Ergo, engineering ruined WoW

| Saturday, July 14, 2012
Wednesday I suggested that adding gold to quests, and therefore the resulting daily quests, had created all manner of problems for WoW.  Rohan pointed out that there was another area to consider: the relative desirability of crafting and gathering professions.  In short, crafting professions got combat bonuses, making them more desirable for taking on challenges in raiding and PvP.  But two crafting professions are not profitable enough to sustain the player, so dailies were created so that combat bonuses would not ruin the economy and make players sad.  Sadly, dailies ruined the economy instead.

Now you might be wondering why Blizzard added combat bonuses to professions.  The reason: Engineering.  This profession was, and still is, filled with quirky devices that extend the flexibility and effectiveness of a player, assuming they do not backfire.  Long ago, they could use an inexpensive grenade over and over to stun players and deal damage, while moving.  Combined with a variety of useful tricks such as death rays, cloaking devices, and mind-control helmets, engineering was extremely powerful in PvP.  Beyond the usefulness of the devices was the fact that trinkets used to be hard to find and weaker than they are now (with some notable exceptions), and since engineering made a variety of trinkets, it was quite handy.

To balance this, because people whined incessantly, and because engineering never got an EMP to destroy the forums, Blizzard added combat bonuses to other crafting professions.  And also nerfed engineering.  Repeatedly.  This begins Rohan's suggested pattern of combat crafting causing dailies.

Of course gathering professions were then weaker in combat.  Sure they could get gold, but what's the use of gold if you're denied a raid spot for having the wrong profession?  So gathering got buffs too.  But then if those appear to powerful, crafting needs some benefit as well.  And so on and so forth.

My solution: remove all combat bonuses from non-awesome professions.  Bring back mob farming as a way that non-gathering players can contribute needed materials.  Bring back unusual materials and hard to find but powerful crafted items, which are not quickly made obsolete by LFR and badges.  Remove daily quests.  Increase the coin drops from latest-tier raid bosses if raiding drains too much gold.  Remove the many gold sinks which encourage obsessive daily farming.

I don't think it's asking too much that players never feel compelled to log in every day.  They should never feel like they're missing something just because they missed a completely random day, not a raiding day, not a guild event, not a holiday, but just some day, some utterly normal day.  I don't think there is anything wrong with playing every day, unless the player doesn't want to.

P.S. Bring back iron grenades. :P


Anonymous said...

Aha! You must be an engineer! All of your arguments are invalid now. I won’t even consider them. La-la-la I’m not listening! :) Oh sorry I must slap myself out of seriousness before commenting here.

On a slightly more serious note: Only serious or at least half serious raiders need crafting profession bonuses. Now serious raiders tend to have alts. Alts with gathering professions. Therefore your “two crafting professions are not profitable enough to sustain the player” argument is irrelevant.

I’d also argue that the majority of players don’t do daily quests for gold. “Free” epics? Sure! Reputation for awesome epic enchant #42? Of course! Vanity crap? Absolutely! Something to do while chatting with a friend? Yeah. Gold? Maybe… This is only my opinion of course and it is just as good as yours (unless you have numbers, I love numbers, /trade opinion for numbers).

“Remove the many gold sinks which encourage obsessive daily farming.” You got this backwards. If there were too many gold sinks, we would see massive deflation as gold would be removed from the economy (as opposed to a massive deflation caused by the lack of demand and a constant supply.)Even if players were farming only daily quests for an optional gold sink item (mount), the extra gold would exit as soon as they buy the item. Actually large gold sinks were removed in the past: a large portion of retalenting with the addition of dual talent specialization, training class spells with the removal of spell/ability ranks and I’m sure there is more I’m just too lazy to find them.

Conclusion: economy is too complicated for me to offer any easy long term solutions.

Azuriel said...

I don't think it's asking too much that players never feel compelled to log in every day. an MMO? You know, those games that live and die over the long-term based on the social ties that form from habit?

I quit WoW after four years because I was tired of logging on every day to an empty guild - there were still 6-7 of us around, but none of us seemed to log in at the same time anymore, or even regularly (aside from myself). The game hadn't ceased being fun for me, it was the non-social environment. If I had to make new friends to make things meaningful, I figured I may as well make new friends in a new game.

Besides, you keep arguing about inflation without ever actually explaining how or why that is bad. "No dailies because inflation!" Inflation occurs... so what? BoE epics go up in price, but everything else is still within reach of even casual players by way of farming materials, using guild resources (Scribes instead of buying Glyphs from the AH), and so on.

