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Thread: A short on my history with Blizzard

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    A short on my history with Blizzard

    How Blizzard treats a loyal fan:

    I've got a very saddening tale to tell here. I'll tell it from the top.

    Do you guys remember coming from StarCraft 1 and WarCraft 3? How we thought StarCraft 2 would be the golden age of RTS? How, furthermore, Starcraft 2 would bring a new golden age of modding?

    We got a rude shock when we came into the beta. The custom map system was not like anything we expected. It also didn't work. But we trusted Blizzard to fix it. After all they always have in the past right? The game is releaced with record sales and rightly so. It was the RTS of the decade after all. Made by the most popular company out there.

    Literally the day after the Galaxy Editor came out I dug right into making mods. I was pretty much brand new to it. I had done a little programming before but no on this scale. I figured out the Trigger editor pretty quickly but the data editor was a new mystery. I worked on my first map, a remake of Troopers vs Zombies called Infestation Sensation. I worked on it for about 3 months when I ran into a bug. Something was creating a random actor. I spent hours trying to get rid of it but to no avail. I then went back over the previous month worth of saves. I was surprised to learn that an actor that wasn't there was now suddenly being created for every single model in the game.

    Hence I had my first experience with an editor that was never properly tested. I then moved onto make a shooter and I made a pretty good system, which I was proud of. It took weeks of testing every possible combination but I finally got it working. At that point I learned something. All of this was useless without knowing the data. So I decided to bite the bullet and learn the data editor.

    I started by trying Troopers vs Zombies a second time. I successfully followed a guide to make a WarCraft 3 hero system (thank you bifu!) and another guide gave me a few pieces of the puzzle to make a WarCraft 3 style item shop done in data. I also learned how to change the model for the mineral as well as the model the worker carried back. So now I had mules "dumpster diving" into dumpsters and carrying back trash cans. This was a world destroyed by zombies after all. I gained a lot of experience with actors doing that. That took about 6 months of my time.

    At this time I was starting to notice, on the forums (which I had only made a few diplomatic post defending Blizzard) that people were becoming very upset about the system. I had figured "give them 6 months they will get it fixed" and started working on my main project: World War 2 Diplomacy.

    I then spent the next 3 months coming up with a workable amphibious system. I even had a promo version of map published so people could keep up on its state of development. To my shock it made it to page 3 in this almost completely broken stage. After 3 months of experimentation I decided to use the system WW2 Diplo/Fate of the Empire has now. It was the first amphibious system in any map. Of this I think I can be proud of. It has served me well and I've had more than a few people ask me how I made it.

    So 1.3.5 came out with the "fun or not" system. I couldn't believe it. I knew that there were 2 schools of "fixing" the system and this solution seemed to come out of the blue. This was the Blizzard we all knew and loved wasn't it? Were they not given enough time (over 6 months) to fix it? At this point my disillusionment with Blizzard began.

    I spent the next 8 months trying to organize the StarCraft 2 wargaming community. It started off with having plentiful members. But in long conversations with them I began noticing a trend. More and more people were starting to lose faith in Blizzard.

    My biggest moment though was back when the map allowed for 14 players. We had 14 (full lobby!) and 2 left making 12. The lag was horrendous but all of us had a good time. This was classic diplomacy at its best! Everyone ruthless and backstabbing, people fighting over every square inch of territory, diplomacy alliances to take down the superpowers - The glow of people appreciating your work, even though incomplete was what made all those months of work worth it.

    However, to quote Q, "All good things must come to an end." And came to an end they did. People started leaving. It became harder and harder to get games started. What was once "log on and play" gradually became "log on and hope to god we can get the minimum amount of players". I continued, off and on, to perfect the map. But my best efforts could not stop what I could no longer honestly deny - the community was dying.

