You Can’t Always Get What You Want

October 27, 2008

As we in the Warhammer world await our very own Halloween treat, the folks over in WoW have been thrust into the throes of a full-fledged zombie invasion.  It is, in a word, ducky.  You get “infected” by a number of sources and can eventually turn into a zombie, attacking pretty much anyone in the game — your own side, the other side, NPCs, etc.  It’s basically turned the landscape into a giant open world free-for-all blender of violence, with zombies at the gooey core.

Now, as the founding member of the Zombie Appreciation Club, I have to applaud any game that goes, “Hey, you know what we need in here?  More recently-revived corpses!” and then goes to town with it.  For a game that’s as static as WoW, I would’ve imagined that the players would be thrilled to experience such a wide-ranging, radical world event.  It’s the sort of thing I crave for in every game.

And while some players are having a blast, I’m just floored with how many whiny babies are out there posting left and right about how this has “ruined” the game and they’re just going to sit on the floor with their arms crossed until Blizzard turns the zombie switch to “off” and they can go back to the routine, predictable grind.

Because, really, that’s what players seem to like: routine and predictable.  As a self-proclaimed carebear PvE lover of the highest order, I understand this feeling.  I love knowing that I have mastered certain PvE content and can trump it every time.  I enjoy not being rushed in combat, but having time to think things through and experiment.  I like measurable goals and neat, orderly bars of achievement.  And yet, I need the other side too, that unpredictable, chaotic, messy, fly by the seat of your pants thrilling ride.  That’s the adventure.  So I try to be flexible and shift between the mindsets of enjoying both PvE and PvP for what they are.

But I certainly don’t start stamping my feet on the ground and bellowing at the stars that game devs are trying to ruin my day by throwing a limited world event that takes my safe, orderly world and dumps it on its head.  Frankly, I’m laughing at idiots who are whining about this, because you can hear the fear and frustration in their voices at having to deal with a shifting world full of uncertainty.  A world where it’s all a battlefield.  A world that is, a bit, in the spirit of WAR’s “War is everywhere” maxim.

When I was in City of Heroes this summer, there were a couple weeks where the Rikti would “invade” certain zones by flying huge dropships through the area and beaming down scores of baddies for us to handle.  As with the zombie invasion in WoW, some of the players just HATED this intrusion into their game world.  It was too random and messy for them to deal with.  Hey, I died numerous times trying to cross these danger zones, but I never complained.  It was different, out of the ordinary, and I appreciate and applaud stuff like that when devs take the time to put it in.

I don’t know what WoW’s whiners (not saying that they’re ALL whiners, after all, quite a few are definitely having a ball with this event) hope to accomplish with their pedantic tantrums, but I assume that it’s in hope that Blizzard will never, ever want to do another world event that causes a single hair of predictability to shift out of place.

Mythic?  I’m never going to complain if you guys decide to upend the world.  Heck, I’m ready for it, and I’ll grab a seat in the front row.  Can’t wait to see what the live events team pumps out.


  1. ooooooooh I hope the event this week turns out to be good. Did Mythic say when the event starts? Is it just the day of Halloween??

  2. This event is by far the best one Blizz ever made. For once, you have an event that is going to change the world and the players are the ones making it happen. The problem is that most people forget that there’s some kind of story being told in an mmorpg. For once we get to be part of that. What’s more fun than getting to Ironforge and finding the city full of zombies and all the vendors dead!

  3. Nice post!

    I can’t get over the feeling that the WoW zombie invasion is probably more fun to read about than actually to play through. And bizarrely, even though I do plan to resub and play Lich King, I haven’t had the slightest twinge of wanting to play through the zombie invasion myself.

  4. Currently CoX is doing the ‘zombie invasion’ thing too. Like a normal Rikti invasion, hordes of zombies will attack the zone every so often. You can earn badges by fighting off these hordes.

    It’s kinda fun even at 3 fps.

  5. I think the dumbest one was when WoW had the event where you had a broken heart and you had to find someone willing to mend it… I don’t remember the details, but I do remember everyone and their little sister crying out in chat for someone to mend their heart… It was very odd… I think I canceled my sub just after that (for the 8th time…)

  6. I think Spinks has it right – the event is a great idea on paper, but is plagued (sorry, had to be done) by a few griefing issues that would have been easily fixed had Blizzard put the event on the beta or test servers to see how it would be abused. I realize that they wanted the event to be a surprize, but there are a few areas where you have to be very careful when you opt to disregard players’ PVP flag status, and Blizzard missed a few spots (most notably zombies camping zone-in points).

