Hello! Long time no see! I haven’t written much because I haven’t had anything to say. Cata healing is..well..it’s Cata healing. I don’t feel like I have a handle on it, although I can do it pretty well, I don’t know if that’s because I overgear it right now or that I’m actually good at it. Maybe both. Thus is the state of healing, I think.

But I’m writing about something else. I’m writing about the current state of the game, and Blizzard basically running face first into the reality of psychographic profiles. I don’t think this is their fault, per-se, and I even think that they thought they accounted for this, but it simply didn’t work.

So…what are psychographic profiles? I’ve been playing a lot of Magic:The Gathering over the last year. I used to play it 10 odd years ago, but I got back into it for a year and a few months. (For those who are familiar, my “return” was the Worldwake pre-release. And yes, I did open a Jace. Traded that to get all the cards to get back into it) Magic for the longest time as a design principle, uses what they call psychographic profiles in order to ensure that they’re making as many players as happy as they can. Different players want different things. Note that I disagree a bit with Wizards of the Coast’s definition of these things. To be more precise, I think they go outside of Magic, and actually can be applicable to all gaming.

Spike: This is a person who is looking for competition. They want to play at the highest level, they’re not only willing, but it makes them happy to do research on what they are doing. They’ll use whatever tools and resources they need (be it specs, rotations, decks, etc.) in order to get where they want to go. Sometimes they don’t need it, but if something is proven to be “better” they’re more than willing to listen.

Johnny: Johnnies are the creative types. They use gaming as a way to show their creativity and uniqueness. They want to create their own specs/rotations/decks/whatever, and be valued for it.

Timmy:Timmies play to just play, more or less. They’re more about the raw emotional feeling, just playing for fun.

Now, to make it clear, nobody is exactly one or the other. We’re all somewhere in the middle, to a degree, although there are pretty pure Spikes and pretty pure Johnnies out there, to be sure.

To put the point bluntly, with Cataclysm, Blizzard kicked Johnnies between the legs and left them quivering on the roadside. There’s a couple of things that did this. Locking down trees and making “hybrid” specs impossible is one thing. Raising the bar in terms of raw numbers required, both damaging and healing is another. It really reduces the ability for players to be truly creative. Skill priority systems and stat orders are much more important than ever before. That’s largely because of as numbers scale, it increases the gap between the Spikes and the Johnnies.

Blizzard didn’t really have a choice in this.

So if you go to the forums, you can see the Johnnies upset about this. They want the ability to go and do raids, as that’s the content they want to do, with their natural psychographic style. But that’s simply not in the cards for them. Even 5-man heroics are often too much for them. Timmies? they’re off doing archeology and getting loremaster on all their characters.

I can’t really blame them, to be honest.

What options did they have? Well, for raiding, people are talking about an easy mode as well. And this is a potential solution, the same mechanics but with healing/damage requirements reduced by a significant margin. But what about 5-mans? And how do you divvy out gear in such a way as to keep people interested? (Like it or not Blizzard relies on keeping people interested).

I also think that T11 is actually pretty bad in terms of difficulty scaling. I don’t think the parallel raids worked very well, and at at that the difficult within the raids (especially Blackwing Decent, in which the first two bosses are harder than the next three.) They could have avoided this by making the intro bosses easier (and the later bosses a bit harder), as well as giving an obvious starting point on where to raid. Allow Johnny groups to get their feet wet with a relatively easy boss or two.

Note. I don’t think that anything I’ve seen (I’m 9/12) in T11 is really THAT hard, mechanically. But healing Magmaw/Omnitron is annoying without gear. They simply do too much AoE damage, combined with random attacks, I actually think this is where Johnny guilds are getting stuck at. Johnny DPS is ill-suited enough. Johnny healing is a disaster.

For my own experience, I’m happy with T11, but I’m in a casual Spike guild, with a lot of players who know their class and play it well, and encourage that sort of thing.

Blizzard is making T11 the Johnny playground come 4.2, and that might solve the issue. But then again, it might not. And it’s something that Blizzard should have taken concrete steps to fix a lot sooner.

Oh, and as for Magic? They’re doing better than ever. They’re endorsing a very popular community created casual format as the de facto Johnny format, making Spikes happy by vastly increasing the tournament scene and satisfying Timmies with a constant stream of pre-constructed decks, including the “Duel Decks” a pair of theme decks specifically created to be balanced.

Blizzard needs to step up what they do for the Johnny segment of their playing base, or they’re going to continue to lose people (mostly to Rift, which in my beta experience is a Johnny player’s dream).

Note. One final thing. Spikes are not all jerks. It has to do with wanting competition, NOT necessarily wanting to smash everybody into the ground. Spikes are often happy when others can compete with them as it makes for better competition. Likewise, some Johnnies end up being jerks about the whole thing, being disdainful of anybody who doesn’t play like they do. You terms such as “poop socker” or “no-lifer” or “netdecker” or whatever.