Yesterday I talked a bit about class difficulty and complexity, and current worries about the game being ‘dumbed down’.

Now for the other half of the discussion – it’s too late Jim. It’s dumb.

Sort of.

At one point, things were reversed.

The game was complex, the classes were simple.

You could pump out great DPS, Healers had nearly infinite mana to blow the cool winds of healing across your weary brow, and tanks had the joys of new AoE tools all day long.

Remember Wrath of the Lich King?

What was different there was, the encounters were difficult and the game mechanics were complex.

Do you remember the days before Vengeance? When you had to have a Threat Meter like Omen if you were DPS, because if you went balls to the wall things would come and eat you instantly.

Do you recall those days, or has your etch a sketch memory relegated it all to some rosy-fingered caress of perfection?

Let me remind you briefly of the tools that Blizzard has available to keep the game complicated without using class abilities to do it.

Core mechanics is one of the tools.

All it takes is changing Vengeance a bit so tanks do significantly less spike damage and generate less threat, and suddenly the onus is on the DPS to keep it in their pants and assume responsibility for working as part of the team, or they get eaten (and healers have to unexpectedly blow mana to try and keep you alive or lose someone on a boss fight).

What’s that? They’ve already announced changes to Vengeance are coming? But not to the amounts of threat generated, just changes to rein in runaway tank DPS.

uh-huh. Sure. Okay.

How about that whole Healing mana thing and AoE heals? How healing works and mana regeneration rates and how many targets can be affected (whether smart or dumb) can have an incredible affect on every fight.

Oh, healing is getting changed too? Oh. So, could be easier in some ways… or not. It’s not out to TEST YET, so I guess we don’t really know what’s going to happen for sure. Maybe some things will get easier or smoother while others become more of a challenge?

How about mechanics?

Have you ever considered just how brutal boss fights could be if Blizzard wanted to up the challenge?

Do you remember the early days, and the proliferation of untauntable mobs? You had to let a tank actually build threat using their baseline DPS because taunts to boost threat to the top had no effect.

Oh sure, we still have that a bit now, it’s never entirely gone away. But we also have vengeance now. What happens if the developers decide to see how well you work together as a team in Mythic mode by making some bosses that ARE tauntable in LFR or Normal difficulties untauntable in Mythic?

How about some of their other already established mechanics, like the Garrosh Hellscream fight? I don’t know about you, but I simply LOVE it when members of your team get mind controlled, and they begin casting mind controls on other members of your group as well, starting a chain that will take over your entire raid team unless you interrupt them and free them.

Isn’t that special? And gee, what a differency it makes when the mind controlled player casts become empowered and you can’t interrupt them anymore with a Kick, you have to burn them down faster than they can get the control spell off on another of your friends.

I love that part of the fight. You’ve got huge pools of AoE poison dropping, massive waves of adds popping up like mushrooms, a huge demented Orc swinging an axe and oh yeah, drop your cocks and grab your lock rocks, because if you don’t apply some DPS to your friends RIGHT NOW your raid is wiped without anyone ever dying.

Core mechanics changes can make the overall game easier or harder. Encounter mechanics changes can make individual fights easier or harder, and have the added benefit of rewarding teamwork or punishing the lack of it.

Encounter difficulty doesn’t have to mean more health and more adds, and if Blizzard has shown us one thing over the years it is that they can do some truly crazy stuff with encounters when they want to.

Now for the best news.

All this time we’ve played the game, Blizzard has been hobbled by the inherent latency of the game client and server dynamic.

Bottom line, there was a limit to how fast they could require us to react because lag.

Ah, but what is this I hear? I understand Blizzard has completely redone their file structure system to make things oh-so-much more responsive and capable of handling complex chores faster between client and server!

http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/13645405

We’re introducing a new proprietary file format that we call CASC (Content Addressable Storage Container). We’ll be using this new format in the Warlords of Draenor alpha and beta tests, and our intent is to convert everyone to the new format in a pre-expansion patch. As geeky as it may sound, we’re extremely excited to be moving to this new file format. It provides a ton of benefits not only for us and our ability to support and patch the game, but also for players.

I’m laughing my ass off right now.

You know the game you’re playing now, and when someone announces some changes it’s understandable to try and put those changes into the context you’re familiar with.

I’m trying to tell you that until you actually play real raid content in Normal or Mythic mode and see how ALL of the variables go together, there is simply no freaking way to know what it’ll be like.

Nope.

Say I’m right. Say that there are too many things that are going to change for you to be able to make any kind of good guess as to what the new expansion will be like. Roll with that hypothesis for a second.

