Tobold's Blog
Monday, November 07, 2011
Battleplate of Ludicrous Numerical Superiority

MMO-Champion has a post by Ghostcrawler on item stats. It has graphs and figures, explaining why item levels went up exponentially with character level in the 3 expansions. And notes how that is a problem, because it will lead to the Battleplate of Ludicrous Numerical Superiority with 62004 Armor, +2569 Strength, +3898 Stamina, and so on for a level 90 warrior. Compared to some level 60 epic, for example the Breastplate of Might with 771 Armor, +20 Strength, and +28 Stamina, it is clear to so how the numbers become increasingly silly.

Ghostcrawler is discussing two possible solutions. One is purely cosmetic, adding kilo- and mega- prefixes. The battleplate above would have 62 K armor, and a fireball would do 6 mega-damage instead of 6 million damage. The other solution would be a complete revamp of all existing gear, adjusting the stats of all mobs accordingly as well.

I do like the revamp idea, because it might help with some of the current "bumps" in leveling. People tend to spend a lot of time at the level cap, so each previous level cap has lots of content in the form of daily quests and dungeons. But every expansion starts with a huge gear stat inflation, so the hellboars in the first zone of the Burning Crusade drop green gear which is better than the level 60 epics from the level 60 levelcap content. That might be a necessary evil at the time a new expansion hits, but years later it is just an annoyance in the leveling curve. People change into the next expansion content as early as possible, because it is gear-wise better to do Burning Crusade content at level 58 than to do the old level 58-60 content. If Blizzard were to revamp the item level vs. character level curve, they could remove these bumps in the curve and make the leveling experience smoother, using more of their old content.

If they go that way. expect an endless nerf-buff rollercoaster ride.
The upcoming problem of gear inflation is a problem spawned almost entirely of Blizzard's own failed design goals for Cataclysm. The oft cited ludicrous health pools have nothing to do with gear, if you were to strip all the gear off a level 85 mage, it'd still have twice the health pool of the best geared tanks from wrath.

What really created the biggest failure was the incredibly wasteful leveling process introduced in Cataclysm. Going from heroic ICC25 items at ilevel 277 to T11 normal items at ilevel 359, Blizzard wasted 82 ilevels of bloat on content that lasted most players 7-10 days. Naxx raiders wore their T3 into Kara, Sunwell raiders wore their T6 into Naxx, ICC raiders wore their T10 into Deepholme, if that.

If Blizzard had stuck with their tried and true method of the leveling gear maxes out at 1 tier, or 13 ilevels above the best raid gear, then we'd be looking at having gear in the 347 range dropping from deathwing heroic, rather than ilevel 404 gear.

Blizzard's lack of self restraint this expansion has cost them dearly, and this is only one facet of the problem.
@ loque

Theoretically, it should be a simple math problem. Well, ok, "simple" is the wrong descriptor, but it still holds. It's just a ratio rebalancing for EVERYTHING IN THE ENTIRE GAME. A lot of math, a lot of time and effort, but nothing that would need to be tested extensively and rebalanced constantly into the future. You could make everything functionally identical before making a single change

The bigger concern is that it would just feel really wrong.
They need to start taking the fight off of Azeroth.

If they can somehow wrap things up on Azeroth in the next expansion - kill off the old gods, destroy the cults, deal with Azhara and the Naga - then we can leave the planet via either magic or technology and take the fight to the Demons. Because they will attack again, so why not hit them first?

Once off the planet, the devs have an excuse to reset whatever they want. The rules can change once we get to the next world. The original world can be solely for leveling up (with some modifications of course).

Doing something like that, they can postpone any gear stat modifications for at least one expansion, then do a complete reset without risking pissing people off.
The problem is that Blizzard used a geometric algorithm rather than an arithmetic one so the curve goes up 2,4,8,16,32.... It's getting out of control and needs to be rebalanced. Imagine this in chat at expac lvl 120: "ilvl 2045 Lock 163000 dps LFG". Pfft, he only has 738k health and can't even crit 350k!!

There are several ways to rework the math to rebalance the game but in my opinion, endless vertical progression is neither desirable nor fun. People can spend just as much time chasing a rare, cool-looking weapon with the same iLevel if no alternative exists. Everything in wow is about ilvl and Blizz has designed all rewards around that principle, completely ignoring other player motivations in the process.
Just take away the whole "item level" idea and we would never ever see an item such as that chest piece...
I do not see why the first zones from any given expansion should be based on the top tier raiding gear from the previous.

How many people actually have a full top tier raiding set? Our previous numbers here have show that 2/3 of max level characters will never kill even one single raid boss. Saying "everyone will be decked out in top raid gear" is simply untrue.

What's more, the same raiders who have that gear are much more likely to consider leveling to be an annoyance they want to skip. Why not simply let them be overgeared for most of that time (speeding the process up for them)?
The main problems with the WoW management: laziness, arrogance and lack of ambition.

Look at this quote: "Maybe we’ll come up with yet another solution. Maybe it’s the kind of thing we can put off for another expansion"


Each expansion takes the 'easy' route. Let's add 5 or 10 more levels. Let's just increase the stats of items a bunch. Let's just add some more dungeons and 1,000 more boring errands, err 'quests'.

They should be expanding 'horizontally' like Eve Online and Magic the Gathering instead of vertically.

Obsoleting 90% of your content every expansion is the easy, lazy way.

They are just a bit too comfortable over there. I wish they had more ambition.

My guess is there are several developers or other folks that want to do BIG things to the game. Make awesome things instead of more 'same old same old'.
Maybe those ambitious folks should quit and go work on Guild Wars 2 or start a new company.
Or better yet, maybe the lazy folks should quit and go work on Star Wars The Old Republic, there the holy trinity and tired old gameplay is still alive and well, they will fit right in.
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