Thursday, June 18, 2015

Why Should Demo Wait?

There were a lot of comments that came out of the Q & A that people had issues with and one of the biggest was the fact they basically said, paraphrasing, Demonology was too strong and they could not fix it now so they nerfed it to the ground instead.  Add that to the "if you only have one priest in your raid and they are not disc you are doing it wrong" and more than a few people had issue with how they were handling the classes, and rightfully so.

The issue I bring out of this comment in my mind is not that demonology is stuck in last place for warlock specs but the fact that they they seem to have no intention of fixing it.  There always needs to be a spec that is last.  Even in a perfect world someone will always be last.  So I do not have an issue with them saying it was demonology's turn to be in last, my issue is with the fact they don't seem to care about fixing it.

Being last is one thing, being brutalized because they refuse to fix it is another thing entirely.  It bought to mind what I find to be a much greater problem with the game.  Not just them devaluing the use of demonology because they felt it was too strong or the allowing discipline to remain as powerful as it is.  The idea that came to mind was why does blizzard pick and choose which classes to mess with and which classes to leave alone.  Why not just fix things?

Look at the beginning of mists with hunters and their stampede.  In the opening weeks it was nerfed not once, not twice but three times because they felt it was too strong in PvP.  Lets forget for a moment that people like myself said at the get go, just have them do less damage to players and don't nerf it for PvE, which is what they ended up doing on the fifth or sixth time they attempted to fix it.

Apparently someone at blizzard did not like hunters being powerful so stampede had to get nerfed to the ground.  This time someone at blizzard did not like that people who played demonology well, really well, were capable of squeezing more out of it so they had to nerf it to the ground.  Yet some specs like mages throughout history and disc priest now can remain unbalanced with nothing happening to them what so ever.

So I use demonology warlock as the poster child for balance and ask, why should they have to wait?  Why can't they do some tuning now.  Even if not in time for 6.2, why not work on it and bring it out in a week, or two, or even three.  Why put them on the back burner and say they have to wait until next expansion to get fixed?

It just seems wrong for blizzard to be so dismissive of the players and say it is okay for one classes to do so poorly because they do not feel like balancing it.  They often use the excuse it would take a lot of work and they will do it next expansion but that is not acceptable.  Classes should be tuned and retuned multiple times during an expansion as needed.  Sure a complete over haul should wait for a new expansion, but fixes should come right away.  If they can take the time to nerf them they can take the time to fix them.

Why does a game that has millions of players and makes over a billion dollars a year not make the effort to fix problems with it?  Be it a problem with a class, a zone, a quest, what have you, if there are issues they should be addressed and not swept under the carpet to deal with later.

The bigger issue here is not what they did to demonology, but the idea that demonology needs to wait, just like any other class that has issues.  I do not think their idea that they can only fix things during major patches and they can only adjust classes with a new expansion is acceptable.  They should be constantly working, constantly adjusting, and even if need be, constantly updating with little tweaks here and there to try and keep things balanced.  It would be a much better design than nerfing something to the ground and saying, we will get to it later.

Demonology shouldn't have to wait and it is wrong for blizzard to make them do so.


  1. I think Blizz has lost the bubble on class balancing. Not sure why, but my guess is that there is no one who takes a good look at the meta-implications of any individual class changes. So for example, the priest dev comes up with the idea of making disc heavy on absorbs, but no one looks at this in light of what it really means for raid teams or for the impact it has on other healers in a raid, or for that matter the impact it has on priest spec selection. I am not saying the individual spec development is done capriciously, just that it is done myopically and no one applies the big picture lens to it.

    Failure to really see the ultimate outcome of class changes results in the wild swings and meat axe approach you described. Take the most recent nerf to SV hunters. It was a clumsy reaction to having failed to anticipate that stacking multistrike scaled fantastically well, and that OF COURSE SV hunters were going to do so.

    The demonology example is similar. The devs for locks came up with the current demo spell book, ran some tests, and watched how it played out on the PTR. But apparently no one anticipated how well expert players would do with it once it went live and they had a chance to develop their expertise with it.

    This is project management incompetence, and it is very troubling to see it in what is supposed to be a top tier game development company. I share your outrage over the "oh, well *shrug*" response to the abysmal state of class (im)balance, but it strikes me that Hazzikostas and the others at his level are in way over their heads in this, and they truly don't see an imminent way out. The responses we are seeing are the panicked flailings of a team desperately treading water.

