Thursday, June 23, 2011

Regarding the Dungeon Journal

I was reminded today by WoW Insider of the impending implementation of the fabled Dungeon Journal.  For those that may not have caught it, here is a brief run down.  As I understand it, the journal is meant to give you data on raid/dungeon bosses.  It will be part of the default UI and allow you to pull up a window which describes the basics about each encounter.  How, exactly, this is done remains to be seen.

I am unable to click through to the preview that Blizzard has provided today.  See the link in the WoW Insider article for more information.  All may be made clear in there.  This is an opinion piece, not a patch note debrief. 

I have several off-the-cuff thoughts about this that I wanted to share.  First, I guess I should explain that I am under the impression that this is a controversial addition.  I believe there are a lot of folks that disagree with the journal and believe it spoon feeds content or goes too far in a dumbing down or ruins the progression race.  I can see their point.  Yet, very simply, what is the different between having an in-game journal and allowing one to minimize a window to pull up a web browser.  (Mind you, the bleeding edge may not have access to them, but, heck, even then someone usually has a guide up as soon as there's been a realm first).  Just because a resource is available does not take away the free will to use it.  Should Blizzard instead lock players into the game, not allowing minimazation in and effort to prevent dumbing down?  The strats, the info, they're all already out there.  As far as I'm concerned, the only thing this addition is doing is providing and in-game alternative.

And guess what?  You can still choose not to use it!

Now, if it pops up automagically when you enter the room or something, then count me among the detractors.  So long as we are not forced to see anything but another button down there with the rest of them, I don't really think anyone can voice a true complaint.  Heck, I'll bet someone could/will make an addon that simply disables or removes the button from the a custom UI. 

From someone who is often looked upon to lead (be it in dungeons or raids), this is a godsend.  Depending on the actual information, of course.  I would love to have concrete data with regards to the range and nature of abilities.  Is it conic?  5 yard? 8? 10?  Avoidable or non?  It would be great if we're allowed to add our own notes.  Heck, it'd be great if we could share those too, but I think that's probably asking for too much.

Even if we just have a basic picture: "this is what he looks like and he does fire based attacks," I consider it a good thing.  You know we all tab out to wowhead or wowwiki or tankspot anyway.  Why not have something in-game?  In fact, I'd even wager that there are going to be key components missing that I wish were integrated that will still force raiders to minimize and use third party options.  Most of us will probably not even use it.  (This is based on the assumption that if you're out here, reading my blog, checking out stuff about the game... you probably are already comfortable with certain outside resources.  And what do the people purely in-game even care?)

There is one argument I could get on board with, and it's thus: there is absolutely no immersion to a dungeon journal.  I don't really see how it fits in lore-wise or any-other-wise.  How did we get all these sweet journals with all this great information?  Brann's been busy?  Thrall finally got a more detailed answer?  I'm not sure that this is a big issue though.  After all, immersion in WoW hasn't been dependent on things "making sense" for a long time.  It's just not a core concern of the game.  I'm okay with that.  If you're not, I doubt it's going to change in this MMO.  Look elsewhere.

There are some neat things I think they could do that might help with immersion (and maybe that bleeding edge thing).  What if the journal filled in over time, over the course of a server's progression.  Think about it.  Maybe right when the new stuff is release you only have, like, a message from Thrall saying: "Big fiery dude... go get 'em!"  Then, as we start getting realm firsts, it fills in.  Blizzard could even do clever notes from key characters in the story like from Jaina: "Guy sprays a cone like I did when Theramore was flooding."  Or Harrison Jones: "Watch the tail, kid."  Or Random Goblin #7: "Time is death, friend.  Better kill him in 8 minutes!"

Perhaps we could tie it to the individual.  Maybe the page is blank until you enter, then it fills out.  Maybe each time you enter you "discover" a new boss ability via "observation."  Maybe you give Warlocks the Libra spell from Final Fantasy.  Why not a spell?  Just sayin'. 

Anyway, I guess my point is that the base idea shouldn't really be that big of a deal.  Yet, I'm sure there are ways we'll all think of that could possibly provide for a smoother integration.  On the other hand, it's just another button.  If you don't like it, don't use it.  There are already better resources out there.  And if you want to go in blind and wipe a few times in trial and error, well... gl hf and all that jazz.  I have those days too.


  1. They should have tied the dungeon journal to archaeology. Imagine finding a piece of Ragnaros's baby teeth and learning something about his current raid abilities based on that. It would have taken some design time to make it work, but it certainly could have.

  2. I think that'd be great provided you could sell or share the discovery. Maybe even just guild-wide too, like a perk. I mean, you'd want it to be helpful (read: accessible) even for people who don't do arch. Sharing helps that.