Wow, That’s Complicated

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Highfive for the Gnome Mages. I'm leveling one too now.

I found WOW to complex, perhaps it's that i'm used to learning the games I play quite quickly, or that I wasn't doing anything fun for the first 2 hours but I just gave up and left. Thats twice now i've downloaded the trial and gone "ahhhhhh fuck it, time to shoot things"

......You're a gnome mage?

And I was just starting to like you, Shamus.

It has been two years since I last touched WoW, and there is just no way that I would find the time again to play WoW, but damn. I still get enthousiastic and hyped up when I read something like this.



I'm just stating facts here, that is the ONLY way you will get help in WoW.

Obviously the idea of finding a buddy or joining a guild or even pulling up thottbot/wowhead never crossed your mind.

I had NO problems getting help in wow. It may have been becuase I play healer classes, and if you are nice to healers, they will keep you topped off.

Yay, reference to my C++ book!
Anyway, I dont remember having hard time being new in Wow and that was 4-5 years ago. To reach level 60 took me almost a year but it was probably the best part of game when you didnt knew whole game and there was always something new.

thats an amazing coincidence......

thanks shamus, now new MMO companies everywhere will just be throwing things together thinking they are right. Shamus just murdered MMOs for newbies.

Gnome mage?

Well that's another thing I have to add to my Undead Warlock's "What to eat after I kill it, or vice versa" list.

Gnome mage?

Well that's another thing I have to add to my Undead Warlock's "What to eat after I kill it, or vice versa" list.

or a new practice ball for my paladin to use for her gnome punting team

I'm not going to lie, I used to be one of those guys that wouldn't help people because I thought it was so simple. Then after about 2 years of not playing ,I got to see the interface again and I was like "what in fuck was I thinking"

I still don't help people though. I just ignore them, because if I can figure it out, they can.

I second the fact that programming is less complicated than WoW on many levels. At least when I glance at code I can usually get a jist of what's going on pretty quickly. No matter how hard I stare at a WoW screen or video, I cannot figure out exactly what's happening, let alone find the proverbial Waldo that is 'fun'. I think it must be hidden behind the Bejeweled window.

In seriousness, I've never understood how any casuals like this game. They won't touch a modern-day controller and it's "too many buttons", but somehow they get into WoW, which often has about 30-80 buttons on screen at once, plus keyboard commands.

Your reference to EVE in the article made me laugh even though I fell off the learning cliff (not curve) once before I finally figured it out.

As for WoW, I think what they have going for Cataclysm looks good so far in terms of newbie tutorials. IMO, it shouldn't be too easy.

Yay, reference to my C++ book!
Anyway, I dont remember having hard time being new in Wow and that was 4-5 years ago. To reach level 60 took me almost a year but it was probably the best part of game when you didnt knew whole game and there was always something new.

A year? I started out back in 2005 and my warrior wasn't 60 until the realease of the burning crusade, or... 2 weeks after the release that is...

Speaking of tutorials
No, we wore not
Shut up...
You shut up!
Anyways. I'd say throwing people right into the mess would be a good thing. Or, they could been given an option to do so or have the regular start.

If this sounds a bit confusing... it is, just let me tell you.
Let's say for instance: you create you character, right after that a Friendly NPC comes running up to you and asks you if you could help her. You are to follow her so that you get the basic idea of movement. Then she shows you a farm and oh noes! A pig is eating the crops.
Basic mechanics of health and fighting is introduced.
Then she hands you a glass of milk and a cake. BAM, food and healing items are introduced. She then tells you to walk over to the starter zone again just so that you can hand in the quest.
Way points and Quests are introduced. When you get there you'll level up because of the xp given from the quest. The quest giver tells you to learn some abilities at the class trainer.
Voila, training skills is introduced.
You use some of the money given by the quest giver to buy the abilities in question and there is the money and merchant thing completed.

Abd then it goes on like that forever, but when you're done with it you'll instantly go to level 15 and from there on it's random dungeons and happi happi fun fun.

Wow, an MMO that I played for a few months actually did what Shamus just suggested... kinda creepy...

No argument here. I started MMOs with EverQuest, and had a few friends who were already players. So we had the benifit of multiple people banging our head against stuff til we figured it out. Having previos RPG vanilla experience helps some. But that's not something a game designer should be counting on.

