Expectations are very difficult to manage. Rant.

I was reading about the Blood Elf models not making the WoW – Warlords release, and through the comments people are extrapolating from that (a) Blizzard are rushing, (b) release might be around the corner, (c) the community deserve a little more information, (d) Blizzard have had plenty of time already and they are lazy, (e) the expansion will be terrible.

The variety and breadth of perspectives on the next expansion is telling of two things. The fan-base isn’t sure of many details they consider important, and that Blizzard isn’t actually served (in the short term) by being honest with their fans.

The company who is infamous for releasing when they are ready, and who has already said that the game will be released closer to December than July – I just don’t get it. A feature set was broad brushed a long time ago, and details are being released to keep the fans interested and also to keep WoW’s long tail of blogs, news, etc alive. The release dates cycle is very long (basically impossible to argue against) but it is not significantly longer than other expansions.

I do not think the studio deserve to be derided for communicating about status, delays, and where their thinking is, because the alternative is that they just go silent and do press releases for the blogs to recycle. For pity’s sake fan-base, start being fans.

If the long view is taken, a fan can look back at the 10 years of discussion and banter between the vendor and customer, it demonstrates that talking to fans is a good thing. Many other game devs do not discuss their products in this way, and I think they suffer less bad comments pre-release.

Comments such as this is superficially reasonable, until you start to ponder what answer would actually be satisfactory…

The only thing that worries me is this;  what has to be scrapped to allow extra time to get this in at a later date now?  Meaning, if this was supposed to be done at launch, that allowed for room for other content to be released later on.  Since this is being pushed, what content may get pushed even further or now scrapped because of this?

There is no useful answer to this question. Speaking as a manager of software projects, I see questions similar to this all the time, and the answers cannot be specific without creating another set of clarifying questions. It becomes an endless cycle of q&a…but what if…why can’t we just…why wasn’t I consulted?

As much as it might be hurtful to say the end consumers of the expansion are not stakeholders who should be involved in the timing and planning stages, so releasing information to them is done for customer engagement purposes, not to actually ask which feature should be in or out to meet a flexible deadline. Yes, they are the end paying customer, but your needs and views have been analysed and incorporated into the product strategy already. I’m certain that Blizzard are taking every feature seriously as they’ve released so many good quality products in the past. A flippant approach to features, quality, or deadlines doesn’t match their history.

Express your frustration or opinion without the dramatic rhetoric, and you might even find the vendor listening. Attack the vendor with no constructive feedback and you’ll be muted. We all know that an attack creates more clicks, but at this stage the whining is just tiresome. If you don’t like waiting, then go do something else because you’ll be waiting regardless.

The fact that one of the racial character models won’t be updated isn’t a show stopper. This announcement proves that, and tells us that they are willing to drop some non-core features to meet their target dates. Heck, drop more character models for all I care. The content (worlds, raids, quests, etc) being finished to a high quality and without defects is a showstopper, the upgrade process for the game is critical, the distribution method is critical. Even the comms plan for marketing and the planning a round their own other products and the products of their competitors is important. New character models? Sit down (imho*).

Keep in mind too that the models are not being shelved, but being delayed. This isn’t the dance studio. That is a box feature that is wonderful to drop into a discussion like this to demonstrate why something which was all but pointless to a wide range of players can also create a blather of negative feedback from a loud minority. It should never be anything except a silly nice-to-have feature. By comparison I think the new models are more important, but trivial compared to the actual story and event content for the expansion.

We need to deal with what we get at launch. Not what you wanted? Then don’t buy it.

If the lack of a particular widget ruins the game for you, then wait till it is present and join the game again during that content patch. I’ve unsubscribed during the downtime period and cannot understand the parts of the fan-base who are angry that they don’t have new content in the period where it was well communicated that there would be no new content. Too long between expansions is only true if you’re choosing to not play or not enjoying what you have now.

