Tobold's Blog
Thursday, May 12, 2011
 
Doubting the value of Apartheid

Both Nils and Klepsacovic have been arguing for player segregation in MMORPGs, separating the good players from the bad players by some game feature. I don't think that apartheid (the Afrikaans word for segregation) is a good idea. Not because it is like in the real world, where Apartheid didn't work all that well in South Afrika, or segregation in the US south; but because virtual worlds are NOT like the real world.

The idea of player segregation is based on a flawed premise, that there are two distinct sorts of players, the "good" and the "bad", or you could call them the "hardcore" and the "casual". That is almost certainly not true. If you plot any natural skill, talent, or intelligence of any population, you always get some sort of gaussian distribution, that is a bell curve in which most people are average, and few people are very good or very bad. For segregation to work, this would have to be a bimodal curve.

One well researched example of this is the IQ curve. In any population most people are of average intelligence, and there are equal, but small, numbers of geniuses and morons. But the IQ curve also shows that people are notoriously unable to have a realistic view of themselves. If you ask people to estimate their IQ, the average of the estimations is 120, which is significantly higher than the real average of 100.

Thus if you ask players whether they are good or bad, you will get pretty much everybody thinking that they are among the good players. If you make "easy" and "hard" servers, you'll find the easy servers standing empty, because nobody would even want to admit that he might not be top notch.

If self-segregation doesn't work, then how about forced segregation? Again that isn't quite as easy as in real life, where whether somebody is black or white is relatively obvious in most cases. If you look at the current population, there are obviously some players who have all the achievements of a top raider, but who did either buy their way into a top raiding guild like Gevlon did, or are the hardcore guild leader's girlfriend. On the other hand you'll have real top notch players who took a break, and are missing the gearscore and achievements you'd be looking for.

In principle some sort of player segregation is already on offer, the same dungeons exist in normal and heroic form. The huge amount of complaints this current system evokes shows that this isn't working well at all. The fundamental reason for that is shared responsibility, especially for the dps role where there are always other players fulfilling the same role. Any group content can only measure the performance of a team, and thus there is always room for a less good player to be "carried" by the rest of the team. If you wanted a working player segregation, you could only offer solo content.

And ultimately the idea of player segregation in virtual world is bad for the same moral and social reasons that segregation and apartheid are bad in the real world: The hardcore raidleader playing with his less competent girlfriend is *not* a failure of the system, but a symptom of MMORPGs being social games as well as games about performance. Segregating friends because they have different degrees of skill is a fundamentally flawed concept, and leads to less attractive, less social, less friendly games, which only the most unfeeling players would actually want to play.
Comments:
This is related to the optimization discussion in a way. The segregation of players happens all the time and it is caused by the number of characteristics the players are given to segregate by. In WoW you're easily segregated to be either optimal or sub-optimal. Easy to be done, this segration shows exactly how antisocial and flawed the concept of segregation is.
 
I'm not sure that I agree with your premise that people would automatically choose the "hard" server.

I am willing to bet that the majority of players of single-player games choose the "normal" difficulty setting (I looked for hard data on this, but couldn't find any). In fact, the distribution across difficulty settings probably forms a bell curve of its own.

If the choice is between "easy" and "hard" as you present it, you may well be right. But let the players choose between "normal" and "hard", and things might well look entirely different. (Even better – give them "kids' mode", "normal" and "insane"...)

If this is the way it works for single-player games, why wouldn't it work for multi-player? If you play on "normal" and find it insufficiently challenging, go roll a toon on an "insane" server. Let rewards and all other things remain the same across difficulty levels, and prohibit server transfers "upwards" in difficulty.

I think it could work well to separate people of different interests.
 
Suprisingly I completely agree with you, segregation would be bad. The reason is that a new player is necessarily "bad" so must go to the "bad" group. However he has no CHANCE to ever be good, as he is surrounded by drooling M&S. He cannot find a group to progress to "be good" as the amount of real newbies in the "bad" group is low.

