World of Warcraft fan animator releases a video that summarizes the current player experience

Relatable.mp4

    
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Are you ready to have your heart torn out by a cute animation, World of Warcraft fans? That seems to be the wide reaction to a recent video released by YouTuber Carbot, who readers will recall is widely renowned for his wide variety of Blizzard game cartoons, including the WowCraft series; he even made an animation for Blizzard for BlizzConline 2021.

It’s the latest video in the WowCraft series, This is World of Warcraft, that has stirred up a large number of emotions within the WoW community, as it takes us through the experience of one player’s life through the game’s initial releases to its slowly dulling shine as questionable design choices and more cash shop-related shenanigans have come into play, even if WoW Classic managed to spark a little bit of that old magic for a brief time.

The cartoon has elicited a lot of fan reaction both on Twitter and on Reddit, with many fans remarking that the video encapsulates the sadness of what’s seen as an MMORPG in decline. We’ve got the cartoon embedded below so you can judge for yourself.

source: YouTube
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Dave Smithson

“Convenience Tools” and paying to skip play is EXACTLY why WoW retail is in decline. They should have kept online purchases limited to cosmetic things, such as, mounts, transmog items, etc.

The other things that contributed to the decline to a greater or lesser degree were:
1) Level scaling (terrible idea)
2) Changing the characters talents and skills ( basically remaking the game, the
characters shouldn’t EVER change or lose anything )
3) WoW tokens
4) Gold sellers
5) Cross-realm LFG ( bad players weren’t penalized for being bad )
6) Cataclysm ( biggest loss in subscribers came after this was released )
7) Heirloom gear became too easy to acquire

Things they got right:
1) Transmog
2) Pet Battles
3) Mini games
4) Skill items (such as the Legendary Fishing Pole )

Basically, as long as it didn’t interfere with actual gameplay by skipping, changing, or making the game too easy it was a good idea. WoW Classic and TBC-Classic have brought back many people to experience the game at it’s best.

I foresee the same path being laid out as before. If the developers want to dodge the inevitable subscription crash that came with the release of Cataclysm, they’re gonna have to put some effort into changing the path. I’m sure I’d spend money on a “Alternate Cataclysm ” where the world changed, but my beloved characters kept the skills/talents the had in TBC/WotLK.

Sorry for the long-winded diatribe, but this wonderful game CAN BE SAVED ( in the Classic version anyways, Retail is too far gone )

Grimalkin
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Grimalkin

I’m too late for the goofy “the game hasn’t changed, you have” comments. They are still entertaining tho

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Rndomuser

I get the point the video is trying to make but I don’t miss the old times when a lot of convenience tools were not available. My highest character in WoW Classic in TBC is the one I actually paid to instantly boost because I wanted to try a different class and just couldn’t force myself to start anew from level 1 because I don’t yet suffer from amnesia and I never liked making alts from level 1. I created the priest on Alliance side, paid to boost it to lvl58, then continued to level it. Amusingly I also paid for the Heart of the Aspects mount back when it was initially released because I liked how it looked like and never wanted to waste hours to get some other mounts in game which I also liked. I also enjoyed using dungeon queue tool in every MMORPG which had it, with instant teleport to dungeon entrance. I guess I’m just not the “typical PvE grinder with plenty of time to waste on unnecessary artificial timesinks” this video is targeted at.

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Loopy

I don’t yet suffer from amnesia

never wanted to waste hours to get some other mounts

typical PvE grinder with plenty of time to waste on unnecessary artificial timesinks

“Everyone who’s not like me is playing the game wrong” is what i got from your post.

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Paragon Lost

Wow, nailed it. Makes me sad, but a well done on the mark video. (sigh)

Carlo Lacsina
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Carlo Lacsina

I expected that claw to take the player into FFXIV lol

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Rndomuser

Would’ve been funny if it was Magitek Death Claw:

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Sarah Cushaway

It sums up my experience with WoW/Blizzard pretty much perfectly.

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Totes McGoats

On some level the incremental changes to WoW could be justified as they were made, but if you zoom out and look at what the game has become… what a sad mess.

Fisty
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Fisty

Wonderful video, and sad.

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Loopy

I have anecdotal evidence relating to this video. My time in classic was pretty much identical to what the cartoon was implying at its start. I rolled on an RP server, and i saw friendly people everywhere, grouping up together to tackle on challenging quests and running dungeons. Everyone was socializing, chatting and joking around in General, buffing people around as they traveled. Lots of little guilds forming and growing, overall probably my best time in MMO gaming in the last 10+ years. It was MMO heaven.

