The Daily Grind: Which MMOs do the best job with patch notes?

To the surprise of no one, working here involves reading lots of patch notes. Some games do a better job with this than others. Final Fantasy XIV does a pretty good job with the notes, but they’re still enormous and sometimes difficult to navigate; still, it’s better than the patch notes for Star Wars: The Old Republic, which always struck me as needlessly obtuse and unclear. World of Warcraft has gone back and forth over the years, although they tend to at least be readable (and the “fake patch notes” every April 1st are usually great).

By contrast, I quite like the trick that some games such as Eternal Crusade use, putting the biggest and most relevant changes front-and-center before launching into the detailed patch notes. And I would be remiss to not mention the old Final Fantasy XI patch notes, including such wonderful vagueness as “altered the drop rates on certain items.” That’s real clear. What do you say, readers? Which MMOs do the best job with patch notes?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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36 Comments on "The Daily Grind: Which MMOs do the best job with patch notes?"

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Celestia
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Celestia

WoW’s patch notes have been consistently comprehensive and easily digestible.

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Little Bugbear

WoW’s patch notes are easy to read.

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Bryan Turner

Hey folks I’m at a loss and I’m looking for advice, I’m walking away from GW2, finished Map Completion and every thing just seems dead and empty, I spend more time watching YouTube videos about GW2 or bitching about it on the Forums.

I’m currently broke at the moment so subbing to something is out.

I’ve got single player options but I don’t think it will help with that itch of exploring beautiful maps with the option of jumping into open world zergs.

Any one know if Rift is fine these days, I’ve got a different ISP, I’m wondering if Star Fall is still buy to play? Granted I could just level a character from scratch I do have the first two expansions.

Swtor seems too boxed in with their worlds.

I’ve thought about EQ2 Or Lotro but those games are kind of dated.

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Suikoden

Rift is doing fine. The lower level areas still have a healthy amount of people, and the game gets regular updates.

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Sorenthaz

Rift is probably doing fine, though its F2P monetization will always be a sore spot for me personally.

If you own ESO, that’s a good option. BDO is only $10 if you can scrounge up enough for it (though the cash shop shenanigans are irritating). I guess Wildstar is F2P now? But I don’t know what it’s like at all.

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Leviathonlx

FF14 makes patch notes a tad too long. Like I get listing important information but things like ‘New music added’ always make me laugh or the part where they list every single new item in the patch for over a third of the patch notes.

hurbster
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hurbster

Oh, you mean natch potes…

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Tulerezzer

I would have to go with EQ and EQ2.
Not sure how well Deybreak Games does on their other 2(?) games but their notes for the EQ games I find easy to read and concise.

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Reht

I would typically agree with this except for the occasional intention omissions of nerfs on their part.

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CapnLan

Oh god those FFXI patch notes. “Adjusted Red Mage spells.” What spells did you adjust? How did you adjust them? “Added armor to the game.” What armor? Where is it? How do I get it? What are it’s stats? ARRRRGH. FFXI is how I came to support the data mining community as much as I do. SE would release a page of notes that said NOTHING. I’d go to Alla and get the latest data mine (usually from TummieGaruda) to find out wtf they actually did instead of looking at their “patch notes”.

As for good patch notes, I rather enjoy how Digital Extremes does it in Warframe. They often release a full developer workshop post detailing on what they’re doing and why before the patch actually happens. Then when the patch comes down they make notes on what, if anything, actually changed in the workshop and then link that in the notes. I think that’s what really sets their workshops/notes apart is that they often tell me why something has changed instead of just telling me that it has. They also post a link to the notes in game when you’re aboard your ship. Next to the navigation panel you can find a news console that you can click on to bring up the notes without having to leave the game. It’s damn nice.

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Darthbawl

Patch notes for games can be as bad as BIOS update notes for motherboards. “Updated CPU microcode” is as vague as you can get LOL.

EQ2 patch notes aren’t too bad, they usually drop before the patch.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

just an fyi you can usually find what the “updated cpu microcode” updates relate to in the errata for your cpu model/line.

which is sometimes covered in sometimes silly ways in tech blogs that notice them (and sometimes further spun on social media in FUDish ways as opposed to how utterly mundane and non consequential they tend to be for 99% of end user applications :D)

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Darthbawl

Not talking about any fixes for certain processors but new processor support.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

thoser are usually mentioned with teh new cpu listed in my experience. at least the odd time with intel i’ve seen (which is rare really for intel to support new CPUs on existing chipsets).

