Tobold's Blog
Thursday, April 07, 2011
Woot! Bribery!

In case you haven't noticed it yet, one of the fundamental credos of this blog is that social engineering is the answer to many of the problems of MMORPGs. If you don't like the term social engineering, you can also call it bribery. Like Blizzard does:
The long queue times are, of course, caused by a very simple lack of representation in the Dungeon Finder by tanks, and to some extent healers. We don't feel the tanking and healing roles have any inherent issues that are causing the representation disparity, except that fulfilling them carries more responsibility. Understandably, players prefer to take on that responsibility in more organized situations than what the Dungeon Finder offers, but perhaps we can bribe them a little.
So in future people queueing up for the most under-represented role in the Dungeon Finder (meaning tanks in 80% of cases, healers in 20% of cases, and dps in 0% of cases) will get an additional bribe reward in the form of a goody bag containing "some gold, a chance at a rare gem, a chance at a flask/elixir (determined by spec), a good chance of receiving a non-combat pet (including cross faction pets), and a very rare chance at receiving a mount".

If you consider role representation the responsability of the developers alone, this is the absolutely best possible solution. I like it. Personally I would have liked it even more if players would consider role representation at least partially to be also the responsability of the players, and would have queued up as tanks without a bribe; but that obviously was an utopian pipe dream. So, woot to bribery!
Whilst it's worth a try, I doubt this will work. The rewards of queuing as a tank are already massive (e.g. instant grouping, which means you can gather badges far more quickly). I suspect we've simply reached the limit of the number of people who are prepared to tank for PUGs with the role as it currently is.

I love tanking for guild groups or friends, but as a tank I feel responsible for the survival of the party and there's only so much rudeness and stupidity a man can take. Until there's a "hold idiot" spell that allows a tank to cc his own party and a "just bloody fire at this one" spell that compels DPS to attack the marked target, I really can't be bothered.

That's the reason for the shortage of tanks in PUGs, not the lack of reward.
Kinda agree with Sven there. I've tanked since Vanilla, love tanking, and consider it the most fun part of the 'Holy Trinity' to play. And while I think this is a great idea, it still won't get me tanking PuGs. I honestly can't think of a reward that Blizzard could offer for tanking an heroic PuG that would get me into dungeons.

Sad to say it, but some of my experiences tanking PuGs have been rotten on the order that no additional reward is adequate. At the end of the day it's virtual rewards on offer. My leisure time is all about having fun, the reward is having fun, and the majority of PuGs are not fun.

Fancy mounts don't even enter the equation.
i knew you'd like that, tobold :)

This won't change what i do one bit, but i suspect it'll motivate tank alts or casual tanks... we'll see.

No comment on the remote guild chat feature that's also announced? I expect it'll not be free :-)
@Sven: You made my day. I actually asked the healer to stop healing that damn annoying DPS and not ressing him. Of course CCing him would be a better opprtion as he keept runing back into the instance instead of staying dead or leaving.

@Tobold: Queues might get shorter but the only new tanks we are gona get is even more clueless offspec tanks in it just for the loot. HC PUGS will be even more off a shamble as now not even the tanks know what to do and then the good healers will stop PUGing to because they of course will get blamed by the new clueless tanks.

Of course all off this will shift the problems from long queue times to another round of HC's being to hard because every group is falling apart during the runs and another round of PUG buffs.
my thoughts exactly, but don't forget you should by now overgear heroics. If that isn't sufficient, i fully expect blizzard to nerf them further, et voila! :)
And just to underscore how this ain't a fix, this greate comment from a reader on this.

"Well time to swap from Holy offset to the Prot offset. Heroic groups will feel the wrath of my inadequate tank gear."

Just great. One less healer, one more crappy tank. Just what we needed.
I'm just confused who is supposed to benefit from this reward. This incentive's caveat is having to solo queue in order to get these rewards. No helpful healer guildie to help you adjust in your new position, no tank-turned-DPSer to help mark targets for you and teach you what the Tab key is for.

