Either I just have a lot to say lately, or I’m subconsciously going on a blogging binge because I know that for the next two weeks I’m going to be pretty much off the grid while I drive across the country with my mother and The Fiance and make my bunny den of iniquity anew in Irvine, California.
Originally I was going to write a joke review of Blizzard’s prank line of kids’ computer games in celebration of April Fool’s Day (which, incidentally I would play the Hell out of even as an adult), but there’s more important things that need to be dealt with here, namely the Noblegarden event and just how frustrating and outdated the damn thing really is.
I completed Noblegarden, the World of Warcraft version of Easter, in 2009 according to the date stamp on my achievements. Even back then, it was a major pain in the ass for relatively little payoff, other than some RP costumes and a companion pet. There was no special dungeon fight as there is in Brewfest and Hallow’s End, no crafting patterns like the ones offered by Winter Veil and the Lunar Festival… of the in-game holidays, Noblegarden was pretty much one extremely lame duck. Tokens in the form of Noblegarden chocolates could be obtained by doing circuits around various towns in the beginning zones until you were dizzy and hoping that you were able to click on the holiday eggs containing them before one of the other 100 people trying to do the same thing did. I got my Spring Rabbit and the achievements for the What A Long, Strange Trip It’s Been meta and swore never again.
This year, however, The Fiance is playing World of Warcraft with me and since he’s new, he doesn’t have any of the Noblegarden stuff. I’ve helped him with most of the others whenever possible, so I decided to log on today and see if the celebration had changed at all in the past four years. Technically it had, in two very vital ways:
- Now there’s a mount you can buy for 500 chocolates
- CRZ is enabled in the egg-hunt areas
Holy rabbit shit on a shingle, Batman, I regret complaining about how hard it was to get eggs all those years ago. The effects of cross-realm zoning extend past merely dumping tons of extra competition onto everyone; oh no, now we get to experience the delays caused by CRZ, where it takes one or two seconds for the game world to “update,” meaning you could have just blown past a whole group of eggs and not realize it until it’s too late.
The spirit of competition in Noblegarden is just flat-out ugly. You’ve got people swearing at you, insulting your sexuality, and threatening to kill your dog through every conceivable channel of communication for getting to an egg before them, even if you did so in a completely fair-and-square way. Players are using the biggest mounts they can to park on top of eggs and prevent others from clicking on them. Some are keeping the loot window for the egg open, making it unclickable for anyone else until their buddy gets there to snag it, or to distract people from hitting other spawn points (and keep in mind that if they’re forcing the egg to stay up like this, that’s one less egg spawn that can pop for others). If Blizzard was attempting to encourage friendly competition with the egg-hunt mechanic, all they’ve managed to do instead is foster more opportunities for harassment, cheating, and overall poor sportsmanship.
There’s still no holiday boss battle — prime opportunity missed to really push the Darkmoon Rabbit encounter, especially since this year the Darkmoon Faire and Easter are happening during the same week — and no real questing beyond the unbelievably difficult task of collecting shell fragments from 20 eggs and turning in half of your hard-earned chocolate for a woefully impotent Noblegarden basket that works like a rogue’s Sprint ability. With so many people in the area to begin with, it doesn’t make the slightest bit of difference. Most of the egg hunters I see are using flying mounts, which are pretty much a no-contest win against any temporary speed boost, especially with the zoning-in delays I mentioned previously. Those 10 chocolates are such a pain in the ass to gather that they’re better applied to purchasing a spring outfit for the achievement or putting them towards the mount or the pet. In previous years, I would have recommended just farming the gold to buy the pet on the auction house, but since 5.2, any achievements granted for obtaining a pet during the holidays now require you to actually earn the pet. Just getting an extra from a friend or buying one no longer counts.
