You also see something similar from the Landmark developers, and the folks from the Wildstar. Lots of indie game developers also have an open development model, where they share the entire journey from start to finish. While I love having a much more real-time view of the developer stream-of-consciousness, I wonder if it’s a net-good thing.
Nerfs tend to be pretty controversial subjects. Many don’t particularly care, some rejoice because they’ve hit a wall, and others are upset because they don’t want their achievement to be watered down (like leaving the cutting edge achievement despite nerfing the content), or just like having extremely difficult content around. I think most people are pretty resigned to nerfs at this point, but what I really found interesting wasn’t the nerf itself, but folks’ reaction to it.
@Nathasil_WoW Correct, there's no zonewide aura planned. We're keeping an eye on overall progression rates in case targeted nerfs are needed
— Watcher (@WatcherDev) April 14, 2014
A month ago, Watcher mentioned that they didn’t have any plans to create a zone-wide nerf, but they were looking at targeted nerfs to smooth progression. What if they decided later that they liked the progression curve, but thought it was just a little too flat, i.e: each boss was relatively tuned to each other correctly, but everything was just a bit too hard? Well, the only response to that is either do nothing and let folks be frustrated, or nerf everything a little.
Both Balkoth and Kurn argue this flies in the face of what Watcher had stated a month ago. At first blush, I played word lawyer and said, “Plans change. They promised nothing.” I mean, it is a nerf, let’s be clear. But what Blizzard said a month ago may or may not apply now.
However, given both had such a strong reaction to the tweet, maybe I was missing something bigger here. Perhaps us mere mortal players should never get to view the direct stream of developer consciousness? If you dig into Blizzard’s past, you’ll find the ruins of aerial combat, the dance studio, and the Path of the Titans. All cool features that were cut due to not enough time or developer resources, and the outcry for each of them was quite vociferous. Would Blizzard have been better off not announcing them at all?
Or talk about another feature they announced just the other day, class accessories. A feature that is already stated won’t make it into 6.0. Heck, the feature is still in its inception phase, according to the linked blog post. So when/if this gets cut, is there going to be a collective surge of disappointment and anger from the playerbase?
Is there a middle ground, where the developers talk about only the sure-shot stuff that they know won’t get cancelled? Or is it worth it to be extremely open about your game’s development to generate interest and dialogue, in the hopes that all of these outcries from your playerbase amount to just the Internet being the Internet? Should you as a dev talk about your day-to-day decisions, like whether or not you have plans right that moment for something? Or should you only talk in absolutes? Is that even possible?
I’m not sure.
It’s funny, because I’ll be in the exact same position in a month and a half or so, with the opportunity to be quite open about the game I’ll be working on. I’m looking at the reactions of folks about Watcher’s tweets, to the extreme side of things: the very angry folks on Twitter who are blaming Ghostcrawler for the last LoL patch—despite the fact that he hadn’t even started on the team yet! Having to watch exactly what I say, the absolute precise wording of it in fear of being misrepresented, and even then being taken to task for it is a bit intimidating.
I’ll still do it for my game; I’m way too excited not to. But at the same time, I’m a little bit trepidatious. I suppose one can only hope that people realize that developers are people too? We get excited, we get happy, we get sad, we get angry, and we want to share plans with folks in the hopes they get happy, excited, sad, or angry, too.
And for one last look at history, I leave folks with a one of Tseric’s final forum posts, a well-known community manager who mysteriously left Blizzard in 2007, nearly 7 years ago to the week:
Can't help it.#Developers, #Personal
Posting impassionately, they say you don't care.
Posting nothing, they say you ignore.
Posting with passion, you incite trolls.
Posting fluff, you say nonsense.
Post with what facts you have, they whittle down with rationale.
There is no win.
There is only slow degradation.
Take note. It is the first and only time you'll see someone in my position make that position.
You can be me when I'm gone.