Blizz logic — an oxymoron

One of the most maddening shortfalls I constantly see with Blizzard is the apparent inability of their project managers to think through the full consequences of their design decisions. I certainly do not think these people are stupid, but somewhere along the line their education skipped things like formal logic, projectional reasoning, and/or the ability or desire to just work out the mechanics of “if p then q, therefore r followed by s.” Project planning for them seems to stop at q, no acknowledgement of even the existence of r and s. Or if they do go on to r and s, they misidentify the value of those variables or fail to see any alternate values. (Maybe their education is not to blame, maybe they were all just absent on the days these things were taught. Whatever the reason, they certainly stink at it.)

Today’s example of non-thinking is based on the gear changes announced for Patch 6.2.3. (If you missed the whole announcement, it is captured here.) Basically, they are implementing a way for players to upgrade existing gear and giving a chance for higher level gear to drop. In addition, they are adding a coveted mount drop for Heroic HFC Archie kills. The mechanic of the gear level enhancements is running LFR once a week and running Mythic dungeons for valor and drops. (Also possibly running more Tanaan dailies for the enhanced Baleful drops.)

So let us set this up, first as Blizz sees it.

p = players can get higher level gear

q = average active player time increases

r = game stops bleeding subs

s = metrics for quarterly report look decent

Now as how many players will experience it:

p = players can get higher level gear

q = average player ilvl increases

r = required gear level required for groups increases with inflation

s = continued shutout from end game activities, now including a coveted mount

Yet, at least the above shows that someone at Blizz has gotten beyond the basic two-variable logic and realizes there are follow-on variables. This is a small improvement on possibly the worst period of muddle-headed thinking Blizz has ever shown — the complete lack of connection between game goals and game design in WoD.

For purposes of argument, let us assume that one of Blizz’s game goals is to increase player participation in the end game. Let us further assume — without judgement although I could write an entire series of posts on this — that the end game consists almost entirely of raiding. Prior to the upcoming patch, here is what they have done that affects the game goal:

  • Removed almost all guild perks, thereby minimizing the benefits of guild membership.
  • Removed nearly all repeatable non-raid content for leveled characters.
  • Destroyed professions as a viable play style by removing profession perks, limiting the number of crafted items that can be equipped, and making most bread-and-butter profession activities available to everyone regardless of whether they have chosen that profession or not.
  • Encouraged non-social play with the over-implementation of garrisons.
  • Pulled a bait-and-switch with their previously stated raid level philosophy of LFR=tourist mode, Normal=friends and family mode, Heroic=team progression mode.
  • Forced previously-declared “optional” play on everyone (pet battles for example, or Brawler’s Guild for jewelcrafters, not even to mention the whole concept of garrisons).
  • Enraged a significant portion of the player base with their horrible handling of the entire flying thing.
  • Implemented a tier gear system that does not allow easy transition from LFR to other levels of raiding.
  • Removed nearly all gear rewards — primary gear, tier gear, and secondary stats — from the realm of diligence to the realm of Las Vegas odds.

I could go on, but you get the idea. Let us assign all the above bullets as a group to the value of p and assign the assumed goal of increasing player participation in the end game to the value of q. Clearly, then, the logic of if p then q is horribly flawed. In fact, given p, the only possible logic is if p then not q. This is not good if your main goal is to get to q. The accumulated result of p has been to greatly decrease player participation in WoD in particular and the game as a whole, which directly limits the number of players arriving at the end game, the pool of active players from which to draw effective raid teams, and the viability of non-elite raid teams. Ergo, there are fewer players participating in the end game, not more.

Seriously, Blizz, bring in a logic trainer for your next executive retreat.

So now, back to Patch 6.2.3. For all the reasons I articulated in yesterday’s post as well as the “inflation” reason I mentioned at the start of this one, this patch is in keeping with Blizz’s lack of logic for this entire expansion. There may be a bump of login activity for a couple of weeks after it goes live, but in the end it really does very little to increase player participation in Blizz’s approved end game activity of raiding. (Unless you count increased number of paid carries to get that mount.) New guilds are not going to suddenly spring up and create viable raid teams to be able to put heroic Archie on farm, not going to happen. And the number of pug opportunities will not change, because now instead of a requirement for 690+ ilvl to join a group, the requirement will move to something like 715+.

Patch 6.2.3 will not significantly increase the number of players participating in the end game.

About Fiannor
I have a day job but escape by playing WoW. I love playing a hunter, and my Lake Wobegonian goal is to become "above average" at it.

3 Responses to Blizz logic — an oxymoron

  1. Jarnow says:

    Hey this is about 90% off-topic, but you made a passing reference to something I saw you say in a much older post, so I thought I’d ask about it here.

    What is mandatory about pet battles? I’ve never so much as spoken to a battle trainer, or tamed a pet, or whatever else it is that you do to get into it. What non-pet-battle aspect of the game am I missing out on? I can’t identify anything that’s pushing me into it. Curious to know why you see it that way.

    • Fiannor says:

      Oh, it’s only mandatory if you want to finish your garrison achievement at level 3 by unlocking the pet menagerie that you had no choice in as a garrison building. “Mandatory” is probably the wrong word, more like “not exactly completely optional.” Blizz has this rather recent habit of calling things optional, then stretching the meaning to mean “optional assuming you don’t want to do this other completely unrelated thing.”

      Another example would be the garrison itself — first it was completely optional, then you had to establish one minimally if you wanted to come to Draenor, then you had to have a full level 3 garrison if you wanted to get to Tanaan. Similarly, the Brawler’s Guild was always touted as completely optional, but then suddenly if you wanted to learn one of the Draenor JC patterns you had to have a high level rep with them.

      My idea of “optional” is you can do it or not, as you please, not “it’s suddenly a new prerequisite for this other completely unrelated activity you want to do.” I tried pet battles when they were first introduced and found them dead boring, so I never pursued the activity. If Blizz had advertised them from the beginning as “proficiency with pet battles will be required for other game progression in future expansions” then even though I did not enjoy them I probably would have kept at them. But they always represented the activity as a self-contained optional mini-game. Then suddenly you could not complete your garrison in Draenor without being fairly proficient and experienced in them, not to mention the pet menagerie was a mandatory feature in everyone’s garrison.

      So it’s mostly a matter of semantics, but I contend that Blizz really needs to keep a good dictionary around the office because their idea of “optional” doesn’t exactly mesh with the standard definition of it. 😉

  2. Jarnow says:

    I see. Yeah, just getting the achievement “complete your garrison” isn’t really what I’d consider mandatory. You can do everything else you want with the garrison without the pet battle building, except for book one achievement.

    You’re totally spot on on the other items though. Getting at least a Lvl 2 garrison is all but mandatory to experience the expansion at all, and then a Lvl 3 garrison is totally mandatory to even begin to experience Tanaan in a non-derpy way.

    And I thank my lucky stars that my JC is my raiding hunter, so getting the Brawler’s level wasn’t hard. I’d have been pissed if they did that for say tailoring, as my only tailor wasn’t even 100 till a month or so ago, and I barely know how to play the class (mage). (not that the gems have been worth anything but that’s another matter…) That’s a good example of making something that’s supposed to be a pure option, side-game into a roadblock for something else.