Tobold's Blog
Friday, May 06, 2011
 
Extrapolating optimization

Different blogs / bloggers have different styles, often contributing to the same discussion in very different ways. One of the blogs I read regularly is Killed in a Smiling Accident, a blog specialized in a more humorous, satirical style of expression. And I must say Melmoth really nailed it in his contribution to the optimization discussion: If we say that it is better to use an optimized build, gear, spell rotation, and boss strategy from the internet than trying to figure out those things by ourselves, then why take the next step and make a bot program from the internet do the execution as well?

Going even further, I would rather play a game where I do the strategic and tactical decisions, and the actual combat is completely automated. I used to play board games like RoboRally or Diplomacy that worked like that: The players made all the decisions, wrote them down, and then the hidden commands were all revealed at the same time, and the execution performed without further input from the players. That should be even easier to implement in a computer game.

Now some people will say that the execution *is* the game in a MMORPG like World of Warcraft. But if that is the case, then why do we have things like talent trees and different spell choices in the game?

Thought experiment: If you slowed down the execution part of a game down by a factor of 10, would it still be fun? I believe that raiding in WoW fails that test: The decisions you take during raid encounters are often completely trivial and uninteresting, like whether to stand in the fire or not. If you had lots of time to execute your moves, the moves itself would be far too boring to interest anybody.
Comments:
I don't play them myself but do these games not already exist as strategy games?

If you slowed down the execution part of a game down by a factor of 10, would it still be fun?

Not sure the raiding aspect would be, for me most of the fun comes from controlling the ensuing chaos and making quick and timely decisions.
 
Interesting thought experiment.

I'm fairly sure that at a factor of 10, WoW would not be an interesting game, not least because Cho'Gall would take about an hour to kill. If the challenge is not in optimisation, because that is all done for you, and the challenge is in "reacting at speed", then we are truly in CoD territory. Choose your class (=WoW role, say tank), choose your loadout (=gearset, say avoidance set vs threat set), and play action game. The only real difference to CoD is that you exchange spatial complexity (using cover) for rotational complexity (in CoD you'll most likely be choosing between long-range weapon, short range weapon, and explosives, and not much else).

I'm not sure that making optimisation (talent trees and enchants) LESS important would help though. You would essentially be just choosing a third, largely cosmetic feature in the CoD analogy. WoW (as the content is currently designed) is just an action RPG where the gameplay is all action-oriented inside the raid, as opposed to "collecting-poweringup-strategising" outside the raid.

Anyways, I still don't really see much value in the whole optimisation debate, either way (although I'm a sucker for good thought experiments). One reason I don't really like it is that compared to other games, we still have a great deal of "choice". We can choose what class to play (tank, DPS, heal), we can choose style (hot and trot druid healer, paladin turret healer), we can choose what loadout to select (mana regen vs throughput, threat vs avoidance, range damage versus melee damage). I can't help but think that asking for choice when we have ALREADY selected class role, style within class, and loadout, is just wishful thinking. A reasonable counter-argument is that if there is no "choice" once you have selected prot paladin with a threat loadout, then what is the point of having talent trees at all, and I don't have a good answer to that. I wouldn't miss them, they add nothing to my gameplay.
 
You know who else is completely redundant and should be replace with preprogrammed bots? Formula 1 racers, that's who.

Now, some people will say that high-speed driving is the whole point of F1. But if that is the case, then why do engineers spend so much time and money optimizing and fine-tuning vehicles?

Think of it: if you slowed down the racecars to 30-40 mph, would F1 still be fun to watch or participate in? Of course not. The split-second decisions that Michael Schumacher or Rubens Barrichello make during the race are trivial and uninteresting when taken out of context. If they had lots of time to turn the steering wheel or decide whether to go for a pit stop, Formula 1 would be as fun as driving to the supermarket to get one's groceries - that is, far too boring to interest anybody.
 
One of the repeated fallacies in these sort of debates is the hardcore video gamers thinking they are doing something which is actually as hard as F1 racing, or olympics sports, or surgery. When in fact all they do is press a few buttons very fast, with no negative consequences if they do it wrong, and no added value for society if they do it right.
 
I played a game called Mind Rover back in the day which was basically a robot that you programmed. Being a programmer, this game appealed to me and was quite enjoyable.

In addition to just specifying pre-programmed commands; you could insert addons into your robot that performed various functions (all of which had to be programmed).

These addons could be sensors (to acquire more data for making decisions) as well as action devices (guns, etc.)

