Quote of the Day – Or We Just Don’t Want to Do It

 As we discussed at BlizzCon, we’re accomplishing this by making it so primary stats for a given piece of gear will change based on your current spec, though it’s likely that only new gear added in Warlords will work like this, as it might be impossible to implement this for all existing gear.

From the forum update on the Warlords of Draenor itemization plan (emphasis mine)

I came out in favor of the itemization revamp plans announced at BlizzCon.  As somebody who hasn’t played for long enough… at least since I have come back… to be deeply invested in the current system of drops, enchants, reforging, stats, and whatever, I suppose that is easy for me to say.  Still, the primary stat changing to be based on your spec… so if you need INT plate, you have INT plate, if you don’t then you don’t worry about it… seemed like a good idea.

Armor stat change

Armor stat change

So I was a bit disappointed when, in that post linked above in the quote, they said it probably won’t be ported backward to all previous content.  But I get it.  I work in software.  Some things are just not worth the effort required, especially when you are moving everybody forward in any case.

Only they had to use the word “impossible” when there were so many other ways they could have put that.  They could have said might be:

  • too much work to accomplish before we want to ship
  • too broad in scope and touches too much code to be worth considering
  • so much work that it would pull people off of other things we think would be better for the game
  • too boring even to assign to the interns

Hell, they could have said it was impossible to do within certain time or cost parameters.  But no, they just said it might be impossible.

Which, of course, it is not.  At least not for any dictionary definition of the word I’ve seen.  Given enough time and effort, Blizzard could do this.  That they don’t want to is fine.  There are many good reasons not to.  But don’t try to cover that with the word “impossible.”  People aren’t going to buy it.  Absolutes like that just attract scrutiny.

Worst of all though, now SynCaine will be using “Blizzard says it is impossible to re-itemize all gear in a game” as a troll for the next decade or so, and it is all your fault Blizzard!

18 thoughts on “Quote of the Day – Or We Just Don’t Want to Do It

  1. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Toldain – SOE mentioned at one point how many items there were, 88K discoverable items in EverQuest and, TorilMUD 20 years in has about 60K items total, so 10 million seems way outside the ballpark.

    And what counts as an individual item? There were whole classes of drops that were programmaticly generated… think of all those Fantastic Chestplate of the Bear/Monkey/Tiger and so on pieces.

    Actually, those are likely part of the problem. They used that Diablo II style item generation and the change as suggested above requires more standardization.

    I understand why they wouldn’t want to take that on, but “impossible” is a pretty high bar to set as a reason not to do it.


  2. Toldain

    Ok, ok. I said it was a wild-assed guess. Although I’d easily believe that WoW has an order of magnitude more – the game just has that much more effort/energy – but that only gets us to close to 1 million. Don’t take me as justifying the claim of “impossible”. I’m with you there.

    Similar to this is the situation with BPOs/BPCs in EVE. Once I took a look at the API and realized how their database schema worked, I realized just how much of a pain in the ass it would be to handle this in the way I would like. You don’t want to change your entire schema and all the optimizations that you’ve built around it for this one feature. Ugh.

    There are probably similar things in WoW, like the ones you mention.


  3. Helistar

    http://www.wowhead.com -> database -> items -> “64871 items found”

    At first sight, this should include mounts/pets as well as armor and weapons.
    But it does NOT include the “variable stat items”, which compose the majority of the greens obtained during leveling. I.e. all the ones which end with “…of the ” which have different stats depending on the .


  4. tms

    I’ve worked in the IT industry long enough to have heard “it’s impossible” from others for so long that I don’t even raise the argument any more. As a matter of fact, the conversation is pretty much over for me when the “impossible” word is thrown out.


  5. anom

    Quit giving Activision fucking money, blizzard is dead if u dont believe me play D3 or just start a panda in WoW what is wrong with people vanilla wow was just an ok mmo took me about 3 weeks to see thru the theme park crap and go back to seiging in daoc and lineage 2 both games far better then vanillia wow and 4 years old when it launched


  6. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @anom – Yeah, well, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.

    I think I’ll go buy something from the Blizzard store now.

    And was your name supposed to be “A Nom?” Like the LOL cat thing?


  7. R

    “Absolutes like that just attract scrutiny.”

    And the inability of a blogger to actually parse a sentence attracts similar scruitiny. You even point out that it isn’t an absolute because he said MIGHT. Did you get sidetracked mid-post and lost your original point by the time you got to the end? Kind of reads that way… :)

    Anyone that would actually read and interpret that sentence as “we’re literally incapable of performing that task regardless of time, money or resources” is just showing their lack of basic reading comprehension skills. That does seem to be a thing these days but it doesn’t mean that Blizzard should be forced to cater to the lowest common denominator any time they decide to say something. Generally, the more they give, the more twisted around it ends up.

    Hell, you even listed off some of the factors that COULD make it impossible for them to do it and voided your final point in the process. All of those are reasons why the statement as made is perfect on its own, they’re all (and many besides) fully implied, none of those needed to be listed as examples for the statement to be absolutely correct. It MIGHT be impossible for them to do it for a whole bunch of reasons.

