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World of Warcraft Interview "Responses" 436

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the it's-hard-work-printing-money dept.
A little over a month ago we asked you for your questions to send on to the World of Warcraft development team. Unfortunately, it appears that these questions were misrouted to the Blizzard PR department. Any "Answers" you read here are completely devoid of real information or insight, and instead read like press releases and FAQ-style form replies. As I am a huge fan of this game, I was really disappointed by this. We promised to print their answers, so here they are.
1.) Economic Monitoring... by nweaver
How much economic monitoring do you do? Both in-game and on the secondary market (eBay)? Have you considered working with an economist (Steven D. Levitt comes to mind, but there are dozens of others as well) to study some of these phenomenon?

Response -
We monitor the economics of the game very closely. We watch the in-game economy on a regular basis and have personnel that monitor game logs every day. When we see irregularities, we take action. This can range from exploring the account further, finding and removing exploits, or even possible suspension and bans. We also look closely at out-of-game transactions involving real-world cash for in-game items. Some of those transactions occur over eBay, some do not. But in many cases, the involved parties are warned or suspended, and some accounts are also banned.

2.) What would you have done differently? by Trespass
It's the biggest MMORPG to date in terms of number of subscribers. It's easy to guess that you've encountered challenges due to scale that no other developer has before. Knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently, and when?

Response -
Oh yeah, there were definitely things we wished we could have done differently during the development of World of Warcraft. But we learned from those challenges and used that knowledge to improve the game at every opportunity. All of us at Blizzard strive to study the challenges of development and apply those lessons to our next project. It helps us to refine our development process and make each game better.

3.) Mutiple platforms by Fizzlewhiff
Blizzard is one of the few companies that distribues Windows and Mac games together on the same media. Going further, WoW allows Windows and Mac users to play together on the same realms, something which isn't done in other MMORPGS. What kind of hurdles did you have to overcome to get both Windows and Mac versions to co-exist and have you had to make any sacrifices because you were only able to do something on one platfrom and not both?

Response -
There was never any question that World of Warcraft would be co-developed for Windows and Mac users. Blizzard has always supported the Mac platform; you'll notice that even as far back as Warcraft II and Diablo we were there supporting Apple. However, with World of Warcraft, we wanted to improve that relationship further and shoot for a simultaneous release on both platforms. All of us are thrilled that we succeeded in that respect, and we're sure Mac users are happy as well. Both games are equal in every respect; there weren't any features in one version that didn't make it into the other.

4.) Balance by zaffir
What is the process the dev team goes through for balancing character classes, items, NPCs, etc.? Seemingly minor changes can have a huge effect on gameplay, how do you avoid unwanted negative effects on the overall gameplay experience with each content patch? Also, How much of an effect does feedback from the community have on this process?

Response -
As you've implied, game balance is a very difficult and challenging thing to achieve. If it were easy, every game would be perfectly balanced. Of course we know that's not the case. Our designers work very hard to try to balance the game and we know that the more feedback we get, the better our odds of achieving that elusive balance. That's why it has always been important to us to hold closed and open beta tests for all our games, a process dating back to Diablo and StarCraft. The feedback of our beta testers has always been invaluable, and that is still the case in World of Warcraft. That's also why we have Public Test Realms and why all our patches go there first: for more testing before we reveal it to the public.

5.) More dynamic universe? by Zarhan
Battlegrounds are a nice feature, but despite them, the World of Azeroth is quite static place. There have been few events - like the orphan week - but nothing big. Are you planning to introduce "events" into the gaming world that would actually shape it permanently, like in Asheron's call?

Response -
That's something we're looking into. We'd like to enhance our events and create more ongoing ones as well. Children's Week, Darkmoon Faire, and the Stranglethorn Fishing contest are all steps in that direction. Darkmoon Faire, for instance, will continue to be enhanced with new content so that players can keep coming back for new experiences. The Fishing contest is a weekly recurring event that we hope makes the Stranglethorn area more relevant for players. We can't give away too many details for what we have in store, but our goal is to always make the game world feel and act more alive.

