Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Why removing the Insane title is OK but screwing up players isn’t

So it looks as if we can’t go insane in Cataclysm. Or at least we’ll have to find another way to show it to the world than by putting a title above our heads.

Blizzard representative Bashiok recently wrote the following:

“Insane in the Membrane is a feat of strength, not an achievement. Feats are things that you can't be guaranteed to complete, which is why they're feats and not achievements. Most of them are actually now impossible to complete, and this feat will join a long list of "you had to be there" moments in WoW time.

The feat isn't being removed of course, those who have it will retain it, however; some of the requirements are, so it will no longer be able to be completed by anyone who has not already done so.

It's possible that in some very specific situations where someone has completed the reputations which are being removed, but not others that will still be in the game, that it can still be completed. But it's something we're waiting for clarity on, and will
let you know as soon as we do.”
And this was confirmed in one of the panels at Blizzcon, where they explained why you won’t be able to get the title in Cataclysm:

”The biggest problem are the changes to the bloodsail buccaneers, that kinda put a bullet in that feat of strength for now. It's fun to do painful things in WoW. If there's a huge outcry for it we'll try to put something equally brute in the game.”
Feats of strength
If you ask me, I’m totally fine with them moving this feat out of my reach. There are already a lot of others that I’ll never be able to get and you know what: I can live with it. I don’t cry myself to sleep for not being a Scarab Lord either. Why would I?

The thing is: feats of strength aren’t that important. They don’t have any impact whatsoever on your character’s stats or abilities to perform. And the sad truth is that I think we’re heavily overestimating the e-peen impact it has. People don’t care that much about those things anymore. We’re all so preoccupied polishing our own achievements and epics that we don’t bother about what anyone else has.

If you’re a completionist at heart, the feats of strength might mean something, but for most of us it’s just a little bit of flavour added to your character. Nothing more.

I think it’s only natural – or actually even good – that they update the feats of strength every now and then, removing the possibility to get them, for instance when they have been trivialized due to a higher level cap. Sure, it sucked a little that I never got the bear mount in Zul Aman, but on the other hand, I’m glad for those who got it. It was absolutely the right thing to do to remove it from the game. Those who got it had to really perform to get it and they deserve to stand out and show off a bit. If I ran through this now, it would feel totally wrong if it gave me that mount.

The game moves on. Some mount drops are removed – but there will be new ones, I assure you. There will always be new feats of strength to strive for, new worthy goals to aim for. If you’re stupid enough to grind for the Insane in the membrane achievement, I’m positive you can keep grinding for something equally insane in Cataclysm. Have no fear.

How Blizzard screwed up
However. This isn’t all there is to this story, which was brought to me by Khaas at the blog Srsbusiness, who sent me an e-mail and asked for my take on this. There are other circumstances, which he talks about in his own blogpost, and here comes the part where I think Blizzard screwed up the players.

You see, it wasn’t until very recently that they said that this was going to happen to the Insane title. As a matter of fact, they’ve assured the players exactly the opposite! One year ago, blue poster Ancilorn wrote the following in the EU forums:

"Just for clarity, Insane in the Membrane will not be removed in Cataclysm. We can only confirm this one for you, but since it's undoubtedly one of the most brain-melting achievements, we thought it nice to let you know that you don't have to rush to have this done before the expansion. ;) "
Apparently they hadn’t thought this through properly when he came up with this "clarification", but the consequences are unfortunate. This title is special in the manner that it is the most extremely grindy achievement you could think of. There’s absolutely nothing that would stand a comparison to it.

If they would remove some other achievement with a month of notice, such as a meta-achievement mount from one of the raid instances, you could argue that it would give plenty of time to complete the achievements you were missing out.

For the Insane title however, a little more than a month is a fairly short time. If you want that title and you’ve only begun your grinding, you’ll be pretty busy the next few weeks to finish it in time. Players who have put their trust into Ancilorn's statement and planned accordingly have every right in the world to feel deceived.

Blizzard has screwed up on this one. They didn’t mean to, but it happened.

And I think this is a good example to explain why they normally are so annoyingly vague as they reply to player questions, why they don’t want to give exact answers about their plans and upcoming changes in the game. They don’t want to accidentally make promises that they later will have to break because things took another turn than they had anticipated.

Ancilorn slipped and now there will be qq.

