Saturday, May 31, 2008

Being On The Path

Note: Sadly, because this post deals with the Season 4 PvP Ratings Requirement, I have the feeling that the comments will devolve into PvP vs PvE and miss my larger point.

The majority of Season 4 PvP gear will require the purchaser to have a personal rating of 1550 or higher. Even some of the gear obtainable through Battlegrounds will require Arena ratings. Many people, who thought PvP gear was too easily obtained for its quality, are happy about this, and many casual PvPers are unhappy.

It may surprise some of you--because I am in the camp which felt PvP gear was too easily obtained--but I believe that Rating Requirements are a bad idea.

The key is the concept of "Being On The Path" for endgame content. In nutshell, the number of people who reach the highest point of endgame is less important than the number of people who are working towards--and feel that they one day could achieve--that point.

For example, in PvE, the number of guilds in Sunwell does not matter. What really matters is the number of guilds who make it to Gruul and Magtheridon. Once a guild reaches Gruul and Magtheridon, they are "on the path" to Sunwell. Most of these guilds probably won't reach Sunwell before WotLK, but that doesn't matter. What matters is that they are steadily working on content, and feel that they could reach Sunwell eventually.

As long as a player is "on the path", everything is fine. The real crisis point are when people are unable to get on the path, or their progress on the path becomes completely blocked. I think it is less important to cater to the raiding guilds, and more important to help the guilds who are trying to become raiding guilds. To help the people who cannot get on the path at all.

This is why I feel Rating Requirements for Season 4 are a bad idea. If you are a casual PvPer, one who tries, but isn't really all that good, you've basically fallen off the path. And that is demoralizing.

In reality, of course, a casual PvPer is not likely to earn all the pieces of S4 before WotLK. But again, what is likely is not as important as what is possible. As long as you are on the path towards the end, that is the critical element.

If you look back at the last time I posted about PvP rewards, notice that I never outright denied a reward to a player. My suggestions made the process longer, but so long as a player kept at it, they would stay on the path towards Season 4.

The number of players who achieve the end is less important than the number of players who are on the path to the end. The number of players in Sunwell is less important than the number of players on the path to Sunwell. The number of players in Season 4 gear is less important than the number of players working towards Season 4 gear. With the advent of extensive Rating Requirements, the number of players on the path to Season 4 gear will drop drastically, and that is an unhealthy state for the PvP endgame.

38 comments:

SolidState said...

As a casual PvP'er, I find you post insightful and one I can completely agree with. Really nothing to add, you hit the nail on the head.

However I can't help but wonder how I would view this subject if I were a hard-core PvP'er. Obviously my current view is biased...

Still, I think even hard-core PvP'ers will be forced to agree that the popularity of Arena is likely to drop once season 4 is out, due to the reasons you pointed out. I'm pretty sure all players of all PvP brackets can agree this is a bad thing. I just wonder if this is the case, and if Blizzard have thought this through, what exactly the developers have in mind for Arena in particular, and PvP in general.

In any case, once again, great post!

Larésa said...

I don't care much about PvP but your thoughts about the Path for PvE raiding were right on the spot.

It made me realize why I'm so happy in the game. I'm on The Path!

I just stealed a little passage from you, writing a blog post about it, hope you didn't mind.

pablo1551 said...

I definitely agree with you that the changes to S4 are bad. Right now I'm leveling a draenei shaman (level 67 right now) and I was thinking of staying at level 69 for a while so I can grind out the honor to get S1, or S2 gear when S4 is released, due to the fact that jumping into BGs at level 70 with no PvP gear is plain suicide. Yes, they did add the reputation sets, but you're still pretty much a free HK to those in full S3 gear when you're wearing the reputation sets.

Now, I have no problem with their gear being better than mine, they've been PvP'ing longer and have devoted more time than I. The problem is that all new level 70's and new PvP'ers have to deal with the obnoxious players decked out in full S3 who really don't have any reason to be there except to stroke their e-peen. It is exhaustive to basically spend most of a BG either at the GY or guarding (so as to not be at the GY) for more than an hour for me.

I would be much happier if there was a way to be selective with which BG those without PvP gear, or new level 70's, could be placed into. Same with those with full S2 and S3 gear. Maybe I'm just crazy but I would like it if there was some sort of "registered" PvP set. You go to an NPC and register the gear that you will be PvP'ing with and are then required to use said set whenever you go into a BG. It would of course be changeable to accommodate gear upgrades and sidegrades. Something like this would make it easy to join a BG that would be filled with people with similar gear, whether you're fully epic'd out or a fresh scrub.