6.) Why innovate, if you're just going to stop later? by Mirkon
World of Warcraft was the first MMORPG I gave more than a passing play. Everquest, Asheron's Call, Ultima, SW: Galaxies; none of those interested me, because I saw and read about the endless toil and trouble just to gain numbers on your character stats. WoW was different - I saw the simplicity of Diablo/II in it: easy to play, rich in content, and with a wide world to explore. But then I got to level 60, and all that ended. Now, instead of being able to do most things alone or with a small group of friends, game accomplishments take a full raid of 40 people? You need someone to plan it all out in advance, you need everyone to agree to common rules and to get along with each other; and you need everyone to be coordinated in order to defeat ridiculous enemies. With this, the challenge of the game ceases to be learning techniques and honing skills, and becomes social. The difficulty is not in playing, but in making sure everyone else is playing. Endgame is a different game, and I don't care for it. It's not the game I bought. Rather, it's the games I declined to buy in the past. Friends of mine who played Everquest and Final Fantasy XI are right at home, but I'm decidedly out of place, and don't really want to invest hours, days of my time on goals with exponentially increasing difficulty and exponentially diminishing rewards. The early game is brilliant, and playing it was a joy. Why is that so hard to retain in level 60 play?

Response -
As this question illustrates, the audience for MMORPGs and especially World of Warcraft is very wide and diverse. It is difficult to please all gamers all the time. In fact, some decisions that we make are praised by some players and then criticized by others. It's a difficult balancing act to satisfy so many needs. However, at the same time, we understand that some players just don't have the time or social circle to experience the classic 40-man raids and high-end content of an MMORPG. That's why we created and continue to create more content that can be experienced by casual gamers. Our 10-man PvP Battleground, Warsong Gulch, was a response to this need. It allows smaller groups of people to experience content that is level-neutral and still walk away with great rewards. Arathi Basin, our newest Battleground, is similar in that casual gamers without large social circles can also enjoy playing there and reap great rewards from doing so. Zul'Gurub is an example of non-PvP content that we created for smaller groups of casual players. It is a 20-man raid dungeon that isn't as much of a time commitment as Molten Core or Blackwing Lair. And further in the future, we hope to do some things in Silithus that will enable solo and 5-man groups to still have plenty of fun and questing even after they've hit the level cap.

7.) final decision process? by grungebox
Let me be up front: I don't play any MMORPG's...probably never will. I'm sure WOW is fantastic, but I generally stick to console games. Which sort of leads to my question. How in the world did the decision for a Warcraft MMORPG get made?

Response -
Well, we hope that you'll try out the game. You might be pleasantly surprised. World of Warcraft was designed to be easy and inviting for non-traditional MMORPG players to try. It has an intuitive interface, stylized and familiar settings, and very easy-to-accomplish quests for the casual gamer. As for why we decided to make World of Warcraft in the first place, well, many of us loved playing MMORPGs and we wanted to make one that had all the features we wanted to see and experience ourselves. Since no one else was making the exact MMORPG we wanted to play, we decided to design it ourselves.

8.) What are you doing to curb farming and ebaying? by Amich
I've noticed that "bot"'d characters programmed to do nothing but farm money and items has become a growing problem in WoW. Farming bots can frequently be spotted in the game, and I have evern personally recieved in-game mail spam advertizing mmobay.com . What do you plan to do to curb this issue that is eating away at the economy and atmosphere of your realms?

Response -
We have a zero-tolerance policy against the sale of World of Warcraft items on eBay and similar activities. We investigate such allegations very seriously and those accounts that are indeed guilty of exploits or selling of in-game items for real-world cash suffer disciplinary action within the game. We have various steps we sometimes take in dealing with such issues, but trust us when we say we don't tolerate actions that destroy the economy of the game.

9.) More solo endgame content? by Anonymous Coward
I played WoW since closed beta, and bought it the day it came out. In about 3 months, I made it to level 60. But... then my interest in the game sort of ended. I didn't care about high end raids, or about any PvP content. Elite content was more of a hassle for me than it was fun and exciting. I eventually cancelled my account. So, my question is, are there any plans for more solo content for the endgame? I understand the concept of a MMORPG is to interact with others, but I don't want to have NOTHING to do if I can only play for an hour and want to do something alone.

Response -
We touched on this in the earlier question, but yes, we know that some gamers want more casual content that can be experienced in short periods of time. Many of our quests are designed to be accomplished in short bursts, and that goes from low-level to high-level quests. In future patches, you'll see more casual content that continues along this philosophy.

10.) Developer blogging as done in Linux, MS groups by Sleepy
I loved the Warcraft games so much that I could never play WoW (major time sink! :-) My question is, would your company encourage, allocate time for and generally nudge willing developers to blog? If anyone's worried about bad postings and replies to the blog, a good example to look at is the Microsoft IE7 bloggers. A public blog seems to have influenced Microsoft into fixing IE7 to a degree more than initally planned, which is a Good Thing for many. A theory is their developers wanted to do the right thing, and the blog helped support that.

