Time to Jump In the Wayback Machine!

Not Nostalgia.  More explanation.

Upon WoD’s launch, we heard from Blizzard that part of the problem with the overpopulation during launch was that they were seeing people return to the game who had not been seen since TBC or Wrath.  Today, we learned that all of those people have left the building since returning.  Let’s explore what a person who left the game at these points would remember having returned to the game after not seeing it since 2007 or 2010.

Beep Boop Bop Time Set: June 1, 2007

Holy crap! June 2007!? Did they even have flying then?

If you left at this time, your last image of the game was Karazhan being the introductory raid tier and being insanely tuned.  It required lots of solid gear to clear through Prince, and you got to see 2.1 released that Spring.  Since that time, Burning Crusade has long been regarded as the best expansion roll-out in the history of the game.  More than likely you were just a casual player, and the game demanded the following of you at this point in time in order to progress:

  • Upon hitting 70, you did normal dungeons for individual reputations.  This allowed you to unlock the Heroic dungeons and retain entry level epics.  Certain Heroic dungeons were avoided like the plague and required some class balance buffs, crowd control, threat management, and being stupid resulted in one shot hits against the dps.
  • If you didn’t have a solid collection of Tier 3 epics at 70, you had to retain your class dungeon set out of the Heroic dungeons.  You had to build groups yourself either in guild or in trade.
  • Heroic dungeons dropped badges.  Everyone raiding needed badges to get better epics so they could take on Karazhan.
  • In order to get into Karazhan, you had to collect the key to enter the place.  These were called attunements and wouldn’t be removed until Wrath of the Lich King.
  • If you were raiding Karazhan, you began to work on attunement for Serpentshrine Caverns (SSC) and Tempest Keep (TK).  This required Magtheridon and Gruul raiding, with each raid requiring crowd control to reach the boss and a good understanding of raid mechanics and how to click portals.
  • Once you reached SSC and TK, tanks required resistance gear to get past the first boss.  This required guild efforts to retain those pieces so guild farming nights were not uncommon.
  • If you were a progression raider, you were more than likely raiding 5 nights a week.
  • Progression was tiered, with catchup gear being your level of raid tier.  There was no skipping of entire tiers through dailies or content patches
  • The expansion was shipped with 2 tiers of content baked in.  Tier 6 (Mount Hyjal and Black Temple) was released 4 months after the ship date of TBC.
  • If you wanted to craft epics, you were a top tier raider with DKP.  Raid materials were found in the raid and preserved within the guild until everyone had what they needed.  It was rare to see epic gems offered in the auction house, much less raid only drops.
  • If you wanted top tier crafting patterns, you had to get lucky with drops and either win the rolls or have the standing within your guild to deserve the patterns.
  • Karazhan was nerfed in almost every patch after release of the game, which allowed most people to gear alts via raid instances.  The other raids did not see a nerf until patch 3.0 when all bosses were hit with a 30% hitpoint reduction – which was about one year and ten months after release.
  • If you were a PvPer, you saw the introduction of resilience and Arena matches.  Resto Druids were considered the most overpowered class.
  • In order to progress your character, you may have needed to earn Arena points to retain a weapon.  For many classes this was simply the easiest way to get one since bosses rarely dropped what you needed.  For many this was the answer to getting a next-tier weapon because they were stuck in Tier 4 or 5.
  • PvP zones were mini-games that happened either on a schedule or at-will.  Most of them were simply “Hold the Objective” style.
  • Dailies were introduced at this point, but you could only complete 10 per day.  You were probably working on Ogri’la or Netherdrake repution.
  • You saw flying.  Regular flying at 60% flying speed with 280% flying costing a whopping 5,000g.
  • You were probably sitting on 1-2 max level characters at this point.  There was no such thing as heirloom gear, experience pots, or RAF boosts.
  • An original player of Warcraft would have come from the dungeon crawl era.  More than likely they had experienced either Dungeons and Dragons, Ultima, Everquest, Dark Age, or Star Wars.
  • The game took no mercy on guilds that were not progressing.  There was no such thing as “hardmode” at this point, all players encountered bosses at the same level of difficulty.  Guilds were progressing each tier of content at different rates.  Being in a BT guild at this point would have put you in the top 0.5% of raiders.  Applying to a guild included both the furthest tier you had seen AND which boss.  If you took time away from the game, you more than likely never recovered to your previous position unless you had a guild that would help you.
  • During this time you would have had to seek out people collecting primal orbs from Heroic dungeons to craft pieces for you.
  • You collected a metric ton of tokens, coins, badges, “toys” and reagents.  Your bags were filled with mount and pet trinkets.  The largest bag available was 20 slots.  Eventually you could buy 22 slotters, but that was almost another year away.
  • If you were a Druid, you were anxiously trying to retain epic flight form and get people to help you along with it.
  • Herbalists at this point were nuts about killing trees.  These were the giants patrolling around the lake in Skettis and were heavily camped for easy herbs, Primal Life, and Fel Lotus.
  • Shattrath was probably where the majority spent their idle time in-game.  The sanctuary city offered banks, portals, vendors, several places to hang out, but no auction house.
  • In order to get into a dungeon or guild, you were dealing entirely with people from your own server.  At this time in the game good social behavior and understanding how to play your class was demanded of you since blacklisting was very common.  It was commonplace to friend people you had played with for future dungeon groups.
  • Nagrand was the farming capital of Azeroth.  It was common to see people fighting about nodes in chat and druids became known for being node ninjas.  Engineers made fortunes here in Primal Air.  Elemental Plateau was a ganking hub while people tried to collect mats “easily”.
  • If you were fishing, you had to level fishing in order to fish!  You could not even cast otherwise.
  • Gold was a real issue for players.  Until the introduction of dailies at this point, players retained their gold by completing old quests, grinding mobs for coin and vendorables, or farming resources.  Auction house barons were not as common as they are today.
  • Burning Crusade offered 16 different reputations, with one more concluding the expansion.  In order to retain status with all of them you have to perform various tasks, dailies, raids and turn-ins.  Your Shattrath reputation was often considered a critical choice, because the shoulder inscriptions were rather focused.
  • The last new Battleground you saw was The Eye of the Storm.