Notice that this does not deal with "skill" at all, simply because if you've got "skill" you can take on those with better gear than you much more easily than a newbie. More importantly, when starting out with no PvP gear, it's not always the skill that is holding you back. I think it takes a lot of skill to take down a fully S3 geared player when you're wearing quest greens and blues (not that you should be now that we have the reputation sets). Also with the new changes to the arena system, it should be harder to gain the top-end gear without having the skill to do so, there are always loopholes and exploits but I think that Blizzard did some good to avoid the ones that where currently in place.

Court said...

Here's the point you missed that makes this even more obvious: if one guild is in Sunwell and another in is Kara, they never have to compete with each other. The Kara guild kills Kara mobs and the Sunwell guild kills Sunwell mobs.

With Blizzard's incredibly flawed PvP system, the equivalent for PvP is not true. The two types of players regularly compete. The Sunwell equivalent players will often be killing Kara equivalent players.

Not only are the Kara equivalent players not "on the path", but they have to regularly fight Sunwell players to not get anywhere.

RJ said...

I'm not really sure I agree. I understand what you're saying, in general, but I don't think your examples really do the concept justice. Maybe I have more of a problem with those then your argument.

It's just that I disagree that there's such a break between PvP and PvE progression as you describe it. Is there really such a difference in being on or off this path between a guild who can't get through Kara and an arena team who can't break 1600?

Rohan said...

Court, that's mostly because the rating system is a bit messed up. If ratings were more accurate, you'd be playing people you have a reasonable chance of defeating, and the armor issue would not really matter.

RJ, it would depend on why the guild can't get through Karazhan. If they're just slower than other guilds, or only raid once a week or something, but are still making steady progress, they are still on the path (to Zul'Aman though, not Sunwell).

If the guild is stuck in Kara because they have high turnover, or they can't rely on people to show up, or wild swings in competence, then they are still struggling to actually get on the path.

The slower guild, or 1-day-a-week raiding guild, is confident that they will eventually conquer Karazhan. It might not be today, it might not be next month, it might not happen before WotLK intervenes, but it will happen. The other guild lacks that confidence, that sense of possibility. That's the difference between being on the path, and being off it.

Lukast said...

I'm not sure I agree with you, I have a single piece of PvP gear, yet regularly top battlegrounds. I am not on the path, because I am very casual and prefer PvE, but I could be. I have never killed Maggy, never cleared Zul'Aman and my damage gear is a mostly blue off-set. PvP IS about skill, first and foremost, and a more skilled player will generally beat a better geared opponent. I support the new rating requirements because the season 4 gear is SO good. I hate seeing people walking around in full gladiator and vindicator gear, with an arena rating barely above 1000. I think helping casual players is great, but removing skill barriers is not the way to do it. Grinding bg's to get welfare epics takes longer than practising in arenas with your team, so is not any better for casuals, but it is easier to do, because you do not have to make any effort. In the same way, I think the new badge rewards are a mistake. The tokens for their purchase should, in my opinion, drop from Tier 5 and above instances, helping the raids that have made that effort and need the gear to help their progression. If you cannot progress in Tier 4 instances without Tier 6 equivalent gear then the problem is not your gear level. If Merciless gear is made available with honour I think there will be a serious problem with getting people into arenas because the gear is not worth the extra effort. I think that stricter rating limits should be enforced, to make sure only the best are wearing brutal, and vengeful should get more requirements. At the moment there is no path for PvP rewards. Once you start arenas you get your vengeful first. That's not a path. It does not matter what your rating is, you can save straight to the top. Only two items are denied to you. Rating requirements and bigger gear jumps will help form a path for PvP. I suppose the real problem is the difficulty of forming a learning curve from players, as very skilled players can have just started and teams can find themselves against newly formed yet still very strong teams.

Dyermaker said...

Once again, I agree. Its impossible to have a system that rewards everyone. Enforced ratings means the more casual battle ground rewards become pointless. Those that would have otherwise found something positive over time will probably just skip it altogether.

My biggest concern, the more difficult they make it to obtain rewards, the more inclined the more casual person will be to cheat to obtain them. This will only exacerbate the issues as new ways to beat the system are created.

Suicidal Zebra said...

.... and it's because of discussions like this that I hate gear as the only means of progression in the game.

Honestly, If I had my way Arena gear would not be usable outside the Arena until after the Season had ended, and then based on the ranking of your team over the whole season you get to choose up-to 6 pieces for PvE after that Season. >1000 you get one, >1400 you get two, >1600 = 3 etc. Oh, and remove 2v2 from the ranking system. That means that Arena Ranking would be more based upon skill than it is currently (everyone has the same PvP gear pool) and how you performed in the previous season is no longer a barrier to entry. Seasons can be much closer together and the gap between Season Tiers should be much narrower. BG (Honour) gear is the equivalent to 2+ Seasonal Tiers lower.

