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The Real Reason the Ripcord Won't Be Pulled for Covenants?

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Despite the very controversial Covenant issue having received a definitive answer, with Game Director Ion Hazzikostas announcing there wouldn't be any major changes to the system for the Shadowlands launch, it would be expected for the discussion over it to die down a little, but it hasn't. A recent preview of the new issue of PCGamer magazine has revealed an interesting aspect of the Covenant story, one which may explain why Blizzard have been this adamant about not releasing the Covenant abilities from their respective homes, or more generally allowing for free Covenant changes:

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As redditor Metal-Wolf-Enrif noticed and shared from the print version, the issue of choice seems to be front and center in the promotion of the new expansion. Here's the statement Ion Hazzikostas made regarding the freedom of choice for Covenant abilities/switching and the proverbial ripcord:

Blizzard LogoPulling the Rip-cord (source)

We’ve also heard from many players who, rather than being worried about regretting their choice, would prefer that they not have to choose at all; they have advocated that we offer a way to switch among the various active abilities offered by covenants without friction. But these covenant systems are thoroughly intertwined: Covenant abilities are often modified by covenant-specific conduits and soulbinds; most of those soulbinds in turn are unlocked through covenant-specific narrative campaigns. Granting access to one of these without the others would lead to an incomplete or confusing result. In short, pulling on that thread (or cord, as it were) would unravel the entire fabric of the system. Even so, we would embrace the work required to rebuild the covenant system along those lines if we agreed that it would be an improvement, but we ultimately do not share that view.

Now, that's a fine reason, but it seems like there could have been a way to uncouple the Conduits or have them work a different way but, having now seen a taste of the promotional material, which very strongly indicates that the "Choices Matter" angle will be the main drive of the ad campaign, perhaps this was the real reason why the abilities and switching had to stay as they were?

The reality is probably a bit of both, as uncoupling the Counduits and Soulbinds would have been a fair amount of work and redesign, which in and of itself could have been enough of a reason not to do it this late in the development process, but when you add the fact that the focus of the promotional campaign is on choices and consequences... the "pull the ripcord" fans never stood a chance. Whether the Soulbinds and Counduits, as well as the marketing strategy decisions simply hadn't been made yet when Ion Hazzikostas did the Preach interview, (where the entire "pull the ripcord" movement started, when Ion said that the dev team has the option ready to "pull the ripcord" on making Covenant switching very easy to do and without much consequence) we might never know.

What do you think was the real reason for Blizzard staying the course?

Source.

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Great...it probably wouldnt have been as bad if the soulbinds and conduits actually offered variance to the covenant abilities so like you could use a single target one in aoe and vice versa with a different soulbind...but in reality its just an uninteresting system that adds damage where youre going to be forced into a specific one anyways. With a week cooldown for resets. 

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2 hours ago, Starym said:

when you add the fact that the focus of the promotional campaign is on choices and consequences... the "pull the ripcord" fans never stood a chance.

So, in reality, before we even get the first glimpses of beta, they've already decided how they're building everything based on a freaking ad campaign, so what use is beta feedback at all about these systems? I was upset about feedback being ignored about major systems in Legion and BfA betas regarding Legendaries and Azerite Armor, respectively. Now, I am completely demoralized. I agree 100% with Starym's analysis I quoted above, and taking that to it's logical conclusion is that they released beta dead-set on ignoring all feedback about changing the Covenant/Conduit system. That is almost half of your character at max level, and they just said "We don't care if you don't like it, cause we've already started building a whole ad campaign around this idea." The fact that they knew this was going to come out eventually and people were going to connect the dots and they just. didn't. care. They could have come out months ago and said "Sorry, this is the entire lynchpin of the expansion, it's not going anywhere and this is why".* As a fan, as a player, as someone who has written mountains of feedback for the last 3 expansions, I feel so disrespected. I'm sorry this is so negative, but I just can't find a way to put a positive spin on this at all.

P.S. - This *STILL* doesn't fix the disoriented relationships between the covenants and the player from a lore perspective. It's like the lore and the covenant-swapping are playing in two alternate universes.

*My guess is they didn't do that because they knew they'd be called on chaining gameplay to a marketing stunt far earlier than they are now. By waiting, this can and will demoralize many #PtR people, since it's 'too late to change it now'. 

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34 minutes ago, ORCSMASH said:

So, in reality, before we even get the first glimpses of beta, they've already decided how they're building everything based on a freaking ad campaign, so what use is beta feedback at all about these systems?

No. I'm guessing the ad campaign was based on the way they're building things. And that was decided way before beta started. It's not like they whipped out the whole covenant system in the last 2 months. They may have done that in code, but they could have started planing it and putting it on paper in 8.1 for all I know.

