Tobold's Blog
Friday, April 08, 2011
Know anything better than bribery?

So a lot of WoW blogs are loudly complaining about the new Call to Arms system bribing mostly tanks and to a lesser degree healers to join pickup groups. Unsurprisingly the loudest complaints are on blogs that have words like "rogue" in the blog name, with the principal complaint being that it is extremely unlikely that somebody playing a pure dps class will ever get that reward. So the new system has been called an "inverted hybrid tax". I think the complainers are overlooking the fact that dps classes are the principal winners of the new system, as it is *their* queue time that will diminish, not the queue time of the tank or healer; and the justice / valor point rewards from queueing faster are a lot bigger than the bribe Blizzard offers to the tanks.

But let's assume that for some reason you don't want this bribery, or think it won't work. That leaves us with the original problem of not enough tanks queueing up for pickup groups. So how else could that problem be solved? The only reasonable alternative proposal I have found up to now is Rohan's suggestion to make groups require 2 tanks, 2 healers, and 2 dps; thus no role would carry more responsability than the other roles.

Everybody else is just wishing for miracle solutions, without even giving a hint of how those could look like. "Make tanking less stressful" is a goal, not a solution. "Make tanking easier" likewise, because the only thing Blizzard could do would be to make dungeons in general easier, but then dps would just use more AoE and the tank would still be the most stressful role.

The main problem is that it isn't Blizzard who decides who does what. For example why does it have to be the tank who sets the raid marks for kill order and crowd control? Or who explains the other players how an encounter works? In combat the larger responsability of the tank derives from the core of his role, of what "tanking" actually means in terms of aggro control and damage mitigation; but even there it is the players who often attribute responsability badly, like the dps not using /assist and not hitting the mob with the skull icon over its head, and then complaining that the tank isn't holding aggro. What would Blizzard be supposed to do about that?

So if you have any better solution to the tank shortage problem than bribing the tanks, let us know!
One of the core principles of games like Wow is that players respond to incentives. For example, if it is possible to get better gear by killing a mob a dozen times, many players will.

This measure simply creates an additional incentive for players to fill a needed role. Whether it's an effective enough bribe, however, remains to be seen.
Many of these tasks and responsibilities became the tanks over time. It used to be the person who knew the instance best who marked, even pulled. The main reason to aoe tank was to avoid dps mucking up cc and hitting the wrong target, tanks asked for better aoe tanking because they needed to and it became expected that all tanks could aoe tank even if they where not geared for it. Yes i have seen dps refuse to cc saying its the tanks problem for being "undergeared". "Just pull them all its faster"

Leading is ok, Tanking is ok, Leading while tanking in a instance i have not tanked for a couple of momths with dps who will flat out lie if they screw up. No thanks.

But i do not have a better solution, fortunately I have a tank, 3 healers and a pure dps in decent sized guild. I never need to pug unless I want to.
IT doesnt have to be tanks who mark targets and call strategy. I play in another MMO where as a healer/dps I regular lead the group, set strategy and call targets. I'd just a WoW mindset I think that the tank does it.

Gobble gobble.
Only true solutions i can imagine is things like this:

1. Hybrids and the ability to actually be a true hybrid IN COMBAT.

This implies that dungeons should be doable with 5-self-healing-off-tanking hybrids AND with traditional specialist roles.

Kinda like the suggestion to have 2 tanks, 2 healers, 2 dps . Why not go all the way and say we need 6 players who can take some damage, heal an ally or themselves and do some damage.

The tools need to be there for players to "rotate the strike" if need be. Instead of healing a player, anyone should be able to grab aggro and take over.

2. Boss and Dungeon Design. Again, why do we have bosses that needs to be "tanked" ? This is not even realistic if you start to wonder how a real boss of this kind would react? It's common logic to kill the healers FIRST [assuming you can identify them] , why is boss design not adhering to this logic? Well we know why, see my point #1 .

The possibilities of dungeon designs are incredible limited because it's designed around the expectation that 1 player will need to soak up the damage and the other 4 will die in one shot. How's that for making a game stale and painting yourself into a dead-end?

This is why WoW Raiding/Dungeon running will die. It's not dynamic gameplay and totally 1-dimensional.

Now looking at something like Rift which have taken the hybrid scenario alot further, guess what? You STILL can't find tanks or healers for dungeons , despite -everyone- having a tank AND healer builds at their disposal inbetween combat!


Dungeon design still requires specialist roles. You simply can not go in all with some healing, some tanking and some dps nicely spread around and everyone doing a bit of everything to stay alive. The boss still hits too hard for any hybrid group to handle it.

So the only problem Rift solves is "ease-of-variety" . You can create a true hybrid, but there's no CONTENT for a group of true hybrids in Rift! [or anywhere else for that matter].
""Make tanking easier" likewise, because the only thing Blizzard could do would be to make dungeons in general easier, but then dps would just use more AoE and the tank would still be the most stressful role.

Actually I don't think thats necessarily true. Tanking as a job basically consists of two parts: Holding mob attention and surviving it. However most tanks only concern themselves with the first part and leave the second part to the healer alone. Thus making tanking easier would be rather easy: Give tanks an AOE-Tankspell that does huge amounts of threat early on. Make it imbalanced enough that you can hold any aggro from any number of mobs just by pressing one button.

Pulling huge masses would still be as possible or impossible as it is right now, if you pull too much the group will die because the tank still takes damage like usual.

I think doing something like that would really increase the number of tanks by a magnitude, however it would also make many "real" tanks abandon their role for lack of challenge.

