Relevant information to raids should be displayed when zoning into raid zones. Perhaps in the raid information tab, or as a pop up message, with the ability to disable it in interface options of course.
There's a difference between having the information available on the game mechanics, and quantitative min-maxing based on that information. Min-maxing is a player-based activity, and i do think that blizzard should stay away from it. It can happen on their own boars or here, whatever, but blizzard really has no imperative to post their own advice on negotiating heavy mechanics in order to optimize dps under different conditions.
However, I do think that blizzard has an obligation to publish, somewhere, the guts of their combat system. I don't think that all of the esoteric worky gubbins have to be forced upon every player. Most don't care, and more than a few would probably quit if they were force-fed some spreadsheets with decimals and percents. What's missing is a blizzard-sanctioned list of non-obvious effects, like the single-roll combat table with priorities, the hidden autoshot cast time, parry, the debuff limit (which is buried in patch notes, not posted anywhere official for new players to find) and the debuff priority system.
Example: it is not blizzard's place, duty, or responsibility to provide a guide to the hunter shot rotation. It is their responsibility to list the autoshot mechanics, with the hidden cast time and the shot delay, and how haste has an effect on that.
Creating the shot rotation, complete with diagrams and macros, is something for the player community to do, but the necessary "hidden" information should be availabe on some "advanced mechanics" page somewhere on the website, updated as necessary. I should need the EJ forums to talk to other smart people about optimizing my spreadsheet but blizzard should provide all the information I need to create that spreadsheet, rather than relying on n=10000 tests to test and verify the operating mechanics.
Without specific information from Blizzard we'll never know for sure what percent of the player population actively uses the official forums, but I think we can all agree that it is some non-trivial value.
City of Heroes's Statesman, years ago, revealed that the percentage was in the single digits (percentage wise) for that game, there's no compelling reason to believe it is otherwise for WoW. A socialization theory I subscribe to is that certain persons are information mediators - town gossips, if you like - where the EJ forum reader and the average player collide through an intermediary filter person; this results in juicy information (Death knights) some details of which may be difficult to attain (starting level ~55-70) quickly having large market penetration.
Your concern seems to lie in the idea that everyone wants to be informed, or that even presented the information, people will be informed. Surely anecdotal experience thusfar has demonstrated that premise false (where is the US on a map?)? To go to Barlet's model, there are three motivations to players that are not explorer - that is, the type concerned with the workings.
In fact, I would argue that WoW's (and Starcraft, and so on...) success lies entirely in that the interface presents useable information (A-ttack!) without being too dense for the wide birth of players to not immediately latch on to. Requests for Theorycraft/DrDamage style improvements to the interface/talent trees have been met with a very sensible response - that's expert level information that they don't want the average player exposed to. The information is out there - if it was something they were against players knowing per se, they'd randomly shuffle around values every month in mini-patches, therefore, it seems likely that they just want that chess vibe of easy to learn, lifetime to master (say, I heard checkers was solved recently and there's a rubix cube reduction solution floating around a few months ago... how long until chess goes?)
Everybody is your brother until the rent comes due.
Blizzard does not need to teach players how to play ... if you want to best out of your character you do your own research (and inevitably end up here). Joe-Casual doesn't know much about the game, but until you play it at a high level it really does not matter, and Blizzard has no need to inform players about mechanics.
My only beef is with stealth hotfixes or patch changes which are NOT documented or announced.
"Being a leader is not a position of power. It is a position of service." ~ Barestomper
From a purely self-interested perspective, why should Blizzard do what you suggest?
I'll bite... if the average player were better, more of the game (heroics and entry-level raids) would be accessible to them and the game might thus have a greater draw. Most of the players in my guild raid only a few nights a week, so we are not necessarily investing more time than other players. We have just made an effort to learn the mechanics of our classes. If this information were easily accessible, then the average player would be capable of entry-level raiding. I assume this would be to Blizzard's benefit, by effectively increasing the content available to each person without creating anything new.
