Pavlov’s Elves: why we’re creatures of habit Sunday, Aug 9 2009 

Yesterday – post WoW Patch 3.2 – I was  in Stormwind (well to be accurate, my bank alt was), doing my usual run between the auction house (AH) , bank and mailbox. What fascinated me was the behaviour of my fellow WoW addicts:

New mailbox? Really? I like the *old* one better

New mailbox? Really? I like the *old* one better

A second mailbox has been added just outside the bank, a good idea by the developers. However the old mailbox (left) continued to recieve all the “foot traffic”. You can see me standing in the middle of the screenshot, watching the various elves, humans, dwarfs etc. running form AH, to bank to mail box.

99.9% simply ignored the new mailbox (on the right).

Note the usual jumble of avatars and blue text signalling their names and guilds. I stood and watched for a good five minutes while only three or four people tried the new mailbox.

I didn’t notice the new straight away – at least on my first run between the AH and bank. But I did see players making repeated runs right past it.

Was the old mail box simply more familiar? Did most people ignore the new one, or not even see it?

You can trip over the mail boxes in Dalaran. Old World cities in WoW were notorious for the dearth of mailboxes. Patch 3.2, issue solved. But I suspect it will take time for the player base to change well ingrained patterns of behaviour.

And so it would seem: we are creatures of habit.

The day after: when your MMO patches Saturday, Aug 8 2009 

No matter which MMO who play, WAR, WoW, EQ, Conan… you will have no doubt expereienced the joy of post-patch day. Often changes our made to the world or the class you play. Sometines for better, sometimes for worse. WoW Patch 3.2 has just dropped introducing a wide range of changes to the game. Some good, some bad and some “meh”.

Well, it's looks good!

Well, it's looks good!

All in all, I think the changes are welcome. I for one, like change. I really do.

However, it did make me think about the “what to expect” after your MMO has been patched;

  • Broken mods – You forget just how much you depend on the mods (add on programs) to enhance your game experience. Most “break” and don’t function, leaving you to struggle with the games original UI and functionality. And it normally aint’ pretty…
  • Class nerf – My spell/ability has changed! It changed! You may have even read the patch notes, and knew it was coming. Take for example my paladins Holy Wrath ability; casting time is now 1.5 seconds. 1.5 seconds! No matter the game, some players will feel a sense of outrage. “OMGZ I teh quite game!” Post-patch the QQ (crying, moaning, complaining) kicks into high gear)
  • The world changes – MMOs promise a dynamic, chaning world. But when it changes, many people can’t handle it. For people who play MMOs every day, having their routine changed (aka spoiled) is stressfull.
  • I can’t raid/endgame – Broken mods, changed mob skills, retuned instances and dungeons… all of sudden what you’ve been doing on auto is different.
  • This game is not what is used to be – Somehow the current state of the game just does not compare to when it first launched (see the debate of WoW’s endgame experience and how its “easier” for those cry baby, carebare casuals)

Sometimes a developer can really drive a stake into the game (the infamous “New Experience” Star Wars Galaxies, or some of the issues that seem to be arising form WAR’s “Land of the Dead”  live expansion).

But more often than not, change is good. Roll with it is what I say!