Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Badge change unfriendly to people who are actually casual.

So, yeah, another post about the badge change. I promise I'll stop soon. I just find the various internet reactions to be riveting, and very revealing about what's actually going on behind the veil in many blogger's heads.

Let me preface this link to Gevlon's Greedy Goblin blog with this: I in no way endorse Gevlon's real life political views. I think he often has good points about in-game things, and at least offers an interesting perspective to read. But I think he is WAY off-base trying to apply his philosophies from wow to real life. Just ignore most of this post about welfare. Just take away this part, from one of his commentors, Gnomegeddon:

"Gnomegaddon found the real reason (/bow). As you know Blizzard will implement a welfare system, where you can get Naxx25-Ulduar25 gear for no effort, just by grinding 5 mans. Since WoW is a virtual world, Blizzard don't have to tax us to give welfare to the M&S. They can produce gear out of nothing at all. So the change have no effect on us, raiding people.

However it is devastating on beginner and handicapped (poor) people. Gnomegaddon is WoW-handicapped due to his playing schedule. He will be much less geared than the facerolling moron, who spend his infinite free time (unaffected by working or learning) on grinding 5-mans. If Gnomegaddon logs in, sees a "LFM 1 mage to Ulduar 10", he'll have practically 0 chance to get accepted against a completely useless facerolling M&S, due to much worse gear.

If some new player reaches level cap, he will be completely uncompetitive against the ilvl226 M&S. Normally, his ilvl200 blue/crafted epic would be enough to get into starter raids. I'm damn sure that you can clear the siege area with a full 200 group if they know what to do. It's proven that you can clear all T7 content in ilvl 160.

Due to the welfare system he has no other option than join the welfare leech class, stay out of raiding for months to grind enough badges just to apply."

To summarize: this change completely screws over anyone with limited playtime. It increases the gap between hardcore and casual. All it does is bring "M&S" with lots of free time to the same level as the best raiders.

And this is my problem with things that reward only time spent, no matter how easy or monotonous the task done in that time. They aren't interesting to skill-oriented players, because they are easy. They aren't useful to people with little time to play, because those people don't have the time to grind out that reward. They are only advantageous to those with lots of free time to waste on a boring grind.

The holidays are disaster for casuals, even though it seems otherwise. Because when you only get a few hours a week to log into wow, you shouldn't be spending that time clicking eggs and flying all over the planet looking for elders or bonfires. You should be getting a chance to play the actual game. But when it's nearly impossible to get a title or mount or vanity pet from the regular game unless you are an uber-hardcore raider, casual players are given a giant carrot that draws them strongly toward a tedious, purposely time-wasting activity.

This is horrible design, Blizz! Don't make the rewards people really want (don't even pretend that people aren't motivated by titles and mounts and vanity pets and only care about loot, just look at the Argent Tournament) only available through the hardest core raiding or the most time wasted on tedious scavenger-hunt activities. Make it something you can get in the actual game through time spent well.

An idea off the top of my head: introduce a new set of achievements for heroics. Purposely make them have absolutely nothing to do with gear, but only on skill and brains. Break them into subsets that give pets and mounts, and give a title or two for completing big chunks of them. Hell, have completing each one give a bag with Emblems of Triumph and a BoE epic! Make it repeatable through a new daily quest that requires you complete the challenging achievement again for the same reward. Reward smarts and skill and effort, instead of purely time spent.


Stabs said...

Hmm, I don't really buy this, Hatch.

Gnomegaddon's point is that he doesn't have time to do heroics but he wants to participate in 4 hour Ulduar runs, no? That's a contradiction, it doesn't make sense.

Someone who is actually casual is likely to have many real life commitments making it hard to schedule with others. Committing to being present at 75% of raids 4 nights a week really takes this hobby to a dominating presence in your weekly schedule. You have to plan your life around your raid.

However for time-limited people who play when the kids are in bed or if they're off work for a day gearing via heroics is a great solution. Heroics you can do when it suits you and there is a very low barrier to entry. If you have friends in the game you can play with them and have fast efficient runs (if they are online when your schedule permits you to play).

He seems to think that raids will pick up under-geared people who have a good reputation for skill. Some do, most guilds and pug raids won't. The new system may encourage the selection of people with better gear for these "filler" slots but I doubt it. I think raid leaders and guild leaders fill up based on asking questions and getting intelligent responses.

