Last week, if you recall (and you do, because you hang on my every word), I whinged about how game developers keep changing things, even within the same series. I stated the obvious truth, which is that if players enjoyed a concept or mechanic, it is acceptable to re-use it occasionally in sequels or even in different intellectual property. On a similar vein, then, the first part of this week’s post must be a resounding “THANK YOU!” to NIS for not taking a dump all over the Disgaea series. Honestly, if you were to look up “ur doin’ it rite” in the online lolz dictionary, there should just be a Disgaea logo there. From game to game they keep roughly the same game mechanics and general mood of the game which players enjoyed, and just add to them, flesh them out a bit more, tweak them ever so slightly. Enough changes to keep it interesting, but similar enough to keep me from ranting and raving.
Anyhoozle, Disgaea is not what I really wanted to write about today. At the risk of stepping on Lane’s toes, I actually wanted to discuss something that came up in the recent talent previews for World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. Before you all change the channel to another blog, no I am not going to analyze each class and talent. What I did want to prattle on about is Blizzard’s new (as of Wrath, and gathering steam into Cataclysm) philosophy of “bring the player, not the class”. What they are basically saying is there should not be a preference regarding which class your group uses for healing, tanking, or dealing damage. Everyone should be equally viable, thus leaving your group leader free to invite players based on skill and even personality. Sounds like a cool plan. If there is a choice, for example, between taking myself or Lane to DPS a raid, the raid should be able to take me, because I am awesome and adorable and sound hot over Vent. Blizzard does not want the raid leader to have to worry about whose class abilities and statistics make them a better option. What they have done, essentially, is give multiple classes the same abilities, just with different names, or slightly altered mechanics.
Too bad this does not work.
If a raid needs, say, Replenish (this means other players will regenerate lots of Mana, which makes your Mana users very happy), they can take a Ret Paladin, Survival Hunter, Shadow Priest, or Frost Mage. I can guarantee you, no raid leader worth his or her salt is taking the Frost Mage. Their damage just does not compare to the rest. Many would also not take the Paladin, because in general, ranged DPS = preferred DPS (because we are not slaves to a Boss’ positioning). So basically, Blizzard took the Shadow Priest’s one cool gimmick, gave it to all these other morons, and most of those morons will still not be invited to the raid, and in the meantime the Shadow Priest loses a lot of its specialness. Now they are doing this to Shamans, by giving Magies something that is essentially Bloodlust/Heroism. Way to take away the only reason you’d ever take an Enhancement Shammy with you.
The fact of the matter is, in any game where there are multiple classes that fill the same role, there will always be the best. Games will never be perfectly balanced. And those who strive to mix/max their experience will always take the player who is the optimal race/class/spec when given a choice. Taking away the little things that makes each class unique will only make it harder for people who find themself on the low end of the min/max scale. Soon there will be even less reason to take them along. And while the Mage’s new Time Warp of Stupidness ability is what prompted this, this is a concept that is definitely not WoW-exclusive.