Warlords of Draenor is due for release this November and the pre-patch 6.02 (The Iron Tide) has already been released. Understandably the Warcraft community is excited about the prospect, but will a key section of the player base be left out? I am talking about the disabled, or more specifically those with impaired hand movement, or decreased motor skills.
Removal of Macro Code *
Warcraft was revolutionary when it was first released in that it allowed players to customise their own user interface (UI). This was achieved through making LUA code available to players, along with the ability to write their own shorter macros to accomplish complex or repetitive tasks in the game in a reliable manner. Now ten years on that same flexibility of design seems to have become a liability to the game designers and key sections of it are again being removed.
The Warcraft developers of course have free choice over what they seek to include or remove from the game and it is their job to protect the game from unfair practices from a small section of the gaming community, but this time I think they have gone too far. I am talking about drop through macro’s (A.K.A. “lazy” or “one button” macros) using the castsequence 0,0,0, code.
The Importance of Macro’s to the Disabled *
Drop through macro’s enable a disabled player to play to perhaps 90% of the ability of an able bodied gamer. They do not confer any particular advantage apart from giving a player the ability to watch the animations of the game, instead of watching cooldown timers on action bars. Despite this, Blizzard has seen fit to remove the ability to write drop through macro’s from the game. This removal will have a negative effect on the ability of disabled gamers to continue to play the game.
Beta and Patch 6.02 Issues *
This issue first became obvious in WoD Beta. As is normal in Beta testing many of the games key functions are not fully implemented or working properly. Drop through macro’s were one of these “casualties”. This was not unexpected and no one was initially concerned. We all expected that the functionality would return when the game was updated to Warlords of Draenor and/or patch 6.0.
Well, patch 6.02 is now on live servers and the functionality has not returned.
Discussion on the Warcraft forums is seemingly being ignored by anyone from Blizzard. No one appears willing to explain if the removal of key sections of the user programmable code was a design mistake or intentional despite lengthy threads requesting information on Blizzards own forum. Many players have decided that the removal was in fact intentional as can be seen from this U.S. players post:
Quote from Ro – Hyjal Server *
They are identical character-for-character except the last three lines were removed going from 5.4 to 6.0:
if ( spell == “” ) then
The only time spell==”” is when there is not a spell to cast, such as an item slot that doesn’t contain a spell.
These one-button macros were disabled because three lines of code were removed and item slots that don’t contain a spell will no longer advance the sequence.
So it would seem that it was Blizzards intention to remove the code that enabled these macros to work. Was it also their intention to further marginalise the disabled gaming community? The jury is out on this one, but until a Blizzard representative answers the question directly we can only guess their true intention. Perhaps the final release of Warlords of Draenor will reinclude the code and enable disabled players to game competitively again if it was indeed removed in error?
U.S. Forum Discussions *
http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/14880818137 – U.S. disabled gamer complains about macro changes.
http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/14882288390 – Blizzard limited response to complaints.
http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/14882338115 – Another concerned gamer (18+ pages with no Blizzard response!)