Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Carrying Players

I saw a blog post the other day--sadly, I've forgotten where--in which the blogger lamented that a raid could no longer "carry" one or two sub-par players anymore. Not like in Vanilla, where much of the initial content was so under-tuned that you could easily spare 5 to 10 slots in a 40-man raid.

I wonder if you could actually do this. If you could set up a system to make carrying players more viable, without lowering the difficulty of content for the better players.

Suppose you could measure a person's "PvE ability".  Then, for people with a low score, you could give them a buff that increases their damage and healing output, decreases their damage taken, and maybe even makes them immune to certain mechanics if the score is low enough. The buff would scale inversely with PvE ability. Very low scores would have a more powerful buff, while better scores might have a small buff or no buff at all. Then the buffed person would have their performance dragged upwards in a raid, towards the mean. They would be less of a dead spot.

Essentially, it would be the same idea as handicapping in horse races, only with boosting the weaker individuals, rather than penalizing the stronger individuals.

Of course, the hard part would be coming up with a way of measuring one's PvE ability, without lending it to exploitation, and accounting for increases in skill and gear. It would be fairly easy to do in PvP, as you could just go off a character's personal match-maker rating or similar. In PvE, you'd probably have to conduct analysis of previous fights somehow to assign a rating.

Such a system might even help with gearing. An under-geared character would end up with the buff, until her gear caught up to the rest of the raid.

I'm not really sure if such a system would actually work. But I think it's an interesting idea.


  1. The key to carrying players is not a matchmaking for PvE since they are as you said easily exploitable. What I believe needs to happen is for there to be trivial, more "fun" positions added to raid encounters.

    What I'm talking about is being able to toss your worst dps a buff that instead would standardize their damage based on there number of hits. Adds waves of mobs that need to be simply aoed down. Toss them on dragons that just basically have to spew fire continuously to beat the raid boss. Have them run in a circle clicking a powerup for your tank or dps.

    What I believe the secret to allowing casual guilds to successfully raid while bringing along terrible players with them is the ability to move them into easy jobs. You can therefor still keep a decent level of skill required for the rest of the players. The extra bonus of this is when you have regularily good raiders that stuggle with a particular encounter that it becomes possible to move them into an easier role. Personally I'd like to see this as the future of normal mode raiding.

  2. The easy solution is specialization, which people are inexplicably clamoring to get away from these days.

    Have 2-3 make-or-break roles that need to be filled by someone (not necessarily tank/heals), while everyone else pretends it's Patchwerk. The people that like challenge will gravitate towards those hard jobs, and their casual buddies can still meaningfully contribute to the fight. Don't make the important job randomly assigned. Think the ooze kiter in Rotface.

  3. In all ways, this would be the worst idea to give players… …heck, you just thought (or relayed) of the idea, which is the beginning of the drama…

    In what delusional world are you playing ? Are you one of these so-called carried-players to output such a lame game-design ?

    For the record, that is what the LFR tool was issued for : to bring all players the experience of the latest Raid content, from start to the end.
    That is why Blizzard issued a third difficulty scale.

    And yet, some people think it's not enough ?!? What the hell…
    They are even shooting the Normal difficulty to the ground with the cumulative 5% nerf every x-weeks for hell's sake !

    If the damn people whining & screaming on how hard the end-game is would please stop harassing the devs so that measures like the one actually running (5% nerf) would be kept into a locker, we would really be thankful.

    Casual Raiding Guilds have the LFR tool to play & have fun around. They can then push to Normal mode to experience some challenge.
    If they can't manage it, well it's not the game to bend over to their skills, they have to step up & learn new skills / techs.

  4. The buff would have to update somewhat regularly to account for improvement in player performance.
    It would be exploitable by hard-core guilds: perform poorly during farm content in order to accumulate a big buff for progression content.

    What other comments suggest (more PW fights with a few important roles) seems to be a better approach to me.

