MMO Theorycrafting WoW - General 7 Comments

The Joys of Not Knowing Everything

As I mentioned before I haven’t really been following all the Warlords of Draenor alpha stuff but just based off my Twitter feed and a few blogs the information has been flowing fast and furious, to the point where someone even set up a simulated server with the alpha client so they could take in-game screenshots.


WoW has had a tradition of providing almost complete access to data from the moment it launched, and to a degree that was unheard of in previous MMOs. And while I appreciate that folks are excited for new information and guide writers and theorycrafters love these heady few months, I can’t help but feel that all this transparency is a curse more than a blessing.

One of the things that many folks, myself included, enjoy(ed) about MMOs is the feeling of a virtual world. And clearly there are relative levels of immersion — I’m fine with achievements in my virutal world, for example, while Syl thinks they detract from her experience (which is totally valid). But man, it is hard to keep any sense of wonder when you already know everything, from where to find certain critters to how to quickly gain reputation to exactly how much damage you do with each hit.

I think we got to this point with the best of intentions. Blizzard was (and probably still is?) full of nerds, and as a fellow nerd I can appreciate a love of numbers, systems, and transparency. The unprecedented access to information thanks to LUA and add-ons is an extremely cool concept, but one that has also helped to break down the perception of MMOs from virtual worlds to a series of systems even faster than usual.

And really, a lot of the current MMO “elitism” between players can be traced back to this abundance of information. After all, when it’s possible to Google a bit to find the math for an optimum rotation, or just Ask Mister Robot to tell you what gear you should be wearing, why shouldn’t we expect Joe Random in our LFRs to meet a high standard of performance? Look it up, man, and stop being a bad.

I don’t blame people for being starved for content in a pre-expansion drought, and this is probably just my new filthy casual attitude talking, but it’s nice to not know everything in a game. Online resources are inevitable, but I kind of miss the days when things were crowd-sourced from players and not just mined dry out of a binary months before a game even launches.

It you have felt a bit of the magic wear off MMOs lately, I encourage you to just play the game, discover things, and enjoy the newness. Thanks to the leisurely expansion schedule of Blizzard and other developers (seriously, this always happens) we will have pleeeeeenty of time to explore and catalog every last inch of every last feature.

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  • Reply
    Craig 'Scree' Schupp (@TheScree)
    April 8, 2014 at 11:29 am

    Surprisingly, I found the best part of WoW to be its add-on and LUA systems. I had this one girl who raided with her husband, and she wasn’t particularly good at healing (I was the healing officer). I was going to kick her out of the guild altogether, but it was complicated by the fact that her husband was an amazing mage and our DPS officer refused to lose him.

    So what was I to do? Well I asked her a bunch of questions as to how she heals. Took about 20 minutes to sit down with her husband (who understood how she healed better then she did) and we designed an interface that would help her heal at our caliber of play (this was Burning Crusade-> Serpentshrine Cavern).

    Grid + Clique and what do you know… after ten minutes of practicing before the next raid she ends up out-healing some of the healers.

    To some, my number crunching might have been annoying or even soul crushing had we kicked her out of the guild. To her, the time I took was enough to renew her interest and passion for healing in the game. Still, I digress and largely agree; The transparency with which Blizzard approaches this game has likely scared away more then extended a feeling of inclusion…
    Craig ‘Scree’ Schupp (@TheScree)´s last post: Elder Scrolls Online: The Shame of Liking a Themepark

  • Reply
    Wilhelm Arcturus
    April 8, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    This is why I enjoy playing with a regular group. I feel compelled to not let people down in a group of strangers, but in our little group we’re free to go into instances without looking everything up in advance so we can actually explore/discover/enjoy the content… and fail at it… rather than race through, which tends to be the default mode for random groups.

    I also tend to take a “must avert my eyes” approach to expansions and such. Going into something new with a fresh point of view often leads to the best experience. I can always look stuff up later if needs be.
    Wilhelm Arcturus´s last post: EVE Online – CSM9 Voting Begins

  • Reply
    April 8, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    I agree. While I did value these elements in World of Warcraft at times, I do feel like they’ve irreparably harmed the genre going forward. It’s one thing to have a balanced game, but it’s another thing altogether to have one balanced along so fine a scale that is always visible to your players.

    How many buffs and nerfs have been made because players are so quick to calculate the smallest differences in ‘being optimal’? That wasn’t as big a problem in past MMOs and it is harder to calculate in other games as well. I don’t mind gamifying these statistics – DPS meters should be a part of the genre moving forward. However, making them 110% accurate to the fourth decimal point and leaving so much knowledge in the hands of the community seems like a huge misstep.

    To a certain extent, I need mystery in my MMO. When I know everything then the monotony of doing the same repetitious activities that are core the experience become even more apparently monotonous. When that happens, if I continue playing, it’s to gamify those fringe elements myself. It no longer becomes a game of completing a dungeon or raid, but a game of doing so with me at the top of the charts.

    I think that’s a problem.
    Murf´s last post: Complexity and Depth, or Why WoW Devs are Axing Abilities | Gamer By Design

  • Reply
    April 8, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    I agree with Murf that this does tend to have a bad effect on the game. Game design does often benefit from hidden information, and overbalancing is not only a Quixotic time sink but also a red herring. Imbalances are fun, so long as they aren’t absurdly overwhelming.

    That said, I’m OK with the hardcore guys going ahead and blazing through the content. They aren’t in the way when I get around to meandering around.
    Tesh´s last post: Tinker Oddments

  • Reply
    April 8, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    I read every bit of propaganda regarding Pandaria and decided that I’d see the pandas and bail. Go figure, I actually liked it. Priests have three viable, fun specs. I’ll skip the reading this time around.

  • Reply
    April 8, 2014 at 6:19 pm

    I agree with you from a content standpoint.

    But from a mechanics point-of-view, this is the time when things can be changed. I think it’s important for as many eyes to look at mechanics changes so that we can point out problems or issues that Blizzard may have overlooked.
    RohanV´s last post: Draenor Perks

  • Reply
    Weekly Encore: #Blaugust IV Edition | Murf Versus
    August 23, 2014 at 11:05 pm

    […] enjoyed Liore’s “The Joys of Not Knowing Everything”, though it is a complicated issue. Some of my greatest moments in World of Warcraft were DPS racing […]

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