**WoWInsider asks Ghostcrawler about the decline in 25-man raiding, and how 10-man raids seem to be the only kind now:
WoWInsider: Do you think 25 man raiding has stabilized at all, or is it still in decline? Are you guys working on anything to address that?
Ghostcrawler: I don't know -- overall, I haven't looked at the numbers in awhile -- my hunch would be that it's still in decline honestly, because there aren't a lot of -- it's just entropy, that 25 man guilds collapse into 10 man guilds, and it's really hard for a 10 man guild to decide "Hey, let's recruit a bunch and become 25!"*
This was my biggest issue with MoP. The raid lockouts for both 10 and 25 are the same, and no one wanted to be in a 25-man guild. There were hundreds (maybe thousands) of guilds on the server I played on when I quit, because all of them were 10-man, and only a handful were 25-man. As I state later in the review, this made joining a guild and creating one almost impossible.**
In Wrath of the Lich King, you had your crazies and your jerks, but at least they didn't take up ninety percent of the WoW population. Since Cataclysm, the playerbase has strongly changed, turned into some globular, filthy black mass of selfishness... kind of like a Sha, but a lot harder to kill.
Like I said, I've played during Wrath of the Lich King, and I loved that expansion. I heard that The Burning Crusade was the best out of all of them, and I believe it, because some of the more amazing tales I've heard about the game involved that expansion. Guilds were massive, raids were actually important, and people relied on one another to get the job done. In WotLK that happened as well, in Cata, not so much, then it just completely vanished in MoP.
For a while, I wasn't sure why this was. The game had improved at least a tiny bit from Cataclysm, but the players just seemed to get worse. I play a wide range of various MMORPGs, and I can say with complete honesty, I have not run into players so hateful, so selfish, and so childlike as I have in MoP WoW, and before I quit the game, it was an epidemic, brought on by TERRIBLE ideas and additions to the world by the developers.
Then I did some thinking (a lot of it), which eventually caused my inevitable unsubscribing. The guilds were too small, and too many of them existed. Every guild I ran into had at most, fifteen people in them. In BC and WotLK that was UNHEARD OF. The reason for that is because the change to raids. Before I start ranting, in my WoW days, I was a hardcore raider. I loved to raid, and I loved to make my guild large enough to take on serious bosses. Raiding has just died completely now, and for two reasons: the same loot drops in ten-player and twenty-five-player modes, so there is no need to make a big guild to do twenty-five-player. Therefore, guilds have shrank, and everyone was in a guild. No one was guildless, and if they were, it was very briefly, because there were so, so many barely useful guilds running around. This made it extremely tough to find players to join your guild so that you could raid, because everyone was already in tiny little guilds that could barely do anything. In Wrath, on the server I used to play on, there were three or four "top guilds" which were HUGE in size, and everyone wanted to join them. Yeah, casuals played in their dinky little guilds that never did anything, but at least "Raiding Guilds" actually existed. Even when moving to a populated server in MoP, I couldn't find a single guild that was worth a damn.
The other reason is Raid Finder. I know, I know, it's not meant to replace actual raids, but here's the thing: it has. People don't join guilds because there's no reason to. Why should they? You no longer need a guild to raid. Just run the baby raid. Your chances of getting gear are pretty much the same either way, and the stuff that drops from Raid Finder is only a few item levels lower than that of actual raid drops. So, when you think about it, why would anyone even bother joining a guild? If I was a casual player, I wouldn't. There's no point. Run the baby raid and never do anything with anyone on your server, ever.
I believe these two things have caused the steady decline in player accountability, respect, and of course, dignity. No one talks to each other except to call each other hateful, cruel things, or to spam general chat with crude, childish opinions. I felt lucky when another player even bother to say "hello" to me, and I was as polite as I could manage!! People will steal your mobs after waiting for them to kill you, they'll roll need on things they don't need, and they'll pretend to have good intentions when joining your guild, only to steal everything from your bank and running like hell. The world is packed FULL of these people. It's not just a small percentage, it's practically EVERYONE. If someone sees you're in trouble, they will NOT help you. They will simply stand there and watch you die, and never say a word to you. Ask someone for some help with quests? Forget about it. They call you something horrible or laugh or something, then blow you off. God forbid you ever accidentally kill one of the mobs someone meant to kill. You better put that person on ignore before they get a chance to sling ridiculous insults at you, usually insinuating your sexual orientation, regardless of your gender.