For Love Is In The Air, the charm bracelets required for daily turn-ins and token purchases could be traded or sold freely. I used that opportunity to help The Fiance get his holiday mount, since he works full-time and thus didn’t have as much opportunity to farm the Lovely Charms needed to make them. The Noblegarden chocolates are soulbound, and as far as I’ve seen, so are the Noblegarden eggs that contain them. This means that he might be able to get enough chocolates despite the insane competition for them to complete the achievements required for the meta, but his chances of being able to get the mount are pretty much nil. Hell, even my
unemployed freelance ass probably won’t come anywhere near the required number for the mount, and that sucks.
Granted, the development team has had their hands full, first with Pandaria itself, then with the new content patches, so I believe this is why the vast majority of the holidays haven’t been updated in quite some time, but I’m hoping that once everything dies down a bit, they’ll change Noblegarden so that it’s actually fun. The simplest way to do that would be to get rid of the outdoor egg hunt and take a design tip from 5.2. The Treasures of the Thunder King scenario, unlocked on the Isle of Thunder when a player turns in a Key to the Palace of Lei Shen to the appropriate NPC, would translate ridiculously well to the idea of gathering eggs, while at the same time giving everyone a fair shot at the prizes. There’s a few ways this scenario, which I am tentatively referring to now as The Noble Hollow, could be accessed:
- Keys to the scenario randomly dropped by world mobs
- Keys dropped for all players in a group upon killing either dungeon bosses or that special holiday Darkmoon Rabbit battle they should totally be doing (RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY!)
- Like the Lovely Charm -> Lovely Charm Bracelet conversion, have an Egg Basket item that will allow players to gather the necessary festive items (special eggs, candies, etc.) to make an Overflowing Noblegarden Basket and access the scenario
The scenario could be run as many times as the player is able to gather the items needed to unlock it. Drop rates could be tweaked accordingly to prevent chain queues that might make it too easy to purchase the special rewards while still factoring in its relatively short accessibility (1 week, versus several other holidays that last for about 2).
Players would have five minutes upon entering The Noble Hollow to keep a sharp eye out for colorful eggs while avoiding traps and slow-downs, just like the Treasures scenario. The current boring Noblegarden quests could be changed to lead players to the scenario, such as the first key turn-in rewarding 5 chocolates, and another few of them (plus one of the Blooming Branches or other vanity items) upon completion. After the time limit expires, players would then be transported back to the “real world.”
Here are some awful scribblings of mine:
The real thing would obviously look a billion times better, but essentially, The Noble Hollow is an idyllic green forest, thick with trees, little patches of sunlight coming down here and there, patrolled by guardian rabbits (no, I’m not biased, I promise) who want to stop you from stealing the Noblegarden eggs. Potential traps could include suspicious lumps of dirt from which lots of tiny critter-like mobs will spring and do just enough damage to interrupt your gather, having different colored eggs grant different buffs or debuffs on gather, such as an exploding red egg that will only give up its tasty chocolates in exchange for doing damage, a green egg that boosts speed, or a blue egg that grants a damage shield sort of like the old Retribution Aura from paladins, where any mobs attacking you take damage in return. Maybe special, super-rare golden eggs could contain items, including but not limited to pets or mounts. Also, I don’t know why I made the eggs sparkly. That’d make them way too easy to find. I’m invoking artistic license and the siren call of Photoshop brushes.
Setting the egg hunt up this way would level the playing field, so to speak, by changing the way that current Noblegardeners are left at the mercy of area population in order to complete objectives. The player would still have challenges to face, but they’d be the fun kind, not the “oh my god why is this guy still camping the same egg spawn site he has been here for five goddamned hours” kind. More importantly, the dev team would probably see more players actually experiencing the content they’ve worked so hard to create than they do with Noblegarden in its current aneurysm-inducing state.
I feel like there’s some joke I should close with about how I’m a Jew devoting her afternoon to designing an Easter event, but everything I come up with could probably be construed as offensive, so I’ll just leave this high-tech simulation of what a Noblegarden boss encounter should look like here.