Wednesday, July 17, 2013

New for 6.0: The Item Squish is Coming.

Back in August I has made a post about player housing and two new professions coming in 6.0 based on a dream I had.  Well, I just had another flash, not really a dream, just a fleeting thought that seemed real, and it involved what is in our near future as well.  It seems most of the things I have a feeling for tend to happen in game.  I've posted many things here that became true a year or two or three later.  So who is to say this stuff can not come true too.

Either way, for the fun of discussing it, I will post what came to mind recently in reference to the item squish on the horizon.  If you want to go back and read about the new player hosing and the two new professions here is the link.

Item Squish:

Have you ever wondered what the designers had in mind when they started making the gear for this expansion?  I've questioned it myself.  The stat inflation is just insane.  Beyond insane really, it is completely out of line.  There is no way a company that has been around as long as this one has would just throw balance and design out of the window and let things get out of control like this.

Yes, in the end numbers are just numbers.  Doing 200 DPS or 2,000 DPS or 20,000 DPS or 200,000 DPS is basically all the same if the mob you are fighting increases at a comparable rate.  But it is completely irresponsible to let it go to insane extremes so quickly.  They could have just as easily increased the output we are capable of of by 1K per raid tier, or even 3K per raid tier being there are three (soon to be 4) levels of gear each raid tier.  They did not need to increase it so much.  But they did.

If the average class, in full quest gear with no gems or enchants, could pull around 25K in a dungeon when they first hit 90 there is no reason that they should be capable of doing 150K or more half way through the expansion.  Lets face it, at this stage the max DPS any class should be capable of pulling in all heroic gear should be around 60K right now if they actual gave a shit about balance. 

Perhaps there is a reason for this type of inflation.  The reason is that the item squish is coming.  It is set in stone, it is already being done for the next expansion.  They have a team hard at work rebalancing everything from the past tiers around lower numbers.  No longer will be go and say "yeah 19K was great in ICC" because when things are balanced around the item squish 2K will be pretty damn awesome in full ICC heroic gear.  And that is the concept of the squish.  If done correctly, 19K will be awesome for the end of 6.0, three full expansions after we first found ourselves hitting 19K originally.

It would allow them to keep everything in the past down, and have some serious fun letting it all hang out in whatever the current expansion is.

That is why we have these insane numbers now.  By the end of the expansion we will be saying things like, if you can't do 300K you suck and that is more than a bit insane when you think that a group of people doing 20K each was capable of doing heroics when the expansion started with little to no problem.

At no time ever in the history of the game have the stats on gear been handled with such reckless abandon and in such an irresponsible manner.  The thing is, it is being done on purpose.  We have been given this huge upgrade because they know they are going to scale it back completely, so might as well let us have some fun with some huge numbers now.

In my little vision I could see a few designers sitting around the table and thinking about how they will introduce the item squish for he next expansion and someone came up with the idea that they should just go crazy with stats now, let people have their fun while at the same time show them how ridiculous the numbers start to look.  And that is exactly why we will all be doing 300K, even on alts we suck at, by the end of the expansion.

These large stats were not irresponsible at all like I call them.  They were not a mistake of some bad design team.  They were intended to be this badly balanced.  Just because they knew they would be starting new next expansion.

So the item squish is coming.  Absolutely.  My dreams do not lie.

Do you want it?

That would be another question entirely. 

I actually welcome the idea of smaller numbers.  I feel it is easier to balance when the numbers are smaller only because things appear clearer when the numbers are smaller.  Most people start to have issues with numbers the larger they get as if their brain does not process them correctly.

It seems people loose sense of scale when the numbers get huge.  Most people would never realize that doing 1K DPS and 900 DPS is the same as doing 100K or 90K.  Yet, in the eyes of someone that does not know numbers they see 100 DPS difference as "not that bad" and 10K DPS difference as "you suck".  In the end they are both 10% difference.  But 100 is smaller that 10K and in the eyes of the average player they would never notice there is no difference between the two numbers. 

The larger numbers get the harder it becomes for the human mind to comprehend them.  So it might seem simple, to people that know numbers, it is not really all that simple.  Small is simple so small is good.