Unfortunately, PvP gear is too powerful in PvE (it's worth noting that it's the opposite of the situation in the old Honour system, mainly due to resilience), and that's a very valid criticism. To solve this perhaps Resilience should act as a threat multiplier... especially given that similarly easy gear upgrade paths now exist in PvE through Badgers.

Without a doubt though the new Season 4 will constitute a considerable barrier to progression in the Arena and even in Battlegrounds. Not because people won't be able to get gear upgrades, but because the gear gap prevents them from reaching a higher ARating (especially if week-2 2200's camp the 1500 bracket as now). It is this rating which constitutes PvP progression, not the gear you have equipped.


Bah, that's not too coherent... I should put this down more concisely.

Rav said...

The rating system is as good as its weakest link. And currently the weak link is the lack of rating memory (the win-trade problem has been fixed so far).

Proudfoot said...

I hate the idea of ratings at all for PVP gear. I'm a very casual PVPer meaning I rarely participate in BG's and I don't even always do my 10 games a week. I've never been in a team with a rating over 1600 but at least in the old system I could EVENTUALLY get something. It took me over 4 months to save up enough points to buy my season 2 sword. I don't understand what hardcore PVP players are complaining about. You think that some guy who got his season 2 sword is going to come destroy you or do you just wish everyone else had crap gear so you could kill them and feel like you're 1337?

With the ratings requirements being put in I probably won't participate in PVP AT ALL anymore. There is no reason to play if I'll never get anything out of it. BG's are even more pointless then they were before. Great way to kill PVP Blizz.

Kazool said...

Even with the new requirements current pvp system is a lot less demanding then the 'old' 12-hours-per-day-BG-for-HWL-in-6months grind...compared to early days of WoW this is a walk in the park.
Pls also notice that 1550 personal rating isnt all that difficult to get, unless You really, really dont know squat about pvp with Your char- which in that is a well deserved penalty. -Bottom line is 'S4 is god-like, therefore it should be obtained via skill, and not necessarily by long hours of grinding.

Lukast said...

Re-reading my post, I think I ended up ranting rather than saying what I meant. So I'll try again.

I feel that at the moment there is no path for PvP gear. Whatever your rating, you will likely be going for Vengeful, assuming you want to improve and not just get one piece (eg s2 weapon).

This means that as soon as an arena team is formed they are aiming for the highest rewards, bar two pieces (s3 weapon and shoulders).

There is no progression, from s1 to s2 to s3 and so on, you may skip straight to s3.

I also think Battleground PvP is too dependant on time put in and not skill. Someone who cave camps AV all day will get more honour than someone who does two WSGs' and annihilates them. I think the best solution to this problem would be only giving honour for fights you are directly involved in, i.e you are within a certain distance of the HK.

I also think you should get honour for someone who dies soon after you, who you helped to kill. As a warrior I will charge into a group of Horde, only kill one, but indirectly cause the deaths of the others by focusing attention on myself and get honour for only one kill. I understand that this would probably be easily open to exploits and probably cause healers to get less honour and so would be impractical to implement, but we can always dream.

I think the most elegant solution would be to reintroduce the ranking system, but allow credit to be given based on both arena rating and battleground honour. This would form a path because each season of gear would require a higher rank. Just as an example, s1 would require sergeant(3), s2 would require knight(6), s3 would require knight-champion(9), s4 would require Marshal(12) or even Field Marshal(13), with special rewards being available for Grand Marshals.

But, I hear you cry, surely this would cause a return to the old, 12 hours a day, 7 days a week Grand Marshal farm! No-one wants that, it locks out casual players! Now, here's the catch, only your best Battleground and best arena rating would count towards your rank that week. The 'Battleground Rating' would be calculated based on the amount of honour you earned, but would be affected by how long the battleground was, to give you an average honour generation rate.

This would mean that once again there would be a path for PvP, but it would be easy for casual players to get on it. It would probably be impossible to implement before WotLK without pissing off a lot of players, but it would be a good system once the seasons begin again at 80.

Lukast said...

I forgot to mention, I believe that the bonus honour awarded for a battleground should be affected by your own personal number of HKs, i.e, someone who got twice as many HKs would get twice as much bonus honour.

Raynmaker, Alevas (Uther) said...

