Me & My 10 Foot Pole

wow[World of Warcraft] The latest patch notes via WoW’s Test Realm have Priests, Druids, and Paladins crying foul, although as of last night some of the nastier changes for Priests at least had been undone. That said, there’s any number of other places on the web you can debate the pros and cons of the patch, so I’ll skip that and instead focus on a different issue I used to bring up with developers I interacted with: communication of said nerfs.

It’s all about tone. Remember Office Space and the TPS reports bit? There you go.

Ages ago in EQ, back when we used tin cans and string to communicate with the servers, nearly every change made to the game would be documented in the patch notes, including an often somewhat normally written comment about why. This would of course be greeted with applause by the community, and they would send the devs chocolates and ponies.

Of course not.

The player base as a whole would deconstruct every word of every sentence, and complain about it. One of my favorite complaints as a long time player, or victim as it seemed at times, of the Test Server was how people who never even so much as rolled a newbie on Test would say that we didn’t test X change, and/or the change was too extreme. It got to the point that it became easier to simply document the bigger, and often less inflammatory, changes made. This became a long-standing tradition with the patch notes – the lack of “why”.

WoW’s recent alterations, some of which seem somewhat odd, on the Test Realm have been presented without explanation or excuse. There’s no given reason for the changes, thus igniting the “Play your own game!” type of posts that these always incur. Changes this big, including many of the item ones, which are at least annoying, deserve an explanation. You’re never going to please everyone, so don’t try. However, you want to at least try for a majority. I really felt for the poor community relations’ people who had the bad luck to log in on Sunday to try and quell the flames. All they ended up doing is fanning the flames more.

One other small note: there is no such thing as “2.0.10”. The version after 2.0.9 is 2.1.0. I regulate software releases for a living. Trust me on this.

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Oz

Jaded old gamer, and father of gamers, who's been around long enough. Still, he's always up for giving the Next Big Thing a whirl.

10 thoughts on “Me & My 10 Foot Pole”

  1. Why do the developers owe you an explanation as to “why” they have changed something? Outside of a “We’re giving everyone 10,000 gold!” patch note I don’t think there is any change that the community won’t complain about. It saves the developers time and effort not having to explain why a priests heal is now +100 instead of +95. The developers provide a service… if you don’t like you are more than welcome to stop paying for it. Sadly, players will just bitch and continue to pay.

    The only time a developer owes an explanation is when the servers are down because of a broken patch. We are paying for a service after all.

    Don’t get me wrong. I am a fan of developers that give reasoning to their changes, but I don’t feel it is something done in a list of patch notes. The place it belongs is in a letter addressed to the community about the direction that the developers are trying to take the game… not a listing of every minor change they are going to make in the process.

  2. I agree with Heartless_, the developers are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. The players frequently can’t see the forest for the trees. Developers need to focus on the big picture and quit dealing with every single change and the complaints it generates. Make the change and move forward with the big plans. Think long term.

  3. “One other small note: there is no such thing as “2.0.10″. The version after 2.0.9 is 2.1.0. I regulate software releases for a living. Trust me on this.”

    So, so very wrong. its not like the version number is 209 then add one and you have 210 – this is major version 2, minor version 0, release number 9, going to major version 2 minor version 0 release number 10 – Typically, the way numbers are increased is that if you break API compatibility (which 2 certainly did for WoW), then you increase the major number – if you break binary compatibility (which doesnt make a huge amount of sense for a game release, so you might tag it with things that change the program relatively significantly like adding features but not breaking current things) you increase the minor number. EVERY other release (bug fixes, messaging tweaks, etc) is in the release number. Each of these is independant within themselves, but reset the lower numbers when they’re increased.

    for example.
    1.2.3
    1.2.4
    1.3.0
    1.3.1

    1.3.10
    1.3.11
    1.3.12
    2.0.0
    2.0.1
    2.0.2

    2.0.9
    2.0.10
    1.0.11

  4. “One other small note: there is no such thing as “2.0.10″. The version after 2.0.9 is 2.1.0. I regulate software releases for a living. Trust me on this.”

    You better start looking for another job then :-p Thats just stupid to say that after 2.0.9 it rolls over into 2.1.0.

  5. Perhaps it’s different in other industries, but in the industry I’m in, 2.0.10 is the same as 2.0.1. A trailing zero is not valid.

    I don’t expect an explanation on every little change, that’s impractical. However, when you cause major upheavals to a class, it can be expected to cause uproar. Trying to take off some of that heat before it comes is just logical.

  6. If I am testing, I need explanations. I cannot test to see if it is doing what it is supposed to do if I do not know what it is supposed to do. I need everything documented so I don’t /bug my 2.5% drop in damage after testing in for an hour to make sure I am not missing something. If you want people to test something, you need to tell them what they are testing.

    Then again, I stopped playing on the test server. Rarely do the test servers exist to test balance. They exist to test for bugs. The balance issues I disagree with are going live anyway, and if causes problems live they might revert. Heck, many of the bugs go live because they are not considered game-breaking enough to slow a release, so the only reason left for me to visit test is to preview coming content, and I would rather not burn out on it before I get the chance to play it “for real” and relatively bug-free (which occasionally is “bug-free”).

  7. Looks like from that that we’re all right. I can live with that. Still, sounds funny to me, but in due to how we run.

    I guess the post really is mostly driven from my test server background. I lost track of the times a grind or raid night was lost because the devs took the server down to patch, as was completely their right. Side note: You could always tell the “regulars” from the production players in chat. The regulars would be talking about RL stuff, and the production kids would be complaining that the server was down. Well, we complained too, but stopped after about a minute since we knew they didn’t care. Anyway, the server would drop, and we’d have a new patch. What was being loaded? Dunno. Often there were a few people who knew and were testing something – like when my guild was testing the VP revamp, we brought the server up and down probably 6 times on the final testing night. However, think of all the other data they could have gotten from people told, if nothing else “hey, we changed the mitigation of shields. let us know how it runs.” Rather than having us wonder what was patched in.

    Besides the part where you lost all your equipment and guild tag when you zoned into Freeport. That was an extra bonus, free of charge.

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