This has changed once most people hit max level. Slowly, guilds started shifting from “lets just have fun and try progression” to “we need to do this raid in less than 2 hrs or we’re doing something wrong” to “you better have a full slew of world buffs or you’re out”. Casual guilds became casual-raiding guilds. Then they became raiding guilds. Then they became hardcore raiding guilds. I don’t know how this happened – whether it’s the pressure from the community, influence from streamers, or what have you, but classic (or at least my RP server) did not start off this way. I’m sure that not having anything else to do at max level is a significant element to this.

Now we’re in TBCC, and things are worse than ever. Nobody really hangs out anymore or wants to group up and socialize during leveling. Nobody groups up for little quests or buffs people as they travel. Nobody talks in General or jokes around. Everyone is rushing to 70 and spamming dungeons. It’s like everyone was all of a sudden convinced that there is only one way to play the game. It was unrecognizable.

I ended up unsubbing.

People truly do change based on specific game designs, and it’s evident that the devs introducing certain mechanics or systems to the game greatly influences how players respond and interact with those systems.

My example is anecdotal and the observations my own, but you can’t convince me that the game has evolved in a positive direction over the years. And this includes TBCC.

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jealouspirate

I think you’re correct about the change in culture, but I also think it has as much (or more) to do with the gaming community than Blizzard’s design. Classic and TBC are both easy enough they don’t require much min/maxing, but min/maxing culture has completely taken over the online competitive gaming space.

These games have been dissected and analyzed to death. Unlike 2007, there is a large industry of influencers on social media desperate to make content that are making guides on how to optimize everything. People feel pressured to optimize, especially when they see others doing it, and the whole thing snowballs out of control.

Classic is a rare and great example of how gaming culture has changed, since we can compare the same game launching at 2 different time periods.

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Bruno Brito

I have anecdotal evidence relating to this video. My time in classic was pretty much identical to what the cartoon was implying at its start. I rolled on an RP server, and i saw friendly people everywhere, grouping up together to tackle on challenging quests and running dungeons. Everyone was socializing, chatting and joking around in General, buffing people around as they traveled. Lots of little guilds forming and growing, overall probably my best time in MMO gaming in the last 10+ years. It was MMO heaven.

I had the same experience to an extent, because i was ready for the transformation ( been playing WoW servers for a long time ). It’s basically because of design.

This has changed once most people hit max level. Slowly, guilds started shifting from “lets just have fun and try progression” to “we need to do this raid in less than 2 hrs or we’re doing something wrong” to “you better have a full slew of world buffs or you’re out”. Casual guilds became casual-raiding guilds. Then they became raiding guilds. Then they became hardcore raiding guilds. I don’t know how this happened – whether it’s the pressure from the community, influence from streamers, or what have you, but classic (or at least my RP server) did not start off this way. I’m sure that not having anything else to do at max level is a significant element to this.

It is a issue ever since TBC, because of the shift into end-game focus. But until Wrath and Cata, we had the illusion of a big world that would take a while to arrive to endgame, so the game didn’t felt as barren as it feels now outside of raiding.

Basically, all the QoL that “improves” the lives of casual ( and in commas because most of the improvement is just allowing them to also be raiders, which i don’t consider good game design ) are in retail, but the mindset of optimization exists and the ignorance doesn’t exist anymore, which means we can basically perfect the game in hours and days and said games weren’t designed with lateral systems in mind to allow you to play for weeks or months. That’s why Classic finished it’s lifespan as a raidlog game, and TBCC and WrathC will have the same fate. It happens in all Wrath pservers, and it’ll happen in Classic.

Blizzard needs to shift it’s design towards perpetual systems. Do not listen to people saying that “it’s how gamers are nowadays”, because that’s a shallow answer. MMO players are that optimization-focused because the biggest MMO made them focus on that and settled the trend for other MMOs. That mindset is way less present in ESO, where you can literally solo the game with one bar builds and that’s not in any way, shape or form, a problem.

MMO players are as much casual-focused as games can make them be, we changed because we had to, and we can ABSOLUTELY have middlegrounds for games, hence why we’re all hyped for Palia.

Classic’s playerbase is optimized because otherwise there’s nothing the game offers besides bad leveling design.

