In September, it appeared that no games company was having a particularly good time of it. From Blizzard rolling out one final change that made the hate flow in waves, to the announcement that the espionage-obsessed players of EVE Online had pwned the game’s developers, it was a Bad Month To Be A Dev.
Meanwhile, with tons of great discussions and fascinating thinking going on in the blogosphere, it was a fantastic time to be an MMO enthusiast – just provided you weren’t in the employ of a large games company.
Let’s dig in.
Gaming Affairs: Fire No Longer Hot
After August’s storming month of total discussion domination, the PR people at Blizzard must have been feeling pretty cocky. They had one last announcement up their sleeve, and boy, it was a doozy. It would crush Rise of Isengard in its tracks.
The Firelands, they announced, were getting nerfed. And not just a bit – they’d gotten Greg Street’s old nerfbat out again. They were getting nerfed to the ground, baby. To the ground.
Well, it may certainly be said that we subsequently weren’t talking about anything else. But not in a good way.
The reaction from the blogosphere and the WoW community may safely be described as “apoplectic”. Kurn wrote a blog post so searingly furious it nearly burned itself into my monitor permanently
“If this nerfing of current content doesn’t stop, there is absolutely no point in my continuing to play. I can’t imagine Blizzard WANTS to drive away someone like me. I’m a guild leader, a raider, I have multiple max-level toons, I have a blog dedicated to the game and I act as a resource for a particular class/spec. I would say that I am someone that Blizzard should WANT to keep playing. Guess what? Dumbing down the game IS NOT THE FUCKING ANSWER.”
And she wasn’t alone. Cannot Be Tamed – not known for the QQ – was right there with her. Marks 365 was uncertain and worried. Righteous Defense said ‘It feels like the place has been outright cheapened’. And on and on it went.
Not everyone was entirely anti-nerf. I Like Bubbles was actively relieved by the changes. But of all the comments I’ve reviewed whilst writing this post, she’s the only one who was totally in favour.
Meanwhile, the nerf also prompted a number of really interesting questions. Beruthiel of Falling Leaves and Wings asked Why does every raid tier have to push the envelope?, whilst Tobold had, to my mind, the final word on the nerfs –
“Right now, if somebody asks you the question whether raiding is hard in World of Warcraft, you need to reach for a calendar to give an answer.”
Lest other gaming companies laugh at Blizzard’s misfortune, the Gods Of Having A Bad Time Of It were watching over them, too.
EVE Online had a particularly rough time earlier in the month when The Mittani, Spymaster of the Goonswarm, one of the biggest Corporations (read guilds) in the game, and also scions of the infamous website Something Awful, claimed to have infiltrated and controlled the game’s developers. We still don’t know what was up with that particular piece of news – which Stabbed Up wrote an excellent overview of – or why The Mittani decided to make the announcements he did. Just another murky day in EVE’s insterstellar politics!
And Bioware hit a bump in the road to absolute MMO domination, with the news that sex in the game would be a Dark Side choice meshing with the news that there would be no option for same-sex relationships to give them a brief Bad News Day. Bioware have subsequently addressed the latter problem, promising that same-sex relationships will appear in future patches, but not before our own Johnnie Ingram took them (and Blizzard) to task
Around The Blogosphere
In the blogosphere, meanwhile, we had several passionate back-and-forward debates start.
Firstly, what became known as the two-healing affair kicked off early in the month. It all started with Zelmaru of Murloc Parliament’s post bemoaning the decision to move to two-healing some fights – “You’re doing well, so here’s some more work!”. Lono of Screaming Monkeys responded with a passionate defence of the concept, calling it a “tribute” to the skill of the healers.
From there, the debate became quite heated in comments, before cooling off, as these things tend to, into some interesting theoretical discussions – notably from Tobold, who was really on fire this month –
““It is an inherent flaw of the system that any excess of healing or aggro management is a waste, but any excess of damage serves to speed up the fight. If you had a raid team which was perfectly able to take down a boss and the game would allow you to take one more person on the raid, you would always chose a damage dealer. There is such a thing as “enough” tanking and healing, but there is never enough damage output.””
Later on in the month, we also saw a spirited debate of Free To Play, with Nils taking the view that the current F2P models are “exploitative”, whilst Syl of Raging Monkey’s argued that they are “open to all”. And finally, at the start of the month we saw some really great thinking from all sorts of people on the subject of how to fix current MMOs – part 2 here
September saw the addition of a notable new voice to the MMO blogging community, as Bravetank joined us with her unique mixture of very personal, funny and insightful blogging. The first post of hers we featured dealt with the fear of rolling Need – a great piece still!
Other great writing from September
September was another particularly good month for great writing – I suspect the general feeling of malaise, coupled with New THings on the horizon, was inspiring everyone to deep thoughts.
- Screaming Into The Vacuum wrote up a very interesting experiment: levelling to 85 using nothing but LFD
- Killed In A Smiling Accident made me expel tea all over my keyboard – in a good way – with CSI: Azeroth
- Rades achieved Legen… wait for it … dary status himself with his prophetic forecast post on the origin of the Rogue Legendary
- And Level Capped asked the question Can’t Private Servers sometimes be a good thing?
Tomorrow, it’s October time, and that means… Blizzcon. And other stuff too.