No Plans for Updating Sunsong Ranch

It seems that Ghostcrawler recently stated on Twitter (in response to a player question) that there are no plans to update Sunsong Ranch. I'm actually a bit surprised by this on multiple levels. First - I had this question in my list of Blizzcon queries. I wasn't expecting the Devs to start talking about future expansion plans until after the final MoP patch went out. But I'm even more surprised that they are letting farms fade into obscurity.

Personally I thought the farm thing worked out fairly well. Folks who put a lot of time into their farm got a lot out of it. Players who didn't work on them obviously weren't able to reap the rewards. I don't know about you guys but I still farm almost every day with 3-4 of my toons. I'm not getting a ton of mats from my farm, but I get enough to supply my daily cooldowns and such. I think that's a fair use of the farming mechanic, I'm not getting rich or anything. 

I suspect a lot of players have abandoned their farms, I don't see nearly as many players in the Halfhill area as I used to. But that's not exactly shocking since I don't really see as many players in other populous areas either. What I think really happened is that a good percentage of the casual gathering we used to do dropped off in MoP. It's likely that the Devs want us to be out in the world instead of quietly tending our farms. In that sense, the experiment that is Sunsong Ranch may have failed in their eyes. It's a shame because I'm sure a lot of work went into creating farms and I enjoy having a little section of the world that's just for me.

Another thing I noticed that may be weighing against Farms is that newer recipes seem to be moving away from Spirit of Harmony usage. The recipes in 5.0.1 required a lower number of SoH than the 5.0 crafted epics and the 5.2 epics used none at all. From what I've seen so far on the 5.4 PTR there are yet again no recipes with SoH. Instead we are relying on daily cooldowns to provide a gating mechanism. They're also introducing a new type of "Spirit", that will likely be a raid drop item.

I would guess from this that the Devs didn't like how the Spirit of Harmony use played out. In all likelihood we stockpiled them too much and by the time 5.2 dropped they were no longer meaningful as a gate. Thus we got the raid dropped components instead. At least with 5.4 it looks like we'll rely purely on our daily cooldown to provide mats for epic gear. While I have no problem with gating to protect the markets, I don't particularly enjoy the supply of crucial components being controlled by raiders.

I'm definitely glad to see in the upcoming 5.4 recipes that raid components are not required to make epic gear. I don't know about you, but I haven't made even one 522 epic despite having all the recipes for a good while now. I just don't want to pay the outrageous prices that raiders expect for Haunting Spirits. In 5.4 the raiders will be able to use their spirits to boost their own production speed without bottlenecking the rest of us from making anything at all, which I think is a much nicer way to handle crafted epics.

From this side of the fence I suppose I can see where Sunsong Ranch didn't provide the value needed to keep it on the table for future expansions. If we assume the Dev consensus is that Spirits of Harmony were a failed gating tool AND that players using their farm for crafting materials was too anti-community, then the only real value from farms are for Cooking materials. Since Cooking is a secondary profession, it may not merit the dev time needed to keep farms in sync with it.

To my mind this is a shame because I enjoy noodling on Sunsong Ranch and I don't think I'm the only one. In lieu of player housing, it's a good personal area for players where we can putter around and do our own thing. But no one will visit them any more if they only tie into Pandaria content. If nothing else I'd really like to see them add an option for us to easily visit after the rest of the world moves on. Maybe a new type of portal shard that takes us to Sunsong Ranch to say hi to Shaggy, our yak, and Luna the Cat. And while we're at it, can we give the poor dog a name? Just sayin.

Feel free to leave a Comment if you want to join the conversation about the demise of Farming <sniff>
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19 comments:

  1. Strange what people latch on to... In a Twitter missive a month or 2 ago, the same Ghostcrawler listed the farm as one of MoP's best (or words to that effect) new features.

