Category Archives: O teh dramaz!
I just read that a Classic WoW tech lead developer (Brian Birmingham, pictured) “Left Blizzard […] under protest” after refusing to give a lower than deserved evaluation to one of his subordinates’ performance review in order to fill quotas. Let me unpack that for you so that you understand … that this kind of evaluation process is evil.
So, it works like this. At my company, you could get a ranking from one (worst) to five (best). One was “recommended for termination” and Five was “recommended for promotion.” Three, as you might expect, was the general average rating (recommended for retention). I personally was always happy with a 3 as I felt I wasn’t really exceptional – just a grinder, grinding away, and moving one day to the next.
Now the trick was, upper management and HR determined that you could have no more than x employees at a 5, y at a 4, and so on. A variant of this is, of course, that you must have between x and y percent of your team in each bucket. But let’s simplify to illustrate with this example.
- 1% 5 – recommended for promotion
- 4% 4 – recommended for advancement
- 85% 3 – recommended for retention
- 4% 2 – recommended for remediation
- 1% 1 – recommended for termination
This is, I again emphasize, an oversimplified example but illustrates the situation quite clearly. It’s not that you can’t have MORE than 1% as a 5 or a 1, for example – it’s that you are REQUIRED to have that number.
This is called rating stacking, and basically means that every team is competing against themselves for performance ratings.
But what if you have a really great team? I mean, sure, we all realize it’s competitive and they are competing against each other, but if they’re all great employees then why would you want to fill that lower 5%? Imagine you’re the unlucky one that is performing objectively well, but comparatively worse than others on your team? You still want to keep the guy. But due to quota buckets, you have to put them in a 1 (recommended for termination) or 2 (recommended for remediation).
This is what Birmingham refused to do, and I applaud his moxie. His unemployed moxie, that is, because Blizz just canned his ass and transferred his team under someone that they expect will be more pliable (especially considering the example of Brian right under their nose).
Again, I want to emphasize that I have no insight into Blizzard’s managerial playbook, but I recognize the performance eval type and absolutely loathe it, and know how it works to a point.
Apparently, Brian refused to continue to work under these conditions, and intended to resign, but was fired instead. Joke’s on them, that makes him eligible for unemployment (a fund he has been contributing to all his time there, so essentially he at least gets his own money back). There are reportedly other managers there that asked if they could be assigned a ‘2’ so that one of their people could avoid it (they were denied).
To me, Brian is a Hero of the Revolution, even if the Revolution hasn’t quite happened yet. I wish him Godspeed, and hope the rotten-ass managers that pushed him out get flea infestations in their public hair.
By the way, I can pretty much guarantee that there will soon be layoffs at Blizz, and that this “tool” will be used to guide who gets the axe. This is really what it’s all about.
Well, it’s official. Tuesday, October 25, 2022 is the date that the first of two (?) pre-patches dropped for the next expansion, Dragonflight.
And I cannot be more pleased to be wrong about it.
More specifically, I had grave doubts about the release date for Dragonflight – “by the end of 2022” – and figured if they didn’t have a prepatch by mid-November, they’d miss the date. And, as you can no doubt tell, they made that date, with a month to go, even. So basically here in the last week of October, even, we are with a prepatch all loaded up.
I cannot understate how much this says in favor of the dev team and the ops team together. They’ve pulled off something quite unusual for Blizzard.
Now … it’s not perfect. As many have said, there are bugs. Many bugs. Although the way some are treating this, “it’s unprecedented and therefore Blizzard have failed”. This fits their chosen narrative so of course. Some people (see link) haven’t had anything kind to say about WoW in years, so we’ll not act surprised when they find the dark lining in a silver cloud. Again. Right, Elliot?
(Seriously, there’s busting Blizz’ balls because upper management are a bunch of anti-union fuckweasels, and there’s constantly harping on WoW because they’re perceived as the big boys in the genre and thus the Scrappy Little Blog can claim to be Speaking Truth to Power like the red-blooded patriots they think they are. I’m good with the former. Not the latter. Be better. Git gud.)
BUT … considering the timeline, considering the gargantuan amount of work that had to go into this, Dev and Ops did a pretty good job.
