Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Introducing Lake Wintergrind

Keen has a worthy read up about Lake Wintergrasp, Blizzard’s new all PvP zone in Wrath of the Lich King. Keen provides a great concise list of features or you can sift through the PvP Panel discussion at the WWI at WoW Insider.

The thing that really strikes me from reading Keen’s list is that Blizzard is making a ton of mistakes with Wintergrasp. Which is honestly very disappointing to me since I had a lot of hope for the concept. Until now, I have largely held back judgement until the details came out.

Lake Wintergrasp is WoW’s first non-battleground zone solely devoted to PvP action.

One thing that has been a concern of mine since I heard about the open zone has been faction balance. Most servers are not balanced 50-50, so one side is going to have a clear number advantage. Most of the time, this favors the side with the bigger population but you’ll find that the lower population side will start doing things as large groups in order to compete for world resources. The result is that there is either no one to fight, or an overwhelming force to fight. Either way, that’s not real fun.

Apparently, Blizzard will address the imbalance by having a fixed rolling schedule that “flips” the sides and/or provides additional resources to help out the losers. Those are reasonable fixes, so at least they realize it will be a problem. But I was a bit disappointed in the descriptions since they feel contrived and are obviously artificial fixes. I want to feel like I am fighting the other TEAM and not the mechanics of the game. Solutions like “flipping” (while fair) are not very transparent or seamless to the experience.

Wintergrasp Marks of Honor will drop in the zone. These marks are necessary for honor gear acquired through the Honor system.

Haven’t they learned their lesson yet? Please stop forcing people to play things who don’t want to play them. You could see this coming, but it is still disappointing. Blizzard simply follows the philosophy that “People in WoW do things for the reward. If there is no reward, than people won’t do them.” With PvP, that’s NOT really the case. People like PvP for the challenge of competing against other players. Those of us that like that challenge and have been yearning for more World PvP are not asking for it because we want a reward. To the contrary, we actually resent people who come to “help” that are only there for the reward. This equates to forced grouping and it simply sucks the fun out of something to have it treated like a grind.

Combined with the above faction imbalance problem and these two things are a recipe for disaster. You basically have a grind you need to endure in which you will either be constantly fighting overwhelming forces or struggling to find anyone. All the other neat things about Lake Winterspring is just a sugar-coated top to this very unsavory meal.

Update: I just saw this by Jasi over at World of Ming:

“Shard systems are crap, and once people finish getting their gear, the incentive for returning is gone and the zones die. Bad PVPers know this, good PVP'ers know this, and Blizzard knows it. When there is no other incentive besides a small amount of gear, fighting gets repetitive, Siege or not. There is no real sense of power, control, or domination that is exactly what is needed for players to actually want to compete, and continue doing so months later.”

I couldn’t agree more with this sentiment. PvP that stays enjoyable and lasts is about competition, not the rewards. It’s about people wanting to play against other people because living thinking people are better opponents than some NPC that has a predictable AI.

“One of the reasons that the Arena is remotely successful is that with the improved ratings, you now have a means of distinguishing your talent from other players.”

Ratings aren’t the only way to accomplish this, but as Jasi is pointing out – this works to some degree because it allows players to distinguish themselves. At a micro level, you also see this in Battlegrounds when people are competing to top the damage and killing blow charts. This is one reason that I am such an advocate for Rated Battlegrounds. As I have said in the past, it’s silly stupid that the only rated match type is the equivalent of Team Deathmatch when we could easily have Team Capture the Flag and Team Dominion.


Hudson said...

The amount of pvp'ers exiting WoW for Warhammer Online will be staggering

Anonymous said...

Pfft, do you know PvP in WH works well? Please enlighten me hudson...

Kirk said...

Hudson, I doubt it. I know, old and almost horse I'm beating, but...

Warhammer Online has computer requirements that are too high for a large number of current WoW players to meet. They may WANT to go to WH, but they are stuck playing WoW.