Originally Posted by MMO-Champion
There's a clear difference in balancing/patching practices between Riot and Blizz. Riot has faster 2-3 week iteration cycles and Blizzard has 4-6 month content patches. What do you feel are the reasons for this difference (dev philosophy/game dev practices/game structure/manpower/management)?
Blizzard was very concern about player backlash from too many changes on WoW. We were always worried about the returning player who couldn't recognize their shaman (or whatever) because the rotation was completely different. It's a tough edge to walk -- keeping current players engaged with enough changes, without alienating returning players.
League players, even if they have mains, don't have characters in the same sense. The individual champions are a lot simpler, even though it is probably still very intimidating to return to League after a long absence and having no idea what all the new champs do. I'd say overall League players expect more frequent balance updates.
I am explicitly not commenting on which approach is right or wrong. They are very different games with different philosophies. I also am not in tune enough with current Blizzard games to know what their balance philosophy is for Hearthstone or HotS.
How much of an impact has modern day theorycrafting (WoTLK-era sophistication with SimC dev/RAWR) had on the design/development process in WoW? Do you think this has in general been a positive force for players and/or developers?
I'll answer from the POV of League, though it is relevant to almost any game where players strive to "solve" it, even D&D.
This might surprise you, but I don't think theorycrafting is healthy overall. It removes a lot of the fun and experimentation for players when the right answer is so readily available from Google search. (Often it isn't even the right answer, but players think it is which amounts to the same thing.
Now I get that it is fun for players to theorycraft and author guides. It's fun for me too. I also get that players want to be armed with thr best knowledge to be the most effective. Being right is satisfying. I also get that those discussion help build community ties and give players a way to interact with the game when they can't actually play it. I also don't think there is a realistic way to chill it out. But if I could reverse time to a world where the information wasn't so readily available, I would. I'm not going to try to fight it though. It's here and will stay.
You've mentioned several times in the past that your job is to remove barriers, etc, for your teams. I always wondered what you mean by that. Can you provide some general examples?
These are not literal examples. Please don't read too much into them.
Example One: A team feels like they can't make progress on a design idea because they don't have the buy in of the creative team working on lore. I get buy in from the lore guys or more likely tell them we're going to go ahead with our design and they can give feedback when it's done before we ship.
Example Two: A team of designers feel blocked because they need a particle artists to add effects to a weapon or spell. I find them a resource they can borrow so that they can do the design they want instead of something designed around the absence of art resources.
Example Three: A team feels like they have to run every decision by the design lead on the project. I get buy in that we can try out one of the team members in a junior leadership role so that they can be the accountable party on their project and not the busier top-level lead.
Example Four: A team basically all agrees with the direction of a desgin but lacks the confidence to ship it. I talk through the design with them, get them to realize that they are in fact competent people who should trust their intuition and experirence.
I usually use removing barriers as a contrast to giving orders. I have found that little of leadership is actually about commanding people. Maybe it's different on an actual battlefield. IDK. For me I have found that teams usually want to do good work, but something is gumming up the pipes so to speak.
What's less likely to get a full sequel - League or WoW? Both seem like they'd benefit from a totally new game engine but can't just bin all their current playerbase.
You can update or overhaul a game engine without asking players to switch games. Traditonally, sequels were really important to the business model because boxes made all the revenue. Neither WoW nor LoL is that dependent on them. On the other hand, the risk of ending up with a much smaller population in 2.0, or even worse, having a divided population over two different but very similar products is high. I think it only makes sense if you want to change the gameplay so dramatically that you need the 2.0 to really sell that. There are also advantages from a PR perspective - sequels get more mainstream coverage than updates.