It is true, there are bugs. But I’ve seen this for every prepatch for years. Hell, listen up, you pups, I remember when BC came out and people entering Hellfire Citadel caused Wetlands to crash. You wanna talk bugs? Let’s talk bugs! Haha.
It’s gonna be a few days, is all I’m saying. It’s going to take a while to get the core system cleaned up, and it’s gonna take a while to get all the addons working. Some may not come back at all. Some won’t need to.
A propos, here’s a brief catalog of some of the issues thus far.
- GupPet is dying on an obscure (to me) UI error. It may not be back. I’m pretty much at my limit here and may just punt and load up BeStride, which is still maintained and works fine.
- TSM is having issues both posting and buying. And crafting. And … well, it hates the rest of WoW.
- Speaking of crafting, TSM and Skillet are both having issues in that regard. The new crafting UI may be somewhat usable
but you have to disable TSM first(it got better).
- Dominoes is totally busted, but if you can make the new default UI work for you, you may not miss it. About 90% of Domino’s features are in the new UI. I’m not 100% sold yet but it does look promising. It would be really nice if I could move the experience bar, bags, and system buttons, though. (Really, guys? Really??)
Right now I have like 60% of my addons disabled, including ElvUI (however, that’s just to see if I can make the default UI work out).
But, bottom line, this is about where we’ve always been three days after a new pre-patch. I’m not Nostradummus but I’m willing to say that this whole thing will be good to go by launch day.
Then again, I’m the idiot that said they’d probably not be ready by the end of the year, so …
If you play this game long enough you start to see things repeat themselves.
I don’t mean in-game, but in the Blogospheric Echo Chamber(1) that we all operate within. There are themes, observations, and opinions that keep coming back. Sometimes, even on the same blog.
I’ve been hard on myself, trying not to be one of those blogs, where occasionally I circle back onto a topic and retread it. Though, of course. when you’ve dropped as many words as I have over the last dozen or so years(2), you’re bound to hit on similar things eventually. Hell, I’ll wager that I’ve used the title of this article before(3).
That being said, one does expect other long-timers – as few of them left that still blog – to also remember how things were and not start going on about how this is neat or that is bad without realizing that it’s nothing new.
The same can not be said for players that aren’t, exactly, new, but haven’t been here for the duration. Say, that guy that started playing as a Panda rogue and just now discovered something that old timers would recognize as a riff on Reforging, for example, but which they feel is a Significant Discovery.
It is hard not to be cynical about this. How it seems that the only thing that you can count on is that someone else is getting mileage off of something that you’ve seen others – or yourself! – writing about years ago.
But how can this be avoided? You can’t just yell at people to do better research. First of all, how would they? Are we literally expecting them to go back and re-read all of Big Red Kitty before having an opinion on Beastmastery Hunters? I mean, assuming it was possible, which I don’t think it is? Heck, you can’t even point people to go read back-issues of WoW Insider’s Guild Watch column to get an example of “your guild’s not as bad as you think, this shit was happening long ago.”
I don’t really have an answer. It’s not really feasible to take on the mantle of “rememberer of things” if nobody actually wants someone to do so. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen someone on The Internet say “Boy I sure wish there was somebody around that remembered how things actually were.” People are more invested in providing their own interpretations of how things were and will actually argue with someone that was THERE about how wrong they are. Talk about “alternate facts.”
Now, with some of the new features for Dragonflight, we’re getting Deja Vu. The new talent trees, as an example, are going to present some of the Same Old Problems and these are going to be run up the flagpole as Fresh New Scandal. As an example, I’m sure we’re going to see “cookie cutter” specs come out of this change, where people look up a spec on Noxxic or Icy Veins or WoWHead even, and use it rather than do the thinking for themselves.
Us Olds are gonna say yeah, seen it, done it, and it was fine. And besides, how were the previous tiers any different? But yeah the kiddos not going to get it, or appreciate it, and, likely, resent that we’re even saying that.
Another thing, as @Marathal pointed out, is how some of the features of the new crafting resemble nothing less than the old Reforging feature, and remembering the big bruhaha over Ask Mr Robot’s role in demystifying that feature(4).
Nobody cares. Not that it happened before, nor that we remember.
