Tobold's Blog
Friday, January 15, 2010
He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother

Due to the Dungeon Finder a larger proportion of World of Warcraft players is now spending a larger proportion of their time in dungeons, running 5-man groups. The group composition is fixed by the Dungeon Finder to be one tank, one healer, and three dps. And because success of a random pickup group is extremely likely, there is very little bickering about whose fault it was that the group wiped. But of course some people like bickering for bickerings sake, so a discussion has popped up in various forms about who in the group is "carrying" who.

Gordon from We Fly Spitfires made a very controversial guest post at World of Matticus asking whether tanks and healers shouldn't get extra rewards for joining a pickup group, as they were the ones carrying the dps. If you look at a simple tank'n'spank combat without an enrage timer, it is possible to do that fight only with a tank and a healer. If it's a boss fight that will obviously take forever, and then you'll post the video of it on YouTube, but the basic impression is that the tank and the healer are the mandatory parts of the 5-man group, and the dps are the optional parts which just server to shorten to time.

Of course you can take the same line of thinking and reverse it, to show how this isn't proof of anything. I still have bad memories of Malygos, because I went there with a group where the tank and healer (including me) were good enough to keep the aggro all the time and keep everyone alive. But then the enrage timer kicks in and the raid wipes, because the dps didn't collectively do X million points of damage in the given time. So already for timed encounters you could say the dps carry the healer and tank. And obviously if the damage output is high enough to kill the mob before it can do serious damage, no tank nor healer is needed at all.

As I mentioned in my previous post, tanks and healers only need to be "good enough" to beat a given encounter or dungeon. But there being 3 dps in a 5-man group, somebody is always running a damage meter, and there is some internal competition. So the guy doing 4k dps says he was carrying the other guy who did only 2k dps. But as Chastity from Righteous Orbs remarks, it is rather his gear which is carrying the 4k dps guy. One person dealing more damage than another is not necessarily due to him trying harder or being more skilled. It can also be due to difference in gear, or even class balance. And in some cases the race to top the damage meter can get the group wiped, because people start blasting away before the tank has aggro, or they AoE where they shouldn't have AoEd.

I do have addons like Gearscore and the Recount damage meter installed, for my own information, with the goal of helping me improve myself. But in my guild the public display of damage meter data is frowned upon, and in raids such "piss-o-meter" data display can get you kicked. Because while these addons have some limited use, using them in a pissing contest of who is better ends up reducing people to a single number, which is not what cooperative multiplayer games should be about.

Instead of demanding higher rewards for those "carrying" the others, or kicking the underperformers directly, we need to realize that we need the other players, and that everybody is carrying everybody else at some point. That undergeared healer and the top dps might look at each other and each think they are carrying the other, but in the end they both need each other. If you could set up the Dungeon Finder to only group you with people with a 6k+ Gearscore, doing at least 5k dps for the dps roles, you'd quickly find that the 5 minutes you'd save on every dungeon run would be more than compensated by the far longer waiting times for each group to form.

In a cooperative multiplayer game it is reasonable to demand that everybody make an effort, but neither gear nor dps are a good measure of effort, nor skill. You can't use the damage meter to judge a person. Do you think less of yourself if you are playing a lesser played, less geared alt? So maybe the person you are looking down upon today will group with you again next week, only that this time *he* is on his main and *you* are on your alt, on the bottom of the dps table.

We play MMORPGs to have fun, to pursue our own personal goals in the game. We play together because some of these goals can't be reached alone, and the social experience of playing together adds to the fun. Instead of worrying that you might be carrying somebody else, sing with the Hollies: "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother"!
If someone with blue gear does his 2k dps then there's nothing wrong. If someone with gear a tier above me does only half my damage then something is wrong. But in the end he'll probably still do more then 2k and the run should be fine. There's just that feeling of "carrying someone". Playing without a DPS meter is more relaxing in that regard. Removes the 'pvp' part of the equation.

