Yesterday, I finally completed the ‘acquire the Ashbringer’ portion of my Paladin’s journey to L110 and made a startling revelation. It was enough to get me really very angry and as a result, I didn’t immediately write down my feelings, deciding instead to take some time to consider what I’d grasped. I was determined to go to bed not with a negative outlook but energised and focused instead.
I’ve wanted to read this book since I saw it was being adapted into a movie, and I can entirely understand why, because it is unlike anything I have read for a decade. Written from the very analytical standpoint of a female narrator, it documents a failed expedition into an area that defies the laws of conventional nature. That’s all I’m going to say because I urge you to go read it yourself. What this did on waking this morning was help me shove all my angry, irrational thoughts into a precise and dispassionate order.
I realise that Class Fantasy was a buzzphrase someone made up to sell Legion to emotionally invested idiots like me, and I bought the lie completely. It was the ‘concept’ someone brainstormed on an interactive whiteboard to encompass the means by which this Dev team would place their indelible stamp on the Expansion, and effectively reinvent the Franchise, again. Except what is now apparent is that somewhere along the line there was a deviance in commitment. Possibly that was due to different teams working on their visions of the same concept, and the sense of consistency between Class Fantasies being… well, very much reliant on what the Devs understand really matters to players in the game.
Paladins definitely, positively got the best deal in this game feature.
Part of me now suspects that was the case because this was the Class Hall that was used as an example at Blizzcon. It needed to look great to sell the game. I find myself thinking now that the Hunter Class Hall got made near the end when enthusiasm was low, and nobody who was taking part in this process really understood what it was to really be a Hunter for as long as I had. I’d done my Rogue artefact a few weeks previously and that whole ‘you’ll love the Underbelly, you don’t need Ravenholdt’ thing that dogged the development process for a couple of months has become a metaphor for the rigidity of designer desire.
They wouldn’t change to what would have been the more logical decision because the art resources were already committed to their own ideas. Despite the quite obvious realisation that they’d made the wrong call during planning, that they’d not asked Rogues the right questions, we were told it would be great and we’d love it, and that was where the conceit had initially cracked. This wasn’t the Community’s crowdsourced version of Class Fantasy. It was simply a feature, made to sell the game, and it works if you are a Paladin.
The reality, of course, was that I bought into this feature the same way everybody else did who plays the game. It was a great means by which focus was shifted away from the issues that were suffered in Warlords. In that regard, the exercise was an unqualified success. The problem, such as it remains is all about how one looks at the content presented to begin with. For many people, the ideas of fantasy they were presented were so far away from their own that they simply stopped playing. For me, the investment in the game eventually overrode the fantasy and means that I’m now looking at all this with an objectivity that simply never existed before.
I have no emotional investment in current fantasy as a result.
I remain hugely entrenched in my personal version of fantasy, however, or else I’d not be levelling the alts. The disassociation this Expansion has created may have effectively destroyed my husband’s desire to play the same ‘gear grind until obsolete, then reset’ game but I remain wanting to be a part of how things pan out. However, the days of genuine enthusiasm and joy in what is presented has gone. That’s the real reason, I know now, that I gave up my writing gigs elsewhere. I no longer possess the enthusiasm required to document the minutiae of this existence week in and out. Right now, writing daily is a problem too.
That makes the next pitch that Blizzard makes to me in terms of game development more of a big deal than it has ever been. It has nothing at all to do with saving the franchise: that’s already in safe hands, the changes made in this Expansion more than enough to ensure people keep playing and throwing money at the IP for years to come. Many people are already bought into several more years anyway regardless of what may now transpire. I’m here now, waiting to see what happens next. Frankly, where do you go after you give a character the most Epic weapon they ever owned? How do you even better that level of ‘Class Fantasy’ to begin with?
I look forward to the Expansion announcement with some curiosity, but no real excitement. This is going to have to be a REALLY good package, Blizzard. I really hope you’ve learnt the lessons that Legion has taught you over expectation and reward.
There’s quite a lot for me riding on what you have in store.