    But hey, on the plus side, we got jukeboxes and "more realistic" darkness in Kalimdor. *grin*

    1. I think part of it is that they seem to want to design for the 0.01% so that everything is balanced around that.

      Sometimes because something is so over powered when played to perfection they have to nerf it because of that 0.01% that can actually play it at the level of perfection.

      They would be, in my option, better off try to balance as close as possible around the average player with average ability and if one class becomes super over powered in the hands of someone that is an exceptional player, more power to them.

      When they design from the top down there will always be a lot of balance issues because there are so few at the top that is skews everything.

      Remember during the interview watcher said the only stat he did not like how it worked out was multistrike? I think being it worked so well for survival is what he was referring too. In the right hands it was exceptional and for most classes it wasn't. So instead of trying to fix it they nerfed the one class it was exceptional for and put it on their to do list for next expansion to fix. Not sure I like this "fix later" mentality.

  2. “We didn't want Warlocks to feel like that was the spec they were forced to play.”

    Well they are kind of cause for that aren’t they. If the team had a policy of small weekly tweaks to what is arguably the most important part of the game, players would not jump ship like they did. When players jump spec/class its because they view balancing efforts to be either arbitrary/rare/inept. You can’t really fault the players for taking action they way they did.

    Why did everyone migrate to demonology? They didn’t trust you to Blizz anything it fix it. That’s why the class forums on are so toxic, I don’t think the company has a good process for enhancements, and on the forum every is jumping to be first in line for a fix. This becomes an even bigger problem for a company when they are as far behind as Blizz is currently on content.

    1. Blizzard needs to understand that there will always be a best and a worst. Even if MM is 1K over BM I will feel forced to play MM and so will everyone else.

      Will that 1K make a difference to 99% of the player base? Absolutely not. But best is best and there will always be best and people will feel forced to play it.

      That is just how life is, blizzard can just try to keep specs as close as possible. That is all they can ever do. But no matter how well they do it there will always be a best and people will play the best. Simple as that.

      Don't get me started on the forums. There is a reason I never posted there and never will. There are no moderator there and the only time they show up is when you disagree with them. They do nothing to help the community or the forums. It is a waste dump, nothing more.

  3. I've really been trying to be positive lately, but this is another indicator that WoD shipped unfinished.

    1. WoD was shipped unfinished. What you saw in 6.1 is how is should have been on release. Or closer to that at least. Up until 6.1 we were playing on a live beta.

      They have still not addressed many issues we had with the beta. People warned them of issues, they ignored the people. Makes you wonder why they even have a beta if they completely ignore the feedback from players.

      Then they do stupid things. Like in the interview where they talked about nerfing gold from missions because people were making too much and then the next day they change blingtrons vault from 500 gold to 1000 gold. Does it make any sense what they do? "People are making too much gold, lets double the gold from the top gold missions, that will help."

  4. Anon: Grumpy's Former Choir Leader.

    I was shocked at how abruptly Watcher told Lore that he was doing it wrong -- twice. Cold and to the point. On camera, to his face in front of thousands: Lore looked shocked too.

    I was also shocked when Watcher said that they don't know how to fix Disc Priests and that they'll be top dog for the second straight expansion (we are talking years now).
    And ... that is it. Nothing will be done.

    So, should I roll a Disc Priest for the rest of this expansion?

    1. If you are the only priest in a progression raiding guild, yes. If not, doesn't matter all that much.

    2. Lore looked shock, that he did. I mean that is something you might hear me say because I am a mean and heartless person, or more so a raid leader that wants to win, but from a guy in the public relations sector I am not sure how well that played out. I liked the honesty, he was only saying what we all knew already, but not sure if he said it the right way. He could have been a little more gentle with his words.

      And James is right, as watcher said. If you are the only priest in a group you should be disc. Unless you are only raiding normal, which you should still be disc for anyway.

  5. Here's the thing I never get about stuff like this: They have to KNOW that people are just going to find the next top DPS (or healing/tank) spec and move to that. At least, the people that care about that stuff, which is the exact people this is targeted at.

    For a player like me, I don't typically jump around specs. I'm not a raider so I play more thematically. Sometimes that means I'm in the best spec of flavor of the month, other times it means I am in the worst spec.

