It's fun topic Thursday, which is not a recurring column here, and that means we're going to be going over how insane it is that players of games don't understand the different roles within a game development team. Since the Mercenaries reveal earlier in the week, the Hearthstone community has been a bit of a cesspool when it comes to anger surrounding the mode and its "cash grab[ness]" (lol, no its not) and how other parts of the game suffered because of it (some truth, but not really).
Most importantly though, the developers deserve absolutely zero harassment. If you aren't having fun, find a new game to play! Life is way too short to be angry on the internet.
When you walk into a restaurant and someone messes up your order, why on Earth would you begin yelling at the person cleaning the bathroom? In fact, you shouldn't even be yelling at anyone because that isn't going to accomplish much at all - unless you just want to ruin someone's day for something that was more than likely out of their control (this makes you a dick and your deck slots should be taken away). Add a touch of warmth to your complaint and you'll more than likely end up with better service as a result.
Give developers constructive feedback to let them know why you don't think something is good.
"Nerfing by 1 mana is shit"
"I don't think 1 mana is going to be enough of a nerf, the class being targeted won't be slowed down much at all because..."
Its so depressing when players direct their frustrations toward the community team, stating they are wasting their time writing a funny tweet instead of balancing the game. To think for even a second that that one tweet, even if it did come from someone from the balance team, is responsible for cards not getting nerfed, that's the highest level of wrong that is possible. Or, when someone in there time off work is doing anything else outside of balancing the game. The entitlement is unreal.
Many have stated over the years that community teams are meant to be punching bags and that you should only get in that role if you can deal with it, and in a way, yes, those people are correct, but only because that has been a common thing they must engage with. Imagine how tiring it must feel to see that every single day firsthand when from the outside looking in, it already feels tiring seeing someone else write that in. Damn. Community Managers do not get enough love.
When a new mode is being developed, and folks don't like it for whatever reason and respond by saying "oh the mode looks like shit, this is why balance has been so bad", that enters the exact same territory. We've very clearly seen a reactive balance team from Blizzard during the development of Mercenaries, so why are people being so stupid about their comments? Some of the folks that are doing live balance are also responsible for upcoming constructed expansion content and we certainly haven't seen those slow down either due to Mercenaries... its almost like there are different teams within the Hearthstone team that are responsible for different things. What was that? That is indeed the case? Lightbulb Moment.
Yes, Some Stuff in Hearthstone is Neglected
Tavern Brawl. Oh my sweet summer child.
Mercenaries has unfortunately caused some slowdowns on the side of the live content team; This has previously been confirmed by Dean Ayala in his weekly Q&As where he has stated the mode became the main focus of the team. With Book of Heroes being done, Book of Mercenaries possibly still being worked on (if it isn't finished yet internally), and Mercenaries finally coming out soon, there is renewed hope for those that love to play Tavern Brawls and Duels. These two modes are a part of the live content team that has been hard at work on Mercenaries so yes, sometimes we do end up with rough spots on other modes, but its pretty clear that balance in the main constructed game isn't one of them.
Development is always going to be a list of priorities. I've never expected Tavern Brawl to be very high on that list, especially as Blizzard refines their live content model for the good of the game.
But Mom, Wild is Neglected Too!
You'll catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
I feel for Wild players, I really do. No one should feel neglected by the developers in a game, but the way that some of the very vocal players in the format are going about demands for changes are doing so the wrong way. The problem I see though is that Blizzard has always had a different vision for Wild from what the players want and we should set our expectations accordingly. They want to keep the format as close to the original printings of cards as possible and that's a completely valid strategy, it is their game at the end of the day and supporting the mode the same as Standard is not something that was intended from the very beginning.
Wild Will Be Wild
Wild is our new name for the Hearthstone you already know, because it’ll be the format where anything can happen. While Standard puts a bright spotlight on recently released cards and brings a more balanced experience, when you queue up for Wild, you’ll be cozying up with the crazy fun of Hearthstone you’re already familiar with. Of course, as more and more cards are added over time, the wilder and more unpredictable Wild will be!
This post is from over 5 years ago, and I'm not saying its right to bring it up again because there have been so many things that have changed over the years in Hearthstone that Blizzard never really touched. Do you remember when we didn't receive many balance changes at all because they "want to make as few changes to cards as possible. We do feel really strongly about this."? These past two years make that statement look insane.
People change. Opinions change.
It is so comical when people bring up 10 year old information on somebody and act like they said it yesterday - see much of "cancel culture". There are plenty of really stupid things that I said many, many years ago that I definitely don't believe or did so to get a rise out of folks and I'm certain I'll do it again and reflect upon it in another 5 or 10 years and laugh about how stupid that was; This happens in games too, especially when the development team has changed so much over the past few years like we've seen in Hearthstone. Could the original creators of Hearthstone been a part of that problem? Were they inflexible because what they created was deemed perfection? It can be hard to "undo" the work that you've put into something, but another artist sees a different picture and begins to paint that instead.
With that said, Blizzard still has a similar stance on Wild with Dean recently stating the following.
We don't intend for Wild to be Standard 2.0. I don't expect the philosophy around Wild balance to change in any drastic way going forward. We'll make light changes to major power outliers, we'll make major changes to extreme negative feeling gameplay archetypes.
Both of those things are just very subjective. To us, Warlock currently is on the edge power outlier and will probably see some further minor adjustment.
And guess what? Now Alec Dawson is further confirming that the current case [of Warlock] is clearing the bar of an extreme case of imbalance. We do get changes!