I wrote it more than a year ago (raiding tiers = segregation groups) http://greedygoblin.blogspot.com/2010/08/fundamental-flaw-of-tiered-raiding.html
 
Did you actually read those (excellent) posts by Klepsacovic and Nils? Nobody said that segregation has to be binary, equal, or strict. (Which would be necessary for your gaussian distribution argument to make any sense.)

Additionally, the natural segregation proposed by Klepsacovic is way different from choosing between the "hard" and the "easy" server.
 
I'd like some sort of tuning of difficulty to be available, at least for solo content.

World of Warcraft could stand to be twice or even three times as difficult and it would only enhance my game experience. At the moment in mostly ilvl 352 pvp gear almost all solo content is laughably easy.

I'm terrible at dungeons, however, and I wouldn't want to see the difficulty of those increased.

People like to be rewarded for their efforts, so I do think harder modes would have to offer more to make them truly appealling - nothing major, maybe half normal loot on 'easy', +50% on 'hard' and x2 on 'nightmare'.
 
I think while skill and effort are indeed gaussian, approach is binary - either you play for fun and don't care about anything, or you play for victory, effectiveness and reaching goals.

I had great pleasure yesterday doing a random dungeon with a pug, where we had a newbie DK who asked me why he has such bad dps and what could he do to improve it. I am ready to talk to such people and wipe with them as many times as needed, but not with those who randomly pull without waiting for the tank, and then, when the tank asks them not to do so, reply "you must be really bad if you can't hold aggro".

This is the difference between good and bad players, and not their reactions (mine are not perfect).

Still, segregation is bad. It steals a chance of seeing good example from bad players.
 
As long as a path exists from the 'bad' to the 'good' to allow players to improve and move towards the good then I don't think implied segregation is a bad thing, but I guess that already exists with T1, T2, etc. The alternative is Oscar's suggestion to have separate servers with differing levels of difficulty; it might not achieve the desired segregation but at least you know what you're letting yourself in for.

@Gevlon: Your 'perfect solution' for tiered raiding is insane. Locking players permanently out of content? Are you serious? Players learn at different rates, not everyone can play 24/7 to perfect their game, you have to allow for that.
 
As long as a path exists from the 'bad' to the 'good' ...

How about the other way around? Personally, if World of Warcraft currently had "easy" and "hard" servers, I would probably want to level up on the hard servers, only to switch to the easy ones for the endgame.

That is actually another problem of segregation I hadn't mentioned yet: The difficulty level would have to be a whole lot more uniform than it is now. For an average player the current leveling game is too easy, and the current endgame is too hard.
 
I would avoid hard servers because of the tits who would tend to congregate on them.
 
I would avoid hard servers because of the tits who would tend to congregate on them.

I think that's called 'positive segregation' :)
 
Illusory superiority is a cognitive bias where people overestimate their positive abilities in relation to other people.

This applies to unskilled people whose incompetence robs them of the ability to appreciate their own mistakes and presumably learn from them.

Segregation between normal and heroic isn't really because there's no means of barring players from attempting content.

You could feasibly do it with difficult solo missions that can't be assisted with that unlock access to a next level of content.

ffxi has that with limit breaks to allow further xp gain, although most aren't that difficult. It's almost uncharacteristic that they didn't enforce the often really hard 75+ one for every job. That would have kept the chaff out of 75+.
 
My post today should help to better explain it. First off, it's not a binary good-bad. In fact, part of my latest post suggests that there can be problems with not having enough bad players.

But the segregation isn't just along skill. It's also interest. Right now we're seeing forced integration. Want to raid? Run heroics. Want to run heroics? Run heroics.
 
I'd advise to really read Klep's and mine posts on it. It's not that we like segregation by itself.

My main argument goes along the lines that

1) if you want a game to be easy to learn and hard to master and

2) you have strong benefits of higher skill then

3a) there is a strong incentive for players to become more efficient.

3b) Moreover, in group-based group-size fixed games there is a strong incentive to only play with equally or higher skilled players.

If you combine this with a feature that forces all players to play with each other (LFD) or incentivize players to create guilds early on in the game, before they even know what raiding is, you cause social drama.