But on the other hand I like going into old stuff and just blowing through it easily because of the stat increase.  The stat increase has always allowed me to solo some stuff I should have never been able to solo, or at least not so soon.  So it is kind of fun for that reason.  So for as much as an item squish seems like it is needed and I would welcome it, I would miss the power that the stats made me have.  Lets face it, going back to MC and looking rag in the face and hitting a cooldown on your tank to have more life than him is actually pretty fun.  Now, do that with a monk and one shot him.  How awesome is that?

I would miss the power I feel with the stats I have now compared to what I grossly over gear but I admit the item squish is needed.  Like it or not I have to deal with it, because it is coming.


  1. Anon, Grumpy's former Guild Leader:

    Hmm, I am not so sure that Blizzard will go for the item squish. I wish they would. But in the end, I think they will back down from it, terrified that all those numeracy challenged folks won't understand anything but "I was doing 300k last expansion and now I am level 95 and only doing 30k, WTF Blizzard!!!!!!!!11!!!!!".

    Actually if the item squish is to mean anything I suppose that it would be 3k instead of 30k in the previous example. Which would be even worse for the numerically challenged. So I guess I will hope you are correct, but I don't have faith in Blizzard to pull it off. Instead, I fear we will wind up with the mega number idea instead and "you suck cuz you only do 30m damage".

    1. The backlash from the community would be horrible. Just think of the beginning of each expansion.

      I was doing between 17-20K at the end of wrath, was doing 12K when I first hit 85. I was doing between 40-45K at the end of cataclysm, was doing 25K as soon as I hit 90. There is always a drop off from expansion to expansion.

      The problem is the drop off would be huge, from 300K to 3K would be a nightmare for public relations.

      You are right, the community is no nearly intelligent enough to understand that they are still better off. But I have a feeling it will happen only because they have made gear a complete joke is this expansion. It should have been titled World of Waitcraft: the endless struggle or gear up.

      They need to do something, even if they do not squish it, to take the important for gear away. Gear should never be the deciding factor. Just look at my rogue and his nearly doubled damage just from going from two 450 to a 476 and 483 dagger back when he got them. It almost doubled my DPS. Double??? For what should be a minor upgrade? They really need to put the skill back where it belongs, in the use of abilities and not in the gear you wear.

    2. It's exactly that drop off that made me retire my kitty druid. I only really went LFR on it as it was an alt but I loved it, especially Deathwing. I'd top the dps charts with 40-45k with my Fandral's Flamescythe, kicking the butts of people with Dragonwrath and Fangs of the Father sometimes (I inspected them *whistles). I absolutely loved it, and dungeons were fun too as the tank would die, I'd go bear and pop Enrage + Frenzied Regeneration and if the healer was dead too it wouldn't matter. Good times.

      When I started in Jade Forest though my dps plummeted to like 12k, I loathed it. I did not understand what was going on. In my mind I was better than that. Where did my kitty druid go that I could kick butt with? What happened? It just did not make sense. I got so mad that I specced Bear and leveled in a duo with a friend.

      I also want to go idd ^^ about the gear making a big difference. I had that on ret, a new weapon and my dps shot up massively. I've always said "I don't care about gear, I only care about what it lets me do" and that is true. Gear is not a good motivator for me, I despise the gear treadmill. I wish that gear was just cosmetic tbh or did not have such a big impact. It makes luck, especially now, play such a big impact in performance which is rubbish. It shouldn't be like that.

    3. Gear should increase what you could do but it should not be that huge. Gear needs to go back to the "cool, I got an upgrade this will help a little" instead of being what is is now "my rogue is useless until I can get some 522 daggers".

      That is where they made a mistake this expansion when it comes to gearing. I, like you, never was motivated by gear, but now I have to be because I am nothing without it.

      My DPS went up by 8K just getting that stupid cloak. Goes to show you how important one piece of gear is. And that is a minor piece that should have minor stats, even if it is part of the legendary line. It is not a main piece like a weapon, trinket, chest or what have you. It should not have been an 8K increase from my 530 piece.

  2. It's the soloing that remains my only reservation about item squishing. Blizz should really have learned their lesson about taking things away from players now, even things that we should not perhaps have had in the first place.

