Tuesday, May 25, 2010

One And Done

"I give every dungeon at least one wipe before leaving. This applies to my tank and other toons as well. If we do wipe, I evaluate how we did. Taking Halls of Reflection as the popular example, if we wipe before defeating the first boss, I'm out. If we wipe on the hardest/final waves, I'll give it another try and reevaluate the situation (kick as needed, etc.)."
- Bornakk, World of Warcraft CM, responding to a thread about what random dungeons scares players to the point where they'd rather wait out the 30 minute deserter timer than attempt the instance

I've been running some off-peak random dungeons of late, which has made for some odd demographics. My mage has a 4.8K gearscore (albeit inflated with some PVP items) and is good for somewhere between 3-4K DPS depending on buffs and group tactics. These numbers are at least double what a typical DPS would have managed at Wrath's launch, but now I find myself pushing to improve my play if I don't want to come in 3rd or even 4th on the damage meters.

Today's random daily group featured a trio of players from some raiding guild on another server. They arrived with gearscores in the mid 6000's and server first raid kill titles, and they proceeded to pull insanely large numbers of mobs at once (including trash with bosses, etc). Midway through the run, the tank noted that the other random DPS, a hunter, was doing less DPS than him. Now, in principle, less DPS than the tank is a bit embarrassing, but the tank in question was doing 2.5K DPS in HUK by pulling 10 mobs at a time and spamming AOE damage abilities (go go Pally tank). In that context, relatively few people can really fault the hunter for posting a "mere" 2.3K DPS in a random PUG attempting the game's easiest heroic 5-man dungeon.

I stayed out of the argument because there's no reason why the three raiders couldn't have kicked both the hunter and myself and finished the instance without us. The reality of the situation is that he was dead right when he said that something was wrong with this group - the three of them really did not belong in entry level 5-man content. The only reason why they were there was because Blizzard bribes them with Icecrown-quality raid emblems.

The sad part is that the queue times on lower level instances, where there is no raid loot to be had for showing up once a day, are only slightly worse in my experience than the queues for max level random heroics. In other words, Blizzard no longer needs to trivialize this entire content format in order to make it viable - the random cross server grouping system is doing enough to ensure that it is possible to run instances.

Reflecting on a challenge
I actually intentionally run the notorious HHOR once a day before my random daily, so that I can have the random shot of doing it a second time if it comes up as my random dungeon. Part of my interest in the zone is the loot - the caster off-hand is the only 5-man instance drop that would still be useful to me - but a bigger part is that it's the last real challenge left in 5-man content.

Because of this, it's pretty common for one or more players to immediately drop group the moment they zone in. If the group does wipe, we're certainly going to be looking for a new tank or healer, or disbanded. The only reason why a wipe is not an immediate disband is that many of the DPS are looking at lengthy queues to try something else, and a group that's missing one member gets top priority at replacements. I'm actually a bit surprised to see blue text admitting that this is how things are, because that's not exactly a selling point of the much touted dungeon system.

To be perfectly honest, I'm not the best player I could be, and I'm not willing to put in the effort that is required to beat the more difficult content. I was in a 40-man guild that killed Nefarian back in the day, and the experience of downing a boss just isn't worth multiple nights of wiping to learn a single fight to me personally. Even so, I'd like a bit more challenge than watching some raiders 3-man an instance.

Back before the random dungeon finder, it was not uncommon for a group to wipe once or twice on a boss before figuring out how to beat the encounter. Sometimes they just couldn't get it and the group disbanded, but sometimes that group, which was starting to look like a fail, managed to pull out the win. That's the level of challenge and investment I'm prepared to sink in this game, and it's a level of difficulty that the actual content - which has been largely unchanged over the last year and a half - is capable of supporting. Thanks to the way Blizzard has the incentives set up right now, though, that style of gameplay is basically dead.

This is disappointing. There is a need for an entry level gear path for newly level-capped characters, but I'm not convinced that teaching players bad habits in trivial content is the right solution to the problem. Unfortunately, it's both the easy solution and the popular one, so it's looking like it's here to stay.


Argon said...

I was randomed into a H HoR the other day, and it was pretty hilarious. A couple of tanks dropped group within seconds of joining. We wiped, and more people dropped. After a couple of rounds of this, I was the only person remaining from the initial group. We eventually ended up with a tank with 50k health, and the run went totally smoothly, even with the 18k health priest healer we had from the wipe before.

