Tobold's Blog
Monday, October 04, 2010
 
Character skill vs. Player skill

Zubon from Kill Ten Rats persuaded me to read through an epic discussion thread of WoW-forums like quality on syncaine's blog, in which there are a few hidden pearls from commenters. I especially liked Bhagpuss' comment that:
"Call me a traditionalist, but I thought it was my character that had the skills, not me. I still automatically differentiate what my character can do or know from what I can do or know. In an ideal world I would give my character goals and sit back and watch as he tried to achieve them. My competence or incompetence with a mouse and keyboard shouldn’t impact his “Agility” or “Dexterity”."
Unfortunately the thread was too full of "WoW sucks" and "Even syncaine doesn't play Darkfall any more" comments for anyone to take up that interesting thought. So I'll discuss it here.

I don't know if you ever had the opportunity to hold a real metal sword in your hand, at some renaissance fair or something. I can assure you that even holding it for 5 minutes with a stretched-out arm is way beyond the strength skill of most people, not to mention swinging it while wearing metal armor. And obviously we don't have the magic skill to shoot fireballs from our fingertips either. So Bhagpuss has a point in saying that it is our characters that have the skills necessary to kill a dragon, not us. So if it is our characters strength and magic skills that determine our success in a game, why don't we make Bhagpuss' ideal game that he described above?

Well, that game exists since 2002. It is called Progress Quest. Instead of just making a whiny blog post complaining about the "lack of skill" needed for his favorite MMORPG, Eric Fredricksen created this brilliant parody of a game to show why a game in which the character has all the skills and the player has none won't work: There simply isn't enough for the player to do, it isn't entertaining enough to passively watch our characters act for thousands of hours.

But once we admit that there should be *something* to do for the player in a MMORPG, we need to decide what exactly. What other kind of video game should a MMORPG be like? One school of thought bases that decision on the history of role-playing games, which evolved out of war games: Thus it would make sense if a MMORPG would play somewhat like a strategy game, and success would be based on your strategic or tactical decisions. But that sure isn't the only option: MMORPGs like Puzzle Pirates show that a MMORPG can be based on puzzle mini-games, where it is your puzzle game skill that determines success. You could theoretically design a game in which your success is based on your skill in solving differential equations, but presumably there is no market for that.

Now some people believe that a MMORPG should be an action arcade game, a kind of Super Mario, in which your twitch skills (hand-eye coordination, spatial awareness) should determine your success. And these people often are using a dirty trick in the discussion: They claim that only twitch skills are "skill", while other video game skills like strategy skills or puzzle skills are "not skill". Thus they reduce the whole discussion to a simplistic and wrong black & white separation of games "that need skill" and games "that don't need skill". Note that by their definition chess is a game that doesn't need skill, because there is no twitch involved.

World of Warcraft, by design, is always trying to be the broadest possible game. To some extent very many different video game skills are needed to play World of Warcraft. WoW requires you to memorize a lot of things, it needs strategic and tactical skills, and it needs different degrees of twitch skills in different levels of content. But it also tries to include Bhagpuss' ideal of "my character has all the skills", creating a hybrid model in which increasing your character skills reduces the amount of player skills you need to bring.

And that is where the "WoW needs no skill" argument is coming from. First of all it dismisses all but twitch skills. And then it only looks at how much twitch skill is needed for content if you are already completely maxed out with gear. And yes, if you have a 6k+ gearscore, the larger majority of content of World of Warcraft, including heroics and over half of the raid dungeons, requires very little twitch skill. Even the "final" WotLK encounter, the Lich King, on the easiest available difficulty level, only requires an amount of twitch skill which is well within the reach of veteran video gamers.

But, as Gevlon likes to point out, replacing skill requirements with gear is your personal choice. If you really WANT a game that needs a lot of twitch skill, you could simply form an "undergeared" guild like he did. Or you could play through content in hard modes. It is simply not true that there is no challenge at all available in World of Warcraft. Instead what happens is that players DELIBERATELY are constantly working on LOWERING the skill requirements, through maximizing their "efficiency" of gear / talent builds / everything else, and even through the use of third-party programs (addons) which make encounters much easier. But that is like complaining that "Civilization V is too easy" after playing it through on the easiest (Settler) difficulty level and having used some mods that make the game even easier.

