Friday, April 08, 2011

More Thoughts on Call To Arms

After reading comments and assorted blog posts about Call to Arms, here are some more thoughts.

Tanking isn't Quantum Mechanics

Gevlon thinks that tanking is too difficult. Difficult enough that offering an incentive won't improve things.

On the other hand, he's offering 1000 gold to everyone present at a guild-first kill of Nefarian, which seems to imply that you can motivate people to complete difficult tasks with rewards. On the scale of things, killing Nef is much more difficult than tanking.

First off, tanking isn't that hard. It looks hard at first, but practice improves everything. Personally, I think that if more people step up and try to tank, more people will find that it really isn't as bad as they thought it would be.

(Except for Ozruk. You're on your own there.)

Second, the reward is also aimed at experienced tanks who have finished gearing up in heroics. If the reward pushes those tanks to do just two daily heroics instead of one, it's a major win.

Tanking Shortage Is Not Caused By Raid Slots

I used to think that part of the reason tanks are rare is because 25-man raids require fewer than 20% tanks.

But the truth is that 25-man raids are dying (a topic for another time), and the vast majority of raiders are in 10-mans. And 10-mans have the same 20% tank ratio as a 5-man group.

So I'm not really sure this reason is valid anymore, if it ever was.

Social Cohesion

The thing about PvE in WoW is that it tends to be very egalitarian once you're in a group. There's a sense that everyone is part of the group, and everyone is contributing more or less equally, and thus everyone has more or less the same shot at the rewards. This may not be strictly true, but that's how the default loot systems work. Even Need before Greed is strictly based on armor-type, rather than any performance-based quality.

This Call To Arms explicitly breaks that illusion. Now, though the group completes the task together, one member of the group gets singled out for an extra reward. And going against that egalitarian grain often rubs people wrong.

For example, a lot of the high-end guilds give loot priority to their tanks and healers. This is deliberately unfair to the DPS, but the DPS accept it because it helps the group progress faster. The DPS sacrifice for the group, and that can restore the cohesion.

But in Call to Arms, there is no external group for the DPS to invest in. I think this will be the biggest challenge for Call to Arms. Tanks often feel "abused" by the dps and healers. Will it get worse if the game deliberately sets them apart and gives them extra rewards?

Envy is a deadly sin, but it still causes damage.

The Value of Experimentation

I may have mentioned this before, but I think our society is becoming too risk-averse in many ways. What's wrong with running experiments, with trying something new?

Honestly, if Blizzard had floated the idea of the Dungeon Finder before it was available, I think everyone would have enumerated all the things that could possibly go wrong and insisted that the Dungeon Finder would be a failure.

And a lot of those negative effects did happen. But they were greatly outweighed by the benefits, and the most negative behaviors corrected where they could be.

Doing something, seeing what happens, and fixing the problems as they emerge is far more likely to produce advances than trying to theoretically construct the "perfect" system beforehand.


  1. I agree that the experiment is worth a try. Adding extra reward in order to encourage people is the most straight forward answer to the problem.

    I'm surprised at the outrage the idea it has generated considering the number of people complaining about queue times for damage players.

    But, I see a lot of death knights, paladins, warriors, and druids queuing as damage. If the reward of an instant queue isn't enough to get them to tank, I'm not sure a bit of extra loot will do it.

  2. > Tanking Shortage Is Not Caused By Raid Slots

    If most 25 man raids have been merged into 10 mans then you either have:

    a) a lot of people who played a hybrid and switched to tanking for Cata and are happy with that.
    b) a lot of people who switched to an alt which is capable of tanking but they still see their old class as their main. They might prefer to run the daily heroic with their old DD because they can gear up their tank alt in their raid.
    c) a lot of DD who don't raid anymore because their are way less DD spots for the WotLK tanks who all run 10 mans now.

    Your statement is only correct if it is a). I assume it's primarely a combination of b) and c). Such a change required much more time then 4 month to balance out.

    > And a lot of those negative effects did happen.
    > But they were greatly outweighed by the benefits,
    > and the most negative behaviors corrected where
    > they could be.

    That's up for debate. I still think the LFD killed WoW and it's slowly dying. And the damage the LFD caused cannot be reverted.

  3. "I'm surprised at the outrage the idea it has generated considering the number of people complaining about queue times for damage players."

    Yes. And from what I've noticed (at least on the European forums - and it's also possible I'm a little biased), damagers don't only complain about having those long queues - they also moan about how "unfair" it is that tanks get "instaqueues".

    So I've a feeling the people complaining about tanks (and healers) getting a little extra for their efforts are the same sort of people who think it's terribly unfair that raiders get better gear than non-raiders.

