First Impressions

First impressions are key to defining the relationship you are going to have.  Be it an interviewer, a date, a potential sale, a sales person, when you first set eyes on them, you get a flavor of what that person is all about.  Is the interviewee charming and debonair, or is he a crack addicted pimp with tatoos everywhere?

The fact is, you don’t want certain types of people in certain jobs.  In Customer Service, there is a very fine line you have to walk.  You don’t want someone who is too bubbly, else they might not look as if they know what they are doing.  Conversely, you don’t want someone super technical – they will get lost, and more frustrated.  No you want someone who is just right.  First impressions are very good at telling you what a person is going to be like.

Its this very concept that the current WoW regime doesn’t seem to grasp very well.

Each patch we get to see a little bit into the development of WoW, and a new first impression.  Is it huge and expansive?  Is the artwork stunning, bosses interesting, surprises where you least expect them?  Or is it a one room dungeon, with recycled models, virtually no artwork, and boss mechanics that are old and tired?  How about this important question – Are there any bugs?

If you have recently installed and logged in to patch 3.2, you already know what I mean.  XT was bugged, the new VoA boss Koralon isn’t even present, his wing sits empty and desolate, and even some servers completely self destructing.  Is this the first impression that blizz wants us to see?  I think not.  Let’s examine what you can get from a first impression.

Fashion

I know, most of you are ready to throw me off the deep end.  What does fashion have to do with first impressions?  Well, everything really.

Fashion is a small snapshot of a person.  Are they bleeding edge, so much so that they are ready to fall off?  Yeah, that is classic type A personality.  This person is most likely going to cause some friction in the office, be it gossip, or just trying to change things up, switching workflows that may be better, but are probably pushed a little too hard to get implemented.  These kinds of people need little to motivate them to the extreme.

If you get a person that rolls up in sweats and a cropped up tube top, you know you have a type C personality – subdued, going to be hard to motivate, and you will most likely not going to hire them.

In WoW terms this equates to art design.  This is a big scope for a digital world – everything in it, from the snowflakes to sticks to armor has to be modeled, colored, and given rule-sets to how they interact with the environment.  Patch 3.2?  There wasn’t a ton of art design.  The tier armor sets pretty much used the same design, tweaked for different classes.  This is a lot less work than previous tiers.

The new raid is a one room.  That is not a lot either, especially compared to Ulduar.  The art design in there is rustic, and fits well with the whole northrend/vrykul/argent crusade theme though, so they get points there.  No new zones were implemented, and bosses mostly recycled old models.

Language

Does the interviewee have decent language skills?  If they speak in ebonics, you will most likely not want them representing your company.  Another thing to consider is if they are overly literate.  By that I mean, are they trying to embellish with a lot of words that aren’t used in common language?  In a journalism setting, this might be great.  But in the average team setting?  This is probably going to cause friction amongst the team members.

The language of the recent patch to WoW can probably be best summed up as “we didn’t test as well as we should have.”

I work for a Software company.  I know bugs happen, especially in super complex programs.  However, to combat that, we have EXTENSIVE testing periods.  We test, retest, remove, install, poke, prod, and try to intentionally break it.  That doesn’t seem to be happening enough in WoW.  Koralon has not been implemented, and I am not sure if that is a bug or not.  The communication from the blues always seemed to indicate that it would be in the patch – they even added achievements for it.  But lo and behold, on patch day, he was nowhere to be found – his wing devoid of even trash mobs.  And what of XT?  That was pretty much so bugged that unless you were working on hard modes, you probably didn’t even have the gear to complete it.  That had to be hot fixed.

Attitude

This is the one make or break thing in an interview.  You can do everything right, and get this wrong, and you will not land the job.  You can do everything wrong, and get this one right, and land the job.  Sometimes its not just the skillset that an employer is looking for.  A great attitude can go a long way in a workplace, especially if it is a team setting.

I have to say, this is the one place where I think Blizz is majorly screwing themselves up right now.  “Please be patient, this is a patch day, things are going to go wrong,” is a sentence I never ever thought I would ever hear coming from a Blizzard employee – or if I did, they would be fired on the spot.  Instead, this is now commonplace.  What once was an exacting company has come to a company that expects things to go wrong, but even more critically, thinks it’s ok.

Bugs are never okay.  Bugs represent a failure – a failure of the game code, or a failure on the part of the programmer to set a particular variable correct*.  Even more importantly, it represents a failure of the quality control that should be in place.  QC should be the last, final, and complete end of the line for anything going out the door (or on live servers) and they need to have the resources to appropriately test and tell the programmers, “Hey, this doesn’t work.”

Also, look at the raid content.  This is where I think the entire raid base can say blizz has had a problem with since Wrath launch.  The initial launch saw two 1 room raids, and a recycled old raid that was retuned for 80 content.  Where is the development time?  Then came Ulduar, and we were blessed with a dungeon that, I think, surpassed anyone’s expectations.  Now, we are back to a 1 room dungeon.  All I can say is that Icecrown had better be revolutionary, and massive in scale, or else the raid base – the heart of your game – is going to evaporate.

Why does this fit under attitude?  Because – Blizzard thinks that the utter complete lack of content in endgame – a place where they push you to be – is acceptable. If Blizzard had a different attitude, Trial of the Crusader would have been much bigger in size and scope.

When you put everything together, what do you get?  A changing face of  Blizzard.  No longer do we have the game company obsessed with making everything perfect, and with a mantra of “Soon(TM).”  Unfortunately, the first impression I get from 3.2?  “Too Soon(TM).”

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