Housecleaning before vacation

I am going to take a short break from posting in this blog — maybe a week or so. Several reasons, actually. There are some real world work things I need to get to in my studio. I need to spend much of my game time between now and next Tuesday preparing my main for our guild raiding season. And — although things are settling down in the game for me — honestly, Legion still seems too chaotic for me to focus on something long enough to write about it.

Thus, before I take off, a bit of housecleaning so I can return to a nice tidy blog and drafts folder.

Ghostcrawler confirms what we have all suspected. In a recent series of tweets quoted and collected on MMO-C, Ghostcrawler finally came clean on one of the factors driving class changes in WoW, at least while he was at Blizz (emphasis in the quote is mine):

You’ve explained before that back in the days in WoW you wanted to nerf frost mages. How come frost mages were pretty much left untouched for such a long long time? What’s the process behind getting something nerfed/buffed like and who has the final word when something gets nerfed/buffed (at Blizzard and Riot Games)?

The less diplomatic answer is that there were a lot of WoW devs who played Frost mages, even though I wasn’t one of them, so there were always a lot of people to point out your potential mistakes when you try to make a change.

But above and beyond that, it was a tricky design space, because Frost mages were supposed to be good at both tankiness (emergency buttons that cover you in ice) and burst (ice lance combos). When you are good at defense and offense (especially burst), you are walking a razor’s edge all the time.

Who among the Blizz devs plays a hunter? Who speaks for hunters in the design process? Who is there to “point out your potential mistakes when you try to make a change” to hunters?

Answer, clearly, is: No one. And I have to wonder, why is that? If nothing else, why does Blizz not designate someone to be the advocate for each and every class and spec? Someone whose job it is to understand the heart and soul of a class and spec, someone who engages with that community regularly, someone who plays that spec regularly in every game venue, who understands at a gut level the synergy and play style of the spec.

No. No one at Blizz speaks for hunters. They don’t understand the class, they don’t play the class, and worse, they don’t care. This explains a lot. This is irresponsible for a game developer.

Secrets and surprises are overrated. This occurred to me as I — finally — finished my hunter class hall campaign last night and unlocked my third relic slot. Yes, I was happy about getting the achievement, and much of the quest line in retrospect seemed relevant and engaging. But not knowing where I was in the process for the last couple of weeks has been beyond annoying. My impression was that it was an endless series of more quests, and all I could do was slog along miserably ignorant of when it might be over.

Some people do not like to know the big picture, they consider any knowledge of where they are in a process to be “spoilers”. Not me. I am goal-driven, and I like to know exactly how many more hoops I need to jump through before I get to a goal. Contrary to spoiling the process for me, it enhances it, makes me more eager to finish, allows me to gauge when I might expect to be rewarded.

It is the same with Legion professions. Blizz deliberately keeps the profession leveling process murky, telling us repeatedly how much fun™ it is to not know when or where you might find a clue to leveling up! No, no, and just hell no! I want to know what the process is, even if it is a long and complicated one. I like knowing what I will have to do to achieve a goal. I do not like the juvenile game of I-know-something-you-don’t-know.

There are some third party sites that are starting to list things like all the quests in class hall campaigns, and how to level your professions in Legion. I use them, and I am grateful for them. But Blizz should do this for players in a centralized game guide location — no need to look at it if you don’t want to, but there for those of us who want to know how or if we are progressing.

RNG versus the Powerball Lottery. I am in a fairly large and active guild, we have had probably 30-40 people active almost every night since Legion launched. And so far, I do not know of a single person to get a legendary drop. It may have happened, I just have not seen it in any of the many hours I have been playing. Additionally, thus far to my knowledge no skinners have managed to get a drop of fel hide except for the world quest that awards it. The drop rates for these items is so low as to be virtually zero.

This practice, in my opinion, is not in any way related to the concept of “random drops”. It is much closer to the concept of a multi-million dollar lottery. Sure, it is mathematically possible, but realistically the chances are about as close to zero as you can get. These kinds of fairy-tale “drop rates” have no place in a game. Either make it so players have a reasonable expectation of getting them — infrequently, sure, but getting them once in a while nonetheless — or remove them from the game. This is bait-and-switch.

In fact, Blizz, why not publish once a week or once a month the actual number of drops — and the rate per active player — of some of these uber-rare items? If you think they are reasonable for drop rates, put your money where your mouth is and tell us how many are actually dropping.

In spite of everything Ion Hazzikostas says, it is not/not/not fun to be told “there is a chance” to get these items and then never get them. No, Ion, just no.

Plusses and minuses to zone scaling. I like the idea of being able to level anywhere and  still be challenged as well as get appropriate level XP and loot. That is the good side of scaling. However, the bad side of it is that every minor mob along your path becomes a significant threat. Of course, as you gear up they become less of a threat, but I am thinking now of my squishier alts, who likely will not get a lot of gearing up, and how much of a real pain in the patoot that is going to be.

Again, it is not fun™ or immersive™ to have to stop, dismount, and fight your way through that same bunch of mobs every time you are on your way to a world quest location. Every. Single. Time. Nope, nope, and nope.

At this point, most of my alt leveling will be done after flying, I am thinking. And it better be in 7.2 at the latest. Speaking of which, I think it is time for Blizz to actually stop being coy and announce when flying will be available. (Another example of me hating Blizz’s stupid ideas of “secret” and how much fun that is! Whee!)

