Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Optional, Redux

I am kind of glad I am not raiding so far in this expansion. There's so much to do at level 90, and I'm having a lot of fun just taking it slowly. I've decided to focus on two factions: Golden Lotus and the Tillers. I do their dailies, and maybe an instance. I don't need to log in every day. Eventually I'll switch to another faction, maybe when I hit revered. But there's more than enough content to sustain me for a long while now.

Meanwhile, I look at all the raider blogs out there, and they're all tearing their hair out. So much stuff to do, and they all have to do it right now.

I wrote a post a couple years ago, Optional, that still applies today, more than ever:
Sometimes it seems like this genre has no concept of the term "optional". Something is either absolutely necessary, or it is useless. There doesn't seem to be any in-between.
As far as I can see, Blizzard has tried to thread the needle here. They've tried their hardest to make the factions optional, but still give good rewards for those who do them. Feasts give good stats, but if you focus on cooking, you can get a tiny bonus.

And yet, have they succeeded? I don't think so. Judging by the blogs in my reader, the higher-end raiders can't pace themselves, and look to be burning out.

I guess I'll end this post the same way I ended the post two and a half years ago:
Maybe it's better for the designers to assume that players will have no sense of moderation or sanity, and will take every possible step to gain any potential benefits. Then design the game to severely limit the amount of possible steps to keep players from hurting themselves.


  1. Agreed, I so far, have not lost a single minute of sleep knowing that I haven't raided yet. Most of my friends are losing their minds because they have to raid right this second, and it astonishes me. I hit 90 without touching three zones. What is the rush? I get the sponsored teams/guilds want world firsts but for the rest of us non-payed folks who cares if you are not clearing dungeons... I promise the world will not end.

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  3. I have not yet bought Pandas, but I have noticed the same trend. "Optional" doesn't really seem to be...the way I see it, if it increases your power in any perceivable way, and has no cap, then it stops being "Optional" for the raider scene. In that way I actually kind of liked the daily cap, it forced me to choose and pace myself (though, even with the cap, I never ran into situations where I was locking myself out of a needed faction in Wrath or Cata).

  4. What I am seeing is that more casual raiders are enjoying having all these things to do and choices to make, and probably haven't seriously started raiding yet.

    You can't balance a game as though everyone was hardcore, and those players will never be happy. Actually, if you're not in a desperate rush to raid, there are a lot more options. Sure you could work on rep, or you can get gear from LFR or from holiday events or crafting etc. There are actually lots of ways to do things IF you're not in a tearing desperate hurry.

  5. Im glad im not raiding high end this expac (4/6 25m normal, 3n/w), since being in a laid back guild allows me to basically, slack, with my dailys. Ive managed to do tillers and GL everyday near enough, but more then that would drive me crazy.

    I cant imagine how people raiding 5n/w+ WITH a full time job/college course can possibly be keeping up with all the dailys. Whilst I commend blizzard for putting so much solo/low time cost content in the game, I certainly think they have missed the target with regards to making the content optional, at least for serious raiders. But then, when refering to that group of players, any small advantage will be jumped on, almost regardless of how long it takes to aquire it.

  6. > Maybe it's better for the designers to assume that players
    > will have no sense of moderation or sanity, and will take
    > every possible step to gain any potential benefits. Then
    > design the game to severely limit the amount of possible
    > steps to keep players from hurting themselves.

    That's what they did with the "10 daily per day", the 24 hour heroic lockout and the random daily heroic VP bonus. The effect was that you were limited what you could do each day. But you had to do it each and every day.

    The only thing that would work is if they would make gear of one type of content only be useful to that kind of content. Like the PvP power thing. Add a raiding power thing to the game (e.g. called fire resistance) which can only be obtained by activities they expect raiders to do. Feasts that give raiding power can't get the cooking bonus.

  7. I'd been wondering whether the hard core raiders would find this expac all that interesting, but my suspicions were based on the lack of a traditional big bad and everything that entailed. It seems that lifting the daily cap meant that any sense of priorities went out the window, and every faction became a must-do for the hard core raider.

    In a sense, this is the opposite of Cata, where the mantra "old school harder = better" was the order of the day. Until enough screams were heard that Blizz nerfed things, that is.

  8. Our first raid is scheduled for this weekend, so we're not hardcore by any means, but I can't go to my raid leader and say, "you know, this rep stuff is optional" That would earn me a spot on the bench.

    The only dailies I don't have to do are the anglers and cloud serpent. I guess I should be thankful I can skip 2 instead of having to do those as well.

    When I saw heroics only gave 60 then 30 VP per completion I freaked, knowing it would take something insane like 30+ heroics per week to cap, but since I'm doing close to 30 dailies every single day just to keep up with expectations, I cap valor on dailies alone. That just isn't right.

    I would really, really enjoy an expansion where raiding gear (and all the things pertaining to raiders and raiding) only came from raiding. Wild concept, I know. I think it would certainly take a lot of pressure off of early xpac raiders.

  9. I think the only thing that really caused the "optionalness" of the daily system to fail against raiders is the fact that the VP upgrader vendor wasn't also released at the same time, which means that even if raiders and non-raiders can easily cap their VP for the week doing what they want to do, they still only have the same source to spend it on; goods from reputation vendors.

