Tobold's Blog
Saturday, January 29, 2011
 
Is "bad" a valid style of play?

A reader alerted me to a humorous post on the US WoW forums, where a warlock claims that "bad" is a valid style of play. He says:
I play a warlock. I, and many other warlocks, have been wanting green fire since vanilla. Maybe since before the game came out, we wanted to be wizards who could throw green fireballs. Now, finally, we have Fel Flame, and it is green. So the way I want to play is to only use Fel Flame, and to shoot green fireballs like a machine gun until things catch on green fire and green burn to death, screaming. I think Fel Flame is lots of fun.

But Blizzard says I'm not supposed to shoot green machine gun fire; there is a "rotation," which is a special order I am supposed to push buttons in, or else I am "bad" and the group I am in will "fail." Why is this the right order to push the buttons? Nobody knows. I feel like I am playing "Simon."

Anyway, in the last expansion, there was a different order I was supposed to push the buttons in. In the last expansion, the bad affliction warlocks liked to cast Soul Fire. In this expansion, the bad affliction warlocks are the ones who don't like to cast Soul Fire. How am I supposed to keep up with this? I heard about this site for jerks I am supposed to go to, but I am not going to do that. I am pretty sure it is a keylogger.
Now I'm pretty sure that most of you believe that "bad" is *not* a valid style of play. Which is curious, given the heated discussion about social responsibility. The warlock who doesn't feel a responsibility to play "good" is using exactly the same arguments as the DPS who don't feel a responsibility to switch roles: His way is more fun, and the other guys are just a bunch of anonymous strangers.

So where exactly is the difference? Why would 4 people who are absolute anonymous strangers to you, and to whom you don't feel any responsibility nor goodwill suddenly oblige you to play good just because the Dungeon Finder randomly grouped you with them? Imagine a dungeon that needs about 15k of total DPS: Why would three DPS each feel a responsibility to do at least 5k damage per second each? If our warlock does only 2k, another player does 5k, and a third 8k, the overall result is the same. And our warlock wouldn't be penalized at all, he could still roll need on all items he wants as much as the 8k guy, and will get the same amount of justice points.

But instinctively we feel that would be wrong. We'd call it "leeching" or something similar. Suddenly World of Warcraft is a team sport, and we feel a social responsibility to those 4 anonymous strangers. Why is that so? And why is there such a sharp division line, where we have a strong respnsibility to random players who are grouped with us, but not to the same players when we are not in a random group with them?
Comments:
There are personal consequences for not playing well in group. ie. you will get mocked and stuff. That's the only reason it matters. Peer pressure.

Although you could argue that it's socially irresponsible to queue for heroics at all in any spec if you can't play well. I'm sure a lot of people would agree.
 
Group size. We feel that we are not responsible to the other players in the queue, because there's a hundred million of them. We feel responsible to the 4 other people in our group that were selected randomly from that 100 million because there's only four of them.
 
Have to be honest, I'm up way past my bedtime right now and feeling a little grumpy.

But I also have to say that I think people need to pipe down and stop taking the game so seriously. All this clap-trap about how everyone is paying the same amount and no one has a right to "inconvenience" a group, all this smack talk about M&S, all these min-maxers who think anyone performing 5% less than their potential is a terribad...

...It's all getting a little tiresome. And I think I'm going to stop reading some of these blogs.

Sure, no one will miss my presence in their daily hits, but some of you guys are sending a loud message:

"We don't like the game we are blogging about and we want our readers to feel the same."

This isn't a strike at Tobold, but rather the bloggers who comment here and/or those who expand things on their own blogs. Tobold at least seems to move on and find something positive after a few days slogging through mud but some of you guys just can't seem to find anything positive to write about.

I write this because I like this post and I cringe at where the comments are going to go.

And I'm tired.
 
Is it irritating? Yes. Is it optimal? No. But if his green fire isn't causing wipes and he's not expecting to be taken on raids... who cares? Let him play how he wants to play.
 
Fairly good argument.

If there is no social responsibility to pick a role that is beneficial to the community as a whole then there is also no social responsibility to do good DPS either.

And while some might argue that isn't fair comparing longer queue times to wipes, I am pretty sure that heroics are flexible enough in almost all cases that, while having a lower DPS is certainly an inconvenience, it isn't a guaranteed wipe or anything. In almost all cases, the other members of the party can focus harder and perform better and pull through dragging a terrible DPS through the instance.

