Making the World a nicer and less isolated place
Who says Blizzard doesn't listen? Even the testing of Virtual realms has had an overwhelming positive response in the community, that you almost think that if it didn't go through there would be so much disappointment on forums, twitter and podcasts. When I heard about it, I thought "OMG, Blizz is listening! This is what I want!" as I found that I really missed those days where inns were crowded and major cities were bustling with people - it's like that on some servers, and it's an awesome tourist attraction (Tichondrius, for example).
Ever since Blizz started to cater to the casual player who didn't have the time to invest into a big guild, or have a huge bunch of friends but a couple peppered over various different servers, Warcraft has gone through so many changes.
What is a casual player? What defines them? I used to think that it meant someone who logged on infrequently to play WoW. Say, 30 minutes a day or so. Then I thought it meant someone who didn't do big group stuff, like BGs and raiding for hours at a time. But there are people who spend hours on WoW and are doing none of those things - those players aren't casual! Those players are out there farming reputations, rare pets and mounts, crafting materials, levelling toons and chasing achievements, and the number of people like that really do outnumber the raiders. Until I started to blog, I never realised this.
When RealID came out (and subsequently BattleTag for those of us who like to keep our personal lives personal and don't mind sharing our online personas) it was WONDERFUL to be able to chat to my alliance friends on Proudmoore without having to physically log over to their server to talk to them on my level one toon.
When Looking for Dungeon came, it was great for all those small groups of 2-3 who used to be out there trying to get a group for a dungeon. Those groups kinda dwindled into solos and unfortunately with the solo mentality came the me me me attitude, which Blizz heard but hadn't addressed until more recently.
Cross server battlegrounds was great too, because queue times dropped big time, and then when you could realID party up cross server, it was even better. Nothing like spending time with your buddies smashing some alliance faces. When I think about it, LFD (and subsequently LFR) is where the battleground mentality of me me me became a little more mainstream. You would always see the bots, the afkers, the people hanging around in a BG not pulling their weight, and in PvP tempers and adrenaline are always high, so there is a lot of excitement, and yelling and anger tends to come with heightened senses and tempers.
Looking for Raid came and the me me me got worse, and the abuse became battleground like. Loot was a huge issue at first, but when they fixed it to INDIVIDUAL loots, that was heaps better for everyone to have the same chance at something - even if that something they had already got, but that's just how the RNG die rolls.
Scenarios are perfect little things for those people with 30 minutes to spare. Small groups, no set roles with ways to slip in lore and story without laborious quest lines and problems with people tagging and farming NPCs, it was great for the casual player to grab some valour points in this glorified group quest. In fact, group quests are much rarer now, I noticed compared to previously. The only one I see anymore is the weekly Barrens thing. And now, Blizz is trying to push us away from the me me me a little by making you form set groups for the heroic scenarios - perfect really, because the whole instance is short, and it means you don't have to put up with a moron for a long period of time (like a dungeon) and also there are bonuses if you work really well together in the form of extra valour. And doing them through your battletag friends is great, honestly, I can't think what it would be like now NOT to have it. The world would be so quiet.
And then the World started getting quiet. There are so many servers from the heydays of WoW, that people are spread out everywhere, and they can't find people to group with. Raids moved from the big 40s to the 25s and then made 10s. Now people have small intimate groups of friends that are so tight knit they may not want to split up to find another group so now comes Flex raids which are for groups between 8-25 people, which I think is an amazing move. The only problem is that it is inbetween normal and LFR,which to me is a bit of a shame, as there are a lot of people who actually raid but can't (like us!) and would like to be doing normals. I wish that the Flex could be the normals, and the heroics are fixed at 10 and 25.
Virtual realms has me so excited, I can't wait till it's implemented. It will be introduced too late for us though since we are moving, but it will open up so many more people to play with that it will have the big MMO feeling again. As long as it doesn't come with the queue times, that will be ok. I don't think Blizz likes us to play an MMO where there are only 1-2 people in a zone at any one time - the whole point of an MMO is that it is MASSIVELY multiplayer online game. I know it will be a nightmare when it comes to farming for stuff with all the competition out there, but who really wants to play an MMO like you're playing a single player game anyway? That defeats the whole purpose of an MMO.
So I just wanted to say, thank you Blizzard. Thanks for catering to the players and for listening to our problems to make this World of Warcraft a more fun place for everyone.