Tobold's Blog
Monday, February 15, 2010
Too much anonymity?

In what is probably the most famous quote from Penny Arcade, the "Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory" from John Gabriel states that a normal person turns into a "total fuckwad" if given anonymity and an audience. Epiny from Sprites are Fun wonders whether the World of Warcraft Dungeon Finder isn't providing exactly that: Anonymity and a captive audience of 4 other players in your group.

Now I love small group content more than anything else in MMORPGs, and the Dungeon Finder enabled me in the last months to play a lot more of that than before, which is great. But I do have to admit that not every group was pleasant. Curiously I get very little negativity when I play a dps class or build, even if I'm completely undergeared and on the bottom of the damage meter table nobody ever complains. The healer has few problems, because he is the best geared of my characters, and healing in heroics isn't really hard unless it's Halls of Reflection. But my tank gets comments from fuckwads more frequently. Basically whenever I do anything which is in the big book of "good tanking", somebody complains. Wait for the healer to have mana? Somebody shouts "gogogo". Used line-of-sight to pull a single mob or small group instead of the whole room? Some fuckwad complains that I should "go fasta, pull moar". So next time I pull a bigger group, some overgeared dps launches a huge AoE before my charge even connects with the first mob, and the group complains that I can't keep the aggro of all the mobs all the time. What happened to "wait for 3 sunder with dps?". Today my best group with my tank was one in which all 3 dps were undergeared and doing under 2k of damage per second. Run went perfectly smoothly. But due to the way aggro works, and because some people have zero patience and want to be on top of the damage meter, tanking gets harder the more damage the three dps deal. Maybe I should go dps with my warrior. :)

But people have been complaining about pickup groups long before the Dungeon Finder was invented. Do you know everybody on your server? Extremely unlikely. So whether you are grouped with an anonymous stranger from your own server or with somebody cross-server makes very little difference to the degree of anonymity. In either case the other players think they won't see you again, so have no inhibition to be total jerks. I think the major difference is that now we are running so many more dungeons. So even if the chance to meet a specimen fitting John Gabriel's description is still the same, we are almost certain to meet somebody unpleasant if we run ten dungeons in a row.

So while I don't think the anonymity of the cross-server Dungeon Finder is to blame, I do think that speed runs are making everybody less nice. The pickup group jerk I hate the most is the "gogogo" guy. It is due to him that pickup groups still manage sometime to wipe in "easy" heroics, just because they were playing sloppily. And you can bet that sloppy gogogo guy is then the first to leave the group without a word.
I dont think this is an anonymity thing, as much as it is an expectation that its heroic so it should be easy, and it can't possibly be their fault.

I however developing a 'just go away' attitude, especially when healing or tanking. At the risk of shameless self promotion gogogo - or please just go
I'm afraid I've reached the stage where I loathe tanking under DF, for the very reasons you've outlined. My tank now sits as an unused alt, merrily contributing to the tank shortage.

I long for a "only accept parties from my server" option in DF, so that there are at least *some* consequences for acting like an idiot in random PUGs. At least that way word can get around about the bad players and you can have a word with their guild master or know never to invite them to raids.
I have seen many accounts of people playing through entire dungeons without saying a word. I love the Greater Internet Dickwad Theory, but I don't think it always applies to PUGs.
I think your underpinning assumption - that the other four people are captive, is far less now.

If you don't like the gogo guy, you could drop group and probably find one without him in far less time than it would take to make a group under the old system.

Also your probably grouping more, thus encountering more gogo'ers...I think this is a bit like when people say they always roll low on a 20 sided dice, but if they actually record them they find they roll average. Your just remembering the low rolls.
Good tanking is relative. It depends on the circumstances.

Pulling around a corner and asking people to CC is good tanking only when necessary.

I certainly hate overly cautious tanks that make a heroic that usually takes 10mintutes take 30.

