Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
 
Blizzard improves the Arena in season 4

In what WoWInsider calls the end of welfare epics, Drysc from Blizzard revealed changes to the arena system designed to prevent cheating and reward the *real* good players. I never played in the arena, so I'm not 100% sure how all this works, but previously there was apparently a lot of cheating going on where bad PvP players bought a team with a high rating for gold, and then profited from the high team rating. The new season 4 rewards will only be buyable by people with a high *personal* rating, and if the average personal rating of a team is much lower than its team rating, the lower rating will be used. I can't say how effective that is going to be, but the direction is certainly a good one: you'll have to be good at PvP yourself to get the S4 rewards, just being a member of a good team isn't enough any more.
Comments:
I wouldn't really call this improvement. What's the incentive for people with sub 1500 ratings to go into the arena, knowing they'll never get a piece of gear (not even after 2 months like it is now) ?

This will remove most people below 1500 now from the arena, creating a whole new playing field. And arena ratings on honor gear ? Ridiculous.
 
It seems to me like the Arena has turned into what the honor system was at it's launch. Something for the hardcore players. And of course as usual, the casuals will be steamrolled even if they've got a set two seasons below the current.
 
Thats the way it is now. Personal ratign is required to buy items.

One big thing happening now, is a team with a high rating is selling a slot for someone to play the minimum number of games just for points. You can buy ~1000 arena points for 800-900g. No matter what the teams rating, you still cant buy items that require a rating unless you have that personal rating.

Arena isnt for the hardcore still. Its actually a little better than it currently is.

The majority wont have 4/5 s4, like the majority have 4/5 s3 now. Most will still be in s3, while s2 is being sold for honor. That means that, in general, the playing field in the mid rankings is a little more even. Its harder to get up to 2k+, but being moderately successful should be a little easier now.
 
morph: people will still be able to buy S3 items at a discount price. The only incentive left for people playing around 1500 or below will be... amusement. Fun. Enjoying PvP.

Oh, sorry, just forgot this game is supposed to be only about stuff.
 
Buying arena gear already requires a personal rating. Just buying a high-rated team gets you nothing.

The improvement will be using the highest personal rating on the team for matchups. That way you don't get a 3v3 team with 3 guys on a 2000+ rated 5v5 in full season 4 competing at the 1500 level in 3v3.
 
morph: people will still be able to buy S3 items at a discount price. The only incentive left for people playing around 1500 or below will be... amusement. Fun. Enjoying PvP.


good I hope all those people who were just there for gear not because they like it get out and the devs can see numbers that really show them what people like. I've been saying for a long time the only reason a big number of people are pvp'ing is gear.

Of course if I'm right corporate mentality would dicatate that if there is a huge drop in people pvp'ing they'll back off and make it easier to attain thier gear again. Like they did with gear matching.
 
I used to play Quake. In Quake, every player spawns with the exact same stats and the exact same weapon every match. Everybody gets to collect the exact same weapons and powerups. If I played against fatal1ty (who is a very, very, very, very good Quake player), and managed to hit him with my railgun, he'd die. I don't have to "grind for PvP gear", or "reroll the FotM class", or "collect rating points" to beat someone in Quake: skill is enough.

Blizzard has stated again and again that they want the WoW arena to be an e-sports game. And for a brief moment, when season 1 gear became widely available, I thought that they're trying to minimize the gear imbalances. Now we have rating requirements, whose only purpose is to ensure that the teams above the threshold are unlikely to sink below, and those teams below are unlikely to rise above the threshold.

So no, the rating requirements have nothing to do with encouraging skill. Although skill is no doubt required to achieve a high arena rating, the ever increasing gear imbalances ensure that skill alone is not enough, you also need the gear which you can't unless you have a high rating which you won't achieve without the gear. The rating requirements serve only one purpose: to keep people from complaining that S4 items are more useful for PvE and easier to get than SSC items. Which is an interesting discussion in itself, but has nothing to do with making the arena more skill-based.

