitting up the people flagged as LFT with “Hey, interested in a 21-24 mission team?”

    Works really well. CoH is flexible enough that you can really make a team out of any 2-8 players, and have fun.

    Course, CoH is really only so good after you’ve spent time in a normal MMO. You won’t find it refreshing that you don’t have to manage drops unless you’ve spent enough time doing so. ;)

  42. Sheer_FALACY says:

    The reason for having seventeen different kinds of leather or 17 different kinds of boar meat is you don’t want low level and high level characters farming the same items. I mean, if you kill a level 70 monster and get the same item you’d have gotten off a level 23 monster, it’s pretty sad. In the worst case, it’s an item people actually need and you’d get level 70s farming the level 23 monsters in bulk. That would be very bad.

    The problem with cooking is a particularly poor balance of realism and good gaming practice. It’s realistic that each meat makes different foods. It’s good gaming practice to have different levels for meats from the same animal type. What you end up getting is an absurdly large amount of recipes, each of which uses one ingredient. This is an especially large issue when you’re level 25, you have some bear meat, and the recipe for bear meat steak or whatever is only available on the other side of the world.

    Also, Shamus, if you’re worried about an item being used for a quest… It’s very rare for an item to be used for a quest if it’s not marked as a quest item / only aquirable after you’ve started the quest. And if the color of the name of the item is gray, it’s never used for anything and only exists to be sold.

  43. krellen says:

    I’ll add to Derek’s comment that my biggest beef with CoH is the fact that everyone is looking for teams. It’s virtually impossible to get away from the search for teams; I get asked three or four times a night if I’m looking for a team. The game’s perfectly playable solo (though some power sets and a couple of the classes are much more difficult to play solo than teamed – but there’s also at least one class (the Mastermind, on the Villain side) that seems designed specifically for solo play), and sometimes it’s hard to get a group together for the longer missions (called task forces, actually a collection of missions), but overall it’s a nice balance of group and solo playability.

  44. J Greely says:

    1. Pure torture. For years now, almost every patch has had an “increase drop rate of quest item X” note, and it’s still not good enough. Stranglethorn probably has the worst of these.

    3. Until quite recently, Blanchy’s Feed Bag had four slots. Worst reward ever.

    4. I think high-level crafting ingredients should break down into low-level ones, just like you can combine low-level leather to make high-level leather. The big bear meat should be equivalent to 3 standard bear meat, etc.

    5. “Oh, great, I’m in an elf town that sells nothing but white wine and canapes, and I’ve still got half a stack of gnomish engine cleaner and two stacks of goblin mystery meat.”

    10. Wandering elites give you a long-term goal; there’s nothing like coming back a few levels later for some old-fashioned payback. Anyone up for some devilsaur burgers?


  45. Jeff says:

    The reason for having seventeen different kinds of leather or 17 different kinds of boar meat is you don't want low level and high level characters farming the same items. I mean, if you kill a level 70 monster and get the same item you'd have gotten off a level 23 monster, it's pretty sad. In the worst case, it's an item people actually need and you'd get level 70s farming the level 23 monsters in bulk. That would be very bad.

    Eh, there’s a very very simple solution for that.

    Level 1 creature drops 1 tooth.
    Level 70 creature drops 70 teeth.

    Level 1 necklace of teeth – 20 teeth.
    Level 70 necklace of teeth – 1400 teeth.

    Same for things like meat.
    If the level 70 wants to make and eat Sloppily Made Meat Pies instead of Pies Of The Gods and heal 1hp/tick instead of 700, that’s his business.

  46. tom says:

    wait, level 5 for milk? does this mean babies are born level 5? if not how do they level? and how the hell did all these people survive being babies when they couldnt drink milk? I mean, just about everybody there started at level 1 so they couldnt drink anything besides water.

  47. Jeff says:

    Clearly the level 1s would be able to drink milk if they had access to boobies.

  48. khorboth says:

    Some interesting facts:

    1) City of Heroes is a low-population game compared to WoW and many other MMORPGs.

    2) City of Heroes is over-represented in the people commenting on this blog.

    3) People commenting on this blog tend to be more literate and more mature than people who post on other gaming sites. (see previous post that I’m too lazy to link.)

    4) People commenting on this blog are more attuned to gameplay flaws than those who post on other gaming sites. (unsupported, but I think the content of the blog gives good empirical evidence.)

    So… Enjoy WoW for as long as you can, Shamus, but when you’re ready to move on, perhaps you should look favorably upon CoH.

  49. Shawn says:

    I’m actually a big fan of wandering elites. They build character.

    Just wait until you hit Un’Goro Crater for the ninja devilsaurs. At least the Fel Reavers in Hellfire Peninsula shake the earth when they move. You learn pretty quickly to run the hell away from them.