The use of arena gear in pve content has been greatly dimished with the new badge gear. I had lots of badges (from kara, ZA, and heroics) saved up when 2.4 hit. I had switched my main shortly before that to my resto shaman. I was able to app and join a guild farming BT (with a Brutallus kill also under their belt) in no more than 2 pieces of 25man gear. I had the badge chest, badge pants, badge mace, badge shield, badge trinket, badge neck, badge belt... it's all better and more diverse than the arena S3 awards (with the exception of the shield)... you can't even get a trinket or neck from arenas, though you can by /afk'ing AV for a weekend I suppose.

The fact is, people who are serious about getting into raiding should focus not on arenas or BGs, but on badges now. Speed run heroics - SP is doable in ~40 min for kara geared raiders, mech ~50 min, with a good pally tank and some aoe heroic SH will take you an hour or so and net you 5 badges. Combine these with the daily and you're well ahead of the game compared to doing your arenas.

I do think that the ~2 hours or so it takes people to fail at arenas and get points for the week will still be a worthwhile investment for most people, but the new badge gear really is far superior for pve.

Note: heroic MgT also gives some fantastic pve rewards compared to arenas - the leather shoulders off heroic Kael, the cloth dps robes off Kael, the best-in-slot shard trinket for melee dps, the best-in-slot commendation trinket for tanks...

I hope people look to badges and heroic MgT more often than they rely on arenas for their pve gear.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me but your logic is flawed.

I'm taking about casual PvP-er being "on the path" to S4. This is the same eventuality as a Gruul guild reaching Sunwell -- meaning its not just gear, its a step-up of skill & awareness with each raid tear and ratings bracket.

If a person cannot reach 1550 rating with 4/5 S3 + Vindicator (0 rating req), they are not a PvP-er.
In fact you could argue that one can reach much higher ratings with lesser gear but that's not the point.

The point is that the rating requirement forces people to actually succeed at PvP. In PvE there is no reward if you dont kill a boss. This is the PvP equivalent of a bosskill -- you cannot LOSE 10 games/week and expect to be rewarded with BEST gear. That's not casual PvP, thats welfare.

PvP in BGs/Arena, get S2/S3, learn to win and S4 will be within your grasp.

RJ said...

The only factor I was really taking into consideration was pure competence. Other factors which may cause a PvE guild to fall behind can be mitigated with similar factors as to why an arena team can't break 1500.

In this sense, then, I don't really see why it's unreasonable for incompetent players to not get the high end stuff. If a guild of PvE players just don't have the stuff, they won't progress into Grull's or Mag's and so won't get much better gear then early T4 level. Similarly, an arena team that just doesn't have the stuff will then be relegated to what is "T4" there. Similar statements can also be made at any progression point in PvE. I don't see how there's any real difference in being on or off any path.

Really, this seems to me to be exactly what most people wanted: An actual requirement of similar skill to get gear of "similar" power as PvE (I say "similar" because as it's PvP stats, it's generally pretty poor for PvE).

David said...

Great post. I think you can also substitute "on the path" with "hope". I always need the hope that I can attain the pvp gear. And with this rating, that hope is gone. I'm sorry, I am not that great at pvp. But I also can't raid as I am not part of a big raiding guild.

Thus all I have is pvp. And now even that is gone. It's too bad.

Halad said...

I'd say that you are always on the path to upgrades and additional gear, only that shoulders and weapon may possibly be out of reach for some people.

The rating system is going to prevent a lot of the team switch 1500 full s(3/4) problems that people believe will occur. Re-leveling your personal rating is annoying and its not likely many people will do that just to kill lowbies with bad gear. Such behavior might be fun once or twice but it gets old very quickly, from personal experience re-leveling my
PR.

At the start of season 4, yes you will fight people in full s3, no different from seasons past. As time goes on, though, teams that have provided points to the system, but have been disbanded at a deficit(below 1500) inflate ratings. Because of this inflation, arena ratings becomes "easier" as the season progresses. Over time players will eventually achieve 1700~ ish without much difficulty. And they will be fighting 1700 rated people, barring some rare remakes that can be avoided by not queueing. Higher rated teams will generally stay together because of the aforementioned PR grind, and are not likely to queue against lower teams unless they intentionally lower their PR by leaving and rejoining the team. Not much can be done about that, but players don't have that much to lose when queueing against this behavior(which is again, boring). Players doing this would only be trying to smurf one of their team member's PR's up, but its not a very effective method.