It could be that the incentive is barring new tanks from LFG and making it a sour experience for all, and the carrot is only to attract existing tanks that don't want to pug. But existing tanks already like being a tank, with a (presumably) generous guild base or friends that can accommodate the tank's requests. Like mount runs. Buying elixirs, daily questing, everything they advertised. I'm a healer, and I got 2 of the 3 mounts they advertised through grinding with friends (damn you Ravenlord!). This reward isn't a reward to existing tanks, and as Sven said, it's not the lack of reward for the tank shortage.

Maybe it's for people to turn into tanks, get help from guildies first and then start pugging as a tank. But the time spent investing into becoming a tank is definitely going to outweigh the "very rare chance" of receiving a mount which could have been easily rectified by going in the instance and soloing it for a few weeks. It's not a very good incentive for this group either.

Unless they're going to throw in an exclusive mount just for tanks/healers who solo queue, I don't see this reward being very helpful in any way. If they expanded it to "you have to pug at least 3 people before you can get this reward", that would probably make some visible change.
If loot, gold, reputation and tokens haven't been big enough incentives to make tanks use LFG in the past, I doubt random chances on more goodies will - I really do. pets and gems don't seem to solve the main problem to me why many players simply hate to join random groups.

those that liked tanking before will continue to do so, and vice versa.
What else can we fix with bribery:

-Battleground queueing
-Arena queueing
-Realm faction balance
-Realm class balance

Quicker than fixing The Trinity.

Incidentally, I'm expecting all classes to 'go hybrid' in 5.0 a la Rift.
Queues might get shorter but the only new tanks we are gona get is even more clueless offspec tanks in it just for the loot.

Isn't that an improvement over the same people playing clueless DPS, making the queues longer for everybody, and *still* managing to make their PUGs fail in spite of playing in a redundant role?

The solution to make all clueless people play DPS has been tried, and it failed. Let's at least give this solution a try before declaring it a failure too.
It only took them 6 years to admit thier philosophy of not attempting social engineering was wrong.

The only problem is that the rewards they offer aren't enough to get the overgeared healers and tanks that don't need the runs to help or to get the dps specced hybrids that just don't want to tank or heal to do so. As much as I like thier change in philosophy I predict it'll be too little too late and that blizzard will declare the idea broken and never look back.
The only incentive i would need to tank with PUGs is the ability to LFG group with players who agree to use audio communication. It's very hard to tank with strangers and write properly in the same time. Apart from diminishing missinterpretations it would bring more "humanity" in these random groups, not feeling like if we just use each others for the pavlovian rewards. Obviously it would imply a sufficient audio chat quality that Blizzard never thought important despite WoW being a high profit margin business :/
Ah Cataclysm, where every heroic instance is The Oculus.
I am seeing a lot of comments that the rewards "aren't enough" for tanks to queue. I think whether that is true will depend on each player, and there are millions of players.

Personally, I heard about the pet, and especially the mounts, and immediately got giddy. The new incentives will be a nice shove back towards tanking for me personally.

I also think that mount and pet collecting folks can get pretty obsessed and I think those two types of rewards will have more effect than more “points” ever would.

But, my main point is that we need to look at this from other perspectives. Even if the “gearing up for raids” players and the “I like to run with my guild” people aren’t interested in the new rewards, there are likely to be millions of players who *are* interested and will shorten the queues for all of us.
I'm joining the "aren't" crowd. I did a bit of thinking about the amount of gold Blizzard would need to offer for me to consider tanking a full PUG, and I came up with a number rather north of 2,000 gold. I doubt they'll be offering that.

And mounts and so forth? I just don't care. If I wanted Rivendare's mount I'd go spam Strathome - it'd be more fun and quite likely faster than trying to finish a Heroic as a solo PUG tank.
I was just thinking whether this will actually worsen the interactions in PUGs.

