Sunday, February 23, 2014

[WoW] Clueless vs. Jerk, Who is Silver for Heroic 5-Mans Solving For?

Blizzard recently announced they were thinking of gating the new 5-Man Heroic dungeons in Warlords of Draenor behind a Silver in the Proving Grounds equivalent. Now, this was qualified with the idea that Heroic 5-Mans would be a fair bit more difficult than they are today. As difficult as Cataclysm’s 5-Mans? I certainly hope so, but we’ll see about that.
However, interestingly enough there’s a bit of a vocal backlash to the Silver requirement, and specifically from some higher-end raiders/proponents of the WoW community. Matthew Rossi, of WoWInsider, and Crepe, an MVP on the Blizzard forums both bemoan the idea that it’s a gate, it’ll require extra work on their parts, and that it is meaningless.

Matthew Rossi in particular suggests that the real problem in random dungeons are the jerks: the folks who go on auto-follow, who pull and intentionally wipe, the folks who are well-geared but the sit on their arses. I don’t disagree with him, or Crepe for that matter, but I think the pair of them are conflating two issues that do need solving. They forget the lessons that Cataclysm taught us.

Think back to a little dungeon known as Stonecore. The very first boss, Corborus, was quite the challenge for most people who walked in unprepared. I remember taking a full two hours trying to complete Grim Batol the first couple of times because, well, half my party may have been quick levelers, but they certainly weren’t good at their class.

Gaze upon him and despair. Or at least, watch your damn feet!
Don’t get me wrong: wiping is A-OK, if you’re exploring the mechanics and trying to get a handle for how things work, that’s totally cool. But making the same mistakes over and over again, and just not getting it are pretty annoying, or dealing with those well-meaning folks who are good at staying out of the bad, but they still only manage 30k DPS in ilvl 530 gear.
And that’s what the gating for Silver is trying to solve for. The beginning of Cataclysm was a huge wake-up call for a lot of folks, and many of them decided to say screw it and left the game. Blizzard is already aware that throwing together random parties you end up having to make allowances for less communication and the absence of that gelling period that a guild group would have gone through, so by ensuring a sufficient level of skill, it at least advertises that you aren’t ready to just walk in there.

While Crepe does bring up a good point that we’ll just out-gear the heroics eventually, Blizzard can then later take the requirements down a notch. Things can and do get patched, and most requirements in-game are not forever. They’re also correct that if implemented poorly, it could end up being a significant amount of work: ~20 minutes per spec today, and if you have to do it on every alt… but that could be solved if you only had to do it once per spec across your account. And perhaps the gating mechanism could be removed if you manage to actually complete the Heroic 5-Man in a guild group (where the Proving Grounds requirement doesn’t exist). Sure, someone could get their guild to run them through and still not be ready for random-time, but I argue that the gate is less about actually preventing them from queuing, and more acting as a large warning sign to folks.

But as Mr. Rossi says, that doesn’t solve for the people flagrantly violating Wheaton’s Law. It’s not supposed to. Blizzard would suggest that the Kick system is supposed to be there for that, but frankly, that system as it exists today isn’t sufficient. Chain-pulling to prevent the combat timer from expiring, kick limitations being applied to the kicker, not to mention a kickee cannot be kicked too many times in a short period of time (I still don’t understand the reasoning behind that, Blizzard). There are too many loopholes which make social enforcement of that system not work.

My point being, however, is that in my opinion folks need to be careful of what they’re asking for and what they aren’t asking for. Conflating the two issues doesn’t address either of them, and I for one believe both must be addressed, and it will take two different systems/approaches in tandem to get them both. They’re independent problems, with likely independent solutions.


  1. I'm with you on this one, I've been advocating for a PG requirement for any max-level random PvE content for a while now. Nope, it's not going to do a damned thing to help with the morons and slackers of the world but what it WILL do is help ensure that those causing problems ARE morons and slackers rather than just being well-intentioned noobs. If it makes 2% of runs go more smoothly than they would otherwise then it's a win, it doesn't have to make 90% of runs better to be of value.

