Okay, I’ll admit I’m not as on the ball over Warcraft content as I once used to be, but I have my reasons, and they’re pretty important. So when I see someone showing me the Appearances tab and their efforts towards unlocking a ‘hidden’ appearance, only then does it register that I’ve probably got the same. Except, because I transmog, it really doesn’t matter. This knowledge is not relevant to my interests, and so is largely overlooked. However, what does fascinate me is this number you can see in the top left hand corner of my header image. I assume that’s a level, but for what? Twitter is of course it’s above and beyond helpful self, and when I go and mouse over that in game? All is revealed.
So 24 = spell ranks earned, and this also tells me (if I hadn’t worked it out via the Mobile App) that I need to be researching Artifact Knowledge. That caps at 25, and suddenly there is a LOLWTF moment which I’ve covered at length in the week, and the understanding that this weapon’s become something more than simply the legendary embodiment of your journey during Legion. It is literally your yardstick.
This is the way a Progression raid can measure player intelligence and commitment. This more than adequately explains why people got banned (and finally their AP removed) for exploiting game mechanics. This is is also the reason I see people quietly sympathise with their actions and muse that this would be something they’d do, because there’s already a notion of ‘being behind’ even before ActiBlizz make it easier to ‘buy’ AP going forward. It’s why the ‘grind’ to max this out was highlighted BEFORE THE EXPANSION BEGAN as being just that, but (amazingly) no-one in development seemed that fussed. This is the new Gear Score, people, because it allows a quick and simple means by which your level of interest in this Expansion can be summarily judged. The fact I didn’t know it existed until an hour ago?
I suspect these are figures that should have a greater priority on being hidden in game than those ‘unnecessary’ stats that vanished when Legion launched.
I thought the sole point of this screen was to just fill in everything, until I learnt there were people Theorycrafting what traits to take as priority. This game was built on this platform, that numbers ultimately beat intuition, and as ActiBlizz continue to offer notable game theorycrafters employment at their Irvine campus there’s clearly no desire to amend a UI that relies on maths to drive progression, because that’s what this is. Even using the most basic theory, it takes less time to kill stuff with more power. However, if to do this you have to dedicate more time to collecting stuff? That’s how you create longevity. Time has always been the ultimate enemy in Azeroth, and that won’t ever change however sophisticated the mechanics become. If you can’t beat the grind, you’ll never win. Before with stats that players could influence via crafting, reforging and extensive gemming? There were ways and means to nullify the time required, but now all that has been summarily removed.
The only way you can beat this game is with effort, pure and simple.
I look at a lot of people in my social media circles of late, who seem to be waking up to the harsh realities of real life around them as if they had never been this bad, and overnight something suddenly changed. The real truth is individual ignorance and arrogance are often the bigger problems to surmount, that things have always been this way and you just never grasped it. This game, as it now stands, is becoming less and less obsessed with the notion of progression for an increasing number of players who simply do not have the time to take part. As that happens, the compensatory action of the company would appear to be to create an illusion of progress, and content as distraction. The thing is, it totally works, especially for people like me who don’t really give a fuck about getting anywhere in a hurry, as long as we are not penalised for being late. This game is very good at providing a notion of achievement via individual action to begin with, so that’s not really ever going to be an issue.
My surprise therefore at discovering this new ‘number’ exists is at the belief we’d gone past this stage in the relationship. If you want a measure of attainment that you will strictly measure, then maybe it is time you stopped quoting numbers at us. Telling me 300,000 people have done Karazhan when I’ve not even finished the Attunement is roughly akin to allowing your Lead designer to quote subscriber numbers when you promised you’d not do that any more, because it deflects interest away from the point of making the game. Showing me I’ve slacked and I’m not grinding AP every day has the same effect as restricting my access to content when I don’t have the right iLevel. Both can either become encouragements or barriers to entry, depending on my point of view. Whether I choose to take part or not is largely irrelevant, if you took both numbers away no-one would ever care. That’s what the plan was with the paper doll stats, yes? Not important, so let’s get rid of them.
The fact these numbers exist tells me someone somewhere clearly thinks they matter.
In the end, I am at the shallow end of the progression gene pool, yet my sympathy for those attempting to keep their head above water at the deep end is not as misguided as some might think. The argument that ‘nobody’s telling you to do this’ only works if your priorities over game time and effort mesh. A lot of people who have put many years worth of time into this game also feel it still owes them something for all that commitment too… so if you filter out all the noise, from all sides, are you left with an issue? In effect, you’re probably not, and I’m yet again pissing in the wind. However, I will say this before I go. If the only things that really matter in your design process are numbers? You are missing an important part of this process. What matters empirically will never have the same effect emotionally, and if you have to warn players every time you suggest change because you know there will be negative reactions? There might be another way to do this than the one you’re suggesting.
I’m not for one moment is a position to offer what that different approach might be, but the numbers drive everything: reaction times, gear score, button bloat, kill margins, death stats… all we have is the maths, and even by introducing more ‘fantasy’ to the equation, that reliance on third party sites and addons refuses to go away. Perhaps the answer here is not to just try different maths as a solution.
Maybe the answer is no maths at all.