I was looking forward to Patch 4.0.1. There’s something exciting about having things change; new things to learn, new ways to do things, new stories to tell. Sure, there was apprehension, because changes that you don’t know about can be scary, but in general I think change is necessary. It forces you to adapt.
My enthusiasm even kept me going through problems with the patch download, the first time I’ve ever had problems there. Even though the servers have been up for about 12 hours, I still haven’t gotten to log in because my installer can’t handle baby murloc noises. Maybe they’re too cute? I don’t know for sure, but I’m reinstalling from scratch to see if maybe a fresh installation will do it.
But my enthusiasm vanished when I heard that warlock minions had been renamed in 4.0.1. Last night it was temporary; today it is permanent. When you summon your demons, you may have one of them keep the same name, but the rest… are all new.
Warlocks don’t get to choose their demon’s names. We find out their names as part of the summoning rituals, of enslaving them to our will. And while they’re our slaves, servants, and minions, they are also our constant companions. They adventure with us, they fight for us, they die for us, they come back for us; we didn’t choose them, they didn’t choose us, but together, we’re a team.
Cynwise’s demons are part of her, part of her character. Her relationship with each one of them is complicated and unique. Part of the story that I’ve spun as I’ve played this crazy game has been around those demons; lesser characters, but characters in their own rights. They make each warlock unique; no matter how you try to replicate them, the demons distinguish us from each other.
But now, without warning, that part of my character is gone. The sinister, sexy Helola who graced the pages of Arren’s site, the one who provides the dark reflection of Cynwise’s personality? Gone. Thoglos, the voidwalker who always stands on my questgivers, the one who shields ‘wise when she hurls herself into melee? Gone. Chojub, her imp with a sense of humor who randomly pulls bosses? See ya. Skelzeras, the grumpy Felguard who was really quite a pushover? Thanks for the help in ICC, buddy.
And Shaagrym, dear Shaggy, Cynwise’s felpuppy, the rage magnet, the reason Affliction is so feared in battlegrounds… my companion in so many of these fights that you’ve read about on this site. Shaggy is gone, too.
From the blue post:
We apologise for any inconvenience these name changes might cause and thank you for your patience and understanding.
You killed my dog and replaced him with a lookalike, and you want my understanding?
I’m a Wrathbaby; started playing in November 2008. In two years, I’ve grown really attached to my demons. I can only imagine what it’s like for warlocks who started playing in 2004.
This is changing my character, without my consent. In RP terms it would be godmodding. Even though I don’t RP with others, I do experience the story of Warcraft through the view of my character; and now a fundamental part of that character is gone.
I shouldn’t be this angry. I shouldn’t let myself get so upset over something that I do for fun, for something that I do to amuse myself in my idle time.
But I am.
I’ve been an IT professional for 15 years with experience in large enterprises. Professionally, I understand that there are likely technical reasons behind this, and that the mistake, once made, is irrecoverable. The names were probably not permanently stored, but randomly assigned and it’s that random assignment that was lost. There were significant changes to the way in which demons were handled, and summoned… I get that.
Yet, as a player, I can’t get past that my dog is dead. I might have a new dog, just as good as my old one.
But I don’t want a new dog. I want my old one.
See, Shaggy wasn’t just a mobile DoT with special abilities I could keybind. From a development perspective I can see treating him as such, but from that perspective, my warlock is just a mob that accepts player instructions with a defined set of abilities that can be executed in specific sequences with specific results. This perspective, while absolutely factual and correct, ignores the elements of imagination that make us want to participate in this game.
I could play a little floating box that casts a damage over time spell that inflicts 40-80 points of Shadow Damage every 3 seconds for 18 seconds. Or, I could play Cynwise the warlock, the ambitious girl from Northshire who was jealous of her sisters and forged her own dark path to power. And who mastered a series of increasingly powerful demons, bending them to her will.
Which one is more interesting to you?
