WoW – A Reboot by Any Other Name

The more I think of WoD, the more I think it’s an attempt to reboot WoW in its entirety -  WoW2 if you will.  Here are a few items to support that theory.

  • Everyone is given a “free” level 90, with the option to purchase more. This bypasses 10 years of content, provides you all the gear you need to start as well.
  • Each profession can be completed from 1 – max in WoD through catch-up mechanisms. This invalidates any gathering node from 1-90 and all crafting items, which also guts a fair chunk of the economy.
  • The story is a 30 year return in the past with new characters. The actions of the past 10 years have next to no impact on the events in WoD, with the exception of Garrosh breaking out of jail. The lore context is not used at all (Illidan, Lich King, Death Wing) might as well not have existed, other than a kick off point. Reminds me of Marvel’s What If?
  • A near brand new graphics engine for combat and presentation. The game doesn’t look 10 years old and the new architecture is based on merged realms.
  • All mechanics have been drastically simplified, which has dropped the skill cap by a large amount. It’s much less an RPG as it is an action game.
  • The only reason to do any of the “old” content is for achievements or pets/mounts/toys/transmog. Given the power curve, you don’t need other people to do this.

In reality, the game is more accessible today than it has ever been.  If you skipped 2 expansions, you can easily jump in.  Never played before?  Probably the easiest MMO to get into on the market today.  It’s clearly the least feature-rich expansion ever launched and you’d have trouble convincing me that it took 13 months between patches just for garrisons.

Simple sells.  It sells enough to put the game back above 10m subscribers.  Are garrisons enough to keep those people around longer than 3 months?

It’s certainly an interesting balance of changing the game enough to attract new folk while not alienating their core audience.

SWTOR / WoW – Stuck in the Middle

Safety Note to start the post.  Be smart, don’t tailgate a vehicle that you can’t see around.  My bus got rear-ended by a car today.  The bus won. It will always win.

Day 6 was better, so I’ll start with SWTOR first.

SWTOR

Today was credit making day.  Given that I’m only able to run a single session of crew skills, what with them each taking 20-30 minutes, it was a cycle session on the GTN.  I found a few items that didn’t sell, namely items in the 47-55 range since Makeb/Oricon replaces it all.  It’s funny how a level 46 item will sell easily and a 47 won’t get the light of day.

I also remembered that my older characters had bank accounts.  Bank accounts full of materials.  Materials that are worth credits.  My Sorc and Powertech both hit the 50 GTN cap well before the bank was empty.  My Operative and Juggernaut are still rookies though, so the bank is relatively empty except for legacy/custom gear.  Side note, weapons in SWTOR, while customizable and quite unremarkable.  Which is an odd contrast to other games with customization.  Reminds me a bit of the Esper in Wildstar, where the weapon is an afterthought.  SWTOR does have the best looking gear though.  That stuff is sweet.

My Sorc 3 days ago was at about 700k.  He’s at 1.2m now.  I think I’ve made about 1m across them all, which gets me closer to the Tatooine stronghold.  It’s nice to have a goal.  All this working up to Patch 3, the Shadow of Revan expansion, which I should be more than prepared for.

Side note for a future post.  I am confused by the Dev Blogs for SoR.  The goal of the expansion (in particular disciplines) was to get rid of skill bloat and hyrbridization (it’s now a word).  That the dev blogs are introducing new skills that supercede old ones is conflicting.  Not a new skill that’s standalone – a skill that replaces an old one.  I’ll get into that closer to release.

WoW

At 7:30 the queue was just short of 2000 but dropped relatively quickly – 45 minutes or so.  There were only a dozen or so servers with queue times based on the realm status page.  Area52 and Stormrage the only PvE ones as well, at least from what I could see.  Once I did get in, the server was relatively stable with only a few lag hiccups.  I was in long enough to complete Gorgrond.

Shadowmoon Valley kicks off the campaign for the Alliance.  It’s an decent story of the Draenei foothold in the lands, their massive attack by the horde and some cool sacrifice/birth of a hero substory (Yrel is neato – the only female lead I’ve even heard of in this expansion).  It’s very intro-based and the zone is open enough to have a view of everything.  The zone starts with orcs, goes to a bunch of animals that are poisoned, then finishes with orcs.  There’s a scenario of sorts to finish the zone.