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Ozzie

“People truly do change based on specific game designs, and it’s evident that the devs introducing certain mechanics or systems to the game greatly influences how players respond and interact with those systems.”

Very well said, and imo describes WoW perfectly. Blizzard, following vanilla and maybe starting with TBC, had continually decided THEY knew how players should be playing. Not the players themselves. And so design decisions were intentionally driven to take tools away from players, or never given to them in the first place. LFG/LFR, reward structures, content, etc. — all intended to funnel players into playing how the devs want you to. Over the course of several expansions, the community is exactly an expression of these decisions. WoW players, or heck even many MMO players and MMO devs, are so indoctrinated into this artificial structure & feedback loop that it’s difficult to even imagine anything else.

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bobfish

I think it is worth noting, that shortly after the launch of WoW, Blizzard explained their design philosophy that runs through all of their games, including the MMO.

Paraphrasing:
“Anyone should be able to pick up and play the game, and through the course of playing the game, the journey they experience through it, should take even the most casual player and turn them into a hardcore player of that game.”

From Warcraft and Diablo, through to WoW and Overwatch, this is how Blizzard makes their games, with the goal being to turn everyone into a fanatic.

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Sarah Cushaway

Too bad their games are so f*cking dull now it doesn’t work anymore.

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Pandalulz

Yes, this exactly happened to me as well. I would’ve quit WoW right about the beginning of TBC as the guild who I been with since AC in 1999 imploded. I happened to find a new large group of IRL friends playing WoW and it renewed my interest until the end of WotLK where it happened ALL OVER AGAIN, and I quit at the beginning of Cataclysm.

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Bruno Brito

Ah, yes. Carbot <3

He's been making Blizzard games content for quite a while. Had an entire story going on for SC2 that just finished.

All that being said, i think players have a misconception of what made these games really good, because a huge part of it was our ignorance towards them. The games were vast because we knew nothing. Blizzard had their philosophy of endgame ever since TBC, and TBC Classic will have the same function as Retail because we as players changed.

WoW will never recover unless it changes from it's foundations up. If you want an MMO that doesn't force you into raiding to be more than a second-class citizen, then play a game that gives you laterality and doesn't force you into becoming a content-locust.

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styopa

That was a poignant video.

People who are seeking to relive their lives and have the ‘new game smell’ from 2005…well, you can’t go back and be the same person you were 17 years ago. Full stop.

I think Classic – despite it being a success – is another lesson not learned for Blizzard. There are lessons in there for developers that want to think about it. I don’t think player-convenience is more important than everything*. I don’t think player numbers (above a certain floor) are everything either.
*to the tourists who want to play 15 mins until the next shiny thing, maybe it is. To the kind of durable player that wants to invest their time, effort, and social interactions into the world to make it meaningful, I don’t think so.

And WoW2 would be no solution, it would just be a shinier version of the retail junk they’re putting out today.

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Bruno Brito

I concur.

I have a pretty radical but relatively concrete view of MMO gamers specifically: We changed because we had to. WoW is the biggest MMO and settled trends for an entire decade. Which means that we became content-locusts and optimization-focused because if that isn’t what we do, WoW doesn’t offer much outside of you finding your own fun, like RP and such. And WoW itself isn’t great at letting you find your own fun. The game is pretty streamlined and always have been since TBC.

Having the veil of ignorance upon us made us think otherwise. Not knowing the beaten path allowed us to get lost in the world. Who the hell gets lost in WoW anymore? The lack of lateral systems makes the world shallow and the character’s life irrelevant. Everyone is a murderhobo. The game offer terrible customization, which is unacceptable by today’s standards.

I agree that WoW 2 wouldn’t solve anything with this specific leadership. The game needs not to go back to WoW roots, but it needs to find MMO roots of customization, fun and non-competitive enviroments. It needs to look sideways. It needs to stop pretending that dungeons and raids in LFR are content, because it isn’t.

WoW can’t design itself based on the veil of ignorance anymore. We optimized the game, we can beat it in hours. It needs infinite systems that makes us WANT to be in Azeroth.

I am a firm believer that casual MMO players are versatile and maleable, and we can go back to more laid-back standards, IF the games allow us to. In this specific scenario, i vouch for ESO allowing you to play literally how you want outside some specific details. As long as WoW is calling the shots, i won’t hold my breath.