OK, that’s it from me for a few days. I expect to be back here writing again next Wednesday — caught up, rested, and ready to go.

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.

5 Responses to Housecleaning before vacation

  1. Ha! I’m always galled when the Devs say, defensively, “we play the game too”.
    They already know all of the answers that we are trying to understand! They know the zone design, the raid comps, the talent synergy — hell, they designed it.

  2. Grumsta says:

    I too finished my Class Hall quest chain last night. I kept away from spoilers and as a result hampered my progress significantly. I knew I had to do it to get the third artefact slot and followers, but I didn’t realise I’d get a Chest 830 item and shoot up from 802 to 812 in one shot, thus allowing me to run Heroic dungeons.

    Gearing has been a rollercoaster in Legion. I got to 790 very quickly due to some lucky quest gear upgrades, but 790 to 802 was a demoralising slog even with World Quests available. Having everything scale to your level, including loot drops, makes it tough to progress unless RNG is kind with upgrades. I was giving up hope of hitting 840 for raiding next Wednesday.

    In the space of a single evening I went from 802 to 823, simply because I’d unlocked access to Heroics. Lesson learned. I can get into Guild Mythic dungeon runs now, so hopefully my progression will continue.

    I agree with you that most of my alts will have to wait for flying. I’ll try to get my Tailor and Enchanter/Scribe to 110 so they can start their profession quests and artefact research but even that’ll have to wait a month or two.

    Aside from the amazing content, the other thing in Legion I’ll give the devs credit for is the Whistle. Oh how I wish we’d had that in WoD! I don’t mind fighting my way to an objective, it’s fighting my way out afterwards through the re-spawning mobs that frustrated me. Getting from one WQ to the next is pretty straightforward with the Whistle.

    Legion doesn’t seem so full of those horrible dead-ends and slopes-that-look-climbable-but-aren’t that WoD was plagued with. Exploring on the ground has felt more like Pandaria, a welcome step back in the right direction. I am genuinely not missing flying for my main, but I can’t wait for it to come to level up my alts.

    My biggest complaint with the game design is still RNG. Where I’ve progressed well I’ve been lucky, when I’ve been held back I’ve been unlucky. I don’t feel it’s linked to to any effort/reward curve other than perseverance. That’s frustrating enough with gearing up, but to tie profession progression to it as well is just perverse.

    I still feel a hundred times happier two weeks into the xpac than I did at the same point in WoD. Fingers crossed the raids are as good.

    • Fiannor says:

      I absolutely love the whistle. It even works underwater! Now if only they would make it work in caves — for some reason fighting my way back out of a cave seems even more annoying than fighting my way back out of an outdoor area.

      My only quibble with the whistle is its interaction with the supposed hunter perk of the eagle flight paths. As I am sure you know, hunters at some point gain access to a special hunter eagle airline, with flight paths covering very high points around the periphery of the Broken Isles. This sounds like a nice benefit, but I am sorry I ever accepted it. More often than I would wish, when I use the whistle, I get dumped on top of a high mountain at an eagle FP rather than at a regular FP. At that point, since the eagle airline doesn’t tie in with the regular one in any way other than the whistle, my choices are too take the eagle back to Trueshot Lodge and transfer to the regular system, or just hearth somewhere and then transfer.

      I am hanging at 832 for my ilevel, which is a fair amount behind most of our other raiders, who are approaching 845+. Part of that is due to bad luck on gear drops — what else is new? — and part of it to the fact that I have not been doing as many Mythics or world quests as others. I have been doing other things to try and progress more or less uniformly in leveling, zone completion, class hall campaign, knocking out the Legion Pathfinder exploration requirement, and professions. I should finish the major Suramar quest lines tonight (fingers crossed), getting the achievement, and freeing myself up to concentrate on WQs, a few Mythics, and crafting and improving a few pieces of gear for myself. I would like to be 840 by our first raid night next Tuesday, just not sure I will make it.

      Still, for all the little minor bumps and even for the major hunter horribleness, I agree with you that this expansion so far is looking far, far, better than WoD.

  3. demonnick says:

    I realize I’m probably the only PvP oriented person that posts here, but as such, I never find myself missing the ability to fly. For me I find flying really destroys the feeling of an “active” world. I’m also finding that the zone scaling combined with the no-flying state of the expansion is keeping resource commodities at a relatively high place, as these require actual work to farm. I have no doubt that this was intentional from blizzard, but this effect might also be inflated from the expansion launch itself (only time will tell).

    All in all I’m loving this expansion. PvP feels great and the Honor Talent System is an amazing and creative way to balance classes without effecting the PvE experience. However, Blizzard has recently announced that they are considering making the prestige system not reset the talents. This is in no doubt in response to the many streamers who have pointed out that resetting the talents and losing key abilities that are used to balance the classes will be extremely detrimental to competitive play, which I agree with entirely. So this leaves me wondering what will keep PVP players motivated, considering the gear won’t make a significant impact…

    • Fiannor says:

      Yeah, I freely admit I don’t relate to the PvP experience, since I do not participate in it unless absolutely required for some other goal. And then I hate every second of it. But I can see why PvP-ers would not necessarily miss flying so much. It is good to hear that Blizz’s massive overhaul of the PvP system seems to be working. As a PvE player, I am grateful that at last the demands of PvP no longer seem to be driving inconvenient and clunky nerfs to PvE gear and spells.

      But I am an unapologetic fan of flying, and I can’t wait for it to be re-implemented.