Acceptable Irritation

| Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Was the Black Anvil a bad idea?

You have no idea what I'm talking about, do you?

*sparkles and glitter*
*wooshing noises*
Back in the day...

Once upon a time, Ragnaros had no legs and lived in a place called the Molten Core. As the name implies, it was at the core of something (a mountain) and was molten. However I'm not sure if it would be lava or magma. I suppose it is technically underground, making it magma. Okay the point is, it was a very hot place with a lot of bosses who looked exactly the same but had different numbers of friends (poor Shaz had none) and many of whom did a lot of fire damage. To deal with this we wore gear with the fire resistance stat and told mean jokes about fire mages, who would then cry, which is how they conjured water back then.

Fire resistance gear could be obtained from drops, often in Blackrock Depths, which back then was farmed endlessly in pursuit of fire resistance gear. But there was also gear with higher levels of fire resistance, which was often wanted by tanks, since getting punched in the face by an elemental lord of fire (or maybe he's one notch down the pole) hurts a lot. So they'd craft higher quality FR gear using all sorts of expensive materials.

This special crafting required a special place, the Black Anvil. It's near the start of Blackrock Depths and was the only place where players could create Dark Iron gear (high end FR gear). Imagine needing to run to an instance in the middle of nowhere (or right next door for Alliance) to do your crafting. Sounds crazy doesn't it?

I liked it.

Sure it was inconvenient. But we didn't have to do it all the time, it's not like we were making, let's just say, flasks, and needed to run all the way into the bottom of Scholomance (another story for another day). So when we did go, it made the gear just a little bit more special. It sounds silly, but that's the human mind for you, very silly.

Gear is both reward and tool, but the reward aspect seems diminished these days. None of it is very special anymore. Generic badges gathered from anywhere from the same vendor as everyone else. It almost, almost, makes me miss the days when OH FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DROP MY DAMN CHEST YOU STUPID JACKASS DRAGON I HAVE BEEN HERE TEN TIMES THIS WEEK! Note: Running UBRS twice in a day was quite a feat, possibly expensive if you needed to hire someone with the key. Different times...


Anonymous said...

I specifically remember crafting my Frozen Shadoweave set in BC. Everyone had the cloth craftables, but there was something so enchanting about finally heading to Shadowmoon Valley to make MY set.

Ephemeron said...

Speaking of Ragnaros, UBRS and Fire Resistance, you know what else wasn't fun?

Mind Controlling Scarshield Spellbinders to buff the entire raid after every bloody wipe, that's what.

Nils said...

You remember the alchemy tables in scholomance?
I like such things. And I know for fact that it never bothered me.

Delaying progress by creible means is a good thing to do. And it has quite something to it to create something on the black anvil.

But I guess the new generation of WoW developers considered it in the way of the core gameplay, which was (according to them) running dungeons and raiding. As such, the black anvil was an annoyance that didn't annoy anybody. It had to go.

Nils said...

Mind Controlling Scarshield Spellbinders to buff the entire raid after every bloody wipe, that's what.

Emergent gameplay. We always considered ourselves sooo damn smart when we did this. Just great.

Klepsacovic said...

@Anonymous: Even in a virtual world there's something fulfulling about making what one uses.

@Ephemeron: We tended to save that for the "okay we've wiped for two hours, do we all understand it now? Okay, buff time" That and the fire festival buff.

@Nils: I remember raid guilds going on flask runs were a way to get an easy run. At times it's nice to get carried through trivialized content, but not all the time like it is now.

I don't think I ever actually made anything at the black anvil. I did have my alchemist stone at the black forge, and of course a whole lot of smelting (strange way to learn smelting, ghost dwarf). Oh and Hand of Rag that a guildy made for me there. Then we dueled with our legendaries. It was fun.

Anonymous said...

I think of it as in immersion issue. When I made resist gear for BT or a little bit of NR for AQ, I actually made it, and there was a good reason it wasn't "lying around the place".

There is a substantial problem for me with the WotLK model, which was continued in Cataclysm. "Hey, adventurer, the world is about to end! Arthas will destroy everything that we know and love! Go and fight him! What's that? You want this awesome tier armor? Sorry, you can't have it. I'll just leave it here in my lockbox"

I mean, what the hell? At LEAST force us to gather up some boss drops (it can be super easy to farm, like 10 "magic shards" from BoT bosses), so that the dialogue goes along the lines of

"Hail adventurers! We will support you with every sinew of our blacksmithing arms, but before we can forge the Tier Chest, we need magic shards of thingy!" Then the NPC vendors have a reason why they apparently withold armor from deserving adventurers who, y'know, are only trying to save all of Azeroth and all that. Original Naxx had this system, for those that remember, and it wasn't especially difficult to get the items, and gave a much stronger sense of immersion.