BTW, I know that the above was an exaggeration: there will always be teams who win against better geared opponents because they outplay them. But this will get harder and harder. Just think about how much damage a S4 warrior will do to a S2 equipped cloth or leather wearer. With an equipment spiral like that, skill matters less and less.
 
(Addendum to the last post, because I found a much shorter way to make my point:)

Think of rating requirements as a negative handicap: Imagine you had the chance to play golf against Tiger Woods, but because of his fame and previous achievements, he's allowed to start right on the green.

That's about the situation of S4 fighting against S1: the S4 team may "deserve" their good equipment and rating, but that doesn't make this specific fight any more skill-based or fair.
 
I used to play Quake. In Quake, every player spawns with the exact same stats and the exact same weapon every match. Everybody gets to collect the exact same weapons and powerups. If I played against fatal1ty (who is a very, very, very, very good Quake player), and managed to hit him with my railgun, he'd die. I don't have to "grind for PvP gear", or "reroll the FotM class", or "collect rating points" to beat someone in Quake: skill is enough.

The above does describe pretty well why world of warcraft and arenas don't mix. Since the World of Warcraft PvE game seems designed around the idea that people will chase better items and spend lots of time leveling and developing a character, throwing in an arena and trying to make it "Skill based" will mesh extremely poorly with the other parts of the game.

Guild wars shows another example of how to design a game that works well with arenas. It still has flavor of the month, and unlocking can take awhile, but someone can just create characters instantly that are geared equally with others, with skills as numerically powerful as others.

I'll be interested in reading and hearing about how Warhammer and Age of Conan handle gear, since they are apparently more PvP focused but still have a lot of other traditional MMORPG features.
 

morph: people will still be able to buy S3 items at a discount price. The only incentive left for people playing around 1500 or below will be... amusement. Fun. Enjoying PvP.


Being slaughtered in the arena 3-4 times in a row by the same team isnt a very enjoyable experience, and I think the gear gap will be getting worse.
 
And still no fix for win-trading? Why do they continue to put mechanisms in place that hurt the weakest teams (rating requirements) while doing nothing about the biggest cheats of them all?
 
s4 will mark a pretty big change in pvp and will pretty much kill arena'ing.

Rating requirements will be required for almost all the new gear which means that all the bad pvp'ers who pvp just for gear will stop arena'ing.

One side effect of this is attaining the higher ratings will be that much harder. Enjoy the death of arena.
 
Their solution still has not addressed win trading at all; furthermore, low rated players will still have to deal with well geared players who reform their teams as there is no incentive to stay high rated once you get your gear.

The only difference now is that instead of a 2 piece gear advantage these players will have an 8 piece gear advantage.
 
Thus for the casual masses the only way to equip S4 will be ... to buy into the next $20 Arena toon sale.

It seems that with patch 2.4 and this PvP announcement that Blizzard is returning to the WoW 1.0 model of hiding gear and patterns in inaccessible raid dungeons and behind PvP rating/ranking obstacles.

Or, from my casual vantage point, once again locking out the casuals. Kind of funny, because that brings me back to where I was right before TBC hit - I was near to cancelling, but TBC opened up viable crafting and PvP gear paths.

I'm already rich, but bored, in patch 2.4 content. And if S4 = same old worn-out BGs and Arenas but with gear rewards hidden behind ratings, I might rather hang it up until WotLK.
 
well doeg I think it just strengthens my case that they think people are pvp'ing for fun. So they think they can hide stuff behind a bigger harder grind. Problem is in thier game model people do things that aren't fun to unlock the things that are. Until it gets so unfun they give up. like raiding for most in vanilla wow.

It'll be interesting to see if thier changes kill the numbers PVP'ing between now and WOTLK.
 
3 arena seasons too late. Sorry Blizzard.

How about this? Remove Arenas and the associated gear. Keep the honor Vidnicators and Veterans gear, but require the rest of your gear to be achieved via PvE.

I hate to say it, but WoW PvP was much better when players had to PvE to get most of their gear, and then a sprinkling of PvP gear on the side that was competitive.
 
