Achieving Greater Goals, Vertically & Horizontally

You killed your raid content mobs, you topped out your player versus player (PvP) rewards, you leveled to the cap only a month after the last expansion and, in only a few weeks (or days), the newest content addition to the game is coming out; the dreaded expansion.

Most MMOs that offer expansions which increase the level cap cause depreciation of old content. Let me explain. While features or content are not removed, and backwards compatibility is maintained, the content previous to the expansion often becomes obsolete or out of date. There is little reason for players to go through old content when there's obviously a new and better way of doing things.

Blizzard has prepared for Wrath of the Lich King (WotLK) by making previously challenging raid encounters significantly easier, forcing some folks to cry foul as their hard work becomes "cheapened". The drops now pull from the same loot tables as they did before the change, but with significantly less risk and challenge.

So my question to you is, do you care?

Some of the folks on our World of Warcraft board discussed this very thing last week, and the replies, barbed though they were, elicited strong responses on either side.

I think it's fair to say that, while everyone's kills and loot are valid, some people's accomplishments were harder to achieve. Just as the accomplishment of achieving level 60 now is not comparable to what reaching level 60 was before The Burning Crusades. It's just a fact that some folks had a harder time of it.

MMOs such as Dark Age of Camelot (DAoC), with their realm rank system and EverQuest (EQ), with its Alternative Advancement, often offer expansions that reward game play other than regular levels. If an expansion does not feature a level increase it becomes much easier to experience the same content without devaluing the experience of others who've played through the already available world, high end or not.

But what happens when MMOs consistently push players to achieve greater levels, and higher end content than the average player can push through in what we can only call "average user play time"? Players feel as if the world is evolving too fast for them. As if they do not belong because obviously it's being designed for someone other than themselves!

So many studios push content vertically (higher level caps, harder raid encounters) rather than horizontally (alternative levels, instances with shifting difficulties/goals), and I have to ask myself why!

Yes, expansions such as Lich King offer many great new additions to the game, and yes, Blizzard does seem to have tamed the usual 6 month expansion schedule set by MMO staple developer Sony Online Entertainment. But since Sunwell was added only months previous to the expansion launch yesterday, will Blizzard revisit that content and make it, once again, worthwhile? Seems a waste not to, especially with it being such a recent addition to the storyline and game.

The newest EQ expansion, Seeds of Destruction, added five levels and a chance to go back in time to battle in instances of classic zones solo, grouped, or with raids to unlock the entire storyline. This type of expansion helps high level characters experience not only raid content and features, but solo content with repeat experiences holding as much value as the first time. In MMOs, replay ability is important!

Lord of The Rings Online : Mines of Moria offers both options! Turbine will raise the level cap, and add weapons that are available at high levels that will increase in power as players use them in battle. In addition, two new classes are added and, finally, the expansion adds a new area of exploration which will more than likely devalue any previous content for the levels the area is aimed at.

There's no easy answer to all of these issues. If there's no new content, or games just keep getting harder or building upon old content, the game becomes too linear and the barrier to entry too high for new players.

If old content isn't revisited, to ensure it's still worthwhile for play both in rewards and experience, developers risk having areas of play which are unsatisfactory to players in reward vs. risk. However if old content is as valid as new, you spread out the areas where players can be found, making it harder than ever to get groups and risk an unhealthy (low) amount of action taking place in key areas.

In addition, if the old areas are as valid for game play as new areas, or old content is revisited and made viable as the majority of players reach end game levels, players can easily become disgusted as they challenge the same content at level 70 as they did at 30. No one wants to grow into a high level hero only to defeat the same rats they did when they first started the game.

The true answer is yes, old achievements and their difficulties will always be cheapened by adding new content and making it easier for those who come after. There are few others ways to truly build upon a persistent world. However with the expansion additions to our worlds should come the resources for players to move forward decisively, not repeating old content while giving the same value to those who complete areas one year into the game as one who completes it in year ten.

If it's possible, it hasn't been done reasonably well in any of the main stream titles we regularly see expansions or content additions for.

Becky "Tovin" Simpson
Senior Editor, ZAM Network


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# Nov 19 2008 at 9:24 AM Rating: Decent
was a good post to read. People will be pro / con to every issue in MMO's. It just boils down to "Are you having fun playing your game?" If you are then keep at it, if not then you should consider a new game because its your money and your time. Enjoy it as best you can.
Kid's Today
# Nov 19 2008 at 5:51 AM Rating: Decent
1,074 posts
I lol'ed too.

