Originally Posted by Morello
It's a tricky topic, because our job is to make decisions based on what players not only want, but need. Let me explain that a bit.
Determining what players want is actually pretty simple - your most invested users tend to be very vocal and will put effort into making sure they're heard (ie; most forumers!) This is a good metric of understanding what players want, at least for high-engagement folks.
What players need is where players don't proclaim a desire for something, but it helps provide something they say they want. Many times, this is more than a single solution - it requires several steps of implementation to reach a result, or takes time to bake in many cases. Let me provide two example of want vs need, and why want cannot be the only driver for developers;
At Riot, we nerf champions. Nerfs are rarely wanted (and many times, unwanted). But, players want to have a fair experience with a variety of options. Additionally, a game without power caps and heavy power creep (something still happening faster than I'd like...) can disrupt the core game design focused around choices, decision-making, and strategy. To accomplish this, we need to nerf champions, even if players don't explicitly want us to.
To use your example, in the pattern of Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King, the changes to easier raid content and more accessibility is actually informed by a want that a lot of players expressed - IE, raids were content that was exclusive from them and they wanted a piece. I respect the guys who make WoW (and its success is a testament), but this is a good example of where the developers should have recognized the core need of exclusivity and the right tuning of that, and steered away from players said they wanted. Personally, I think Burning Crusade is a sweet spot.
The above is a fantastic example of why we have to make tough choices and not always just do what players ask us to do - it's not always the right course of action.
The problem you're speaking to, in my opinion, is when developers think they always have that answer and that being a developer gives you divination into what that is. In my mind, game development isn't about having answers - it's the ways in which you find them.
Our interaction on here isn't just lip-service, it's so we can better optimize decisions around player wants - and explain what players need when they don't want it. This informs us a lot, but we make decisions based on a number of factors - player desires and feedback being one of them.
I hope this helps explain how I feel about this, and how the developer/player interaction looks to me.
One other thing to watch is "the game used to be good when the game was less mature, and it sucks now because of changes" thing. Many times, players just get tired of a game after 1000's of hours, and that's natural. I still think WoW is a cool game, I just can't wring any more enjoyment out of it.
World of Warcraft, nerfed it for exceptionally terrible players and ruined quality of the game in by doing so because players who were bad, refused to accept that and get better.
No, that's the lens of your personal values - you believe your values of game-playing (skill mastery) is the reason all players should play the game. Many people play the same games for different reasons.
Or, sometimes, the changes are just bad. WoW was fun when you could have casual 25 man raids in WotLK. It stopped being fun in Cata when 25 man raids disappeared.
In SC2, the change to larger maps and ever increasing rush distances ruined it for me. I didn't like that a second Nexus/Hatchery/Command Center became the first building after supply structure/unit.
You could bury your head in the sand and insist that people left because they got bored or you could consider that your changes aren't universally loved.
Some changes are bad - and they can disengage players. I found Wrath of the Lich King less fun to raid than BC, but the reason I think it was a harmful direction was more what I think engages players overall - many of the things that do not engage me personally. "I quit WoW because there's not 40-man raids and now people other than me and my 39 friends can raid" is one of those things that would have low value, conversely.
The big difference in players get to think about their own experiences (and should!), where developers need to discover what groups of players need, what drives them, engages them and makes them feel rewarded.
WoW was bad. It is bad and it will continue to be bad. WoW had the simple blind luck to be in the right place at the right time.
The original concept was little more than Everquest with a few modifications. Quests were easier to find, enemies were better balanced for your level, and waiting for your life to regenerate took a lot less time. Aside from that the game was an ugly sack of fail. The raids were broken, literally, almost every raid was released in an unfinished and unbeatable state. We found out in AQ40 that this was done purposefully because Blizzard wasn't able to meet deadlines. I do not like to raid, I occasionally enjoy partying but by and by I like doing solo content or hunting for rare materials. So pretty much WoW has nothing for me because Riadrz want their super op weapon drop and god forbid you have allow a plebeian solo player farm mats to craft a weapon even 1/10th the quality of that thing. No, the items that are only 1/10th as good as Raid loot have materials that drop in Raids.
I hate WoW. I hate Blizzard. They took a fantasy universe I found to be brilliantly designed and destroyed it.
You don't like WoW (clearly!), but this is the attitude I'm saying is flatly incorrect. WoW is a well-crafted game that you do not happen to like. Our own personal tastes do not equate to what is good and bad in game development, only what our potential engagement is. And, to be frank, if you're not the audience, it has little impact on anyone else.
I don't like playing Halo. Halo is an extremely good game.
How could you think burning crusade was the "Sweet Spot". A majority of the players couldn't even get to 3/4's of those raids. Hardly anyone ever see's end game content. I mean, christ. Your mindset works for League of Legends just fine. I can't argue with the results. But I sure as hell can tell you that your mindset would of made WoW a worse game by far, and I would of left it after BC instead of sticking around for MoP. Do not go into the MMO Business again, as I think you were with Guild Wars right?
I'm saying I don't think raids should be inclusive, as the exclusivity of content creates a psychological trick in your brain that makes the game feel endless. Basically, my direction would be (and maybe incorrectly - I haven't tried!) that all content is not for everyone. If anything, League proves core gaming has a big audience, and you don't have to make things easy.
That's a fair assessment. I stopped playing Blizzard games when it became clear to me that my tastes were very different from the majority of their player base. I liked BC but never got to raid there. I liked it because even dungeons had progression with the keys and the hard Heroics. WotLK lost that in many ways, but the raids everyone could do became what Heroics were in BC for me. In Cata, there was little to no dungeon progression (it was even easier than WotLK) but raids were out of reach for me too. I spent 3 months playing as part of a guild in the hope to get into a raid group with no success. I canceled shortly after.