  50. Liz N. says:

    Looks like most of your points have been addressed. However I would like to add that, while having a large variety of ingredients and food types may be a drag on bag space… It’s a large variety of ingredients and food types! It makes the game interesting. I’m amused to find things like “Mulgore Spice Bread” and “Alterac Swiss”- even if I pretty much immediately trash them because they’re useless. It tells me a little more about the world. Eventually you’ll learn what kinds of things you need to keep around and what kinds of things you don’t, and if there’s ever a question, all you need to do is look it up on thottbot or wowhead. (I realize this “breaks the immersion” for some, but honestly, you’ll have a happier WoW life once you accept it.)

    And also, cooking gets a lot less stupid later on. :)

  51. Dev Null says:

    I agree with most of your gripes, though I also agree that they’re mostly minor. There are things that occasionally frustrate me, but they don’t ruin the game for me.

    #9 though I think you get wrong. I kinda like the fact that all of the character classes in WoW aren’t carefully balanced to be doing exactly X DPS at level Y, and be able to last Z minutes against the avaerage same-level opponent. Mages are glass cannons. While I’m doing X damage you’re doing 2X. You’ll kill the little beggars twice as fast, and you have a variety of ways of slowing or stalling them as they come to eat you… but god help you if one of them gets close enough to breathe on you. But if you’re going to be able to kill things twice as fast, and the game is all about killing things for loot/xp/quests, then something has to balance you out slightly so that you’re not just twice at fast as progressing so long as you stay with mobs you can take down safely. Mana conservation / regen is just the balance.

    Mind you, this whole idea of progression balance completely falls apart when it comes to paladins, as near as I can tell. People claim they’re not out of whack, and for same-level stuff it might even be true, but when you’ve watched a pallie farming things 5 levels down by simply running through as many of them as they can see at once, continuously, without break, for 10 minutes on end, it starts to get a little silly. I can take a couple at once maybe with my warrior, with a break afterwards to bandage, but I’ve seen palladins pulling _dozens_, without gear appreciably better than mine.

  52. Duffy says:

    While I agree some of these are annoying or at the very least just plain silly, they do in fact create an ideal game balance. And while they are oddities, they do not prevent the game from being enjoyable, at least to me and apparently many others.

    The one that is really an issue is the vague quest directions, personally I only recall one or two per zone that gave useless directions. They were incredibly annoying, especially at the lower levels when you don’t have a mount and travel time is precious. I currently use the 3rd party addon for my alts, just because I’ve seen and read every quest already, I just want to get on to the end-game.

    As for the downtime argument, well there are, once again, game balance issues. Using the mage example: Mages have very hight burst damage, meaning in general they can kill a single mob far faster then other classes, to offset this advantage, they go through mana faster.

    As for CoH, I personally tried out CoV when it came out as it appealed more to my tastes then CoH. And I will admit it was neat and some of the “cool” things it let you do were fun. (I did enjoy super jumping all over the place.) However, it was a very shallow and boring game to me, the combat was good, in a lot of ways it was similar to WoW’s combat opposed to other MMORPGs. That was fine, what I found boring was the lack of scenery change, the fact that there was nothing but combat to do at anytime, and I recall navigation aggravating me also. Again, thats just my personal problem with it, to each their own.

    As you may have noticed from my comments and many people before me, a lot of the nitpicks are centered around the fact that you are playing an MMORPG and MMORPGs require all around balance. The restrictions are not in place just because, they are in place to insure someone cannot ruin the game for you or make the game trivial for those coming after them.

    If you still don’t like it, oh well. On to the next game.

  53. Steve C says:

    Nitpicking your nitpicks…

    1. Murloc eyeballs are not a “quest item” per ce. Quest items can be defined as items that someone can’t get for you, only drop if you are on the quest and cannot be traded or sold. Murloc eyeballs are wanted for a quest, but are more common than dirt and worth less than 1 silver each to purchase. Similarly for most of the other stuff. A new player has no real way to know that (a valid gripe) but that’s why those eyes didn’t drop all the time. Your point is valid, just not a good example. Consider if every murloc dropped 2 eyeballs. However I’ve killed a village full of murlocs and none of them had heads! It’s very annoying.

    2. I’ve found quest locations for 99% of quests to be spot on if read carefully and your map consulted. Some quests are absolutely terrible but I’ve found them to be the exception rather than the rule. I know of the addon that points the way, but I purposely don’t use it. I don’t want to be lead by the nose. Your suggestion to “Ask for more info” is a good one. Some quests do exactly that, but not enough. If you want more info type /1 and ask in general chat for a location.

