Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Will the theorycrafters get out of work?

So Blizzard is trying to weed out some stats to make the gear choices a bit simpler for Average Joe in Cataclysm.

Is it a big deal? Well, it seems, so looking at the 600+ comments at MMO Champion on the topic. There’s some kind of argument going on whether it’s about time that they clean up the mess, or if it’s one more nail in the coffin, dumbing down the game to a new level. I suppose it’s yet another version of the dear old casual vs hardcore discussion (also known as the “My-e-peen-is-bigger-than-yours” argument).

Personally I can see the big deal with it. Being a mage, I had never any huge problem to comprehend the idea of spellpower. The more I gather of it, the more it hurts. It even says so in the tooltip: additional damage. Not overly complicated. Actually the description of the future, where intellect somehow transforms into damage, while it at the same time – I guess – is connected to your mana pool, is a bit harder for me to grasp. But there’s still plenty of time to fully understand the new concept so it doesn’t worry me overly.

Theorycrafters out of work?
It seems to me that Blizzard somehow hopes that players in Cataclysm will be able to optimize their toons to a good level, just by following their intuition. You’re not supposed to have to spend hours bent over spreadsheets, wrestling the numbers to pin out your gear progression plan. You should do fine anyway.

The question is: will it work as intended? Will the theorycrafters get out of job in Cataclysm? Will we finally spend more time online actually playing the game, than offline looking up information about how to play it?

To be honest, I don’t think so. The very casual players who don’t care about optimizing their performance might do slightly better with an easier system for stats, provided that it actually is easier. Good for them. Good for us when we’re pugging. The likeliness to run into players who have failed in gemming and enchanting their gear properly will be smaller.

But for all of us who raid on a regular basis,it will be business as usual. As long as there is any choice left, as long as there’s more than one gem available to put into your slots, there will be choices that are better or worse for the things you want to do in game. With the mindset of a raider you want to reach your full potential, being the best you can be.

There will always be cookie-cutter specs and there will always be willing experts around, ready to do the calculations for us, pointing out how we can squeeze a little bit more dps out of our toons making the right choices in gear, spec and spell rotations. Don’t ask me why they do it, those geniuses, who put so much effort into helping out, without anything but our thanks in return. I guess they get some sort of satisfaction in being right about stuff, showing off for the community that they know the game better than anyone else, including the developers. Regardless of their motives, I’m happy they do it, because I could never do it myself. I lack the interest as well as the knowledge.

The lazy approach
So, to answer my questions: no, the changes to the stats are not a big deal. And the theorycrafters won’t get out of work. As those dedicated players will spend hours and hours of their time, arguing over the calculations for THE best choices in the expansion, I’ll bide my time, comfortably sipping my pint in front of the fireplace. They’re doing the job for me. All I have to do is listen; I don’t need to understand every detail in what they’re talking about.

It's quite comfortable, when you think about it. In some aspects I'm a very lazy little gnome.


Ulv said...

I suppose it’s yet another version of the dear old casual vs hardcore discussion (also known as the “My-e-peen-is-bigger-than-yours” argument).

Doesn't this 'argument' go against the philosophy embodied in Blizzard's marketing phrase "What's your game?"?

There is a large proportion of the blogosphere that I read that lambasts the 'hardcore' players and raises the casuals to being right.

The true beauty of WoW is that every player finds something different to love about it. Accusing anyone who likes to do things the hard way, theorycraft or excel in their role as waving their ePeen in other's face is hardly reasonable.

Harcore views are as valid as casuals and their complaint is, for them, valid.

Gevlon suggested having realms where the mechanics were less geared towards casuals and it would be part of the choice a player would make very much like PvP vs PvE.

I'm definately a casual though - first raid tonight with the 5% ICC buff w00t - and I can't help but feel that Bliz could cater for all walks of life with more effort i.e. cost to themselves.

Larísa said...

Personally I think the casual-hardcore discussion is old, tired and quite unnecessary. But it's there. I just referred to it, not taking any side in it.
I've actually stopped using those terms on myself ages ago. I used to have the word "casual" in the about-me-department of the blog. I took it away, but I didn't replace it with "hardcore" either. I play in many different ways, everything from serious focused raiding 3.5 hours stright to silly casual messing around with clown like alts. All in the one and same player. I agree that Blizzard does a good job catering to many different play styles these days.

Rem said...

Actually the description of the future, where intellect somehow transforms into damage, while it at the same time – I guess – is connected to your mana pool, is a bit harder for me to grasp.

If I'm not hugely mistaken, Intellect will translate into Spell Power the same way at the moment, say, Strength converts into Attack Power. Neither Strength nor Intellect (will) do "damage" on their own, but by proxy. It's just a unification of concepts. You'll do fine.

