Confessions of a professional worrier
October 6, 2015 3 Comments
Not to brag, but I consider myself a world class worrier. I have a natural gift for it. Once, at the age of 13, when my family was going through a rough economic period, I expressed to my grandmother my worry about where the rent money was going to come from. She gave me a long look — pity in her eyes, like she suddenly realized that I was a born worrier and she knew what my life would be like because of it — and explained that the family had designated worriers, specializing in certain areas, and that it was her job and my father’s job to worry about the rent, and it was my job — as I was now old enough to take on some of the worry responsibilities — to worry about pimples and math tests and boys. Amazingly, this actually helped, because I then knew that someone was covering that particular worry, and I was free to worry about other things. Like union rules, you know, stick to your designated job.
Possibly because of my natural talent at worrying, I pursued professional training in the subject, in the form of military planning and later in IT security and disaster recovery. Both these fields are essentially about learning how to worry professionally, about conceptualizing responses to a wide variety of “what if” scenarios, about seeing weak spots in plans and predicting the catastrophes that could result should they be exploited.
I tell you all this to establish my bona fides in the worry field, so that when I tell you I have worries about Legion you will know that these are not just the worries of some amateur. And yes, I know we have very limited information on the new expansion, but honestly that is very similar to military planning challenges, where you have to make predictions based on sketchy information, then be prepared for a variety of new scenarios as the picture becomes clearer.
With that background, let me finally get to my point, which is that I have a major worry about Legion, and the basis of that worry is artifact weapons. This feature has huge potential to have adverse effects on almost the entire game, and I do not for one minute believe anyone at Blizz has thought through the impact it will have on nearly every aspect of WoW. The basic concept — that you get one and only one weapon for an entire expansion, that it is unique to not only your class but your spec, and that upgrades to it can only be gotten through random drops mainly from raid bosses — is a professional worrier’s worst nightmare.
First, if Blizz does not make it easy to obtain artifact weapons for your other specs, this will mean the effective end of specs within a class. We will have, instead of classes, class-spec groups. You will select a spec with the same amount of thought you now give to selecting a class, because you will not be able to change without a huge amount of effort. And when I say Blizz must make it easy to exchange weapons within a class, I mean:
- No intro quest lines to obtain the weapon for your other spec. You just buy it or get it from a vendor/NPC somehow, once you have your first one.
- No requirement to re-do everything to get it to the same level your first weapon is at. For example, if you have managed to get your first weapon to the third level (or whatever), then if you want a weapon for a different spec you can get it already at the same level. You should not have to hope for the RNG gods to smile upon you while you re-run every mob and boss hoping for upgrade drops to your second spec weapon. Whatever level you have reached with one weapon, all other weapons for that character, regardless of spec, should reflect that same level.
Second, if Blizz does not make multiple paths for weapon upgrades, then the raid or die philosophy will pretty much mark the end of the game, because the gap between the haves and have-nots will grow and cause more and more polarization in the player base. Additionally, failure to have diverse ways to upgrade will be the final nail in the coffin of alt play, because it is not feasible for most players to raid extensively on every alt just to get decent weapons.
What do I mean by “multiple paths” for weapon upgrades?
- Upgrades dropped by raid bosses must be compatible throughout all raid tiers. If, for example, an upgrade dropped by an LFR boss procs increased agility for your BM hunter, then every upgrade dropped by that boss through Mythic should proc increased agility, the only difference being how much. There should be only quantitative, not qualitative, differences in upgrades dropped by the same boss at different raid levels.
- RNG should not be the only way to get a boss weapon upgrade. Yes, this means bring back valor or some currency you can earn in order to get exactly the same weapon upgrades that drop randomly from raids.
- World bosses should drop weapon upgrades at the level of Normal raids, along with gear at the Normal raid level.
- As in Mists, the currency for weapon upgrades and gear should be able to be earned by doing virtually every activity in the game — achievements, dailies and weeklies, rares and world bosses, dungeons, special events, etc.
- Professions should be able to craft weapon upgrades. And crafted upgrades should not be limited to blacksmiths, leather workers, engineers, etc. Every crafting profession should be able to craft weapon upgrades.
- Guilds should be able to get group achievements that result in a weapon upgrade being available to guild members. This might spur a resurgence in guilds as desirable social structures in the game.
I actually have a lot more thoughts on all the possible game-wide implications of the artifact weapon system, but I do not want to make this post a doctoral dissertation. So let me add one final thought, suggested to me by The Grumpy Elf’s post today. When I had my designated-worrier discussion with my grandmother, I stopped worrying about the rent because she told me someone else knew it might be a problem and was working through the what-ifs on it. I trusted her when she said this, because after 13 years I had come to know that she would never lie to me. After the last year of lying and duplicity, I have nothing even approaching trust in Blizzard.
I want Blizz to tell me it is their job to worry about broad game changes resulting from artifact weapons, and it is my job to worry about leveling and shot rotations and AoE, and I want to trust that they are in fact doing so. Sadly, this is not possible. Blizz could learn a lot from Gramma.