Monday, August 16, 2010

Virtual Passports

John Patricelli wrote an exceptionally good post on MMOs as a virtual government. It's extremely thought-provoking.

I do have a couple of quibbles. For example, sometimes changes are made for reasons other than controlling player behavior. For example, John cites the tremporary window where you can trade BoP items with other people in party as a reaction to ninja looters. It's far more likely that this was done so that people could correct genuine mistakes, where someone accidentally rolled need, or the item was master-looted to the wrong person.

That's a general weakness of attempts to legislate good behavior through programming. It's often hard to distinguish between someone actively griefing, versus a genuine mistake, or someone who doesn't know what the "right" thing to do is. The classic example is a newbie hunter joining a group with his pet on aggressive. Very annoying, but it's hard to tell if it is a griefer or a new player.

(Though, 99% of the annoyance could be removed if Aggressive was disabled in instances. The new Defensive is more than good enough for group play, even for a hunter who doesn't micro-manage their pet. To be honest, I don't really see why Aggressive pets are a good idea to start with. The new Defensive could be Aggressive and bring back the old Defensive. I'm not sure it's good gameplay for the Hunter to ever lose control of her pet the way Aggressive does.)

I would like to point out the very first example of Blizzard attempting to promote good behavior via game rules: the language barrier between Horde and Alliance. It was done in order to remove trash talking from the PvP game, or at least move it to the forums.


  1. The only time I use agressive is in BGs while guarding flags. It's very useful there because the pet often catches sneaking opponents before I do. Also you can be effectively two guards. Park the pet in the corner behind the WSG flag on agressive and go stand by a door.

  2. I'm not sure that anyone would really argue that the ability to temporarily trade BoP can honestly be attributed to ninjas. How could that do anything about them? A ninja would be taking the item and running!

  3. Er, noob question, here. What's the 'old defensive' for hunter pets? I know how defensive on live works - did it used to be different or do you mean it's going to change for Cataclysm?

    The BG idea for aggressive pets makes sense - I've only ever used it when farming for leather. Works nicely then! But seems utterly inappropriate for any other gameplay...

  4. Aggressive - pet attacks any enemy in range
    New Defensive (on live) - pet attacks the enemy you attack
    Old Defensive - pet only attacks enemies who attack you
    Passive - pet does nothing unless ordered

  5. I actually like aggressive for PvP play (set him next to a flag in AB) or when gathering/mining (although vigilant clicking might be a better idea in this situation).

  6. There are situation in which aggressive can be highly useful. In nearly all those cases it is to take advantage of the fact the pet's AI reaction time is faster than my own reflexes.

    Dreamwalker is a good example. I still micro manage my pet to what I want him to attack, but with aggressive on he starts running there before my human reflexes get around to telling him to attack that mob.

    A dungeon fight in which pet aggressiveness is useful is the final boss in AN. Again, this is to get to the random adds faster. Admittedly, these days speed in that fight doesn't matter.

    In PVP, I use aggressive when I'm defending a spot, like a flag. An aggressive pet will react faster than I can to any player who is approaching me in stealth or invisible.