Sunday, February 23, 2014

No Scrubs


Yesterday, many interesting things transpired on the back of the Silver Medal requirement, not least of which was the exchange between myself and Mr Alt when I passed onto him the news. Normally my husband is the model of unaffected disinterest when it comes to such nuggets of unimplemented content, but I was both surprised and amazed when not only did he gleefully welcome the introduction of such a requirement, but thought it didn't go far enough. He quite succinctly encompassed the imposition of ability to boot:

'No-one can impose their nubbishness on me and I can't impose my nubbishness on anyone else. People can still go afk, but at least I know at launch they have some ability to go with their gear. It is Blizzard's way of enforcing LTP, Nublet.'

And that, I have to say, is where I'm standing and planting my flag with the benefit of overnight thought. Of course, if the 'new' Proving Grounds in Warlords can be completed without any actual effort and or ability, then it's pretty much pointless. What we need is people having to extract the digit and doing their class some justice. What I really don't understand is why the whining has to start even now, because according to 'people' the Proving Ground mechanic is broken and ineffective for many classes. When I hear this, I must admit I find myself thinking one of two things:

1. You need to try harder.
2. You need to play better.

Even when these events are retuned and balanced for L100 there will still be people who will say they are broken or biased. There is a chance they may be right, but there's a far bigger probability they're just not able to do them, and therefore instead of looking at themselves for answers they will simply assume Blizzard is at fault, and frankly it's time people stopped the blame game with anyone but themselves.The fact remains that making things easier to understand does NOT make them easier to play. There is still a duty of responsibility levelled at the individual to turn up and put out. If you don't, and if you want to play all the games, now you'll be forced to present a badge of competence. The blame sometimes is yours to take, and that goes from the casual player to the most hardcore of raiders. No-one is perfect. Everyone has a bad day. Sometimes, you need to make an effort.
Guild looking for DPS. Must know CPR and carry Bandages.

The key for those unable to get the Medal and still wanting to play the Heroic Game is now simple: you'll need a Guild willing to carry you. Yes, I went there. I'm sorry, I'm not trying to be offensive or mean, I'm just being honest. If you can't do the job, you'll need people willing to accommodate that fact. That's also going to introduce some interesting dynamics to proceedings in Guilds where there is a distinct gap in ability between players, especially where the level of gear matters. This is going to be crucial, because I am now willing to bet decent piles of gold that Heroic Gear will outstrip LFR gear this time around. What would be additionally awesome, to preserve the entry criteria throughout the Expansion, would be to ensure gear scales on a per patch basis inside Heroics so not only do they not lose their relevance, but they maintain their usefulness. I for one don't have a problem rerunning places for the Nth time if the rewards are better than they were the patch before.

Yesterday, when I announced this fact to a Guild of people who were not aware of current news, something interesting happened. People went off and got the Silver Achievement, even though there was absolutely no need to do so. Hell, I don't even have the Silver (I poked Bronze and won easily and then wandered off.) The general consensus, over a range of players was really simple: Silver's a bit taxing, Gold is insane. NOBODY complained or announced this was unfair. NOT ONE PERSON. Okay, we're a small Guild but really, honestly, this ought to be the standard reaction. It shouldn't be an objection that you'll have extra work to do, it should be about getting up, going out and meeting the requirements. Because until you try, you'll never know and you might well end up surprising yourself in the process. The other problem with this change will be that there will be those who will look at this and decide that people are being deliberately excluded (and possibly discriminated against) because of their ability.

Yup, they are.

Insert Aaron Sorkin line of dialogue here.

This is where everything gets murky and I bring to mind at least three people I know who will struggle to be able to participate on a Random footing. However, because of the way this change has been presented, this does not matter, and this is possibly why the idea is as clever as it undoubtedly is. You see, if you have friends and a sympathetic GM you need never do a Random. You CAN be carried, and people will be not simply willing but promoting this fact as a selling point for their Guilds. What it does then generate is the debate of whether you should do this to begin with, or whether it is in fact more liberating for individuals in the long run to be pushed outside their comfort zones. Of course, there will be players for which this is simply not practical, and I am absolutely aware of this fact. Then you're not simply asking one person to make a choice, you're asking four to be prepared to do the work of five, and that's quite a different proposition.