The people who ramble on about easymode, and newbs are usually the people who do absolutley nothing of complexity in the MMO without reading up on the strat. Your top guilds and beta players usually do the real experimentation, everyone else reads the strat and practices executing it. That's no diffrent than a tutorial and, aside from the horendous timesink, I think most MMOs fail to provide a compelling experience for two reasons.

Player attitude: I'm a do-nothing nobody in real life, but I'm a rockstar here. I will make sure everyone knows how beneath me they are, and treat every question, even those not directed at me, as an opportunity to belittle somone.

Now this is not the MMO devs fault. But they can, and often do, make it worse by listening to the top 10& of the player base(progression wise) when tweaking/expanding the game.

Secondly, Unintuitive: Now slow down, I don't mean the clicking and pressing number keys for attacks. I mean the underlying system. I've never played WoW but in everquest there is a stat called Armor Class, or AC. Most single player RPGs will have an easy to understand armor system. Essentially for every 1 point of armor you have, x number of damage is mitigated. In everquest the effectiveness of a particular AC value takes hours of parsing log files, and then once you do, you see that what you have is not a linear progression but a damn near undulating curve. Pile on top of that the mystical "softcap". A point where the game mechanics themselves will let you increase the given stat, we'll stay with AC, however you are getting extremely diminished returns. Often this is not even "intentionally" coded into the game, but rather it is a result of odities in the mathmatic functions, given certain values. Even then, with this knowledge I still felt like I was "winging it" on picking an optimal minmax, between AC and my other stats... and lets take notice of the fact that all that, was for just one stat.

Piled on top of that one are so many more... How much cold resist does it take to shrug off the ice dragons AoE? How much will +10 agility increase my avoidance rate? The game will tell you none of this. In order to explain the stats as they are they would have to shatter the hell out of your roleplaying sense and take you where the game really is, spreadsheetland. Parsers and spreadsheets don't sound very adventurous to me. I've done it... I'm obsessive like that, but it doesnt make it good game design. I'd be a bit embarassed to show you the documentation on my PC for my pokemon team, and berry planting sites, and breeding strategy.

Players like me have something wrong with us, I think where i break out of the downward spiral is I have not turned my quirky willingness to accept the need for disecting a game with third party tools(isn't that kinda cheating?) into a fealing of superiority to those who refuse to put up with that shit. What I do circumvents shortcommings of game design, this is not something a game designer should be betting the farm on.

Vitor Goncalves:
A gnome?! Its the second *facepalm* you get from me this week shamus, very very disapointing. God forbid that you pick him for your next Shamus play, you should burn in hell if you do that. :P

OT: It took me 5 months to get to 60 and I did have some problems in the first weeks to play with my paladin. It was back in 2005. And I think I only understood what ranking and healing was like 6 months down the road.

If you can ignore how terrible Gnomes look and sound, they are the best caster race thanks to their int buff.

My biggest difficulty when playing was not knowing about talent trees for individual classes until level 17 on my Paladin, I figured it out one day when I decided to check out all of the in game menus. I felt stupid, but justified because I literally had not read anything about the game, and had never asked for help. To this day I stil have never had to ask for help with game terminology or technical stuff.

Usually all I ever needed help with were tough group quests, because I never needed help finding things (mostly luck, most "hard to find" locations just seem to fall right into my lap), however once Wrath came out and DK's were released I didn't even need help anymore, it's kinda sad when a single class can solo a yellow 5 man quest with sub par gear (and this was AFTER DK's were apparently nerfed).

I never had a problem with the terminology in the game, that's what Google is for, what what made me avoid the game was in the 4 hours that I played every single mission I did was some form of go here kill a number of things and bring back a certain amount of innards, I know later quests might be more fun or whatever, but boring newcomers to death with fetch quests was not a good way to sway me to pay 15 bucks a month.

WoW is retardedly simple, and easy. Hell my 10 year old sister got to level 15 before she even figured out how to get new skills, and was even participating in battlegrounds before said skill gains were made. If I was ever going to point out an MMO for being of high difficulty it would be Anarchy Online, where twinking is practically required, and not that simple a task even after you learn how to do it. I once tried explaining tradeskills to my friend and he just quit lol.

"That space flying game that shall not be mentioned" shouldn't be mentioned in polite conversation, especially not as a reference for a newb hostile game. It's more of an all around player hostile, moneysink(not a timesink because you don't have to actually play it to get better so I guess in a way it does have that over other MMOs.)