    I believe what he is trying to say is that "Sunsong Ranch" will remain unchanged. But. That does not preclude a new farm, or something similar to a new farm, in the next expansion. Just as if had someone asked "will you be updating my favorite Pandaria dungeon in the next expansion?" the answer would be no, but that would not imply there would be no dungeons in the next expansion, merely new ones.

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    1. I'm a bit surprised as well by this turn of events, but there is some evidence that supports the abandonment theory. Why are SoH no longer being used in new recipes? Why no new goodies for our farms in 5.3 or 5.4? It doesn't bode well I fear.

      I hope you're right and they will give us a new farm location in the next xpac. But that seems like it would take even more work than just adding some new seed types and possibly some extra quests for Sunsong Ranch. Clearly I need to rework my Blizzcon questions to get more meaningful information :)

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    2. Spirit of Harmony are a separate decision-making process from the farm. It just so happens that the farm came to be the main source of SoH, which completely missed the point of SoH being bound and rarely dropping from world mobs: The original idea, that crafters would have to go out into the world and kill stuff, when in fact all they had to do was a few minutes of isolated farming every day. That isn't a problem with the farm, rather the decision to make SoH farmable. At this point the situation is in such a mess, that the only sensible move is for new content to simply skip them.

      Sunsong Ranch has had a few small tweaks, but in practice we should not expect goodies. Professions - of which farming is effectively one - typically do not get major updates during expansions. The only reason we're even expecting patch-by-patch changes is because of the popularity of the farm!

      My reading of the situation is that Sunsong Ranch has been the most successful implementation of a "profession" in WoW, and thus will have taught Blizzard an awful lot about how to design professions in future: Focused, active, accessible, and dare I say, fun - things that are largely missing from older professions. So, I don't expect to see a copy of Sunsong Ranch in a new location, but I do expect its spiritual successor. And I hope, but unfortunately cannot expect, to see something similar applied to older professions...

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    3. I think the SoH was a double-edged sword. The actual drop rate is so bad that had they been drop-only it would have severely limited the crafted epic market and raid progression in some ways. But as you note, making them farmable resulted in too much supply. There were other ways to skin that cat but they didn't try to balance it.

      I think it's sad that they feel we can't have goodies from a fun activity like farming. I would like to think that the success of farming proves that players want to have fun and reap some reward said fun. I think what they will take away is that if we enjoy it too much, we shouldn't get any other perks on top of that.

      I'm not sure it's good design to throw out the baby with the bath water just because some aspects of the farm went off the rails a bit. I would rather see them do some of that iteration they are famous for and rework the farm to improve it rather than start over with a new feature. It just seems such a waste and a shame given that players liked it.

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    4. I can see the logic of their decisions for SoH, but I think they made some mistakes. SoH started as a sort of gating mechanism for limiting the amount of crafting you could do, especially at the start of the expansion. They didn't want everyone to max all professions day 1 and build all of the new gear immediately.

      For that (whether I liked it or not) it worked well. While leveling your character, the drop rate was sufficient that you'd have a decent number of SoH for the character you leveled. If the drop rate were higher, you'd be swimming in them.

      But the drop rate was abysmal if you wanted to craft for resale, as you'd have to grind huge numbers of monsters for miniscule returns. So the farm, which could only support SoH after lvl 90, and which required effort to grow was an ideal method to add SoH. It was also limited to 1.6 a day; so without grinding mobs, you still had a decent amount to craft with without flooding the market.

      Unfortunately they had to add some kind of tradein for SoH, like the tradin for Golden Lotuses, and unfortunately for many servers this made farming for SoH/Golden Lotuses the most profitable on toons that didn't need them, so people had huge numbers of SoH piling up.

      I have 2 characters that I find the most fun to play; a warlock and my monk, but these are not the characters that need SoH to craft. So they get SoH "naturally" that they have to sell off, while my Blacksmith has to farm just so she can get SoH because all of the Lightning steel recipes need them.

