Farm Status

wow[World of Warcraft] I was listening to one of the many WoW podcasts the other day and they mentioned putting different instances on “farm status”. I was pretty sure I knew what they were talking about, but I looked it up in the wikipedia. Here is what they have there:

Farming(instance)/on farm status:A statement used to refer to an instance that is frequently completed with ease and in little time such as “We are farming Molten Core” or “We have Blackwing Lair on farm status”.

Seriously, the gamers that are willing to continue playing games that don’t have enough content for them are basically making sure MMORPGs remain as crappy as they are. They could be so much more, but as long as a good majority of people seem to enjoy doing the same damn instance over and over again – we will be stuck here in the crappy MMORPG present. Why? Why is that fun? I don’t get it. I don’t mean to flame these people (my brother is one of them), but come on.

– Ethic

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Ethic

I own this little MMO gaming blog but I hardly ever write on it any more. I'm more of a bloglord or something. Thankfully I have several minions to keep things rolling along.

29 thoughts on “Farm Status”

  1. an instance will end up on farm status long before your guild members even end up with 1/2 the gear they want from the instance… just the way it goes.

    its not “gamers that are willing to continue playing games that don’t have enough content for them”. people just want their loots, and if you don’t want your loots why even play the game in the first place?? they have irc for that

  2. I guess I’ll just never understand the appeal. I like loot, sure, but I will not go do the same instance 20 times hoping for some boots to drop. I’m not knocking WoW completely, I think the early game is almost pure bliss for me. I loved the game up to level 30, then I just got bored. I plan to return to the game with my wife also, we may play up to 20 or so but I doubt much more than that.

    My brother runs instances on a schedule. Heck, his group even takes other people through them for a fee. I fail to see how that can be fun, but he loves it.

    Personally, I think end-game raiding is a game designer’s copout.

  3. heh yea i guess it just depends on the person… i always looked at the end game in EQ and i always wanted to be there doing it but i never even got close. but in wow now i’m doing it and loving it.

    maybe you have to realize that its not just you in there and that its a big machine, and to make that machine better to handle the newer stuff you need to help upgrade all the parts of that machine… idunno

    of course its alot funner taking down new bosses in naxx than running mc/bwl for the 1000th time. but due to the size of my guild i don’t have to run bwl or mc anymore, thats where we train the new people heh. but i definitely did my time there, more then i would have wanted mostly, but its still fun sometimes.

    just takes a different breed i guess.

  4. Funny that you used waiting for boots to drop as your example. I don’t get the appeal of anything being on farm status. There is still too much time involved – scheduling of my time so I can be there on time to do the same thing again, and again and again. Ugh. Wake me up when on farm status means

  5. Sorry Saylah, not sure what happened there. There is a bug if you use a less-than sign so perhaps you did that? I have not seen a fix, and in fact WordPress claims it is by design. Sounds like an MMORPG dev now heh.

    AC2 had it’s fair share of re-running quests, as pretty much all loot-based MMORPGs do. It’s a problem that I don’t see anyone much worried about, but it’s long been bugging me. I invision MMORPGs being so much more than they currently are, but many people seem to like them just the way they are. I think the games are so far from what they could be. Some people like grind and repetition, see it as some sort of challenge. Perhaps these people haven’t seen much of it before. I’ve played so many MMORPGs that I see the same mistakes being repeated over and over.

    I’ll keep dreaming, and hope that I’m not off the mark in my hopes for what an MMORPG could be some day. I hope there is a group of people out there, that feel like I do, and they are making something revolutionary. Nothing out there is really much of a stretch from EQ. How many versions of EQ do we really need?

  6. “I’ll keep dreaming, and hope that I’m not off the mark in my hopes for what an MMORPG could be some day.”

    I don’t understand this comment. You don’t like farming, I can dig that – but what’s the alternative? You don’t suggest one, you just say MMORPGs “could be better”. How?

    As for why it’s fun to do the same instance again and again, there can be many reasons for many people – a rare piece of loot, perfecting your group work, breaking in new people… think of it this way – farming an instance, as long as it’s not *too* easy, gives us the pleasure of winning new loot and killing old foes, while giving us a chance to relax (relatively) among friends. Want more challange? Just go to the higher level instance, there will always be one… except for the hard-core raiders doing Nax, and I don’t get those guys either… :)

    As for more content… well, on the face of it, that’s a good idea – surely more content can’t be bad, right? Well, take for example Baldur’s Gate – that game had content pouring out of the wazoo, but still managed to bore me to tears, I never even got to the end. Go figure… :)

    Just my 2 cents worth :P

  7. Due to my uncanny bad luck with Pick Up Groups, I suspect that the first time I’ll see any of the Lv45+ Instances at all is going to be on Farm Status.

