Thursday, September 15, 2011

More On The Nerf

I hate to beat a dead horse... wait. No, I don't. I'm a Warlock. It is perfectly in-character to beat a dead horse. And then ride it around a bit.  So let's talk some more about this whole Nerf thing.

My initial reaction was: Wow, this seems fast.

There is validity to that.  The progression of patches in this expansion has been faster than anything we've ever seen from Blizzard.  That is intentional.  I daresay they want it to "seem fast."  The question here is if faster means more fun.  We were adding any fun before by drawing it out?  By farming and grinding? 

There are groups that will drive straight through the content.  They won't have to farm a lot until they hit the more difficult heroic versions of the raid instances.  They are the top raiding guilds, and they down the normal modes in like a week or something obscene.  They have skill.

Then there are the groups that want to be on the edge, but may lack some of the skill.  They farm gear to make up for.  Make no mistake, gear is simply a supplement to skill.  If you have epic amounts of skill, you don't need epic amounts of gear.  Otherwise, if you're human like the rest of us, you need gear to make up for your own suckiness. 

There's also the whole experience angle, or learning, but I won't really get into that right now.  Suffice it to say, to some extent, everyone needs to learn, and people learn at different speeds.  This is yet another variable that is probably least accounted for, and I'm not going to do it justice here.

The point here it seems like Blizz might be taking aim at farming a bit.   While the rest of us morons and slackers are trying to collect all the shinies to make up for our moronic slacking, they're swinging the nerf bat and making it rain patches.  All of a sudden, we don't need the shinies anymore.  They've just cut out some of the farming.  Makes sense when you consider how much we complained about running Zx over and over and over.

Which led to my second, subsequent rationalization: Perhaps this isn't so bad.

I think it's a lot easier for me to find the silver lining here than some other folks.  Mostly, this hinges on how much personal/group pride you take from clearing bosses within a certain time frame.  I think there are a lot of folk out there that try really hard to stay ahead of the patches and nerfs, that want to down bosses at the same difficulty as the top guilds.  And the window is shrinking on them.  It is harder to do, and it's taking away some of their cake.  This is completely valid as well.  It's just not where I'm coming from.

We've always been on the tail end, holding on by the skin on our teeth.  It's never been an issue of doing it before the nerfs, but doing it before the next expansion.  You could say we rely on the nerfs, because we don't spend nearly enough time farming to make up for our lack of learning and skill.  In this regard, it is guilds like us that are getting a kick through the content.  Hence, it's easier to see some benefit in it.  We're going to get to our end goal (seeing the content) sooner, and we don't have to jump through as many hoops.  Also, there's no pride here other than in doing it.  The pride for us is being able to reconcile ten busy schedules and pull off a raid per week in the game we all love.  It's intrinsic to our group.  We could never really survive an e-peen battle because we're just not that cool.  We're okay with that.

My final opinion has rested firmly in the realm of: But what about...

In admitting the validity of the issues others take with this nerf, yet not necessarily sharing the fears, it puts me in a solid position to conjecture how this could be done better.  I've seen a lot of valid arguments out there, but, in my opinion, they could be all alleviated by one, simple change.  Make the nerf optional.

Over the years we've proven as a playerbase time and time again that the most abhorrent idea to us, collectively, is the notion that we have no say.  In the end, we just want to be heard.  We want to be given choices.  We want to have it our way.

That can't always happen, but when it can, we expect it to.  If we are guilty of a sense of entitlement, then it is the entitlement of choice.  We crave the freedom to choose.

And why can't they do that here.  The one lesson that Blizz seems to be conveniently forgetting from Wrath is the one the buff in ICC taught.  Sure, they can remember about AoE tanking, and crazy-quick heroics, and welfare epics... why not the hugely successful buff?  You know, the one that allowed you the choice of clicking it on or off.

Is it really that hard to program?  We're not talking about fixing mechanics here, that's not what Blizz says they're doing.  What's the difference between lowering the health pool of all the bosses by a flat percent, and raising DPS by a flat percent with a buff?  Or between lowering the damage of attacks, or raising players' resistance?  If anything, the latter choices mean you still have to, you know, actually play.  Is that such a bad thing?  Play the same, but be more effective.  Get a little leeway for your mistakes.

I just don't why we're throwing the lesson out the window here.  I thought the buff was awesome in ICC.  We were able to do early, farm bosses (the first wing) without the buff to challenge ourselves sometimes.  The later bosses we never really got to without the buff, but we downed them with it, thus seeing the content.  It afforded us the flexibility to tailor the raid experience to our unique group.  And it seemed so simple.

Why are we not doing this?