Response -
We care deeply about our community and definitely want to keep our World of Warcraft gamers updated, but the development and refinement of our games take first priority. However, we do our best to keep the community up to date with regular updates such as the World of Warcraft "Battle Plan," as well as interviews with various news organizations such as this one. Every company has a different way of reaching out to the community and we feel that the World of Warcraft community site is a great way to keep gamers up to date and informed about every aspect of World of Warcraft. The forums are also a great place for gamers to express their opinions and give feedback about the game.

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World of Warcraft Interview "Responses"

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  • by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @02:52PM (#13623595)

    Spot the one response written by a PR flunky...3...2...1...Time's up!

    Q: What would you have done differently?

    A: ...we learned from those challenges and used that knowledge to improve the game at every opportunity. All of us at Blizzard strive to study the challenges of development and apply those lessons to our next project. It helps us to refine our development process and make each game better.

    So...the answer is NOTHING?

  • Heh. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Pantero Blanco (792776) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @02:53PM (#13623600)
    Kinda reminds me of something I'd see on G4 instead of Slashdot, but that's what you gotta expect from PR. Way to go, bureaucracy.
  • by Erioll (229536) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @02:53PM (#13623605)
    Any "Answers" you read here are completely devoid of real information or insight, and instead read like press releases and FAQ-style form replies.

    Truer words were never spoken. This whole thing is just more of the same: we don't want you talking to the developers, ever.
  • bleh on PR. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GoNINzo (32266) <GoNINzo&yahoo,com> on Thursday September 22, 2005 @02:53PM (#13623608) Homepage Journal
    Can we resubmit these to get it routed to a technical person? Or possibly make requests on the Forums to get the real answers? This is just useless, but exactly what you'd expect out of blizzard. At least on the forums, you sometimes get a real answer of 'yeah, that's a bug, I don't see it getting fixed anytime soon, so stop doing it.'
  • by Paolo DF (849424) * on Thursday September 22, 2005 @02:54PM (#13623615)
    If I submitted a question and after a lot of time read this, well, I'd be quite p'ed off... :-/
  • by linzeal (197905) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @02:54PM (#13623619) Homepage Journal
    I am totally underwhelmed by the evolving storyline WOW is putting out. It would be nice if the entire game had the depth of a 300 page novel but sadly it doesn't. After a string of missions from any of the racial leaders there is a little more than finding an item here or there with a shoddy backstory.
  • About as useless (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nonuttin (851992) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @02:56PM (#13623641)
    as an ashtray on a motorcycle. What a shame they could get real answers to some great questions.
  • by Rhalin (791665) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @02:59PM (#13623683)
    Come on guys, I'd expect this kind of PR slush from Electronic Arts, but Blizzard? You've got a user base that really loves the work you do, and a chance to answer some of thier more technical questions and make them even happier with you and your games, and you just toss it right out the window.

    Way to go.
  • by Godeke (32895) * on Thursday September 22, 2005 @03:00PM (#13623689)
    I thought at first that the story summary was a bit harsh, but it is pretty clear that Marketing neutered the answers and produced a press release instead of an interview. I commend /. for following through with the promise to publish even though the answers were so sycophantic that it made me wince more than once. I guess that's what happens when you have millions of subscribers: you can't say anything even mildly interesting for fear of creating a target for discontent.
  • Blizzard of Poo (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Andr0s (824479) <dunkelzahn@rocketmail.com> on Thursday September 22, 2005 @03:00PM (#13623696)
    What can I say? I'm massively dissapointed. I've been fan of Blizzard, and especially Warcraft franchise, since Warcraft 1... and it more than slightly annoys me to see the company which always seemed to care about its player base visibly more than most other companies suddenly finds it necessary to answer both the most basic and quite intriguiung questions related to their best-selling game with a load of cookie-cut, soulless and rather empty phrases instead of honest, insightful answers that'd show us Blizzard still consists of people who -enjoy- creating games.

    Yes, I play on WoW. And while the game, in itself, is quite awesome (though not, by any stretch of imagination, flawless or perfect), I am increasingly annoyed and dissapointed by the kind of feedback players receive for Blizzard representatives on all levels of game - from in-game issues and assistance requests sent to GMs, through many querries directed to Bliz Forums CMs, all the way to requests for assistance regarding account and payment issues. I find it hard to believe that any company that reached its current cult status purely through great products it created by listening to its fans and customers can make such a sudden and radical turn for the worse in the ways it communicates with those same fans who helped it grow into what it is now.

