The Infamous Noob

October 14, 2010

Continuity of Performance

Filed under: Design, Games, World of Warcraft — infamousnoob @ 10:31 am

The big gaming news lately is, of course, World of Warcraft’s patch that signals the onset of another expansion. The big problem that I’ve had with it so far (just with respect to my warrior) is that I feel like I’m behind the curve already because of the changes that have been made.

To me, this highlights the delicate balancing act that has to be continuously performed in order to keep a game at its peak. Where I feel subpar as a warrior, my druid is one of the few classes that was (supposedly) increased in power, though I have yet to test it. The relative power of the classes was significantly disturbed, and this had led to all sorts of complaining from the player base.

The solution, ideally, is to either increase or decrease the “power level” of all characters at the same rate. While this is quite obviously impossible to do in a real situation, it should be kept in mind while making changes, anyway. As a point of reference, my warrior went from being in the top 5 on damage done to being just above the tanks with the patch. Some of that is because I still need to learn the mechanics of the new abilities and re-gem/re-enchant/reforge gear to “optimize” it, but some of it is simply a balance issue. The focus of talents/abilities being at the upcoming new level cap is fine, but the problem arises when the current level cap is kept for an extended period of time (longer than a week).

Being the kind of nerd that I am, I enjoy the discussion that Mr. Street is having on the forums quite a bit more than I would enjoy being “teh best deepz” in-game, but I can also fully appreciate that this is a very bad situation for Blizzard to be in.

So once again, continuity plays a huge role in game design/upkeep. The world is continuous in this case, but the gameplay is not. If the changes to classes/gameplay were kept to a smaller magnitude, they would seem more fluid instead of huge breaks. Of course, this also requires that the changes be made almost constantly so that a bad situation is not prolonged when the solution is known. If I recall correctly however, this was the original plan for the current World of Warcraft team, and too many players felt that the changes were coming too fast and that they didn’t have time to get accustomed to them before they were changed yet again.

My personal stance is still that small, very frequent changes will make for a better play environment.

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