So what use is feedback in beta? Bugfinding, suggesting minor tweaks and turns and stuff like that. Certainly not rebuilding core systems and features of a product. Unless the costumers are willing to wait another year or so.

Edited by Gortan
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46 minutes ago, ORCSMASH said:

So, in reality, before we even get the first glimpses of beta, they've already decided how they're building everything based on a freaking ad campaign, so what use is beta feedback at all about these systems? I was upset about feedback being ignored about major systems in Legion and BfA betas regarding Legendaries and Azerite Armor, respectively. Now, I am completely demoralized. I agree 100% with Starym's analysis I quoted above, and taking that to it's logical conclusion is that they released beta dead-set on ignoring all feedback about changing the Covenant/Conduit system. That is almost half of your character at max level, and they just said "We don't care if you don't like it, cause we've already started building a whole ad campaign around this idea." The fact that they knew this was going to come out eventually and people were going to connect the dots and they just. didn't. care. They could have come out months ago and said "Sorry, this is the entire lynchpin of the expansion, it's not going anywhere and this is why".* As a fan, as a player, as someone who has written mountains of feedback for the last 3 expansions, I feel so disrespected. I'm sorry this is so negative, but I just can't find a way to put a positive spin on this at all.

P.S. - This *STILL* doesn't fix the disoriented relationships between the covenants and the player from a lore perspective. It's like the lore and the covenant-swapping are playing in two alternate universes.

*My guess is they didn't do that because they knew they'd be called on chaining gameplay to a marketing stunt far earlier than they are now. By waiting, this can and will demoralize many #PtR people, since it's 'too late to change it now'. 

Yeah, everything is based on that one campaign of ads in that one magazine, not systems begun a long time ago :)

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I remember when streamers and youtubers like PreachGaming said that blizzard's reaction to feedback from their players was awesome and that they were listening. Well I think they did not listen enough.
Of course its nice to not have system on top of a system on top of a system like in BfA but instead from the start of the expansion but honestly, does blizzard even consider some other choices? By now almost everyone said that the should just make the covenant abilities into some sort of talent unbound to their original covenants, since we're already helping everyone anyway. The solution is literally at hand. The conduits do not matter much, since except for the ability- focused conduit, you have almost all the important stuff with any conduit anyway. "More Damage from Skill X", yes, all four covenants do have that..

I already feel exhausted and Shadowlands isn't even live yet. I already want this expansion to be over. I don't care anymore. I'm around since 2004 and I never had trouble to find a class I like to play, except for now. I dislike the idea of being forced to choose between story and visual stuff and the strength I get in PvE. I don't want to join maldraxxus on my warlock but if I don't I am literally trolling my progress guild. THAT is some great design. Thanks blizzard.

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I also don't really get Ion's point, that making the covenant abilities free to switch, would 'unravel the entire fabric'.
Where's the problem, if you, for example, linke the conduits to the abilities, so that you always choose an ability and it's respective soulbind.

Maybe I'm missing something?

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29 minutes ago, Asakash said:

I also don't really get Ion's point, that making the covenant abilities free to switch, would 'unravel the entire fabric'.
Where's the problem, if you, for example, linke the conduits to the abilities, so that you always choose an ability and it's respective soulbind.

Maybe I'm missing something?

I think the conduits are all the same, its just the lore and signature abilities that are different. 

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1 hour ago, Asakash said:

I also don't really get Ion's point, that making the covenant abilities free to switch, would 'unravel the entire fabric'.
Where's the problem, if you, for example, linke the conduits to the abilities, so that you always choose an ability and it's respective soulbind.

Maybe I'm missing something?

You are missing the time played metric that the games success is measured by now. The old metric was subs but once that started slipping then they tried to inflate time played by adding pathfinder and other time gating events.

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5 hours ago, Gortan said:

So what use is feedback in beta? Bugfinding, suggesting minor tweaks and turns and stuff like that. Certainly not rebuilding core systems and features of a product. Unless the costumers are willing to wait another year or so.

Whether it would take another year I don't know; I suspect they could change it, but are indeed sticking to this because what some players want (unlimited free choice) simply isn't a great option either. It's a reaction to a possibly bad system and far from a good system itself. 

But BFA seems to suggest that if it is a bad system we'll get additional things added to it later, not a revamp there and then.  

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9 minutes ago, Halock said:

Whether it would take another year I don't know; I suspect they could change it, but are indeed sticking to this because what some players want (unlimited free choice) simply isn't a great option either. It's a reaction to a possibly bad system and far from a good system itself. 

