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Breakfast Topic: Does WoW's direction seem lost at sea?


Whether or not the content and features introduced in Mists and The Thunder King patch are among your favorites, they do illustrate the escalating number and rate of changes to WoW's design. Design philosophies in today's World of Warcraft are fluid. Are heroics too challenging or a routine progress point? Do dailies represent optional solo gameplay or mandatory pre-raid grinding? Is an island full of dinosaurs "fun" or an annoying, off-theme contrivance? How many pet and farming minigames does it take to create an enjoyable supplemental experience, and how many does it take before players who don't enjoy them start feeling slighted?

We come a long way since the days when class ability tweaks (one class at a time) represented an earth-shaking shift. Today, Blizzard turns on a relative dime with fluid course corrections after a patch or expansion. Patches bring new developments designed specifically in response to player requests and play patterns. Each expansion and now even each patch holds the potential to usher in a major swing in philosophy that extends all the way to such basics as difficulty levels and content accessibility.

While responsiveness is most definitely a good thing, some players believe that the game might be suffering from an overabundance of design agility. They feel the current rate of change leaves the player population feeling unmoored. Others also perceive a lack of focus but believe it stems more from the game's increasing emphasis on breadth rather than depth of content.

At what point does change become overwhelming to long-term players? Do too many reversals and course corrections eventually make the game feel directionless, as if nobody's at the rudder? Does WoW's increasing appeal to a broader assortment of playstyles make the game's focus and direction feel somehow diluted? Or do you feel that WoW's current course is true -- steady as she goes?

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