And this is my third post this week. My slowing down is going badly. I blame Khaas.


Rhii said...

I commented about this at Blizzcon. I'm one of the people that's caught in the middle of the grind, and I've invested a lot of time and money into it. I've even been leveling a rogue (a class I patently dislike). However, I'm pretty sure there aren't enough Pristine Black Diamonds in existence on the server for the number of people scrabbling to complete the achievement before cataclysm.

Doing crazy difficult feats is fun - being caught halfway through one and thousands of gold in the hole is... not.

As far as getting the achievement goes, Cassandri from HoTs and DoTs took about three months to do hers, and I thought that was extraordinarily fast. I wish they'd given us at least that much notice to finish up.

Rhii said...

For clarity, I commented -during- blizzcon. I wasn't -at- Blizzcon. :P

Grimmtooth said...

This is nothing new with Blizz. They've done this before, and, not to offend anyone, but when it comes from the EU forums I've learned to take it with a grain of salt for this exact reason.

Remember the Grimtotem Spirit Guide (Ghost Wolf) fiasco?

I wrote about it here:

... which points to this far more worthwhile and intelligent post on the subject:

Same scenario, I think - EU Blue said one thing, Corporate said something else, guess who wins.

Yes, Blizz screwed up, on a number of levels. Not having a consistent and useful path of inquiring from EU to Corporate probably being the worse of it, but a little education of the EU Blues would also work wonders on what they can and cannot commit the company to.

Don't be surprised if it happens again.

Redbeard said...

Well, I'm awfully fond of Q's Blood Knight tabard, which has been part of the "Charger" Feat of Strength for a long time now. It would be a shame to be close to finishing it and have the rug yanked out from under you, like what Rhii and others discovered with Insane in the Membrane.

The Insane title is something that could quite easily be adapted to a different set of criteria without much fuss, like doing something in Outland to replace the Bloodsail Buccaneer part, but I guess Blizz didn't think of that.

Ngita said...

As rhil said, you can grind as much as you want but if you cant get the Pristine Black Diamonds your our of luck. That same situation arises with elementium to complete the quest chain for Scepter of the shifting sands, A single elementium sits on the AH at 10k and you need 10 to complete the questline. 7 of us ran BWL last night for 1 single drop. Sure its a sitution of my own making since I sat on the quest line for 4 years slowly acquiring elementium and while the quest chain got easier to complete but it would have been nice to complete it.

Funnily enough I had planned a baby worgen rogue in Cats just so I could do this but now I will make a worgen mage as that is the other class I am missing alliance side and just level a goblin rogue to 20 or so.

Klepsacovic said...

Kelpsacovic the Insane says...

I doubt the Cataclysm has killed every pirate in the world and ended their threats or made them all entirely incapable of the slightest bit of theft and murder-based diplomacy. Would it be so terrible for players to instead be friends with the Black Flags [imaginary] pirate organization?

At the least, I think they could help people get their last bits done: bump the pristine black diamond drop rate slightly, allow the turn in of other types of boxes or increase the rep gain slightly (though I think this part can be done quickly anyway). Does this cheapen the title? A little bit, yes, but it hardly trivializes it.

Maybe Blizzard could add neutral gnome psychiatrist who can diagnose some players as "the Slightly Off on Some Days".

Keeva said...

When I saw them say "no rush" I decided it might be something I would tackle in Cataclysm - I've been too busy to start it... but figured I could do it later.

Guess not.

Very disappointing.

Like you say, it's not that they're removing it from the game after plenty of time.. it's because they specifically said "there's no rush, you can still do it in Cataclysm" and then a month or so out, they say you can't.

Really poor.

spinksville said...

I'm not sure if this is just me, but I don't really put as much faith in what the EU blues say as the guys on the US boards.

But even so, they've changed a lot of the things they said about Cataclysm over the past year. I dunno if it's reasonable to really hold them to old comments like that.

Larísa said...

@Rhii: I've been looking for your comment on this but couldn’t find it. It’s not in a post then?
Anyway: it must suck to be caught up in between. The blue post leaves a little opening though for “exceptions”. Let’s hope you’ll be one of those!

@Grimmtooth: That’s just weird. And interesting that both you and Spinks think this way after having learned your lesson. You may be correct in not trusting the EU forums as much as the US ones, but when you think about it it’s horrible. There shouldn’t be any difference. A blue post is a blue post. They should all be trustworthy representatives of Blizzard. Period.