  5. I too think that the TBC model, with a few dedicated roles to fill while the rest of the raid is doing yet another patchwork fight would work best for carrying people.
    The slow reaction guy does not have to move, the 3 skillbutton clicker does not have to know where the CC or interrupt is etc.
    Just don't make the mistake that everything is best done by a warlock again ^^
    Highking Malgaur (?spelling) was imo the best designed fight, because different skills from different classes were a must, not an option. It gave those key role people a real challenge and the classes a real purpose of being different.

  6. You could do it by making the rewards diminish for less efficient parties and measure efficiency by time to down.

  7. You seem to be thinking a lot lately about being able to measure how good someone is at PvE. But it's not going to work when you have one person who is amazing at stuff that involves interacting with the environment/ interrupts etc but can't get the pinpoint timing that you'd need to max dps output, or vice versa. Or someone who is a decent player but gets very very very stressed if they are asked to perform a raid-critical task.

  8. Oh you can easily carry people in LFR. Envy, and other guilds on my realm, have been selling Ragnaros mount + title for months now. For a price though, about 250k.

    The problem your buff would support is slacking. If my required output is 100k DPS and with my gear, spec, and skill I am able to output 95k DPS by doing my rotation OK but not taking into account procs but 100k if I do at the expense of being slightly less good in awareness of tactics then I would go for the former during progression. That means I get 5k more DPS for free with your buff, but I would not be stimulated to improve because it isn't required. I'm not forced to play my character to its limits therefore stimulated to slack.

    Anyone remember ICC with 30% debuff? Yet still some people were horrible players. Not only in terms of dying in stupid mechanisms (and no, if you die from unnecessary damage and blame the healer you are wrong) no also abysmal low output (e.g. damage done). Make your breast wet because you're going to see this soon in DS normal PuGs.

    And Rohan I agree with anonymous above (tho he puts it less friendly), with LFR and the stacking debuff I don't think casual or baddies have less than their heart desires.

  9. Sorry to post againin seperate post, I had some more thoughts about it. The problem with WoW is something is released, you get gear, and instead of the content becoming more challenging it becomes more easy. This is totally backwards to other games where content becomes progressively harder such as competitive football (I mean soccer), PvP, but also Doom and Tetris. It'd be impossible to change this within the game I'd say since it is part of RPG and MMO.

    But what we could change in these games is the way we are rewarding people. We currently reward people equally, that is if your group kills a boss in DS everyone gets a RNG satchel and everyone gets an equal chance at loot (need before greed, master loot, DKP, etc).

    I suggest to instead take into account the performance output so that a slacker can get some welfare epics from VP, get his satchel, but get a modifier roll based on his output. You could even take gear into account so that fire mage #1 who has less good gear gets -just like with your buff- compensated to the level of fire mage #2 who is decked in HC gear. Of course, this is difficult to implement, and as I've argued before the effective damage done (or healing done) is different from the total damage (or healing) done.

  10. What ever happened to players working for a raid spot? Gearing up through heroics, badges and now with LFR. Making sure gems and enchants etc. were corrrect. If you have to "carry" people raiding new content it sounds more like you have insufficient people to raid in the guild or are not actively recruiting.

  11. @Anonymous: Gearing, gemming, and all the preparatory work in the world are not going to change a person's reflexes or reaction under pressure.

    Also, some people prefer to play with friends that they've made outside the game. These friends may be of different skill levels, so someone is going to be the drag on the raid. Different raid designs could accommodate a few players of lower skill without removing the challenge for the skilled players.

  12. Any sort of handicap system WILL (not might) be exploited and abused. In the bowling (and golf) world, we call this "sandbagging", and those caught doing so are viewed as the most vile sort of cheater.

  13. I think you are missing the point as to why/how players were "carried" back in Vanilla. It was not that the players were so terrible or lacked ability. It was that the sheer number of players in the 40 man meant more were expendable.