There’s probably a bunch of different things that I missed, but consider what you saw when you returned.  If this was Warcraft for you in 2007, Warcraft in 2014 would have probably felt a little foreign.

Returning Back to the Future:

  • Raids are tiered for randoms, normal mode, heroic, and mythic.  None of them require any attunement but the more difficult tiers require prior raid experience that you do not have at this point and will have to struggle to retain.
  • Garrisons are where you spend most of your time.  Your only real interaction with other players is either in chat or going to Ashran which feels compacted and unfriendly.
  • Gaining reputations are simple grinds.  There’s very little in the way of quest hubs or turn-ins.
  • Collecting resources feels almost the same as it did during Classic WoW.
  • The social aspect of the game has become nearly anonymous.  One can now play the game in most every aspect (dungeons, arenas, raids) without ever having to say anything to other players.
  • The changes over the past 8 years can feel overwhelming to many players.  Prior to the Wrath expansion, the design team was not made up of the people who are on it today.
  • Gold is extremely important.  You can’t build without it and your reserves from 2007 are probably not going to amount to much.  It’s not like Auction House barons left the game, these people were probably sporting a thousand gold on their return.
  • Your past accomplishments do not matter.  Nobody cares that you were in an SSC guild when you left.  If you happen to have scored the Hand of A’dal title prior to leaving, some may sit up and take notice.
  • Most importantly, the game’s playerbase today is rather toxic compared to years ago.  While some were set out to ruin your experience back then, asking a question today will directly result in insults and name calling.  Not like this didn’t happen years ago, but these same people were usually not liked by anyone and there was retribution for it.  Remember blacklists.
  • The game would definitely feel more user friendly and easier to someone coming in from way back then.

The Time Has Come For Fingerpointing

If you want to blame something, I would definitely blame not just the developers but the demographic that plays Warcraft today and enjoys it.  The game is a direct reflection of gamer expectations, very vocal demands and biases. Ever see a business make a fortune while force feeding bad product on their customers?  In game development, you either appeal to people’s wants or you turn out the lights.  See: Any other game besides WoW that couldn’t survive the subscription model.

Blizzard did not develop the #1 MMO of all time simply appealing to yesteryear’s gamers (of which I am a member), they developed it by changing with the times and lowering the barrier to entry.  In order for me to continue playing the game, I’ve had to accept the things I cannot change, even though I still get extreme pleasure complaining about them.  I’ve had to adapt to things I dislike, and redirect my way of thinking in order to still enjoy playing.  I would run out of fingers in 10 seconds counting the things I don’t like about the game, however I’ve yet to unsubscribe from the game.

It’s funny that I’m willing to try things I may not like, and find the things I can tolerate and go nuts with in this game still.  Several years back I proclaimed my dislike for pet battles, only to become ranked in the Top 300 World on Warcraftpets.com a few months later.  Nostalgia is fun, but you always have to realize that you can never go back, time travel doesn’t exist, people’s tastes and desires change, and that you either get with the times or get off the train.

The people that left 7 years ago only to return to this expansion were probably looking for something that flat out wasn’t there, and they left again because they’ll never find it.  You can’t appeal to everyone, but keeping 70% of the playerbase continuing to pay to play is no small feat.  And this seems to happen after every release anymore so it’s really hard to nail down.  I say good riddance to the leavers, but I also still demand top notch design decisions…  it is my time and money after all.

Note: I was going to include Wrath differences as well, but it felt redundant.  There’s really not a heck of a lot of difference between what you would have seen when leaving in 2010 vs coming back today.

Thanks for stopping in!

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