Sunday, May 24, 2015

No Flying in Warlords Entire

Blizzard confirmed that there will be no flying in WoD for the entirety of the expansion.

As I said in the discussion of the subscription drop, we can infer what Blizzard's numbers are telling them by their subsequent actions. This is a clear signal that Blizzard thinks that people will not unsubscribe because of the lack of flight. That they believe the expansion is stronger and more attractive without flight, and that their internal numbers are backing that view.
That in turn implies that for most people, lack of flight is not a deal-breaker. 

Personally, as I've mentioned before, I don't think flight has been good for the game. In fact, going over my older posts, I found this post from The Burning Crusade, about two weeks after I hit 70 and got my flying mount. It's kind of amusing to look back at it now, as it nailed the play-style changes and some concerns for future development:
Now with a flying mount, [questing is] very different. 
Step 1: Aerial Recon - Scout out the location and find the quest mob.
Step 2: Paradrop in - Hover directly above the quest mob and dismount so you fall to the ground right there.
Step 3: Kill the target, get the quest item.
Step 4: Jump out - mount up and take off.
Very commando-style gameplay. It's interesting because there are a lot of design implications for this playstyle. 
All in all, I think it would have been better if flight had never been added or if it had been designed differently.

For example, imagine if you could not hover. If your mount was limited to the ground until you had moved forward for X seconds in a straight line (getting X momentum) and only then could you take off. And then your mount was always moving forward, so you could not hover in place, but had to circle around.

Basically make the true commando-style gameplay inconvenient, but still allow flight for travelling long distances and generally allowing freedom in the air.

All in all, the only real surprise in Blizzard disallowing flight for the full expansion is that it once again proves they are willing to cut significant existing mechanics if they feel it is damaging the game. Flight, reforging, and even the auction house in D3 are all examples.


  1. Simple question: can you tell me one moment in the expansion/leveling where traveling on the ground posed a significant obstacle? And I mean REAL obstacle, not negotiating the half-assed walkmaps and terrain interaction.
    Because for me, even when leveling a reroll, it was more or less roflstomp time.... mobs have been trivialized to the point that avoiding aggro is more or less irrelevant.
    At level cap it's even worse: your power goes up as you gear, but outside mobs remain the same.... savage blood elite farming was dangerous upon reaching 100, but as soon as you set foot into raids, those elite mobs become roflstomp time as well.
    And in the meantime they added no reason at all to be on the ground, nor any activity which requires you to travel on the ground.
    I find that the Pandaria solution of fliying only at max level was the best one.

  2. I mentioned this on Kurn's blogpost on this issue: I feel that flying is ingrained in WoW, and removing it will damage the brand.

    That's not to say that they shouldn't have gotten rid of flying --I'm still thinking about the pros and cons of it-- but that WoW is so associated with flying that I still hear people occasionally bitch about the lack of flying (or its perks) in non-WoW games.

    If people can't disassociate WoW from flying (or Trade Chat or raiding), then that means flying has moved from a cool feature to an integral part of them game.

    Flying has been a part of WoW since BC, and that's about 8 years. The majority of MMOs currently on the market haven't been around that long (just an observation without any real data). While I don't think flying is that critical, but the design decision to remove flying is just one more item on the "unsubscribe" pile for people.

    What I think is more important is the design decision to remove the significant story aspects of the game from the game itself and into novels. When keeping up with the game requires more than subscription money, you've lost sight of the game itself.

  3. The right design at the time would have been an "on demand Taxi" type, where you can take off from anywhere, but you have to land at a designated taxi point.

    From there, you make taxi points that are flight only (the normal taxis don't go there) and place them at logical places like dungeon entrances, but you eliminate the paradrop -- both on mobs and on players in PVP.

  4. As I speculate on my own post on the subject, their decision-making is most likely related to cutting future expansion costs than believing it to be a stronger design. Draenor was clearly designed to be flyable, as all terrain is fully rendered. In the next no-flight-from-the-start expansion, Blizzard can pull a Silvermoon City and only actually render the space where players can walk, and skybox the rest. The zone will look just as big, but be half the size.

    All the "problems" with flight are specious non-issues that can be eliminated by quest design. "Commando quests," for example, are terrible quests with or without flying, as it encourages you to not interact with all the surrounding mobs. If you had to kill the named mob and 15 other nearby mobs, your flying mount would do nothing to "trivialize" the quest.

    In any case, it's a bit too early to draw any conclusions based on what Blizzard is doing in response to the feedback. The interviews came out on Friday right before the holiday. 6.2 will likely arrive right before the FF14 expansion which, incidentally, is introducing flying mounts. It took Blizzard two weeks to pull a 180 on Cataclysm's dungeon difficulty. I'm inclined to give them at least that long.

  5. This reminds me a bit of LOTRO. It doesn't have flying mounts, but the introduction of warsteeds (going a *lot* faster than the usual steeds) does influence the way I quest as well. In a positive way, in this case, though. And because the warsteeds are not very agile, the normal steeds are still viable for riding around in towns (you get stuck everywhere if you try that on a warsteed).

  6. Helistar - "can you tell me one moment in the expansion/leveling where traveling on the ground posed a significant obstacle?"

    Go try and run Blade's Edge Mountains in Outland without a flying mount at level (i.e. 68). I am not sure how we actually managed it back in the day.

  7. I am not sure how we actually managed it back in the day.

    You actually had to learn skills (marginal, but at least some) to get to that level in the first place. Now all you need to know is how to type your password.

  8. I weep for the people who actually farm stuff now. It's frustrating enough when flying circles, much worse when being on a slower ground mount.

    Now if they adopted GW2's model that everyone can take the node every x minutes and you're not fighting other players from your faction - it wouldn't be so bad.

  9. Blizzard tried to make this expansion more hardcore than the previous two and this is the main reason why the cut off the flying. That how they make everything harder, questing, farming and leveling in general. I think that it was a very good move and people are upset only because they can't use their shiny(in many cases rare) flying mounts. Only my opinion :)