But here's a question from me: Why do the queue times even need fixing? I'm leveling a damage dealer right now out of boredom. Queue times are between 10 and 30 minutes. Doesn't matter, I do quests, pick flowers, chat..

I think the problem is more that for a character above a certain threshold there is nothing left to do in singleplayer mode.

Still, I prefer waiting 30 minutes and then getting a proper tank over waiting 2 minutes and getting a respecced damage dealer who doesn't care one bit about his job and just wants a cool new mount.
It's rather simple.

DPS queues were 11 minutes in Wrath, when the LFD was introduced. I tanked on three characters a day under that model, and was done with all three within 1 hour. Now, it takes almost an hour even with a perfect run.

"Make tanking easier" likewise, because the only thing Blizzard could do would be to make dungeons in general easier, but then dps would just use more AoE and the tank would still be the most stressful role.

Err... no. Tanking would still be the most stressful on a relative scale, sure, but use your head. Was there any stress breezing through Zul'Drak? No. We could do AN in like 10 minutes. Tanks aren't complaining about relative difficulty (we could simply rationalize that is a cost of instant queues), tanks are complaining about absolute difficulty. Lower difficulty enough, and I could care less if DPS #3 has me on auto-follow and pressing FoK every boss fight.

Indeed, I don't have to worry about if that DPS is doing his job, because his job is irrelevant. In today's environment though, I do have to care if he is kicking the 1-shot mechanic or CC'ing or not breaking CC or AoEing the goddamn shards on Corborus.
While I don't have a solution, at least I can prove that there cannot be a solution. The problem is that the morons can only take the DPS role because the other 1-2 can carry them.

While we might disagree in the amount of morons in the game, but if there is a non-zero population, the balance is already pushed to the DD overpopulation.
I think the comment about how much time it takes to do a run now compared to before explains a lot why I am not tanking that much anymore. As he said a nice run could take 10 mins, but now if you got bad dps (as in low dps so thrash and bosses take a long time to kill) I have had runs taking almost 2 hours. I rarely have the time to commit to that long runs anymore.
Agreed with the comments about runs taking too long. I have an alt tank that I used to PUG chain 2-3 heroics with back in WoTLK for a laugh.

Now doing 1 seems like an unnecessary bother unless my guildmates need me to.
it's certainly amusing to read the comments i've seen about this idea, and to contrast it with the aggro you pulled when you suggested that it was a player's responsibility to fix the queues (a position i happen to agree with).

i would have thought that, having refused to accept the problem was the player's responsibility to solve; and there are only two parties here possibly responsible, those who refused player responsibility would welcome the developers accepting their responsibility.

the fact that pple *aren't* accepting that solution indicates, to me, that *neither* refusal position - ie, refusing that it's up to the players to solve *and* refusing that it's Blizzard's to solve - are entirely rationale or honest, but merely symptomatic. and what they're symptomatic of is an *envy* that someone, somewhere - tank, dps, M&S, hardcore, what-have-you - is getting something that the complainer isn't.

relatedly, it's amusing to see you and Gevlon agreeing with each other:

How could helpful good people who are loyal to their guild be defeated by a bunch of selfish goblins who are unable to do sacrifices and effort for the "common good"?

The answer is bribery

except that, err, he didn't quite say that, and i don't understand the distinction. if it's good enough to pay/bribe guild members to do something, why is it not equally good enough to bribe/pay people to queue for LFD as tanks or healers?
An extreme vision of "make tanking less stressful" might be:

1.) Tanks don't have to target anything, they just have a single spammable aoe taunt skill.

2.) Tanking equipment takes no damage -- so no durability loss and no costly repairs.

3.) Tanks have massively increased health and resistances and can heal and res themselves.

4.) Tanks do not incur any "res sickness".

5.) Other classes cannot heal or res.

6.) Dps classes are much more fragile. Drawing aggro is almost certain instant death to a dps class.

7.) It is up to the dps classes to pay attention to the amount of threat they have generated on each mob and to co-ordinate their efforts to minimize the chances that one of them will draw aggro.

8.) Repair costs are very high for dps classes.

9.) When a dps player draws aggro and dies, a public server-wide announcement is made.

10.) The game keeps track of how many times a dps player has drawn aggro from a tank, and this stat is viewable by everyone at all times.

Why not borrow from an existing game(Rift), and add a tanking and/or healing spec to every class.
I guess they could always discourage dps from using LFD by offering badges via daily quests or something. Then the only people to queue would be the ones who like farming heroic instances (I suppose there must be some.)
EVE Online Sleepers introduced a blow to the well-known trio of tank-healer-dps with the appearance of Sleepers locked within Wormholes.

Their ships are tough, but what really makes these mobs unique is their abilit to switch between targets every 30 seconds or so. The harder fleets coordinate their attacks focusing on a single player, then suddenly changing to another after some random amount of timw (30-60 seconds). The famed Healer/DPS/Tank model does not apply to this kind of comat. Players invented the SpiderTank model. Ships were fitted to cause substantial damage and to be able to heal another ship fairly well. The targetted player would temporarily become DPS while the others focus on keeping him alive.

Instroducing Mobs that can control their target beyond hitting the tank would bring some freshness methinks.
Honestly I think that giving incentives is the best they can realistically do. Changing the game enough in order to shift the core balance of characters probably is not wise or feasible at this point.

I think people just need to understand that the patching is there to help everyone in the end. Seven years in, you can't expect the fundamental game to change drastically.

Part of me would want some of the other classes to trade off responsibilities for certain things, but having the developer even attempt that in a minor fashion is bound to make a hot mess of things (and if think people are mad now-).

