A Treatise on Low Rogue Population

7 Worgen Mage
0
A Short Treatise on the Low Rogue Population

I want to keep this brief while still keeping to the heart of my argument. The community has recently discussed the relatively low population of rogues comparative to other classes, and the Blizzard posters have acknowledged it. Rogues are less populous than they ought to be statistically, and this trend dates back even to when rogues were at the top of the food chain. A lot of players in the community are putting forth the hypothesis that this is in large part due to the glum feeling of the community towards rogues in their present state -- their feeling weak in PvP and general gameplay after the MoP nerfs. The Blizzard posters have discredited this largely, due to the fact that though some rogues have quit during MoP, the trend by and large dates back before that. I want to present a different perspective on why the population may me less than stellar.

For a bit of background, I've been playing rogues since mid BC. I'm no Neilyo, but I'm fairly well-versed enough with the class after a few solid years of experience with them. I'm one of the rogues who quit during MoP (because in honesty I found my other characters to simply feel more fun after the recent changes), but I recently started up a new rogue alt to return to a class I love in between farming conquest points.

Leveling up in the earlier levels, I'm reliving something I've altogether forgotten about rogues up until now: they're altogether dull at low levels. While many other classes get interesting class-defining abilities--or at least things which lend their gameplay some sentiment of variability--at low levels, rogues do not. For a good chunk of the early leveling experience, rogues feel like nothing more than single-button mashers, doing a whole lot of nothing. Even if they are tuned to handle content at these levels, they feel as though the content is posing nothing remotely resembling compelling action-RPG style.

It's not entirely so that rogues are worse off at early levels in this respect, because other classes seem dull on paper early on as well. But unlike rogues, many other classes have primary mechanics of damage which give the player the sense of something happening. A Frostbolt hitting its target and shaving off a non-negligible amount of its health feels a lot more enticing subconsciously than an amount of Sinister Strikes doing roughly the same damage in the same time. Primarily because rogues have lackluster animations, but mostly because it feels rudimentary. Conjuring bolts of magic up gives the player some sense of a fantasy element behind what they're doing -- something they can hope to develop to more compelling depths. Rogues on the other hand just feel like they're whacking away at poles with wooden swords: it looks and feels just about as compelling as games children play with twigs and branches.

Recently my younger brother -- and then his friend, and another of his friends -- all joined WoW. Like most new players they didn't know what class to choose, and I recommended they all try rogues. At the point I was already high level and it'd been a while since I had to endure being a low-level rogue, so I was surprised when they all found it terrically boring. All but my brother ended up settling on other classes because they felt more fun and (quote) "strong" than rogues. And leveling a rogue again, and remembering back on the other rogues I've leveled, I now remember what they mean when with their sentiments of rogues feeling lackluster for low-level players. It brought back memories from since I've first started playing rogues that, the class just isn't what it ought to be until at least the mid 30s. Unlike any other alts I've leveled, the class just doesn't feel like itself until then, at least -- and even then, it doesn't feel truly compelling until closer to 50.

For the active community at large, this probably doesn't mean anything. Everyone is so used to playing at max level that the early levels are seen as nothing more than a burden to be gotten through as quickly as possible. The contrast between playing their level 90 and playing any low-level character is so large that every low-level character will have this mundane feeling to them. But remembering back to my days with my first rogue -- and comparing my current rogue alt to 2 other alts I just began leveling -- the rogue class does really stand out as being fantastically boring early on.

Again, this doesn't mean anything to a high level. No rogue is going to quit their class because it feels dull at early levels. This does not at all account for any rogues that have been quitting lately. But I believe it does account for the trend of underpopulation in the class dating back the last couple expansions. A good chunk of the playerbase seems to have joined within these last few expansions; and when it comes to choosing the class that will eventually become their main, monotonous gameplay could make a statistically significant dent in the population numbers comparative to other classes that feel more interesting to a new player -- a person new to WoW, or even one looking to play a totally new class is more apt to choose one that feels more compelling than beating a dead horse.

If you humor my hypothesis, the solution is simple, clean and easy. Rogues need to feel more well-defined at lower levels. The suggestion has come up to revamp their animations, and we've gotten the response numerous times that there's only so much you can do given their aesthetic style -- and I agree with that. But I don't think the solution ends there. Rogues can feel epic to new players without necessarily looking epic.