    3. I think bag space is just fine. As for your guild mates giving you 16 slot bags for free, that is common. Those bags are worth less than the materials to make them, but people make them to gain skill points. Basically if people didn’t use them as gifts they would become worthless. It’s an emergent property of the game that results in game balance. If bags had a level req to equip, then the gripe would be valid.

    4. I’ve found the problem with not having enough inventory only occurs if you are a packrat. You don’t need to carry every random piece of crap you find back to a vendor. (Goes back to what if everything dropped all their parts to pick up.) Throw away the less valuable things as you find more valuable things, or don’t bother picking up crap in the first place. If you are running into problems where there are lots of different types of things that you really want to keep, try killing a less broad range of creatures on a foray from town. For example if you kill lions, tigers and bears then they all will drop different parts that don’t stack well. If you just kill bears, then only bear parts drop which stack well.

    5. If you have different types of food that don’t stack, then simply pick one and throw the rest away. It’s either an example of an obsolete item you should just toss, or is just in for flavor. (Horde find more fungus and Alliance find more cheese for example.)
    All the food and water that can be found by killing or shopping is good for ten levels at 15, 25, 35 etc. Some of the crafted food can be used at 20, 30 etc but you have to go out of your way to make it. It’s like obsolete weapons and armor, ditch it. You don’t have to read the tooltip entirely if you don’t want. Just look at the level required to use it. If it’s level 25, then knowing that it’s 25 means it’s always going to be better than food that is for level 15, and never as good as food requiring 35. If you are level 37, you should be using level 35 food and ditching the rest. It’s no different than ditching that level 22 sword at 37.
    Yeah it’s nonsense that you can’t eat apple pie. But consider if you could eat food meant for lvl 70 that gives 7000 hp over 30sec. You could take 1 bite and be at full hit points in 2 secs. That wouldn’t be balanced. I’ll accept the nonsense for balance and a bit of flavor text. Let’s you play a vegan Tauren that only eats fruit.

    6. That’s not really a valid gripe IMO because all the professions don’t have a level tied to them to craft. There is a level tied to become a -master- at it. You DON’T need to be a seasoned warrior to smelt better, you DON’T need to be a seasoned tailor to learn how to use a needle and thread. All the crafting professions have 3 specific levels (20, 35, 50) to get to different tiers of skill beyond the basic (journeyman, artisan, master). The secondary skills (cooking, 1st aid) have one level (35) requirement to break it up. That’s due to a quest before a qualified teacher will teach you.

    I think it makes a bit of sense that a character has to have some understanding of how it needs to work before he can craft it. A level 20 tailor can make cloth goods usable for characters level 40 that provides better protection than the mail made for a level 20 warrior. The monsters that level 40 is expected to fight would 1 shot a level 20 regardless if he was wearing mail or cloth. Another way of looking at is how do you design armor to provide protection against the most fearsome dragon attacks, when you have no concept of how even a sick baby dragon attacks?

    There are a few good game reasons why those caps are there. Consider if they weren’t; lots of people would have crafting characters would that would effectively be npcs. They wouldn’t leave the city, but would have maximum blacksmithing and leatherworking etc. Since so many people would have these max skill alts there would be no demand to purchase crafted gear from other players. But there would be LOTS of demand for the raw materials. The price of raw trade goods would be 1000s of gold to craft things worth a few silver for what they could be sold to a vendor. It would skew the profession system into nonsense and would end up hurting the newest players the most.
    BTW You can be level 5 and smelt the ores found in level 70 zones. It’s really really hard to be level 5 and do that, but possible. (And I know someone who did that just to say he did.)

    7. Valid point if you want to see the day-night cycle. Personally I prefer it linked to real time. Different servers have different time zones. You could pick one that moves from day to night in the time that you will normally play. A kluge solution but it’s a solution.

    8. You’re right, respawns suck and should be eliminated. Your solution that a respawn won’t happen if in attack range is a good start. Problem comes about since it’s a massively multiplayer game. What happens if player A clears out an area and moves on while Player B who is on the same quest but 2 mins behind comes into the area looking for monsters? He won’t find anything because he is there. Maybe a solution is to not spawn if a player is in combat in a certain radius, but allow it if any player is not in combat within that same radius. At the very least it should stand there longer without joining in killing you if you don’t take offensive action.

    9. It’s a class mechanic issue. The only class really in that boat is the mage. They kill fast (little time in combat) but have a lot of down time afterwards to balance it out. It does suck, and it’s the reason why I don’t like mages. Good mages can kill fast and have no downtime. Killing fast while using little mana is the aspect of the class that’s easy to learn, difficult to master.