The reason I personally dislike the "WoW needs no skill" crowd is that I always suspect them of elitism. Their main interest isn't in playing through something hard, because they already could do that. Their main interest is in excluding a broader audience from the game, or from certain types of content. I find that counterproductive. If I would play Civ5 on immortal difficulty level, what on earth would be my interest in demanding that the lower difficulty levels of the game would be removed, so less people could play it? I am much better off letting a larger audience play the game, each at his personal prefered difficulty level, because that way the developers earn a lot of money and are more likely to make more games of that type.

Me, I would like if World of Warcraft would require more tactical skills, and less Super Mario twitch skills. Fortunately it appears that Cataclysm will at least grant me the former, if not the latter.
Comments:
I tried to make this exact point to him in the comments to that post, but for some reason, he seemed unwilling to grasp it.

Without a principled definition of skill, he may as well just call the skills required for WoW "rubbish" and those required for Call of Duty "the best." His use of the term "skill" is little more than a thin and deceptive rhetorical frame.
 
Its funny how you managed to ignore the only part of WoW which requires skill. -arena pvp

WoW pve for long time requires nothing but attendance. You guys build imaginary worlds where "you have skill" and god forbid to actually test that theory (in your own chosen game no less) in practice
 
Agreed with this post 100%.

People who say "WoW is easy" are really just trying to tell people "WoW is easy for me because I'm the l33test l33t in l33t-town." You are a true Internet forum legend, my friend. When people try to imagine you in real life, they can only envision the Old Spice guy.

The lamest form of this comes in syncaine's brand. Don't play WoW, that mean's you're unskilled! Play Darkfall and you're skilled now! It doesn't even matter if you're good at the game, as long as you keep shelling out the $15 a month, that makes you a virtual badass!
 
"Their main interest is in excluding a broader audience from the game, or from certain types of content."

I think you're touching on what is implicit in Syncaine's notion of skill. What seems to concern him is how easy the lowest difficulty setting for a competitive (or pseduo-competitive as in WoW's PvE) game is. Do the basic player activities challenge the player taking the most efficient, progression oriented path? That in many cases WoW fails in this regard consigns it to "baby game" status as compared to games like Darkfall where even the most basic player procedures are obscure, dangerous to undertake, and difficult to execute.

WoW has both a high skill ceiling and a low skill floor, and it's the latter that motivates a lot of Syncaine's and others' mockery. Perhaps though I'm giving him too much credit and as Tarik said in the original thread, Syncaine's use of skill is really just an expression of preference for a specific type of combat model. Whatever.

In my experience WoW is exemplary in creating "flow," scaling difficulty that never seems too overwhelming or unsatisfyingly trivial. What is at once seemingly impossible becomes with time an achievable goal, either through practice, gear, or most probably a combination of both. That the designers of WoW have managed to accommodate players of such diverse backgrounds and who play with such a variety of expectations, while meanwhile stratifying "hardcore" players with the hardest raid content, is an accomplishment that has not been replicated or in my mind celebrated enough. Despite its failings, WoW is a game for all seasons, and people... except maybe burnt out veterans with a virtual axe to grind.
 
While I greatly enjoy (and agree with) the post defining different types of "skill," to me the core of the matter is what Ghostcrawler is perplexed by.

Instead what happens is that players DELIBERATELY are constantly working on LOWERING the skill requirements

Why in the world does this happen to the extent it has in World of Warcraft?

For most other games, people ramp up the difficulty as far as they can for a challenge, for bragging rights, for the greater rewards.

What odd quirk of game design causes the opposite train of thought to rein supreme?

