Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
 
Neither clueless nor jerks

Imagine you are on a crowded beach on a sunny summer day and you start building a wonderful sand-castle. You put in a lot of effort to make it look just perfect. But then you notice that the other people around you aren't participating. They either just build imperfect small sand-castles, or none at all. Except for your perfect little corner the beach is just a random mess of footprints in the sand. That makes you all angry, and you start berating the other people on the beach as being clueless or jerks. But are those the only two possible explanations? I would say it is far more likely that the majority of people on that beach simply don't care. They are there to get a tan and relax, not to put any effort into sand-castle building.

If you followed that link above, the article about people being either clueless or jerks is of course about players of World of Warcraft. Blizzard recently said they would consider putting in a skill test as a requirement for running heroic dungeons, requiring a "silver" score in the Proving Grounds to access those. That is supposed to solve the problem of players in dungeons being "clueless". Talarian quotes another player who "suggests that the real problem in random dungeons are the jerks".

But just like on that sunny beach, I would say that the majority of players of World of Warcraft are neither clueless nor jerks. They are simply not interested in putting in a lot of effort. I mean, why would they? Didn't WoW teach them for hundreds of hours that progress is something that comes automatically for just playing effortlessly? The idea that at the end of simply enjoying your sunny beach or cruise holiday you would suddenly be forced to put in some effort is really quite ridiculous. You could call it a bait & switch scam. The majority of players aren't clueless or jerks, they are simply tourists. They regard the kind of people who take that game very seriously with the same bemused look as tourists on the beach give to somebody who is working hard there.

It isn't for me to decide who is right or who is wrong here. Obviously heroic dungeons and raids require players to perform at a certain level for the venture to be successful. But I can't really blame the tourists walking into them and wondering what the fuzz is all about. A performance requirement *IS* out of place in a casual game like World of Warcraft. I just seems to be part of the game because the developers failed to come up with a better idea for the endgame which would have been more fitting with the rest of the game. If WoW had that sort of performance requirement starting from level 1, the heroic dungeons and raids would fit a lot better, but then WoW wouldn't have millions of players.

Comments:
Most tourists are clueless. And not that there's anything wrong with that! Most tourists aren't _stupid_, I'll give you that, and I'm sure would be perfectly competent if they cared enough to try. But like you say, they don't care, and that does make them clueless.

I spent a week in Japan once, as a tourist. I couldn't speak the language and mostly survived by pointing at pictures and smiling. I wasn't stupid, but I was definitely clueless. No one in their right mind would have hired me to do a programming job or data analysis or anything else. Not because I'm a bad person, but because as a tourist I was completely clueless.

Having clueless people in an actually hard heroic 5 man makes as much sense as someone in Japan hiring me to work a cash register. No one benefits by having me stand there unable to answer questions or understand tax rates or anything. It's not good for me, or the company, or the customers.
 
"They are simply not interested in putting in a lot of effort. I mean, why would they? Didn't WoW teach them for hundreds of hours that progress is something that comes automatically for just playing effortlessly?"

"But I can't really blame the tourists walking into them and wondering what the fuzz is all about. A performance requirement *IS* out of place in a casual game like World of Warcraft."

Mirroring your first point back at you:
'Heroic raids are simply not about fitting into the rest of the game. I mean, why would they? Didn't the very name, heroic difficulty, teach everyone that these places are simply not the same as the rest of the game, where progress is something that comes automatically for just playing effortlessly?'
 
Heroic Dungeons aren't planned as a progression path for casuals interested in PvE in the next expansion. The casual PvE path is normal dungeons->Looking For Raid-> potentially normal raids (Normal being the new name of Flex).

The non-casual progression path goes normal dungeons->heroic dungeons->heroic raids->mythic raids.

It's kind of nice. There are no real major performance requirements in the first group, except for maybe at the normal raid stage, which would be the highest level for them anyway. The latter requires you demonstrate some level of skill before you are allowed to continue though. The only place both interact with each other a lot is at the very start.

It's quite nice. Something for everyone.
 
p.s. : I've been playing WoW for ten years, and of that time, all but the first few weeks have been all about raiding, for me. Obviously I'm biased by my point of view from which you are putting the cart way before the horse; but the long-term players are the ones who get other people to try the game, and so I can't help but feel that the devs see things from my point of view as well.