    One thing I did notice though, at L40, was that if I merely relied on ‘normal’ questing income to pay for the Lizard, the rate of xp gained at while doing that would probably have me past L50 before I could buy the mount. I daresay the Epic Mount is a similarly large and disproportionate cash-sink to.

    In the end, I took to taking empty sets of bags into Shadowfang Keep and Wailing Caves on an unashamed solo trolley dash. At 40, it seemed the best income vs boredom alternative. I expect the top-end isn’t much different – Epic Mounts, Finishing Sets from the AH, Rare Tradeskill Bits and Pieces, etc – expensive items designed to make the game take that much longer, and instead, folks just grind that much harder.

    I’d imagine there is something in the reaply value of them though – people play offline singleplayer games more than once past completion afterall.

  8. Well, people still play Minesweeper and Solitaire. People even play bloody Sudoku, even though it’s entirely automatable. It’s not unreasoable for people to find pleasure in comfortable repetition. Not everyone is a full-blooded neophile.

  9. You don’t like farming, I can dig that – but what’s the alternative?
    DDO theoretically has that setup: quests instead of farms. I am led to believe that people still farm those quests for xp, but perhaps there are/will be enough to get past that.

    Does early game World of Warcraft have “farm status”? I thought there were enough quests and such to keep you leveling without doing the same thing for hours at a time.

    Fundamentally, it is always the same thing: run-click-kill. But the varying window dressing is pleasant.

  10. Couldn’t agree with you more Ethic. I love WoW, have three level 60 chars and belong to a large-ish raiding guild. However, a couple dozen times or so in any instance is it for me – less for the rushed-out-the-door Molten Bore.

    And as drypulse said, since the loot factor isn’t strong enough to keep me coming back, I realized I am better off taking half a year off and rejoining my buddies when the expansion comes and I can enjoy their company *and* the game itself.

    As for what could be better, it’s probably more accurate to say what could be different. I know that I would prefer dynamic encounters that rely more on fast decision making, adaptive tactics or twitch – things that don’t get stale so quickly. But learning the static encounters over time is a big appeal to many current raiders. I would like a game that cut way back on the timesinks – I play once or twice a week these days and simply don’t do content that I don’t enjoy. But the rest of my guild would blow through such a game in a matter of weeks.

    I wouldn’t say that early game WoW has farm status so much as farm mentality. I cringe when I see people posting about how to level as fast as possible by taking on the lowest level enemies they can and grinding for hours on end. Why play a game that boring? If you hit all the fun quests and take on challenging encounters, level is (mostly) novel and fun. Well, for the first couple characters anyway. And that is the answer, as you said, under the dressing it’s all the same anyway, so people coming from, say EQ2, are on farm status from day one.

    I think we need a new game.

  11. Why do people play golf on the same course? Some people play every week for years and years and years. The course hasn’t changed at all, not one bit. The rules of the game are the same too. But they keep playing week after week. Farm status golfing I suppose.

  12. To Solidstate: You ask me how MMORPGs could be better than they are now. It’s a very big answer and I won’t go into it much as these things have been discussed many times before.

    But as an example: Allow players to design and build their own houses and cities. Create and enforce laws. Create quests and dungeons. Create skills, spells, crafts. Really, the options are mind-boggling once you push beyond the accepted norm. I think the players need a lot more power of creation in order to really move to the next level.

    Ryzom took a nice jump with their Ring, allowing players to create content. Second Life has it’s own set of player-creation abilities. EVE Online allows you to have a valid reason for PvP, with player controlled regions and stations.

    Like I said, I’m not knocking WoW for being what it is; a very fun basic MMO. But yes, basic. It’s EQ all over again. Many millions of people are happy with that. I want more. I have played seven versions of Everquest. They are all amusing for a while, but eventually you recognize the limitations being imposed upon you.

    To Pete: Minesweeper, Solitaire and Sudoku are repetitive and somewhat mindless, but are really designed for 15-30 minutes. Kind of a time killer in general. But yes, there are times where all I wanted to do was something mindless and sometimes grinding mobs fits the bill. I don’t deny that.

    To Trouble: I can see your point about golf, sort of. However, people do golf at other courses and they don’t generally golf for 4 hours every single day. Also, they play golf to get exercise, and often as a business meeting. But still, the point that many people do find enjoyment from trying to get better at an activity by repeating it over and over is valid. I don’t like golf either, don’t much see the point. I’d rather go for a walk somewhere nice.

