Message from Zarhym:
Good people of Azeroth, lend me your eyes!
We’ll be hosting a live World of Warcraft developer Q&A open to the community on Thursday, April 25 from 5:30-6:30 p.m. PDT. Designers Dave Kosak, Ion Hazzikostas, Brian Holinka, Cory Stockton, and Greg Street will be available to field your questions about Mists of Pandaria gameplay and design, patch 5.2 and beyond. This will be a moderated chat on the Cover it Live platform hosted on the front page of our official site. Community managers Bashiok, Crithto, Daxxarri, Rygarius, and I will be there to filter your submissions for the developers.
We receive thousands of questions each time we host these events, so please be patient with us and bear in mind that we won’t get to every question. You can help by keeping your inquiries concise and focused on one topic per entry. Submissions that are well over 200 characters, or contain multiple questions on an array of topics, are much less likely to receive responses. We want to cover as much ground as possible and appreciate your assistance in helping us to achieve that.
We look forward to chatting with you on Thursday!
About the Panelists
Dave Kosak, Lead Quest Designer
As Blizzard Entertainment’s lead quest designer for World of Warcraft, Dave Kosak oversees the development of all quest content for the game and its expansions, as well as contributing to the overall fiction of the game world.
Prior to joining Blizzard Entertainment, Kosak was a co-founder and original creative director of GameSpy.
Ion Hazzikostas, Lead Encounter Designer
As lead encounter designer on the World of Warcraft® team, Ion Hazzikostas’s primary responsibility is overseeing the creation of the game’s dungeon and raid content. Hazzikostas joined Blizzard Entertainment in the summer of 2008 as a game designer, and his responsibilities have included raid boss design and implementation, class design and balancing, and maintaining the World of Warcraft achievement system. Prior to arriving at Blizzard, he worked as an attorney at a law firm in Washington, DC.
In his spare time, Hazzikostas enjoys exploring Southern California in search of craft beer. Having grown up in New York City, he is a lifelong Yankees fan.
Brian Holinka, Senior PvP Game Designer
As a senior game designer on Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft® team, Brian Holinka focuses exclusively on continuing to make the World of Warcraft PvP experience enjoyable for all of its players. Holinka works with the systems and content teams to create a balanced competitive environment with exciting rewards and diverse content.
Prior to joining Blizzard Entertainment in 2012, Holinka worked on the multiplayer components of Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, Homefront, and Frontlines: Fuel of War. Holinka got his start in the game industry moonlighting on the “Desert Combat” mod for Battlefield 1942 while serving as a Captain in the United States Air Force.
Cory Stockton, Lead Content Designer
As Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.’s lead content designer for World of Warcraft®, Cory Stockton is responsible for overseeing the design and implementation of all exterior zones, dungeons, Battlegrounds, Arenas, and cities. He is also involved with many other aspects of the game, such as dungeon scripting and the Pet Battle System.
Stockton started at Blizzard Entertainment in June 2005 as lead dungeon designer before transitioning to his current role. Prior to his arrival, he was a lead designer on the Ratchet & Clank series and also contributed extensively to the Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver series.
In his spare time, Stockton plays games extensively, and enjoys collecting classic consoles and games. He holds an associate’s degree in computer animation from the Art Institute of Phoenix.
Greg Street, Lead Systems Designer
As the lead systems designer for World of Warcraft®, Greg Street is one of the two lead designers on the team that reports to the Game Director. He leads a team that is in charge of World of Warcraft class, item and tradeskill design. He and his team also design the user interface for the game and handle all of the various combat calculations and number tuning.
Blizzard has just released their trailer for Patch 5.2, “The Thunder King”. This patch will have the new Throne of Thunder raid, and the new Island of the Thunder King area. We can’t wait to play this new content!
As expected, Blizzard announced their Collector’s Edition for World Of Warcraft: Cataclysm. The contents includes:
The Art of Cataclysm book
Trading Card game card deck
While this may seem like standard CE contents to some, I love stuff like this. People that know me know how I adore art books. Some people may not care about them, but I’ll sit and read them from cover to cover. The soundtrack is standard as well, but it’s only ten tracks. Since the other soundtracks had more music, I was underwhelmed that only ten tracks are going to be on this CD, but then I realized that there aren’t as many new zones in this expansion as there were for others. The in-game pet looks like the Netherwelp with a new skin.
