Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Future of Engineering

The latest blow to Engineers has come from the Developers. Rocket Boots will no longer work in Arenas.

I think this is a precursor to a big announcement, possibly at Blizzcon about Engineering. Remember that here at Honor’s Code, “All Predictions Are Wrong or Your Money Back”. *Honor’s Code is technically free, so if I actually ever got one right, I’d owe you….well... nothing, so you get the point.
Honors Engineering History
Let me give you a brief synopsis of my history with Engineering and then let me tell you where I think the Developers are going with this.

I dropped Engineering about a week after 3.1 hit and I’ve been working on leveling up Mining on Honorshammer. This was the second time I’d dropped the profession.

When I leveled Honorshammer during Vanilla WoW, Engineering was fantastic. It provided my Paladin with the one thing he truly lacked, a ranged pull. As a Paladin in those days, you got very familiar with how to body pull.

Once I hit the level cap at 60, I found less and less uses for Engineering. When Burning Crusade announced the new profession of Jewelcrafting, my GM put out a call for people who would be willing to switch. Frustrated with how little I was actually using the profession, I agreed to switch to Jewelcrafting.

Then during Burning Crusade, the Developers massively buffed Engineering to provide Helms that were on par with the Tier 5 helms. At the time, I was still in late to mid Tier 4 content, with little prospect of being able to do Tier 5 anytime soon. They also brought out a way cool Flying Mount. So I dropped Mining and picked Engineering back up.

Then Wrath came. The motorcycle mount which was very cool, was also very expensive, and Honors can still have/use one even though he’s dropped the profession. The goggles were not nearly as good as they had been in Burning Crusade. Mote Farming was much less lucrative as well. Then an instance that should have been a treasure trove of new schematics (Ulduar) rendered zero, zip, nada.

So frustrated once again with Engineering, I dropped it. But I believe my history with Engineering gives me a good idea of what the issues are and where I believe the Developers may be going with it.

The Future of Engineering

A wise man once told me, “Future events cast their shadows before them.”

You can see this in game. Let me give you an example of what I mean. Hunters have been wondering why the best vendor bought ammo in Wrath did the exact same DPS as the best reputation bought ammo from Burning Crusade. Well as we recently found out that the reason was the planned change to ammo had caused the Developers to stop itemizing bullets and arrows, but that when the ammo changes didn’t go through, they needed another way to boost Hunter DPS.

The reason for the ‘missing’ ammo was a change we only recently found out about.

The main problem the Developers have had with Engineering has been with balancing it.

This was true even at Level 60. Rogues and Kitties have a Sprint, it’s not game breaking, but give Sprint to a Ret Paladin through Rocket Boots and it becomes a problem. Priests can Mind Control, it’s not game breaking, but give Mind Control to a Mage through the Mind Control Cap and it becomes a problem. Priests and Mages have Slowfall, it’s not game breaking, but give Slowfall to a Warrior through a Parachute Cloak and it becomes a problem. Warriors can spell reflect, it’s not game breaking, but give spell reflect to a Hunter through the Fire Reflector and it becomes an issue.

These skills are fine in and of themselves, but when paired up with certain classes, they become an issue. They fill in gaps and cover weaknesses that balance those classes by design.

We’ve seen virtually nothing on Enginering since Wrath released. Some of the schematics make parts that currently have no use. It’s almost like they stopped working on Engineering halfway through Development of Wrath. This is a shadow of a future event.

Blizzcon is coming up, and I believe there is a good chance Blizzard announces the next Expansion at Blizzcon. Wrath was announced two years ago at Blizzcon 2007. I blogged about it.

When the next expansion is released, I believe they will also announce a new class, the Engineer. This will be a summoned pet class and pilot class and use many of the gadgets currently in Engineering to do their DPS. They will be able to summon turrets, robots, maybe even the Robot Factory that was in Warcraft 3: The Frozen Throne. They will also get bonuses when driving Vehicles (more speed or more damage) and possibly even get to repair them. This works both in PVP (Strands and Wintergrasp) as well as PVE (Flame Levithan).

Of course making Engineering a class will require major changes to the profession. It could either be scrapped entirely, or made a secondary profession. But if they scrapped it entirely, wouldn’t that piss off the people who currently have Enginering? Yes, it would. So you want to minimize the number of people who have the skill and thus would be affected. Well just make Engineering a worse and worse choice for most classes, all the while giving lip service to having it be on par. By the time you actually announce it’s being removed as a profession, there won’t be many left with the skill. Natural attrition will have reduced the number of Engineers for you.