If that’s the case, why not decide to be positive and enthusiastic to see what happens instead of BITCHING, PISSING AND MOANING ABOUT SHIT YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT?

You’ve got just as much reason to be joyous as enraged right now. Being pissed off at this point is a choice you’re choosing to make.

Relax.

Remember one thing that should reassure you.

The developers know that continuity is important. They have shown, repeatedly, that they care about keeping the flavor and feel alive while they make changes to the game. They want to improve things and modernize the game while AT THE SAME TIME keeping everything FEELING the same.

They don’t want to lose anyone by shocking them with a total revamp of how things play out.

Look at the incredible lengths the art team is going to make brand new character models while keeping them feeling exactly the same, just… better.

What could be more subjective than how your own persona character you’ve spent over 8 years playing looks?

Yet they’re changing them, and somehow they’re nailing it beautifully.

If the choice is ours whether to be scared and pissed at upcoming changes or encouraged and enthusiastic, I think Blizzard has earned the right to have us be cautiously optimistic instead of, y’know, that other thing.

TL;DR – Frankie say relax, don’t do it.

4 Responses to “It Can Get As Hard As You Can Handle”
  1. Copey says:

    TL;DR – Sexual innuendo for the win? Reading your title I almost thought I was reading something on Unbearably HoT…

    BBB: “Just how hard can YOU handle it?”
    Copey: “Pretty hard, triple B, pretty hard…”

  2. Jem says:

    I never worry about the game being ‘dumbed down’ to be honest. I guess I don’t have rose coloured glasses or something. I remember when casters had a range of wands in their bags, so they could do dps on stuff that was immune to their spell schools. Nature wands were pretty popular. I remember to wait for sunders, and I still never attack anything that not only has the tank not hit, but I use target of target to make sure it really is looking at the tank before I start up. This gets me mocked, but I’m old and habits are hard to break :) I’d rather wait 5s and make sure the tank is settled than screw up the pull.

    My concern isn’t the game is being dumbed down, my concern is that Blizzard will not balance it properly. I healed Cata. The early issues of mana regen vs brutal damage done to your group is a strong memory still. Cata healing was the triage healing model, which I have no issues with in general, but in the specific implementation they screwed it up. Bliz says that themselves. The loss of instant casts will be a significant playstyle change for the classes affected, and it may no longer be an enjoyable playstyle for some. That happens. I personally hate the warlock revamp, but I’m alone in that I think :)

    My concerns aren’t how complex or simple the game may be, it is how well Blizzard actually balances it. They have screwed it up before, and they have a track record over overdoing things when a lighter tweak would have been enough. On the plus side, Blizzard know they’ve screwed it up before and so hopefully this time around they get it a hell of a lot closer to balanced than the opening of Cata. Hell, even the concept of putting spirit on gear you get during the levelling process was missed last time in the MoP beta. It was a lot of feedback from healers that finally got some spirit options into the gear pool outside of max level gear.

  3. nobody says:

    People should calm down and wait until they can play with the new mechanics in the BETA or in the month or so pre-release where most of the new mechanics are released into the game. This is when you can decide if we are getting a new MoP or a new Cataclysm.

    After the pre-cataclysm event and 1 week into Cataclysm I left the game because I did not like the way it felt to play any of my toons. The game mechanics had sucked the fun from them. About a year later I returned after most of the patches when some of the fun had been returned.

    Conversely, I played the MoP BETA, and darned if I did not like the way it felt to play most of my toons. I had been highly skeptical of the 3 talents and 5 tier system but the end result was fun. Fun is why I play.

    Forget “Is it easy mode?” and ask “Is it FUN?”

    Side note: PLEASE let there be an expansion event land not just a lame scenario.

  4. Jey says:

    I also laugh sometimes when people talk about how easy raid encounters are while the are using cooldown and DoT counters, have an add-on that tells them when they are standing in something bad and have DBM which tells them upcoming boss abilities.

    I think on top of making untauntable bosses there is so much they could do to make it harder. Try random cooldown boss abilities that you have to react to instead of just wait for a bar to tell you it’s coming. Or more general awareness stuff. Durumu and his maze is often said to be a horrible boss but I like it cause it actually separates out decent players (I know it’s hard to see sometimes and lag plays into it a bit but I’ve personally never died to the maze itself).

    People are simply never happy with what they get. They complain that content is getting too easy and then when for some reason DBM isn’t able to tell them when an ability is going to happen because the ability is bugged on the timer slightly, it needs to get hotfixed because people complain that it’s too hard.

    Bring back the days of untauntable bosses and waiting for sunder’s and show people just how good they have it now. Our that friggin slime boss in AQ that I still can’t solo on my druid.

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