Greedy Goblin

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Finding challenge

As I wrote, we play for challenge, learning, wasting time, not being in RL or social reasons. For me, the last three are "not fun". I want challenging content. I assume 99.9% of the top raiders also play for challenge or the social reason of "being respected" by getting "uber" achievements and gear.

There is an inherent problem with group play: the people are necessarily on different level of skill and knowing the content and it seriously affects their perceived challenge:
  • Those who are seriously below the skill requirement of the content are not experiencing any challenge as they have no idea what's going on. The others either capable to do it for them or not. This is Russian roulette. Their win or lose are completely out of their control. Not fun.
  • Those who are slightly below or around the skill requirement are experiencing challenge. They know what to do and try to do it. If they succeed, they experience "triumph", they know that it was their doing.
  • Those who are above the skill requirement are experiencing worse than grind. They know what to do and do it, repeatedly, like grinding wolves. Except they get no reward since the group wipes because of others.
If the group is perfectly at the same level of skill, they are all on the second stage, experience challenge and in some tries they overcome it. However it is impossible. It is also impossible to have a content that is equally challenging to everyone. For example I didn't like Vezzax hard where the bottleneck were the interrupters (5 mins autoattack + rejuv on MT, someone missed interrupt, called wipe) and loved Steelbreaker where the bottleneck was heal. I guess rogues felt the opposite.

Captain obvious says: find a group that mostly have the same skill as you and have fun. However there is a problem here. The main structure of WoW content is "scripted bossfights". It means that there is no place for improvisation, you learn what the boss do, formulate (or read) the counter strategy and carry it out. For the first two steps you don't even need to be logged in. For the last step you improve every try quickly if you are not a retard. This means that all content can be defeated fast.

The only way for Blizzard to create a "scripted bossfight" that is not defeated in 2 hours by every non-M&S player is creating one with very low error tolerance. Let's say you have to run out of fire patches in 1 sec or you are one-shotted and one dead person means you won't make it before enrage. In this fight the "skill" means reacting fast enough without constantly watching fires since you must do DPS or heal or tanking. The learning curve of this fight is:
  1. everyone at the beginning, people die a lot, the raid wipes because too many healers died in fire.
  2. people improved a lot, but still many die before the tank (who dies because healers die)
  3. people improved even more, and enrage is reached, 1-2 healer and 4-5 DPS was dead before enrage
  4. 0-1 healer and 2-3 DPS was dead before enrage. 1 healer switch to DPS, so from now on 1 healer die = wipe because of low heal
  5. 3 people die before tank
  6. 2 people die before tank
  7. 1 person die before tank
  8. firstkill
Assuming everyone has the same skill, at stage 7 you do 1/25-th of the dieing. It means you have 24 tries when you do everything right and still you wipe. If we add that absolutely equal skill is impossible, those who are even slightly better than the others are in the "worse than grind" situation in stages 6 and 7. They do everything right, they can't be any better and still they wipe.

There is only one way to avoid the "worse than grind" stage: be the one who is slightly below the average. You are always on the challenge side. By keeping low attendance while raiding I did exactly that. The fights were always challenging and fun.

However the others have nasty grind because of you and highly motivated to get rid of you. The problem is not that you are below average. The problem is that you are one of those who are below average. Let me explain the huge difference:
  • If you are the only below "good enough", every wipe is caused by you. Assuming you are not a complete idiot, you are not wiping with 100%. Let's say you have 33.3% chance to do it right. This means the group has a kill in 3 tries. One can pay the others to suffer 2 wipes, it's not a big deal after all. That's what one does as tourist on farm content.
  • If you are just one of the many who are below "good enough", not every wipe is caused by you. Let say you have not 33.3, but 66.6% chance to do it right! But because of others the group has only 10% chance to kill. They need 10 tries for a kill. With you they have 6.66% chance, 15 tries. Not 2 but 5 extra tries because of you, on the top of 9 other wipes that make everyone else already upset. (increasing the perceived cost of one more wipe). This is why permanently paid progression spot cannot be bought.
The only way for me to do raid progression is to be a raider myself. I have no doubt I can do it. I just don't want the worse-than-grind phase. So there goes my progression raiding in 25 man.

Of course it is not the end for challenging WoW content. You'll see what I came up with in a month.


Flex said...

...challenge, learning, wasting time, not being in RL or social reasons. For me, the last three are "not fun"...

The first two, then, might just as well describe learning to program, or another language, or theoretical physics. This reader wonders why one would waste such a thirst for challenge on a computer game.

Of course it is not the end for challenging WoW content. You'll see what I came up with in a month.

I predict combining them, learning to code lua and making the mother of all AH camping and crafting mods, or a sudden investment in multiboxing...

I expect to be proven wrong though ;)

Nick S. said...

WoW can provide more challenging content without just tuning everything to a razor's edge, but it'll require some more innovative boss mechanics. Instead of "when A happens, run left" there needs to be a variety of possible appropriate reactions. The Faction Champions fight in ToC is like this, to a degree - with so many variables, you can't boil it down to "get out of fire".

spinksville said...

Some of the challenge in raiding is in actually running the raid, being the raid leader, working out who made the mistake and how to make it easier for them to avoid it (sometimes it's a person being dumb mistake which you can't fix, but sometimes using a different positioning or strat will help).

Until you make that jump to raid leader, you will never really experience the best challenges that raids offer.