As I've said, I play many other MMORPGs. Everquest, Guild Wars 2, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Final Fantasy XI... none of which have a playerbase like WoW's. Take EQ for example... I have yet to run into a rude person. Even the cold, non-speaking types will surprise you and buy you some gear, even though they barely know you. People rely on each other, because if you help someone, IT MATTERS. For helping other people, it doesn't waste your time or hurt you in any way. Same with Guild Wars 2. I have never met a rude person in that game, either, and that's because it actually BENEFITS you to help other people, and furthermore, it's impossible to steal from others. In WoW, it's possible to steal from others, and there is no benefit whatsoever to applying your resources to save another player. People don't care, because they don't have to care. If you die, it doesn't hurt them in any way, hell, it may even help them, because a rare mob that they want to kill just hacked you to pieces. After running to your corpse, you see they took your rare mob and left. No one cares. Everyone is selfish. Everyone is a jerk.
Which brings me to my final point. Why would I want to play a game full of people that hate me for no reason? I'd rather play with someone who was a bad player but was at least friendly, than I would a mediocre player who is a complete jerk, but in MoP, they were scarce, and when you did find one, they left the guild in a matter of days, guild-hopping like crazy, because a guild is useless now. Why bother staying to prove yourself to your new guild? There's only ten people or so in it....
This is a harsh reality, but it's reality. If people don't see it, then they need to wake up and smell the coffee. WoW has a problem, and it's not going to get better the way it's going. By now, honestly, it should have been free-to-play. Most games have gone that route by now, and they really need to make some changes and stop being greedy. One of my main thoughts when leaving the game was "why should I have to pay fifteen bucks a month to get crapped on every time I log on? There are better ways to spend my money." I'm sure others have had the same mentality when quitting for good.
As for the game itself: The pandas are just stupid. I realize that most of the WoW playerbase is Asian........... but come on. I haven't met a Westerner who gives a crap about pandas. Everyone's reaction was pretty much a simultaneous groan, followed up by questions such as: why couldn't it have been Nagas or something cooler?
The environments are enjoyable, though they seem a bit recycled. Don't get me wrong, I really like them. It's easy to immerse yourself in Pandaria, because a lot of the zones are calming. I didn't like the Valley however. It strangely made me thirsty whenever I played in it. Let's just say that Pandaria is weak in aesthetics compared to the beautiful Northrend, and the music is nowhere near as good as Northrend's or Cata's, either. All-in-all, I just don't like Pandaria. I associate with boredom.
When I first started doing daily quests during MoP's launch, they were brutal on me. I was a freshly geared caster and the mobs cut through me like butter. I couldn't do most of the Shado-Pan quests without assistance from a friend. There are certain things I really love to grind, and reputation is one of them, but I can't stress enough how boring daily quests are. They're monotonous and mindless, and after doing the same dumb quest fifteen times each on multiple characters, you just want to strangle someone. If Blizzard were to change anything in the next expansion, it ought to be reputation via quests. Make it one long, continuous story quest, where each quest progresses you through the reputation, and each one gives a large chunk of reputation. Make it interesting, and if you're going to make daily quests, at least make them fun, not, "Kill X a million times." Since resubscribing recently, they're easier to tolerate because I have a couple of friends to do them with.
PvP: At launch, it was terrible. We lost more than half of our BGs because the Alliance (yes, I'm Horde), had way too many healers, and despite having more damage than heals on our team, we couldn't out-damage the healing constantly going around on their team. Now, I noticed a huge spike in wins, and their team isn't cluttered with healers every single game. We usually don't have more than two... but at least they usually don't, either. Of course, people still do the wrong thing (like running the flag in EotS, because hey, who cares?), but even the losses don't seem like such a waste of time anymore, because I'm not thinking "get ready to lose the next four BGs, too." It seems much more balanced now.
