Bowing to Design

“Probability as a measurable degree of certainty; necessity and chance; moral versus mathematical expectation; a priori an a posteriori probability; expectation of winning when players are divided according to dexterity; regard of all available arguments, their valuation, and their calculable evaluation; law of large numbers…”
Jacob Bernoulli


Bowing to Design

Quick resume: I have designed sets, stages and lights in Edinburgh, Hong Kong, New York, Boston and Los Angeles. I was mostly a lighting guy and spent a very busy thirty years doing it. I also spent a lot of time employed at my college and happily designed for students when they asked me.

A thing I learned early on, especially as I got known for my work, is that there can be insecure or unsure directors and choreographers. My intention has always been to let the design come out of the work, I’d never layer my own idea on top of someone else’s idea. But, when it comes to that collaborative conversation, one can see that director settling back and simply accepting an idea. I learned to be very careful about that since I was in a position of prestige or power. The director or choreographer has the keys to the car, they have to drive it to their destination.

The unsure choreographer might go to great lengths to try to make my idea work, confident that I am making the right choices or that they want to feature my work to make their work appear stronger. This is a mistake. A careful designer must make sure that it is the boss’s dream that is going to come true and see realization.

I think that in the World of Warcraft, that we have seen since Warlords of Dreanor the leadership bowing to the design. Whether it is the designers complaining and actually being catered to, I don’t know. It would not be healthy if this is the case.

In past blogs I have mentioned the “no flying” in WoD which caused an uproar. It is true that the game looks better on the ground but it is not the best overall choice as seen by the push back. Bowing to the designer was not a good idea then and we are living in some uncomfortable compromise with pathfinder.

The same was true with limiting the camera distance (which got reversed) and limiting water walking mounts (which got reversed). There must be a bunch more, but those stand out as obvious push backs from the player base and would not have ever gotten to us if we had a strong leader with a vision.

My tin foil hat theory is this is why so many offensive spells are on the global cool down: to feature the art work and animations. It might be defended publicly as an idea for better game play but, I think, the reality is that designers complained that their work could not be seen and they used their seniority, perhaps, to push it forward.

I remember in the Hellfire Citadel second boss encounter that, when we got strong, that we could over-power phase one and jump straight to phase three. We could skip all the cool art of the robot flying over our heads. I imagine the designer was really upset! But we players felt great; we kicked ass.

Players get clever. Today we can jump past the mobs after Taloc by shooting through the door at MOTHER. We can ignore the adds on Putrid Destroyer and tunnel on the boss. We can power through phase one of Zul by ccing the adds and focusing the boss; negating almost all of phase one mechanics.

I wonder if there will ever be a push back on the global cool down. Yes, we can see our cool animations but the “fun” part of stacking cool downs, trinkets, hero and potions to blow past mechanics are gone. I miss that and I think a good director would see that as an important part of the player experience.

Do I know anything? Nothing at all. The most obvious director is Ion and he does a fine job of representing and defending the choices in the game to us players on a regular basis.

4 thoughts on “Bowing to Design

  1. I think it may be a case of too many designers on a team without a lead person. Think of it as the Gremlins bar scene where everyone was given free reign to come up with something they wanted to see a Gremlin do. It looks funny on film, but there is so much going on you miss half of it. Mechanics are the same. They have pushed design beyond what most people can process.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hm, yeah. Good read, obviously! 😉 😀

    I must admit, I long for flying. I think MoP (was it?) had it right – flying at max level? Perhaps when we finished all the zones.

    Liked by 1 person

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