Yeah, Bliz's plans do help in some areas but they do not address the overall problem. What I think might be nice is the following:

What if when you went in arena all your stats were changed to a fixed number per your spec. All resto druids would have the same stats, all forst mages, etc. This would be tough to set, but for the sake of argument let's say you could do it. This also means the nub just starting in arenas has the same stats as the veteran.

As you arena, and according to your rank, you get more gear which is nothing but a costume of sorts. The stats stay the same. Again, I don't know how I would implement it. But the idea is an intersting one.
 
The biggest effect will be the exodus of sub-1600 players (the majority of the arena base) when they realize they will never achieve the rating required to buy most of the items.

As the scrubs leave, it will become harder and harder to even maintain 1500. That is a self-perpetuating cycle. Eventually only the hardcore PvP'ers will remain, bitterly fighting for ratings. S4 PvP gear will be rare indeed!
 
I here I thought we were moving away from the raiders controling the gear distribution in World of Warcraft. Oh well It's nice that they will be implementing this right before Age of Conan comes out since they obviously think they have nothing to worry about.
I wonder who holds the world record for most money ever lost because of Hubris? Wonder if Blizzard might be taking the title soon.

The changes to matching and how points are awarded are great ideas and should have been implemented months ago. The ratings requirements are clearly designed to prevent less people from getting epics and appeasing raiders. Oh well border kingdoms sound more fun anyways.
 
This is a terrible "improvement"

A little back story. Me and my team have been playing arenas since Season 1. We have tried our best to improve our game, our gear, and our strategy through constant practice. We were knocked down into the 1200s at the beginning, but rather than just start over like so many did, we stuck with it, working our way up, learning against teams our own skill level. We don’t have the standard Arena spec (Ret Paladin, Holy Priest, and Feral Druid) but we were content to do our best with what we had. We are all friends and wanted to play together, with those characters. We eventually crawled our way back into the 1500s, peaking at 1570. Then we hit the wall. Team after team we faced last week rolled over us in full S3. S3 weapons we cant get. I looked and saw one of the teams was rated 1700s and we were in the 1400s bracket.

The proposed solution will deny us access to even more gear in S4,(almost all of it) but still force us to play against these fully decked players. What is worse, we won’t be able to even get most of the BG gear. The difference between S1 and S3 gear is silly. The difference between S2 and S4 is just as silly. I ran around and pumped more damage into a Discipline Holy Priest in full S3 with my S2 sword, than their entire team did combined. I never got him past half health, even with interrupts and stuns.

The personal rating system does not do what it is supposed to do now, and the matching system is still poor (1700 team against a 1400?) The changes will only penalize High rated players in the points they get.

I got news for you, if they have that high a rating and they are in lower brackets, they don’t need the points... They are there to run others up to the Personal rating, or they are there just to stomp low bracket teams.

I saw it put best this way:

How would you feel if you went into Kara to farm badges and every so often the Sun Well Bosses decide to come to kara and wipe your raid. You lose a week, don't have any fun, and don’t have anything to show for it but wasted time and frustration.

This new system will create a wider gap, and there will be hundreds of teams banging their heads against the "haves."

As it stands, this is like a football league in which everyone from Elementary School Teams up to pro Ball are competing all in the same pool. And the Pro Ballers are beating the tar out of the elementary kids… Oh yeah, and the elementary kids aren’t allowed to get pads unless they beat the pros (who do wear pads)…

As a side note, as a Ret Paladin, my best source for gear has always been PVP. Now, with the only new damage plate lacking any Int, I feel that pressure as much as ever...

If these changes go through, then I will stop playing PvP. It won’t be fun, and their won’t be anything worth doing it for.
 
The last post pretty much sums up the feelings of every legitimate player new to the arenas.
 