Gorgrond is half about orcs and half about poisoned natural folks (a theme maybe).  You get to meet some Gronn as well.  I read all the quest text but it had nothing to do with anything outside of shamanism (you resurrect what appears to be a demi-god) until the last scenario quest.  That one was all orcs and you take on attacking a huge base.  I died.  A few times.  I could have just stayed back and let everyone else manage it.  Yrel was there and the demi-god.  I didn’t get the point of this story at all.  The outpost was a Lumber Mill which gave me a giant shredder.  The thing did no appreciable damage but did let me find some garrison resources, so yay?

2 zones in, level 94 now.  Can’t figure out what perks I’ve gained, though it almost appears as if they reset every log on.  I’ve gotten the improved chi(?) 3 times now, since every time I log back in I’m at 5 chi.  I am of the firm opinion that random perks while leveling is a stupid mechanic.

Garrison is still a tossup for me.  I upgraded my mine for 1000g.  Ore sells for about 6g per, so 3 days or so and I make my money back.  My follower missions are annoying, with only a single interface point per zone.  What happens is that when I get to that interface, all of them have completed, so there’s no actual decisions to be made about who’s going on the mission.  I see what’s there, it automatically sorts on who’s best and I just assign from the top down.  My 2 year old daughter plays more complex games.  94 and still haven’t figured out how to get a follower with me in the field.  I cut trees to get more resources, to do what exactly?  Run more missions?  I mean, it’s polished to high heck and you have decision points while leveling but it doesn’t yet have any real impact on the game.  I get 5 different quests per zone.  Whoopie.  I think the thing that annoys me the most is the complete lack of customization.  I can’t put trophies, or medals or items that represent my progress in a zone.  All I get are followers, who I can’t actually see outside of a menu.

So far, my experience is one of high polish but no depth.  And I’m simply a stone skipping across the surface.

Restarting the Story

Day 5.  Kids were tired so I was able to start WoW at about 7EST.  That had a queue of ~2400.  I just left it open and played some SWTOR in the meantime.  I think it was about 10pm when I could finally log in.  From the garrison to any other flight point gave me an error that the instance could not be loaded.  It also told me that the world server had crashed.  Quit that pretty quick.  Good news is that I have 5 more days of game time, so yay?  We’ll see tonight but from what I can tell, there are still a few dozen servers that are in the red.

SWTOR

I had mentioned that I cleaned out my bags and re-focused on making some credits right?  Well, the previous night’s purge gave me about 500K in sales.  I collected my crew skills, assigned new ones, posted on the GTN and then moved on.

To a Jedi Knight of all things.  I’ve heard that a Knight and Smuggler are somewhat on par in terms of story quality and I have an odd dislike for the Smuggler (due to the IA), so knight I went.  Funny story actually, as I had played a knight in the beta, so there were quite a few spots that were a sort of déjà vu feeling.  I had tried to do a few of the Tython quests in addition to the class ones.  I completed 1 of them total, due to the way the items and drops were spread out – which I remember as being a grind issue back in beta.

See, while leveling my other characters, I tend to pick up the nearby quests.  Incidental completion means free credits, exp and sometimes gear.  If a quest was above 75% complete, then I’d take the time.  If it wasn’t, then I’d drop it.  This was if it was even in line with where I was going.  So assuming the quest was in the path, I’d say about 50% or so could be completed.  Makeb was more like 100% but that’s an odd one.  That I only did 1 on Tython was odd.

So I leave Tython at 11 and completed Coruscant by 20.  I was leveling at a crazy pace and it was hard to keep a trainer nearby to stay on track.  Eh.  I also wasn’t paying a ton of attention and forgot to get my advanced class after Tython and only did it at 20.  You forget about the playstyle differences between the classes.  I opted for a DPS only knight (sentinel), who from what I hear is the highest DPS class in the game.  We’ll see how that runs out.

Story-wise there’s not much to report.  The decisions given strongly push you to light side.  The dark side choices aren’t evil per-se, just a strong push for an emotional response.   Feelings lead to the dark side I guess.  I do find it funny to be called “the strongest jedi ever met” and I’m only level 10.  I’m fighting apprentices and masters like it’s a big deal.  From a story perspective, I get that line of thinking.  The level is an MMO mechanic, so that a level 10 sith master is technically weaker than a level 54 frog, but lore-wise it’s the opposite.