If you argue that heroics should be made more difficult and CC should be brought back I am with you. However, as long as heroics are the way they are, my biggest concern when playing dps is that I might die of boredom before the dungeon is finished.
I feel the same. Somehow the leveling tanking curve between 60 and 70 was sort of OK with DF-am only 78 now and finding it difficult to tank (I'm unholy DK), although I think I'm doing well (already crashed through the def cap). People are rude, they want to go faster and all in all they are nerfing the game experience totally. I tried to tank the Culling of Stratholme for the first time yesterday, and found myself enjoying the storyline of it-just to be insulted by players for whom things weren't going as fast as they wanted to. Also agree with DF's main pros and main cons: better access to gameplay but people with an attitude are afforded the possibility to hide behind the total anonymity and leave at will. I don't Blizzard is at all to blame, though. DF is a stroke of genius, but it forces everyone to group with people with radically different expectations sometimes.
Your post completely hits the mark with my experience over the weekend. I mainly play a healer.
So when you lose 3 tanks in group and the DPS are still bitching about how crap I am as a healer or at the third tank It's time to leave the group.
It's easy to bitch when you think you can get a replacement easily and there are no consequences for doing so.
The Greater Theory is extremely succinct and well formulated. But the "anonymity" part is a variable (putting it this way to avoid a discussion on what a "normal person" is ;)). Some people need a greater degree of anonymity for their jerkiness to fully blossom.

There are certainly jerks in own-server pugs, but they are relatively speaking fewer than in the DF. This is not to say that there are fewer jerks on your server, just that some will "jerk out" in a DF group even though they wouldn't in a home-server PUG (Trade chat is an older example of the same kind of sliding scale). Conversely, only some of the jerks on your home server will actually be jerks in real life too.

Or to put it differently: there is no doubt in my mind that DF groups, on average, are more hostile than home-server PUG:s. Empirically, this is also borne out. The fact that you can't kick people with the same ease is also a factor. I have actually had people in the DF who complained about low dps and then said "haha, you can't kick me so now I'll lie here dead and ruin your run for you" (that particular tactic only works for 6 minutes until your body is auto-released, it turns out :)).

However, I find that the contrary is also true: being nice very often lightens people's mood. As always: good communication is key to good times!
As tank, you define the pace of the game. You have power over the group. They want to compensate your power by talking trash.

DPS is nobody in the current system. They are usually ignored, unless they do something really bad.

As tank you shall open the conversation by a macro telling what you expect them to do and warn them with consequences like "It's YOUR responsibility to not pull aggro, not mine to keep it (except for the healer). If you pull aggro and die, YOU suck. Also, if you say gogogo, I'll /ignore you"
Oops, I forgot the thing I set out to say!

The odd thing with dpsers and aggro is that quality dps does lots and lots of it without ever pulling aggro. I have a couple of *relatively* poorly geared tanks, and it's often not the top dps that takes my aggro. Instead, it'll be the arcane shot-shooting hunter or the (*shudder*) still-in-frost presence DK. They don't do impressive dps, but they sure do steal aggro :)
I feel compelled to report the time when I was most (positively) impressed by PuG DPS. Generally, I've had very little unpleasant experiences so far. I'm a tank and I basically always queue up together with my healer friend - guess seeing tank and healer with the same guild tag motivates people to play along nicely.

Anyway, that DPS experience. We got Forge of Souls and two DPSers, a DK and a Ret, who were both putting out above 5k from the get-go. Taking some of the FoS-mechanics into account, a shade of fear crept into my heart, that they would do stupid things trying to 1-up each other.

We safely arrive at the first boss and engage. He begins casting Corrupted Soul and ... the split second, the very moment the cast bar appears, both of them drop out of melee and race towards the ranged group as if the boss had cooties. No lingering around, no trying to get in one more hit to pad the meters. No, just perfect execution. Needless to say, the Soul was blown up before it moved five yards.

