Thursday, September 17, 2015

Chill Winston!

chillwinston.jpg (img:blizzard)

Title appropriate for reasons hopefully forthcoming. Header image appropriate because the title also references a line in my favorite Guy Ritchie movie and Winston just happens to be the name of a character in Blizzard's soon-to-be-in-beta FPS Overwatch. As you can see, if you're on the opposing side of Winston you're probably going to wish that he'd just chill out. Opening paragraph appropriate because this is probably going to be a rambling piece stating things I've said before using more words than I actually need. But I settled on a title and a header image before starting, so I'm feeling a minor obligation to finish it. I know, not many selling points to continue reading.

A few months back, I made a promise to myself to stop speculating about the design of World of Warcraft, and what Blizzard may or may not do by reading into what they're saying and not saying. So far I've kept my promise, even if I didn't speculate that much to begin with. Speculation, of course, isn't talking about likes and dislikes. Speculation isn't simply saying you don't like the fact it took so long for Blizzard to add flight. Speculation is saying Blizzard only cares about maximizing subscription dollars, and prolonging the leveling and end-game open-world content by prohibiting flight is one way to do that.

Speculation is forming a theory or opinion without firm evidence. Note the adjective; not a lack of evidence, but a lack of firm evidence. I alluded to my interest and study of the UFO phenomenon in the piece linked above; I spent several years researching the best evidence available to the public. As of this writing, ETs haven't landed on the White House lawn. Outside of that happening, the only way for me to know, to truly know, would be if I were a decidedly real secret agent with files of direct proof in my hand. I am not such a person, I must say.

There's a parallel here (you still there?) when it comes to speculation about what Blizzard is doing and saying. As is often claimed in ufology, the information possessed by those in the know is highly compartmentalized. The scope of what Johnny B. knows is not what Sally C. knows, and Ashley F. only speaks about what they've been authorized to speak about. The only way for me to know what Blizzard's up to would be if I were a drone on the wall in every single meeting. From CS to design, development, financials, organizational planning---all of them.

So the end result of speculation is the same: there's an inherent inability to know, and speculation will only take one so far until it becomes an utterly exhausting exercise. We can get close to knowing, sure, and sometimes we even stumble upon an actual truth, whether we're aware of it or not. But in the end, I had to distance myself from the subject. I had stop visiting the message boards, certain websites, and curb myself from talking to anyone who'd lend their ear. Oh right. I'm not talking about UFOs here. I'm talking about Blizzard's intentions, their game design, and what they should be doing to make it the game that seems ideal for me.

I've been out of the Blizzard speculation loop long enough to where the thought of speculation on an announced design or feature has zero appeal. Then again, I accepted Warlord's lack of flight from the start, even if communication about when it would actually be implemented left a bit to be desired. But perhaps my disposition was different from the start, compared to those who were outraged by the announcements or the silence or both.

What I had to do with Blizzard, like I did with ufology, was to take everything I'd learned and experienced up to that point and form a belief. To find a solid rock to stand on amidst the sand I'd been mucking around in. I'd have to look at the past ten years I spent in the game, sometimes alone, sometimes with friends; ten years of quality entertainment, how times have changed, and what has remained the same.

What I realized is that the belief had been there all along, the same belief that drew me into World of Warcraft and the one that has positioned me as a gamer who plays almost nothing but Blizzard games: that Blizzard Entertainment brings, and will continue to bring quality gaming experiences to the masses. We've had ample evidence of this (outside of and including World of Wacraft) during the past two years especially.

My truth is a personal one. Mine and mine alone, and one that I won't force on other people. The truth is something they'll have to discover on their own---should they even feel the need to seek it---whether their truth matches mine or not. But if the truth for me wasn't what it is, I wouldn't be in this space. I wouldn't be writing this.

In closing, if I have one bit of advice, it's to take this all in---the state of Blizzard, its games, and gaming in general---within the greater context of everything that's out there. Day to day. Hour to hour. Minute to minute. If you're disappointed, frustrated, or angry, self-imposed exile can be a valuable thing. The truths out there aren't going anywhere. They exist independent of all of us.

If nothing else, try to look up from time to time. Expect nothing, and I promise you won't be disappointed.

1 comment:

  1. As much as I do love to rail against Blizzard sometimes they do bring a lot of quality games. I think my Blizzard addiction started in '99 with StarCraft and since then I've played everything they've released, to greater or lesser degrees.