Over in the tanking section of the official WoW forums, a fascinating discussion (to me, anyway) is taking place.
Lovenectar of Dalvengyr had this to say;
I’m not sure I understand the logic behind using class representation when deciding how to balance classes for PVE. I’ve seen GC, on several occasions, allude that since a lot of people continue to play warriors, they’re ok. It’s as if Warriors are intentionally being left as is in hopes that people will reroll to help balance out class representation. Why is balance amongst class representation pursued? Does it really even matter?
There are also comments being made that guilds are still using Warriors in Ulduar, so they must be ok. This doesn’t make sense either. Yes, they CAN tank the content, but not as easily as other tanks and without providing the equal benefits other tanking classes provide.
The fact that Warriors are still used, despite their shortcomings, makes me believe that there’s probably factors other than class performance that are contributing to Prot Warrior representation.
They’ve been around and been capable of tanking effectively for longer than any other class. Therefore, there will be more just because the amount of time they’ve been available. This extended amount of playtime would also lead to a stronger bond to their toon. A warrior of four years won’t be as willing to reroll because another class is more effective at tanking and guilds won’t can their long time tank just because he won’t reroll… most of the time.
These factors, and I’m sure there are more of them, make me wonder why representation is even considered. Why is a class deemed “ok” because people still play them? If you really want to bring the tanks in line with each other, wouldn’t it be more effective to base any changes or tweaks on the performance of the classes?
This attitude that, even though Prot Warriors have the lowest DPS, TPS and take more effort to AoE tank effectively, are ok because people still play them is a little perplexing to me. It’s like dedication is being punished with massive amounts of inconvenience. Does class representation take precedence over class performance?
I was impressed, I thought that was pretty well written, even if, as usual, a bunch of folks felt the need to do the old ‘beating a dead horse’ wah wah afterwards.
Lo and behold, Ghostcrawler responded.. and responded, and responded.
I think all Feral Druids might be a little surprised by the discussion that followed;
Q u o t e:
This. If less people are playing rogues than say, hunters, Blizzard wants to know why. Is it more fun? Is it too powerful? Can they make hunter gameplay more fun?
This is true.
Q u o t e:
Basically this is what I think of for why they consider it. GC has said that they are afraid of buffing warriors too much because they previously were THE tank class and that perception is still carried by a respectably high number of people. They want to make sure the other tanks are considered equally effective tanks, so they are being very careful how they buff warriors because if they over buff them they will have just destroyed everything they were trying to change about the majority perception within the community. They also take into consideration whether they are being effective in the current content and since they are they haven’t had any need to do anything in an emergency mini-patch way.
And so is this.
Let’s consider a totally hypothetical example (and I am being serious about that):
Say we did some extensive data extraction from Ulduar and found that only 5% of guilds use Feral tanks when learning hard modes. Assume for the sake of my very contrived example that we could somehow select for those guilds with a potential to beat the encounters, but that the encounters weren’t on farm yet. Assume that the sample size was somehow large enough that the statistics are not at fault in any of this data collection. (I’m trying not to let you Kobayashi Maru your way out of being able to resolve the scenario.)
Now, let’s also assume that we convinced ourselves beyond a shadow of a doubt that using a competent and appropriately geared Feral tank made most of the hard mode encounters significantly easier. Assume that the community also felt the same way — that it wasn’t a dark secret.
The fair thing to do from a balance point-of-view would be to nerf Feral tanks. This will likely cause the percentage of them to drop from say 5% to 2% or virtually nil. A game designer should look at that and say: Yikes!
You can argue that maybe the bear is just a horribly frustrating spec to play and so nobody does it despite its advantages. I don’t really buy that though. Players tend to say that about all of the classes, and I don’t see a lot of evidence that Ferals are somehow unique in this regard. Furthermore, many of our players will do things that are soul-crushingly frustrating if they think it might confer to them a small advantage, which is often why we nerf such things — to save players from themselves so to speak. It’s just hard to resolve how, in this particular example, why more guilds don’t go stampeding towards druid tanks if they are overpowered.