    I understand what you mean by saying "The stat increase has always allowed me to solo some stuff I should have never been able to solo, or at least not so soon." but the fact is that we can and have soloed it. To have that ability taken away when it's not our fault, it seems unfair.

    I don't think there would be any other problems with the squish. People will still be getting more powerful as it's all relative like you said. The numbers will be smaller but they'll be smaller for everyone, and really all it is is a comparison game. The second someone says "I did more. you suck" which will happen in a New York minute then it'll be the new normal, and it'll be like nothing changed except the numbers. Much like it does every expansion, we accept what the new standard is, it's just a new set of numbers.

    I want to say that if they change everything, change all the numbers, so it's still on a curve, that the soloing will remain. However, it won't. The only reason why some things can be soloed, can be killed before the enrage timer, is due to how much more powerful we are. If they put it on a regular curve, which they should, then there won't be any big jumps up. We won't get massively more powerful, there won't be the huge difference and that will spell the end for soloing some things.

    I know it's necessary, I know they need to do it, and I know that I shouldn't hate it. I do though, I hate it. In my selfish love for soloing I'm saying "I don't care if the numbers get in the billions" which is wrong. I won't protest if they do it as I know it's necessary but I will hate it.


    On a random note do you ever check out the PTR? If so I'm wondering if you've looked at the recently added Proving Grounds. I checked out the tank mode yesterday and I'm curious as to your thoughts on it.

    1. You nailed the biggest issue with the item squish. You can't take things away and not feel a backlash.

      It would be worse than the start of the expansion blues when you saw yourself doing less at 90 than you did at 85. But that is usually fixed by as soon as you are in all dungeon gear, 463 in this case, you are back over what you where last expansion. So people can accept that even if they complain about it.

      But with a full on squish we would never see 300K again, heck, with a full on squish that is designed well to keep up with it, we would never see 50K again. Best design practices would mean that we would top out at about 10K at the end of every expansion and then reset when there is a new one to build back up once more.

      I can accept that, even if I would hate what it would do to my ability to solo, but I am sure the community would really scream bloody murder.

    2. As for the PTR thing, no, I do not do them any more. I used to but I don't now for a few reasons. One being I do not have the time for it. The game never lets you catch up, even more so when you have as many alts as I do. I have not free time to "just play" because I am always stuck in the endless circle of trying to better my characters.

      Second reason is that it takes away from the game. If I do everything there it takes away from doing it live. It feels like I have been there and done that.

      Also things change and sometimes I hate the changes. Like in the mists beta there were so many things I liked that never made it live. It taints my feel for the game, so I stay away from the early preview at my own hands and leave it just to reading the forums and such.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. It is a common gripe of mine and many others. Gear is a huge issue this expansion.

      1) Constant gearing: There are so many levels of increasing gear making it feel like we are forever gearing and never just playing.

      2) Drop rates: There is nothing worse than running the LFR multiple times each week, getting horrible groups, long wait times, and then using coins over and over again and still 20 weeks later not getting the drop you need. Even when you killed the boss three times a week for weeks in an effort to try to get it.

      3) Gear scaling: Why can someone in all heroic gear be able to beat me when I do my rotation to perfection and them just slap their keyboard a few times during the fight? Or why should I be able to do more as BM with just my pet and autoshoot than someone else just starting to gear up can do even if they do their rotation to perfection. It needs to go back to wrath, where you could see an increase with gear, but if you did not perform well, it showed and someone in lesser gear that actually did their rotation better would beat you.

      4) Gear gating: The beginning of the expansion was a horrible joke played on the people that pay them. Making them have to do the same grind on multiple characters was not very nice to the vast majority of players. Even someone like myself that plays a lot got completely burnt out on it after getting three characters through the reputation hell. I felt bad for the more casual players out there. Really bad. Then adding the next set of valor gear behind a raid rep forcing people to do the LFR after they had forced them to quest until their fingers bleed was adding insult to injury.

      5) No catch up mechanic: Instead of making old gear easy to get, they made you needed to continue with the grind hell. The 489 gear should have been put down to justice and needed no rep, but they did not do that.