Story closing Tython and Coruscant is 2 folks who turned dark (or were always) and I hunted them down.  I’m the jedi police.  Balmorra is next I think.  I took slicing to get some cash while levelling.  The speed of progress meant that I was too low level to pick up boxes in the sewer portion (there are like, 50 friggin’ lock boxes there) but I’m good now for the next planet.  Companions are ho-hum, with a droid and a jedi padawan at my side, neither of which has much of a character to speak of.  I hear the story gets a lot stronger later on, in particular when you get Scourge at the tail end.  Looking forward to that.

What’s neat is that when my night was over, I logged into my Dromund Kass (Empire) stronghold with my jedi.  I think it’s a smart thing to have a single house for all alts.  Quite a few games support this today, or at least access from an alt to a main’s house.  SWTOR isn’t super alt friendly, but with legacy perks, collectible gear and strongholds being shared, it’s a solid step.

Queues and Musings

Almost a rhyme.

WoW Queues

In which I posit a theory that analytics predicted the issue with queues.  First off, the playerbase over time debate.  See subscription numbers, vs Expansion dates.  Data points for 2014 are in.

wowsubs

  1. There’s always an uptick a few months before an expansion.  One measured in millions of players.
  2. Vanilla gained the most players (highest vertical)
  3. BC had continual growth.
  4. WotLK had a great launch and then went flat.
  5. Cataclysm was not favorably seen by the majority of the playerbase and has had the largest drop.  There was never an uptick.  And this is when you got D3 for free if you subbed for a year…which is the flatline.
  6. MoP had a decent launch but suffered a massive drop that eventually stabilized and had an uptick.
  7. There’s an uptick pattern for WoD.

Specifically for populations on servers.

  1. That said, given that there haven’t been any server closures, there are ~40% less people playing than at peak in WotLK.
  2. Blizzard’s method of merging is called connected realms, which puts two more servers together in order to balance populations.
  3. Some realms have never been connected and have always had high populations.
  4. Stormrage is the Alliance server, Area 52 the Horde one, where the ratios are extreme variants (95:1).  PvE specific.
  5. Due to flying since BC, open-PvP in WoW is more or less dead, making PvP servers redundant outside of a) ganking and b) timeless isle.  (My thought is that TI was a test base for no-flying in WoD, in particular the PvP implications).
  6. PvE servers are Alliance favored, PvP are Horde.
  7. All this to say that servers have high concentrations of players of a particular faction and that this trend has increased overtime.  e.g. Alliance players will tend to move to Alliance heavy servers.  It’s a funnel effect.

All that data to say that patterns indicate an uptick of ~1 million players.  Those players would be concentrated on a specific set of servers and that those servers are faction-weighted.  The “queue cap” if you will, seems to hover around 150,000 players (not absolute but scale), with quite a few servers containing many more players.  Actually, it was closer to 100,000 at WoD launch, then was raised over the weekend.  Fixed sever sizes and allocations are not feasible with such large swings between the servers.

Dynamic resource allocation (think the Amazon Cloud) is about the only way to manage this type of problem.  Connected Realms do a bit of this.  Instancing all of WoD does this as well.  However, the scale of this instancing has yet to support the servers with > 200,000 players.  They have stated that they want to address that this week.

For clarity, this isn’t a hardware issue. It’s a service issue. Building a cloud like service with 10 year old tech ain’t easy. Heck, it’s hard with 1 year old tech. My issue isn’t that the solution is complex, readily agree. My issue is that the evidence rather clearly pointed to this problem (and could address a lot of the population issues) if more efforts were put on it. Though, knowing Blizz, in crunch time they tend to align with polish rather than below water tech. After all, most people will forget about this in 3 months and complain the servers are empty again.

In an ironic twist, this is pretty much what SWTOR has in place, though that game doesn’t have seamless phasing between instances.

SWTOR

From that segue, I completed the Imperial Agent storyline due to the 12 hour queue in WoD.  I was pleasantly surprised at the final twists.  I thought it was a bit odd for the final decision to be done through proxy and that the choice, while in character, was likely not the one considered canon.  I decided to side with the Empire and serve the Sith, rather than intelligence proper.  Still, a fun and solid story, by far the best of the bunch so far. And with a better understanding of talents and power, the use of stealth made each mission fly by.

