The big risk of April Fools

I used to work for a big engineering company where the managers (and IT section in particular) were really keen on corporate April Fools jokes.

I remember the year they fooled us that after extensive user feedback they’d decided to chuck Lotus Notes in favour of a wiki. I remember the year of the corporate pet suggestions (one per group), I remember the year where we were informed that one of the big tedious projects would be retooled in a more modern programming language …

And for some reason senior management could never fathom, April 1st was very bad for employee morale. This was because the ‘mock’ suggestions were always very popular (who wouldn’t want a pet cat for their group?) and then of course came the moment of truth when it was revealed to be an April Fool. So we knew they could think of cool and fun ideas (and knew how much everyone hated Lotus Notes), it’s just that usually they weren’t.

This is also true of game companies April Fool jokes. I’m sure there have been lots of times in the past where I’ve seen one and thought, “If they had any sense, they really would implement that!”

This year, Blizzard introduced Crabby, the cute Dungeon Helper pet. I wonder if I was the only person who thought – you know, that’s not such a bad idea? I am sure I’ve played single player games where the tutorial was given via a companion. And is it really dafter to expect players to learn the strategies by reading unofficial websites than offering an in game version?

Oh I know, the actual idea is that you’ll learn the encounter by doing it blind with a group of friends. I suspect the skills to do this are getting rarer in WoW because of the dungeon finder and the immense pressure that random groups put on players to already be familiar with the instances.

Maybe Crabby would be a better option.