Fun is what Blizz says it is

Blizz is at it again, instructing us in what we must find “fun” in the game. We are all clearly too dim-witted to recognize fun when we see it, and if not told what it is and required to experience it, we would mistakenly go our own way and define it for ourselves, empty little bubble-heads that we are. There, there, not to worry, Blizz is looking out for us.

In the past, Blizz has patiently (and sometimes not so patiently) explained to us that slowly waddling along roads and paths is much more fun than flying over terrain. Being unable to avoid nitnoy trash every time you pass it is really very fun! Immersive! Engaging! It is!

And RNG is just a blast, because no matter how often you kill a boss and the piece of gear you get does not drop for you, it is hysterically fun if it ever does drop. Really. Weeks or months of it not dropping do not demoralize you or wear you down, because  when you finally get it — after it no longer makes a difference because you have out-leveled it — it is just the most fun you can have. I know this, because Blizz has insisted it is true many times. Not to mention, it is rib-tickling to watch other players get that piece of gear every time, because the only thing more fun than anticipating getting it yourself for weeks on end is seeing someone else get it week after week, am I right?

The most recent “fun” to be shoved down our throats is the apparent Legion trend to turn button bloat into button starvation. This is being done through pruning of many talents and spells, as well as by removing player choice from what remains by introducing RNG/RPPM into nearly every aspect of rotational mechanics. The end result, as evidenced in the Legion class feedback forums, is that many classes will resemble the worst part of current Combat Rogue play — much time devoted to standing around waiting for cooldowns or procs, with nothing to fill the time except auto-attack. Oh, and the same thing that goes for random gear drops goes for random procs — Blizz tells us that even though there is no skill we can use to time them, when RNGeezus smiles upon us and they happen, it is woohoo-inducing fun!

Not convinced? Well, that is probably because you have not read Blizz’s most recent pronouncement on the subject:

(Paladin alpha tester comment:)
The class should be designed in a way that regardless of what talent I take I should never be standing around auto attacking waiting for abilities to come off cooldown. The main different between live and legion alpha is that on live, even with the most simple talent options we basically never have to wait for things to come off cooldown 99% of the time and we can generate holy power pretty quickly thanks to the shorter cooldowns on judgement/crusader strike and random procs with exorcism/hammer of wrath.

(Blizz comment:)
The above is a philosophical statement we don’t necessarily agree with. There are people that enjoy a slower pace of combat (one that isn’t gcd locked), and the class design has to service their preferences too.

See? Standing around with your [select digit] up your [select orifice] is fun for some, and the class design has to service their preferences at the expense of yours. Whee!

Paldin Legion play is just the latest in a string of similar complaints on various classes in the alpha forums. And every time such a point is made, Blizz has given pretty much the same answer, the upshot of which is “Not going to change, so learn to love it.”

And therein lies the seed of a huge problem. As was the case in WoD, Blizz is ignoring a key game play flaw (this time in class mechanics), as pointed out by the very testers they have selected for the expected value of their feedback. They are clearly going ahead with this pattern come hell or high water, just as they bulled ahead in WoD despite massive beta feedback that the expansion had no repeatable content worth doing after leveling. When the beta comments bore out in live, and there was a mass exodus from the game, Blizz had to scramble to apply band-aids and in some instances apply emergency resuscitation just to keep the game going. Just my opinion, of course, but I can’t help thinking that had Blizz made some reasonable fixes while still in beta — based on the strong feedback from their beta testers — WoD would not have become the debacle many consider it to be.

And now I think we are seeing the same pattern play out in Legion alpha. Apparently the lesson Blizz learned from WoD is “We need repeatable content,” and not the larger lesson of “We need to pay attention to widespread tester feedback.”

When Blizz finally does realize that slow rotations are not engaging game play — as they almost certainly will when it hits them in the pocketbook — they will be forced to try and retrofit spec rotations. Given their dismal history of unbalancing classes when they attempt “tweaks”, this is bound to destroy certain specs as well as unintentionally elevating others to god status. If you add in the inevitable frustration of starting anew with artifact weapon quests and random drops, changing specs becomes an exercise in frustration for most players.

