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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Games Without Frontiers

Warlords Spoilers. General relevance.

It is quite rare on a Saturday to wake up and discover some controversy. Turning up at the PC this morning therefore was roughly akin to getting the Holidays around again. I can eat that second Christmas Pudding in a bit...

Now, these are technically Warlords Spoilers, I suppose, but actually the significance of this post by WatcherDev (as the result of an interview conducted in France with Brian Holinka) cannot reasonably be understated. So, assuming you actually READ the blue text, you'll know that, if you want to do a RANDOM 5 Man Heroic in Draenor, you'll need a Silver Award from the (I assume updated) Proving Grounds to do so. Notice the word RANDOM there, because if you make your own group or go with a Guild there is no such requirement. This, it appears, is Blizzard applying a rudimentary gating mechanic to a portion of 5 Man Content. Also be aware that you won't need it to run LFR, and that's probably more crucial. If you were one of those people who was demanding freshly-made 90's had an Acid Test to skill, here it is. What does it mean however for the wider world of Warcraft?

Well, in the first instance, it means zero to anyone Guilded, or anyone who runs with a regular group of Friends. This is nothing to you, except perhaps a salutary warning that Heroics won't involve you chain pulling everything and picking up the spoils to DE. What it might have the POTENTIAL to do is to rip certain Guilds apart when it becomes apparent that people need to pull their weight, will not be able to be carried and will be expected to make an effort. This however isn't anything to do with Blizzard, this is a man management problem. Needless to say, this is a potential flashpoint that I'm already mindful of. People WILL need to turn up and be counted. There's a massive blog post in that one statement as well, and I can already see people using this as a stick to beat Blizzard with. Sad really, when so many people have demanded they make players responsible for their own abilities to begin with.

There are, of course, potential consequences of this in the larger scheme of things. I can see Blizzard adding a toggle to Raid Leaders interfaces for PUGs to filter those who have a Silver Award and those who don't. I can see High End Groups asking for Proving Ground competence if the system bears out to be a decent test of EVERY CLASSES ABILITY. The question then becomes, would Blizzard ever demand such a test for LFR? Having now specified four distinct difficulties for End Game, are they ever going to impose some kind of entry criteria to restrict it? Maybe the plan isn't to have that working this way, at least not this time around. What if the rewards in 5 man heroics actually made you WANT to work for them and gave you a reason to do so?

What if Warlords Heroic 5 Man gear were a better iLevel than LFG but not as good as Flex?

Garrosh and Thrall get down to business.

Now as I open this enormous can of worms, the consequences of making this statement are not lost on me. People still get to see end game in what could easily be considered as 'Tourist Mode'. No-one misses out on the 'big' content, but if you actually want to work and do the harder levels of content (which is the SAME BACKDROP, just harder fights) you need to prove your ability along the way. This is the key to all this: the same set dressing, and mobs all exist for EVERYONE to play with. Absolutely nobody is excluded from this, there's no restrictions. In fact the 'Warcraft as a Play' analogy is pretty sound. Imagine LFR as a performance, that happens over and over again. the only difference is how hard the actors are to interact with. In LFR you need do very little, in Mythic you must do so much more, but the story remains the same, the players pretty much unchanging [*] If you simply want to see the story you can just run the normal difficulty of everything and you get it, regardless. If your interest is in your costume first, then you may have to do some work to ensure you can attend the version of the performance you want. The key, however, is that no-one gets excluded from the action.

They really don't.

This is the absolute key factor here that people will fail to see because they're allowing personal considerations to affect their viewpoint. Blizzard have imposed what is NOT an arbitrary restriction, it is a means to test ability based on what they know is difficulty. It will confuse people because, at least since TBC, no-one's had to worry about five mans, but GUESS WHAT loads of people asked if we could go back to that level because it was cool and people had to work and so when Blizzard do what people ask... see, that's the other factor here. When you ask for something, don't be surprised when you get it from a company like Blizzard. When you DO get it, perhaps consider WHY before you start decrying the decision as unsound. There are precedents for this. Never forget that your choice may not be the only one, or indeed the best one. Also remember what might happen if you 'cry wolf ' once too often.

Yet again, I am duty-bound to remind you that this is Beta stuff, and it may never even make it to live, so all of this postulation could yet be completely academic.

I for one really hope this idea stays in.


[*] Alganon, Ra-den are rewards for the very best players. But they are just that. Consider them Special Edition items that don't screw up the plotline if you don't see them :P


Calexa said...

I have no problem with this sort of gating mechanism if the gear behind it is actually an improvement over what you can get otherwise. If it isn't, I fail to see the point of said gating mechanism anyway.

Erinys said...

I must admit I have mixed feelings about this. The start of expansions tend to be "interesting" in regards to balance and it's possible that if it's not account wide (which it shouldn't be imo) then it will be harder for some than it is for others simply because of class.

Then of course, there is the possibility that it's the thin end of the wedge and you'll need gold to enter raids etc.

R said...

As I mentioned on Grumpy's site, this won't help remove the idiots from our groups but it will, hopefully, remove the ignorant, including the ignorant idiots. I don't think silver is too much to ask, either from a difficulty or from a time requirement perspective. If it takes someone 4 hours to get silver, I think that's self-reinforcing... that person obviously needed to spend that time to figure stuff out and I'd rather they do it on their time, not mine.

Another upside, with a barrier for entry, you'll know that the person doing 10K dps and only auto-attacking actually is a parasite, not a noob, which should hopefully discourage at least some of the parasites from slacking.

It'll also help ensure that the person has at least a starter set of gear for the appropriate spec...