Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Strip Mining

Your Patch, before Today.

5.1 is already Live on the EU Servers. Why on Earth am I here then, when I could be checking out all the new content?

I owe a great deal to Twitter for keeping me abreast of the moment to moment changes in game: I watched yesterday as the US Servers were patched and it became increasingly apparent that a great deal of new content was coming as a surprise to those playing: standardisation of CRZ timezones, 'stealth' buffs and nerfs to various items. I think it is fair to say that far more things than usual weren't either announced in the patch notes or indeed stripdatamined by the big sites.

I sense this may be a deliberate move on Blizzard's part.

I've read various interviews on how Blizz Dev's hate the dataminers: it removes an element of surprise from events that they work hard to create dramatic tension and conflict within. I can imagine that has something to do with wanting to move away from a world where everyone knows exactly what you're going to do long before a Patch even goes live. This would also explain why a lot of people were caught out by yesterday's announcement: there is at least one Scenario as yet untested 'publically' and I'm surprised with the lack of datamined/reported knowledge on the Brawler's Guild. There's not been that much time to extract data to begin with. This is new territory for the company who asked a million people to test their new Expansion: could it be that we're moving to a situation where less (information) is more?

There was another notable departure in yesterday's Patch announcement: everyone was in on the game. There was no favouritism by Blizzard in announcing their intentions either: all fan sites knew simultaneously. I'd like to think that not only might we see more content, in regular does like this, but we're going to see Blizzard holding more cards closer to their chests. This approach does of course have both advantages and drawbacks, especially when it comes to testing encounters so they don't break when exposed to the massive player base. From what I can work out, there's quite a lot of busted stuff already emerging in the US, and I'm sure the same will be true when the EU gets up to speed.

When you're as large an entity Warcraft, very little comes as a surprise. That's been one of the major criticisms levelled at the game in recent years too, so I think we're at the start of a new era for the Designers and their most rabid of data-gathering supporters. I think we might have to start getting used to not knowing stuff, and not being prepared. I know that's going to be difficult and painful and make some of us get all itchy and uncomfortable, but the long-term payoff of actually having something genuine to look forward to should be worth the discomfort. The problem is going to come (as appears to be happening reading the thread on the CRZ master timezone change to PST in the US) with making people understand that change is a good thing, and is not an impairment. This is a GLOBAL game, guys, you're part of one of many localisations, and working on Pacific is not the end of all things. That's where the Blizzard Offices are. I'm in the UK and have worked on Paris time (CEST) since pretty much the word go. It's a sensible solution.

I for one welcome this new change. Surprise is a good thing. Let's have more of it, but at the same time let's make sensible decisions as to what gets shown the light of day and what doesn't. Most importantly, relying on websites to give you information should not be the default state, there should be more people encouraged to dive into the game and provide information themselves. Datamining is not the only way to learn, after all...

1 comment:

lometa said...

Last night we raided, and with some of the small new discoveries, we were all a twitter about them in vent. It was fun!