    So yeah, you'll take Demonology off the top but that doesn't mean those people will stay demonology. Some of those players will just respec in to whatever is the best.

    As long as they continue to do this poor balancing, this will be the treadmill they are on.

    It doesn't seem that hard to understand.

    1. They don't get it. They do not understand that to the people it matters to they will always go to the top spec, so nerfing it so it won't be the top spec doesn't make all that much sense. Sure, lower it so it is more in line with the others, but don't destroy it. They will never understand that no matter what they do there will always be a "best" and people that it matters to will always switch to it.

  6. Celestalon was really bad at knowing when to make jokes and when to respond earnestly, which is I imagine at least part of why they got him to cut back on the twittering. Watcher isn't really any better.

    That said, the demo thing didn't bother me. I play a hunter, and I do like survival better than the other two specs, but I love all three specs better than any other spec in the game. The comment about "it's Demo's turn to be bottom of the three" is what he should have explained from the get go. That's all he needed to say "it's going to be viable, but it's another spec's turn to be on top".

    Let's get something clear, too. Survival is in a much, much, much worse place than demo is in 6.2. Demo isn't in the bottom of all DPS, or the bottom of all pure DPS class's specs. It's below average. But by definition exactly half of the specs have to be below average.

    If you're in a competitive guild, playing a pure dps spec, and can't play all three specs, then you shouldn't be in a competitive guild in the first place. If you're not in a competitive guild, then play a below average spec, who cares.

    The disc thing, I think, is much much worse. They've known about this problem for a long long long long long long time. long. He even admitted that having a disc priest takes away the fun of other healers. It's not just Disc is OP, it makes other players have less fun. I don't understand how they can not have fixing disc at the top of their priorities.

    1. "it's Demo's turn to be bottom of the three" [already low performing specs. So basically it sounds like the top performing warlock spec will be about the same as the worst performing hunter spec?

    2. Yeah, if that were the case, it certainly wouldn't be acceptable. But given that all three specs are performing better than Survival on Single Target, and waaaay better than Survival on Multi-target, I don't understand exactly what 'locks are upset about.

      I mean, I guess I do in part. I would also be upset if I felt a dev was disrespecting my favorite spec. If that's what's bothering you, that makes since, and I can empathize.

      But if you're upset because your class isn't performing well in HFC, it is. you have good specs for AoE and Single Target. Demo is underperforming in BiS with 4 piece, but it's not even close to being the worst DPS spec, as it's doing better in ST than Survival and Beast Mastery hunters, Enhancement Shamans, and Subtlety and Combat Rogues.

      Plus you have other specs which are doing even better!

      Again, I'm not trying to say you shouldn't be upset at the way Watcher handled the question. But Demo Locks most certainly have not been "nerfed to the ground". They got a nerf. They're still no where near the worst.

    3. @Del

      Not sure who is worse but I would have to say Cel. I might not have liked how watcher said it but I can respec the fact he was honest about disc and demo. I will never get over Cel saying "marksman is fine" after playing it and seeing how dreadful it was. An outright lie is one hundred times worse than someone saying something in an abrasive way like watcher did.

      I disagree about the "play what you want" part to some extent. If the specs are close, sure, play what you want. But if one is so superior to the others if you want to play in a group setting than it is your responsibility to do the best you can for the group and that means playing the best spec. Yes, even in a casual guild like mine. We are not a competitive guild, we do not push progressions, but you can be sure as hell if you are purposes coming with the worst spec I am going to treat you the same as someone that comes ungemmed and unenchanted. And that means you will usually be sitting on the bench unless we feel as if we can carry you.

      @ Elkagorasa

      Locks are actually in a much better place than hunters right now.

      @Del again

      Seems like MMs AoE is better than survivals now too. That really seems messed up.

  7. Well, I rewatched that part of the interview and I took something more honest from Watcher out of his explanation about the reasoning to nerf Demo Warlocks "to the ground". He did expand on the reasons a bit stating that Demo has a high learning curve and is a complicated spec to play effectively. There are several things you have to do at the right time to make it perform well. What Blizzard saw players doing was looking at Noxxic (LOL @ his dig on Noxxic) seeing Demo as top Warlock spec and then just jumping into it without understanding the specifics of the spec and then seriously under-performing because they are not playing it correctly. He stated that they need to address the complexity of Demonology, but will not be able to do that right now - and instead of having a bunch of Demo "baddies" running around doing it wrong, they decided to nerf Demo so that the average person would not jump right into it and hamper progression and themselves by not playing it well.

