I think it says something about Blizz that an ex-dev provides more design feedback than the current crop, at least in terms of overall design intent. I think the current crop of designers are a little too much in the weeds, personally. It’s good to take a step back and think about the big picture and how all the pieces fit together. It’s sort of like walking. If you spend your time watching your feet rather than where you’re going, you’re never going to get there.
I like reading the various tweets and blue responses about bugs and balance. That Alchemical Catalysts have next to no use and are a limited to a daily cooldown sure is a head scratcher but to hear a dev say that they agree and need to look into it is disconcerting.
Usually when people design they take a top down approach. Vision, concept, logic, physical. More and more detail as you go down. Then you have someone at each level making sure that each of those individual pockets is lined up with the other ones. So the person in charge of professions for example, would be responsible that all the professions work similarly and provide some value. Thematically they should be the same, gather materials, combine materials for effect, use result. When the combination portion isn’t aligned, where some materials should have value but in fact don’t, then you have a profession with an issue.
I’m not saying it’s easy. Actually, I’m saying the complete opposite. I see it all the time. Developers become incredibly insular to their environment, in particular during crunch time. All you end up seeing is the trees and not the forest. The leads need to be strong.
And this again falls into more real world examples. In many organizations, people get promoted to lead because they are a good programmer or developer, or they have experience. You know what that makes you? A senior developer, not a leader. A lead needs to see the big picture and put the pieces together. They need to match strengths and weaknesses across their team. In a field like IT, which is heavily populated by people with somewhat limited social skills, these people are rare as all heck. I think I’d be lucky to find 1 in 100.
And the problem gets worse the more people you have. A small team can have informal talks and people are tasked with all sorts of work. A really big project, you might have a guy that only does the RNG system, or a girl that just does terrain. (Side note: it looks to me like the person who did Nagrand terrain in WoD forgot that Nagrand in BC had flying, then remembered at the end and put in gliders).
But back to the original discussion…
The main question to Greg was about remorse for diluting diversity and complexity to enable more inclusion (a little paraphrased). And that he doesn’t have a yay/nay answer to me is a good thing. As long as hybrids think they need to be on par with pure classes, you can’t have specialization. While you can try to blame the devs in WotLK, you should also point the finger at the devs in BC. There was a serious point in the expansion where raids were tuned for leatherworking drums and 3+ shamans per team. If you even considered taking a balanced raid into Sunwell, you were going to have a bad time.
I’m not saying the thought process was wrong; “bring the player and not the class” portion makes sense. Everyone should bring something but not everyone should bring the same thing. Tuning and balance would be harder, in order to make more combinations viable. I think, in the way that Blizzard typically does this, that the pendulum swung a little too far in one direction and that they’ve been unable to get it back since. If anything, the advent of the DK (and remember, for most of WotLK it was super OP) set an expectation that hybrids were the way forward and that a player should be able to be self-sufficient. That idea has gotten progressively larger, where in WoD and garrisons, it’s pretty much everywhere.
It’s actually interesting comparing to other themeparks to see how they approach this. SWTOR is very similar, with massive skill bloat and until Revan, hybrids were amazeballs. I never quite got those that were “pure DPS” but it was certainly an option. Everyone has a stun, an interrupt, an AE, a heal and so on… RIFT is based on the concept of hybrids and while there’s always a flavor of the month, there’s a decent balance across all classes. With only 4 classes, it’s hard to be pigeonholed. Wildstar and ESO allow you to take a class of sorts, then have a wide array of skills but only a limited amount active at any time. Maybe you need 2 stuns here and none there. Hard to balance the skills against each other (ESO in particular had this issue) but the system gives the players tools.
FF14 is a bit different. It’s a bit like RIFT in that you have many roles (through the classes) but you actively need to level each one on a character. And at any given time, you are limited in the skills available – like 8-10 total. Not everyone has a stun and each class tends to bring something rather unique to the game. I’m curious to see how this lasts long term, what with new classes being added at a rather regular pace but since it’s always the same character, it’s not the world to swap between classes, in particular if they share the same base stats (and therefore gear). You don’t need an alt.
Most games today are all hybrid but limit the skills available at any given time. So you can bring the player AND you can bring the class.