But BFA seems to suggest that if it is a bad system we'll get additional things added to it later, not a revamp there and then.  

yes bandaids ION's favorite save his *filtered* tool u would think he learned  from BFA  but i guess not cant wait till 9.3 when this will all have 2 sets of bandaids to make the system actually not feel like trash 

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After doing some research, watching videos from Preach and Bellular, and testing/playing around in the beta I am going to have to play/work with 2 separate characters to main just to fill in the off role of what is needed on the content I wish to do and to provide what my Guild needs in a Raid/keystone setting.  I would rather just work with 1 character with the option to switch roles on a whim but since Blizzard is dead set on weekly lock ins I'll make do with what I can work with to enjoy what content is available at my leisure.

I really don't see this to be an easy undertaking even with new feature implement for alt catch up mechanics for leveling and Renown...there is NOT a catch up for gear or the decrease of rng in the game.  Specially at the start of a brand new expansion where everything starts out at ground zero.  Just means twice the work I have to put in on a daily basis for two characters to match in gear/ilvl throughout the duration of the expansion till things start to ease up on Blizzards end for Conduits or if I can unlock more than 1 Soulbind before the release of the first season of Mythic+.

I had the idea back in BFA but the AP catch up and the gear acquisition was horrid at best at the time during the release of Uldir. 

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Honestly, at this point I kinda stopped minding it.

They are spot-on with comparing it to race/class combo, though, it's been years and we're still seeing high end players favoring a race (Human/Forsaken PvP ladder in Cata, "Troll Family Photo" worldfirsts in MoP/WoD, either elven race plaguing M+ ladder in Legion/BfA) to squeeze a lil' extra in, what else is exactly new, except you're not paying money to do so.

Yeah, might suck for the "1%", but why are the rest are acting like chosing a non-meta one would ruin their characters? We're not playing our characters to their fullest already (yes, we are not, get over yourself, average player with inflated ego), do you really think the "meta" covenant is gonna fix it? 

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2 minutes ago, Teufel said:

Honestly, at this point I kinda stopped minding it.

They are spot-on with comparing it to race/class combo, though, it's been years and we're still seeing high end players favoring a race (Human/Forsaken PvP ladder in Cata, "Troll Family Photo" worldfirsts in MoP/WoD, either elven race plaguing M+ ladder in Legion/BfA) to squeeze a lil' extra in, what else is exactly new, except you're not paying money to do so.

Yeah, might suck for the "1%", but why are the rest are acting like chosing a non-meta one would ruin their characters? We're not playing our characters to their fullest already (yes, we are not, get over yourself, average player with inflated ego), do you really think the "meta" covenant is gonna fix it? 

There are really sooo many reasons and people who explain them, why it's excactly NOT only this mythical '1%' that's affected by that.
And just because it's already unbalanced doesn't mean you should make it even worse. And yes, most people i know DO try and build their char as good as possible.

And it's not just min-maxing. You won't even be able to play 2 different specs on one char properly. 

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6 hours ago, ORCSMASH said:

So, in reality, before we even get the first glimpses of beta, they've already decided how they're building everything based on a freaking ad campaign, so what use is beta feedback at all about these systems? I was upset about feedback being ignored about major systems in Legion and BfA betas regarding Legendaries and Azerite Armor, respectively. Now, I am completely demoralized. I agree 100% with Starym's analysis I quoted above, and taking that to it's logical conclusion is that they released beta dead-set on ignoring all feedback about changing the Covenant/Conduit system. That is almost half of your character at max level, and they just said "We don't care if you don't like it, cause we've already started building a whole ad campaign around this idea." The fact that they knew this was going to come out eventually and people were going to connect the dots and they just. didn't. care. They could have come out months ago and said "Sorry, this is the entire lynchpin of the expansion, it's not going anywhere and this is why".* As a fan, as a player, as someone who has written mountains of feedback for the last 3 expansions, I feel so disrespected. I'm sorry this is so negative, but I just can't find a way to put a positive spin on this at all.

P.S. - This *STILL* doesn't fix the disoriented relationships between the covenants and the player from a lore perspective. It's like the lore and the covenant-swapping are playing in two alternate universes.

*My guess is they didn't do that because they knew they'd be called on chaining gameplay to a marketing stunt far earlier than they are now. By waiting, this can and will demoralize many #PtR people, since it's 'too late to change it now'. 

 Alpha - core systems can be redesigned

Beta - bug finding and tuning

Once Covenants made it out of Alpha as is, the possibility of them being altered to be easy to switch back to before the next content patch became near zero.

