Back To Zul
I don’t even play World of Warcraft anymore, but this piece of news makes me sad: The raid instances of Zul’Aman and Zul’Gurub, both of which have played significant roles in my raiding career (I led my first ever raid in Zul’Gurub, for example), are being brought back to the game as five-player heroic dungeons. Sure, hardly anyone played in those instances anymore and I dare say many newer players won’t even know them, but it is still an awful move to simply re-tool them for small groups of level 85 players.
For one, romping through the content with five players takes away a lot of the epic memories players might still have from the good old times. Clearing an instance within half an hour with a group of randoms is just not the same as wiping on Hakkar for weeks before finally getting a kill. A dungeon simply isn’t as grandiose as a raid instance and turning one of the latter into one of the former degrades it quite a bit.
Then there’s the issue of graphics of course. I suppose that Blizzard’s main reason for bringing back old dungeons is to save money that would have to be spent on graphic artists and 3D modelers in the creation of a new zone. Reusing old models and designs is simply quite a bit cheaper than creating things from scratch. Alas we also saw the results this approach in the re-tooled Naxxramas (and I’ll assume things are similar in the newly re-tooled Deadmines and Shadowfang Keep). Models back then were low on polygons, badly textures and all-around not very good. In order for the money-saving to kick in, Blizzard can’t afford to have the zones remodeled, so they will take the old (read: ugly) assets.
Finally we’ll have to talk about what this means for the game’s development in the long run and I’m afraid the news are not good. The amount of new content provided to players is getting less and less with each new content patch, showing a decline in creativity and general effort put into the game. For my money, Blizzard is milking their golden goose (Yes they have the technology to milk geese. They got it from Darth Kotik.) as much as they can with as little effort as possible while internally focusing on new projects and leaving WoW to die a slow but inevitable death. No, WoW isn’t dead yet and won’t be for quite a while, but they have turned off life support and those who choose to stick around will suffocate sooner or later.