This post was published long before the Mists of Pandara Expansion.
The tips and techniques explained here may be outdated.

Management Principles and World of Warcraft

I studied Management. In fact I have a degree in it (shhh, don’t tell my boss. I’m pretending to be a simple Software Engineer. If my manager finds out I have a double degree in Computer Science and Management he’ll start trying to make me into a manager or something). I did the dance for 4 years and came to the conclusion that 90% of all management theories were either common sense or crap. Only one managment theory ever struck me as true and worthwhile. Unfortunately I’ve completely forgotten the name.. “Golden .. something”. Anyway.. that theory says that if you want to improve a system you examine the whole process and find the choke point. Then you improve that one choke point. Then you re-examine the whole system again to find the new choke point.

It makes sense when manufacturing widgets.. and I think it also makes sense in managing an MMORPG.

Let’s say that Blizzard has identified that instances are too easy (choke point). And let’s say that they’ve decided that it is the free availability of consumables and easy healing that has devalued the end-game instances. That is, because it’s so easy to get +gear, +potions, +flasks and for healers to heal, the instances which were supposed to stop us in our tracks have been made too easy.

At that point Blizzard has two choices:
1. make the instances harder
2. eliminate the things that are making the instances too easy.

#1 has the draw-back of making it harder and harder for casual gamers to get into those end-game instances.
#2 has the draw-back of initially making the instances -much- harder and of hitting many classes and consumables with the nerf-bat (large out cry, followed by chest beating, followed by “I’m gonna take my shiny red ball and go play [insert alternate MMORPG of your choice]“)

The problem is that because of their slow release cycle Blizzard had to change a whole bunch of things all at once. They don’t have the luxury to change only a single variable and then to see how that effects the game. Instead through the patch they have poked a whole bunch of things and hope to see this “fix” the system.

In effect, the nerf to flasks and paladins have made the instances harder.

Though.. the scope of the 2.1 changes is too broad for me to hold it all in mind. Am I right? Do you agree that “make instances harder” was the main goal of the patch beyond simple bug fixes? Is there a different goal that I’m missing?

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