Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
 
Teamwork

Stabs continues his very insightful analysis of raiding in World of Warcraft. In his latest post he says about raiding: "It's a team game where you "win" by succeeding on an individual level." That is the other side of medal we discussed previously, where we said that individual mistakes in WoW raiding lead to full scale failure.

Now as you know I currently play mostly World of Tanks, in which all gameplay is team-based. And obviously many of the players in WoT are familiar with raiding from WoW and other games, and carry with them this mindset that "if we wiped, somebody must have made an individual mistake (and I'm sure it wasn't me)". Which is completely wrong most of the time, because World of Tanks doesn't work like that. It is perfectly possible in World of Tanks for every player on a team to play flawlessly on an individual level, and the team to lose anyway.

To demonstrate, let me propose a game with very simple rules: Two teams with 15 players each face each other on a battlefield with 3 lanes. On every lane where the number of players is equal or plus/minus 1, the combat stalls. On every lane where one side is unopposed or has 2 players more than the other side, they rush through and win. Without seeing what the other team does, what would be your winning strategy? The trick is that there isn't one! For every combination you propose, let's say 5-5-5, I can find a countermove (7-4-4) which will win me the game. And World of Tanks can play out the same way: All maps have multiple paths (although not necessarily exactly 3 linear ones), and players often have to decide to go down those paths without having knowledge where the enemy goes. So sometimes your side's rush on one side just gets stalled, why the enemy marches through to your flag WITHOUT THAT BEING THE FAULT OF ANY INDIVIDUAL PLAYER.

That isn't to say that there is no skill involved. Organized teams on teamspeak have an obvious advantage over random pickup groups with little or no communication. And even individually players can sometimes beat the odds and win on some spot in spite of being technically less strong. But overall the final result is quite often a consequence of a sum of individual decisions, and that result can be a loss without there being one objectively wrong decision. I've won games with completely unconventional "stupid" decisions because I ran down some path unopposed, and lost games in which I played nearly perfectly and killed 5 other tanks, because everywhere else my team got outnumbered.

World of Warcraft raiding is a game of perfection in execution. World of Tanks requires a lot less perfection in execution, but demands much more strategic thinking. And unless there is good coordination via voice chat, the strategic thinking has to be done by each individual player. And even if they do that, a battle can be lost because by the time you get the information, it is too late to act on it. For somebody who only looks at his individual performance and execution, that can look suspiciously random. For a strategist the reason your team lost is often very clear, and has very little to do with any individual having made an obvious mistake. In hindsight you might say "oh, I should have gone left instead of right", but at the point you made it, your decision was probably quite reasonable.

Personally I get much fulfillment out of making correct strategic predictions in World of Tanks. By having played a map many times, and by looking at the composition of the two teams, one can often make intelligent predictions of what is likely to happen, and then act upon these. Enemy has lots of light tanks? Somebody will probably rush over and try to kill your artillery, so you better guard them. A correct prediction will not always win you the battle, but it sure will contribute. The big difference to WoW is that in WoT your best move depends on what moves the other players of your team make, e.g. two scouts running down the same road is probably not as efficient as them splitting up and covering two paths. Thus World of Tanks isn't simply about execution, but you constantly should keep the overall situation in mind, check sighting on the the mini-map, and make decisions accordingly. World of Tanks is a game about teamwork, and that in my eyes makes it far deeper than a game about perfect individual execution.
Comments:
Doesn't a lot of this come down to the difference between PvP and PvE, though? In World of Warcraft, arena and battlegrounds exhibit similar properties.
 
I cannot help but think there is little point in talking about "strategy" in what you describe in WoT because there is no one actually responsible for said strategy. At that point, doesn't a "spontaneous" 7-4-4 maneuver end up being a game of paper-rock-scissors depending on who went to what lane first and/or who decided to follow whom?
 
Thanks for another mention, Tobold :-)

Chronic, it's more complex than simply being pve. There's no reason you couldn't have a team MMO. If you gave no individual rewards and progression was a matter of whether your team progressed you'd see team PvE.

More, we used to have an element of that in raiding. In Eq and Vanilla churn was lower and players weren't so trained to personal progression. So it was perfectly feasible for a raider to hope the boss drops the tank shield so the main tank would get it and your raid could try harder content. Tanks were often pleased to see healers get loot because their personal longevity depended on healer mana.

That's changed because of high churn. Churn is becoming so fast it's making raiding unviable for pretty much anyone who isn't in the server first raid guild in Rift for example. 2 weeks ago my guild stopped raiding because of lack of interest and I moved to a new guild. On Monday the new guild died due to lack of interest.

