Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Kheldul's Conspiracy Theory

Blizzard threw a massive number of changes against the wall at Blizzcon. I expect many of the more fabulous ones are just there to see if they stick. Okay, it looks like they can get flying to work in the old world if they just fix a few polygons here and there. (I do recall them complaining years ago about Stormwind actually being a paper doll of a city as observed from the air.) Okay, they're adding a huge amount of instances. Okay they are adding two races with their starting zones. Okay they're adding five levels of questing content and zones for them.

And I actually buy all that. That seems normal even. I'd even go for reasonable.

But why the heck do they think they will get it together and remake classes? I hear warlocks are being remade. I know hunters are said to be remade. Why not leave them be and just make a new class if they have that urge. I have watched my mana and cooldowns for years. Now I will not have to worry about mana and cooldowns, but instead think like a rogue? Blizz couldn't even make infinite ammo and now they want infinite ammo and a complete and total class redesign from the ground up? New talents, new abilities, new metrics, new pets, fully re-itemized gear. WTF?

Well, so it sounds un-reasonable. But it of course goes further. Where is this coming from? Let's look further.

Almost all non-primary abilities are going away. Or at the very least, these abilities are being hidden from players. Armor penetration was a bit over the top. I'd think they could just get rid of it. Does anyone really have an issue with Block, Attack Power, or Spell Power? Seriously? I don't think so. So why are they choosing this patch to remove almost everything other than base stats.

My Theory is that stat simplification is an architectural consideration made beyond the scope and pay grade of Ghostcrawler, Blizzard's lead designer for Wow, and "B Team" MMO team lead. It is not being done to dumb the game down for more novice players. Wow is going to be one of Blizzard's properties in its fold. As an example, Wow will be under Battle.net in a very integrated way for its matchmaking and authentication / authorization and cross-game chat system. Similarly, Wow will share a fundamental server software architecture with it's other MMOs developed by its MMO "A" development team. That foundation will be basic universal stats, fast and robust client-server communication, and the ability to handle different algorithms. Those algorithms will be able to play different instances and handle different data and rules and physics, but the algorithms will need to be simple and fast and unified for any type of MMO.

1 comment:

  1. In regards to stat simplification, it accomplishes two goals. The first one is their stated goal of making gear decisions much easier. Need insane math, or being reliant on those with insane math and spreadsheets is not the greatest of ways to have players make gear decisions. Sure, there's always gonna be BiS items, but needing a graduate degree in mathematics required to figure out which is which is silly.

    The second things stat simplification accomplishes, and has basically been unstated by blizzard, but totally obvious, in simplifying balancing. Less stats to juggle is going to make their lives a lot easier managing who does the most deeps, the most heals, tanks the best.

    Personally, I think both of the changes will greatly improve the game.

    As for hunters playing a new class, I agree with that assessment, and I think I'll wait until Beta drops to make any judgments, although my initial gut reaction is I won't like it, but I will be open minded when trying it out. It'll probably take some tweaking, buffing, and nerfing to make it work well. I mean, it took them 4 years of tweaking to get us where we are now, how long will it take them to balance the new ranged rogues?