Rogues by and large are defined by three properties of the class: burst, control and (despite recent arguments to the contrary) mobility. Yet: rogues have no real burst (unless they have heirlooms, which no new player will have) until well into the vanilla content; the first good control ability (Cheap Shot) is not received until level 30; and rogues have nothing aiding their mobility until about half as long (Sprint doesn't come until 26, and Shadowstep takes until 60 to get!). The rogue absolutely does not feel like a rogue until a good few weeks to a month into its gameplay (for a new player). While other classes get at least a few class-defining abilities early-on to set the stage for what's to come, rogues get close to nothing, and what they do get is largely the abilities that (may give aid gameplay on paper, but) don't give rogues any more "compelling" a feel. In other words, a rogue with Shadowstep feels a lot more nimble and interesting, even if Shadowstep wouldn't aid low-level gameplay, whereas a rogue with Gouge doesn't feel all that much stronger, even if it does absolutely come in handy early on. To a new player, the matter of their perception of their class's strength can be important.

I think the rogue population would see a small but trending upturn if the levels at which these certain abilities -- the ones that give more feeling to the gameplay, and the ones that hint at abilities and structure to come -- were reduced. Give new players a stronger taste of what the class really is, and I think they'll be more prone to stick with the class, lending rogues a statistical advantage in terms of boasting population.
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90 Human Paladin
8570
01/02/2013 10:18 PMPosted by Skiddles
A Short Treatise


I've been lied to...
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90 Blood Elf Warlock
4865
01/02/2013 10:18 PMPosted by Skiddles
I want to keep this brief

O_O
I do agree with a few of your points, though. I got bored of my rogue pretty quickly.
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90 Human Paladin
8570
01/02/2013 10:18 PMPosted by Skiddles
If you humor my hypothesis, the solution is simple, clean and easy. Rogues need to feel more well-defined at lower levels. The suggestion has come up to revamp their animations, and we've gotten the response numerous times that there's only so much you can do given their aesthetic style -- and I agree with that. But I don't think the solution ends there. Rogues can feel epic to new players without necessarily looking epic.


Not to sound mean or cruel, but as of right now, leveling really means nothing to the current state of end game Rogues.

The game has always balanced its self around endgame and PvP. Leveling and 'balancing' it is such a waste because the average player burns through the levels nowadays within mere minutes if they hit a good run. No sense in dabbling on it if that is the case.
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90 Gnome Rogue
6520
I wouldn't care if I was the only roguè, stealthing is the best
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7 Worgen Mage
0
Not to sound mean or cruel, but as of right now, leveling really means nothing to the current state of end game Rogues.

The game has always balanced its self around endgame and PvP. Leveling and 'balancing' it is such a waste because the average player burns through the levels nowadays within mere minutes if they hit a good run. No sense in dabbling on it if that is the case.


Retuning the early levels by simply shuffling some abilities around wouldn't have any impact on endgame play, wouldn't take more than a half hour of brainstorming, and wouldn't take more effort than flagging the changes to be included into the next patch.

They could make low-level rogues feel more fun probably in less time than it took to read my post and the first few replies.

In a game that's always looking to expand, always looking to keep up a healthy subscription-base, it makes sense to spend at least a very small fraction of your time considering the plights of new players and the very casual. The amount of consideration and time I'm suggesting is less probably than 1% of their total workload for this week alone.
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90 Blood Elf Death Knight
10680
01/02/2013 10:20 PMPosted by Forescythe
A Short Treatise


I've been lied to...


Aside from this, I do see your point about making things flashier. The only real issue I see with that is it may conflict with Blizz's intended spirit of the class (stealthy assassin, not James Bond).
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7 Worgen Mage
0
01/02/2013 10:31 PMPosted by Karat
(stealthy assassin, not James Bond).


At the moment is feels like neither until you reach about Outland. Not in the least.

01/02/2013 10:24 PMPosted by Rawrrawrr
I wouldn't care if I was the only roguè, stealthing is the best


Your hair looks !@#$ing fabulous.
Edited by Skiddles on 1/2/2013 10:34 PM PST
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90 Human Rogue
10775
This toon was around level 12 when the cataclym patch hit, getting shadowstep made the class feel so much more fun and made me level it. You don't really get anything cool until vanish now but i'm not sure what level that is.
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7 Worgen Mage
0
01/02/2013 10:38 PMPosted by Dyslexik
This toon was around level 12 when the cataclym patch hit, getting shadowstep made the class feel so much more fun and made me level it. You don't really get anything cool until vanish now but i'm not sure what level that is.


34 now. The lackluster phenomena has worsened considerably since they shuffled the abilities during the MoP revamp. Most of the abilities you look forward to getting have been postponed, in some cases by a lot (see: Shadowstep).
Edited by Skiddles on 1/2/2013 10:39 PM PST
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50 Blood Elf Priest
675
Rogues: afk autoattacking since MC.

