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Is ignorance of class changes bliss?

Ahhhh, how I love the Elitist Jerks forums, the home of the most intelligent, informed, and well-written players of WoW. EJ produced another gem of a topic recently that made me think a bit about the purpose of sites like ours, and what function they serve in the overall scheme of WoW.

Malan, who plays the tauren shaman Keiji on Skullcrusher, recently posted in a thread on the shaman forums about an upcoming patch. Rather than complain about shaman mechanics, however, he asked the community manager Nethaera an important meta-question: If most WoW players don't read the forums, and the forums are the main way the developers and community managers tell new information to the player base, then isn't there a huge gap in communication for most players?

Nethaera responded by saying that players can get information on the forums, the main web site, magazines, interviews online, newsletters, and fan sites (yay for us!) but Malan still detects a problem. The main issue, he says, is that players have to seek out the information out of game, rather than having it somehow come to them. Patch notes are the one exception, but because the patch notes recently have been so long, it's difficult for players to read through them and find the important things. Malan suggests the use of in-game mail or pop-up notes to inform players of changes to their class. "Greetings <Class>! We've changed the damage output of <Ability XYZ> in order to rebalance <Class> for PvP and PvE in the upcoming patch due to mechanics changes. Please adjust your gear and ability use as you see fit! Please press [OK] to dismiss this window!"

This all sounds like a good idea, but the Elitist Jerk leader Praetorian has a different perspective: what more casual players don't know won't hurt them. "What does Blizzard have to gain from sending a personalized letter to Joe Clueless that essentially reads, "Hi, you probably don't understand half of this, but we nerfed you because you were too strong. Enjoy your time in the World of Warcraft!"" Praetorian writes. "A huge portion of the playerbase is casual beyond what anyone who reads this board would ever consider "casual." Avid fans seek out the information they care about, under the current system. Casual players will hear about the big stuff, "Hey, there's a new dungeon in the next patch" or "Arenas are now live!" or "there's an expansion coming out next year that'll raise the level cap to 80 and let people interact with Arthas.""

I can really see both sides of the argument. On one hand, bringing more information about class mechanics to players might help decrease the percentage of bad players out there. On the other hand, anyone who's read the forums for a while knows that sometimes people are happier if they don't know all the behind-the-scenes machinations of class balance. There are many "serious issues" in-game that would have barely been noticed by the majority of players it if weren't for vocal forumgoers.

Can you think of a better way to get WoW information out to players than the current system? When it comes to nerfs and buffs, is ignorance bliss?

Filed under: Fan stuff, Blizzard

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