    10. I really like that there are wandering toughs that smoosh you. Keeps you on your toes. If stuff like that didn’t happen it would be a case of “go here, click that, win. repeat.” I love that at any minute some monster could be wandering up behind me. It forces you to be aware of your surroundings. Part of my combat routine is to rotate my camera around to watch for nasties, normally while I’m waiting for a cooldown or something. Generally you -can- outrun them. All classes have something (be it fear, bubble, FD etc) that allow them to cut and run. Part of the game is knowing when and how to do that.

    11. Rez sickness does suck. Far far from perfect, it is the best implementation of a penalty for not recovering your body. (Remember Diablo?.. shudder.) I’ve found that 99% of the time I can find a safe corner somewhere the the relatively large radius around my corpse to rez safely.

    @Derek K: Paying your children to play video games? What’s the world come to?!

  54. GeneralBob says:

    Hm, sounds like you’d like RuneScape

  55. Kevin says:

    1. Low drop rates for quest items
    This bugs my wife too. I never really cared though, since I enjoy the combat portion, and extra killing just means extra xp.

    2. Quest Locations are Vague
    I have had this complaint as well, but in almost every case it has simply been that I was being impatient and failed to read the whole entry.

    3. Bag space is outrageously limited
    I thought this was just another marker of my progress, it didn’t occur to me to get upset about it. On the plus side, it’s something that you only have to put up with once. After that your mains can send your newbies stuff like this.

    4. The Needless proliferation of ingredients
    I loved leveling cooking. (Not a defense.) The bank helped me tons here, and I used an online guide to help me keep track of what I needed and what I didn’t. (Cheating? Maybe.) Also, I cut my teeth with EQ, and this system is SO much better. I actually wish that there were MORE cooking stuff to be had out there, and it’s another reason I’m looking forward to the next expansion.

    5. The Needless proliferation of food types
    Agreed. Again I do wish that there were a greater variety of food bonuses and types. (Not just names.)

    6. Arbitrary Level restrictions
    This is a total twink-guard. But it WOULD be really cool if you could make up a character as a non-combat class. Total rubbish at fighting but gained xp by crafting stuff.

    7. The realtime day / night cycle
    This doesn’t really seem like an actual problem. EQ had the compressed cycle, and while I like it better the way WoW has handled it, there isn’t really any difference except for decorative.

    8. Respawning monsters
    I smell potential player abuse in this one. The spawn camps in EQ were a real pain, and WoW has greatly (though not entirely) alleviated this by the current “beam down” method.

    9. Heavy Drinking Mages
    I like the additional resource issue of regaining mana, but I DEFINITELY wish it went by more quickly.

    10. Wandering Elites are Asinine
    I LOVE the wandering elites. I totally enjoy that even in an area where I out-level everything by one or two spots there is still a reason not to become complacent and just relax into a boring routine. The sudden screaming run is (for me) exhilarating and fun. Hm… perhaps I am being asinine…

    11. Resurrection Sickness Sucks
    Yep. It sure does. I don’t think it would lessen my enjoyment of WoW one jot if they did away with it and never looked back.

  56. Luke Maciak says:

    Note about vague quest directions – I think this issue plagues every single game with large open ended terrain, and no “waypoints” of any kind. I had the exact same problem with quest directions in Morrowind – and in fact, directions were sometimes much worse.

    There were a lot of quests of the type “find a concealed door located on one of the 3 dozen tiny islands that all look the same in the middle of nowhere”.

    I totally hate this sort of thing. It’s frustrating – I rather know exactly where I’m going and do sight seeing, and wandering around on my own terms. That’s why I use Quest Helper – I can’t imagine playing without it.

  57. […] Shamus started playing World of Warcraft about a month ago, and has been having the same growing pains many of us rookies did in our younger levels. But since Shamus is something of a name in the pen-and-paper gaming World Wide Web circuit, it’s interesting to see what he has to say in his review of WoW. […]

  58. Tim-O says:

    WTF? So does every noob get to bitch about a game they’ve only played for a month? And be taken them seriously? I think not.

    Gosh, I wonder how Blizzard ever made the largest and most profitable MORPG ever without Shamus’s help?

    I think this is just a case of people never being satisfied. If they implented most of the changes he suggests the game would be boring after a weeks play. Go play Mah’ Jong or Solitaire. Sounds like Shamus would be happier with the one-dimensionalism of them.

  59. Katy says:

    As for “respawning monsters” and your comment: “At least make it so that a monster won't respawn if a player is standing within attack range.”

    I can see high-level players abusing this mechanic by standing within attack range of a boss’s spawn point, thus not letting anyone else ever kill him to complete a quest. You know some jerks on the WoW servers would do this.

  60. Kavonde says:

    I’d say Tim-O’s assigned icon is fitting. Are you implying that Shamus’ list is in any way incorrect? That was a pretty complete list of annoyances and design flaws with the game.