Indirect relief is the only way to safely handle the situation. Other than that, chalk the grouping problems up to a learning experience and do things better next time.
There was no great problem getting tanks in WotLK. Maybe they should go back to a system that actually worked?
So far in the comments, most of the suggestions seem like they would change WoW's game-play fundamentally.

Bribes for Tanks(TM) seems like a simple way to work within the current framework to try to solve a single problem - long queues for DPS. All other more-complicated solutions - get rid of the trinity, change how encounters work, make everyone a hybrid, etc. - would entail a revamp of the game.

Though, one relatively simple suggestion I like that wouldn't change the game fundamentally would be to add more gear from other sources. I suggest professions be that source! Perhaps while fishing you have a minuscule chance to catch an epic boot, for example.

And, double-bonus - now all the professions wouldn't be just a money-sink, they'd be a legitimate end-game activity. :-)
I play tank with 2 characters ( Warrior - Paladin), I play since vanilla and the 90% of my time in dungeons I am tanking.I don't want it to get easier and to me is not stressful at all.. I like it, I like to have responsibilities and be in front of the battle.I agree for overall nerf on current dungeons and mostly the unforgiven mechanics but I totally disagree to make tanks play with 2-3 buttons..

The bribe does not affect me at all cause I always play at least with one friend/guildm8 in my group.

But the ungraceful comments of pure dps classes make me angry..

you need tanks to be able to come in dungeons and /flex with damage meters because this is what you like.You stay on bad things and die because your eyes are on the meters and not in the area, you don't interrupt because losing a gcd is a dps lost except if you have talent to boost your damage after you interrupt(wise choice Blizzard), at least show some respect to people doing the dirty job (Tank - healers) and take the responsibilities to turn the battle in your favor.

Of course there are excellent dps players out there controlling their aggro, support their groups with what utilities they have, follow strategy 100% even in cost for their dps, but they are very rare these days
The simple answer is to only require tanks and healers for Raid content for which groups are more organized and players more accountable. If noone wants to "have" to tank or heal why force or try to bribe people?

How would 5mans be handled?
When a PuG enters a 5man dungeon a promt will pop up saying please enter your Dialbo 2 CD-Key. ;)
The solution is to create some kind of consequences for anti-social behavior within groups. Right now the LFD system has completely removed consequences. Act like a jerk and you just queue up.
The solution is to create some kind of consequences for anti-social behavior within groups.

Another example of wishful thinking without a concrete solution. How exactly would you implement a system of consequences for anti-social behavior? Who is going to be the judge?

All systems I've seen proposed would end up with the three bad dps who can't watch their aggro vote-kicking out the tank and healer for being anti-social.
I think a good start would be if the game itself tells players when they fail. Currently a braindead DD only sees his health dropping fast and then shouts "rezz plx why don't you heal me lol".

Let the game state after every fight things like:
"XYZ took 30000 damage from green slime pool"
"ABC could have interrupted 6 times but interrupted 0"
"FGH awakened 3 CCed monsters"

I'm sure after two weeks noone will stand in puddles of ooze.

In todays communicationless dungeons bad players don't learn much, they are wordlessly kicked if intolarable. If players don't communicate fails then the game has to.

Also monsters should one-shot DD and healer again, most people actually did mind pulling aggro in BC heroics.
I'd like to support the notion that each class be tweaked to fit at least two roles from DPS/Tank/Healer.

I am attached to my hunter and it the toon I want to develop and play the most. I feel I could handle a bigger challenge, but don't want to reroll. Perhaps Bestmastery could be made into a viable tank spec? (In fact it could be in Wrath but not officially so you couldn't queue).

It would be easy to do a warlock healing spec (albeit a fairly nasty one involving draining health from enemies etc), and as for mages and rogues - I'm sure something could be thought out.
This whole argument is a consequence of a problem Blizzard themselves created. The Wrath expansion completely changed the expectation of WoW players in terms of the difficulty and accessibility of high end group content. Between the LFD tool and absurdly simple raids, more players could access more content in a shorter period of time than ever before. The result of this was a sense of entitlement that had not existed in the community before.

Prior to Wrath it was accepted that certain content was either inaccessible entirely, or would take far too long for the average player to reasonably access. Wrath broke down those barriers, for better or for worse can be debated, but the result is the same. Now people expect that same level of access, but Cataclysm changed all that. Again, we can debate whether the change was good or not, but the change itself is undeniable. Now I don't think that anyone would advocate for a return to the "bad old days" before LFD and you sat around IF/Org all night looking for an UBRS group, but at the same time the current situation is not nearly as bad as that. Thirty minutes waiting in LFD as a DPS is still far preferable to the hours it could take to get a group in vanilla.

To their credit, Blizzard at least recognizes the problem. Is their solution a good one? We'll see. But their solution acknowledges one basic truth about people, whether we are talking about MMO's or life in general. Most of us are motivated by personal benefit. Make something worth our while, and we will be more inclined to do it. But are cosmetic rewards like pets and mounts going to motivate more tanks to queue up? Maybe, maybe not. But as other comments have already noted, offering more "concrete" rewards would even further unbalance the situation. Tanks already have the quickest path to gear acquisition due to the faster queue times they enjoy. Making them get their gear even faster would only make things worse.
I still think that any major gameplay changes will be done in Blizzard's next MMO, but I'll play along. Here are the new hybrid queue-fixing specs, including the ones Gavin suggested:

Rogue: Dodge Tank or Hide-and-Seek Tank (using Subtlety talents?)

