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.
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!
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.
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.
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.