I suspect it is the strong gear/external reward focus, coupled with needing a group (to raid) and the mainstream nature of WoW (resulting in a very diverse player population.) If your game rewards are contingent on getting random players of differing skill levels to work together for a period of time, you are going to do all you can to simplify the game down to a level that is manageable for most folks.

The principle irony is that gear is valued as a game reward for this very reason, making it easier to do more difficult content, while not requiring any more skill out of the player - twitch or otherwise.

And Ghostcrawler is wondering why the WoW culture turned out the way it did?
 
@Sean: The floor/ceiling thing is an excellent way of putting it. Focusing on the floor does not change the fact that the game falls into the classic "easy to learn, difficult to master" bucket.

I agree WoW is pretty remarkable in its ability to cater to such a wide range of players in that way. That's not to say that WoW isn't an evil game that appeals to the worst in me, but it's a well-designed game.

@Jeromai: I'm not sure I get the issue. It's an RPG. And like in most RPGs, or even most online games, players focus on character improvement which in turn opens more avenues for achievement, even in games with a considerable amount of twitch required. Even in Darkfall you get people macrogrinding skills to maximize their edge over apponents. APB had its aimbotters and afk mission farmers.

I suppose that WoW is rather notable for its min/maxer culture. It's an RPG with a remarkably concentrated obsession with gear. But ultimately I think min/maxing and sweating over improvements to gear is kind of baked in to the RPG structure, even stretching back to the earliest pen and paper days.
 
There was a great comment by (I think) Zahrym when it was complained that raiding in warcraft was too easy. It was along the lines of:

"I am sorry that you think that the game is too easy because people who aren't you can complete it"

Seriously, about 1% of guilds have killed LK heroic according to guildprogress. Are all the "WoW is too easy" brigade in that 1%? If you find that ICC normal mode is too easy a full year after it was released, why not try it on heroic mode? It's much more challenging, and many people still enjoy it very much.
 
@Max - what if pvp requires a different set of skills than pve? That doesn't mean it's better. If pve requires nothing but attendance, then why are they so many guilds wiping week after week and never defeating the content, despite attending every week, and other guilds clear the content in worse gear and in much less time? Mayby perhaps there's some magical quality - let's call it "skill" - that makes some guild progress faster than others?

@Tobold - very good post, I agree that people wanting to rise the lowest available difficulty settings are just elitists.
 
I've played Progress Quest. I said at the time that if someone was able to make a game that played like PQ, but with AAA graphics, it would be a huge hit. Even more so if the parodic elements were removed and the tone was straightforward high-fantasy.

PQ-style hands-off, sit-and-watch wasn't really what I had in mind though. I made a comment on another of SynCaine's threads that's apposite:

"If you look at an MMO as a story with characters, as I do, then my role is Writer/Director. I cast, I write the script, I tell the actors what I want them to do, I give them direction, I even oversee the costume, make-up and set-design, but performance is out of my hands".

In Progress Quest I'd just be the Viewer and in most MMOs I'm mainly required to be the Actor. Neither of those is what I'm looking for. I'm looking for a recreation of how my tabletop gaming group used to play, only with the computer as GM and players available 24/7. Make up the story, push the little characters around, roll the dice and see how they do. Talk an awful, awful lot.

When I moved to MMOs in the late 90s that looked like where we were headed. Now, not so much.
 
I already made a comment to the effect that player skill has little to do with World of Warcraft (compared with character skill) in an earlier article of yours here. This is a role-playing game. It is our characters that improve most over time, not their real-life avatars (us).
 
Minor point - holding a sword with a stretched out arm for five minutes requires far, far more strength than killing someone with one, and more strength than engaging in a lengthy duel with a skilled opponent.

I just checked, and with over a decade's historical fencing experience and nearly a decade in rather beefier unarmed styles, I got to 3 min 30 with my backsword held at arm's length before the pain became more than I fancied tolerating for a blog comment!

Swords don't actually require that much strength to wield - far less than is required for unarmed combat like boxing. And the strength required to hold an object at arm's length for 5 minutes is a very different kind of strength, using different muscle tissues, to the kind that is required to put a longsword through someone's body.

