Sunday, March 09, 2014

Land of Confusion

You didn't RTFM, did you? ^^

Learning something new can be hard work. We've already established that change is a wrench, and if you look back over the last few weeks this blog has attempted to furnish you with many ways in which to cope with the impending tide of alteration that Warcraft is about to be engulfed with. However, there are people already preparing themselves not simply to cope with said change, but to write about it so that you can choose to utterly ignore them. Today's request is simple: JUST DON'T. There are going to be players across all the healing classes (and indeed all aspects of gameplay) crossing EVERYTHING they have that they'll get themselves a Beta invite so they can insert themselves into the client and spend hours of their lives writing about what's different, and how they (and by extension you) cope with it. Even though you may flatly deny you ever need a Guide for a game that's been around a decade, you really will, especially in the months that follow.

Today, I'm going to ask you to START READING AGAIN.

But what's the point! It's only beta...

There are those who will argue (and quite sensibly) that there's no point in taking any notice of a Beta client to begin with. After all, so much could be scrunched up and thrown away between development and release that it's largely academic... except that's not really the case. If you look at this first iteration of the revised Hunter Talent system for Pandaria above you'll see that although many of those talents never made it live, the structure of the tree remains intact even today. Structures are pretty much set in stone before the Beta ever makes it into our hands, and it is VERY rare for anything to get a major rethink at the eleventh hour. Therefore, there'll be something useful to gain from the process of learning, even at this early stage. As learning new things is so intrinsically linked to understanding why they work the way they do to begin with, the process of Beta can help you be not simply a better player, but give you a vital head start on other players when the whole thing goes live, as long as you can think past the 'why am I bothering with this, I'll only have to do it again when this is real' mentality. I'll have to say I've been guilty of this mindset, especially in Pandaria's beta. Ironically it's taken a different game entirely to help me understand the significance of a dry run before the main event.


I may (or may not, you can't prove anything) have been playing a game in beta for the last two weeks, that is quite popular amongst the people on Social Networking. Because there is a general Non Disclosure Agreement in effect (unless you're Press, and I don't think even I could stretch that at present) I am not allowed to go into specifics, but when a game is good enough for me to start consulting Guides before I reach the designated level to start a new area of interest. it's doing something right. The thing about MMO's as is often pointed out by people like me is that the basic foundations and frameworks are often very similar, by deliberate design. If your player's done Warcraft then they'll understand a lot of what to expect in your virtual work if you set out things in the same manner as Blizzard have. The key then is to make things sufficiently different and diverting that players don't feel like they're in Azeroth but in your world instead. Learning in any game is absolutely vital, but there are levels of subtlety you will never grasp without some additional input, and then we're back to RTFM territory. This is why Guides REALLY matter too, especially if like many people you are returning to the game after an absence or even cold.

Hi Roosta, Hello Towel.

There has been much discussion that individual player treatises on How to Play (TM) are no longer relevant, that the changes to the game make it easy to summarise all the possible options in bite sized chunks on catch-all sites, and although that may be true to a point, there is a great deal to be said for the nuances of an individual's take on a bigger picture. I'd like to think that in a world where if it doesn't loop after six seconds people lose interest, there is still a place for words and pictures with a distinctly personal slant to have a relevance, or else I'd have to ask what the Hell I'm doing here on a Sunday morning sticking words on a page that half of you won't even read... unless of course there's some controversy (Rogues suck) or I insult someone's BFF by accident. What most people don't remember is that Guides take time, effort and ultimately a piece of the person writing them to be really successful. If someone makes a commitment to do the work and have an opinion, at least have the decency to read to the end and respect that, even if you don't agree with the end result. Without Guides we'd be nowhere, and the Manual exists for a reason, because EVERYONE at some point will have an answer that you can't simply extract from a friend, your Guild or Twitter, that you'll find in someone's instructions.

Take five minutes today and ACTUALLY READ a Guide for something and see if you can learn something. Remember to thank anyone who takes the time to write one too and grasp that if they made the effort for it to be public, you should respect that and give yourself the time to take in what you've been given.

Content producers need love, you know.

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