I promise, I am not going to bash Blizzard much more than I did before I decided to quit the game after this expansion and I promise that I will not try to convince anyone that the game is terrible or that Blizzard is the greatest evil we’ve ever seen. I am still passionate about WoW topics and this is one of them.

An opportunity arose tonight for me to discuss a prime example of how Blizzard has failed its userbase.

My guild, Apotheosis, perhaps like many, is recruiting and part of that recruitment effort is having a “posting” available for people on our realm in the Guild Finder tool. We never accept applicants from this alone — if there’s a potentially good candidate, I funnel them to the guild website and they apply for real over there. I always, always take the time to respond to these people before declining them, though, even if it’s just a short “Thanks for your interest, but we’re full on your class at the moment. Thanks again for thinking of us and best of luck to you!”. (Note to self: add that to the list of stuff either a recruitment officer/person or GM should do.)

Tonight, I checked the Guild Finder tool and saw a mage candidate. I promptly went to his armory.

At first, I laughed. Then I facepalmed. And then I asked Twitter if they had any decent mage resources, like BEGINNER mage resources, to help this poor guy.

I imported him into chardev. Here’s the link:

http://chardev.org/profile/403339-fail-mage.html

Let’s look at this character real quick, shall we?

Missing enchants on: helm (though is revered with Hyjal), shoulders (hated by Therazane, is not a scribe), chest, gloves, belt (that is, no belt buckle), boots, weapon, offhand

Missing gems on: helm, shoulders, chest, belt, boots

Questionable gems: 2, 1 Quick Amberjewel (40 haste) and 1 Rigid Deepholm Iolite (50 hit)

Gear worn that is not meant for a mage: helm (spirit), shoulders (spirit), bracers (spirit), boots (spirit), ring #2 (agility), trinket #2 (melee attack proc), offhand (spirit)

Other weird stats: 13.32% hit

Surprisingly, the spec isn’t the worst I’ve ever seen and the glyphs are decent (at least he has all his glyphs and the primes are what he should have for an arcane mage).

This individual reached 85 on April 22nd, so this is a very new character. Whether or not it’s a new player is uncertain.

I feel that this player (and countless more like him — or her) has been done a grave disservice by Blizzard. In fact, many of us, myself included, probably have experienced the same thing. Blizzard has done little, if anything, to educate its playerbase.

When’s the last time you looked at the class pages on the official WoW site? Here’s the mage one.

http://us.battle.net/wow/en/game/class/mage

No mention of stats that are useful. No mention of that thing called “hit rating”. No hints as to which abilities which spec should use.

They do, to their credit, link to Wowhead and Wowpedia, but even the Wowhead article isn’t all that useful and the Wowpedia one is bogged down with lore and such before it gets to what will make someone play their class much more closely to how it was intended to be played.

I think it was Cory Stockton, the lead content designer, who said at BlizzCon that a fury warrior who chooses not to take Raging Blow, I think it was, wasn’t being a “unique” fury warrior; they were being a “bad” fury warrior, which is one reason they decided to give out so many passives to the classes in Mists and leave talents as those sort of “depends on the fight or your playstyle” tools. Removing the ability to make a “bad” choice is, in my opinion, a mistake. I think that players who actually care about their characters might want to play with those choices and LEARN from their mistakes. I know I did, back when I was a wee hunter, and throughout various tiers as my holy paladin. I’ve experimented with and without Tower of Radiance and Light of Dawn, I’ve played with and without Improved Judgements and Protector of the Innocent, I’ve used Sacred Cleansing and I’ve not specced for it and such.

I think the graver mistake is not having information available to new players. The learning curve in World of Warcraft is huge. Think about it, you have to:

- pick a class
- choose a spec
- learn what abilities do what and which you probably don’t need to use often
- figure out what stats are most beneficial to your class and spec
- learn to cooperate with others, whether in PVE or PVP

And that doesn’t even take into consideration the language in WoW, by which I mean the ability to translate something like:

“LF1M Tank, DM Trib, g2g, PST!” into “Our group that is attempting to do a run in the northern Dire Maul instance, in which we do not kill the special guards, is looking for a someone who is able to hold the creatures’ attention from us as we deal damage to them. Once we have found such an individual, we can start the run immediately. Please let me know if you’re interested by sending me a tell/whisper.”

Or, perhaps you’d prefer a more recent example:

“Need 1 heals, 2 DPS, 1 tank for DS, want to go 2/8 heroic & clear, ilvl 385+ PST” which means “Our group is looking for one healer, two damage-dealers and one tank for the Dragon Soul raid instance. We would like for the group to do two of the eight bosses on the heroic mode, plus finish the rest of the raid instance. Your item level should be at least 385. Please let me know if you’re interested by sending me a tell/whisper.”

(Language in WoW is a whole OTHER post.)

So you have this gargantuan learning curve and you have zero real support from within the game. Instead of spending resources to teach people the basics of their classes (stat priorities, things like hit rating, maybe rotations), they’re spending resources attempting to make things seem less difficult for the average player.