For the "Gogogogo" crowd, they now have a reason to resent the tank. "You get mounts - you owe us!"
I haven't tanked myself but do pug as a healer quite a bit. I've watched the tanks (good and bad) quite a bit. Tanking is a LOT of work. I play the game for fun. I don't need that kind of pressure and aggravation from leading a PUG with one or more DPS pinheads making my life miserable. I've seen and heard our guild tank get so frustrated with a pug he'd quit playing for the day. He refuses to do it anymore unless at least 3 of us are guild mates. I'm fairly certain it's going to take more than a mount to make him change his mind.
It's unlikely to work and may even backfire with more DPS queueing as tanks.

The problem is twofold. First, the dungeon finder is designed in a way to exacerbate anti-social behavior. Second, anti-social behavior is concentrated among DPS classes. The result is that it's just plain not worth it.

I did tank a wonderful instance in another game though. We wiped 3 times, toughed it out, and finished. Everyone was polite. Everyone worked together. No dungeon finder, no problem, and I'm actively forming groups as a tank.
Get rid of the trinity. There should be more combat options available to players anyway. I prefer the GW2 idea of giving everything tank-dps-heals functionality and responsibility.

The content alone should be incentive enough.
I can see how folks who don’t like to PuG might automatically assume the worst about this change, but I am also hoping that the more people tank and heal, the more they’ll be empathetic to tanks and healers. Perhaps they’ll even be better DPS when they choose that role.

And, isn’t it better that more people try tanking and healing? Maybe they’ll love it and learn to be a great healer. Practice makes perfect and here’s a powerful incentive to practice!

And, to speak to Numtimi's comment, I’ve had many great Dungeon Finder experiences and not a single bad one so far. In another game without a Dungeon Finder, jerks were mean to me during a dungeon run. Neither experience proves anything about grouping tools or lack thereof.
What they should do it base the "chance" of the extra rewards on a sliding scale that corresponds to your average ilvl. So if queue as a tank in AI333 your chance will be almost nil, if you queue at AI372 almost guaranteed...

I really wonder how this will affect healers. If the CTA shows tanks are getting extra rewards, are you going to hold off queuing hoping that it will swing to heals?
If it weren't for the rule that you have to queue solo tanks would be able to boost people to goodie bags (perhaps for gold). A dps DK queues as tank with his tank mate queueing as dps. The real tank tanks the instance with the DK being the notional tank as far as the program is concerned.
This change is a good one. I know that I, being a semi hardcore raider, need nothing from heroics now aside from the 70 points to buy gear for my second offspec set... not much incentive. However, this would definitely be a small incentive to queue up again now and then when I feel like a little bashing. I bet that this is not targetted at me though because I already queue as tank but rather all the feral druids and dps plate wearers who queue as dps rather than tank just because they enjoy dpsing more. This little bit could easily be enough to push a lot of them over the edge into tanking. I know that tons of them are out there because I end up with very geared plate dps and feral druids in my PUGs all the time when I am tanking and they could easily queue as tank if they had a reason to.

As for the difficulty of completing heroics as a PUG tank... I don't buy it. There have been a couple times my heroic groups had real issues but that is out of a hundred runs. Absolutely the default experience for me is to queue as tank, get a random group of dudes, wreck the zone (sometimes with a wipe, usually not) and then leave group. If you are willing as a tank to provide even a small amount of leadership and don't act like a jerk the vast majority of people will follow along, kill the enemies and take their loot without any significant problems.
Elsewhere in the article , the Blizzard representative says " We don't feel the tanking and healing roles have any inherent issues that are causing the representation disparity."

That disconnect with reality may explain part of their decision.
@Ted: A) It's not "elsewhere", but exactly in the middle of the part I quoted.

B) You deliberately removed the comma, and the ", except that fulfilling them carries more responsibility" that goes with it.

So, given the FULL quote, where do you see the disconnect with reality?
I can't believe I missed that you quoted it. I apologize for that oversight. The omission of the social responsibility clause was accidental.

I do believe there are mechanical issues with tanking and healing like mana regeneration, vengeance , and AoE threat. While these may have been solid design decision on their own, they also may have contributed to less tanks and healers queueing.