    Given that the underlying system actually has inputs and outputs for VP that are specific for each type of player, the whole thing should be the best implementation of "optional" content they've ever done. And I understand why the VP upgrade vendor isn't out yet either; there's not much use for it just yet, after all. But as it's obvious that many players just can't control themselves, it's a shame to see. I think MoP really is the best split between content for a solo/small group player and content for raiders, with the full potential for progression in each one. Maybe not the same level of progression, but looking at it, everyone should be able to get Mystically Epic regardless of their play style, over a long enough time frame. And given that 5.1 is adding new daily stuff, I wouldn't be surprised if they'll add higher iL epic gear to daily vendors as they add new raid content.

  10. For the first time in years I'm not raiding. I'm so relieved that I haven't had to put myself through the treadmill that our raiders have done so far.
    Guild progress is currently 1/6 heroic, which is in the top 600 World rankings, but the amount of time and effort people have put in in order to get that success has been pretty crazy.

    I really think that progression raiding should not be dependent on doing dailies for reputation rewards - it's putting way too much pressure on people. Dailies should rather be about vanity items and achievements, nothing more.

  11. "Dailies should rather be about vanity items and achievements, nothing more."

    Well no, gear is the glue of WoW and makes everything easier, so you can't just say that non-raiders don't get any gear upgrades. WoW arguably uses gear too much to divide people into classes.

    The only way to solve this problem is to make all paths give the same gear upgrades. I mean literally the same, down to the names and everything. I can't figure out why they haven't done it already, save for the lingering notion that raiding is a more serious activity that deserves higher rewards.

    They kind of tried this, to some degree, in MoP but tied all the paths together instead of keeping them separate. It remains to be seen whether over the course of the expansion the enormous gap between heroic raiders and solo players that existed in Cataclysm will reassert itself.

  12. I was trying to do a bunch of dailies every day and finally said....thats enough. I was doing Serpent, Tiller, Golden Lotus, and Anglers. Now I am doing Tillers and Serpent. I should be finished with the Cloud Serpents today and then I will start doing Tiller and Golden Lotus.

    Once you get to revered with Golden Lotus you unlock Shado Pan and August Celestials I believe. Oh goody. I havent even looked at the Klaxxis yet.

    Pace is the key to not burn out on it.

  13. "The only way to solve this problem is to make all paths give the same gear upgrades. I mean literally the same, down to the names and everything."

    Not really. The disparity between gear should not be as great, but it should be there. Name, appearance, even some stats should be different but it should not be nearly as great as it is now. As I and others, including Kring above, have argued raid gear should also have a stat that is only useful in raids. This provides bait for the next tier, sets gates, and prevents the wild disparities in the rest of the game. I really doubt it will ever happen.

    On the post topic, the basic problem with the number of dailies is competition. Those of use who are more interested in WoW as a hobby haven't had much problem with burn-out.

  14. I haven't been reading your blog enough to have read the "Optional" post back in the day, but this quote scares me:

    Something is either absolutely necessary, or it is useless. There doesn't seem to be any in-between.

    The thing about this is, you're right. The other thing is that it has an eerie similar syntax to a definition of Totalitarianism. I decided to make a small post of my own out of my answer, to not derail your discussion, and because I'm not sure myself what to exactly make out of my own thoughts. I'll take the liberty to link to my post.

  15. I think that people look back on their memories and selectively filter.

    Thinking back, I can remember that (1) when I hit the level cap I geared up to raid, and (2) I tried to optimize my gear as best as possible.

    Its easy to forget that there was always a gap between (1) and (2). You would start raiding with the minimum threshold of gear that qualified you to raid, and then continue to improve.

    In Wrath and Cataclysm, I wasn't exalted with every faction when I started raiding. I was still getting drops from heroics alongside my raid loot.

    It seems like a lot of people want to go straight from (1) to (2). I think that Blizzard is doing the right thing by drawing that process out.

  16. I thinks it's improtant to realize that with the weekly valor cap, for the most part, there is no advantage to maxing rep through dailies as ASAP. Every time I've hit a rep level that makes valor gear available i've not had the valor to actually buy it, and I've maxed each week. Aside from crafting patterns there is no need to grind every daily everyday. IMO blizz did a great job of making dailies optional when you consider the rate at which you can accumulate valor.

  17. "Its easy to forget that there was always a gap between (1) and (2). You would start raiding with the minimum threshold of gear that qualified you to raid, and then continue to improve."

    That is a very good point.

  18. To the commenter above who said raids should be the way to get raid gear: alternative methods like vp were introduced to solve a serious problem that system introduced - narrowing populations at the top end of the spectrum made it really difficult for all but a few guilds to avoid backsliding into older content, causing a yoyo effect.

    I'm loving every bit of panda land except the dailies. Having everything from crafting to vp tied to dailies makes it feel required for *any* activity you choose, and I'm not a big fan of grinding through the same quests every day. I'm glad I don't have to do mad heaps of heroics, as I'm already 463+ in every slot, but I'd love to get some rep that way, too.

