Tobold's Blog
Monday, February 07, 2011
 
A fundamental shift towards variable difficulty

Whatever game or sport you consider, there is always a distribution of how good people are at it. The average player is unlikely to beat Kasparov in chess, and the kids kicking a ball around in the neighborhood won't beat Manchester United. But that usually doesn't matter much, because these games are played against other players, and you just need to play against people of similar skill to keep up a good challenge for everybody. Computer games are a different matter, because very often players play *against* the computer, which means overcoming a completely arbitrary difficulty level given by numerical parameter. To make single-player fun for everybody, these games usually have a difficulty setting in the options, so beginning or unskilled players can still play the game on easy, while highly skilled veterans find fun at the "impossible" difficulty level. It is one of the flaws of MMORPGs that they haven't found a way yet to offer variable difficulty levels. As a result more skilled players are forced to play through too easy content, and less skilled players are excluded from some content which is too hard for them.

That is especially annoying in the context of group content. How easy or hard group content is often depends more on planning and organization than on actual playing skill. A guild group of average players has a higher chance of success than a pickup group of stranger of exactly the same average skill, because the guild group has more trust in each other and won't quit on the first thing going wrong. Anyone who ever participated in a battleground match of an organized group against a random group will know how huge a difference that can make. In an environment where group content is hard, even good players will hesitate to join a random pickup group, because there is a high chance that it will fail because of faults other players make, or a lack of organization.

So in patch 4.0.6. (which goes live this week) Blizzard is introducing a fundamental shift towards variable difficulty into World of Warcraft, specifically boosting random groups. Now for *every* random player in the group, the pickup group gets a 5% bonus to damage, healing, and health, up to a new maximum of 15%. Previously that "Luck of the draw" buff was limited to 5%, and apparently there was a bug in Cataclysm which made that this buff wasn't actually working in most dungeons. So in future World of Warcraft will basically turn itself easier exactly for those groups previously least likely to succeed. And I think that is a very good idea. Because a MMORPG is a game, and the purpose of a game is to be fun. That is best achieved by offering everybody a challenge they have a good chance to beat. Variable difficulty is much better than one fixed difficulty level in providing fun for players at different skill level and level of organization.

Of course some players are extremely angry about these changes. Which leads to a different question: Why does it make player A angry if player B is allowed to play a computer game at a lower difficulty level? The only explanation that I have is that player A is overly concerned about his status, which he measures by his in-game achievements. If player B gets the same rewards and thus status by an easier way, player A's self-esteem is threatened, and he reacts with anger.

Gordon recently asked whether we admire or pity hardcore players, but I think he got the question wrong. I sincerely doubt that a real hardcore player, like somebody from Paragon, is overly concerned about a buff for pickup groups. I wouldn't pity anybody just for being hardcore, but I would pity the fool who considers his greatest achievement in life to be some virtual item in a video game, and who feels the need to complain about less skilled or organized players needing a buff to get there.
Comments:
This is a smart thing Blizzard does here, because it cannot be used to optimize the fun out of it.

Of course, I don't enjoy such a game, because from a world-aspect PoV, this doesn't make any sense. But we are used to such kinds of things in WoW by now. So it is ok.

From a gameplay point of view this is a very good move. Fortunately, I already started my latest WoW break a week ago and.. who knows? maybe it is my last break?

For people who enjoy WoW as a meaningless, but fun distraction this is great. More power to them.
 
"It is one of the flaws of MMORPGs that they haven't found a way yet to offer variable difficulty levels."

City of Heroes has variable difficulty settings off of the top of my head. I would wager if any research was done you'd find more.
 
If you look at it in a relation to the upcoming bossnerfes in 4.0.6 Blizzard gives you the possibility to wotlk almost every heroic.

Why is that bad in my PoV? Because it is simply boring. Usually you can make it a bit more interesting by not using CC (this is done rarely in rndm groups and it is one of the most common wipe-reasons) and pulling 2 groups.

Do you really want theese times back when you got kicked because you can't heal 3+ trashgroups on the tank or not doing 10k dps+ at lvl 80? It will not get any better that way.
 
I think a lot of players are angry because this is just another in a long list of things Blizzard has done which show open contempt for people who are good at the game. Why should people who can't be bothered to find a decent guild or learn to play get an easier way of farming their justice/valour points?

I think blizzard have brought this situation on themselves with the easy heroics and raids of WOTLK, and worse still the LFD tool. They are now in a very difficult situation where bad players who would have been happy doing a little PVP and normal dungeons back in BC have a sense of entitlement with regards to completing what is supposed to be challenging content.

The guild achievements were obviously created to try to recapture some of the comradery and sense of importance that guilds had for non raiding players before the LFD tool destroyed it for many of them. Unfortunately, I don't see that happening until guilds start to hit level 25. Then I can see a huge amount of rage on the forums as all the bad players who have just been kept on for their contribution to the daily guild xp are booted out and lose their perks.

