“Aren’t you a Jew, Overlord Bunny?” you’re asking right now, and I can’t hear you because you’re talking to a computer screen and that’s just weird as Hell. The answer is yes, yes I am. I have the nose and the ass to prove it. But truth be told, Hanukkah sucks. It’s not even a high holiday, which means it’s basically the Jewish equivalent of like, Memorial Day or something. Eight days of presents sounds cool, but as a kid you quickly learn that because your parents have to buy eight times the shit for you that they would at Christmas, you’re condemned to over a week’s worth of fabulous prizes like socks, school supplies, or a candy bar they picked up in the checkout line at the grocery store because oh shit, they forgot to get anything else. The food’s amazing, though.
So if you want presents, celebrate Christmas. If you want food, celebrate Hanukkah. If you want to get to completely obliterated levels of drunk, celebrate Purim, which is a Second Halloween where you are ordered by your religious leaders to put on costumes and get absolutely shitfaced until you throw up and black out in the streets. For two straight days.
I guess being a Jew is pretty sweet after all.
But no, this year, I’m making a Christmas list especially for something very near and dear to my heart: game design. This is my eighth year playing World of Warcraft and in that time, I’ve been able to experience a whole host of changes and additions to the world of Azeroth. If you held the WoW of today up to classic WoW, you’d probably barely recognize the game if not for the jiggly Night Elf boobs that have remained so consistent over the years.
In that time I’ve managed to come up with a long list of tweaks and additional content that I’d like to see. Since it is Christmas, after all, what better time to present that list? Except I’m not sitting on the design team’s laps. HR frowns upon that sort of thing.
- Nerf dailies. I’m not talking about the painfully slow rep gains with factions like The Golden Lotus, since they were kind enough to already address that in patch 5.1 with the Grand Commendations that give 100% bonus rep once a character reaches Revered. I’m talking about the fact that in order to do these dailies, you’d better at least be in full Heroic gear or else you’re going to have a really bad day. The worst offender here would be the Shado-Pan. I can’t even tell you how many times my shadow priest in nearly full epics has died trying to do these damn things. Fewer elite mobs would be nice, especially around the Deadtalkers area where I am forever having to fight off wave after wave of Deadtalker Crushers whose numbers seem to be radically unbalanced in comparison to the Corpse-Defilers. I only need 1 Crusher. I need 8 Corpse-Defilers. The spawns on that one seem like they need to be switched as far as quantity and frequency. Even the Shado-Pan companions seem awfully fragile; in the rare event that you actually manage to single-pull something, their health still goes down a startling amount. Get a pack of multiple mobs, and you’re pretty much doomed. Especially with Hawkmaster Nurong. Screw that guy.
- REALLY fix the Darkmoon Hatchling. When the Darkmoon Hatchling was originally released, it was only of Uncommon quality, rather than the Rare quality of the rest of the Darkmoon pets. A hotfix was quickly pushed through to change the quality of the Hatchlings to Rare, but the change was not retroactive. Those who had excitedly bought the new pet before the fix were stuck with a lower-quality version. This has caused some contention among the player base, and Blizzard has admittedly been very apologetic about the whole debaucle. “Tech to make things retroactive is the ultimate goal on fixes like this. Just don’t have that quite yet,” Lead Content Designer Cory Stockton stated on his Twitter account in response to complaints. It’s definitely understandable, but there could potentially be a workaround for it: put in an NPC at the Darkmoon Faire who will, when spoken to, offer one of the new pet upgrade battle-stones that can only be used on the Darkmoon Hatchling. Since the highest level for battle pets right now is Rare, it won’t run the risk of allowing those who purchased the “fixed” Hatchling to obtain Super Badass Face Destroying quality versions, but it will give those with the Uncommon version a way to get themselves up to snuff without requiring the development of a completely new string of code.
- Introduce a way to track weather events. Way back in patch 1.10, weather effects such as snow and rain were introduced into the game on a random timer. It was a fantastic way to further immerse players in the world of Azeroth. What’s more realistic than a sandstorm in the desert? When Mists of Pandaria introduced the battle pet system, it brought with it a small number of pets that were only able to be captured if the weather conditions were right. Let me reiterate that these weather events are on a random timer. There is no way to predict when they’re going to happen. Anyone trying to pick up one of these weather-dependent pets is in for a long day, or even days, as there’s no guarantee that they will occur on a daily basis. So what about introducing a weather alert system of sorts? I could totally see this being either a Goblin or Gnomish venture. It could be a new schematic for Engineering, and my God, the G.I. Joe references would abound. Make it one of the more challenging schematics, sure, but not too inaccessible. Having it in your bag while flying around and doing whatever it is you do would guarantee that when a weather event occurred somewhere in the world, a notice would either print itself in the chat window or flash up on the screen.
- Add a penalty for “surrendering” in pet battles. You get a deserter debuff for leaving a battleground early, and a timer for dropping out of an instance or raid in the Dungeon Finder tool, so why not expand this to the jackasses who don’t want to wait for a battle-stone and go around farming rare battle pets until they find a rare one? Especially with cross-realm zones, this puts players who just want to get credit for capturing the pet regardless of quality, or who aren’t otherwise selfish douchebags, into a crappy spot. The pet farmers will start a battle, check the rarity of the pets in the lineup, and if there isn’t a Rare that they want, they’ll simply end the battle, then move on to the next one, lather-rinse-repeat until they get what they’re looking for. A debuff or a timer, even only a 5-minute one, would help greatly with the accessibility of these pets.