Yeah yeah. Go back to sleep, old guy(8).
All that aside, there’s meat in them oysters, and I’m limbering up for some – at least personal – theorycrafting. I will not be competing with these young whippersnappers in that regard. They fancy with they slicked back hair and backlit keyboards and solar calculators. I can’t compete with that.
But maybe I can apply a bit of perspective as compared with what we had before. Though, as I’ve said, I doubt it will matter. If they’re too lazy to rez up a toon in TBC-Classic (or Wrath-Classic later this year) to see For Reals what it used to be like, then they’re not going to be interested with someone deconstructing their carefully constructed constructs of How It Was, I Just Know It.
The most annoying thing about this, if there is to be an annoying thing(5), is the possibility that Blizz is counting on this. That there exists a Machiavellian intelligence at Blizz that thinks that, if only they get enough “churn” in the playerbase, they can pull off a revisit to old game systems without anyone calling them into question, because the ones that remembered that have either moved on to other things(6) or are so few in number that nobody really pays them any attention(7). To them, it isn’t about loyalty – it’s about numbers. They don’t care that there are 1,000,000 loyal customers, only that there are 1,000,000 customers. Done and done.
You won’t find me in the “Blizz has a Machiavellian Intelligence” camp because I don’t think The Suits are that smart, but they’re good enough at Faking It that they will claim credit for anything, be it good or bad, just to make it look like they’re smarter than a lump of coal. You can go along with that if you want, but I’m voting for the lump.
- You’ve seen it a lot even if you don’t know what to call it. One blog espouses something, then another riffs on that, and then another riffs on that, and so forth. Eventually you have fifty blogs all talking about the same thing, only different.
- Not gonna look, not gonna look …
- Not gonna look, not gonna look …
- Called out by some as “cheating”.
- And there always is, isn’t there?
- /waves to FFIX players
For years I have labored under the sad assumption that Goto Damage Meters are Considered Harmful, and it has pissed me off collectively for at least 15 years, so, yeah, let’s have it out.
Assumption: Damage Meters are BAD!
The basic underlying argument is that damage meters allow certain toxic individuals to make LFD / LFR a toxic wasteland and therefore are bad in and of themselves.
As an engineer this upsets me in a number of ways.
- Damage meters are a source of data. And ONLY a source of data.
- Data is intrinsically GOOD.
- People that make damage meters a source of shame / hate or other kind of disrepute are the problem here, not the meters themselves.
Okay, that last point is pretty much the sole point of this article. Which is:
People are BAD!
In that, people are the problem. Damage meters are software. People using software are the problem.
There are a lot of people advocating that there are mitigating circumstances but I disagree. Here are my Ultimate Thoughts on the topic.
- Damage Meters provide data. And only data.
- Actual people use that data to improve things in some way
- Not actual people (from here classified as trolls) use that data as a method to harass actual people.
- Some people support (2)
- Some people support (3)
In case it wasn’t clear, we support (2).
Ultimately, damage meters provide a way of gauging one’s performance. In engineering terms, “metrics”. And anyone opposing that kind of data is, ultimately, in my humble opinion, on the wrong side of the equation. Basically, I view that kind of person as less interested in improving things in general, and more interested in forwarding some sort of undisclosed agenda.
This argument resurfaces occasionally. People not very involved in the game, or people with no history, tend to re-discover this topic from time to time. All I can say is, locate a classic WoW blog, look at their blogroll, and educate yourself before opening the mouth. I welcome the opinion, but prefer that it be informed. Right now, there is a lot of bullshit flowing on a topic that has been settled for years (as in, so what?).
Tonight I started at just over 2,000 reputation short of being Revered with the Mechagon Trudgniks. I wasn’t expecting to get all that rep in one night, but the “find the chests” WQ was up so I popped it with a quest to spare.
So I’m flying in the current content once again. I wish I could say it wasn’t a slog this time, but it really felt like a slog. This “pathfinder” business started, what, in Draenor? I think it was Draenor. And the funny thing is, it took a month, grinding as fast as I could. I think it took less time in Legion, and it definitely took less than a month this time.
But it FELT like a slog through two pointless rep grinds.