LFD and the face-roll WOTLK content have done much more damage to the game than many people realise. I think Blizzard are beginning to see this but it is a long way back from the mess they have got themselves in and I can't see any of their current attempts at solutions working. Combined with the promising alternatives on offer over the course of this expansion, and the terrible, linear 80-85 levelling content they introduced (good for a first character, awful after a few alts), I can see dark days ahead for Blizzard.
 
@John: "dark days" for Blizzard? I won't stop you from dreaming.

Blizzard has shown to be masters of tuning, incremental evolution, and excelling at the "popularity" game. They didn't get there by chance and they definitely aren't staying there by chance.

Also, "Blizzard has done which show open contempt for people who are good at the game"? Players who are good at the game have fun playing in a good guild and don't give a rat's ass about what OTHER people get, either at the same time or (as is the case) months later. Don't mix "players who are good" and "players who play to feel superior to others". It's very good business sense to get rid of the second group, since they are the ones driving away the newcomers, either by making forums look like shitholes or by insulting them ingame.
 
I wonder how many people will dismiss Luck of the Draw instead of just AoE farming the instance.
 
I wonder what would happen if something similar would be applied in PvP also?

No that would probably not work as well as with PvE. Those with the best gear would just enter solo and stomp all over the others even more.

So how do you balance PvP in a similar way? PUGs still get steamrolled nowadays. The feature where higher geared players are less likely to meet lesser geared players doesn't seem to be working out that well.
 
@John

I am with Helistar. WoW is more popular than ever with all those changes you think are the death of the game.

Which makes me wonder, why HAVEN'T all those hardcore players quit WoW yet? The complaints about WoW being too easy have been going on for years now, yet you mostly hear them from players who are still playing WoW.

At least Syncaine put his money where his mouth is. But for every Darkfall player, there are 100 players who claim to want something more hardcore while staying with WoW.
 
I think one of the reasons that people are angry is a fear that raids will be the next target.

1. If Blizzard makes heroics easier because there are lots of people who thinks they are to hard there is always the chance that they will do the same thing to raids once these players have finished gearing in the now eaiser heroics and suddenly stonewall on the raid difficulty.

2. Of course there is always the "I had to work hard and walk uphill in a blizzard with pygmees hacking at my feet with machetes all the way to get my items so everyone else should have to do it that way too."

3. And we also have the fact that heroics may become boring for the people who find them just the right difficulty now.

1 is the only possibility that i as a raider care about but if Blizzard goes this way hopefully the will do it the same way they do it with heroics. Slowly, so that anyone who is already in the content now will be finished with it or close to finished with it before its nerfed.
I dont care much about the difficulty of something that is already on farm, if its made easier it only results in me having to spend less time doing farm content which for me is a good thing. Farming easy bosses isn´t fun and at that point the easier the better.

2 Is rather silly and while its nice to be able to look at someones gear to get a clue about there "skill level" or at least the difficulty of the challange that gives the reward you can generalt get a good feel for someones skill rather fast anyways. It might help you get rid of some applications to your guild but if someone isn´t skilled enough you usualy find that out there first or second raidnight and then you just throw them out.

3 isn´t much of a problem since everyone outgears heroics sooner or later and they become boring no mather what the initial difficulty.
 
I'm going to call "unspoken assumption" here.

How do you know all the players who are complaining about the change are complaining because of its effect on other people?

Personally I'm not screaming, but I'm a little concerned. I'm enjoying the hard heroics, but I know that my guild wants to progress toward raiding.

If there's a faceroll way to farm heroic loot and justice points, I'm going to feel internal pressure (because I like my guildies and want to do well by them) to go for the efficient route rather than the fun one.

In addition, I frankly prefer guild runs to PUGs. It's possible a buff on this scale would actually make it more sensible to run with randoms - in which case, I'm, again, going to feel pressure to play in a way I don't enjoy rather than a way I do.
 
Tobold, you openly ignore people who gave their reasons why they hate this change. Also, your explanation is obviously bad as no one derives his "status" from 5-mans.

The reason is that now Blizzard incentives playing WITH the morons. If my guildmates find that it's easier to LFD than waiting 20 mins for a guild group, then I can't go with guild group either and "forced" to do LFD.

I simply don't want to spend my free time with lolling kiddies. Would you invite them to your home to play a tabletop Monopoly? If not, why do you think it's OK for Blizzard to tell that "you must play with him".
 
@Helistar: Blizzard has shown to be masters of tuning

If that were the case they wouldn't have got themselves in the mess where they need to do this sort of ham-fisted "retuning" in the first place. Their class tuning efforts over the last couple have years have consisted primarily of deleting game mechanics entirely(crushing blows, defence rating, spell power, attack power ...) and copy pasting abilities from one class to another. That's not tuning it's dumbing down.

As for caring what rewards other players get, of course people do it's human nature. A lot of players are reward driven be that gear, achievement points, gold or arena rating. Rewarding players the same for different challenges sets a dangerous precedent and harms the value of that reward for the reward driven player. (Much like how socialism damages society immensely, but lets not get into that I'm not Gevlon).

Why not give half the justice/valour points and normal blues rather than heroic ones for people completing it with the LFD buff? After all with 15% buffs to DPS, healing and HP it is going to be no harder than a normal 85 dungeon. This runs the risk of emptying the normal 85 dungeon queues even further and lowering the standard of player even more.