I bought the apartment on DK for 5,000, just to get an idea of what to expect.  I’m not poor, with somewhere around 3m across the 4 characters, but decided to hold off the Tatooine investment for now.  Placed some items, completed the quest, got some conquest harvesting items too.  Looks neat, though it’s more akin to Lego than a freeform service like Wildstar or Rift.

Finally, I decided to try my hand at improving my financial position.  That meant emptying the bags on the GTN (auction house).  That’s been somewhat fruitful.  Looking at the long game though, I wanted to see which tradeskills turned the best profit.  Suffice to say that crafting items seems to turn a fair bit less than simply selling the base materials, at least for now.  And that the sweet spot of cash making is not in top tier material.  In my traditional ways, I have a spreadsheet of all the material I can dig up based on my gathering tradeskills.  Some are clearly more profitable than others.  So much so that my Sorcerer, while completing some GSI missions on Makeb, ran a few crew skills and has a potential profit of 300,000.  My other 55s are all running their own as well, with 2-3 minutes of work setting up about 50,000 each of sales (log on, collect previous skills & GTN, post new items, assign new skills).

I am hesitant to spend any of the credits on temporary items, such as gear, given that the expansion is 2 weeks away.  My 140/156 mods are more than enough for now.  So for now, I’ll just run crew skill missions and see about getting a Republic character off the ground with the 12x boost.

Day 4 – Success?

So, it appears that the caps have been increased across the board for WoW.  I was able to log in at about 9:30am EST without a queue.  About 30 minutes later, based on chat, the queues were back.  By noon, from a friend, Stormrage was back up to 4000.  I logged off eventually and now, at 8:30pm, it’s around 5000.  I do know Blizz is trying to expand on their instance tech.  It’s annoying, but a few days isn’t the end of the world.  And to be honest, I fully expect Blizz to provide some compensation when this is all said and done.

Garrison

I wasn’t prepared for the sheer amount of garrison presence in the game.  It’s piecemeal to start but as you move along it grows with you.  I find that it really personalizes the game, making it more of a solo PvE experience than anything else.  I really do like housing.  This version though, with the size of it and various interactions but complete lack of customization puts it in a weird zone between instance and house.  It’s good for what it is and what I’ve seen.  Solid production values and all that.  It isn’t housing, not close.  And that’s a bummer.

Quests

In a rather interesting departure, the quests are really spread out and non-linear style and without traditional hubs.  There’s a fair chunk of exploring and just pop up quests.  The mechanics are blah.  Kill X, collect Y, explore Z.  But you do have hidden items that spawn enemies.  Sub-zones that ask you to do a few things for some extra cash.  Elite enemies seem to be all over.  A group quest of all things.  It’s a solid step forward, like the middle step between timeless isle and traditional WoW zones.  It’s not open quests though, which seems like they’ve ignored 5 years of quest design progress.

Combat

No difference from pre-expansion.  1 zone in and only 1 mounted combat quest. So that’s an improvement.

Intro Quest

I think this needed it’s own section because it’s a rather scripted event that has very high production values.  It does a good job of introducing all the main enemies, the quests are interesting, the cinematics solid.

Overall

Two words.  Orc fatigue.  The tail end of MoP was all about the orcs.  This entire expansion is all about orcs.  I’m thinking about ESO a bit here, where every enemy is a humanoid.  WoD is just full of orcs at every turn.  There’s certain  ly some spacing between, what with Shadowmoon being a nature reserve (which is an odd swap from BC SMV), but when everything revolves around a single enemy…it’s not terribly exciting.  Even less so being a 30 year old enemy.

The one super positive item is the lack of flying and the clear design choices around that fact.  MoP was very vertical, even while questing you knew a lot was going to be skipped.  WoD has roads everywhere and paths to move between the high and low lands.  But there are very few walls or cliffs.  Everything is accessible.  While seemingly every other game plays this way, it’s been a while to see WoW on this path.  Fingers crossed they stick with it.

Day 3

WoD Day 3 - 6000 queue

WoD Day 3 – 6000 queue

While there have been some changes in the backend, it hasn’t really helped me any.  I mentioned Stormrage right?  Well, there are 28 US servers that are locked/full and have queues (7/~100 PvE servers).  The good news is that’s only a minor amount compared to other ones.  The bad news is that’s still about 5K per server… so at best 100,000 affected, but more like two to 3 times that of people who don’t want to even bother with the queue.

So the stupid part first.  Here are the clearly poor design decisions at work to manage this issue.

