Thursday, February 19, 2015

World of Warcraft: About Patch 6.1 And Its Complaints

This video is dedicated to players complaining about the upcoming 6.1 patch. I understand the frustrations, but I also believe some specific grievances (there are a ton of these comments - I just randomly journeyed to the subreddit and permalinked the first one I could find) are misdirected and/or short-sighted. There will be additional points below as a supplement to this (rant) vlog:
TL;DR: Staggering Blackrock Foundry actually makes sense and made Highmaul more relevant since as a raid Highmaul bordered on being able to encompass an entire tier or at least a half-tier by itself. This effectively makes Blackrock Foundry the 6.1 raid and kills myths that 6.1 is lacking content-wise even if Blizzard should've been more diplomatic and labeled the patch as anything but 6.X.

Here's a list of points that will reiterate points made in the video and also hopefully cover what I might've missed (* denotes recent updates):
  • Twitter integration didn't take that much work to implement, nor did the S.E.L.F.I.E. Camera.
    • Twitter is very accommodating to developers and has an API that allows programmers to develop apps and otherwise make it much easier to integrate Twitter into various applications. Many web sites have such an integration.
    • The S.E.L.F.I.E. Camera is essentially an enhanced version of the screenshot function. While there was probably some work put into determining values such as angles, this involves a bit of math, interface building, and so on, which I imagine doesn't take a lot of development time (or time away from teams that develop content such as quests, etc).
    • While Twitter is probably intended to be a bit of a marketing ploy and the S.E.L.F.I.E. Camera implemented as part of a culture that is potentially disliked, both of these are optional features that, as mentioned above, didn't take much time to implement and thus aren't even that much of a waste of development resources. Also, Twitter integration definitely didn't cost us a raid tier.
  • Patch 6.1 didn't necessarily need to add a large amount of content.
    • Blackrock Foundry was recently released and will probably last for at least a few months as raid content, much like Highmaul had prior to that. While Blackrock Foundry may have been intended to be 6.0 content (since it was on the beta), it was deliberately delayed because it better paces out the content instead of causing a problem where Highmaul suffers from rapid obsolescence. Furthermore, both raid instances tell a pretty clear story and have challenging end bosses with Highmaul's having a Mythic-only phase*, meaning either raid could have probably held on its own as a tier of content.
    • Highmaul and Blackrock Foundry together have more raid encounters than any other opening expansion except for the Burning Crusade (with 17 bosses - Mists of Pandaria had 16). However, it is worth mentioning these encounters all have Mythic (previously Heroic) difficulty equivalents, meaning that more work probably went into encounter design for this tier than the tier 4 and 5 raids that shipped with the Burning Crusade. These encounters are arguably more complex as a whole as well (meaning that while the Butcher isn't that complex, Ko'ragh probably took a good bit of work to design).
    • There is precedence in deliberately gating raiding content like Blizzard has done with Highmaul and Blackrock Foundry. Raids either had a staggered release (like in Mists of Pandaria) or the more difficult release raids required attunement quests.*
    • Some of the 6.1 additions complement the Blackrock Foundry raid, such as an additional upgrade tier for craftable gear, summonable world bosses, a new part of the legendary quest, and so on.
  • Tanaan Jungle isn't coming out in 6.1.
    • Given that the odd-numbered patches of Mists of Pandaria were interlude patches that didn't add much in the way of new zones or a new tier, I find the expectation that Tanaan Jungle be added in 6.1 to be rather mind-boggling.
    • While there's significant work already done on the live version of Tanaan Jungle (one can fly around to check), it's a pretty large zone and much like zones such as the Throne of Thunder, will have a great amount of content once released, probably in the form of quest hubs and a new raid tier.
    • Based on this speculation, Tanaan Jungle's implementation in 6.2 makes more sense since that's when tier 18 content would be released.
  • But something didn't get fixed in 6.1!
    • While I understand there are issues with Ashran, the Garrison, and so on, a large number of issues did get addressed (at least according to the patch notes), not to mention the development team has taken to a habit of implementing hotfix after hotfix to address issues, sometimes with a seeming randomness in terms of prioritizing. There are problems that need to be addressed for sure, but the point is it's clear that a large content patch won't catch anything and may even introduce a host of new problems due to various reasons such as programming issues.
  • However, there are things that make sense to complain about regarding 6.1 (or what's lacking in it), such as the Iron Docks quest hub implementation being moved to 6.2.
    • First of all, this announcement came after I made the video, though I did touch on it briefly.
    • The fact that the Iron Docks quest hub has been delayed (especially since apparently it's intended to be supplementary content for the Blackrock Foundry raid) is concerning. The content may become irrelevant by patch 6.2 or the general storytelling will be ruined, hence why some of this complaining about patch 6.1 probably started to begin with.
    • While I'm not going to condemn Blizzard for not implementing the hub "in time", I will say it is concerning and complaints about not implementing it are justified if only because it should've probably been a focus for development if it was considered pivotal for the recently released raid. However, even without the addition of this hub, there's still going to be plenty of content available to keep players occupied for a few months.
    • All of what was stated above in this section has now been debunked. Iron Docks may have been intended as a hub and the statement Bashiok provided may be more for PR damage control, but now it's no longer intended to be and instead is something of a storytelling engine intended to lead to Tanaan Jungle in 6.2 (this also confirms Tanaan Jungle as patch 6.2 content).*
I would like to close by saying that this patch has brought out a really negative and particularly hostile type of behavior in some people. It really hurts to see and probably not the best way to get one's voice heard. I'm hoping that in the coming weeks there will be a lot of self-reflection into how people behaved in particular because such traits being associated with the World of Warcraft playerbase (or really any other playerbase or part of society in general) is a lot worse than a patch lacking in content. To put it another way, even if this patch was a total mess, expressing negativity towards it in the wrong way (meaning pretty much anything that isn't constructive criticism the developers could use to implement better patches) not only makes that person look absolutely foolish, but by extension gradually damage internal and external perception of the community as a whole (much like how League of Legends is said to have a toxic community due to numerous examples showing such behavior).

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