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Just now, Asakash said:

There are really sooo many reasons and people who explain them, why it's excactly NOT only this mythical '1%' that's affected by that.
And just because it's already unbalanced doesn't mean you should make it even worse. And yes, most people i know DO try and build their char as good as possible.

And it's not just min-maxing. You won't even be able to play 2 different specs on one char properly. 

Name a few of those 'sooo many reasons'. Because I keep seeing a few exactly the same ones, albeit worded differnetly, which still ultimately boils down to 'when you have an issue with your performance - most of the time it sits right in front of the monitor' - unless you're the 'mythical 1%' that actually needs every single breadcrumb of said performance to either get there faster than the rest or do something they're clearly not geared for.
Even if you do 'try build char as good as possible', it' matters not if you're an average 3k rio 475 50k DPS Night Elf BM Huntard who can't execute the "tryhard" mechanic of 'disengage as far back as possible and press nightmeld the moment Kujo's feet are off the ground, then /lol' - which is the bigger chunk of players who are currently going at it.

And so far I've seen none of the covenant abilities that make up the core playstyle of the spec, like some talents or Azerite traits currently do. There is some tuning required, and I'm positive it'll be made on spec-by-spec basis, but if you're going to tell me that 'playing the spec properly' boils down to the covenant, maybe you should look at some other things to fix first.

Edited by Teufel
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12 minutes ago, Teufel said:

Name a few of those 'sooo many reasons'. Because I keep seeing a few exactly the same ones, albeit worded differnetly, which still ultimately boils down to 'when you have an issue with your performance - most of the time it sits right in front of the monitor' - unless you're the 'mythical 1%' that actually needs every single breadcrumb of said performance to either get there faster than the rest or do something they're clearly not geared for.
Even if you do 'try build char as good as possible', it' matters not if you're an average 3k rio 475 50k DPS Night Elf BM Huntard who can't execute the "tryhard" mechanic of 'disengage as far back as possible and press nightmeld the moment Kujo's feet are off the ground, then /lol' - which is the bigger chunk of players who are currently going at it.

And so far I've seen none of the covenant abilities that make up the core playstyle of the spec, like some talents or Azerite traits currently do. There are some tuning required, and I'm positive it'll be made on spec-by-spec basis, but if you're going to tell me that 'playing the spec properly' boils down to the covenant, maybe you should look at some other things to fix first.

Well, first of all, even if you're not as good as other players, some people actually like trying to be the best they can be. And that includes me and everyone i usually play with, even though we don't fit in these 1%.

Second is, that you're doing the same mistake that Blizz does, thinking that you can do everything the way you want and it's only your choice.
But many guilds want their players to be optimized, most pog groups will always pick those, that are prepared the best for the type of content you wanna do. 
Look at people now, searching for +15keys, only inviting meta classes/specs. 
We don't live in that magical world, where people say 'well, you're clearly not as optimzed as the next player, but at least you're true to yourself, so of course we pick you'. It's an MMO. People will choose options that are most likely to succeed.
And some of the covenant abilities are maybe good for single target, but bring nothing for aoe or cleave. There is no way to balance this.

Edited by Asakash
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4 hours ago, Asakash said:

I also don't really get Ion's point, that making the covenant abilities free to switch, would 'unravel the entire fabric'.
Where's the problem, if you, for example, linke the conduits to the abilities, so that you always choose an ability and it's respective soulbind.

Maybe I'm missing something?

It would unravel the design of how THEY want the expansion to play. Game devs don't make games FOR consumers they make games out of love and that is what they enjoy doing. They have NO obligation to sate player demands. 70 percent of the player base doesn''t even know how the game works they just read whats good at that time from icyveins and wowhead. World of warcraft and MMO's in general might as well be thrown in the same lot as eve where its all a spreadsheet simulator. Until players can stop meta gaming this will always be the way it is. TLDR: People need to learn to enjoy a work of art  that another group of humans spend hours and hours and hours making and top being so critical over everything, it is getting old and it is ruining the industry.

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55 minutes ago, Asakash said:

We don't live in that magical world, where people say 'well, you're clearly not as optimzed as the next player, but at least you're true to yourself, so of course we pick you'.

This sentence right here makes you part of the problem. Yea, pugs might require you to be a certain class/spec/covenant, but a good friend or guild group really doesn't. If they do, then yea they are that "1%", cuz that's where it makes a big enough difference.

The many reasons people are against covenants actually have nothing to do with any of the above. Preach advocates this heavily, stating that the output/throughput of the covenant spells isn't what makes it controversial, it's what kind of utility they provide or simply how engaging/fun they are to press. That's the point so many people are missing, and that's what makes Blizzard stick to their guns.

