Communication. It's the key for people to understand the developers. It allows us to follow their thought process and understand their iterations in their design. It lets us see that they are trying, what they are trying. It allows us to know how they feel about the state of class balance, fun, and progression (though, I think maybe the silence might be telling enough.)
The dichotomy between how well the WoW team communicates and how badly the Diablo team communicates is grand. Both teams have projects on the ptr. What does the WoW team post on the forums?
WoW Blue Posts
This is just since the 16th. That's 3 days worth of stuff addressing concerns, classes, balance, abilities, fun, and most importantly, addressing the community. This quantity (and quality) of dialogue has been maintained since the PTR dropped.
Ghostcrawler, the lead designer has also taken to Twitter in the last few months and answers as many questions as he can while he is there. We may not always like the answers, but at least he is effectively communicating.
Also within the last few days we've gotten a Dev watercooler/Coffee with the Devs (if you are of the European persuasion), the equivalent of the Diablo Blogs.
Now I will give you what the Diablo 3 team has posted in the last three days:
- A post about how the main developer is stepping down
- The main guy's boss telling us to stop picking on him
- Nothing about classes or design (minus the post about CC and dmg to Elites) since the 12th when the 1.0.7 blog full of changes was posted.
- Known Issues with PTR and Friend Invitations.
I think at this point the D3 team is afraid of the community because of how vehemently passionate we are. We all wanted this to be an amazing game, and many, many got something that was less than desirable, had no end-game, etc. (I could go on and on about the things that were/are wrong, but I think at this point it's just preaching to the choir).
We expected these great things because Blizzard was open with their intents and clearly misjudged the amount of resources and effort to allocate correctly. Because of this a lot of things were scrapped, weren't shipped, failed at launch, etc., and the community reacted very negatively and very loudly.
Each time something they've planned hasn't come to fruition, the community's reaction is the same, so while I do hate the lack of communication, I can understand why they would be wary about sharing things that they are planning on doing in the future with a community that will lambast, excoriate, and demonize them.
But I do believe people truly want to love this game, and are trying to remain hopeful, but are time and time again let down. How many more lackluster Patch Notes will it be until they give up and stop caring? That's the part that Blizzard should be wary of. When people stop complaining not because they have been placated, but because there is no one left that cares enough to complain.
TLDR; D3 Team needs to take a leaf out of the WoW Team's book and open up/broaden the lines of communication between those who make and those who play the game.
PS. If I have to type community or communication one more time I will stab my eyes out.