Looking at any other game/sport from chess, through soccer to M:tG, you will see that there is self-segregation everywhere. It is not necessarily bad.
But I am also careful. That's why I wrote a follow up post. Well, just read the links ;)

@Tobold: There are many very different ways to segregate the player base. Klep and me chose this word carefully to underline that we are aware of the potentially negative effects.
 
If players self-segregate, and if ones performance increases with time played (for example, due to accumulation of experience/gear/rep/etc.), you've set up a game that encourages those who want to progress to burn through your content as fast as possible. If they don't, they get left behind, and the segregation bites them hard.

Blizzard complains about players burning through content and quitting, but they've set up a system that promotes exactly that.
 
How To Segregate Yourself From Bad Players

Stage 1: Join a good guild

Stage 2: Play only with them and players from other good guilds

Stage 3: Profit
 
Bernard, you left out:

Step 2a: Be a good player yourself, so the hardcore guild doesn't gkick your sorry butt.
 
Isn't this sort of the system you have with attunements or flagging in EQ? It isn't the whole server, but the barrier to entry (to use the economic concept) serves a similar purpose.

Honestly, I think that the keys and attunement in BC were a good compromise, and would have worked well with the current LFG tool. By the time someone had enough rep for the heroic version, they would have done the regular version enough that they are ready to rush through the instance. To be attuned for raiding, they would either have a dedicated group boosting them or be a dedicated player.

Segregation? No. But barriers to entry slowing people from entering and requiring some commitment to the mm part of mmo? I think that was better.
 
Moreover, in group-based group-size fixed games there is a strong incentive to only play with equally or higher skilled players.

Thank you for pointing out EXACTLY why segregation can never work. How can you possibly have everybody group only with players of equal or higher skill, without anybody being forced to group with somebody of lower skill?

Unless you find perfectly equal players, which probably don't exist, this is obviously impossible. For everybody who groups with somebody higher skilled, there is by definition somebody who has to group with somebody lower skilled. The problem is everybody wanting to be the former, and nobody wanting to be the latter, but that is a problem which is impossible to solve.
 
Try approaching this from a different perspective. You are the designer tasked by the boss to come up with a system which will segregate or stratify the player base into groups for whom the difficulty of the content can be tailored.

The fundamental goal is to provide players with a consistent level of challenge which they can overcome by a narrow margin without failing more than 50% of the time. Players should end up grouping with other players of similar skill so that no single individual carries or impedes the progress of the group beyond the above guidelines.

Knowing all the little details you posted already about player self perception etc what would you propose? and suggesting that nothing be done at all is not an option. Show us your three best proposals and what the difficulties or problems would be with each.
 
And how do you explain the self-segregation of players in games like soccer?

- fixed team size,
- easy to learn and hard to master,
- high benefits from higher skilland playing with player with higher skill.
- And still players self-segregate.

Please recognize that this self-segregation is the reason these games don't have the optimization-problems that we, and you, have discussed a few days ago.

Sure, there is a hell of a lot of of online and offline material about how to play soccer. And most players who play soccer don't read it. And nor do their peers. Optimization isn't a problem, because players self-segregation into groups of similar aspirations.
 
Knowing all the little details you posted already about player self perception etc what would you propose?

1) Easiest approach would be the one Blizzard already took with 10-man and 25-man dungeons: Make dungeons of different difficulty levels which are otherwise mostly identical, and give the same rewards. Thus there would be normal dungeons and normal raid dungeons, and there would be heroic dungeons and heroic raid dungeons, only that the dungeons themselves and the loot drops would be absolutely identical. Players can freely choose at any moment what kind of a challenge they feel up to, there is no barrier nor segregation.

2) Create a system where it is to a player's ADVANTAGE to carry others, where the player hopes and prays to be grouped with 4 complete morons, because such a run awards him points towards some legendary item or other perk. (Some Asian F2P games have systems where players earn things for mentoring complete n00bs)

3) World of Tanks
 
I think this is not an issue about segregation, but the LACK of a system to measure the true ability of a player. There's also a LACK of adequate feedback in terms of "how good am i really?" .

It is basically like using your IQ as only criteria in a job application. We all know how flawed this is. Replace IQ now with "GearScore" .