  4. When talking about LFD's impact on WoW, I think you have to separate "the game" from "the community." LFD was without a doubt an improvement to the GAME. But at the same time, it was without a doubt devastating to the COMMUNITY. But from Blizzard's point of view, as long as people keep paying their subscriptions, things like damage to the community is just "collateral damage." I'm not saying they don't care, I'm sure they do to a degree. But their emphasis is on generating the greatest possible profit, as any business would be. And LFD was an unqualified success from a gameplay perspective.

  5. "If the reward of an instant queue isn't enough to get them to tank, I'm not sure a bit of extra loot will do it."

    I'd like to pick up on this comment.

    I generally play hybrids and rather enjoy tanking. I'm one who stopped tanking in LFD and queued as dps instead though.

    The problem isn't that the tank has responsibility. It's that the dps don't. I quite often met people who would mess about and screw up the run just because. Then rant at me.

    Queues are a much less evil. I can be cleaning the house, surfing the web on my other pc, playing Eve as well as dozens of things you can do in WoW while waiting for a queue.

    I didn't even like instant queues as a tank. After herding cats through some instance last thing I felt like was jumping right back in to herd some more.

  6. Kring: I would still say it is not caused by raid slots. What about healers? You need 2-3 for 10-man, 6-7 for 25 - that's more than 20%, so they should have a queue at least as long as the DPSers, right?

    They don't, quite to the contrary, their queue is not instant but still much shorter than tanks'.

    Also, there were more guilds doing 10-mans in ICC too, so there was more than a year to balance it out. (If I assume that in ToC, 25-man was still more popular.)

  7. "They don't, quite to the contrary, their queue is not instant but still much shorter than tanks'."

    I messed the sentence up, I meant not instant as tanks' queues but shorter than DPSers' ones.

  8. I don't agree that LFD was good for the game. It removed parts of the game. Like traveling to a dungeon. Yes, I could still do that but I don't. And the pre-LFD WoW is more comfortable but feals less like a WORLD of warcraft. I think the game would be better without the LFD but I have no problem accepting that there are at least as many people who think the game is better. More or less depends on where you put the focus in your gamestyle.

    (Any I'm fully aware that whining about the LFD when you still have the option to fly to the dungeon is like whining that WoW is to easy while your raid hasn't downed all hard modes.)

    And, of course, all the issues with the innibility to continue to interact with someone on another server.

    > I would still say it is not caused by raid slots.

    All I wanted to say is that, after 4 month of Cataclysm, you can't say that this wasn't the cause. If the missing raid slots were the reason for the tank shortage then it'll only stabilize with the next generation. It's hard to imagine that everyone who didn't play a tank because of a lack of raid slots realizes that this problem is gone and switches chars within 4 month.

  9. There were plenty of tanks in Wrath heroics. I myself queued on three separate tanks per day, getting three daily heroics done in an hour.

    THAT is why you are seeing 45 minute dungeon queues: these dungeons are too long, and difficult enough that a bad player or two can torpedo an otherwise completely successful run. I ran heroics three times per day in Wrath because the two tanking alts were farming frost/triumph badges for DPS gear, and once you hit a minimum threshold of tanking gear you didn't have to worry about anything else.

    Can you imagine running heroics as a tank and using the JP for DPS gear? It would be a complete waste of time.

  10. Fully agree. To long, to tedious and not rewarding enough.

    And way to easy to be challenging. TBC heroics were fine because they were challenging. WotLK heroics were ok because they were over fast enough.

    But... what are you going to do with your JP if not buying dps gear? Just let it rot?

  11. Kring, with the summoning stones only 40% of the party had to fly to the stone - and it was not uncommon for the party to fall apart at the stage as nobody or a single person volunteered to fly. I understand that it helped immersion and the trade off of losing a party that took sometimes even hours to create is worth it for some people, I still think that the number of people who would rather lose their spot than fly to the entrance says it was not popular.

    Regarding "4 months of Cata", there used to be more 10-man guilds in 3.3 too so it's more like 16 months. Or more , I don't know what the 10:25 ratio was in ToC and earlier.

    Also, why would the raid spots have an influence on tanks but not on healers?

  12. I don't think you got my point. I did not say that tanking is hard compared to DPS or heal. My point is in a nutshell:

    Among the lvl 85 players there are about
    * 10% tanks
    * 10% healers
    * 30% damage dealers
    * 50% morons

    The morons couldn't perform in any roles, and as no good guild will take them, they are the prime users of top level LFD, while competent players prefer pre-made groups.

    The morons queue up as DD, not because they prefer DPS-ing, but because there are 2 others able to carry them. It he queues up as tank or healer, the group wipes.

    Motivating him to be tank won't make him tank, just make him frustrated and crying "unfair".

  13. I used to tank. I do not think I was "great" at it by any shot.. but I was alright..

    I got turned off of it by GOGOGOGOGOGOGOGO! and "You suck Tank!" anytime some hyper aggro DPS pulled and died, or some under geared healer could not keep up.

    Irregardless if I sucked or it was something else I really did not need the stress. If I want to feel stressed out by morons I will go to work.