      If I ruled the WoW world, I'd either have made SoH BoA after 3.2 or allowed you to buy something for 12-15 motes of harmony that was BoA and could be traded in for a SoH on another character.

      Needing SoH on a character that I don't want to play right now, leads to mindless grinding of mobs. Farming is an excellent way to get around that.

      Personally, I think Farming is the reason they didn't make SoH BoA. If all of your 11 alts could farm 1.6 SoH a day and mail them to one character, then that character would be getting 17.6 SoH a day. They'd need to either limit farming SoH to one character per realm-account, or even worse, limit the number of plots that could grow SoH (Worse, because a person who just needed one SoH would be forced to farm on all of their alts (and they might not have that many alts) even when they have no desire to farm anything else).

      How would people have liked it if SoH had become BoA, but every account could only buy 32 (BoA) songbell seeds per day? It would have met all of the criteria I think the developers wanted (and I know I might be totally wrong about their motives), and you wouldn't have piles of motes on the wrong character or have to vendor them. People with 10 full farms could even collect seeds during the periods when they didn't feel like farming every day and didn't need the SoH, but they could get it all done over the weekends without being penalized for not logging in daily. You would have to make seeds unsellable in the Auction house, but I think they should have done that anyway.

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    5. I see things a bit differently. The things that upset me was the quote during the MoP beta about not wanting toons out in the world not standing around the auction house. I have a number of alts that are there because of professions. I don't want to go into combat with them.

      I did not see BoP as much of a limit to crafting (daily cooldowns of CoA crafting material do that.) as a way to inhibit crafting alts. If you play one toon that raids and does crafting, then MoP was great for you. You got your MoH from killing mobs, you got the faction rep for recipes on that main and you got raid mat drops. OTOH, for me MoP felt like a direct assault on the way I like to play. There was no limit on the SoH; someone who ground 8 hours on their toon or bot :-( gets twice as many SoH as someone who grinds for four hours. A toon who just did crafting got zero (or 1.6 if they got a farm)

      Rift and SWTOR allow you to max a profession on a low level toon and the legacy-wide faction reps in SWTOR feel like such a relief.

      As a crafter, I am increasingly feeling like I am swimming upstream in WoW/MoP; if they want to design WoW so that crafting is just an insignificant adjunct to combat/raiding, then maybe I should just move on.

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    6. For the playstyle you prefer on your alts (crafting over combat), I think it's pretty clear that WoW is not going to support the idea. They said in Cata that they want toons out in the world and the implementation for MoP professions has followed that plan. While they made some concessions to the needs of alts (boosted reps, etc) they still strongly enforce the active playing of those toons. I would say at this point if you have other games that support your playstyle better you might seriously consider moving on. We are 4 expansions and 10 years into this rabbit hole, I don't think there are drastic swings in WoW's future.

      That said, I think there are ways to adapt to the WoW mindset. Personally, I enjoy every one of my toons in some capacity and I don't feel "forced" to play them. So when a new expansion puts higher demands on a particular profession, I prioritize that alt. In this expansion my Leatherworker, Blacksmith and Enchanter got the most play time from me because they needed the reps for recipes more than my Scribe, Jewelcrafter and Alchemist. In BC/Lich King my Jewelcrafter got more priority because she needed rep for recipes. Granted there are times when I miss out on a faction for gear, but in all honestly my healer ends up with the lion's share of guild action anyway. After 4 expansions I know that gear is a fleeting convenience so I don't pressure myself to keep up on that front anymore.

      If you want to stay with WoW, you have the option to shift your priorities to work within the WoW model. You just have to be willing to be flexible with your game time. Every class has strengths and unique abilities that make them fun to play. I don't consider it a burden to play any of them because they are all unique and special to me. The great part about having a stable of alts is that you never run out of things to do or recipes to collect!

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  2. I was disappointed with GC's March interview. I had hoped that farms were a strategic item and that there were investments in an ongoing strategy with making crafting more sophisticated and working towards player housing. Then we found out it was just a side project.