Don't make it harder on yourself, Blizz.  You could save a lot of backlash, potentially retaining and pleasing more customers, if you only gave us the choice.  Gamers like choices.  Especially simple ones: Do I want the nerf... or not?  Why force it down our throats? 

18 comments:

  1. Don't forget all the drama then went into the removable buff. Raiders who do want it, raiders who don't - some jerkface who disables your buff in a PUG.

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  2. Ah the optional buff. I'm not going to defned or argue against it. I'm only going to point some facts about it.

    First off the nerfs planned are "hotfixes" which means they are done on the servers. There is no patch required for the users. Blizz has said that they prefer these as patches need to be tessted, planed, use up bandwidth, etc etc. Having a button to turn on or off the nerf would require an actual patch be downloaded. And yes maybe they should design this in form the start.

    The other tidbit is that according to Blizz almost no one ever removed the nerf in ICC. Once the nerfs (all three) went in the user base overwhelmingly just used the nerf, especially after the first week or two. So they may have questions on spending resources for something that almost no one used in the past.

    Just a couple of points to add to the conversation.

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  3. @Adgamorix

    Maybe it could be left in control of the raid leader(s)?

    @Fulg

    Zorch/Good already said it, but I'm also guessing they don't bother with the optional buff/nerf because of a rather simple reason. Too few people actually turned it off.

    As for programming, it probably became, "Why program options if only X% of people are going to use it? Oooor, we can just multiply difficulty by 0.8?"

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  4. @Adgamorix - Sure, but that's on the raiders to figure out. Should be an easy task for an organized group with a strong leader. And jerkfaces will be jerkfaces. I think designing a game around asshats never turns out well.

    @Zorch - Great points. Resource usage would be a very valid reason. I guess I'd like to see that addressed then. I mean, there have been plenty of questionable uses of resources in the past, and, also, why not build the buff in to begin with? Is there any chance they're simply not going to nerf all the fights eventually? I guess I assume it's just a matter of when to turn it on.

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  5. @Darth - Ha, answering at the same time.

    Yeah, I understand the x% use it argument... but how many customers does it make happy to have the choice EVEN IF THEY DON'T USE IT. I really have no idea the amount of resources it would take (seems simple if you leave it as a permanent, sleeper option, but what I only test automotive software), so it may well be a rational decision. I just I just want to see it addressed.

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  6. I liked the ICC buff too, I think nerfing boss health/damage is easier to implement and provides more fine control over the process.

    Zonewide buffs are tricky. I expect they probably need to be considered as part of the zone from the beginning, and that implementing them after the fact requires a lot of QA testing. Changing health and damage values is pretty straightforward configuration changes on mobs.

    Another thing to consider is that nerfing bosses allows better control of tuning. If you have a zonewide buff, EVERYTHING gets easier, including things that might not have really been a problem for folks. You can tune a single boss who is problematic without affecting all the others - even in the middle of a massive raid nerf. There's more flexibility in this model.

    Finally, there's the power inflation problem of the ICC buff I don't see a lot of people talking about. We felt POWERFUL in ICC with the 30% buff, but as soon as we walked into Ruby Sanctum we were all... that's right, we're not that good outside of ICC. Stuff hits hard out here in the real world. I think that damaged RS's popularity with players.

    The key supporting argument for a buff versus a nerf seems to be that people could turn off the buff and do it on the original version if they liked. That's all well and good, but ... wasn't there only one guild who ever did Heroic ICC-25 without the buff? Paragon did it. No one else bothered. It's not like there was any in-game recognition for doing it, and it was a PITA even for Paragon. So folks left the buff on and farmed the place.

    Spending more development resources to give the illusion of a choice that you know people aren't going to actually use doesn't make a lot of sense.

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  7. I suppose I place more of a premium on trying to make customers happy, even if it's a dumb veneer.

    Personally, it doesn't really matter to me.

    Also, I don't think there should be a buff at all for heroic versions. That sort of ruins the point of them, IMO.

    I thought RS was fine for what it was... namely a tacked on, tide-you-over-until-the-xpac boss fight. I suppose I didn't realize it was unpopular for being difficult. I thought folks thought it was too easy/quick to master. Maybe I'm just misremembering though.

    Are they planning to nerf just one boss? I thought it was a blanket approach. That would certainly change the nature of the argument if they're "fine tuning." Even if it's a blanket, I suppose I didn't really address the trash.

    I'm all for "fine tuning," but that didn't sound to me like what they were doing. For instance, I thought it was a great move when they went back and modified some of the heroic mechanics that were especially brutal. That part seems less of a "nerf" to me, and more of a "fix." Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, they say. :-)

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  8. I should elaborate on "It doesn't really matter to me."