We were happy friendly and successful, people just didn't like the gameplay and didn't feel a sense of being a part of something larger. I really think raiding is in crisis and the only way out is to design so that people feel part of a team again rather than coming to a raid thinking "Do I want anything off this boss, am I the Mage with the highest dkp?" then deciding half the time there's no point going.
 
Doesn't a lot of this come down to the difference between PvP and PvE, though?

I would say it comes down to the difference between an unpredictable and a completely scripted fight. Right now PvE is completely scripted, but if PvE was less predictable, it would acquire more of the characteristics of a PvP fight, where you have to think on your feet instead of just executing a known best strategy.
 
Agreed on your description of WoT, which is why I like it and why I think so many people on it are terrible at it. (e.g. Most people are dumb, and in fact so dumb they don't even know that they are dumb.)
 
I don't know if you play WoW anymore but if you do, I really suggest to try out Tol Barad. It is exactly the strategy game you mentioned:

3 bases (+3 towers), offenders have advantage at each (closer GYs) but they have to win at 3 bases at the same time.

Proper strategy always beats "pwn skillz".

It applies to rated BG a lesser extent we won a flag carrier map 3:0 against a higher rated team. We had 9 killing blows, they had 73. They surely were better PvP-ers, but their strategy was stupid (all together, meet the EFC head on).

You should really give WoW PvP a chance (from your posts it seems you never tried it).
 
I tried WoW PvP and didn't like it. Not because it would lack strategy, but because the timescale of the action is too fast to be enjoyable to me. I find bunny-hopping circle-strafing warriors in full plate to be as ridiculous as they are unfun.

I also don't like the fact that if you die in WoW PvP, you respawn. There is no respawn in WoT, if you die you are out of the battle. You would be surprised how much more apparently intelligent people play if a game has negative consequences for stupid moves.
 
If Stabs is right and "raiding is in crisis", that's great news.

I've never liked raiding. Not for any of the reasons discussed here, but because I don't like any activities that require a lot of organization, discussion and co-ordination and that lock down my options to decide to quit on a whim and do something else instead.

I do, however, love running around in a big group of people doing stuff and having stuff happen, without feeling very much commitment to or concern over the outcome. Were raids to morph into something more like tearing around the playground in a big gang, shouting and yelling, that'd suit me fine.

I'd much rather be a virtual seven-year old than a virtual synchronized swimmer.
 
I agree, but keep in mind that ..

In hindsight you might say "oh, I should have gone left instead of right", but at the point you made it, your decision was probably quite reasonable.

.. is the reason a lot of players will complain. To fail although you did everything right seems unjust for some people.
That's what people often complain about in EVE.
 
I think you're missing the point here a little - it's still teamwork, even if people learn scripted fights. there's different strategies a team needs to go through and learn in WoW, communicate, coordinate, find the way that works for them. there's never "the one way" for each raid guild as guilds still fight with variables such as setup, levels of skill etc. wow raiding does need cooperation and teamwork to some extent.

What I do agree with though is that in PVP the predictability of fighting is a lot lower, and hence teamwork raises to another level there; however, it's almost a sort of "intimate" and intuitive relationship you need to have with your team, months of experience together and knowing how each person thinks and acts, that will make you and excellent PVP team. that's what I enjoyed in wow's BGs although they were still highly scripted in places.
 
In hindsight you might say "oh, I should have gone left instead of right", but at the point you made it, your decision was probably quite reasonable.

.. is the reason a lot of players will complain. To fail although you did everything right seems unjust for some people.
That's what people often complain about in EVE.


This is actually the one part where I disagree, and thanks for pointing it out.

This isn't so much of an issue in WoT. Like Tobold said at the end, if you have a couple of brain cells to rub together, you can look at the way your team is breaking out in the first 60 seconds, before anyone makes contact, and tell if you are going to win or lose more often that not.

That's not hindsight, that basic tactics.
 
The thing that is dragging down raiding is the necessity to farm raids. You can get great teamwork when people are trying to figure out how to beat new content. However, once you beat the encounter, you have to repeat it so you get the gear for the next tier of content. The content gets boring and people lose motivation.

In vanilla WoW I had great fun in Molten Core but after beating it about five times, I did not see much point in going back to it. The fact that in order to be a 'team player' I had to keep repeating it endlessly, really soured me on that sort of teamwork. The entire system was a massive soul crusher.
 
The way you described it makes World of Tanks sound a lot like League of Legends, except with Tanks. I love League of Legends so now I might have to get around to trying World of Tanks.
 
Correct tactics in WoT require map awareness by all players and successful execution by most.