    Example, today in a 25 man can often 24 or 23 man most encounters with reasonable even geared players to the content. Even 22 or 21 on some encounters. Ostensibly you could "fill" those empty spots with under geared players and carry them. In a ten man, you might be able to 9 man an encounter, but most often you need the full 10. 8 or 7 manning is not even an option in the majority of 10 man raid encounters.

    40 man encounters had this same correlation. you could 30-35 man most things with well and properly geared folks.


  14. As far as LFR addressing this. I think what a lot of people are missing is that most of the angst happens when friends can't play with friends, or wives, or kids or whoever they want to play with.

    LFR addresses that in no way at all.

    It does address people not being able to raid because of time constraints etc.

    If the devs were attempting to make the game friendly to those playing with friends who might have different schedules or play styles they failed. If they were attempting to let everyone who wanted to raid they succeeded.

  15. I've been thinking about this a lot lately. Basically, how can things we changed so that you can raid with your friends (hardcore, good but not perfect, and really not so great) and yet still retain difficulty. LFR is a nice start a being able to play with a wider range of skill sets but it doesn't retain difficulty at all.

    The first idea is as Azuriel said, different raid roles. Think positions in softball. But your worst player in right field, good player at short stop, and that guy that can just pitch at pitcher. Also keeping in mind being able to assign these, and not be random as Azuriel said, is key.

    Another idea is, as you mentioned in the post, a handicap, as in golf. Possibly have the game determine it, or just have it be setable by individuals and then have the difficulty, and possibly rewards, determine by the numbers. If the total score is too low it drops lower ilvl gear, or maybe the person gets less valor on the kill, or some justice as a percentage instead. Might even allow you to play with an off number group of people. Only have 9, well the game will adjust. Although that might be gameable. Hmmm.

    A related idea, which is somewhat separate from this, is to have each encounter adjustable in game. What I'd like to see is to ability to do bosses easier on a percentage basis, like the current nerf in DS, and have that somehow key into the rewards (see last paragraph). I'd also like the game to track at what percent you killed bosses, and it should be able to scale up. Do a boss at 110% for instance. I think this could give a way for high end guilds to compete on something other than date of kill.

  16. I think a lot of posters are missing the context here. This really isn't something for improving the LFR experience: it's for improving the experience for existing groups.

    Sure, many, if not most, progression guilds are groups of strangers; raid spots are "earned," and no one cares is a "bad" player gets kicked to the curb. They're =bad=, right? They deserve to be insulted due to their lousy reaction speed; they're so =stupid= they can't see the red ring on the red ground in the room with the red walls and the red atmospheric fog.

    Well, not every guild is a competitive progression guild. Many guilds consist of actual friends, perhaps from previous MMOs or even, shudder, the =real world=. And such guilds generally don't have the option to throw players under the bus if they don't "perform." Even having players sit out one or two bosses can really end up hampering their progress. They're already marginal; being undergeared is a real problem for them.

    Well, this kind of guild is usually perfectly willing to carry the occasional poor player. Unfortunately, many games make this increasingly difficult to pull off. The finer the tuning on the boss fights, the more of a "challenge" the fight is for the hard core and the more of a problem it is for the more casual guild.

    I don't think a scaling buff is the right answer, though. All that would do is encourage players to slack off. I think another poster pointed out a superior solution: add relatively low pressure roles to encounters, so that various different kinds of players all have "things to do," even if they lack the reflexes for the arcade-style mechanics or the "skill" to find and mash the optimal rotation.

    In other words, there are guilds that actually care more about people than progression. It's not unreasonable for these guilds to have the =option= to carry people. If 8 or 9 people are willing to carry the other 1 or 2, who cares? The problem is, a lot of encounters don't offer that leeway.