    My point is simply that I see a lot of backlash and I'm trying to offer an alternative solution. If simply applying the nerf bat bothers so many people, allowing a choice seems like a good option.

    If the initial assumption of it actually bothering people is wrong, well then it's a non-issue. For me, I'm okay with a nerf, but I can understand why there are folks who aren't.

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  9. I think a toggle for the nerf would be great if along with the nerf/toggle there was some kind of achievement/indicator that those who downed a boss with the nerf deactivated would obtain.

    I think that there is a significant portion of the raiding population that is less than elite but are more than the casual (i'll admit that my group is probably in this category)-maybe not ever clearing heroics but clearing regulars and attempting a couple until the end of the tier. They are the ones that feel the current nerf is too fast and they havent been given enough time to see their "style/ability" fulfilled. However, if they turned the nerf off there would be those who used the nerf to "pass" them in content-and the competitive nature of this 2nd tier of raiders wouldnt like that very well. Giving that group of raiders something that they can point to that says-"we did it our way" would keep them quiet and actually using the toggle to turn the nerf off.

    Seems like this would solve the ego hit that some would get, and also allow those without the time/dedication/drive whatever to be able to experience all the raids via the nerf. I think that while achievements are fine-its just downing the boss that is the real goal-and having some indicator for boss skill would be better.

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  10. TL/DR: a large portion of the raiding population needs to have their ego stoked, a nerf means they couldnt down the boss and the ego is hurt, a toggle would mean some "lesser raiders" in their minds would beat them to the punch and there is nothing to indicate currently that they did it the "right" way so why toggle the nerf off. Give those who dont use the toggle something special-mount, title, cookie...and they would be happy. Eveyrone loves it-ego maniacs get their kudos, casual raiders get their kills....blizz stocks split

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  11. Yeah, not a bad idea. Didn't they turn off mount rewards once upon a nerf? Why not simply make the mount reward a function of the buff being on or off. Or a title. Whatever.

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  12. @Fulguralis

    Farming gear with buff then killing without buff is very different from doing it without. It's more effort than most people would bother with.

    Something like that would likely need more thought and be part of the initial design.

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  13. Ah, I didn't really think about that aspect. You're right. That'd be difficult to account for.

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  14. A clarification on the upcomming nerfs. While Blizz has said that they plan to nerf all bosses they also left the impression that the nerfs would vary from boss to boss.

    I would also like to add another point to the mix. Right now IIRC the nerfs are to health of the boss and/or the damage the boss deals. But here is my thought. As the fights get more 'mechanical' (see discussion on gimmicky fights) at some point in time the nerf will probably be need to apply to the mechanic. In other words giving another second to reach a safe point, or the size of some bad on the ground being smaller, or more time to "pass the hot potatoe".

    As the fights change away from X DPS and X heals to more of the ride the slab and hit a moving target stuff, the nerf will have to be devoted to the mechanics of the fight and not the stats of the boss or adds.

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  15. Yeah. I actually am in favor of mechanic nerfs. I guess it seems more logical to me. It doesn't make you more powerful, just makes the bosses more forgiving, and I think there's a difference there in how it ends up feeling.

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  16. NERF THAT DAMN BIRD'S TORNADOES! *sob*

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  17. There has been much debate about raid difficulty, the new nerf, raid mechanics etc. So I was wondering about something. What if on day one a raid or guild could set their own difficulty for each raid boss. For arguments sake it can be set at 70%, 80%, 90% or 100% of normal. Now if you do kill a boss at any difficulty level you get the same gear rewards. However, any mounts, titles or achievements would require the 100% difficulty level.

    And yes I know that this allows you to get gear first and then get the 100% kill achievement. But with all the other ways to get gear does this still matter? I was wondering what your thoughts and opinions are? Are you for or against and why would you be for or against this?

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  18. I would be all for that. I like anything that increases my options. Depending on how much content, too, you could probably tune it so that even if you ran it all at 70% and then at 100%... you wouldn't be any faster than the folks that maxed out their VP via heroics every week for the same gear increases.

    I have always loved the upgradeable rep items. Even when you're wiping, it makes you feel like you're getting someone. This is sort of along those same lines. Right now, it's a very stair-stepped progression. You're either 1/6, 2/6, etc. What if there were a lot more levels? In the end, only the 100% would matter for true "progression," but you might feel like you're getting somewhere.

    Heck, I think I would even like it if instead of straight damage percentages, maybe you modify actual mechanics.

    I like having a challenge, but I also like a slow uphill climb rather than a stair-step. It makes the climb more enjoyable, and as Miley Cyrus taught us... it's the climb.

    Lol @ Miley quote on a Warlock blog. I'm ashamed.

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