  • no new race
  • no new class
  • single NPC to start the quest
  • only 1 way to get there
  • single starting zone

All of those items could have spread out the population a bit.  LK and Cata both had 2 starting zones.  Everyone has had either a race or a class, so you had a bunch of people in the starting zones (remember DK-pa-looza?)

Those are things they knew ahead of time and could have mitigated.

What they could not mitigate is the 10 year architecture of servers.  Sure, they’ve been trying to merge them for a while now – code name Connected Realms – but the reality is that the actual server and the zones within are single instances.  Stormwind/Ogrimmar and Valley were instanced capitals, so that you sort of zoned into a sub-zone of the main city.  It made sense, since you don’t want to have 2000+ people at the AH, though sometimes it may seem that way.  Without instances, you crash a zone.  Which is why Blizz put on server logon caps, which is making this queue stuff pretty crazy.

Blasted Lands is not instanced.  Nothing outside of the capital in WoD was instanced.  Now they are making the entire expansion an instanced event.  So Blizz is raising the server caps.  This has made it much better for a lot of people but it also took a 4 hour downtime patch on a Saturday morning to put it in.  Guess the feature wasn’t on the top of their list until this fun started.

So the queues that are left are not so much a problem with design of WoD anymore, it’s just the 10 year old servers and that the instance scaling in WoD doesn’t apply to the entire game.  I’m sure they have some smart people trying to sort all that out.

It is an interesting situation though.  13 months of no content and for some reason not expecting people to try out the expansion.  I guess they underestimated their appeal.

SWTOR

So if I can’t play WoW, I’ll play SWTOR.  I hit 55 with my Imperial Agent and I’ve headed back to Corellia to finish off the main quest.  It’s a little odd losing the GSI boost which gave me 2500 of my main stat and now going down to 1200.  Enemies are 7 levels lower than me though, so the power output is relatively the same.

I do rather enjoy the combat structure now, in particular with the orbital strike option.  IA is a ramp up class, where it needs the opponent to be afflicted for their strong attack to work.  Which makes it hard to take out a bunch of normal opponents since you need to apply 2 DoTs and a prep skill to use the big one.  It’s fine on elites though.  Orbital Strike allows me to continually hit the masses, which makes it a fair bit easier overall.

So I’m now 4 of 8 on the advanced classes at 55.  Juggernaut (tank/dps warrior), Operative (heal/dps imperial agent), Powertech (tank/dps bounty hunter) and Sorcerer (heal/dps inquisitor).  Of them all, I prefer the Sorcerer above the rest in terms of playstyle.  Likely because it’s so familiar, in particular with a smooth resource generator.  The Powertech is next, with some more interesting skills and movement abilities.  Juggernaut is a close one here, with a similar skill set but less fun to watch.  Imperial Agent has a great story but I’m really not a fan of the playstyle, which is more ramp-up/maintenance than I’d prefer.  Great story though.

I do have a 31 sniper which I think I’ll try til the end.  I’ll might give the other advanced classes a try, where the Shadow seems an interesting option.

It’s an odd compare but it’s a bit like my Monk in WoW, where while it’s a class that can do it all (like Druids and Paladins), it just seems to have a better flow for my playstyle.  The Esper in Wildstar felt the same way, in particular once TK became mobile.   Sometimes you just click with a character and no matter what other one you try after, it just doesn’t work the same way. (The monk in WoW is basically my Rogue but without the archaic design decisions.)

Tomorrow’s queue should be an interesting note.

Simplicity Makes Money

Syncaine’s recent post on old Blizz vs new Blizz is pretty spot on.  I’ve mentioned more than a few times that while certain components of their game require skill (heroic raid mechanics for example), the majority of the other systems have been drastically simplified and segregated into discreet buckets.  WoW removed reforging, gemming, types of enchants, crafting bonuses, engineering boosts, hit, dodge, parry and a dozen other items to make the game easier for everyone.  Heck, people are hitting 100 in a day.  They waited 13 months to consume 50% of the content in a day…

I did comment on the post, curious as to the potential motivations for this shift in design philosophy.  It was, at one point, easy to learn, hard to master.  This does not apply to WoW, unless you’re a heroic raider – at which point there is no other system in the game that has any value to you.  It does not apply to Hearthstone.  It does not apply to HotS.  It’s somewhat present in D3.  It is there in SC2.  Overwatch, I’ll hold judgement.