Benjamin Northrup
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Benjamin Northrup

BDO is the absolute worst wtih patch notes. at the start we’d get patches that just said “changed warrior skills” or shit like that, or not announce new content untill the week before when they patch half of it in in a 8 GB patch, then the players had to scramble to try and get set up for the new content.

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Godiva

Path of Exile has elevated Patch Notes to an art form. They release them on the official website before the patch hits, they are extremely detailed and easy to follow, and the community thoroughly enjoys reading them before the new content hits.

If anyone is interested, here are the patch notes for the latest big update Fall of Oriath:
https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/1930316

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Veldan

I came here to say this, pretty much. No other patch notes are like PoE patch notes. It’s an example for every game.

(For the record I still don’t consider PoE an MMO though!)

pepperzine
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pepperzine

Ummm they’re all pretty much the same… So rather than the best, the worst are ones that aren’t posted cause there is no active development or because they’re stealth patches they don’t want players to get upset over.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

idk about that. i’ve experienced alot of games where the devs are obtuse or unclear as possible or downright deceptive and misleading, if not outright conciously lying in some obvious cases (way back at launch in gw2 the week they accidentally upped the dye drop rates signficantly for a few hours, then took the servers down and deployed an emergency patch with the notes “returned dye drop rates to normal” when they were in fact clearly far worse than prior to this “accident” as well as changing the rates for dyes when opening the dye packs to make more desireables dyes regardless of rarity teir much less common. it was quite comical that they stuck to their guns on the forums claiming the new rates were the same as prior to the accidental bump in rates that day).

back in rift we also used to play games every patch day seeing how legit different notes were with regards to class balance changes that trino loved to do based on forum feedback so often. we determined that trino’s balance devs weren’t too good at math gengerally speaking.

contrast to wow during the ghostcrawler era where he would add little blurbs explaining the intention of a note or set of notes or the rationale behind them. i mean it didn’t calm the tits of the most populated classes that were also the most op getting brought down to earth and the changes were not always perfect but certainly they were quite appreciated in some quarters for making the attempt.

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rafael12104

Yeah… that is what gets to me. The devs know. They know what is going on with their game. They aware the issues well in advance of a patch release and there are no accidents.

And that stealth stuff is fooling nobody. They are screw ups and over ups. Lol.

Honesty with a degree of brevity is what is needed. Players, most players, will understand and appreciate that.

They aren’t building toasters, after all. But sometimes they think we are toasters.

pepperzine
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pepperzine

Meh, to me they’re all pretty much the same. I don’t care enough to look into the minutia of misleading rates to form an opinion on who does the best job at telling the truth when it comes to their balancing act, which they’ll change again in a month or so anyway.

To me, it boils down to major changes which can be summarized, for the most part, in bullets. So who makes the best bullet points? Ummm Microsoft word? ^^

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

in the anecdote i gave it was very in your face for anyone that was farming unidentified dyes or collecting dyes. as it was teh market prices of the dyes boht specific colours and dye packs immidiately reflected the changes both times.

which is what made it so comical that anet kept going with the narrative that they had returned to normal. becuase it was downright insulting to our inteligence that they would tell us that. like literally gaslighting us.

it’s something noticed with anet’s comms in general until i started to avoid news about the game conciously.

pepperzine
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pepperzine

Fair enough. I’m not aware of the dyes system in GW2 so the saliency of their drop rates is kind of lost on me.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

basically before they added layers upon layers of neverending progression grind, your main endgame was cosmetics, which revolved around dyes and outfit pieces mainly.

and alot of us at the time with max at the time gear power wise generally would spend alot of our gameplay efforts towards improving our dye collection libraries.

so the incident really had people talking in game due the initial rate change and then the “fix” and along side the doubling down on the spinning of it.

