Tuesday, June 2, 2009

CC: Ulduar Drake = Carrot on a Stick

The news about the proto drakes of Ulduar being taken out by next patch is still hanging heavily over my head. I guess I really thought that my group had a chance this time. That if we worked really hard that we could do it.

It got me thinking about how silly the system that Blizz is currently using really is though. With these proto drakes they are catering only to the whining of the high end guilds. That everything is too easy, and that content should be harder.

Well, those high end guilds were right, content was too easy. But, it now feels as if content is at the correct level of difficulty, only Blizzard hasn't switched their thought process yet.
Marketing Driven Drakes.
When Blizzard created Ulduar they created a whole new tier of loot with it. They also decided that there should be normal modes, and hard modes for a lot of bosses. On top of that a whole new pile of achievements came along.

From a marketing point of view they must have created all this to keep their subscribers happy, because happy subscribers mean people who play, and keep playing.

Achievements seem to have been created for one reason only. The designers simply cannot catch up with those who finish the content fastest. So instead of having to do the same content over and over, which would get a lot of high end guilds pretty bored, pretty quick, they gave them a goal in the game. An extra reward they could earn next to the glory of being the first to conquer the content. They created achievements, and hard modes.

This was all a great idea, until they decided that they should do something special for those who did manage to get through this really hard content they designed. And they decided to make something special for it. So the 310% mount came into being.

Then they realized...wait, if we just leave the mount in, it won't be too long or the mount won't be special at all anymore, and we'll have whining people on our hands again that they still cannot have anything special.

To counter this they decided that the mounts should be taken out by the time it would get "too easy" to get the drakes. Blizzard figured that this would be by the time that guilds would be in fully geared in the next tier of gear.

So when Ulduar came, the Naxx drakes were taken out, and they've planned to do the same with the Ulduar drakes ones the Collosseum comes. And unless they come to see that instead of keeping them players, this will cost them players, they will do the same with the rewards that people can earn with the next tier. I mean...it's been going well so far, why change, right?

Wrong. When they keep dangling bones in front of people and then pull it away again people will give up. There's no fun in working your but off and then being told that the promised reward is not being given out today. But hey, if you work really hard next time, you have another chance.

Imagine This....
Imagine being in a job. You love this job, you are incredibly happy with this job. And then one day your manager comes to you and asks you and your team to organize something massive. Something bigger than you have done so far within your job. He gives you the exact demands of the project and tells you that if you manage to fulfill every demand perfectly, you and your team will get a nice bonus at the end.

So you start working your butt off. You get all the preparation done. Get your team organized, and start working on this massive project he asked you to do. And you know what? It's going really well! Your team is managing progress, and you can really see the project take shape.

Everybody is working really hard, and you've already planned some extra studies for some members of your team so you can deliver to all the demands,. But nobody minds, because they can all see the bonus at the end of the project.

But wait. One day, your manager knocks on your door and tells you that you and him (or her) should have a little chat. He tells you that main management has given directions that the project should be finished within the next month. You feel the blood drain from your face; you know that there is just no way you can make it before that time.

The manager goes on to comfort you that it's ok to finish the project later, but the bonus is then out of the question of course. He gives you a friendly pat on the back and leaves the office, smilingly saying that he's still full of confidence that you can finish the project with the tools given to you.

The door slams shut, and here you are, sitting on your chair with his words still echoing in your head. No bonus. You worked your butt off to get that bonus. You told your family that you would all go on a nice vacation once the project was finished. You told your team that if they would all work really hard they too would get their bonusses.

After an hour of pacing around your desk, you step out of your office and call the team together. You have made the calculations there is just no way that you can get the project done on time, but damn if you wouldn't try your hardest to at least finish the project and make it a success.

Bonus date passes.
Your entire team comes in slightly depressed on due date, but you give them a peptalk and tell them that the next project they would definitely be able to make it within the set time, and that you are proud of them for doing such an amazing job. The team feels slightly better, and you keep working on the project. You all love your job and next time you would just work slightly harder to keep that bonus in the pocket.

You sit in your office again one day. The project is about 70% finished, and your puzzling over some of the final demands to finish the project. When you hear the familiar tap on the door.

Your manager steps in and jovially asks if you two can have a chat. There's this big project coming up, and he wants you to lead it. The only small little thing is that the management expected you to have finished the last project already, so the next project was set up with that assumption. A lot of the new project's parts are even depending on having finished large parts of the first project.

But as your manager continues, if all the demands of the new project are met, there's a big bonus waiting at the end...

The Moral.
I'm not a professional writer, but I did my best with the story. I hope I at least managed to give you the right feeling. I do have a couple of questions to ask you now though...

Did you notice how the manager never gave a time limit in the first place?

The team and team leader never knew how much time they had before they started the project. It was even suggested that as long as the project was fully succesful and the team lived up to the demands that time wasn't an issue.

How motivated would you be to put yourself and your team out there again?

I can tell you that most teams would be way less motivated. And even if you would get them to work on the second project. And they would work really hard. Do you really feel they would go for it a third time? Or a fourth time?

Empty Office.
I can tell you where the company of my story is going to end up.

At the employment agency looking for new people. They set the bar too high for their employees. And no matter how much these people loved their jobs, being placed for tasks that are just out of your reach every single time is simply demotivating. So in the end most employees simply decided that they didn't want to work for a company like this anymore.

Makes me wonder where Blizzard is going to end with their drakes...


  1. Aenur of HydraxisJune 3, 2009 at 3:23 AM

    I've been resentful towards Blizzard's attitude on casual raiders since they took away the Naxx's drake. Your article describes exactly that - they're making these achievement mounts only for those 'hardcore' enough to do it within the set time.

    Not all of us can finish hard-mode Ulduar one week after it's released. We have commitments IRL, we can't hang at the comp a straight 5 hours a day raiding. And because of that, Blizzard deems us unworthy of having such rewards?

    Why not put up a big billboard that says, "Only the first 10 hard-mode Ulduar clear shall get the drake, the rest of you can sit on the sidelines." :(

  2. I don't think it's entirely like that. Blizzard does cheer us on from the sideline, and really wants other people to get those drakes this time. It's just not realistic.

    And in the long run it won't motivate their players.

    What I found worst this time around is that hard modes were easier in the beginning. And that they made them harder.

  3. I too feel that they have set up a deadline to pull the drakes much, much too soon. I figured we would have a fair shot at them this time around, knowing and planning for them. (really from naxx the only things we are missing are Sarth+3 and a 6 minute maly. The rest we obtained easy enough, including undying).

    And the real kick in the ass is that I can see our progress and improvement each week as we gain more and more gear. The raiders getting their 10man ulduar drakes are doing it with 25 man gear, which we are not. So naturally it takes a true 10man raider a much longer period of time in which to complete the hardmode acheivements.

    And i want that ^@$%ing drake >:o

  4. If all the HC raiders have the 310% drake, what new toy will they need to show off? A 350% frostwyrm? A 400% Lightning Bolt? A personal Airship with vendors?
    If the next mount isn't more "l33t", then the HC raiders will cry that there are no good rewards. But, if a faster mount does come out with the next dungeon, what is the harm in letting us have a shot at the 310?

    Recent blog post: We were n00bs once… and young