The summary is : After S4 start settles down, ratings will be a lot more accurate. This makes the rating system fair when combined with inflation. You will "be on the path" because ratings become easier and easier to obtain as time goes on. If you can reach 2050 in the first week, you're probably pretty good. If you can reach 2050 by the end of season, its not really as much of an achievement by comparison, but you got there and thus were "on the path". The difference here is arena difficulty is implicitly self-nerfing as time goes on, but I don't see this being any different than boss nerfs/fixes/strategy guides/warning mods/badgegear/etc that progressively have made 25 man raids easier as time goes on. SSC/TK/nerfedMag/Gruul are being pugged now.

Captain The First said...

I think most of it comes down to an equation of time. It takes x amount of time to grind out the necessary honor / arena points to get your desired set of items y.

If the time you spend on getting your y items is high enough then the next season will be introduced before you get your last item. In which case you can start the grind all over again and from a development perspective you don't have a problem (you're on the path as it were).

If however you finish getting the items you can get and the next season isn't at hand yet then indeed 'you have fallen of the path' and you will most likely choose a different path to progress.

This is independant from ratings as a whole.

If the time needed to get y is too low people will drop the arena progression path for another one because they can't seem to break rating requirement z.

Interestingly enough if people of rating 0 - 1500 were to leave because they can't break rating 1500 then the people in the rating bracket 1500 - 1800 will essentially drop in rating becoming the new 0-1500s.

In essence as long as the time equation stays correct for the bulk of the players there is no problem. It will however become a significant problem if the lower rated arena teams end up with nothing left to grind in which case the system should pretty much cave in on itself.

After all, a team that has a rating of 2000 lives off of teams that have lower ratings. If your opponents all become better because the casuals run out of stuff to grind then all of a sudden you will have a hard time to hold on to that precious rating of 2000.

It's a pity we won't see the impact until nearing the end of season 4...

Still, it will be interesting.

Amava said...

This is a very well stated concept. As I read the article, I totally could relate to my raiding experience. Before my team was raiding kara, there was major discontent. Once we got a team together and a schedule and all the other organizational stuff, we began raiding and worked very slowly through Kara, taking about 4 months to get to a Prince kill, raiding three nights each and every week. But we were very happy during that slow progress because we felt we were "on the path", and being on the path is good.

Now that we've got kara mostly on farm and the first part of ZA down, you can see the discontent beginning to creep in because we feel that the path for 10-man stuff is near an end, and we are not yet ready to field a 25-man team and begin that long road to "beating the game". Not that any of us has expectations of getting all the way to Sunwell, but we're off that path, and being off the path is bad.

Then look at PvP. I play in a 2x2 arena team. We are bad at PvP but we try pretty hard. We BG like crazy to get the resil up (both at 312 now), we read up on strategy, we plan our coordination and moves before matches. But, our rating hovers pretty near 1400 or so. In Season 3, it means we can each get a piece of S3 gear every 7 weeks or so. I think in Season 4, the rating req means we'll probably only be able to get one piece of S4 gear each. Doesn't really feel like we're "on the path" at all, and it will probably make me want to stop doing even 10 arenas a week.

Its strange. You need a rating to get gear. So this guy proves he can beat me into the ground and gets a higher rating. Then he gets better gear. If I ever run into him again, I get beaten even harder. Hmmm, sounds like fun :-)

Maus said...

I think the question with the new requirements is will it cause people to stop playing arena? I like the way you've phrased it.

Will it cause people to decide there is no point in trying?

Some people might think "Who cares?" If they don't enjoy pvp, then they shouldn't pvp. However if people in the 1300-1500 range stop queuing...what happens to the people who were previously rated 1501-1700? When those people become the new sub 1500s, what happens to those 1701-1900?

I may completely misunderstand how points are calculated, but I'm a bit nervous about how things might shake out.

I like short queue times and I like competitive games. If people stop playing, both of the above are going to get worse.

Relmstein said...

The rating requirements for Season 4 were one of the main reasons me and my friends left World of Warcraft. We were in too many guilds that broke up and finally just decided to focus on small group content which mostly meant heroics, battlegrounds, and arenas.

We were no slouches in PvP but too many teams exploited to get full sets of season 3 and then constantly beat us senseless in the 1500-1600 range because they were building up smurf teams. The changes in the queue system should now prevent this but the rating requirements prevent us from catching up.

Tego said...

it seems like the progression problem in PVP is rather complex. and that true progression is kinda muddled. Just to note i come at this from the POV of a dedicated T5/6 raider, but I hope that doesn't color this too harshly.

The problem I see with pvp is that there is a barrier that doesn't exist in PVE. in PVP someone has to loose. it was mentioned above, the fact of the matter is that with a system where players advance by beating other players there has to be that set of players who gets beaten more often then they win. So in PVP you can be really good, but unless there are less skilled players below you, you are going to get beaten time and time again. In pve this doesn't exist. your raid, your 25 people are a microcosm. your progression is neither affected, or effects the progression of others (not counting strategy/DBM creation) so everyone can be on the path.

