Tobold's Blog
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Making it personal

I'm still somewhat bemused by not just the amount of bloggers responding to my thesis that MMORPGs are a team sport in which players have a social responsibility to get a team filled, but also by how violent some of that response was. The Noisy Rogue called the post a fucking stupid pile of dogshit, and me stupid and a moron among other things. Nils called my statement bizarre. Iggep called it a seriously controversial statement. And Callan finds me genuinly scary. Even Bigbearbutt wonders "Did he mean whatever it was in the way it’s been taken?"

Well, to help people understand what I meant, and to analyze why the reaction was so strong, I'd like to reformulate the argument by breaking in down into bits:

1) The queues for DPS in the Dungeon Finder of World of Warcraft are long, and it would be better if they were shorter.

So far, so good, I don't think anybody actually disagreed with that part.

2) For queues to become shorter, either Blizzard needs to change how World of Warcraft works, or players need to change their behavior, or both (Blizzard adds incentives that makes players change their behavior).

Still not very controversial. Other than players and/or Blizzard, I don't see who else could do anything that would change the length of Dungeon Finder queues.

3) Blizzard is unlikely to make major changes to how World of Warcraft group combat works.

Here were are starting to get warmer. Many, many people commented or blogged that if the system wasn't working, it was Blizzard's and only Blizzard's fault, and responsibility to fix it. Personally I'd prefer the incentives solution. But regardless of whose fault the situation is, my point here is about probability: To be realistic, I don't think Blizzard is going to ever change let's say groups to 6 players, to make room for more DPS, or anything similarily radical.

4) If Blizzard doesn't change the game, it is up to the players to change their behavior.

Logical consequence from the previous statements: If it's either A or B, but B is unlikely, then it must be A. Albeit an argument being logical never prevented anyone to disagree with it. Most problems in multiplayer games are caused by a combination of game design and player behavior, and I believe that players thus have a partial responsibility for these problems. That is somehow better understood in sports, where people are more ready to accept the idea that there is a system of rules to which the players need to adapt, instead of demanding the rules get changed.

5) As the problem is a lack of tank and healers, the only player behavior change which would positively affect queues is some players who are currently playing a DPS role either switching role or switching character to a tank or healer.

Note the "some", which some commenters deliberately misrepresented. It should be blindingly obvious that if EVERYBODY changes to tank and healer, the queues would be even longer than they are now. The idea is to *enough* players changing role, until the ratio of tanks to healers to DPS is 1:1:3, which would be the ratio producing the shortest possible queue times.

6) If *some* players have to switch from DPS to tank/healer, then why not you? It is your responsibility too!

And this is the kicker, where people started grabbing their torches and pitchforks. This argument is not at all a direct logical consequence, but is based on values which have gone out of fashion. It goes back to the fundamental question of whether in any situation where it is clear that somebody has to do something you ask yourself "why not me?" and step forward, or you ask yourself "why me?" and hope that somebody else steps up. It is, to misquote Kennedy: "ask not what your game can do for you - ask what you can do for your game". It is J.M. Flagg's famous Uncle Sam recruitment poster:

It hurts, because it turns an abstract, general responsibility of a wider populace into a personal responsibility. Even people who agree with the first 5 arguments probably would prefer if it was somebody else who changed to playing tank or healer, and not them. Turning "somebody should do something" into "YOU should do something" is what I think provoked the strong reaction to my post.

Kids setting up soccer teams on a school yard understand that "somebody needs to play goalkeeper", after nobody volunteered, means that one of them will be forced to play that position, or there is no game. The situation in World of Warcraft is the same, only that the group is larger, more anonymous, and the problem is not whether there is a game yes or no, but how long it takes until somebody finally volunteers. That makes people even more reluctant to step up and volunteer, because it isn't as if they could strike a direct deal that they'll tank today and somebody else does it tomorrow. Now I sure used strong words in calling this situation a "social responsibility" and quoting Kant's categorical imperative. But whatever you call it, I don't believe that queues will improve unless some people switch their role. And I believe that any responsibility for "some people" in any group in the end is an individual responsibility. Not a big one, after all it is just a game, and the responsibility is shared between many players. But a responsibility nevertheless. That is my belief, part of my values, and I'm sticking to it. I hope you understand my point better now.
If a person is complaining about the queue times and desires them to be shorter then certainly the only thing that can be done is for them to step up and be part of the solution to their perceived problem. If a person feels that they would rather dps and wait in a long queue then that is the trade they are making and they should be aware of the choice, most players who are able to switch roles on the same character are well aware of that choice. Beyond that, to say that there is some sort of "social responsibility" to create shorter queue times is going to an unnecessary level. If they're not going to queue as tank or healer the consequence is longer queue times. If they're okay with that then they have no responsibility to do anything at all.
A couple flaws I percieve in your argument and example.

1. On your soccer team a win results in the entire team getting an equal reward. The win. Now while this premise works if I'm only doing a heroic for the daily Valor points it does not if I am farming gear.

Ex: my paladin queues tank and raids ret. My random 5 man has a dps DK and Warrior as well as a paladin healer. DPS gear I need drops off the first boss and I roll against the two other plate DPS and win. Now a chain of events can occur from benign acceptance to the group disbanding.

2. Social responsibility is great and under your argument a great reason for me to ask my guild mate to jump on his alt, group with me as a tank, and drop group as his social responsibility is to see me in BiS for the raid.

The concept doesn't work in a reward system, it works in a social system. I don't need to be responsible and change my class/spec because I'm not playing to contribute socially to 4 players on other servers whom I can't interact with regularly. I doont need to be socially accepted by them as I do my own server where my reoutation and my guilds are in jeopardy.

There are too many things in this specific application of an encompassing ideal your ignoring.
I think what got the dander up of most of your angrier responses is not your broader argument -- that people have a social responsibility to switch to less popular roles.