but it’s just one extreme example of anet’s patch notes silliness. there was another time in same period where they appeared to listen to player feedback and “made certain stronger mobs more relevant by giving them better drops” according to the notes. but then when we went to go farm them (instead of the much easier and numerous mobs to farm) we found their drops had actually been nerfed and they now only drop dropped valueless trash drops (basically the stuff tat drops when you run into GW2″s infamous loot DR).

i do think they did fix that at some point tho. or they just made the entire region of the game where this would be relevant obsolete with that controversial ascended gear patch in which progression really wasn’t grind wasn’t progression and totally not what we think it is which it really clearly was but we were all mistaken and being irrational.

lol.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

oh my anecdote is just about 5 years old to the week now so it’s a pretty old example.

i couldn’t tell you if anet ever did improve in their comms/notes writing or not.

but for a long time when i was still recomending the game i used to put the caveat to ignore the developers’ comms (and the fans).

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Eliandal

Even though I no longer play, I’ve always thought GW2’s patch notes were fairly comprehensive and usually well written (often with inserted dry humor) I’ve never really had a problem with WoW’s patch notes either – although sometimes they are just SO massive, it’s like a novella! ESO is getting better – while still not great, they have improved 100% from launch. I do prefer the way WoW and GW2 layout their notes now. Rather than just one big block, it’s usually nicely separated and easily read.

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rafael12104

Hmm… well, I’m an “old” quality engineer and our mantra is “Form, Fit, and Function.” Anything that impacts a products form fit and function has to be documented, clarified and communicated. The same applies to MMOs, IMO.

How does it relate to MMOs? We don’t need the nth degree of detail, but certainly a summary of anything impacting the style, the size, and the mechanics of a game is required. Oh yeah, and not that general bullshit we see some times as “additional updates and improvements.”

What irks me is that these notes often omit important bits of information. Yes, often updates introduce new issues. Well, we need to know about them. Sorry if it makes devs look bad, but it is important not to hide problems because they are discovered leaving the devs looking incompetent or manipulative or both.

Along those lines, there are also fixes to issues that were never communicated. This includes stealth nerfs and buffs. These really piss me off. We are not idiots. We will notice such things.

I have found no patch notes that satisfy me. I can’t say there is one studio or dev team that I recommend over another as they are guilty of having stuff below the radar.

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Oleg Chebeneev

Who cares how patch notes look?

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CMDR Crow

People whose goal is to game systems to get every little ounce of benefit. And people who are far more concerned with the momentary “ding” of getting new stuff than with the enjoyment of letting a world unfold in front of them.

Give me obscure, dense notes any day. Don’t ruin the exploratory nature of a world by revealing all the secrets at the entrance. It is like getting a room-by-room rundown of a haunted house before entering.

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Hirku

None of them, because every time I read them they never say the bugs I want fixed have been fixed.

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FreecczLaw

Never had any issues with any patchnotes honestly.

quark1020
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quark1020

Its been a long time since I’ve been with a game long enough to need patch notes, but I suppose WoW’s patch notes are alright. At least with them, they have them organized by class or something. I would read what changes they do to items and mechanics, then just scroll down till I find my main classes (Paladin, Mage, Shaman, Priest).

Still, like I said, I haven’t kept up with a game long enough to get patch notes in a while. Nowadays, I jump back into games after a good deal of time has gone by. Long enough that its easier to just re-learn how to play than to read a patch note and figure out what changed.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

i barely even read the actual patch notes anymore. do i kind of favour what gtao and albion do with synopsis of big patches. granted probably miss any nerfs and buffs this way that would reveal themselves in the notes. lol.

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Simon F

While I certainly don’t look through every single patch note of every MMO ever, I think WoW has really good patch notes. I never feel like I’ve missed anything when I’ve read them, and I don’t think it takes too much effort to go through them either.
The FFXIV patch notes also feel like you haven’t missed anything when you’ve read them. ANYTHING. They add lore to their patch notes sometimes. Come on Square Enix, I don’t look at patch notes to get lore. I want to know what has changed and what has been added.

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rafael12104

Lol. Lore in patch notes. Yeah, I’d say that is misplaced.

bereman99
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bereman99

I don’t think it’s ever actually happened.

They are wordy and tend to explain every feature they add, almost like tutorials, but I can’t think of a single time they’ve flat out added lore to the patch notes.

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