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Member Since 24 Jul 2011
Offline Last Active Yesterday, 03:57 PM

Topics I've Started

Darkpussian 2

21 October 2013 - 08:35 PM

Now that I have your attention, it's time the following man gets the respect he deserves. Long before Darkpussian, there was Shizzark. Not only all I see is Darkpussian in every 2nd thread; Shizzark wasn't even mentioned in the recent "Best Pvp Warr of all Time xD" thread.


Design, balance and homogenization.

22 August 2013 - 07:59 PM

Reading the latest announcements regarding BlizzCon's "qualification" process makes me feel now, more than ever, that WoW PvP may be going through a point of no return. PvP in WoW always has been relatively miniscule, and although just like ladder play, TR play has always been far from immaculate, it was nonetheless promoting good, wholesome, competition.

Competition, in essence, is the driving force behind PvP. The alleged (I write alleged only because at this point it's still quite ambiguous) "qualification" method in which teams are being arbitrary chosen according to undisclosed criteria is practically the antithesis for the foundations of competition, and as such strikes me as a huge threat to whatever is left of the scene and its future.

And so, with this new found sense of urgency, I've decided to share my thoughts and ideas whilst they may still be of some value to someone. The following shouldn't be taken as practical suggestions as to how better or balance arena because I am basically neglecting the way the following is going to affect PvE; a field I was never interested in and as a consequence remained ignorant to the methods they use and considerations they take while designing and balancing raids and encounters beyond a superficial level.

Contrary to homogenization, it seems to me like the discussion on the difference between the classes in terms of the gap they have between skill floor and ceiling isn't being discussed enough. I'll address homogenization second because I believe Blizzard adapting a full-blown homogenized approach in MoP is the result of the relative failure prior to it, and so the first segment dealing with skill gap might not be as relevant to MoP.

It was a common assertion since the BC or even vanilla (I haven't been playing nor following the game prior to the BC so I wouldn't really know) some classes had broader gaps between the skill it took to play the class on a decent level versus the amount of skill it took to top the ladders, for instance. The discussions on the matter mostly ended in comparing e-peens, whilst remaining completely oblivious to the implications of having one class very tough to play on a high level and another one who basically only took already being very familiar with the meta-game whilst requiring little technical mastery of the class.

The aforementioned imbalance between the classes and their gaps left the players who were playing at a high level not only belonging to an already less relevant player base, but to a minority inside a minority. If Blizzard did feel they need to balance PvP, they did it based upon the average player who sat atop the bell curve. Consequently, the notion of balancing PvP around the median was flawed in essence (in terms of balancing towards balanced competitive play), and I will further elaborate:

Assume that Blizzard decides to change some spell's coefficient values. The class possessing the spell is now weaker or stronger by x%. As previously mentioned, Blizzard balances around the median, and so, if for instance the spell got buffed (meaning Blizzard acknowledges it's less represented in the higher average) and the class has a relatively high ceiling (meaning there's going to be disproportion in terms of the representation of the class at the top of the ladders), the players who were already successful playing the class due to their skill were being further awarded, helping them be even more dominant (in terms of high-end competitive play).

The aforementioned example is just one out of many possible imbalanced scenarios which arise from the discrepancies in skill floors, ceiling, and gaps. We all remember seemingly bizarre class changes; these discrepancies and PvE are usually the reasons why. It's not like Blizzard intentionally looking to randomly buff classes which have a decent representation

Now, imagine a strictly theoretical scenario in which skill gap is open to empirical measurement and every class has the same skill floor, ceiling, and consequently, the same gap. In this scenario, class representation among the various echelons is going to be identical. If class X is weak/strong, it will be under/over represented in the 25th, 50th, 75th, and 99th percentile; there's no difference.

As a result, despite Blizzard balancing around the median, a class which is too strong in the 50th percentile is also too strong in the 99+% percentile, and by nerfing it there's no room for a disproportional effect taking place at the upper, high-end echelons.

But alas, such measurements cannot be taken. I felt a bit awkward blaming Blizzard for not caring enough about the high-end arena community and its aspiration for WoW arena to be recognized as an e-sport title over the years because I was aware of Blizzard's primary clientele base, but not only Blizzard didn't care enough about trying to properly attempt to balance the game instead of sticking more and more useless band aids, they've done just the opposite by introducing massive homogenization in MoP.

I was looking to elaborate on the connection between discrepancies in gaps of skill and the rampant homogenization MoP brought, but I feel I've already written too much. If I'll see there's demand to it I'll do it next.