Rather, it was towards something you've conveniently dropped out of your subsequent blogs on the subject. In your initial post on this matter, you basically called anyone who plays DPS "selfish" and that they "leeched" from the "greater" contributions of others. I think that's probably what upset the most people, especially early on. Sure you can't run a 5-man without a tank or healer, but you couldn't complete one without the DPS either. Having done dungeons in all 3 roles, the roles aren't any harder beyond how proactive the player has to be.

I think 6-man instances are a far more logical solution and would shave almost a *third* off DPS wait-time without any social engineering required. Or, you know, if DPS wants to watch TV while they play, they can wait in line for a half-hour. The consequence is already built into the system if you ask me.
And more broadly speaking -- you don't have the same social responsibility to strangers as you do towards people with whom you regularly interact. Electic Vox nailed it on the head in his 2nd point. I have a social responsibility to kick neither a friend nor a homeless person, but I don't have the same responsibility to let them both crash at my house.
And in the end, it boils down to how serious people think the problem is and by extension, how voluntary the solution needs to be. It's completely acceptable in an existential-threat-scale war or in an accident scene to just randomly pick someone from the crowd and order them to help. Having a 30-minute queue in a game isn't even remotely comparable to that, yet your solution sounded the same.

But if we agree that the solution needs to be voluntary, then the choice to pick a healer or a tank needs to be made more lucrative to persuade people to pick it. And the players' power to make the choice more lucrative is limited. Sure, there's the moral imperative and the social prestige, but those aren't enough for everyone and trying to strengthen them by dictat will only cause a flamewar like this one.

IMHO, the solution is to come up with more interesting (read: fun) mechanics for healing and tanking. For example, many priests in Throne of the Tides giggle with glee when they figure out that the healer trash mobs are mind-controllable.
And in the end, it boils down to how serious people think the problem is and by extension, how voluntary the solution needs to be.

But that cuts both ways: Yes, the problem isn't life-threatening serious. But the solution isn't asking much of people either. It's not as if I asked people to donate a kidney so others could enjoy a shorter queue. The problem is a minor inconvenience in a video game, and the solution is a minor inconvenience in a video game.
Tobold, I think some of these posters just want to argue for the sake of arguing.

There seems to be a lot of opinion about your current philosophy but very little consensus about your SUGGESTIONS for fixing a problem within the game.

I think we all know that your suggestions won't work simply because not enough people want to take on a more challenging role. DPS is easy sauce, all you have to do is race to the top of the chart. Tanking and healing can be rough.

If a DPS makes a mistake, it's likely only the tank notices, but the whole group notices a wipe. It's the tank and healer that has the tools to keep people alive.

So, if a group wipes, three DPS and a healer can blame the tank, or three DPS and a tank can blame the healer, but it takes an intelligent group to stand together and blame a single DPS who over-played his cards.

Yes, more people playing tanks and healers rather than DPS would shorten the queue, but I think you've also proven that not enough people care to bother with that suggestion. They even get personal over the idea.

"It's just a game" swings both ways.
I think this is going to boil down to who the long queues are really a problem for.

I suspect they're a problem for Blizzard IF they mean people go play other games instead.

They're a problem for anyone who wants to dps in random groups and can't afford to wait.

They're not a problem for anyone else. And if you don't want to heal or tank and don't mind the wait, then there's no /personal/ reward for /social/ responsibility. (More of a punishment actually since tanks/healers take the brunt of the responsibility and abuse.)
The problem is a minor inconvenience in a video game, and the solution is a minor inconvenience in a video game.
Learning a new playstyle, respeccing and re-glyphing is a minor inconvenience. Re-gearing or even rolling a new alt and doing all of the above is not.
Maybe part of the problem is that many of the people arguing don't agree with statement #1.

I don't have a problem if the dps queues are that long. If people do have a problem, then they can follow suggestions (like yours, or to run with guild/friend groups, or even other ideas) to fix what they perceive to be a problem.

I don't feel socially responsible to random people from other servers. I do treat others kindly unless they treat me badly first. I do try to have a decent reputation on my server (for both my guild and myself). But in the end the DF is itself too antisocial for me to feel a social responsibility for it. It is a great place to get some justice/valor points, but Blizzard implemented it in such an antisocial manner that I don't see the social responsibility you are asking us to respond to.
Blizzard implemented it in such an antisocial manner that I don't see the social responsibility you are asking us to respond to.

Is it the implementation or the players that make the Dungeon Finder antisocial?

I think we have very different beliefs what exactly "social" means. Being friendly to people *ONLY* if they are in your guild or in another way likely to help you is not "social" in my eyes. If everybody was friendly to random strangers, then by definition the random strangers would be friendly to you too, and we would have a much more social and better community.
As long as we recognize that this does only apply to those who whine about queue times.

Fact of the matter is, social responsibility or not if you both play a DPS class AND complain about the queues, you are being a hypocritical, whiny, selfish player who should be ignored by everyone. You have a solution right in front of you, that NOT ONLY helps yourself, but helps everyone else in the game.

However, if you are a DPS and you are cool with 30 minute queues, that's awesome. You play the game the way you enjoy and have a fun time doing so.

It just REALLY irks me when people try and complain and shift responsibility for their own poor choices onto others when they are perfectly capable of fixing the perceived problem personally.
Thanks for the structured approach. Several Points:

- Let's disregard for a second whether you actually act this way. There is, of course, no way for us to find out.

- Point (1), (2) are a no brainer. Always good to start an argumentation somewhere everybody agrees to.

- Point (3) is not so certain, actually. Blizzard certainly wants to improve the LFD, for example. But let's go with it a for a while.

- Here I disagree. You could construct several other moral imperatives. For example: It is unlikely that the DDs will act the way Tobold suggests. Thus it is the "social responsibility" of Blizzard to change the system. Do you agree, Tobold?
Another example: From a purely locigal point of view there are other solutions. For example, players who play a tank/healer have a social responsibility to queue more!
Solves the problem if they chain-queue doesn't it?

