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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Mechanisms of Action

It's been... a couple months - I think?  Since I last really played WoW.  Sure, I've logged in, but - I just screwed around in my Garrison and then stared at the screen for 5 minutes before logging off.  There just wasn't anything I felt like doing.

I'm unsubbed - but my time is "paid" via tokens for the next 9 months.  This isn't to say the game is dying or isn't fun.  I mean - it's dwindling and it's not for me - but that's no big deal.  I generally give WoW a break in Q2 of every year.  I don't plan it - it just happens.

I've been keeping up loosely with Patch 6.2.  There are a number of places where I feel like Blizzard doubled down (stage 5+ upgrades?) and others where I feel like they reversed course (Felblight from gathering out in the world).  I don't really have an opinion beyond noting that it just seems inconsistent.

If you've been around WoW at all lately, you've seen the latest plot twist in the Flying in Warcraft soap-opera.  It's another place where I won't weigh in with an opinion beyond noting that it's inconsistent.  I think consistency matters to the playerbase.  You don't play a game for 10 years unless you value it.

And that may be why I've lost interest.  The implicit deal we make with Blizzard when we continue to fork over $15 a month is "Keep giving me the good stuff, and I will pay you."  The Good Stuff being a diversity and steady supply of new & engaging content.  And WoD delivered on that for awhile - until it didn't.  For me.

Before I lost interest, I was running what I called a "Gravy Train".  Eight L100 toons with max level barns, churning out Savage Bloods.  The yield rate was, as Zerohour mentioned in a blog post a month or so back, 50%.  With a good group in the group finder, I could farm 200 crates an hour and sit on the stash for a month, Q'ing up work orders.  That's 100 bloods for an hour of work.  The math on that when you figure we had 350g+ Bloods for months - it's arcane.

35k / hour to farm.  And I could scale it better than a transmog run could ever scale.  Eight toons like this was 8 hours of farming and in a month, it matured into 280k of pure profit.  Over time, it just wasn't a challenge.  I'd keep up with it if I were doing more in-game, but there was only raiding.  Sure, I'd pop CDs every day, and once a week I'd load the old spreadsheet and see what's selling and burn the mats off.

But eventually, even that slowed down.  It didn't really take long to fully explore all the goldmaking I cared to.  And daily cooldowns are boring as hell across 8 toons.  While folks gave feedback during beta that we didn't really appreciate dailies, Blizz doubled down on them.  Anyone remember the 5 hours after one of the early post-WoD-Launch patches where CD spells had 3 charges?  And charges regenerated every 24 hours?  It was short-lived, but it was there.

Not too different with the case of whether to make Garrisons 1 per toon or 1 per account.

Somewhere a peon flipped the wrong switch.  Cooldowns, Work Orders, Missions, Raid.  The gameplay involved in the first three can be summarized as, "Wait.  Now click the button.  See you tomorrow."  Crafting had some "depth" added to it with the randomization of stats, but I feel like that was poorly implemented.  I'd have rather seen a richer system where professions combined together for higher level upgrades, with the ability to craft items with more deterministic stats.

But I didn't really type this to armchair QB professions.  I don't find them engaging as I used to in previous expansions, and I've some ideas why.  No, the real point I'm eventually coming to is that in WoD, more than any other expansion I've played, the professions system seems less like standalone content and more like a mechanism of other content.

Sure WoW is a game about killing bosses and getting gear - but I've never felt so much that professions are really just another rung on the raid-gearing ladder - gated & tuned to fit quite nicely with every other rung.  I probably won't explain it well.  But professions feel similar to LFR in that respect - not engaging, not interesting, just part of how you gear for raid.

At some point - likely a gradual process - professions were relegated to the role of bland support of other activities in the game.  Like the business with flying.  No flying is useful in developing the content in the world.  The lack of flying isn't some emotional thing.  It's a mechanic to keep you engaged with the stuff on the ground.

That's it.  Whether you like it or not.  Whether it's fair or not.  None of it addresses its fundamental purpose: it is a mechanic for something else in the game.  And if you don't like that something else as much as you liked the way it was before this mechanic became just a mechanic - then tough luck, Chuck.

It's disappointing for me, and it's why I don't see myself really coming back this xpac - if at all.

That's all I got as far as a content post.

As for the podcast - I've left it hanging for a long time since December, and I've reached the point finally where I'm gonna say I'm hanging it up.  In Blizzard-speak, there are no plans to release any future episodes of the podcast.  The LNWS domain is set to expire in August, as well - but the website will still be available at latenitewithstede.blogspot.com.  The episodes will remain hosted until I decide to stop paying for that, too.

I've been less active on Twitter the last couple months because it became something I didn't enjoy.  I may just be ill-suited to social media.  I certainly didn't share much love with most of the professional bloggers.  A couple months ago, I took the app off my phone and only check it in a browser when I'm bored at home.  I can't say that I've missed it, and so I've deactivated the account.

I've gone back and forth over whether the last post on the blog should bear the finality of its end.  I did thirty-some episodes over two years, which is small-time as far as WoW Podcasts go.  I was able to meet and talk with a bunch of really cool folks for a while.  But for a long time, part of me kinda thought I'd never leave WoW - that I'd always come back to goldmaking.

I haven't thought that in awhile, and so I think it's time I just said what's been on my mind for the last couple months.  To mitigate the intrinsic conceit of a sappy "That's All, Folks!" - I banged out the post above this.  It might not be my best stuff, but it's what I got.  It's where I'm at.  Hopefully, it'll be something interesting to think about for some folks.

Until I see ya again - best of luck in life, and in goldmaking in the World of Warcraft.

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