Closet cleaning again

Time to clean out my drafts folder again. At times it can get a little unwieldy with undeveloped topics — kind of like an untidy accumulation of paper scraps stuffed in a shoebox — and I am nothing if not a tidy person. I just trashed most of the items that were in there, but a couple were left over just as passing thoughts.

Official class fantasies. I find it interesting that, at the start of Legion, Blizz went to some trouble to rewrite the official class fantasies for most classes and specs, presumably as an important part of the disassembly and restructuring of them. Blizz thought it important enough to spend valuable resources to restructure the approved back-stories for the restructured classes. In a normal project-management world, then, the new class/spec mechanics and play styles would support the new fantasies and vice-versa. If a new fantasy does not match new mechanics, then there would seem to be no reason to waste resources rewriting that fantasy.

I have not investigated other classes, but I have noted a significant disconnect between the Beastmastery approved fantasy and the way the spec actually operate. The official story is:

A master of the wild who can tame a wide variety of beasts to assist him in combat.

Yeah. Not so much. Honestly, the way the BM spec works out in Legion, the fantasy is pretty much opposite of the way things work. This was driven home to me a few days ago when I was invited to do a guild speed run through Karazhan. I never ran Kara when it was current, don’t really have any kind of emotional bond with it, so even though I am attuned to the new dungeon, I had yet to run it at all. Nevertheless, the guild group promised some fun, so off I went. When we got to the chess boss, I was warned that my pets would be useless, and so they were.

Side rant: This huge bug in Kara has been there since the launch of the dungeon, and Blizz cares so little for hunters in Legion they cannot be bothered to fix it. (One can only imagine the flurry of fixes if for example mages were rendered useless in a boss fight…)  *steam comes out of ears*

Anyway, without pets, I was pretty much relegated to spamming Cobra Shot as long as my focus held out and cheering the rest of the group on. For kicks, I took a look at my dps numbers for the fight, and let us just say they were beyond pitiful. It is less true that a BM hunter’s pets “assist” in combat than it is that the hunter slightly assists the pets. More correctly, the hunter hangs onto some leashes, like a New York dog walker, and drops them at the start of combat, ceding control of much of the conduct of the fight to mostly-uncontrolled pets.

As I have pointed out before, the nature of this game play is such that a BM hunter functions much more like a melee damage dealer than a ranged one. There is nothing wrong with having a spec very dependent on pets, but to me that should imply — as the official fantasy does — that the hunter actually controls the pets. Not so in Legion, the hunter has very little control over pet damage abilities.

One additional thought on gear. Game Director Hazzikostas has frequently expressed his distaste for currency-based gear, for example valor points or the like. He believes it encourages overt grinding (as opposed to endless RNG grinding, but I am not going to revisit that particular thought) and is therefore bad. However, Blizz does employ something called “bad luck protection”. It occurs to me that such protection is nothing more than secret gear currency.

Think about it. The way valor or similar coinage works is that you perform certain acts — quests, kill bosses in dungeons or raids, etc. — and collect the currency until such point as you have enough to exchange it for gear. Once you spend it, you start over again collecting it if you still want more gear. You can watch the currency accumulate and generally judge how long it might take you to get the gear you desire.

Bad luck insurance — even though Blizz does not advertise specifically how it works — must operate on a similar mechanic. That is, there is some sort of programmed counter that keeps track of your activities that can award gear. When you do not receive gear, that counter is incremented some amount until it hits some secret tipping point, at which time you “spend” the accumulated secret currency and are awarded gear determined by Blizz.

The differences between overt currency and bad luck insurance are that 1) players are unaware of the amount they have thus far accumulated, as well as the “cost” of a piece of gear, and 2) players have no choice in the gear to be awarded when the secret currency is “spent”.

Otherwise, Mr. Hazzikostas, valor and bad luck insurance are the exact same mechanic. It makes no sense to oppose one and champion the other.

Micro-holiday events. I did a couple of these when they first started, but I have pretty much stopped doing them. I find them vaguely distracting and entertaining, but not enough to go out of my way to do them. For one thing, they take away time I feel like I need to spend chasing AP or legendaries, and with limited play time available each week, taking even 30 minutes or so away from these pursuits is significant.

I applaud Blizz’s creativity in these events, and I appreciate their sole purpose is a bit of fun, I just don’t find them fun enough for that factor alone to justify my participation. It will be interesting to see what the player base response as a whole has been to them, and to see if they continue as a regular feature in future expansions. In fact, it may offer us a clue as to whether the people regularly crying for more “content” actually mean just that, or whether what they really mean is “more loot”.

Legion’s hidden quests. This is one of those things I am not opposed to, but I do not care a fig about for myself. I do not look at WoW as a puzzle game. I am fine with having these kinds of quests in the game for those who do find them engaging, but I am not interested in doing them.

The one thing I do worry a little bit about is that Blizz will decide later that having a couple of these as required paths to professions or gear or whatnot would be a good idea. This is not an idle worry. Blizz has a history of introducing activities as purely optional, then inserting them later into unrelated player progression. The best example I can cite is the Brawler’s Guild. It was originally introduced as a fun diversion for anyone who wanted to participate, and indeed there were some mostly vanity type rewards involved. Then, in WoD, Blizz made achievement of a certain Brawler’s Guild level a prerequisite for certain mainstream jewelcrafting patterns. This to me was a bait and switch. There are of course other examples.

That’s it, drafts folder now squeaky clean.

 

Mini game creep?

