Yesterday StrumSlinger and producer Terramak sat down for a developler Q&A stream on the PWE twitch channel. Is was the first official livestream since quite some time and Terramak answered questions about bugs and issues on PC while StrumSlinger was giving Xbox users a limited sneak peak to Underdark content (he was doing Demonic Encounters in the Well of Dragons while dishing out the questions to Terramak). Frequent followers of this blog know we usually do a transcript of the most important stuff, but since the Community Manager will take care of that, I’m just going to focus on the general sentiment of the hour.
But first things first: Why the hell was Daniel Negreanu sitting next to Strum? While watching I was constantly thinking that Terramak reminded me of someone and at some point it struck me. I mean, our version has glasses and long hair and generally doesn’t look as handsome as Daniel, but the way Terramak talked, gesture, behavior. Maybe he should try poker. Weird.
Anyway: Although the Q&A can probably be summarized by a big soon(tm), we-have-it-in-our-system(tm), we’ll-try-to-find-out(tm), I took away a positive vibe from the whole thing. Normally these official Q&As and AMAs had the tendency to get really annoying because of the lack of information coming out of them, but not this time. Part of it surely was me bringing low expectations, but I also generally felt that they are indeed a bit more open-minded about acknowledging and sharing issues. Although I don’t have any evidence I think it has a lot to do with Strum. It pretty much started soon after he took over the CM job and it seems he is very invested in gathering and forwarding information to the devs.
They also answered most topics honestly and gave explanations you are able to relate to. You might not like that they can’t be doing minor balancing tweaks because they want to look at and eventually tackle balancing as a whole, but it makes sense. That the NCL can’t be back because of it. Absolutely! That they can’t release more challenging content. Check! The only awkward situations happened when Strum or Terramak couldn’t tell whether a bug mentioned in questions was actually still live. You simply don’t look too smart if you’re not knowing what’s going on in your own game, although that doesn’t mean you generally have no clue. Also I don’t like the idea of letting people vote about nerfing the LOL set (example). Terramak acknowledged some classes scale far too well with gear and the set is the prime example, so if it makes sense in the bigger picture of balancing, then nerf it. There’s no need to get the community involved and it almost seemed like Terramak wasn’t really fond of the idea as well.
That said, I like their current approach. Part of the truth is that they don’t have the resources to constantly work on balancing, but a general more conservative attitude can’t hurt. The best way to not having to deal with such game-breaking issues is to release well-thought-out gear and powers in the first place. Especially if you don’t have manpower to follow up on issues in a reasonable time.
Despite this overall improvement in communication and logic the stream still left something to be desired. They didn’t commit to any timetable so players have no clue what to expect and when. The big balancing pass is not looking to happen soon as Terramak said they want to start at some point this year, meaning there currently is probably not even a team attached to the task. Also the foundry continues to be widely ignored. There is one bug related to portals that they are tracking and trying to fix, but even getting the current resources and models into the foundry seems to be more than they are willing to invest. So it’s not that the issues of the game completely vanished, but I’d look at the Q&A as an informal roundup of the current state and based on that it completely served its purpose.