I've been running a guild for over 4 years now, and our primary motive is to be a friendly place for newbies to learn the game, and ask questions. Sure, we lose a lot of people when they hit the level cap, as we can't do all this and offer raiding.

However, apart from the epeen strokers who go 'lol nubs you can't even do naxx lolz', to which I think 'lol you can't even communicate normally with another player any more', most guilds appreciate that we're helping to churn out decent players who are, in the main, honest, and understanding of their role in a group, with a sense of fair play.

It's got to the point where we can have a huge guild bank packed with stuff, and only a tiny minority take advantage of the generousity, most people both taking and donating things to help others, understanding the point of a guild bank.

I sense we're gonna be flooded with tiny goblins come cataclysm, but it's gonna be fun all the same!

I've been in the beta and I do think the tutorial is going to help a lot with basic questions, and I think it's all well designed, as I've had two friends try the trial about a year ago and both quit before level 10, not getting the hang of it. Hopefully the tutorial would make the learning curve a little easier.

haha loved it mate

frost ftw!

I've had the idea that a game like WoW would benefit from having something in the game like the civlopedia from the Civilization series. There's so much information about the characters and storys that you can't really find in game. Blizz could literally start copying Wowiki articles and putting them into one place in game so people could see them.


Gnome mage?

Well that's another thing I have to add to my Undead Warlock's "What to eat after I kill it, or vice versa" list.

or a new practice ball for my paladin to use for her gnome punting team

As Hordie4lyfe since closed beta, I heartily endorse these messages!

OT: Nice article; particularly in the sense that it provides a changeup from the usual articles we've been seeing for the past six months, about how Blizzard is 'dumbing down' everything and 'making the game for casuals'.

Look, I hate to be a pill to all the haters out there on this thread, but the truth is in the pudding. WoW wouldn't have 11 million subscribers if Blizzard wasn't doing something right!

Oh, and one other thing:


WoW destroyed a perfectly good summer for me. Its to addicting even though its harder to figure out the terminology. Because once you ask some one what a certain phrase means you just get the shit flamed out of you. Its easier to just go buy Rosetta stone and learn a new language then figure out what everything in WoW means.

Then only way to get help in World of Warcraft is too create a level 1 Night Elf female, or blood elf, depending on faction. Take your clothes off, dance, and then ask questions. You will then have your questions answered and loads of gold. If you happend to buy just the game without the expansions, don't expect any help if you choose Horde. Since you don't have the blood elf, and the other races are not as appealing to the drooling masses, just fyi.

PS: Play female and act like one, you will get loads of free stuff and your entire gameplay experience will be better...and maybe a little more akward.

Really? That's strange: there is actually a person who is sitting behind me who plays a female Undead Priest, is widely considered the best Disc priest on Dragonmaw, has several other toons, and who has never accepted loot and/or assistance based upon her gender (IRL or in game).

The point is, you're generalizing, and you sound silly. Yes, 'loot whores' exist, but at the same time, don't act like that's the only way to get ahead in WoW, because if you play the game, you know it's not.

I've never played WOW, or D&D online, mainly because I prefer to go it alone in games (Anti-social I But I figure it can't hurt to have some guidance. Even if it is unwieldy, it's better than asking a question and getting flamed for it. My opinion, that's all.

WoW might be confusing if you never played a video game or never played an RPG (modern definition of having leveling system)before but it ramps up REALLY slowly. You start with "autoattack" and one or two abilities, gaining a new one every other level for a good long time.

Most of the other stuff mentionned in the article is entirely optional to the gaming experience of "get quest, kill stuff, turn in and get reward". Sure playing that way isn't "optimal" but it will still get going. As an example from way back in the day, an enchanter was able to craft the best wand you were going to find for a low level priest or warlock. Without this crafted wand you leveled about 1/3 the speed.

But it is still possible to level. And despite some tools there are helpful people in regular chat. Also zerg guilds are always recruiting, so if a noob mage asks "how can i rengen mana faster" someone will point him to water vendors. In even a complicated multiplayer game is you don't need a detailed tutorial to learn, you have other players as a resource.

You can't even get to your first grouping instance for till level 13? 18? (not sure what level ragefire chasm and deadmines are) The instances are the real trial by fire where you learn the actual "skills" to play the game of pulling, tanking, patrol routes, aggro management, etc etc etc. All of these skills are honed later on and really one or two good players can carry mediocre groups through most "normal" instances.