How are the sports world doing this? There's a ranking system, you work yourself up the ranks by being measured on various scales applicable to the sport.

Is playing club football vs. premier league football "segregation" or "ranking" ?

Single player games with the Easy,Normal,Hard,Nightmare modes are different because they give you feedback without offending you. You will eventually determine "i can't do this at this difficulty/level" and course correct by either changing difficulty or changing your gameplay.

In a social game, the only feedback you're gonna get is a group mate telling you that you're a "noob" and to "lrn 2 play" . I think this "feedback" has become counter productive as players don't see it as acceptable feedback, so they never "course correct" .

To put it bluntly:

How is a Tank measured?
How is a Healer measured?
How is a DPS measured?

Are these measurements used "after the fact" to determine progress and give feedback in a such a way that the player can get an idea where he fits on the scale and what he can improve?

The difference between playing football for your local club vs. playing in the premier is very obvious, not only in terms of skill but your time commitment to the sport. I believe this is NOT obvious in an MMO, players think and expect you can play Premier League football "only on weekends" .....
 
And how do you explain the self-segregation of players in games like soccer?

I explain it with the fact that soccer is not at all like a MMORPG.

And soccer players do NOT self-segregate. Ask any 3rd league player whether he would accept a million-dollar contract with Manchester United, and he will always say yes.
 
Tobold, let's look at the skill gap we're talking about here. Currently with flattened content the highest and lowest together. Sure, a tiered system will end up mixing skill levels, but if there is enough content, the mixing won't be too much.

We don't like playing with people half our skill, but what about 75%? 90%? As was said, until we all play alone we're going to be with less-skilled players. A flat system won't fix that. No system will fix that. So we might as well figure out some way to let players filter up to where they are.

Your Manchester United wannabe isn't really an example of not self-segregating. Odds are, he's never applied to the club and he's never expecting to join the club.
 
Your example is misleading, Tobold. Most soccer players don't play in professional leagues, but rather on the community level. Hell, half my neighbors play soccer and they would never ever move anywhere to play at a higher level. Well, maybe for a million dollars, but that's really about the extreme external reward then, that you cannot have in a MMORPG.

Otherwise, yeah, soccer is not an MMO, and if you read my blog carefully, I meantion a few implications of this fact.

The big questions that need to be answered are this:

- What is the exact difference of MMOs and other games, like sports? What can we learn from other games?

- Why does self-segregation work for many of these games, but not so well for MMOs?

- How does self-segregation help with the inefficiency phobia?

- What role does expectation management play?
 
I think you should avoid using sports as an analogy. MMO players are anonymous gamers slumped at desks pressing buttons, it's a very different mindset and produces very different results.
 
I don't believe the answer to questions such as "how can you differentiate between good and bad player"? or related ones are that difficult to answer at all. In fact it is so simple that a decent player will instantly recognize a good player from bad.

Mostly though, it becomes even more obvious in situations where things don't go as planned. For example, during a pull if things start to get hairy, does the hunter try to trapan add? Does the tank and healer start using CD? etc.

even more obvious example would be a warrior tank that never shield walls and causes a wipe, or priest healer doesn't use Power Word: Barrier, etc.

These things make it obvious, at least for me, that these players are not performing at a level that I expect from them. Therefore, it is obvious, to me, that these are bad players.

I believe the more important question is this. The criteria between good and bad players are obvious so how can Blizzard implement a system that detects these criterias and group people according to their gameplay?

This is similar to Nils' soccer example. Player don't self seggrate but rather based on their technique, speed, control, etc. it is obvious to all others that "this guy just won't cut it..." It is similar to the criterias a person shows during gameplay.
 
Amateur soccer players self-segregate based on where they live and how many times a week they want to play. Once those are taken into account, there is also a mindset in place about making the best of the players you've got.

In some ways it's different from the MMO world where you can join any guild you like at any time. But in others quite similar. Sure, Bernard (in comments above) may think that "Step 1: Join a good guild" is straight forwards.