I wonder if others feel the same way about the duration and pointfulness.
It’s funny, in that it feels like it was deliberately time-gated to drag things out. But if it takes less than a couple of weeks before you see people zipping around on flying mounts, how much of a delay was it?
I know I’m not alone when I say that I feel that Blizz is introducing time-wasting content to try to engage players longer – by “engage” I mean “engage players in time wasting activities”.
Okay, listen. Nobody’s kidding anyone here. Of COURSE they’re trying to drag things out, keep you involved longer without any real reward.
But what Blizz needs to do at this point is maybe put more effort into making it look less like they are.
Next up: something like 1000 manapearls to max out my benthic gear. And maybe by then they’ll have new content.
It’s amazing. Mere days after posting a link to one of my articles about How2Auction, I get an in-game chat from a guy that just doesn’t “get it” with regard to an item I was selling.
In this case, one of my side markets are the Tomes of Illusion that Enchanters can make. The mats for each come from the expansions they correspond to, and some of those are a little pricey, especially the older ones from Azeroth or Outland. I don’t mean vendor price, but what they sell for on the AH, which is considerable, if they’re even available.
So you’re looking at on average a cost per tome of around 1500 GP, and of course there’s going to be the traditional markup. If there were no profit, I wouldn’t sell it.
Thus the stage is set.
HIM: Your price for Tome of Illusions: Azeroth is too high
ME: It sells well enough at that price.
HIM: It’s just a cosmetic thing!
ME: But it takes rare stuff to make it
HIM: But the mats are easy to farm
ME: Well, if you bring me the mats, I’ll make it for the mats, though a tip would be cool.
HIM: Fuk u
This reminds me of a recent series of threads on Twitter, in which artists were being yelled at because they wouldn’t provide free artwork “for exposure”. There are a lot of tiny little twitch channel commandos out there that think they’re hot shit, and expect to be catered to as such, and no dumb bish “artist” will be permitted to dis them by not doing shit for them for free.
Entitled little weasels.
Here it is in a nutshell. If you want it, it has value.
I don’t make claims to even remotely the same level of talent of the artists I see day in and day out posting samples on Twitter etc and trying to scrape out a living doing what they love. But I feel in some small way the frustration they must every time some jerk yells at me for not giving away the goods for free.
Don’t be that guy. If you want a thing in WoW, you can
- Pay market price
- Bring the mats and be nice to someone with the skillset
- Get friends that don’t mind your freeloading
If you want art/code assets from a person, pay them. “Exposure” means fuck-all, and it doesn’t put food on anybody’s plate. If you can’t pay an artist to decorate your Twitch channel, or a coder to set up the front end for your database, go get a real job. Maybe even learn to do yourself. Stack Overflow at least won’t charge you to tell you how to do for yourself.
I recently had a few errands to run for Archmage Khadgar (not dropping names or anything) and one of them took me to The Exodar to visit my old friend Velen – well, this Velen isn’t so much my friend as someone that my actual friend Velen resembles a lot (only older). Look, it’s complicated, okay?
Anyway, when I got there, Velen was kinda busy and didn’t have a lot of time to chat or take selfies, but you know that doesn’t stop a Dwarf with determination. Here, he was doing something like preserving the very lives of every living soul in The Exodar while Demons charged the magical shield he was maintaining with his very life’s essence. Asked him to smile, honestly, guess that’s the best he could do.
Pitched in to help out, kinda grumpy about it since you know, he couldn’t be arsed to even look at the camera, but he did seem kinda put out at all the demons, and, well, no big fan of demons myself. So eventually I cheered up a bit at the sight of all those demons getting blown to bits courtesy of my new best friend Titanstrike and some old friends like Bumbles the Angry Bear. Many demons littering the floor, but the Exodar sanitation crew is pretty reliable to get those fel stains out of even the most obscure crevasses.
Of course, Velen had to be a big wet blanket at the end, something about how this invading demon general reminded him of his dead son or something like that, then he went all emo and told me to go tell Khadgar that “The Light is Dead.” Really, Vel? Gee, maybe I’ll go stick my head in Nomi’s kitchen while I’m at it. At least I’ll get quality burns out of that.
Seriously, your younger counterpart went with a lot more class than that.