:P
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90 Human Paladin
8570
01/02/2013 10:31 PMPosted by Skiddles
They could make low-level rogues feel more fun probably in less time than it took to read my post and the first few replies.


The only true way they could bring back a sense of 'fun-ness' to rogues is bringing back some of their cooler abilities like Ghostly Strike, Riposte, and so much others that didn't need to go away.
Edited by Forescythe on 1/2/2013 10:50 PM PST
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90 Night Elf Death Knight
20555
after playing a rogue in aion, nothing blizz could ever do to rogues in wow will even make them a glimmer of how freaking amazing they are in that game.

it is so fast paced and fun playing a rogue in aion. its like:

rogues in wow: stab stab stab ( im bored already ).

rogues in aion: bang explosion> shadowstepped to a dude, spinning death kick, stab, vanish into head decapitation> into neck rip> shadowstep blink to a different location> hyper megadeathkillstrike.

its just so much more entertaining playing basically the exact same thing, except aion rogues have a lot more teleporting to enemies and away from harm. there graphics are obviously a lot more flashier for essentially the same old stabby mcstabstab.

rogues in wow, are just plain boring.
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7 Worgen Mage
0
^ I agree rogues should feel a lot more nimble in WoW. We're about due for a mobility upgrade anyway. How about a fresh perspective on our mobility instead of just tweaking cooldowns?
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90 Human Paladin
8570
01/02/2013 10:51 PMPosted by Skiddles
^ I agree rogues should feel a lot more nimble in WoW. We're about due for a mobility upgrade anyway. How about a fresh perspective on our mobility instead of just tweaking cooldowns?


What kind of 'fresh' perspective would you suggest.

Right now they are going to put into 5.2 the major things that made Rogues so mobile back before they nerfed/broke the class.
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90 Draenei Mage
5135
Rogues have changed the least of any class in WoW, they're due for a change.
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90 Human Paladin
8570
01/02/2013 10:53 PMPosted by Fira
Rogues have changed the least of any class in WoW, they're due for a change.


Actually, they did change in MoP. The reason they had few changes is because they were 'Working as intended'.

The outcry and utter hate for Rogues at the end of Cata is what caused Rogues to not only be nerfed, but so nerfed that they are quite broken.

I remember back when they changed Rogues primary source of DPS from auto-attacking citing that Rogue's should require more 'depthness' to dish out DPS.

Now, specs like combat are that again. You don't even need speed offhands because of the procs Rogue's need to sustain their DPS with their Mastery (Chance on hit second attack) and energy procs.

Their utility and effectiveness in PvP is terrible as well.
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7 Worgen Mage
0
01/02/2013 10:53 PMPosted by Forescythe
^ I agree rogues should feel a lot more nimble in WoW. We're about due for a mobility upgrade anyway. How about a fresh perspective on our mobility instead of just tweaking cooldowns?


What kind of 'fresh' perspective would you suggest.

Right now they are going to put into 5.2 the major things that made Rogues so mobile back before they nerfed/broke the class.


I wasn't interested in derailing the thread, but I also disagree with that. Burst of Speed got greatly improved, but it's still either that or Shadowstep -- any rogue that picks Shadowstep won't see any change in that respect whatsoever. In fact, unless we specifically choose the new talents over the existing talents, the only change rogues are actually getting is baselined Preparation. It's going to be a big improvement, but at the same time many people are severely overstating how buffed we're going to be. The practical effect is going to be much smaller than is being suggested, it won't even bring us close to what we were before MoP. (Not that that needs to be the goal here, but more people should reserve their overexcitement.)
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90 Human Paladin
8570
01/02/2013 10:59 PMPosted by Skiddles
I wasn't interested in derailing the thread, but I also disagree with that. Burst of Speed got greatly improved, but it's still either that or Shadowstep -- any rogue that picks Shadowstep won't see any change in that respect whatsoever.


The reason I consider them viable is that some rogues will choose one over the other in terms of experience and play style. I myself would stick with Shadowstep (if I wasn't quitting at the end of the month).

01/02/2013 10:59 PMPosted by Skiddles
In fact, unless we specifically choose the new talents over the existing talents, the only change rogues are actually getting is baselined Preparation. It's going to be a big improvement, but at the same time many people are severely overstating how buffed we're going to be.


It's because when we had Prep baseline before. Even in Vanilla until they made it baseline, we were able to tier the talents into ALWAYS having Prep regardless of spec.

But with Prep among the couple other changes Rogues will get, Rogues will be on top of classes in the same way Warriors are right now.

I remember in Cata even Frost mages couldn't shake me... I was ALWAYS on them.
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