On another note this is the most level and un-biased post i have seen on the PVP rewards system. great job

Grumpy Misanthrope said...

I think the issue is that, ONCE AGAIN, Blizzard has chosen to lock out 95% of the people who play some aspect of the game. The Casual PvPer will no longer play the Arena because there is no point.
They will never have a 1550 rating, so why do it. After all, Arenas aren't really all that fun against full S3/S4 when you are in honor blues, regardless of skill. There comes a point when gear is the end all be all of this game, whether people wish to admit it or not.

Tharok said...

Amava said: "Its strange. You need a rating to get gear. So this guy proves he can beat me into the ground and gets a higher rating. Then he gets better gear. If I ever run into him again, I get beaten even harder. Hmmm, sounds like fun :-)"

Reminds me of drinking games. "Take a shot if you lose" games tend to quickly devolve into landslide victories where the winners are sober and the losers are so drunk that they don't care. On the other hand, there's "take a shot if you win" games, and in those the winners' skill eventually stops yielding wins. It's a self-balancing game where everyone has fun and competes (eventually) on even ground.

If PvP wasn't a system where you could run into people in full S3/S4 gear, then it wouldn't be so bad. Think like the XBox Live TrueSkill system where people are matched up against other people of approximately equal skill level. Too bad Blizz isn't capable of implementing somehting similar.

On another note, I wonder if Blizz should reduce / remove rating requirements on old gear as newere seasons' worth of gear comes out. Consider this to be like nerfing raid bosses (the hardcore beat the boss, but Blizz is now making the boss accessible to the more casual guilds) or removing attunements (same deal).

Stupid Mage said...

Tharok, that's a good idea.

For those arguing that there is no path in PvP - you just save up and skip to buy the best gear or that you should only use PvP gear for PvP are ignoring something.

Nothing prevents somebody from getting into a high level raid when they are a fresh 70. So that person doesn't have to be the best, or have lots of skill and experience to get high level gear.

Halifax Little said...

The problem is this: One's MMORPG character should not also be one's MMOPVP character. PVP toons are gladiators and should be treated as such: They should be kept apart from regular society. The Romans knew this. Why try to reinvent the wheel?

"The Path," or "progression," has no place in a PVP environment. Characters don't "progress" in Tekken. Players do. Characters don't "progress" in first person shooters. Players do. But in WoW, PVP is open to PVE/RPG characters. This creates imbalance, and imbalance creates unfair advantages that trump what should otherwise be the determining factor for success in a PVP context: player skill.

The arena server is, to me, the obvious solution. Everyone has access to the exact same gear pool, therefore those who know how to build a proper toon and those who know how to play a toon properly are rewarded with victory. No one can blame their defeats on a disparity in gear. It's all skill, as PvP should be.

This needs to be implemented in the regular game. If you want to compete in Arena, you don't bring your regular PVE/RPG toon, you use one of your 10 character slots to create an L70 arena/gladiator toon on your normal server. Like gladiators should be, they are confined to some kind of region (slave quarters?) and the arenas themselves. While they cannot move freely around the broader world, they begin at L70 and have full access to all gear, just as in the arena server.

Done. You don't have arena/pvp gear spilling into the normal MMORPG world, and you create the only environment in which pvp can fairly exist - an environment that has no "path" other than the development of a player's skill.

Further, you could do other fun things with this system. Gladiator toons could customize the appearance of their gear, at least in terms of colorization if nothing else, in order to be easily identifiable to another innovation: Spectatorship. The arenas should be open to viewing by PVE/RPG character "audiences." A PvE/RPG toon should be able to walk up to an arena, see PVP/Gladiator toons spawn and watch them duke it out. Gladiator names could be barked out by NPC criers before each fight and players could click that crier to instantly port into "spectator mode" for that fight. Leaderboards could be posted around major cities. The best PvP/Gladiator toons will draw more spectators, etc. Add fame to the mix. Make fame a reward.

Even better, make the PvP/Gladiator toons the "property" of each player's PvE/RPG toon. A gladiator must be purchased by a level-capped PvE toon, and the names are linked on the public leader boards. In this way, your PvP/Gladiator toon's success will spill over to your PvE/Owner-toon's prestige. Bragging rights are important. Fame is important.

Or you could level a 'toon in the PvE world and then submit it to the PvP world, wherein it becomes a gladiator, limited to that environment. Maybe you could even buy your PvP/Gladiator toon's "freedom" with a different PvE toon at some later date.