    I noticed an earlier comment mentioned the Outlands being a huge improvement over the old content. This is true, but it’s worth mentioning that the problem of wandering elites, especially in the first area (*cough*fel reavers*cough*) is only made worse. In fact, it becomes part of the “challenge.” Watching the screen shake and hearing the shriek of demonic steam engines just before a giant foot comes down to smash you into oblivion is kinda fun the first couple of times, but boy, does it get old.

  61. Evil Otto says:

    WTF? So does every noob get to bitch about a game they've only played for a month? And be taken them seriously? I think not.

    Actually, it’s Shamus’ blog, and he can complain about anything he wants to, and given the intelligent quality of his writing, he gets taken seriously.

    Unlike you.

    Quite a few of his complains have merit, and I say that as someone who has played WoW for two years now.

  62. Tom M says:

    1. Think of it this way, if the NPC wants, say, 3 murloc eyes, assume that he wants intact murloc eyes. Not ones that you’ve slashed with your sword or fried with your spells. When it’s a body part I always assume he wants an ‘intact’ body part.

    If you wanted bear claws would you want chipped, cracked or blunt ones to put on that necklace you’re making?

    Not to mention “drop quests” encourage solo questing while “kill X number” encourage group questing. The more of a variety in quest types creates more variety in gameplay.

    2. If you're playing WoW, you have internet access. That means if you're impatient about finding where something is, the exact location is only an ALT+TAB and a couple clicks away.

    Meanwhile, those players who want to immerse themselves in the game through exploring for things can still do so.

    The best way to keep both types of player happy is to include some vague quests that require some searching around. Meanwhile, you'll also find that many quests are actually very precise in their directions.

    3. I disagree. I find it odd that you have issues with nonsensical things yet believe players should have more bag space. How, exactly, is the character carrying around THAT many items on their person?

    You have to limit bag space so players are required to go to vendors, go to cities, go to their bank from time to time. What exactly do you think is a realistic limit here?

    4. Again, you're arguing for less diversity. I have to disagree; I think the more diversity in this game the better. If the plethora of different ingredients is driving you crazy, it's a simple ALT+TAB and a couple clicks for a clarification of which ones you need.

    5. Same complaint as #4; substitute “food types” for ingredients above.

    6. There's actually quite a lot of thought put into profession level restrictions. In #53, Steve C did a really good job explaining why lifting profession level restrictions would cause complete havoc on the WoW economy. Not to mention, all those profession-specific BoP items (an incentive to level your profession early on and gain that advantage) would have to be specifically restricted by level so you didn't have level 1 master blacksmiths running around with level 70 weapons and creating swaths of destruction in leveling zones. I don't think I have to explain how that would completely destroy the leveling process.

    As for foods/drinks making sense, you can't buy a level 70 pie on your level 10 mage and instantly restore full health. That would be ridiculous. If you really need an in-game reason rather than the purely logical one, how about your character hasn't yet developed the palate for sufficiently appreciating finer cooking as of yet?

    7. The reverse could be argued as well. I like it that if I get on in the morning, the sun is rising in WoW, just as if I get on in the evening… etc. This set up encourages variety in play times so when you get on at a different time, things are different. I like the fact that catching a “˜WoW sunset' can be a cool thing, and not something that happens 8 times a day.

    8. Personally I like random respawns. It introduces an element of surprise, challenge and excitement. You should always be prepared for ambush by another monster, just as if you play on a PvP server you should always keep an eye out for “˜gankers.'

    Unjust player death? Every class has different tools at their disposal for making a quick getaway when it's needed. Leveling is easy enough as it is without doing away with some of the challenges it does have to offer.

    9. Every class has its strengths and weaknesses. It's not such a small step to complaining about mages' drinking downtime to becoming one of the many voices whining about their viability in arena or their sustained DPS in raids.

    To specifically address this one: if mages didn't ever have to drink they could AoE level ridiculously fast. In order to have such high burst and area damage capabilities, there has to be a mechanic for balancing it out.

    10. Again, this is basically the same gripe as #8 and I have the same response. Introducing the element of surprise or requiring the player to keep an eye out for such things creates more variety and excitement in gameplay.

    If Blizzard implemented any one of the changes you suggest here I believe it would take away from game quality. Not only that, but some of the suggestions you make have the potential for complete disaster.No offense, but as a level 37 mage who’s seen maybe 1% of this game, you actually do not have enough experience to tell the difference between newbie growing pains and actual design flaws.

  63. Blackbird71 says:

    I’m afraid I only had time to skim the previous comments, so forgive me if some of this has been said already.