Still, I have my copy on pre-order. The book and soundtrack alone are worth it to me, and I can’t wait to watch the DVD. I’m always curious as to how games are put together.
What are your thoughts on the Collector’s Edition? Worth it? Leave a comment or post in our forums.
I said over and over again that I suck at RTS games. I did when Starcraft first came out, and I still do. However, after playing Starcraft 2 for the last few weeks and getting the hang of it, I can say definitively that I still suck at RTS games, but I’m getting better and appreciating why people love them so much, just don’t look for me in any tournaments soon.
Speed is one of my biggest issues. All the strat guides I read say “macros, macros, macros”, but don’t actually say what kind to make. I’m still researching that. I’ve been slowly going through the commands list and finding things like F1 to find an SCV that’s not currently active, or some key command for building an engineering facility. However, I find that I’m still not proficient in moving around the map. Oh, sure, you can just point your mouse to put your camera where you want it, but I’m talking more about the nuances in positioning SCVs where they need to go. For example, if there’s an inactive SCV, and a mineral deposit just past the edge of my camera view, I have to move my camera over a bit to tell the SCV where to go. I’m sure there’s some faster way of doing that. In fact, I’ll bet there’s a macro to find an inactive SCV and tell it to start mining again once it’s done building.
Troops seem to have unpredictable results. Firebats spew out major damage, but you pit them up against certain Zerg and they explode like a Pop Rock in water. I found that until I learn what the strengths and weaknesses are of each troop type, I’m going to have to create a bunch and send them all out like a wave of angry teabaggers (with guns).
In the mission “The Devil’s Playground”, I had to run the mission three times before winning because I found myself at stalemates every time. I’d mine and build as fast as the Zerg would take my stuff down, and had to stop the game and restart, going faster and faster each time. I’ve been getting better at it, but the micromanagement isn’t much fun. At all. Audio cues are there for when units are finished with their work, or have been completed, and I’m so engrossed in getting my SCV units to high ground that I forget that I’ve got a whole group of troops done with training. Or worse, I’ll send them all to higher ground, wait for the lava to drop, and then forget that a whole group of SCVs are sitting there waiting for me to tell them what to do.
One big problem I have is selecting a group of SCVs when they’re mixed in with a group of troops. This happened a lot in “The Devil’s Playground” because when I quickly moved the SCVs up to high ground, they’d be mixed in with ground troops, and sending them back down to mine took a while because I didn’t know how to split them up. I’m sure there’s a way to apply units to groups, and then select them, but I haven’t figured that out yet.
This brings me to me vs. the A.I. I suck even more at that. I took what I learned from playing the campaign and applied it to the vs. game I was playing. I’m happily moving along, creating, upgrading, training, and BAM! starships from the A.I. start pounding me. With tanks. And other cool things I’d never seen before. I adapted by branching out fast to mineral deposits in the field adjacent to mine, and then once again. That helped, but eventually I got my ass handed to me again, it just took longer. Games four and five both ended in stalemates where I was producing as fast as the Terran A.I. was ripping it all down. So I have yet to beat the normal A.I., but I’m still trying. There are so many little things to learn about this game. What to build first, how to manage your resources, how to patrol without getting your ass kicked, and how to protect your SCVs. Looking at the post-game graphs, I see that the A.I. builds just a bit faster than me. When that accumulates, it leads to me ending the game.
I’m not sure how long I’ll play the game. Once the campaign and story is over, it’s all multiplayer. Unlike WoW where you have a world to virtually live in, Starcraft doesn’t, so the only allure is to continue to kick Zerg ass in multiplayer. It also seems like one of those games where you have to play it continuously or you’ll lose your rhythm. I don’t think this is a game you can put down for a month, come back to it, and play as well as you did at the top of your game the month before.
I’m also trying to set up my Logitech G13 to work with Starcraft. I read that you can do it, and I read that you can’t. I haven’t tried it myself yet, but I want to assign certain tasks to the G13 so that I don’t have to hobble around the keyboard so much.