The pvp one might engage in with one's regular MMORPG toon should be world-, plot- and quest-based. The context of the fighting should be story-infused, and the rewards should advance one's character in important, perhaps non-gear-based ways.

The important thing is to separate the two worlds. The "One Toon For All Content" concept for both PvP and PvE content is simply dysfunctional.

There are so many creative and fun solutions to PvP/PvE problems. I'm not seeing any from Blizzard HQ.

I started playing WoW because I always thought of Blizzard as an innovative, creative game company. Of late it seems they have turned the corner and become a bloated, money-generating machine. Where are the creative ideas? Where is the innovation?

Stupid Mage said...

Ooh yeah, a PvP/Gladiator Only Server would be be a GREAT idea!! ;) ;)

No offense meant but you're wrong about the "path" in Fighters and FPS games. If you don't play and succeed in the single player games (PvE) you don't get access to PvP skins, maps and weapons.

PvP and PvE characters having to be different.
Why? Why wouldn't you want your greatest heroes fighting against the bad guys? Horde vs Alliance still goes on you know.

Halifax Little said...

Mage:

1. Read more closely, perhaps. I wrote about embedding the Arena-only server into regular servers.

2. Skins maps and weapons in fighters and FPS games do not give the characters themselves anything more than cosmetic upgrades or access to new play-fields. In WoW, the gear affects the performance of the character. It is more than cosmetic. Progression should not be in-character. It should be in-player, which is to say skill and experienced based. Having said that, bring the cosmetic reward systems used in all other PvP-style games (fighters, FPShooters, etc.) to the Arena. The entire PvP reward structure could be based around looks just as they are in those other genres.

3. I didn't say to remove all PvP from the PvE experience. I said it needs to be motivated by, and rewarded by, other things than gear.

Stupid Mage said...

Interesting. I'm not understanding the point in having a 70 that can't leave an arena staging area. That's what the Tournament Servers are for right?

The unlocking of skins and maps doesn't make much difference. The unlocking of better characters and weapons does.

People have been known to strive and pay for titles and tabards. They'd probably do the same for color kits for their armor. I'd pay to give my gear a glow or sparkle even if it did nothing.

The bit about releasing your gladiator has merit but not without his gear (brings you back to square one). People work hard for upgrades because they can use them. Not many will do it only have you say "Hey, you're free to go, leave your weapons and armor at the door."

RJ said...

If it was any other game, I'd totally agree that the best way to handle PvP is to make it completely separate from the normal PvE environment.

However, unfortunately, Warcraft is not really the kind of series where that would make any sense.

About the only way they could possibly begin to implement such a thing would be to just make the gear limited to each style, but even that only barely manages to make sense. I mean, I can see it making sense if for BGs you have to wear standard Alliance/Horde armour just because it's a military, and your BG prowess means that you can get higher levels of it, but even then it's stretching things a little. For arenas, I can't even begin to think up a valid reason, other then the Goblins saying "my way or the highway".

The 2nd Nin said...

The arena matching on a single server will of course be limited, there are a limited number of interested people, and a limited number at each stage. My server has 20,000 people on it roughly at last census, split 12/8 if I recall correctly. So at best a player has access to 11,999 other opponents (its not that high). The low limit on other players and teams means that the players will likely meet higher ranked teams, and the pool is small. Better would be to include your battle group in pvp, giving you the option of a much wider playing pool.

From this you have a much more normal bell curve, and you can assign ratings better, or perhaps assigning ratings is a bad term, I think what might be better is to reward people over time, so at the start of Season 4 no one has that gear, your Gladiators etc will get 3/8 for dominating their server, 5/8 for being good in their battle group and 8/8 when they enter "world wide" games, make the gear available for points / honour / whatever, but restrict your teams opponents initially by ranking, a low level team will play on its server or battle group, high ranking ones can enter the tournament servers. This then allows you to drop stuff later on, 5/8 for server, 8/8 for battle group (yes, those points you got for losing, suddenly buy you 2 more Season x items that you couldn't get previously), and the tournament server opens up the equivalent of legendary items for that season. Make each season have a progression. When a season rotates out it becomes 8/8 available on the normal server but with a minimal rating requirement (call it honour if you will, sponsor the events by a different faction each season, allow players with pve rep to get access to some of it as well and vice versa?).

Open up the game over time, rather than dropping it on people fast, my guild is in SSC / TK, when attunements dropped we moved a little into MH, we haven't earned it yet we are there. Same thing with pvp, have huge requirements at the start (T4 = server, T5 = SSC/TK and T6 = Tourny server), and open it over time, but rotate in a new season to allow people to start again, ideally at the end of a season all teams should have a full set of the gear barring the legendaries if they have participated allowing a fair start to the next season.