    { Durmitor/Hermann, Alliance side of Terenas (US) Server}
  • by Erioll (229536) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @03:01PM (#13623702)
    Or 3. Developer Celebrity. They had a number jump ship to NCSoft for Guild Wars. And they were people that some knew their names, and thus caused some waves about "true spirit of blizzard", etc. I don't know if it's true at all, but keeping them seperate completely takes this problem away.

    Or 4. This keeps decisions from needing to be justified. With much questioning you can always say "the developers must have their reasons" rather than them being vetted by the community at large. It also helps them justify the snail's pace of fixing classes (1 talent revamp PER patch? wtf?).
  • by Rhalin (791665) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @03:02PM (#13623709)
    On an afterthought, I think I'm gonna go hit gamasutra.com and read post mortums from game companies that actually care enough to write about what people want to know...
  • Re:Arrghhh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Thursday September 22, 2005 @03:03PM (#13623718) Homepage Journal
    Yeah, it sure sounds like either a PR person or developers' replies by consensus. No one out on a limb or adding any flavour to the replies.
  • by Surt (22457) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @03:06PM (#13623748) Homepage Journal
    As an aside, I can assure you it is not the dev team's fault. I used to work at blizzard north, and there was a pretty strict policy on never talking about anything in public without permission. With Blizzard South, the policies are even stricter and more draconian, and they fire people on a more regular basis to keep the devs in line.

  • Re:GNU/Linux? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Pantero Blanco (792776) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @03:07PM (#13623750)
    People who give answers like these probably don't even know what Linux is, or only know about it by name and figure that it has too little marketshare to bother with.
  • Yuck. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by stinkwinkerton (609110) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @03:07PM (#13623751)
    That was a crap sandwich. It would have been less insulting if they had just not bothered to respond.
  • by op12 (830015) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @03:07PM (#13623756) Homepage
    PR flunky? That's PR mastery! Evade the question, and spew out some nonsense that you hope the person asking the question will believe is true.
  • by Chitlenz (184283) <chitlenzNO@SPAMchitlenz.com> on Thursday September 22, 2005 @03:10PM (#13623783) Homepage
    They *used* to be such a cool company, really cutting the edge in gameplay mechanics even when they lagged behind on graphics. WOW is a great game, with tons of eye candy. Unfortunately, it's a great game by a company that's now owned by some mindless,faceless multinational corporation (Vivendi Universal).

    The upside of this is that Rome must fall, and the recent exedous of Blizzard's devs has already started to erode away the machine, in this instance. Witness Guild wars, which had several refugees from the Diablo team on board, there's another new one too that sprang up from a WOW team exedous in the last month.

    Vivendi just doesn't get that the players can tell when the people making the games are having fun doing it. I cannot imagine that this kind of 're-routing' can be good for morale among the people who matter at Blizzard, i.e the people responsible for actually CREATING the products.

    PR Department, pfft.

    That's insulting.

    -chitlenz
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 22, 2005 @03:13PM (#13623813)
    Everquest 2 is like that in many regards, in that the dev's post to the forums discussing topics. Some players even are pissed that they're 'blogging' in the forums rather than developing, so it's a two-way street.

    Also, I'm sure their success has corrupted them at least somewhat. If they have such a large player base, they don't really have to worry about keeping their customers satisfied. They have more of a creative license to do what they want, than what the player base wants. I'm sure it'll bite them in the end, but not anytime soon.

    In comparison many other popular mmorpgs have the devs actively listen to the players, which isn't always a good thing. If 90% of the playerbase wanted an easier game, and the devs listened and made it easier, they would all end up leaving once they ran out of content. If they made it too hard, there would be too much grinding. Add too much content (in combination with a questing/mission system which most have), and you end up with mostly soloing as opposed to grouping, since different people are working on different quests/missions. Too much soloing, and people don't get a sense of community and would rather play a normal RPG that is more enjoyable due to a sense of a developed storyline.

    In terms of fixing bugs, I think they boil it down to economics. If it's cheaper to prevent a bug from being exploited through threats of bans and deletions, and by monitoring shards than it would be to actually fix the bug, it's a hard sell to justify fixing it other than to sleep better at night. Also, if fixing one bug might only affect 5% of the playerbase involved, but adding new features is likely to impact almost all players (and also helps prevent them from leaving for another game).

    Put in another way, how many people leave games because of a few bugs, and how many leave due to lack of content and boredom? Heck, even one of the questions mentioned that (for the level 60 character).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 22, 2005 @03:20PM (#13623860)
    But how do you combat such things?

