On this day of a rather significant World of Warcraft patch, we might do well to remember that this endless cycle of buffing and nerfing and nerfing (oops, too far that time), and buffing and quitting and j/k about quitting has been going on as long as gaming itself.
Ten years ago, Tenarius, former Mud Druid, wrote a guide for nerfing games: The Mud Whimping Guidebook Page, Ruin your game by nerfing or wimping players.
Realize: I’m not saying Warcraft is ruined, not by a long shot — I’m saying human nature hasn’t changed in ten years.
Since this is an ancient document, I’ll translate some of the terms:
Mud – that’s a game, Multi User Dungeon. Our forefathers played these around a kitchen table before there was Ultima Online and EverQuest.
Immortals, Gods, Dungeon Masters and their ilk – those are the GMs! We still call them GMs! Weird.
Mobs – the monsters. We still call them mobs! Weird.
Trolls – players, (forum posters), who stir up trouble. We still have those too!!
Wiping – we think of wiping as a complete party or raid death. Back in the kitchen-table days, wiping was like quitting — a complete file wipe of player data.
Wimping (alternate spelling, Whimping) – NERFING. Looks like they sometimes called it nerfing also.
And reading further, I can see that we have had fanbois, QQers and The Poor with us always.
His conclusion about game balancing and the inevitable fallout is as valid today as it was back then in olden days:
Lastly, is it worth the cost? You are about to lose players and maybe an immortal or two. Is this what you want to occur? Are players worth anything to you? Will you GET more players in return for the ones you lost when the game playing public hears of what a great job of wimping you have done? If so have at it, but think… few people come to muds because they have heard of how great the balance is, most people come because they hear the gods make it a FUN place to play and that the people are friendly. Nerfing begets the antithesis of a friendly environment.
I read all this as: Nerfing is the slippery slope of last resort.
They knew that before we knew that.
Credits: I found Tenarius’ essay via this thread on the WoW Forums, thanks to Buzzkill, level 8 posting alt of the Windrunner realm.