I think you pose a good question though. "Everyone needs each other". It's not true as you mentioned earlier: you don't need DPS. So it would be a good idea to make DPS more needed in instances. Add more crowd control which only DPS can CC? Enrage timers? Mobs which have to be one shotted?
The post wasn't actually suggesting that tanks or healers carry a group, it was suggesting that those roles are harder (i.e. more stressful, pressured and time consuming) and thus, given how partial we are to rewarding people in real life with a bonus culture, floated the idea that those roles should be reward more. Given that we already reward those that work the hardest (i.e. raiders) I don't think it's such a crazy concept.

Anyhow, I completely agree that we should be playing MMORPGs for fun. Unfortunately though, that doesn't seem to be the case in the majority of situations. Most players are very competitive and become very aggressive in groups if they "fail" or if your raid wipes. Plus we have a terrible habit of comparing our gear and DPS meters constantly.

Even the average player is obsessed with having the "best" and most effective talent build. Even yourself has posted articles debating which talent build is better for classes you're playing.

So it makes me wonder how many people honestly just play to enjoy their character and the game and don't care what others think? I'd say very few.
It seems to me that the competitive 'pissing contest' between DPS is double edged: on the one hand it can be a strong motivator to play at one's best, and on the other hand it can cause people to lose sight of the entertainment aspect of playing a game.

I think a lot of how this plays out for an individual is about them, not about the overall context of raids in the post 40-man/nearly professional raid guilds/EJ era. The best raiders I played with always had a competitive edge - they always wanted to be the best (though topping the damage meter is only one metric of that), but didn't let it get in the way of their enjoyment of the game. Indeed, it became an integral part of their ability to enjoy what they were doing. If they didn't push themselves, they generally weren't having as much fun.

This is certainly not the only way to play, nor should it be. It is just another view. There is room for everyone to enjoy the games in their own way, I think. Let one thousand flowers bloom, as they say.
The problem with the low DPS is not that he is not optimal. I'm not optimal either, nor you or anybody.

The problem is that there is a better DPS out there, waiting in the queue, he wants in, I want him in, but technical issues don't let him in.

So I can kick him in the hope that someone better comes in. If the kicked person is seriously below the average (and not my expectations), then it's quite probable that the replacement will be better.

BTW one of the funniest thing in my blue experiment is that I usually outdamaged people seriously in blue gear. They (or some "good soul") said: "he has worse gear". They did not even bothered to inspect.
Effort is what matters. The are 5mans, you can 2 or 3 man everyone of them today. That said if you aren't putting some effort foward and keeping up with the group I don't think you should get an equal roll and shards and loot.

If someone isn't preforming well enough to finish a run they have to go... but lacking that just show some effort.

I had a Ret pala in a run yesterday that put on Ret aura and put the tank on follow and didn't hit one mob the entire run. But would complain in chat every time we helped him die and roll on loots/shards. As soon as the debuff wore off, he started playing and doing decent DPS. I waited till we got to the next boss and did a vote kick as loot dropped. IMO the player was mocking the 15min kick immunity. I guess he was just chatting it up in guild chat or something. In any case that grinds my gears...

Sure go afk for the whole run and I'll vote kick your as soon as I am able. But to be in game and simply not play until the moment the dungeon debuff wears off... Grr.
Man, the whole me-me-me thing seems to be becoming more and more prevalent, isn't it?

Well, since dps depends on things like getting buffed, heroism, and heals to keep them alive, actual raw-dps would be lower. Maybe Blizz should hand out rewards based purely on gear score? Then the rich can get richer.

The whole thing is silly since the roles are complimentary. Yes, there are cases where low def gets tanks killed and low dps fails at enrage timers. But all is well is the group is at the appropriate level.

I think the problem is more about the delta between an entry level 80 and a maxed 80 character. Both are 80s but effectively there is a 10+ level difference between them. No one would complain about lousy heals from a priest 10 levels lower than everyone else, since it is to be expected. But in an instance at level cap, the expectations are totally changed.

The whole mentality sort of destroys the cooperative aspects of the game. Is this the future of wow -- a min-max solo spreadsheet exercise?