@Relmstein:
I really want to see a WoW alternative and I won’t be playing AoC. First, I have young children that can see my monitor at times and I have no desire to expose them to a the graphic game that AoC is described as being. It’s not that I find the content objectionable, just that I’m not going to play the game in a closet and it would be irresponsible of me to play the game where my children could see it. Secondly, the system requirements for AoC are quite a jump from WoW. I wouldn’t consider my computer low-end and I don’t meet the recommended requirements. People forget that Starcraft was released in 256 colors at a time when most games had at least 16-bit color. Blizzard was widely criticized at the time, but the artwork was still good and the gameplay was excellent. The result is that the game had broad appeal and was a huge success despite having “inferior” graphics.

@Vonbiram and Blachawk
The last post pretty much sums up the feelings of every legitimate player new to the arenas.

Agreed. That’s partly why I think Blizzard introduced the Tournament servers. The playing field is much more level by default. I have said continuously that almost all MMO PvP is flawed because more experienced players are rewarded not just with more skill for time played, but better gear as well. The rich just get richer. The frustrating thing about WoW is that gear is greater than skill.
 
The most alarming thing about all this is the emphasis on PvP = Arenas. The arena PR requirement for gear is trickling down to honor items and to last season's gear (3 vs 4). It's a disturbing trend which needs to be curtailed before we find all PvP gear requiring arena PRs at level 80. Blizzard needs to back off this really bad idea and they need to learn that arenas are glorified duels and not what a lot of people are looking for when they want to PvP in an MMORPG.

I like to PvP but I don't like arenas. They are worse than raiding when it comes to specs. I enjoy playing 'offspecs' that just can't compete at a high level in arena PvP. If arena PRs are required on more and more PvP items then I will effectively have no progress path via PvP anymore.

Even though I don't arena anymore because I didn't find working 10 times harder to succeed than the core arena classes/specs I do enjoy BGs and world PvP. Seeing WoW PvP funneled through the arenas has disturbed me enough to cancel my account. If I want to duel in a small environment I can play a much more balanced FPS or fighting game.

I'm really happy to hear AoC is getting positive previews. While I don't think it's a 'WoW-killer' and I know it'll have it's share of issues, at the very least I hope it's good enough so I'm not even tempted to re-up my sub to WoW.
 
I still say its because arena's take almost no dev time. I think that simple fact makes the devs want to push arena's while they work on the expansion.

But since PVP cycles faster than raid content the gear gap is growing faster and this long overdue fix is going to exacerbate it. As normal for a blizzard fix. It cements the people at the top and screws everyone else at the bottom.
Nothing new Unfortunately
 
I wonder who holds the world record for most money ever lost because of Hubris? Wonder if Blizzard might be taking the title soon.

Jérôme Kerviel at 4.9 Billion Euro (that's nearly 8 Billion US Dollars at today's rate). I'm afraid Blizzard isn't anywhere near taking that title.
 
Untill they make the personal rating permanant it's still a useless change.

Teams will still sell ratings, just by disbanding a team reforming and selling that last spot to a noob they will destroy anyone in the 1500+ bracket with their full s3 gear. Until they make the personal rating permanant it will still exsist.
 
This appears to be an underhand kind of move to remove some PvP from the game. Blizzard probably regrets going too far out on the "reward pvp" idea and realize its bad for the game in the long run.

They cant say they dont want people to pvp anymore tho so they come up with silly reasons like e-sport and justice for the overall nerf to pvp reward payout.

With less people getting rewards less people will participate, and since its a zero sum rating system the end result will scale back pvping until there is one player left. (But blizzard will realize this and stop the process before it gets quite that far.)
 
Anonymous says: "I like to PvP but I don't like arenas. They are worse than raiding when it comes to specs. I enjoy playing 'offspecs' that just can't compete at a high level in arena PvP. If arena PRs are required on more and more PvP items then I will effectively have no progress path via PvP anymore."

I understand this point well.

I arena for two reasons. 1: It actually can be a lot of fun, when you are fairly matched or going up against other non-standard groups.
2: The gear progression, which at end game, is the only form of character progression beyond titles and reputation.

These changes eliminate both reasons, with the added insult of taking away some of the fun, and the best gear rewards from Battle Grounds as well.

I haven't felt this dicouraged with PvP in this game since I realized back in the old system that I would never be able to get past Knight-Champion.

