Tuesday, July 29, 2014

BETA: Your Game

I posted a Tweet last night without context. I'd like to come back to it this morning:

This was made in response to a raft of comments (Twitter and US Beta Forums) regarding Blizzard's stance on 'mob tapping': you know, when someone hits a mob before you do and it goes grey, which means they get the kill and you don't. Here's the Official Response on the current state of play from Watcher, and it makes a lot of sense in an overall context. You ought to work for your loot, most of the *important* mobs are tag-free anyway and Blizzard has a lot of systems in play to allow mobs to spawn faster or 'more dynamically' (depending on how you define this) However, the problem for many people isn't the griefing or the possibility for exploitation, it is their own computers that let them down, and it has absolutely nothing to do with any notions of asocial or antisocial behaviour.

As an example, let's talk about the starting quest for your Garrison in Shadowmoon.


I've done the foundation quest a fair few times now on both sides of the Faction fence and on every occasion its been an inconvenience. The mobs I've killed drop little or nothing of value, but they are inherently persistent and the spawn rates are frankly stupid. There's either no mobs or I've killed the eight I need before I've cut down the regulation number of trees. In all honestly, if these mobs are being used as a 'gate' for me to establish my presence they're doing their job, but it might just be an idea to remove them altogether and just make do the logging quest, because those are items shared with everyone else anyway, and the time taken to do that quest is me moving on foot.

Ironically the reticence on Blizzard's part to not make all mobs taggable seems to be tied up with the fact that this encourages people to group for World content, except it doesn't, in probably 80% of cases people don't give a flying fish about anything but themselves. I'll tell you exactly what happens in all the other times:

  1. I get a group invite from someone I don't know, refusing to explain why.
  2. If I accept the invite no-one talks to each other until the person that made the group gets the prerequisite number of kills.
  3. If I'm lucky, they then thank me before they leave, with me no closer to the competed total.

Of course I could stand up for myself and insist that we finish the group for everyone, and I'm betting this is exactly what Blizzard hope the 'decent' people will do in situations like this, that self-policing will encourage the process of making the Gaming World a better place. Ironically, in the days of Vanilla this is exactly what used to happen on my Server. I made many of my friends in exactly this way, randomly questing in parts of the world, and meeting people along the way. We'd group and talk, and we'd forge friendships that still exist today.

Ten years on, a lot has changed in the gaming world, but people still resent the need to group with strangers to finish their content. Maybe it is because Blizzard keep giving them reasons to play alone in so many other places that they've gotten used to doing that as a preference.

Mixed messages.

It is very easy to solo everything these days, so much so that Blizzard actively encourage this in Legacy content. This playstyle doesn't need any help, and it can be done at any hour of the day or night, and it allows the game to maintain a measure of longevity that it would never otherwise possess. Ironically with your Garrison you are given a number of buffs which make playing solo possible against increasingly harder mobs to boot, but still Blizzard politely insist you have to wait for a mob spawn or ask for a group in the world. If you were in an instance everyone tags everything, and this seems to be the direction Blizzard wants to push players anyway. Why therefore do we need to keep this 'soft gating' as a standard? Mostly because Mobs Give XP and ironically, this is the oldest method of all to keep players from getting to the cap in less than a day from launch.

After all, the last Realm First on my server didn't quest their way to maximum XP, they killed the same mobs over and over again to reach 90. If everything was tag free, a VAST amount of content would become pretty much pointless overnight. As a result, I'd not expect Blizzard's stance to change any time soon.

Some things never change.

My problem is simple: there are too many mixed messages currently on how people should play and what ought to be encouraged to do in game. The biggest one is the most concerning: Blizzard have made clear that unless grouping players take the EXACT same set of quests (and place identical buildings) as each other when levelling Warlords Garrisons, specific content is likely not to be available to all players when grouped. The way this part of the game has been constructed appears to actively discourage the group mentality in favour of individual flexibility, and if this is the case then telling people they ought to group for mob kills is... well, ridiculous. I think it may be time to consider a consistent approach to gameplay that either pushes people to group from Level One or pushes the focus to individual choice and not forced utility.