    Shamus, on some of your nitpicks I will have to agree with you completely, while on others I think you completely missed the point. So, I’ll tackle each item in turn:

    1. One of my biggest complaints ever. Blizzard either needs to fix these drop rates, or at the very least write some lore explaining the history behind Azeroth’s plague of intestineless and liverless animals.

    2. Vague locations are a bit of a problem, but as you point out, there are plug-ins and add-ons that greatly improve this and many other issues. One of the strengths of the game is the fact that they made it able to be player-modified. As large MMOs have flourished in the recent past, it has been seen that when dealing with a game of such magnitude, it becomes impossible to anticipate every single problem or situation that may be encountered. Having the foresight to recognize this in advance and the courage to employ a system whereby the power to sovle the problem is in the hands of the player is something I think Blizzard should be commended for. Most other MMOs ban accounts using 3rd party add-ons, while WoW facilitates and encourages it in order to promote and improve the evolution of the game.

    3. I don’t think bag space is as big of an issue as you make it out to be, in my observation it’s been more of a personal outlook issue. Every MMO takes steps to limit inventory in some manner, primarily because all items have to be stored in the main database, and there is not unlimited memory. Beyond that though, it adds another dimension to the gameplay when your storage capacity increases as you progress: it’s just one more reward in an RPG, a system built on rewarding players’ accomplishments.

    I’ve never had a problem getting by with the initial 16 storage slots for the first few levels. It’s a good tiem to learn what’s worth keeping and what’s too much trouble to bother with. You prioritize, and only take the items of the most raw worth, or those that you need the most to ge tthe job done. As you rise in level, you get to keep more of teh stuff you find. This has the added effect of giving you more money later in the game, as you can carry more loot back to sell.

    As a note, prices vary by server, but thsoe netherweave bags typically go for 5-6 gold each – a hefty sum for a 10th level character, but really not that bad as you get further on. The disadvantage to the netherweave bags is that once equipped, they bind to that character and can not be given to anyone else to use. The alternative is to use Mooncloth bags, which do not bind, but tend to cost 4x as much.

    Personally, I would have expected to see you nitpick this little mechanic, soulbinding, a bit more than some of the others. It makes little sense to me. I understand it from a game mechanic perspective, it’s a money/item sink, which helps keep some level of balance in the game economy and perpetuates gameplay. However, when looked at from a logical or RP perspective, having an item only ever usable by a single person needs some better justification. I can understand it with regards to armor, as historically armor needed to be custom-fit anyway, and it would be a bit hard for a human to don a set of armor made for a gnome, but explain to me what makes a staff (i.e., stick of wood) so special that no one else is capable of hitting someone over the head with it?

    Well, off my little rant and back to the list at hand:

    4. I knew there was a reason I never bothered doing much with cooking. I can’t say that I’ve had the same problem with other crafting professions, so I’ll have to take your word for this one.

    5. Again, I don’t see the issue here. I jsut pick which food/drink is appropriate to my current level and discard the rest. Seriously though, in what CRPG can you tell the attributes and characteristics of an item “just by looking at it,” instead of from reading some sort of description with stats (tooltips here). Honestly, I think you’re being unreasonable in your expectations here if you’re wanting WoW to handle this differently than every other RPG to ever come before or since. You can be innovative in many areas, but you’re asking for something needlessly complicated that would end up being quite arbitrary (imagine arguments like “Ribs are better than pie because they’re meat and they’re more filling” vs. “Pie is better than ribs because it’s got sugar and carbs for energy and I like it” – how are you going to order your visual cues so that everyone udnerstands it?).

    6. Okay, so having to be a certain level to devour particular food does seem a bit ridiculous, but look at it this way: You’re a long-time veteran of pen and paper RPGs, as a DM, would you give a 10 sword of awesomeness to a newly-rolled level 1 character? Of course not, it would completely unbalance the game. The players will quickly get bored if they can easily wipe out the whole map because of their super-awesome loot. It works the same in WoW, only in an environment with random loot drops and no GM to oversee who gets the gear, balance must be maintained in other means. This is partly controlled by enemies only dropping loot appropriate to their level, but this method can be thwarted in a system where players can freely trade gear with each other. If you could eat any food or use any potion, what’s to keep you from getting a higher-level buddy to give you stuff that is much more powerful than is appropriate for your level and unbalancing your game? The level restricitons are not “arbitrary,” they are carefully calculated to keep balance in order to preserve a normal progression of gameplay.

    7. This bugs me too, as like you I often do most of my playing in one time period, with only occasional forays into the other side of the clock (weekends, the occasional quest before work if i’m up early). A faster cycle would be a nice touch.