A logical necessity not automatically induces any moral imperative. Nobody would even blink if you told him that it would help if DDs queue as tank/healer. People scratch their heads when you transfrom this logical relationship into a moral imperative. If you still stand by your thesis, this is the point you need to elaborate on.
What if Blizzard reduced the group size to 4, and DPS queue times ballooned to over 2 hours. Would Blizzard still have no responsibility here, only the players?

You need to add something to #5:

...or quits the game.

This throws a monkey wrench into #6, because you are basically saying it is my social responsibility NOT to quit the game, even if I don't want to play anymore.
"You could construct several other moral imperatives. For example: It is unlikely that the DDs will act the way Tobold suggests. Thus it is the "social responsibility" of Blizzard to change the system. Do you agree, Tobold? "

I have to agree with this. Your argument works against you here, Tobold. The long DPS queue has been the case for a long, long time. We know the community will NOT change, no matter how much you tell them it's their responsibility.

Even if you think it is the players' "responsibility," the only logical solution is for Blizzard to make a change.
There are two different situations that arise depending on how you form a group.
In a guild run (or real life football game). This situation is repeated multiple times. Someone filling a role they hates gets rewarded with the promise of filling a favoured position in future. Over multiple games they end up with net positive happyness over not playing. In LFG the game is one-off with future events being independant of each other. If the only way for a DPS to get an acceptable wait queue is to switch role then they should do so only if that role is something they like a little bit. They do not gain by filling a role that gives them negative happyness.
Blizzard influence queues indirectly by providing PvP/dailies/other content. The impact of long queues is reduced if you give people better things to do while they are waiting. If other content provides a similar level of happypoints to instances long queues are irrelevant. Which brings me to my non-logical final point. DPS that don't like tanking/healing but do enjoy non-instance based activities should avoid joining LFG so that those who only like instances or have a short play time (and can't outwait queues) can do what they enjoy.
I don't believe we should expect Blizzard to change the way 5-mans work, i.e. by changing them into 6-mans. Why?

Because all 5-man instances are balanced around one tank, one healer and three DPS. By bringing in a different composition - for example, as Gevlon showed, one tank, two healers, two DPS - the instances become unbalanced. Were Blizzard to introduce such a change, at the very least all the health values of the mobs in every 5-man instance would have to be increased to compensate, which I imagine would prohibit from actually doing so.

Convincing the current tanks and healers to chain-queue would alleviate the issue some, but right now of course tanks and healers have no reason to. This is where an incentives solution would have to come in! Imagine, for example, if tanks and healers always got the first daily bonus for a random heroic, not just their first. Of course, even this won't be enough to convince some people to tank and heal for PUGs.

Incidentally, having the DPS quit outright is, in fact, another viable solution. You can easily imagine how, if say a third of the DPS in WoW quit, that the DPS queue times would become a lot shorter for the remaining DPS, though of course this would obviously be bad for Blizzard.

Finally, I think Tobold's Point #1 is incomplete:

1) The queues for DPS in the Dungeon Finder of World of Warcraft are long, and it would be better for DPS if they were shorter.

Because, you see, the length of DPS queues does not affect tanks and healers at all. In fact you could say that it would better for tanks and healers if some tanks and healers went and queued as DPS, because then the tank and healer queues would be shorter and the DPS queues would be even longer, making tanks and healers more valued and DPS more disposable. The only people who benefit from shorter DPS queues are DPS themselves.
i didn't understand why your initial post angered so many people, Tobold, and after this post i can't even see how your point can be disagreed with.

ALL team games - and instancing in MMO's are team events, even if the rest of the game is entirely soloable - impose a burden of responsibility on the player. every single last one. the fact that people may wish to *deny* that responsibility in no way diminishes it.

i played on a football team for several years as their winger. now, i'm tall and not very fast, so i was a terrible winger: normally i play centre-back or full-back. however, our team had two good centre-backs, and the full-backs, although short and fast, had been playing a lot longer than i had on that team, and didn't want to play on the wing. my choices therefore were: not play for that team; play in a position i didnt like (and wasnt good at); kick up a fuss (and thus, eventually, not play, as we couldn't get a full team together otherwise). so i played on the wing for two years, and yes, we lost games we probably otherwise would have won if we'd all played on our best positions. but that's just part of team gaming, and i understood that and accepted that: shared responsibility means, at the end of the day, if no-one else picks up the responsibility it becomes *my* responsibility.

or to put it the other way: shared responsibility means, at the end of the day, if no-one else picks up the responsibility it becomes *your* responsibility.

i just don't see what is so hard about this concept that it's caused so many people to pick up the pitchforks.

And if you don't want to heal or tank and don't mind the wait, then there's no /personal/ reward for /social/ responsibility.

and if you DO mind the wait and DO want to tank/heal, then you DO bear responsibility to swap; if you DO mind the wait and DON'T want to swap you forfeit the right to complain about it.

as a player in an instance you can choose between: waiting times; playing the class of your choice; complaining. but you only get to pick TWO. wanting to do all three puts you - and i realise i shouldn't say this, but it is true, even if it isn't polite - firmly in the category of one of Gevlon's M&S's.

if everyone wants to be a Free Rider, the Commons get exhausted. the reason why the Commons don't get exhausted is precisely because not everyone insists on being a Free Rider. and if you *do* insist on being a Free Rider, it is perfectly acceptable for everyone else to judge you for that: there are simply *no* Free Rides in team games.
'If everybody was friendly to random strangers'

I suspect any sentence that starts with the phrase 'if everyone was' is not only wrong, it is unfixably wrong.
As far as gear goes, the biggest hurdle right now is tanks. All healing classes can use spirit as hit in their caster off-specs so, for the most part, they'd be rolling on the same gear in heroics for DPS or heals. Tanks, on the other hand, tend to value dodge and parry rating, which doesn't help their DPS specs at all.