As far as the story goes, that’s really the only thing that compels me to continue on. The Raynor/Kerrigan story is pretty damn interesting and I really want to see how it all plays out. Also, the in-jokes are hilarious. I stopped counting them, but the ones I found so far are:
Iron Maiden: “Be Quick Or Be Dead”
WoW: Night Elf dance in the cantina
Army of Darkness: Achievement with the same name
Star Trek: Voyager: “Please state the nature of the medical emergency”
Zero Hour: Possible reference to the movie “Airplane!” was based on
Guns ‘N Roses: Appetite for Destruction, Welcome to the Jungle, It’s So Easy
Freedom Rock: “Is that Freedom Rock? Well, turn it up, man!”
Monty Python and the Holy Grail: “You Shall Not Pass”
Beavis and Butthead: “Fire, Fire, Fire!”
There are a lot more, but this isn’t a Wiki entry
So for now, I’m enjoying it. I have yet to play against an actual person because I’m sure I’ll die fast. Maybe one day, but in the meantime, I’m enjoying the game.
The Children’s Week minicast is going to be coming out later today, after Starman gets home from work and can get the music tacked on and posted. But here is my general impression from having played a little of the PvP part of things, and having gotten my most dreaded part, the Warsong Gulch flag return:
Put simply, from what I could tell, pretty much everyone is miserable in battlegrounds right now.
There are an awful lot of inexperienced BGers who are not geared for PvP, don’t care if they win and don’t want to be there, which ticks off the real BG players. So, some of the hardcore players then take it out on the inexperienced players by ruining any attempts at cooperation so people can get their achievements and get the hell out of there. You’d think they’d either stay out of BGs until things clear off, or they would welcome people getting their achievements and getting the heck out of there, but no, they view these poor folks as sitting ducks and free HKs. You’d think, then, that they (the hardcore BGers) would be happy with the free HKs, but with games going on forever, no flags getting capped, and no real game going on, it just pisses them off further, which makes them more inclined to do things like camp rez points, etc.
I got my achievement because a very nice Alliance DK decided to go into our flag room, and pick up and deliberately drop the flag over and over and let people return it. Of course, this got ruined in short order by another couple Alliance DKs who decided that they’d use this opportunity to shoot fish in a barrel.
I’m not sure what Blizzard was thinking when they put this achievement in. Did they hope that they would introduce battlegrounds to players who had never tried them, by making them go into them for this achievement? Because if this was my first exposure to battlegrounds, let me tell you, I’d tell you that rather have my toenails ripped out than go back into one of those again. I know they can be better than what I have experienced right now. The battlegrounds created by this debacle are places where tempers are even shorter than usual, and people aren’t really playing the game or put in any situation where they are encouraged to play the game (really, get the achievement and leave is almost the only bearable solution).
I feel sorry both for people getting achievements and for people who just like and want to play battlegrounds — though not sorry for the griefers who are taking advantage of the situation to make life as miserable as possible for anyone not “leet” enough for their league. I’ve heard stories of sustained cooperation and it would be nice to think that those are the rule rather than the exception. But so far, they’re not. This is going to be an ugly, ugly situation for the next several days. I just want to close my eyes and get through it.
I keep reminding myself: this is a game.
I do this for fun and relaxation.
I didn’t make up the term “Ren-novation”. I credit/blame Christy from Analog Hole Gaming. But it’s a good way to describe my fascination with stupid experiments.
Ursalla is an orc shaman who is currently level 3. Her goal in life is to get as many achievements as she can get at the lowest possible levels, with a few parameters. We are currently in the season of Noblegarden, so lately she has been working primarily on the Noblegarden quests. My plan is to get her “the Noble” title as early as humanly (well, in her case, orcly) possible, while trying to conform to a number of internal rules:
I will not do achievements that are simply a matter of spending money. No “My Sack is Gigantique”, no buying seven bank slots, no buying pets for inflated prices off the auction house.
I will accept some help from my main (80 orc rogue) in terms of keeping her funded, sending her pets from places she can’t easily go or couldn’t acquire at her level (such as the pet vendor in Netherstorm, or non-BoP pets from the Oracle egg).