Very short pre-weekend post today, I am pretty slammed for time. But I did just want to mention the creeping trend of WoW Blizz-sanctioned mini games within the main game. I am talking about things like Darkmoon Faire games, Hearthstone tie-ins, Brawlers’ Guild, pet battles, etc. And a day or so ago I saw two references to mini games in professions in Legion.

Professions

  • Hot Swapper Achieve 250000 points in a single jewelcrafting minigame. 10 points.Account Wide.
  • Resourceful (New) Upgrade all star recipes in one primary profession to 2 stars or higher. 10 points.
  • The Shortest Distance Reach level 20 in the Blingtron Circuit Tutorial minigame. 10 points.Account Wide.

Here’s the thing. I have absolutely no problem with these games as long as they remain completely self-contained. If I choose to play them, it should be simply because I enjoy them, there should be no impact on my progress in the larger main game of WoW. Similarly, if I choose not to play them, there should be no impact on my game progress. And most certainly there should be absolutely nothing regarding WoW progress that requires me to engage in any of these mini games. Cosmetic and vanity awards for them — heck, even a few achievement points — are fine, but there should be nothing of game substance attached to them.

This point of view is the reason I was incensed back at 6.2 when the only way to earn one of the new gem recipes was to attain a certain level with the Brawlers’ Guild. To me, this crossed a line that had always existed with these mini games, in that something Blizz had always portrayed as a voluntary diversion suddenly became integral to progress of my JC in the game. It seemed to me to be a breach of promise of some sort.

So when I start to see more and more references to various mini games in Legion, I start to get very nervous. Especially given Blizz’s acquisition of the Candy Crush Saga bunch. As I said, I have no problems with these things being present in WoW, and if people enjoy playing them as a diversion or as a way to get some vanity goodies, then fine, have at it. But the moment they begin to have substantive rewards that assist progress in the main game, then I get very annoyed.

We will see what happens in Legion, but I can’t shake this gnawing little worm at the back of my brain that is quietly sounding an alarm that soon we will be playing Candy Crush or something similar in WoW, and that it will be a gate for something of substance in the game.

Everyone have a great weekend.

 

Enough is effing enough!

Okay, Blizz, if I bow down to you and admit you are “BLIZZ, THE GREAT AND POWERFUL!” and if I stop pulling the curtain back and showing people the mousey little guy behind there, can you please stop forcing me into your “optional” content?

Here is some feedback for you: If I did not like optional content when it was first introduced, I am not going to suddenly love it when I am forced to do it in order to get at the content I actually enjoy.

When I was a child, I tried jello when it was first given to me, and I did not like it. My mother explained to me that it was yummy, that all the other children loved it, and that if I just kept trying it I would see how delicious it was. She forced me to eat jello for years, sometimes sending me to timeout, sometimes withholding privileges unless I ate it. But I never learned to even like it, much less love it. The more she forced it on me, the more stubborn and sullen I got. To this day I cannot stand jello.

Clearly, Blizz is trying to do what my mother could not.

Hang on, let me breathe and explain what I am talking about. I was just checking out Wowhead for some of the profession changes in 6.2, especially the JC changes, and it turns out that in order to get the recipe for the epic mastery gem, you must be level 6 with the Brawlers Guild.

Let me say that again. You must be level 6 with the Brawlers Guild to learn an important gem recipe, possibly the most important gem in the current game for a BM or SV hunter or for a lock or a mage. What possible sense does this make? Does Blizz need to crank up player participation numbers for the Brawlers Guild, so that they can prove there will be support for some new crackpot game they are creating? When Mists first came out, I tried the Brawlers Guild, found that I disliked it, and never went back. After all, as Blizz explained, it was optional game play, something new and fun for those who liked it. Some people liked it, good for them, I didn’t so I opted out of it, no harm no foul.

And now suddenly you have to participate in it just to get a profession recipe? Why? What possible story line connection could there be for this? Seriously, I think the cheese has slipped off Blizz’s cracker, this is nuts.

But it is in line with other lies Blizz keeps telling us about “optional” content. Remember “optional” pet battling? Not so optional if you ever want to complete your garrison, with its non-optional pet menagerie. For that matter, remember all of Blizz’s assurances that garrisons were “optional” play? Uh-huh, optional unless you wanted to see any new content, that is. How about PvP, also “optional” unless you wanted to get the Mists legendary cloak.

As bad as WoD initially was for professions, Patches 6.1 and 6.2 drive them further into the ground. Even the way they are doing new recipes from your garrison vendor is nuts. Why in hell should you have to go through the annoyance of finding the vendor you need, on the random day they are available, possibly in someone else’s garrison? What “vision” of the game is served by that mechanic? It’s not hard, but it is stupid and annoying, and there is no legitimate reason for it. Obviously, another award-winning idea from Blizz’s Screw With the Players Department. And they have really outdone themselves with this Brawlers Guild gem recipe requirement.

Yes, I know it is Monday and I probably am cranky and out of sorts, but give it up Blizz! Enough is effing enough. Go get a damn dictionary and look up the meaning of “optional.” No matter how much you try to force me into it, I do not enjoy PvP, or pet battling, or Brawlers Guild, or Hearthstone (if I wanted to play cards, I would play a real card game, like poker), or waddling my flying mount along on the ground, or spending hours trying to slam a mouse button at just exactly the right millisecond in order to jump up for a treasure, or galloping around for more hours to get a better selection of elevator music. (I am just waiting for the announcement of the next expansion, and the requirement for all the jukebox achievements to be completed before you can ding 101.)

I. Do. Not. Like. Jello.

It’s 95 degrees F here today already, with about 90% humidity, and honestly I feel like I need to go outside and cool off. Brawlers Guild, my ass!

Oh. Have a nice day. (It’s “optional” but not for long.)