When a post fails

| Friday, December 17, 2010
Warning: This may be whiny meta-blogging. You have been warned.

On Monday I asked if Blizzard has an anti-fun team. I figured people would have some opinion about it, the idea that relentless pursuit of bland balance can be rather bland and useless. At the least someone would disagree or claim I was cherry-picking problems. Instead it seems that the care cup was empty. No one cared.

Trolls annoy me, but trolls are just an expression of the statistical fact that a few people are dumb and all people are sometimes dumb, so trolls or idiots will happen. After the fact I could only laugh after someone called me a fascist. But irrelevance! Oh, that's a painful pain.

I can't possibly blame readers, because I know that commenting can be hard, in a way. Maybe it's just a personal flaw, but I have great difficulty responding to posts that I agree with but don't have much to add. I don't like writing "neat post" or the equivalent. That's boring! Give me a post that I can disagree with, or agree with and add something. I seem to have just implied that there were few comments because everyone agreed... They could have also thought it was a stupid theory, a boring theory, or just not relevant to the rush to level, gear up, and grind reputations which dominates at times like these. In other words, no one cared. Except a few awesome people. Archmage Vagoth, will he ever be truly free?


Glyph, the Architect said...

It's likely everyone agrees with you, as the answer is obviously "yes" to the question in question. There's no real reason to remove the fun items, but they do it anyways or at the least restrict their usage to quest areas. They probably say something about "It doesn't make any sense for someone to run around as a Furbolg!" The real reason behind removing them, I don't think anyone will ever know.

Anonymous said...

Haha fine I will comment. Blizzard/Activision is a hierarchical organization and they like their rules. Things which are thought to deviate from those rules and are in some ways subversive are removed. I'm sure we all have encountered businesses or other organizations in our own lives which have had rules that make no sense and are in place simply to exert control, or at least attempt to.

Anonymous said...

Part of the problem, I think, is that the post doesn't clearly state what the problem is, though I gather that your objection is that the staff was removed from the game (?). Exposition should come before analysis.

hound said...

I don't hit up every blog that I like on a regular basis, so I was late to the party on this one, although I remember seeing your original thoughts on the topic over at Player vs. Developer, and I agreed with you, though I don't think I replied there.

However, now that there has been some time for that idea to shuffle around in my head, I guess I do have some thoughts on it.

Blizzard has a handful of specific goals for the game but some things take longer to implement than others. They spend a lot of time fixing "emergencies" and designing stuff that needs to be tested. But once in a while something enters the game in a broken, unintended state. If it has no game-breaking aspects, then it might take a back seat to upcoming hotfixes and testing. Since every fix or change takes time, manpower, and resources, some things might stay broken for a long time if they are not interfering with the game.

The most glaring example I can think of is the original ghost wolf. It was never intended to be trainable, but something went wrong. For a while it posed no game-breaking attributes. But then, once players figured out how to get it, it became a player focus to do so. Players had to do a number of unintentional things to get it. While it may not have broken the game, it began to interfere with many unwritten rules and philosophies within the game at the time. Some glitches in the game allow players to "cheat" in instances, some allow players to receive unintended rewards. Both "break" the intended design.

All that said,I don't think Blizzard is actively trying to reduce fun in the game, though sometimes what individuals consider a fun feature is affected. Instead, they are just fixing things that are broken, which we have gotten used to as long-term players.

Sometimes, it just takes a while for them to get to a fix.

Klepsacovic said...

@Glyph: Bitter assistant devs on their last day?

@Anonymous: They do love their rules, but when did they become such sticklers?

"Pointless change after pointless change, which do nothing at all to improve the player experience and instead just serves to push us onto the One True Path on Which to Level and Play in the World of Warcraft, that none may stray for long."

The staff was an example or symptom, not the true problem.

@hound: It seems that if they have so many problems to fix, and new ones created all the time, it would make sense to ignore more or less indefinitely those things which do not negatively affect gameplay.

hound said...

Well, there are at least two factors at work here that are not discussed very often:

Complexity and order of operations. There may be some "official" wording for these things, but right now this is what I'm calling them.

The more complex things become, the more problems arise and the more frequently they arise. Someone makes a list of issues and then maybe someone else prioritizes those issues. Maybe the Trinket of Worthiness is at #12,579 on the list. The list will evolve (or devolve, I suppose) over time and likely change several hands. Maybe someone goes through the list from time to time and drops some "non-issues" but it's sort of biased at that point. Maybe someone else adds a "non-issue" back to the list because, technically, it's still a broken feature.

I imagine that after they fix the "important" stuff, they essentially throw darts at the list to see what non-issue, but broken, feature should be fixed next.

No one wants to throw the list away because there are still important things to fix. No one wants to make a new list because the game is so complex now they could never get through it all before the next wave of new issues arises.

They could put it to a vote, but we know how public decisions turn out on the forums, perhaps even in the office.

Anyhow, that's my theory on how things work behind the scenes.

Ophelie said...

People are too busy playing the game or worrying about their class to care about anything else ^_^

I definitely see where you're coming from though. I'll spend 12+ hours working on a post that I'm super proud of, only to have it ignored. While posts written in a few minutes that start off with "well, this was part of a bigger post, but it was too long so I'm just going to post this part here and link to it" get way overhyped. It's weird how readers react to stuff.

Shintar said...

Hmm, I wouldn't consider seven comments a failure. Or were those made after you posted this? Either way I'll definitely quote the "anti-fun" team every time Blizzard makes a similar change from now on...

Anonymous said...

Klep says:

"The staff was an example or symptom, not the true problem."

How does removal of the staff push players towards one particular style of leveling? I've read your post four times now, but I still feel like I skipped over a few paragraphs in the reasoning process.

Also, is the staff still available in game or not? I have no idea what the actual change was. That's what I mean by exposition first.

Klepsacovic said...

@Shintar: Those were mostly after I wrote this.

@Anonymous: The staff is meant as a bit of potential evidence for the existence of the theoretical "anti-fun team". I had two main examples of the work of this team: the staff and the leveling change. The staff and leveling change are not directly linked to each other.

The 'staff' is no longer able to be equipped, meaning that it no longer functions as a cosmetic item. So an item of the same name exists, but a non-staff which can be equipped and looks like a staff no longer exists.

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