For those that are arguing that there is no social responsibility, try this: queue as tank/heal; roll on whatever you need for either spec; ???; profit. Rolling only on the spec you're playing is also a social convention.
Your point 5 doesn't make much sense. My main is a hunter. According to you, I should switch to my resto shaman to do heroics!? Is my hunter's reputation going to increase that way? No. Will I get Valor points on my hunter that way? No. So, unless Blizzard makes reputations and valor points account wide, there is no solution for pure DPS classes.

But as far as I'm concerned I like the current situation. I hate the LFD system, but thanks to the long queue time, the time it takes to complete an heroic and the high probability of failure of pick-up groups, guilds can't request their members to do an heroic every day as it was the case during WOTLK (post 3.3). One less daily boring grind.

So, I just run heroics from time to time with guildmates with my hunter or my resto shaman and it's better that way.
I think your soccer argument is flawed insofar, as, imho, it's mostly the people with characters who simply cannot tank or heal (Hunters, Rogues, Mages, Warlocks) who are upset.

They had to reroll and abandon their main toon of 5 years.

Just because I'm switching positions on a soccer game there's hardly more honor to be earned. Oh well, of course, it's always the goalie's fault even if the 10 other don't manage to score a single goal, but that's only a little blame game, it doesn't take any of your past experience or achievements (in the literal sense) away.
I’ve seen a similar case with PvP Battlegrounds.

The PvP forum is full of people complaining about the wait time for horde players to queue.

However it is known that historically, horde wins more PvP matches on average, so a lot of players faction-changed when this function became available (3.3?) in order to benefit from being on the winning side.

The result is that there is an imbalance of PvPers and Alliance can instant queue for BGs, while Horde wait for 20+ minutes.

Players are petitioning Blizzard to fix this, however it was the players that caused the issue.

Regarding the OP, Iggep makes a key point:
“I don’t complain about the predicament because I know I have options that could alleviate the situation, yet I chose not to exercise them. “

(Hybrid) DPS, stop complaining!
The removal of the requirement to have discovered a dungeon entrance, before it being randomly selected for you may alieviate queue times. Im not sure by how much, perhaps it will ahve no effect at all.
Is it the implementation or the players that make the Dungeon Finder antisocial?

While I will grant you that the players have some fault in the situation, the design carries most of it. By using the battle clusters for the DF it means that you can, and likely will, group with people that you cannot group with once this dungeon is over. Can you mark players as preferred? Can you tag people on other servers as being part of your group in regards to firing up the DF? Beyond one of you deciding to pay the money and switch servers, the likelihood of the two of you playing again is not very good at all.

Does this mean you should be an ass? No. But is it social? To a degree, because you are playing with other people, but it is going to hard to form lasting bonds with someone you see once and then probably never again. It's like trying to be friends with a person you only meet on the bus but never anywhere else in your life.
Tobold, you argue you points well :)

I won't be rerolling as a Tank/Healer, not because I don't agree, but because a) I don't have the time, and b) I don't really like either of those playstyles that much.

What I'm glad of though, is that you've got this discussion out there, and by making it controversial it has sparked discussion.

I beleive that the "holy trinity" methodoly is a poor way of doing things. I know other people like that distinction between classes, but personally I feel that segregating courses balance issues that have to solved in clunky ways. For example, by making tanks/healers hybrids, in that they can run dual DPS/Tank or Healer specs, you assist them in becoming effective in soloing (and arguably PvP), but compound your issues with DPS numbers.

We need MMO designers to make it easier for people to play together, which after all is one of the major draws for an MMO. Finding a better solution to the holy trinity is a key part of this. And one of the reasons I have half an eye on the development progress of Guild Wars 2
I work for a big corporate, we have a saying. If it's everyone's responsibility then it's nobody's responsibility. I think this applies in part to this debate.

Although in some respects there is no debate. I hate waiting 20 mins to get in an instance so I tank, I can run instances back to back, 5 secs between, anyone can do that. But if you want to DPS and wait 20 mins, then fine, it's your choice.
I confess I have been kept amused watching the drama unfold and reading the various responses to what I considered to be the fairly obvious and reasonable comments you made when you first brought up this topic and I applaud the way you have supported your position so far.

Carry on!
Kant's categorical imperative

Plato and Confucius would disagree with you, however. They'd say that, just as it would be improper for a soldier to try and be a philosopher, or a civil bureaucrat to act like a peasant, so it would be wrong for a DPSer to switch roles to healing or tanking. :P
...or quits the game.

Actually DPS quitting the game would help the queue time. It would however not be likely to make Blizzard change groups to 6-man, mainly because they wouldn't even know the DPS quit because of this single issue. What are you going to do? Post a big "I quit because of queues" post on the official WoW forums? That only nets you the classic "can I have your stuff" response.

6-man groups or other fundamental changes to group combat would have repercussions to other parts of the game, and thus I am rather certain that Blizzard won't even consider those. If queue times ever become a problem serious enough for Blizzard to believe they need to intervene, they would most certainly do so by some form of social engineering, e.g. highly visible increased rewards for the least played roles.

Note that queue times were shorter before and are getting longer. Thus some people who previously played tanks or healers now apparently play DPS, or just quit. That is a problem of motivation, which probably could be solved with incentives.
I feel like a better analogy than a soccer game would be the job market, where, e.g., we need more nurses or teachers, but have too many software programmers or what-have-you. This is metaphorically more similar to the situation hunters, rogues, mages, and warlocks are in, imo, as without going back to school for 4-6 years or whatever, you can't earn a paycheck doing what you went to school for. And so you "wait in the queue."