More than that, it is high time that players were made to be more accountable for their actions and not less. That doesn't need to happen in optional group content, it needs to be stricter when grouping is mandatory. How we fix this problem however... that's a blog post for another morning.


dobablo said...

I'm fine with tagging as is. It is a legacy of the game and something we've always had with minor tweaks. For solo levelling play the current system is ok (though it would work better if you could get kill recognition and quest drops - but not exp or mob loot - from assisting a kill).
The main issue that I see at the moment is that the levelling game punishes groups. Even with everyone getting all quest drops and the increased killing rate of a team there are problems with phasing and quests. The friends/partner levelling team are punished by garrisons. They are pushed apart to do different quests in other zones and heaven forbid the group leader turns in the quest first and changes the phase before the other group members have done their hand-in (forcing then to abandon or drop group). WoW is a group game for many and it looks as though garrisons might seriously impact that part of the game.

If a quest gets turned in should be for everyone in a group. If a quest is in progress for any group member then a warning pop should appear on attempted hand-in saying that completing the quest will remove that person from the group because it is still in progress for other group members.

Kurn said...

I have never enjoyed grouping with random people in order to kill things in the world. As a hunter, I've very rarely had to, because I'm generally quick enough to get my tags. I don't group with people for Warbringers, I don't group with people on Timeless Isle except for the Celestials (and even then, I don't really have to -- it's selfish because I want heals!) or Ordos.

I laughed at Watcher's explanation that it makes things more social.

I don't think it does. It doesn't for me. And I resent the push to make it social. So I aggressively tag mobs, like I always have. Old-school elemental plateau? I always had two or three elementals on the go -- one tapped and trapped, one being finished off and one being tanked by my pet. I don't see how that's a bad thing, even in low-spawn zones. I'm using my class to the best of my ability. I don't need or want some random person to help, especially if that's going to result in lost loot that I am probably farming.

As for levelling, I've never really levelled with others. I'm too independent in game. The last time I actively quested with someone was with my brother as I levelled my priest with his warrior a couple of months ago, but before that? Gosh, it was probably back in Burning Crusade in Hellfire Peninsula when a group of four or five of us went out and stomped a bunch of quests.

My two cents!

Grimmtooth said...

It's a good point about mixed messages.

Obv I'm not in beta so I can't speak intelligently on what you're seeing there, but I *have* seen Timeless Isle and have a pretty good idea that the tag-less nature of that zone has done nothing to detract from the game (not to excuse Timeless Isle of its actual sins, but that's not one of 'em). In fact, it's been one of the least vexing (I used 'vex' in two concurrent comments!) elements of that zone. When a Big Meanie appears, you can just jump in and clobber, no need to group, and I think that's been a great thing.

My short tenure in WildStar gave me a taste of a world without tagging in any way, and I learned not to care about that. I didn't care if somebody was leeching, I didn't care if I only got one shot in on a mob. I got loot and life was good. I didn't care if the other guy got loot that he didn't somehow 'deserve'. Pfah and ptooey to being in the Business of Judging Everyone Else.

In the same way that it'll take an Act of Metzen to go back and revamp past content, so it will be to change the rules of tagging. So there will always be at least the perception of mixed messages in this regard. If they keep following the TI model, though, maybe it means that the sleek new hotness is following a new model.

Drea B said...

These days I think most of the social connections in game are pre-existing rather than spontaneous with a random person. I like levelling toons with members of my family, and over time this has become more and more difficulty. The first time I levelled a toon with my hubby in vanilla, I was home more than him. I'd go find quests, do them and then he'd come home from work and I'd help him do the quests. Fast forward to Wrath and Cata, and unless we were in the exact same part of a zone's questing, we couldn't help each other. Hell sometimes we couldn't see each other.
Blizzard says they want people out in the world exploring and interacting, and then create a garrison that locks you away from seeing anyone. They break passenger mounts, they creating phasing issues that block you from helping your friends and then they wonder why social interaction is on the decline.
It is the social aspects that keep me playing. The more they strip away my ability to have fun with my friends, the less I want to play.