    In this case it is easy, share the link to this interview with others. Post it in other forums while bad mouthing the kiss ass, watered down drivel that we see. Once enough mindshare is reached the PR flunkies must then answer to someone above them who sees a PR failure because of the negative attention. Then those ever so smart PR guys will flip into damage control and give you the answers from the dev team...
  • by Achoi77 (669484) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @03:22PM (#13623879)
    What terribly long winded questions! Here's a condensed version.

    (questions snipped for brevity, apologies if any questions were mangled. Also, please read it with a grain of salt *smirk*)

    1) Question: How much economic monitoring do you do? Both in-game and on the secondary market (eBay)? Have you considered working with an economist (Steven D. Levitt comes to mind, but there are dozens of others as well) to study some of these phenomenon?

    Response: We ban bots. I've banned 3 myself today.

    2) Question: ..It's easy to guess that you've encountered challenges due to scale that no other developer has before. Knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently, and when?

    Response: Why yes, there are things we wished we would have done differently...wha.. is this a two part question?.. Brain.. hurts!

    3) Question: ..What kind of hurdles did you have to overcome to get both Windows and Mac versions to co-exist and have you had to make any sacrifices because you were only able to do something on one platfrom and not both?

    Response: We made a windows AND a mac version. That means, if you have a mac, you can install it, and play it! Without a PC!

    4) Question: What is the process the dev team goes through for balancing character classes, items, NPCs, etc.?..

    Response: It's very difficult. Otherwise it wouldn't be easy. Ppl complain all the time. Stop bitching.

    5) Question: ..Are you planning to introduce "events" into the gaming world that would actually shape it permanently, like in Asheron's call?

    Response: We made it so you can run around and fight stuff. It's awesome.

    6) Question: ..The early game is brilliant, and playing it was a joy. Why is that so hard to retain in level 60 play?

    Response: Dungeons are cool. You can crawl thru them with 39 of your friends. It's awesome.

    7) Question: Let me be up front: I don't play any MMORPG's...probably never will. I'm sure WOW is fantastic, but I generally stick to console games. Which sort of leads to my question. How in the world did the decision for a Warcraft MMORPG get made?

    Response: Please play World of Warcraft. It's pretty awesome.

    8) Question: Farming bots can frequently be spotted in the game, and I have evern personally recieved in-game mail spam advertizing mmobay.com . What do you plan to do to curb this issue that is eating away at the economy and atmosphere of your realms?

    Response: Dood, we answered this questions 7 questions ago. RTFA plz.

    9) Question: ...So, my question is, are there any plans for more solo content for the endgame?

    Response: Dungeons are cool. You can crawl thru them with 39 of your friends. It's awesome.

    10) Question: would your company encourage, allocate time for and generally nudge willing developers to blog? If anyone's worried about bad postings and replies to the blog, a good example to look at is the Microsoft IE7 bloggers. A public blog seems to have influenced Microsoft into fixing IE7 to a degree more than initally planned, which is a Good Thing for many. A theory is their developers wanted to do the right thing, and the blog helped support that.

    Response: Use the forums plz, kthxbye.

  • by Ythan (525808) <ythan@taco n i c . n et> on Thursday September 22, 2005 @03:24PM (#13623892) Homepage
    I guess that's what happens when you have millions of subscribers: you can't say anything even mildly interesting for fear of creating a target for discontent. And yet they seemed to accomplish just that.
  • Re:GNU/Linux? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by truesaer (135079) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @03:25PM (#13623900) Homepage
    Lets just get realistic....the market for Mac is iffy, the market for Linux is nil. Linux is not a realistic desktop market that can justify spending a lot of money.
  • Re:GNU/Linux? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rycross (836649) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @03:28PM (#13623921)
    Its because that question has been asked over and over ad nauseum, and the answer is always the same. Its always "Linux doesn't have enough of a marketshare in the gamer market to justify a port." And this is almost always met with indignation and argument by Linux fans. Then the Windows fans usually come in and start flamewars.