      6) The catch up mechanics they did add did not catch you up: Adding 496 gear to the isle when the new gear was 522 is not a catch up, it is still leaving you behind. And then making it still cost valor was like spitting in peoples faces. It should have been for justice if it was going to be only 496. Then after that, yes, after, they added the barren where you needed to grind, on a low geared character at that, to get 489 gear. 489 gear? WTF where you thinking. It should have been 502 at the least.

      7) Bend over, and I forgot the lube: That is the motto of blizzard to the players when it comes to gearing up this expansion.

      Yeap, there is a lot to complain about with gear this expansion.

  4. Two points:

    1) I do think there'll be a squish of some sort at some point, even if it's just to convert all visible numbers to K equivalents. Doing an actual squish would require re-balancing EVERYTHING in the game and that's probably too big of a projector for Blizz to take on at this point. I don't think the squish will actually mean anything, though, it's just optics.

    2) Gear scaling isn't any worse this expansion than it was in Wrath, even though I hear a lot of folks implying or saying otherwise. In Wrath, 1K was the minimum I expected for someone in a Heroic and quite a few couldn't do THAT much... in ICC, 10-20K was normal by the end of the expansion. So, 10:1 - 20:1 scaling from beginning to end. MoP? 25K starter dps with those scales would have us end up between 250K-500K (and I'm not talking BiS heroic dps, I'm talking normal dude dps) which is probably exactly where we'll end up, if not a bit high (I know a lot of folks who are basically geared out this tier who are still doing under 120K in an actual fights, they won't be hitting 250K next tier). This level of scaling is normal, it only looks like more because the numbers are bigger.

    1. 1) The squish to everything having a K would make a lot more sense and would be much easier to implement. They might end up going that route and in theory it would not be met with as much resistance as actually lowering the numbers would, even if it had the same result.

      2) The problem is not with the numbers exactly, as I mentioned in the post. I know they are the same in theory, but they are not working the same in practice.


      My best possible DPS with the gear I currently have puts me at roughly 150K. last tier my max theoretical DPS was 90K. Now, lets say I am just starting, and facing myself.

      I could do absolutely perfect in last tiers gear and do 90K but the one tier later me could send my pet in to attack and just autoshot and hit kill command on cooldown and do 90K.

      I could do the same with using only 1 single ability. That is why I say the gear is out of hand, it is the most important detail to DPS. Not, I repeat not, like in wrath as you are trying to say looking at it only from a numbers standpoint and not an in action standpoint.

      In wrath I could be in ulduar gear and destroy someone in ICC gear if they tried that bull shit. That is how it should be, and that would be 2 full tiers later, not just one. It should be that even if you have better gear you still needed to do your job. It should not be that the gear alone makes you better.

      It is not an issue of inflation being more. It is not. It is a case that the amount of stats mean more than they ever have before.

      That is why the gear inflation is unacceptable now and I said the wrath model was better. The wrath model, while still the same in theory as you mentioned put more emphasis on doing well and less on gearing well. Now it is all about gear and nothing else and that is horrible design.

      I hope I explained where I was coming from with that well enough. It is not just a case of the number looking bigger, it is a case of the functionality of those numbers. Wraths model was better.

    2. Sure, T14 you vs T15 you wouldn't be much of a fight but you're comparing that to T6 you vs T7 random crappy guy. Not a fair comparison. :)

      ICC you would have blown up Ulduar you, too. There's a reason why even 25-man Ulduar (i226) players were farming 10-man ToC (i232) and 5-man heroics (i232) never really went back to Ulduar once the next patch was released... even that i6 was a really big deal back then.

      If you're arguing that rotational changes resulted in a lower baseline today that could be true but I'm not in a position to argue that or not... I don't think auto-attack has ever been remotely competitive for anyone except MAYBE a rogue (I think passive dps can hit 50% for a rogue at times) but GEAR-WISE, the comparison isn't fair.

