Monday, August 19, 2019

Developer Disappreciation Week!

According to the 2019 Blaugust calendar it's Developer Appreciation Week!  It only makes sense to give my thanks to the developers of World of Warcraft, the game I've played much of this month.



Pass.



So that was all I was planning on writing in regards to Developer Appreciation week, but after reading Bahgpuss' entry on the topic I decided I should expand a bit more.

Making a game, being a public-facing personality, project management and marketing are all hard jobs. And for that every developer on Earth has my sympathy. But jobs can be hard for many reasons. When you remove Tier sets (one of the few universally popular aspects of your game) in order to focus on "Heritage Armor" and then fail to deliver on a promised date, you make your job harder for no reason. My biggest issues with Legion and BfA is that both expansions are "developer" expansions, the vast majority of the gameplay decisions exist to make life easier on the developers with little regard for how it affects the players.

Endlessly grinding world quests isn't fun. But it's easy and repeatable content for the developers. Endless grinds for Artifact Power isn't fun. But it's a way to create progression without the developers having to actually do anything. Farming Azerite gear to get preferred traits and warforged stats isn't fun. But it allows the developers to stretch out a loot grind without having to come up with an actual compelling reason to do so.

BfA in particular was very clearly designed with both business and development needs first while everything else gets filled in around those goals. It's not a Blizzard specific phenomenon, it's not even a video game industry specific phenomenon. I don't necessarily take it personally, a bad video game is certainly preferable to, say, a power company being indifferent to whether I have electricity available to my house.

But when your team lead starts dropping gems like "[t]he only metric we care about as a development team is whether you're having fun" then you've got a problem. This is some John Smedley/Peter Molyneux/Dave Georgeson-esque level of disingenuous bullshit that make me detest and distrust everything about this company. 

Having a goal and failing to achieve it isn't bad. I've played and enjoyed many games that were ambitious but rubbish. An entertainment product that sacrifices enjoyment for business needs? If it's still fun enough than I'll play it. 

But when you start gaslighting me is where you earn my ire. It's a feeling I get every time I return to a Blizzard game, and not surprisingly, these returns are less and less every year. I don't know if I'll stop playing Blizzard games completely. I do have that old English-degree sitting somewhere that taught me to separate the artist from the work, and I prefer to boycott companies that are up to much heinous bullshit then lootboxes. But at a certain point, the general numbskullery of a developer starts to creep into the product itself. 

I wonder if my and many other's excitement for Classic is based on not much more than returning to a time when Blizzard simply released a proper experience, instead of desperately convincing us it had.

1 comment:

  1. Good points, well made. Everyone has to make money or go out of business but the tail has been wagging the dog for far too long and even worse many developers don't even seem interested in pretending otherwise.

    ReplyDelete