More importantly as Daniel points out, raids will most likely be next. Blizzard have already said they would like to add raids to the LFD tool.

As for the "dark days" comment perhaps that came across a little melodramatic, and I'm far from believing the mythical WOW killer is going to be released in the next couple of years. However, with the steady decline in quality coming out of Blizzard, I think it will only take a few polished, high quality products like Rift to take a serious bite out of the subscription numbers.
 
How do you know all the players who are complaining about the change are complaining because of its effect on other people?

It's a buff. You can turn it off. Why don't you?

Don't mix "players who are good" and "players who play to feel superior to others". It's very good business sense to get rid of the second group, since they are the ones driving away the newcomers, either by making forums look like shitholes or by insulting them ingame.

That, exactly. And frankly, Blizzard doesn't care one little bit about how good you are at WoW, because that has zero effect on their bottom line.

The reason is that now Blizzard incentives playing WITH the morons.

There are no morons in WoW. There are only jerks who think that because they spent too much time with the game and now wear purple pixels and get high numbers on gearscore and damage meters, they now have the right to call other players morons. For Blizzard it is infinitely wiser and more profitable to kick out the jerks than to kick out the players with lower gearscore and damage meter position.
 
Tobold,

As you were writing this, did you ever stop to consider that the cause of player frustrations(surrounding the use of the LFD tool) revolves around time management, and the risk versus rewards component where your own previsouly discussed "social responsibility" is concerned?

I put a lot of time and effort into supporting my small social guild, as do the long-term members, and as a guild we are able to accomplish things by working together.

Yes, we wipe in heroics on more than one occasion, even as a guild, but the sense of accomplishment we get from finishing the heroic is orders of magnitude greater than if we were able to faceroll our way through with little more than linear effort. So why should we take the difficult road when easier routes exist?

This isnt about gear, it's about the sense of accomplishment that a player gets from overcoming the challenges of the gameplay as it should exist for everyone equally.

I often wonder what would happen if Blizzard were to create a cluster of servers and establish a battlegroup where nerfs and socially pleasing difficulty adjustments didnt occur. Clusters where name/server changes were not allowed and a players name never changed. Clusters where "progression guild mechanics" existed, where players could freely change guilds as their own personal progression outgrew their current guild. Clusters where a players name could hold high esteem based on their ability and effort. Clusters where the LFD tool was browser based, populated by those names held in high esteem(that would never change) and allowed the players to freely choose who they group with.

Who would populate such servers?

Would it be the elitist jerks who could feel content that they would be able to min/max their toons to the n'th degree? Would it be populated by guilds whose members are dedicated to working together as a team to overcome the challenges of content while knowing that it would be the same difficulty level for everyone?

While many would argue that what I describe above is Utopian in concept, I wonder how many would be honest and willing enough to admit the Dystopian aspects of the current situation?
 
I put a lot of time and effort into supporting my small social guild, as do the long-term members, and as a guild we are able to accomplish things by working together.

And the patch changes absolutely nothing in that.

Do you think that Tiger Woods gets angry because less good players are allowed to start closer to the hole in golf? Did you ever hear Lance Armstrong complain about kids being allowed to use training wheels? If you have found a way to play World of Warcraft in circumstances that are fun to you, why would you want to disallow the same fun to others of lesser skill and organization? Why would they even matter to you, they are not at all in competition with you!
 
@John: what you seem to be missing is that the current tuning is going exactly where Blizzard wants to go. They even clearly stated it: "bring the player not the class". You cannot have this if classes have powers which are too unique. This is why you see feral druid's innervate nerfed out of existance, a limited number of battle-rez per try, or the same buffs provided by multiple classes (Heroism is now chaman/mage/hunter).

And, I repeat, this is a very clear design decision, together with stuff like multi-speccing, to allow people to log in and play without caring too much about "optimal group composition". Have you tried one of those games where this is not the case? Example: "Group LFM rogue level 37" for hours, because the instance has traps and you need a rogue since no other class will do. It's the "tanks shortage problem" to the power of N....

There are no ways out of this, and Blizzard seems to be one of those finding out. Other games use other approaches, like removing the trinity (anyone can play any role, which flattens things even more), or allowing the use of NPC henchmen to fill the holes (and then it's not an MMO, it's a single player game with chat).

BTW, for nerfs it's sure that raids will be next, with the current system it partially happens automatically, since when the new tier is released, it'll be possible to acquire better gear by emblem. And while gear doesn't allow you to completely circumvent mechanics, it still helps.... and where gear doesn't go, they'll nerf.

About heroics being nerfed: it's a challenge and a satisfaction to complete the run the first time. Maybe also second and third. But as time moves on, it's just boring....
Honestly I hope that they'll use the same approach of end-WotLK, i.e. releasing with each tier some "upgraded" heroics (Halls of Reflection was still wiping groups aven at the end of Wrath). The old "faceroll heroics" taking the place of normal instances in the gearing progression towards entry-level raid gear.
 
