Blizzard! Are you Giving Up?
Many years ago, a hit video game development studio released its first game. After years of successful game development, they struck gold with a hit game known as World of Warcraft (WoW).
It has been a long road, the development of WoW. Over the many years, many innovative changes were made to the game, most for the better. Yes there has been a few bad choices over the years, but I would like to think that blizzard has learnt from these things and have grown from them.
A few years ago, Blizzard (the development studio in question) had a merger of sorts with the video game producer known as Activision. This was seen by many to be a really bad thing, as Activision has historically destroy games and gaming companies they have gotten their mittens on.
It seems though, they took a more back seat role to this big hit wonder known as WoW, though to a trained eye this is simply not the case. Undoubtedly, things changed internally at blizzard which has effected the quality of the product we know as WoW.
In the last few expansions, some major class balance changes have been made. I want to take a few of those classes, which have largely been the underdog, and tackle why I think blizzard simply does not care anymore, or has gone to more sinister motives with how they are handling their development practices.
In previous expansions of WoW, the mage class had abilities removed from it (like Improved slow, which slowed casting speed) because of them being “over powered”. Later, These same abilities were added back to the game, on yet other classes in the same exact (or nearly identical) values and mechanics as before.
Due to this change (and many others like it), we have to start asking ourselves the question “Why was it broken for mage, but not for another class which has been universally accepted as being “over powered” just about the entire existence of the game.
As we continue on this road of questioning the development practices for class balance at blizzard with world of warcraft, we start to see even more troubling issues.
In WoD (Warlords of Draenor), Mages received one of the biggest changes they have seen over the course of the many years, They received the final death blow to the classes identity, they were removed as “glass cannons” in place of a more balanced, rounded mage.
Some time later, however, we see many changes coming into line to further destroy the mage classes combat abilities and strengths. One example we can give to this is the consistent addition of abilities to other classes that have allowed the mage class to lose its only real remaining strength, mobility. Now Since all the classes can catch up, the mage no longer has anything to offer. As a defensively weaker class, the only chance it had was kiting, since its damage had already been nerfed (significantly reduced) .
As we continue down this road, and start to analyze mechanical operation of other classes verse the mage, we start to see major questionable choices in terms of dealing with them. For example, another class known as a hunter has the ability to “bubble” itself, absorbing all damage for a period of time. This ability however, cannot be offensively removed by another class, a weakness that the mage knowns all to well about (ie can have done to them), when they use a similar, None-mobile component. So, hunter has more mobility, more range, more damage, and more mechanically moble defensive abilities which cannot be offensively removed.
Is this what we call class balance?
So we have to start asking ourselves, why is it that mages have been beat into the ground so significantly, have had their identity, their unique abilities, and their play style utterly destroyed?
Well, it seems that the major reason for this is nothing more then poor class balance choices, or if we wish to step over the line a little and get aggressive, we can say that blizzard just stop trying.
We can definitely make a solid accusation to this claim by demonstrating the previous issues, or if we continue on we can start to mention how statistically, and logically “talent” and “honor talent” abilities have gone almost completely unused (when an option is provided) through an entire expansion.
The only reason for this is blizzard simply just not trying to resolve the issue. This is either due to them becoming lazy, or they cutting development resources (IE a money grab at the cost of significant player happiness).
So why have mages done so well in the last two expansions?
The truth is, mages have been carried for a long time by an ability known as polymorph. With the recent changes in BFA (Battle for azeroth), the poly morph gaining 2.5 second cast time on it will be a significant to the last ability mages have that keep them anywhere in the area of being viable for pvp.
So we have to ask ourselves, What gives blizzard? Have you given up? Where has all your passion and love gone to?
Ironically, mages are not the only class that have this issue. Feral druids are another big example of the short end of the stick. So what gives, is blizzard really not capable of doing balance?
Well, the solution is found in the problems of the classes themselves. For mages it consists of a series of fixes (ask me if you are interested in hearing more). In the end the problem that is most important to fix at this point, is actually fixing the developers drive to resolve these issues. To have them invest more time in the classes, and look at problems like this periodically every few expansions. Its a really big problem when 0.3% of your population is mages, when 25–30% of your population is a single class (or two). This disparity of classes difference and validity is simply not acceptable.
So in the end I say to the designers at blizzard..
Where has all your creativity Gone? Where is the passion you once had? Do you really lack the ability to see how Mass teleport, or some simple ability like it would instantly fix most of these issues? I fear you simply just dont care anymore.