This may be all well and good. Maybe the average player doesn’t care. Maybe the average player will only ever do LFGs and LFRs and get kicked frequently for their performance because they don’t really get what they’re doing. And maybe Blizzard doesn’t care because this guy who expressed interest in joining my guild earlier tonight still pays $15, the same as I do, and that guy who doesn’t know how to gear his mage is almost certainly giving Blizzard less of a headache than I am. ;)

One of the major issues I’ve had with the game, which has become rapidly apparent to me throughout this expansion, is that people who know how to play their characters are not abundant. We are a dying breed. Sure, there are raiding guilds and you still have people like the vodkas, Methods, Blood Legions who know how to play their characters better than anyone else in the world, but the middle class, so to speak, of the playerbase is shrinking. We’re the people who aren’t getting world firsts, but understand (and care!) enough about our classes to write blog posts and confer with guildies. We’re the ones who’ll talk and debate for hours about the use of a particular talent spec or point, or whether reforging to this stat is better in this particular encounter and the like. Or maybe we’re the ones who are interested in picking up a new class and ask Twitter or our guildies for help and advice.

Meanwhile, the playerbase grows (or shrinks) and the people who don’t know much better or don’t CARE to know much better just keep multiplying. I’ve talked about having DK “tanks” who wear intellect plate and I’ve talked about people not wearing their maximum armor level before and this poor mage is just one more of those unfortunate individuals who sign up for group content, inflicting themselves on others, who don’t know what they’re doing. They’re everywhere. Go inspect a random character on your server. Go log in right now and look at some random, max-level (likely unguilded) person and you’ll see. Hell, inspect people on your next LFG or LFR.

They have made all aspects of the game a lot more accessible than they previously did, they’ve grown their userbase an insane amount since when I first started playing and they’ve done some great things with the game. Just the changes in PVE content alone, where you have boss fights that are so different from the tank and spank encounters or the single-debuff encounters like Lucifron in Molten Core, are astonishing. Imagine back in the day, could you have seen yourself fighting a boss like Alysrazor? What about Atramedes or Al’Akir? How about Rag 2.0 or Spine of Deathwing? I may not always like the encounters, but we have come a long, LONG way from the old days where you just had to dispell people appropriately and bring down adds before killing a boss.

However, while they’ve done this, refined the game and the classes, added new classes and races, changed PVE and PVP and built up their userbase, they have not done a good job in going about TEACHING people how to play. I’ve done some of the new starting zone quests and they don’t do a lot to teach you how to play. It’s great that they notify you that new abilities are available when you ding, but I feel strongly that if Blizzard was going to go in the direction of opening up their game to more than just the theorycrafting nerds (and I use that as a term of endearment) or the people who actually ENJOY farming up stuff, then they needed to throw something at those new players.

Blizzard seems to think that free gear is the answer or nerfs to current raid content are the answer. It’s certainly easier, but what I don’t get — and may never “get”, to be honest — is why they don’t care to help players improve to the point where nerfs aren’t as “needed” as Blizzard thinks they are. In the “Cataclysm Post Mortem“, with Scott “Daelo” Mercer, he said:

Q. What didn’t work out as planned or expected?

Initially, we started off the Heroic dungeons at too high of a difficulty. The difficulty level rather abruptly changed when compared to the Heroics players experienced at the end of Wrath of the Lich King. This major change caught many players off guard, and frustrated some of them. The difficulty also increased the effective amount of time required to complete a dungeon to a longer experience than we wanted.

To which I say, are you frigging kidding me? Yes, if you’re undergeared or don’t know what you’re doing, they were hard. It took some time to learn some of the fights. Heroic Deadmines, Heroic Stonecore, Heroic Shadowfang Keep all took some doing, but Heroic Vortex Pinnacle was easy. I still don’t understand how people fail at regular Corla in Blackrock Caverns, but they do, so I assume people still fail at it on Heroic as well. But all of that is solved with gear, which is laughably easy to get these days. The point is, these dungeons weren’t all that difficult for a group of players who knew how to play. They WERE impossible if your group was not geared enough or knowledgeable enough. (And maybe they have a point about being on the long side, but at the end of Wrath, Maj, my brother and I could tank/heal/DPS our way through Heroic Gundrak, extra boss included, with 2 completely moronic or AFK DPS, in 13 minutes. I think that’s a little ridiculous.)

I still don’t understand the apparent unwillingness of Blizzard to give even basic info to players to improve the overall skill and knowledge of the players.

I don’t play League of Legends, but looking at their website, they have a Learning Center. Look at this, there’s a whole page about Champion Statistics as in what stats do what.

Even Star Wars: The Old Republic (a game a played in the open beta long enough to get a lightsaber before I lost interest) has a new player guide and look here, halfway down the second page, it tells you all about tanks, healers and DPS.

Our poor mage friend, whose sad, sad armory started this two-thousand word post, might not be such a tragic, ignorant soul, if only Blizzard had bothered to tell him that he doesn’t need spirit. Yet, they don’t tell him that. They don’t even tell him he needs hit rating (although the hit chance/miss chance table is certainly a step in the right direction). This is, I believe, one of Blizzard’s great failures over the years and this poor mage is but one example of the millions of people who don’t know (and perhaps, admittedly, don’t care to know) how to play their class.