I think ultimately, this argument DOES cut deep into a frustration us tanks and healers have: We acutely feel the social responsibility to perform not only adequately, but superbly. The success of the party is always ALWAYS riding on your shoulders and your biggest joys and worst frustrations are completely tied in with the performance of your party, not yourself.

And given that, hearing from DPS that they just out and out REFUSE to accept any form of social responsibility whatsoever and yet want the same enjoyment and rewards from the game can be frustrating. It makes it feel like pure DPSers just want a free ride.

Sorry if that latter part was off topic, just wanted to get it off my chest.
 
Yes, "bad" play is a perfectly acceptable style of play.

Or do you think that anyone who is not a world-class chess champion should not touch a chessboard?

The reason it's a hot topic on the blogs is that most people are average but they expect OTHERS to carry them. So if they find someone who is less good, it's taken as a nice scapegoat for all which is going bad.

If you want to play with people with similar level of skill, you do like in any other game: sign up for a tournament at your level. This way you'll find yourself playing with/against adversaries of the same type. In WoW this is called "joining a guild".

If you jump in a random run, "you get what you pay for", it could be 4 newbies with no idea what to do, or it could be 4 players from Paragon.....
 
Isn't anyone seeing the big elephant in the room with that quote? I ignored the "bad play" part, and got stuck on the fact that it sounds like there is only 1 way to play your class. So there's a rotation, and that's it, you have 10 abilities and have to cast them in specific sequence and if you don't follow the sequence it is called "bad".

How is that for linear, box-in gameplay? Huh? Why not just give everyone 1 button with a 10 second cast time and it fires off all the spells in the correct sequence ? So all you need to do is make sure you press the button every 10 seconds?! .

I'd say good design would have meant the style the person in question wants to play would not be considered "bad", but "less optimal in certain situations, but might be better in other situations" . THAT is how all these things should work.

Simply put: If there's 1 single rotation that is THE rotation, the ONLY rotation , and any other rotation is "bad" , then sorry CRAP DESIGN.
 
The post you quoted has to be a troll post. I touches carefully on the obvious points the author ignores in his 'I<3felfire' statement, while pretending to be straightforward.

Assuming for a moment he's not a troll, it's absolutely fine for him to play badly on purpose. Of course there may be consequences, such as being kicked from groups and being ridiculed for making abnormal choices. The former is just due to what he brings to the group, the later people do in any context just more or less nasty.
 
The question whether complex priority systems/rotations have been a good gameply innovation by Blizzard is very good one. I have no definite answer.
 
To be fair the game has moved away from fixed spell rotations to more of a priority list for most classes and builds. There is usually a random chance for a special ability to become available, which it would be better to look out for instead of pressing the same buttons over and over again.
 
You are comparing a problem of queue times to a problem of group performance. Long queue times will get you in a group more slowly, bad performance will get you out of that group very fast. If you want to only cast green fireballs, fine, but prepare to get kicked either to avoid a wipe, or after a wipe. There's a huge difference between your choice of class/spec, and your choice to suck at it or not.

As a tank, I don't look at the dps meters unless we wipe. Then a 2.5k DK gets an immediate votekick, UNLESS that's not the reason we wipe. I've votekicked 10k dps standing in fire in favour of 3k dps that actually were able to stand where they should, even if they are shooting Ice traps at the boss every 30 seconds (this actually happened).
As a dps, I play a BM hunter, the 'suboptimal' spec, but I do decent dps, decent CC, don't stand in fire, choose my pets based on fight mechanics and group comp (eg a cat when there's no DK in the group, switching mid-fight to give Bloodlust...). I never got kicked from a group.

There are two reasons for long dps queue times:
A) Like many previous commenters have said, certain classes have no choice other than queue as dps.
B) Hybrid classes that play badly will cause wipes much faster as healer or tanks than as dps. Let's say x% of hybrid players tried healing and/or tanking, wiped several times, got kicked, then were carried while dps'ing and actually finished their heroics, what role do you think they will queue for next? We will see more people queueing as healer/tank once 4.2 hits, and you can bruteforce heroics with JP gear, shortening dps queue times back to Wrath level. Now however, a healer/tank needs to know his character very well, if he wants to be able to successfully finish a heroic. Most people do not know their character very well.