I would have preferred to see players get buffed after they have wiped, and possibly to receive more buffs after each successive wipe for PuGs/LFD groups.
 
Do you think that Tiger Woods gets angry because less good players are allowed to start closer to the hole in golf? Did you ever hear Lance Armstrong complain about kids being allowed to use training wheels?

See what you did there? You used two names that are highly regarded and esteemed by the peers and followers of their respective sports. You use two examples that build strawmen, at best, due to the inherent rules and maxims that exist within each sport.

You can bet your ass that the outcry would be deafening if Tiger all of a sudden demanded that he, and he alone, should be able tee closer to the hole possibly because his age might one day prevent him from hitting the ball as far as he could in his youth. There will come a point in time where he will simply have to bow out gracefully and accept his newfound limitations.

The problem with WoW is that sub-optimal players arent made/forced(feel free to insert your favorite politically correct adjective here) to recognize, accept and improve upon their shortcomings that affects other players in a random LFD situation.

And the patch changes absolutely nothing in that.

And the patch does absolutely nothing to change any of the above. All it does is introduce yet another "least path of resistance" into the game.
 
You should really look at yourself, how angry you get just because you aren't as "leet" any more, just because some other players can now play through the same content as you can. Is that your only source of self-worth? Have you achieved absolutely nothing in your life that would allow you to take a bunch of purple pixels less seriously and let some kids have fun playing a game? I really pity you!
 
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
 
@Tobold

My reputation as a good, honest and helpful player on my server is the result of doing what is necessary to better myself and others on the server that I play on.

I'm not a hardcore raider, nor do I ever use the "kick" feature of the LFD tool. I've stated many times that(in LFD randoms) I always try to help under performing players with helpful advice and suggestions. Whether they listen or not is on them, not me. But at some point that under performing player becomes a burden to the rest of the random LFD group, and this new buff does absolutely nothing to address that. Blizzard created this mess, and these kinds of fixes are geared more towards creating a false aura of player satisfaction(read:continued subs/retention) than they are at fixing the actual social ills of the random LFD tool.

I'm puzzled how you are able to interpret my comments as being "angry", or that I am somehow trying to portray myself as a "leet" player. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I feel as if I have earned the respect and admiration of my peers on the server that I play on, and deservedly, I enjoy the perks that come with that, such as being invited by the top raiding guilds to heal their raids in the event of an absence. But guess what? It's a WHOLE LOT EASIER getting geared, completing content and progressing your character by playing good and developing a good reputation amongst your peers....much moreso than it is by playing badly, not giving a care and having an entitlement complex expecting that Blizzard will nerf content or buff the players as a result.

The LFD tool is a clusterfu** in that regard, and I stand by my assertion that this new buff/fix does nothing to address that.
 
I hear you. But nothing you say there explains why you are so strongly against buffing pickup groups. What does it hurt you?

If you play with friends, you don't even SEE the buff, so what reason would you have to complain about it? It's a different bunch of kids, playing in their own corner, without disturbing you in any way. Why would you want to spoil their fun?
 
Your reasoning is not reasonable at all on this Tobold. It reeks too much of personal motive in your analysis.

What makes player A angry about the easy routes given to player B is that since the game *is* valued at the player level by achievements and status, "giving away" things to any player is inherently unfair, creates an imbalance and makes player achievements less valuable. We cannot forget this *is* a game where status and reputation is extremely valuable. If you tarnish the metric by which it is measured by giving boosts to one group of players while not giving these same advantages to another, regardless of the intent you create social unrest within the system. And it degrades the value of the system. I don't see how this is not apparent to you in your reply, which is why I think it is too heavily laden with personal motive. If you were just getting some name-calling off your chest, have at it. But it is entirely unfair to paint player A as some self-serving asshole who doesn't want player B to have what he does. On the contrary player A would enjoy the game more if player B achieved the same things on a level playing field. This has been true in gaming since high scores in Galaga A level playing field is essential.

I don't know why you are arguing otherwise.
 
We cannot forget this *is* a game where status and reputation is extremely valuable.

I think you are confusing status and reputation with purple pixels. Somebody getting epics in easy mode is not earning any status nor reputation, you do that by playing well with people that know you.
 
While I agree with some people here that a level playing field is important, I think people are dramatically overestimating the value of a 15% buff.

If I had to choose between running with my guildmates and getting a 15% buff, I'd choose my guildmates every time. The groups that are wiping repeatedly and ultimately collapsing before they finish heroics are still going to be having a hard time with them, not crushing everything like its Wrath heroics in 264s.

This change is not that great. If they want to shift towards variable difficulty, then they should do so by using the difficulty system they already have. They should make normal dungeons viable as goals in themselves rather than throwaway stepping stones, but that will take much more major changes.

There are definite pluses and minuses here. Doomsaying is unwarranted.
 
Wow, a lot of you folks who have the good fortune to have the option of doing guild runs instead of PUGs really have a low opinion of the rest of us.

I'm not a lolkiddy, nor do I suck at wow. I just don't have the time to invest in the social game required to be part of a successful guild. I would love to be able to hang out in wow making friends and working on long-term in-game relationships night after night after night, but my real life simply doesn't allow me the luxury.