It’s a tough question — what to do with the overpowered but underplayed spec, assuming it doesn’t have any crippling gameplay flaws? What do you do with the spec that is wildly popular but underpowered? Do you make them somehow less fun (even if it’s relative) so players try out the other specs? I think saying “just make all the specs as fun!” is a cop out. We try to do that all the time, but I don’t think that will ever result in as many shamans as warriors.
This is why I say we don’t balance around representation. We don’t tweak numbers until we have 25% of each tank in Ulduar.(Or should the number skew higher towards DKs since they have more than one spec? Or should the numbers skew lower for paladins and druids since fewer races can be them?) But we do have to consider representation when we’re making changes.
Okay, so he says that this is a totally hypothetical example. Nobody needs to get in a frothy blind panic, okay? Not that there is anything panic worthy there, just saying. Some folks seem to rush to the panic stage a teensy, weensy bit.
Let’s be honest here for a moment, shall we?
I play a Feral Tank. I’m not going off of what my friend Bob done told me once while we were in a sports bar about how the class plays. No random word of mouth, no stereotype or perception is informing my views on how the Feral Druid playes. I actually play one myself, and have for a long time.
So, that being said, Ghostcrawler, I’m not sure where you got the concept that nobody plays them because they are ‘a horribly frustrating spec to play’, a position that you then went on to reinforce by suggesting that other people playing other classes could say the same thing so it’s not a compelling enough argument, but I’m here to tell you… I find absolutely NOTHING frustrating, in any way, about playing a Feral Tank. I find it to be a delightful, captivating experience, and compared to other classes I’ve played, I find the Feral Tank abilities to intuitively work together in a clear, understandable way. I personally feel that each ability serves a specific, clearly understood purpose, that the Talents themselves are self-explanatory for the most part, and all things considered, feels to me to be an outstandingly well designed and implemented class. Kudos to you and the entire developer team. Job well done.
Whoever told you we were horribly frustrating to play needs to maybe actually play one. And, if the people complaining are angry with the class because they sucked at tanking with one, rather than blame the class design… perhaps they need to, like, suck less.
Wait, we were talking hypotheticals, right? Oops!
Or were we?
But wait, there’s more!
Q u o t e:
Feral druids are in a similar boat. They’re quite powerful, but there’s still a perception that they’re squishy. Why? I have no idea. People really do have some silly bias against ferals. Granted, these aren’t top-end raiding guilds, but there’s enough out there that the myth carries enough weight that when people are at the character selection screen they think tank and roll warrior or paladin. When they see druid they think, “healer or moonkin.”
Feral druid tanks are somewhat rare, especially among some of the most hardcore, progression-focused guilds. Now, as I say below, hardcore guilds may be the most likely to stick with their current MT (who to be fair, is likely a warrior because these guilds have been around awhile). There are definitely Feral tanks out there — there are a lot of WoW raiding guilds after all. But if they are as good in 3.1 and 3.2 as some players predict, then why aren’t there more of them? Why isn’t every guild recruiting one? It’s an interesting phenomenon and I’m not sure I could adequately explain it.
Now, this is some interesting stuff… why does it feel like the ‘entirely hypothetical’ situation wasn’t so hypothetical after all? Are us Bear Tanks really that rare? I’ve said before, fairly recently, that I don’t see them that often, when I talked about why we needed the nerfs and mused aloud at the thought that if we were so OP, why ain’t there more guilds looking specifically for them when trying to get pugs going on Trade channel.
This seems, to me, to indicate that not only are they rarely called for by name for casual pugs, but that they’re also pretty rare in established top end raiding guilds, too. I guess I have no way of knowing, because he is talking about the top 5% of bleeding edge progression guilds, and I don’t hang with them folks. They are serious kick ass folks, and I’m, um, not.
For the player he is responding to, though, can I just say that it’s been over a year since I or anyone I talk to just automatically associated them with Moonkin or Healers? That ship sailed in BC.
But wait, there are lots more Ghostcrawler posts to come!
Q u o t e:
Leveling up a druid is probably one of the worst experiences in the game, according to most people I talk to anyway. A paladin only being slightly better. A lot of work has been done to ret to make it into a extremely good damage dealing tree. Which makes leveling one both fun and fast.