Hunter: Beastmaster Tank

Warlock: Evil Healer or Demonology Tank

Mage: Magical Barrier Healer or Magical Barrier Tank

I personally would play a Evil Healing Warlock or Magical Barrier Tank Mage. How would you keep all these balanced in PvP? I have no idea.
If tanking and healing were more fun, as they are in City of Heroes, more people would do them naturally. I think making something more fun to do should be the goal. Certainly there are many specific things you can do to accomplish that goal, such as having built in group agro moves or group heal moves, but also more powerful single target ones that use less resources so that it's always a decision you have to make. There's tons of more complex things you could do too, like body blocking with tanking (making a tank wall). Warhammer even did this to some extent.
Another example of wishful thinking without a concrete solution. How exactly would you implement a system of consequences for anti-social behavior? Who is going to be the judge?

I think the eliminating the cross-realm aspect of LFD would be a good start.

Cross realm LFD really reduces the future consequences of poor PUG performance. DPS below the healer? Ninja the +hit wand as a healer? Pull a room of mobs before zoning out? Who will ever know? Single realm LFD makes reputation count again as poor play will lead to either getting kicked more or just not getting in a group as quickly as you get put on /ignore more. Anyone you don't like simply goes on /ignore, and you never have to see them in LFD ever again.

Besides, single realm only LFD would increase the variability in the demand for various roles, which could actually lead to a Call To Arms for DPS.
In addition to the incentives, they could have a rating system for players...
Players could anonymously rate/review their party members...

Maybe players could specify the type of player that they are and the type of player they are looking for (as in a casual tank just looking for fun or a more demanding player that is competitive).

Maybe having something like that would help prevent a casual tank from dealing with high-pressure players and vice versa.
Any solution other than bribery would require fundamental changes to the game.

I am with Jesse, every class should be a hybrid with a tank or healer spec. The problem, as mentioned here several times, is that there are two games, and most players optimize for the short term. The DPS classes are just flat out better at leveling for the first 200 hours.

After that, it is too late. Tanking might be viable, or maybe even the most efficient, but any hunter/warlock/mage/rogue no longer has any that option (aside from rerolling, which most players wouldn't do).

What's more, tanking is the hardest role, and it is nothing like anything you were asked to do in that first 200 hours. Even worse, the gear you arrive at 85 with is reasonable to DPS in. You must go out and find new gear for every slot before you can tank.
Flexible class system like Rift or a system that is based on gear, not classes picked at the beginning.

In other words, WoW is drastically out of date and holds onto old models that need to be done away with.
Rohan is on to it. Make each instance require some combination of tank(s), healer(s), and CC. (And vary it from instance to instance.) Get rid of DPS altogether. Everyone has to play a group role. No one can go through the dungeon as if they are playing solo.
I think there is a solution...and bribery isn't the way. Its a world size problem in LDF, and frankly my analysis is pure Gelvon.

The crux of the argument is this: the LDF population is hugely larger than any single server. Back in BC and even pre RDF Wrath, you got to know the population of your server and could screen out people you didn't want to run with for whatever reason even in trade pugs.

The population of a battle group is so large you can't effectively screen out the players you don't want to run with--it is likely you will never even see them again. So not only is there no punishment for being an idiot, but the RDF is more effectively anonymous than any server interaction you have--allowing more GIFT behavior too.

Short of an effecitiveness system that lets me screen players I haven't met--there is too great a likelyhood that I will find fail group, or 100g repairs group, or 3 hour run group, and not an experience I want or will enjoy.

Rate players on a win percentage.

And bribing me to take on the risks of not having fun in game in fail group, or 100g repair group, or 3.5 hour run group, doesn't solve the problem that the run still isn't fun.
I can see it now:

- "CC specialist, what's the strat for this flight?"

- "Why'd we wipe? Oh, CC didn't catch those adds"

- "Remember when there were damage meters?"
It doesn't really change anything for me. Though the recent change of making the rewarding satchel BOA means I can dump the rewards off onto my hunter.

Tanking isn't difficult.

Getting a good PUG group is.
Two tanks being required in a group won't solve anything. It will make queues even longer.

Incentives can work but I think Blizz's solution is crappy.

Give modifiers to the Justice points instead. Make the BoP pet or mount available as a random chance if the whole group finishes the instance with no one dropping group or being kicked.

3x Justice Points for a Tank, 2x for a Healer and 1x for DPS makes more sense to me.
Jesse asks:

"Why not borrow from an existing game(Rift), and add a tanking and/or healing spec to every class."

Blizzard has made several attempts at solving the tank shortage by increasing the number of characters capable of tanking. Initially, only prot warriors were viable tanks. Over the course of BC, both paladins and bears became viable tanks. The tank shortage, however, persisted. In Wrath, Death Knights -- a hero class that could tank in any spec! -- were introduced. Additionally, bear gearing was simplified (no more +def leather) and dual spec was made available. Despite these large changes, people still complained about a tank shortage throughout Wrath.

I think the problem has less to do with characters and more to do with players. Increasing the number of characters didn't work because the players behind them remained uninterested in tanking. The tanking playstyle is somewhat unique and, in my opinion, isn't for everybody. Until that changes, it will be very difficult to increase the supply of tanks.
@Kammler: Giving tanks (or healers) more JP than the DPS would make the problem worse, not better. Tanks and healers already have the fastest path to gear acquisition due to their shorter queue times. If you make them run fewer instances to obtain the same rewards, the result will be to remove even more tanks and healers from the pool because they will stop running instances sooner.

