Just a small update about my leveling progress: The character is currently level 88 and each levelup provides me with more hitpoints and less in everything else. My dps, crit, hit, expertise, dodge, haste is dropping to new lows. Yes I’m keeping the level 85 gear to 90, just to prove this point. Here’s a quick screenshot: 87 on the left, 88 on the right. 85 and 86 can be found here.
While we’re talking about leveling up, let’s tackle a topic that ties in quite well with the previous posts: The difficulty, speed and overall process of getting to the next level.
Every now and then, someone on the official forums mentions how leveling in WoW used to be a lot more challenging, which is usually followed by countless people claiming that nothing has changed, and the leveling process was always as trivial and easy as it is right now.
I disagree, especially about the content from 1-60 and I’ll explain why.
You see, Blizzard has constantly been making changes to the leveling process. Some small, some large and some changes to other mechanics that ended up affecting the overall leveling speed and difficulty. I guess most people claiming the leveling process has always been the same haven’t been around for a long time or didn’t really experience those changes in a before and after scenario using fresh characters. But your guess is as good as mine.
So what has changed to make the leveling process so easy? Was it really more difficult in the beginning? Well, I’ll admit that to a certain extent, the inexperience of new players can be responsible for the “it used to be more difficult” approach. Players are still learning the overall mechanics, the game world is new to them and it takes a long time to get used to that. But for the sake of argument, let’s assume sufficient knowledge of classes, quests and zones for our little theoretical experiment.
So, what’s different? For starters, the very character you’re starting with has changed drastically over the years, becoming a LOT more powerful right from the start.
Having played a rogue in PvE for the last 7 years, with lots of alts of the same class, I guess I’ll take this class as an example for some more specific talents etc.
(no, the character above isn’t some random, lvl30 alt with 8 hours /played. It’s my old wow-classic rogue at lvl60 with some questing gear, crafted items, low level instance loot and a ton of buffs)
In general, the talents and abilities have constantly been modified by Blizzard. They removed useless talents, switched around the priority of others to give useful abilities to new characters earlier and implemented totally new ones to help players. And I know, people always moan about their class getting nerfed constantly, but since release, almost every aspect of most classes have been buffed and simplified.
Having finished the previous entry mainly due to length concerns, I’ll continue my talk about the level up mechanic in World of Warcraft today.
The way WoW’s stat system works these days (again, a lenghty topic for another day) is different from WoW classic. Back then you usually had stamina and your primary stat on an item, but it wasn’t unusual to have strength on rogue items (the Darkmantle set hat several pieces with strength on them). Things like hit or crit were nice to have, but a rare bonus, so you didn’t worry so much about them. Today, you have to watch your hit and expertise cap and think about the weight of mastery, crit and haste. Have stats over the cap and you’re wasting dps, reforge into a weak secondary stat and again, you’re left with a dps loss. It used to be so simple and in fact, the current model is already simplified. Stats like armor penetration got removed and the UI shows a ton of information to the player. But I digress. Due to the stat inflation, there are a lot of stats that have dynamic caps, changing with each level and requiring more points to not drop in efficiency.
This results in a “funny” behavior when leveling up. Usually a new level is something to be celebrated, because the character obviously gets stronger, right? I mean, higher level = stronger character, right? Well, not in World of Warcraft. I observed this recently on my main rogue. The equip wasn’t completely high end, but more or less on par with heroic firelands ilvl. Pretty much the absolute best you could get from valor points, Deathwing lfr (shudder), the occasional 397 leatherworking item, all flawlessly reforged, gemmed and enchanted. Now, when I leveled from 85 to 86, I noticed something odd. Luckily I take screenshots like a madman, so I can show you what I’m talking about.
Wow, isn’t that something? Ignore the higher stamina for one second and look at the rest of the stats. Mainly dps, speed, haste, regen, hit, crit, expertise, mastery and dodge are interesting. Judging by those stats, you’d guess that the left side is level 86 and the right is 85, right? But that’s not the case. In World of Warcraft, your characters actually appear weaker after leveling up. I know, the character actually does get stronger. Stamina rises, attack power goes up slightly and the remaining stats stay at the same level (just the amount required to reach the cap at a higher level changes), so relative to before the character isn’t weaker, not a whole lot stronger, but has a lot more potential.
Today I’d like to talk about level ups, everybody likes level ups, right?
Blizzard made some huge changes over the years and the way a character gains a level these days is almost entirely different from the way it worked back in 2005. I’ll make a detailed list of the levelup process and try to analyze the advantages and disadvantages of both.
I hope I don’t get details mixed up, so correct me if I’m wrong about some of the old mechanics.
Well, the banner already gives the answer, but I’ll go into a little bit more detail…just in case anybody actually reads this 😉
This blog will simply be about my observations on computer and video games in general, but with a focus on the game design aspect. Other blog entries will cover my own thoughts and experiments in game development as well as all projects related to gaming, game design and game development.
One more thing I’ll cover every now and then will be World of Warcraft. I’ve been playing this game on and off since 2004 and it’s a love/hate relationship. I really love the approach Blizzard took with WoW classic, and to a lesser extent Burning Crusade as well, but as we all know, they’ve changed their focus quite drastically following the unexpected success of the game. I’ll try my best to cover these topics from a game designers perspective, but I probably can’t avoid ranting about this game. Most things they do with the game have a lot of potential, but almost everything gets screwed up to a certain extent. But that’s just my personal opinion…and I’m certain most of the current or newer players won’t agree with me at all, but that’s fine.
I started playing MMORPGs in 97/98 with Ultima Online and switched to WoW once UO changed from a skill based open world game to an item and stat based quest/instance oriented game. I know, WoW is exactly the same (even worse, I hated WoW classic when I started playing), but at least it was a change of scenery. Originally WoW was just meant to be a stopgap solution until I found a suitable successor to UO, but it wasn’t meant to be.
Now I periodically play WoW for a couple of months, get increasingly displeased with everything I do, quit the game, vowing never to return and resubscribe a couple of months later.
I’ve been playing video games for almost 25 years now and started programming a few years after playing my first game. I’ve studied computer science and I guess my current job is more or less in that field, but I’m trying to start working as a game designer/developer with a small independent team. I’m constantly researching game design topics and even got a letter of recommendation from David Perry a couple of years ago. Right now I’m working on a small RPG with the free Unity game engine as a learning project, I’ll cover the development process in this blog as well. Oh and I’m also learning Japanese…I guess I’ll figure out a way to link this to gaming so I can post about my progress as well 😉