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You're Not Crazy - Blizzard Admits Fumbling Professions and Garrisons in Warlords
And then you actually tried to make gold in the expansion and you ran into a huge brick wall with the word "Garrison" stenciled on it in big block letters. Read on for some candid admissions by Blizzard on how they ruined professions in Warlords of Draenor.
That Sinking FeelingIf you were anything like me you found yourself feeling that all you were doing in Warlords of Draenor was sitting in your garrison setting up work orders and waiting for cooldowns.
You asked yourself if this was what you had to look forward to for the entire expansion. Was this really all there is to gold-making in Warlords?
Where was the variety? Where were the little unknown angles and trickly little edge-cases we gold-makers loved finding and taking advantage of? Where was this expansions equivalent of Whiptail farming in Uldum?
With almost every aspect of professions progression and item creation tied in an almost complete lock-step fashion to garrisons cooldowns it seemed that there was definitely a disturbance in the force when it came to finding creative ways of making gold with professions.
ResignationIf you were someone like me, someone who had limited play time, it made you not only feel like you were punished if you didn't have the ability to log in on a regular basis (to keep up with your cooldowns) but also my brain shut down when it tried to think of what the next step was after making my cooldown materials.
Admittedly I'm not the hardcore gold-maker I once was. I no longer have the ability to spend multiple hours per day babysitting the auction house.
But even then, I should have at least had the ability to suss out something that seemed like a familiar way of making gold. Something that used some of my skills from the past, but I didn't.
I'd log in, do all my garrision profession work orders and cooldowns, and that'd be just about all the time I had to play. I'd log out and do it again in a few days.
I was finding it hard to keep that spark, that ember of gold-making wonder alive. Some part of my brain seemed obsessed with simply logging in and doing the same rote patterns over and over again, all of them involving some activity where I never stepped foot out of my garrison.
I remember thinking to myself "Is this what Blizzard intended their players to feel like when they were designing garrisons?" "Did they want players who loved professions to feel like virtual sharecroppers, eking out a modest existence by logging in and pushing a few buttons?"
Admitting They Messed UpAccording to a Blizzard Developer Q & A with Lead Game Designer Ion Hazzikostas that happened live on twitch.tv yesterday we now have a bit more of an idea on how Blizzard feels they did in regards to garrisons and professions.
I'm going to be going over a few remarks that make me feel that, while I'm not happy Blizzard ruined professions and messed up designing garrisons in Warlords of Draenor, at least I'm happy they know they made mistakes. They are aware of it and (hopefully) will fix it in a future version of the game.
The QuotesBelow are the quotes from the Q & A (as transcribed by Wowhead). Emphasis in all quotes below is mine.
Garrison Gold Missions
Q: I feel WOD has been geared to 1 character play, and people are Alt suffering burnout. Is this design?I'm gonna stop right here and say that this quote caused quite a stir in the gold-making community on twitter. It seems one of the most viable gold-making strategies these days is getting multiple garrisons with lots of Treasure Hunters to maximize the gold received from follower missions.
A: No, burning you out is not design. Alts are way more popular now than they ever have been. We generally do think that's awesome, but it's concerning where people think multiple alts should serve my main character instead of being self-serving. We are looking into this, particularly on the mission front, so they might be looking at diminishing returns in terms of gold returns from Garrisons. This should reduce some pressure about maintaining Alt garrisons.
(Indeed this is the one tactic I've personally been looking to implement. The Gold Queen explained the technique in The Power Word: Gold Podcast #95 and I discussed this idea further in episode #96.)
Is there a chance that Blizzard sees people making multiple alts to serve their main alt as some sort of aberrant or unnatural behavior? This seems a bit odd. In all the times I've heard Blizzard mention stuff like this I've almost always heard them frame it as "we don't think this is fun for players".
So, apparently, they don't think players are having fun having multiple alts and garrisons to play the game the way they want.
(Perhaps they are speaking about "normal" players and not us odd gold-makers. We've always been at the fringes. The fuzzy dividing line between "normal" and obsessive.
We're just crazy people who like doing crazy things and pushing the limits of the intended design to squeeze every copper we can out of the game.)
If they do implement diminishing returns on alt's gold-making abilities via garrison gold missions I think there will likely be a lot of gold-maker's garrisons that will end up in moth balls.