Ahem. Enough martial arts geekery. The TL:DR version is that most of your readers probably do, in fact, have the strength to use a sword - just not the training!
 
"Its funny how you managed to ignore the only part of WoW which requires skill. -arena pvp"

PvP in WoW is around 90% gear and 10% skill. Sure you can get pretty good in handling your character, but that doesn't matter if your opponent one-shots you.

WoW (and other gear based games) is extremely unfair regarding PvP.

Granted, I haven't played arena to any large degree but still if a fully geared team meets a newly dinged L80 team there will be slaughter.

I've said this lots of times before, but I would love to see a game where gear mattered much much less. Say that having a fully geared character gives you max a 5% edge on your win chance. Then it might actually be fun to play PvP instead of being steamrolled for a few months before actually being able to survive for more than 15 seconds in a fight.
 
Wow is easy as in a totally bad player can do almost everything the very best players can.

This is what all the "WoW is easy" crowd really mean.

Most hardmodes are totally completable by a group of ordenary players but if you do hardmodes you are way above average.

This means that the average wow player are'nt ordenary players they are something els. Something with less "skill". Skills as tactic-, twich-, math-, comunication-, whatever.

Most likely this is the number one reason for the "wow is easy" crowd to feel that way.

When I go to BG's I feel like a god. But in the arena I am reminded how ordenary I truly am.

PvE does not have such reminders. When you wipe on a boss you just are'nt geared enough or someone els screwed up or you were unlucky.

Most likely the "wow is easy" crowd never went to the arena.
 
I understand your points - I'm of the camp where I'd like to see more twitch based gameplay, but it is not because of elitist reasons. I grew up with intellivision/atari, TI-99, Commodore64, Nintendo, Sega, 3DO, PS1, etc, etc but the single most defining moment for me as a gamer was when I played Doom 1. I was blown away with the immersion I felt with a 3d world from a FPS perspective and have been a fan ever since.

I was also a big D&D PnP'er back in the day and have always enjoyed RPG type games; until Oblivion though, the combat has always bugged me a little.

It's that feeling that the player doesn't really need to be there during combat that busts the immersion for me. WoW, LotRO and some of the newer games aren't so bad anymore (as long as I play ranged), but back when Everquest first came out you could literally initiate combat then go get coffee.

I could care less about PvP or dominating other players - I just want to feel like I'm engaging in combat, not just playing with paper dolls. For me, Oblivion with its right click blocking and left click + motion attack is about perfect. No auto aim or target selection - I actually have to hit something to hit it. This type of setup makes me feel like I'm immersed in the world.

Just my opinion though and I respect everyone elses too.
 
a lot of the problem stems from the other side (non-skilled? unskilled? lawlcasual? differently abled? whatever) in their _refusal_ to get better. It's never "we should practice this more to pass it" but "this is too hard and needs to be nerfed!"

No one in the "elitist skilled" group would complain if those who didn't keep up either did something else or ... I don't know, work on improving their ability? But when you consider the minimal amount of effort it takes to correctly prepare your toon for an encounter, research it, and use strafe and the mouse instead of keyboard turning, it's not hard to reach a minimum competency level.

Syncaine is a moron sometimes because he pretends like all of WoW is the leveling game (which is probably all he's played in years) and has no idea of staggering difficulty scalability of the game. But it's frustrating when you can be surrounded by people with defeatist attitudes and no self-responsibility.
 
furthermore, in WoW other kinds of "skill" besides reaction-speed is already outsourced to other areas. Whether it's mods, spreadsheets, websites, forum communities, etc. all the "puzzle-based" strategizing you long for is already accomplished before you enter the encounter. This leaves the developer's with _only_ reflex-based decision-making as their tool to tune a fight. And before you start harping on your "random ability" boss encounter model you bring up every other week, that only extends the puzzle by having longer website guides not change the gameplay.
 
If a boss has dynamic abilities instead of static abilities, that changes the gameplay very much. Randomness can only be covered with a "longer guide" if the number of possibilities is very small.