This may not be entirely accurate though, as one can usually get a job at a department store or restaurant. I'm not sure there's a tank-healer-dps equivalent there. Maybe that's like grinding for tradeskill materials. I dunno.
The idea that Blizzard could just increase group size to 6 to fix the problem is very short sighted. DPS queues very naturally push people to queue up as tanks and healers, and if groups suddenly needed more DPS and the queues got lower, more people would queue as DPS. I raid as Ret and do heroics as prot to get instant queues. If the queue was 5 minutes I might very well swap to always doing heroics as Ret, but I won't wait 30 mins. Fact is that most people seem to want to do heroics as DPS, and as such there are always going to be huge queues for them, barring Blizzard suddenly swapping the ratios to 1:1:8 or something equally unlikely/infeasible. There just isn't a magic solution from Blizzard's standpoint as tanks/healers already have a substantial incentive (instant vs. 30 min queues) and they *still* choose to ignore it with regularity.
Well, Kantian morality is only one point of view in philosophy. And if everyone rolled a healer or tank, the system would break almost as readily as if everyone played dps.

So two things: I hardly think Kant is accepted as the dominant definition of what's moral, and there is an equal imperative that not everyone play a tank or healer as the imperative to not have everyone play dps. How do you sort that out?
You were right in the original post, and you're still right. Unfortunately, too many gamers (and bloggers) don't have the brains God gave a grasshopper. The GIFT has never been more true: Anonymity breeds contempt. It also stagnates any semblance of reason or logic.

@eclectic vox (just to pick the first example I noted): Long before you get to that first roll, there should be no question that you'll be rolling on DPS gear. If that wasn't clear before the first pull, you're the one in the wrong.
"Is it the implementation or the players that make the Dungeon Finder antisocial?"

Both, players make it less social than it could be, but by placing people from different servers in the same group Blizzard made it so people were unlikely to group together again (there is also no way to do it if you wanted to at some future point). In my opinion, that means it is a group of random strangers, not a community.

"I think we have very different beliefs what exactly "social" means. Being friendly to people *ONLY* if they are in your guild or in another way likely to help you is not "social" in my eyes."

You misinterpreted my comment, I am friendly to the pugs when I do use the DF. I help many other people that are not on my friends list or in my guild. If someone acts like a jerk to me first, then I won't be so nice. Usually I will just ignore them, but I will also tell people I know to never group with them if there is a chance of that.

"If everybody was friendly to random strangers, then by definition the random strangers would be friendly to you too, and we would have a much more social and better community."

This is like dreaming of a Utopian society. It would probably be great if it was possible, but you are dealing with human beings who can and do act bad as well as good (and everything in between). You can control your own actions and make things nicer a little bit at a time, but that won't mean that everyone will.
Maybe the problem is that tanks are easily bored. I could tank, but I haven't cared to in several days, and several days before that, and pretty much stopped entirely later into LK. Running as DPS wouldn't really motivate me.
I love this; the drama is amazing and the hypocrisy more so.

Tanks currently have no reason or motivation to change how LFD works as they get instant queues. Healers tend to wait only 5 minutes, therefore their desire for change is nearly nonexistent either. Only people choosing to play DPS truly desire it to change, or would feel a direct result of some change. Even with that some DPS simply don’t care because they don’t run LFD that much.

The thing that bothers me is that people would rather demand Blizzard to fix this than make a change themselves. That is my issue. People would rather say “oh Blizzard has to do something they are going to lose money” than they would change to a tank or healer and fix the issue themselves.

The wait hasn’t changed much in 5 years, in fact with LFD I say it’s better than it used to be regardless of the 45 minute wait. Blizzard won’t change a thing, and has no reason to, until people start leaving in mass. I also don’t believe that will happen.

There is also another solution. Don’t use LFD as your primary means of dungeon grinding. Join a guild. It seems to me that a lot of new features that came out with Cata had the intent of encouraging people to play with their guild, and not just random pugs.
My initial reaction was tempered when I read DPS players called out as "selfish" and "shirking" and essentially not as worthy as those that play tanks and healers. It was hard to see past that notion to the rest of the argument. That's an argument that's been discussed several times in the past (World of Matticus comes to mind) and I think it leads down an ugly path of class entitlement where one gets to feel superior since they think their class is superior to someone else's class.

I do agree with the concept that everyone in the game has some sort of responsibility to other players — they have responsibilities to play their class to the best of their ability, to learn and know the fights, and in general not to be jerks to their fellow players. We have those responsibilities since the shared goal of the group is a successful completion of the instance.

I can see the underlying merit to your argument, Tobold. However, people have the right to play the class that they enjoy. In my opinion, there will always be a shortage of tanks and healers given the type of personality that is required for those roles. Not everyone is comfortable or attracted to playing a tank or healer and I think no amount of in-game engineering or appeals to a greater responsibility will change that.

I'll make a prediction: in a month or two when everyone outgears heroics, we'll see the queue times drop since instances will be completed faster. Familiarity with the instances and gear level have a greater impact on queue times than anything else.
In #4 you used the words "logical consequence". The words you need to use is "In my opinion".

I fully disagree with the assumption in #4.
And if everyone rolled a healer or tank, the system would break almost as readily as if everyone played dps.

That must be the 17th time somebody brings up this completely ignorant argument. I actually wrote about it in the post, if you had bothered to read that: Note the "some", which some commenters deliberately misrepresented. It should be blindingly obvious that if EVERYBODY changes to tank and healer, the queues would be even longer than they are now.

The Kantian categorical imperative of course is not that "everybody should play tanks", as I doubt Kant would even have known what a tank is. The moral question is clearly: "If I can do something to improve a situation, do I have a moral responsability to do so, or should I sit back and hope somebody else steps up?". The problem is clearly that everybody is well aware of the solution, but most people hope that either Blizzard or the other players do something, so they don't have to.
I totally understand where you are coming from Tobold. But I think you are comparing apples and oranges.