      This isn't anything new, it just feels like a bigger deal because a 60K difference between 90K and 150K feels like more of a problem than a 6K difference between 9K and 15K... but it isn't, the ICC and ToT guys will have roughly the same %age of health left both times. And yeah, I do generally buy the "perception counts" argument as a small factor, that's where the 60K is a bigger deal than the 6K... I just wish that was more of a side note vs the main story. Looking back over the past few expansions, I'd prefer that the 6K in Wrath became 12K in Cat and 24K in MoP but that's not how Blizzard handles the early expansion gear wipe... to blow up the previous gear they have to make the new garbage superior so they can't have a nice linear progression like that. It sucks, I hate replacing pieces I spent most of a year trying to get with the first quest green I come across, but at this point I'm used to it and it only hurts for a while, soon enough I have new epics that won't f'n drop for me that I'm focused on, I don't even remember the previous expansion ones. My first bank clean-up of every expansion is selling all of the epics that I couldn't bear to sell when they were first replaced and that's never as hard of a process as I expect it to be.

    3. I guess yes, a me vs me there as well would have been a more appropriate match up. But an ICC me just atoshooting and hitting kill command would have not beaten an ulduar geared me doing the right thing whereas it would now. And that is the comparison I am making.

      I too would have liked the 6K to 12K to 24K and that would have been a more developed design with foresight. The problem is that blizzard did not think ahead of time. They always seem to plan everything as this is it, this is the last thing we will ever do. I wish they would stop with thinking that and think of making things to last for years, not just one expansion. But that is another story all together.

      I said it in my post and agree with you. 60K and 6K is the same thing. Yes, absolutely, there is no arguing that and anyone that would argue that is a fool. But I do believe, unlike you, that perception means a lot more than you give it credit for.

      People still see things in smaller numbers and 60K even if it is the same is 6K is not in their eyes, not even close to the same thing. They do not look at it like you or I might, looking at numbers in comparison and taking gear into account.

      Last night I did 249K on the first boss in ToT. A decent number for my gear. The last time I ran it, a month ago, because I have been tanking instead, I think I hit 180K.

      In that month all I got was 1 new piece (legendary cloak) and upgraded the rest of my gear that was not upgraded and I went from 180K to 250K. A 70K boost from getting basically nothing. Nothing! Yes, it is just numbers, yes my 522 gear is now 530, yes my 530 cloak is now a 608 cloak, but over all I did not upgrade much and I still went up by 70K? That is out of line.

      Gear matters too much. That is what my point is. It matters way too much and it shouldn't. The me now compared to the me one month ago should be doing 10K more, maybe, not 70K more.

  5. I already solved this and another dozen problems in one swoop but no one will listen: Get rid of gear levels. Only gear quality. Tie the stats directly to the player and let the gear quality add the bonus. This would allow you to carry anything you like (no more weapon mogging needed) including legendaries forever because legendary would always have the highest boost against your current stats. Blacksmiths would actually get to do their job by being able to upgrade weapons for self and others to next quality level. Its not quite the same as heirloom because they have no inherent power they get that from you. Talk about bring the player! Every warrior carrying a green at the same level would theoretically do the same damage. Remember all weapons get their stats from you and not the other way around. Example blue has 10% boost over green and orange has like 40% or something. Crappy gear has negative stats or no boost at all. That makes legendaries what they always should have been: you can carry them into the next patch and you still rock over new content greens and blues!

    1. I like the idea and that would really be great for a single player game with a single end game focus. But I doubt it would work in something like this because the gearing process, and doing it over and over each tier, is part of the wheel they put us rats on to keep us playing.

      If we could get one set of great gear and that was our gear forever they would loose that hook they have in us.

      I do love that idea and thin it could work in a wide variety of games, but I doubt it could in this one sadly. They need a way to keep us chasing dragons and gear is simply the best motivator to do so.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. But it would still be a case of get a weapon, upgrade it to max, and never need to get anything again.

      To make it work there would at least need to be a gear reset each patch to keep people chasing things. It is that continued goal that keeps many people playing. Most even. To strive to get something. If you have everything what is there left to get?

  6. Item squish is tricky.

    The challenge is to implement the squish in such a way that we can still solo much of the content from last expansion and that's not simple, if it's even possible.

    There are a lot of different gearing methods that Blizz could use as others have mentioned, but I don't think they would make a drastic change like that. For a new game, we could come up with lots of scenarios that would work long term and the Blizzard team should be able to come up with even better ones. They are hopefully taking these ideas and applying them to Titan, but I don't see WoW having any major overhauls at this point. The need for item squish is directly related to these fundamental design choices that Blizzard made back in classic.

