Saturday, April 05, 2014

WARLORDS :: In Your Eyes

Some people just never get it.

At least two people turned up on the site yesterday to find out what I thought of the Alpha Patch notes. With the benefit of some sleep and due consideration, I reckon I'm in a position to share my current position with the room.

Knock yourself out, Haters.

I watched a huge amount of debate yesterday. I saw more than a few people in shock. Some appeared genuinely happy, others were confused. Needless to say, as we have discussed before, these are all common reactions when given massive upheaval to deal with and frankly, this is pretty major stuff. Quite apart from the changes to the major stats and conventions, many classes (Hunters included) have seen entire specs redesigned. The key, quite obviously, is to move away from a homogeneous feel for a class and to give them genuine choice with specs that are clearly distinctive and separate from each other. Using Warlocks as a template, to have three unique choices is clearly the aim, so that your decisions have a significant impact on playstyle. There's a problem with this, however, and it will come from the players who were already doing this themselves with the entire palette of spells and abilities that were at their disposal. With spells effectively 'locked out' of particular specs and placed deliberately in others to give them a sense of uniqueness, players have lost important choices they could make themselves, and are forced into compromises that they may not want simply to maintain the illusion of three unique playstyles by class.

This is a potentially dangerous precedent to set.

However, the increase in popularity of the Warlock class based on their redesign has set the tone that Blizzard are clearly keen to capitalise on. The problem will come, in the early months, in persuading players who have for years made their own choices to adapt to the more 'modular' playstyle they have been presented with. If we are to assume that all classes will do comparable damage to each other there should be none of the issues with one class being less represented than the other either... which must at least be in the minds of the designers. If the ultimate aim, at least at this stage in the day, is to get everyone on an equal footing, then this is as good a start as I reckon Blizzard could expect to have. You need to persuade your detractors, and those who chose to make their own 'unique' class from the colours that they were given, that simply being a Beastmaster in the shades provided is as good as painting your class with the full spectrum of possibilities available.

You take away the choice, and things are supposed to be better. That remains to be seen in practice.

I'm in the purples, a bit to the blue side.

There are also large sections of this 'presentation' very obviously missing. There's no quest details, no zones to look at, no battle pets, no professions, no currency changes... and if I'm honest, those are all of the things I'm really interested in seeing and learning about BEFORE I start playing the game. My character is only a part my life, simply the bread and butter of my gaming experience, and without all the other meals and snacks I can't ever make an objective judgement on the feast we're being served. If this is a taste of what is to come, however, it is clear we're in for very different menu choices from times past. I don't have a problem with this, as long as the serving staff don't end up depositing my main course in my lap. It's always a possibility, after all, your experiences will vary. Sometimes however being too clever can have unexpected side effects, when all it really needed was simple presentation and a choice of fries or a jacket potato.

For those of you expecting me to pass judgement, I'll say only this: the jury's not even been sworn in yet. This is part of a very large and particularly complex story, and we've only seen the opening credits. So, until I've got the Bluray version with all the possible endings in my hot sweaty mitts, you'll just have to wait.

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