" because the developers failed to come up with a better idea for the endgame which would have been more fitting with the rest of the game. "

Billions of dollars later, I'm sure the developers of WoW are fine with the idea they came up with for the end game, by which I mean they were all raiders from Everquest who set out to make a new game which was all about raiding, and succeeded in doing exactly what they'd always intended to do; except they also created a leveling game with entirely unanticipated mass appeal. To look back some 12-13 years in the past, and apply some metric about current day profits/interest to the priorities of the designers so long ago, is making unfair hindsight judgements made all the more ironic by the massive and unexpected financial success they achieved.
 
Obviously heroic dungeons and raids require players to perform at a certain level for the venture to be successful. [....] A performance requirement *IS* out of place in a casual game like World of Warcraft.

Well, it's right in what you have written: some parts of WoW are NOT for casual gameplay. So a performance requirement is fine as long as it keeps in the non-casual part of the game.

... the developers failed to come up with a better idea for the endgame....

Care to suggest ANY MMO which has a better idea for endgame? Because apart from raiding and free-for-all PvP there doesn't seem to be much around.
 
Care to suggest ANY MMO which has a better idea for endgame?

A Tale in the Desert, where the endgame has activities like many people working together for days or weeks to build a pyramid. But admittedly that is a niche game.

The only frequently used alternative to endgame raiding is endgame PvP in different forms, from keep warfare to nullsec battles. In many cases that isn't much more casual player friendly than raiding is, although you can more easily do casual zerging.

The famous "ANY MMO" (tm) is a WoW clone, and thus does exactly the same endgame as WoW. As I said, copying WoW only reveals a lack of better ideas.
 
That logic only makes sense if everyone entered a sand castle building contest and you were the only one who made one. Why are you trying to do something you care nothing about?

It's like having a D+D session with someone who doesn't roll, or RP and takes a smoke break every 10 in the middle of battle. Why show up?
 
Since end-game is obtainable (L100 instances and LFR raid) for casual without the achievement, then all this does is add a gate-keeper for those trying to access the portion of the game with a performance requirement.

You can't just turn up at the olympics and say you fancy trying out an event and expect to compete and you can't just land a skilled job without any qualifications.
 
If Blizzard starts chasing clueless jerks out of Wow they'll be looking at a rather small subscriber base.
 
I agree.

Re Helistar: My experience is the non-raiding endgame example most passionately mentioned is SWG.

I have given up 5-persons (it's 2014 - why say 5-man) since when I think back on my worst experiences in WoW, they were all in 5-person instances with strangers. The problem is jerks.

On a technical level, I also don't think it will help much. I see the real issue in these places are not people who can't play but people who have not read up on if not practiced, the fight. I.e., can you "do the dance" rather than can you "play your class." I think a short test and intro video on that specific instance would increase success more. I would rather have a tank at the 50 percentile of skill who has done the fight a dozen times than a 90 percentile tank who has not even read the fight.

The pro-testing comments I read seem to be that it will really help and silver is really easy. Which seems illogical to me - if it is not a high bar, then it won't be a big help and if it is a high bar, it will be unpopular and probably not commercially viable.

I think Mike Andrade missed the point about the "heroic" name. In WoD, the raids called "heroic" will be the same as the current flex. The term mythic was created to describe WoD raids that will replace the current heroics. I don't think anyone is swayed too much by the inflation of adjectives in MMOs.

--------

Thought experiment, if you had to choose between two adults to hire for a professional job, and all you knew was that one was great at an MMO and another was kinda bad, wouldn't you want to hire the kinda bad? Doesn't being great at an MMO mean you have made some poor life choices?




 
Thanks for the link, and conversation, Tobold :)

I agree that a (likely silent) majority of the playerbase are not jerks, and many folks are not clueless. However, for something like the new Heroic 5-Mans, as Nick points out in the first response, the presence of folks who are literally currently incapable of performing anywhere near the required level *in random LFD matchmaking* causes an immense amount of friction, arguably for both the folks in the dungeon trying to progress, as well as the player who waltzed in with nary a clue that it was too difficult for them. The fact that there's any sort of skill requirement is a flag that the content is difficult.