    8. In a system with open maps in which players can potentially be just about anywhere, where do you propose the monsters spawn? I get just as annoyed as anyone when an ill-placed and ill-timed spawn ruins my day, but it’s really the nature of the beast and unless you are going to take the Guild Wars instancing approach, not much can be done about it. I suppose it could be possible to code the spawns to occur minimum distances from players, but frankly I’d think that this makes things needlessly complicated and opens a can of worms for exploits and bugs. Want to ruin the Alliance’s day? Take a group of Horde players and spread out in the area of a major quest spawn and keep anyone from completing the quest. No thanks, I’ll take the more minor annoyance of monsters appearing out of nowhere, think of them as the “wandering monster” checks in that PnP dungeon.

    9. I have to be honest here, this one seems to be mroe about you learning the gameplay. Mages dish out a ton of damage. Being able to do so indiscriminately would make them hopelessly overpowered. For that matter, any class being able to use it’s best abilities without limitations would be a huge mistake. Learing resource management is a major part of the game. Learn to balance your casting with your available mana, know when to spread out your spells and when to spike everything you’ve got. Here’s a tip: mana begins regenerating on its own 5 seconds after you last use an ability requiring mana. This means that it is typically better to set off a few spells in a burst, as if you are continuously casting, you’re mana will never charge itself.

    I look at food and drink from the opposite perspective: rather than forced downtime, it is a means of shortening downtime for those times that I’ve expended myself, letting me get back into the fight faster, not slower. It’s very useful when needed, but if you’re needing to stop and drink between every fight, then you are doing something seriously wrong.

    10. Have a look around Un’goro crater, the massive numbers of elites stomping around is staggering, and yes, this is another feature that is very annoying. Making an area difficult to get through is one thing, making it certain death (for supposedly approprately leveled characters) is quite another. This one really does seem to be designed only for the frustration of the players.

    11. I think you’re going to find yourself at odds with the vast majority of MMO gamers on this one, Shamus. One of the constant complaints about WoW heard among players of other MMOs is that the death penalty is too light. The nature of MMOs is such that there has to be some consequence for getting yourself beat into the ground. Some games use an experience penalty, others take away gear, and others still (like WoW) impose temporary ability debuffs. The thing about WoW is that this penalty is completely voluntary. If you don’t want res sickness, don’t use the shrine! I hardly ever res at the shrine unless I’m about to log out or am not planning on being in combat for a while anyway. With a bit of practice, you can almost always retrieve your corpse safely. For those rare times you can’t, you get the res sickness, which is the game’s way of teaching you not to get in over your head. I know you’re new to MMO’s Shamus, but if you’re going to stick around them, you’ll have to get used to the idea that in these games, death hurts, that’s why you’re not supposed to do it often. Look around a bit more, and you’ll soon find that WoW has one of the weakest death penalties in the genre, and it’s optional to boot! Success has reward, failure has consequence, that is the way these games work. It’s really a bit like any offline RPG, only you don’t have to roll up a new character or go back to your last saved game every time you screw up.

  64. Katy says:

    Err, I realized I’d like to make a couple more comments. Some of your complaints are actually signs that you’re not playing your class efficiently or that you’re not understanding why certain game mechanics need to be there in order to guard against the really annoying things that could happen were they not there. I don’t want to say that some of your complaints are “n00btastic” or anything because a lot of them are based on stopping tactics taken by PvPers or power gamers, and others are meant to keep the game exciting for you. A couple of your complaints are genuinely something that new players have to deal with before they learn how to get around such game devices.

    1. For some things, I could understand not getting a quest item off a mob. Perhaps my rogue damaged the bear’s guts so much that the stomach is unusable. Sometimes, it is a little ridiculous. Why are drop rates low? To force you to get XP by killing more mobs. (There’s another reason: see the bottom of this comment.) Some quest grinding gives you more XP than the quest reward! If you understand that, just enjoy the little purple text that says you’re a step closer to your next level. You’ll notice, though, that some drop rates for certain quests are higher than 100% because mobs drop more than one of the quest item. Maybe that’ll be something you can look forward to.

    2. I’ve found that getting an add-on and reading the quest text closely (in 95% of cases) makes it easy to turn in one direction, go straight, and strafe around or kill mobs in my way. Complete the quest and go back.

    Something I’d like to suggest is that you do a bit of research when you hit a new area. Find out what quests can be completed together. “Oh, I need bones from these guys and then I need to open the chest in the center to retrieve a relic? Two quests completed!”

    3. If cooking/fishing is something you really want to do, as in the food is needed for your character to buff themselves (buffs help in early levels for some classes and also high-level foods help in much higher levels), then you should spend some time on cooking, but once you’ve graduated past using “bat wings”, don’t pick up anymore. Let that bat meat rot on the ground! If you’ve got a stack of cherry pies and a stack of boar ribs, vendor one stack. You can make more! Also, if you’re purposefully going out to get ingredients for recipes, don’t get a few from each of your “orange” recipes, just get 10 or 15 from one orange recipe, then you’ll still get all the levels and have only one stack of food.