You could make the argument that it might "balance" the pool somewhat by encouraging hybrid classes to use their tank/healing specs more, or encourage DPS classes to switch to tank/healing alts. But you would have to balance that potential gain against the fact that it would require people to play in a style they obviously don't want to play. And if there is one refrain we hear over and over in the MMO world it's, "It's my character/account/whatever, I'll play how I want." If a person wanted to be a tank or a healer, they would already be playing one.
Many seem to think a Rift style approach will work better htere (every player has access to a tank spec). If you've played enough in Rift, especially higher levels, tanks are just as hard to come by as they are in WoW. Allowing every player the ability to tank didn't solve anything there.

Regarding "LFD was better in WotLK" - LFD wasn't implemented until MANY (if not most) players all ready had Tier 9 gear. It'd be like queuing up for a Heroic now in Tier 13 gear. Even those with "only" Tier 7 gear, were still very overgeared for the instance.

As far as "everyone can DPS tank and heal in the same fight" - they tried that in Vanilla and a lesser extent in TBC, and it didn't work well. First, players don't like being at the bottom of both the DPS and the healing charts. Secondly, it's very difficult to balance, as you can't make the player do too much of one or the other without causing imbalance (See also: pre-3.0 Ret Pallies).

And lastly...making instances "less stressful" or "easier" for for tanks. There's nothing in the design of the game that makes tanking stressful or difficult. It's exclusively due to how the rest of the community treats, acts and reacts to tanks.
Kill all the lawyers?

As several commenters have remarked, lack of tanks is primarily a player/trinity problem.

In RIFT,where three out of four callings can tank, finding a tank is still a problem. A healer less so. DPS can be found anywhere.
Maybe we're looking at it backwards, by focusing on the tanks. The core problem is that there are more DPS queuing than tanks. Currently having one tank allows three DPS and one healer to run a dungeon.

How about if one tank could allow four or even five DPS and one healer run a dungeon? They'd get a quicker Wrath-style run (and maybe other rewards, if necessary) and the DPS would get a shorter queue. Win win?
All systems I've seen proposed would end up with the three bad dps who can't watch their aggro vote-kicking out the tank and healer for being anti-social.

Except the system which would group you with players you liked and avoid to group those you disliked. Social network like (except the "friends" wont be visible to anyone but you , to prevent "epeen" friending)
Except the system which would group you with players you liked and avoid to group those you disliked. Social network like (except the "friends" wont be visible to anyone but you , to prevent "epeen" friending)
Kinda takes the "random" out of "Random Dungeon Finder" doesn't it?

That "system" is how it used to be in Vanilla and TBC.
This problem is as old as the "holy" trinity of roles in mmogs. And guess what? It's been solved in some games to some extend. Take for example LotRO or GuildWars.

You need a tank for a dungeon? Go and build your own npc as some kind of specialized combat pet. The jerks at Turbine (creators of LotRO) could not implement a functional mechanic, even if it's bought. So these combat pets are dumper than than the worst tank you could think of. But they do their "job" and let you clear the dungeons.

With the effort Blizzard has taken to change nearly every game mechanic and to revamp the old content to make a "cataclysmic" game experience (both changes seems a little bit overrated to me since I barely leave Orgrimmar, no reason for that :)), a functional solution to fill out missing roles with npcs could easily be made.

Sure, a npc tank will never be as good as an average human tank, but the content could be done without the need of bribing someone ....
I just think they need to get rid of tanks completely. Ask yourself, if there was a powerful dragon in real life, and there were no advanced weapons, would you or anybody say, "We need to get a tank" or "I need to tank that dragon" ? It's a ridiculous concept. You want to take out a boss monster, you need to kill it. You need to dps it and the healer needs to heal whoever gets hit. Tanking is just stupid.
I think bribes - incentives if you prefer - is the logical and least bad solution.

I would like to point out that Cataclysm was designed to reduce the number of people who wanted to tank. I.e., a number of things that made tanking simpler, especially Paladin tanking, were eliminated. You make something cost more/be harder fewer people want to do it. you increase the rewards, more people want to so it. Knowing there was a tanking shortage, Cata was designed in a way to have fewer tanks; Cata heroics were designed to be harder. Blizzard should have known the tanking shortage would get worse. It was predictably inevitable. I know a number of people who tanked in WotLK who no longer tank.

I personally believe incentives make the most sense. Although many bloggers theory seems to be that if you insult nearly all the players and call them morons enough times, they will be more and better tanks.
Make dungeons where tanks are not needed.
Hell make dungeons where you dont need dps or healers but mages, priests and other classes instead.

Kill off the idea of everybody filling 1 of 3 roles. Make encounters where you need a class, a spec or an item. Make the world so that it can never fit in a standard form.
Get rid of tanks, and do what I call the loot pinata form of endgame.

Most endgame is time-limited, and not so much about completing the event as opposed to repeating it for drops. You can only do it so often, and the point is to keep doing it till you achieve a equipment or point goal.

So why not just make a time-locked arena filled with tons of normal or weak enemies coming at you in waves, and go for high scores?

It's similar to FFXI's burn parties, where they went tankless. There. DPS just killed too fast to take damage. The fun was in how high you could get your chain: killling hundreds or even thousands of enemies over an exp party made a very dynamic experience.
I think two changes would help:

1) The leader (or tank) would be allowed 2 (? 1? 3? tweeks allowed here) solo kicks. DPS being a jerk, tank kicks them, no vote needed.

2) Allow cross server /ignore.

Bonus points: too many /ignores (tweek # and allow decay of /ignore over time to let people work at being better) gets you lower priority in LFD.
Making tanks more PVP relevant would help build up the tank population. Giving tank specs a bit more control or utility via stuns, disarms, snare, shielding, taunts... things more reflexive and skillful than just being hp beasts.
Bribes are stupid as in Communism was a great economic principle stupid.