There is also the often discussed issue of tanks and healers getting little opportunity to practice their skills in a safe environment where a learning mistake won't kill other players, or prior to the level cap.
Make tanking fun and tanks will queue. Make tanking profitable and tanks will queue until they have no more need for the profit.
This comment has been removed by the author.
The word is spelled "responsibility" not "responsability" which is a word caught by a spell checker, and is also used at least once in the Blizzard piece you quoted. You need to do better.
The word is spelled "responsibility" not "responsability" which is a word caught by a spell checker, and is also used at least once in the Blizzard piece you quoted. You need to do better.
Blizzard's B development team is utter fail.

Incentivizing bad game design, doesn't work. Well, it does work for the short term, short sighted game player. Meanwhile, Blizzard is chipping away at what value it did have.

Every time I think I want to resubscribe, Ghostcrawler posts something stupid.
I, for one, welcome our new terribad tank overlords.

I do think this will get some good tanks to queue when they otherwise would have gone and done dailies or TB. I think that this will get many many more DPSers to queue with a DPS spec and DPS gear as tanks, and make only the most meager attempt to actually, you know, tank.
You need to do better.

... says the guy who triple-posts his comment because he can't figure out how the "publish your comment" button works.
We often have 4/5 guild groups with only the tank missing. Usually the PuG tank we get is less experienced and geared than us which is no problem at all on its own.
However with this new bribe I am thinking, where is our reward for "carrying" new/bad/inexperienced tanks?

Now not only does the PuG tank get a very smooth run with experienced and geared players, on top of that he basically additional rewards for being carried. Doesn't make sense to me and feels more like a slap in the face for the rest of the group in the described situation.
I think the larger problem here is that the game is not made to evenly reflect the different roles. If a game has you level up solely by defeating things through combat, then it shouldn't come as a surprise that people favor playing the combat class.

The game is primarily made for the people that do the fighting. If you think about it, having a party with 2 dps, a healer, and a tank is considered to be balanced. The dps is the most relevant role *for actually doing the content* and the other two are the support additions that help the dps get through the content.
is not really a bribe tho, more of a ~ pull the wool over your eyes until we can figure out the underlying cause and make some radical changes that invalidates this issue but probably inadvertently causes some others.

I would like to see an option in the LFD that allows you to select your server as the only option for random puggers.
rulez asked, "where is our reward for 'carrying' new/bad/inexperienced tanks?"

Your reward is that you get the tank you needed! If it were easy for you to get a tank, you would have a 5/5 guild group, wouldn't you?
The bribe won't make any guild tank magically appear out of thin air, so it gets me nothing. And if it would then I would not want to play with those who are only in for their greed.
Our queue times to fill the last spot are 5-20 minutes in the worst case.

If you think of it differently, I sure as hell would not pay anyone to make the queue times shorter, a pug should rather pay us, as we provide them an awesome run. ;)

If a role shortage would mean I would have to wait hours in LFD I would stop using it, instead of virtually paying fellow players to play with me.

How about designing a game that DPS or healers can tank too?

Oh sorry wrong game...

But just thinking out loud... Why can other classes tank? Like a BM hunter or such?

You see what this "bribe" does is set up a law of diminshing returns. Once Blizz sets up an expectation of reward the TANK GUILD will invariably expect more and more... and when they don't get more and more (like epics!) they will go on strike.

Saying things like "No justice no TANKING we want epics now!"

Great job Blizz.

This is all indicative of a game on the downhill slide. Being a Tank in Cata is too much work for not enough reward. (and epics need to be the reward compared to other games...)

How about making tanking easier with better AOE threat and mob by mob pull tactics?

How about having dungeons without a grab bag of mobs with 5 different abilities who need to be tanked 5 different ways?

How about better mitigation? You know help the healers out... and all that.

