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Posts with tag representation

How to include diversity without making it your focus

Yesterday, Polygon published this editorial, which reacted to Rob Pardo (Chief Creative Officer at Blizzard) and his speech at MIT's media lab. The talk was about gameplay and fun in design vs. narrative, and in it Mr. Pardo mentioned that Blizzard is not a narrative focused company, and that they focused first and foremost on epic entertainment rather than diversity.

First up, let me say this - I agree with Rob Pardo that Blizzard should be focusing on epic entertainment experiences, and I have no difficulty with their desire to position themselves as a developer who focuses on gameplay and fun over narrative. And I think it's laudable that Rob himself seems to understand that this can sometimes backfire, as he said in the speech.

No, my objection is a purely pragmatic one -- I believe it's actually easier to be diverse in how you populate your game world than to not be, and that the lack of diversity ultimately damages that fun gameplay for a sizable chunk of your player base. To use just one example, we know that women make up almost half of people playing these games. Including characters that are women in positions of prominence (as just one example) invests women more fully in your game experience. It benefits you, because it enlists them as allies towards the ultimate goal of creating those fun, epic experiences - and the respect the article mentions? It cements that respect. If you want to have a reputation, it helps to enlist the players, to make them do the work.

Especially if your focus is on fun, rather than narrative, this is a decision that costs you nothing and reaps you rewards. The same fervor that can turn to ire and negative media attention can be made your ally - the inclusion of prominent characters that say that women (for example) are welcome and valued enlists women as participants. You can't have fun gameplay without players, and those players will do the work of promoting and proselytizing your work.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Warlords of Draenor

Ghostcrawler on class representation and balance

Ghostcrawler has a nice exchange on the forums (and it's not marked "Not Tracked", so you know he wants us reading this one) about how much of a role class representation actually plays in class balance. Obviously, balance itself plays the biggest role in class balance -- if (using GC's completely hypothetical example) Feral Druids are overpowered as tanks, then Blizzard would have to look into nerfing Feral Druids.

But what if Feral Druids only make up a small percentage of the tanks in Ulduar? Should Blizzard nerf the 5% of tanks that are Druids down until they're only 2% of the population? Just because classes are overpowered doesn't mean that actual class populations are, and all of these things go into the mix when Blizzard makes decisions about how to balance the classes.

Look at Hunters as well -- just last week we talked about how the class population is falling off, and yet they're one of the top three classes played on both factions. So should Blizzard buff or nerf them?

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Filed under: Druid, Hunter, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Instances, Classes, Death Knight, Forums

Scattered Shots: The line of sight between hunters and the Arenas

I'd like to take a break from the hunter leveling goodness we've had the last few weeks in Scattered Shots to take a look at where hunters stand as a class in Arena PvP, and where we might be going in the future. Blizzard developer Kalgan's measurement of how the different classes are faring in the Arena got me thinking quite a bit about the state of hunters -- currently functioning at the lowest place with 50% or less representation in the three Arena types at high rating brackets, followed by mages and shamans, in the 2vs2 Arena especially.

What in the world is causing such a huge discrepancy between hunters and other classes when it comes to high-rating arena representation? When I play in Arenas and Battlegrounds, I don't feel like my class is somehow deficient or underpowered. My team's Arena rating is average -- we're not the best, but not the worst either. When I get beaten, I usually feel like the other team actually played better (or outgeared us, at least), so it's rather hard to see what's so messed up about hunters.

The most obvious issue I can think might be the issue is that of Line of Sight. Hunters obviously have a rough time shooting at things behind sort of obstacle. In battlegrounds there are more wide open spaces, so it seems less of an issue there, but in Arenas it can get fairly annoying. Classes like warlocks and shadowpriests can just put a damage-over-time spell on you, and then hide behind a pillar, while druids can move freely around obstacles to give them plenty of time to heal themselves between your attacks. Warriors and other melee classes can hide for a bit, then get in so close that you can't use your best ranged abilities on them for a few seconds until you can somehow get away.

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Filed under: Hunter, PvP, Arena, (Hunter) Scattered Shots

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