Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Ghostcrawler is Great

Random Player:
The Devs may be correct, in theory, that we don't need to squeeze every last drop of DPS out of our talent trees to down bosses. But in practice, you try to get in a raid with a tree that sacraficed 1% DPS for some fun utility, and you don't get an invite. Why would the raid leader take someone that didn't even spec the "right way"?

Posts like this make me very sad. You're portraying yourself to be at the mercy of uninformed yet tyrannical raid leaders who are quick to judge your performance based on perceived "tells." I know you need some basis to evaluate potential recruits or even pug members. But I do wish there was some way to turn around this virtual phobia of inefficiency -- this terror of being WRONG -- that we have managed to instill in our player base. I honestly think it's one of the greatest challenges facing the game.

Just realised that Larissa also found this part of the forums.

For years now I say exactly this:
The community is never responsible/guilty. It is always the developers. Ghostcrawler knows this, but that is not much of a surprise. The guys at Blizzard might not be the most dedicated virtual world/immersion guys, but otherwise they are the best of the best (payed) english-speaking MMO developers ;)

Players are predictable. They respond to the game they play. Often with considerable delay and in looping patterns that not always result in an equilibrium. That is the problem.
For example, awful DF-PUGs are an indirect result of the DF mechanic. The guilt is with the developers and Blizzard makes a stand here and accepts the responsibility.

So, what needs to be done by the developers? Now, they could disable the armory, disable talent specc lookups, disable recount and things like this.
Since that is probably out of the question, they should change encounters.

Encounters should require DDs to specc into suvivability a lot. Raid leaders should not only look at "damage done", but also at "damage received". Next, they need to stop adding artificial enrage timers and add soft enrage timers that come naturally when healers run out of mana. Cataclysm seems to take some steps into this direction. I also wrote about it much more extensively before. Encounters need to be more diverse, but not too diverse that you feel pressured to respecc before every fight.

Blizzard has made players so powerful during WotLK (and late TBC) that they now have problems catching the ghosts the called. People now exspect to have dual-specc, cheap respeccs, teleports, the armory, no RNG loot, inspects, ...

As I wrote before: Rules exist to constrain players. It is their very nature. Good games have strict rules.

Actually, this is the most interesting aspect of game design. There is an endless feedback loop of player reaction to the game and game reaction to the players. Some of these feedback loops are stable, some osciallate, some are unstable or even chaotic. In this property game design and social sciences are very similar. I guess this is the reason why I love (MMO)game design almost as much as social sciences, like economics.


  1. I've always thought that Blizzard is perfectly aware of WoW's flaws. They aren't blindly oblivious as some would loudly exclaim. They know, and they are working on it.

    props to Ghostcrawler for a very honest reply.

  2. I'm not quite sure how a change to the mechanisms for damage taken really would change the min-max mindset that has spread among the players. But I'm all with you in the fascination for how MMO-s are developed. A living organism, sometimes taking a direction that the developers didn't quite forsee. And then they have to think one step beyond, trying to change the course again according to their vision. I really wonder if it's possible in this case though. They developped a Frankenstein monster and let it out and now they ask: "what have we done"? Can they really do that much about it?

  3. I just dont trust blizzard to make game I like . They are mass market oriented. They all about "making everyone equal" and hitting that lowest common denominator for subscribers numbers target

    Their products are of excellent quality but entirely secondary. They made good game with vanilla wow, which had it flaws, but was great nevertheless. They steered it into complete blandness .

    So I really dont their devs or their judgment. If turning wow into farmville would double sub numbers they would do it without blinking or thinking twice

  4. I'm pretty certain the min-maxing is something that has grown on the soil that blizzard prepared themselves, without really knowing how far it would go; if the game wasn't as transparent as it is (combat data, achis, armory), you wouldn't be able to monitor as much and hence not be able to optimize to such degrees - and pressure others to do so.
    i doubt it will change as long as the game stays transparent, even though wow is really not a game that requires min-maxing....

    another interesting thought imo is, whether the min-maxing mania has made the game more or less 'difficult'; many perceive vanilla as harder but in that respect vanilla was actually a lot more easy-going and straightforward. it's something i've tried to discuss in my most recent article as well.