What he means is "Join a guild that is on your timezone, plays on a convenient schedule for you, has people you don't mind hanging out online with, has a spot for your class, and shares similar progression goals to you ... and is stable."

If people could do that easily, there wouldn't be a community problem. Hint: Most raid guilds aren't all that stable, at least not compared to an amateur soccer team. Why is that?
 
Hint: Most raid guilds aren't all that stable, at least not compared to an amateur soccer team. Why is that?

The reason has already been pointed out: Opportunity.

---
A few hours ago Nat commended on a different topic:
Two groups of photography students took pictures during a workshop. At the end, the first group was allowed to pick only one to take home, and the other group got to take one home now, but could also get a different one if they changed their minds.

On average, the people who only got to choose one remained happy with their choice a couple of weeks later, whereas the ones who were allowed to change were generally less happy with their choice - whether or not they changed their picture.

The very presence of choice causes more, and more frequent, evaluation of what you've got - whereas if you have just the one thing you ended up with, you make the best of it and actually end up happier.

---

And this is really a highly interesting phenomenon that is quite incompatible with the western culture. In fact, on a grand level of things, I think it is wrong: Opportunity and choice are always good. But on a lower level they are sometimes bad.

Example: If you're locked-in into your local soccer team you can be more happy than if had you had the choice to move to a better team. This also applies to WoW .. and to the roles switching in Rift.

Hint to Tobold: Last comment for this post ;)
 
I think you should avoid using sports as an analogy. MMO players are anonymous gamers slumped at desks pressing buttons, it's a very different mindset and produces very different results.

Is this "real Dave" or "fake Dave"? Because if this was written by the real one, it is probably the first time I agree 100% with one of his statements.

A big part of the difference in mindset is the difference in rewards. MMO players expect harder content to give more rewards, and access to more content than the "less good" players have access to. But as everybody wants the rewards and the access to more content, the self-segregation will not happen in a MMO as long as you don't give out the same rewards and content to every skill level of players.
 
@swimrdm: First off, just how obvious are these things? In my experience players are not so binary. For example, I've more than once been the cause of a problem, let's say with a mispull, and then the solution, by effectively kiting, CCing, and generally demonstrating a lot of skill. Does that make me good or bad? On one hand I failed at tactics, on the other hand I succeeded at tactics. On top of that, in a raid environment a perceived lack of skill by a player may instead be a bad or poorly-adapted strategy.

I doubt a program will be able to reliably separate good and bad players. What to us looks obvious may in fact not be at all.
 
@Spinks

"Join a guild that is on your timezone, plays on a convenient schedule for you, has people you don't mind hanging out online with, has a spot for your class, and shares similar progression goals to you ... and is stable."

If your time schedule, tolerance of others, class and progression goals are not conducive to finding a guild, do a Gevlon and start your own.

If no one shares these requirements with you, then you will need to compromise on one or more, or not play the game in the way you wish.

To use the football metaphor- does anyone feel sorry for the guy who wants to play a 5 a-side match with friendly professionals in Skelmersdale at 3am every Wednesday morning?
 
"3) World of Tanks"

Weren't you one of the many people who pointed out that the only reason RIFT (at that time) had no optimization drama was because they had only been playing for a month? How did that work out?

Why don't you come back and talk to us when you are at max level, playing with other max level World of Tanks players who are serious about winning.
 
Is this "real Dave" or "fake Dave"?

The real :)
 
Ok, segregation must be made by not only character level, but also by player experience level. This has alrady been done succesfully in a lot of games and if you thing Blizzard is incapable of doing it start playing some Starcraft.

Player experience, his gametime patterns and raiding behavious patterns can be easily stored as usable data and used to guild the player with people from the same timezones and the same timepatterns, and then it can be used to group him with people representing the same payer experience level (number of raids, number of raids wiped when he was the first one killed, number of wiped raids when he was the one who stopped attacking first and ran away etc.) It can be forced on the players like in Starcraft2 and everyone will be happy with the leagues and ladders. After a wipe there can even be a vote on 'who caused the wipe' and the 'winner' of such a vote can be tagged accordingly, building up a database that would match people even more accurately. This can be done and easy (if not counting the tremendous server/database support required)
 
silvertemplar said: I think this is not an issue about segregation, but the LACK of a system to measure the true ability of a player. There's also a LACK of adequate feedback in terms of "how good am i really?" .

