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Old 05-26-2015, 07:37 AM
MisterCrow MisterCrow is offline

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Default Deconstructing the Expansion Model

The concern that kicked off in another thread had to do with how WoW's expansion model has essentially created a circumstance where WoW doesn't tell a cohesive story, and instead tells self-contained stories in pocket universes that often don't connect with each other in any meaningful way. This impacts everything from how menacing the villains are to the general way in which WoW tells its story and how the world itself expands over time.

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Old 05-26-2015, 07:51 AM
Mutterscrawl Mutterscrawl is offline

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I think that's nonsense whipped up to excuse lazy writing.

Expansions can and should lead into each other organically.
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Old 05-26-2015, 07:53 AM
Icefrost Icefrost is offline

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Sounds like an idea that, at least in part, contradicts what people see as a constant one-upping of previous villains, resulting in a pretty linear power progression in both villains and heroes, reminiscent of a certain popular anime.
Someone somewhere has to be considering past events and their impact for that to happen when new stuff is written.
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Old 05-26-2015, 08:01 AM
MisterCrow MisterCrow is offline

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The problem with looking at Classic WoW is that you have to take factors aside from story development into consideration. Classic WoW had a ton of patches because Blizzard's development pipeline for the game was waaaaay behind the scope of the game at release, aside from being behind what the suddenly burgeoning playerbase wanted from the game. So there were frequent patches to add in dungeons that simply weren't complete when the game shipped (Dire Maul and Maraudon) as well as patches to add in content that they didn't even know they needed at launch (instanced battlegrounds) and content that got re-purposed from what was originally intended (Zul'Gurub was meant to be a max-level questing zone but was turned into a raid instead).

I think there's value in pointing out that Classic didn't have a single core narrative, but instead presented a wide spread of different conflicts for the Horde and Alliance to square off against; the Old Gods, the Black Dragonflight, crazy trolls, the Scourge, as well as limited bouts with Legion holdouts like Balnazzar in Stratholme. But that also created a scenario where the stories largely existed only within the raids themselves, and only rarely did you have support from anything outside the raid: Naxxramas and the Ahn'Qiraj raids are notable exceptions since they played off world event AND a revamp of questing in the Plaguelands/Silithus to support the launch of the raids and provide content for more than just the raiding elite who could actually get into the place. (But those both had their own issues in implementation as well.)

The advantage, then, of the expansion model was that players would experience stories through questing and then be encouraged to form raids in order to get the conclusion of the story. That's universally how it's worked since then, with Blizzard making raiding more and more accessible so that players could see the end of the story with less of the logistical headaches of actually organizing a raid.

And that's not getting into why the expansion model makes more sense from a financial perspective.
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Old 05-26-2015, 02:08 PM
Siegrune Siegrune is offline

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Originally Posted by MisterCrow View Post
The advantage, then, of the expansion model was that players would experience stories through questing and then be encouraged to form raids in order to get the conclusion of the story. That's universally how it's worked since then, with Blizzard making raiding more and more accessible so that players could see the end of the story with less of the logistical headaches of actually organizing a raid.
While I have already voiced my dislike of the expansion model, I would like to admit that there's some value in having a big story. I've never even seen Kil'jaeden myself, for instance, but just watching SK Gaming vs. Kil'jaeden (
) feels really epic, even though the whole Sunwell scenario is incredibly badly written. You still get the feeling that the fate of the world turns around this fight, and I think that's cool to have once in a while.

So I'm not entirely opposed to a big story with a big boss. The problem is that when fights on which the doom of the planet hangs on become routine (Algalon, Yogg-Saron, Lich King, Deathwing and so forth...), it just feels unrealistic and cheesy; and when you win every time the supposedly world-devouring threats no longer seem dangerous.

One thing I'd like to add at this point is that even the individual zones, not just the overall layout, was a lot more organic in Classic. It felt like the world was already there, and then gameplay was superimposed, so that you were really exploring something out there that existed independently of your needs. Whereas in BC (which is the only expansion I've played; but I can only imagine it has gotten worse) the zones tend to be designed for convenience, with the Alliance and Horde settlements largely being symmetric. Classic had some inequality: the Horde could get to Onyxia and AQ much more easily, while the Alliance lived right next to MC and BWL; but these were the kind of things that made your faction actually matter, beyond racials (and of course there's the whole Paladin and Shaman thing...).

Of course, this thread is about discussing the expansion model, not about why Classic was better, but basically I would have preferred them to literally expand on what Classic had; adding new content while keeping the old content (even max level content) largely relevant. Maybe even keeping the max level constant at 60. The way they have actually done things, each expansion is like a new game that is tacked on one another. It's as if, in TFT, the RoC units became entirely irrelevant, and even though you are technically playing something which includes all the RoC content, you only actually fight with Destroyers and Spell Breakers. It just changes the game from one thing to another, doesn't really expand it.