    The end result has turned an otherwise enjoyable event into probably the most controversial thing Blizzard has ever done. This is not some forum/blogosphere whine-fest by a small vocal minority. There are some people who (quite vocally) like the event, but the overwhelming majority of the comments I’m seeing IN GAME are negative, and I’ve never seen that before on ANY change that Blizzard made, no matter how many pages the topic hit on the forums. I think they’ll be very hesitant to do anything like this in the future, and, frankly, I think Mythic is watching pretty closely to see how bad the fallout is.

  7. I like the Zombie invasion. It’s all fun. The end of it is today. I read that they have some more stuff planned.

  8. The zombie event is great fun….

    ..until you just want to pop online to check the AH… as all the auctioneers will be dead, ok no prob just take a flight to… wait no the flight masters are gone too… ok will ill just ride, wait im infected and now im dead 2 shotted by a lvl 75 guard and now have to spend 2 mins corpse running back to my corpse with the hope that i wont get re-infected as soon as i ress.

    I can see why some people could get annoyed by this but still i had a blast 🙂 and hey it only lasted a week

  9. @ Green – Whining about the world changing is a traditional pastime for WoWites… you may have never seen so many people get upset in game, but man, I have… over and over and over again for the past few years whenever something big happens, even if it’s largely positive. You’d think some of these people were losing their right arm due to Wookie attack by reading these posts instead of a weird, chaotic event that was here and gone within a week and means nothing in the long run.

    People hate change and hate the unknown or uncontrollable, which was what I was driving at there. As for the zombie event, good or bad it was a limited event, it allowed the game to inject far more “life” into a static world, and I don’t think that should be punished or kicked out against, just analyzed and given constructive criticism.

  10. A couple more thoughts… there’s no way that this sort of massive, world-ranging event could’ve been staged by just Blizzard’s side, and involving the players in the creation of the event is a very positive move on their behalf.

    And you have to admit — it is a very memorable event, even for folks who don’t play the game. From a PR angle, it was a home run, as it drove attention back to WoW.

  11. More attention to WoW won’t really drive the numbers up IMHO because people already know what WoW is all about and won’t pay $15 to resub, just to see what’s up w/ a Zombie event. I do think however that the expansion will bring lots of people back, for a couple months at least. It’s kind of like the Election, I just can’t wait for the wait to be over so that people can get back to their normally scheduled programed lives. After the WoW expansion buzz is over, you can start to really track how well WAR will do against WoW. So far WoW is Hillary Clinton, she has the name, been in the game a long time, and has a following. WAR is Mr. Obama, who not many people knew about, but says and does things that make people turn their heads and have hope for a brighter future filed w/ change and new Dev’s.

  12. Sadly… as soon as I read the first paragraph I thought both “Wow, awesome event. That would be super fun” and then immediately “People are gonna bitch up a storm.”

    Fact is, the majority of mundane, grind focused, loot focused, e-peen waving people (who you have to admit, WoW attracts) want nothing that interrupts their daily faction hunt, raid, level grind etc. It’s terribly sad, but that’s the downside of such a huge game that appeals to all. “All” in general hate anything out of the ordinary.

    Had that been done in a smaller more niche game, it might have worked and been loved. Just not in the monster “My second job is WoW” game.

  13. I’ve been playing throughout the event, and truthfully it’s not anywhere near as bad as people are saying. The first few days were a few zombies here and there: they were fairly easy to avoid, you had 10 minutes to get cleansed before you turned into a zombie, and there wasn’t a ton of inconvenience. It’s only been the past day or two that all heck broke loose (1 minute zombiefication! Healer NPCs gone! Zombies EVERYWHERE!!!) and it really started being a pain. Even at that, the zombie part is winding down today so a day or two of really crazy zombieness hasn’t really been a big deal.

    Having players control the zombies was a brilliant move and it captured the feeling of being attacked, more than an NPCs-only event ever will. Some people said it was turning the PvE servers into PvP servers… I wholeheartedly disagree. Sure there’s a PvP element to it, but it was the only way to really do the event right. Zombies don’t only come when invited. 🙂

  14. Perhaps we ran in different crowds, but, in my experience, the number of folks willing to post a diatribe on the forums (official, guild, blogs, whatever) was a lot larger than the number willing to spend gaming time typing in /g. This time out, everyone had an opinion, and dislike for the event was the majority by a 3:1 ratio (typically it’s more like 30% for, 20% against, and 50% don’t care). I suppose that’s in part because it was so hard to avoid this particular event, and in part because this event was balanced such that the one outnumbered zombie griefer can actually can ruin the three guys’ day, but, even so, the sheer numbers who were unhappy was really unusual, even for WoW.