This is what makes great DPS. Not just pushing out the numbers, but being able to do so while perfectly executing the finer details. Meat in the room? I don't think so!
I think we should just call them "gogoguy". And I'll credit you for the word
Actually I think it's not so much the anonymity itself that causes people in pugs to be jerks, but the complete lack of consequences. Once upon a time, when you had to spend at least half an hour to form a heroic pug and get it going, people were invested in acting reasonably polite, not so much because of rep, but because if they got booted from the group it would mean that they just wasted a lot of time for nothing. With the dungeon finder's instant group forming and teleports, getting into a group requires no work at all, so likewise leaving one or being kicked is no skin off anyone's back.
I think an issue is that there are so many raid geared people running heroics that just assume everyone else should be as good.

I've seen 6K dps raiders quit a DF group because there were too many 2K dpsers in the group. That just sucks.
Gevlon, if you think the other people your grouped with deserve to be talked to that way, why are you playing with them at all?

It's another demonstration of whether the 'force people to group - that's socialising!' idea ends up.
I loathe healing in random groups.

Usually the tank is fine, they too usually seem to understand the issues healers have. I get fed up of DPS who think they can tank or I should heal them through it.

The worst trend I'm increasingly seeing at DPS who will stop DPSing mid fight and go pull the next group into the fight half way through to speed things up. Unless we've agreed to do that it's completely unacceptable and yet seem to happen in about half the groups I've done.

They don't seem to understand that those adds are untanked for a little while and the next time I heal they'll all run over and kill the healer. And that saying "FFS healer" doesn't really say sorry... :)

I've pretty much given up on random groups now, I'll only do guild groups these days.
The tanks who put on some +DEF gear and think they run everything can be just as annoying. Was in an instance with my paladin earlier (pulling 4.5k dps) and was patiently waiting for the tank to pull those 2nd level cluster groups in the Oculus.

He would stand back, ranged pull (not LOS pulling as he would not move around a corner) and wait for the mobs to run to him. I made the comment that "that's some old school pulling right there". He got very upset, cursing and trying to get the others to "kick the scrub dps" (who was the top dps). I ended up just swapping gear/specs, we booted him and we 4 manned the rest.
As I tank, I like to set a fast pace for random dungeons. Chain pulling, occasional LoS, keeping my eyes on the healer's mana as my determining factor.
I guess you could call me a "gogogo tank".

If a DPS needs to repair/bio/answer a phonecall/other, they are welcome to, but I won't ever stop for them.

I expect the same from tanks when I'm dps'ing and although I've never said "gogogo" or similar, I've often thought it...
"It's YOUR responsibility to not pull aggro, not mine to keep it (except for the healer). If you pull aggro and die, YOU suck. Also, if you say gogogo, I'll /ignore you"

With the current system in WotLK every tank can keep aggro.
If I try to make 6k dps (5-man (un)buffed) and the tank is sabotaging my efforts to get though the dungeon at a reasonable paste I sometimes sabotage him by /follow and casting some instant every few seconds.

Tanks have a responsibility to set the paste of the dungeon. Nobody has ever complained that we are too slow when I am the tank. So I reserve the right to complain when I play dps and the tank plays like it was possible to wipe in heroics nowadays.
Myself and my partner play a healer/tank combo in the DF, and have gotten into the habit of starting any run with a quick message to the other members. The format varies, but it usually covers:

- We're here for fun.
- We won't grief you.
- PLease don't grief us.
- Also please don't gogogogog.

We've noticed two things. The first is that any group that begins with this "spam", as we call it, is much less likely to subsequently get difficult or abusive. The second is that anyone who responds negatively to the "spam" is, 99% certainly, going to be a problem for the rest of the run - to the extent that we've considered just automatically /ignoring (and not healing or taunting off) anyone who does.

Currently, we're considering an addendum saying that if you insult us or deliberately pull aggro as DPS, we won't heal, taunt or resurrect you. Experience has suggested this is a very effective sanction.
"Tanks have a responsibility to set the paste of the dungeon."

Agreed. Personally I like to set it to Red Thai Curry Paste, but I know others who prefer Sardine or even Wallpaper.

