So, Ghostcrawler put up a post about Stat Inflation and concerns about the exponentially increasing stat values on our gear. This post assumes you read the original article here.
So, what is the Stat problem? Well, it’s been one that people have been worried about for a while: Big numbers are harder for people to understand than little ones, and big numbers are harder for the computers running the game.
With larger numbers, the difference between 100,000,000 Hit points and 100,000,010 Hit points is so small that you have to keep increasing the stats exponentially to feel like getting more gear had an effect. When your max hit points were 1,000 then having 1,010 was an increase you thought was worthwhile.
The bigger the numbers get, the more Blizzard has to make larger ilevel jumps for your gear upgrades to feel substantial. It has been a problem for the last several expansions, but has finally hit a point where Blizzard will really need to do something about it for Cataclsym.
Option 1: “Mega Damage”
The first option Ghostcrawler describes is truncating the numbers and calling it something like “mega damage” (the example being 12 Mega Damage instead of 12,000,000 damage, or 12K instead of 12,000).
The benefit of “mega damage” is that 12 K is easier to understand than 12,000. Being “mega” might also make you feel good. 🙂 Apparently, other games used this type of system to deal with their stat inflation.
The problem with “mega damage” is that it will end up feeling awkward and is a band-aid solution that actually leads to you needing larger stat inflation for upgrades to feel worthwhile. For example, instead of being able to upgrade from 12,000 to 12,500 – you now have to upgrade from 12 K to 13 K (and everything between feels like not an upgrade). Anyone actually wanting to evaluate items will still need to know that the damage is 12.425 Mega (12,425) instead of 12 Mega. Changing the scale just makes everyone have to work in decimals or in very large numbers and there will be a lot of confusion and inconsistencies in reporting.
What happens when we hit 500,000 Mega Damage? With this system, it would probably only take 1 or 2 expansions for Mega Damage numbers to get over-inflated since this just changed the display of the stats and didn’t change the rate at which the stats were accelerating.
That feels like more of a compounding problem rather than a solution and I really don’t think it will be good for the game to band-aid the stat inflation this way. Also, at lower levels, you would still be doing 100 damage and so going from 999 damage to 1K damage (or wherever the breakpoint is) would be incredibly awkward.
<font color=990000Item Level Squish
I prefer this second option – You just roll back the stat inflation and squish all the point values back down to a more reasonable level so that a level 85 is now doing 100 damage in place of 1,000 damage… or maybe 100 damage instead of 10,000 damage.
The benefit of ‘squashing’: If you squash everyone back down, then it gives more room for the numbers to grow (allowing for a slowing down of the stat inflation), it puts the numbers back in a place where people are familiar with, and allows for the numbers to grow higher over the next few expansions if they are squished far enough.
The drawback of squashing: One day, you will wake up and be doing 100 damage instead of 10,000 damage. Now, everything was squashed by the same amount (so your relative power versus other people hasn’t changed, and the bosses will be doing less damage to you), but it’s hard to feel like you are weaker than you were before.
While potentially frustrating at first, I’m pretty sure we could get used to doing smaller numbers again, especially if they give us like 3 to 6 months advance notice to mentally prepare ourselves and the community. With the “feels like you are driving on the wrong side of the road” analogy: That feeling goes away after a while with enough practice and experience. Refusing to ever travel from the US to England just because you are worried about having a funny feeling while driving isn’t really a reason to stay home.
I say… Scrap Mega Damage and proceed with squashing. We’ll get used to working with smaller numbers after a couple weeks of playing with the new system. However, I have one caveat:
The Stat Squashing needs to happen when the expansion launches (ie. when we’re starting to level up in Pandaria) and NOT done during the pre-patch. If you pre-patch and we are walking into Deathwing’s fight doing 100,000 damage one day and 1,000 damage the next, there will be pretty harsh psychological effects.It won’t be as bad if we’re doing 100,000 damage to Deathwing one day and then 1,000 damage while questing in Pandaria the next day. The change in content will mitigate a lot of the psychological impact and give us a few days/weeks to adjust to the numbers before we start doing end-game content again. Lower damage numbers won’t feel so awkward if we are getting used to them while leveling.