There would be a lot of opportunities for micro-transactions in a game like that.

The typical scenario is two pre-programmed robots fighting it out in a duel; but it is interesting to consider an MMORPG built around this construct.

It is easy to envision quests where you have to accomplish some goal under certain conditions and you start programming your robot to do that. Equipment and skill upgrades would work nicely.
 
I don't like it coming down to just pressing the right buttons very fast repeatedly. As a reaction to something the game does, sure but all the time: no no.
Auto-attack with reasonable damage, less abilities with more impact but longer cool-downs. Abilities that further options.

so combat becomes biding ones time + reactions to the game + abilities in appropriate gaps.
 
If you really want to play a game where you only make the tactical and strategical decision, you might want to check out Command Ops: Battles from the Bulge.
 
Tobold, you are comparing some jobs with raiding. Most people do not in fact believe that if they fail to move out of the fire there are some major social consequences. They might not beat the boss but that's about it.

So, most people who are raiding are finding it fun to make split second decisions without all the hassle or the RL consequences that F1 and surgery has(or at least thats what I believe).

Also, the rotation is the "basics" of raiding. You are supposed to learn it and keep it running during the whole raid encounter and that's where the challenge comes from. That's why the rotation in WoW and frankly most of the other MMO's are pretty straightforward.
 
WoW straddles genre somewhat but not enough, in my opinion, to speculate on whether or not it's mechanics would stand up as a strategy-type game. Of course they wouldn't, they're not designed that way.

~Reala
 
One of the repeated fallacies in these sort of debates is the hardcore video gamers thinking they are doing something which is actually as hard as F1 racing, or olympics sports, or surgery. When in fact all they do is press a few buttons very fast, with no negative consequences if they do it wrong, and no added value for society if they do it right.

Despite the difference in the level of difficulty and the scope of consequences involved, it is perfectly possible to compare F1 racing and hardcore WoW raiding, if we reduce both to abstract models and focus on certain key features.

Namely, both activities have two distinct phases: Optimization and Execution. In order to achieve success, participants need to display great performance during both phases. It is possible (and not entirely uncommon) for "Optimizers" and "Executors" to be different people. And finally, high reaction speed requirement is a key factor of the challenge during the Execution phase, and removing it (whether by slowing the event by a factor of 10, or by replacing the Executor with a lightning-speed AI) renders the whole task meaningless.

Oh, and both are working just fine as intended.
 
I concur with Ephermeron. The simple tactics involved in WoW are made enjoyable because of the fast, threatening nature of the execution, not in spite of it.

Optimization seems delightfully analogous to the automotive world as well. I know car friends who will discuss at length the smallest advances and changes in technology and their favorite designs. The fact that there is probably only a few "optimal" designs does not sap the conversation of vigor. The calculations involved in modification are widely known but are not boring for being known.
 
Oh, and both are working just fine as intended.

No, they don't. It appears blindingly obvious to me that the INTENTION of Blizzard is to get a maximum number of players subscribing to World of Warcraft for the longest possible time. So to be working as intended, the raid game would have to increase the number of players, and make them play longer.

All the evidence we have points towards Cataclysm raiding *not* working as intended. Even Blizzard had to admit that, when they postponed Firelands due to few people having actually beaten the current raid content yet. And as far as we can judge from activity numbers, the number of players is decreasing, and they are staying shorter than before.

What you are saying is "I like the game as it is". That is okay. But it is not the same as "working as intended". WoW raiding isn't working as intended, just the opposite.
 
Take almost any sport/game and slow it down by a factor of 10 and it would become boring. In what way does this affect the quality of the game when played at full speed?

WOW raiding isn't about tactical decisions (most of the time). I see it as more of an action game, and speed/reactive decisions are a big part of that.
 
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That is an interesting point: if there is one best way to do something skill-less, why bother to have it? By skill-less I am refering to talents, which I need no skill to correctly place. In contrast, even if I know the perfect strat, I may not be able to execute it, at least not on the first try.

What might be interesting is to commonly see "hard but better" and "easier but weaker" talent choices. A player with perfect timing can run a more difficulty rotation, and therefore get more damage out. A player who is slower can run a safer rotation for lower damage. The more risky rotation would be just that, risky, so that it is not the optimal overall, merely for those players who can use it. Of course this would be a balance nightmare and will never happen except by accident.

@Ephemeron: Be careful with analogies, they may be completely useless if you pick them wrong. The mechanics and racers fine-tune their own vehicles, based on some common knowledge, but also based on their own expertise. And they are absolutely nothing like the average players, being better compared to WoW is it was only the top half percent.
 
