Originally Posted by MMO-Champion
For a REALLY long time, you either had to play RMP, or pray you weren't queueing for 3v3 with the good RMPs were. RMP mirror matches were common on both the live game and in tourneys.
Yeah, I agree this is another good example. At the time it felt like the choice was between PvP dominated by rogue-mage-priest or more diverse comps. The rogue-mage-priest ecosystem did have a lot of depth and a lot of what Riot calls counterplay. But if you mained a hunter or paladin, you felt shut out, and leveling viable alts was a much steeper proposition back then. We made the call to open up more Arena comps, but that did come with the added "bonus" of a lot of disruption and instability. Giving more CC and other PvP cooldowns to other classes did create some burst comps that lacked a lot of the depth and finesse of the RMP monoculture. (Trying to balance abilities for both PvP and PvE didn't help at all.) It took several expansions before this felt better once again.
Was there a specific wow example that you think changed the balance too much? Whether you meant to shift the game that way or not, it seems like the playerbase thinks this has happened.
There were a lot of specific class changes where players were convinced they were weaker than we thought they were, or others where players just had a different vision for the class than the developers did, which is always a tough path to navigate.
If I had to point to one controversial change, I'd say that in vanilla and BC to a lesser extent, there were many specs that weren't really viable for PvE or PvP. We felt like they needed to be viable in order to justify being in the game, and we were reasonably successful in getting all of them much more competitive. I'll be honest that there were times when there was still one dominant PvP spec, one dominant PvE spec and one more-or-less dead spec per class, but we did get a lot closer than ever before, especially in the most recent expansion. (And that was the team that accomplished that -- I take very little credit.)
So why was this direction controversial? One, it was just flat out harder to balance since there were more variables. It led to all sorts of religious debates such as whether pure classes "deserved" to do more damage than hybrids. In order to guarantee that a particular class or spec wasn't mandatory for raiding or Arenas, we had to share utility among more classes. (One example is shaman were no longer the only ones to bring Bloodlust.) This did homogenize classes, and some players were understandably not excited about that direction. I'm not sure of a better approach though. Maybe WoW should just have had 10 classes and not the 30 that different specs brought. Maybe some specs should have just stayed dead. I still think about this a lot.
I was the lead systems designer on WoW. I managed about half the design department. My team was responsible for class design, combat, item design, encounters, and many of the features in the game like Dungeon Finder, Transmog and Achievements. As one of the leads on the team, I helped set the vision for the game as well. I was not the lead of WoW overall. I had much less to do with say world design, lore, quest design or anything business related. I didn't do very much implementation myself, because I didn't have the bandwidth to do it right, and because there were designers more qualified to do that. I was ultimately responsible for balance and that includes PvP, but I didn't make every change myself, and mostly I focused on removing barriers so other designers could do their jobs. I make that distinction because I don't mind being blamed for anything, but it does a disservice to a very large team to imagine one dude sitting on a throne spewing out edicts. Blizzard, like Riot, was very consensus based and focused on alignment.
Did I and my team make mistakes? Sure. Every game designer does. I'm pretty honest about admitting them, though it's tacky to throw colleagues under the bus, so I tend to stay away from areas where I had limited influence. I'm pretty happy with the work we did overall, and very proud of the team we were able to build.
Why am I spending all this effort to explain my role on another game? Because I don't want you or any other player to worry what my work on League means for the future of the game. While I think there are contributions I can make, I'm not interested in overhauling League by any stretch, and Riot would never let me get away with making dramatically bad choices that negatively affected our flagship, our only, product.
So, if I may, here are some distinctions between truth and rumor, offered in the spirit of getting to know me better.
1) I'm not super interested in compromising LoL design in the name of accessibility. Yes, League is obnoxiously hard to learn if you don't have a friend showing you the ropes. That sucks, but it's not worth stripping away the depth or potential for mastery for our core audience -- you guys -- in order to attract new players. That's not an approach every game can or should take, but it's the right call for League.