    I really loved the farm; I really disliked the BoP SoH and recipes locked to rep. I am an altoholic and MoP was very frustrating. I hope we the beta starts soon.

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    7. The constant development to the Tillers farm has been wonderful - do you have any plans for it going forward?

    A: As it makes sense. We added a few bits of additional content for patch 5.2 and we’re not sure if we’ll do more for future patches. Overall, we think Sunsong Ranch has been a great feature for Mists. It started out as a side project for one of our quest designers and just turned into one of the signature features for the expansion. We’ll likely explore similar features in the future.

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    Alan Cullers ‏@Altycu 18 May
    @Ghostcrawler How popular has Sunsong Ranch been this expansion? More or less popular than expected? Will we see something like it again?
    @Altycu More popular than expected. We'd like to do something again but not an exact clone.

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    1. Thank you for filling in the dots on the commentary from GC. I can certainly see the foreshadowing of Sunsong Ranch abandonment in both of these answers. For whatever reason they were already toying with setting it aside months ago.

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  3. As a 4+ year player, the farm was a very welcome addition. A much more organized and fun grind than killing ogres for necklaces to get the cool talbuk mounts. There should be room for all kinds of playing styles. I'm a 55 yr old woman who has played D&D type computer games for 25 years (Might and Magic being a favorite). The raids, PvP and dungeons have never interested me. The person who got me started a 75 yrs old retired computer programmer. He takes it slow, enjoys the world and is just now getting to Cata content. The world is rich for grand campaigners and casual puttering. There are monthly fees either way for Blizz. I know they need to balance the R&D dollars. But hopefully there will continue to be funding for all kinds of game play.

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  4. I was raised in the USAF and love the idea of adventuring in the world. I was hearthed in Nagrand for all of BC. It was a nice to log out after a busy day of questing. I hope that we get another quiet place to hang our hats in the next expac. I'll be sad to see Sunsong Ranch go too.

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  5. I think we can see from Hagu's quotes that Farms were a big success: "great feature for Mists", "one of the signature features for the expansion", and "more popular than expected". I would certainly hope they recognize from this that players want more than just combat tasks. WoW is in a great position to cater to a wide range of gaming styles, being the dominant MMO in the market. I agree with you guys that they should consider tailoring some game features to non-combat activities and embrace the excitement we have for Farms by creating content that engenders the same qualities.

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  6. I honestly think they'll set Sunsong Ranch aside - it lives in Pandaria, and we'll be moving on. I also honestly think they'll keep the idea of "Farm" in a new iteration in the new content, wherever it may be. The farm has been and is very popular with everyone from socials who play 10 min a day to the 12+ hour people. Developers like popular.

    The direction they are moving with scenarios, flex raiding, farms, challenge modes, the brawler's guild, and proving grounds is content that people can do solo or in small groups with friends. I expect to see more and better in the next expansion. Raiding achievements are no longer tied to heroic modes. The farm will live on.

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  7. The farm is popular, imho. It works. If they want to keep us semi-casual folks around, Blizzard should continue with this direction. If they want to listen to the 5-10% of hard-core raiders and ignore their bread and butter, it will cost them. There are many more alternatives to WoW now that are newer and cheaper, and I've been tempted to follow the rest of my family and friends away from WoW. I'd rather stay and enjoy Azeroth some more, but it won't take much.

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  8. I am going to miss the farm. I have farmed almost every day on all my characters and have been making over 100k a month off of just selling the Golden Lotus.

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  9. I really liked the farm for several reasons.

    1. Easy to do
    2. Can farm different things on different characters
    3. Can get crafting mats without needing a gathering profession
    4. Repeatable quest for XP - Replenishing the Pantry.

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  11. Will miss the spirit of harmony to golden lotus exchange if new expansion comes up. But maybe then a new niche is created.

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  12. What about us poor Herbalists/Alchemists - Do we get nothing - again /cry

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