Wolfe may be right. I had the same thought. Intentional or not though, this move will only serve to sour more players to the game in which they were already starting to get a little bored with.

The skill barrier to progress that Tobald speaks of in raids has just been raised much higher in PvP. That is a good way to lose your average plater. It isn't that people are nubs, or too casual, or bad at PvP on average. It is that the very best (gear and skill) are running rampant over the average PvPer. Now, more so than ever.

I can tackle a 9 year old and smash him to the ground (I, being a grown man). That doesnt prove my worth anymore than it disproves his.
 
This appears to be an underhand kind of move to remove some PvP from the game. Blizzard probably regrets going too far out on the "reward pvp" idea and realize its bad for the game in the long run.

I don't think so. I remember all the angst from the blizzard responses to BWL, AQ40 and NAXX. Back then thier view seemed to be raiding was fun and if they set the bar high enough people would grind forever till they got there. Then they proved themselves wrong.

I think its the same thing here. On paper the number of people PVP'ing have "proved" to them that people want to pvp. So they've raised the Bar and tried to set up the perfect system from thier perspective that forces people to "GRIND" and "LEARN TO PLAY".

It won't work and 6 or more months from now they'll be talking about what they learned from thier mistakes. I just wish I'd see some content that actually matched the rhetoric of what they learned.
 
The thing is Blizzard are not stupid designers. Why would they design something which has a 100% fail rate unless they goals are set towards something that cares about a different success state?

The whole deal with the BWL, NAXX whatevva thingys is that those systems are conquered by mudflation. The inflation in the system helps the players to defeat the barriesr. With the PvP system you have an axiomatic balance that is inflation-proof.

Blizzard knows this, still they make these changes. Their goals have be set to reduce the popularity of PvP. BWL increased the popularity of raiding, just as the pre-nerf arena increased the popularity of pvp. But when the average player realize there is no reward in pvp the average player will be reduced to the fabulous rating level of about 700, which is a consequence of culmulative negative feedback.
 
Now that this S4 Arena personal rating (PR) requirement announcement has sunk in for a few days, I really can't figure out what Blizzard is thinking. It seemed that Blizzard was going the way of dropping barriers to PvP gear by putting the blues on faction vendors and adding PvP items to badge and token vendors - thus opening up the way for raiders to PvP in the run-up to WotLK.

But let's face it - we're spoiled by Blizzard raining epics on us, and once S4 gear is out, S3 will be yesterday's news - people won't be too thrilled to spend their points and honor on second-best! I can buy the 60-75-100 Badge 'cool stuff' even if my Badges came from SSO daily packages or heroics or the early easy Kara bosses!

But this PvP gear PR requirement moves in the opposite direction. I mean, if you don't already have the rating needed, then you're either not geared enough, not skilled enough, not running in the right class combination, or you just don't PvP a lot. Now I might be wrong, but ISTM that none of those groups are going to be looking forward to having to spend weeks or months grinding out an Arena rating just to be able to buy PvP upgrades in the waning months of TBC! In my case, I won't bother with PvP at all under those circumstances: PvE Badges are easier and faster to get and more flexible to spend. Blizzard can nerf a PvE boss or offer PvE Kara-grinding badge alternatives or PvE crafting drops - but Blizzard can't 'nerf' the PvP opponent (or even balance PvP, for that matter)!

PvE overgeared for a more flexible-to-spend Badge, or PvP undergeared for inflexible points, honor and marks that are useless for some items without a PR? LOL that is an easy choice! From a gear point of view, "welfare epic" is about to come full-circle, there will be no incentive at all for me or those in my circle to return to the BGs for the S4 stuff. And if I can find a Sunwell trash-raid PUG on my server, I'll be set...
 
you may be right doeg but I think its the typical IT social issue. I think the devs are very smart socially disfunctional people who are haveing a very hard time wrapping thier brains around what the non technical, new "casual" gamer that is thier cash cow wants.

They are speaking in russian while the rest of us are trying to talk to them in english.
 
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