Wednesday, March 18, 2009

To the ground, baby!

The game is still changing, and I wonder sometimes if it truly is for the better. Well, probably better for Blizzard, but for the game itself? I wonder.

A few years ago, when Grimmtooth Mk 1 (the warrior) was around, the night sky was dark, and the day sky was blue, and that was that. Then we got weather, which made both more interesting.

And then they ... nerfed ... the night.

Instead of making it dark at night, it got dingier - and later on, that, too, was considered to be too hard-core for casual players or something. So now, the sky gets starry but it doesn't get dark.

In one way I appreciate it, because nothing annoys me more than someone sacrificing playability at the altar of "realism".  In another, I regret it, because it hinders immersion.

Over the years, Blizzard has been hard at work nerfing things.
  • Can't be bothered to explore for quest givers? No problem, we'll put happy exclamation points on the mini map.  Nerf exploration!
  • Weather effects got you down? No problem, we'll turn that sandstorm into a mild breeze. Nerf the weather!
  • That grind to 40 got you down? Now you can get that mount at level 30! Nerf persistence!
  • Warlocks and Pallis feeling put upon for that epic mount? Well, let's make it trainable! Same for you, Druids! Nerf uniqueness!
  • Can't be bothered to read text telling you where the next trainer is? Fine, all the trainers can train everything ((With very odd exceptions here and there.))! Nerf reading comprehension!
  • Creating poison a burden for your rogue? Here, you can buy it at Wal*Mart. Yep, an entire crafting profession was eliminated. Nerf the whole darned poison system!
  • Envious of those engineers and their unique mechanical mounts (Given the difficulty of skilling up engineering, I always thought it was an appropriate reward for sticking with it for that long)? Here's the chopper, they can sell it to you. Nerf uniqueness, again!

With 3.1, more nerfs are incoming. Here are the highlights I am currently aware of.
  • Cooking recipes - spices and other reagents won't be required for most recipes. Nerf buying things!
  • All secondary skills requiring books for advanced training no longer require them. Now you won't ever have to set foot in Ashenvale again, I guess.  Never more that trip to Stromgarde to get the first aid books (And fewer opportunities to profit from others' ignorance).  Nerf effort!
  • Never again "fail" at gathering skills. Hello? I think it's hysterical that you can fail at picking flowers right now. What's not to love? Nerf the RNG!
  • Flint and Tinder no longer required for campfire. First they made it so you didn't need wood. Now you don't need fire. Nerf physics!
  • Fishing time reduced. Fishing is no longer fishing, it is a manufacturing and harvesting process. Nerf patience!
  • You can now fish anywhere, you just won't get good stuff in places that require skill. Meh. Kinda neutral about that one, though overall I think it's a good thing. Nerf artificial level barriers!
They seem intent on removing all the challenge from the trade skill mini-game, and overall anything even remotely deemed inconvenient to people that just can't stand to spend even another day in Old Azeroth, much less Outland. Or to stifle the bleats of all those people out there that feel entitled to something without doing anything to earn it (Watching the achievement system closely?).

It makes me a little sad to see this come to pass. There are places now that nobody will ever visit. That vendor in the lowest level shanty in Booty Bay. That obscure vendor on the lake in Ashenvale. That warlock guy that used to give out the mount quest. That poor reagent vendor in Stromgarde that sells three first aid books.

They join the ranks of all the specialty trainers scattered around Azeroth. Who can remember where the three Leatherworking specialty trainers are, as an example? (Azshara, Searing Gorge, and Ferelas, if you're curious.)  And who cares?

I wonder if they'll further nerf first aid by removing the quest in Theramore and just make the guy sell you the trade skill (Apparently, the answer may be yes!).?

I wonder if they'll actually put a JC trainer in every capital city?  Wanna nerf something and be appreciated for it? Do that for us.  Ku will thank you.