Your idea of social responsibility works really well in real life situations where survival is at stake. Everyone takes their turn gathering berries, or manning the plow, or repelling the enemy. In return you get to survive, to live.

In games the only thing at risk is your fun, not your life.

And if your only reward is fun, then why sacrifice your fun - by playing a class you don't like, playing for no reward you appreciate - for some random someone else to have fun?

Much easier to walk away, because there is so little at risk, than stay and NOT get what you are paying for - fun.
As chemists are fond of saying, "If you're not a part of the solution, you're a part of the precipitate."

The moral question is clearly: "If I can do something to improve a situation, do I have a moral responsability to do so, or should I sit back and hope somebody else steps up?". The problem is clearly that everybody is well aware of the solution, but most people hope that either Blizzard or the other players do something, so they don't have to.

The problem with this position is meaning of "improving a situation". A typical WoW player reaction is to work the system to improve personal situation. If you think otherwise than you should probably try to find an example in WoW 6 year history when player behavior changed on a meaningful scale to benefit the community not individuals.

So in the case of long LFD queues for DPS the players predictably act for their own benefit - either complaining (aka QQing) or quiting to force Blizzard make changes favoring them. It has always worked and will work moving forward.
tonyp51 is 100% correct. Just because Tobold enjoys playing a healer, or playing all 3 roles or whatever, doesn't mean that everyone else enjoys it the same way. Someone else already pointed it out -- what you call logic is in reality preference and nothing more.

In fact when we think in terms of *FUN* and not expediency (this is a game after all, not a widget factory) the entire "social responsibility" to change roles doesn't benefit the person making the change, it only benefits everyone who avoids making the change.

X and Y both like DPS. X succumbs to the moral imperative and goes tank. X is unhappy but gets a faster queue, Y gets faster queues AND is happy because he stuck to his guns.

But I guess X gets to feel good about herself for helping some anonymous toon somewhere shave 10 minutes off their wait time? Maybe she gets to blog about it, I dunno.
I think there are many players who aren't actually fixed on one role but naturally flock to the role with least responsablity. Why not change that role a bit if you want to shift DPS players to tanks? Just decrease the challenge for tanks a bit and instead increase the challenge for DPS massively. For example there could be a system in place that measures how much damage each player did on the boss and judges if they did okay or failed (taking into account their item level). If you fail you get punished. Examples for punishment range from getting no JP for the dungeon to getting bootet from the group automatically. You could also implement a boss mechanic that requires the DPS players (all of them in the group) to do something class specific (stun, silence, etc) and if they fail the boss hits them with the ability "Vendorstrike", killing them instantly and at the same time costing them 50% durability on all items plus resetting (don't punish tank and healer if a DPS failed).
So many possiblities..
I like how your point #1 says it's 'better' to have shorter ques...this is masterfully rephrased in #2 as some sort of 'need' for it to happen, and that we, the reader, agree it 'needs' to happen.

Why are you scary - because there is no way in which you think you could be wrong. You'd never say that your infallable, incapable of failure. And yet all your moral assertions here your stating them without any capacity for them to be wrongly asserted. Suddenly, when you say this moral imperitive, you are infallable?

You must know that a person who only looks for evidence that's pro their own theory is going to find their theory absolutely true. Yet here we are.
"Actually DPS quitting the game would help the queue time."

And what about tanks and healers, do they have a "social responsibility" NOT to quit playing WoW?

(You can't tell me you didn't see yourself walking right into that one. :))

"What are you going to do? Post a big "I quit because of queues" post on the official WoW forums?"

Some would, but I agree a single thread alone won't do much. However, I do think a flood of such threads would raise an eyebrow. And you are forgetting the nice questionnaire when you quit, asking you why. Blizzard DOES care to find out why people are quitting, even if you don't see it.

How many times have they revamped the LFG function? Blizzard knows about queue times, and have shown that they are willing to do something to address the problem. The community has consistently demonstrated it will not change.
I've honestly never seen so many self-righteous, uptight princesses come out of the woodwork to defend themselves. It's like someone who's cheated on their boyfriend finally snapping they've, "had enough," and gone on a vitriolic, logically-distorted rant to absurd lengths, just so they can stop people poking at their guilt-wound. Especially telling is the habit of attacking points or analogies tangential to the core argument, used only in an attempt to relate after regular logic has failed.

(Seriously. It's staggering how many people bother to attack an analogy.)

You can probably fix your angry troll problems, Tobold, by adding a big 'IF' in front of all your posts. Since folks can't seem to get that this was the original implication.

Eg: IF you think that queues are too long for DPS, someone should switch to balance out the server and IF this is going to happen, why shouldn't it be you?

IF you think queues are fine, or IF you don't like queues but think that the responsibility is someone else's problem entirely you are either A) not needed here, go play and enjoy yourself or B) completely detached from reality and are not wanted here, go play somewhere else and enjoy yourself.
"The moral question is clearly: "If I can do something to improve a situation, do I have a moral responsability to do so, or should I sit back and hope somebody else steps up?"."

You continue to bastardize the categorical imperative. This is not at all what Kant is saying. He is talking about how you construct a moral system, or most would see it as how you make just laws.

So you ask things like, "what if no one murdered anyone?" That would be good, so murder makes a good law. "What if no one was a baker?" That would be bad, however "what if everyone was a baker?" That would also be bad, so you simply don't have any laws or "moral imperative" about being a baker.

Sure, you could say "there's a bread shortage, we need more bakers!" It may be that something ELSE gives SOME people the social responsibility to be bakers, but not the categorical imperative.

You cannot look at every DPS or player and tell them all the same thing, either way. Yes, the reverse is equally ridiculous. There is nothing that "if every player did this" would fix the situation. The categorical imperative simply doesn't apply here to either side.
It's easy to assume that you are trying to solve a personal problem (my LFD queues are too long) using a social solution (more people need to tank/heal)?