Wow, I disagree. I found leveling a druid to be much, much easier than leveling a warrior once you get cat. My warrior leveled on a stack of health potions and a high repair bill. Paladins are trickier, because they have some really nice benefits and some really slow aspects of leveling. I will leave you with the tidbit that paladins are the least likely class to be abandoned at low level. What does that mean? I’m not sure I have any idea.
Q u o t e:
That said, druids have been nerfed EVERY single patch in this expansion. This is not QQ. Its just a matter of fact.
It’s a curious fact though. It argues that we never nerf them enough because we keep having to do it again and again. Does that mean we have a double standard and are too nice to druids?
Be careful trying to use facts like this to prove anything. Number of nerfs or number of patches nerfed are not very informative values.
Q u o t e:
I think the answer is very simple to be honest. If the spec is overpowered, even if absolutely no one plays it, it should be nerfed. Same if a given spec is underpowered. One’s performance in a raid should not be dictated by how many other people play the spec. What I’m trying to say is that over power and under power are entirely independent from popularity.
I don’t think they truly are independent though, not by a long shot. I can understand that viewpoint from a pure game design standpoint, but I also think if we gave druids a 25% dps buff and it stuck that you would see players flock to them in no time. This is more true of PvP than PvE, but I still think it’s true of PvE. We saw rogue numbers decline in 3.0 when they were underpowered and they have since returned. Now maybe my hyopethetical example above never actually happens, but I sort of suspect it does.
Q u o t e:
If we’re talking about cutting-edge guilds, and the community generally agrees Feral tanks are better, the first reason can’t be it- most of them would prefer the better tank class. The second reason is plausible- an existent tank could reroll to the better tank class, but he’s giving up his epic loot, his epic flyer training, his four “Gigantique” bags and his Traveler’s Tundra Funmoth. And for what? So he can, after a lot of work, be part of the overpowered class du jour? When you have no idea how long that overpowered-ness will last, it’s a risky investment.
It is an interesting phenomenon that some of the most cutting-edge guilds are the least likely to change. Now, they certainly have the resources and mindset to change if that’s required. If we made a boss that could only be tanked by a mage with a half Arcane half Frost build, they would mysteriously produce one. But they tend to be conservative. They have their roster and they know what works for them. If their traditional MT can beat a boss, they will probably do it that way, even if another tank would give them an advantage. They would only use the advantage if they couldn’t beat it the way they wanted to (and this does happen). For less than cutting-edge guilds, they might see more of a benefit in switching tanks. And yet… these guilds are also the least likely to be able to attract amazing players with good gear of other classes at a moment’s notice, and they are likely to see a much bigger improvement just by tightening up their game than they are by changing their roster. This is why I often say tank balance doesn’t have to be perfectly equal. It just has to be close enough.
Okay, so let’s check that out…
First, umm… Ghostcrawler, you DON’T have to nerf them all the time. You just choose to do so, and the reason might just be that you didn’t choose the right things, in the right proportion, the first time.
May I submit to you the idea that choosing one aspect of a classes’ defense and nerfing the shit out of it, like you did with armor, does not do anything other than reduce the amount of attention we pay to armor as a stat?
And then the next time deciding that bears weight gear with Agility too highly, and so they must need their dodge value nerfed?
Maybe this really means that you are overnerfing one aspect at a time rather than doing a balanced adjustment across the board, and we compensated for your massive armor nerf by going with Agility. We had balanced gear before, and then we adjusted. We’re already talking about how to adjust again. So what will you nerf next? Health from Stam Talents again?
We asked for a bit of balance when the armor thing came out, and giving us snarky comments about all the changes being needed and maybe you just didn’t hammer us hard enough the first time doesn’t address core concerns.
If you can articulate what your goal is for a class, and balance the nerfs a little more across the board to achieve it so we don’t have to totally reitemize, maybe it wouldn’t be all nerfs, all the time? Just a thought.
It’s funny to me, in a way, that the one thing that Ghostcrawler seems surprised about is that people would be hesitant to change characters entirely just for the sake of progression. If a Feral Tank is better, why wouldn’t they switch? If we make them need a Half-Arcane, Half-Frost specced Mage, they’d come up with one, right?