Stabs said...

I think the real lesson is not to design your game in response to whines. It's always seemed ridiculous to me, like changing sport rules after someone bitches about being offside.

People involved in, invested in and excited by your game are IRRATIONAL. Even if they weren't the rational thing for them to want is "me buffed, everyone else screwed."

Klepsacovic said...

@Anonymous: You caught me. I am an engineer. I shall now go to the Volcano That Ends Shame.

If players aren't doing dailies for gold, then that might actually make it worse. If they're merely getting the gold as a side issue, then they may have no plan to spend it, rendering the gold sinks ineffective.

@Azuriel: Dailies would not cause players to log in at the same time. Did you never try to coordinate when you'd log in? I know that it is possible to socialize with players who aren't on often merely by logging in at overlapping times. If that is not possible, a lack of dailies is not the problem.

If inflation were merely a matter of me looting 10% more gold and prices being 10% higher, that wouldn't be a problem from an objective perspective. However there are still problems. First off, people have sticky price expectations: they expect wages and costs to be about the same and in particular, do not like when they fall (look at Greece and its difficulties with failing to lower, and successfully lowering, wages). Constantly rising prices just aren't something they like and can provoke withdrawal from the economy.

As I explained in the post, there is the cycle of expectation: as prices rise players feel compelled to farm more gold, which drives inflation further. This encourages them to farm gold just to feel like they're keeping up, even if its not particularly fun or rewarding, and to top it off, there is no end point to it.

It makes the developers' jobs harder as they have to figure out how to price vendor buy and sell prices which can become outdated relative to the player economy.

@Stabs: Responding to 'whines' may make sense if the whines are actually just poorly-phrased valid points. Or not especially valid points, but coming from enough customers (or from a large enough percentage of a sample of the population). Besides, we should not assume that the whines are necessarily wrong. The kid who did actually did get a smaller piece of cake has a point, even if he is being a whiny brat.

Hyperian said...

I took engineering because I could sow a parachute into my cloak....Whenever Garrosh needed me to go Overlord on some alliance bases ass I can air insert silently from a 1000 feet up.....that was all i needed to know.

Ngita said...

Maybe I am getting old, i thought the profession bonuses had more to do with the phasing out of OP BS weapons then engineering, but i like the bonuses, people will qq over anything and the decent bonuses makes everything else minor

As for dailies? when where the ever about the gold?, dailies for rep, dailies for tokens, dailies for patterns. If you want gold, playing the AH is far less time consuming.

Azuriel said...

Dailies would not cause players to log in at the same time.

It gets them to log in on a daily basis, however. Which is key! I am not going to try and explain why logging in for 1 hour everyday is better than logging in for 7 hours on one day. Hint: it is the difference between a binge drinker and an alcoholic.

I was about to agree that they could leave dailies in and just remove the gold part (keeping Reputation, tokens, etc) but that would force ALL players to interface with the AH. Farming herbs for gold presupposes someone willing/capable of using the AH. What are the ones who aren't willing/capable of using the AH supposed to do?

I am going to reiterate my "inflation is only a theoretical problem" dismissal. Between player churn and AH Barons soaking up all the loose change (which will evaporate once the BMAH comes online), dailies do way more good than harm.

Hyperian said...

BMAH will be an interesting addition, but i dont think you will see the AH barons suddenly go bankrupt. Most of the dudes/ladies who have that much cash have it cause they rarely spend it. Making the money is the best part of being an AH baron, i know ive watched my awesome/A-hole brother with maxed money toons on multiple accounts do it. Guy rarely spends a dime... he even bums herbs off me so he doesnt have to buy flasks. All he does is sticks it in his bank (probably swims through it at night for shits nd giggles) and enjoys knowing he is the main supplier of glyphs for the Horde....almost liek an arms dealer.

Klepsacovic said...

@Azuriel: I've been around alcoholics and around binge drinkers, neither are good to be around. Perhaps there is some sort of non-negative analogy we could try, such as "friend" or "family" or "socially responsible drinker who has a few when it will be fun for him and those around him but doesn't feel a destructive compulsion to drink every single day"? I fail to see how removing dailies will cause all my friends to switch to logging in once a week.

"What are the ones who aren't willing/capable of using the AH supposed to do?"
Is this seriously a problem? Inability to talk to an auctioneer?

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