  17. Vatec, but LFR is made precisely for aunt Tilly to see the content, or for the baddie who'd like to be boosted. Most baddies are not part of a core raiding guild because they'd be replaced after the first raid (or rather after the first wipes they solely caused). Why would anyone in their right mind want to boost these people? Even a casual guild, why would you want to waste your time on that? We have the "social", "friend" or "casual" status in guilds for a reason. So with that in mind I don't think the ability to carry bad players is relevant in WoW. But, if you think it is, then you are free to carry around people in LFR and now in Normal too (and probably Heroic soon, too). You never needed 25 people to kill anything in LFR. You do not need 10 people to kill any boss on Normal. There are bosses which you can 9 man on HC, like Morchok. Just not right away when the patch is released because then people don't know tactics that well yet, and also they don't have the gear. Right now, you can though. Also, achievements are earned, so if you can boost someone (via nerf, or buff) then it degrades the meaning of achievements. How many morons were suddenly running around with Kingslayer when ICC got stacking buff?

    We also already have the ability to put people into easy roles: tanking, is pretty easy. All you need to do is positioning, pop CDs on right moment, a taunt perhaps, for the rest your rotation won't matter a flying fuck, and tanks have the best awareness in game. Healing, is easy if you do it with the amount of people Blizzard intended (3), but once you do it with 2 (pref even an atonement or just helping out with DPSing like mushrooms or bolts) the pressure is there and that means the DPS have to perform but have more room. That is why hardcore raiding guilds work. They have more DPS which are better players while having HC gear from prev tier or all BiS from lvling. A PuG or casual raiding guild uses 3 healers which makes healing a joke, perhaps required due to fire dancers, but it also makes DPS requirement higher. The result is that if one DPS dies you end up with trouble because of lack of DPS, and the DPS together with lack of gear and casual players have a tough time. So if you want to be boosted, go roll healer and PuG, or take the faceroll role of tank. You'll also easier have a spot than a DPS. That is in a 10m perspective, but 25m is same principle. For example Paragon used only 3 healers for Ragnaros HC world first.

  18. @Fn0,

    I fear the gulf between our two points of view is too wide for us to even -begin- to understand each other....

  19. @Fno
    Imagine if you raided with 3-4 peers who were competent min-maxers like yourself, your brother, his best friend, your uncle, an old friend who moved away and lives for his raid time with you, and an assortment of 5 other people that just can't make raids consistently due to RL, but have been in your guild for years.

    These people all love the game and the time they spend in the guild. There are strong social ties.

    Are you saying that these kinds of guilds have no right to experience raid content when it is reasonably current? Because it somehow reflects on you?

    Look around your realm, there are lots of strong players that are bound, by choice, to weaker players, and access to raid content is a big problem.

  20. @Bristal

    Every sees the content right now. Literally everyone. Lfr difficulty is tuned so easy that you have to be actively working against the raid group to keep it from clearing. There's no one with an item level above 372 who hasn't seen Deathwing die that wanted to. Everyone sees the content now.

  21. @ Bristal yeah, we have socials in our guild. I play LFR with them, PuG normal with them, do arena & BG (I am very casual PvP myself). One of our socials killed Ultraxion HC in a PuG yesterday. Morchok HC has been killed by socials since january. And we are semi hardcore. Socials in hardcore raiding guilds have been carried by guild tag and by their guild for ages. Now this is also possible in LFR and normal, but not after the first week (because we are not overgeared yet and do not know tactics). Thanks to LFR, the socials, baddies, casuals can now see the content in the first or second week. I don't get the point. Why can these friends you mention not queue LFR to see the content, like everyone is doing? Have you people actually played patch 4.3?

  22. As to the last few points, this quote from the post is relevant, "If you could set up a system to make carrying players more viable, without lowering the difficulty of content for the better players."

    LFR is great for seeing the content, but it offers no difficulty. I'm sure if you are tearing up heroics, normal seems pretty easy to you, but to some of us, normal is still difficult enough. The idea is can you make a system that allows the clearing of difficult content with people who aren't the best in the group.