Monday, July 30, 2012

Dear Blizzard

Have Group, Will Travel
Summons all raid or party members to the caster's current location. Cannot be used while in combat, and can only be cast while in the outdoor world or near the entrance of a dungeon or raid.
-Guild perk in
World of Warcraft
Q: Are you happy with how guild perks worked in Cataclysm? Can you give us an example of what new content guilds should expect? New perks? Is the level cap going to be increased?

A: We are happy with some of them, but others of them went too far in some ways or were just not cool enough in other ways. My overall view of it is somewhat mixed. We do expect to introduce some new perks, even if it is just to swap out some of the ones we feel didn't work out as well. The Have Group, Will Travel was popular because it is one more thing that shrinks the world and allows players to avoid being out in the world. We are trying to put more of an emphasis on players going out into the world to do stuff, so that is one of the ones that we are going to replace with something else.
-Tom Chilton, Blizzard press tour
Dear Blizzard,

You've heard from me on this subject before, but let's go over it again.

Your perception of "Have Group, Will Travel" (HGWT) betrays a profound misunderstanding of how your players actually use this perk.

Overall, it's very useful.  If I need help, my friend can come right to me; if she needs help, I can go right to her.  Want to show someone something cool?  Need help killing something?  Need a guide?  Your friend is right there beside you in a moment.  Maybe I want a friend to help me farm old content or go on a transmog run or show me a new mount.  One summons and there she is.

My friend might want to hang out with me but might not want to take a tram and a flightpath and a mount ride the whole way out to wherever I am.  Maybe she's lazy.  Maybe she knows that the trip will take too long and someone else will get to the rare spawn first if she can't get there instantly.  Maybe her computer's old and she really wants to get to me but can't risk disconnecting.  WOW is a very social game and HGWT allows us to spend time with each other, not time checking off flight paths.

You say that it shrinks the world.  For me, it's broadened the world.  It's opened up Azeroth and allowed me to be in places I otherwise wouldn't be with people I otherwise wouldn't spend time with.

I'm an RPer and I can say with confidence that HGWT has revolutionized RP.  It's brought a lot of energy and fun to the game.

It encourages us to RP in new locations.  If I want to RP in the middle of the forest somewhere, before HGWT I would've gotten a lot of "where is it" and "how do I get there," and people would spend time deciding whether the trip's worth it or not.  Now, I can summon everyone and get the fun going in an instant.  People like convenience, and if the RP spot is one too many flight paths away or in an unfamiliar destination, apathy sets in and they won't bother.  You've made it easy to get anywhere in the world, and now we're RPing all over, everywhere, anywhere we can think of.

Sometimes people log in later than expected or don't get the news in time and want to join in an RP event already in progress.  If they have to travel the whole way there, they think that they'll be too late and end up not going at all.  If they can be summoned in as soon as they want to join us, they can catch up more quickly.

It opens up RP for low-level toons in a new way.  A lot of players might say that the real game starts at end cap, but I've never believed that and it's especially true for RPers right now.  If I'm on a low-level toon and the RP spot is in a quiet corner of a higher-level zone, my friends can HGWT me right in and I can RP along.  My low-level characters can join in RP all over Azeroth and beyond thanks to HGWT.

Not all toons can fly in Azeroth, but HGWT makes the world accessible to everyone.  Several times RP events have included stops on mountaintops we can't get to on foot or ground mount, so those who can fly summon us up.

With HGWT, I've been able to visit places and RP in spots I've never enjoyed before.  It makes the world fun and accessible for everyone.  Without it, I can see the world becoming smaller again and low-level toons being shut out again.

You want players to travel more and get out in the world again.  We are out in the world.  We RP all over Azeroth.  We might not use traditional flight paths to get there, but we're there, having a great time, arguing and laughing and dancing and fighting.  While you're making plans for new features and future expansions, please keep us in mind.  You may think that RPers are a small minority in your MMORPG, but the more accessible RP is, the more RPers there are.  With HGWT, I saw a rise in RP attendance.  I hope for more great RP in the future, but will the bulk of it be in Stormwind and other easy, obvious places?  Will the bulk of it be among level-capped characters with flying mounts, leaving new RPers behind?  As a member of the community, I take some level of responsibility for fostering accessible RP, but it gets harder to do as you remove our resources.

See you in Pandaland!

With love,
Frank Lee

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