Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, July 02, 2014
 
A question for Gevlon

Gevlon,

You want to remove the 90% of players who are not playing good enough (from your point of view) from your MMORPGs of choice. Assuming that the game companies would quite like to keep the same revenue, would you be willing to pay a 10 times higher subscription fee for that priviledge? You can't just shove the 90% into second-rate content and expect them to keep paying the same subscription fee as you do.

Comments:
Ha! Look! Community!

While Gevlon is all about calling out those he sees as morons and slackers (and Goons these days, Grrr), I am not sure he has ever directly expressed the opinion which you are attributing to him.

I mean, the tag line for his blog is about exploiting morons and slackers, not removing them from the game.

Got a link to back up your assertion?
 
Quote Gevlon (from the previous comment thread): "My bottom line is: being bad in the game and still wanting to play it with others is a very good predictor of being a very unpleasant person.". And he called that "bad for business".

Knowing Gevlon I believe he would be quite all right with the "morons & slackers" being allowed to pay a subscription, but not being allowed to play in groups. But I don't consider that a viable option.
 
Who said I want to remove them from the game? I actually posted ideas on the EVE forums how to *include* more of them into EVE.

I can't care less if they dance on the postbox naked all day, exchange Barrens chat jokes and die in the fire in LFR while damaging less than the fire totem of the resto shaman. I don't even care if they get achievement points for being able to equip pants to the pants slot instead of trying to fit it to the head slot and filing a petition because the game doesn't let them.

I just don't want to play with them and don't like being forced to play with them in order to progress my character. For example arenas are good example: at 2500 rating, you probably don't meet spirit geared warriors, despite I'm randomly matched to an enemy. Would it be too much to ask to do so when I'm randomly matched in a dungeon or raid group?

But to not avoid your question: I currently run 8 EVE Online subscriptions, that's almost 10. And I run zero WoW subscription.
 
I currently run 8 EVE Online subscriptions

But you pay those with ISK. So you are not currently paying for any game?

I'm not sure you are such a good customer, so I'd say yes, it is too much to ask to put paying customers in a ghetto so you can have more fun.
 
It's all fungible.

I'm super casual, but I'm somewhat sympathetic to the idea that it's better for peeps of similar experience levels to be grouped for pve content, instead of veterans and new players randomly linked up.

It feels terrible on both sides, sometimes. Both as the new player trying to keep up with veterans rushing through dungeons without letting you have a chance to figure things out, and also as the veteran who has run the dungeon 30 times and has no patience for people who don't know what to do.
 
@Michael-- I personally don't care whether I'm paired with similarly geared or not, with one exception: Battlegrounds.

In PvP, if one side is significantly more geared than another, a random BG turns into a corpse camping fest, and no fun at all if you're on the receiving end.

In a PvE grouped environment, I completely agree with you, and would add that gear level does not necessarily preclude asshattery. I've seen asshats, slackers, and whatnot at all gear levels in PvE groups. I don't think you can segregate on gear level and expect there to not be some impatience and/or asshattery in PvE content, because asshats are so pervasive. (Or at least it seems that way.)

 
If there are separated groups for "people like me" and "people not like me", you can interpret it as "Gevlon and the other toxic elitists are in a ghetto while all the normal people can have fun without them".

Why do you call THEIR group "ghetto" instead?

 
Gevlon has a point. Having elitist jerks confined in their space would immensely help making (any) game a better game.
 
Because you want to have exclusive access to some content, like dungeons. I think the 90% deserve to have access to all content in the game.
 
Having elitist jerks confined in their space

Isn't that what EVE is for?
 
@Tobold Stoutfoot

"
But you pay those with ISK. So you are not currently paying for any game?

I'm not sure you are such a good customer, so I'd say yes, it is too much to ask to put paying customers in a ghetto so you can have more fun."

*Somebody* is paying for his 8 or 10 accounts so does the developer cares where the money comes from?

In fact I think the developer might actually value someone like Gevlon, who gets other to pay for his accounts, more than someone who pays for their 10 accounts by themselves.
 
I don't want to lock them out of content. I want them to play with each other.

Or you mean that they couldn't complete content without "toxic elitists" boosting them?