> Namely, both activities have two distinct phases:
> Optimization and Execution. In order to achieve success,
> participants need to display great performance during both
> phases. It is possible (and not entirely uncommon) for
> "Optimizers" and "Executors" to be different people. And
> finally, high reaction speed requirement is a key factor of
> the challenge during the Execution phase, and removing it
> (whether by slowing the event by a factor of 10, or by
> replacing the Executor with a lightning-speed AI) renders
> the whole task meaningless.

There are two major differences:

First, there is no formulajerks where the engineers can look up the best way to tune their car or the correct way to build an engine. They have to develop that on their own. Each team on their own. And there is no armory where you can check the winning car and copy it's adjustments.

Yes, that's a major part of F1 and what makes it interesting. There are other leagues where every driver gets the same car, but F1 is about optimization. But that's the whole point, this part of the game cannot exist in WoW because of EJ and the armory.

The second difference is that for F1 you need about twenty capable drivers out of all human beings on the world. If only 20 people would be able to raid in WoW we all wouldn't be one of them.
 
WOW raiding isn't about tactical decisions (most of the time). I see it as more of an action game, and speed/reactive decisions are a big part of that.

Agree with that, and that also ties into the discussion about optimisation not being the game killer that it is often perceived to be but rather a stepping stone to get to the action/fun. Rohan sums up both points well here:

http://blessingofkings.blogspot.com/2011/05/optimizing-and-fun.html
 
No, they don't.

Point taken. I should have phrased that as "Both have a number of problems at the moment, but said problems do not directly result from the aforementioned common features".

Optimization/execution dichotomy existed long before Cataclysm. Players used external sources of information to optimize their characters long before Cataclysm. Raid encounters required moving out of the fire long before Cataclysm. Therefore, whatever caused the current decline, it's something other than those factors.
 
Therefore, whatever caused the current decline, it's something other than those factors.

I don't think we can exclude the influence of these factors that quickly. I would say that while you are right that the optimizers were always there, there was enough room in a 40-man raid to encompass both optimized super-performers, and their less optimal friends.

Now that even 25-man raids have practically been eliminated from the game, there are only 10 spots left for the super-optimized, and the other 30 players find themselves with no endgame perspective and quit.

Vanilla raiding was at least in part a social event for a wider population. WotLK had "heroics for everybody". Cataclysm only addresses the needs of the optimized, and by failing to provide accessible endgame content for a wider audience fails to keep that wider audience playing.
 
I think the discussion is becoming distorted. I played WoW for 6 years, always figured out my builds for myself, used EJ and Tankspot as reference points to check decisions I'd already taken and always intended to make an optimal character. And fwiw in my opinion at time the characters surpassed the template.

Random idiots would sometimes criticise me but almost invariably they had no clue. Anywhere it mattered, like an application to a decent guild, I would have the opportunity to state my case and show my maths.

And for that matter even in server first guilds the pressure to perform was more about not standing in void zones/fire than about hps.
 
Vanilla raiding was at least in part a social event for a wider population.

Not too sure about that, vanilla WoW required a organised group of decent raiders to progress, a group of 40 with half casuals wouldn't get past the first few bosses in MC. In fact endgame content was generally unavailable to the casual player.
 
"then why take the next step and make a bot program from the internet do the execution as well?"

Let me turn that around... How about I create a game just like Wow but with 1 ability button "Kill Monster". You press it you win. How would that work for ya?

-No need to optimize
-No need to read up on the internet
-No need to worry about people to tell you which button to push.

What? No takers? Gee so this multitude of buttons appears to have some appeal Go Figure.

So let me see if I get this straight you are telling me it's silly to optimize becasue "you should not have to research to play or some such argument". But when presented with the ultimate "no research game" all you brainiacs would get bored.

So in my efforts to give you a game with maximum choices to prevent boredom. And a player comes up with a better combination yielding better results but requiring effort to invent. You complain?

I feel like I'm teaching a class where one student found a good review outline on the internet and spent 5 hours less time studying for a better grade. Then the not so bright students come to me complaining they didn't think it was fair he got a better grade.

I guess I should tell you guys what I always told my students... That's Life.

A few answers...

"Thought experiment: If you slowed down the execution part of a game down by a factor of 10, would it still be fun?"

Er no It's called a BOARD GAME... last time I looked sales of Monopoly were pretty stable, no growth there.