I will accept some occasional and limited help in the form of ports and summons. I accepted one port to Dalaran, so I can get to Shattrath and the major Horde cities easily. I will accept an occasional warlock summons if it would minimize my exploration experience, but NOT as a method for finishing an achievement. For example, I did accept a warlock summons to the hot springs in Un’goro, not because I am incapable of deathing my way across, but because I wanted to take out a chunk of exploration experience from Tanaris. However, I will walk (well, death-flop) my way from the hot springs to Silithus to finish a Noblegarden achievement there. I will not use a warlock summon to get somewhere I could only get with a flying mount, for example.
I also do not want to have a higher level clear paths for me. If I die, I die. I just won’t bother wearing anything that requires repairs.
One of the challenges of this experiment is limiting experience gain. I want to level as slowly as possible because the point is to finish as many achievements as I can at the lowest levels possible. Exploration experience, then, is a real danger, but at the same time I want to do as much of it on my own as I can. The Noblegarden achievement set required traveling to Badlands, Tanaris, Desolace, Silithus, and Thousand Needles.
Ursalla walked from Undercity to Badlands. Well, perhaps “walked” is too generous a term; she death-flopped much of the way. As my friend Bean puts it, there is a difference between death-flopping and death-hopping.
Death-flopping means that when you die, you run to your body, move out to the furthest possible point where you can rez that goes in the direction you want to go, and then rez. Sometimes you get aggro immediately, and I have counted that in this case, you generally get 11-12 steps before you’re brutally murdered in the average 20-30 zone. Curiously, I had to death-flop nearly 20 times to get across Hillsbrad, but only twice crossing Arathi, a higher zone.
Death-hopping is advancing by making it to the next area where you get into a graveyard that advances you along your path. Ursalla did almost no death-hopping for one reason: she was trying to minimize discovery experience.
But travelling through these areas means that you die. You die a LOT. The pink dress and bunny ears have no durability — not much protection either, but it doesn’t really matter.
I have found that, if you are of a level that’s considerably lower than what the zone is rated for, you have to get further into a zone area to discover it than if you were of an appropriate level. If you stick to the roads, you can get little to no discovery experience at all. I didn’t hit any discovery experience from Undercity until I was halfway through Hillsbrad. Unfortunately, most graveyards are located in the middle of discovery-ripe areas, such as right in Hillsbrad village, inside Tarren Mill, etc. So in cases where I felt that I might discover something by rezzing in a graveyard, I still ran to my body to retrieve it, even if that meant running back a considerable distance.
Sticking to the roads, making no detours for flight points, and being careful about not rezzing in graveyards if I thought it would mean an area discovery minimized my discovery experience. However, it could not be avoided entirely. By the time I had run from Undercity to the Badlands and planted my flower JUST inside the zone, I had gotten just over 400 experience by discovery, and dinged from level 2 to level 3. Similarly, my run from Thunder Bluff to Thousand Needles and Tanaris was similarly uneventful from a discovery standpoint; I managed to limit discovery to just five areas: Bloodhoof Village, Camp Taurajo, the Great Lift, Freewind Post, and the Shimmering Flats.
As I write this blog post, she has completed several achievements: Shave and a Haircut (free at level 1), Represent (bought a guild tabard), Second That Emotion (the emotion foods are edible at level 1), Can I Keep Him (1 pet), and the following Noblegarden achievements: Found One, Chocolate Lover (still needs to eat 40 more for Chocoholic), Shake Your Bunny-Maker, Hard Boiled, Spring Fling, Noble Garden, and Blushing Bride. She will finish Desert Rose and Chocholic later today after the servers have come back. My hope and plan is that she will still be level 3 when she gets “The Noble” title.