What, too soon?
After the worlds-shattering drama following their announcement that flying would not be happening in Draenor at all, Blizzard has changed their minds and decided it bring it back, but only if you really want it.
At the heart of the initial plan to restrict flight in Draenor (even after players reach level 100) lies the design goal of providing the best moment-to-moment gameplay possible in the outdoor world. From navigating the lava flows of the Molten Front in Patch 4.2, to breaching the Thunder King’s stronghold in Patch 5.2, to reaching the heights of the Ordon Sanctuary on Timeless Isle in Patch 5.4, to uncovering secrets deep within Gorgrond’s jungles on Draenor, World of Warcraft is full of memorable moments that are only possible when players explore the world by ground. And as we’ve continued to develop content over the years, we’ve focused more and more on providing players with these kinds of experiences.
There will be chores to do; exploring, collecting, rep grinding, and so forth. It’s a little reminiscent of the attunements we had in BC, to be honest, and I like that. I’m not one for collecting piles of non combat pets I’ll never look at or mounts I’ll never or rarely use at all. I’m not as much an achievement monkey as some. Give me a grind that will get me something tangible, however, then you’ve got my attention.
Naturally, no matter how you slice this, there will be mighty drama around this announcement as there was around the last. Where before it was all “Blizzard doesn’t care about what the players want raaaaeeeege”, now instead it’s “Blizzard gives in to every little whine raeeeeege!” Blizzard can’t win with this bunch, and personally I think they should just do what they think best and shut down the forums, but that’s me.
I’m still not missing flight in Draenor. But to some, the mere inconvenience is an insurmountable obstacle to inner peace, or something like that. This is not to say, I won’t use it if it’s there. As I’ve said before, I won’t put myself at a disadvantage on mere principle.
The haters will always be around because they need an avenue to vent their frustrations in life in, and a bunch of nerds writing software is just the perfect target. Well, people at Blizz get paid to read their drek, but I don’t.
So flush twice, it’s a long way to MMO-C.
This interview with Watcher has set the WoW social universe on its ear.
The first big bombshell is his statement that Flight will not only not be back in 6.2, but may quite possibly not reappear in-game ever again, going forward.
I am mixed on this. I’m pretty much in favor of this because of the way that flight disrupts the quest design mechanics, but I want to state for the record that if Blizz had designed the quests with flight in mind in the first place, this wouldn’t be a problem.
Let’s consider the example that Watcher gave: without flight, you have to “fight your way to the NPC you’re rescuing” to complete the quest, but with flight you can “just fly over there, land on the hut he’s in, and you’re done.” And: agreed, that’s a lousy thing.
But why aren’t there flying Mobs around the hut? This is a design failure in the quest, not a problem with flight per se. But, since Blizzard is apparently incapable of grasping that simple concept and fixing the problem, the simpler solution is just to ground everyone.
The quest designers done screwed up, so everyone has to get out of the pool.
And now, a moment of gloating.
Watcher confirms that 6.2 is not the final patch for this expansion. There have been a number of intensely strident people swarzing up and down that this was the final content patch for Warlords, despite the fact that they had not a single fact to support this. I have set aside a vat to collect their delicious tears, and have set aside an area for them to furiously backpedal without endangering innocent lives. Because, sure as Moira’s got an agenda, these people will be claiming they said no such thing as soon as they can, as often as is legal in their home state and/or country, and and as loudly as local noise ordinances allow.
Let’s say this all together once again: MMO-Champion is not the gold standard of Blizzard predictions. They got it right exactly ONCE (Cata), and ever since then, Blizz has alternatively bought their silence with access bribes, or fed them misinformation. Reddit isn’t a lot better, but at least there you don’t have a central point of failure like you do with MMO-C.
Honestly, the louder and more strident they are, the less likely they are to be right.
I myself haven’t made much in the way of predictions in this regard other than to express extreme doubts that 6.2 was the final patch. For a number of reasons.
- Two patches is atypical for Blizzard’s history. Three to four is the general rule of thumb.
- The story that I’ve been able to discern so far doesn’t really seem to be end-gamish.
- e.g. I strongly suspect there’s a real WTF moment in our future, either at the end of 6.2 or in a future patch.