Well, GC likes to point out the fallacy of arguments, so how about this reason… because a high end raiding guild probably already has a Mage, and if the fight requires a change in spec, the player is still playing the same character he or she knows and loves and is happy with, and that uses the same Spellpower/Int/Spirit/Hit Rating gear stats. Modifying a spec a bit, while requiring learning a different way of playing, at least keeps you with the same character.
If a fight requires changing from a top geared Protection Warrior to a top geared Feral Druid, however, those are two entirely different characters… and maybe doing so will require changing who the person playing the main tank is. I don’t know about other guilds, but in the guilds I am familiar with, there are only a few folks that step up and accept the tanking role in raids, and guilds get used to their particular playstyles. There is a comfort zone for the guild. Is it really surprising that which tank classes are consistently played in guilds would remain fairly constant? Unless you change the player doing the tanking, it seems probable to me that the class you have as a tank would stay the same.
The discussion actually, to me, comes down to one surprising thing; Ghostcrawler IS surprised that people don’t swap classes and specs at the drop of a hat for the sake of progression. As though progression really is the most important priority that a person can have, and all else is frippery.
Considering the state of the game, I can understand that. The other stuff is tacked on to keep non-progression players amused while the serious folks get down to the real business. I can understand that… and I don’t have a problem with it, either. I am happy playing the game I’ve got, I feel my casual playstyle has been addressed quite well (comparatively speaking), and I don’t need the focus of the game to change to match what I am interested in. I like being social, and I’m delighted with how much of the game has been expanded for my playstyle enjoyment.
That still doesn’t change the fact that after 80 levels, and some hardcore playing, it’s gonna be ever harder for someone to pop a brand new max level character out and also get skilled enough, and geared enough, to make it feasible to swap one out for another. DKP and Random Number Generator loot, remember? You’re going to want to bring your best guns, and one person with TWO tank characters who is the go to main tank is going to have to make a decision who to gear up first.
Sure, in 10 and 25 man Naxx and stuff, do both. But for the Ulduar raiders and beyond, it’s gonna get back to focusing on one go to character.
Sorry, got off on a tangent.
The point here is, Ghostcrawler is saying that if a class is overpowered, it will be looked at hard for being nerfed, but they DO take representation of the class into account when they make a decision of how hard to nerf.
And amusingly enough, they get surprised when people hold some sort of wierd attachment to their characters, and don’t toss them off the bus the second another class is (mathematically speaking) marginally better at a role.
But we’re going to nerf you damn Druids anyway.
Hey, I’ve got a question!
If players are not changing characters/classes for hard mode raids based on the mathematically optimal chances for success, but are instead playing the same toons they are used to, enjoy, and have had past success with…
Why the heck does anyone need to be nerfed in comparison to someone else’s performance?
It’s not because of making every tank equal with every other tank… GC said it himself, they think close enough is good enough.
So why? Why waste our time changing the rules and gear itemization? What the heck is the point?
I’ll tell you why, and it’s a good reason.
They do it at this level, because of world firsts and top end raiding guild competition.
They want to make sure that the bleeding edge progression guilds are all equally challenged by content. They want that world first accomplishment to be a feat worthy of admiration, and if a class is under the spotlight of being PERCEIVED as overpowered, there are always those that will marginalize the accomplishments of others based on that perception.
It’s a simple fact, if content is perceived as being too easy with x class, and a guild using x class gets a world first, QQ results.
Class balancing is going to be a fact of life so long as there is a perception that one class is overpowered in comparison to others. Accept it, and move on. All we can hope is that classes are researched and tested extensively before actual changes go live.
Me, at my level of progression, I am not affected much. I do read the news and wonder at the thought behind it, but all I really ask, at the end of the day, is that when the developers are done with this latest round of fundamental class changes, is that every tanking class have the potential to handle the content, so everyone gets to go have fun.
Oh, and one other thing; after this round of fundamental class changes… take a break with the change stuff. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’m getting a bit of class change fatigue over here. Leave it alone long enough for people to forget about the last four mechanics changes, huh?
Just, you know, allow us to settle in and enjoy the game without wondering what next months’ class mechanics changes will bring.
I do think it’s silly that things are, what, so bad that every couple months we need some big changes to class mechanics? Really?
And no, I don’t think the problem is that you didn’t nerf us hard enough the first three times, thanks much.