World of Warcraft Nostalgia: Logic in WOW
In the Beginning
From the game's outset, it is clear that the developers tried to apply as much logic to the game as possible. From certain aspects of races, to gear, to lore, and more, logic was applied. Some of these ideas made for terrible imbalances while others just added a bit of charm to the game.
Due to the sporadic nature of this idea, this article will go all over the place covering where logic has left the game. But at the very least, let's start at the beginning, in the alpha and beta.
Why not start with race design? Two races to be specific, the Tauren and Undead. Before the game launched, both of these races had radically different design philosophies.
Tauren originally were intended not to have mounts but instead had something called "Plains running". This meant Tauren would gain speed while running over time and would eventually be moving as fast as a mount. If you look at the design of Tauren, then this makes sense. Their legs were clearly never meant to wrap around a mount to ride and even when they were given mounts, the only one they could ride was a Kodo. Even the Tauren starting zone reflects this change in design, as it was (and still is) the largest starting area where there are long stretches of open plains with nothing in them. If Tauren had this speed boost by default, then it would explain why there are long stretches of nothing in between points of interest.
On the other hand, Undead had two logical factors to them. One was that players were originally meant to be considered "Undead" and not "Humanoid". This meant that as Undead they would have been immune to fear and charm but be susceptible to Paladin spells like Turn Undead and Exorcism. It is obvious why this never made it to live but you can still see that they did not give up on the idea initially. For a fairly long time, all Undead faction npcs were considered undead. This meant dealing with the guards in Under City was a tad bit different during vanilla.
The other design that Undead players originally had was the ability to speak common. This just made sense, the undead are nothing more than the dead citizens of the human kingdom of Lorderon. So why would they not speak common? It makes more sense than speaking orcish. Yet they dropped this so players could not speak to the opposing faction.
Finally, all mounts used to have race restrictions. And this made sense. A Tauren was only allowed to ride a Kodo because of how big they were, eventually they were also allowed to ride wolves. Humans and Night Elves couldn't ride Mechanostriders because, let's face it, those things would probably collapse under the weight of the rider. But as the game evolved, such restrictions, albeit logical, made for less fun and customization so it was nixed.
As wow grows, so do the classes. It isn't unexpected for a class to get a total rework each expansion and for the most part, these changes will be for the better. Yet there are still some changes that are made for convenience and balance but take away from the unique feeling each class has.
In general, there has been a trend in class design that has been homogenizing everyone. Given what were once class specific abilities to multiple classes. This isn't necessarily a logical misstep but a reflection of changes to come.
Yet there are still quite a few changes to classes which strip away reasoning. For starters, class trainers. It made perfect sense that would would have to scurry on back to a trainer to learn new spells and abilities. And although it could be an inconvenience, it made sense. Now you simply learn everything as you level and class trainers don't do much other than respec your talent points.
Then there were spell ranks. Instead of spells automatically scaling you used to learn multiple ranks of the same spell. This also meant that you could chose to cast a lower rank spell if you felt like it and there were some benefits in doing so. The mana cost was lower, so for a long time it was a tactic used by healers to use lower ranks of spells to save on mana when big heals were not needed. It is hard to say whether or not the removal of this was for better or worse but it certainly made less logical sense. To me, it would seem that casting lower ranks was completely logical as it showed that your character could control their power. Instead of always blasting away with as much strength as possible, it made perfect sense that you could shoot out a weak spell if you restrained yourself.
Finally the race/class combinations. The initial set of classes a race could be were all set in a logical fashion. Be it for lore or just common sense. Yet in Cataclysm they added more combinations, a lot of which made sense but a few that they broke their lore for to create. Now I'm not one to really complain about this (heck I would love it if there were no class/race restrictions) but I am just pointing out that a few of these don't make much sense. Like Gnome Priests, Tauren Paladins, and Goblin Priests. Now I know each was given a reason but to me it was hardly a good excuse.
Specific Class Changes
Warlocks - I did cover this in my Warlock Pet Quests article so I shall be brief. Learning new summons used to be fairly involved. Each had a quest to complete and a trial to overcome. And in the end you even had to face your pet and defeat it. It made getting a new summon incredibly significant and rewarding. However, now they are just like any other spell. You just learn it as you level and have no effort to put in. It really just doesn't make much sense anymore as something as substantial as controlling demons seems like it should be a bigger deal.
Priests - One major logical set back change for Priests was the removal of racial abilities. It made sense that priests would have their own specific abilities based on race since each race has a very different religious perspective. For example, Night Elves got Star Shards as it was an Elune inspired spell. Some of these racial abilities became Priest abilities for everyone, like Devouring Plague, Desperate Prayer, and Fear Ward. Yet many others were completely removed from the game and have long been forgotten.
Rogues - Rogues used to have two class specific trade skills that both have been entirely removed from the game. First they had lockpicking. This used to be something that players had to level up by finding lock boxes to pick or random coffers scattered throughout the world. It was a major pain to level but it felt pretty rewarding. I remember on my rogue I loved that I had gone through the trouble of leveling it because I could now open lock boxes for people and even make some tips off it. Even when I leveled it I remember that I had a pair of gloves that gave +5 to lockpicking which really helped out. Rogues can still pick locks of course but now it just scales with your level and it doesn't fell all that special anymore and it certainly makes less sense.