The WoW whipper snappers have no idea. EQ players used to walk to dungeons in the snow both ways uphill.

Even 1 player at the old level cap of 50 in today's game is better geared than 6 top end raiders put together.

It's all part of older MMO's. You get used to it.
After 16 years, I'm not listing every friggin character.
Kid's Today
# Nov 19 2008 at 3:27 PM Rating: Excellent
1,577 posts
Amen brother!
Fly High Daevas,
Tamat ~ Andrew Beegle
Community Manager
# Nov 19 2008 at 4:36 AM Rating: Decent
Everyone has a right to think what they want. To some WOW is the right game, for others it is Dungons and Dragons, for me it is EQ. Some like to Raid and some Dont. But the bottom line that should be concidered by the Player is , what game do i enjoy playing the most . The whiners will be there in any game you go to . There are those who apparently have no responsibilty that play all the games out there . Hurray for them . I have to work and help others when I am not working , so my game time is usually limited. I see things from my prospective , I have high lvl toons and low lvl toons too. I am not a hard core gamer. I just enjoy the time I spend with the people I group with, we usually have simular time frames on the game . We have our own way of looking at things . We take our time and lvl and help each other to get what we want. So what I am saying is this . If you like the game , slow down and experence it to the fullest . I am glad you raid and have the best armor out there. I am gald you can wipe a whole zone . All I ask is that you respect the fact that I and my friends have the right to hunt at a slower pace . Even though we chose not to raid and have the armor. There will be a time when you can not lvl any more , when you cant get any better armor, there is no new area to go to . That is the time that you go get a new game and begain playing it , and you realize that you enjoyed the old game better , or you dont understand why you played that game so long. Wake up , stop and smell the roses. After all it is JUST ANOTHER GAME.
# Nov 19 2008 at 1:37 AM Rating: Decent
79 posts
I will admit, that I do feel that the "gimme's" lately in EQ do cheapen the efforts that others have gone through. I've got a 51 SK decked out in his level appropriate Defiant gear, that can solo in PoP zones that were tough for a group when PoP was new. Any new char can grab a defiant weapon in Bazaar for next to nothing, and it beats the crap out of the Blackened Alloy Longsword I busted my *** to get way back when. Not to mention the Ivy Etched I quested and Blackened Alloy armor I worked for, haha.

My old guild raided, to get friggin Moktor crap from Umbral, haha. Now Defiant drops in the same zone that beats even the Rumblecrush and Doomshade loots. It's better than PoP Ornate stuff I worked hard to get on my main. Hell, its better than PoP Elemental even.

That said, oddly enough, I don't mind the autokeying of older zones at all, although I did the quests.

Frankly, to keep "old content new" I wish SOE would do more of the temporary zone revamps they did this past summer. I had an absolute blast in Lower Guk, because it was difficult and scary again...mainly because the pathing is still nutty.

And now I think to myself...I've spent a quarter of my life playing EQ...hah.

What is nice though, is a few players that have returned to, and especially new players that have joined, that have come from WoW, stating that it's too easy. I really feel that with the absolutely rampant mudflation in WoW, that Blizzard is going to end up shooting themselves in the foot in the long run. The MMO version of the dot com bubble, heh.
Everquest 2008..hey look,an EZ button!
# Nov 19 2008 at 1:11 AM Rating: Decent
223 posts
I come to this website to read about Everquest, not other MMORPGs. I do have to admit that just scanning over the article above made me smile. WoW players getting mad that all of their “hard work” is getting devalued?! It seems like that hardcore segment has a lot in common with Everquest high end players. I have watched a lot my raid gear become pure crap in one giant swoop called the “new expansion”. Not only gear but also the difficulty level of the game seems to be cut every single expansion. I have a very good idea why this is happening. John Smedley himself has mentioned in numerous interviews that the new target demographic is the pre-teen/teen market.

I wish I had something good to say about the newer generation that has the disposable income business go gaga over. Unfortunately they are known as the entitlement generation for a reason. The demographic wants everything handed to them without working for it and whine when they don’t get their way. Some may say this is a huge generalization but hey it’s my post and my opinion correct?

I only wish the EQ devs would grow a pair and release a classic Everquest server. I say let the kids play their version of EQ and let me play the real version. I absolutely hate how easy they cave in to the casuals who want equality at any cost.