 
I'd be okay with one of your proposed solutions, that tries to match players with others of similar skill. But for me the condition for that to work is that you can't then make the dungeons so hard (as Wildstar does) that 5 random players of the "90%" then can't complete it.

I'm not even asking for equal rewards, I'm okay with "normal mode" dungeons that give less good rewards. But every single dungeon and raid dungeon in the game needs a game mode in which most players have a reasonable chance to play and complete the dungeon. Wildstar doesn't provide that, and I believe THAT is bad for business. Much more than bad players could ever be bad for business.
 
Except that combination cannot exist. The problem is that my proposal wouldn't separate the players into "top 10%" and "bottom 90%" groups, but everyone to similar skills.

So a 7th 10% group player would be grouped with another 7th 10% player. If you tune the dungeon to let the 2nd 10% complete it, then the 3rd would find it easy and everyone above them (70% of the players) would find it trivial and horrible and demand the devs to let them skip it.
 
If your system is so great that it can perfectly match players of equal skill, then why can't it then also tune the dungeon to be of perfect difficulty for that level of skill?
 
That could be done. But what about the rewards? We know that players follow the rewards. Would you suggest that good players must face a harder boss for the *same* rewards?

Or do rewards scale? In this case, do you honestly think that bad players would stick around after they hit their limit and can no longer "progress their character"?
 
You said yourself that most of the "bad" players are just uninterested. If you need to improve "just a little bit" to get to the next level, they might well improve. And because in your system you only get to the next reward level if you can demonstrate the next skill level, everybody wins!
 
Well, if we reached an agreement, we can ask the obvious question: are all the game developers idiots for not thinking about our genius idea, despite it's being obvious (PvP rating is around here since ages)?

Or rather, would our wonderful system fail horribly? Why?
 
Because matchmaking systems never work. Or maybe they do work, but the players never believe they work.

Case in point: If you only play with random players in World of Tanks, statistics tells you that your win:loss ratio should be 50:50, because regardless how skilled you are the other 29 players on the map are random and thus average out. And in fact, 50:50 or closely around that is what most players are at (unless they play guild group against guild group). Nevertheless everybody believes that the matchmaking system in World of Tanks is horrible and doesn't work at all, in spite of it giving the mathematically correct outcome.
 
Strange, people don't riot against the League of Legends or WoW arenas. Maybe because they give a reward: the rating to show off.

WoT has no rating and no different rewards for different skill. Which is the point of this debate. In WoT your rewards are totally unrelated to your skill and only related to the number of games played.
 
How do you even measure skill in a game? For me, there is a little of damage meters, and a little of "not taking damage" meters, and a little of clicking the samophlange at the correct time, and a little of ...

How is that sort of thing measured? I've never played World of Tanks, but I would assume you can do some things based on hit percent, like that, which a game like WoW or Wildstar would have a hard time measuring.

In WoW, I'm a raider, and I'm quite good at that part of the game. But PVP I'm a free honorable kill, and "auction house PVP" I'm worse than that.

So I ask again, how do you measure skill?
 
Didn't we used to have some tools for what Gevlon wants? IIRC It was called having your guild and setting up a group with private invites. You're only hampered by players you regard as less worthy of your presence if you're using the public group tools, right?

I don't know about EVE because it was hard to stay conscious when playing that somnambulistic nightmare but every other MMO I've been in lets you define who you play with. If you want to play with fellow elites you trust then you need to do a bit of footwork to insure that's what happens. If you're lame enough to use a group finder and complain about the results then you're not as elite as you think you are, sorry.
 
Gevlon Wrote: grouping incentives don't work because grouping with bad players is a toxic experience and *not* because they are bad at the game. (which can be masked by making a game very easy)

I've always seen a strong correlation between lack of gems and random AFK-ing, uncontrollable need to chat childish nonsense, fixation on the breasts of the "hot babe of the month" (was Megan Fox when I noticed the correlation), anal spam, l33tspeak, racist and sexist "jokes" and so on.


This is the same point I was making in the previous blog post. The problem with random grouping is *not* simply that random people may be less skilled. I can and do carry people all the time.

The issue is that a bad group member might be one who ninjas loot, or goes AFK, says racist crap, and so on. A game design that encourages me to spin the wheel and take a chance on a random stranger is not good for my gaming experience.