Raids and dungeons: Here are the raids I've tried in MoP-- MSV, HoF, and the first half of ToT. Of all of them, MSV was the funnest. Even with the same old "run away from X, don't stand in Y, hit CDs at Z," it seemed more authentic. Some of the fights in the other two were just... dumb. Not HARD, just dumb. I don't really get psyched about weaving around tornadoes (too many headaches from Alysrazor) or killing spinning turtles. Again, not hard, just dumb. Elegon in MSV was the funnest raid fight I've done in MoP so far.
Mounts: I'm a collector, so I'm drawn to every new mount they released.
Pet battles: I didn't think I like these at first, but they were actually pretty fun. They're not required for anything but achievements, but they can be pretty addicting once you try them out.
UPDATE (5.4): Since the release of Timeless Isle, I've seen some improvements. The improvements aren't wide or sizable, but when it was released, floods of people returned to the game. Guilds are advertising once again. People are looking to do REAL raids, not just LFR, even if it's just Flex raids. All kinds of people are forming groups to get reputation together, inviting people in to help them get some kills and coins. There are no more daily quests, not on Timeless Isle. It's a breath of fresh air to be rid of those. You can collect BoA purple items to give to your fresh 90 alts to help gear them up faster (another brilliant addition, in my opinion, since I have a lot of alts now). Are there still trolls? Oh, absolutely, but I can honestly say I don't see as many as you'd think there would be. People still hurt others, but in ways that make it a bit more... productive, depending on your view. You can purchase items that flag you for PvP, regardless of faction. Sometimes you win... aaaand sometimes you lose... hard. You could face off against a class weaker than you who is semi-AFK from their keyboard only to get mutilated by a group of people who saw you do it. Now, people are still a bit on the lazy side, and communication is still... off at times. But since lots of players returned with this patch, it's only a minor complaint, as opposed to a major pandemic. With many new guilds forming and old ones recruiting for the new raid and core RBG groups, things on my realm seemed to have gotten a bit better. Before 5.4, the server was pretty dead, and only trolls were left hanging around.
UPDATE (5.3): I've returned to World of Warcraft after eight months of unsubscribing to reassess my opinion, to rejoin a returning companion, and to check out if anything has changed. If anything, I'd say things are a little worse, in terms of community. Here are some examples:
--No less than a week of playing, I've experienced someone pulling world bosses to grief raid groups. Not only did they wipe a raid once this way, but about four times. When asked to report the harassing offender, he laughed and said "Lol GMs won't care, go ahead." The sad thing is, he's totally right. He probably does this all the time, and never once got in trouble for it. When bringing it up to a friend of mine, she said "Oh, yeah, it happens all the time." So, half the populace is thirteen years old, I suppose. I have to question the motives behind this. Doesn't it waste a lot of time, not only yours, but everyone else's? What are you doing in this game where you are not entertained by anything else it has to offer and pay your fifteen bucks a month only to annoy others? It's depressing to think how it actually worked, because half of the raid left. I've never heard of such a thing as leaving a raid after a few short wipes. I stayed with the group and waited for more patient players and we killed the boss anyway. So, good job, and stuff.
--Ran roughly three Raid Finder raids, each one complete with its own "jerk of the group." Sure, everyone was a jerk in their own way the entire time, but it was so glaringly obvious who was the bigger one. First RF I ran after getting back, a shaman lost his mind when accused of using Bloodlust at an inopportune time. He started swearing and ranting and just wouldn't stop. I can't even remember if he was right or not, and it didn't matter. In another RF, someone constantly pulled trash mobs to grief the raid, and rolled need on every dropping green item. He was vote-kicked at least, but it cost everyone repair bills, because we continuously wiped on trash. In yet another RF, someone placed a feast down before a boss. Without a ready check or any warning, tank ran in and engaged before anyone got the chance to eat. When told off for it, they pronounced "Sooner we get this over with, the sooner I can go out and get drunk." So, people aren't really thirteen in the game, they just act like they're thirteen. The feast was wasted, by the way. I'm sure that player appreciates it. I have not run a single Raid Finder where something like this DIDN'T HAPPEN.