2) I never played a Frost mage in WoW, or any caster really. I played healers and melee. Frost was hard to balance in WoW because of the kit of control plus burst, and I'm fine taking flak for that. But it wasn't because I wanted to dominate in PvP with my character. I would have been fired for that. It was hard in general to balance combat and rewards for a game with both PvE and PvP components. It's very nice to be on a game that is emphatically competitive, team-based PvP.
5) I care enormously about player feedback and trust. That is why I spend so much time reading forums, Reddit and Twitter (@occupygstreet). In fact, that is one of the things I love about Riot and why I wanted to come work here. Anyone from my WoW days will tell you, I hope, that even if they disagreed with a design, they appreciated the effort I made to explain our reasoning and hear out their concerns. And this is the TLDR really. I have always been very vocal in my communication with players. I didn't intend to be the spokesperson for WoW, but my name was recognizable by a lot of players, and when they wanted to complain about something, they wanted to focus on a name. Again, I can take it. But that doesn't mean I called every shot on WoW and neither do I for League.
6) I do like ponies, gin and long walks on the beach. That part is true.
Do you ever regret opening the game up to be more casual? Instead of taking the kind of direction you are with league?
Different approaches work for different products, and I don't want to second guess the WoW team. Let's just say that after working on Age of Empires and World of Warcraft for a total of 16 years, it's really refreshing to work on a game where I don't have to worry whether someone's grandmother can pick it up or not.
Would like to see GC's grandmother (or mother or father or brother etc) kill Heroic 25m Siegecrafter Blackfuse!
Blackfuse is not the standard by which most of the game is designed. It's memorable in fact because it's so much harder than 99% of what you do in the game. Very few players even try (though it is a great fight). You don't wipe 100 times leveling up. Few players quit running dungeons because they're too hard. In much of the game, death is unlikely and not much of an obstacle when it does happen. That's just the way the game was designed and the way nearly all players experience it. I'm not even commenting on whether I agree with that philosophy or not, but it was the philosophy.
Regardless of whether anyone's grandmother can beat Blackfuse or attain Challenger tier is really besides the point. The points (and these are facts, because I was on the staff of both dev teams) are:
1) WoW spends a lot of effort to make sure almost any player can pick up the game, learn the ropes, level to 90 and even raid if that's their interest. LoL spends almost no effort making sure almost any player can pick up the game. It does expend some effort to make sure that players who self-identify as gamers can pick up the game.
2) As a result of these efforts and different definitions of potential audience, WoW has a much broader audience than LoL. That's fine. Different strategies work for different games.
My point was that I spent a lot of development time on both Age of Empires and WoW trying to make the games approachable to a wide audience without compromising the game design. I don't have to do that anymore, which is s nice change of pace.
It sounds kind of spiteful to say "a grandma can pick it up." Just throwing that out there
I meant no offense, but I chose that verbiage because "casual" is a very overloaded term. For some players it means that they play say League, but only once a month or so. For other people, casual means they play Candy Crush. For others it means, IDK, that you're unskilled at the games you play with no motivation to get better.
I figured "grandma" would communicate the kind of non-traditional gamer that doesn't usually show up in your League matches. To be fair, they don't show up in WoW that much either, but we would use that term when discussing whether some UI or teaching element was obvious enough.
WoW players seem to think I am dissing WoW. I'm not. I love WoW. But difficulty and accessibility are not the same thing. We spent a lot of effort on AoE and WoW making them accessible for almost any gamer. That was the direction of both games. League is targeted at core gamers and it's really nice to be able to spend all our effort on making the game engaging for them. (Source
No, you aren't dissing WoW. Instead you are being contemptuous of a large portion of WoW subscribers.
Contempt wasn't what I had in mind. They are just different games. I'm not advocating for WoW to abandon non-hardcore players. (Source
of course that risks LoL putting off core gamers such as myself that dislike the environment Riot has established in LoL
The best way to play almost any game, including League, is with friends. I really believe that. If your friends are toxic, well... (Source
and - I dunno. Coming from the console dev world, WoW fails pretty hard on the accessibility front, imo. (pedrothedagger
Yes, but we spent a lot of effort on making it more accessible. (Source
is LoL not something that should be able to be accessible?