    Now, that said, I still have concerns similar to what you (Grumpy) and others are stating about this decision and agree with a lot of them. However, to me, based on what I saw and rewatched, I think his honestly about the real reasons for this nerf was rather surprising. Surprising with respect that he was upfront with the players and straight up said, 'Demo is not an easy spec to play well and we want to address it, but also do not want a bunch of players playing it ineffectively and by doing so hurting themselves and their raid progression'. I think that took some guts to say in effect, 'Yeah, we screwed up with Demo and want to fix it but also don't want it to be the top spec thus causing people to gravitate towards it prior to us fixing it.'

    1. It is rather surprising. For them to be so upfront about their incompetence and then go on about how they are compounding on it rather than fixing things is really refreshing. I just feel better and better about letting my sub go.

    2. I too loved the shot at noxxic. I still say it is fine for a beginner to look at because it is really basic and easy to understand. But if you want to be serious you can not count on that as your guide. It is nice to see someone else say that.

      I do not agree with them nerfing Demo because it was hard. A harder spec should be rewarded with higher DPS. It seems fair. If it is going to be a lot harder for you to do equal to me than if you are playing a harder spec you should be higher than me. But I guess it all depends on the number so how much more.

      His reasoning for the nerf however is concerning. He basically said that most players are bad players. So they would roll Demo because it was best and end up doing worse at it because it was so hard. So they put one of the easier specs on top so the "bad" players could get closer to doing well.

      That is basically what I read between the line there. I could be wrong, but that is how I heard it.

      @ S & H

      The honesty was a huge change for them, but as you mentioned, seems odd they choice this time to be honest when they are admitting to making things worse on purpose. Not really a bight idea.

  8. * Demo is doing too good in raids.
    * NUMEROUS warlocks (like myself) complained about how hard the proving grounds were to complete.

    This tells me that most people are either playing the affliction/destro specs, or warlocks in general are underperforming and they're making the only viable spec just as bad as the other two.

    What am I missing here?

    1. You do PGs on a fresh undergeared lock usually. I think top performing demo locks are from progression raiding mains, which do not really have that issue. So my guess is it's different people, not necessarily specs.

    2. Demo has a very high skill cap so that means usually only the best of the best will be able to do it first try or quickly even. The other specs are just better at it.

  9. Demo and Destruction are clearly NOT under-performing in current raid content. Although most Mythic parses are for Demo because it's the 2nd best DPS spec in the game according to the logs.
    Destruction is 4th though. Both parse above hunters (MM is 8th and BM is 11th).

    Affliction is currently below average: down with SV hunters.
    Warcraft Logs Mythic BRF Rankings

    It's too early to say how things will play out in HFC and we can't really trust the sims because they don't represent real raid situations. For example, none of the SimCraft results for T17 look anything like the Warcraft Logs rankings.

    Also, Proving Grounds are not balanced for all specs. On some specs, they're super easy and on others they're very hard and that doesn't match with the raid performance of those specs at all...

    1. Proving grounds are easiest for a hunter by far. Not sure if that is because I know mine better than any other class but it really seemed like I could sleep through gold on a hunter even at a 580 something item level, which is what my horde hunter did it in wearing mostly mythic SoO gear. Some classes it was harder on because, as you said, it is not designed for classes.

      The problem is that they are making the changes based on the top 1% that you see there. Most people are not capable of playing Demo at that level of skill. So just because a few are getting so much out of it they needed to nerf it while the average joe like me on a Demo lock would never do well thanks to the high skill cap of it and my lack of practice with it.

      They need to stop balancing around the 1% I think. If something is OP for mythic, so be it. Who cares. All mythic guilds would all do the same and reroll that class and stack it. So they are all on equal footing.

  10. Heh, I posted a bit back that I dread the coming of 6.2 with its lag and stuff. Well seems I have other things to worry about. We now have battlenet queues of over half an hour. When you think it can't get any worse...

    1. I don't think blizzard even has enough subs to cause a battle net queue timer. Must be a bug on their end. But then again, battle net is used for everything so it could be heroes of the storm people and not warcraft people. Judging from the slim picking of pugs this weekend, there are not too many playing warcraft at the moment, or at not many making groups.