  13. A fundamental flaw in all of the previous analysis of farming raid zones in MMOs is your lack of accounting for the ‘next big challange’

    Since we are on the topic of WoW, I’ll stick to that. I am a member of a mid to top tier raiding guild, currently working our way through Naxxrammas. We didn’t farm Molten Core or Blackwing Lair for fun or for the depth of content, but rather to gear up for the next exciting content released with AQ. And then Naxx and so on. Molten Core was pure excitement for us all at one time. I remember the first time I got invited to an MC raid, the first epic I won, the first time we downed Ragnaros.. etc… Then I can recall with great fondness and excitement, the first 40 wipes on Razorgore, and our ultimate victory. Those stories continue all the way to our most recent victory against Grand Widow Faerlina in Naxxrammas.

    So why farm instances? Because we wouldn’t be as good as we are now if we didn’t, and we couldn’t accomplish what we can if we hadn’t. It isn’t about the Silver Boots of +1 Leetness, it is about honing the skills and gear of the team in order to achieve th next great victory. The thrill of the victory is the reason you suffer the farm.

    The only alternative to this MMO style is a non-itemcentric game. Skill based development games *could* achieve the bypass of the Learn, Execute, Farm mentality, but min-maxers will still find a way to grind up the skill and ultimatly create a new type of farming. MMOs are grind. They are farm, Life is a grind and farm… I am farming USD in my office right now, doing teh same repetative action over and over on a set schedule in order to buy my Epic Mount car, or my House, or my new item. If life is that, why would a persistant alternate reality be any different?

  14. Cyndre wrote “The thrill of the victory is the reason you suffer the farm.”

    And there’s the rub. If the thrill outweighs the suffer, I’m happy for you. I’m sure there are many people that feel the same as you. Regardless, I still ask: Is that the pinnacle of MMORPG design? Is it the best, most fun, we can do? Give the players suffering to earn a thrill? It’s the MMORPG designers that seem to think so and the players for the most part are proving them right.

    I still think MMORPGs could be so much more.

  15. They could be so much more, but developers are unwilling to take the chance on anything novel, because it could turn into an expensive flop. Hell, I’ve got an idea for a random encounter generation system for a superhero MMO *but it could be tuned to fantasy/scifi/etc.) that’s better than any of the stuff currently out there, including a basic algorithm for it, so it’s not just theory, but it’ll never see the light of day outside of (maybe) a web-based MMO like urbandead.com. And I’m sure I’m not the only one: these aren’t hard things to come up with, in theory, but they mean getting someone to spend money on your idea.

    The problem is that it’s a risk, and risks aren’t well accepted. Hell, Marvel went for possibly the most risk averse strategy I can think of: Hire Cryptic (City of Heroes) to build it, with Microsoft for money. Oh, yeah, but make sure there’s loot in it. Because nothing says “comic book” like Captain America grinding for adamantium.

  16. Why take a risk on a non standard MMO when most of them have been horrible money pits? Look at how the flopping of Auto Assault caused NCSoft to lose money and have to cut support personel. They thought they could bring something new to the North American market without bothering to see if anyone wanted it. About the only risky non-traditional MMO to succeed has been EVE Online and its taken it awhile to build up a decent amount of players.

  17. I can think of a few possibilities that would improve the end-game and the farming issues.

    One is to make farming more fun. Make the boss encounters a little more dynamic. Most of them are incredibly formulaic. The bosses in WoW all tend to have a specific pattern, controlled by fairly precise aggro generation and the threat of imminent death if it’s ever lost. If they’re made more complicated it’s generally by the addition of another element which will appear from time to time, like whelps in Onyxia and the bat-bombers at Jeklik in ZG. They’re still part of a static reaction. I think this is one of the weaknesses of the fantasy MMO genre at this point. They’re really locked into the necessity of everyone performing their basic role.

    As a case study, I’d like to bring up the Bloodlord Mandokir fight. Off the bat, you tank Mandokir and kill the raptor. Then it’s a slow dps endurance fight with one person at a time stopping for a few seconds when their name is called. That’s pretty much it. If anyone other than a plate-wearer is taking damage, there’s a very good chance they’re going to be killed. A long fight like this would be a very good opportunity to put some tactics into the game, where you’ve got to cycle people out of the front lines for recovery, have the occasional break in the lines that isn’t the boss simply running unimpeded to a clothy for a one-hit-kill, and perhaps some environment-based tactics. Unfortunately, WoW has linear class design; the mechanics have been fine-tuned such that nearly every fight has the same ideal progression. The few exceptions brought back in line with limited crowd control.