He also seems to think that being under-geared but "skilled" cuts the mustard. It really doesn't. While it is possible to take a mage in blues to Ulduar and kill things he's not the reason things are dying no matter how tight his rotation. The people who win the battles for the raid are the people who are both geared and skilled.

So essentially this is a person who is time-limited rather than brain-limited but in any event not adequate to pull his weight in an end-game raid. So boosting him is still welfare and if he is bitter that guilds that boost filler dpsers will take better geared players it's just one welfare recipient being bitter that a different category of welfare recipients are getting the breaks.

As he says: If Gnomegaddon logs in, sees a "LFM 1 mage to Ulduar 10", he'll have practically 0 chance to get accepted against a completely useless facerolling M&S, due to much worse gear.

Well good. He should be in heroics, not Ulduar. By this I mean if he found 10 other players of equal skill and gear they couldn't do Uld10 because the first trash mob would 2 shot the tank. He's after a boost.

Put it this way. If he were not a mage but a tank would he be able to go along to Ulduar 10 with 19k life and 520 defence because he's got "skills" or would they rather take an idiot with 30k/550?

Klepsacovic said...

Casual is so hard to define, but I'll take it as related mostly to time, specifically not wanting or being able to structure one's life to fit WoW and not having large amounts of time. Raids take hours. Or you go for one hour, kill 1-3 bosses, and go home, less if it's progression. On the other hand, some heroics can be completed in half an hour, the worst will be maybe an hour and they don't require set times. Sure it's easier to find a group at certain times, but it's not like trying to find 25 geared people at 4AM.

This isn't to say that I think the new badges are great and wonderful. However they're the best to expect. Ideally we'd see a higher tier of heroics, similar to what Magister's Terrace was, but not just one instance. That would add content rather than just tools to see current content.

Overall it begs the question though, if someone doesn't have the time to raid, why do they need the gear to raid? Logically it makes no sense. I can see the human element though of wanting to progress, even if it's 'pointless', which makes sense since it's a game, ultimately it's all pointless.

Getting to the skill issue: There's no skill rating on the armory. When a PUG is being formed there isn't someone rattling off mechanics questions and challenging you to a duel to test skill. Sadly, skill is almost irrelevant as far as being invited. If you do manage to get in, then skill will play a factor, but without gear, getting a foot in the door to prove oneself is very hard. Even if they do get an invite, how will they prove themselves? A meter is linked and they're somewhere in the middle. How often does a raid leader inspect people to check for skill but undergeared players? More likely the massive gear gaps that we can see will put them dead last and called a noob.

I feel like I just repeated Stabs.

Hatch said...

I think Stabs had a good point that the badge change doesn't really "completely screw over" time limited players (to quote myself). It is a, for lack of a better term, buff to them. A handout/welfare gift. They gain better gear than they had before, and can earn it on a more casual timescale that fits their RL obligations and priorities.

My own take on what Gnome and Gevlon said is mainly focused on how poorly-designed I think this change is. While it does achieve some goals, such as getting people in heroics again, mixing up the gear levels of pugs, and helping the undergeared or new player catch up to longtime raiders, it also has some unfortunate side effects.

The main problem is that heroic bosses drop Conquest tokens, meaning that the main thing that determines your reward is time spent. You can get a tier piece in one day of grinding heroics, but it's going to take the time-limited guy months to get the same thing, since he can do one heroic a week when the kid is napping or whatever.

I would also argue that people who can't schedule around WoW still find 4-hour blocks here and there where they want to raid. This means that they are the primary audience for pure PuGs. And they just won't have a hope of getting a spot against a kid home for the summer whose neglectful parents let him play all day.

I think a better design to achieve what appears to be blizzards goals would have been to limit the conquest and higher tokens to the dailies. Then, someone who can log on for 1 hour a day will progress at exactly the same rate as someone who is online for 12 hours a day doing heroics. And the guy who can only play once a week isn't nearly as far behind anymore.

Basically, I object to rewards that are purely based on time spent grinding.

It is a handout, and it's kind of lame, but I"m OK with it happening, I just find the execution poorly thought out.