Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The problem with nerfs

This started as a comment to a post over on Blessing of kings, which itself was a response to
Kurn's post about the Dragon Soul nerfs. But, it got a little long in the tooth, so I figured I'd leave a shorthand comment there and anyone that cares can follow through to the full monty.

So yeah. Blizzard is nerfing the current raid, while it's still current. Again. At least they're starting with small nerfs this time, but it still hurts. It's not an elitist thing, it's not a "catering to casuals" thing. It's far more subtle and personal, at least for me. Lancore made a comment over there I thought I'd reiterate: the people that suffer most from these are the casual-hardcores. The Minor League of raiders: good, capable players that only the locals know and follow and beyond that don't get much beyond doing what they love. Raiders that almost certainly could down that next boss, given a few more weeks of practice and gear. Blizzard has said it themselves, encounters nerf themselves over time as players gear up and learn the fights. You prepare yourself, you gem and enchant your gear, you flask up and eat your food, you read the strategy. But the best videos in the world aren't the same as going in there and spending a night wiping to something. Sometimes a 2nd night is needed, maybe you need to come back next week with a few more pieces of gear, and try a few more attempts. Eventually the gear and the practice lower the hurdle enough to get over. It's only extended amounts of time on the same hurdle that cause issues, and I don't see how we can already be so close to that kind of wall.

Blizzard says we are, and that they have data to show guilds have already stopped progressing (already after 7 weeks? Really?)  but it just feels like it's too soon, like we haven't REALLY been able to show that yes, we're stuck and need help. It feels like it's too soon to really be coming up against these impassable walls. Surely with such data, blizzard knows where these walls ARE, right? If so then nerfing certain encounters should be the answer, not a blanket nerf.

To those that say "you can just turn it off, it's the same thing" it really isn't. If you're trying to get a first kill and there is still another boss after, you use everything you possibly can to get past the immediate encounter and on to the boss after. That's just what you DO in progression. You use all the gear and food/flasks and gems/enchants so you can to give you that edge, to lower that bar enough to climb over. Once you get over, once you get that all important first kill, after that it's always much easier. You don't get any achievements or extra/better gear for turning the buff/nerf off, you just delay getting to that next boss, and you lower your world/server ranking for those that care about such things, websites that only track the date you killed something, no credit is given for self-imposed handicaps.

It's not the nerfs even, it's The nerfs coming so quick. It takes away the amount of facetime you put into a boss (which is where the REAL progression should be happening) and replaces it with an easymode, it lowers the bar so you don't have to work as hard to climb over it. so you can get that all important first kill and move on. And you DO want to move on, there's still other bosses to kill, so you do it. Only afterwards do you realize it feels kind of empty. You get to the next (supposedly harder) boss and that's cool, right That's what progression is all about, right?

New boss! Awesome! Fantastic! Wonderful! but there's this nagging feeling in the back of your mind. Something is just...off about it, like you cheated yourself out of an experience. That feeling that you probably COULD have done it without that extra few % if you had just applied yourself a bit more, and now you'll never know because it's already DONE. You got that first kill, the one that matters. The hard one.

When the boss is still standing, undefeated, you use everything available to you to get past that hurdle. It's really only when you look back and wonder what might have been that it really starts to gnaw at you, and THAT is the problem with these nerfs.