Worse, given a demonstrated inability to tie class mechanics to raid mechanics, what happens when certain classes — maybe because of their slowness — are simply not suitable for fast-paced bosses? If you think this would never happen, I give you historical exhibit A, in which Blizz removed instants from nearly every class, promising raid mechanics less dependent on movement, and then gave us constantly-moving belts, trash gauntlets, and fights like Iron Reaver.

Button starvation and waiting around for a pseudo-random generator to generate something is the class play style Blizz intends for Legion. I don’t like it, you probably don’t like it, and even Blizz’s hand-picked premium testers seem not to like it, but that is where we are heading nevertheless. It will be “fun.”

Maybe we can all get in a couple rounds of Hearthstone on every boss, how fun would that be?!?! Deal them cards!



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.

6 Responses to Fun is what Blizz says it is

  1. Anonymous says:

    So… you’re telling Blizzard what fun for everyone is, instead?

    • Fiannor says:

      No, not at all. I am saying that Blizz over the past year and a half or more has been steadily removing our choices for creating our own style of fun play.

  2. gruffertus says:

    That’s the opposite of what’s happening in that quote, though? The tester is saying “Regardless of what choices I make I should be GCD-locked” – it’s hard to think of a clearer expression of “my fun is everyone’s fun”.

    And the Blizzard rep is saying “no we won’t do that, different people play in different ways” – they’re refusing to privilege the tester’s sense of fun at the expense of anyone else’s.

    Or, that’s how I read it, anyway.

    • Fiannor says:

      No, I really don’t think so. If you read recent comments from testers on several classes, it’s apparent that the concern is that their rotations consist of 2-3 shots/spells, then there is literally no option except to wait to do the same thing again. I think what this and other testers are saying is that players have more choice when spells result in a GCD lock, because that means they get to select when to use them or when to save them up so as to better control their situation.

      But when Blizz takes away such a drastic number of spells as they seem to be doing in the name of eliminating button bloat, once you do your very limited number of rotation spells, there is nothing left except to wait until they are once again available.

      Here is an example from the Legion BM rotation. Currently in WoD, BM focus has a baseline regeneration of 4 focus per second, but you can choose to generate 14 focus by firing off a Cobra Shot. Cobra shot is a 2-second cast on the GCD and is not an especially powerful damage dealer, but it is a way for the hunter to decide when to pool focus in anticipation of the fight situation and needing it for more powerful shots coming off CD. But in Legion, there will no longer be a way to generate that amount of focus on demand. Instead, Dire Beast will generate a focus over time at the rate of 4 focus per second. Because of other planned interactions with spells, the hunter will essentially need to keep Dire Beast up more or less constantly. The net result for hunter play is that you no longer really have a choice as to how or when to pool focus — it is all pretty much automatic, removed from the GCD and thus from your fine control.

      • Fiannor says:

        Reading over my response to your comment — which was a good one because it really made me think — it seems a tad unclear. The point I was trying to make is that GCD = player choice in a more significant way than non-GCD spells.

        In the example of Cobra Shot, I can currently choose to spam 4-5 in a row if I want to, or I can choose to not use it at all and let my focus accumulate at the baseline rate. (If I did either of those things, chances are that I would really stink as a hunter, but that is a different matter.) The point is, it is up to me as a hunter to do the cost-benefit analysis in my head and adjust accordingly. But in Legion, I will have no such choice and no such freedom. Dire Beast is not on the GCD, I must wait for a variety of procs as well as its own CD to use it, and even when I do, the focus is generated over time, not in a small burst. This change may or may not result in perpetual focus starving for BM hunters, but no matter because the thing is I will have no control over it.

        So I think what the tester was saying is that the more things Blizz removes from the GCD, the less choice they give players as to how to adapt their class toolkit to the situation. I don’t agree with him that everything should be on the GCD, but I understand what he was getting at with the comment.

  3. Yes, this seemed to be the development philosophy in WoD, and even moreso in Legion. Hunters being a prime example, another is the Combat Rogue. You want to be a pirate, right? Pirates are fun, right? Nevermind the class is clunky and makes no sense to actually play, you’re a pirate! Arrrr!

    I read over the class feedback threads on the alpha forum, and post in the ones for specs I play, but I see every single one of them saying the same thing: This needs work, a lot of it. I’m not deluded enough to believe Blizzard will change hunters or combat rogues this late in the game, like you, I am simply going to sit them out this expac. But I worry what happens when the general playing public sees the changes to their beloved class.

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