    As for my rogue, I never bothered leveling up cooking, and I leveled up just fine.

    You do know that you’re better off leaving the gray-titled items on the ground, right? And if you’re someone who can wait until later to level up cooking, like at level 70, it’s an easy grind to get the ingredients, make some food, vendor it, and then go to the next area to grind some more meat. Hey, your guild might even have the “wine and meat” tab in their gbank (not sure if all guilds have that tab–we do) that holds cooking ingredients. You could store some of your items there.

    4&5. See above. You don’t have to make every recipe. Just level up the orange ones (preferably the orange recipe with the easiest-to-grind ingredient). If you’re curious to know what each food does, try wowhead.

    6. Twinks are the devil’s minions. Ever try a battleground as a normal lvl 19 player and get genked by a super-twinked enemy player? Imagine that these twinks can get even higher-level gear or foods from their lvl-70 alts. I shudder to think of it. Remember that not everyone is solely PvE or RP.

    7. I can understand your grief here, but this is one aspect of the world they can realistically portray, so they do (versus distance between towns, size of towns, etc – which they can’t portray realistically).

    8. Already said earlier.

    9. For mana classes, mana efficiency is a part of learning how to play your character. I had to re-spec my priest and research the best wand for his level to make him a better killing machine. Put a DoT [damage over time] on a mob (or if you don’t have a DoT at low levels, do a couple of bigger spells) and then “wand” it to death. It’s a few seconds more, but you won’t need to drink every sixty seconds.

    10. These are to keep you on your toes. Why play a game if there isn’t a sense of danger? Just read a couple of paragraphs about a new area on WoWwiki and keep a wary eye out. The only elites that don’t announce their presence somehow are in Un’Goro (devilsaurs!!!), but even they can be avoided. Most elites, though, are close when the ground starts to shake (or they even make noises) and their aggro range is short, so you can definitely pull your mob out of the way or just cut and run.

    11. Resurrection Sickness is to teach you to find ways to avoid dying. Learn how to run away — that’s also a viable tactic. Learn how to avoid pulling more mobs than you can handle. Learn how to spot spawn points. It’s not all “run in and fight”.

    One more thing on drop rates. Let’s say you get to the highest level offered so far and you want to have a leatherworker (assuming you’re not one) make a really cool piece of gear for you. The materials are hard to get, though. [Primal Air] goes for lots of gold in the Auction House and you need six??? Well, you could try to just farm it yourself. You’ll need to gather up 60 [Mote of Air] and right-click on stacks of 10 to get [Primal Air]. Only problem is that [Mote of Air] isn’t so easy to get either. Some motes are even harder. Some players would find this incredibly frustrating.

    But wait, if getting materials for this cool piece of gear were so easy, then everyone would have it and no one would feel special for having earned it (either by making money to buy mats or by farming the mats). This isn’t something a person who entirely avoids PvP would care about, but on the other hand, you’ll want to do raids eventually with your guild, and wouldn’t it suck that you have the crappiest gear going into Karazhan because you didn’t want to go farm [Mote of Air]?

    The drop rates are meant to keep certain items rare, and therefore make wearing these items a reward rather than something everyone else has anyway.

1 2

2 Trackbacks

  1. By The Great 21st Century Timesink « Gamer Dad Weekly on Monday Jul 14, 2008 at 10:18 am

    […] write some thoughts about it. First off, what inspired me to write this was a blog post from the 20-Sided blog by Shamus Young. If you’re a WoW player, check it out because it’s a good read. […]

  2. […] Shamus started playing World of Warcraft about a month ago, and has been having the same growing pains many of us rookies did in our younger levels. But since Shamus is something of a name in the pen-and-paper gaming World Wide Web circuit, it’s interesting to see what he has to say in his review of WoW. […]

Leave a Reply

Comments are moderated and may not be posted immediately. Required fields are marked *


Thanks for joining the discussion. Be nice, don't post angry, and enjoy yourself. This is supposed to be fun.

You can enclose spoilers in <strike> tags like so:
<strike>Darth Vader is Luke's father!</strike>

You can make things italics like this:
Can you imagine having Darth Vader as your <i>father</i>?

You can make things bold like this:
I'm <b>very</b> glad Darth Vader isn't my father.

You can make links like this:
I'm reading about <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darth_Vader">Darth Vader</a> on Wikipedia!

You can quote someone like this:
Darth Vader said <blockquote>Luke, I am your father.</blockquote>