Furthermore the amount of effort it takes to fully prepare for lets say an ICC raid is NOT minimal, as you claim. And there are parts of it you listed, e.g. strafing and other twitch skills that some people simply don't WANT to train. Have you ever considered that other people might simply have other goals in a MMORPG than wanting to play a silly twitch sub-game which is dominated by teenagers with bad attitudes?

I think the option to make MMORPGs more into a strategy game which requires thinking instead of twitching is often dismissed by people who know exactly that they wouldn't be on top of the food chain any more if they couldn't find the strategy on Youtube.
 
People want to legitimize their efforts in playing MMORPGs. Since MMORPGs are games with social interaction baked in, people naturally compete. Having fun doing what you want in an MMORPG is very ineffective at showing other people what kind of person you are through playing the game (showing them that you're deserving of respect through your meaningful achievements in the game is one way to legitimize your efforts). People form smaller communities or cliques and attempt to prove that their community is better than others, because no one clearly would join an inferior community.

The entire skill debate isn't so much a debate about game design, but a tug-of-war between people who want to signal their l33tness through playing the game better than everyone else, and people who don't play the game to be better than everyone else but have different goals and interests.

The real issue is that MMORPGs, in order to appeal to a large audience, need to have very low barriers to entry. By necessity, a successful MMORPG will be flooded with low-skill, low-passion players who are just putzing around and enjoying themselves enough to keep playing. These players are the focus of the majority of the game design. Hardcore players will hem and haw, but they cannot overcome with heated words the fact that they are not that important. Their $15 a month per individual is as valuable as anyone else's $15/month.
 

PvP in WoW is around 90% gear and 10% skill. Sure you can get pretty good in handling your character, but that doesn't matter if your opponent one-shots you.


Gear does matter. But with rating system its pretty fair overall. Take 2 equally geared teams and better composition (which is meta element) and skill wins

In wow pve everyone WINS and gets a PRIZE! yay!



I think the option to make MMORPGs more into a strategy game which requires thinking instead of twitching is often dismissed by people who know exactly that they wouldn't be on top of the food


I personally would be fine with tactical combat in MMO. Whatever has more skill element is fine with me. Both your crowd is against ANY kind of skill. You do everything in your power to actually being tested against true measure of skill

When raids in wow required modicum of group coordination your ilk whined that you never saw majority of content.

Do you play anything competitively? Doesn't matter what it is - chess, bridge, tennis. you don't pvp , you dont even raid competitively , you avoid anything which will put your precious self esteem in danger by actually having a real possibility to lose.

And then of course there are endless excuses why skill elements is bad.


and people who don't play the game to be better than everyone else but have different goals and interests.


Such as socializing? -e.g. feeling better trough belonging to a community (like you mentioned). everyone is hiding their own insecurities it seems!


Their $15 a month per individual is as valuable as anyone else's $15/month.

That is true. Hence why mass market products are junk overall. They might have good ingredients here and there but everything is pre chewed to a tasteless bland mass so even retards and 90 year old grannies could enjoy it.

Not saying everything non mass market is great , but anything pushed into mass market gets its soul sucked away
 
Tangential to this is the odd philosophy where players want harsh death penalties. It seems that at least some of them simply want those *other* guys to be punished for not being as good as they themselves are. It's a curious, corrosive sort of fun that's derived from excluding others or glorying in their pain.
 
In my opinion the driver of most of the elitism in the game comes from the forced grouping of Skilled players and new players. The dungeon finder is terrible at this. Blizzard indicated that they match strong geared and lesser geared players together to balance the group out. This creates a lot of frustration. It forces stronger players to carry the weaker ones and allows the weaker ones to get by without learning. Pug raids are another example of this. If the strong players go casual, or miss their guild's run, or are playing a new toon, they are stuck running with poor players who don't understand basic mechanics of their class, because WoW never forced them to learn them. I don't know what the solution is, but some sort of system that puts like geared/experienced players together and keeps newer/lesser geared players together would alleviate some of the elitism. However, this "class/caste" system would push out the weaker players and ultimately lose money for Blizzard, therefore it would never happen.
 