I’ve previously blogged about the time to expansion release being long, but it was an observation targeting the idea of doings something else with my time and money. If you are choosing to pay for something you don’t like, or sitting in front of a game which we know won’t be changing for months and expecting something new; then I think there are other issues. PEBKAC.

Happy gaming, TyphoonAndrew.

* ok, not humble.

Random stuff from MMO Champ and Blue Posts

An assembly of trivia from readings around the place, mostly from a MMO Champ post..

Mists of Pandaria Flying for Alts – WTB Book of Pandaren Flying (BoA – requires level 90 to purchase) = 2400gold, PST.

“We’re not sure if we’ll be doing this. The tome worked out well enough for Wrath of the Lich King as an experiment, but so much of the experience we spent a lot of time and effort shaping in Pandaria is negated by flying. In addition to the upcoming reputation changes for alts (when a character on the account hits Revered), we’ll consider other methods of potentially speeding up the leveling process for alts, but we don’t think “allow flying” is necessarily the best answer.”

Meh, either way. It would be nice but also not a game breaker to walk while leveling. It really didn’t feel restricted to me. When I bring an Alt through it will be nice to see the content faster, and perhaps level in a manner I enjoy, or have more control of. Nice, but not a drama. By the 3rd Alt I can see their point.

Updated Raid Schedule Heart of Fear & Terrace

  • Oct 30: Heart of Fear (N)
  • Nov 6: Heart of Fear Part 1 (LFR), Heart of Fear (H)
  • Nov 13: Terrace of Endless Spring (N), Heart of Fear Part 2 (LFR)
  • Nov 20: Terrace of Endless Spring (LFR), Terrace of Endless Spring (H)

Are you guys happy with the daily system playing such a large role in end-game content? (via Blizzard twitter)

“I think the valor and charms feel good because you can cap them. I think rep itself would be better with a cap.”

Idiocy. Inspired idiocy. Only a fool is happy with the gating on Valor and Valor gear.

There is almost nothing worth getting until Exalted with each gear faction, and by 90 all the other rewards are moot. Justice Points are useless as far as I can tell, and if anyone knows what Justice can be used for except for buying odd gear for alts then let me know. Please.

This post demonstrates the general feeling of linking dailies to Valor, and the time it takes. The fact that it is written in caps does nothing to dismiss that the sentiment is correct.

HEY BLIZZARD – IT SUCKS.

The charms are fine. It’s not meant to be 100% loot, its meant to be an extra roll of the dice. The dailies themselves are OK in repeat, but what they grant access to is non-nonsensical. For example I’d love to buy an upgrade now that I am Revered with the Klaxxi which was higher than item level 463 and didn’t cost Valor. Instead I keep grinding that out until Exalted so I can get an upgrade quest reward. Then I will not be doing anything for the bugs again, and would go back and kill them in the name of the Empress if given the chance.

What is trolling (post)? Well behaving like a dickhead when somebody else is affected. If you are irritating somebody, you’re trolling. If you are not sure, you’re trolling.

Here is a  happy player, with renewed faith. If sarcastic then weird, if not then why post?

A poster suggested removing rewards from LFR. Yes, I think he’s a troll, but he got 3x Blue responses, so he’s good at it. Apparently.

wow build 15961 has DK changes. Yay!

Well the Beta build 15961 has DK changes coming to a server near us all very soon; well a change. Yippee. Cough. Now this is not assured, so perhaps this is the beginning of something beautiful. Oh hell, I’ll just cut to the chase, here is the change which will benefit so many Death Knights:

Now I think they’re just screwing with me. Continue reading

Ramifications of Guildie Blogs

Sal is a guildie of mine and she’s started a blog – They Call Me Sal. It is a very personal and honest set of observations about being a wow’er, and also peripheral life stuff.

Her current topic is How do you name your wow toon? I’ve ranted a bit on that many years ago, but I’ll post again now too. See further down.