The easier a game's difficulty, the more random grouping becomes the social norm within that game. Whereas, a difficult game, forces organized grouping.

The irony here is that people will reply to me about 'forced grouping' and how they don't want it. Well, I don't want to be forced to group with random strangers. We are both being forced, just in different ways.
 
Strange, people don't riot against the League of Legends or WoW arenas.

If these work so well, then how do you explain rating boosting services?
 
@Derrill--

There is no good answer here. You can't point to an individual item on a battleground, for instance, that denotes the skill a player has.

You can't simply point to heals or kills, because a well skilled player does the small things well, like making sure the mines are capped in Alterac Valley or calling out incs and defending the flag in Arathi Basin.

I also don't think you can point to overall victories as a measure of skill, since gear often determines the victor in a battleground, regardless of skill.

 
A game that is tuned for the lowest skilled player or a game that have many modes of the same dungeon/instance is a fail game as wow became the last years.

I think a game must have content that gets harder as you progress, exactly as TBC wow. Everyone had its place. I am not hardcore or elitist, and in TBC I just killed Leotheras in SSC and 2 bosses from the TK. Yet I was happy for what I achieved and never complained that I cannot go further (I didn't actually tried to push further, I just leveled more alts).

Even 1 month before WotLK there were guilds starting Karazhan and that was very good. All people had a guild similar to their skill and running the content they could run.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rd0-zVIBVo
 
I just wanted to say that I love the blog and I hope that you keep up the good work!
 
is a fail game as wow became the last years

You have a strange definition of "fail". I'm sure you'd like Wildstar much better, but as far as I know WoW has at least 10 times the number of players Wildstar has, and Wildstar is losing players faster than WoW already. In my eyes that makes the hardcore game the "fail".
 
Ideal dev-driven solution: remove ALL rewards from dungeons. Only players who want to play them for the fun of playing them need apply. Want to make money? Better make your dungeons REALLY entertaining.

Ideal player-driven solution: Network! What did you think that Friends list was for? Friends?
 
You have a strange definition of "fail". I'm sure you'd like Wildstar much better, but as far as I know WoW has at least 10 times the number of players Wildstar has, and Wildstar is losing players faster than WoW already. In my eyes that makes the hardcore game the "fail".

Millions of people play terrible games on Facebook, that hardly qualifies them as games that are worth playing.

Or to paraphrase your earlier statement, we know that people will choose a boring gaming experience with great rewards over a great experience with no reward at all.

So let's try not to bash those that have had the epiphany of "the reward is not enough" too much. :)
 
Very good Tobold...I wonder how many people know that you are Gevlon too? Which I think is brilliant BTW.

I can tell because only you would display such an incredibly civil discussion on a topic like this. Your lack of degrading into a dietribe of mean-spirited name calling and e-peen wagging gave you away. :D
 
Good discussion, I enjoyed the read. =)
 
"You can't then make the dungeons so hard (as Wildstar does) that 5 random players of the "90%" then can't complete it."

I would agree if by that you mean "can't complete it even if they are prepared to focus, discuss the strategy, try new ideas, and keep trying if they fail".
 
Or rather, would our wonderful system fail horribly? Why?

This is simple to answer, two reasons:

- automatic measurement of "skill" is very tricky for anything non-trivial. Unless the majority of players agrees that the algorithm matches exactly what they think they'll feel that the algorithm is unfair / the developers have an agenda / any other conspiracy theory, and end up writing the same comments/complaining/leaving as it happens now.

- fragmentation of players: even assuming you can measure the skill, how narrow you make the delta for creating a group? Make it too small and waiting times skyrocket, make it too large and it solves nothing. MMOs in particular already have levels which split up the population, fragment it even more and you may end up with noone you can play with.

Something like WoT "works" because the wait time is near-zero, even if at times you end up with matches which are a complete joke and you finish 15-1 (or 1-15). As soon as the waiting time climbs into minutes you need to provide the player with something else to do, and encouraging them to alt-tab to something else during the wait is not a good idea.....

 
@Paul That was my idea too when I read the blog yesterday. This great discussion must have been engineered by an expert PR mind, as it doesn't feature usual internet trolling, flame baiting and e-peen flexing. =)

Excellent read.
 
