The Care and Feeding of Baby Warlocks

Warlock
Cynwise continues his thoughtful series on Warlocks with an examination of the the Warlock levelling experience in Cataclysm:
http://cynwise.wordpress.com/2012/04/28/the-care-and-feeding-of-baby-warlocks/

Previous posts:
http://cynwise.wordpress.com/warlockery/decline-and-fall/
http://cynwise.wordpress.com/2012/03/23/where-did-all-the-warlocks-go-in-cataclysm/
http://cynwise.wordpress.com/2012/03/25/leveling-data-on-warlocks-is-worse-than-i-thought/
http://cynwise.wordpress.com/2012/03/30/interlude-new-series-on-warlocks-in-cataclysm/
http://cynwise.wordpress.com/2012/03/30/the-decline-and-fall-of-warlocks-in-cataclysm/
http://cynwise.wordpress.com/2012/04/11/warlock-complexity-and-the-magic-number/
http://cynwise.wordpress.com/2012/04/11/appendix-a-warlock-spell-changes-in-cataclysm/
http://cynwise.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/appendix-b-the-problem-of-evil/

Battle.net comment threads for previous posts:
* http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/4253897941
* http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/4253901933
* http://eu.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/3553610575
* http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/4427563064
* http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/4662238181

Please comment! The only way this is going to get to Blizz is if it and it's concepts are shared and discussed widely and rationally. And if you have any sources of hard data that might help Cyn with his analysis, please share them as clean data for this is very hard to come by.
Are you sure he didn't write that article early and send it to blizzard? Cause from the looks of it, blizzard is doing a good job with warlocks in MOP.
04/28/2012 03:28 PMPosted by Mkdelta
Are you sure he didn't write that article early and send it to blizzard? Cause from the looks of it, blizzard is doing a good job with warlocks in MOP.


I expect that Blizz has far better data on warlock levelling than we do since they have individual toon lifecycle data. For me the real questions are 1) why they didn't do anything earlier and 2) how did they let it get so *obviously* bad in the first place? It's not like they weren't warned by various players during the Cata beta. And it doesn't take a mental giant to look over the talent/spell acquisition order and see at least some of the problems. Many of the Warlock issues in Cata aren't particularly subtle.

<consultant>As much as I appreciate the effort in MoP, if the systemic and process issues that probably led to the problems in the first place aren't fixed then it'll just get bad again. Maybe not for 'locks but for someone. Maybe they have fixed the process issues, but I don't see any obvious signs of that.</consultant>
I've noticed the "false talent" effect somewhat while leveling my druid twink; several core talents end up being useless until I get Lifebloom at level 64. It's not nearly as frustrating as it is for Destruction, but it's noticeable.

Excellent read as always, Cynwise.
04/28/2012 03:56 PMPosted by Dejara
For me the real questions are 1) why they didn't do anything earlier and 2) how did they let it get so *obviously* bad in the first place?

This. This. This. This. This. This. This. This. This. This. This. This. This. This.
Our talent specs went one step forward and two steps back when it easily could have been the other way around. Why does it take an entire expansion to fix such obvious problems?
Thanks Dejara for the thread, and everyone for the feedback.

04/28/2012 03:28 PMPosted by Mkdelta
Are you sure he didn't write that article early and send it to blizzard? Cause from the looks of it, blizzard is doing a good job with warlocks in MOP.


To be honest, I plotted it out well before a lot of the leveling information came to light in Mists, but I've been following along and agree that there's been a lot of progress.

I debated posting it at all, but my major goal is to document what drove players away from Warlocks in Cataclysm, regardless of what gets done to fix it in Mists.

04/28/2012 04:17 PMPosted by Swagguh
Excellent read as always, Cynwise.


Thanks!

04/28/2012 03:56 PMPosted by Dejara
For me the real questions are 1) why they didn't do anything earlier and 2) how did they let it get so *obviously* bad in the first place?


I expect it was a question of time and money. Some things couldn't be fixed without throwing the whole talent tree out - Emberstorm couldn't be moved higher because Demo needed it, for example. Removing talent trees entirely fixed the problem, but it's a big effort.
For me the real questions are 1) why they didn't do anything earlier and 2) how did they let it get so *obviously* bad in the first place?


I expect it was a question of time and money. Some things couldn't be fixed without throwing the whole talent tree out - Emberstorm couldn't be moved higher because Demo needed it, for example. Removing talent trees entirely fixed the problem, but it's a big effort.


I'd almost buy that, except for the amount of time they actually had from when it first became obvious until, well, now. As for money, if 150 million USD a month isn't enough, what is? They are selling us a player experience and Systems Design is at the heart of that and should be funded appropriately.