A final note on tanks: tanks are generally looked upon as the group leader in pugs, which means setting the pace, marking, explaining tactics, explaining them again after a wipe, looking for and pointing out mistakes of other players...
All in all a much more demanding role than shooting bullets at the mobs and moving out of bad stuff, and not what I'd call a relaxing pastime, so when I'm tired I don't even queue my tank, and just queue with my hunter and do a mining run while I wait.
 
I call that lite rp. I never wanted to play a dual wield warrior, simply because i find it stupid for warriors.
That said, you only need to have an understanding guild to get away with it. But even the most casual people will get annoyed if you only use your wand, i thik :)
 
Of course "bad" is a valid playstyle. It always has been and it always will be. It is in real life, where it's valid not just in play but in work and indeed in every aspect of living.

Not only is playing badly both eternal and valid, it is also memorable. I can remember several spectacularly bad players from EQ1 and I remember them with the same nostalgic fondness I remember the good ones.

The barbarian warrior I grouped with at the Derv camp in South Ro who insisted on his character being naked. The cleric who, long before clerics were given any useful melee skills, insisted on meleeing ALL the time, throwing out heals as and when he remembered, which wasn't often. The necro whose very first spell cast in the first room of an LDON dungeon was Fear. And many, many more.

Those players had their own style of play, which most people who encountered them would call "bad". They were, and are, entirely entitled to it. That's a huge part of the point of these games being "massively multiplayer".

It's the same as real life. If people don't actually break a law, you don't get to tell them how to behave. Or rather, you can tell them as muich as you like but they don't have to listen. You're choice in WoW or any other MMO is exactly the same as your choice in real life: if you don't like what they are doing and you can't convince them to do it differently you don't socialise with them.

In MMO terms this means you kick them from your group, guild, raid. You put them on ignore. You even move away from where they are and go someplace else. But they get the right to go on being as "bad" as they like, either on their own or with the diminishing pool of people prepared to tolerate them.
 
Why do people have a set of expectations that they project onto random strangers ?

The assumption is, "you are playing WoW, as am I, I play a certain way that makes my damage high/healing fast/damage mitigation high, so I expect you to play that way, or at least aspire to playing that way"

This is a subconscious assumption, and most people are not aware they hold it.

So, along comes our green fire warlock and he is happily enjoying his game, machine gunning green fire with a big grin on his face, getting good value for his tenner a month.

And he makes us angry, he's a scrub, he's M&S, he's every type of idiot under the sun....isn't he ?

We'll maybe we've just assumed ourselves into a nerdrage, climbed so high on our high horse that Gelvon doesn't sound like an arrogant gonk any more.

OK, given that we are all playing WoW, you say its fair to assume that everyone will at least try to read off the same hymn sheet ?

That kind of assumption is only fair and valid if you are dealing with a group of people who have either explicitly or implicitly "signed-up" to the set of assumptions that you hold or aspire to.For example you join a football team to play in a league, yes, you can asuume everyone involved will follow certain rules, written (no handball) and unwritten (you don't sing in harmony as you play).
You jion a guild to raid, the same applies.

But, no, you are at fault if you expect the same of a total random stranger, in a random encounter, in a computer game.

If it irks you, shrug it off and move on, leave the guy alone and get over yourself.

As an aside, I wonder how many grown adults sit there at the keyboard fuming and swearing at some "scrub M&S" who is actually an twelve (or ten, or eight) year old obliviously enjoying themselves.

Funnier still when they go off and blog about it :-p
 
the problem is as long as raiders can use justice points from heroics then the gear range will be able to make up for bad players meaning that 4 players can complete 5 player content.

This leads to acceptance of "bad" players. I dont want to call them bad they are just players who made choices that should render them unable to succeed in heroics or raids but before mentioned problem makes room for thier success.

I supose its better for blizzard the more customers they get but it takes some quality away from the gameplay.
 
@Bones: To continue your football example, if I joined a team in a league, I would expect players to be a certain skill depending on which league I joined. if I joined a team in a high ranking league, I would expect certain skills and abilities.

If players who attempted to join my team did not have the required skills, I would suggest they find a team of a more suitable level.