"If you had lots of time to execute your moves, the moves itself would be far too boring to interest anybody."

Bingo... last time I looked there was not much demand for playing Baseball using Walkers
 
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Do me a huge favor and stop using racing analogies; they are just really bad with regards to this discussion. If you can't articulate your idea without forcing an analogy that doesn't really fit please just don't.
 
Also for an interesting read you should check out the Rift forums with regards to macro's.

There is a huge debate about the Rift macro's making the game to easy and removing skill from the game.
 
WoW raiding isn't working as intended, just the opposite.

@Tobold, I was under the impression that more people (%wise of the total playerbase) are raiding now than ever before. Raiding, gearing up, and the stats on gear now are all streamlined so that the average person can understand and walk into a raid. Whether or not they are performing at a the highest level is a different story.

In raiding you have people who will show up to raid "just for funsies" like you have people who decide to drive their car for enjoyment. Then you have people who show up to "perform at the highest levels all the time, because that is fun to them." This is your F1 driver. Not everyone has the skill to execute like them, but they'd tell you exactly what they use to optimize and drive a car exactly like them (cost notwithstanding) as to that driver optimization is NOT a choice, it's merely a necessity.
 
Rift macros are pretty silly.

My uber min/maxed DPS warrior hits three buttons. A charge (usually this is hit once per encounter), a builder macro, and a finisher macro. That's it. I can literally run group content with one hand if I'm DPSing. (And I'm guessing I could set my G15 to run a better-timed macro of the macros to up my dps without the need to hit a button beyond the charge and macro start/stop key).

It's a joke, and they are making the content EASIER...
 
@Dave

It really depends on how you define "casual." I would agree that the time commitment for raiding was probably higher in vanilla than at any other point in WoW's history. However if you define "casual" in terms of optimization or player ability, vanilla WoW was much more forgiving in terms of bringing players that were not of the highest caliber. You could clear MC and ZG with a lot of "dead weight" in your raid. BWL and above was a different story though.
 
Yes, macros and addons are another fine example of players optimizing the fun out of the game. People CLAIM to want challenge, and then install 20 addons, all designed to make raiding easier.

@Angry Gamer: See? That 1-button I win already exists, you just need the right macro/addon setup.
 
Yes, macros and addons are another fine example of players optimizing the fun out of the game.

They also make the endgame more accessible to the sub-optimal ;)

Agreed on them turning games into IWIN buttons though, Rift without addons was a good move, pity they decided to add macros.
 
Automated AND sub-optimal is the worst of both worlds. The goal is not to be sub-optimal, the goal is to have the freedom to experiment. If you have a hundred options, 99 of them are by definition sub-optimal. That doesn't mean that there can't be 50 of them which are sub-optimal only by a fraction of a percent, and still a lot of fun to play.

Somebody who want to have fun playing is less likely to install an I WIN button than somebody who wants to optimize to get to the reward fastest.
 
This is why I deliberately do not use macros in RIFT. I know it is a sub-optimal choice, but when I am playing a game, I would actually like to PLAY the game, not have it played for me. I can watch demos for free. That doesn't cost $15 a month. :P
 
Here is the thing, turning combat in Rift from two rows of abilities to two buttons gets the combat closer to what I like (less 'what to press', more 'when to press'). The problem, of course, is that 'when to press' in a themepark is almost always "PRESS AS FAST AS YOU CAN, 100% OF THE TIME!! GOGOGOGOGO". Giving me two dozen different icons on my hotbar is not the solution, nor is that challenging.

Darkfall has one keypress for melee (swing); it has the deepest combat of any MMO (IMO but more fact an opinion).
 
@ephemeron
Driving a car was exactly what I was thinking about as well.

Most don't go to a car dealership and ask to spend days engineering a new car, learning how the engine works, "tweaking" the timing, testing new tires, etc.

They want to buy the best car their money can buy and drive it.

Playing WoW w/ an optimized character is just like that.

And the thrill of the quick decision-making, steering, accelerating, is what it's all about.

Playing a "hmm, should I do this, or that? if i do this, then he might to THAT and then THIS would happen..." is not what MMO's are.
 
When studying mathematics, most of my fellow students and even professors agreed, that when you know that there is a solution to a problem and if you know how to get it, actually getting it is a mindless and boring task.

So, one day I complained that the homework that were given to us was mindless and boring. After all, I knew from experience that I just needed to invest enough time to find a solution. In fact, the homework was made in a way that this was within my abilities and, of course, there always was a solution.