Those things are not present in most WoT matches. Its rare that you play with a team of players who "get it"

Despite the fact that all those things are present in Clan Wars battles the win is still far from guaranteed and boils down to who has better strategy , coordination and team cohesion


My most frustrating matches in WoT are losses because players on your team are just "dump pubs" And while you could pull out miracles on your flank they would fail trivial things such as advancing into capping circle, or shooting the cappers). It just underlines the flaws of random pug matches: most people are idiots.
 
However, once you beat the encounter, you have to repeat it so you get the gear for the next tier of content. The content gets boring and people lose motivation.

According to the game's detailed statistics, I have played 1757 battles in World of Tank. There are only 16 maps, so I did each map over a hundred times. And I am not bored yet.

Thus I would say that having to repeat a raid a hundred times would not get boring if the script didn't result in each of the hundred times being identical. WoW raids are actually more interesting while you are losing, because you can wipe in many different and interesting ways. Once you start winning you find out that there is only one single winning strategy, which is what makes raid farming so boring.
 
most people are idiots

And miraculously everybody who says that believes that they are the exception to this rule. They aren't.
 
[q]And miraculously everybody who says that believes that they are the exception to this rule. They aren't.
[/q]

Well - thats what metrics exist for. In part of intelligence - I am in 3 standard deviation above normal, so not quite genius , but certified "non-idiot"

In games I play I also check my standings . If I was playing arena I know rating below 1800 is complete scrubs. Same in chess , and so on. So I know for a fact that I am scrub LoL player. I also know I am in top 2% of WoT players and I was in top 0.1% in my region when I played CS

Statistics do not lie. Player can lie to themselves and try to interpret what statistics mean exactly , but at the end of the day they are what their stats are
 
I also know I am in top 2% of WoT players

Weren't you just saying a minute earlier that the outcome of battles in WoT was determined by what idiots you were grouped with? So if the outcome is random, how can you be a measurable top player?

Measuring just personal kills etc. would give no information whatsoever about your strategic genius. Just like the maximum DPS in a WoW raid isn't necessarily the best raider.
 
Weren't you just saying a minute earlier that the outcome of battles in WoT was determined by what idiots you were grouped with? So if the outcome is random, how can you be a measurable top player?


Idiots average themselves out across large number of games. And so are other factors ("lucky/unlucky" matchmaker and so on). Your win rate is indicator of your skill. Because on average that is what determines any deviation from 50% .of course it could be padded as stat tracking of win rates is not perfect.

But there is only so many people padding it (its hard work after all) and across large number of players being in bracket x is still good indicator even if 50% of that bracket padded stats,
 
It's not just raids that are in crisis. Wow itself is in crisis bc the game has gone way downhill this xpac. Players r just losing interest for tons of reasons. The funny part is how little insight most have as to why. Its called lack of a community.
 
Not to start up the whole intelligence debate again or anything, but seriously Max... in my experience there is absolutely no correlation between "idiocy" and "intelligence".

And I really like that comment about wow raids being more interesting while you are wiping. While a bit counter-intuitive, it strikes me as very true. But is the same thing also true of WoT battles? If not, you may have fingered one of those uncomfortable truths: it's better for a game-producing company to make raids that follow a wipe-wipe-farm-farm-progress-wipe-wipe pattern than one that provides a constant and more randomly alternating pattern. Basically: do you think you'll be playing WoT for as long as you played WoW? Or a better metric: do you think you'll pay as much for the former?
 
Been playing WoT a bit recently (and I have you to thank for that, incidentally) - and one observation is that medium tanks can redeploy to a different 'lane' on the timescale of a properly (cautiously) fought engagement.

Therefore, 'perfect' individual play in fact requires me to watch the map as a whole, and do this where necessary.

Likewise, in target rich environments, artillery can choose where to focus their efforts.

(Also, there's the issue that it takes fewer tanks to hold any given route of attack than it does to attack one successfully.)
 
(Also, there's the issue that it takes fewer tanks to hold any given route of attack than it does to attack one successfully.)

^^

I think that a lot of people fail to stall an advance by not realizing this. Generally, it takes two to three attackers to roll over a defender in cover (not concealment). That means that three guys on a lane can stall six to nine tanks for a long time. Are they going to win the contact? No. They're going to die, given long enough. (And yeah, I forget that and die too soon dueling with two or three tanks around a rock when I should just peek out every so often to keep them spotted and just tie them up.)

But if the rest of the team isn't playing badly, having those nine on your three means that there are six others to press on a place where there is one or even no defenders and break through to cap. When that happens, the nine attackers that are stalled have to either push even harder and break through with a lot of risk of being destroyed, or abandon that attack (at least partially) and come back for defense -- and your guys are in a defensible position then, since they have the OPFOR base.

As often as not, they'll do neither, and lose.
 
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