Even with clarification that you have identified a social problem (dps queues are so much longer than tank/heal queues due to tank/heal shortages), and are exploring social solutions, it's still your interpretation that there is a problem.

Thus in either interpretation you appear to be expecting others to fix YOUR problem. Possibly the source of such a strong response.

My feeling is that LFD is an awesome tool to use, but I can't expect that clicking that button is going to give me an instant group whenever I want. I don't have a "right" to other's play time or skills.

Also they don't have a right to mine. They have no right to expect me to tank or heal so they can play faster.

Thus I choose to continue to play DPS because I like it, and I will look for other ways to get faster or more successful groups, or wait patiently and feel happy that I CAN get a group now with little effort. Prior to LFD, I did dungeons rarely.
I think Tobold's soccer analogy is completely off-base. In soccer if nobody wants to play a goalie everyone else can't play so everyone gets hurt. But in WoW if too many people want to play DPS the only people who get hurt are the DPS.

Since the people who are causing the "problem" are the only ones who are getting hurt by it, then it's really hard to see any moral implications here.

That said, it'd be better for everyone to have 6-man groups.
I have to apologize for not reading through every comment, but I'm short on time.

Some people have mentioned that they feel that Blizzard has to (for various reasons) make the changes to lower the time for DPS queuing.

The question is, how?

Every possibility that I can think of (which admittedly is probably not all of them) has a major roadblock that has the potential to break the balance of the game and cause major technical issues.

Tobold's solution, DPS becoming healers or tanks, does work in smaller situations.

In my guild, we have mostly DPS, and a small handful of healers and tanks (including myself). So many of the DPS who want to hit heroics do so as a healer or a tank.

I think the "social solution" can work, but the scale is too large here. Unfortunately, I don't know of any other real solutions beyond "be patient".
Sorry, I did my bit as a Tank for two expansion. Time to let some others shoulder that. I'll be in the back, firing my BFG.
1) The queues for DPS in the Dungeon Finder of World of Warcraft are long, and it would be better if they were shorter.

So far, so good, I don't think anybody actually disagreed with that part.

*raises hand* is this the time to say I disagree?

"Gas prices are high, and it would be better if they were lower." Global warming aside, artificially lowering gas prices through rationing is not a good thing. That leads to inefficient use of the gasoline, black marketeering, waiting in long gas lines, etc.

As a first approximation, then, the statement above is false. As a second approximation, the statement would be redone to be "Gas prices are high, and assuming global warming isn't a problem, it would be good if we had a bunch more oil so that prices could be lower." This is what was more closely meant by the original statement. As we can all see, this is an example of irrelevant wishful thinking.

The first approximation for the statement above is that you are saying it would be better if you were limited to one DPS LFD queue per day per account, but could queue as tank/healer 10 times per day. I don't think you believe that to be true, I certainly don't.

If the statement above were redone in the same fashion as the gasoline one, the second approximation would read "The queues for DPS in WoW are long, and it would be better if there were more people playing WoW who queue for LFD that weren't too stupid to play tanks/healers well enough not to be summarily votekicked." (note I'm carefully not saying it's harder to tank/heal than dps, merely commenting on the proclivities of votekicking LFD denizens.) As before, this is an example of irrelevant wishful thinking, as the initial assumption in your argument, this renders your entire line of reasoning irrelevant and naive. Even though wishful and naive, it's still not obviously true, it boils down to the thought experiment: would you rather everyone else in the world were suddenly twice as smart, making you twice as stupid by comparison, or vice versa? I don't find the answer to this to be obvious.
1) re "the only player behavior change which would positively affect queues" isn't quite correct. If the DPS decide to quit using LFD, it will shorten queues. If someone decides that an hour wait to run something they don't really like is not reasonable, they can decide to work on some achievements and alts for a month or two and then unsub.

2) Blizzard is unlikely to change group combat. But it would be easy for them to change LFD. E.g., if the tank got two tokens and the healer one to be redeemed for a chaos orb or 100 valor points, then the LFD queue could be greatly reduced with no change to group combat.

I think #2 affects my view of the situation. I would feel much more moral pressure to help someone starving in my neighborhood after a natural disaster than the same person sitting outside a government shelter that would feed them. Blizzard can and should fix the queue system with incentives.

3) If a restaurent/store raises prices, I may not go there the next time I think of it. Drop them from the rotation a few times to signal my displeasure. Before reading about Cata, I assumed my first 85 would be a Holy Paladin. YMMV, but I was appalled at the paladin changes; Not so much that they were bad per se, rather too different. The Cata dungeons seem too twitch for my tastes. So I see queueing my geared resto-shaman as DPS in LFD as the moral course of action; providing consumer feedback to the vendor. I wish I could bring myself to unsub. I am confident that a few million unsubs would get some issues changed.
I think I understand your values and beliefs on morality, responsibility and positive behavior. It is just that i (and, taking a guess here, most of the players) don't project these RL values and beliefs on a *game* world they sometimes spent time in. Now it may just be that you created this (and the others on morality) to create a wave as i read somewhere else, as in baiting the trolls. Being a longtime reader i suspect these posts were straight though. That would suggest to me that a game is being taken way too seriously to be healthy, at least as i see it. I certainly dont mind an intelligent analysis of games and the behavior therein. In fact it is one of the major reasons to visit your blog. But what im missing in the posts mentioned is some form of relativation, humor, a wink to the reader that we are all in on the joke. Perhaps its the lack of non verbal communication.

I can somewhat relate to comment you mention where the word scary is used. Right now i am picturing this wereldverbeteraar (google translates this Dutch word to 'gooder'?) sitting behind his desk trying to mold the world around him to his personal set of values. The problem with gooders is that they are convinced their view of what is needed for a 'perfect' world is correct (and as a result other's is wrong) and that it is their lifelong mission to convince others of that, by any means possible. I've met some of these folks, and yes i think they are scary.
A brief point I haven't seen mentioned is that learning how to tank and heal takes time, especially tanking. I think it's a harsh responsibility to expect players, even 1/5, to roll a tank from scratch if they are new, and there are a lot of new people around at the moment. Even returning players from Vanilla/BC and early WotLK are having to relearn their class.