    The second is to take something more from the MUD roots: a remort system – a system under which a player can return to Lv1 with some permanent inherent bonuses. In some games this could be an upgraded race or class. In something like WoW (ahhh Wow…), 5 more talent points, the Hero Classes of myth and legend, or a chance to be recognized as a hero by the other side and play through their quest lines, as well (perhaps giving access to both in one run). (As for the last point… What happened to that ever-important conflict? Outside battlegrounds and random gankings on a PvP server, there’s very little evidence that there’s a war going on, so why can’t we have some cross-faction interaction?)

    The other thing I can think of is challenges. Give rewards for speed runs, one-class runs, naked runs, etc.. There are lots of difficult tasks one could come up with that’d be a fun detour from the normal farming grind.

  18. The second is to take something more from the MUD roots: a remort system – a system under which a player can return to Lv1 with some permanent inherent bonuses.
    Frankly, this is what has kept me playing Kingdom of Loathing, although I am about ready for a break on that.

  19. Relmstein: I can’t agree with claiming that Auto Assault flopped because it was a non-standard MMO. In my opinion, it flopped because it was a *standard* MMO. I was personally looking forward to playing a Mad Max style game, with post-apocalyptic grit and gore, fighting rabidly over dwindling fuel supplies and refineries, tweaking my vehicles and coming up with all manners of cool combinations of gear, slamming my opponent hard against a rock wall in a race through a deserted valley and see his windshield shatter.
    Then I played in the Open Beta and realized that the game was really WoW’s engine with cars instead of orcs. Sure, my car could travel at breakneck speeds, but slamming into a wall at breakneck speeds didn’t do a damn bit of damage. I would often take shortcuts by having my car leap off tall cliffs. My car was upgradeable using slots, which would only fit certain modules, that were available in stores or as loot from rats. My gun would auto-aim and auto-fire for as long as I help down the mouse button on my enemy. When my car got blown up, my wreckage would be magically picked up by some flying vehicle and instantly transported to a “repair” point at home base – I started using this as a travel method.
    Gameplay progressed via quests, which were either Fedex quests or mob-killing quests.
    No fuel was required, and my car would regenerate energy (for shields and weapons) automatically. This, I was told, was due to some UltraMagicalSunfuelGenerator thingie that’s available everywhere in the Future – the same Future where people dress in loincloths and can’t find enough food to support the population.
    Having a WoW account at the time, I decided not to waste time on a WoW-clone in bleak colours where my avatar could move really fast. I think a lot of people felt the same way, and that’s the real reason AA failed – not for trying to be different, but for claiming to be different when it was really the Exact. Same. Thing.

  20. It seems to me that whenever someone finds a game they feel is too easy they start comparing it to World of Warcraft even if they have nothing in common. The truth is that while World of Warcraft is easy to start playing it can be hard and time consuming to get to the end game. Perhaps thats why some experienced MMO players hate the game. They are only challenged by the end game portions so thats what they focus on reaching. All of the content in between just becomes millions of rats they have to kill ten at a time. (I can’t resist using the site’s name in my arguments :-P)

  21. I swear. Sometimes I think half the gaming population is that guy with absolutely no life from South Park.

  22. We don’t keep running the instances over and over again necessarily because the execution of it is fun. However we do so to get the gear that allows us to attempt the next instance up the ladder.

    For me its a choice between running UBRS or Stratholme or Scholomance again, or farming BWL so that we could go to Naxxramas.

  23. “It seems to me that whenever someone finds a game they feel is too easy they start comparing it to World of Warcraft even if they have nothing in common.”

    No, I’m not comparing AA to WoW because it was easy to get into – I’m comparing it to WoW (and most other fantasy-based MMORPGs on the market) because it shared the exact same form of gameplay. Make character, enter game, get noob quest, complete noob quest by killing mobs or moving an item from here to here, go back, get reward, get another quest (slightly harder), complete quest, go back, get reward, get another quest (slightly harder), rinse, repeat.

    Somewhere in there, throw in a DING for a level up, a ph4t l3wt drop, and some travelling (usually as part of a breadcrumb quest) to other quest givers and you have WoW, CoX, DDO, most certainly Auto Assault and a bunch of other ones I’m sure.