Blizzard isn't trying to put theorycrafters out of work. They'll be as important as ever. What they are trying, as far as I understand from what was announced and said so far, is bringing stats closer together (in value) by driving them further apart (in effect). ArP isn't getting axed because it's "so complicated" (it's not), but because it does the same thing as AP, only in a fashion that makes it "omg hot" in one setting (class, spec, other stats, proc effects) and "omg crap" in another. They want to get away from the hot-crap-omg rollercoaster. It will still remain a nicely complex system, I'm certain. And reforging will certainly open up some very intriguing theorycraft avenues...!

Shintar said...

I for one am convinced that there'll still be plenty of maths to do. In fact, when I read the announcement about the details of the stat changes, I was almost disappointed that it still sounded so complicated in parts. Parry will negate half damage for two hits in a row now instead of simply negating one hit completely? What's this new mastery stuff? Etc.

Kaelynn said...

I agree that theorycrafters will not be out of work in Cataclysm. The addition of Mastery and Reforging will actually add some complexity to the mix. I imagine we'll see people saying things like, "this item is BIS if you reforge X stat to Y".

Imperial said...

I'm excited in one way and nervous in another. I like the idea that my more 'casual' friends should have an easier time optimizing their toons. But I'm worried that gear upgrades will get boring.

I hope Blizzard finds a way to make gear somewhat interesting to pick and choose between and not a system where the difference between tiers is 5% worth of the same exact stats.

I'm getting excited for all the changes though and hopefully they come sooner than later.

What's my main Again? said...

Player intuition is what leads DK's to stack spell power or hunters to stack STR. Unifying the stats won't change these players intuition.

Regardless for the rest of us I'm sure it will all work out in the end.

Codi said...

I'm sure I'll get just as many people asking me for my BiS list who then go on to jeer at me and call me a "theorycrafting elitist."

With every expansion, Blizzard has tried to streamline gearing and stats, yet theorycrafting is stronger now than it was in Vanilla. That's just the way of things. I'm not worried.

Well, I -am- worried about gear being utterly boring with the expansion, as we'll all be using the same stats.

Anonymous said...

I think the issue here is that people are getting worked up over something that is not blizzard's intention. That is, they believe Blizzard is trying to "save the casual from themself" - that Blizzard is dumbing down the game so that the casual won't have to spend time over spreadsheets. However time has proved that people cannot be "saved" from themselves (i.e. seatbelts, taxes on cigarettes, etc. etc.). People are going to be dumb no matter what the government/governing bodies do.

The real question here is what are Blizzard's intentions? And I don't think Blizzard is trying to make this less complicated for the standard casual. They're trying to make it more comprehensive to those at the end game. They don't want to have to have situational spreadsheets that say "as a kitty druid, you should switch to stacking arpen @ 400 static arpen, and then back to agi @ 1500 arpen... etc." I think they just want to make the game somewhat simpler and therefore more fun.

I, for one, found it fun when it was complex. The more I had to spend time figuring out where my stats should be, the more fun I had. I'm sad to see this happening.

Gronthe said...

They will definately not go out of work. I think I'm with you in that I'm going to sit back...and watch the madness unfold.

People are already jumping to conclusions, trying to theorycraft based on the limited information that's been given. We only have a general idea of what Mastery will actually do, yet I've seen on the blogosphere many already overreacting.

I think it'll work out just fine, spreadsheets won't disappear, and theorycrafters will have just as much if not more work come Cataclysm.

Larísa said...

@Rem: yeah, it doesn't make sense to me. A mana pool getting fuel separated from the damage you do is easier to understand. Maybe I'm just overcomplicating it.

@Shintar: yeah, not that much easier. You'll still have to balance hit, crit, haste and stuff and then there's the new path of ...whatever it was. The min-maxers still have work to do.

@Kaelynn: yep. I just hope they'll be quick in the start so we get a hang of what to do as we're levelling.

@Imperial: what is a bit boring right now imo is the similarity of gear. Everything looks the same and you get tokens instead of drops so everything has the same stuff. It's fair, noone can complain about rng, but it really takes away some of the excitement. Imagine if stats also are equalized... sigh. I hope they'll find some way to keep it a bit interesting to switch around gear pieces.

@What's my main again: haha, yeah, maybe. When I think about it I think it took me a while to grasp that a mage had no use of strength and agility...

@Codi: Are you really called a theorycrafting elitist as something bad? That astounds me. If it wasn't for people like you, sharing your knowledge, I would be rather helpless.

@Anonymous: aww... I've never ever had a spreadsheet over my toons myself, but I can imagine that if you're into it you might be afraid that the challenge will be slightly lesser.

@Gronthe: haha, yeah... It astounds me sometimes the amount of theorycrafting people are willing to make on things that aren't in the game at all and won't come until in a very far distant future. But I guess the theorycrafting is just another way to play the game, just like playing the AH is.

Azryu said...

I see theorycrafters having plenty, if not more work than they do now.

They will have to analyze which items can be reforged to what stats, and then compare thoseo to other items that already have those stats, on top of ALL of the other items that cna be reforged in diffrent ways too.

Reforging will make theorycrafters cry in their pillow at night if i had to guess.