No we don't want to redesign our crappy tanking in cata... we just want to bribe you to keep playing our brain dead crappy game!

face it folks Blizzard just doesn't get it anymore. They don't really have a good handle as to WHY tank availability is a problem right now.

Gee could it be that you have to like FARM regulars for hours to get your dodge trinket? Huh?

Could it be that Healers were nerfed so much that you can't be an undergeared tank and survive?

Blizz get your head out! The design IS the problem. You listened to the wrong player base and this is the thanks you get.

Instead of whines about "it's too easy". You get whines about "No Tanks".

You get whining no matter what. Listen to the people who ARE LEAVING!
At least in my circle of friends, tanks nearly always want to queue with at least 1 other player they know. It reduces how many terrible players you can have in your group. Most tanks get at least 2 other guildies/friends to group with them, leaving the possibility of only 2 unknows.

I understand why they are limiting the rewards to only those that single queue - but I'm not sure it's going to do much. As said above, tanks aren't queuing due to lack of rewards - they already get them faster than anyone else. They aren't queuing because of others in the queue.

How many mounts or pets until tanks get tired of running dungeons with Huntard #46723 that can't control his pet, or the Mage, that barely beats the healer in damage done on boss fights?

This is at best a temporary band-aid until poor players get overgeard with welfare gear and/or new content is released.
I play a healer, not a tank, but I suspect that the reason there aren't enough tanks (healers) using the LFG tool is probably the reason I hate PUGs with a passion. Good tanks/healers have plenty of friends and/or guildmates to run with. The LFG tool gives far too great a chance of getting hooked up with people who are going to blame their own failings on the tank/healer. Who wants to put up with that, when there's no need to?
Bad tanks are kinda the main reason why I started tanking in the first place. Nothing like being in control of your own fortune. Honestly though, I would've at least liked it to be a max of 2 players (yourself and a friend), rather than limited to only solo queues. That way you can even bring along your healer or favorite partner of choice so that you're not completely screwed out in the vast ocean of pugs.
I guess what I'm really annoyed at is that it encourages solo queueing, and the pain that'll ensue during that group.
The bribe won't make any guild tank magically appear out of thin air, so it gets me nothing. And if it would then I would not want to play with those who are only in for their greed.
Our queue times to fill the last spot are 5-20 minutes in the worst case.

If you think of it differently, I sure as hell would not pay anyone to make the queue times shorter, a pug should rather pay us, as we provide them an awesome run. ;)

If a role shortage would mean I would have to wait hours in LFD I would stop using it, instead of virtually paying fellow players to play with me.
Player expectations are the problem. The real stress comes from other players: not just LFG pugs, but even guild runs. There is an enormous responsibility placed on the tank. They:

- have to know the mechanics of every boss in every instance...
- have to know the mechanics of every trash pull
- have to explain the fights to most, and the role of healer and DPS in each fight
- mark the kill order
- manage the groups dynamic
being the tanks means people defer to you, and expect you to look after all their needs in the run
- are not allowed to make one mistake, NOT one as far so the group goes.

For a tank, this is what Heroic Stonecore "feels" like:

- tank hits LFG, and is dropped into SC... takes *deep breath*
- tanks says assigns CC duties, check that everyone has done the instance
- "Just go" says one DPS
- begins first trash pull
- DPS does not CC or sheep/stuns wrong target
- complete wipe on first trash pack
- regroup, rezz, rebuff, tank explains fight again....
- second attempt on trash pack works
- group finally gets to first boss, Corborus.. tank does ready check, explains fight...
- tank pulls boss, all going fine until crystals kill at least one DPS that does not move out of their way
- Corborus borrows.. tank runs around collecting adds... boss kills another DPS
- Corborus emerges, kills healer
- tank last one standing... then full wipe
- regroup, rezz, rebuff, tank explains fight again....
- at least one DPS starts to get into a tizzy "ive waited for 45 minutes and get fail tank/DPS/group!"
- on the second, or third attempt Corborus goes down...
- "gj" says tank to group to encourage
- group finally gets to Slabhide.. tank does ready check, explains fight...
- tank pulls boss, all going fine until one DPS that does not move out of AoE thus dies
- "the glowing pulls of molten lava kill guys..." says tank
- "L2P and tank" says dead DPS... "fail healer"
- boss goes down second attempt, after all Slabhide is not *that hard*
- next comes the most terrifying run for tanks in any Cata H dungeon... the Hall of Fanatics
- tank explains that CC is essential, that sentries MUST die and peeps watch their aggro.. too many mobs will mean a wipe
- CC not used, mobs aggro... at least three wipes just getting through the stretch of the instance
- at this point tank is feeling very stressed, watching players blaming each other
- after the trauma of HoF comes Ozruk.
- tank pulls boss
- tanks is stressed, tired... or makes an honest mistake misjudges boss ability and dies
- "FAIL TANK and "L2P noob" screams DPS
- second attempt and Ozruk goes down with most party members about to die
- "Phew!" thinks tank, at least that boss is behind them
- asks if group ready to move one
- "just go" says one DPS
- group works way to final boss
- tank pulls first pack of zealots, ranged DPS pulls second pack
- "why did you pull them?" asks tank
- "just go!" says DPS
- "tank nearly dies, but thanks to healer and defensive CDs survives
- third trash pack is mowed down
- Now it is time for Azil
- tank explains about how to use gravity wells to kill adds... and how interrupts on boss crucial
- tank pulls boss, uses interrupt for grip
- adds start to rush in
- gravity wells appear
- tanks starts to pull adds through gravity wells
- players runs around in every direction panicking
- adds go straight to healer
- healer dies, group wipes
- people drop group

So I've taken a few weeks break from tanking. The "bribe" will most likely bring me back.

There is good reason why tanks are in short supply: we're expected to memorise every mob, boss and nook and cranny of an instance.
There is another reason why there is a supply of tanks... the substantial work it takes outside of the game to be a tank.

More importantly, there are different types of tanks.

There are "hardcore" tanks who raid and "casual tanks" who don't raid, but take pride in being an effective tank in five man instances. They don't want to raid.

In order to run dungeons, understand fights and get through them successfully most tanks feel the compulsion to do "homework". This normally amounts hours of work: watching boss fights on video, reading strategy guides and talking to other players. It also means running dungeons on normal mode several times in order to become familiar with them. It also means a greater effort to gear, enchant, gem and reforge.

WoW then starts to bleed into every corner of your life... you can't just jump on and tank an instance. You have to prepare, research in depth and make yourself psychologically ready for the tanking run.

I've come to the conclusion the amount of work, effort and time needed to run a H dungeon is comparable to raiding. I used to raid in Wrath, and begin to feel exhausted by the sheer amount of work it took.

Not all all casual players want to raid: however, in order to be a tank in a 5 man instance at the heroic level, the level of effort required is commensurate with raiding.

Thus the pool of players motivated to tank shrinks: many people enjoy tanking at the "casual" level. I - and many others - don't raid because of the lifestyle implications.

However the current model for instances is built around the assumption that tanks will progress from Normal instances > Heroic isntances > Raiding.

Not all tanks want to raid, or feel as though the work they have to do to be a good tank is simular to raiding.

They want to "progress", but vertically via badges and the satisfaction from mastering 5 man instances.

I'm excited about the new five man instances in 4.1 because it is new content to tank. I'm a "casual tank". I take pride in running a good five man LFG. I enjoy the "thanks" and "Great tanking" compliments. And I enjoy the intellectual challenge tanking offers. It is far more satisfying than DPS (however I'm currently leveling a Subtlety Rogue strictly via PvP because the challenge that offers).

But, the current model is not friendly to the "casual tank" who runs a few nights a week.
I'll be hppy tanking when gear is Need rolled only by people assigned to that role. Meaning no dps can steal a tank item. Give a priority to the roles.
Weird to read this.

Tanks already had the dream life on my server. Instant queue vs 20-30 mins queue? Was enough to me tanking instances.
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