After a lot of camping, a considerable amount of faffing and a fair measure of soul searching, Hati the wolf is no longer my Artefact weapon companion. Instead I picked an old, obsolete Wrath skin, one of the first generation of Spirit Beasts, bear that hasn’t been consciously redesigned to appease the high definition generation. Had I not been able to do this, I doubt I would have lived with BM as a spec any longer, especially considering the number of people I see running around with two pets. I I have no idea how many people decide to use their Hunter to make a point, but mine is all about not wanting to have to look the same as everyone else. I’m hoping as a result I can locate an ‘old-style’ white bear skin to replace Polar’s, who is a tank-specced pet. He’s always been that way, and I’d like that not to change any time soon.
I now grasp how much it matters that I get to make these choices and not the designers.
This is, however, a fallacy. I don’t really get any realistic say in how the vast majority of design choices turn out. I can make comment, sure, and if I’m lucky there might be some leeway on how some of the aesthetics are implemented (with the introduction of the Essence Swapper being a case in point) but in the main, if stuff changes, I have a choice: live with it, or don’t play the class. I have to laugh therefore when I see people stating that they’re being ‘forced’ to play their class, that it is clearly ‘unfair’ that changes are made to the game so early in the Expansion’s lifespan. What staggers in these assertions, again and again, is how short people’s memories have become of how change is rolled out across this MMO. Undoubtedly, three weeks or so after an Expansion launch, stuff gets tweaked, because there’s more data on usage than there has been at any point since Legion went into Alpha. This isn’t a new thing, people. EVERY TIME IT IS THE SAME. Blizzard has a phenomenal amount of game data it can access, and over time is making increasingly sophisticated efforts to tailor game-play using that input. How do I know this? Because they’re employing people to do just that.
I’d like to thank @IvoryTiger on Twitter for the tip-off on this one: back in June of this year, a job advert appeared on Monster which pretty much confirms my belief that you, the consumer, really don’t have a clue what everybody else wants. The only sure-fire way of knowing what works and doesn’t in Azeroth is by asking an Intelligence Analyst. The Business and Gameplay Insights are the real biggie, however, because this will tell Activision Blizzard that a Ganymede plushie is a great idea, and it’ll look even better for Overwatch fans if packaged in a Bastion Stylee. Then, you can confirm this will be a top seller on a base level because of the number of retweets the possibility gets when you suggest it on social media. Oh, and if you can make sure every member of staff on Twitter spreads the word? So much the better.
Lo and behold, analysing your data really does work.
However much you’d like to believe you’re special, you’re just part of a very significant whole. Yes, that individual feedback you gave really does make a difference, or else I wouldn’t be playing Beast Mastery on my main. Without the constructive criticism in Beta I’d be stuck with Wolf Hati forever, because someone in the design brief forgot to grasp that Hunters appreciate aesthetics more than some other classes. However, there needs to be a very real and often quite difficult realisation for many that, like it or not, your game play isn’t Activision Blizzard’s to control. They only dictate the direction based on data available. You can be as polite as you like that you think they screwed up the design and the playability, but the chances are that this ‘feel’ was intended to begin with. In the end, there is no deep seated conspiracy to destroy your class. There’s certainly no intent to ruin ‘fun’ or ‘enjoyment’ based on the decisions being made, especially so soon after an Expansion launch. Really, there isn’t.
Yet Expansion after Expansion people hold grudges. I watch both grown men and women flounce off, throw toys from their prams and often YEARS AFTERWARDS maintain how badly ‘they’ were treated. This ridiculous and totally misguided hatred continues to be demonstrated over PvP: how Brian Holinka has been vilified since he joined the company pretty much beggars belief. However much you might disagree with the way someone works, the answer to your issues is not to threaten them with physical harm. I know you’d like to think you’re beautiful and unique, and of course you are, but there’s a limit to how far you take this, and realistic expectations to hold in the process. I’m sorry Shadow Priests, and have a fair amount of sympathy for the Demon Hunters in the room. Fact remains, in this game, everybody is supposed to do comparable damage, healing and tank to a similar standard.
Nobody is particularly special. Just get over it.
That is why aesthetics matter more than I suspect some designers yet grasp. It is why, for me at least, doing top dps is pretty much the last bonus I’m looking for. I don’t care about being first and neither should you. I just want to look good, and as long as that isn’t being nerfed any time soon?
Everything else is largely academic.