    What would they have gained by being specific? Let’s use your examples (and my best troll efforts in response, this isn’t exactly a practiced skill for me to hopefully they’ll be suitably trollish to be useful):

    Too much work? You guys are lazy, hire more people with my $15/month and give me what I want! I must have flexible green leveling gear during the 32 minutes of leveling that you do in this shell of the game that it used to be! CATERING TO THE CASUALS!!

    Too complex? You guys are idiots, if you can’t work with your own code maybe it’s time for a rewrite… and upgrading to 2006 graphics would be nice, too, see if you can work that in while you’re at it, I’m tired of EQ2 players snarking at the graphics quality on my twitch stream (is that a thing? I think that’s a thing).

    Not enough resources? Hire more people again and maybe put more focus on the game I pay for than the new games coming out that I don’t! EA has 93 games in their pipeline and you can’t handle FOUR?! Most companies have too many managers, maybe you should start with one and see how it goes.

    Too boring? Aww, yeah, working on and playing games all day must be rough. Go work on an oil rig if you want a real job, otherwise suck it up and get it done, you prima donna.

    (alright, I tried, going back to my day job now…)


  8. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @R – They went for a transparent lie and you are asking what they would have gained by telling the truth? Seriously? That sort of thing never comes back to bit people in the ass. (Roll stock footage of somebody saying you can keep your current health plan.)

    Speaking of inability to parse (or sense humor… I mean, nothing is ever too boring to assign to interns!), it was clear from my post that I knew what they meant. I objected to their need to overstate. Saying “somebody will bitch” applies to all possible answers, so why not go with reality?


  9. kiantremayne

    One of my least favourite questions I get asked at work (and one of the most common) is “Is it possible to…” – as you’ve said, in IT most things are possible, it’s a matter of the time and cost involved. However, I’ve learned to ALWAYS give an answer that includes a time and a cost immediately, because otherwise they just hear “yes, it’s possible” and you get saddled with a very difficult requirement to meet. An answer of “Well yes, but not with our current platform and applications, so you’re looking at three years and £40 million to replace them all” does a nice job of making mid-level execs go pale though :)


  10. Kryss

    BIG mistake! Never start your answer with “yes”, managers brain register positive answer and then shuts down hearing processes and use freed resources to create some bizarre inner world in wich manager can live and manage.


  11. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @SynCaine – Is that the way it works on Planet SynCaine?

    I thought the defining aspect of trolling was if you brought something up to deliberately provoke a reaction or otherwise annoy somebody. I have never seen a definition of trolling where truth had any bearing on it.


  12. R


    What’s the lie? “Might be impossible” can’t possibly be a lie since it includes the possibility that it might not be. That’s my objection… I think what they said is absolutely correct and reasonable. The only way to misintepret what they said is to either lack comprehension or to intentionally overlook the conditionals.

    I had a similar reaction reading this to reactions I have when I read some of the twitter exchanges posted on MMOC that make my head spin… and hurt…

    So, will there be a plate piece that has Primary/Mastery/Spirit say? Primary int/str spirit stays for dps even?

    No Spirit on plate (or leather or mail or cloth). Spirit is only on accessories + weapons.

    So we’ll still see Spirit Cloth/Leather/Mail/Plate? It sounds like the change won’t do much for healer gearing.

    A Healadin would have Int on chest, helm etc. and Spirit on some rings, trinkets, cloak, neck, sword and shield.

    As soon as I see one of those tweets start with “so” it’s time to buckle up, those rarely go well.

    You usually seem to provide good insight so I was disappointed by your post, especially calling “might be impossible” an absolute. It’s not one, it can’t be, it has a conditional, it’s the literal opposite of an absolute.

    You’re right, though, truth has nothing to do with trolling, it’s just about getting a reaction. “God exists” and “God doesn’t exist” can both be trolls yet they can’t both be right. Or wrong. The only requirement is that it’s a contentious statement…


  13. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @R – I will submit that “might” is not a sufficient modifier to negate “impossible.” It needs something along the lines of “in the timeframe” or “within budget” or something else to reign it in. “Might” is a weak hedge that left me with the impression that the author felt the task itself, without any other constraint, could be impossible. It almost certainly is not impossible unless somebody at Blizz deliberately and with malice aforethought made it so.. As the hardware guys I have worked with have been fond of saying, “It is only software.”

    Anyway, let me have my off days. My background makes me sensitive to companies with bad messaging, like when PWE went and said STO wasn’t dying. Stuff like that makes me want to tear my head off.

    Also, there was a bit of a running gag as part of this, which is why I brought up SynCaine in the last paragraph. That was my “not really serious about this” ending for those who knew what I meant, which may have just been me. See, Blizz once said something else was impossible, and he has been using that phrase to troll ever since. So I was trolling back him in my own way.

    At some point I am going to have to write the secret decoder post to ongoing blogesphere references.


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