Monday, June 30, 2014

BETA :: Fairground

We still want to incentivize guild membership, aside from the social benefits, so we're keeping conveniences like faster mount speed, instant guild mail, Mass Resurrection, etc., as exclusive benefits to all guilded players. The guild achievement system, and unlocked items and other benefits through completion of guild achievements, will remain as-is. We'd like to emphasize that system a bit more as a yardstick for collective accomplishment, rather than guild level which primarily just reflects individual effort. 

This last weekend was what could reasonably be considered as an 'interesting' one for Warlords, insofar as it was the first after Beta was announced and the time where the largest number of people outside Blizzard's 'Family and Friends' could actually go and poke the game to see what had changed. The outrage (for that is what it is appears to be for many) over the movement of faction capitals to the Ashran Peninsula continued, there was a lot of disquiet over just how unstable the Beta was for a product people were supposed to be testing, and it became apparent early yesterday that Blizzard had effectively removed a large swathe of Guild Perks without the kind of blog-based explanation many of us have become used to over the last few months. I debated last night how long it would take today to get an answer to this move and the thinking behind it, but Blizzard clearly thought this alteration significant enough to get Watcher to type a blue response on a Sunday.

Needless to say, even if this is still Beta, the changes detailed in the explanation are fairly damning, and signify a significant move by Blizzard to de-emphasise the gold-making potential a L25 Guild possesses.

This is going to come as a shock for those whom the Cash Flow perk isn't a way for an unscrupulous GM to use his membership to make cash, but it will quite usefully see an end to the phenomena of GM's 'selling' guilds with 100's of members once they've taken the money they want from the Bank and are ready to move on. What it will mean is GM's like me are going to have to pull their socks up and work a bit harder to make money for the coffers, especially as one of the 'counters' Blizzard are suggesting to this for income generation is the increase of BoE Epics in raids. What this does mean is that for Vanity Guild owners life suddenly got quite a lot more interesting, with the addition of a number of perks that you'd probably have never seen if it was just your bank alt in charge. One now also wonders as a result if the costs of building a Guild from scratch may significantly increase as a result of these changes.

I'm also glad to see that Achievements are remaining, however, and that at least something tied to individual effort will continue to gain reward. However, there is one part of Watcher Dev's statement above that should give everyone at least some pause for thought:

Many perks can just be rolled into default behaviors, since a majority of players already had them and the world was designed and tuned around their existence: Flight path taxis can just inherently move 25% faster instead of requiring "Ride Like the Wind"; Honor rewards and item costs can be balanced as if you had "Honorable Mention"; and so forth.

The removal of flight from the game remains as another issue of contention in sections of the player base, and what Watcher does here is quite clearly indicate that if you aren't flying in a new zone, then the 25% movement speed is effectively redundant because all flight paths will be provided for you. However, in the rest of the game world, this is clearly not the case, so what this does mean is a disadvantage to playing any part of the content rather than the section that remains the most current. Does this mean we could be seeing a shift away from encouraging players to dip into Older Content or to go back to the past? It wouldn't appear so by the willingness of Blizzard to provide players with access to old raids for Transmog items (and even adding NPC's to access LFR on a single player basis for just that reason.) Then there was the Molten Core guide that appeared at the end of May, which was encouraging players to explore 'Legacy content'... but nothing since, despite some clear indicators that the Black Temple and TBC content was being looked at by Devs and that, for a short time, loot drops were nerfed because of the gold they generated for unscrupulous farmers.

Blizzard are clearly looking at past choices and amending those it feels gives players an unfair advantage. It could also be the case they're not afraid to plunder the past either if it means using nostalgia as a marketing tool.