Folks how do we get:

Trained Policemen?
Trained Medical Doctors?

Do we go to Joe Public and say take one for the team do a little surgery for a few thousand in Bribes?

NO WE DO NOT. If we did we would not have a workable society.

If a game does this... it does not have a workable game community.

Bribes are a weak solution to a fundamental problem. Since this whole "if not bribes what then?" debate got started with the premise that "can't fix city hall on this one".

I would posit that we need to do like real life does. When a society has a shortage of a profession what to they do?

Increase wages.
Increase status of profession.
Train kidos to learn this profession.
Or... get other people with similar skills and get THEM TO DO THE JOB!

... oh wait wut... you mean ex-solders could be security guards? yep
you mean computer draftsmen and CAD operators could learn to be graphic artists? yep.

If a druid can tank in leather why can't a rogue? If a BM Hunter with a tenacity pet can tank all 80 dungeons why can't he tank 85?

at the end of the day one of the reasons Wrath rocked is because we had a new tanking class running around. AND it was fun and easy to tank.

But fun left the building early in Cata.
And another thing...

Did anyone notice that the DK who used to have 2 tanking specs in Wrath (yes I know one was best but still).

Got cata-nerfed to just ONE tanking spec...

Could THAT have something to do with tank shortage?

Some DKs might not WANT to tank in the designated spec! There goes a few tanks right?

B team game design is a biach isn't it folks. Why not just STOP DEBATING how to fix the Titanic and jump ship already?
Every class should be a hybrid with a tank or healer spec. The problem is, will people even tank even if their class had a tank spec? I sort of doubt that.
Looks like a bunch of people have mentioned this already, but - the number one reason that people don't queue as tanks in LFD (and fully half the blogosphere's posts about C2A have referenced this) is the abuse they get in LFD.

It's not about tanking being hard, it's about getting personal abuse every time you do it. That kinda discourages people.

Fix that and you've fixed the problem.
And how exactly does one "fix" player behavior? It's not as if Blizzard could put in code which would only allow nice people to queue up.
In Wrath, it was easy for dps to queue up because tanks obviously didn't mind tanking those dungeons - they were fast and relatively easy.

In Wrath, tanks obviously mind.

What changed? Not the tanks - they are the same people they were before.

The game design changed. And obviously it was the wrong design, because it is causing problems that didn't exist in the last expansion.

Cata is, in general, just too hard for the average person.
In Wrath, it was easy for dps to queue up because tanks obviously didn't mind tanking those dungeons - they were fast and relatively easy.

In Cata, tanks obviously mind.

What changed? Not the tanks - they are the same people they were before.

The game design changed. And obviously it was the wrong design, because it is causing problems that didn't exist in the last expansion.

Cata is, in general, just too hard for the average person.
Came here since links to your "Morality" posts were in the comments on another blog I read. Disagree that there is any morality based on what class someone chooses to play in the game they pay for. With that off my chest. You state that Blizzard can not fix player behavior. While that may be true in a sense, they can give us the community the tools to fix it ourselves. Some ideas off the top of my head, many of which have been mentioned. Allow me to blacklist rude players (this is the sole reason none of my 3 tanks use LFG, and no the bag is no incentive) Add some choice to the LFG. What I mean here is a check box that says "I'm here for a fast VP run, I know this in and out." or "I'm fairly new to these dungeons, would like to take it slower and learn the fights" Vote kick is removed from option 2. One final idea and it is far fetched, is to have mercenary NPC tank/healers availabe to give dps insta queue. These npc would mark mobs for kill order/CC. As long as that is followed the npc survives, therefore group survives. They wouldn't skip bosses or use gimmicks etc.
all of this navel gazing is pointless in the final analysis

Blizz has smart people they will nerf cata to Wrath standards within the year so all this debate is pointless.

What is an interesting question to all you Wowbies is this:

Why are you struggling in a broken end game mechanic while other alternatives are available???

You know that Blizz is smart enough to fix this. YOU KNOW the most probable way is to nerf. WHY are you waiting around hitting heads on walls until Blizz gets a clue?

Take up fishing (real fishing folks)
Read books
Take up knitting

Anything to stop the whine. Please there are those of us who have fixed this for ourselves by finding an unbroken game to play. Why not go around the wall instead of using your heads to beat through it?
Tobold said
""And how exactly does one "fix" player behavior? It's not as if Blizzard could put in code which would only allow nice people to queue up.""

Aggggahhh, I have explained this before.

One more time with feeling, Blizz created a "Lord of the Flies" expansion where scarcity of key resources is the rule NOT the exception.

Tank dodge trinkets are only one example.

If you put a group of people on an island and give them half the food and water... what happens?

Do you think they initiate a nice calm socialistic government that divides the food equally?

NO, you immediately have the strong prey on the weak. The Strong get stronger the weak die.

Anyone seeing this strong player vs perceived weak player on their realms?

Blizzard through B Team game design has created an end game where strong player man-boys want to keep the weak away. They do this because the avenues to end game gear are LIMITED.

Who limited them... player behavior? NO B team Game Design.

YOU FIX player behavior by FIXING the end game environment!!!

Or you could have fixed the expansion by having more leveling content so the WALL of the end game would not have come so abruptly.

Now stop whining about "how can we change the EJ behavior". And realize the player behavior is a consequence of poor game design.

THEN get angry and turn it into action by voting with your feet.

Blizzard is a for profit organization. In a captialistic society you have a direct way of getting their attention. USE IT
Angry Gamer, for people who still enjoy WoW and haven't moved on to "another game," this is interesting stuff to talk/read about.