So what does happen when I join a decent (small, mature) guild is that no-one really gets to know me and I quickly fall far behind in gear and experience (not the in-game type, the learn-the-encounters type) and then am unlikely to be included when I actually am online.

That said, I'm still really disappointed at these latest changes. Sure, I'll now have a much better chance at getting heroic gear, but I'm now even less likely to get a chance to learn the encounters the way they were designed. And getting the heroic gear won't get me any closer to seeing raid content.

I'm not sure what the solution for people in my situation is. All I know is that I'd love to be called upon to use my CC abilities again. Dumbing everything down so that all 5-man heroics are AOE rush-fests is just sad. Probably a smart move by Blizzard, but sad nonetheless.
 
Tobold, I think you're grossly overestimating the ability of the player to keep track of everyone they encounter. Certainly the rewards can be just "purple pixels", but those are the only way to establish the experience and abilities of unknown players.

If I "work hard" and earn some high level gear, doesn't that also earn me the fringe benefit of having those items as badges? Or are you arguing that everyone should only be concerned about how they play and not the rewards they get from playing?
 
Oddly, my experience as a tank differs from Blizzard's reasoning for the new buffed buff. I haven't found LFD PUG's to be any worse than guild groups on vent. It's not that my guild is bad -- they are medium-core raiders who mostly hit 85 within 5 days of launch and have now downed a handful of raid bosses. Nor am I an exceptional tank. But I find that by marking targets, pulling carefully, and referring to my boss ability cheat sheet, I've been able to complete every heroic. I can't remember ever failing to completing one.

One exception: none of my groups have never been able to kill Commander Springvale in SFK. Fortunately that boss can be skipped.

As for the benefit of a 15% buff vs. a 5% buff: in comparison, a jump from a 333 to a 346 is a 13% buff to all stats, as is the jump from 346 to 359 (designations like uncommon / rare / epic no longer have any effect on stats).

And finally, I have to note:
"I pity the fool..." -- says Mr. T(obold). Next up, a Night Elf mohawk!
 
@Tobold,

Please don't read into all the negative posters here as coming from the majority of your readers.
I felt it was important for someone who is mostly from the silent majority to speak up in your defense.

@angry/disagreeing/slightly annoyed people
Being angry at a game is so strange I can only understand it as coming from someone who invested so much in WoW that blurs the line between what is important in his/her life or not.
Reminds me of those people who complain about what's playing on tv but keep watching.
Go out. Meet new people. Do sports. Start a different hobby.
Don't get mad. It's pointless.
Peace
 
@Red Skies: "We cannot forget this *is* a game where status and reputation is extremely valuable."

No, it is EXTREMELY VALUABLE TO YOU.
I give it as much weight as my "status and reputation" as a Monopoly player.

@The Noob: your second paragraph is exactly what I call "playing to feel superior to others", and if people like this quit WoW to go somewhere else, it'll just make the community better.

It's a GAME, you play it to have FUN. At the end of the day it's not your average ilvl or your violet pixel count which matters. Did you have fun spending time ingame? Would you have had more fun doing something else? This are the right questions for a game.

So the relevant question is: will the changes to the game make it more fun or not? (and remember that the way Blizzard looks at this this question is: will it make the game more fun for more people, making them stay and pay the subscription?)
 
While I think Tobold is right to mock and pity anyone that attacks "lesser" players than themselves as some kind of undeserving losers - I think he is equally wrong to claim that those players are "a different bunch of kids, playing in their own corner, without disturbing you in any way."

The reality is that everyone's game experience is fundamentally shaped by the experience of other players we may never contact in game. It is shaped indirectly through changes to the community and directly by the direction taken by developers in response to the community.

I played WoW for many years, but it isn't for me any longer. I'm not bitter or angry or inspired to look down my nose at people that still enjoy it. But that isn't to say that I wouldn't still be playing had the game gone in a different direction (or had not changed direction depending on how you look at it).

You are undeniably right to say that Blizzard has made that right call time and again from a financial perspective. You might also be right to claim that Blizzard has made the game "better" from a game play perspective. But it is simply incorrect to state that the preferences of other players and Blizzard's responses to those preferences do not impact "me" because I don't actually group with them.
 
Variable difficulties makes sense ONLY if you can variable goals or methods in the game. Since Wow only has one goal -- item level -- variable difficulties for getting the same reward can never be construed as "fair".

It would make more sense to allow players to increase item levels through different means -- ie. crafting, grinding, mini-games, etc.

Maybe too, the fun would come back if they gave players choices.
 
@Helistar: I think you've missed the point and taken my remarks about the design of the game to mean something personal

Its not a question of personal view. Its a simple of matter of what the designers of WoW have intended with game mechanics ...which really is anyone's guess these days.

Besides that you are right its a game. And part of the fun for a lot of people, whether you like it or not, is the fact that it has competitive levels game play. It is part of the reason for guilds, part of the reason for heroics, and part of the reason for heroic raids. How it has worked for years until recently is that the devs create content in which every player has an equal shot at completing it and achieving things. When the field is rearranged, many players rightfully feel resentful that their achievement has been devalued.

