Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Blaming the Tool for the User

Lots of people have lots of ideas on what is to blame for the touted death of the PUG community.  Fresh in my mind since I just listened to the respective episodes are the Multiverse gang, who blame Gearscore, Deadly Boss Mods, and other addons in their latest episode, and Klepsacovic's appearance on the Twisted Nether Podcast, where he points the finger at cross server groups, amongst others.  I feel that this is blaming the tools for the actions of the tool users. 

Many major MMO's, including WoW, EQ2, and Rift, now offer tokens good for high quality gear rewards as an incentive to keep players running instances that they no longer need.  This is the exact opposite of what happens everywhere else in MMO's - both solo and raid content eventually all but stop rewarding players who have farmed them into the ground.  Instead, non-raid group content is pushed into an odd situation that Rohan discusses in which the participants have markedly different goals

(Ironically, Rohan's post responds to another post of Kleps', completing the bloggy circle of life.)  

If the only reason why players are continuing to run this content is to gain the rewards, it stands to reason that they will want to do so as quickly as possible.  If they don't need to use crowd control or tolerate newbies, they won't, because they're not being "paid" to do so, just for completing the dungeon.  This is not the dungeon finder's fault, or gearscore's, and would happen even if these things were removed from the game. 

As Rohan says, the real problem is the daily dungeon quest bribe, which exists because developers have yet to come up with a better way of making sure that late-comers still have people to group with for the entry level content.  The problem only gets worse in an endless cycle of vertical expansion Tipa terms "the Expansion Trap", and that I've been griping about on and off for a while now.  The further upwards progression climbs, the more damage to the existing game will be needed to get newbies up to the level they need to reach.

Blaming the tools for this is like suing the hammer manufacturer for your broken window when turns out that someone picked up the hammer and broke the window so they could dive into your house for cover because the management was shooting indiscriminately into the street. 


  1. As Rohan says, the real problem is the daily dungeon quest bribe, which exists because developers have yet to come up with a better way of making sure that late-comers still have people to group with for the entry level content.

    That is only half the story. The other half of the story is the underlying fact that content dries up. Once you are "done" with heroic content, you have... what? Raids at 8pm Tuesday and Thursdays? I did not level up two days a week, I leveled up every day of the week. I did not do heroics two days a week, I ran heroics every day of the week. It might be possible to raid every night of the week via alts perhaps, but again, raiding is not what I did leveling up or doing heroics either.

    Running out of meaningful things to do in a subscription-based game is anathema. Getting VP from heroics you have run into the ground is still meaningful, and if nothing else gets people to log on. Nothing kills guilds (and subsequently subs) faster than logging on an off-night and seeing an empty guild.

  2. @Azuriel: In the short term, I think you're right - creating something, anything, for capped players to do may help keep them in the game. That said, everything has a price, and that price is starting to show through now that this mechanic has been around for several years.

    For the previously solo player, you may have leveled every day of the week, but you probably didn't spend 30 minutes in a queue to either wipe due to PUG antics or faceroll due to over-geared group members. Neither of these experiences is inherently fun, and you will eventually no longer need the upgrades you can continue to obtain if you're not planning on "graduating" to raids.

    For the non-raid group player, the content that might have been interesting for them has to be nerfed to be short and easy to keep those queues moving.

    For the raider, each player is forced into a grind of trivial content as they hit the level cap. Meanwhile, their new recruits are getting the gear but not the skills they need from facerolling content.

    For everyone, the quality of the community suffers as players treat each other as means to the end of no longer having to grind trivial instances. This means that when your guild does die - most every guild does eventually - you may not have anywhere to go.

  3. although the problem here is not one of users blaming their tools for their own problems, because as far as i can tell, this is fundamentally a WoW problem.

    Rift and LOTRO certainly have token drop raid rewards - and the grind for tokens in LOTRO for the OD T2 set is insane (if you clear every 3 perosn 2/week *and* every 6 person 2/week *and* all 6 wings of OD on T2 challenge *and* win all the loot rules, you can have a full set in 6 weeks) but, although LOTRO's grind is causing a lot of teeth-gnashing on the forums, there is nothing like the level of hate that WoW is currently generating.

    and thus the question is not 'does raiding make people crazy?' or 'are PuGs truly hideous?', but what features of WoW are causing it to generate outrage in a way substantially similiar gameplay in other games doesn't?

    and here, i believe we can have quite a profitable discussion about the negative consequences of certain add-ons in WoW. for example, Stabs' recent listing of the problems with raiding consisted substantially of 'problems caused by the use of certain add-ons in WoW' - which is a very different subject.

    whatever failings LOTRO's raid end-game has (cf grindy grind grind grind), there's NO complaints about healers over-healing other healing assignments to maximise their healing rating; or DPS chars not using their interrupts because it lowers their overall DPS score. those problems simply dont exist in LOTRO - because LOTRO's limited add-on functionality simply doesn't support them.

    similarly, the Gearscore gear-check problem, that Tobold was on about many months ago, and which you allude to, is simply not present, in the virulent form it has in WoW, in LOTRO. every game has some sort of gear-check, usually imposed by players and thus usually of qute variable standards. many LOTRO players would have a story about being refused to a instance because a specific virtue was not high enough; few LOTRO players would have more than one of those stories.

    we could quite literally go on all day, looking at examples of raiding- or instance-related problems that turn out to be WoW-specific, and then the obvious questions become 'what is it in WoW that makes things that way?' and 'will other games suffer also as they age?'

    and the frequent answer to the latter question will be - quite possibly not, because many of WoW's problems are specific to it and its gameplay. and some of those problems are caused by add-ons and Gearscore.

  4. Seriously if they'd start putting cool things like mounts or other things that players would like to have. (How many people still try to get the baron's mount in strat).

    but instead they make these things 10 dollar store purchases and they have no long term value.

  5. Nothing kills guilds (and subsequently subs) faster than logging on an off-night and seeing an empty guild.

    I'd say logging on a raid night and seeing an empty guild would kill it even faster. :)

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