    I also don’t believe Tigole’s comment that they aren’t ending the invasion early for a second – the quest to deliver the “cure” to the plague was on the live servers for barely 18 hours before all the infections went away. On the East Coast, that window started in the late evening Sunday night and ended before the workday was over on Monday. Bit anti-climactic for the grand finale to a major event, no?

    I guess we have learned a valuable lesson – players are better at being pests to other players than scripted mobs (and I know of several such players who no longer have guilds today). And perhaps the PR splash was worth the dev time Blizzard sunk into this once and done event (that, lest we forget, came in the middle of an eight month content drought). But will this be the type of event that players reminisce on fondly? Is there some way to get “constructive” feedback out of “being killed while helpless at the zone line is not fun” (a feature that Blizzard either approved of or failed to test for)? I guess time will tell.

  15. I think it’d be very interesting to see what the player reaction would be if they did the exact same event in WAR. Would there be more joy (at an actual world event), more ganking (since we’re all PvP-minded), more or less outcry?

  16. Memorable but it looks like better than 75% of the posts and general chat is not going to regard it as a good memory. WoWites are a pretty whimpy bunch on the whole but have you been back to actually see what is going on Syp? I know I have never seen it like this. Mixing things up a bit now and again but they have always given people the ability to get involved and then move on when hey feel like it. This event is different. You can’t avoid it. It has entirely shut the newbie zones down and the cities have been completely unusable a significant amount of the time. Their is a reason Blizz used the PvP opt-in flag model. If they had gone with a free for all PvP model like UO was way back in the beginning, they would have failed miserably. That is essentially what they have done here for a whole week. Basically, they shutdown the normal game for a week and turned back the clock to the very think that killed UO. Sure it will be over. But that is a week that is going to leave a bad taste in the mouth of everyone who specifically choose to roll on a PvE server to avoid too much PvP. And it is much worse than being on a PvP server or playing WAR. On a PvP server you cannot be force flagged in your own city and your auctioneers, bankers, battle masters, trainers and flight masters cannot be camped by your own side. And compared to WAR, even when your capital is taken you will still be able to get to the secured area that will have auctioneers, bankers and the rest. A successful city siege is going to inconvenience people but even here their is going to be an absolute limit to how far it can go. PvP is more than just fun, it is the whole point of the game but you don’t shut the rest of the game, the PvE portion of the game down to do it. This was a very creative idea and a great way to add an element of danger but it was ill conceived to not give people a way to opt out

  17. That is true for some Mitsubachi but for a lot of people they simply want to choose how long they will be involved the the event for themselves. The same is true even in WAR. I choose when to fly out to the RvR lakes or when I want to work on the PQs in my current chapter or when I want to mess around with my talisman making. But I choose, not someone else.

    And what was going on yesterday was not PvP so much as random ganking and some specific NPC killing. Real PvP is the RvR we have in the lakes where you know you can get jumped and if you and your buddies start knocking on the keep door you expect at least somebody to roll up and try to stop you. Real PvP is taking the fight to someone who will and wants to fight back.

  18. I like the zombie idea, in principle, but in practice it’s pretty bad. I logged onto my WoW account for the first time in a few weeks to play with my girlfriend (her computer won’t run WAR, sadly… She’s been playing it on mine, but we can’t do it together just yet) and it made that little bit of time an absolute pain. We went to town to turn in quests, and the quest-givers were dead, and we were also dead shortly afterward. We couldn’t even use the flight master to fly back to a city for training because we’d get aggro’d by zombies at or before talking to him and it’d give a “you are busy and can’t fly right now” message. This event could and should have been awesome, but when it’s making towns pretty much unusable, that’s problematic.

    Then again, that was the only time I’ve gotten to experience, and that could have been isolated and not representative.

    At least it’s given me even more reason to stay in WAR. 😛

  19. If WAR had an event that made starting new alts almost impossible, made flying in zones deadly, made access to the banks and auctioneers inconsistent at best, and generally ended up costing a gold or two each day in death healing costs, then yes, I think people would get pissed.