Blizzard (and players) might benefit from adopting a more horizontal approach to level cap gameplay a la guild wars, where various skills and combinations are required rather than pure gear scores.
Absolutely right on, Tobold. Couldn't agree more. Of course a raiding guild has to have standards and so forth to progress, but I think people get elitist and pissy far too easily.

"We play MMORPGs to have fun, to pursue our own personal goals in the game. We play together because some of these goals can't be reached alone, and the social experience of playing together adds to the fun. Instead of worrying that you might be carrying somebody else, sing with the Hollies: "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother"!"

Amen to that. Call it the anti-Gevlon ethos. We primates are social beings.
I think what we are seeing here is the effect of allowing a substantially larger pool of players, from servers where the overall culture is obviously different, to clash where ideals are concerned, and the result is the bickering we see about these totally non-important issues.

For Christ's sakes, we can earn literally hundreds of Triumph emblems and 19 Frost emblems weekly without so much as stepping foot into a raid instance. As a result, we can equip our characters with full Triumph gear, heroic ICC 5-man dungeon drops, and Frost badge gear in as little as a month...all of which will allow anyone to run ICC 10-man guild or pug runs.

I dont know about anyone else, but I just dont see how or why Blizzard would consider adding more rewards than we are offered right now. Since Blizzard removed Crowd Control and the ability of certain classes to yield talents which offered useful utility aspects of spells and abilities, we have been force fed encounters that revolve around enrage timers and gimmicks that rely on very little skill where the dps classes are concerned.

Is it any wonder why the dps types fall back on the only real e-peen stroking stat they have...DPS?

Anyone remember Sap, Polymorph, Fear, Mind Control, Freeze Traps..ect?

Also, look at what has become of Halls of Reflection now that it has been reduced to joke status, with everyone wanting to use the exploit of staying behind Arthas during the run to the Airship.

The least path of resistance...and all that goes with it.
I had a run in Azjol-Nerub last night with a newbie paladin tank. He started with 27k health. I had to pull out raid-level healing a couple times to keep him up, and the DPS had to throttle themselves to avoid taking aggro. He also got lost after Hadronox and I had to come find him (fortunately before we'd jumped down the hole). It's very fair to say that I and the DPS 'carried' him.

On the other hand, the group was game for it, and the tank was willing to learn. And he ended up getting drops from all 3 bosses, including a trinket from Hadronox and an epic belt from Anub'arak. His health was noticibly higher by the end of the run.

Ultimately I have a lot more fun with a group like that than with a highly-geared death machine that silently destroys an instance in 15 minutes. Did we carry him? For sure. But it was well worth it.
The thing is, I'm fine with it if people try. If somebody has gear, but doesn't play well, then I'm less than fine with it. I've got 3 characters at 80, all specced to tank (partially for faster queue times), and I am generally fine with people in blues, greens and even the occasional lv70 purple in the group as long as they are trying. The circumstances where I draw the line are:

- They don't bother to keep their character up to date. I've got a mod called RankWatch installed, which will privately whisper to somebody if it sees them using a skill that could be trained to a higher rank. This is simple stuff, like visiting a trainer every so often. The other night, I kicked a healer who hadn't trained for heals since level 70, since I was taking a *lot* of damage and he kept blaming his gear (which was actually not that bad).
- They go excessively AFK. I kicked a mage last night who was pretty much there for the first boss in Gundrak, and the last one, and was AFK the entire rest of the time.
- They purposely ignore or go out of the way to do things their own way to the detriment of the rest of the group. They pull on their own before the tank is ready, they don't give the tank any time to generate threat, they behave as if they are the star and the rest are all just orbiting them. When called on it, they just tell people to shut up and let him or her play the way they want to. An awful lot of shaman fall into this category, as many of them aren't willing to drop totems. If you can't spend a single GCD to help the group each fight, you get the boot.

Generally, I look at carrying someone as an attitude thing. If they are not a reasonable person to play with, I won't play with them. I've got instant queues anyway, so I'm not too worried about it.