Edited, Nov 19th 2008 4:16am by FCseven
I for one like the idea
# Nov 18 2008 at 11:26 PM Rating: Decent
I've played mostly EQ and dabbled a bit in WoW. I've noticed in EQ that the vast majority of the older, outdated content, the "old-world" zones, are always empty. All the lore and quests that the veteran players had a blast completing and running around in and struggling through are inactive and forgotten. Can I blame anyone? Of course not. New and exciting content comes out and players want to play in it - that's the point! New content is where the majority of players are. I logged on both accounts the other day to keep the files fresh and saw all of my (non-AFK) EQ guild (Majestic Might Stromm! shake n bake!!)in Seeds of Destruction zones. And when I clicked into WoW, 2 out of 3 players running around Ogrimmar were Deathknights. I don't blame anyone at all, old instances and zones lose their appeal when there's no one LFG for them. If I wanted to play by myself I'd get a console game and skip the server downtime and monthly fee. Being part of the gaming community is what makes MMOGs unique and fun, and when the community is all in the new content, where else is there to be?
I like the idea of making old content more accessible. Would anyone still complete it if it wasn't scaled down? In my opinion, the raid forces previously able to do that content are working on the next higher content both to stay competitive and because it's fresh and exciting - a new challenge. The old raid may be revisited once or twice but only to see how much faster it can be completed with the new gear. Players aren't as interested in running a raid if there aren't upgrades for them, if there's no incentive. How many EQ guilds still kill the Luclin dragons? There's no incentive except for the lore (and the new content has that too). I remember being told I may never get to see the EQ raid zone Anguish, and now it's just farmed for gearing alts and getting epics only. In that regard this is even better for the high end raiders; the previously raid-only gear is now much more available for alts. Giving the older zones some appeal to run will serve to keep them alive longer for more players to get to enjoy instead of being abandoned and left to rot. WoW does have many more players on its servers than EQ does that i've noticed, so there may still be enough players to keep the raid zones as-is for awhile longer. But overall, older content needs to be updated or it will be left behind. As for all the disgruntled veterans? The same message applies to them as to the newer players: you've got awesome games here for the enjoying - go enjoy them! :)

Night all!
Somany Vuss
Soswift Raodeux

" crepes." Somanyvus Throwincatsaround
Supporting old and new
# Nov 18 2008 at 8:47 PM Rating: Decent
WoW has a lot going for it, which thus far they've only toyed with to keep old content "new". The question is, what makes the old players angry: the cheapening of the achievement ("I completed all of Karazhan in one week.") or that the gear they fought for so long and hard is now, essentially, worthless? There are ways to solve both; the only difficulty is finding the RIGHT way. Blizzard is still trying approaches to keep players challenged and involved.

Heroics: To prevent players from getting bored with end-game instances, the Heroic setting was introduced, to challenge and provide better rewards. To say you finished a challenging instance in Heroic mode was far more significant than finishing on normal mode.

Temporary Bosses: Tenris Mirkblood is an ideal example. A new boss to pull old and new players back into Karazhan right before the expansion. It wasn't about the difficulty there, it was about a new challenge, with new rewards. (Such as the pet.)

Achievements: Most players hit this addition with significant chunks of the world unexplored, many instances unattempted... Seriously, how many Horde players even tried to challenge Stockades, at any level?

New classes / races / professions: These benefit the new and old players equally. Just look at how the addition of inscription changes the game. (Ignoring, of course, the orgy of exploitation currently occurring, where 50s of mats results in a 50g AH sale.)

But that still doesn't address the feelings of the long-time players who spent long hours preparing for and challenging the likes of Onyxia, only to see their prized gear go from chic to antique. Some of those accomplishments are badges of honor (the old PvP titles, temporary pet awards) which still show the world, "I did it when it was hard." But what about the things which are still available?

Blizzard attempts to assess these and ask, is there value in keeping / retiring this? If one of the big complaints is that the player spent a month straight working toward an armor set, and that same armor set can now be picked up with a couple of casual nights, the player might feel better if the set was retired. But will that same player ever use the gear again? If it's being sold / trashed a few weeks after the expansion, why cheat the new players of the chance to pick it up?

The true value derives from the effort / time put in. Perhaps Blizzard should look at offering alternative paths to the new end-game content.

Example: Armor set A drops are replaced by Armor set B drops. Same stats, same looks (perhaps different coloration). But players who have Armor set A obviously earned it pre-expansion. So when they reach the new end-game, they can complete a moderately difficult challenge to upgrade the set to Armor set A2. Newer players can achieve comparable (or again, identical excepting coloration) gear from raids and quests which are as hard now as the former were pre-expansion.

