- Oct. 18, 2011, 2:13 a.m.
As we mentioned in the Rate of Change blog not long ago, we feel like we have reached a point where too many changes can do as much damage as not enough changes. It shouldn’t be too surprising to see lots of requests (or demands!) here on the forums for balance changes, whether those are small numbers tweaks or larger ability redesigns. The risk of the echo chamber effect can be strong though. A great majority of players don’t participate in forum discussions at all, and even among those who do, it tends to be those with a grievance who make a post. Indifferent players don’t often post to say they are indifferent, and many players won’t expend the effort to publicly state that they disagree with your idea. (When they do, they also risk igniting some exhausting flame wars.) But you have to remember that even if it seems like “everyone” is rallying for a certain change, you’re not seeing the majority and you have no idea if they would agree with the necessity of the change.
When asked directly, they might not even disagree with the their character getting buffed or a mechanic smoothed out. But over time these seemingly “no brainer” changes can build up into an intimidating list. Class changes, especially in between expansions, and especially when hotfixed in between two patches, can be exhausting for many players. They don’t want to have to figure out if their rotation or gear strategies have changed overnight. They don’t want to have to devour all the latest theorycrafting and wonder if they’re supposed to respec every time they log in. That sort of thing may be fun for a lot of you guys – the active forum community. Heck, it’s fun for the kind of people that end up being game developers. But that doesn’t mean it’s healthy for the game. We have to weigh very carefully whether a seemingly innocuous change is worth making, because those changes are not “free” in the sense that they do burn some political capital with players. We have definitely been getting the message lately that the design churn in the last few patches has been too great, so we’re trying to be more cautious.
It's the kind of topic that is worth discussing though. It may be that small changes to passive abilities, like the hunter, warlock and DK tweaks in 4.3, are small enough not to bother people. On the other hand, it could be that some players may be still living under a fear of change and we haven’t scaled back enough.