I play a rogue, I do about 4k dps in heroics. I've carried tanks through runs by using Tricks of the Trade on them every cooldown when they couldn't hold aggro. I've also helped groups with two sub 1k dps members because I make up the difference between the heroic requirement and their dps. The point isn't who is carrying who, the point is let's get through this as fast as possible with as little drama as possible. We have who we have, now let's go do this.
I would think that being able to get a group in under 5 seconds is reward enough for tanks and healers.
I have a joke achievement: What Did I Bring You Guys Here for? For many tanks, this is very easily achieve: #1 on DPS, Damage Taken and Deal.

When the tank out damage and DPS the rest of the DPSer combined, you can safely say that the tank carried the party.
It was interesting two nights ago in Hellfire Citadel. We had a group of 57-62 people. The DK tank was 61. We were AoEing EVERYTHING down.

We wipped once right in the courtyard before the 2nd boss, we agro'd everything.

The healer commented that it was the tanks fault for having bad gear. The DK tank said this was the first instance he had tanked and that he was here to get better tank gear. The healer continued to mock him.

What I don't understand is when TBC first launched that instance was hard at that level. We did single pulls with CC. Now if we can't AE everything down and clear it in 30 minutes the group sucks?

I just don't like alot of people in WoW. They are just a-holes.

I do love Dungeon Finder though.
Someone in blues doing 2000 DPS is good. Someone in iLevel 232 doing 2000 DPS is good. Yes, I do bother to make that distinction. I also adjust my expectations according to their class (for example Shadowpriests do less damage under 5-man-conditions). In addition to that I accept it if someone plays bad but gives indication of wanting to improve. I still have fond memories of that one DK in Pit of Saron. Directly upon entering he announced that he was not sure if he was up to the task and we should kick him if his performance lacked too much. And indeed..he did 500 DPS. However he was willing to learn and by the end of the instance we had him up at 2000 DPS and he had a solid foundation to build on. This instance took a lot longer than normal but I'd do it again anytime.
I hate to do it Tobold, but I have to call you and several of these other people liars. You yourself call them "the DPS." You do not call them "the non-aggro takers" or "the utility" or "the fluffy fun bunnies that make us all smile." You call them "the DPS" because that is the one single thing their position entails.

I realize it's just a game, and not everything has to be about optimizing for that game. But within that game, their role does in fact boil down to their DPS as their contribution. A player doing 4k DPS IS worth two players doing 2k DPS.

You would not bring a level 30 character to a level 80 raid even if you could, regardless of how skilled he was. It's not being mean, it's the reality of the situation. He simply cannot contribute enough to the raid. If a level 80 player is not geared well enough to do the DPS required to beat the enrage timer, that's a "too bad" situation. But you don't bring him because he's nice, or because he's actually really "skilled" doing his 1.5k DPS, and then wipe over and over.

I also have to agree with Gevlon that gear is highly overrated as an excuse for bad players. Even a freshly dinged level 80 in questing greens and blues should be able to top 2k DPS with full raid buffs.

Way back when I did my very first raids in Wrath, I was only wearing questing gear plus a couple of BoE epics and very few enchantments. Not even any heroic gear, and I was the top DPS in several successful 25 man runs. Do not tell me the players doing 1/5th my DPS were simply undergeared.
From the perspective of the guy being carried:

I only started Wow last year, and levelled a shadow priest. I was playing in short bursts, and got to level 80 without doing a single WotLK instance. Then I decided to try healing, but this posed a problem as I very seldom healed anything and I didn’t know the instances. So I dual specced Holy, read up on the fights, got some good add-ons and figured that I’ll do instances on normal (to learn the fight mechanics) before trying heroics. Also, every time I entered a dungeon I told everybody that I’m new and might struggle. I very quickly realised that normal dungeons were not the way to go. There were tanks in dps spec, dps running in all directions and I got the impression many people knew even less than I did.

Once I switched to heroics my general experience improved dramatically. People were in better gear, knew the instances and were much more accommodating to a new player. I also found that the general comments posted here were true for me – people didn’t mind helping others, as long as they are honest and trying their best. But I’m curious to know if others had the same bad experiences running normal dungeons.
As a tank who sometimes plays DPS when I want to wind down...