    So in short. Its already been asked, and answered, and its really not worth asking again.
  • by kafka47 (801886) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @03:42PM (#13624051) Homepage
    I noted that almost every response completely ignored the question and instead, plonked down the most pat and predictable "answer" that merely served as a placeholder for a "buy our game" message. Not like the /. editors didn't warn us though - their disappointment was very apparent. It felt like I was speaking with my manager, lol. Cmon Blizz! You can do better!
  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @03:43PM (#13624061)
    When you make a post like that you reveal two big things: The inside information you have and your writing style. Between the two, it'd probably be fairly easy to figure out who it was. Unless you stuck to giving information from a cross of groups, and having someone else write your posts for you, you'd run significant risk of being caught. Remember that private companies can fire you for basically any reason. They don't need probable cause even, if they think it's you, they can fire you. Whistleblower protection doesn't apply, that's only for revealing illegal things your company was doing.
  • by Rycross (836649) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @03:47PM (#13624096)
    To be fair, the few times the developers have tried to come out of their ivory towers and address the community, they have largely been met with insults and belligerence. The CMs have to deal with every day. I honestly don't blame the developers.
  • by Shihar (153932) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @03:48PM (#13624108)
    You miss the point. The summary made it pretty clear what the editors thought of the interview. The 'answers' speak for themselves. They say that this company couldn't be bothered to respond and so kicked it off the PR department to spew at us. The summary makes it pretty clear, even for the dull witted, that this is nothing but mindless PR speak. That in it of itself is telling. If Blizzard doesn't like how they were portrayed, THEY can resubmit their answers.

    Even shitty answers provide information. No need to hide it.
  • Solo != Casual (Score:3, Insightful)

    by umbrellasd (876984) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @03:57PM (#13624191)
    I'm probably a "hardcore" gamer. I average about 4 hours a night after work and various other activities. One thing I see in the responses here is this idea that people that want to be able to go out and do things on their own are casual gamers. That is untrue. There are certainly such people that have only an hour here or there and cannot commit to a 40 person raid. But I think there are many people, and I am definitely one of them, that will set aside a day on the weekend just to go out on my own and run quests for an entire area and explore. In fact, I often find myself going out and buying RPGs to play instead of WoW because I just enjoy the quiet time to myself where I can accomplish some things and experience a nice story and environment.

    I think several of the questions here were speaking to this. When I hit 60, why isn't there something exciting for me to do on my own? Why are there no new places for me to discover that require some real skill and determination but not 20 to 40 other people as an escort. Anyway, I think the responses to these questions indicate a lack of understanding of a not-so-small component of the playerbase and I know it is one of the reasons I suspended my WoW account for half a year and I know it is likely the reason I will do so again when the next nice MMORPG comes out with a new solo experience that lasts for 40 or 60 or X levels.

    (I should add that I do play the raid content and the BGs and I know what they offer and they can be enjoyable. For whatever reason, I personally gravitate toward doing that as a "special" occasion and prefer going out alone most of the time. Maybe it's because gaming is decompression from 8 hours of interacting with all kinds of people, :-))

    I don't think Blizzard gets this.

  • by Mascot (120795) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @04:16PM (#13624371)
    I guess I should know better than to respond to someone feeling they know everything a game has to offer after putting in a fraction of the time the game's designed to take.

    b) run for your life when your pet get killed/your hit points get dangerously low.
    Or learn to play your character. Crowd control and getting out of sticky spots are aspects of the game that requires you to employ the tactics you haven't learned yet at your level (or the char does not yet have available skills for).

    In WOW, the demonists (specialized in summoning..lol) can only summon 4 different monsters...
    If you want dozens of different sidekicks, there's always the Hunter. Tame any beast you like.

    In Wow, you only gain xp if your opponents are high lvl enough (at most 9 lvls beneath you).result : you never become powerfull as you are forced to constantly fight monsters that are the same lvl as you.
    So, the fact that you can wipe out multiple monsters 10+ levels lower than you, that you struggled to kill a single one of 10 levels ago, is "not more powerful"? How many XP based games do you know that gives you great XP for killing monsters so much weaker than you that you can wipe them out in a single hit? How many games that stops throwing anything at you that's dangerous to your character once you reach a third of the level cap?

    Low levels monsters can easily kill you if they are numerous enough (4 or more if you are a demonist)
    So, bascially, you won't be happy unless you can take out an entire camp of mobs the same level as you without any danger? I take it you also dislike any game without a god mode?

    you can't solo in instances/epic quests.
    Yes, see, that's why there's solo content (the majority of quests), and team content (instances and some quests). It's to cater for players of both preferences, as opposed to just yours. It's an MMO game. If you want full access to every part of the game on your own, don't play an MMO game.