And that still doesn't answer 2). There were periods where it would have been cheap to build (more) right and it didn't happen. For example, if they didn't intend for ISF to be used in all 'lock rotations (which would seem to be the case from some of GC's comments) how did they miss that it was possible to do so? Was there no testing? Were the theorycrafters at EJ more attentive to spec detail than those at Systems Design? Was the feedback that was offered getting discarded before it reached the right people? Had they simply not met enough players to realize that the players would minmax intensely? Did they not have a good "Theory of Warlocks"? To me, the possibilities have the feel of deeper issues than a simple lack of resources.
04/28/2012 09:37 PMPosted by Dejara
For example, if they didn't intend for ISF to be used in all 'lock rotations (which would seem to be the case from some of GC's comments) how did they miss that it was possible to do so?


See, ISF is an interesting story because the buff changed so dynamically over the course of the expansion. When it was a buff that only applied at the first 20% of a boss, you could open with a hard cast Soul Fire, then use your Soul Shards to get you through those early refreshes. It wasn't really rotational, rather more like a personal Heroism warlocks could pop at the beginning of a fight. There's some synergy there between ISF and the soul shard mechanic that makes both more appealing, and it's only for the first 1/5th of the fight (often shorter, since that 20% should be the fastest part of the burn.)

Interestingly, that means it was the ISF change from "greater than 80% health" to "all the time" which caused all the problems with that buff. At that point ISF was so unbelievably good there's no way every class wouldn't take that talent.

I don't disagree with you about why it was allowed to happen, or not caught earlier. I'd love to more know about how that decision came about.
04/28/2012 09:59 PMPosted by Cynwise
For example, if they didn't intend for ISF to be used in all 'lock rotations (which would seem to be the case from some of GC's comments) how did they miss that it was possible to do so?


Interestingly, that means it was the ISF change from "greater than 80% health" to "all the time" which caused all the problems with that buff. At that point ISF was so unbelievably good there's no way every class wouldn't take that talent.

I don't disagree with you about why it was allowed to happen, or not caught earlier. I'd love to more know about how that decision came about.


This brings me to an interesting habit I've noticed…Blizzard rarely backs out a failed change. They almost always add something new on top of the previous change. even when the conditions have changed to the point where backing out the change (and possibly trying something else) makes more sense from a game mechanics perspective (Alterac Valley being the poster child for this behaviour http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/2952885503 ).
It might simply be a case where it got too complex for them to really analyze the problem, especially if they didn't have many people leveling warlocks. Unfortunately, people tend to filter information based on who is giving it, and if the people who were testing low level warlocks thought it was normal for it to be like that, it might have gotten overlooked. Especially since they've gone into damage control mode for their subscriber base since the launch of Cataclysm, it might have gotten buried under problems that were faster to fix.
For me the real questions are 1) why they didn't do anything earlier and 2) how did they let it get so *obviously* bad in the first place?

This. This. This. This. This. This. This. This. This. This. This. This. This. This.
Our talent specs went one step forward and two steps back when it easily could have been the other way around. Why does it take an entire expansion to fix such obvious problems?


It's just cheaper and less time consuming to recycle content than it is to overhaul systems.
I've read most of Cynwise's articles at this point - rarely do I find myself in total agreement with another person's point of view. Thank you for the well-written articles that expressed my feelings so well, particularly concerning the over-complexity of the Warlock spell rotation in Cata.

I took a few months off WoW after killing Arthas in Wrath, but I was in the Cata beta. And it looked bad for Warlocks and their spell rotations. A clunky, counter-intuitve mess. I had no enthusiasm for Cata, and after standing outside Best Buy in the cold to buy Wrath CE (and BC CE and the original game CE), I didn't bother to download Cata until months after it came out. And it was as bad as I was afraid it would be. Eventually did my first raid - I basically /gquit WoW after that miserable experience. I'm sorry, but 3-4 hours a night trying to keep that insane rotation up? Add onto that my OCD and I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown by the time it was over.

Somewhere relatively early in Wrath (after they toned down the Affliction rotation a little bit), the Warlock class was just about right to me - from Naxx to ICC all was good - it was complicated but not insanely so. BC was way too easy, Vanilla wasn't too bad for Warlocks - in fact it was pretty good, but not as challenging nor as rewarding as Wrath.

Anyway, thanks Cynwise for all the hard work. I hope someone at Blizzard is reading your articles, but unless they fire Ghostcrawler immediately, and go back to the proven aspects of the Warlock class that work and drew people like me to it in the first place, I'm afraid there is not much hope.

In the MoP beta I'm playing a balance druid mostly and I have a Priest, Druid and DK ready to go into MoP with if I decide I want to play WoW again. But I probably won't be playing my Warlock, at this stage. FU Ghostcrawler.

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