The reason Blizzard hasn't made detailed information available is probably because it would expose all the shortcomings of the game's balance and lead to complaints from every class. I can see it now:
Mage -- Look! A rogue in T4 is capable of 950 theoretical DPS and I'm only capable of 900 in T4! Nerf plz!
Warrior -- Hey! A druid's maximum theoretical TPS with T5 gear is 1250 and mine is only 1200! WTF?
Priest -- I signed up to heal! How come a shaman's maximum HPS is 3400 and mine's only 3300? ZOMG!
Shaman -- Why is Elemental doing only 750 DPS while Enhancement does 850?! WTB buffs!
Et cetera. It would be nice if Blizzard could find a middle ground, to be honest. It's OK that they don't publish coefficients for every spell, but it's ridiculous the amount of intense testing that people have to do just to find the hit cap or the effect granted by weapon skill.
Not exactly relevant but imo there is a general disconnect in communication betwteen the community and the developers. Its not only from blizzard to the players, its hard for players to communicate with blizzard as well. Right now, theres basically the blizz forums and press conferences. It's amazing how much information we were able to get from 1-2 hour panels at blizzcon, simply because people who knew what they were talking about (mostly) were able to speak directly to blizzard.
Something that I've always thought would be nice is if blizzard had community reps that participated in fan sites. Other games have "official" people (even if they weren't on the payroll) who participated in discussion on fansites.
Having a CM visit this forum or gameriot and other major fansites would really help the customer service aspect of the game. Sure, tigole visits every now and then, but there's no permanent presence so to speak.
Patch notes are very poorly quality controlled. As well as the missing sutf, there are also duplicated items, or even references back to obsolete builds that never made it off the PTR.
Patch notes will never be a good source of information because the people writing them (the CM's) are not the people making the changes.
I remember seeing a site where you could filter all patch notes by class and display them in sequence for a great overview of changes and fixes, but my Google-fu fails me. Having information displayed in that way is a huge step towards understanding the ebb and flow of changing mechanics, and I think setting something similar up on the official site would be a nice tool for anybody trying to understand their class better. Take the current class descriptions (which are at times unintentional comedy to informed raiders, but accurate enough descriptions for somebody rolling their first characters), add an "advanced" section with relevant patch notes sorted, and perhaps throw in guides for raid roles, rogue Energy management, hunter shot rotation, the five second rule, all that jazz.
I think the ideal solution would be to implement a very heavily moderated Wowhead-esque comment system or Wiki that players could use to commit all these theories to an official form. To take it one step further, add links in main page updates as a "Did you know?" feature. Having these things be player contributed (albeit in an official frame) at least lets Blizzard preserve some of it's secrets and avoid certain criticisms, though it's also probably too high upkeep considering the horrible death the Warcraft Encyclopedia died.
Not exactly relevant but imo there is a general disconnect in communication betwteen the community and the developers. Its not only from blizzard to the players, its hard for players to communicate with blizzard as well.
Subscribing to WoW does not entitle you to giving detailed input on the development of the game. It is not reasonable to expect a player to have easy communication with the developers. What could you possibly envision as a proper level of player-to-dev communication that is beyond what currently exists?
You seem to think that there is great consistency in what players want. There is not. Nine million players equates to many millions of opinions and ideas on what would make WoW better. Should the devs feel they have failed their community every time one of those millions of ideas isn't personally responded to in blue writing?
That's not true, there have been other games where players had frequent access to developers through weekly IRC dev chats. Thousands of players each week got to sit in IRC and chat live with the dev team about their concerns. Blizzard has simply chosen not to do that. (Probably correctly in this case as their success has been above and beyond any other MMO)
Something a bit disturbing to me is that people keep saying that "joe casual doesn't need to know this stuff." Well why not? Doesn't every player aspire to be decent (at a minimum) at his class? I mean come on, some of the worst examples of clueless players we have seen on this forum would probably tell you in-game that they're great at their class. But they don't "deserve" to know things about the game, unless they're willing to "put the time into it"? That doesn't make sense. That's a "hardcore vs casual" and "have vs have not" argument. (And thus not an argument to make lest you draw the ire of Kaubel.)
Most people dont play this game hardcore and they dont have to push it to the limit to succeed and some have fun in Karazhan.