This little nugget of Gold (TM) popped up in the maelstrom of noise over Beta yesterday. Needless to say, nobody in Blizzard's gonna say anything about it for any number of reasons, but if this is even close to being considered as an option, it has 10th Anniversary Celebration written all over it in very big capital letters. This is roughly akin to the 'failed experiment' in Karazhan that developers shrugged off late last year and that could well come back to haunt players in Warcraft's next Expansion, not simply because of the extremely strong lore connection between Draenor and the structure in Deadwind Pass. Blizzard won't yet confirm anything, but there's some HONKING HUGE SPOILERS already active in the Beta that pull Kara front and centre in 'current' events. Playing 'guess Blizzard's next move' has never been a very good game to play unless you're actually inside the Campus at Irvine or are mates with a developer, and even then you can't be 100% sure you're getting the full story. Stuff is changing very fast at present, and it is apparent that sacrifices are already being made in order to ensure this game gets a release date in Q4 this year. What Blizzard are clearly not afraid of is using the entire back catalogue for inspiration. What seems to have become more prevalent in recent months is the desire to move the focus very much back into the gaming world and how it works.

There appear to be some fairly strong statements of intent in the Beta Client we've been given to play with.

The next couple of months will be crucial in determining what stays and goes in terms of original intent from Blizzcon. Sacrifices are already being made, and despite the many and vocal protestations of players, some stuff is not up for negotiation, of that it is absolutely clear, because this isn't our game to make. That is a point that many people would do well to grasp as they wail and gnash teeth on whichever social media forum of choice they choose to inhabit. There is little to absolutely no chance an incoherent rant will do to change the mind of ANYONE. Reasonable, sensible forum posts might work, but I believe even the Blizzard Forums buckled and collapsed under the strain yesterday. I can remind everyone this is Beta and subject to change, but there's a lot of people who really aren't listening, and they certainly won't read anything this long as a result. So, it's time for a TL;DR summary. Fortunately for me, an ex-Blizzard employee summed up the situation with more grace and eloquence than I could ever manage, so I think I'll leave the last word to her:


Karragon said...

I'm not sure if it's you or I who is miss reading but the 25% speed boost isn't redundant because it's a 25% speed boost to flight paths, they are saying they are just going to bake it into the normal taxi speed, doesn't relate to flying mounts at all

sprowt said...

Yes, that's how I read it too, Karragon.

I have to say I must have been entirely too innocent and trusting .. and completely out of the loop ... I never realised what was happening with guilds with that cashflow perk. I'm a little concerned that this could hurt guilds like mine though, where our raiding is usually behind the curve (and therefore any epic drops would also be), and we don't tend to rush through an instance (or even half a raid instance) of bosses in a night/week - at the start of an expansion it won't be too bad because (I assume) we'll still get cash in for doing instances, etc, in guild ... but losing the cashflow may well reduce our guild coffers.

Ah well .. if push comes to shove, we'll just have to rein back on the number of "extras" guild members get (repairs/flasks, etc).

CaveDec said...

I wonder what would become of all the demands to immediately reverse the decision about the hubs, if the people realized how much of a setback in terms of release date that change would be... especially if they already built some of the quests, storylines and other elements tied to said hubs, which they would otherwise had to throw in a trash bin altogether. It's an "eat cake and have cake" attitude. Are they assuming that Blizzard informs us right away about every idea they have and then patiently waits for a green light from community? Apart from other problems, that would increase the development cycle a thousandfold. All that regardless of whether the decision was a mistake or not, and even professionals like Blizzard make mistakes. Even if Blizzard realizes it was a mistake, they will admit it not now, but rather in an expansion retrospect, for obvious PR reasons, especially if they have NO choice but to go with their decision forward, which IS a real possibility that almost no one is considering.

There are more reasons to be annoyed with the (part of) community's way of thinking, like taking "in-development" "subject-to-change" plans as "promises"... But I could go on and on, and there's no point, as I'm no real blogger, just a commenting reader.

Nothing against (constructive) criticism, but man... calm the f* down everyone!

Drea B said...

You know, Watcher wouldn't have had to make a post on a Sunday if they'd put the guild perk removal into the published patch notes.

Leaving the guild perk thing to be stumbled across was bad information management in my opinion. The patch notes are there outlining spell removal, they cold have saved some drama and just put the guild level removal in it as well.