    I hope it ends up being per-spec and per-toon... I've done PGs (gold for each of the 3 specs) and in each case I was able to get silver on the first attempt. As you say, it's 10-20 minutes per spec... once. That's less time than a single heroic will take. If someone isn't willing to invest that little bit of time to satisfy a requirement that I want my random teammates to have, why would I want them in in my group? I'm especially disappointed by Rossi's comments, I've usually found him to be pretty sensible and I think he's missing the point on this one.

    1. Eh, Blizzard has made WoW alt-unfriendly enough as is. Personally just knowing you're capable on a given spec on at least one character is a sufficient enough gate in my mind, especially if you think about it more as a warning that the content is difficult rather than really trying to keep people out.

    2. Not sure about that, the original daily gating was pretty alt-unfriendly but even under those constraints I had 3 toons that I tested out in MV before deciding which to stick with and haven't had too much trouble gearing up about 10 toons that I'd be fine running flex on at this point. I know more people with more active, viable alts at this point in MoP, with months left, that at any other time in the game. This "alt-unfriendly" reaction still persists but I'm not quite sure why. I started raiding with a heroic raid recently and had 4 toons that all would have been good enough gear-wise... and none had stepped foot into normal SoO, most hadn't touched flex and I rarely run LFR. World bosses, heroic scenarios, Burden gear, TI starter gear... I had a toon in SoO LFR and performing quite well (mid-pack) an hour after dinging 90 and that's WITHOUT getting the guaranteed HS item. When has that EVER been possible before?

      Being capable is one thing, having done it at least once before is another. Right now, nothing stops a ret pally with zero Int gear from queuing as a healer for a faster queue... at least if THAT toon has silver PG I can be somewhat confident they at least have an appropriate gear set. It's the most basic of gates... "yeah, that guy succeeded at some task in that spec on that toon." That he's a heroic raider on his resto druid isn't in any way related to that.

      Basically, I'd like it to be an actual gate, not a warning. If you needed someone to fill a programming job sight unseen (can't interview, no time) would you be more interested in someone with a Comp Sci degree or someone named Joe Gates who has a brother named Bill? (not a perfect analogy but I suspect most folks would assume that Bill's fake brother could program a bit, too, but it doesn't actually mean anything without some secondary validation)

    3. "what it WILL do is help ensure that those causing problems ARE morons and slackers rather than just being well-intentioned noobs."


      "This "alt-unfriendly" reaction still persists but I'm not quite sure why."

      Also this. I play about 8-9 hours a week on my main plus a few extra hours for helping people in Flex and I'm 13/14H.

      I also have an alt on a completely different server and faction which is 567 ilvl and 6/14H though PUGing -- and I maybe play him like 4 hours a week max and I don't even play him at all most weeks.

      I also had a pair of additional alts around 520 ilvl during ToT for a normal alt raid -- and again, I basically didn't touch them outside 3-4 hours a week for the alt run.

      The first few months of MoP were awful. But after that? Not a big deal at all. Just because it isn't Cataclysm (Dragon Soul specifically) where you could get full normal of the previous tier within 4 hours of hitting 90 doesn't mean it's alt unfriendly at all.

    4. I think it depends on what your lays are going to do. Given the social requirement to have the legendary cloak for any high-level raider content, that makes it alt-unfriendly for that purpose.

      But for lower difficulties or just bumming around? Yeah, 5.4 is super alt-friendly, totally agreed.

    5. "Given the social requirement to have the legendary cloak for any high-level raider content, that makes it alt-unfriendly for that purpose."

      You're basically saying that it's harder to switch characters in deep heroic raiding guilds? I mean, unless you're at least 4+ heroics you don't even need to worry about the cape -- it's a nice bonus but just getting some more gear makes up for it and the output checks aren't that demanding. Everything on normal and below and at least the first few heroic bosses definitely don't require the cloak socially (and arguably nothing but the last 3 bosses require it mechanically).