I'm not sure what your point is in ignoring this fact, but its true whether you like it or not.
 
Does the random buff force us to group with morons? Yes. No. Yes, but it isn't a bad thing unless you're a moron yourself.

If the buff is strong enough that it causes people to use PUGs rather than group with guild members, then the buff must be making it so that the PUG is better than the current groups with guild members. In other words, you won't change your behavior in response to this buff unless it is offering something better.

As for other people running off to join the PUGs rather than group with you, this clearly indicates that you are not 15% better than the random morons in LFD.

This has no negative effects except for borderline bad or unfriendly players who were carried by guildies but are now less appealing than PUGs. So much for being an expression of contempt for good players, it instead reveals the exact worthlessness of players who thought they were worth playing with, but clearly are not.
 
I'm surprised that Blizzard doesn't already have some mechanic that auto tunes raids: Boss HP and Damage = 10k dmg * group average iLevel. That way hardcores would defeat (the same) hard boss and casuals would defeat (the same) easy boss.

I'm sure someone would piss and moan about it though.
 
The problem isn't that Blizzard makes the game easier for "bad" players. It's that they don't do anything to make these players better. I don't mind giving someone a fish if you teach them how to fish at the same time.

Also they're making disincentives for guild/friend runs, but if a 15% buff is enough to get you to LFD, maybe you aren't as closely tied to your guild as you think.
 
Jonny, the problem with that idea is that overgearing is the way players can compensate for lower skill. Casual players, or less skilled players, don't necessarily have significantly worse gear than hardcore, or more skilled players.
 
Tobold and I are in complete agreement on this. How does buffing the ability to complete a dungeon using the LFD tool affect raiders?

Gevlon and company present absolutely no evidence that they will be affected by the buff, going so far as to call it a nerf. As far as they are concerned, it should be business as usual. All I hear is whining that the buff won't apply to guild runs, and vague reasoning that allowing some bad players to finish heroics somehow means raids will be less succesful. Protip: don't let the hated M&S into your raids and it won't be a problem. If a new recruit sucks that bad, don't let him raid anymore. If you know how to read raid logs, it only takes two attempts to figure out that someone just doesn't have a clue.

I love the change. It will really take the edge off the pain that LFD can be sometimes. I've raided every expansion so far. I don't have time to raid this expansion, but that doesn't mean I want to give up hope of ever advancing my characters. Trying to do heroics with 4 random players is like a trip to the dentist. Hopefully, this change will ease the frustration of skilled casuals like me.
 
When this game and your gear are the only representations to the outside world of your value, by decreasing the "exclusiveness" of your gear literally devalues your worth to the outside world.

Yes, you can argue that WoW gear is pretty superficial, but for the people getting angry and upset, the game is likely the only way they can demonstrate value to the "outside" world.

And ultimately, this value is really just their internal value, as most people don't care about comparing gear.

Their self-worth is measured by their gear level in relation to the "masses". Decreasing this divide lowers their self-worth. That is why you see the outrage and anger.
 
This is an incredible amount of vitriol over a player doing 7k DPS now doing 7.7k DPS.
 
@John
"Why should people who can't be bothered to find a decent guild or learn to play get an easier way of farming their justice/valour points? "

BECAUSE John, I don't want to play with people like you.

I don't want to be forced to find that "decent" guild just to run a freakin heroic bud. And since I pay for Wow I have just as much right to have my needs served as yours.

"
I think blizzard have brought this situation on themselves with the easy heroics and raids of WOTLK, and worse still the LFD tool."

I think Blizzard is trying to balance multiple audiences, and doing a decent job at it. As I have said before NO ONE has had a game/entertainment/sport online as popular as Wow with subscriptions.

The LFD and "easy" raids and heroics kept people like me playing through Wrath.

I know John... you "don't want me to play" if I am not up to your standards.

Never fear, SOMEONE will crack the code and make another good MMO. Indications are that at least one game dev company is trying to court more casual play in their upcoming MMO. So... you might find that all your leetness just leaves you playing the 2010 version of Everquest...

Would you feel so leet if there were only 500k players? You want that buttercup?
 
@ Gevlon
"The reason is that now Blizzard incentives playing WITH the morons. If my guildmates find that it's easier to LFD than waiting 20 mins for a guild group, then I can't go with guild group either and "forced" to do LFD."

Gevlon, you have good ideas most of the time. But on this one you are off base.

Just a few months ago you parted ways in Ulduar with a leet guild that brought you on for mucho gold. They took your gold and once they had enough they booted you. This Survivor Island version of Wow where everyone pretty much uses everyone may be how you want to play... but not me. (and since Blizzard is making the change we can safely say that they know where the majority of their player base falls)

Frankly WOW/Blizzard tried the EJ (and asocial) way in Cata and all they got for their trouble is a bunch of Man-Boys beating chests and screaming at less skilled players for observed failings.

Gee is this the player experience that you want paying customers to have? Step right up get into this 5man oh so sad you dont get to play after 40 min wait here is a "lol weaksauce" kick for your trouble.