People who really believe that a covenant's class spells are making or breaking an entire spec are really not thinking about this the right way. Soulbinds might do, but that's a simple number tuning away from being just fine.

Is it a perfect system? Absolutely not. Are people way in over their heads? Yeah, for sure. How many times has there been outburst over the smallest thing that Blizzard does to WoW? They have to try something, if not, the game would become stale. You can't keep adding new spells and talent rows every expansion, that's called powercreep.

Edited by Doozum

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17 minutes ago, RLKhaos said:

It would unravel the design of how THEY want the expansion to play. Game devs don't make games FOR consumers they make games out of love and that is what they enjoy doing. They have NO obligation to sate player demands. 70 percent of the player base doesn''t even know how the game works they just read whats good at that time from icyveins and wowhead. World of warcraft and MMO's in general might as well be thrown in the same lot as eve where its all a spreadsheet simulator. Until players can stop meta gaming this will always be the way it is. TLDR: People need to learn to enjoy a work of art  that another group of humans spend hours and hours and hours making and top being so critical over everything, it is getting old and it is ruining the industry.

Hm, I get your point, but the game is also very competitive and people pay for it. And if they actually say 'we don't make it for the consumers, but for us' then I think that's very selfish.
And I'm also pretty sure that they DO have an obligation to sate player demands, as it's still a company, it's their job to make a product that sells as good as possible. They're not hired to do whatever they want to do.

And imo, critical thinking doesn't mean you can't enjoy, but it's very important. Would you still want to deal with all what's been wrong in BfA in Shadowlands? Then you can just accept everything, no matter what.
I personally want the game to be as enjoyable as possible, so there are things that bother me.

Of course, that doesn't mean that you should be a d*ck about it and just hate on everything. And for me, apart from that whole covenant and conduit stuff, Shadowlands does look like it's going to be awesome in many aspects.

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19 minutes ago, RLKhaos said:

It would unravel the design of how THEY want the expansion to play. Game devs don't make games FOR consumers they make games out of love and that is what they enjoy doing.

"Out of love"? Triple-A companies making games out of love?! Were you sober at a time of writing this post?

21 minutes ago, RLKhaos said:

TLDR: People need to learn to enjoy a work of art  that another group of humans spend hours and hours and hours making and top being so critical over everything, it is getting old and it is ruining the industry.

Oh yes, criticism is bad, better to shut up and just consume. That's going to make things better. It's customers' fault, not companies being greedy and cutting corners. I hope you are joking.

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Just now, Arcling said:

Oh yes, criticism is bad, better to shut up and just consume. That's going to make things better. It's customers' fault, not companies being greedy and cutting corners. I hope you are joking.

No, criticism is good. And clearly Blizzard has heard it, otherwise they wouldn't aknowledge it. Taking criticism and still sticking to it doesn't mean it's not useful, heard and taken into acount. They obviously have a reason for this, and that's bringing choice back into the game. And whether you like it or not, it has worked 😛 Choices are back and meaningful. Maybe not the best iteration of choice, but it's hard to make something perfect in the eyes of so many people.

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9 minutes ago, Doozum said:

No, criticism is good. And clearly Blizzard has heard it, otherwise they wouldn't aknowledge it. Taking criticism and still sticking to it doesn't mean it's not useful, heard and taken into acount. They obviously have a reason for this, and that's bringing choice back into the game. And whether you like it or not, it has worked 😛 Choices are back and meaningful. Maybe not the best iteration of choice, but it's hard to make something perfect in the eyes of so many people.

That's the whole point, there will be no choice for a big part of the players...
Most people who want to play the game at least on a decent level and who don't have a full group already für every type of content that will play with them will take the one that is best.
Prepare for all the Night Fae dks.

 

There would be a choice, if covenants wouldn't be connected to player power that much, which is what most people would like.

Edited by Asakash
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      Thanks again for your testing and feedback!
    • By Starym
      Blizzard have posted that Covenant tuning is currently underway on the Shadowlands beta, to inform players that there may be some big number changes coming to being certain abilities closer to their counterparts.
      Covenant Tuning (source)
      In today’s updated build of the Shadowlands Beta, testers will see a snapshot of the the process of tuning several Shadowlands systems, which is underway. We’re in the midst of recalibrating the throughput of several Covenant abilities, and while in some cases the magnitude of the change may feel large, it’s necessary to bring outlier abilities in-line with our targets, so that players can make more accurate comparisons between abilities.
      Thank you for all of your help as we iterate on these abilities based on your feedback.
       
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