    The reason was obvious. It came from the players themselves. "The stupid popularity system". Along with that came statements of "Blizzard will never fix it". I decided to join those voices. My mother had been a political activist for a while and her aim mostly succeeded (you will never completely succeed against government). I was very familiar with the concept of making noise. Others were starting to do it, I decided to join them. And I am not one who tends to do things by half-lengths. I started out politely enough but it gradually became more and more vile as I watched the wargaming community die. Making a map in StarCraft 2 is no small investment of work and it all seemed to be going down the drain.

    I stuck around, hoping Blizzard would eventually listen and do something. I watched many talent map makers go by the wayside. Rod of Nod was far ahead of almost everyone else - having been an older, long-time modder.

    At the same time we began seeing disturbing signs. Blizzard was featuring maps that needed no help and were also very old - having been at the top of the list for quite some time. Then there was the infamous press release saying that the the mapping community had some very talented mappers and some "great maps" out there. He even made a list. What did he list off? The first set of maps on the first page. Claiming that the community was "strong and vibrant" when we all knew that the opposite was really true was a major point that solidified the idea that "Blizzard doesn't care".

    There were flame wars between the fanboys and the complainers and people continued to leave the scene - and not a moderator or community manager or developer to be seen. They would disappear for over 6 months and then make a single post in a thread about some major drama that popped up. And people continued to leave.

    And then we heard about patch 1.5. Here I was, demoralized and now finally stunned. They were finally doing something. I tried to keep the words that were already being said by many to myself: "too little, to late". It was probably the truth but if I decided to go on that assumption then all my efforts were a write-off anyways.

    Then I got a chance email from Blizzard support agent. They were having trouble with my map and they wanted me to send them the map. I saw the email 2 hours after it was sent and sent them the map. I got a real surprise when a senior software engineer sent me an email thanking me for being prompt about the map and giving me a beta key. This was a real boost. The forums were a lost cause and getting anything through Sixen's private line of communication was pointless given that I wasn't among his favorites but now, suddenly, I had a way in. Over 60 emails of correspondence we got some major issues, including ones with dependencies ironed out as well as critical information about issues affecting every single custom model. Many other bugs and possibilities were explore. I made a point of, without "over-taxing" the pip of getting this developer exposed to many issues that people were having. At last I finally had a way past the ****ing community managers who seemed to be both corrupt (backdoor deals with Sixen) and playing favorites.

    However it was one of a few emails that I received after requesting something and I got back from this contact that sent me on my current collision course:
    "I know youíve been waiting on the art tools but I havenít had any news to share on those since we last spoke. I know that they are still being worked on, but we donít have an ETA on when they will be ready for you to use. Please trust that I will make sure that you get access to them as soon as we are ready. Iím sure you wouldnít want us to rush them out in an incomplete state. Iíd suggest focusing on polishing other areas of your mod in the meantime."
    Now I never did get them. I do not in any way fault this contact. Someone higher up or a community manager made the decision. However I did not know anything about this until it was, in a way, too late. I began porting WarCraft 3 models en masse and making custom ones of my own. Maybe all was not lost yet after all.

    Gradually my correspondence with the contact fell off. As I said before I never received the art tools never got told that I would not be getting them. Still it had been a very protective month or two. A real boost to moral to say the least.

    However the community managers proved as obstinate as ever in trying to block all of my attempts to get in. I highly doubt a single post (most of which had turned diplomacy again as a result of my email correspondence) ever made it through - and not just my own either.

    Then I learned that two other developers were reachable. I decided to test the water out. I found out very quickly that both of them were rather new, especially one of them. I did not need to be told outright simply asking questions about various events was able to give me a rough idea that was good enough to work with. Needless to say I got a few lectures about harsh posts on the forums.

    Questions about the art tools and one of my friend's speculations gradually became a clear picture of the art tools being HotS only. This, however, was months away and over half a year of development time had been lost already. I was, after all, still expecting the premium map market about the time of HotS - many of us were.