So that leaves respeccing. I'm a healer, I rolled as a priest with no intention of having a DPS off-spec and have never taken one. I have a warlock alt who I'm very fond of, but I generally roll healing classes and I would be mortified to be expected to repec to DPS if the situation was the other way around.

I would not enjoy WoW if there was such social pressure to do so. I would simply not play.

I skimmed the comments but I don't know if this was said or not.

I play healers and tanks for exactly this reason. I know they're in demand and I'm just as capable of playing one of them as I am a dps class. I don't have any strong preference about what class or role I play because I play the game for it's social benefits. Hence why I agree with you that because I'm playing this game socially and that's an important facet of it I have a responsibility to assist in the enjoyment of those around me because that's what I enjoy.

But not all players are the same. Some people couldn't care less that they're playing with other people, they see guilds as a mean to an end (reference: the guild hopping phenomenon) because to them WoW is about individual character development. They don't run random dungeons cause they would rather be playing with other people, they run them because they drop the loot to get to the raid which drop the better loot.

There isn't any doubt in my mind that if grinding rep for equivalent rewards was as easy and quick as running dungeons those players would opt to do that instead. You even state that this is what's happening now, but people complain about the dungeon queues because they offer a theoretically quicker route to loot (hehe) if the queue times were only shorter. But they aren't personally going to change to a tank or dps class because it's they aren't about to undue any of the progression they've already made.

You could argue that hybrids would switch they're rolls to the tanking role because it's not that much of a change, but MMO players of this nature have a picture of their character in their mind that they don't want to change... because that character is the reason why they specifically play.
I've written about the tank and healer shortage before and the conclusion I came to then and still believe is valid is that there is no shortage of tanks or healers in the game. The raiding guild I'm in has plenty of people who tank, we've plenty of healers. The social guild has had more problems getting enough people wanting to DPS online.

The problem is finding tanks and healers who are willing to put up with pugging heroics. After seeing some of the behaviour (mainly from the dps but the other roles are not blameless) I'm simply not running heroics as anything other than dps because the stress of tanking/healing for morons who will not go beyond the "meters!pewpew!pull for the tank!" etc etc is not fun.

This isn't a technical problem, it's a social problem with enough of the dps in the queue who cannot think beyond their rotation.

Until that changes or I outgear the content enough that I can mitigate the morons I simply will not be tanking for pugs (always there for guild runs though)
I have no problem waiting in a DPS queue for 30-45 minutes. This is what I enjoy doing the most, and I have no problem questing while waiting in the queue. I don't particularly enjoy tanking, why would I spend money and precious time doing something I don't enjoy with my limited free time? The DPS queue is simply a function of supply and demand. If tanking and healing were more popular, would there then exist a "social responsibility" to DPS instead? It's simply market forces at work. Nothing more, nothing less. The point of an RPG is that you play the role you enjoy playing. It's just a GAME, isn't it?
The problem with your argument here Tobold is that you're deceptively equivocating. You present #1 as this little naive thing, "oh wouldn't it be nice", but then in #6 you've changed it to something which demands responsibility. But, if you are putting at a level which demands moral response, then your #1 should be instead "The queues for DPS in the DF of WoW are long, and it would be better if they were shorter, regardless of what actions were necessary to reach that goal". Now, no one agrees with #1, and your entire argument is moot. This kind of bait-and-switch argumentation is offensive, and thus, people are offended.

Imagine if you told this story in a bar, with dps queues replaced by health care, you got the other guy to agree that yes, it would be better if health care were more equitably available, using a similar pie-in-the-sky phraseology for the analogue to #1, and then by #6 you told him he was morally responsible to vote for higher taxes for universal health care, due to his earlier agreement with your teaser statement. That equivocation would have him angry enough he might swing if drunk, and he would be rightfully angry. You are better than this, T.
So, I should tank because I am helping random person get through queue faster and my own happiness is second to people I will likely never see ever again.

Ummmm, no. Just no.

Your social argument would have worked fine if we were all still stuck on our own server, but with LFD there is no social responsibility for people who can tank to tank, because there is no social responsibility for dps to be good dps and not idiots slackers or goof offs. There is no filter but /ignore. You can't put together a new soccer team from whoever goes to the park that day and expect to play well against a professional team. BTW: soccer analogy is fail.

When the incentives for tanks and healers outweigh the incentives for dps, then maybe the queue will shorten. But right now my guild has a running tally of bad pugs vs good pugs and its something like 70% just suck. Pure dps in my guild no longer pug all that often anymore, why should I? Because it helps some worthless dps wait less? Heh, no thanks.

There is no logical reason that I should sacrifice my time for others in LFD because it does not help me at all. I may get my JP and VP faster, I may see dps pieces drop that I need, but right now, a good decent sized guild will let you skip right by LFD and you will always do well and have fun.
One of the biggest problems Blizzard faces in addressing the healer/tank vs dps balance is the very problem of incentives. Yes, they could easily give every underrepresented class an automatic extra 100 justice points on finishing a dungeon but that would create inflation for those classes, simply because they will outgear the instances/raids faster than dps. This means that bosses will have to hit even harder and have more tank-nerf abilities like those introduced at the end of Wrath and BC just to balance these issues.
At the moment Blizz is hoping this will fix itself via queue times but it's pretty clear that it's not really going to happen. Instead I get the feeling healers and tanks are guildhopping like mad just because there are so few of them, especially in the raiding game.

In the end this will lead to many failed guilds/raids which can hardly be something Blizzard wants to see happen at this point.
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