I remember well that back in 2007, the Develoeprs communicated they wanted Tank equality, but then during Wrath’s Beta, revealed that the encounters had been stacked to prop up Warriors. So it would hardly be the first time Blizzard communicates something publicly through the Community Managers (“we’re working on Engineering”), while doing something very different behind the scenes.

So that’s two bold predictions in one blog. Now we get to sit back and watch what happens.


Ashuna said...

My first thought was: "No way in hell they'll be announcing the next xpac."

Then I looked at the release date of the burning crusade. January 16, 2007. Wrath announced Blizzcon 07.

I think you may be on to something. I just remember feeling like it was a long time before Wrath was announced, I guess that's just my mind playing tricks on me. Then again, after 2 years things start to get fuzzy.

While I'm not sure about a new class being introduced. (They seem to have their hands full with DKs still.) I wouldn't be suprised if the next xpac was dropped at blizzcon.

Thinking more about the engineering class. I could see it being a ranged DPS/Healing (via mitigation) hybrid.

Similar to DKs in that each tree can tank and dps. I could see each tree having different forms of doing damage, while also having talents that help to mitigate or be reactionary healing to damage.

Rhidach said...

Oh, I hope that's not true. I just picked up the stupid profession again.

If Blizz wants to balance Engineering and make it more appealing at the same time they need to just phase out all the items that copy other class mechanics and focus on what made Engi fun in the first place: the stupid dinky little items that keep getting put in the TCG. Add some new pets, upgrade the goggles so Engi has something worthwhile, and change tinkers so they either stack with enchants or buff them so you don't mind having them instead of an enchant.

This is a pipe dream, of course.

Agreed on the expansion though--I fully expect them to announce the Maelstrom or whatever this Blizzcon.

Fish said...

As far as engineering, I have never particularly enjoyed it as a profession. I think sticking to just scopes, pets, and bombs is ok.

I think the generally accepted theory is that the "new class" will be a healer. I dunno if it will be some kind of Archdruid of Elune or something but who knows?

Dorgol said...

I've long felt that an "Engineering" class would be a nice addition. These would be Tinkerers, and at the top of each of their talent trees they would get an Armor suit that really defined their role.

At the top of the tanking tree there would be a Goblin Shredder-type armor suit.
At the top of the ranged tree there would be a spider-robot-machine-gunning armor suit.
And the top of the "other" tree would be "something else" (obviously I haven't put much thought into that). :)

However, I seriously doubt Blizzard will remove Engineering. Doubt to the point of "no way in hell".

Oh, and if they add a Tinker class, they would have to add Goblins to the Horde faction. They would just HAVE to.

Rorik said...

I would really love it if they made an Engineer hero class. Most of your readers probably haven't played it , but Warhammer has Engineers as a class (have to be a dwarf) and it plays pretty well. It's very similar to a hunter but with a gun/grenade/flame turret as a pet. I don't know about them canning the Engineering profession outright though. They could always give the Engineer class the Engineer profession as a third, free profession.

My money is on a healer hero class though, like the Arch Druid.

Hana said...

Well just make Engineering a worse and worse choice for most classes, all the while giving lip service to having it be on par. By the time you actually announce it’s being removed as a profession, there won’t be many left with the skill. Natural attrition will have reduced the number of Engineers for you.That's a very cynical way of looking at things. Though engineering has gotten progressively less interesting/useful, I think it's more of a lack of design direction than Blizzard thinking they'll eventually phase it out.

It would be extremely difficult to deal with from a PR perspective, and in an competitive industry where "features" are a big thing, removing a profession is one less feature that can be touted as a part of the game.

Engineering might not return to its pre-TBC high point, but I highly doubt it'll ever be removed.

It would be very nice though, if being an engineer provided some sot of bonus when participating in vehicular combat.

Animagis said...

While I hesitate to think they would actually pull this kind of stunt...

It would fit in perfectly with a Maelstrom and Undermine expansion.

Very intriuging idea you have here.

Ironhorn said...

I cant see engineers as a class, I just cant. Engineering does still have uses, its just more useful to certain classes.

Eg I have taken it on my hunter who is currently level 66. Anyone who has levelled a hunter without heirloom weapons will know that access to half decent ranged weapons while levelling is very limited (particularly now nobody runs sub Northrend instances). Engineering addresses that through crafted guns. Same with ammo and scopes.

I cannot for the life of me understand why a non hunter would take it though.