Class tweaking patches are like Christmas

I’m  still underwhelmed at the prospect of a class tweaking patch when we’re bored of heroics and rapidly getting boreder (is that a word?) of the raid content. And colour me massively underwhelmed at the prospect of no more casual/ 5 man content due for the Ulduar patch (post is about halfway down, sorry I suck at links) too. That raid had better be dynamite.

This is not to say that I haven’t enjoyed Naxxramas, I think it’s been a super introductory instance in many ways. It’s a shame that Blizzard fell into the same trap as they did with Molten Core — put better gear on the last boss, but force you to kill 13 other bosses to get to him. Not especially fun to keep going through the motions for hours just for a chance at your weapon of choice. Hint: a shortcut or teleport for the last two bosses would be nice at some point.

Class Tweaking Patches are like Christmas

Have you been naughty or nice? What does <game developer> have in store for you, all wrapped up intriguingly in stripey rumours? Will it be that super dps bike that you’ve been angling for? The killer buff you’ve been leaving heavy hints that you wanted? Whatever it is, you won’t find out for sure until patch day!

We’re all used now to the MMO model in which our characters are guaranteed to keep changing over time. Tweaks will be introduced, new things will be added, there will probably be some nerfs along the line also. It is not guaranteed that you will always be able to play your character in exactly the same way, nor that you will always enjoy the changes that are made.

It’s a rollercoaster. It’s a risk. We can’t see what the future holds, except by reading between the lines of what developers say and what they do via class tweaks.

And historically, MMO developers have not been good at balancing classes in a timely fashion. Sometimes a class or spec will be out of favour for months. Often players, with their desire to minmax the fun out of everything, will decide that a class/spec is out of favour just because it makes things less easymode rather than because it’s actually weak or incapable.

Larisa makes a very good point that people shouldn’t stress over class changes, and yet, it’s such a human thing to do. In games, we’re never really sure if we get invited to fun group content because people like us, because we’re good players, or because our class is useful (most likely a mixture of all three). So if the class is perceived to have less relative utility, we worry not just for raid spots but for the whole social environment around them. These are silly concerns with the current content. But people are still nervous, looking to the next harder raid instance, hoping they’ll still be worth a spot on progression nights.

That part is the stick.

And then the carrot: Are we going to get something new and shiny? Is some long standing class issue going to be changed? Will we suddenly be topping the damage meters? Have the developers heard our pleas and decided to answer them?

I’m quite sure that most players do not sit around thinking about their classes strengths and weaknesses and what they’d like to see come out of the next class tweak patch for them. But for those who do, there’s always a frisson of excitement about the class tweaks.

An insight into the minds above?

I think part of the reason for the excitement is the uncertainty about where the developers see the roles of different classes, and how they should be balanced. We merely get insights from reading patch notes, following developer comments on bulletin boards, and trying to interpret them the best we can.

I do think MMOs in general are getting better about keeping the balance cycles shorter. WoW in particular is no longer in a state where you might as well just reroll if you aren’t happy with how your class racks up against others.

Do you have faith?