Tuesday, 12 November 2013


I have played computer games for as long as I can remember. Never in all that time have I ever had an inkling as to who is in the team behind the software, with the possible exception of Sid Meier. Blizzard have many public faces, and of the World of Warcraft team you could probably name 5-10 people without having to think too hard.

The first name that I think of in connection with World of Warcraft is Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street, a man who seems to have as many fans as haters. Ghostcrawler at Blizzcon appeared on the panel of the Instance Podcast, along with the usual team and Russell Brower (Sound Designer). Ghostcrawler was in fine form and was pretty much off the leash without the PR handlers that often follow him around. If you have not listened already then I heartily recommend that you do whilst playing.

What I find impressive about Ghostcrawler is his vast knowledge of the game. It would be easy to say that is what he is paid for, but in my opinion he is involved or has knowledge of all aspects and decisions affecting the game. It would appear that every suggestion that players come up with, Blizzard have discussed, considered, rejected or are considering implementing. In theory I tend to agree with everything that Blizzard sees as wrong with the game. The problem is not even the implementation it is often how the player base abuses the changes.

Since the implementation of the Timeless Isle, I have grown to resent the endless stream of gear modifications that need to take place.

Gem - Enchant - Reforge - Valor Upgrade (Transmog)

It was not a problem when you only upgrade on average one item a week. After levelling my Warlock I changed every single item of gear. The professions needed are ridiculous:

Gem -  Jewelcrafter
Enchants - Scribe, Enchanter, Leatherworker, Tailor
Reforge - Vendor
Upgrade - Vendor

Balancing Hit and Expertise became a monstrous undertaking, and the only sensible solution was to use an addon or consult a 3rd party site. If min - maxing involves so much faffing around that we need an external source then there is a serious problem. The result is can't be bothered or large amounts of faffing. Just remember the "can't be arsed" will appear in a LFR near you in the very near future.

By extension Dodge, Parry, Spirit will also go the way of the dodo, and gear will become more class specific but will change depending on spec. Special abilities will appear on gear and that will leave the same strange decision making process that I faced when playing Diablo. This of course will lead to min-maxing of a different sort and some abilities will more definitely be BiS. Theorycrafting is far from dead it will simply take a different route.

The three remaining stats, have been a strange mix over the last two expansions. Haste and Crit have been around for a long time and we instinctively know what each of these will do if we stack them. Mastery was supposed to be a fine tuning stat, for when a spec was outperforming the other two specs (on a pure DpS). In practice we have seen very little fine tuning  otherwise how can you explain why Beast Mastery was so much better than Marksman for a whole expansion or Fire Mages have been rocking the charts for so long it is untrue.

With the removal of so many secondary stats, there is no need for the reforger, it was an ugly solution to a bad situation, and for most it will not be missed.

I am guessing the new system will either be gem or enchant not both, and this will result in a speedy gear change but the professions associated will lose an income stream. It can be argued that Jewlecrafters and Enchanters have already been very well recompensed over the years, but it will not stop the moaning in the forums. Ghostcrawler has already intimated that they are reviewing other income streams for those poor souls with either of these professions, I suggest that Blizzard look at Leatherworking and Engineering if they want to help impoverished professions.

The removal of the so called "Intellect Plate" problem is another clever solution to an age old problem. The most persecuted classes by the old system are Paladin and Shaman, three specs with three different sets of armour to contend with. Druids have had four specs but can just about manage with two sets of armour. The new system will be much crisper and cleaner, but what are they going to do will Trinkets. Are trinkets going to be role based or class based? Clearly some questions still need to be ironed out.

Blizzard have seen the problems, and have acted to fix the issues. The question is what will they do to replace it, because we all know they can't help but go full tilt in the opposite direction until that also becomes a problem.

In theory I am totally behind the change but we need to see the implementation and exactly how the player base abuses the new system. For now it is a good start.

1 comment:

  1. I've been spending most of my time lately on a raiding (casually) toon orphaned on a new server... no resources to speak of. Picked up some gold while leveling by playing the AH, enough to more than cover costs (I've never had much issue making gold in-game) but I've been at the full mercy of the AH on that toon since it hit 90. I also wanted to gear up in a hurry.

    Since that toon hit 90 before 5.4 landed that meant a full set of PvP gear. It meant crappy i450 JC rings and neck (?). It meant farming for the Arch 2H polearm. It meant getting the i502 boots and farming world bosses every week. It meant running every LFR that it qualified for. Basically, everything short of buying crafted raid-level gear or DMF trinkets. All of that also required some gems, definitely enchants and periodic reforges, plus gear that dropped from LFR and off the world bosses (had pretty good luck early on).

    When 5.4 hit a bunch of gear was replaced with i496/i535 gear, plus more world bosses. I was probably replacing 5 pieces of gear a week on average for the first month. Each one required, on average, about 500g worth of gems/enchants/reforges.

    Conservatively, I've probably gone through 60-80 total pieces of gear since that toon hit 90 a few months ago, if not more. I've probably put 40K or more into gear, between purchases, enhancements and very frequent reforging. I had to actually implement a reforging policy since it costs about 300g every time I do, basically only reforging before raids rather than immediately after getting each new drop.

    It's silly. I now have enough gold on that toon to more than sustain that cost but not everyone can do that. I know players in-game who don't HAVE 40K, let alone 40K to basically blow over a 2 month period.

    So... fewer enchanted slots? No reforging? Significantly fewer gem sockets? I'm all for those. I'm a bit of a profession junkie so I do have some concerns about how professions will remain viable and profitable but I'm more happy about the simpler gearing than concerned about the impact to professions.

    I also love gear shifting from spec to spec... it's about time that all tanks would be able to use the same gear for dpsing and tanking the way druids and monks can (and DKs and pallies have somewhat been able to) and having specific caster gear for very minority specs (for leather, mail and plate, 5 out of 25 total specs use Int) always seemed problematic, even if you had a holy pally in the raid to soak up Int plate, it still went entirely to waste the 9 other times it dropped (and inevitably, it'd drop all the damned time). Good riddance!

    Regarding professions, the one thing I'd really like to see happen (assuming we don't get major changes, which could happen) is for all crafting professions to work roughly the same way... be able to create viable end-game gear (that includes JC, Insc, Eng and Ench, no reason they shouldn't all be included) along with some sort of run-rate enhancement item for gear and possibly things like mounts/pets (or add-ons for Garrisons, there's a lot of room to be creative here). You mention LW on your short list of impoverished professions, I'd have more use for 4 more LWs than 1 more JC or Insc (or non-raiding Ench) since sometime in 5.2. I'd love to see significantly more parity in usefulness.