  14. Raid groups who are explicitly gearing their healers and tanks first are doing it wrong. There are such things as enrage timers, or adds that need to die fast, or shields that need to go down.

    Unlike 5 mans, or raiding in Burning Crusade, DPS gear is just as important as gear for everyone else in the raid.

    Its time for that idea to go away.

  15. "If the reward of an instant queue isn't enough to get them to tank, I'm not sure a bit of extra loot will do it. "

    You're joking, right?

    Yeah, I should put up with l33tist DPS who don't listen to instructions, who pull mobs, who call me fail because I put up a cc mark or because I don't go fast enough for them or because I was letting the healer mana up -- yeah, I should put up with all that just for the reward of an instant queue.


    Speaking AS a tank, if I want an instant queue, I go with a guild group, not a PUG. Thinking an "instant queue" is any type of reward...

  16. I like your equality analysis. If a player could buy 2200 valor points for $25 there would be much complaining about fairness.

    @ SirFWALGMan I agree

    I could get my pally through a LK heroic. After the change to pallies and heroics I have absolutely zero interest in even trying it in Cata. That was totally in Blizzard's control when they did the design. So there needs to incentives to tank and/or penalties for not tanking if you are going to have fewer tanks.

  17. LFD = 4chan

    To hell with that.

    I’d rather have a reputation on my server and play with people who have an incentive to play nice, because they know I’m on their server and I’m good and I’ll be there next week, too. And next year.

    If you want that community feel back on your old release-server, then skip LFD and head straight to the old whispers and friends list and trade chat.

  18. Hi peeps,
    well, first of all, I too think we should just give this a try. After all it is not the end of the world (of warcraft) or the introduction of something super-new. It will be the same LFD with just an extra bag of goodies for the least represented slot.

    This last sentence is what makes it interesting. None said it is going to be for the tanks, we just don't seem to see too far away: if everyone and his grandmother join as tank, then healers will be the least represented, so the bag goes to healers. If even more healers join to get the bag, then DPS is going to be too few to fill a group. Not that this is going to happen anyways but yeah...

    (Really, what will happen if DPS get to that point? All 3 DPSers will get a bag?)

    Still, this isn't going to solve the sortage problem. Death knights didn't for sure! All this bag can do is make some people who are on the edge of trying but still think about doing it, actually join the group as tanks and healers, and maybe push some tired and tried tanks and healers queue for a dungeon or two more. (Hopefully we won't see frost DKs or DW fury warriors trying to tank, but who knows?)

    The problem is that tanking and healing are more stressful, and if someone makes stupid mistakes, it will all boil down to "wtf healer" or "aggro aggro aggro". And given the extra difficulty of Heroics in Cata, I myself didn't yet dare to run one on my pala, neither as tank or healer. I tank and heal normals, but HC? No thanks. Not for a million bags of mounts!!!

    People don't join to tank or heal, mainly because they have alternative options. Want to pigeonhole people into those two slots? Make a new epic class: one that will have two tanking specs and one healing spec. If someone decides to roll with that, he will eventually have to tank or heal. As long as he has an option to take a longer queue but avoid the hassle of knowing a dungeon and its dangers, have a clear mind and L2P, he will join as DPS...

  19. I just got tired of having to carry people who don't care enough about their performance to even try.

    DPS can barely manage to CC most of the time.

    Interrupts? What are those?

    What do you mean, if I gem and enchant my gear and have an idea of what my rotation is, I can do more than 6k DPS in heroics?

    I can't be arsed any longer. I go into a Random Heroic, give it my all, interrupt like a demon, do 8k DPS as Prot with minimal buffs, don't let any DPS die, use Cooldowns when they're appropriate, and feel fairly good about my performance.

    Then I look at Recount after the run is over and see that the DPS Shaman, who has hands-down the best interrupt in the game, had 0 interrupts for the run.

    The Huntard? Did 6k DPS in full 346 gear.

    The DPS DK did a whopping 8.5k DPS but again, 0 interrupts. I mean, mana is infinite now and healers have it easy, right?

    I refuse to continue to solo-Queue for Heroics in which I give 110% and the 3 DPS give a combined 10%, if I'm lucky.

    I'm not a alone, either. Go read Big Bear Butt, he's in the same boat I am.

    You can bribe me to solo-Tank in LFD all you want, it's not going to get me to carry any more fails to points and rewards that their abysmal play does not warrant them getting.

  20. There's a tank shortage in a game. Why? Because tanking is less appealing to players than the other roles. In short, a large number of the players of this game don't thinking tanking is as much fun as the other roles.

    Will offering a bribe fix that? Nope. We're talking about a GAME. If tanking isn't fun, nobody's going to do it, no matter how big the bribes get.

    The solution is to make tanking fun, not look for ways to trick, bribe, or force more people to do something they don't enjoy.