I pretty much agree with Helistar.

Even with WoW's massive population, the dungeon finder was pretty useless until they offered bigger rewards and cross-realm grouping. How many "skill groups" do you plan on having? 3 or 4? Now you need 3 or 4 times the population for it to work.

I would also say a matchmaking rating only really works in PvP. If you are grouped with bad players, you are also grouped against bad players. So unless you are just as bad, you should be dominating the match. In PvE, being grouped with bad players means failed runs, and the MMR will just think you are also bad.
 
I had a long comment typed out and the comment system ate it :(....

Basically instead of trying to do a skill rated system like in competitive games why not an experience system?

You gain experience rating with each dungeon run. You level up through the ranks and the system tries to match you with people of similar level. If you take time off you can even have the rank degrade over time slowly.

You would have to give the system the flexibility to match people depending on population as well so that wait times don't explode.

It wouldn't be perfect but at least it would group players who have run stuff 50 times with other players with similar experience.

And in my mind it would make content more enjoyable by grouping people newer to content or that have taken months off from the game together.
 
You could even do things like rewarding more experience for harder difficulties or extra points for certain achievements that tackle the bosses/content in a more difficult way.

Hell then throw in some transmog gear for reach different ranks. Rewards players for playing.

However make the rewards so everyone knows its OK to not be max ranked. In other words don't put a set of gear that you can collect the pants for at rank 10 but then need rank 50 for the final piece.

Put a complete set at rank 10 then a completely different one at rank 50.
 
"You have a strange definition of "fail". I'm sure you'd like Wildstar much better, but as far as I know WoW has at least 10 times the number of players Wildstar has, and Wildstar is losing players faster than WoW already. In my eyes that makes the hardcore game the "fail"."

I don't play wildstar :) I don't like the theme of it. As of wow there are many discussions of its success..it was the perfect game released on the perfect time. Its quality made it famous and "superstar". Until the half of WotLK it had a massive increase in subs (when the game was like I described and not as is now). Since then it lost many many subs. The fact that is still the popular MMO is mostly because of its old glory.

But how you can explain that when the raiding was far more inaccessible and a very tiny percent could complete all raids the game had massive increase in subs and after the game dumbed down it slowly loses subs every quarter?
 
"You have a strange definition of "fail". I'm sure you'd like Wildstar much better, but as far as I know WoW has at least 10 times the number of players Wildstar has, and Wildstar is losing players faster than WoW already. In my eyes that makes the hardcore game the "fail"."

Okay, Tobold, where are you getting your data from? I don't see any news reports that Wildstar is losing subscribers.
 
@Bhagpuss - Actually, I'd love to see a game where all "rewards" are removed. I've never been very fond of the idea that my magic pants make me smarter.

The ideal game in my mind (admittedly, this is not the sort of design generally associated with MMOs) has character customization / specialization / skill choices, but doesn't really bother much with "loot". You do need to have a greatsword to use greatsword skill, go get one from the blacksmith and you are good to go.

It seems obvious, but half of the Conan books weren't about Conan replacing this sword with this other upgrade.

And yes, I'd like to have content be there because of "fun" not "skinner box". GW2 does the best at this one of the existing games out there (well, Landmark excepted).
 
But how you can explain that when the raiding was far more inaccessible and a very tiny percent could complete all raids the game had massive increase in subs and after the game dumbed down it slowly loses subs every quarter?

I believe that the subscriber curve of WoW would have been identical if Blizzard had made exactly the opposite decisions on raid with each expansion. The game simply grew for 6 years, got old, and then declined. As the large majority of players don't raid, the raid design played absolutely no role in that subscription number development.

Okay, Tobold, where are you getting your data from? I don't see any news reports that Wildstar is losing subscribers.

1) Personal observation of servers less crowded.
2) No new servers opened since release.
3) No big press release of how great a success Wildstar is and how many subscriber it has.
 
"I believe that the subscriber curve of WoW would have been identical if Blizzard had made exactly the opposite decisions on raid with each expansion"

So at least we can agree then that if a game is good and have lot of quality the difficulty of content alone is not a reason for people to quit and is irrelevant with the game success. So if people quit in Wildstar, a fresh game, has nothing to do with the difficulty of content.
 