    My map projects gradually ground down to a halt because of issues with all of the ported and custom models I was using in all of them that only the art tools could fix. I tried a third one, World War Zombies: Reanimated and that one also had ported models with issues.

    So I tried to find other outlets for my energies as I awaited HotS. I found out by my discussions with these two new developers that the Data Editor Documentation would not include any newbie guides and tutorials. They would rely on the community to make those. At this an alarm bell went off in my head: "...umm... the 'community' you refer to who can write this documentation kinda doesn't exist - its barely a few people".

    Now instead of going off on the forums with a giant expose or something like that I decided to offer to write the beginner documentation myself. All I wanted was it to be on the main Blizzard website. They didn't have anything in the works to replace it and at least it would be visible and Blizzard could say that they wrote something.

    I even came up with how to do it. I made it "object" based where each "chapter" is designed to get the modder to learn how to make progressively more and more complex things. The first one was "making your first unit from scratch." I even made a visual he could take to a meeting: http://i1088.photobucket.com/albums/...utorials-1.jpg

    However nothing became of that and I decided to drop it. Later on I found out that the UI of the data editor was being changed. At this point 2 alarms went off in my head. One: if he manages to break something almost every map is going to break and he will quickly find himself out of a job and two: this is a person who is brand new to the job and the community - he could easily make it worse and what he did modify so far didn't do much to allay my fears.

    So I offered to help. I was pushing the wizzards idea and I found out that they were unsure of how to design them. I offered the following:
    Break it down into "component wizzards" and make a new UI stream-lined around wizzards. For an ability choosing to add an effect would open up another wizzard where you could create the effect. Granted it would mean a screen full of wizzards but you can easily put checks into make sure there isn't a "child" wizzard open.
    Here was a layout. I broke the effects portion down into 4 "master effects" and 7 "applied effects". Here were the 4 "master effects": http://i1088.photobucket.com/albums/...terEffects.jpg
    This was the sort of layout he asked for. But unfortunately that one also didn't work out either.

    So there I was. Nothing I wanted to play. Nothing to do with the game. A lot of time already invested into it. Every route I tried to improve the situation turned out to be false.

    I'd had enough. So I told the Blizzard forums I'm leaving and withdrew my maps.

    They, in reply, banned me from the forums for a year.

    I did send an email the 2 developers (the senior developer and the new guy) thanking them for all the help they've given me and those that worked with me. Also showing the new guy that email from the senior developer I kept telling him about.

    I get a reach-out email from the forum team. But am not un-banned and no apology.

    I'm happy though. The drama is over with. I had some good times and I managed to greatly increase my skill as a programmer. I learned extremely valuable CG skills on top of it and over all I think I gained from all the work. At the same time if Blizzard goes down the drain I won't feel the slightest bit guilty. No one can say I didn't go the extra mile to make it work.

  2. #2
    There can be only one.. PunWisp's Avatar
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    Re: A short on my history with Blizzard

    So your maps are no longer hosted I take it then?

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    Ba_Bot Admin althardt's Avatar
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    Re: A short on my history with Blizzard

    Blizzard doesnt give a shit about games they dont get paid for monthly.
    Respect is Earned not granted.

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    There can be only one.. PunWisp's Avatar
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    Re: A short on my history with Blizzard

    Quote Originally Posted by althardt View Post
    Blizzard doesnt give a shit about games they dont get paid for monthly.
    Agreed, WoW corrupted there hearts, made them greedy bastards! WoW made them into the huge company they are now. They probably fired the ones that cared about games. (Blizz north anyone? Who made Torchlight?)

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    Ba_Bot Admin poilut's Avatar
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    Re: A short on my history with Blizzard

    wow. Blizzard once made huge games like warcraft and starcraft. Starcraft 2 is even less fun than the first one.
    The online games of sc were really good. Some were about as fun as ba. heavens last stand , matrix defense etc.
    They ruined it. sc2 is nothing . Where even I could make a map at sc and warcraft they made it impossible to even start a map now.
    I feel sad by your story fockewolf. I trully hope the blizzard management will change and make some games that can truly be purely for the fun again.
    If you can't see the darkness, don't pretend it's not there.