Unfortunately a lot of the "twitch" games depend heavily on your hardware setup and internet connection.
 
Did anyone else get an amazing MMO idea from this post?

Mathletes. or Mathemagicians. Yeah, MATHEMAGICIANS.

Think of it as appealing to these crowds:

-MMO players
-Magicians
-"puzzle" game players
-sudoku players
-math teachers/professors
-scientists
-etc
(It could even be used EDUCATIONALLY!!!!)

Now imagine the RPG elements:

Gear = Calculators, Abacuses, Glasses, Pens. Pencils, Computers, etc!!! REAL STUFF
-your Calculator is your primary "weapon" and represents what "level" of equations you could tackle (digits it displays? or functions it has). It could even replace character level or level up alongside your char.

Level = Grade Equivalency Level
-The fluff reasons for "leveling up" would be gaining enough credibility to take a higher grade equivalency test, certifying you to tackle harder and more diverse problems.

Class = Specialization
-Geometry, Algebra..blah blah you get it

Mobs = you guessed it, Problems. or.....PROBS

Dungeon = a massive problem involving a maze of equations that build on each other to the "final boss", requiring data obtained from solving the mini-bosses (groups of problems lol) to defeat.

Basically, this game would be a perfect hybrid of "char/player skill", to be honest.

People can't say "I can't kill a dragon, my char can" because TECHNICALLY they COULD solve all the "Dragons" in the game.

Given time/training/education/practice/money/etc

(or maybe with all of that someone COULD slay a dragon? HUH?)
 
@Dirtyboy

That a joke? or are you really blaming your fa1ls at FPS/RTS at some other guy having a better graphics card?

Because you realize that only affects "graphics" right? And sure as sh1t that is a non-factor in success.

And YOUR internet connection might cause a problem for you, but thats your own fault. If you cant afford a half-decent net connection you really shouldn't play online games.

But if you arent lagging (and you shouldnt be, as noted above) then someone else having a "better" setup *cannot* give them an advantage.

So either:
A) poor joke
B) you know very little about online gaming
C) you are mad at other people for being able to afford a decent net connection
D) you are terrible at "twitch" games and need to blame it on something else
 
Thought this recent dev post was pertinent to this discussion:

"Ghostcrawler:
We don't think so. It might be fun when you're looking at a target dummy, but then in an actual encounter with other players, you might find yourself sitting there looking at those two buttons without realizing that everyone else in the group is dead. Because you have such little time to look at anything besides those buttons, you aren't really playing as a group. You're just focused -- solely -- on maximizing your own rotation.

We had a lot of complaints in LK that the complexity of managing a class rotation was at odds with the complexity we also add to the boss encounters. If anything we want to buy more space for the boss encounters, because those are at least varied, rather than simplify those while complexifying your rotation, which just makes every encounter feel the same. At the very least, we want to slow the game down a little so that you have more opportunity to make decisions with your head instead of every wipe being a mistake of the fingers.

This is a subjective call, and we don't expect everyone to agree with it, but that's where we're coming from.
my emphasis"
 
Great post, Tobold! And thanks to Bhagpuss for the inspiration as well as Hugh for nerd cred. ;)

Oh, and +9 troll points to Max (only 4 to J. Dangerous though ;))

/ref
 
Gear does matter. But with rating system its pretty fair overall. Take 2 equally geared teams and better composition (which is meta element) and skill wins

Yes but that's the problem. You still lose if you're on the team with worse gear. How fun is it if you have to fight a ton of unequal fights and know that well, at least you don't lose that much rating because of it? Fun isn't to get steamrolled. Fun isn't to steamroll. Fun is, at least to me, relatively fair fights, rating or no rating. And those fights are immensely far between in a gear based game. See the problem?

