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The QueueFeb 28, 2019 12:22 pm CT

The Queue: Returning to the ride

Many thanks to Anna for covering The Queue for me while I was out. But that said, I’m glad to be back writing it. Let’s begin!


I wish Blizz would move on to the next expansion instead of dragging BfA out. I’m tired of the faction war, and allied races aren’t my thing. Legion had a ton of fun things to do. Class questlines, class mounts, artifact skins, fishing artifact, fisher friends, tons of pet battle achievements, archaeology quests. Blizz did away with most of that in BfA. Why? Now I’m not finding enough things I want to do. I have never been unsubbed this early into an expansion before (since November!). I miss WoW. I hope Blizz is able to make the game fun for me again.

So this is interesting on a couple of levels.

First, it’s well thought out and defines why you don’t like BfA. I’m not talking about grammer, but substance. Trouble finding fund things to do, not feeling like the key features of the expansion are for him, and feeling abandoned after the immediate past expansion had so much he enjoyed. This is really solid feedback.

Second, it’s drawing a distcintion between past experiences and BfA. When you think of it, the lack of quest lines for classes, weapon skins, and numerous achievements, and mount collecting gone wild vs what we have today (not a ton of that, at least not on the level of Legion), there’s a clear “here is what it was like in my perception” and “here is what my perception is now.” Game companies often lose focus that the player perception is the most important thing, not necessarily the bottom line. Perception is something that will turn into the bottom line slowly as it trickles down to less sales and engagement.

Third, it’s a valid viewpoint, one that others can argue against, but doesn’t demean them. I’m pointing this out because often the feedback on games comes down to “us v them.” I hate that. Absolutely hate that. Can I say I hate that again? Good because I do hate that mentality. This feedback is about what they like as a person. It’s fine to disagree, but one cannot discount personal feelings as wrong nearly as easily as an attack against a group of players with something like “everyone who likes BfA has a donkey brain.”

Fourth, this view is held by a non-trivial number of others. I can’t provide qunatitative numerical data that supports this, but I can say from my picture as an owner of a Blizzard fan site and someone who is always watching the community, qualitatively this is a fact. It doesn’t mean WoW is dying or anything crazy, it just means that this viewpoint isn’t unique (and that’s okay).

What does this all mean?

It means that Blizzard should listen to comments like the above. There’s truth in criticism, especially when it’s detailed and constructive. The other truth comes from the volume of feedback when compared against previous times. This doesn’t mean that these are the only factors Blizzard should look at; but the combination of them is rare and eyebrow-raising. They echo the feelings and overall sentiment that was present with Draenor. Take that as you will … but it’s important for any company, especially a game company like Blizzard, to pay attention to these things.

With all that said, to answer the question directly, I would not expect a new expansion until 2020 unless something crazy happens. Blizzard has said there are no expansions planned for this year. Could that change? Yes, absolutely, and it has in the past. But I’m not holding my breath.

I also want to address unsubscribing. That’s okay. Totally okay. I wouldn’t feel bad at all. You can still be part of the community when you’re not playing, and cheers to you for doing just that. The game may change, but the community doesn’t.


Q4TQ: Are there any sort of stylistic guidelines for Off Topic Articles? I have noticed a pretty substantial difference in narrative voice from a lot of them, usually with- to use colloquial terms- click-baity catch-phrases like “we think” and “now we are crying.” The sentence structure tends to be… simplistic as well.

Maybe we’re a little spoiled here getting regular articles from novelists and such, but given that I really like the concept of the Off Topic Articles, I hope stylistically they’d be as close to regular articles as possible.

I think that you might be reading into the individual’s styles more than an overall mandate. Some folks, like Matt Rossi, use incredibly long sentences that tend to be complex and, while grammatically correct, often contain a long clause that could be broken up into multiple sentences. Other folks write more short sentences. And then there are people like me, who tend to live in the middle.

This is absolutely not criticizing anyone’s approach, because it’s just how they write and structure their thoughts. They’re all good writers.

One thing I have seen with Off Topic posts is more emotion from our crew, more passion (if you will). That’s going to lead to things like “now we are crying,” and “I can’t even.” That isn’t to say these things doesn’t exist in WoW or other Blizzard Games, they certainly do, it’s just that we’ve likely talked about them … and I don’t think we need to talk about it again until there’s a significant reason. Thus, you’re seeing these things applied to non-Blizzard context; which is what I want for now — I’ve asked Off Topic stuff to be passionate about what we enjoy as a community, and so far I think we’re on track.

As far as the Off Topic content goes itself, I’m mostly pleased with its direction. There’s been some articles that have fallen flat (there are normally too, however); and others that have done well. Overall they’re accounting for about 6% of traffic right now, and that’s cool. I suspect that number will slowly increase. We’re seeing repeat visitors to the content as well — something that shows we’re hitting the mark in some respects.

Next on my agenda is to release a new version of the homepage, potentially in an AB test, or just going for broke with it and doing it at once. When that happens there’ll be two columns on the homepage (for screens that are wide enough): one for Blizzard, one for Off Topic. When you’re on your phone I intend to have them interlace, although that may change depending on how much I hate css at the time.

Once that update goes out, there’ll be a variety of fixes to ads as well. We’re also going to shift mobile stuff around a bit. Not crazy how things are looking there at the moment.

And finally, I really appreciate all the thoughtful comments left on the Off Topic announcement post. I replied as much as I could, but I’ve read them all, and will continue to pop in with updates (especially during my Queue). I’m also looking to do something on Patreon shortly for those of you that subscribe.


Q4tQ: Why the closest you get to your vacations, the worst you feel at work?

I know this was just a toss out question for the Quevians, but I wanted to answer here because there are some things to talk about.

We humans are so incredibly hardwired for habitual things. Morning routines, dinner rituals, religious symbolism and act, societal norms, etc… Stop and think about it for a minute and ask yourself how much you do that is the same every day.

It’s a ton. More than you realize unless you put your brain on it. Kinda nuts, right?

One of the big things about breaking out of a depressive cycle, and this is something I can speak to personally, is changing that routine. Making yourself do something that you normally wouldn’t do. You need to disrupt your brain’s automation in order for it to give you (with the help of professionals, always) the chance to mend. Some of these things can be very simple; just getting a new chair in your office — swap one out from the kitchen. Once a week going and getting coffee from a different place, or changing up the type of yogurt you grab every morning. All of these are things that force the brain’s pathways to change, and in doing so good things happen.

The same is true when you go on vacation. For me, going on any extended absence is terribly draining. I feel exhausted when I’m on my last day of work. And it’s not because I’ve been up the night before, it’s because my brain is going into overdrive to make sure that I have the same routine when I get back from my vacation. This exhibits and exists in me because of my generalized anxiety disorder. I am by no means saying you have that — the internet isn’t the place at all for such diagnostics and I’m not qualified; and people feel things like this all the time (which is completely normal).

But what I am saying, is that you’re feeling worse and worse at work because either your brain is already pre-occupied with your vacation, or it’s wanting to hold onto the routines it’s established.

Brains are awesome and weird; but very cool.

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