My theory is that of market weights having a larger impact on design direction than an actual philosophy internal to the group.  So I’ll start off with a basic example.

House flipping.  Many have seen the TV shows, some people have done renos to sell their house.  In order to increase the value of your house, comparative to your neighbors, you renovate certain parts of the house.  There are rooms that have more value than others.  The kitchen and bathrooms top the list.  Bedrooms and basements the bottom, where you never seem to recoup a cost.  If you want a decent return on your investment, you need to put the money where it makes sense.  Paint the bedrooms, reno the kitchen.  And don’t think your house is going to sell for 500K on a street of 200K houses.

Ok, now for the meat.  First, here are some metrics on MMO subscriptions since 1999.

Under 150K

Under 1m

Over 1m

Ignoring Lineage for now, as it wasn’t really available in the West until  much, much later, the MMO landscape in 2002 (WoW’s inception) til 2004 (WoW’s launch) topped with EQ at 500k and the rest at 300k.  Realize that at this point, Blizzard had sold 3 million copies of Warcraft 3 and 5 million of the Frozen Throne.  The Warcraft IP was very strong.  Sure, they might not have expected to hit 3m players in a year but they certainly were expecting to beat EQ numbers.  The market was far from saturated… it was immature.  They hit at the right time and the rest is history.

LoL has 67m players per month (30m per day).  It was based on the DotA mod for Warcraft 3 (which was the high skill cap part of War3) and that peaked at around 1.5m.  There were other MOBAs at the time but again, immature market as they were actually RTS players.  LoL put in a high quality stand-alone game and then just took over.  DOTA2 came after but only hit a fraction of the daily users.  HotS could be the absolute best MOBA ever made, it will not take over 67m players.  Because even if it was the best game, that would only marginally be better than LoL.

Starcraft came out in 1998 but it wasn’t until Broodwar that it really went insane.  10m copies, half in Korea.  It build a genre and TV channels to stream it.  There was nothing to compare, even after years.  Starcraft 2 came along and to compete with it’s own product, had to have the same complexity.

Hearthstone is designed from the ground up to be mobile.  And let’s be honest, there are hundreds of PvP card games on the mobile front.  Heck, I’m sure there are tens of thousands.  It’s a simple business model where you sell card packs for cash.   A mobile game has to compete with every other mobile game and the money in that pot.  It’s crazy saturated, so you need a super high quality game.

Clash of Clans was launched in 2012.  Freemium, MMO, strategy PvP game.  There were lots of freemium games, there were MMO games, there were a few strategy PvP games though most of the “send number of soliders to X and see the math results”.  There was little competition for a visual strategy game and a high market cap.  They made $100m in the first year and $900m in year 2.

Investment Factors

For each game, there’s an evaluation on the existing market.  How many competitors exist?  How many players are possible?  What’s the market cap?  This is how you do business by the way, market analysis.  You don’t build a million dollar house in a slum.

So when you do reach those answers, it gives you an idea of your potential return.  Based on that return, you figure out how much you want to invest.  Are you going to triple your budget to be marginally better than the top of class competitor?  Can the market even support that?  Or is it better to aim for the larger mass who will float between companies caring about value for the dollar and less on the quality of the item produced?  (Which is the core business of Walmart and Costco by the way, sell a lot for cheap with low overhead).

Blizzard isn’t stupid.  They build high quality games with tons of polish.  They are also very easy to learn.  The difficult to master part is the question.  They invest in that portion up to the point where the investment has a potential return.  If they can invest $100m and get 5m players, why invest $200m for 6m?

WoW is faceroll easy today and it still made over $1 billion in 2013 (over 7m subs), with $200m from microstransactions alone.  LoL has 10x the user base and made $600m.  SWTOR and LOTRO both made mode money than EvE.

Blizzard builds for the masses and invests for the few where it makes financial sense.

That Said…

I do really wish that large companies like Blizzard actively tried to push the genres forward.  BioWare took a near 8 year break between Mass Effect 2 and DA:I of arguably stupid gaming calls, but they appear to still be making money.  Wildstar tried to go for the high skill cap and ignored polish and the “easy to learn” portion and took a massive nosedive.  We’re in a market where it’s mostly indie developers that are pushing the envelope because the large ones absolutely must have a return and are extremely risk averse.  It’s too bad, because the old Blizzard magic would really make their games much more fun to play, to me.