I'm not saying remove gear upgrading completely. I'm just saying make them matter AN AWFUL LOT less. Well, for WoW that's by far too late. Changing that now would mean tearing the whole system up and redoing it. But I hope that one day there will be a nice game where that's a reality.
 
@ Everblue - Seriously, about 1% of guilds have killed LK heroic according to guildprogress. Are all the "WoW is too easy" brigade in that 1%?

Why do we bring the argument down to the final raid encounters of the game? If that what the argument is about... is it too easy to defeat the latest end games bosses ... then clearly it is hard enough.

However... is it far too easy to get to a point to attempt that? I believe wholeheartedly that it is. That one can level 80 far too easily, and with little effort be equipped to raid the very end game a couple of weeks later... that's too easy.

I'm not a raider, and don't harbour elitist feelings about exclusivity of game content. However the game is too easy... no tactics required for 5 mans and or CC is such an example of how simple it is to play this game now.

Is it not valid to say that the 5-mans dungeons are far too easy in design content and requirements?

In that gear will always see you through, regardless of specific class knowledge, encounter tactics, cc and group teamwork?

To me, no challenge means too easy.

And the argument for gearing down isn't a valid one, I personally do not have the time to sit around for a full week waiting for that lucky one off moment to find 4 other players wishing to do the same thing.

Sorry to disagree, WoW is Easy!

With the exception of raiding end game bosses, there is no challenge!
 
J. Dangerous, I love your idea, Mathemagicians! But it already exists.

Here are some sample questlines:

http://mathproblems.info/working.php

And here is hardmode raiding:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_unsolved_problems_in_mathematics
 
GG, the reason that WoW is currently easy for all level 80 PvE except the ICC bosses is that Blizzard made it trivial by handing out gear rewards that trivialized all other content. Tobold covered it just a few days ago here, and I touched upon it (from another angle) yesterday here.

Basically, frost-emblem gear makes us overpowered for everything other than ICC.

It was a deliberate decision by Blizzard to make things easy for us, starting with overpowering triumph-emblem gear as long ago as ToC, which can be seen in the name of their ToC triumph gear vendors: Isimode and Faesrol.

We can understand Blizzard's reasoning. At the time the vibes emanating from Irvine was that they were unhappy with designing all these great endgame raids that only a small percentage of the adventuring population of Azeroth got to see. They wanted to make all content accessible to everyone.

Well, they made their wish come true, but I think they are a little sorry now. I would guess that while the percentage of adventurers who have seen the inside of ICC is large, Ulduar and Naxxramas remain unvisited.
 
@ Dàchéng

I understand this fully.

1 - it doesn't detract from the argument that I feel the game is too easy - regardless of how Blizzard rolled out game mechanics and gear. If one isn't a raider, then the game is currently a boring treadmill that has no challenge. That fact does not change - for me.

2 - The answer to getting folk into more end game content could have been organised a lot better, I would also argue that the consequences of the loot hand-outs could have been managed better.

Dungeon finder should have a real matching option, for gear score. A tick box, so you don't get grouped with players, say, 10 to 15% outside your range.

But back to the point, is it too easy? In the absence of forced teamwork in dungeons (such as CC) all heroics are still a DPS fight.

No more and no less. Just spam those rotations and hope your tank holds the aggro.
 
You could argue that LFD et al have taken out the need for social skills from WoW.

I personally think it's a shame that when people talk about player skill, they never really seem to mean social skill even though these are social games.

I guess to a lot of people, the thought of taking the social skill out of the game is amazingly appealing. So they just redefine skill to make reaction time or whatever.
 
@GG

"With the exception of raiding end game bosses, there is no challenge!"

Presumably you include PvP as challenging, unless you have a 2800 rated arena character. So you therefore mean

"Apart from endgame PvE, battlegrounds and arena, the game has no challenge!"

That is starting to sound like a quote from "The Life of Brian"! Seriously though, there is plenty of content in the game that is hard. If you want other elements of the game to be harder then by all means lobby for that, and having watched the 5 man heroic movies from Beta it appears that heroics will be a lot harder in Cata (with some of those lovely twitch skills that Tobold likes so much being required!), but to say it is too easy when you haven't completed the game is frankly nonsensical.
 