    I happen to remember fondly my wizard in neverwinter nights.
    I could scout dangerous places at level 3 (invisibility..damn usefull spell)


    If that's what you want, you should've made yourself a Rogue. Or bought invisibility potions. Of course, higher level mobs will stand a greater chance of discovering you either way. As it should be.

    resist close combat warriors a bit (stoneskin)


    Several classes have temporary invulnerability and other close combat survivability skills. Dwarves have stone skin as a racial trait (just mentioning it for the likeness in name, it's not terribly useful). Not all classes are meant to take a beating up close. That's why they have pets and rely on ranged attacks.

    turn into a juggernaut warrior


    Druids get bear form at an early level. And at level 40 a bear form tailored for tanking.

    zap 'em into oblivion
    I could kill huge numbers of weak mob with one spell (and get a little xp)


    Sounds like you might like the mage. The talent tree opens for several potent area of effect spells. Mobs 9 levels lower than you are very weak compared to your char. Unless you're utterly clueless of course. Just like a soldier isn't invincible against a crowd, neither is your higher level character against masses of lower level ones.

    WoW is pretty much the most newbie friendly MMO around. And you found it too much of a challenge. Though I could name plenty of wrong with WoW, I think your post speaks a lot more about you than it does about WoW.

  • by Sialagogue (246874) <sialagogue.gmail@com> on Thursday September 22, 2005 @04:20PM (#13624402)

    Dear WOW "Development Team" --

    On behalf of the entire Slashdot Community, I'd like to thank you for taking the time to so carefully craft responses to our questions. It's thoughtful respondents like you that make our workday such a pleasure.

    It's with some dismay, however, that I can anticipate that certain members of our community may choose not to respect some simple guidelines that we have established to make this board a fun and informative place for everyone. They are likely to accuse you of being a "marketing droid" or a "PR hack" or a "community-college intern" or having "screwed your way to the middle" or being "functionally retarded" or having "your head up your ass" or your "hand down your pants" or having "your other hand up your boss's ass" or various other unpleasant and discourteous phrases for implying that your responses were less than substantive.

    Please be assured that our Moderation System(tm) is designed to specifically addresses many of these users, and simply because you may see a few of these discourteous posts with "+5 Insightful" does not mean we are not working very hard behind the scenes to make sure that this is a fair and objective forum for all involved.

    Again, thank you so much for taking the time to respond. We look forward to hearing from you again in the future.

    -- The Slashdot "Developer Team"

  • by Petersko (564140) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @04:27PM (#13624469)
    A few million people play this game. Many of them are obsessed by it, and are extremely argumentative and vocal.

    Did you expect something along the lines of specific flaw admissions or real technical discussions?

    Anything they said will be seized upon by all sorts of aggravated pinheads. If they mention a technical issue, a couple thousand know-it-alls will chime in with ridiculous high-level responses claiming it's not a problem, and that Blizzard is just incompetent. In fact, any real discussion is going to result in nothing but lost time and face on their part, because everybody seems to think they know better.

    In the end, the PR approach is simply the best way to handle this type of situation.
  • Re:Arrghhh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Scherf (609224) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @04:45PM (#13624629)
    Yeah, but some of these "answers" weren't even answers technically. Just take a look at question 2. I'll sum it up:

    "What would you have done differently?"
    "Yes!"

    I don't get it. If they didn't want to let the developers respond (which would have been very intresting by the way), why even bother to set up this whole thing. It's just bad PR in the end.

    In the end, the OP is right. They actually thought people where stupid enough to believe that those questions where answered by developers.
  • Re:Arrghhh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Meagermanx (768421) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @05:19PM (#13624895)
    Heck, a lot of the questions weren't even answered!

    "Did you leave anything out for compatability?"
    Yes, there are Mac and PC versions. They both feature the same content.

    "What do you wish you had done differently with the design of this game?"
    Yes, designing games is a hard and challenging process, and we learn new things from each one we design.

    Those aren't answers. Send the questions back.
  • by Red Flayer (890720) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @05:29PM (#13624987) Journal
    "Marketing droid just didn't get it. I'm interested in ACADEMIC modeling. "

    They're not really concerned what you're interested in, since people interested in academic modeling of game economies represent a tiny, tiny fraction of WoW's market.

    I'm sure they'd rather devote resources to analyzing and improving the things that the other 99% of players wished were improved upon.

    Functional economics still matter -- but the academic, not so important.
  • Re:Arrghhh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Krach42 (227798) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @06:27PM (#13625501) Homepage Journal
    I almost can't doubt that it went through the PR wash. The answers are bland, unresponsive and sometimes not even related to the question.

    I mean, the one were they respond, "Oh, please try our game; we're sure you'll be pleasently surprised."

    Only marketingdroids talk like that.

    This is singularly the worst interview I've ever read. It's like an interview with a mural on a brickwall. No insight, just the same facade that you've already seen before. No DEPTH.

