Any chance we can get more updates on that debate? We get constant updates on gameplay mechanics from Ghostcrawler and other CMs about their thoughts and feelings, but we only rarely hear things from Kosak and friends.
It'd be very helpful if they started talking to us and telling us what they're hearing, because right now it seems like there's a really big communication gap.
It's something we're working on. I'd love to set up more story-centric interviews and conversations with the community. But, while Dave and Greg are both design leads, it's very difficult to compare their tasks, workloads, and roles within the community.
Hmm... Well thats a long post, that's nice to see. :)Devs on the Forum:
First you discuss why Blizz is more likely to respond to posts regarding class balance than it is to posts regarding the story. I would not agree that story is more complex, however it's certainly more subjective. Story is also inherently more long range, and thus harder to make local changes to. Class design is more complex than story, but it's also more easily and objectively measured. Its more quantifiable -- and once it goes out the door its extremely quantifiable through dps meters, and flat out measurements of which classes are dominating in PvP. In short if you get class design wrong, it becomes very demonstrable very quickly. Vs. reaction to story which is fuzzy, and much less clearly measurable.
That said, story is much simpler than class design. And the less objective nature of it means that responsible designers should be *more* active on the forums, rather than *less*. Yes there's more pet peeves and personal opinions to wade through, but there are also general reactions to grasp and there are talented posters who have a history of doing good analysis.
[But don't let me give the wrong impression. The reaction of the Alliance to the storyline that they've been given should not be a shock. When you hit someone with a baseball bat, its not going to be a surprise that they didn't like it.]Looking at the Big Picture:
I've seen this used recently as the explanation for Garrosh -- i.e. that he was planned all along to be a flawed character that ultimately has to be fought. I find that credible. But the problem is that individual steps of that process must be believable, and fallout from that process has to be credibly handled. But the process had major flaws in crediblity. And the obvious fallout from it -- that the alliance has been attacked *again* by the Horde (not just Garrosh) leads to the most outrageous thing about this expansion -- the Horde getting off scot-free as all of their deeds get scapegoated onto Garrosh.Too late to change?
Problems with that: 1) There was already plenty of anger from the Alliance about various problems with Cata. You had plenty of pre-warning of issues. (And again, baseball bat analogy -- the Alliance reaction to having our leaders repeatedly peace-out on us, mysteriously forget faction war, etc. was not just forseeable, but obvious.) 2) We were told explicitly that the 5.3 and 5.4 quests were added by pulling the teams off the next expansion to work on them -- i.e. well after Alliance complaints with this expansion were thick and heavy. 3) Finally: If the message is that you just didn't know poorly it would be received until it was too late, then you SHOULD BE SAYING THAT! Instead, we get Dave Kosak peddling "string of alliance victories" and "fist shaking moment" in his interview.
[Concrete example: 5.3, which we know you didn't do until fairly late. Instead of it being all about the rebel Horde having a grand old time, make it about the rebel Horde being desperate to keep the Alliance from taking advantage of the split to wipe both sides out. Instead of the Alliance having to go plead with Vol'jin, have Vol'jin, Baine and Lor'themar go to the Alliance leaders to arrange a truce/alliance. If Horde leaders had basically arranged the peace at that point, and agreed to reparations at that point, THEN the joint assault and peace with the rebel Horde in 5.4 would have made sense. You had time to do something like this -- and you didn't. In fact you went pretty much the opposite direction.]Dave Kosak caring deeply about both blue and red
. I would like to believe that. But I don't. The Horde bias of the dev team is not just one or two isolated instances. Its endless and repeated across multiple expansions. Its in the game, its in the cryptic tweats. Its Alliance leaders acting like doormats for the Horde. Its Alliance victories not being shown in game (Ashenvale?) while horde victories are (WPL, Theramore). Its being subjected hand-me-down cut and paste quests. Its unfinished zones. Its being told that they don't have time to phase Alliance wins -- and then being told that we won't even get lore wins because they're not being shown in game! Its being told that Dalaran is a win for the Alliance, but oh hey, that cost you getting the Blood Elves back in the Alliance, and BTW you just got totally outfoxed by Garrosh who planned the whole thing, and "hey we talked about having Dalaran over Ogrimmar, but then... we didn't do it". Its like we literally cannot turn around without getting hit with another example of Horde bias. And you want to tell us that Kosak cares deeply about our experience? Pretty much not seeing that.Suggestions:
If Blizz thinks that there is a real and substantial gap between their idea of Alliance reactions and the actual Alliance reaction, then:
1) Get the lore/story leads on the forums. Engage in dialog, find out what's wrong and what Alliance would like fixed.
2) Reach out to the really good, lore-loving Alliance posters who got so fed up with the lore that they just quit. (Check history of story forum in particular.) Check notable bloggers as well.
3) Somehow give yourself more reaction time. It should not be the case that "Hey we can't fix any of your complaints because we've already written the whole expansion."
4) If you insist on writing one faction side first and then cutting and pasting onto the other faction, then... write the Alliance side first for a change. If your team is unwilling/unable to do that, then thats a red flag that something is wrong with your team and its time to change it up. Interviews:
I'll suggest a goal: Have the lore/story lead be interviewed by a well known, Alliance fan/site operator. Someone not on Prozac, but who is genuinely happy about the Alliance storyline, races, etc. I'm remembering Jesse Cox (Horde) the pink haired gal (wearing a Horde t-shirt) -- find their equivalent who will gleefully and proudly wear an Alliance t-shirt to the interview. PR interviews are of course not the time for brutal interviews, but thats the point -- the representation of Alliance lore/races in the game should be so satisfying that a well known Alliance fan can conduct an interview with the lore/story lead and be genuinely happy with what's going on.
Again, thanks for the long post.