Not for a broad audience and not for casual gamers, no. Could it be easier to pick up? Of course. (Source
It's very odd to hear that, because most people (including me) consider LoL very casual.
Games can be played casually without being targeted at casual players. (Source
Why do you hate my grandma Greg?
It's challenging to be a hardcore gamer and have to constantly put yourself in the mindset of a very casual one. That said, I know some grandmas who raid. (Source
Bitter? No. It's just nice not to have to worry about attracting casual gamers. (Source
I'm open to recruiting any grandma's that can heal heroic thok. just saying.
WoW has very hard content. That's not the same as being accessible to a broad audience. (Source
I love WoW but if not for heroic raiding, I likely would have left a long time ago.
I'm a heroic (mythic) raider. That's how I fell in love with WoW. But they can't sustain the game alone. (Source
There's a widespread misunderstanding that most people even want to be "brought up." Everyone has the tools and capability to do anything. How many do it? (Bashiok
We thought in Cata that we could entice players to rise to the occasion to do harder content. But, you know, some players just said that's not why they play the game. More power to them. (Source
I'd like to know what Blizzard considers to be the big barriers.
Well *I* consider the biggest barrier being it's a 3D WASD game with a movable camera. (Bashiok
I agree. So does a lot of data. (Source
Man, I always supported you with WoW changes and felt really bad when you left, but that WoW comment... ouch.
We updated Elwynn Forest twice while I was there to make the game accessible. It was a lot of work. There are very hardcore aspects of WoW but there are also casual ones. Catering to both (or all) is a big challenge. That's all I meant. I earned a reputation for "dumbing the game down" which is bizarre to me. I was countering that supposition. No offense intended.(Source
I'm reading a lot of comments confusing accessibility with difficulty. Learning to play WoW is accessibility. Raiding is difficulty. WoW's intent when I was there (I can't speak for it now) was to appeal to a wide audience. Developing for a wide audience is very hard. Ulduar (my favorite raid) had two raid sizes (and optional hard modes). After that we added more difficulty tiers to broaden raiding appeal.
Is that something you didn't want to do?
You can argue it exposed more players to the fun of raiding, but might have diminished the psychological reward of doing so. Raids also self nerf over time as players gear up, and we did across the board nerfs as well. So dedicated players would eventually get to see the content. The change was more about whether players deserved to see new content when it was new vs several patches later. (Source
Adding multiple tiers per raid is more work. Appealing to a broad audience is more work. For once in my career, I don't have to do that. (Source
People struggled through bad design and confused it with mastery of difficulty.
There also was very little concept of damage meters or optimal rotations in Molten Core. The audience matured. (Source
What by your experience are the constant things that come up that make learning a game hard?
1) Identifying the goal, 2) Understanding the controls, 3) Realizing where the fun is going to be. I mention that third point because too many tutorials strip away too much fun out of fear of burdening a new player.
Hand held guidance vs joy of discovery and freedom. Can`t have both.
Yes, but you can make the hand held guided part fun. Maybe you can see a dragon even if you have no business fighting one yet. (Source
Explained another way, when you see a big drop off in players after only a few minutes then they are probably very confused. Players can't usually tell if a game will be fun that quickly, but if they have no idea what's going on, then they may quit. You see this a lot when casual players can't mouse look, a skill second nature to many core gamers. (Source
Look, you can play a very demanding game casually or invest many hours in a simple iPhone game. WoW appeals / tries to appeal to many gamers who don't fit the traditional gamer mold. League doesn't go after those gamers. Simple as that. (Source
I can mouse look, play WoW, and adventure games. Dont consider myself (hard)core gamer. Core/casual split seems so limiting
It is very limiting. However, when even game developers watch a brand new player struggle with controls it's eye opening. (Source
Can you talk one feature you like paper but did not went well in WoW? And one community complain announced b like when tested
Reforging sounded great on paper but just became extra work solved by a website for most players. (Source