First of all, I understand MMOs pretty well and I don't even play them.If your actually playing the game with a tutorial in front of you I don't know how it could be that difficult, but maybe i'm missing something.

Level zero areas that slowly add each part of the interface on over time? The ability to SKIP said areas when vets make new characters? You mean like...Guild Wars?

Honestly, I don't think I agreed with anything here.

MMO's being difficult to learn? There is nothing simpler than clicking on something on a screen with a mouse (everyone who uses a PC does this) and then either clicking a colored icon or pressing the numbers 1, 2, and 3.

The only game type that's easier to learn than the MMO would be the FPS. Even some casual games have a bigger learning curve than the modern MMO.


A joke anyone? No? Never seen a joke? Ah, explains a lot.. I mean, I said it was "the ONLY way".. kinda hard NOT to see what I was doing there, but I guess you didn't understand it.

Yeah, ragging on noobs is bs. I've never understood it and never will.

And to all those above, yes I do also believe its easier to learn a programming language than it is to fully get to grips with the intricacies of some games. Though I wouldn't choose C++ initially, maybe something more entry-level friendly like Delphi.

Note that he's talking about all those terms here, not just equip a few items and click a few enemies to death. Actually understanding how (at least part of) the numbers work, how tactics are constructed and such. I think we gamers really underestimate the difficulty level of what we do. Have you ever on non-gamer behind your screen and said: 'have a go'? I can tell you, it's not pretty. We have umpteen years of preparation under our belt when it comes to the conventions of gaming, to a load of people out there it might as well be witchcraft.

Heck, watching a friend of mine (with over twenty years of pc-gaming under his belt) trying to get to grips with a PS2 controller caused me to have no end of pity for him and we don't even think about stuff like that anymore. Then again the first time he showed me EQ back in the day I could feel my head spinning with the madness going on on screen.

Right after the noobs bit you threw up a term thats been bugging me no end by the way. Calling the game part of a game 'content'. Can we make this hobby of ours, which is playing games mind you, sound any more dull than by using a word like content to describe it? Its a term that should've stayed on the developer's side, or even better, never have left the boardroom offices of the guys who plan a game's development.

Its been nice knowing yah Shamus. see you when you get hungry or run out of money :(

lost another one to WoW. CURSE YOU WOW! CURSE YOU!



A joke anyone? No? Never seen a joke? Ah, explains a lot.. I mean, I said it was "the ONLY way".. kinda hard NOT to see what I was doing there, but I guess you didn't understand it.

Yes, yes: because sarcasm is always so obvious on the Internet... like... 'gg, nub.'

I have to say that i completely agree.. there is nothing more annoying than looking at the bottom of your screen and seeing a queue of 7 question marks, with information covering everything from moving with WASD to looting corpses.

I think the first sign of good interface design is when the player doesnt need text based prompting.. when hovering over a glittering corpse yeilds a very obvious bag icon, and when the icon which is supposed to bring up a map when clicked on actually looks like a map.

More basic things; like learning that right clicking tends to activate functions, whereas left clicking is just the selection tool, could perhaps benefit from reinforcement in a text based "tip box". But aside from this there is very little that the new player really needs to be made explicitly aware of at the beginning of an mmo, which usually twenty minutes and a well designed visual interface would sort out no trouble.


Sorry for the double post, but i actually really like this point. Thanks for bringing it up. And i completely agree once again.. there were bits of WoW that i still dont understand, things like resistances armour rating, parry rating... so many numbers! It just goes to show that you can still have an enjoyable experience with a game you may not even fully understand, so long as the very basics are being made clear. You dont have to cram absolutely everything into the mouth of a new player - a few camera controls maybe and a couple of instructive starting quests. That should be all that's necessary.

I love the ZP reference

Shamus, did you seriously just link to a pirated book? For all the fuss you usually make about copyright and piracy, I'm amazed.

At the same time, that exact link was how I first learned C++. And now I'm a programmer. I guess it goes to show that, for whatever the publisher might lose by not getting his $60, society can reap a much larger benefit.

Oh yes, and have fun with WoW. I gave up that boring addiction years ago. But I agree, there's a helluva lot more to learn in a game like WoW than in, say, Gears of War. Playing to level 80 is about as hardcore as a game gets (especially considering it's mostly a pointless grind).

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