I would welcome an objective way to measure my own skill, because I'm always striving to improve, and I am aware that my subjective perceptions can blind me to areas I need to improve on. If such tools were in place, and everyone used them to improve themselves, it would be wonderful.

I'm less keen on being able to see how someone else is doing via such tools. It could lead to the same abuses that GearScore currently lead to.
 
What do you think about self-segregation via play style?

Like rated BGs and arenas are only available on "HCPVP" servers.

Raids are only available on HCPVE servers.

5-mans and normal BGs are only available on "PvP" and "PvE" servers.

This way people would go to the server where their preferred content is. While "HC" servers would have better rewards, lower players would still not go there as their preferred content would not exist there.
 
Levelling on a "hard" server and migrating to a "normal" one at cap seems uncontroversial. It's the other way round that would provoke the ire of the gifted ones ;)
 
Isn't segregation already happening with gear score and achievement checks?

If only leet players were on the server, wouldn't there be another round of selection to separate the uber-leet from the average-leet? It never ends really.

People's concepts of good and bad players vary anyway. I would rather play with fun "aka good" people that can learn as opposed to the elitist know-it-all.
 
Why don't you come back and talk to us when you are at max level, playing with other max level World of Tanks players who are serious about winning.

Why would I even want to? The complete content of World of Tanks is available even if I stick to my level 3 tank. Which is why I would say WoT already solved the problem we are discussing here.
 
Maybe I am viewing this in an over simplistic way but isn't WoW completely segregated as it is?

Every facet of grouped play at max level there is a barrier that your toon is scrutinized before crossing.

Raiding - Even the most casual of guilds attempting raid content will check your gear to make sure you aren't a complete moron, to the ultra progressed guilds that might require a full resume and multiple interviews. Segregation

Looking for Group 5 mans - The Blizzard tool for auto compiling groups does so by sorting you by role and iLvl. Segregation.

Arena - Your Arena score sorts you and determines the opponents you will face. To join a team you have to choose mates. Those teams can be even more exclusive than raiding guilds, and understandably so. Segregation.

Rated BG's - You have a form a team in the same way you would for a raid. Similar experience. Segregation.

That leaves the Tol Barad battle and un-rated BG's with little to no strict segregation for the max level toon in WoW.

Why would anyone want separate servers etc, WoW is already completely segregated as it is!
 
"Why would I even want to? The complete content of World of Tanks is available even if I stick to my level 3 tank. Which is why I would say WoT already solved the problem we are discussing here."

I see, you are not arguing that the optimization drama doesn't exist, you are arguing that WoT allows you to segregate yourself from it.

Hmm, I remember reading a recent blog post somewhere saying that kind of self-segregation wouldn't work...

"because nobody would even want to admit that he might not be top notch."
 
Tobold admits he is not top notch, so a point for Tobold.


But then, when the leet players do reach the optimum and will be bent on winning they will *ensure* to inform anyone of their moroniness in the most jackassible way. A series of mathces with guys like that, and the fun in WoT is over. tobold back to 0pts.
 
Hi, my name is Warsyde and my gaming skills are average at best. I'd probably play on the "easy" server. Maybe on the "easy" server I'd seem good! :P

Nevertheless, I agree with you. Player segregation in such a manner would not really accomplish much. Player segregation already exists in MMOs, it's called "Guilds". Elite or hardcore guilds act to segregate the "good" players from the "bad" ones already, why would we need a game mechanic to do the same thing?

Despite the frustration grouping with bad players causes, having nothing but perfect grouping experiences would quickly become dull and the perfection of the experience would cease to have value.

It would be nice if players could see having a less skilled (or geared) player in their group as an opportunity to help someone else in the game, but sadly that rarely happens. The weaker player is typically derided or kicked.

Sigh.
 
