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.

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WoW Hammer launches, go have fun, share, party

There is a new wow site launched, with a slightly different bend to the typical wow blog/info site – named WoW Hammer. Instead of straight patch notes or official news WoW Hammer focuses on content related to World of Warcraft stories, screenshots, the experiences of players, and any funny events.

WoW Hammer – Where the joy of play meets the joy of life.

It is a less serious place to share WoW related stuff.

The editors are keen to engage the World of Warcraft community as the source for the material, and are taking contributions. So if you are interested in contributing and sharing interesting stories I can heartily recommend chatting to the eds. They’re friendly folk.

The post rate will likely be daily updates from material already sourced from some contributors, and (for the sake of openness) I’ve happily already contributed an article which I am hoping to see published shortly.

Go have a read, it could be something great. TyphoonAndrew.

party

Great things in the wow blogger community

Meeting up with friends is a big part of why I play MMO games, and on a lazy Sunday afternoon I had a new experience within the blogging community, where fellow bloggers reached out and said hello.

It started when an odd whisper arrived from a toon named Miniices. For the most part I don’t mind odd whispers, but I am wary of the gold beggars and time wasters who frequent the mailboxes and dancing poles. Sometimes I’m short with people because the waste time.

This was absolutely nothing like that, in fact it was the total opposite. There is a great blogger named Navimie, from The Daily Frostwolf and she collects bloggers by way of NaviSpam. Her style is to contact a blogger and get screen-caps and have discussion with them. I am honored that she wished to chat and get some screenshots with me.

How awesome is that! I am very chuffed.

Apparently because I’m hopping around between too many alts, I was a little tricky to find (heh 6x85s). Clever Navi send a message to our GM named Genowen (who is aka The Untamed Hellcat) and Gen assisted her by pointing out that I was fooling around on my Paladin named Diamon at the time; and then joined us for the meetup too.

We met, chatted, and then the obligatory screenshots began, and it was all dancing fun from there on. I can’t say I didn’t laugh seeing a Tauren, Blood Elf, Night Elf and Draenei /bow’ing, /cheer’ing and generally being silly with each other.

As we chatted and flew around we were joined by Dragonray from Azerothian Life which is another blog that I really enjoy. So there were four keen wow’ers having a catch-up beneath the warm glow of the Shattrath crystals-guys.

The girls got to chatting, but having a four month old child meant that I could not stay and banter with them. The experience has left me feeling impressed and happy. Meeting new folks is good, meeting new people where the respect and admiration is mutual is fantastic.

Refs:

Is Warcraft’s community going down the Crapper?

What_crapper_told_me Most days I like the WoW community. There are jerks around, but generally those people don’t cross my path so its kind of OK.

The other day while questing on my mid 20s Druid I was challenged out of the blue by a Hunter. Now I don’t like PvP, duels, etc, so I declined the request, and thought nothing of it. But then the Hunter called be a bitch for saying no; and I had a headache, so I replied in kind.

He took that as intended and made a wonderful mess with racial intollerance and sexual suggestions. I’m blunt, but I think he might need a case worker.

The situation was made worse by replying with harsh language, and telling somebody to fuck off is certainly rude – but then so is randomly sending duel challenges and calling those people who refuse a bitch. In fact I consider it rude to challenge somebody to a duel without talking to them first, especially when they are clearly running on their way somewhere.

I have not reported Crapper, as I’m really more annoyed by his presumption and language than anything else, but I’d love to see the look on his face if he did get a 24 hour ban. Its jerks like that should not play in community based activities. I bet his e-peen is huge.