--When I came back, I saw no one ran normal raids on my realm. Ever. People sit in cities on their mount and troll trade. I got a new addon to help with that. More on that later.
--People kill-steal rare mobs by manipulating/exploiting game mechanics to reset their tap. Paladins camp Halfhill market and attack players, and via exploit, escape unharmed by guards while they kill the people he attacks. There is one particular guy on our server who does this all day, and I mean... all... day.
It's not that I can blame the players. Blizzard appealed to kids, and that's who flocked in. They are now down to 7.7 million subscribers, and are still losing large chunks of them in short time frames, the worst they've ever seen. I rarely see classic or BC veterans. I initially quit because I couldn't stand the kind of idiots I played with, but also because Pandaria is a little on the boring side and leveling there is a pain. I didn't mind banging out levels in Northrend because I liked Northrend.
I've been told once "it doesn't matter where you go or what game you play-- you're going to get jerks no matter what. WoW is an MMO, so of course you're going to get mean players." I disagree with that. I've already stated in this review that WoW was hardly the only MMO I've ever played. I've had the pleasure of playing with other communities, and I'm sorry, but they are nowhere near as bad as WoW's. Yes, there is truth in the statement that "you will always have jerks," but it's in WoW where it's the worst. It's so bad that when someone tries to help me kill something, I think they're trying to hurt me in some way. That's how paranoid WoW has made me. I don't get that feeling of "history of abuse" in other games, in fact, I'm far more trusting. The average of polite players in other games is much higher than that of WoW's, because in those games, if you aren't nice, you aren't getting anywhere with anyone. You NEED to work together to complete something. In WoW, you can sit back and watch bosses die and just auto-attack. If there is no effort required, do you really, honestly think people are going to bother putting in any effort at all? Of course not.
I realize that WoW might possibly still have players that are just as tired of this plague of childishness as I am. Don't assume I hate every single WoW player. In my return, I've actually encountered some good people, who were surprisingly good players. Just yesterday I ran some YOLO RBGs with a bunch of completely random people, and they listened to our instructions quite well, didn't screw off, and we won our games. Some of them were cool to talk to, as well. The problem isn't them, of course. It's the other jerks around them ruining not only my experience, but theirs. They're addicted to WoW, just like I am, and maybe can't quit, because it's a big part of their life. That doesn't mean those people don't suffer through some of the most agonizing, irritating displays of selfishness. They're just stronger than I am for tolerating it and moving on.
It's realistic to think that "trolls will be trolls," but I can live in a world of trolls. However, I cannot live in a World of Warcraft where every other person is out to waste your time, hurt you in some way, or make you feel bad. There is no other reason for it other than narcissistic satisfaction, of taking your problems out on others. I can even claim that it's not your fault. It's Blizzard's fault. They made this game for you, not for me, or the other hardworking individuals that put their sweat and blood into their raiding schedule. PvP is really the only reason to come back and stay, and if it's not your thing, stay away. That's all I can say about it. Luckily, I really enjoy PvP, and PvP is one of the few things WoW does right.
Update: I began to utilize an addon called "OQueue," a very handy little tool that allows you to create groups for all types of WoW things such as raids, dungeons, BGs and RBGs, and advertise for it cross-realm. You can also join one of the many other groups being advertised on a constant basis. It allows me to do raids and RBGs despite the fact that my server has lost half its population. If I were to try to get a group on my own server, I'd be searching for hours and might not even fill the raid group. I don't have to run LFRs all the time after all. I can actually be a part of something greater. If you're interested, you can download OQueue at Curse.com.
Speaking of LFRs, I continued to run some over the course of my return. In every group, someone rolls need on green items.