"But Flux, these aren't the changes I want. These changes won't do anything!"
Alright, and I think the extreme mana cheating in Hearthstone is absolutely not fun to play, but plenty of other players do like it. Plus, we don't even know what changes are going to happen, how can anyone say they aren't going to be enough?
I'm not saying that folks should find something else to play if they don't like the way Blizzard is handling Wild and their responses, because I know the team is extremely open to feedback despite saying they don't expect the philosophy to change, but damn, could we have some actual constructed conversations that don't involve "you're a shit developer" or "fuck Warlock"? Yeah, its frustrating and its a good idea to find a way to vent it, but this ain't it, champ.
I'm willing to open up the front page here to folks that want to start an actually constructive conversation about Wild. I would love to see Blizzard take a more hands-on approach to the format because there are tons of really cool cards that should get a chance to shine. There are a few different ideas that I've had regarding Wild over the years:
- Keep Wild as Wild - Make a new format that is Standard+Some Wild Sets+Banned Cards, rotate twice a year.
- Balance Wild, create a new format called Eternal with NO CARD CHANGES EVER. Much like Classic mode, unnerf everything.
If you are interested in starting that discussion and want to write intelligent, constructive walls of text, my messages are open.
I'll take topics hotter than the Firelands for 500, Alex.
I don't think Blizzard did a great job with their Mercenaries stream. They clearly put a lot of work into it and they are very passionate about this new game but cramming everything that they did into a 30 minute stream didn't work out in my opinion. The game is very complicated when compared to base Hearthstone, we were getting information moving at the speed of light, and some visuals were up on screen for such short periods of time, you couldn't read half of it.
Mercenaries is its own game and it should have been treated like that. When Hearthstone was originally announced at PAX East 2013, we had an almost 40 minute presentation which gave a very high-level overview of the game and took us through a bit of slow gameplay. The base of Hearthstone is so much simpler, especially back in that day, so its almost crazy to think that the team wanted to give us a dive into Mercenaries in only 30 minutes. A longer stream with information coming out at a slower pace alongside an actual game within the mode would have made for a much better viewing experience. Instead, several blogs were posted, some with broken links to important pack information, during the show, which added more to the information overload which much of it was more fluffy than real substance.
And I get it.
We're still just over 5 weeks away from Mercenaries launching, which arrives on October 12, so there is still plenty of time to talk about the mode and maybe we'll even get to see a gameplay-focused stream with a couple of Blizzard folks having a back and forth as they talk about the game during play. The event just felt so strange! Hell, they even took some time during it to announce that there was a World of Warcraft promotion coming.
I believe this was a great learning experience for them and I hope they know that going forward they aren't just making a quick presentation to a generic gaming crowd to get them pumped up, but rather, actual Hearthstone players. We're talking folks that know a little bit about Mercenaries from previously released information so they could have taken their time and given us more thorough explanations - we'd have stuck around for another hour if it meant good content.
Also, on the subject of monetization, it was a huge, missed opportunity to better explain why those pack bundles exist. They are not the same as regular card packs and with them currently just sitting in the in-game shop, its intimidating. Why were we not presented with the pity timer information in the presentation? Rightfully so, some folks are concerned or angry about the high monetization of a mode we aren't even going to see for over a month; Blizzard could have done a better job by showcasing what the free-to-play players could expect as far as unlocks go. Can Mercenaries reliably be played F2P?
If Blizzard wanted to do a shorter stream, it is my opinion that we should have started out with gameplay mechanics and then done another stream closer to the mode coming out detailing systems. Moving the pre-orders to this later stream would also feel better from a player point of view because it wouldn't pollute the shop, which might be the most surprising part of all this, and my money wouldn't be tied up for 5 weeks without anything to show for it; It makes sense to pre-order expansions when you get stuff to play with immediately, this, not so much.
Personally, I think the mode looks like a lot of fun and it'll be something easy they can update over time which is awesome because Hearthstone needs more modes that you can add bits and pieces to on a shorter development cycle. Dropping in a few new Mercs or a few new bosses won't be as hard now that all the systems are in place. I can't wait to actually play it and form a proper opinion on it at that point in time.
Players Are Ruining the Game
I truly believe that the more angry folks get about stuff and the worse they handle it, the more Hearthstone, or any game, gets ruined.
Its so disappointing day after day to have to read the same commentary from folks. Many people can distance themselves from it, but those that want to talk about the game or those that are forced to follow conversations taking place everywhere in the community, its exhausting and it creates a really shitty atmosphere. We need more positivity or at least people being constructive when they want to say that something is bad.
There's one main reason I quit League of Legends after playing for many years; The toxic bullshit in-game.
Don't breed this same environment within the few places that discuss Hearthstone.
If you take only three things away from this post let it be:
- Developers don't deserve to be harassed.
- There are different teams of people within a game's development team. One working on something doesn't always neglect something else.
- We still need more information on Mercenaries.
Send a message to someone on a game team and tell them why you appreciate them. It could be the way they interact with the community or a feature you thought was really cool that you know they worked on. Do something positive! Hell, make it a weekly thing. Involve content creators because we know they get a ton of bullshit too and its not always just love. Leave a nice YouTube comment the next time you watch a great video, if you learned something in an article leave a comment thanking them,
Gaming sometimes feels like the ultimate thankless job when you consider how many people you encounter every single day.
Also, don't be a dick in-game.