Saturday, June 18, 2011

Developer Q& No A

My favorite incarnation of the Mighty Ghostcrawler
 Who read all the Developer Q&A sessions?  Did anybody like them?

Bashiok announced this week that the series was going to be scrapped and I mostly say, "Good riddance."

The whole thing kicked off in January with a Lore Q&A. The system was announced, that players should use the forum vote up/down system to show support for questions before writing one of their own, but since the thread spread to 40+ pages in less than an hour, I don't think anybody really managed to get through the lot of it.  Ultimate insult was added to this Q&A when the developers failed to answer anything.

Since that time, there have been a slew of different topics with more or less satisfaction in each case. But it culminated this week with the antagonizing set of answers provided for the Tank Q&A.  I think Allison Roberts, the Drood Guru at WoW Insider provided an excellent analysis of all that was wrong about that particular feature.

But I have to stop briefly and look at this one foul question and answer in the midst of the tank questions:
Q: Have you ever considered adjusting DPS HP? Seems that while their large pools of health help them on "accidental" situations, a fair portion of the time they can take aggro and tank adds without consequence. – Jainel (LA)

A: We're generally happy with how well DPS are able to tank (which is to say, not very well). We like that they can take a hit or two (depending upon content) before dying, and that the penalty for that happening is a huge drain on healer mana.

This is why I've basically quit healing in five-mans and it kinda outrages me to think that the devs consider this OK.  Some chump DPS is playing badly and their solution is to put the strain on the healer? Screw you guys. I'm taking my healing tools and 1going home.

Bashiok's post this week promised a new format of Q&A coming soon, but I think it might be good to stop and ask if this kind of "player/developer interaction" is really in everyone's best interests.  I know that it's fun and exciting to get questions answered, but um... far too many of the questions are super-lame, and far too many of the answers are non-answers.

I'm reminded very much of the last Blizzcon. I didn't post my thoughts on that event though I wrote about it somewhat extensively. I was mostly very disappointed with the panel sessions which were full of hunters complaining about nerfs, paladins asking for more power, and questions that if the developers could answer, they really didn't want to.

One of my fave moments for all the wrong reasons from that Blizzcon was when a player asked which clan Saurfang belongs to and was told "Um. Blackrock. As of ten seconds ago, it's Blackrock."  Clearly, a lot of important information was being passed along there.

A few days later, The Mighty Crab himself came forward with a very extended post that I think was technically a "Blizzard Blog" entry. In it he generally reviewed developer priorities, and then we went through every single class balance change that is coming up in 4.2.  It was only a sentence or two in most cases but the explanations were detailed, specific and, for me at least, a very satisfying read.

I start to think that Ghostcrawler's magic ability may be just communications. It is very rare that guy speaks up and doesn't have something solidly meaningful to say that can quash my worries about what they are doing. (Almost. I'm still not happy with the nerf to Mana Tide Totem. BASTARDS!)

But I think this categorizes what I like best about Developer communications: He's addressing what he feels he needs to address in a mode that's not replying to some of the dimwit things the community is known for coming up with. For every really interesting question the community produces, there are 10 different questions about the stupidest stuff that makes me embarrassed to be a gamer.  One of the biggest failures of the Dev Q&A was that they were responding to player queries whether they were good questions or if they even had answers.

Here's hoping Blizzard can continue a good thing!

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