[WoW, D3] Stacking-stags
In the advent of patch five-something of WoW, an hilarious bug was found and smashed. For a day or so, druids in stag form could climb on top of each other and overpoweredly fly above the sky limit. Blizzard saw this as unacceptable and crushed the druids' dream to reach the moon. When the ruling hand of Blizzard smashed this flimsy bug, I felt a pang of sadness and disappointment, as if it had been a nerf. Well, it was, in some way: it nerfed the player's creativity. Here's the bug, if you're curious:
In the last few years, Blizzard has been nerfing here and there not just for balancing reasons, but for streamlining ones as well. In Diablo 3, game that brought me a lot of joy from its polished mechanics, and a lot of sorrow from its design decisions, Blizzard's hand has been as unwavering as if it were an MMO, if not more. The playstyle that I usually adopted since Diablo 2, the glass cannon, was made extremely inefficient through the rising of repair costs and nerfing of attack speed. It was not the intended way to play, mind you. Diablo 3, being a gear-based game, would prefer you didn't "cheat" by using a cheap 0-resistance DPS set. It is all business, you see, players are not allowed to progress through skill, they have to buy their way through.
But this was not the only thing they streamlined: farming Siegebreaker was too popular, so they nerfed the chests, the nearby dungeons and boosted Siegebreaker with some nasty reflect damage affix. Resplendent chests had been too lucrative for the effort they required (although they forget that in order to get to most of those, you have to fight your way through a couple of "real" loot-pinatas), so they nerfed the chests, and the community sarcastically baptised them as "supply chests" because they only drop potions and gems. Oh, and let's not forget the preposterous thought of weapon racks always dropping weapons - that had to go away!
Back to bugs. I don't see the reason why some of them had to be deleted from the game. Take for instance the glitch that allowed rogues to enter Karazhan Crypts with Shadow Step back in TBC. It did not harm anybody or destabilized the game in any way. Hyjal was also a touristic spot that the most dexterous players bragged about having reached. They did not only nerf (or more politically correct: fix) wall-jumping, but when the virtuosos of jumping still made it, they installed a teleport that bounced them back where they should be. Wall-jumping in itself is a controversial subject, since it was used for actual harmful exploits such as jumping off the battlegrounds' fences before the race began. But I can think of other ways of preventing that that do not involve hijacking an interesting game mechanic (raise the walls, make them insurmountable, make a faux invisible ceiling, etc).
Why such rapacious reaction against creative bug-employing (not exploiting, there is no benefit made from it)? I believe it goes hand in hand with Blizzard's authoritarian policies of hyper-balancing. The game is supposed to be played/farmed *this* way and none other, which leads to the ever-nerfing of out-of-the-box ideas that the players come up with, such as 5-man rogue tanking of Gruul in TBC. My rogue friends drooled upon watching this video, and dreamed about being able to do that one day. It bespoke of the classes' possibilities beyond what was "common knowledge." It was all nerfed, since rogues are not supposed to tank. Raid encounters have gotten a similar treatment as well. I remember TBC encounters as being much more tolerant of different strategies. No, I don't just remember, I have seen it in action just a few months ago: King Maulgar could be handled in different ways depending on your raid setup. Enough tanks, and there was little need for hunter-kiting. Fewer healers? Then you may kite Maulgar around instead of face-tanking the whirlwind.
On the other end of the spectrum, developers such as Bethesda, which will always hold a little piece of my heart, and will probably be mentioned in my testament, have taken a much more laid-back approach to bugs. If it is funny and not game-breaking, we leave it there for our players to smile. My favourite one so far was the skyrocket sabercat. I encountered a sabercat in the wilderness, drew my bow, shot an arrow at it, and it just blasted off to the skies like a veritable rocket, leaving me there agape and loot-craving. Such wondrous world, Skyrim. You can be anything, even an astronaut.
Summing up: This bug fixing triggers in me some reluctance, because it reminds me too much of other creativity-nerfs, so abundant these days with Diablo 3. When will they learn that the more unique a player feels through her actions and decisions, the more attached she becomes to her characters and her individual game experience?