Last edited by Siegrune; 05-26-2015 at 02:20 PM..
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Old 05-26-2015, 03:30 PM
MisterCrow MisterCrow is offline

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Originally Posted by Siegrune View Post
While I have already voiced my dislike of the expansion model, I would like to admit that there's some value in having a big story. I've never even seen Kil'jaeden myself, for instance, but just watching SK Gaming vs. Kil'jaeden (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zY3KVfovgaA) feels really epic, even though the whole Sunwell scenario is incredibly badly written. You still get the feeling that the fate of the world turns around this fight, and I think that's cool to have once in a while.

So I'm not entirely opposed to a big story with a big boss. The problem is that when fights on which the doom of the planet hangs on become routine (Algalon, Yogg-Saron, Lich King, Deathwing and so forth...), it just feels unrealistic and cheesy; and when you win every time the supposedly world-devouring threats no longer seem dangerous.

One thing I'd like to add at this point is that even the individual zones, not just the overall layout, was a lot more organic in Classic. It felt like the world was already there, and then gameplay was superimposed, so that you were really exploring something out there that existed independently of your needs. Whereas in BC (which is the only expansion I've played; but I can only imagine it has gotten worse) the zones tend to be designed for convenience, with the Alliance and Horde settlements largely being symmetric. Classic had some inequality: the Horde could get to Onyxia and AQ much more easily, while the Alliance lived right next to MC and BWL; but these were the kind of things that made your faction actually matter, beyond racials (and of course there's the whole Paladin and Shaman thing...).

Of course, this thread is about discussing the expansion model, not about why Classic was better, but basically I would have preferred them to literally expand on what Classic had; adding new content while keeping the old content (even max level content) largely relevant. Maybe even keeping the max level constant at 60. The way they have actually done things, each expansion is like a new game that is tacked on one another. It's as if, in TFT, the RoC units became entirely irrelevant, and even though you are technically playing something which includes all the RoC content, you only actually fight with Destroyers and Spell Breakers. It just changes the game from one thing to another, doesn't really expand it.
I think the problem with that particular concept (keeping the max level at 60) is that it presents a problem of where the new content goes. If you makes that content accessible to lower-level characters, than all of the players sitting capped at 60 are able to steamroll through it without any sense of challenge. If you put that content AT 60 like a new max-level zone and tiers of raiding, then you have to be concerned about whether or not the existing level 60 content is a prerequisite for the new content.

And there's also the sense of character power increasing in the new content. Could Blizzard have adopted an alternate advancement method for increasing character power rather than new experience levels? Sure. But the more classical D&D mentality promotes the idea that a higher level definitely means a more powerful character, and players want that sense of advancement.
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Old 05-26-2015, 03:49 PM
Siegrune Siegrune is offline

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I think the problem with that particular concept (keeping the max level at 60) is that it presents a problem of where the new content goes. If you makes that content accessible to lower-level characters, than all of the players sitting capped at 60 are able to steamroll through it without any sense of challenge. If you put that content AT 60 like a new max-level zone and tiers of raiding, then you have to be concerned about whether or not the existing level 60 content is a prerequisite for the new content.

And there's also the sense of character power increasing in the new content. Could Blizzard have adopted an alternate advancement method for increasing character power rather than new experience levels? Sure. But the more classical D&D mentality promotes the idea that a higher level definitely means a more powerful character, and players want that sense of advancement.
Classic WoW already had an alternative advancement method: BoP gear. Because good gear was mostly BoP, you couldn't simply buy them, but had to actually do the content, and was almost as much a part of your character as your abilities and talents.

If I had it my way, I'd have them add content at multiple levels, with some new content, at the highest level, requiring or at least encouraging players to go through high-end old content; or providing alternatives, say a new 5-man that you can do to meet the requirements that would otherwise need to be met by clearing AQ40, but without making them any easier than the other way, so that it becomes a matter of preference whether you do it one way or another. They could still nerf old raids so that they're not as hard as when the world-firsters cleared them.


I can also imagine some elaborate questlines whose completion would lead you to learning a powerful new ability, even if your level is the same.

But keeping the level cap isn't really something necessary in itself. I just would have liked each expansion to keep old content relevant, and also connect to each other organically story-wise. The level cap was just one idea, one that seemed natural in WoW since so much of WoW is really about max-level content anyway.
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Old 05-26-2015, 04:17 PM
MisterCrow MisterCrow is offline

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Classic WoW already had an alternative advancement method: BoP gear. Because good gear was mostly BoP, you couldn't simply buy them, but had to actually do the content, and was almost as much a part of your character as your abilities and talents.