One big problem with H HoR, besides the difficulty, is that if you wipe you have to start all over again. Thus it is possible to make zero progress on a wipe, whereas usually in a 5 man, if you even just kill one mob, you have made a tiny bit of progress.

Violet Hold was awful for that reason, as all of the bosses were included with the sequence. And the bosses are random, with some being trivial and a couple being very difficult (at the time). So you'd clear a ton of waves of trash, get a hard boss, wipe, and suddenly all that time was just wasted. Though it was even worse when it was the SECOND boss who was hard, as you'd have to refight through all the trash, refight the first boss (who didn't drop any loot that time), then refight through the trash AGAIN, then hope that this time you won't wipe on the boss. Totally not worth it.

hound said...

I am not a fan of this style of gameplay nor the attitude it fosters.

I can understand that some people really do have such a limited time to play that even five extra minutes in a dungeon run is too much, but when everyone acts like snobs there is something else going on.

My warrior just turned 80 a couple of weeks ago and she has yet to run any 5-mans at all. I stopped doing 5-mans in Burning Crusade because I kept seeing people drop from the runs because they did not have enough time play through a few wipes. And many of them are not nice about it at all, they endeavor to make less-skilled players feel small.

To think that a designer publicly supported this style of gameplay certainly makes be reconsider just what kind of game I am playing and if I really want to continue giving them my money to do so.

I do have other hobbies.

Stabs said...

It is rather unsettling to see a developer come out with a one and done policy.

I always rather enjoyed the feeling of victory through tenacity. One of my best nights raiding was a night spent wiping on Twin Emperors in AQ40. We got the kill, a server first, on the last try of the night after about 20 wipes. Grueling truly, but an awesome feeling to win.

That was of course a different game. Vanilla WoW raiding, gone the way of pre-Trammel UO, permadeath, and all those other things us oldies look back upon with rose-tinted spectacles.

Shintar said...

Very sad to see a blue talk like that too. :( Though that whole thread makes me want to facepalm, like when I see people complain that any WOTLK instance supposedly takes forever... even heroic OK with all bosses and a wipe only takes about thirty minutes. :/

Green Armadillo said...

It's worth clarifying that Bornakk is a community manager, not a developer. His admission can be viewed more as an acknowledgment of how things are in practice than a statement that this is how things should be. If anything, I respect him for the honesty.

Yeebo said...

Your post makes it sound as if the largely atrocious (in my experience) WoW community has gotten even worse. As if damage meters didn't lead to enough pointless e-peenery [Pro tip: pull like a two hour newb, use lots of AoEs, and you too can rule the damage meters! Remember to blame the healer when you die!], gearscore has been added on top of it. Add in a system where PuGs are cross server (thus players are free to be utter asshats with perfect anonymity), and you have a system that sounds like a tiny slice of hell to me.

Klepsacovic said...

Being anonymous discourages forging any bonds, meaning that we're not overcoming challenges with friends, or even other people, we're just playing with a lot of bad NPCs who take our loot. I'd not stick around for that; sounds like a bad game.

Bristal said...

I get a little tired hearing about how horrible WoW is because some of the players are jerks.

Welcome to life.

I used to like playing softball but once a good player hit the ball really hard at me and laughed when jumped out of the way. That Abner Doubleday sure made a fail game.

Blaming game developers because you don't know how to set social boundaries is a tad immature.

One and done is a great philosophy. Give a group a chance. One chance. Then move on with your life.

Oh, then blog about it.

sam said...

no blame the developers who make a social game and then refuse to set any rules for behavior.

In real life there are consequences for being a jerk. Your coach can bench you, the police can arrest you if you go over the deep end, insurance rates go up if your driving is bad etc etc.

In WOW no penalty for bad actions means bad behavior, ninjaing,requiring ridiculous gearscores, being rude obnoxious or other annoying behaviors are rewarded because there is no penalty for bad behavior.

Next time you see that 9 year old in the restaurant refusing to listen to his parents who do nothing about it, remember adults are just as bad without penalties. Just look at Somalia for instance. No rules it's a WOW style utopia.

If your going to use life as an object log off and pay attention first.

Anonymous said...

The functionality of the dungeon finder is GREAT, unfortunately the kind of game play and attitude it fosters is a failure.

No teamwork, rote button mashing, and people criticizing gearscore which is another gamebreaker for me.

WoW player since 2005 and if Cataclysm continues with the nonsense, i dont see myself playing much longer.