In a scenario like this, Blizzard rewards the faithful players with an easier path to the new end-game items, while enabling new players the means to reach the same capability.

Going back to keeping the old new - one approach I'd personally like to see Blizzard take is putting additions to old content. How nice would it be to use your flying mount in Kalimdor or the Eastern Kingdoms? Or have new end-game bosses added to old instances? Say, a cave wall collapses in the Deadmines, opening a new room with an idol in it. End-game players can pick up a quest that lets them summon a boss of end-game difficulty. A whole storyline could be built around new bosses and new areas in ignored zones.

The fact of the matter is, balancing new vs. old is exceedingly difficult. Blizzard has shown by their actions that they listen to the voice of the community, so perhaps instead of simply complaining, we should focus on using the synergy of communities to discuss and come up with ideas which reward dedicated and casual, new and old, with equal rewards for comparable lifetime investment.

If we present an idea which benefits everyone, who would be surprised to see it implemented?
I hate having to enter subjects.
# Nov 18 2008 at 8:42 PM Rating: Decent
79 posts
"So my question to you is, do you care?"

No, really, I don't. I came to the EverQuest page to read about EverQuest, not "give me everything on a silver platter plz" World of Warcraft. I've played quite a few MMO's now, and that game is an absolute joke. I have good friends that are heavily into the game, and all of them also seem to be apologists for it. "Oh, they made such and such easier because of this" or "No, raids are harder than EQ raids because of blah blah blah" It's all lame *** excuses.

That said, EQ is getting easier and easier. I've played for nearly seven years now, and it's not just experience that has made it to where I leveled up my recently made alts incredibly faster than my main that was created shortly after Luclin. I must say, I'm not too fond of it, and I hate the way SOE is caving to whiners, and a gaming environment that wants everything handed to them thanks to WoW.

Also, it's not the casuals or the hardcores ruining these games. It's the whiners and the devs that cave in to those whiners.
I hate having to enter subjects.
# Nov 18 2008 at 9:31 PM Rating: Decent
I agree Kundow. But I am a whinner also. I am whinning about the Devs giving in to Whinners too. They have nerfed eq so much it stinks.

The biggest game destroyer for me is the elaborate gear. It drops far too often and on top of that the gift of legacies lost .. wtf. I have 3 accounts so 3000 claimable gifts. Each one gives 3 pieces of defiant gear for free. 9000 pieces to swamp the market. New players will not stay so please keep the old players happy.

The Dev who introduced this should be fired!

I am seriously looking elsewhere. The only thing we all need is more bank space and of course they didnt give us that because...thats for next expansion..right money hungry devs?
whiners indeed
# Nov 18 2008 at 9:19 PM Rating: Default
and then when we ***** about something being TOO easy...we get called the whiners...


earn the rewards, it makes them feel so much better; games are SUPPOSE to be challenging, that's part of the fun.
my thoughts...
# Nov 18 2008 at 4:21 PM Rating: Default
...i think Wrath is a complete COP OUT to the kids. i laugh as these quests that say Suggested Players[2] -or the- [3] i freakin soloed every single one of them and now i'm in dragonblight....seriously, maybe if you're some scrub player how walked out of TBC with lvl 65 greens you might have trouble. but hell most of us are lvl 70 with at least full s2.

zero challenge so far; i tanked Nexus NAKED as prot-paladin; just my shield, sword, necklace, cap, and rings (well not really naked, i had my tuxedo set on [lol]).

and i also love the "lolcasuals" yeah, i was once that but ya know what i put in <omg, i'ma say the dirty word> EFFORT to become a 25man Raider. i'm sorry, but if you don't have 8hrs a week NOT day to dedicate to raiding, this you have no real right to gripe when you dont get to experience that aspect of the game.

when i started playing back in '06 i enjoyed the challenge, i don't understand why people are playing video games (which all have a challenge of some sort) since it's quite obvious that they do not wish to be challenged; simply given rewards (which are never enough).

After Thought:

I may be jumping the gun and the instances and gameplay are suppose to be easy so everyone can reach 80 and get geared (in the allotted time) to raid Arthas; meaning Arthas wont be a cake-walk [i can dream, can't it?]

in short, casuals are ruining the game...hardcore have left already, semi-hardcore are the end casuals will get bored and leave as well.
my thoughts...
# Nov 18 2008 at 10:30 PM Rating: Decent
I suppose I can understand why people who put in large amounts of time and effort would be upset when an MMO like WOW makes old content easier for the masses. It is just human nature to feel somewhat betrayed when we think someone has gotten away with something that we worked so hard for. However, (and I am sure I will get blasted for what I am about to say) it is just a game. I really do not think Blizzard wanted to shaft all the hardcore players who worked so hard for their gear. Instead, I think their goal was to allow as many people as possible to experience the entire game content wise (though I admit that some of the flare is taken away by making it easier).

