Thursday, 10 October 2013

Timeless Isle and the Fear of Future

It is always wise to look ahead, but difficult to look further than you can see.
- Winston Churchill
With this little gem of good old wisdom we shall discuss what the Timeless Isle is, and what it brings for us. To be honest, I am not the biggest fan of the Timeless Isle. Its novelty washed from me as soon as I geared up my Death Knight alt.

I like the Timeless Isle, its look, its bright nature, the perpetual standstill of time. Even the concept where all the creatures are a challenge in itself and not just another one shot kill. They have character. And I appreciate that. At the same time, I will never mind any free epics to gear my alts. As I see it, I need the alt to be geared enough that doing the old content is not painful, and the runs through old raids can be smooth and without a halt. In that aspect Timeless Isle works just fine.

So, what is it then that I do not like about Timeless Isle, when (almost) all I said until now was nothing but praise? It is the future I fear. I fear the content that is to come modeled after Timeless Isle. Essence of Timeless Isle lies in its aimlessness. You are without a goal. Without purpose. Timeless Isle seems to exist just for its own sake of existing.

And that irks me. I am a platonic in that regard. I care about essence, and more than essence, I care about purpose. Without purpose, the thing seems useless, and no matter all the freedom that is given with aimless nature of Timeless Isle, that said freedom is wasted, when you can already do whatever you wish. There is no point in more freedom when there is already freedom. This would imply that freedom you had before was a false one.

I can see the similarities between Timeless Isle and how Guild Wars II did things. And when it comes to bosses around the island, Blizzard delivered. There is no tagging the mob, we all work together to bring down our loot pinata. It is all about groups of people cooperating. Yet, in case of normal monsters roaming the island, the awful tag is still present. There is no incentive to help a player in need, when you know there is nothing in for you.

One could argue that it is the good nature of the passerby all you need, but that is not how most of the players think. If you see another player having problems with an enemy most of us think of two things. If the player is from opposing faction, then we will try and kill him. He is already occupied and we can take advantage of the situation he is. Or, if the player is friendly, but we do no know him, we will move on, to next hunting area or monster.

The thing about such content is, that it must be available to groups. And individuals. If players know they get something for helping their fellow players, they will help out. The old fashioned grouping will still be there. It will not go away and disappear just because there is no tagging any longer. Groups are still more efficient than individuals.

Timeless Isle is not big enough. It is actually really small. And when you have the end game population of the whole realm, or soon coalition of realms all there killing everything, you run out of things to kill. Monsters cannot respawn as fast as people are killing them. Bosses, with exception of the rare few who have more than hundred and fifty millions hit points die in a matter of seconds. Just to be clear, when I say boss on Timeless Isle, I mean rares that have the silver dragon plating around their name-frame.

What is even worse is when you are a healer, or a tank on an pretty much empty realm. Killing just one of the normal mobs on the Isle can take an eternity. Sure, it is understandable, but it should not be such an advantage to be a damage dealer. Soloing Ordos for reputation is close to impossible if you do not play a class with pet such as warlock or hunter. Anywhere you turn there is a chance to pull an additional mob or two. When you fight an elite, and you accidentally pull two candle keepers nearby, only chance you have is to run away until they get bored of chasing you.

Timeless Isle is too grindy. I like doing daily quests. it gives me goal to strive for. Something to do in a short burst. I agree that too much of anything can be devastating. But reasonable amount of dailies, like it was on Domination point was great in my opinion. You could finish with all the dailies in about twenty minutes, maybe half an hour. You got reputation, gold, lesser charms of fortune. There was incentive to do these dailies besides the story they furthered and reputation they gave.

Even the few quests that Timeless Isle has are grindy. To gather those fifty epoch stones for Kairoz, you will kill more than just fifty creatures. You will kill more that seventy five creatures. In most cases, for every stone you get, you kill three creatures. Elite creatures have higher chance of dropping the epoch stones, but when you are alone on that isle, that is of no help. In the time you would spend on killing that one elite, you could kill three normal creatures, or even more.

And this is what worries me in the end. That dailies will make space for more "group" content like Timeless Isle, when daily quests work just fine. A fear for that comes from Patch 5.4 Developer Round Table, that was released on youtube just a few days ago. There it was said, that Timeless Isle would serve as a template for the end game content in next expansion.

There are two things I do not want in the next expansion. One is an underwater zone. The other is more content like Timeless Isle.

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