    I wish companies would realize that when you get an interview list from Slashdot we don't want more dribble that we could read anywhere; we want real answers. *REAL ANSWERS PEOPLE*.

    I'm just disgusted at these responses.
  • The Irony (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Phat_Tony (661117) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @06:28PM (#13625508)
    Did anyone else find it ironic that, by having their PR professionals handle the questions instead of the engineers, the interview resulted in terrible PR for Blizzard?
  • Re:GNU/Linux? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kidcharles (908072) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @06:31PM (#13625525)
    I read in an interview somewhere (maybe here at slashdot) from a guy from id software (who are strong supporters of Linux gaming) that knowing that a game will be ported to multiple platforms from the beginning of development forces them to produce cleaner code which ultimately results in less bugs on every platform. I wish more game developers had this kind of attitude, that developing for cross platform is a challenge that can improve the development progress, rather than seeing it as a sink in terms of cost benefit. As far as the money question goes, these guys are raking it in. Do the math: 1 million subscribers in the US alone at $15 a month for a year is $180 million dollars in yearly revenue. I'm leaving out the initial $50 investment and all non-US revenue. And just wait till the first pay add-on appears. We are not talking some garage game design studio here, this is a seriously flush corporation. They can afford to support any platform they need to, they just choose not to when it comes to Linux.
  • by An Onerous Coward (222037) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @06:46PM (#13625614) Homepage
    Okay. Class balancing is hard work. They're workin' hard. We get it.

    But regarding the end of your post: the PR department isn't doing its job, unless "its job" is "keep the developers from saying something embarrassing or stupid," rather than "help the public relate to this company, and give the company a good public face."

    As you said, this is Slashdot. Home of the geek, the troll, the antisocial, the borderline psychopath, the epic flamewar, and the rare computer genius. We're not looking for bland chatter about how great a company Blizzard is. We want to hear about the nitty gritty of the development process. We want to hear about the failed practical joke that resulted in a server fire 72 hours before they went live*. We want to hear the developers tell about how this one algorithm tweak saved their collective butts when all seemed doomed. We want to be regaled with the tales of blood, sweat, and courage by the steely-eyed code warriors we all aspire to become. We want to slap them on their backs and buy them beer.

    These "answers" show that the PR Department at Blizzard is either too incompetent or too risk averse to interface with its audience in a way that will speak to that audience. Unchain some developers from their desks, let them spill some of Blizzard's less critical secrets, and keep the cattle prod on hand if they breathe a word about The Goat Incident. But for grandma's sake, let us hear something that sounds genuine.

    * Note: This is a hypothetical incident. Please, Blizzard, call off your demon lawyer horde.
  • by Morgaine (4316) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @07:25PM (#13625867)
    It's no surprise that the PR suits responded. But that needn't be the end of the story.

    Now it's the dev's turn. Come on guys, answer the questions properly, ie. technically. You're in a position of strength anyway, the suits probably don't want to lose more of you to NCsoft (well, not if they have a clue anyway), so if you approach it in a constructive fashion there shouldn't be any fireworks.

    And if there are, well, perhaps it's not the right company to work for after all.

    You're the key people, remember that. The suits are two a penny, and you ought to remind them of that occasionally.
  • by Obasan (28761) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @08:45PM (#13626254)
    Except completing quests doesn't MEAN anything because "badguy X" just respawns. Completing quests has no impact on the game world, and therefore, the game is far LESS immersive than even very old RPG's like the original Ultima's.

    There is this supposed "war" going on but do battle lines ever shift? Can individual player actions affect the larger game? Nope.

    This is not an RPG... it's Diablo II, 3D and MMO'd. Not saying it can't be fun, but it's NOT an RPG.
  • Re:Arrghhh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bradbeattie (908320) <bradbeattie AT a ... uwaterloo DOT ca> on Thursday September 22, 2005 @09:47PM (#13626503) Homepage Journal
    How exactly are "developer" responses to questions about World of Warcraft off topic? Even if it was (and it isn't), they could just post it in the off topic page.

    The only reason to censor links to this discussion is to try and keep negative discussion down. Makes sense from their perspective; they're trying to make money. I'm not saying it's right or ethical, but it makes sense.
  • by Red Flayer (890720) on Friday September 23, 2005 @11:18AM (#13629215) Journal
    I'm sure there was some academic analysis done when the game was created. But I don't see why they would release that information, given that it is essential to gameplay and could possibly either be abused by players, or could include material that their competition could use.

    Once the base economy has been established, any material they add or remove can be playtested to make sure it doesn't throw things out of balance.

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