Also, speaking as a feral Druid, I think all of our tier pieces should be traded in Moonglade. This is a related issue to the "no-one is left on the world". If we had to "go somewhere" to get our tier pieces, once every four weeks or however often we got them, it would be kinda fun. I always used to /hug any druid I saw in moonglade doing sealform quest, ally or horde.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, and in case it isn't obvious from my comment, I really like your post, it makes a very good point in an original way.

Imakulata said...

I don't agree with you, Nils. Things like the anvil are not "annoyances that don't annoy anybody". As for emergent gameplay - it is fun to discover but it is not fun after it turns to a mandatory glitch.

Doing inconvenient things is not fun. On the other hand, doing them voluntarily is (for many people). But that requires people to give the convenience voluntarily so it's definitely a trade-off.

Max said...

I don't agree with you, Nils. Things like the anvil are not "annoyances that don't annoy anybody". As for emergent gameplay - it is fun to discover but it is not fun after it turns to a mandatory glitch.

Ok here is the question why its "mandatory glitch"? -It fits the lore, it is interesting mechanics, its credible reason to go to BRD. Everything loot pinatas is not.

JoeNavy said...

I miss the good ole days of being able to use resistant specific gear to make some bosses easier. Tank gear is rather trivialized now, which isn't bad, but trivialized non-the-less.

Stubborn said...

The loss of such a feature is just another homogenization of the game, really. It's a geographic homogenization, where you no longer have to be specific places to make specific items. I wouldn't be surprised if Blacksmithing/Smelting is next, losing the necessity of an anvil or forge. I would absolutely like to see a return to this, but I'm equally sure there won't be one.

Thanks for the trip down memory lane...

Klepsacovic said...

@BoxerDogs: The way gear is given is an annoying point for me. We could say we have to prove our loyalty or skills, but in that case, why are the standing armies so poorly equipped?

@Imakulata: I never actually killed Rag with the UBRS buff. I think what we may be losing is the distinction (which of course was never perfectly clear) between hardcore and casual raiding. If you're getting the buff every single attempt, then you're either 99% of the way there and just trying to push yourselves over or you're absolutely crazy.

@Max: Good point.

@JoeNavy: I do sorta miss resist gear. Though I'm a hoarder, so I would have major bag space problems if we still used it.

@Stubborn: You might like this post I wrote a few months back.

Nils said...

Ok here is the question why its "mandatory glitch"? -It fits the lore, it is interesting mechanics, its credible reason to go to BRD. Everything loot pinatas is not.

Exactly. People need to stop to be annoyed so fast. Especially by things that add to the atmosphere of the gaming experience. The second the playerbase considers itemlevels the goal of the game, the game designers entered a war they cannot win. *Everything* that doesn't help geining itmlvls is suddenly an annoyance.

Interestingly, I don't remember many complains about it in the past. It seems as if Blizzard identified annoyances that didn't really were annoying for the majority of the players at that time.

Imakulata said...

@Max (and others):
I was talking about MCing the mobs that Ephemeron mentioned. Another examples: the feral druids on heroic Nef, or a non-WoW example - the ME+IW method of killing bosses in Ragnarok Online? A good examples of emergent gameplay since it took someone to notice something that was not really obvious and finding a way how to use it to a profit - and a good example of a mandatory glitch since it made the encounter or encounters easier. (And AFAIK, in both cases Blizzard/Gravity first said it was not considered an exploit, only to eventually patch the encounter/skills to block it.)

I agree with your first paragraph. People have been too eager to optimize their fun out of everything. As far as I can remember, since I started playing.

Caramael said...

I really liked all that stuff like the black anvil, resistance gear, the hidden enchanting trainer, the plants in felwood, the cult stuff in silithus, upgrading to t0.5 gear, epic battles to get a mount, etc. etc.
Random drops were annoying at times, but I liked it a lot more than those stupid badgers.
I remember back then I'd argue for some kind of progressive random loot system. Every time you didn't get the drop you wanted, next time the chance it'd drop would be increased. But I have no idea if that's even possible to implement.

Caramael said...

Badges! Not badgers.

Klepsacovic said...

@Nils: I would love to see a post about annoyances that no one complained about much, but still got removed. *nudge nudge*

@Carameal: Ah, those plants. As if pot CDs resetting during combat didn't encourage enough consumable use. Dungeon 2 was a pretty awesome chain. Expensive at the time, but awesome.

I've batted around ideas for adjusting drop rates to become luckier over time, but I kept running into problems with it being exploited by fine-tuning the raid by class and who has gotten what drops. But maybe that sort of problem isn't worth worrying about, that only the craziest would go for it, and I don't think there's any point in trying to balance the game for crazies.

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