I think people were inconsistent back then when they told me that I got this wrong - somehow.
 
Yes, macros and addons are another fine example of players optimizing the fun out of the game. People CLAIM to want challenge, and then install 20 addons, all designed to make raiding easier.

Please stop mixing two distinct groups of players. You make it seem like they're the same people.

In addition, you're approaching it from the wrong viewpoint: players want to try face the full might of player resources against the developer resources. Not using addons would be against the point.
 
Blizzard's contribution to optimizing for the sub-optimal:

http://blacksen.com/archives/1474

Go Blizzard. The sooner the better, just go.
 
And on optimization:
If we say that it is better to use an optimized build, gear, spell rotation, and boss strategy from the internet than trying to figure out those things by ourselves, then why take the next step and make a bot program from the internet do the execution as well?

No one says figuring out your own optimizations is a bad thing. It's figuring out your own optimizations while wasting other peoples times that is the bad thing.

People forget that the theorycrafters are people too. Why are we so resistant to learn from them? Do we spit at our teachers and say "NO! I want to derive the value of 1+1 myself!" Is it so bad to accept that other people have spent the time for you researching what you would've spent the next 5 hours doing?

Or if you really want to take part in the experimentation, why not join the theorycrafters in their discussion? Apply some of that brainpower of yours.

And come on: Thought experiment: If you slowed down the execution part of a game down by a factor of 10, would it still be fun? I believe that raiding in WoW fails that test:

Twitch games are fun precisely because they are twitch. Maybe you don't enjoy them; fine. You've established that. But many people do enjoy it more than enough.
 
@Nils

It's because you missed the point of homework, which ought to be (sometimes isn't) an exercise showing that you understand the material taught and can apply it to find solutions to given problems.

It's like saying "I know the strategy for beating the boss and I know that, given enough time, I can defeat the boss, so why do I have to spend time actually defeating the boss?" It's because the actual execution is also important.
 
Thanks for saying it clearly Mingdi ;)

Tobold's argument seems to be that a problem is not fun to solve if the only thing that prevents you from solving it is not enough available time.

And in some way I agree; and always agreed. But I also recognize that this argument only goes so far. Even in Chess they use time restrictions.

In the end, all we can say is that we prefer challenges in a MMORPG that are hard on a specific timescale. Just like Tobold, I think that the current timescale is too short.
 
"NO! I want to derive the value of 1+1 myself!"

Well, I actually can derive the value of 1+1 myself. And I would be deeply ashamed if I had to look it up on a website. But that is just me, apparently you don't feel that sort of shame. You press a trivial button very, very fast and think that is an achievement.
 
Did anyone here ever play Number Munchers? You'd control a weird green guy who ran around the screen eating formulas that matched the answer. For example, if it had 10, you might eat 20/2, 5x2, square root 100. It required a quick mind and quick fingers. Unfortunately, it was for children and I don't think they ever made a Calculus Munchers. So there you go, the game with split-second intelligent decision-making, is for children.
 
Y'all seen the new Tron movie? Klu was an optimizer. He was the bad guy. Perfection is already all around us. Enjoy.
 
For the umpteenth time, my comment is:

if someone would make an AAA graphical version of Progressquest, they'd have a licence to print money.

Who wants to waste time pressing all those buttons anyway?
 
Turiel wrote:

@Tobold, I was under the impression that more people (%wise of the total playerbase) are raiding now than ever before.

Where did you get that impression? Progress tracking sites like wowprogress or guildox show fewer guilds raiding than in WotLK. Also, you know those that ARE raiding have largely switched to 10 man raids, so the number of players involved has likely fallen by an even larger factor.

If the % of the playerbase that is raiding is larger, this would imply that many non-raiders have simply quit the game. Not quite the way Blizzard would want to achieve that particular metric.

Raiding, gearing up, and the stats on gear now are all streamlined so that the average person can understand and walk into a raid. Whether or not they are performing at a the highest level is a different story.

I think this was Blizzard's design intention, that they could eliminate secondary roadblocks and let more people perform at a top level, so they could tune the content up by assuming people weren't handicapping themselves artificially. If so, the design was a failure.
 
I have a fake Dave :)
 
Clearly, game balancing has a huge influence on this discussion. It is obviously enormously challenging to create encounters and dungeons that can be interesting and fun for "self-optimisers" without being boring for the hard core.

