Ghostcrawler is Awesome

In ref­er­ence to Adam Holisky’s recent WoW Insid­er’s post The Ghost­crawler Exper­i­ment, where the ques­tions are:

  1. Is the GE (Ghost­crawler era) of WoW bet­ter than the BGE?
  2. Does Ghost­crawler do a good job?

I just want­ed to post some­thing quick in response. I’ve writ­ten about Ghost­crawler before, although I per­haps was­n’t as blunt as I could have been. So, I will speak more plain­ly now: Yes, and I can’t believe that we’re even talk­ing about this.

Upsides of Ghostcrawler:

  • The game itself is bet­ter since he joined. There are few­er bro­ken tal­ent trees. I don’t remem­ber exact­ly when he came on, but are there any bro­ken builds left? I mean, for the most part you can find a good build for your cho­sen tree, learn how to play it, and not com­plete­ly suck, right? Is this all his doing? No. Is he the lead of sys­tems design and are those basic sys­tems are bet­ter? Yes.
  • He com­mu­ni­cates with a notice­able lack of bull­shit. When peo­ple point out that some part of the game seems out of bal­ance, the answer is any­thing from “Yes, we’re hot­fix­ing that” to “Sor­ry, work­ing as intend­ed” to “I’ll go check that out”, with every­thing in between.
    Point me at anoth­er game com­pa­ny whose lead design­er posts such open and thought­ful dis­cus­sion about the goal of its game design, includ­ing frank admis­sions of short­com­ings and parts that need improve­ment! I’ve nev­er seen it. He’s not spend­ing his lim­it­ed time for cus­tomer com­mu­ni­ca­tion brag­ging about his top-tier are­na team. Does any­one real­ly look back on those days with mist­ed eyes?
  • He’s putting on a game design clin­ic. The sub­ject of my pre­vi­ous post regard­ing him. To review, here’s a recent exam­ple from today’s mmo-cham­pi­on blue track­er, respond­ing to a ques­tion about how tal­ents and spells are designed (source):

    We have bud­gets for the pow­er of indi­vid­ual spells and tal­ents. We do not bud­get based on the total num­ber of abil­i­ties avail­able — some class­es just have more than oth­ers.

    I would also call the bud­gets a guide­line. You have to know when to change the num­bers on some­thing even if the bud­get sug­gests that will be over­pow­ered or under­pow­ered.

    To be meta­phys­i­cal for a minute, you can’t define the uni­verse with one gigan­tic equa­tion. There are just too many vari­ables. You can use sim­pler equa­tions to attempt to describe small parts of things as long as you under­stand their lim­i­ta­tions. A great deal of your suc­cess in WoW, per­haps even more in PvP than PvE, is your skill in using your abil­i­ties and that is a hard thing to mod­el.

    By read­ing what he writes, you bet­ter under­stand not just WoW, but all large games. Is this ground­break­ing, rev­e­la­to­ry stuff? No. But it’s hon­est, and if you’re try­ing to fig­ure out how this one piece fits into the sys­tem, then he has tak­en the time to explain it.

  • He obvi­ous­ly cares deeply about the sys­temic improve­ment of the game sys­tem of WoW, the entire game, whether it’s lev­el­ing or quest­ing or instanc­ing or raid­ing or are­na or bat­tle­grounds. He posts a lot on every sub­ject. He is in the details.
  • He weath­ers a con­tin­u­ous tor­rent of unbe­liev­able whin­ing, and con­tin­ues to do his job with good humor. I can­not empha­size this enough. The whin­ers of WoW are numer­ous and pro­lif­ic. Some of my favorite blog­gers and play­ers are chron­ic whin­ers regard­ing their class. We all, I sus­pect, tune such noise out while look­ing for the use­ful sig­nal, but it’s his job to actu­al­ly sift through all that noise, every class, every­where. And for the most part, he suc­ceeds. I have no idea how he man­ages to do that with­out going the road of the oth­er hands-on com­mu­ni­ty man­agers who have been worn down in the past.
  • I know this is a per­son­al thing, but: he writes well.

Downsides to Ghostcrawler:

  • None.
  • Par­don me, there is this: Because he posts open game design, includ­ing admit­ting errors when they arise, the whin­ers now have more fod­der with which to ply their trade. “Bliz­zard hates my favorite class!” Even this is use­ful, because I read that as “I don’t under­stand or don’t care about game design! I only care about my char­ac­ter!” and put that per­son into my skim-or-skip queue.