Each and every warlock has a story to tell about their demons. Cynwise didn’t meet Skelzeras, the Felguard, until she needed to spec Demonology to take on Onyxia at level 60. Now, a year later, I’ve been raiding ICC as Demonology for 9 months and depend on the big lug to do major damage and provide the buffs our raid needs. He is the one who pulls Lady Deathwhisper, who charges ahead of the tank on Marrowgar, who is the sign to every tank in the raid that Cyn is pulling, get ready to fight to hold threat.
For someone who I didn’t expect to like very much, Skezel has grown on me. He and I have seen a lot of things together I’d never thought I’d see in the game.
Thoglos is my Voidwalker, first my leveling companion, later my best friend against rogues and other melee classes. Thog has tanked entire instances for me, rounding up all the mobs for me to then Shadowfury and Hellfire down. He shares every Voidwalker’s tendency to stand on quest givers, but he was always apologetic.
He just never moved unless I told him to.
Chojub is my imp. He pulls bosses and then pretends he had nothing to do with it.
You know no one in the guild believes you, Chojub? You do know that, right?
Oh, whatever. He doesn’t care if they know or not, he’ll keep on causing trouble no matter what.
Helola was the most evil of all of Cynwise’s demons. Malicious, ruthless, manipulative, always willing to do whatever was necessary, Helola is the dark side of Cynwise, always tempting her to do what is effective versus what is right.
She’s also really good at Seduce-nuking people to death. Damn, she was good at that.
This is my dog, Shaggy.
There are many felhunters like him, but this one is mine.
Remember when we pulled Deathspeaker’s Camp together, Shaggy? Good times.
I know that there are probably technical reasons why it’s impossible to go back, why when I log in I’ll be faced with at least 4 strange new demons. With Cataclysm on the horizon there may be no resources available for this kind of a bug fix, and even the simple fix – giving warlocks the ability to rename their demons – might be too much to handle with a major deadline approaching.
I don’t care. My practical, professional side can go shove it. I don’t care.
Blizzard killed my warlock’s dog. And her blueberry, and her sexy whip-cracker, and her big guy with the axe, and the little dude who throws fire. If I’m lucky, I get to keep one of them, but the rest are all gone.
There was a story there, a story I was looking forward to continuing to tell, of seeing the new lands of Cataclysm. My demons were a part of that story… or they were, until now.
Warlocks are the single least played class in Warcraft. They’re tough to master, hated by opponents in PvP, hated by tanks and healers in PvE. They are complex, confusing, squishy. Players who not only play them, but love playing them, are a minority.
And Blizzard just killed our dogs.
I don’t know if I’m going to play Cynwise at this point. I feel that strongly about this, that I just don’t know. I may as well race and faction change her, since she’s not the character I was playing this weekend. In game, and in the pages of this weblog, I tried to create a strong female character who represents a way of looking at battlegrounds – and her demons are part of that.
It’s odd for me to write that. Cynwise is my main, and I really had no intentions of changing that. But Cynwise without Chojub, Shaagrym, Helola, Thoglos, and even that big lug Skelzeras?
She’s just as strange to me as these replacements are now.
I can’t believe they killed my dog.
UPDATE: Blizzard is at least looking into this now. Blue post:
The Warlock naming issues is still under investigation but thus far it appears that the change was not intended but an after effect.
Under investigation, at this time, is if the name change can be reversed. Though that may not be possible, we await more information.
Since the release of 4.0.1, more than a few warlocks have noticed that their pets are in fact no longer their familiar demonic servants, and instead appear to be new entities with different names. We’ve been able to pinpoint the cause of the issue, which should be resolved by tomorrow for any warlocks that log in for the first time from then on. We’ve also been able to determine that we will be able to restore any renamed warlock pets to their original pre-4.0.1 names during next week’s scheduled maintenance.For those of you who like your new pet names, we’re working on a feature for a future patch that will allow you to refresh your summons and essentially generate a random pet name without having to level a new warlock.