Perhaps Blizzard's fault was to call them "heroics". As it is now, heroics are generally not expected to be more than normal difficulty. The average player would clearly see it as an affront if he/she could not complete a heroic.

But in single-player games, only few do the "difficult" mode, and even fewer do "insane". Perhaps if Blizzard had called the hardmode dungeons "insane", they simply wouldn't have looked so attractive to the majority of the player base, allowing the hardcore to run around and be... insane? :)
 
The ten might be a tad excessive, but I thought the "slow down by a factor of 10" was a very useful way to analyze gaming.

My simplification is that games are designed so that success depends in varying degrees upon luck, knowledge, intelligence and reaction time.

I am not sure than any one is good or bad, just different games with different appeal.

A game is that is nearly all luck is great if you are much smarter/older than your opponent. Or your primary motivation is socializing/drinking/gambling addiction.

And FPS that mainly require reaction time are not bad games merely because I loathe them. Millions love them.

In this context, I will install any addon that, press any button and lobby for any change that reduces the reaction time component of my game. But I love the seeking of a priori knowledge; I enjoy the very rudimentary linear programming of WoW - Is it worth trading off 27 haste and 5 crit for 9 int and 12 hit?

Player "skill" is some combination of knowing the gear/spec you need, how to use them, what the fight will entail, and what you do and how quickly you do it.

I see two different uses of "optimizers." Is it people who insist on optimized gear/spec before the fight or optimized button clicking (movement and DPS meters) during the fight?

Tobold's recent posts have been about knowledge optimizations - a priori reading versus in game experimentation. I wish that was a significant part of WoW. Rather than the can you "do the boss dance?" ( after installing DBM and watching some videos ofc) without it interfering with you pressing the buttons to keep your ranking on the DPS meter.

@ Tobold over Turiel all my anecdotal evidence is fewer people raiding in Cata and fewer people playing Cata. The % raid may go up due to people quit playing WoW. In fact, the simplest, quickest way to increase the average raiding skills in Cata would be to double the price. Millions of those casuals would go away leaving the 1337 to play their game.

The ATVI earnings are scheduled to be released after the market close on Monday. It will be interesting to see if they discuss subscriber numbers.

@Nils: there is also the Zen aspect of homework: If you really want to be great you repeat the skill - bouncing a basketball, foul shots, penalty kicks, putting, driving - until it becomes second nature; muscle memory.
 
(Sorry Hagu for continuing my train of thought straight through your thoughtful comment)

...having slept on it, I realise what I should have from the beginning that that the heroic 5-man instances are part of the progression to the raids, so people would have to do them even if they were called something less cool than "heroic".

How about this though? Most single-player games will ask the player right at the beginning to choose a difficulty level. Why not translate that to MMO:s? Operate "easy", "normal" and "hard" servers. The only difference between them (essentially) would be the mobs' hp. Rewards and everything else would be exactly the same. Wouldn't that be an awesome way of allowing different kinds of people to get what they seek? Transferring between the different kinds of servers shouldn't be possible, but there's nothing stopping you from rolling toons an either type, so you can have a facerolling aoe-fest in the afternoon and a nail-gripping hyper-optimised hardcore raid in the evening. Fun for everyone?
 
"If you had lots of time to execute your moves, the moves itself would be far too boring to interest anybody."

That can be said just about any activity. And as everything else it can be taken too far.

But it's a personal choice. You frequently say that if players want challenge then they should not read strategies or install add-ons. The same can be said about you: if you want to figure things out for yourself, don't read them as well, try to figure things out for yourself.

The key here is sometimes people forget that a guild is supposed to be an association of like minded individuals. All this problem arises when min/maxers and are in the same group. While the later might be having fun, the formers are just taking 45 minutes more to complete a dungeon.
 
@Wyrm: Any activity? What about chess, for example?

I would think that a game of chess where you have about 2 hours on your chess clock for the totality of your moves, but have to THINK yourself which moves to make would be a lot more interesting than a game in which you only get a second per move, but the moves were shown on a display and you just had to execute them.
 
"Thought experiment: If you slowed down the execution part of a game down by a factor of 10"

If you change that to 3 or 5, then you have time dilation, CCP's answer to lag during massive fleet fights in Eve. And people in Eve are saying yes.
 
The un-Wrym:

Can you think of (m)any non-atheletic games invented prior to the mouse where speed was a significant part of the game? Can you think of (m)any game non-atheletic designed to be played for more than 25 years where speed is a significant part of the game?