If I had it my way, I'd have them add content at multiple levels, with some new content, at the highest level, requiring or at least encouraging players to go through high-end old content; or providing alternatives, say a new 5-man that you can do to meet the requirements that would otherwise need to be met by clearing AQ40, but without making them any easier than the other way, so that it becomes a matter of preference whether you do it one way or another. They could still nerf old raids so that they're not as hard as when the world-firsters cleared them.


I can also imagine some elaborate questlines whose completion would lead you to learning a powerful new ability, even if your level is the same.

But keeping the level cap isn't really something necessary in itself. I just would have liked each expansion to keep old content relevant, and also connect to each other organically story-wise. The level cap was just one idea, one that seemed natural in WoW since so much of WoW is really about max-level content anyway.
I think the problem with using gear as the AA method (which is largely how it worked in Classic anyway) is that without catch-up mechanisms, it's artificially difficult to get geared in order to do content. No one wanted to go through the hassle of getting someone through MC to pick up T1, then through the Onyxia chain to get a cloak, just so they had another body for BWL. And having to do ALL of that in order get someone primed for Naxxramas? When Zul'Gurub didn't drop epic gear and bugs on C'thun made him impossible to beat?

I agree that they could have iterated on gear-as-AA differently from how they ended up taking it in BC, but the Classic model had straight-up Issues.
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Old 05-26-2015, 04:39 PM
BaronGrackle BaronGrackle is offline

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No one wanted to go through the hassle of getting someone through MC to pick up T1, then through the Onyxia chain to get a cloak, just so they had another body for BWL.
Too bad WoW content is incompatible for singleplayer.
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Old 05-26-2015, 04:49 PM
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Too bad WoW content is incompatible for singleplayer.
I don't think I catch your meaning.
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Old 05-26-2015, 05:51 PM
Siegrune Siegrune is offline

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I think the problem with using gear as the AA method (which is largely how it worked in Classic anyway) is that without catch-up mechanisms, it's artificially difficult to get geared in order to do content. No one wanted to go through the hassle of getting someone through MC to pick up T1, then through the Onyxia chain to get a cloak, just so they had another body for BWL. And having to do ALL of that in order get someone primed for Naxxramas? When Zul'Gurub didn't drop epic gear and bugs on C'thun made him impossible to beat?

I agree that they could have iterated on gear-as-AA differently from how they ended up taking it in BC, but the Classic model had straight-up Issues.
I agree that there were practical issues, but personally I wouldn't mind having to go through all of them. Frankly I don't like being able to skip things with impunity. I'm not really thinking about all this from the point of view of a realistic game developer. This is the lore forum after all.

And Baron's point was probably that, if you could do singleplayer, then people could gear up on their own through MC and BWL without requiring 39 other people, and then join AQ and Naxx guilds. Or something like that. Then it would be just the same as leveling to 60 on one's own and gearing up in 5-mans so that one can join a guild to start raiding MC.

Last edited by Siegrune; 05-26-2015 at 06:00 PM..
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Old 05-26-2015, 06:17 PM
MisterCrow MisterCrow is offline

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I agree that there were practical issues, but personally I wouldn't mind having to go through all of them. Frankly I don't like being able to skip things with impunity. I'm not really thinking about all this from the point of view of a realistic game developer. This is the lore forum after all.
This might be a limitation specific to me as someone who's equally interested in design and narrative, but I don't think you can ignore the realities of game development if you're talking about making alterations to a game.

If we're just talking about the story, divorced from the context in which it's delivered, then we can do that, but I'm pretty much always going to consider game dev realities, because that's my area of interest.
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Old 05-26-2015, 06:25 PM
Siegrune Siegrune is offline

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This might be a limitation specific to me as someone who's equally interested in design and narrative, but I don't think you can ignore the realities of game development if you're talking about making alterations to a game.

If we're just talking about the story, divorced from the context in which it's delivered, then we can do that, but I'm pretty much always going to consider game dev realities, because that's my area of interest.
Certainly, WoW lore is something appended to the game, and is just as inextricably linked to the game as, say, the plot of Wagner's operas are inextricably linked to the music. Surely I wouldn't want to butcher the gameplay in service of the lore; but I would say that I don't really care about the commercial viability of the game, as long as it seems like a good game to me. But I have no problem if you take a more realistic view of the situation. And I'm not necessarily criticizing Blizzard for having made the decisions they've made (though some of them I think are inexcusably dumb), just saying what I would have preferred.
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Old 05-26-2015, 08:59 PM
Mutterscrawl Mutterscrawl is offline

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Can someone give me an example of a 'gameplay mechanic' that has hampered the lore in some way distinct from bad writing to begin with?
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