(Sorry. Times might be changing and we'll have to adjust to it.)
Garrisons and Professions
Q: Have you learned about what didn't work with Garrisons and why no one leaves their Garrison?
A: See last answer. Most of this has to do with rewards. Garrison offers so many rewards. We like that Garrisons introduced a new segment of time play - 5 mins to play? Awesome, log in for your Garrison. It's less good if you have 2 hours to spend in game and can't think of anything to do other than spend a few minutes in your Garrison and log off. We are actively trying to shift rewards back our into the world (gearing, professions, etc.) Felblight, for example, you'll need to get out in the world. Raid missions are popular and totally skewed the risk/reward because it was giving you loot beyond what you were able to do. TLDR: Garrisons over rewarded you.
Q: While some changes were good, professions were really boring and constrained in WOD. Any changes plans?I don't know how much more clearly he could have spelled it out for us: "Garrisons over rewarded you."
A: The Garrison-centric profession system and daily cooldown of professions took away from the image of being a craftsperson vs. a player collecting daily mats. In 6.2 we're increasing the yield from your personal cooldowns, and also putting Felblight into the world - in terms of professoins, they are better when you're out in the world.
Garrisons were too good at giving us stuff. This is something they've seen and admit it was a mistake. This is likely why I spend so much time in my garrison. It was where all the good stuff was.
I also think he really hits the nail on the head when he says that professions no longer felt like you were being a craftsperson but rather just pushing a button and waiting 4 hours to have a food pellet show up.
This is where the disconnect really happened for me. In past expansions I felt like I had lots of options when it came to how to make gold with professions: shuffling, crafting, converting, arbitrage, stockpiling. All the sorts of things that seemed to no longer work well in Warlords of Draenor.
All that seemed short-circuited by how professions and garrisons were designed.
I am a bit heartened, however, to know that at least Blizzard is aware of the mistakes that they made and how they effected the players. Hopefully they will keep this in mind and use the hard-earned knowledge when designing professions for future expansions.
Garrisons In Future Expansions?
Q: Will future expansions have something like Garrisons?So they won't likely bring garrisons into future expansions (which might make some of us who have felt garrisons have sucked the joy out of this expansion a bit happier) but they do like how followers and having an army and base worked out. We might see something along that vein in future expansions.
A: From the outset, we have said Garrisons as you know it in Draenor are rooted/tied to Draenor. You won't be bringing those things back to Azeroth. But the core gameplay of followers/army/base gameplay? We like the system. Is it likely to take the same format as WOD? Probably not.
I personally find the follower system to be more interesting than the professions cooldown system.
Still, when I first read about the follower system I imagined myself becoming attached to these followers. I would bond with them and send them out on great adventures.
Unfortunately it ended up feeling more like a bunch of menus and spreadsheets where I would pull levers to try to maximize my returns.
I think part of this was due to the (excellent) addons that were developed by the community to help us speed up the follower mission process. But while we did get more efficient with these addons we also lost some of that connection with our followers.
If you're going to ask about auction house addons, it's not exactly analogous. The auction house interface is all "levers and spreadsheets" by design. It's boring. There's nothing to see there.
Seeing followers battle, however, even if just that one short animation helped me make a connection with them. That was lost when I started using garrison addons.
It may also be a symptom of players feeling like they needed to run so many garrisons and garrision missions that the need for the addons (which lessened the connection with followers) arose.
I wouldn't mind seeing followers in a future expansion. Just give me more of a reason to care about them.
ConclusionWhile I'd have to say that I'm happy Blizzard is aware of how they messed up with garrisons and professions, I really wish they had been able to make them right in the first place.
And while hindsight is always 20/20, and I know it's hard to get something right the first time, an entire expansion is a long time to go using a sub-par system.
If I could have had the Warlords of Draenor expansion minus the garrisons I think it might have been a better expansion.
I think the garrisons diverted a lot of my own energy and time that I feel would have been better spent being out in the world exploring and questing and farming and crafting.
But there's no use in crying over spilled milk. You can't put the garrison genie back in the bottle.
Here's hoping that Blizzard takes what they've learned from the garrison debacle and builds something better into the next expansion.
They're super smart people. I have faith they can do it.
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