Illusion of game choices

In Battle for Azeroth, the main progression method is Azerite Power which increases item level of the neck piece and open up options on the chest, shoulder and helm. Or at least the illusion of it.

Those who read this blog remember that I played WoW together with my girlfriend. She still plays WoW and shown how she “chooses” in the various Azerite rings:

Yup, an addon calculates the power level of the upgrades. In the top left corner you can see the current and the optimal value of the item. She was cleaning her bag, putting on various items and checking nothing but that number in the corner, throwing away those who scored low. She overridden this number only one time, kept a piece that created a puddle under her because in stationary fights where you can stay in the puddle, you constantly get lot of stats and it’s good. So she kept that item for a few bosses. But that’s because she is particularly interested in new methods and not because she needed to do so. I’m sure that the point-optimal item would have provided 99% of the DPS on stationary fights.

It doesn’t really matter what options and sidegrades the game devs provide, certain data wizards will find the optimal, publish it and someone writes a tool to quickly implement it. All you – the player – have to do is blindly follow it. Or be considered a dumbass.

Competition plus predictable challenge removes choices. There is a perfect choice and you do that or fail. The other choice is just as non-existent as eating street dust. I mean you are capable of sweeping it up and eat it, but why would you do it?!

Choices can only exist if you are capable of choosing your content too. Fitting your spaceship in EVE were valid choices and fitting for maximum DPS (blinging) usually ended in horrible loss reports.

Author: Gevlon

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7 thoughts on “Illusion of game choices”

  1. Arent “data wizards” exactly what you want to be? Didnt i just read a post lamenting how no one listens to how you say they should play?


  2. Data wizards solve a strictly numerical problem. You play the same way, but have more DPS if your gear is optimal. I want optimal gameplay decisions, that affect the player.


  3. Repeating the mistake of talent trees. Before the big overhaul they realized the only way talents wouldn’t all be identical is if there were a few points left over after maximum efficiency was reached.

    Unfortunately in the end the best you can do, to go beyond style/cosmetic talent points, is have the player choose between various pre-formulated choices. E.g. two dungeons which drop the same gear, but have different sets of optimal gems or whatever. Or fusing two games together, like fully fleshing out pet battles, and making the requirements for the two conflict.


  4. By the way your campaign has been implicitly vindicated. For the socials, morons, and slackers to succeed in things like WoW requires the developer to lean very heavily on their side of the scale. Not a single developer thinks they can succeed without anvilicious welfare.


  5. The problem with class based games is there are no choices. You MADE your choice when you selected your class… That’s it. After that, it’s “What’s the optimal DPS.”, “What’s the optimal Heal.”, or “What’s the optimal threat hold.”

    The reason for this is classes are specific in what they do, a class can be good at ranged, melee, or healing. There will always be one optimal path to the “best” DPS or healing.

    Why are there classes? Because people can’t handle choices. They have to be spoonfed their specialty or they will go into analysis paralysis when given too many options. The other problem is people WANT the illusion of choice so they can be “special” and “unique.”

    Then, given a giant pile of essentially identical looking choices, market forces will take over and someone will make a “choice manager” add-on (If the game allows it.) to simplify that choice process.

    The WORST thing they can do is follow the “Actions have consequences” dogma and make the choices be irreversible or costly to change.

    The OPTIMAL scenario is a classless system where you are free to build what you really want, but also have “templates” that you can follow if you’re like 90% of people and too stupid to choose them yourself. It’s like in the movie “I Robot” where Detective Spooner tells the robot that human are so great because they can create fine art, music, etc. and Sonny looks at him and asks “Can you?” Everyone thinks they’re the special snowflake that can create wonders, but really… they’re not and need the “Use optimized template” option.


  6. Well, if a class or a build does more damage than others then it’s “overpowered”. Therefore, all the classes and builds need to do the same damage.
    The choice is HOW you do it and that can influence specific encounters. Sometimes you can stand still, sometimes you have to run a lot.
    As the above noticed, you’ve already made your choice of “how” by choosing class and tree. After that, you’re just picking cosmetics. Working as intended after 10 years of balancing the classes.
    By the way, Path of Exile used to have no classes and full freedom to pick perks and spells for every build. It resulted in very few viable builds, actually, cause with such freedom it was impossible to balance them and as a result, everybody played the few best builds.


  7. Why are there classes? Because people can’t handle choices. They have to be spoonfed their specialty
    ^exactly this! remember the pre WOW days? games full of professions and you were not held any hands you could do whatever the skillpoints let you combine. besides SWG was obviously rushed and SOE mishandled a lot of things like jedi and the infamous patches. If they would have let jedi out and leave the pre-nge state of 35 professions … This game would still exist and just do fine enough just like EVE.

    the whole initial design of the game and systems that interface to each other … it had so much potential and they had really struck gold with it. I still can’t understand why this concept wasn’t reproduced within a new IP. like wow classic is a thing I really think a non-Disney related scifi IP could do just fine.
    I really liked non-combat professions … and got burned VERY hard when SOE committed suicide with their wow reactionary and lucasfilms suits breathing down their necks patch crap.


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