This is what happens every time I kick someone from my group for doing 2k dps. I'm not suggesting he quits the game, just that he finds a more skill-appropriate group to play with. He can play however he likes, just not with me.
 
@Krisps Aye, thats fair enough.I agree with you.What you say implys equal freedoms, and no hard feelings when unwarrented expectations are not met, and allows for fair and warrented expectations when the situation is right.

Unfortunatly, alot of the vitriol and scorne poured on the heads of "bad" players is by people who are not content to "play in their own league" and expect "league standards" from random people.

If they would kick/quit without the anger and judgment then everyone could go on their merry way and have fun,I mean, that guy sitting in the corner dribbling and making bellybutton fluff dollies may be having the time of his life, if he's not in your Sunday league team, leave him alone

@Bagpuss and Helistar Yup, bad exists and without it we wouldn't recognise good, so bad is good really, and just good would be bad :)
 
@Bones

Unfortunatly, alot of the vitriol and scorne poured on the heads of "bad" players is by people who are not content to "play in their own league" and expect "league standards" from random people.

I disagree. Bad can also manifest itself in ways where the player causes the wipe of an entire group. Could it have been lag? Could it have been someone just having a bad day? Could it have been someone who just doesnt give a crap? How many chances does this player get before /kickvote is initiated?

Using the LFD tool we are allowed as players to choose the league we want to play on(Normal vs Heroic). However, if we are not queueng as a guild, and are using the "random" feature, we are NOT allowed to look at the player beforehand and determine if they posesse the requisite skills and knowledge(notice I didnt say gear) to determine our individual chance of success as it pertains to the group. We are forced to take Blizzards word that they have met the minimum Ilevel requirement and are therefore worthy of the chance to play on the team. The problem with this is that we might have already waited in the queue for X number of minutes only to get a tank, healer or dps that just doesnt know what they are doing, doesnt care to learn or even try.

The core problem here is that the random feature of the LFD tool was "acceptable" during the Wrath content, where players had upwards of 10 months to get geared for MUCH easier content, and group failures were much less likely to occur. In Cata however, the content was made MUCH more difficult, and no changes to the LFD tool were made to allow players the chance to determine the players skills or knowledge before being "forced" to endure whatever their shortcomings might be. That is the crux of the issue, in that if Blizzard simply changed the LFD tool to a browser based setup, and allowed me to pick from a pool of players of my choosing, then the psychology behind this would render me responsible for who I chose to group with, and I would be willing at that point to suck it up and endure whatever consequences my choice caused.

I empathize with players who have difficulty with the much harder instances in Cata, and I do not get mad at THEM. My frustration is properly channeled at Blizzard with the design of the LFD tool where randoms are concerned. I want to have a choice in who I group with, plain and simple. If I am allowed to make the choice of who I group with, then the impetus is on me to live with the outcome of having made this choice. Right now I simply cannot do that.

Allow players to choose who they group with. Remove the /kick feature and resign players to work together as a team that they agreed to play on, and not one that they are forced to play on because Blizzard made them. Then give me the ability to /ignore or /blacklist players who repeatedly wipe us, and/or doesnt even attempt to listen to tips or pointers as given during the encounter.

Freedom of choice - checks and balances - this is what is missing right now, and is the cause of all the angst and mud slinging that we are seeing with this issue.
 
I don't think that the 2K DPS warlock should feel responsible to do better.

I merely have no use of him, so I votekick.
 
@Chris Aye, there'd be a distinction between bad as in unskilled and bad as in "oops my bad, sry".

And the issue still remains, you said so yourself, its the ramdom nature of the encounters with other players , the league of heroic or normal is not enough of a filter,nothing like the football league selection filter, infact as a filter the heroic/narmal league is really very weak.

I admire your perspective,not getting angry at the player who was plopped RANDOMLY into your group, but its still a source of angst for many, and most do vent on each other.

Now, heres a nice addition for the LFG tool, the ability to introduce yourself with a line of text, and giving people a pool of LFGers to select from by ticking a box (no class info above Tank/DPS/Healer).
Something along the lines of "looking for a fast run", "just dinged and green", "gearing up still" etc
 
Tobold, that post you quote is meant to be very tongue in cheek. It is from a poster known to post many sarcastic (and sometimes very funny) posts. He has a blog that includes most (if not all) of the posts he has written in that way.

http://biggerthankologarn.blogspot.com/

This doesn't necessarily negate your argument, but using that post and taking it seriously is not how it is intended.
 
