Cataclysm: Guilds

In short I think the Guild changes are a good thing, they will impact players who guild hop massively, after a while they’ll remain at a permanent disadvantage for some of the upper perks but that’s the downside of never really committing to a guild.  Even after factoring in the current boost to Guild XP on the beta it looks like that decent progression will be possible even in the most modest of guilds, which is good news for my $HOME guild which I think will boast a mighty 15 active members come Cataclysm.

Having never been a GM I’ve been playing around with the interface a bit (images below), which is feeling pretty nice, a few edges which I would prefer to be done a different way but nothing which is horrible or game breaking.

Patching fiasco

So, we are now in the happy happy place known as WoW 4.0.1, a land of new talent trees, glyph changes, earthquakes and the certain knowledge that a certain Dragon will be punching his way out to cause a fair bit of chaos across the whole of Azeroth.

On the major downside I spent last night patching and my system has decided tonight that it’s missing chunks from the middle of the final bit of the patch so I can’t play until those are grabbed.

I therefore have time to spend here bashing away trying to make sense of the latest round of daft bugs to hit the 12 million players which should and could have been avoided and what I think some of those bugs say about Blizzard and it’s attitude to us the playing and paying customer.

The usual suspects

Tooltips, odd graphics problems, some spells not quite firing as they should.  These I have a hard time understanding how they get through QA and testing, they’re simple to check, ok there are some issues around the nature of the interface making automating this sort of check difficult.  However this is something which should not be beyond the wit of a company with the resources of Blizzard to find a solution to.  Personally I would find these slipping through every single damm patch embarassing.

Warlock Pets

I can easily see how this one got through, on the PTR warlocks are expecting to have odd names for their pets, because they’re not the same characters.  So there is no way for the PTR players to spot it.  Similarly on the internal test systems the testers will be loading up test alts without any “history” behind them, random pet names are the order of business.  Nothing to see.  However where they really dropped the ball is in the handling of the issue.  On the US forums the message from the blues was very clear “this looks like a bug, we’re looking into it”.  WoW Insider is currently reporting that Bornakk has stated that it’ll be fixed in the next maintenance period.  The experience on the EU forums has been very different, starting with “working as intended”, “no we’re not going to fix”, “we’re going to fix for players who’ve not logged onto their warlock yet”.  I’m not sure if there is an official response yet which admits this is a bug and will be fixed.

As a customer facing response the EU handling was “poor” at the very best, it’s diabolical and sounds more like an internal rumour mill than a formal response from a central point which has some authority behind it.  The impression it gives to the players, is that Blizzard really couldn’t give a flying f*ck about the players and the attachment they have to their toons.  Remember even the most casual player with a level 80 has sat driving that toon for a period of time which is measured at the very least in days if not weeks, months or years.  The most hardcore of player from the launch will have daft amounts of time under their belt.  These people (and I admit to being at least part of the way there) have a serious attachment to their toons.  Ripping away what they consider a fundamental part of their game for no reason other than “we made a bug, lol, deal with it luser!” really doesn’t make for good customer relations or business.  Particularly when you’re hoping they will be shelling out anything from £25-£60 on the expansion in only a few weeks.

Is this seriously the best time to take away some of their emotional attachment to the game?

Durability

Ok, I understand what they’re trying to do here, they’re levelling the playing field, taking away some of the elitist shit the tanks can deal by claiming that they’re a special breed and always have higher repair bills.  However the way in which they’ve implemented it is terrible and again the communication sucks harder than an electrolux.

Item Durability Standardization

There has been some confusion over a change implemented with 4.0.1. In this patch, items that were not previously at 100/100 durability were all set to that maximum. In many cases this meant that if the item previously had, for example, a 60/60 durability it would now be at 60/100.

You did not actually lose durability in these cases, you gained it. In order to reach the new limit of 100/100 you will need to repair your gear but you should not have otherwise lost durability.

The Game Master department will be unable to provide repair cost or other compensation for this change.

Source (post 7)

So, this is simple enough the absolute value of your durability has not changed, if you had a durability of 59/60 before the patch you still have 59 now, however it’s now 59 of a larger durability pool.  So the relative position is a reduction in durability.  It also exposes some perception and other issues which I think Blizzard completely missed.  How many people here actually look at the Blizzard durability numbers on their gear, and how many of us look at the “how much is this costing me” or “$addon is reporting durability of xyz%”.  We, the players don’t actually look at the raw durability, we focus on “how much gold am I going to be handing over”, “I know that a wipe in ICC costs me 10%, I’ve got another 3 wipes before I really should repair”.

From the point of view of the player, aka the customer, what we’re seeing is “you’re hitting us with a repair bill when we’ve done nothing, gee thanks

Again the attitude of the blues leaves much to be desired, while the quoted blue above is entirely correct on a technical level.  It does nothing to address the legitimate concerns of the players or understand where they’re coming from.  It could also have been worked around very easily.  “We are increasing maximum durability on this item by 40, we shall increase the current durability by the same value”.  Done, no additional costs for any player, far far less complaints.  Alternatively reset all durability so that after the patch no one needs to repair.  Cost to Blizzard, nil, goodwill generated, truckloads.

A message to Blizzard

Something every company knows is that recurring subscriptions are a cash cow, keep the punters happy, be nice to them, be firm where needed but be clear, honest and respectful to them and they’ll keep handing over wads of the folding stuff.  Keep screwing them over and bullshitting, you’ll find players unsubbing and never coming back.  Not a good business model.

Cataclysm: Portals redux

So following on from the comments on my last post regarding portals I’ve been pondering what ‘quick’ routes will exist come the end of the world, this is admittedly an Alliance focused view of the world but much of it will apply to the Horde as well.

  • Dark Portal
    From the three major cities, most likely to be used for quick transport to outland (naturally) and from Darnassus to Stormwind.
  • Argent Tabard
    From anywhere to the tournament grounds
  • Kirin Tor Ring
    From anywhere to Dalaran
  • New tabard (guild item)
    From anywhere to Stormwind
  • Engineer teleport item
    Various points around Northrend (use with care and a paracute)
  • Caverns of Time portal in Dalaran
    Dalaran -> Tanaris

So while there isn’t a single central travel hub as we have at the moment, there are still some options for bouncing around the world in double quick time.