I have read complaints from early grade school teachers that all the well-designed edutainment software for 3-12 year olds gives them lots of color and sound and near continuous stimulation and feedback. And perhaps that is why sitting still and paying attention for an hour straight can be problematic for some.

Could it be this is not a game design issue but rather part of the devolution of the species?

:-) and/or :-(
 
NoizyGamer, in eve, isn't losing your ship a fair blow? Even if you have insurance?

Perhaps if gear in wow could blow up, certainly the stakes would be higher. I mean, in eve your ship is your gear (and your implants in your dude - but he can get blown up too, right?)
 
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You press a trivial button very, very fast and think that is an achievement.

And you think reinventing the wheel is an achievement, so I suppose that makes it even, eh?

I never thought you would fall on the side of Gevlon's "what people find fun makes them stupid" argument.
 
Tobold: Well, I actually can derive the value of 1+1 myself. And I would be deeply ashamed if I had to look it up on a website. But that is just me, apparently you don't feel that sort of shame.

You missed the point there. Obviously this would be before you learned the concept of 1,2,3 or 1+1=2. Casual players come into the game with a blank slate, which was what I was making a point with.

And no, why would I be ashamed to look up stuff on a website? Why should I be ashamed to do simple mathematics on a calculator? I may do simpler stuff in my head of course, but I often open up a calculator when it requires anything more than 3 digit math. It certainly is simple enough to do myself, but why shouldn't I use every resource at my disposal if I have it? Similarly, there's no reason to be ashamed to look up research that takes many hours to come to a conclusion. This isn't a matter of pride.

If people as a whole would just stop worrying about their own pride, the world would probably be a better place.

Tobold:You press a trivial button very, very fast and think that is an achievement.

Tobold: I would think that a game of chess where you have about 2 hours on your chess clock for the totality of your moves, but have to THINK yourself which moves to make would be a lot more interesting than a game in which you only get a second per move, but the moves were shown on a display and you just had to execute them.

I thought we were past this point in the discussion, a long time ago. Chess and Guitar Hero are two completely different games, and there's no way to objectively say that one game is better than the other. One game is more interesting to me, and one game is more interesting for you.

Ad yes, I can think "pressing a trivial button very, very fast" can be an achievement.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=runtc3Da0CE

Just being able to pass that song alone is an achievement to me. I'm unable to do it, so I'm left in awe when I see expert players play it with such ease.

I don't necessarily think that my own raiding prowess is an achievement, but then again, raiding is also another different game; organizing 25 people together to learn, plan out, and execute to kill a raid boss is something our guild as a whole can claim as an achievement.
 
The problem is you guy being so pathologic about optimization.

There is nothing wrong with being 95% optimal and trying to figure out the last 5% for yourself. Because most of the time you actually end up with a better result than the one you copied from EJ, which didn't take into account your personal talents and habits.
 
/facepalm.

I don't think I've ever seen anyone berate someone over being 95% optimal instead of 100% optimal. No one's that crazy about being optimal, except perhaps sponsored raiding guilds where there's actual money on the line. I doubt even the people at Elitist Jerks are so hardcore optimists that they'll boil at the sight of a single non-optimal talent point. Like has been repeated over and over and over and over again, most of the literature at EJ only provides a wealth of information and research, allowing for players to do what they want with it.

What optimal-ists get mad over is people playing vastly below the potential of their character. 85s in heroic gears doing sub 6k dps, when even a fresh 85 can pull upwards of 8k with basic rotations and talent spec. We're talking huge differences of maybe like 30%. Not over some piddling 5%. People aren't that crazy.

Except "optimization freaks". Who are rare freaks and should be treated AS SUCH.
 
It's not the EJ that are being accused, at least not directly.
The info they provide is the cause of 89,5% of jackassiness in the community, because if you prefer to play something else then the *obvious* EJ-approved builds, you get blamed and kicked. You can't group because there's no understading for sub-optimal builds.

This is in no way EJ's fault. They just get the obvious calculations and test out to the community. it's their fun to figure the optimal way out before anyone else does. Problem is that once it's out there you are force to use the info, otherwise you simply fall behind. Maybe it's hard to imagine, but some of the players didn't sign in for a Race of Death but for a multiplaer game which was supposed to be fun. I've got enough competitions and fighting after 8h at work to pay Blizzard for another 4h of hearing how moronic I am with my talent choices, when all I want is defeating the undead, finding the evil killer, slayng the dragon and saving the princess with a party of never before met adventurers. I don't need the lessons on where I absolutely should have put my points.

and you know what? If there was a game to which I could sign to receive a single character with no subscription, but the char would only be playeble until he's dead, I'd go there. I would waste an evening or two playing and die in a fight with a dragon over some princess. Probably the adventures had that way would count for much more then what they're worth now and playing would be more then grind min max macro optimize orgy.
 