(Sorry, I couldn't resist :) )
I've become jaded when it comes to tanking. I like DPSing using the DF and healing is ok too. Tanking I just get stressed out due to DPS not attacking my target or not waiting until I get agro. This is especially frustrating on my druid. I'll charge a group and before I get my first swipe in some DPS as AoE'd the area and pulled all my mobs off me... and I have no rage to get them back. Normally I can ask nicely to let me build agro but sometimes people are just in a rush and don't seem to care.
How very un-Nils-like you speak today, Nils!

I don't understand where the sense of entitlement and this big rush comes from. Yes, I appreciate that we have all been through these instances a million times and that you're not in here to see the sights. But. If the tank wants to keep a slightly lower pace, what's the problem? It'll take you five more minutes to complete the instance. Ten, even. So what?

It goes without saying that its everyone's own prerogative to run dungeons and have their own expectations from them. By all means, let those expectations be known to others. But I simply cannot understand what right anyone has to impose his or her own expectations upon other people.
Plain and simple, WoW is too fast. What's worse, the faster they make it, the faster people demand it becomes.

I only did three groups using the Dungeon Finder before I finally decided to unsubscribe from WoW. I'd already been finding the combat too fast to be fun when I was playing solo, but experiencing the utterly insane pace of group play made me realise it isn't the game for me.

I'd be happy to go back to the "pull one mob, take 3 minutes to kill it and 2 minutes to recover" days. While I don't think that is likely to happen, I do think there are still MMOs that require pulling, splitting, crowd control, agro management and tactics even in PUGs. I'll look out for those and leave the hyper-fast model of MMOs for the new generation of players that seem to like it that way.
Wipes certainly are possible in heroics.
I was tanking on my warrior waiting for a pat to get to the right position for the pull.
I was in the unfortunate predicament of having three "gogo" dps in the group and one of them wands the pat as apparently waiting was just wasting time.
He of course chain aggros two other packs.
As I charge in and shockwave all three dps start doing aoe on separate mobs splitting the aggro four ways and bringing in another pat.
I Intercept to the center and Commanding Shout but can't grab them all and then proceed to try to fight the fires of aggro running across the party.
We wiped. I get lambasted for not being able to grab aggro, I quit.
In a group learning pulls I have no problem with wipes and carrying on.
A group ignoring basic common sense I cannot abide.
There are certainly bad tanks out there, the worst being ones who refuse to adapt at all.
The large majority of tanks I meet when I am dps can tank the instance fine even if under-geared if the dps actually tries to help them through it rather than seeing them as a hindrance to the top of the dps meter.
Arcane Mages who start on the second target to ensure they can get their Arcane Blast stacks up to three, Hunters who think misdirect is a mistake at a post office and Feign Death is an insurance scam, being among the main offenders.
We're tired of running random Heroics. We have to keep running them for Frosties. At this point I'd like nothing better than an option that says "Oh, you've already killed the end boss of this Heroic 10 or more times. Here are you two Frost Emblems. Go do something you find fun in the game."
Tobold, given that the dungeons are easy (besides icc5s), just pick up a set of pvp gear and tank in that. You get crit immune from the resilience, and you do about 3x as much dps as in tank gear, which if you remain in defensive stance, is roughly 3x the threat. Moreover, a warrior in resilience gear should have around 30k. Not earth shattering, but certainly enough.

This has made tanking on my deathknight so much more enjoyable.
Also, things have changed for me as a tank quite a bit recently. As a DK with strong self healing, I've been one-by-one going through and soloing all the heroics I can (basically, any one that doesn't have a gimmick that requires other players, like the ice tombs in UK). Once I realized I can solo the dungeons, it became MUCH harder to put up with bad players.

I play on a tight schedule, and I just want the frost badges as quick as I can. The solution for me is to play as fast as I can, ever knowing that even if nobody is with me, I won't die. I'm not saying that I become a jerk, but all the other 4 anonymous people are is something that speeds up the run.

