Friday, January 8, 2010
Via WoW.com comes a link to a fascinating chart of time to emblem ratios. Karatheya compares the number of emblems available in each dungeon to a survey-based estimate of how long it will take a group to do a routine clear of that dungeon. The result is a list of how many minutes players will need to "work" per emblem obtained in each dungeon.
A few comments:
Bundling Emblems of Frost and Triumph
The chart values current raid tier Emblems of Frost and previous raid tier Emblems of Triumph equally in arriving at its minutes per emblem number. In the comments, Karatheya defends this practice by arguing that even the player who has no need for Triumph Emblems can trade them for saleable tradeskill materials.
First, Gevlon may be weeping openly at the suggestion that experienced players should boost social morons and slackers to free loot from five-mans in order to convert the emblems into less gold than they could obtain by playing the auction house.
Second, Emblems of Triumph currently drop like candy - a player who does a single successful random heroic per day for the daily Frost Emblems will rake in 30 or so emblems per week just from Heroics, with additional emblems from any other level 80 group content they do (other than ICC, which drops Frost Emblems). With Triumph Emblems that much more common, it seems pretty counter intuitive to think that players would value them equally with the far rarer frost versions.
Finally, and most to the point, it has been possible to trade heroic emblems for salable trade goods for most of the Wrath era, and I have not seen any evidence that players run heroics for emblems to convert into gold. Once we got past the early phases of the expansion, where the majority of players could actually use gear from heroic dungeons, it became very hard to find a group for anything other than the daily heroic, even the easy runs like HUK and HVH. Even the daily could be hard to group for until it started offering current tier raid badges in patch 3.2.
The random group finder obscures this question, since there is no longer a single instance that will be the most popular on the server for the day, but I'd be curious to hear whether anyone reading this A) does not need Emblems of Triumph for anything and B) continues to do significant numbers of random dailies beyond the first on each day to obtain more emblems anyway.
Upside Versus Downside
The other point, which I offered in my look at the Oculus, is that this chart examines only the potential upside of each dungeon. If all goes well, the revised Oculus is indeed an insanely good deal of Emblems per time invested. The problem is that players are less concerned with theoretical long-term efficiency, and more worried about the short term consequences of spending their evening in a failed run.
I'm sure there is a good psychological basis for this. Perhaps the painful failure is more memorable than the uneventful success. Perhaps the odds of success in WoW Heroics are so high that failure is bizarre and unusual. Or, perhaps the extreme ease of doing the content in overgeared groups is sufficiently un-interesting on its own merits that players aren't willing to put up with anything that prolongs the experience. Whatever the reason, this is how players actually appear to be acting on the live servers.
The Assessment Of Crowds
This type of data is not new, or specific to WoW. Of LOTRO's three current 3-man dungeons, one is reportedly overwhelmingly more popular due to some combination of ease and reward. As to WoW's Heroics, Blizzard comments have repeatedly noted that they are well aware of players' tendencies to maximize incentives.
And yet, if we buy the numbers, players are actually acting irrationally. In the long term aggregate, all players look like they will come out ahead if they tolerate whatever group and dungeon the random group finder selects and muscle on through. Excepting the rare, unique case like the Oculus where there's something specific to the experience that kills it, perhaps it is possible to overthink these things.