The thing is, and this is also fairly important, gaming is compromise for a lot of people. Unless you're on the edge of progression and can afford to rotate your team on an hourly basis, there will always be SOMETHING that doesn't work, every time. Ironically my Guild made progress in Flex last night with a sub-par team and working on the basis that we were going to practice wiping, not actually move forward. Sometimes the reverse psychology approach actually works better, and you end up making more gains than you thought yourself capable simply because you turned up expecting nothing to begin with. The problem comes, a lot of the time, with the fear of change, or the memory of the past where this happened and it was bad and so therefore this will be no better. In the end, it is individual perception that's the biggest killer of ability and potential. To the one person in my Guild who reads here and doesn't believe they are good enough, I want to publicly say this: you're brilliant, special and remarkably talented, but it matters not one iota that I say this, repeatedly. YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE IT. Maybe putting it in print will help make the point that whatever Blizzard do, it doesn't matter unless you want it to happen.

Also, and this is at the people who seem amazed at this turn of events, if you ask for something and it happens, don't be surprised when it does.

This week, you will be mostly objecting. Again.

People's default state should not be rigid and unchanging. You should bend with the wind, be the supple reed, and it's not just Pandaran thinking clouding my judgement. To be better really ought to be everyone's default state on everything: casual sexism, discrimination, narrow-mindedness... really, these things matter, especially when you live amongst children or influence others. You can't realistically decry the evils of smoking and then nip out the back for a swift puff. If you want gaming to change, and you want people to play better, when Blizzard move towards that promotes that you need to put the flaming torch and pitchfork away and get behind them. Try and understand WHY something's happening, rather than simply stick it on a stake and burn it for heresy.

Most importantly, understand the bigger issue. Remember you are never as good as you think you are. I know I'm not.


spinksville said...

I understand why they might do that, but at the same time I know I can more than pull my weight in LFG and LFR but I'm horrible at solo instances. So it's a reasonable idea but might be a dealbreaker for me personally buying the xpac.

Raymond Hafner II said...

I've yet to see anyone explain how the piss poor designed proving grounds are somehow relevant to group content.

Jonathan said...

"Ironically my Guild made progress in Flex last night with a sub-par team"

Seemed pretty par to me. :-)

"I've yet to see anyone explain how the piss poor designed proving grounds are somehow relevant to group content."

Of course it's relevant, Raymond; for a group to work you have to be able to do the role you've ticked for adequately. Proving Grounds measure adequateness. Simple as that.

R said...

@Spinks - Please don't read this as a snark but if you're actually pulling your own weight in group content you should be okay doing solo scenarios, especially PG bronze/silver. They're base competency tests.

@Ray - Dunno, I picked up gold in all three roles and felt like I was being pushed in appropriate directions in all 3... dps required me to hit hard and correctly while doing things like interrupting... healing required me to, obviously, heal, while managing mana more than I'd ever had to before in recent memory... and tank was a clusterfrak of WTF that I improved on each attempt until I got it after half a dozen or so attempts. I was a MUCH more solid tank and healer coming out of that and since I've only been a dps main raider for a while now, that was where I expected to do the learning. If you knew it all and executed flawlessly first time in, well done, but there are a lot of players out there less competent than I am and I'd expect them to do some learnin', too.

And you've obviously never had to heal a DK who didn't Death Strike, or a monk who didn't Shuffle, or a warrior or pally who didn't use their active mitigation buttons. I don't think many tanks are getting silver while leaving core buttons in their spell books.

@GM - Agree with everything you say, especially in a world with more difficult heroics, carrying should be an intentional decision, not a random occurrence. I was healing a normal dungeon recently on my leveling priest and had a group with a semi-geared L90 tank doing all the work and 2 dps who were basically /following me. I did what I normally do, check for guild (and these days, server) tags to see if they were connected and they weren't, 3 different servers... I whispered the tank, asked if either or both were with him, he said both and asked if there was an issue, I said nope, since they were with him, no issue at all. There are times when carrying is fine... but not when people don't have the ability to say no going in or when there aren't extenuating circumstances like that.

Melanie Long said...

Every time I see someone complain about the proving grounds, I assume they are simply bad at their role and don't intend to make any attempts at improving themselves.

I can't wait for the requirement to be in place. Only dealing with afkrs for the most part sounds amazing. Just think of how many noob tanks we will avoid? Death Knights who have no idea they were supposed to death strike?