Thursday, November 28, 2013

Ghostcrawler leaves Blizzard!

Yes, I do feel that heading deserves an exclamation mark.

Ghostcrawler is someone I've respected for a long time. As Lead Systems Designer, he was the front-man, so to speak, for all the fantastic gameplay innovations that World of Warcraft introduced over the past few years. Of course, this also made him the target for any complaints that dedicated players had about the state of the game, the common meme being to claim that "Ghostcrawler must play a blank", with blank being whichever class ended up more powerful in the current patch.

The obvious question is of course: did angry fans finally cause this man to give up?

No, I really doubt that. Ghostcrawler's a pro. And he's been doing this for years, so I have to assume he's developed a hell of a thick skin when it comes to ridiculous complaints.

The explanation provided on GC's Facebook announcement was that he has "a great opportunity for something new and exciting". So in other words, the same bullshit reason any well-known executive leaves any big company.

So, speculation time! Now, the explanation which immediately occurs to me is: perhaps Activision Blizzard isn't as awesome a place to work as Blizzard once was. We've all heard stories about how cutthroat the video games industry is and Activision has been an obvious villain for quite some time.

Or, perhaps the WoW development environment has become too iterative. The upcoming expansion doesn't have any new classes to throw a wrench into the balance mix... maybe the core World of Warcraft gameplay is now as close to "complete" as it is possible to get, and there just aren't many systems left to design.

Or maybe he's telling the truth. Maybe Mr Street has found a job which is somehow more exciting than being at the forefront of designing one of the most influential video games in the industry.

We'll all find out soon enough. I have to assume the MMO Champion guy is actively chasing and/or confirming the information as I type this.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Doctor Who trained me for this

Okay. Okay. I totally get it now.

Bear with me. The Dark Portal links the two worlds of Draenor and Azeroth, but because the timestreams of these worlds are completely seperate, the point in time that one arrives in when stepping through the Dark Portal to Outland is and always has been "arbitrary", so to speak.

So what Garrosh actually does is something like recalibrating the Dark Portal so that it points at a different "place" in time on Draenor. The reason it's not technically time travel is because relative time between the two worlds isn't a thing.

Garrosh's new portal leads into Draenor's "past" only in the sense that we consider Outland as the "present", neither is technically relevant outside of the world in question. From our perspective, we're only stepping from one place to another.

I mean I suppose if a person originated in Outland, exited through the old Dark Portal to Azeroth, then took Garrosh's New Dark Portal back to Draenor, then that person would have effectively time traveled to the past... y'know, by way of two interdimensional jumps. One might argue that time travel alone would be less interesting.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Interface ruins my immersion.

Am I supposed to believe that in my fantasy world my hero is constantly followed around by a huge chunk of metal with gryphon bookends, containing what appear to be a collection of icons representing her various spells and abilities. Give me a break.

And for some reason whenever I move into a geographically distinct area floating words appear in the air which name the area that I just entered. You want to talk about immersion-breaking?

A man walked up to me and said "greetings". I was about to reply when a perfectly round white cloud materialised above his head with the words "hey there" mysteriously inscribed there on, while he only mouthed silently and gestured at me. What is this bullshit in my MMO?

What's more, every time I look at an enemy a weird red circle appears magically on the ground around it. I've found I can't even cast a single offensive spell unless my vision is targeted precisely at an enemy so I don't even have any way of getting around or turning off this awful horrible immersion-breaking laser circle.