Ideally 2 seasons out of date gear gets rotated to pay and honour from pve to allow new people to step in and play (so current season is earned, previous season is provided basically to pvp players to make it fair, and pve players can step in using 2 seasons old gear). Though perhaps defense should provide some effect similar to resilience to allow tankier classes a more fair shot at arena.

Daddy Gamer said...

Why not say what I usually says all the time :)

One problem with being "On the path" in WoW from a single player perspective is the time concept.

I have done all the 5 mans and heroics which is PuG'able. But doing raids regulary will take more time than I can spend.

So from a single player perspective I have reached my own private Sunwell. But I do feel "cheated" out of the content I pay for each month.

In WotLK all raids will be 10 man in addition to 25-man. Good idea. But maybe introduce a 5-man version too would be nice?

A really good post.

This is a bit similar to my "content cap" discussion. Hitting the content cap takes you out of "the path".

Yane (Yet another night elf) said...

What is odd to me is I can't imagine Blizzard gaining more players by adding rating requirements.

Yet they could potentially lose players who find out they have less rewards to work towards.

They'll get the few items within their reach and then take a break until WotLK.

Stupid Mage said...

I'm sure when WoLK comes out it will also have a few 5-mans.

Horrify said...

Speaking as a Gladiator, this season will definatly make it harder for lower end pvpers to get the 1700s (For a while). But! Many of the full s3 people you see camping the lower brackets will be trying to get 2200.This will be a much harder rating over 2000 for them to get you will see less full season 3/4 geared people in the lower ratings and it will be easier to get 1700 for everything besides weapons/shoulders.

Many high end pvpers have a sense of pride/epeen about having 2000 shoulders, and since only approximatly 0.5% of pvpers will get 2200 shoulders, many will not give up their pr or make new teams because they will want 2200 shoulders.

Anonymous said...

I've only seen one other poster here who identified themselves as a gladiator level pvp'er, so even though this post is already filled with comments I still feel I can offer a distinct take on things. Also, as an additional disclaimer I will add that for entirely selfish reasons I am emotionally biased towards rating requirements for gear. Goddamnit getting gladiator skills took a long time and I want more tangible rewards besides just obtaining gear faster and a sweet title/mount!

Looking over Coriel's post, I see a couple of basic points that I would like to lay out before I respond to them:

Premise 1: Hope for achievement drives players (duh).

Premise 2: Hope is more important de jure than de facto. In other words, theoretically possible hopes motivate players more than practically possible hopes.

Conclusion: Rating requirements are inherently discouraging, even to those who won't get enough non-rating-required gear to the point where the only gear remaining has rating requirements.

Premise 2 is the weak one I feel, for the following reasons.

First off, I don't see any evidence for your de jure progression theory. You make an effective analogy with raiding, but there's no evidence offered that that is the case with raiding. It's like you cited something faulty in a scientific paper without checking the source. Back when I raided casual at 60 with a guild that was lucky to kill Nefarian before BC came out I doubt I would've cared two shits if Naxxramas had had some kind of blocking requirement for entry. I was worried about the present instance, along with the rest of my guild. Your claim was that de jure impediments demoralize people even if they have no plausible tangible harm, but I don't see any reason for that, and I don't buy that even pvp'ers who will never find themselves in a situation where their access to gear is limited only by personal rating will still be significantly demoralized by the rating requirements on gear. After all, the lower your personal rating, the slower you earn gear, which I know you understand: "In reality, of course, a casual PvPer is not likely to earn all the pieces of S4 before WotLK. But again, what is likely is not as important as what is possible."

Second off, I dont think it was accidental that rating requirements reached their apex for BC in the final season. For each day that elapses in this final arena season of BC players will care less and less about season 4 gear as lich king draws nearer.

Also, since I'm all about the empirical evidence, it's worth noting that more teams participated in 3v3 in my battlegroup in season 3 than season 2. Almost 40% more, in fact (http://www.arenajunkies.com/calculator/ ; http://www.wowarmory.com/hall-ladder.xml?b=Cyclone&ts=3&se=2&p=3&sf=rank&sd=a)

It doesn't seem that the 1850/2000 rating requirements significantly lowered (in one casual pvp'ers words) the "popularity" of arena from S2 to S3. After all, players have been "blocked" in arena from the start, given the stern title requirements since Season 1. Obviously, gear>titles for most people, but it's worth pointing out.

-Messallina/Agrippina, Perenolde