I’ll close with a rant.

When some­one admits imper­fec­tion, a cer­tain type of per­son will fee­bly scream with the goal of get­ting peo­ple behind their plight–via per­son­al attacks, exag­ger­at­ed despair, and so on–all of which is summed up in these gam­ing cir­cles as QQ. The nat­ur­al response to QQ is to be less forth­com­ing, and fill that space where hon­est talk used to be with some­thing else. Because fight­ing through the QQ is not worth the effort, most of the time.

This ten­den­cy, when expand­ed beyond this lit­tle cir­cle of game design, ulti­mate­ly leads to the cur­rent and per­sis­tent sea of unbe­liev­able bull­shit that we wade through in all walks of life: media, pol­i­tics, busi­ness, careers, and yes, even game design. If you enjoy con­sum­ing bull­shit, con­tin­ue with the QQ! How­ev­er, if you do not, stop whin­ing! Some­one who speaks hon­est­ly isn’t a bad thing. Some­one who speaks truth about the flaws in his work, and has the abil­i­ty to solve the prob­lem, and actu­al­ly works to do so?

That per­son is awe­some. In WoW, that per­son is Ghost­crawler. Haters, please stop whin­ing.

More Words!

6 thoughts on “Ghostcrawler is Awesome”

  1. Yes. Most of the QQers don’t under­stand that the rea­son (and GC has allud­ed to this many times) Bliz­zard does­n’t give too much info is because the QQers will throw it back in Bliz­zard’s face if they change direc­tion or decide not to do some­thing the way they said they were going to.

  2. I have to agree. I like Ghost­crawler and how he has brought a new face to the forums, etc. He is able to wade through the QQ pret­ty well and give rea­son­able answers to gen­uine ques­tions and con­cerns. He also uses humor, so his post­ings are not dry to read. I enjoyed the WoW Insid­er arti­cle and like how you expand­ed upon it. Is GC with­out flaws? No. Are any of us with­out flaws (even the most hard­core QQer out there)? Of course not. The human ele­ment and intel­li­gent dis­cus­sion are appre­ci­at­ed in my book.

  3. [quote]

    Back to the ”Ghost­crawler” top­ic.. all i have seen on MMO Champ and sites like that is.… ”You dis­agree with Ghost­crawler, you get banned, you put a legit­i­mate ques­tion about the nerfs, you get no reply”

    No Blue, Dev or the absolute­ly amaz­ing God-like Fig­ure Him­self (lol, and i seri­ous­ly do) has replied… thou­sands of posts from hunters of all lev­el’s, pro­gres­sion etc and these fools can­not be both­ered to answer with at least a semi-con­struc­tive Blue post… what does that tell you peo­ple… [/quote]

    To be hon­est, I did­n’t expect any­thing else, espe­cial­ly not from GC. Lets be hon­est. Over the last year I fol­lowed his com­mu­ni­ca­tions. The way this guy com­mu­ni­cates is shock­ing, and I can’t imag­ine why Blizz puts some­one like him in a posi­tion to han­dle com­mu­ni­ca­tions with the gen­er­al play­er base. I mean, he is a lead devel­op­er with a degree in Marine Sci­ence, often (and I do not want to gen­er­alise) not the kind of per­son known or reput­ed for extend­ed social skills need­ed to suc­ces­ful­ly exe­cute a PR func­tion, which in his par­tic­u­lar case shows clear­ly. Every time he speaks out, it’s fol­lowed by a lot of out­rage from the play­ers. And mind you, often not because of the con­tent, but main­ly because of the way the mes­sage is pre­sent­ed: con­de­scend­ing and always con­vinced of his own right.
    He did man­age to put his stamp on WoW, though. I mean, he is not even a year on Bliz­z’s pay­roll now, and the mess and tur­moil have nev­er been greater.

    Since Blizz does­n’t accept any crit­i­cism of GC, I undoubt­ed­ly will get at least a warn­ing or even a ban, but right now I am too pissed off at the way many play­ers are and have been treat­ed and ignored, requests for infor­ma­tion that go unan­swered, the god­like atti­tude in gen­er­al, and at changes and patch­es which break more than they fix and nerfs which are out of pro­por­tion.

  4. @WoWPlayer: ah, this is the exact kind of QQer we’re talk­ing about that makes the offi­cial WoW forums such a cesspool!

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