What isn't interesting is hearing, "come to your senses and stop playing WoW" comments over and over. If you don't like WoW any more, that's fine. But, perhaps chill out on trying to convince everyone else that they should hate it too.
Other Quote
"Every class should be a hybrid with a tank or healer spec. The problem is, will people even tank even if their class had a tank spec? I sort of doubt that."

In Rift I do...

I am a Rogue in Leather I have a tank spec.

Here's what happens in A Team game design on Rift. You have a tank spec possible in every player. He may not have the tank spec the first time 4-5 players get together BUT after the group breaks due to NO tank. The NEXT time 2-3 people have an alt spec that tanks....
and yaaay no breaking the group... we have a run everyone is happy.

It's amazing but if you do not make player options "scarce" you can have cooperative friendly play.

I know most here have Wow on the brain filtering ALL perceptions of MMO game play. But really if you don't like the "No Tank" effect... Why put up with it?

Other games do not have this problem or have solved it... Blizzard just proved that very well funded savvy organization CAN make mistakes. Reward their mistake with a tour of other games... because a couple have NOT made any mistakes.
@Angry Gamer: Get off of my blog! Your multiple and long rants have nothing to do with the discussion here and are frankly getting a bit tiring and repetitive. Why don't you leave us alone and go to write your own blog?
Even if you're in a guild and run with your guildies, dungeons still seem to take a considerable amount of time. This seems to be something that everyone can agree upon. The next question though is what seems to be an optimal run time? An hour, a half-hour, fifteen minutes? While I can personally deal with an hour, I'd probably prefer a half-hour. So a new dungeon to me should take maybe an hour to do but once I know it inside and out, it should only take a half-hour with an optimal group. So if there's three bosses in a dungeon, that's 10 minutes per boss, including clearing the trash to get to it. With Cataclysm, however, our guild was initially spending two to three hours learning a single dungeon and once learnt, can now do them in about an hour (or sometimes slightly less).

Matching the right play styles, as others have already noted, could be of benefit as well (i.e. speed tank with speed dps). The problem I see with this though is the random dungeon nature. For example, certain dungeons I can speed run as a tank because I know them well. Other dungeons, that's not the case because I'm not as familiar with them. So it would be hard for me to designate myself as a "speed tank", if I don't know what dungeons I'll be playing. Still if you're selecting your dungeon manually, then having this type of play style designator could really help in getting a similar minded group together. Even better it could suit my mood. If I have more time, I could choose to tank newbs to help them learn the game better. If I'm short on time, however, I could choose a speed run instead.

Finally seeing more feedback / awareness mechanism in the game would help across the board, not only in terms of learning your role better but also in terms of knowing what went wrong, where and why, within a group. For example, many FPS games have a death sequence / snapshot that shows you who killed you and how. Something similar to this would be awesome in WoW, particularly if it relayed the complex breakdown of the wipe in a very simple way. So imagine when you died, it showed the last few people / events that caused the wipe and how (in a chain of events sort of way, i.e. 1-2-3). Of course, the implementation of this is the tricky part and probably would require a slew of complex calculations to figure out the key events. For example, it would have to be able differentiate between a dps having excess threat over a tanks nominal threat versus a tank losing threat, thus causing dps to surpass him with their nominal dps.
I've put up some suggestion at the WoW forums, but in short my suggestion include some of the following:

1. Reduce the cost of tanking gear - reduce the number of JP/Badges and Materials required to gain access to i346 tanking gear

2. Allow DPS to pay gold for a priority queue and give tanks a % upon completion of dungeon:

"...Perhaps the LFD system could have a priority queue system, where DPS could "pay" a set amount of gold to get priority and a cut of that (a %) then goes to the tank?

This could create all sorts of nastiness if money paid up front, but how about if the the tank does not ge the gold until the final boss is downed.

Thus, with the JP the tank gets a proportion of the gold DPS pay. Tanks have incentives to run LFD, and only the good tanks get the gold."
Gear fixing.
That'll solve your tanking issues.

Just create some kind of ability or stat that transfers into tanking benefits when in 'tanking mode'. Many other games do it. Rift does. WoW Druid =sorta= does (but not really). WAR does with the chaos healers - they use spellpower in damage mode, wisdom for heals. They have an ability which converts all Wis to SP when in DPS mode and vice-versa when in heal-mode. It's inspired, and it works great because you never have to worry about collecting two sets of gear. You can heal =if you have to=.

Ask any tank in WoW what the biggest hurdle to getting into tanking was, if they didn't level as one. Gearing up. If you haven't been collecting tank gear since pre-85, then you're in trouble when you hit the level-cap; the end-result is DPSers who WANT to tank keeping bits on the side for use as tank off-spec so they can do it when they have enough gear put together. And feeling guilty about rolling for it against MS tanks.

It's like paying stupid-high rent (queue times) whilst trying to save enough money to buy a house (have viable tank role) to stop paying rent, without the benefit of a loan from the bank.

Tanks already tank as much or as little as they want. But there are a lot of DPS out there who are interested in tanking, but can't get past the barriers.
As Tobold stated and others have highlighted, for me the absolutely worst element to Cataclysm is to assume the vast majority of players have the same amount of time to give as they did in vanilla or TBC. For my guild heroics are almost completely impossible now as we simply do not have enough players online who can commit to 2+ hours. Undermanning heroics is impossible and if you're undergeared, which most of our characters are, any bad pull is a wipe.

