Over at the official WoW forums, Breeli the gnome warlock (why is it always a gnome warlock?) posed a thorny question: Why don’t the developers have more interaction with the community?
What’s interesting about this question is that as of late there’s been a massive push towards transparency between the developers and players, with a whole host of what I can only assume are described as “initiatives” being put into place. While Alliance players are grinding out Operation: Shieldwall reputation, Ghostcrawler has been putting in his time with the new Operation: Twitter faction, the other developers set to the task of working on the Fansite Offensive.
It’s a far cry from the dark days of Vanilla WoW, where class details were perpetually sketchy, the Paladin forums were a wasteland of Mad Max style hyjinks, and Shaman were never told why Stormstrike kept getting a new icon. The CMs were there, barely holding the chaos in check, but rare were the insights into the development process. The best we got were the early “class review” patches, and even then there wasn’t much in the way of rationale behind the changes.
That all changed when Greg ‘Ghostcrawler’ Street came onto the scene, bringing with him a nerf cannon that he was more than proud to show off. It was like night and day, the crab a symbol of all the things we had just assumed were voodoo magic on the part of Blizzard.
Since then, the gates of Oz Irvine have progressively been creaking open, revealing more and more of the jade secrets within. AskMeAnything threads on Reddit and a burgeoning “blue” presence have heralded in a new Blizzard that’s more concerned with transmitting data than hoarding it. Things are good.
But could they be better?
The better question would actually be: where could they go from here? Star Wars: The Old Republic held a Guild Summit, which allowed selected guild leaders to actually hang out with the developers. From what I could tell as an outsider, there was something in the Kool-aid, because every single person I spoke to who attended came back a lifelong Bioware fanatic. This passion quickly dribbled down the ranks to even the most casual player, creating one of the most vibrant communities I’ve seen in any MMORPG to date.
Blizzard already has BlizzCon, but could they pull off a smaller, more intimate invite-only event to bolster good will from the top down? WoW is a much larger game than SWTOR, with a fanbase that isn’t quite as inherently rabid as Star Wars fans are, but there’s potential there to help build the “face” of Blizzard as more than just a bunch of totally awesome animated forum avatars.
What do you all, the people who live and die by the blue, think? How can the developers better express their arcane intentions to you?
(Also, I just added a World of Warcraft category to my blog. Not sure how feel.)