@Chris: Sorry, have I missed something? When did Blizzard take away my ability to choose who to group with? There's nothing stopping you creating a group manually, like in any other expansion.
 
@Chris

A point that people often forget is that the reward for doing a random daily heroic is given for doing a random heroic, not for doing a random heroic with random people.

You've always had choice in who you do the random heroic with, be it four other guildies or two people from Trade and two from the LFD queue; both groups will still grant you the daily heroic reward.
 
I definitely thought the original post was a troll post. He was trying to be a smart-ass and be funny by saying what he thinks many people feel, that they are entitled in the game to play how they want and not face the consequences. The problem is, hardly anybody has that attitude to the extreme he posted, so it's a really stupid, insulting joke, and a feeble attempt to make himself look smart by pointing out others' sense of entitlement in his troll post. On top of that, he probaby feels extra-smart that he fooled some people into thinking he really was saying he was entitled to play poorly in groups. He's just a jackass.
 
Comparing group performance to role choice is a false equivalency. It's one thing to expect all doctors to do a good job, it's another thing to demand that accountants go to med school if the doctor's waiting room is too full.
 
"Yes, "bad" play is a perfectly acceptable style of play.

Or do you think that anyone who is not a world-class chess champion should not touch a chessboard?"

I think here we should beg a definition of "Bad". If Bad means lacking skill but willing to learn how the pieces at least move and SHOULD work... then it's not a playstyle, but a stage in learning.

"Bad" chess playing would involve refusing to learn how the pieces move and making up your own rules as to how you 'win'.

As a "pure DPS", I personally feel a GREAT responsibility for my performance in a group. It is my job to kill the boss speedily. It is my job to stay out of stuff. It is my job to make sure that I am not the healer's job. Nor should I be the tank's job in a very specific way.

it actually makes me very sad to see all the DPS-hate that goes around when my personal experiences with "bad players" in groups is just as often a healer who doesn't want to heal the group, doesn't want to keep up with the tank. or the tank who pulls and then drops group. Or who leaves the group when they don't win the piece they wanted on the first boss. Or who won't turn on RF but gets pissy when the healer or the DPS pull aggro.
 
I am with Gevlon, this guy should play how he wants. No one has any "social responsibility" to play a video game in any particular way.

His way differs from refusing to change class/role only in direct consequences. What are you going to do, boot a random DPS saying "you should have re-rolled a tank!!!"

But let me ask you the reverse, Tobold. Surely you force this warlock to play "right" before you force a player to completely re-roll to a different class/role?
 
But let me ask you the reverse, Tobold. Surely you force this warlock to play "right" before you force a player to completely re-roll to a different class/role?

I'm not forcing anybody to do anything. I'm just telling BOTH that they would have a much better multiplayer experience and make more friends if they changed their ways.
 
What is fun for one, is bad for another. Bad is valid, but best left to soloers.
 
I think that if we are going to use sports analogies lets use soccer because it has large cultural influence and various positions that I think can be applied to this discussion.

LFD is like joining a pickup game at your local park. There are a limited amount of people allowed per team and a limited amount of pitches. (fields) Now say you just show up and join a team. You have to fill in whatever position is needed, i.e. if they need a mid fielder that is where you go. You also have no ability to judge the quality of their play before hand. Due to the limited amount of pitches you can’t simply go elsewhere. (unless you want to play by yourself)

Now since no one in the pickup game knows each other you could simply refuse to play that position because you have no LONG term social obligation to these people. However if say the team needs a Goalie, the game can’t start until SOMONE decides to play that position. If no one enjoys it someone is going to have to step up, that someone will probably do it because they enjoy the game of soccer… (football)… more than they do a specific position.

Now this is only my opinion but I feel that you have experience as a goalie you are more obligated to play that position than anyone else. It will benefit the team more if someone decent plays that position. Now you could refuse, and someone would eventually step up or there would be no game, but if they are worse at it than you your fun is going to be diminished because every shot on goal will go in.