@Redbeard: Well – yes and no. Somehow I think it makes sense to make a set definition of a feat of strength and then not change it over time, but rather come up with new feats in the same area. In the situation where they ended up now – giving so short notice to players to finish it – it could be a solution though. In this very case.

@Ngita: what a pain. And what an opportunity for AH goblins I reckon. It’s the seller’s market.

@Klepsacovic: Hm… I’m not really sure what they should do in this situation. Possibly it could be justified to change the repgrinds as Redbeard suggests. But nerfing it? No. that would be pretty terrible to those who did it the hard way.

@Keeva: It seems as if they don’t understand that players plan those things long time in advance. And that they read the blue posts and put value in them. It’s poor, yes.

@Spinksville: I don’t say that they can’t change their mind. And yes, like you I thought at first: 1 year is a long time… But then I thought about it again and remembered that this feat of strength is special in its kind. It’s very, very demanding, it takes a crazy amount of time, it requires long-term planning and dedication, not to say insanity. That’s why that blue poster addressed it so long time in advance in the first place. Blizzard should have brought up the fact that they’ve changed their minds on this far, far earlier than this. At least 3-4 months of notice would have been reasonable. I think they handled this badly.

And they also should learn to communicate better with their EU community team. There’s something wrong if the customers don’t put any value into what a certain part of the company says, going to the US forums rather than the EU ones because the EU representatives haven’t got a clue what they’re talking about.

Jen said...

"And I think this is a good example to explain why they normally are so annoyingly vague as they reply to player questions, why they don’t want to give exact answers about their plans and upcoming changes in the game."

Thanks for pointing this out. Maybe more players will realize that Blizzard can't just say "yes, definitely", because things do change, and no one wants another fiasco like this.

I wouldn't blame the blue poster, though. S/he was probably told this by a manager who didn't communicate properly with the powers that be. Or Blizzard simply decided to ignore their own statement and hope the QQ wouldn't be too loud...

Grimmtooth said...

@Larisa - Oh, absolutely, it's terrible that an entire group of CMs are being undermined in that fashion. All CMs should have an authoritave liaison within the design group, and therefore have equal authority to commit the company via response in general. It's not a dig at the EU CMs, but at the corporate org chart.

I can't speak for Spinks but there's an 87.66% (repeating, of course) chance that's where she's coming from as well.

Klepsacovic said...

Larisa, they already nerfed it, back when they changed rep gains from grey mobs. Some people had to grind goblin rep at one per kill. I did most of mine with a luxurious five per kill. I think a nerf could be made to help people without trivializing it. For example, boosting the supply of pristine black diamonds doesn't change much except to make it possible, but not easier.

Oestrus said...

I have mixed feelings about this one.

I certainly agree that Blizzard changing their stance on whether they were going to remove it or not is extremely crappy. I'm not saying anyone is wrong for feeling that way. What I am saying is that this is Blizzard we are talking about here. I enjoy blue posts and I camp them as much as anyone. But I expect them to change. I plan for the worst happening. I have gotten to a point where I'm not surprised when things in blue posts either don't happen or happen differently than originally stated. Now, you could argue that this alone is a sad fact - that we can't rely on these "official" updates to tide us over and that they should be fairly accurate and we deserve that as the fan base. You're probably right there, too.

On the other hand, this achievement is called "the Insane" for a reason. It's an incredibly demanding achievement that I don't feel should be undertaken this close to an expansion. I feel that's one of those things that should have been done much sooner in WoTLK and given how long WoTLK has been out for, that would have provided a more than ample window to get it done. I commend people for wanting it and taking steps to complete it, but the general theme of the achievement is that it is extremely difficult and taxing.

Ratshag said...

Most achievements, they done take an hour or less - buy a tabard, explore Durotar, kill the bosses in Dungeon X. Raiding achievements like Kill Arthas, obviouslies they take longer, but I figgers most buggers is in it fer the kill and the achievement is just a happy bonus and a nifty landmark.