Or, maybe without EJ, the optimizers would still be frustrated at non-optimizers, except now non-optimizers wouldn't have any sort of resources to help them out.

Also, you seem to think that optimizing requires any sort of real effort in the first place (in your words: "grind min max macro optimize"). For those who don't have the time to learn all the available information, there are cookie-cutter builds which tell you everything you need to know.

But then again, an MMORPG like WoW isn't the type of game you should be playing in the first place. There are plenty of other games that don't require any prep and you can just jump in and play. Wow isn't one of them.
 
I have an idea. It might be far-fetched. But bear with me on this.

Rather than telling people to quit because they won't play the way you want them to play, what if you just didn't group with them?

I know, it's insane, but it could work.
 
And really, EJ is just an excuse on both sides. Even without EJ, if bad players and good players get mixed up onto the same team, there will be bad blood and frustration. I've played several other team-type games, like DoTA, HoN, LoL, L4D1&2 which contain the similar gameplay element where a single player can bring down the team. There certainly online resources that you could use to better yourself, but no collected resource that every single person points to like a cohesive resource like EJ is in WoW.

And yet there are players even worse than those on WoW. But now, not even the insults will lead you somewhere to better yourself. If you ask your insulting group members where you could possibly learn to play better, at least in WoW they can just say: "Go read EJ noob, l2p."

I have never seen that happen in all of my days playing any other game. It's all: "Wow, ur bad.", "YOU'RE BAD. GTFO." "My teammates are just terrible. Please win already". There's no easy advice to give, so they can't explain it to you. It's way easier to insult than it is to help.

So please think twice before you think that EJ is a bad influence.
 
I remember a time before EJ. A time when if we wanted to act superior we had to either know something or be revealed as full of shit. Now people just say "read EJ noob" and pretend they are useful.

Besides, EJ isn't for most people. It was never meant to be some sort of universal go-to for everyone. Once upon a time it was a place for people who knew what they were talking about to theorycraft and discover, not a reference page for elitist dickbags to vaguely point at.

It's like sending children to NASA to learn addition. Just not helpful for anyone at all.

I say if you can't help a person yourself, you're probably not actually good enough to act superior.
 
I mean I know it's not EJ's direct fault, but you can't argue that EJ and people like this add fuel to the fire.

But yeah, you make a point. Only that makes the discussion to circle back to the community and the design of the game.

As you said - WoW is not a game where you can jump in and play, you have to prepare learn and study to enjoy playing, so waste some out-of-game time not playing just that when you actually play you're good enough for the game. For me it's actually a design flaw, but on the other hand 12 million players can't be that wrong.

On the other hand, no matter the design, once the community would stop picking on the ones that play a without trying to figure out the optimal builds the whole problem would go away instatnly.
 
Belatedly:

Thus far, though I eventutally left it as I have left most MMOs, Planetside remains one of my favorite online experiences. The best part about that game, for me, was building a certification build that let me try out new tactics on the battlefield, and new ways of contributing to the war around me.

That's what I miss in games like WoW - there really isn't any reason to do things other than 'the best way'.

In Planetside, I could buy Heavy Weapons and block doors or mow down ground troopers trying to file through chokepoints. Or, I could by a small airplane and use its mobility to take that same heavy weapon on the offense, by dropping in unexpected locations. Or, I could take the Galaxy cert and do the same thing with an entire squad... and so on.

Where is that in WoW or anything like it? Rift comes close, but so far I haven't found anything that rewards uniqueness.

For example, I decided to try an assassin build with the ranger subtree for the pet.. but that doesn't work post level 30, as my pets cease to level with me. For 30 levels, though, I'd throw my distraction into the fight, fade out of the shadows with backstabs and poisons - it was a great deal of fun. Yet, the game penalizes me post-level-30 for trying that playstyle (especially as nothing else in the ranger tree supports it!).

Anyway - point is, where's the uniqueness, the ability to do what I want to do within a build?
 
but so far I haven't found anything that rewards uniqueness.

Hmm, how about skill/abilities that become less powerful if other people near you are using them?

In evolutionary biology, there's something called frequency-dependent selection that works like this. The effect is thought to be a cause of genetic diversity in populations.
 
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