    I wish they'd gone back to the BC model on rep - no tabards, each rep has a dungeon or two tied to their faction. That way, even though I don't love shado-pan monastery, I'd still feel like I was getting something out of running it.

    My guild is nowhere near raid-ready, so really I shouldn't feel required to do the rep grind, but I do; it's the progression path open to me at the moment. But: SWEET JESUS I'm sick of dailies.

  19. Neo is correct, and I said the same thing on Manalicious: You don't need to do ALL the dailies because with the valor cap being 1000 per week, you won't have the VP to spend on that gear anyhow.

    Between LFR, Heroics, and doing 1 or 2 sets of dailies most days, I have an ilvl of 469, And still not enough VP to buy all the gear I've unlocked so far.

    I wonder if this is all a consequence of the questing culture. I've heard lots of people complain that all those blue exclamation points overwhelmed them. We're so used to completing ALL the quests given to us, that perhaps this has caused people to take the same attitude with dailies.

  20. The people that are claiming that there are too many dailies to do and that they are not optional have not realized or accepted that the problem lies within themselves. What these people need to do, whether they are casual or a hard-core raider, is learn to prioritize. In real life - we have to prioritize in all sorts of settings which would simply lead to burn-out if we try to accomplish it all in a short span of time (your job, school, work-out schedule, etc.). Prioritization is the coping mechanism that seems to be lacking in a lot of people posting about the dailies and their lack of optionalism.

    There are two levels of prioritization that need to be done:

    1) (Macro) Prioritize how important your in-game goals are which may affect your decision on how hard you work at dailies.

    2) (Micro) Prioritize your dailies so that you work on the ones that give the most bang for the buck.

    For a hard-core raider, I am sure that it is the macro prioritization that is giving them a hard time. The hard-core person wants every edge they can have right now to be in the top raiding guilds. This will lead them to overworking the dailies for the VP points. However, this is also their choice - not Blizzard's. Blizzard is not forcing anyone to do a single daily; they are providing a mechanic that you can choose to participate in to achieve your personal in-game goals. If someone chooses to turn a game into work - that is their issue. The only issue for Blizzard is if the game feels like work to too many people, then they will lose subscribers. From what I am seeing, the majority of people are enjoying themselves which is the point of a game in the first place.

  21. no anonymous. The game designers intentionally built the game to leverage the human desire to be part of groups, compete and show off thier shiny loot.

    I'll agree people should moderate thier impulses, but blizzard gets at least half the blame as they intentionally design the game to prod those impulses. That's what keeps people playing and the money rolling in.

  22. Yeah, I try not to do *that* many dailies. It's hard, because I actually like daily quests, for some reason. I haven't ruled out brain damage. :)

    I realized, however, relatively early on that there was just no way I could justify doing every single freaking daily that I could. So, I concentrated first on Golden Lotus and then Cloud Serpents, and I wanted to hit Honored with the Klaxxi for blacksmithing recipes.

    I hit Revered with Golden Lotus and Exalted with Cloud Serpents this weekend, so I've dropped those. Now I'm concentrating primarily on August Celestials, and doing some Klaxxi and Shado-Pan dailies as I feel like it, but I'm not beating myself up if I don't go out that way.

    Oh, and doing the nearly mandatory Tillers. That bugs me a little, that if you want to be able to cook you have to rep up with them, though being able to plant a crop of Motes of Harmony makes up for a lot.

    I figure I'll go back to Golden Lotus at some point when I'm done again with the others.

  23. Anything optional that offers a benefit is compulsory.

    I know I have argued against several raider arguments based on that premise, because catering to it removes things to do or reasons to do them. They could offer a fantastic daiy system that only offered mounts, pets and transmog and virtually nobody would do them. I like doing lfr occasionally, not be forced to play games ok what won't we raid this week so I don't lock myself.

  24. I think this was probably the worst time to remove the daily quest cap. If it was still in place, I would HAVE to prioritize, and I wouldn't feel guilty about it, either.

    In hindsight I can say with certainty I would have preferred a daily cap + lower VP cap for the week, removing even more grinding pressure and at the same time prolonging content.

    No cap combined with the marriage of VP/Daily just created the perfect storm of unpleasantness for those seeking to maximize their gear progression.

  25. I would have to disagree Triplesticks. The only thing you Have to do to "maximize gear progression" is cap valor weekly, which is nothing too taxing, and do enough dailies to open up a new piece of gear every week/every other week, depending on how you spend you points. Frankly, that doesn't take a lot of dailies at all.

    No daily cap just means I don't have to choose to either focus on gear progression or other fun reps like the anglers. Not removing the daily cap would have been a horrendous mistake.

  26. Well, I certainly seem to be more in the pace myself category, having only focused on doing Golden Lotus dailies and one heroic each day.

    Issue for me isn't burnout or overload, its just the sheer boredom of it. Game hasn't been out a month yet and I'm completely bored with it. Probably go play something else that's actually interesting.

  27. Or maybe mix up your play? If you're only doing just Golden Lotus, then you might want to look at the other daily hubs, too. Do a different one each day.