Sunday, May 1, 2011

How Many Buttons Do We Want?

More Buttons! Push More Buttons! Hit it like you mean it!

You have just got to love Ghostcrawler: whether he quit the forums out of frustration or if his boss suggested it might be time to take a break there, the guy just wants to communicate with the WoW Base so much that he goes and creates, not one, but two different blogs so he can keep some flow of thoughts going.

Of the two, the "Blizzard Blog" may be already dead from inertia. But the second one, "Coffee with the Devs" (Or perhaps "Developer's Watercooler." They seem to have different names in North America and in Europe) generally gets my interest going each time. It's casual, it's not a big deal, and it's just good insight without pages and pages of flaming replies from forum trolls.

In the midst of Troll Fever this week, GC released a new one of these, focused on the number of abilities the devs try to put into each class and specc.

Ghostcrawler's missive can be read here:

At heart here is real discussion about all the class changes that just keep rolling in and why they are rolling in.  GC makes a number of really astute observations, but a few things that I wouldn't really agree with too. Be sure to read the full post of course, but come on back and let's talk about this.

"There isn’t a magic number for how many rotational abilities a class needs, but we find that about four is the sweet spot."
Yah, I sorta agree with this. Something he doesn't say, but which I would observe is that the magic number allows a good dps to alter a rotation to suit a fight's general needs. You can hold back on one ability to save it for some upcoming burst damage. Or you can lean more heavily into another ability if mana/rage/spunk conservation is becoming an issue. If you don't have enough abilities, then it's hard to make those sorts of adjustments. There will always be more abilities too for limited situation use, but for most fights, two or three style variations should be enough.

I like that there are still abilities outside of regular rotation too. For example, It's fun subbing in a Frost Shock key for something else in the right dungeon fight. That's reflective of fun, unique fights. But for the most part, I'm glad I can keep the Frost mostly out of sight.
"Going forward, we’re going to make more of an effort to make sure everyone has a reasonable AE rotation that at least involves more than one button."
AAACH No!!!! For the love of god, no!!!!  I must admit my bias here: I farking hate, HATE, HATE AE. Wrath's endless months of pulling entire rooms of mobs and channeling AE pretty much killed any "fun" I found in AE fights. And making AE rotation more complex really doesn't change things at all except to make it more irritating.

GC's plan for AE has been realized this patch in the elemental shaman rotation. Earthquake was changed from a channeled spell to a 2-sec cast, 10-sec CD spell and then neutered by removing 40% of it's already underwhelming damage.  Then, Fire Nova was redesigned to emanate from Flame Shock victims with a 4-sec CD.  (Flame Shock itself has a 6-sec CD) The elemental shaman could run up into the fray to drop off a Magma Totem, but no Ele shaman actually does that. And then there's Chain Lightning with its 3-sec CD.

Y'know, GC, you did say "reasonable," but this is a lot of CDs. I know that a goal here is to make it that no one spell is to be spammed, but four CDs are a lot. What's the rotation in that? I dunno. Which combination of these spells can really maximize AE dps? Your guess is as good as mine. In most AE situations, there is not enough time to actually cast all these.

And then there is a death knell for Earthquake, which has become just about nearly useless. It was always dependent on the tank not moving the mobs around and it's 10 times more dependent on that now since it cannot be immediately re-cast.  Let's be honest: tanks are capricious and foolish this way and every DPS knows what I'm talking about. I ran Grim Batol as elemental the other day and every damn time I cast Earthquake, the tank decided he didn't like the haze from the spell animation (or something) and moved the mobs out of the area.

If this elemental shaman AE "roatation" is Ghostcrawler's goal, we should all be afraid. Very afraid.

"The depth that comes from lots and lots of content can feel cool to a veteran player, but even for them, the intended role and nuance of every ability can become blurred. For the new or returning player, it just becomes incomprehensible."
Boy, is that a fact! Keeping up with shaman changes so far this expansion is a full-time job. Playing alts is kind of nightmarish. My priest hit 81 the other day and got Mind Spike, and I can hardly decide what to do with that. Look at all the conditions and side effects they have built into that spell!  There's good, there's bad, and that makes it's use highly situational. God bless Elitist Jerks, but I ought not have to read their site to figure out to what to do with base abilities.
Also remember, that to be the best that you can be, you need to understand the abilities of every class, not just your own. Yikes.
It is starting to border on information overload, particularly with all the class tweaking that has gone on in the past few months, between expansion release, hotfixes, and two patches, now.  There is no sign that they are going to stop either.

1 comment:

  1. you know, I wonder if Blizz are listening to the community a little too much in the respect of how they adjust classes these days... I mean really, THEY know the numbers, THEY know the Sweet rotation, THEY know what should and shouldn't NEED to be done. Maybe just ignore all the so called "feed back" from the community and leave things the way they are for a while.
    Really, 90% of Community feed back on the Official Forums are just people complaining about an isolated situation, 2 months ago, on a stormy day in may, when Lag was at a premium... Ignore the crap and get to the 'Meat and Potatoes'. Players, good players, know when something is being changed for the right reasons, even if they don't like it.