Do note that the content is not blocked off if you want to actually walk into the dungeon with your friends, this only applies in the matchmaking case. So a better analogy would be you're on a beach and get randomly paired with 4 other people to make a sandcastle, and if you make a sufficiently awesome sandcastle you get a prize.

Basically, it comes down to Blizzard trying to provide something for everyone, but avoiding the disaster which was Cataclysm which may have been part of the reason their player population got gutted. Difficult content and random matchmaking do not work well together. This is Blizzard trying to smooth that out.
 
"Thought experiment, if you had to choose between two adults to hire for a professional job, and all you knew was that one was great at an MMO and another was kinda bad, wouldn't you want to hire the kinda bad? Doesn't being great at an MMO mean you have made some poor life choices?"

No? Define "poor life choices". If you play a game rather than watch TV over the course of a few years, naturally you should become better at it. One can still be a good person with a positive impact on society and a career and be good at a game. This is a false dichotomy.
 
I would rather have a tank at the 50 percentile of skill who has done the fight a dozen times than a 90 percentile tank who has not even read the fight.

That is a problem. There are lots of people who are explorer Bartle type. They *go* to the dungeon to *experience* it. They don't read up on the dungeon and see the YouTube video before going the first time, because that would spoil very much their experience of that adventure.
 
For the explorers, chances are they'll have explored the dungeon on normal already, because they'd have needed that gear to make the ilvl gate for heroic 5-mans.

I love going into a dungeon blind, though. The first time is always something exciting and once it has occurred, it will never happen again. I actually disagree with Hagu's statement about the 50th percentile vs. the 90th percentile.

I'd take the tank who hasn't done it before but performs at the 90th percentile. Good players see patterns quickly, and yeah, we may wipe once or twice as people are learning, but that tank is competent enough to not make the same mistakes over and over, and to quickly pick up the fight mechanics. Experience at the fights is to some degree a substitute for skill. Practice makes perfect if you need to drill those actions into yourself when you are not very good at thinking on your feet and reacting on the fly.
 
I feel like you intentionally used an analogy in which the "tourists" have no impact on the sand castle builder. Of course he is being unreasonable, what does he care about beach tourists that don't build sand castles?

In reality, you are perfectly aware this isn't how dungeons work. An incapable DPS in a heroic is a severe hindrance, and an incapable tank or healer makes the heroic flat out impossible. I don't feel like it is at all unreasonable for the other 4 players not to want a series of frustrating wipes ending in a failed run.

I also dispute the suggestion that the "tourists" approach heroics only expecting casual content. Heroics are explicitly just a harder version of the same dungeon. Do you really believe there are a large number of players who don't know heroics require a higher level of performance?

Even if you think this is true, that should be an argument FOR the Proving Grounds. This IS (another) clear indication that heroics require a certain level of performance, as opposed to having "tourists walking into them and wondering what the fuzz is all about."
 
"Didn't the very name, heroic difficulty, teach everyone that these places are simply not the same as the rest of the game, where progress is something that comes automatically for just playing effortlessly?"

Mike, I don't think this works because Blizzard showers the player with "you are special"-type language throughout the entire experience. "Heroic" becomes meaningless by end-game because they've been fed the idea that everything they do is "heroic." Why would this "heroic dungeon" be any different?
 
"Mike, I don't think this works because Blizzard showers the player with "you are special"-type language throughout the entire experience. "Heroic" becomes meaningless by end-game because they've been fed the idea that everything they do is "heroic." Why would this "heroic dungeon" be any different?"

Sorry, but all those quests collecting carrots didn't feel that heroic. Carrot quest < dungeon < heroic dungeon, still seems clear to me.

"I think Mike Andrade missed the point about the "heroic" name. In WoD, the raids called "heroic" will be the same as the current flex. The term mythic was created to describe WoD raids that will replace the current heroics. I don't think anyone is swayed too much by the inflation of adjectives in MMOs."

I'm well aware of the changes and haven't missed any points, I'm much more aware than you as a matter of fact. Your statement that "heroic" difficulty in WoD raids will be equivalent to today's "flex" tuning is incorrect, it will be equivalent to today's "normal" tuning.
 
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