She is well on her way toward finishing A Simple Re-quest (complete the same daily quest on 5 consecutive days; the Spring Gather daily is doable at her level), Plenty of Pets (10 is easily doable), It’s Always Happy Hour Somewhere (she’s drunk 15/25 drinks — amazing the amount of booze buyable in Dalaran that is drinkable at level 1) and Tastes Like Chicken (she’s eaten almost half of the 50 foods needed at level 1; having a toon with every cooking recipe except for the chimerok chops and the new recipes that will be introduced next Thanksgiving helps a lot). At 5 she will start on profession-related achievements such as fishing up 2000 fish, etc. She also wants to /love critters, even if that means death-flopping her way across Borean Tundra and Howling Fjord, and finding as many books to read as she can.
There’s a surprising number of achievements that ARE possible at low levels. You just need a lot of patience, and a high tolerance for retrieving your body.
Answer: When it starts acting like an old one.
In late January 2009, I rolled up a new character on the Borean Tundra server, a brand new server that had opened on January 16. The server was just over a week old, and since it was closed to all new transfers for three months, I thought it would be a lot of fun to start over in brand new territory — a born-again newbie on a born-again newbie server. I was most looking forward to running instances at level, with other people my own level, instead of being innundated with “Paying 5G for wc run plzplz!!” in Trade and General. So, with an eye to being desirable for pugs, since I didn’t want to join a guild, I rolled up a blood elf priest.
This was not my first priest. I already had a priest on my home server, but I had not played her past level 34 and so long ago that I had forgotten how to play her, and I’d deleted her awhile ago.
My original intentions were to stay on Borean Tundra, at least until the AQ gates opened (I had missed much of that hoopla since I had been in the process of changing main servers at the time), or at least until it stopped being fun. I didn’t realize that “stopped being fun” would come first.
At first, BT was all I had intended it to be. The newbie zones were full. There were groups everywhere looking for healers, and I had more opportunities to pug any instance I wanted than I could do. I did at-level pugs for RFC, WC, SFK, RFK, and SM graveyard and library wings. I had offers to do Gnomer and DM but I didn’t end up going to those due to poor timing. I was counting every copper and silver; I didn’t earn my 35g for mount money until I was almost level 35, and that meant forgoing my own training for 32 and 34.
But shortly after I got my mount, I realized that the times were a-changing.
There were enough 80s on the server now that I could see massive changes in the economy. Suddenly, there were twinks appearing and prices on gathered goods were going rapidly upward. Within two days of getting my mount, I had 40g again. There were fewer and fewer “lfg RFC” and more and more “paying for RFC run!!!” in city chat. People weren’t as interested in running instances, even in their mid-30s, and more interested in just making the pell-mell push for 58, Outlands, 68, Northrend, 80.
In other words, it was becoming my home server, without my friends, my husband, access to my guild bank, and the earning power of my 80.
I went to BT for two challenges: playing the content thoroughly at level, and having to count my coins and make careful choices. These began disappearing rapidly at the mid-30s, and suddenly it wasn’t different anymore. So I transferred her “back” to Whisperwind, familiar names in chat, and an 80 hunter husband who’d rush her through whatever she wanted.
It was something of a letdown, but it was fun while it lasted.
- Please note: the Love is In the Air minicast was published on February 11th. If you are looking for specific details on how to do these achievements, please download this podcast. This blog entry is strictly an op-ed piece.
- Pronunciation: \ə-ˈchēv-mənt\
- the act of achieving: to get or attain as the result of exertion
- a result gained by effort b: a great or heroic deed
- Apparently, in this case, “exertion” means the act of typing in your password and authenticator code in as often as possible.
- “Love is in the Air” is Blizzard’s Valentine’s Day event. At a mere 6 days, it’s one of the shortest event windows out there, with 12 achievements that count toward the meta-achievement (getting the title and counting toward the “What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been” achievement and proto-drake), and 14 achievements in all. Here are the durations of other holidays with meta-achievements, with the number of associated achievements, past and future:
- Winter Veil 2008/2009: 18 days, 12 achievements
- Lunar Festival 2009: 20 days, 12 achievements
- Children’s Week: 7 days (well, it DOES say “week”), 8 achievements (only 7 for meta-achievement)
- Midsummer Fire Festival: 14 days, 12 achievements
- Brewfest: 13 days, 9 achievements (only 8 for meta-achievement)
- Hallow’s End: 15 days, 16 achievements
- Love is In the Air has twice as many achievements as days to complete the entire cycle. Only Children’s Week is nearly as short as Love is In the Air, but it’s one more day and five fewer achievements to complete. The remaining ones are nearly two weeks or longer.
