Thursday, January 22, 2009

In the wake of the patch, scattered thoughts

Persistent bugs and why I'm bugged. I know enough about large project management to know that there's no simple fungibility of effort and assets, no way to just say, "Bob, stop working on the next arena graphics and go fix the Cower problem." I also know that it's folly to commit to public dates when you're trying to fix something that could be making weird cascading problems, as when the cross-continent boats were making servers crash; I'm quite willing to believe that some bugs persist because they are genuinely hard to fix.

But I still wish there were some public discussion on Blizzard's part, at least acknowledging the existence of the persistent bugs and talking a little about what the fixes will involve. Blizzard needs someone to be the Speaker to Howling Mobs on matters like this, and really could afford to hire that someone.

In the wee hours this morning, I decided that I'm not being altogether irrational about this, for a simple reason: synergy. Abilities, talents, gear, and all the rest are supposed to interact—that's what drives tactical and strategic planning in World of Warcraft. So when one part is persistently out of whack, there's reason to worry about that throwing off anything interacting with it. Bad data's infectious, Dad used to say.

Yeah, I know I keep picking at this. I still don't feel entirely confident I've framed my deepest underlying concerns properly, either in my own mind or out here in text.

The fun of not losing things. I've touched on this one before, I know: I hate it when I no longer get to use things that have been handy, and the irrelevancy of trapping at the high end is an ongoing disappointment. So far, at least—up to level 68, where she is now—I haven't had to do that with Spiderheart and her death knight abilities. Something new comes into the mix every few levels, most recently the very handy Anti-Magic Shell, but nothing falls out of use. I don't mind retiring an old spell or ability in favor of a more comprehensive one, like paladins going from separate spells to cleanse disease and cure poison to one that does both. But it's a disappointment to just have something no longer matter.

Teamwork. A paladin and a death knight do not form an unstoppable combo. However, anyone wishing to stop them had better be prepared to work pretty hard at it.