Failed Design

If you’ve spent much time around me, you know that few things piss me off more than game elements created to deliberately waste my time.  In that regard, the Garrison as a whole, and the Lunarfall Excavation in particular really set me off on a rant when certain things come up.

But there’s more.

There are far fewer things that piss me off than things that are done to deliberately waste my time, but which contain self-defeating mechanisms to lessen or nullify their effects because the game designer was unwilling to hold the line  on the decision to go with that design, and wimped out rather than admit s/he was wrong.

In this case, I am referring to the two little treats you can find in the Lunarfall Excavation – the Preserved Mining Pick and the Miner’s Coffee.  These two items drop from Mine Carts that you find throughout the mine, and they nullify a bit of the time-sink that the mine represents – the picks by halving the time it takes to mine a node, and the coffee by speeding up your movement speed between nodes.  While neither completely nullify the time or distance required to travel around in a Level 3 mine, they go a long way towards diminishing it.  And that’s what annoys me.

When you’ve completed the design of a thing and submitted it to alpha testing, there are two ways of dealing with any shortcomings that the testers might find.  The first is, you take their feedback and make adjustments to the thing to make things better.  The other is, you pretend the testers don’t “get” your creation, and hold that line until someone else – say, the senior game designer – gets wind of it and there’s no time to actual redesign the thing, so little, stupid, workarounds have to be created to compensate for the failure of the thing.

Is this what actually happened with the Lunarfall Excavation?   Honestly, I’ll probably never know. But the design is so crappy, it really looks like those two “buff” items were added as a compensatory afterthought to somehow mollify the throngs of torch-bearing beta testers that wanted someone’s ass.

Compare the design to the herb garden. The garden is compact, organized, and takes less than five minutes to fully clean out even at Level 3.  Sure, it doesn’t render up the same quantity of resources or Primal Spirits, but it is just a far better design than the mine is.

This would not annoy me nearly as much if it weren’t for two things.  The first thing I’ve already hit on – Blizz, having elected to have this huge, sprawling complex that took at least a quarter of an hour to fully clean out, seemingly decided to wimp out on the level of commitment needed to clean it out. They apparently decided to soften the blow with a rather wimpy solution that showed commitment to nothing.

The second thing that amps up the annoyance here is that the mine is artificially mandatory for anyone that has a garrison.  Either you have to mine it for mats for your crafting – and many of these crafts are not blacksmithing or jewelcrafting – or you have to mine it for primal spirits used to upgrade your crafted armor.

Sure, you few Mythic raiders are going to get the good stuff off of Archy, but us mere mortals are going to have to deal with collecting resources to make our stuff, and unfortunately that includes mandatory mining for most things – Savage Blood, for example, requires Blackrock Ore for alchemists to use, and you need 60 of them to get a crafted item to its 4/6 level.

(Aside: it feels like they did levels 5 and 6 better, requiring you to be out in the world to find the primary mats for those upgrade, at least. So they can possibly be taught.)

In the film “Ruthless People” (A film I highly recommend, by the way), Danny DeVito’s character, Sam Stone, shares some power-negotiator advice with a hapless cop.

Never let the seller know you’re hot to trot. Tell him you haven’t got the money. […] tell ’em you don’t have the money, that it’s all tied up in investments or some crap. […] A bad salesman will automatically drop his price. Bad salesmen make me sick.

With regards to the Lunarfall Excavation, Blizzard plays the role of the Bad Salesman.

Bad salesmen make me sick.

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Posted on December 8, 2015, in Broken promises and shattered dreams, Game mechanics and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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