The Wow community behavior stinks right now in Cata. STINKS guys! I know many of you on this blog comment line think this is the way MMOs should be played... if so go out and get Darkfall. WOW has been usurped by the EJs and made most of the player interaction look like scenes from "Lord of the Flies". It is time for everyone to step away from the Kool Aid bucket and quit ruining everyone's game experience.

This change will make higher gear more available. This in turn will make gear and gearscore of LESSER importance for group play. Thus we have the potential of increasing helpful collaboration. Heck I would like people to just be more polite for a change.

We only have the hope though... Quite frankly I think Blizz has done non-repairable damage to the franchise.
 
This change will make higher gear more available. This in turn will make gear and gearscore of LESSER importance for group play.
I agree with this, but..
Thus we have the potential of increasing helpful collaboration. Heck I would like people to just be more polite for a change.
I disagree with this. Didn't the obsession with gearscore blossom during Wrath, when it was safe to assume that most characters had nearly-top-tier gear? If there's thousands if nearly-identical characters in the queue, what reason there is to be polite towards an interchangeable, substandard cog in the machine?
 
What can be a little bit weird about this is that the buff not only makes a dungeon easier, but actually changes the way the dungeon is run.

I already mostly jumped in trash mob groups, because it was easier this way in random heroics. Now I would always do this (if I hadn't taken a break).

Up until now, in a guild group I would mark stuff, of course. Was much easier on the healer this way.


So what does a tank feel when the randoms tell him: Why do you mark stuff? Jump in there. We got 15%!

Does he feel gratitude that it's so easy or does he feel like dumb, when playing with his guild now?
 
In Cataclysm, Blizzard switched (again) the intended way to play dungeons. Plan what you do. Use CC. Use interrupts. Focus fire. Be observant to what happens. Learn what abilities mobs have. Use all the abilities of your class.

Note that it isn't strictly gear- or extremely reflexes dependent.
It doesn't require any leet skills or perfect rotations.

Many veteran players prefer this way of playing, regardless of if it's in a pug or guildrun.
So, you get worried by all moves towards wrath mindless aoe-fests that were so BORING.
In wrath you could basically go through heroics using a single ability/spell.

So, any ways of encouraging players to improve their playstyle and attitude would be welcome.
Just giving a flat bonus is not helping
 
Guys I realize advancement has always been about gear but the problem started with the Armory then got worse with Gear Score and now its Item level. As long as there is an easy way for Tired, lazy,assinine,(take your pick of word) players to look at one quick easy number and use it to identify who they want to play with instead of going out into the playground and finding people they like it's not going to get any better.

No matter how much some people want to fight it. Socializing trumps any attempt to date for identifying the people you want to hang out with.
 
I'm quite surprised at the amount of rage in this thread.

It seems like 'status' and 'reputation' are a key source of enjoyment for a number of players.

I understand that hardmode raids need to be difficult, but preventing the 90% of players who never step into a raid from enjoying heroics and receiving second-rate rewards for them seems a little bit dog in the manger.
 
Shenanigans: I am on guild vent >85% of the time I am on, but play solo at least half of my time. With cata I repeatedly heard about "join a guild" form all the 1337 and bloggersphere. Yet now people are claiming your guild is not worth waiting 20 minutes or giving up 15%?

I do think there is a flaw in the 2 tier design. A system where people/guilds can no-cc faceroll the regular and not complete heroics sure seems to me to need a middle tier. Atm, a significant group in the middle has no enjoyable content.

--------
IMHO, not enough blame goes to the random aspect.

I believe that a problem is that a lot of Cata heroics are in fact, not about "learning to play better" but rather about "learning to play that fight mechanic better." There are a few fights where someone is not good enough at their class. But the overwhelming majority of the times I have seen it is because people are not good enough at the artificial mechanic for this fight.

So there is strong incentive, 70 VP, to do a random. So you get a PUGs showing up in a random with idk 3 to 8 bosses out of a possible few dozen bosses. HC raiders and player will have memorized all fights. Still, wouldn't raiding progression be slower if you did not know which bosses you would get in your next raid? If you want to teach players, the +70 VP daily bonus would be for the same dungeon each day. People who know the daily is Throne are much more likely to read (I'm old, I should say watch) the fight than when it is one of many.
 
I'm torn. While on paper this seems like a good idea, I can't help but feel this is going to have a negative impact on the community down the road. I can't put my finger on it but it feels like a bad idea, way down in my gut.

I feel Blizzard could have done something else to make pugs easier. This 15% bonus is a handicap designed to compensate for the lack of communication or the chance of getting an absolutely horrible DPS in your group. If the tank or healer sucks the 15% won’t make a difference. So what is considered the “easiest” archetype to play in the game will be easier, it will now be easier to carry 1 bad DPS.

It feels like Blizzard knows their players don’t want to work together to overcome the dungeons. They want the dungeons to be easier. Look at the forums and you can see a very vocal group demanding nerfs. On the other hand there is quite a bit of anecdotal evidence around the blogosphere that these dungeons are doable by even the most casual of groups.