- There is another important distinction between the Love is In the Air achievement set and the other ones: almost all of the achievements rely on two things: luck and the ability to log in many, many times a day. To finish this achievement set, you need to have acquired 20 Unbestowed Friendship Bracelets, 10 Handful of Rose Petals, 10 Silver Shafted Arrows, 10 Love Rockets, an unspecified number of Boxes of Chocolates, and an unspecified number of Bags of Candies. The “unspecified number” means that in addition to the random element of getting the Box or Bag in the first place, there is yet another random feature of getting the right combination of chocolates or make the correct types of 8 candies. The Box of Chocolates is relatively easy — it’s not uncommon to find four types in the same box, but I know at least one person who has gotten four Boxes of Chocolates and still hasn’t sampled all four types.
- I’ll get to the real bugaboo — the Bag of Candies — in a moment.
- Unbestowed Friendship Bracelets are relatively easy, since you get 2-4 of these every time you get a Gift/Pledge of Adoration.However, if you’re unlucky with amounts, this means you are going to have to get ten Gifts/Pledges of Adoration to get enough bracelets to finish this.
- The Love Fools are even easier because if you get in a group, you don’t even have to have these yourself — you just need to pity one, even if someone else drops it. You don’t need a Romantic Picnic Basket, because all you have to do is find a picnic with the same faction in Dalaran, sit down and enjoy.
- The Rockets, Arrows, and Petals are all controllable to an extent because you can acquire 5 of these any time you turn in a Horde or Alliance Gift Collection, so you have a way, through effort, of making up for any shortfall there. Still, unless you’re willing to do the work to get six Horde/Alliance Gift Collections, you’re not going to get all of your rockets, arrows and petals this way (not to mention this is assuming you dispose of all of these with no mistakes and don’t need extras).
- My real issue lies with the Bag of Candies. People across many, many servers are reporting an incredibly low drop rate with this particular item. You need to create 8 different candies using the bag, but you have no control over what you create. There are 10 charges per candy bag, so the chances of getting all 8 on your first bag are not high. Most reports I have heard suggest that most people need at least 3 bags to finish this achievement. True, there are some rare individuals who’ve gotten lucky, but these seem to be the exception, judging from the large number of complaint threads in the General, Customer Service, and Suggestions forums on the official boards. And the drop rate is unusually low — some people are estimating 2-3%. Blizzard has admitted the drop rate might be too low and they are looking into the situation.
- I finished the Love is in the Air achievement set late this morning. My first candy bag got me 7 out of 8 of the candies. The second candy bag yielded nothing new. I finally finished it on the third candy bag.
- How many times did I log on and get my Gift/Pledge of Adoration to finish? The answer: thirty-four times.
- Over six days, this would be an average of 5.67 hourly check-ins per day. And I know people who have logged on more than that who still have not finished the luck-based ones.
- I can do this for one reason: I am self employed and work in the same office with my gaming computer. Every hour, I would log onto Maggie and get my Gift/Pledge of Adoration, set the timer I keep in my office, log off. When the timer goes off, I log on again, get another Gift/Pledge, reset the timer, rinse and repeat.
- But, what about people with normal away-from-home jobs, or school, or kids with parents who won’t let them log on hourly from morning to night? Blizzard has a tip about spending time with your friends out of World of Warcraft as well as in it, but this “achievement” seems to mean the opposite. As my friend Christy said, it’s more like a stress test of Blizzard’s login servers.
- I don’t mind difficult achievements. As much as I am not looking forward to some of the PvP achievements during Children’s Week, for example, I’d rather do those than simply have a marathon login session in the hope that I MIGHT get lucky and get what I need to complete the achievement. Logging in, checking in with a guard, opening a package and logging out doesn’t seem like I am really exerting any effort. It’s just luck. Plain old, blind, random luck. And so much of this achievement set is purely that: random luck.