Two very different things: World of Warcraft had always had both, group content for the casual player and group content for the hardcore player. If a game has both, the casual don't care that much about how difficult or not the hardcore part is, because they are happily playing the casual part. If Wildstar fails it is because it is missing casual group content.
 
Is this question about gear/stuff or player ability. At least to me, most of the discussions about player skill seem to be just about the gear they have. Gear/stuff is pretty trivial, it is more a function of time than player ability. Some players may take a little longer than others to accumulate stuff and there is usually an arbitarily low barrier of entry (Can you click stuff? Cool, you win!) but it isn't really a hurdle if you can stomach the grind. After all developers like to eat and players are more likely to stay subscribed if they get regular bursts of dopamine. Games are designed to be won, and MMORPGs are designed to deliver 'achievement'.

Skill is a little different. A player can learn the game but there will be those who just can't compete. Player skill doesn't always have to be applied through the games actual mechanics to have an effect as well. There are a lot of games that do reflect player skill, from twitch (e.g, FPS, platformers) to something more cerebral (e.g, Crusader Kings), but it is a little hard to make a case that MMORPGs are all that demanding beyond getting gear/stuff and watching a few guides online.

I'll use EVE as an example, as it is my current game of choice. In EVE like pretty much every other MMORPG out there gear and stuff is easy to get. Getting to fly the best ships with the best stuff is just a matter of time. The same again with the capabilities of your avatar, you either wait out the skill queue or just go and buy one. Player skill is different. It's meta game skills like the ability to navigate the social and political side of the game or in game skills like ability to use the combat and travel mechanics to set up favourable exchanges.

So if we were to remove the morons and slackers, which measure do we use? Looking at Gevlon for example, if we judge skill as gear/stuff, he gets to stay, if it was from player skill, given his Grr Goon project and the hilarity it generates, he would get cut, and I for one would miss his amazingly terrible grasp of politics, math and statistics.

It's a bad idea to short change the bulk of the subscribers of a game because of 'skill'. In fact most measures of 'skill' are just a proxy for time spent playing, which makes that 90% higher margin than the 10% consuming server resources. Also which skill in the game do you value? Again using CCP as an example, it's the stuff involving actual player skill driving the social and political side of the game that gets them coverage, and hopefully subscribers. The inclination to grind like a trading/mining/mission bot not so much. If CCP had to choice a skill to pick their 10% from, it probably wouldn't be the guy market trading all by himself so he can fly something officer fit.
 
but it is a little hard to make a case that MMORPGs are all that demanding beyond getting gear/stuff and watching a few guides online.

As of today (wowprogress data) 3.84% of the raiding population has completed the current raid tier, which has been around for so long that any player semi-actively raiding has all the gear he can get. If it's just waiting and looking at guides, why then the percentage is so low?

 
As of today (wowprogress data) 3.84% of the raiding population has completed the current raid tier, which has been around for so long that any player semi-actively raiding has all the gear he can get. If it's just waiting and looking at guides, why then the percentage is so low?

Not everyone wants to spend the time to get there. Perhaps they don't find it fun.
 
Not everyone wants to spend the time to get there. Perhaps they don't find it fun.

What was the expression... "the nile is not just a river in Egypt"?

BTW wowprogress is about the raiding population, i.e. pretty much by definition the subset of player which find it fun.
 
I know I'm late to this party, but I think all the talk about game construct and skill level misses the point. The true issue is the social construct.

If you choose to play a game in a way that matches you with random players you will get random results. The benefit is that you don't have to spend the time socializing in order to choose players to play with.

But without investing that time, you can't expect a game to magically match you with perfect, like minded players. And the fact that it's the easiest path to progression does not absolve you from social responsibility.

Hell, even groups of great friends have disagreements about how much effort to put into a game on any given day.

The contradiction of virtual communities is that we want the benefit of strong social ties and appropriate behavior (ie my way) but without any social investment.

The only way to achieve that through game design will be an AI NPC population with some kind of slider that matches your own game play. If you want to play with real people you have to either hand choose them, or accept their differences and try to influence one person at a time.
 
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