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    BA.com Initiate Yatzi's Avatar
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    Re: A short on my history with Blizzard

    That post was amazing, Fockewulf. It's great to hear the experience of one of the people most directly effected by this, the serious map makers. Blizzard fucked up and they fucked up hard. They screwed over so many people in their attempts to be 'new' and 'edgy'. Did you know that they actually hired the guy who did the layout for Xbox live to do the original set up for bnet 2.0?

    It disgusts me really what they did. Every time I open Starcraft 2 I think about how much more fun it would be had they not done this. Had they just left things the way they were. I'm not saying that Starcraft 2 is bad necessarily. What I'm saying is that it is worse than a game they made 12 years earlier. I'm sure you could come up with a whole list of reasons as to why, but the thing is that it takes a whole lot of fucking up to achieve that. And what gets to me the most is that Blizzard refuses to openly admit that they messed up. In the words of Hitler, ďIf you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.Ē. They try again and again to fix what they have done without really changing the direction they go in.
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    BA.com Initiate ZightFear's Avatar
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    Re: A short on my history with Blizzard

    Ah hello Yatzi! Tony sends his regards.

    Anyways Focke. Your story has touched me. I believe that Starcraft 2 took a turn for the worst. There was 12(I believe you said) years of expectation built from the community, and when the desired product was releaced blizzard ceased to show much care about what the community wanted, and henceforth, blizzard lost its consistency.

    The popularity system was a large failure, and forced map and mod makers to limit their opportunities. Not to mention, at the time of Starcraft 2's release, it was when everyone started noticing that the Blizzard support, and management team never cared about the community and player base's interest. All they wanted was the dollar bills rolling in from their product.

    After all of the fuss, I almost feel it safe to say that the whole thing was just some kind of frontline attempt to take everyones money, then leave that game in the dark and continue working on the World of Warcraft series. Now I have not shown any interest with Blizzard in a long time, but I can let you know that their failure at Starcraft 2 in general drove me away from Blizzard. Sure I'll still hop on War3 or Starcraft 1 every now and then, but thats only because those games were worth the buy for their time.
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    Re: A short on my history with Blizzard

    I'm just really curious when Blizzard will cut BNET 1.0 :/

    Activities been dropping at a pretty rapid rate..

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    Re: A short on my history with Blizzard

    Not to mention the fact that US East on WC3 is pretty much constantly having issues now.
    BAU LIFE

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    Re: A short on my history with Blizzard

    Quote Originally Posted by althardt View Post
    Blizzard doesnt give a shit about games they dont get paid for monthly.
    Such a true statement... The problem with blizzard is back when wc3 was being made, they put time, effort, thought and above all else everything they had into it.

    Yet with WoW, they focused their attention soley on that, they half assed games and never bought them out to their full potential. Sc2 could of been an amazing game, but it's currently at the stand of "Mediocre" people may disagree with me, but if you've played Wc1 - all other blizz games, you would understand that Sc2 is below the top 50% by far.

    Diablo III is the same in my opinion, could of been a lot better... A good chunk of the players were from WoW too, including myself at the time, yet didn't fill the hole for many of us.

    Even with WoW's expansions, they seem to be doing less and less. I have respect for blizzard as when it comes to WoW, they listen to their customers, for example Mists Of Pandaria was requested by fans since vanilla times. But that's just it, it's only for WoW fans, they don't / rarely take into account other fans on their other games. Wc3 is a prime example, the only "Updates" it's had in years are normally just references to other games.

    In a way i'm sort of glad they haven't made Wc4, as to me... it would seem they would bring in a half assed attitude to it and just ruin Warcrafts good reputation.

    There are some people in Blizz who are trying, and these are the people I respect... But the ratio for who is trying, and who isn't is too far apart.

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