    The issue I have with WoW is not that the road to endgame is hard (the concept of “endgame” is ridiculous) but because it severely limits my choice of activity at all levels of the game. In WoW, I am “allowed” to engage in the following activities:

    a) Killing mobs
    b) Completing quests (usually by killing mobs)
    c) Crafting (which, until the “endgame”, is just another money sink)
    d) PvP (which is pointless since there are virtually no death penalties, no tangible personal rewards and no change in the world as a whole)

    Of course, I’m OK with having my choices limited to some extent based on the form of game I’m playing – in Puzzle Pirates, I expect that my choices will be limited to playing puzzles, trading, playing dressup and socializing. The problem is that Auto Assault could have delivered a new set of activities; racing, fighting over territory, tweaking vehicle layout and function. In short, all those things you would expect of a Mad Max style post-apoc MMO. Instead, it just played right into the WoW/CoX/DDO formula and killed those facets of the game that I considered to be central to the theme. That’s why I called it unoriginal – nothing to do with how hard it is to get to some elusive endgame.

  24. “For me its a choice between running UBRS or Stratholme or Scholomance again, or farming BWL so that we could go to Naxxramas.”

    To me, that sounds like:
    “For me, it’s a choice between robbing grandmas or dealing crack or pimpin’, or doing some major money laundering we could go on to bank robbery.”

    I’m not trying to unfairly draw parallels between committing crime and running instances, just illustrating the fact that you *should have more choices*. WoW – or that ideal game that we’re dreaming about – should offer you a choice to atone for your past sins and go on to a life of upholding the law, or teaching, or garbage collecting, or hair dressing. In that game, claiming that you’re stuck in a life of crime (running instances) because that is the only option available to you should sound as ridiculous as it does in the real world. Sadly, in WoW, it rings true.

  25. “you *should have more choices*. WoW – or that ideal game that we’re dreaming about – should offer you a choice to atone for your past sins and go on to a life of upholding the law, or teaching, or garbage collecting, or hair dressing.”

    You do have those options available to you by playing another game. I would suggest “Hello Kitty: Island Adventures” might be your cup of tea.

    WoW doesn’t need to fill the Tetris, PacMan, Doom and Ned Flanders’ “Savior: Quest for the Grail” set. WoW is what it is and all the things I see posted to improve the game make it look less interesting to me.

    “If I kill XYZ, they should be dead” sounds like something great in a “real world” type of way, but that also means that the fun of killing the world bosses will only be enjoyed by the South Park dude. As a late comer, I missed the opening of the gates on my server. Sure, I could have gone into another realm, but then I wouldn’t be able to play with my friends or even message them in game to chat.

    I don’t want to build a house in my MMORPG. If I wanted that, I would have bought Sims MMORPG. The closest I might want to come would be to get a home in Stormwind so that I could have more slots to keep things and be able to set my hearth there or better yet to allow us to build a formal instanced guild hall with a real guild bank. I also would like to create guild quests for new members, but I think that is getting off base of the core program WoW has.

  26. “WoW is what it is and all the things I see posted to improve the game make it look less interesting to me.”

    You’re right, of course. Lots of people like yourself play and enjoy WoW, and people like me – who want something different from the game – should not be allowed to change your game experience by demanding the game be more realistic, or immersive, or generally something it is not.

    My beef with WoW is that because of its sheer size, it is looked upon as the de facto MMORPG – what amazon.com did to online shopping, WoW did for virtual worlds. Fact is, WoW is one of the most streamlined/castrated MMO’s in existance, which is the main reason it is so popular. The complexity that MUDs and early graphical MMOs worked so hard to implement, Blizzard gleefully ignored or made a mockery of, and it turned out that this sheer simplicity of the game attracted many first-time MMO players and pre-teens who previously were not subscribers. The resulting large population caused most existing MMO players to join just to play with their friends. It became, in effect, the Lowest Possible Denominator of MMORPGs.

    What irks me is not that WoW isn’t an advanced, complex, immersive game – I also don’t go around slamming Civilization for its lack of cutscenes or Zork for its crappy graphics, either. I realize this is not the core gameplay Blizzard is trying to achieve. No, what irks me is that Blizzard took a tradition and evolution of gaming almost as old as video games itself – MUD I was written in 1979 – reduced the formula to the very simplest of ingredients, labelled it with a big sticker that said “TEH BEST GAME EVAR!!1!”, and people are just eating it up thinking they’re experiencing the next revolution in digital gaming.

    Not that Blizzard has any sort of corporate responsibility for the common interest. They’re doing what they can to increase shareholder profits. The problematic variable in this equation are those who are stuck in a grind cycle they’re not enjoying very much, but keep subscribing to WoW because they’re assuming all other games are even less fun (or why else would they have only a fraction fo the player base). I’m guessing that’s a majority of the 6 Mn WoW subscribers.

    As for the “Hello Kitty” stab, all I can say is – have you ever considered Progress Quest? It’s cheaper than WoW, and just as exciting. ;p

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