The Christmas syndrome

After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing after all as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often true.

Spock, Amok Time episode

As I write this, we are a little over a week out from Blizzcon 2015. I don’t attend these events, I don’t even buy virtual tickets, but I have to admit I am more excited by the upcoming one than I have ever been about any previous ones. Also a little nervous. By all accounts — including the leaked schedule about 3 weeks ago, that appeared briefly and then was hastily taken down from the web site — Legion will be the main event. Of course, other Blizz games and promotions will get a good share of time, but I counted at least 4 major events dedicated to Legion.

(Quick aside — these types of “accidental leaks” seem to happen rather regularly prior to major Blizz events. Not saying anything, but hmmmmmm…)

Anyway, it does look like Legion will be hyped plenty at Blizzcon. I hope that means Activision Blizzard is still fully invested in the franchise, that they are concerned about the perception of WoD as a debacle, and that they are determined to do better with Legion.

I hope. Therein, of course lies the double-edged nature of all anticipation. We have all at various times in our lives experienced a long wait for something we really really want, and the longer we wait the more of our future happiness we invest in the event. When The Big Day finally arrives, we are frequently disappointed — either hugely or somewhat — because reality almost never can compete with our fervid imaginations. We may dream of That One Awesome Toy we just have to have, we may stare for days at a brightly wrapped package that is just the right size for it (along with other boxes that just have to be cool accessories for it), we may picture ourselves playing with it delightedly for years to come, but when the presents have all been opened we are left with a cheap knockoff — that we are bored with anyway after a day — and a lot of underwear. Such is the nature of anticipation: reality almost always stomps it into the ground.

So yes, I am very excited about what we will learn about Legion next week, but I am also afraid I will be disappointed. Actually, I know I will be disappointed, the question is will it be a gigantic disappointment or a small one? In my anticipatory phase, I envision the game bringing back everything I think I loved about it. My wild imagination sees the entire game changing in a way that caters to me personally and my play style, I see myself frolicking happily through the sunny fields of Legion for many carefree months.

Well, even I know that is silly. Of course there will be underwear. The real question is, will I get the actual toy, a cheap knockoff, or nothing even close?

We all have personal hopes for Legion, some kind of list of things that will give us back something we feel has been lost. Maybe all we want is for it to be better than WoD, which is not a very high bar no matter how you define “better”.

Here is my description of That One Awesome Toy I want: I want Legion to be the expansion that attracts millions of new players and that keeps players at all levels engaged for 8-10 months. If I get that, I promise I will not complain about all the underwear I get. (Well, I might complain a little, but you know.)

One last point. I am expecting next week Blizz will announce that Legion beta will start by the end of the year. To me, the way they select beta participants will say a lot about what we can expect from Legion. If most of the selectees are streamers, members of elite guilds, youtubers, and the like, then we will know that Blizz is going all in with making the game of, by, and for professional gamers. If, on the other hand, there is even anecdotal evidence of widespread beta admittance for us commoners, then I think there is hope that Legion will contain some version of my One Awesome Toy.

Enjoy your dreams of sugarplums for the next nine days, but clean out that underwear drawer just in case.

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.

2 Responses to The Christmas syndrome

  1. Grumsta says:

    Excuse my cynicism but will any announcement made at Blizzcon actually mean anything concrete?

    I didn’t follow the WoD Blizzcon, but from what I’ve read since the xpac sounded awesome when it was first announced? There was nothing wrong with the basic concept and ideas (aside from it being about yet more bloody Orcs….) it was the delivery that was at fault, and that only became clear during beta. And Blizz ignored all the warnings they got from the Beta testers, making a mockery of the whole beta process. They’d made their minds up and they were gong to make it work their way, dammit.

    Blizzard are great at doing hype, waving flashy things around, but then they get their BFG9000 out and shoot themselves in both feet. Flying in Draenor springs to mind…….

    Of course they’re going to say exciting lovely things to keep the hype levels up, so that as many people as possible buy the pre-release version with the inevitable boost to 100, free mount, free pet, etc. They’re a company out to make money for their shareholders, they’d be crazy to do anything else.

    I will believe Legion when I see it. Forget the wrapping paper, I want to see what’s inside. And all we’re likely to see at Blizzcon is some idea of what shape the box is, and maybe what sound it makes when you shake it.

    Since we got flying in WoD I’ve been much more encouraged by the direction Blizzard are taking with WoW, but they will be waiting quite some time before they see any of my money this time around. Once bitten and all that.

    • Fiannor says:

      Yes. I am about 95% certain that Legion will be as big of a debacle as WoD, if not bigger. Still. I cling to that 5% chance that Blizz learned the right lessons from WoD, not the lessons about how to lie better next time. But the evidence so far is not good — WoD pre-launch discussions got them into trouble because they had no organized clue of where they were going with the xpac, so this time around — instead of having a clear idea of their goals — what they learned was to shut down any discussions that were not scripted and rehearsed.

      I will be listening intently to the nuanced language used in the Blizzcon scripted discussions of Legion. For example, if they weasel-word the timing of flying, that will tell me that what they learned from WoD is that they can delay it until the end of the xpac as long as they say for sure we will get it and give us little progress tidbits along the way.

      I will also be scrutinizing their comments on the artifact weapons and raid structure to see if they are going to keep on with their horrible RNG loot system and if they are going to continue to try and force progression raiding as the only approved end game activity.

      I will be especially interested in what they have to say about class halls, as these seem poised to finally and completely destroy guilds as viable game structures.

      I will be listening to hear what tech lessons — if any — they have learned from two straight disasters with expansion launches. Sadly, my suspicion is that what they learned is that it’s okay for the first week or two of a launch to be a total failure but they can get past it by making humble statements of apology and handing out a few free days of play…..Much cheaper than, say, bringing your infrastructure up to 21st century standards.

      In short, I will have my BS-o-meter on full blast when I listen.