After 4.0.6 however, I've gotten more and more worried about how the designer team over at Blizzard really are working with their fixes anyway. Reading around the bloggosphere you always get to read alot of tears and hair pulling over patch changes, but this time around people actually seem to have a good reason to be cranky. Let me give you a couple of examples;
The problem that was already solved
- Boomkins were dealing too much damage. To fix this Blizzard nerfed Boomkin specialization with 9% damage. They also fixed a bug to Starfall which made it cast more than 20 stars, one of the reasons Boomkins were dealing too much damage in the first place, not realizing that these two fixes would stack to overnerf boomkins. Players had to point this out, and Blizzard readily agreed that they clearly hadn't thought about it, changing the damage nerf to 5% instead of 9%.
The fix that wasn't a fix
- Paladins were healing too much. To fix this Blizzard changed Light of Dawn so that it it wouldn't affect the Beacon of Light target anymore. Paladins were furious. Then a couple of days later they revert this change completely. Turns out Blizzard were really trying to deal with a bug that made Light of Dawn heal the Beaconed target for way too much under certain circumstances (as I understood the issue anyway). Then a couple of days later they manage to fix the issue by making Light of Dawn only heal targets in your own raid or party.
Why make it a patch note if it's really a bug fix that went wrong? Does that mean that someone at Blizzard thought that this was an intended fix and just threw it in there with all the other fixes? Or was it in fact an intended fix and they just realized that it was a really bad idea and had to revert it immediately? I am speculating I know, but it still points toward some kind of miscommunication and could probably been handled alot better.
The extreme overbuffs that had to be nerfed (at once)
- Hunters were dealing too low damage (in MM and BM specs) and so Blizzard changed alot of things, one thing being bumping Aimed Shot damage up from 150% weapon damage to 200%. A couple of days later they lower it down to 160%, basically back on scratch again.
- Discipline weren't healing enough so Blizzard bumped the efficiency of Shields by approximately 200% (and also increasing its mana cost by approximately 30%). Apparently that made the shield way to good so they bumped mana cost up another approx 30% but said they wouldn't make it more expensive for holy priests. A couple of days later they change their mind and tell us it will cost equally much for both specs.
The change (and problem) that disappeared
- Priests needed some kind of self-buff, Blizzard seemed to be thinking. They can't deal with damage on themselves very good. Desperate Prayer was given a nice change, making it heal percent of max health instead of a set value. Blizzard also made a change to shields so that they would absorb more damage when cast on the priest, 30% more to be exact. Then a couple of days later they announced that this change to shields was removed. Completely.
All of these things are minor problems. And like I said, I'm the last one to whine about stuff when things don't go my way. This might be due to the fact that I main a priest and we really have been in a fairly good place since I started playing them, all the way back in Vanilla. We've never had any real lows, and have occasionally even got to be in a really good place (like with disc now). But I can't recall seeing as many things completely reverted, removed or changed as I have seen since the release of Cataclysm. I don't know if Blizzard have changed something in their organisation, if I am imagining things or what is going on really. What kind of an image does this send the gaming community? Is there reason to be alarmed? Has Blizzard been taken over by aliens (aka Activision)?!
I realize that the Blizzard organisation probably is getting really big, even if we're only talking about the dev team and branches directly connected to it (this is also something The Daily Blink makes fun off in the above mentioned comic). But this kind of unfocused, constant change will make people nervous. You might not believe it, but there are more people out there than you think who actually unsubscribe to the game because they just don't know, understand or agree with what Blizzard is doing to the game. Do I care about them? Not really, but Blizzard probably should. Right now Blizzard are sending out signals of uncertainty. And nothing could be worse than when the players think they have a better understanding of how the game works than the devs themselves. The issue with the boomkin damage really makes you think "Woah Blizzard, you really missed something this obvious? Really?". Even I, patience personified (ahem) get a little nervous about the changes to priests when I read about these kind of incidents. I've always thought about patch notes as something to take lightly, because things will change. But when they change this dramatically and you don't know if Blizzard really are clear on what they are doing, you start to wonder. Blizzard would do well to spend a little more time communicating and worry less about making us happy with all these fixes. No one benefits from work that isn't properly thought through.