It feels like an unnecessary change.
 
It feels like an unnecessary change.

Seems like Blizzard disagrees after looking at their statistics for two months.

---

It feels like Blizzard knows their players don’t want to work together to overcome the dungeons.

Honestly, if I told you about a game I want to make that uses points to encourage five people, who will never see each other again, into working together to overcome serious challenges that required pre-learned dance steps. What would you tell me?

---

This whole idea with challenging content great! But it doesn't work within the framework of a daily quest combined with anonymity.

When was the last time you enjoyed teaching people, you'll never see again, how to do something? Well, maybe you are the type who occasionally likes to do this. But daily ??
 
If you nerf the instance for PuGs, you either need to nerf the rewards for them, or buff the rewards for guild groups.

It's about fairness, period.

I'm glad for the nerfs. My guild only does heroics a few times a week, and I may only be able to hook up with them once a week if I'm lucky.

PuG heroics are simply a nightmare. Forty min wait, 60 min to finish minimum, only 60% are fully successful. That means an average full clear is about 3 hours for me. That's a raid, folks. I can't/don't want to spend that much time with strangers w/ no vent or voice chat.

The heroic game is dead for me. And I'm not a moron.

I would be happy with optional buffs or buffs w/ wipes, or the standard PuG buff, but the rewards have to be nerfed as well.
 
Bristal,
"If you nerf the instance for PuGs, you either need to nerf the rewards for them, or buff the rewards for guild groups.

PuG heroics are simply a nightmare."

There you go, there's the nerfed reward, a miserable experience.
 
I'm seeing a lot of fence riding going on in a lot of these comments. It's disheartening to see how such a simple concept of risk vs reward can get twisted into a time vs entitlement debate.

Why do people run heroics?

1. To have fun
2. Obtain spec/offspec appropriate ilevel 346 gear.
3. Earn Valor points so they can purchase(GASP!) purple-pixel, ilevel 359 gear.
4. To earn faction rep so you can(GASP!) purchase even more purple-pixel, ilevel 359 gear and the associated plans, patterns, recipes, and item enchants/enhancements.
5. To complete certain quests as determined by zone/instance.

Now, feel free to arrange those into any order that suits your reason for playing and consider the following:

As soon as my server came back up today I jumped right in and started queueing for random PUG's using the LFD tool. I ran a total of 5 instances today to get a feel for how the buff was going to affect the success rate of completing said dungeons. In EVERY single instance we had people dying because they stood in the bad stuff, didnt understand the mechanics of the fight, or whatever. In every single case where someone died, it was a dps class who could have prevented their deaths by simply using a cooldown of one of their class abilities. In Stonecore, on the Dragon fight, we lost 2 of our 3 dps halfway thru the fight due to the spikes, but with the 15% buff, our tank, one dps and myself healing were able to down the boss from ~50%. On Ozruk we lost the same 2 dps players due to Ground Slam. And yes, we were able to finish the fight with just the tank, 1 dps and myself healing due to the 15% buff.

The only difference the 15% buff made in all 5 instances I ran was that it made them a bit quicker if all the dps lives. It did absolutely nothing to address the issue of skill where class knowledge and learning the encounters were concerned. The players who died were still able to roll on, and win the gear as a result of the efforts of the other group members.

So, in short, I have to change the position that I held in my earlier comments that the buff would offer a "least path of resistance" for unskilled players and make learning the instances a bit easier.

It does nothing to address the latter, absolutely nothing.

However, with the 15% buff, it seems that the better players can more easily carry the bad, unskilled players should they die.

I'm still forced to endure the bad players whenever I queue up for PUG's using the LFD tool, but in the off chance that I get a decent group of players, the 15% buff makes things a tad bit quicker.

YMMV.
 
Why is it wrong to be proud of your epics? Simply because they are not tangible items does not mean they have no value to the person who got them. Diamonds are valuable because people want them. They serve very few useful purposes other than looking pretty. Demand for an item creates value. I think it’s fairly ignorant to criticize people for valuing the gear they obtained for their character. They also hold a real world value which can be seen from accounts being sold to many being hacked for in game gold to sell.

If my epics were earned through the hard work of beating Heroics when they were difficult that is something I have every right to be proud of and want to show off as a trophy. I would value my items because of the work it took to obtain them. Now let’s say dungeons are easier all of a sudden. Now having those items would no longer set me apart. While I would still value the effort it took me to earn them the trophy aspect of the items is removed. The perceived value of items is also reduced as everyone gets the item.

I think it’s a perfectly understandable sentiment to not want the items you worked so hard for to all of a sudden be much easier to obtain, thus reducing their value.
?
 
Give a man a fish and he eats for the day, teach a man to fish and...

:)

That's all Blizzard is doing, giving them fish rather than teaching them to fish.

Not to blame Blizzard entirely. The de-noobifying process requires a willing group and, more importantly, a willing player.

What's encouraging the player to learn how to play?
 
This would probably make the difference between an organised group and a bunch of fairly random individuals not so huge - I'd imagine though that the organised, knows each other group is still way more powerful for knowing each other than a mere 15% boost.
 
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