    Also, I don't know how much longer Blizz intends to invest a lot of effort into WoW. Will 6.x be the last expansion? Will they shift everything to Titan after that? Who knows? I definitely don't see them keeping up this crazy release schedule once Titan is out.

    1. That would be a massive undertaking. Even more than just redesigning the old world was. That was just art and quest design. This would be rebalancing the entire history of warcraft.

      They will keep on with wow as long as they are making money with it. That is just a matter of business. I am sure, even with the massive loss in subscribers since cataclysm, they are still making money hand over fist. They are not going to end this in 6.0 or any time soon.

      When subscribers fall under 3M we can start talking about it and even then it would still be a huge money maker compared to all the similar games out there.

      Just as I see it of course.

  7. One thing to keep in mind is they have already implemented the "K" method for damage, to assist with server queries. Have you noticed that all the damage reports are now in ",000" they have just implemented the way the damage is reported by adding a comma and three zeros at the end rather than putting in a "K". This was done at the start of MoP, but went under the radar. The main reason was to limit the magnitude of the numbers sending to/from the servers to manageable sizes again, rather than as a measure of player power. So a hit that say did 25K is actually sent to the server as 25 minimizing the data quantity.

    Effectively, they just divided all health/damage/healing/everything by 1000.

    So as it stands now, they do not need to worry about item squish for the time-being until the numbers increase by 1000 times... again.

    1. It did go under the radar, for me at least, I can honestly say I never noticed that myself.

      That might be a reasonable way for them to handle it, if it works. Just make things never even consider the "smaller" numbers and let the last 3 always be 000 or last 6 (soon) always be 000,000 and those show only to display to us.

      I do question if that is actually true however. Watching the numbers fly I can say with absolute certainty that my numbers are always full numbers, like 234,567 and not 234,000.

      The idea of treating the lesser numbers as all zeros, for internal reasons, does make a great deal of sense and could be a way around them needing to squish things.

    2. To get numbers like 234,567 certainly does occur, but still are handled the same way. It just means that 234,567 is equivalent to 234.567, which is a number the servers can handle MUCH easier.

      I remember seeing the post about it happening either on the WHU or WoWInsider, can't remember right now, but it was right around when MoP hit at least.

      With this implementation, it really elegantly solves the item squish issue from the server's point of view, so personally I doubt we'll see much change in the apparent trend in the near future.

    3. Ah found it! Here we are:

      It's a post that happened near the end of Cata. Nothing definitive in the post, but I remember seeing something around the internet saying that the 1,000's we see now is a way of doing the "K" damage solution.

      Cheers, Bronebeard.

      PS. I've been reading your blog for a long time now Grumpy and am curious about the server you play on. Particularly how you say the options for talented raiders are few and far between. I understand if it's information you wouldn't want to be posted on a public forum like this, but if you are willing to chat about it, let me know.

    4. Thanks for the link. I recall reading that back then now that you linked it but I completely forgot about it.

      I think the K thing, directly, was an option they were considering just like the item squish. Called it mega damage or something. That too is still an option and the more likely one really.

      I would prefer not to say. But to give you an idea I believe the top guild on my server only has 3 heroic bosses down and only three guilds have even 1 down. My guild is currently 7th and be have not even fished it yet.

  8. I'd think it would be easier to scale stuff with larger ranges of numbers. Image if you will 900 to 1000 being the range for an expansion, would you make it so that only super skilled players would get 990 vs super sucky players getting 900? It'd be hard to tune abilities, powers, etc to have such fine grained differences without resorting to decimals and fractional points. It would be harder to tune bosses. It would take even longer battles to get statistically significant differences between good players and sucky ones with a small range such as that. I like just starting to put K in instead of the longer numbers in the interface. If I start seeing 75k instead of 75,432 as my damage, I wouldn't mind a bit. And the interface would handle super small numbers comparatively perfectly easily. I do like it, it's a super simple solution that doesn't require lots of rework and tuning just to make numbers smaller and hope to keep things balanced and waste lots of developer/designer time I'd prefer they spend on content.

    1. What you say makes a great deal of sense but I think I would rather it be bad players doing 900 and good ones doing 990 instead of the insane gap there is now and I mean the difference can be 50K to 250K depending on skill and gear. The large gap just seems wrong, to me at least.