- I don’t see the ultimate end-of-expansion time-waster-zone that we’ve seen in every expansion including BC (e.g. Money Island / Tournament / Firelands / Timeless Isle). Until they roll out that zone – which, you realize, will be yet another new and innovative way to while a way the post-expansion blues! – we’re not looking at the final patch.
As I have proven to myself a number of times, predictions are a tricky thing. Smart people will couch these guesses as guesses and not FACT (actual quote). There’s nothing wrong with speculation as long as it’s presented as such. But stating categorically with great authority on these topics is just silly.
Unfortunately, these people won’t learn, probably. They’ll just get shriller, louder, and more frantically self-defensive as this unwinds. I’m not sure what the point of all this is – some weird form of territorial marking or something – but it’s lead to some serious paring of my social media feeds, let me tell you.
But I’m more interested in where this is going, lore-wise.
It’ll be interesting to see if the Grommash / Guldan story resolves this patch, or if it gets marched out to the next one. I personally don’t think one zone and one raid is enough to include that and Archimonde, too. I’m interested to see what they do with that, too, and whether we get to see Kil’jaeden as well. And will this all end in tears as Draenor Renewed gets blown up again?
All I know is that we are free of the tyranny of prophecy once again.
No fate but what we make for ourselves.
Well, they’ve finally done something I’ve been asking for for a long time – it is likely that Blizz will offer paid "boosts" to level 90 for the toons of your choice once WoD launches. Naturally, there are those that claim that this will ruin the game, but I’ll counter – and have been for years – that the LACK of this paid service has ruined a lot of the game for a lot of people.
I want to get something out of the way, first. I have absolutely ZERO sympathy for people that are in a hurry to get to max level. None. Zip. Nada. I am happy for this paid service not on their behalf, but on behalf of everyone that has had to endure the after-effects of these people.
Blizzard has, in the past, altered the game in many ways to accommodate people that were ‘bored’ of leveling yet-another-alt to max level. They have nerfed the entire leveling game.
There are zones that you cannot get XP from all quests because the final ones go gray before you’re done!
Entire expansions have been nerfed so that you spend minimal time in them – My Rogue completed ONE zone on Northrend before he dinged 80! He had done maybe 3/4 of Sholazar! My DK barely finished Deepholm before she dinged 85. The assumption has been made that if you want to do all the quests, you’ll do so anyway, regardless of any XP you might get, and otherwise you just want to be gone as fast as you can.
There are pretty much NO challenges left. Coming up in Vanilla pre-Cata, you could count on a few tough runs out there, some elites hanging around outside of instances, some big rares that required some teamwork to take down. All gone. Even Stiches is a pushover.
So, overall, the way that Blizz was trying to accommodate the speed-levelers pretty much subverted anything interesting about the lower level areas – and rather than help, that just made it worse, because now the power levelers were trying to get through areas that were pretty much as interesting as naval lint and about as attractive. Leveling went from being tediously annoying to annoyingly annoying.
The biggest tragedy of them all is how much time and manpower that Blizz has invested in these changes that had no good effect, that pretty much subverted everything about the lower level zones, and pretty much rendered 90% of the game’s content irrelevant to a large subset of the playerbase.
The lower level areas are not the problem. The people that want to get OUT of them are the problem. They wasted time and money on the wrong solution.
Boosting to max-for-last-expansion level is the RIGHT solution. It has a minimal footprint. It doesn’t give max level away for free. They enhance their revenue on the impatience of impatient people. Those that wish to level the traditional way get some peace from the miserable hordes of people that would rather be somewhere else. Everybody wins.
This marginalizes nobody. It isn’t "pay to win" – you still have whatever the current expansion is go level through. If you get any gear from it it’ll be inferior to anything you get in the expansion, so who cares?
When I saw the WoD reveal mention a free boost for one toon, I had hoped that it would lead to this. I’m so very pleased to see that it has.
I have absolutely no plans to avail myself of this. I see paying to bypass content that you’re paying to see to be a non-sequitorian concept. But I have no reason to hate on those that will. Go in peace, kill some dragons, and tell Garrosh I said hello.
See ya in Draenor.