      I get that you're talking about a social requirement, but talking about a social requirement for heroic raiding...that's a pretty niche concern, no?

      I've PUGed normal Garrosh quite a few times and no one cared about the cloak or any legendary stuff, just overall ilvl.

  2. If the dungeon is harder, chain pulling to avoid a boot is more likely to lead to a wipe, your certainly not going to have a dps chain pulling,

    While I agree limitations on the kickee being kicked too much are stupid their is some evidence that limitation is in turn affected by the limitations of the kicker.

    1. Yeah, the Kick heuristic is incredibly complex, and I agree that there's evidence for the Kicker and Kickee's timers being linked. It's frustrating, as if I get into a run and I can't kick people that are dragging things down, I'm left with just leaving and getting the deserter debuff. Then I rage quit and play a different game for a while.

  3. Heroic stonecore was amazing. Those few weeks or months before Blizz nerfed the cata heroics were the most fun I had in WoW since vanilla. All I ask from the silver award gizmo is that it prevents Blizz nerfing the 5 man heroics so fast this time around. To accomplish that, it's not even necessary that it do anything at all, as long as its existence emboldens Blizz to stick to their guns this time.

    1. Burning crusade heroics were the best, it was just difficult finding a tank to run them with you that didn't get one-shot. I was a healer back then and it was definitely very fun and challenging. You really had to think outside the box to complete some of them.

    2. I loved the Cataclysm heroics. In a guild group, they were completely and totally awesome. The difficulty was refreshing to me, especially after Wrath.

      In a random group, however? That was a special circle of Hell.

      According to blue posts, Blizzard is looking to make these 5-mans a little less difficult than the ones in Cataclysm. We'll see how they play out!

  4. As someone with a history with WoW, the cycle is becoming almost comical.

    In Burning Crusade, we had hard heroics. Wrath shipped with easy and short heroics. In Cata we went back to hard heroics then nerfed them. When MoP came out it was back to easy and short heroics. Now WoD is coming and we are again talking about hard heroics.

    1. Agreed that the cycle is looking kinda funny, but also remember that game design isn't a science, and they seem to be iterating the design over each expansion. One expansion they make them super easy, the next they make them super hard. Then they make them somewhat easy, and for WoD we're looking at somewhat hard. One day they'll figure out the optimum difficulty :)

  5. The only way I'd return to WoW is if they got rid of the different dungeon instances for different difficulty levels. It should be the way Ulduar was, where it's the same raid instance for everyone, but you can do certain things to make the fight more difficult, and get better rewards.

    Another MASSIVE issue I have with WoW is the complete seperation of PVE and PVP. One of my biggest motivations for raiding in the past was to get high end pve items that were difficult to obtain so that I could have an advantage in world pvp and the occasional BG, like wsg/ab/av. Now you're pretty much useless in pvp unless you're wearing the stupid specialized pvp armor. There's basically no purpose in getting high end pve gear anymore, so why even bother doing the higher difficulty raids? Just do the easy-mode raids to see the content and then you're done as far as pve goes.

    Last thing I have a huge complaint about is transmog...I had a lot of fun using this while it was released and it was a cool feature, but again, it ruins the feeling of getting new armor, because you can make it look however you like.

    Also going back to the raiding thing...having different raids for different sized groups is ridiculous. Make massive raids for massive groups, and make some small raids for smaller groups. Dont scale a big raid down just so a 10 man group can do it. So there's a 25 man raid instance (or 40). A small guild whines because they can't do it because they don't have enough people, so blizzard creates a scaled down version for them. But what about a group of 5 friends that want to do it but can't? Why doesn't blizzard make a 5 man raid for them too? Or what about scaling it down for 1,2, or 3 people? There should be no scaling.

    1. While I agree with your point that Ulduar was super fun with the hard mode triggers, I'm afraid that WoW will never be the game you want given the rest of your requirements. And oddly enough, I think those features you dislike are some of WoW's greatest strengths at this point in the MMO space.

      Scaling raid especially. As a raid leader, that one is amazing.