3) World of Tanks

...is apparently not good or deep enough to motivate you to pay money for it. Ergo, a bad example for serious MMORPG developers to follow.
 
saying that kind of self-segregation wouldn't work

It doesn't work in MMORPGs. It works in WoT, which isn't a MMORPG. In WoT you get all the content already at quite low level, and nobody cares about your gear.

In WoW, if you limit yourself to normal dungeons, you are excluded from a huge amount of content (raid dungeons), and other players call you a moron & slacker. Thus even players who don't really want to, feel kind of obliged to do heroics, so as not to segregate themselves from the other players, be insulted, and miss out on content.
 
I don't recall a whole lot of in-game problems back in vanilla. People did their own content and didn't feel much need to start fights with each other over who was doing the wrong content. It's only more recently (relatively speaking) that we have all these insecure people putting others down and feeling put down.

I'm not saying it was some magical happyland, but noobs tend to be an "out of sight, out of mind" problem. If they're not constantly being put into, or expecting to join, your groups, they tend to become a non-issue.
 
Warsyde: why would we need a game mechanic to do the same thing?

We don't. We only need the game designers to stop forcing the opposite (forced integration ala LFD).

And soccer players do NOT self-segregate. Ask any 3rd league player whether he would accept a million-dollar contract with Manchester United, and he will always say yes.

Except Manchester United would never extend such an offer to a bad player. And as Manchester United is made up of players (in a general sense, where manager/coaches are also included), it can be said that soccer players do self-segregate. You're throwing out unrealistic examples that wouldn't happen in reality to prove your point.

Thank you for pointing out EXACTLY why segregation can never work. How can you possibly have everybody group only with players of equal or higher skill, without anybody being forced to group with somebody of lower skill? Unless you find perfectly equal players, which probably don't exist, this is obviously impossible.

Except people don't care if their fellow teammate is only 99% as good as himself. Or only 95%. Probably even 90%. If they've gotten to know each other, even as low as 80%. Players can (and do) assemble into stratified bands of player level. See: Every raiding guild ever made. This is self-segregation at its best (and why you say it can't work, I have no idea), and yet there are always a couple people who do worse than the others. But I rarely ever ever ever see people ridicule another person for performing not as good in any of my raiding guilds.
 
"Thus even players who don't really want to, feel kind of obliged to do heroics"

This I definitely agree with, but I also agree with Klepsacovic. Vanilla WoW was a little less directed in what you do at level cap. Blizzard has developed the game into a single "intended" PvE progression. There is not really any available alternative path, you can only stop early (in the minds of most, "fail").
 
In WoW, if you limit yourself to normal dungeons, you are excluded from a huge amount of content (raid dungeons), and other players call you a moron & slacker.

I have never seen someone be insulted for NOT doing content. Even Gevlon wouldn't call someone who realizes their own limits and is not capable of running heroics a M&S (actually, someone isn't capable and still tries to run a heroic anyways would more likely be called a M&S).

Thus even players who don't really want to, feel kind of obliged to do heroics, so as not to segregate themselves from the other players, be insulted, and miss out on content.

You realize that if heroic randoms didn't offer valor points, these players would probably be the only people in LFD? And as such they would be self-segregated properly?
 
Wouldn't having 2 or 3 different difficulty levels make an MMO less multiplayer and less immersive? How do you handle players moving from one "plane" to another?

Consistency and stability and relative "fairness" of rules are not optional in creating a virtual environment that people can trust and lose themselves in.

Allow overall difficulty levels and you have way to much "game" and not enough "world".

WoW creates relative difficulty levels by nerfing content over time, buffing randomly grouped players, willingness to spend time and gold optimizing specs & gear, and of course through leveling itself.

And in any MMO, you have absolute control in segregating yourself. How lazy are we expecting the game to do it for us?

That said, allowing any level player to pick up any level quest and scaling XP/rewards would be a nice option for advanced players leveling alts.

But I imagine the reason they don't is class balance. Certain classes would be able to level so much faster than others, and balancing that would probably be cost prohibitive.
 
"To use the football metaphor- does anyone feel sorry for the guy who wants to play a 5 a-side match with friendly professionals in Skelmersdale at 3am every Wednesday morning?"