- One suggestion made by Fuschia of the Shattered Hand server that I wholeheartedly endorse is to add the Bag of Candies to the Horde/Alliance Gift Collection reward options. This would allow people to farm those the way they can farm petals, arrows, or rockets, and give one more opportunity to substitute work for luck.
- Oh, and the troll picture? That’s Taheisha, my level 1 troll rogue I had ported up to Dalaran to make life easier for everyone. Whisperwind has a population of over 28,000, only 120 troll rogues over level 10, and only 24 over level 70, so that’s not many troll rogues to throw rose petals at, particularly for Alliance characters. I made her to stand up on the north bank steps to help people finish the rose petal chucking achievement. Given the amount of time she spends with multiple stacks of rose petals, I’d guess the effort was appreciated.
Update: Apparently, Blizzard both claimed that the Bag of Candies was working as intended, but also applied a hotfix to increase the drop rate. Contradict much?
Hi all. I don’t have a ton of time to write. It’s 8;30 PST and I’m still trying to organize the day. Yesterday was a whirlwind, I don’t think today will be any less. I spent the first part of my day here napping since I’d been up since 4am EST. I got on line for my ticket and waited for a little over an hour. It wasn’t bad, the line moved pretty quickly. I finally met up with Shawn Coons from How I WoW and on the way back to the hotel, I got a call from Molly from Women of Warcraft with whom I went out to dinner with. After that, drinks with Shawn and Patrick from How I WoW, Randy from The Instance, and Molly. Pictures are up here. Check back for more stuff later.
Back in the episodes about the reputation experiment, I observed that there seemed to be fewer Horde quests than Alliance, at least for quests that gave reputation. I expressed my belief at the time that this didn’t apply just to reputation quests — overall, there were simply more things for the Alliance to do in the old world than there were quests for the Horde.
The new achievement system has given me the proof.
The achievement system, which will be introduced in a patch prior to the release of the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, introduces achievements for completing quests in the classic (pre-expansion) World of Warcraft, in the Outlands, and in Northrend. The quest achievements for Outlands and Northrend simply state “complete X number of quests in [Zonename]“, with no differentiation between Horde and Alliance.
However, the classic quest achievements do make this differentiation, and it’s pretty interesting: Alliance are directed to complete 740 quests in East Kingdoms and 765 quests in Kalimdor, a total of 1,505 quests. However, the Horde are directed to complete a mere 580 quests in East Kingdoms and 715 quests in Kalimdor, for a total of 1,295 quests.
This is not a “gimme” for the Horde. Yes, the Alliance will have to complete more quests, but the Alliance have far more quest density. The reason the Horde don’t have to complete as many quests is simple: the Horde don’t have as many quests they can do.
Some Alliance may think this is unfair, but it’s truly an advantage for them. Greater numbers of quests mean more experience, more rewards, more reputation, and less work to find all of these things. Yes, they will have to complete more of them to get the achievement, but in some ways, this redresses the imbalance in the old world between the Horde’s relative dearth of quests. Alliance can get exalted with reputations up to ten levels earlier than the Horde can. They can actually level a bit faster due to the experience bonuses connected with quests. The fact that the Horde could, in theory, complete this achievement faster is small compensation, given that by the time you get up to this level, Horde are having to dig under rocks to find quests to complete.
To me, this is an interesting historical note on Blizzard’s early assumptions about the game. It’s clear that Blizzard did this not because they “hate the Horde” — they simply didn’t expect as many people would want to play Horde and thus didn’t put as much development into it. If the proportion of the achievement quests represents the differences in the actual numbers, there are 14% fewer Horde quests than Alliance quests.
It is true that overall, there are fewer players choosing Horde than Alliance, and if the census at Warcraftrealms is at all accurate, there are approximately 11% fewer players on the Horde side than on the Alliance side. But does this mean that they deserve a less rich experience? Obviously by the time The Burning Crusade came around, Blizzard agreed that the answer was no, because they put the sides on greater parity and gave them at least approximately the same number of things to do.
If nothing else, it’s an interesting look into the early psychology of the initial WoW development team — not to mention something of a vindication for me, since I got a fair number of emails from outraged Alliance players who told me I was nuts.