Friday, June 28, 2013

Rain of Fire nerf :(

I'm honestly sad that Rain of Fire won't be a DPS gain on single targets. I thought the design was excellent.

Placing a ground effect every 8 seconds or so felt odd at first, but after a while it just felt like a natural part of my rotation, another DoT to maintain, a marginal performance gain from a more complex rotation. In the world of the hardcore they describe that as having a higher "skill-cap." Blizzard would probably describe it as "easy to learn, hard to master."

It also wasn't a spell that you could just cast without thinking-- because the gain is so marginal it's not worth casting if there is a chance the boss wont be in the area of effect for the entire duration. The marginal gain also means that, if things start getting hectic and I need to regain some headspace to deal with fight mechanics, it's an easy decision to just drop it from my rotation for a short time.

But even more than mechanics, it is a signature Destruction Warlock ability-- it plays into the fantasy perfectly. It looks cool, it feels cool. You are raining fucking hellfire, from the fucking sky. There is no such thing as a poor excuse to do that.

But I get that abilities that provide "free" AoE damage are unbalanced, [*cough*FrostDK*cough*]  especially in cleave situations, of which there are many in the current tier. So I can begrudgingly accept that it's fair enough that it got nerfed. And I guess we have to assume that the fact that they "fixed" it means that the whole situation was an oversight. Balance tweaks do regularly introduce one or two unintended situations like that.

But I keep thinking about how intelligently it adds to the class mechanics and the class fantasy... I have to wonder if it wasn't the work of some brilliant designer, quietly implementing an increase to the skill-cap on Destruction Warlocks, that also caused them to look cool as shit while doing so.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Unannounced Blizzard MMO delayed, still not really announced.

Titan has been delayed to "make some large design and technology changes to the game", and most of the team currently working on the game will be reassigned to other projects.

I think this must be a response to a few things which have changed since Titan has been in development:
- The subscription payment model fell out of favour with just about everybody as the online games market reached a saturation point. Publishers discovered that charging players for a game often doesn't make quite as much money as giving the game away for free and charging players for silly hats instead.
- Blizzard is rushing an online TCG to market to hopefully gain some headway over the other major entries into this growing genre.
- Every MMO which was thought to have a chance to replicate WoW’s success failed to do so and World of Warcraft has continued to be mind-blowingly profitable despite an extremely competitive market.

First of all, Titan must have at least some kind of framework of core gameplay mechanics in place, mainly because I've heard whispers from people who got to play it internally that what exists of the game is really really good. I think "large design and technology changes" is probably about updating the overall frame of the game to work with whatever business model they have now decided to pursue. Let's just hope that whatever it is, it's still viable in 2016.

Taking people off the project is just a matter of opportunity cost, and I'm sure that the chance to reallocate resources was a major reason for the shift. Hearthstone is a game for which getting to market in time might be the difference between moderate success and LoL-sized success. It's also entirely possible that the next WoW expansion is behind schedule, and you know they want to keep the eight million players of that game happy. We've heard the Blues talk on numerous occasions about how they can't hire new people fast enough...

But mainly, I think this new MMO was intended to pick up the slack as WoW started to lose market share, and when this didn't happen as quickly as expected, suddenly it didn't seem prudent to have so many resources dedicated to a product which may well cannibalise an existing success.