No, but most amateur football clubs are based around the idea that members have jobs and families.

But in any case, all I'm saying is that 'find a good guild' is not an easy step, especially if you don't have 3 nights a week free to raid. (which is true of a lot of people.)
 
Tobold, that's not self-segregation. You are TWINKING.

Your max-developed lvl 3 tank is like the lvl 19 rogue with 1K HP oneshotting the 400 HP guys in Warsong until Blizz fixed it.

Bad, bad, griefer Tobold!
 
Aw, all the comments are gone. Maybe I wasn't clear enough with it, but my goal is to promote segregation by interests and goals, in addition to skill, but even the skill part is not meant to be binary. I have a post about the skill distribution and how it affects raid population, but it's the one that got eaten. And today's post as well about seeing content.

On a totally different angle, what's with the friends thing? Why do we assume that we want to, and must be able to, play with friends? That's just asking for trouble. I have a few friends who play/played and I wouldn't want to play with them. We don't want to do the same things in the game. It would be as ridiculous as saying "let's play sports together!" and then I want to go running and then want to play football.

I think it's an unreasonable expectation. I don't do everything with all of my friends. Why should WoW, or any other game, be different? Ideally I could play with friends, but in my experience the thing preventing that is not skill or server divides, but divergent interests. The friends I did play with were friends I had made within the game (sort of) who had a common interest.
 
Agreed.
Put the bad players with the good. Its NOT "stupid players with smart players"; stupid cant be fixed, but "bad" can.

I just started the troll heroics and I have never raided. OHMYGOD! Its not like anything. You REALLY have to know the fight and FOCUS, the first few times. But then it gets easier. The first few runs through I was not bad, I was terrible. I died incessantly, and it was made worse by quiet pugs; nobody offered any advice.

My 4th run I got a tank who talked me through the fights. Much of it I had already read and/or experienced, but it still made it a lot easier. So having the "good" tank helped make me less of a "bad" player.
 
"segregation by interests and goals" seems like a good idea to me. It may well go a long way to reducing a lot of friction in the actual *play* of these silly MMO things. Y'know, if playing is important, anyway. (It isn't always; sometimes it's just a means to an end.)
 
I don't think it makes any sense for game designers to internationally segregate players. Players will play with who they want to play with.

What makes sense to is avoid rewards structures that funnel people with very different goals into the same activity. When players "segregate" themselves (which just means that everyone does what they want to do and so they only do it with other people who want to do it) you shouldn't put in incentives to desegregate (which means encouraging people to do things they don't want to do).

What made the WoW LFD tool such a breeding ground for bad manners was the rewards for playing it.
 
I personally don't even get what the point is for making raiders do daily heroics in the first place.

Raiders in this game are pretty much by definition already doing dailies (raiding 3-5 times a week). So funneling them into also doing heroics seems pretty silly.

As far as I can tell, dailies are a hook for people to come log onto the game for just a short while, but when raiders are already hooked by one of the strongest hooks around (essentially trapped into a work schedule), the last thing you need is yet another hook that stabs these players again.
 
@Sthenno: The original argument for "reward structures to alternate activities" is to increase the depth of the game for the average user. This relates to Pzychotix's comment as well.

There's 2 main corporate-overlord hooks that encourage it. First, so long as you are always busy with WoW, you won't look elsewhere for entertainment. This blocks competitors from even attempting to lure you away, as you aren't "in the market" for their product any more.

Secondly, the more you do, the more you're going to socially advertise for them. You're more likely to make them aware of the game, and more likely to bring them into the game.

A less "manipulate the players" outlook is just that sometimes players don't know what's fun until it's forced on them. They're doing it to make you happy! It's an acceptable risk, and a compliment to the game, if you get burnt out from doing daily bgs, daily heroics, weekly TB quests, raids and arenas, and auctioning for multiple characters.
 
I would love to see the ability to 'tune' difficulty levels in an MMO. Just about every single player game ever made has that exact option, and guess what? Most people start with their comfort level, and progress beyond that when they feel more confident/capable. I doubt there'd be much difference in an MMO.
 
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