- Change battlegroups, not overall time zones. With 5.1, Blizzard arbitrarily turned all North American servers to PST in an attempt to address the difficulties brought on with the introduction of cross-realm zones with regards to events like the Stranglethorn Fishing Extravaganza. This is great as long as you live on the West coast, but for those of us who are stuck in the East, it means that lots of events are no longer easily accessible to us on work nights, such as the Wanderer’s Festival or Restless Shadeling spawns. Anything happening at midnight server time now means that it’s actually happening at 3 a.m. for EST players. The battlegroup system determines which realms are linked for CRZ implementation, but were organized seemingly at random, meaning that servers from both Pacific and Eastern time zones were shoved together under the same heading. What I’d like to know is why each battlegroup wasn’t created based on time zone? Group only realms sharing the same time zone together rather than the random scattering, and not only would server times be able to return to normal, but I have a layman’s theory that this would also make the fishing tournaments and other timing issues arising from CRZ much easier to correct.
- Make cross-realm zones toggle-able. Seriously, I’ve gone into a long dissertation about why, despite being an impressive piece of technology, cross-realm zones detract from, rather than add to, the player experience. Since then I’ve also read very well-written complaints about CRZ destroying server lore for roleplayers, something I didn’t even think about due to my lack of experience on the RP servers. I’ve suggested it once before, and I think it bears repeating: make it so that cross-realm zoning can be turned on or off at will. Hell, I know that when I’m questing, I like the feeling of being the only one in an “empty” zone. It makes me feel like I really am an awesome heroine, powerful enough to perform these tasks being asked of me and change the face of Azeroth all by myself. It kind of kills that feeling of triumph when you see eight other players taking the same quest from the NPC. Additionally, I feel really bad for the guy who came up with the idea of cross-realm zones in the first place, since I have it on good authority that he’s actually a really nice person and very smart. If not for the sake of the player base, think of how crappy he’s got to feel with all the backlash against something he made. Let’s work on getting CRZ to a happy medium, or at least buy the poor guy a beer.
- Digital dollhouses. The only thing I miss about EQ2 is the ability to have player and guild housing. Oh my God, it was the coolest thing ever. Players could purchase their own homes and guild halls in various capital cities, choosing from either the standard two-room model or going all the way up to a multi-story mansion, complete with a courtyard or some sort of external area. Everything could be decorated using items purchased from vendors (including some special super-pretty faerie pieces only available once a month during the Moonlight Enchantments events using tokens earned by completing event quests) or crafted by artisans. I think damn near every profession, if not all of them, had the ability to make something for houses. Tailors could make rugs and paintings, woodworkers could create furniture. There were tons of special books available during the holidays that would teach players how to make these items using special holiday reagents. I spent hours rearranging my house, publishing it so that guests could come in and see how awesome I was at online interior decorating and fussing over every little detail. You could even obtain books to place on your bookshelves in your house, to be read whenever you felt like brushing up on your lore. With so many books in WoW just floating around the world, only able to be read where they stand, or Hell, even the amazing Steamy Romance Novels, the opportunities here are endless.
Guild halls could be staffed with profession trainers and daily crafting questgivers, auctioneers, bankers, vendors… any NPC you could find in a capital city could be hired for a small amount of gold. Bosses whose heads were on their loot table could be basically stuffed and mounted on crafted display stands and hung on the walls of both home and guild hall. Between World of Warcraft’s achievement system and the addition of this sort of player housing, the level of e-peen would be through the roof (mine is huge, by the way). A whole new crafting profession could be introduced, fallen trees and logs could be added to Herbalism for harvesting, or the recipes for furniture and home accessories could be distributed throughout the professions already in place using pre-existing materials. Using the same tech for the advancement of player farms for The Tillers, certain quests could reward special items for the home. And if none of this completely sells the design team on the idea, I’d just like to point out that SWTOR sort of has it with player spaceships. SWTOR, guys. Come on, are you really going to let Bioware beat you on this one?
- More time travel and lore, plz. There’s all of these great raids of yore just sitting there in Azeroth, pretty much completely untouched except for the level 90s trying to get their Mr. Bigglesworth. My personal love? Karazhan. Greatest goddamned raid ever. This isn’t even to mention the awesome Caverns of Time dungeons that were pretty much left behind, a shame considering that The Culling of Stratholme still elicits a fangirl reaction out of me every time I even speak its name. See? I’m flapping my hands and making that weird crying squeal like a 13-year-old girl at a Justin Bieber concert as I write this. There’s plenty of pop culture references for the concept of going back in time to visit the “creation” of these raids. I think a back-in-the-day version of Blackwing Lair would be amazing. Either add 5-man versions into the Caverns of Time, or even give them the 10 and 25-man options like what was done with Onyxia. Keep the oldschool versions too, though. Being able to go back at level 90 and shove my foot up Illidan’s ass is one of the most cathartic experiences I’ve had in my life. Nerfing them for easier nostalgia runs and adding battle pets to the boss loot tables was a great start on how to get people back into this content, but it could be taken so much further. Time travel could even be the focus of the next expansion; that’s how many opportunities are out there for this sort of thing.