Mar 2 2010



Another quick note, and more a statement of bewilderment then anything else.

As part of my exploration of the mechanics of the game, and to gain an insight into different classes, I’ve been levelling Maarisuu and Glymly roughly in parallel. They both hit 30 in the last few days, and as an aside I can confirm three things:

  1. levelling now is a lot faster than back in the original vanilla WoW;
  2. levelling through random instances is viable, with some caveats;
  3. at low levels, hunters are definitely easy to level solo;
  4. rested experience combined with experience buffs from heirloom gear makes for fast levelling.

The caveat for levelling through instances is this: you really need to have the dungeon quests to get the benefit. Killing all the mobs and bosses is good experience, but not outstanding. This leads to some interesting issues. To begin with, the quest givers for instances are scattered all over the place. The thinking with original vanilla Wow was that people would come back to instances several times to complete quests as they got picked up, or progressed. The other issue is that quests in instances like Gnomergan can be complex and require visiting a lot of side-areas in the instance.

And therein lies the weirdness. The dungeon finder makes it a joy to find people to run levelling instances like Gnomeregan. But it also reveals that most players expect these old-world instances to behave like the slick new half-hour instances in Northrend. Back in the day running Gnomergan at level would take one or two or three hours, and groups expected to wipe a lot. At level, Gnomeregan was hard, and a real test of coordination and cooperation. Like Uldaman, it was a dreadful long complex slog.

The way a lot of the old-world instances are designed, there is no simple linear path through the instance to the final end-boss. If you stop to think about it, all the Northrend instances are simple linear paths, with at most some side-spurs (Halls of Stone for example). The intent of the designers was clearly that you would go everywhere, explore everywhere, and kill everything. This is running hard up against the desire of the new age of adventurers to storm through directly to “the” end boss (and a lot of instances don’t particularly have a single end boss) and clobber it. As fast as possible.

The vagaries of the more-or-less random finder meant that I saw the two wee dwarfies dumped into Gnomeregan about 8 times in a row. And each time, the group circumvented most of the dungeon by jumping down through a short cut. Four times they skipped all the bosses to get to the end boss. It took all those return trips to progress the quests that I had, and even then people begrudged the time it took. This whole “Faster, faster!” did not affect Glymly too much, as he was just standing up the back shooting while his bear did the hard work, but it was damned hard on Maarisuu.

I’m levelling her as a prot warrior, trying to understand what tanking is really all about. Most of the runs she is getting, she hardly gets a chance to tank at all, and the Gnomeregan runs have been emblematic – people are so keen to rush through that they are pulling great numbers of mobs, not waiting for the tank to get aggro, not even being aware that they’re stealing aggro. I’m watching the poor healer each time go absolutely nuts as they try to keep up with the melee DPS, and have even had the case of one priest yell “can we have just ONE tank please?”. In general folk are getting away with this, because the instances are definitely easier than they were originally, but I’m wondering how they’ll cope when they reach maximum level and suddenly are required to think, rather than mashing their face on the keyboard. Actually, scratch that, I know how they’ll cope: I’m running instances with Belmann, and seeing these guys behave the same way. And die a lot.