Beyond this element though I am also bored with the cyclical gear-grind, I want to play in the 'World' of Warcraft and not just jump between instances - I think Blizzard should add group content to the open world again. Questing is so super easy as to make group questing pointless, or with some of the vehicle fights even a buggy mess. Give us something to do in social groups other than LFD!
If you haven't been collecting tank gear since pre-85, then you're in trouble when you hit the level-cap;

I actually found getting heroic plate geared for tanking fairly easy because my rep faction gear rewards gave me more slot items than other class / roles. Even more so, wrist slots, which are usually hard to get, were easy because there is a rare mob in Deepholm which isn't that rare and it drops 346 wrists. Even better, if you get blacksmithing then you're laughing because that's another three slots you can craft (chest, waist, shield, all 359). I think all together I had something like six or seven slots that I geared up quite quickly.

Again getting the gear wasn't the issue for me. But if the person doesn't want to grind rep or doesn't have an appropriate armor profession, then ya, it will take them a while, especially if their only means is via purchasing justice gear or boss drops.
Even better, if you get blacksmithing then you're laughing because that's another three slots you can craft (chest, waist, shield, all 359).

Aeh, and how are those supposed to help you *get into* heroics? You need chaos orbs to craft those, so you need to run heroics to get these.
"Aeh, and how are those supposed to help you *get into* heroics? You need chaos orbs to craft those, so you need to run heroics to get these."

Tobold: Correct me if I'm wrong but most comments relating to getting gear seemed to be from people alreadying doing heroics. These people have mains who are not tanks but would like to be tanks which is why gear is an issue because they didn't get tanking gear from quests. So even if a person is doing heroics with their DPS, they should still be able to need on chaos orbs to use for their crafting.

If they weren't DPS though and leveled as a tank instead, then their gear collection should be fairly decent, especially once they get their rep gear. In addition, you can often find 325 gear pieces for cheap off the auction house which can easily round out your gear set, helping you reach your heroic gear requirement level.
I know this is a very late response, but on the off chance anyone is still reading this thread:

My feeling is that low tank and healer numbers are primarily due to grief from selfish / irresponsible / immature dps who don't play their class holistically and are fixated with topping the chest-beating meters at the end of instance runs.

I believe that to end the rot (and improve tank and healer numbers, thereby reducing dps queue times) Blizzard would need to restructure encounters to 'encourage' (read 'force') dps players to play their role properly. I do not accept any argument which says this is not possible -- Blizzard routinely make huge changes to game play and balance, and the suggestions below are minor by comparison.

1) Fix the broken threat mechanics. The current focus is on 'building' threat, whereas I believe it should be on 'reducing' threat. No boss is dumb enough to focus fire on a tank simply because the tank is insulting its parentage. Aggro-generating abilities are almost all stupid and pointless. Get rid of virtually all of them.

Instead, give dps and healers a variety of ways to reduce threat. Not to shift threat back to the tank, but reduce personal threat. A rogue could vanish for a period of time, a hunter could move to different firing positions so that 10,000 arrows don't all come from the same place, a mage might mix direct with indirect or aoe spells to try hide the source of the damage... whilst one could describe many different (class-specific) ways what it really comes down to 'generate less aggro than the tank by using common sense and abilities to appear less of a threat'.

Players who don't care to use threat meters and don't bother to minimise threat will find themselves being targeted by bosses, and rightly so. Which leads us on to...

2) Invert repair bills. Tank armour, the toughest in the game, costs the most to repair at the end of each run. This is stupid. It's *designed* to take a beating. Massively reduce (by say a factor of 10) the cost to repair tanking armour. Massively increase (by say a factor of 10-100) the cost to repair cloth armour. Interpolate repair costs for armour types in between.

Unless dps are 'encouraged' by mechanics to actively minimise the damage they suffer, then they will keep drawing aggro and standing in fires. If 'no/stupid dps tactics' result in repair bills which vastly exceed the loot extracted from instance runs, then you will quickly see a shift in dps play styles. Once this happens, healers will have an easier time keeping players alive, and will receive less grief from dps, and more players will heal, and dps queue times will drop.

"But why penalise cloth-wearing healers?" You don't. Healers should have the largest number of threat-reducing options out of any role, and if exercised appropriately, should see them take negligible damage and thus incur negligible repair bills. Direct-healing spells (spells which *obviously* reveal to bosses/the enemy that the player is a healer) should be high yield but generate high threat. More subtle, indirect or aoe healing spells should have correspondingly lower yield and lower threat (or no threat at all if it is not possible for the enemy to know you were responsible for a heal). Healer generated threat should be more about the style of healing and less about the points actually healed.

(to be continued)
3) Reward good tactics. Rather than raid symbols being there purely for the the players' benefit, have the system recognise them and use them to reward good tactics. A mob marked with a moon should be CCd - sapped or sheeped, usually - so have the system apply a +50% XP/Honor/Damage buff to the player who CCs that target for as long as the CC is maintained.

Players with dps characters will literally *beg* to be allowed to CC mobs if such a system were in place. They might even start demanding CC targets at the start of every encounter -- oh my! That one small change would take the strain off the tank, reduce reliance on aoe tanking tactics, result in less damage/higher survival rates, less abuse would be hurled at tanks by dps, more players would tank, and dps queue times would shorten.

This comment is getting rather long so I won't add any more examples.

Suffice to say that it is actually quite easy to restructure the game to make tanking / healing more enjoyable and therefore increase the number of tanks / healers and shorten queue times for dps. All you need to do is shift the focus of dps from rankings and damage meters to playing their role in a holistic fashion. Doing so would introduce more variety into the tactics used, and that inherently makes the game more interesting to play.

The role of dps is not just to dps. It is to dps, avoid taking damage and exercise crowd control. Many seem to have forgotten that.
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