Rogues used to also level up poison crafting. To brew poison you needed to get some materials from shady dealers or in the case of Blind Powder, from herbalism. Poison crafting wasn't really hard but something you had to grind out every few levels to make sure you had the best poisons available. But this all made sense. Of course a rogue would brew their own poisons when their world is one of shadows and treachery. But now they just go down to their local corner store and ask for their finest vials of poison.
In vanilla and a lesser extent in BC, the Dungeons were really built up through a series of quests and a "mini-dungeon" outside. It gave each dungeon a bit more dangerous feel and made more sense why a group of adventurers would be sent there in the first place.
Really if you think back, almost every dungeon was within a protected area. Deadmines, Wailing Caverns, Gnomeregan, Razorfen Downs, Black Rock Spire, Black Rock Depths, Dire Maul, Maraudon, Scarlet Monastery, Black Fathom Deeps, Uldaman, and Sunken Temple all had an area outside the instance portal itself. One could even argue that Stockades and Ragefire Chasm are built up in the same way as they are in capital cities.
But with such additions as dungeon finder, making the outside of the dungeon impressive has gone away as not too many people would go so see it any longer. Most dungeon portals are now just out in the open and not protected.
Although stats change a lot, two in particular have been taken away entirely which were around solely due to logical reasons. The first were the many elemental resistances. This is just something that makes sense to have, most mmo's have elemental damage and therefore elemental resistances. And in WOW, they were used for certain mechanics.
Much of the vanilla end game content needed players to have some resistance gear in order to clear it easier. Molten Core went a lot smoother with fire resistance while AQ pretty much required nature resistance for one of the bosses. After vanilla this stat was down played. Some resistance gear was still useful in BC and some bosses went a lot smoother with said gear but it was obvious that this stat was on its way out. During Wrath it was entirely pointless. Any resistance you still had mainly came from a Paladin Aura or Mark of the Wild. No one really geared for it anymore and eventually Blizzard canned this stat altogether.
Another stat that is no longer around is that of Weapon Skill. This had no real benefit but was just something thrown in for nothing more than common sense. You had to use a weapon to increase your skill with it in order to properly hit with it. This was nothing but a nuisance. If you were a warrior who happened to have used Axes for awhile and suddenly got a nice sword upgrade, you would have to sit there are level it up or you wouldn't be hitting much. The cap on this skill increased by 5 each time you leveled and I remember just holding onto all different types of weapons just to level them as I quested.
Here are a few more things that I couldn't really fit into a category so here we go.
Flight Paths - You used to have to actually discover these. It encouraged exploration and it made sense that you would need to travel across the land to make contact with the people out there. Now you get all flight paths by default as you level up.
Battlegrounds - Instead of just queuing for a BG, you had to actually run out to where the BG was and queue up there. Just like with out Dungeon Finder doesn't really make sense, this change was just all for convenience.
Tabard Reputation - Reputations in WOW have never really made much sense. How does turning in a mountain of cloth make you exalted with its people? But at least you were always working with people from a faction to increase it. But in Wrath they added the tabard system. If one was wearing a faction's tabard, they would gain reputation with them for kills in max level dungeons. Personally I loved this but from a logical standpoint...just what? Each of these factions is so vain that they only like you more if you represent them in battle? They don't actually care if you kill these fiends? Strange.
Guards - When the game first began, the levels of guards reflected the town they were in. For example, Darkshire had guards ranging from the mid 20's to mid 30's with the leader of the town being 40. This was a good level range for the area they were in so it made sense that they actually needed player's help. Yet over time town guards have gotten out of control. Even if you don't see them while questing, if a threat enters the town, max level guards just spawn out of nowhere to deal with it. This is of course to help stop gankers but it doesn't really make much sense.
Crowd Control Durations - Believe it or not there used to not be any diminishing returns or CC caps on players. A 15 second Warlock fear lasted 15 seconds on a player. You can see why this was changed but again it was a misguided logical step to be that way in the first place but if you think about it why would your powers be weaker against a player? Mechanically you can see why it shouldn't be that way but if this was a real world then why would it be like that.
Elixer Buffs - For a long time now you have only been able to have two elixer buffs up at a given time, one for offense and one for defense. But did you know you used to be able to have as many up as you wanted? As long as it wasn't two of the same stat, you could stack elixer after elixer and why not?
Anything I missed?
Just to clarify, I'm not saying anything that has changed is a bad thing. I was just having a bit of fun showing how much logic used to be around WOW's game design and how over time it has been gutted out.
For the most part, these changes have been for the positive. In fact, most were incredibly welcomed when they came.
But did I miss anything? If you can think of anything else that used to be logical but has been changed please comment below. This took a lot of thought to come up with what I did. And if you have anything you want me to talk about next time, please comment below as well.