As a player, it was sort of the same for me.
Raids HAVE to be inclusive for the most part. Because that's the only major content in a MMO at max level on the PvE aspect of it. That's the only way to really "progress". How could you miss that? That's why there's heroic raids, so people who want challenging content can go and do that and feel exclusive. And even the new thing where there's a uber secret hard boss that is only unlocked in heroic mode.
I'm actually really startled you could miss something like that. I'm glad league of legends is a game where everyone can participate at max level.
You sure? The game has massive numbers even without accessible raid content - it was in a big period of growth during this time - many players who do not raid have plenty to keep them busy.
Since not everyone plays for mastery, and many play for achievement, over-time reward structures (dailies, rep grinds) engage the majority of the players. The minority still raids, but now it's lost the exclusivity. Are you sure your views are representative?
They may be - I don't have access to their data which could prove me wrong. I'm just checking to see if you're thinking about it from a holistic perspective or a personal one.
Keep Them busy?........Such as Dailies? Do you know how awful those things are? Dailies for everything these days......But yes, recently there's a huge amount of content that is not raiding, that you can certainly do. There's actually a staggering amount of things you can do in WoW that isn't raiding.
Yes, I believe my views are Representative. A much greater part of the minority raids now, I believe ghostcrawler threw a quote out there saying that the size of players seeing end game content was "staggering" now that LFR was out.
And there IS Exclusivity still in the form of heroic raids.
No one really has access to that sort of data except blizzard, but i distinctly remember ghostcrawler saying something similar to "Barely anyone has seen end game content, so we're coming out with Looking For Raid".
I mean, you're putting the bulk over your story and endgame content into raids, something (as you've said yourself) the minority of players will ever get to experience. Why limit that to such a small portion of the community? And also why bother making that content if only a small portion of the community could ever play it?
I think that's the decision-making process that has driven Blizzard - and clearly it is successful. I just think I'd value different design aspects of WoW if it were my decision to play up engagement over the long-term - a bit of less-is-more design.
Can you please teach Ghostcrawler how to properly balance the game then? Instead of throwing Hunter's under the bus like the "Redheaded Step Children Who Lives Behind The Staircase" that we are made to be.
I have a ton of sympathy and respect for Ghostcrawler; he's the face of an entire design team also. I don't think their balancing is really bad, either, I'm not in agreement with their overall high level design philosophy - not that it's bad, I just have a different conclusion. Within that philosophy, though, I think their balance methodology is really appropriate.
Innovation drives the gaming industry in one way or another, and WoW never innovated anything.
The 2 sided conflict of characters with different classes available (initially) had been done before in MMOs. Battlegrounds and CTF style combat had been done in other MMOs, Raid style content had be done before in MMOs. Crafting with almost identical systems existed in other MMOs before WoW. Seamless worlds existed prior.
Nothing World of Warcraft did was particularly unique or innovative. The main reason it became such a huge smash hit was because it was made by Blizzard. Being set in the Warcraft world made it instantly desirable to everyone that had played a Blizzard game, which was a LOT of people. They recruited their friends to play with them who pulled in friends, etc. And we get the legacy that is World of Warcraft.
Was it polished at the time excluding graphics? Sure, hell yeah. But to someone who has been playing the genre of games since Everquest, it was incredibly bland and uninspiring. Especially at launch.
Do I respect World of Warcraft? Of course I do. It's made gaming normal in every day life and an acceptable pastime. It made more money than you can imagine and brought my first and favorite genre of computer games to the masses. But it wasn't special. It wasn't particularly well crafted. It was just -VERY- well marketed.
But WoW redefined what MMO's are for an entire generation of gamers by using well-known methods to deliver the first "doesn't kick you in the balls over and over" theme park experience. While maybe it didn't invent gas powered engines, it certainly built the Model-T.
Innovation is a powerful thing to have, but it's not the only thing that defines a well-crafted game.
It's funny to me, personally, that you use World of Warcraft as an example and say that it lost "a ton" of players. I know personally I couldn't even stomach playing WoW before Wrath of the Lich King (and I bought Original when it released) because of how incredibly exclusionary the gameplay was if you were not in that top 5% . It really had nothing to do with time playing (I played JRPGs most of my young life, so I knew what it took to spend hundreds of hours on a game). I had no interest in committing 40 hours a week to preparing to play a game for 20 more hours that weekend. I feel THAT is what has been addressed by Blizzard, and save the nostalgics and the elitists (who I feel are similar to those on these forums who gripe about special skins not being so very special), no one has much of an issue with needing to do less mindless grinding to experience the actual purposes of the game.
Hardcore players, this feedback is not valuable. We know what happens if developers are too swayed here - you get new versions of an old game that has just enough difference to not pull you over (CS:GO, really the AWP cost being the same was important? No.), but not actually advance the series or genre in a meaningful way. Doing this disallows you to actually give the game any meaning - why does it exist, who is it for?
Now, developers have a responsibility here too; deconstruct why they're saying what they're saying. Many times, your hardcore fans want to ensure the new game has depth and skill. If you're changing how that's done, explain this process to your hardcore dudes. Don't pander or cave, just be upfront. If you're removing burden of knowledge/etc (things that most extremely hardcore gamers will latch on to as meaningful skill), be honest with it and try to evaluate that you're adding real skill mastery to your new game as well.
Your hardcore guys are valuable, but be careful to not let them rail your new game into total conservatism.