Dear Journal:

Posted by in Cataclysm, Rant

New content arrives. You, dutiful raider that you are, want to find out as much information as you can. Unless you’re particularly averse to spoilers and have somehow managed to shield yourself from the barrage of datamined information out there, information is a beautiful thing. Bringing early knowledge to your raid group allows you to troubleshoot your composition, reduce the number of easily avoidable errors, and make the best use of your time. So why are people flipping their metaphorical shit about the dungeon journal?

If you haven’t heard, the dungeon journal is a new UI feature that Blizzard plans to release in patch 4.2. According to Community Manager Kaivax, the journal will provide instantaneous information about a variety of dungeons: high-quality loot dropped from trash or bosses, boss locations, and a description of bosses’ (and associated adds’) abilities. Kaivax is very careful to mention that although ability descriptions will be “verbose and complete,” they (Blizzard) “will not be giving any strategy tips in the Dungeon Journal.” Great! Instead of alt-tabbing and opening up a third-party site such Wowhead or WoWWiki, all you need to do is press M, select the appropriate dungeon from your map interface, and navigate to the boss you’re interested in learning about.

I initially viewed the addition of the Dungeon Journal feature as an acknowledgment of player expectations. Some third-party mods were (and are) so commonly used that players were more or less expected to have them: Outfitter, Omen, oRA, SCT, Deadly Boss Mods, PowerAuras, QuestHelper[i], and many more that I’m sure I’m forgetting. Over time, Blizzard decided to incorporate elements of these mods as standard game components. Now, as players are expected to scour the depths of the Internet for (at the very least) basic dungeon information, Blizzard has decided to bring that information straight to us. I thought hey, if you’re interested in something beyond the game that provides you with cool videos, fancy diagrams, and maybe even some advanced calculus, you always have the option of searching for it; the Dungeon Journal can easily be ignored.

Still, some raiders seemed to believe that the Dungeon Journal would eliminate the intrigue and challenge of tackling a new dungeon for those who do use it. It seemed that somehow, the very inclusion of the Dungeon Journal would rocket every casual guild to the top of the progression chart. Please, I thought. It’s not a goddamn miracle. By the time any new content hits the live servers, dedicated progression guilds have already played through most of it on the Public Test Realm (PTR), rudimentary how-to videos are making the rounds on TankSpot, and MMO-Champion has datamined the loot tables, boss abilities, and audio files. Soon after, enterprising raid leaders are posting modified strategies in their guild forums, and, if your head’s still buried in the sand, one of your guildies will, in all likelihood, explain things to you before you make a fool of yourself.

So what’s the deal? Well kids, Blizzard lies.[ii] Remember Kaivax’s quote about not providing any strategy tips? The Dungeon Journal does, in fact, provide brief strategy tips about both normal and heroic encounters as soon as the content releases. Phailia, from Inner Sanctum, provides a few examples on the EU forums.

Take a look at the underlined sections. The Spark of Rhyolith section seems reasonably straight forward at first: “Sparks of Rhyolith deal 8,671 Fire damage to all players within 12 yards.” Then, Blizzard makes a point of adding, “Sparks should be pulled away from the raid as long as possible, then quickly destroyed.” Ignoring the poor sentence structure, that last bit goes beyond a basic description of the boss abilities and further provides strategy advice. The description for Magma Geyser (for the Ragnaros encounter) is similar. Instead of simply including the spell description (which I think is fully described by the second, non-underlined sentence), Blizzard specifically tells players how the Magma Geyser mechanic works.

Though I’m not certain I like that the Dungeon Journal will provide strategic content information straight from source, I still can’t imagine that it will meaningfully alter the raiding community—progression guilds will simply destroy raid content faster. I would, however, suggest the removal of strategic advice from the heroic boss descriptions; even if the “tips” for normal dungeons remain, there will still be an element of discovery, trial, and error for the more difficult content. (For a little while, anyway.) Just remember: you can force a veritable dissertation upon your raid group, but some moron will always manage to stand in the fire.[iii]


[i] Perhaps QuestHelper shouldn’t be on the list of mods that players were expected to have, but it was wildly popular.

[ii] Or at least has a funny idea about what constitutes a strategy tip. I suspect semantics at play, here.

[iii] If this happens to someone in your group on a regular basis, I suggest giving up on strategic explanations and hopping over to WoWLemmings instead.