@ Everblue

PvP doesn't rock my boat at all, hence I play on a PvE RP realm. PvP isn't an option for me at all.

I have played pretty much since day one, and am only a handful of players on my realm to complete Naxx 40 in full. These days I dont have time for or enjoy raiding.

There are plenty of folk out there who don't raid and don't PvP. Like me... To say I havn't completed the game is nonsensical... there is more or should be more to an MMO than RAIDING progression. And for me that game is dead, dry, boring, too easy and I say again brain numbing.

You like the look of Cata? All good, nothing excites me yet, as I know it will be the same cycle of raid patch after raid patch with zip solo or non raid content added... oh we may get the token 5 man dungeon added near the end of the life cycle... I'd like to be proved wrong. But I wont be.

90% of the content is Non-PvP and Non-raid - tell me where that hard content is that hasn't been destroyed by nerfs and the gearing mechanism.
 
Hello! First of all, I'm a Darkfall player. I agree with Tobold that too many times, skill-based is directly translated as twitch-based but even if this cleared out, I don't think WoW needs much skill, of any kind, to become a succesful player. In comparison with X-COM: Ufo Defense, Heroes of Might and Magic, Civilization or even Chess, WoW needs less skill from the player.
Tobold says: "World of Warcraft, by design, is always trying to be the broadest possible game". WoW, and most games compared to 10 year-old games or older, trying to be as broadest as it can, has lowered the player-skill bar to a minimum. Some days ago I red that some 8 year-old boy was succesfully playing WoW, that ilustrates what I mean. I also wanna state that I don't like WoW for other reasons.
 
The examples are only that, examples. I hope you know what I mean.
 
The issue is not so much elitism than it is about the AI. The game should automatically recognize a player's level and adjust the difficulty.

There's something counter-intuitive about having to change the difficulty level of a game midway through it, it takes you away from the immersion of the gameplay.

Obviously that's not an issue proper to WoW but to almost every other current game. I think most future MMO would benefit from doing away with levels and having a smarter AI adjusting difficulty based on player skill.
 
If a boss has dynamic abilities instead of static abilities, that changes the gameplay very much. Randomness can only be covered with a "longer guide" if the number of possibilities is very small.

How many abilities do you want? 3? 10? 100? There'll be a guide written for all of them.

Furthermore the amount of effort it takes to fully prepare for lets say an ICC raid is NOT minimal, as you claim. And there are parts of it you listed, e.g. strafing and other twitch skills that some people simply don't WANT to train. Have you ever considered that other people might simply have other goals in a MMORPG than wanting to play a silly twitch sub-game which is dominated by teenagers with bad attitudes?

They're free not to raid if they can't press a few keys once in a while. In fact there's lots of stuff in WoW itself that requires little key-pressing. Which specific boss abilities are you finding too hard to move away from anyway?

Since the other aspects to preparing for a raid are already being outsourced to mods, guides, videos, etc., the only thing the developer has left to control is reaction-time. In Wrath they made remarkable strides in providing raid content for players of all different kinds of skill and free time. Hard modes aren't necessarily for everyone, that's what normal mode is for.

And really this ageism is getting boring. The greatest Tetris player I ever saw was my 84-year old grandfather. Don't confuse an unwillingness to learn and practice with difficulty.

I think the option to make MMORPGs more into a strategy game which requires thinking instead of twitching is often dismissed by people who know exactly that they wouldn't be on top of the food chain any more if they couldn't find the strategy on Youtube.

i kno cuz thinkin r so hard amirite?

I don't see how running a few abilities off a random number generator instead of a timer changes the formula or makes the game more "strategic". WoW already has bosses that operate that way anyway, the first example is Shade of Aran from Karazhan.

If you want to pause the game before making a decision, Civ5 just came out. It's a great series.
 
Progress Quest: any game with bacon elementals is alright in my book.
 
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