We've just been through a patch that nerfed the wizard.
The patch change was listed under "Classes and Balance". It gave the gold standard for DPS, the Rogue, a little boost, and then claimed to fix the wizards with this:
"Wizard: Storm Spell is no longer incorrectly influenced by the player's Critical Strike chance, outside of its intended behavior (20% chance to trigger when the player critically strikes with certain powers)"
Many weren't sure what it would mean. It meant that Storm Spell is supposed to proc 20% of the time when you crit, and it was happening more often than that, based on the wizard's crit chance, so the proc chance is benig wound back to 20%.
Here's where all this lacks integrity:
- Nerfs have a very bad history in Neverwinter, the worst of which have caused massive player base exits.
- The change notes generally use the word "properly" to sell the idea that its a bug correction, rather than a nerf. In this case, the chosen wording is "no longer correctly influenced".
- The obvious correct fixes are to get class balance right. In this case, you can *choose* to change the tooltip and leave the powers alone, or you can *choose* to nerf the class.
- The backdrop to class balance is that wizards have had a set of nerfs since mod 16 (something did need to be done), and is now already under performing against the gold standard (the Rogue). I can't see anybody complaining that the wizard is over powered now, and I do see frequent complaints that it is behind.
- The above isn't the real integrity issue. The real issue is the ninja nerf that came along with it. Not only did the indicated lower proc rate come, they also quietly stopped Storm Spell from critting altogether.
- The thing about the silent crit nerf to Spell Storm is that the clear precedent is that procs inherit the crit status of their source. This does the opposite. There's just no way that you can implement this nerf and put "properly" or "no longer incorrectly" in the patch notes.
- For me, there's an integrity issue in the spirit of class balance too. Of all the things to spend time on doing "fixes", why do something like this? It's a big nerf to AOE, which is where wizards are already underperforming.
- Worse yet, this AOE hit makes the broken and discarded Thaumaturge paragon even less appealing. This is where the devs decided to go make a fix?
Ok. Not good. Why do I refer to it as an "Integrity" issue?
This got called out in the patch notes. Somebody thought it was a "fix" (probably not a wizard, understanding how gid a deal it is), and there were other responses agreeing that this is just not right. Most importantly, nothing from Cryptic. Ignored. There has been a precedent for responses in the past like "Ok. I'll get the devs to look into that" - but nothing here.
Next, I wait for the "Driftwood Tavern presents" twitch, because it's the perfect opportunity for Cryptic to explain. The Lead Designer is being interviewed, a guy with a reputation for awesome class balance intuition, and the "Why:" byline for the twitch is "Classes and Powers and Scaling on my!"
Perfect! The right people available at the right time, to explain what's going on and why.
Except for the outcome. Nothing. Nada. I watched the presenter constantly scanning the questions to put to the Lead Designer (who is the person responsible for these changes), and I watched different people ask about the nerf, calling it a bug. It all got ignored.
If you want to nerf with integrity, be open about the changes you make. Don't just advertise the bits that can be passed off as a "fix".
Let people know why you're doing it, especially when they feel they've already been nerfed enough recently, and are lagging behind.
Don't ignore them in forums and community-engaged twitch sessions.
Yeah, I get that few people bother with reading the forums these days, and the cost benefit of of going on the record for things that are unpalatable to players isn't there. If you want to nerf with integrity, though, that's what it takes.