Sunday, January 11, 2009

Why I'm not looking forward to the patch

This post was originally intended as a reply to Requisition on Twitter.

Given that this is a post which will likely be severely misinterpreted by some, I offer the following disclaimer. I have no issue whatsoever with people who consider themselves, "min-maxers," on the basis of character stats; Agility, Stamina, crit, AP, etc, as this is, of course, entirely legitimate. My issue is with a specific group of people who utilise unforeseen and unintended exploits in game mechanics.

Santyn, you're also, of course, more than welcome to skip this particular post if you want to; it's possible that you won't like it very much. ;-)

I am not looking forward to 3.08, for the most part.

People might well wonder why. After all, if Survival's damage output gets boosted, that will mean I will have increased credibility in raids or Heroics, right?

Unfortunately, that is not all it's going to mean.

There is a certain demographic of players using the Hunter class, who care about absolutely nothing other than the maximisation of their damage in a raid or Heroic scenario. That by itself wouldn't necessarily have to be a bad thing. However, it very often is, for a couple of different reasons.

The first is that these individuals do not attempt to choose one of the three trees on the basis of that which is most compatible with their particular psychology and background. Many of them are entirely willing to force themselves to use a tree which they openly admit that they hate using, if only because it will give them more damage.

These are people who do not play this game for what, in my own mind anyway, are legitimate reasons. Their sole three priorities are their place on damage meters, the state of their Armory profiles, and most importantly, the opportunities for ego gratification which derive from the other two.

The second issue is what is causing the actual nerfs that Blizzard are making to our class.

a) Blizzard are trying to combat monoculture among players of all classes, including the Hunter. They do not want a scenario where a single talent tree or pet type is declared as the only one which is, "viable," and 99%+ of the player population then uses only that pet/tree combination, to the total exclusion of the others.

Tied in with the above is an extremely unhealthy and dehumanising attitude towards individual players; there is an enormous amount of pressure applied to players by guild or raid leaders to reach arbitrarily declared DPS minimums, and players are told that if they do not reach these, they will be summarily replaced.

Understand what I mean by this. 2,000 DPS per DPS class might be the genuine, mathematically derived minimum needed for successfully killing Patchwerk. It is not however needed for successfully completing Heroics. I have had the leader of a 5 man pug tell me that my gear was unsatisfactory for the Heroic mode Nexus, when I know from direct experience that it is not. Anyone who demands anything more than 1.5k DPS as a minimum for the successful completion of a Heroic is simply idiotic.

Blizzard want a scenario where players are not excluded from groups for arbitrary, subjective, irrational, elitist reasons. If a Marksmanship spec Hunter can generate sufficient damage to successfully clear the content in question, said Marksmanship Hunter should not be excluded from a group, as was described occurring here.

b) Blizzard also understandably do not want a scenario where raiders consistently try to exploit previously unforeseen (and unintended) effects or game mechanics in order to inappropriately increase their damage output. By this I am referring to both Call of the Wild stacking and Readiness/BW use in PvE by Beast Mastery, when it was intended for them as an Arena change, and the ability to force an excessive number of Lock and Load procs by people using Survival.

Unfortunately, what Blizzard do not seem to understand is that these two issues are social problems, not technical ones. Removing the ability to stack Call of the Wild is ultimately a futile gesture, because the types of individuals who want these sorts of exploits will simply immediately begin looking for the next one.

That is why the issue with Lock and Load developed with Survival, leading to the necessity of the cooldown. This was an indication that the exploit-based demographic have moved from BM to Survival, at least on the PTR.

Blizzard will continue to try and combat their use of exploits by applying technical nerfs, and collateral damage will continue to happen to both Survival as a tree, (in the sense that LnL has now lost effectiveness for levelling/soloing/PvP as well) and the Hunter class in general. (In the sense that when Steady Shot was nerfed to attempt to reduce the output of Beast Mastery, Marksmanship's damage output was reduced as well)

Hence, the min-maxing exploit crowd moving to Survival, is ultimately not going to accomplish anything positive. These individuals will not ultimately be thwarted by the nerfing of Beast Mastery. They will move to Survival and attempt to find any unforeseen exploit for maximising damage output that they can, and once all of said exploits present within Survival have been removed by Blizzard, they will then migrate to Marksmanship and repeat the pattern there.

The end result will ultimately be that all three of our talent trees are utterly trashed; Blizzard will nerf them to a degree that even legitimate use of them becomes virtually impossible.

This, in case anyone is wondering, is the entire reason why I have always been so passionately opposed to the exploiting min-maxing demographic; because I have been able to see where, long term, their attitude will lead.

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