No imagine if you called your friends ahead of time and made a team. You decided who was going to play what position before you ever arrived on the pitch. There would be no arguments over who wanted to do what and since everyone knew one another before.

What does this mean? LFD is basically a pickup game. Fill in where you are needed, if you can. If not don’t worry about it. If you REALLY hate playing any other role besides your “main” make a group… or team… ahead of time. Just remember though, if you are playing with random strangers the more positions you are capable of filling in for the more likely you are to find a place on their team. Don’t bitch if you only ever want to play striker and the only positions left are defenders.
 
"I'm not forcing anybody to do anything. I'm just telling BOTH that they would have a much better multiplayer experience and make more friends if they changed their ways."

Fair enough.

And don't think your overall point is lost on me. Most of the people who have been adamant that "you can't tell someone how to play" for a few days now would be the FIRST people to tell this guy how to play.
 
You learn by doing. Should I queue as a tank for a random heroic when I know I dont tank ohgun well? That bit me this weekend when i got stonecore 3x in a row. I stil dont tank him well,but i tank him a little bit better now.

Am I bad because the tank died after charging out of los with no cc while I was drinking? He seems to think i am and expresses it verbally.

Most don't actually think they are bad, I know anytime i am told I am bad without being told what is right, i just ignore it.

Being Bad and working on improving is a valid style of play.
 
I haven't played WoW for a while (I'm more about Champions Online these days) but unless they've changed the game significantly, you used to have the option to kick a player out of your group if he wasn't contributing to the overall goals and/or preferences of the rest of the group.

If they've taken this out and you're stuck with another player for several hours no matter what just because the dungeon finder paired you together, this is a horrible flaw in the game design that should be rectified immediately, not the less-than-obsessively-competent player's fault. If they have not taken this out, then there's no problem. A guy's playing the game the way he finds the most entertaining, and it's either entertaining to play with him, in which case you keep him, or it's not, in which case you don't.

Besides, my general impression is that anybody who's "optimized" to play in the most efficient way possible has already invested several weeks if not months of his life into the game, and can only get so upset if somebody "wastes" fifteen minutes of his time in a dungeon.
 
Bones, the expectation comes from signing up for the dungeon finder. It's kind of assumed in every aspect of life that when you sign up for a team that you are going are going to try to do well. It's just unspoken. Hell, when you get on an elevator, its assumed you are going to try real hard not to fart during the ride.

You want to shoot green fire, and only green fire? That's cool with me, as long as you stay out of my elevator. It's really that simple. It's just flat out rude to inconvenience 4 other people so you do whatever you want. If you're out soloing, you can be WoW's only melee mage for all I care. But if you get in the elevator just to see the looks on other people's faces when they smell your fart, then you're an asshole. Pure and simple.
 
(First up: OMG Tobold quoted me. *Fanboyglee*. Second: Wait, I had better quotables in there...)

Why are you beholden to the group you're in, but not to unknown strangers? Proximity is one... the size of the group is the other.

It doesn't actually have a logical grounding; it's an emotional thing, so you can't standardize it with logical boundaries. You might not give money to a flood-affected co-worker and get called a bastard, even though those same coworkers ALSO didn't give to Doctors Without Borders who are helping out folks in the congo who have got their limbs blasted off. Clearly one of these people needs the money more than the other, but by your proximity it's expected you'll help the one who needs it less. Logically, this makes little sense.

The phenomenon is heavily analyzed: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diffusion_of_responsibility - or: "No one raindrop causes the flood."

(Other interesting and related artciles are 'compassion fatigue' and 'bystander effect'.)

The diffusion of responsibility article, however, links to basically everything you're observing. It tends not to assign a values judgement to it, which is what you've hinted at and probably part of what people are objecting to so strongly. It's nice to see less troll-rage on here, though, as people realize their hypocrisy is showing.
 
Oh, also I forgot to apply Ockham's razor to my psychobabble:

It's quite possible that it's nothing to do with political or personal stances on where a line should be drawn on personal responsibility in a MMO environment... it's quite possible that the people involved just want everything their way whether it's fair or hypocritical.
 
Nice post Tobold. I guess "bad" could be a blogger style too :) of course not for you though sir!

My response: To each his own...if he wants to shoot green flames only I say go for it, but don't expect to get a free pass from people that you are randomly grouped with.
 
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