The fact that Karazhan is mentioned shows the disconnect between what Praetorian referred to as 'more casual than you can imagine,' and what people on this board often think of. Truly casual players (the majority of the WoW playerbase), are not in Karazhan. Casual 'raiders' are in there. The player who can devote a few hours to the game each week is not generally working on Karazhan, unless those few hours happen to come in a four-hour block one night a week.
My friends who play casually couldn't care less about the details of the raiding game. They're not even close to level 70, as they play WoW as something to do here and there, picking it up maybe every week or two. So why would they care whether or not Blizzard goes out of their way to inform them of the details of game mechanics, which really only matter at the higher end.
There is such a thing as giving too much information. Though, I do agree that an Advanced Guide wouldn't be a terrible thing. While not going into theory, it could at least lay out a few of the more obscure rules of the game.
The main problem I and others have is they don't update errata on the game manual and abilities. Things like the ever sore spot that Windfury is.
- Players discover that Windfury has a 3 second cooldown.
- Not only was it a cooldown, but it was apparently linked across both weapons. Players assume it a bug because hey, the in game tooltip that they have no reason not to trust says 20% on hit.
- A player goes "Hey, it seems to not share this mysterious cooldown that nobody official has acknowledged yet if you switch ranks"
- Lots more silence in and out of game on this mechanic.
- Eventually the cooldown is linked across all ranks, showing the shaman community that it was indeed meant to be there, but (as far as I remember) still not even mentioned in any patch or in game anywhere, Just by a single forum post saying "Yeah that's a bug and we're changing it"
That's just the one semi large recent example I can think of. It's not even that there's stealth changes that aren't mentioned. None of this can be found be someone who plays the game and pays attention. There's no way to NOTICE this happening. You have to save large combat log parses, and manually analyze reams of data or write your own addons to figure it out. Or you have to regularly follow the forums and sift through the long winded cesspool of "hey wouldn't it be cool if our pvp trinket had a 10 second cooldown if you got three crits in a row" to find the theorycraft post where a single person says "hey this doesn't look right, here's math I didn't completely pull out of my ass".
And then you look in-game to the many many changed abilities where the in-game descriptions that the casual smart player base relies on to be accurate. I know a few rpg power gamers who know near every secret of every console rpg, but wouldn't think to go anywhere near the official forums to find stuff that didn't get mentioned on the main website or in the patch notes for an MMO. After all, anything official would get published on the website, it's such a pretty and highly maintained resource. Look at those talent trees! And Blizzard can easily update the tooltips to reflect what things do right?
Even if they can't keep up with changes in the in game UI, the CMs are obviously responding and verifying issues (like the CM that said the WF cooldown was meant to be linked) and can be logging them in a knowledgbase. If only they had a knowledgebase somewhere on their support site...
Errata is a part of any game. There's board games and books that maintain errata databases that reflect things that aren't publicly advertised, but are there for the people that care.
I'm glad sites like EJ have hit critical mass to the portion of the population that likes to analyze the mechanics of the game, so I can go here and point others here. But it would be certainly be a boon to have a single place to direct players to for their class to find out the details of how it works at the current time.
I think Unaz described this issue very well with his example. By not being fully truthful with the information, Blizzard creates ill will from it's customers. Worse, even, the current IN GAME information is patently false.
If we're talking about advanced theory, then you can argue whether or not it should be published, I guess (even though I personally think it should be exposed). It's another thing entirely when Blizzard has publicly acknowledged, in a forum, something which contradicts the information given to players in the game. What is the downside if Blizzard changes the tooltip from:
Imbue the Shaman's weapon with wind. Each hit has a 20% chance of dealing additional damage equal to two extra attacks with 445 extra attack power. Lasts 30 minutes.
Imbue the Shaman's weapon with wind. Each hit has a chance of dealing additional damage equal to two extra attacks with 445 extra attack power. Lasts 30 minutes. This effect cannot happen more than once every few seconds.
This new tooltip is (I believe) 100% truthful. It encourages testing by the people who care about the specifics, and is accurate to the casual observer as well.