One of the design truisms of online games, especially MMORPGs, is that they cease to belong to their developers after release. Not in some legal sense, but in the way that the game worlds develop and progress and evolve over time. Developers have their own vision for the games during development, and they know how they expect things to work, but quite often that’s not what happens, and many an MMORPG has been ruined by a developer who couldn’t let go of his design theory, and who kept patching things to try to force fans to play the way he just knew they ought to be playing.

    This principle of game design and support would come as news to Bloodfrenzy, the OP of this thread on the B.net forums, who hates nerfs and urges Blizzard not to make any of them, or in fact to make any game changes, post release, in response to fan requests. Here’s an excerpt from his long post, plus the blue replies it generated.

    When you are done and release diablo 3 in all its glory… PLEASE stand firm with your masterpiece, do not nerf spells and change things to appease a crowd. Post release dont even take customers thoughts into consideration regarding systems and spells. You guys pour heart and soul into this, when you are done stand by what you have done. Blizz is like the cornerstone of online strategy games, i really doubt us customers are as educated and good at balancing as you. Please dont drop patches post release that reduce the damage of this spell, removes the effect of this spell. This spell now costs mana, this spell now has a casting time.

    …I honestly believe 85% fanbase would agree. New patch containing content/items and spells AWESOME. New patch containing “CHANGES” not so cool.
    There will undoubtedly be some extra tuning necessary once millions of players are progressing through the whole game, rather than just beta. It’s just not realistic to expect us not to touch any systems for balance purposes once the game is released.

    Make no mistake about it. We’ll follow our heart and soul when it comes to current and future development of this game. But player feedback is and always will be an important component of the Blizzard approach to design.

    Then how come you guys ignored us when you introduced the Attack/Precision stats and we were SCREAMING at you to change it back?
    … The game’s not even out yet and we did change it back.

    Though the OP is wrong about how games are developed post-release, he does have a point. While Blizzard not making any changes based on the actual state of the game would be a disaster, so would them rushing around and making constant changes based on whatever issue fans were making the most noise about that week.

    Thankfully, they’ve shown no indication to bend with the wind in that way on their past titles, so it doesn’t seem like a real big concern for Diablo 3. But yes, nerfs are sometimes necessary to balance things. As are buffs, and every other sort of change and tweak and new feature.

    If anyone wants to start up a real debate or worry-fest about bad potential post-D3 changes, I think the RMAH would be a more fertile field of concern. Say it’s 6 weeks past launch and the RMAH is hardly being used, while the gold AH is very busy. Bliz has quotas and profit margins to meet, and the toilets in Bobby’s guest mansion aren’t going to gold plate themselves… so what do they do? Patch some stuff to create more top level items to spur sales? Lower gold yields to decrease the gold Auction House action? I bet Azzure could make some interesting suggestions here.

    I’m not saying those are big worries, but it’s certainly something conspiracy theorists could leap into, on a slow news day.

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