But some meta-achievements, they takes a long time. Long Strange Trip, by definition, takes at least a year (longer, if Lady RNG be unkind). Insane In Me Membrane also takes a hella long time. Both be intendeds ta reward long-term, dedicated adventurers; ya know, the kind of crazy fluggernubbers Blizz wants playin' they's game. So why treat them like crap, and stealth-kill the achievements? Yes, LST's 310 mount got re-instated (for now) when folks howled. Mebbe Crazy in the Daisy will to, I dunno. I don't think Blizz intended to backstab dedicated players, it just were an accidental by-product of the changing world. But shouldn't they have someone tasked with keeping an eye on these things, to look out for the buggers they's tryin' fer ta reward?

Lucidshadow said...

Double posting my comment here and on Klepsacovic's page(since the posts are related). Sorry for the wall of text.

Going to have to say that, and of course this is strictly my opinion, but the vast majority of players QQing about this achievement had no real intention to ever complete it. Sure it sounded like a cool achievement at the time, and they may have "made plans" to do it, but not many were going to actually go through with it. I saw many MANY people start it and give up within a couple days. We would all talk and BS in the Dire Maul general channel to make the time go by faster but most were broken by the grind and gave up quickly.

The people who told themselves they would complete this in cata (because of a blue post...yeah right, b/c blizz never changes their minds), were only lying to themselves. There will be too much to do already with new content coming out. ICC has been out for nearly a YEAR, with the only new raid content being RS since then, I would think that people would be bored and doing those achievements that they "wanted" to do. Instead they spend their time raging on the forums about being bored, and threatening to quit the game. I feel no pity for the people who kept putting it off, because they weren't going to actually do it, and would find reasons not to if blizz put it back in. The only people i feel pity for are those who were ACTIVELY working towards the achievement BEFORE the announcement was recently made, but hopefully they are far enough along they can complete it in time.

@Larisa do you honestly believe that people made plans a year ago based on that blue post, to complete it when cataclysm is released? Maybe i'm too cynical, but procrastinators have a habit of procrastinating...and sometimes it is too late.

Though i'm sure some will flame me for what i said. but remember If you were honestly working on this before the announcement then i feel bad for you and wish you could complete it. If the announcement made you START working on this, then you get what you deserve...nothing.

Lucidshadow the Insane
(Completed January 2010)

Talarian said...

Sadly I've nothing to contribute to the feat of strength issue. All of my earned feats and achievements were purely coincidental.

As an aside, apparently WoW is getting a new community page, with *blog posts*, among other things. Perhaps Blizzard has taken a couple PR classes recently, even if the developers specifically haven't.

Rhii said...

Sorry I wasn't more clear, Larisa... I commented on twitter. :P It wasn't in a particular post.


Larísa said...

@Jen: Yeah, I get pretty annoyed with the vague answers from time to time, being a fan of transparency. But there is a flip side of the coin that shows in this case. And I’m with you, I’m not angry with the blue poster. The responsibility is higher up.

@Klepsacovic: it’s true that it has been changed. I suppose you have to draw the line at some point though. I’ve got the frostsaber mount, but I got it after the nerf and I can imagine the ones who did it properly think it’s a bit of a cheat… It’s not easy to get it right. Someone’s bound to feel deceived.

@Oestrus: well, again – I don’t think either that the Insane title should be rushed and it’s OK to remove it. It’s just the handling of the blue posting that sucks a bit. I think the problem with the blue ones are that they’re mostly responses to player initiated threads and questions, rather than communication they’d planned for themselves. And I think this contributes to the fact that they forget about what they’ve said earlier. They don’t keep properly track of it and they mess it up. Maybe they’ll get some better way to handle it internally with the new forums. Let’s hope so.

@Ratshag: I’m not sure if something will happen about this one. Maybe not. The amount of players who were heading for the Insane title was probably much smaller than the crowd that complained about the removal of the seasonal achievement mount.

@Lucidshadow: Well, there are certainly a lot of procrastinators out there and I think you might be right that a lot of those complaining probably wouldn’t have done it no matter how long it was in the game. Lot of talk, very little action. But nevertheless, there are some serious players who were working on this, although at a slower pace, since they’d said that would be OK in a blue post. And I don’t think it’s OK to screw those players up, even if they’re few and far between. It’s very much not OK as a matter of fact.

@Talarian: Oh, yeah, I wrote about the new community page back in the summer as we got the preview of it. I haven’t checked it out recently, but what I saw then was promising indeed, once they had gotten that stupid RealID idea out of the way.

@Rhii: Ah, explains it. I’m not in the Twitter circles I’m afraid.

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