I am highly-geared. Even as I have become highly geared via raiding, so have the healers and DPS. Allow me to discuss a little what the results are in a random heroic when a Pally tank, 3 DPS, and a healer are all highly-geared and presumably equal.

Pally tank: Chain pull like a bat out of hell or run out of mana. That Divine Plea is ticking away, and you're not going to regen much mana from getting hit or healed. Drink when you can, but everyone else wants you to "gogogo" and may start pulling for you. You *will* spend the entire dungeon run fighting your "elite" DPS to keep threat. DPS want to hit early, hit hard, and hit as much as possible with AoE to pad the meters. They prefer for you to grab multiple packs at once, even though Consecration will hit them all for just a single tick before the AoE blitz that begins peeling them off, one by one, as you target switch like mad to grab them back.

DPS: Attack things and have a good time. Blame tanks and healers for personal inability to manage threat on multiple targets. Sometimes spam DPS meters.

Healer: Zone out. Cast a heal every once in a while. DPS when bored.

If everyone in that instance is decked out in ICC 10 and 25 gear, nobody is being carried in any real sense.

BUT WHO IS DOING 95% OF THE WORK? The tank. The tank has to fight three highly-geared DPS every step of the way. The DPS only have to fight some very wimpy monsters.

I'd rather tank for, and carry, four undergeared players. I should start booting people with high gear scores out of my groups! ;)
Another arguement against forced intimacy.

If I like the person I'm grouped with, why would I seriously think whether I'm carrying them? Even if I realise I am carrying them, I'm primarily there to be with them - winning at the game is a second priority (oh, I'd help them improve, but not as if it mattered to me).

Ergo, if I'm thinking I'm carrying them, I don't actually like them.

And why am I playing/spending my life with people I don't like?
Recount is my least favourite addon now. As a tank I have to constantly compete with DPS vying for the top spot on the meter. When I DPS I have to play as hard as possible just to escape ridicule.

I don't really care if I'm carrying someone or if someone is carrying me, I play this game as my leisure activity. I'm actually getting sick of this game because of all the idiots who think they are better than everyone. I just want to have fun and relax for an hour or two.

I play guitar hero on medium. Could you imagine if people told me to work my way up to expert if I wanted to play with them?
"I would think that being able to get a group in under 5 seconds is reward enough for tanks and healers."

Based on this statement, I suspect you have not played a tank. Prior to 3.3, my tank could get a group for heroics in under five minutes, so I don't regard the shorter queue as a major selling point. Furthermore, it was typical in the past for the tank to also be the leader. As a result, anybody that upset the tank enough would be gone from the group. That benefit is almost entirely gone.

Being able to control who goes in a group is no small benefit, either. It's true that with a group of people that I know and trust, tanking feels like just a little more work than dps. But with a group of people that seem determined to make my job harder -- the sort of thing I get infrequently but far too often in LFD -- it's a 20 minute heart attack. It's not worth it.

If we are genuinely interested in solving the tank shortage, I see only two ways to do it. The first is to get more characters to roll tanks. Blizzard tried this with death knights and yet the tank shortage remains. The second way to solve the shortage is to encourage existing tanks to tank more. What incentive would do this? Right now, the only way to get me in a heroic is if I am getting frost badges or if a friend needs help. Otherwise, the possible irritation is far out of proportion to the rewards.
I just have a problem with people making instant judgment based on gear; I was playing the other day on my old mage and he's in a blue / purple mix- nothing special. The moment I entered the dungeon (non-heroic, easy dungeon) the other group members started bitching about my gear.

I find it funny considering I've been playing MMOs since 1997 and I've never been the cause of a wipe in WoW, but because my gear sucks I'm now a horrible player.

A player should NOT be judged solely on their gear, but rather their performance.

This is why I play Darkfall; if someone doesn't pull their weight, then the group can just kill the person and move on- there are much less drama queens in an open PvP game with consequences to death.
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