In December 2017, Blizzard released details of their Game Wide Level Scaling and I was able to play it in the Public Test Realm [PTR]. I didn’t like it. I couldn’t articulate just why, but it seemed to be a betrayal of the nature of the game for me.
Now I understand better why I felt that way after watching a talk from the recent Game Developer Conference on Youtube. Here is that talk:
Published on Oct 3, 2018
In this classic 2012 GDC talk, Naughty Dog’s Kaitlyn Burnell explore games that break autonomy, competence and relatedness in powerful ways to inspire developers to think outside the box.
My Reactions to Wow Changes
What I came to understand as I watched this talk was that the Level Scaling changes in Wow changed my feeling of Autonomy and Competence in the game. Your feelings about these changes may be different than mine. That’s expected. And I’m not trying to change your mind, if you are or have ever been a Wow Player.
My style of game play was to level quickly. Since I had many Alts in the game, I needed to do this. All the Alts cooperated by having different sets of professions and sharing loot and crafting gear for each other. This also meant that my style required that I be a few levels higher than the area where I was working so that my play was swift and efficient.
The change in the level scaling trashed this ability. I was no longer in charge of how I played the game. My Autonomy in the game was reduced.
Since each mob kill took 3-5 times longer, and no matter what my level that was a constant given level scaling, my competence in the game was changed without my choice.
I was not an active Guild member or a high level Raider in the game. I related to different folks in the moment rather than building long term relationships. I never had an issue with the Dungeon Finder to find a group to run a dungeon and found that the most efficient leveling for certain ranges was actually to spam the dungeon finder over and over to get better gear and progress through a level range on the way to 110.
Here’s another interesting talk about Loners in MMOs that you might find interesting.
Published on Sep 6, 2018
In this classic GDC 2011 talk, BioWare Austin’s Damion Schubert discusses the rationale for solo playstyles in MMORPGs, the need to cater to this playstyle from a business point of view, and the design intricacies of providing solo play without invalidating the ‘massive’ parts of your game design.
Playing Some Wow Again
I have found a way to return to Wow. I won’t mention the “private server” that I’m using since I don’t want to draw undue attention to them since they may come under scrutiny or lawsuit by Blizzard. However, they have choices of which expansion to play.
As shown above, from the choices available on this server, I prefer Mists of Pandaria.
I actually played through Warlords of Draenor, and Legion and liked Warlords quite a lot. I thought the Legion story and areas was pretty disconnected and the Artifact Weapons looked like a lot of complexity for no good reason. Its a shame that in the first few quests of the new expansion – Battle for Azeroth – you lose your Artifact Weapon after all that work to get it and level it up. I wonder that that does for player Autonomy and Competence?
Well, Wow with out level scaling is out there and it looks like it will be out there for some time. No subscription fees, just donations. About 1/3 or so of the quests work. Many of the dungeons don’t work, and there is no Dungeon finder. But the XP and drops are enhanced. If you are annoyed with Blizzard’s directions for Wow, there are choices.