Also, to Gevlon, I disagree. It is the responsibility of the tank to hold aggro over the healer AND the DPS. A tank who sets their goal as low as you suggest is equivalent to those 900 dps people you ridicule in your blog. While it is sometimes the case that a DPS can be at fault for pulling aggro (mostly by hitting something the tank hasn't touched yet), the great majority of times when a tank loses aggro to a dps, the tank could have done something better to avoid it.
With regards to tanking random heroics, it's a little bit different than the rest of the game. I do this daily on 3 different tank characters (mostly to avoid the queue wait time).

Generally, you gear to the point where you can survive mostly comfortably (uncrittable, enough HP), and then you build threat. My 'threat' set on my warrior for heroics on my warrior consists of 535 defense, 35k unbuffed HP, and a substantial amount of DPS gear (300 armor penetration rating, 200 crit rating, more strength/AP, etc.) in order to maximize my threat. It's a natural response to the GOGOGO crowd... In order to ensure a more smooth run, I gear to survive long enough and generate as much threat as I can.

I also have a 'block' set for undergeared healers. It maximizes my chances of blocking, to lower the total overall damage I take. Depending on the group makeup, if the healer is less geared (e.g. heirloom gear, etc.) the block set compensates.

The main thing though is that raid-level mitigation and avoidance tank gear becomes less useful in heroics for most tanks after a point, because they start avoiding/mitigating everything, but they can't generate the threat they need to. That becomes a problem, which requires a strange bit of optimization for which to compensate. You can ask or command the other players to play better, but mostly I just shrug the shoulders and do what I can to control the variables I can. It saves on the overall headache, gets through the dungeons faster, and generally works itself out alright.

I think the length (time-wise) of the duengon plays a part too. The shorter you are staying together with people, the less use some might feel for getting to know them.

What I don't get though is why some people, when they do speak, seem to believe insulting people helps in any way. I seem to regularly encounter people these days who are in a 5-man without wanting to be there, and somehow they are mad at the rest of the group for every minute they have to spend there. Some times I have the feeling that the DF has made running 5-mans so easy that people blindly do it for the rewards, regardless of their actual distaste for it.

@ Nils: it is possible to wipe in heroics nowadays. Maybe not for you, but for me it is. I have for example as a tank several times had trouble in Old Kingdom HC tanking, getting (not by my choice) two trash packs (the nerubian kind with a caster that casts some very high damage spells) and no focus fire on said casters leading to a wipe. This leads to me wishing to either ask for a kill order/death grip/counterspell/whatever or pull around a corner before attacking these groups. It would not be needed in a perfect world, but as someone fairly new to tanking with not-always-perfect dpsers from DF in my group, it certainly is...
On hind sight I think anonymity is a poor explanation for my original post. I think the lack of accountability for negative actions is more the cause.

Players have no reason to fear upsetting the group because they are more than likely never going to see them again, and on the off chance you do they may not remember; further more DPS is expendable. So as a DPS class you are forced to suffer through a bad tank or healer because of the wait to find a new one.

I don't think Dungeon Finder caused this problem, I just think it exaggerated the existing problem. A lot of people who play WoW simply don't care about their reputation with their server.

In EQ a bad reputation meant you didn't get groups, which meant you didn't level. The problem is people LIKE the current system more than the older ones because it is so casual friendly. Until a game can force people to care about their reputation without punishing the people who don’t play a lot I think this is the system we are stuck with.
It sounds like you're just not as used to/practiced on your tank vs. your healer or DPSer. Might need more practice/macroing.

Another thing, as a tank (and to a lesser extent, healer) you have more power in a group. If a DPS is annoying you, vote to kick, and if the group refuses, drop and let them wait 10 minutes for a replacement. If you want to be especially malicious, kick the offender before the last boss; just about everything in heroics is 4-mannable.
About anonymity making people fuckwads, I disagree. Many people are quiet and content with anonymity but those who are already fuckwads tend to be louder with anonymity. It is the loud, annoying fuckwads that we rememenber rather than the quieter contributors.
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