Gen is a guildie, and the current GM no less (ah the endless joys of being in leadership). Her blog – Untamed Hell Cat. Gen is a tad more ranty than Sal outwardly, and loves a good joke at the expense of all of us, a meme or two, or idiots in trade chat and LFR. Like Sal’s blog it is also worth a read.

Hellcat’s post is almost too much Drood-speek for me to type – oh flame kitteh how i miss choo! Don’t take that as theme for all the content, it is a hat tip to Alamo (?name?)  and is contextual to the post topic.

insidious guild us nagrand

So what happens when guildies blog?

As a guild we’ve gone from strength to strength, even though there have been hiccups, arguments, and dummy spits. I’m interested in how many people within the guild have blogs, and what that might say about our age and demographics. If I get some stats and evidence to assert a theory I’ll certainly post here. It is easy however for me to say that I’m opinionated and the blog helps with that.

For many years I was the only regular blogger, and that gave me some capacity to write about events, or capacity to control when I did not to write about events. As a guild member though I do not expect to see incidents of the guild posted in public (or certainly not without compassionate consideration), and now that more of my guild are writing their own blogs I feel that the shoe is on the other foot. It is an interesting change in the balance.

A blog can be a soapbox, therapy, and all sorts of things. It may spark discussion, or cause issues of it’s own.

In our guild’s case I’ve not see any drama from bloggers, and I’ve hopefully not caused offense to those we care about. So for us there have yet to be any poor ramifications of guildie blogs. I know for certain that this is not always the case, and sometimes regular posts of that style can garner huge feedback. DramaMamas on WoW Insider is such a blog. I don’t blog for feedback, I do it for the joy of writing the blog. Frankly that is reflected in the small readership, and in a strange way having a small readership means that I can also say what I wish.

So there it all is – a set of wow bloggers virtually standing on our soapboxes, talking to the masses that pass by on the internet (I was going to say, “that pass by on the information superhighway”, but I think that term is as dead as floppy disks). Continue reading

MMO Champ DK Comments

Some recent forum comments from the Devs, via MMO Champion – nice ideas, stupid responses, as you’d expect. Have a read DKs, its slightly informative, but essentially we will see everything stay very similar.

In particular though a section miff’ed me:

The Comment

While I admire the persistence of my fellow DKs, and agree fully with the above issues, I can’t help but look at the plethora of ignored threads that exist and throw my hands up in despair.

The Response

Not helpful. You guys have an enormous capacity to influence the quality of these forums. We’re not going to ban our way to a higher level of discussion, nor are the busy developers going to post every time someone feels neglected. Post your feedback. If you have done so, then consider your job done. Once you go from posting feedback on the game to posting about about how we have not yet responded to or acted upon your feedback, then you are doing damage to the forum discussion. Think like a good newspaper or magazine writer – make sure the most important part of your message gets across. Don’t distract from that message with a bunch of clutter or needless posts (including shameless bumps).

Consider this: it is not in your best interest to make it harder for community managers or developers to find actionable, detailed, constructive feedback.

I try not to make it a habit of posting in really whiny threads, so if you don’t get a response, that is certainly one potential reason why. It’s far more likely though that we are just really busy and reading takes much less time than responding.

The WTF

Responding that they don’t like whinging posts is almost as effective as the whinging post itself. Clearly the person posting is trying to express frustration, and (mostly) would not be doing so unless they felt it would assist, build awareness, or reenforce their distaste for something. However STFU, and the dev should continue to ignore it (but then I should too).

Yes, I agree with the idea of not over populating the forums with junk or whine posts, but expectation management is part of the role which forum mods must accept. As counterpoint a “thrown hands in the air” player is probably a lost cause. Have a break, read a book, whatever.

OR

Let the devs of the responders off the leash with no holes barred fighting, ranting, and swearing. Give everyone involved the opportunity to be total bastards to each other, in a special place. If you read/enter that area, you accept what you’re getting. Heck – call it the 4Tran Forum.

Its a bit ranty. But hey, DK rants are not new.

Continue reading