Now, some might argue that maybe the gear should also have been "cheapened" by a similar amount. In other words, we make the bosses easier to kill, but the gear will also be reduced statistically, or perhaps made to look different, to show the distinction. Fair enough. Though this would ruin it for players who were on the cusp of being able to "legitimately" earn the gear, and who would now be stuck with inferior gear.

Personally, I think the gear issue isn't that big of a deal (though before the patch I had only finished up through Mag's lair and part of ZA, after the patch all I did was finish ZA). I never looked at someone in full T6 and thought they were some kind of WOW god (I usually thought "there goes another with no real life" but I digress). I guess I do feel sorry for those who worked hard for it if they feel cheated, but I do not feel sorry for those who thought themselves somehow greater than those of us who didn't have their gear. The only problem I have with gear is the way arena gear is given out, but that is another gripe for another time.

Maybe it is best to remember that in WOW we can now make the march to 80, at which point T6 gear won't mean anything anyways, and when the next nerf to instances happens we can go through this all over again, but if the game gets to the point of you complaining because someone else can now get the gear you once flaunted, then maybe it is time for a new hobby.
Enjoy the game for what it is, not by how you can show off to others.
my thoughts...
# Nov 18 2008 at 5:49 PM Rating: Decent
799 posts
Dyner wrote:
in short, casuals are ruining the game...hardcore have left already, semi-hardcore are the end casuals will get bored and leave as well.

I think the "hard core" gamers are the ones ruining the game.
And I think that we could each find enough people who agree with us to make any discussion of the issue pretty pointless.

I, for one, am glad the "hard core" gamers are leaving. That means fewer times being insulted for not having the absolute highest tier gear.
I play to have fun.
I actually have a life, which is "hard core" to me.
I don't need anyone trying to make my entertainment more serious than it is.
It's a friggin' game.
It's meant to be fun.
You want hard core? Go join the army. Make yourself useful. Put all that pent up energy to good use.
I agree...
# Nov 18 2008 at 3:56 PM Rating: Default
2,602 posts
...with the players who cried foul!

I understand that the content is old. I understand that they need to do things to build a customer base. BUT......

You simply don't do either by slapping your long time, senior, loyal players in the face!

EQ has also done just that (/slap!).

EQ done this by opening zones by merit of level, that are 3 expansions old. This further reduced the "dedicated" raiding contingent, for most guilds.

Why raid when not only will you gain hassle free access in an expansion or two, but you can also get better or equal gear in the solo/group setting?

Opening zones and making older content easier is nonsensical.


Because this takes care of itself! Higher levels, better gear and better spells/buffs do this!

If the logic is that no one is raiding the content anyway, the answer still isn't to open it up for free. After all, why would players want to go there when most such zones are "raid intended" zones, anwyay?

The answer is to find a way to make it fresh again.

The best way, in my opinion, is to create a progressively better ultimate reward item. This item would get better and better and better as you PROPERLY defeat content (progression).

To suggest such an item would be overpowered is nonsense, as it
be the single best item in the game... as to "max" it requires defeating
of the raid/progression content from

To say there are all ready rewards for such things, I also call balk!

Those items can simply be turned in to upgrade the ultimate reward item, I speak of!

What does this do?

It makes old content "fresh" again as people will WANT to do it to max their item. This means those who never got to do it because "no one raids there anymore," will now get that opportunity.

So, hear, hear! to the players calling foul!

Don't dumb the games down and don't slap the long time loyal player base in the face! That's the worse thing to do to retain that loyal player base, as opposed to a transient player base!

# Nov 18 2008 at 3:53 PM Rating: Excellent
1,503 posts
The main reason a company like Blizzard doesn't rehash old content is just because of that: Old Content. In an ever-evolving world such as a role playing game it just doen't make sense to revisit old raids. For the sake of story and culture old raids are left behind and thought of as "conquered". Why would we care if bugs are invading Silithus if the Lich King is threatening the world as we know it. In the real world, you wouldn't train Samurai to be your main line of defense against the A-Bomb. As the threat gets bigger, so must the Hero.

But who knows. Maybe the Lich King will turn Hogger into a lvl 83 Undead Elite.
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