    Again, why do most people opt to run on a Core server? It is not to avoid RvR but to simply be able to choose then to go looking for it and when to step back and prepare for it. And even on RvR servers their are limits on who can go roll the newbie zones and their are always safe (city secured area), and mostly safe (warcamps would be hard for even large warbands to knock over) places to retreat to. And you know you can depend on certain services to be available. I never wonder if the flight master is going to be there and it would get old very quickly if I had to wait on a respawn every other time I wanted to fly and had to do that waiting in a place that could turn deadly at any moment.

  20. Yes, it had potential, but unfortunately what happened was it was seen as a green light for people who enjoy griefing. I actually did find plenty of people complaining in the general chat channels and in /say. Perhaps the people who were enjoying it were too busy as high level zombies.

    For level 70’s it was mostly just an inconvenience, but anyone lower ran into big problems. One high level player could completely destroy the starting area for hours which put off a lot of brand new players (good news for WAR though!). The NPC’s they turned wouldn’t drop to an appropriate zone level – that level 40 guard would stay level 40 and charge around killing level 10’s & lower before they could blink. Of course if you got turned into a zombie the remaining guards would also kill you faster than you can blink. Damned if you try and avoid the event, damned if you embrace it. And sure, repair costs at low levels aren’t much, but then you don’t start out with a lot of cash either.

    In Shattrath level 70’s had a problem too. The place is considered a sanctuary where you can’t attack anyone. The players who got turned into zombies weren’t attackable, and the NPCs weren’t able to be cured. So everyone has to stand around watching helplessly as a zombie shuffles around all the NPCs turning them into zombies (which, thankfully you could kill, but it doesn’t get your banker back any faster).

    I was excited when the event first started. I have a copy of the Zombie Survival Guide for crying out loud (useful for any apocalypse scenario actually), and the idea was cool. At least it was until you noticed that the zombies were getting kind of single-minded about destroying bankers, auctioneers, flight masters, the poor Orphan Matron who just happened to be standing around a low level area giving out daily quests for Halloween.

    It was an interesting idea, and I have to congratulate Blizzard for thinking outside the box, but I hope that if they ever do something similar they learn from this event and adapt it. They should probably have looked to Warhammer in fact, and dropped a zombie’s health down a bit, like WAR does with the chickens, and most definitely ditch repair costs for a time. Or better yet, look to City of Heroes and that event you mentioned, which I also loved. I think the best thing about that one was that the Rikti weren’t player controlled. If the zombie invasion wasn’t player controlled perhaps it wouldn’t have been so divisive, and everybody would have had a blast repelling the Scourge who were trying to destroy the city.

  21. So my game time became: log in, get attacked by zombies, become a zombie, get killed in less than a minute by a lvl 70 player or npc, corpse run, get attacked by zombies, become a zombie, get killed in less than a minute by a lvl 70 player or npc, corpse run… say screw this and log off.

    The one time I actually got to do anything I thankfully was able to complete one quest and then when I tried to return to the quest giver he and everyone in the village were killed / zombies and I was killed in about 5 seconds and became a zombie.

    If you were a bored lvl 70 then the event would have been great. For anyone else it was horrible. And if any new players tried playing during this time I’m pretty certain they have already canceled their subscription and went elsewhere because every quest giver in the newbie area was dead and players were instantly killed.

    Basically it gave every A-hole in the game a reason to be bigger A-holes.

  22. I wanted to see this in WoW and I didn’t, and now I want to see it in WAR. I want some kind of event that forces both factions (good guys and bad guys) to work together; a.k.a worse guys. The Burning Legion was perfect (and neglected) fodder for this. WoW I felt was a better environment for it since Warcraft III ***ENDED IN A TRUCE*** which was trashed just so they could have PVP someday.

    So hit the world with something worse. I have no idea what that would be in context of the Warhammer Mythos, but just dump random universally hostile mobs into a Keep or something while both sides are fighting there…and make them ridiculous so both sides simply have to fight together to make them leave.

    Mmmm. =)

  23. In the end, what is your Zombie plan, and it sounds like the event sucked becasue zombies were everywhere killing everyone… Well, if Zombies were in your town killing everyone, that would suck too right? Sounds like a realistic event to me LOL!!! wow sucks too.

  24. […] zombies How one blogger avoided the rampage Michael likey Other’s actually liked it as well. “And while some players are having a blast, I’m just floored with how many whiny babies are … “I just hope this doesn’t discourage Blizzard from designing future events that are […]

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