So my suggestion is find a way to try that, but not on PUGs. Get a 10 man raid, plan to do it in Icecrown. Try leading them through. It's fun if the people are good.

Nick S. said...

There's challenge, and then there's headache... I tend to put raid leading in that second category. ;-)

Michael said...

Gevlon, you make a good point. The most fun/satisfaction I can remember is from beating challenges that were at the upper end of my skill/gear. And from a GL who I respected as lot noting how much I'd improved (he would also go crazy at people who wasted time or screwed up or "lollygagged", he had a goblinesque philosophy of never wasting time in game).

When I ran groups and was the most skilled/knowledgeable it was frustrating. The satisfaction from that came from helping to improve the skills of those willing to learn (e.g. Counter-spell pull caster trash mobs).

Anonymous said...

"The only way for me to do raid progression is to be a raider myself. I have no doubt I can do it"

you can NOT do it. not because you lack of skill (i'm sure you don´t), but because you lack of dedication. no-one can be a progression raider without dedication.

Anonymous said...

Next Challenging Content for Gevlon ?

Maybe PVP-Arena ?

Everwrath of Silvermoon said...

I would find it interesting to know how long Gevlon would survive as a guild leader, adopting Goblin Philosophy of course.

Challenge: Create a guild, and recruit raiders. Maintain in-house relations, applying Goblin Logic to all decisions made. Lead a few raids, and see what happens!

Anonymous said...

about time you admit that people don't immediately know how to do a fight.

Jederus said...

You hit the nail on the head. I often hate to group up because one idiot is all it takes to cause the content to go from fun to awful. Worse, when it's a PUG it's like "shoulda known" but when it's a guildie if you say something then everyone else acts like you're just 'mean' and then they don't want to group with you in the future. It would be nice if there were some secret label on the chest armor of all players that designated play skill. Checking gear and/or achievements doesn't work since so many people just get carried.

It would also be nice if we could simply solo everything but, I suppose, Mr. Social would then say "Why play a MMORPG?"

I think the only 'real' solution is to make it so that failure is painful beyond repair costs. Unfortunately, while this would cause many to raise their play skill, it would also cause many others to simply leave WoW. This is fine by me but I'm sure Blizzard wouldn't abide.

Anonymous said...

If you apply the math in this post to the one in the previous post about farming content for double the loot, you will understand why raid leaders who cannot determine is performance is skill or gear based are unwilling to split their top raiders to get double the loot.

Diorinix said...

@ Everwrath

Ooh! Maybe Gevlon should make a Goblin-only guild, and see what the gold cap is for Guild Banks!

Of course, this would require IMMENSE amounts of trust and reliability (blizzard authenticators a MUST to rule out accounts getting hacked), but I think a worthy challenge.

Well, maybe not a challenge per se, but certainly a curiosity piece.

Chris said...

Are you going to pay people (in wow gold of course) to raid with you? Deduct X gold per fuckup and see how well it goes with an added incentive?

Ron said...

I'm surprised no one has come out and said it... go with the next logical step of your Gold for a raiding spot... Hire a 10 man.

Take applications, treat it as a job. Get the best 9-people gold can buy , and lead them into ToC/hard modes etc. Have a flat rate, or bonuses for bosses downed.

It would fill your hardmode itch and keep things goblin-y.

Chris said...

Sorry to repost, but on reread it sounds like im making fun of you, when really im making a serious suggestion. Go through the hardest content with employees rather than partners. Make all decisions unilaterally because everyone gets what they agreed to (a paycheck).

Iiene of Kul Tiras said...


Setting up a guild that does nothing but orchestrate GoldPuGs might be interesting.

It would be a small guild with all members leading GoldPuGs. The guildies would have to be bonded and insured (Through "GreedBreakers" a wholly owned subsidiary of Gevlon Inc.) to prevent employee theft and tarnishing the good name of the corporation.

Chris said...

Liene - that sounds VERY easy to steal from.

Iiene of Kul Tiras said...

It's Iiene, with two i's. common mistake.

That's why they're bonded and insured. That's the challenge... making it attractive to run the GoldPuGs, but not profitable to steal from them.

It would require a complex system of rules, cash flow requirements spread among several people, and other checks and balances.

Sure, the guy running the PuG knows he can steal from it, but he also knows he will be caught, and that it's more profitable to run more PuGs in the future.

For example: To run a GoldPuG, the guy would have to put up a bond. either cash, or deferred earnings from lower end GoldPuGs. The rules for the GoldPug would have to mesh with the amount of the bond.

It would be amazing to see that implemented.

Chris said...

But there would be no controls. I guarantee something like this would turn into a giant ponzi scheme for sure. And with no economic 'laws' governing this, and no FBI to take it apart, the person at the top would have every incentive to walk away with everything and just shut it down when it gets to a certain critical mass.

Backthief said...

Gav, would you buy (or any1 here) those O´Terror maces that are dropping from Brewfest for 1k-1.5k, so when the event ends we can start charging 2k, 3k, 4k?

I am still analyzing it

Yaggle said...

The most simple and reliable way for a game to always have challenging content is to create a game where players always feel they need more money.
Just like in RL where a society is energized by its people always needing to work hard, be creative and innovative to do new things in order to have the money they need to buy things, so goes a society within a virtual game.
The best way to make Wow more interesting to play right now would be to remove daily quests. I am sure that gold farmers would love this also, but I feel that Blizzard has thrown out the baby with the bathwater and compromised the enjoyment of their game too much. If people in-game struggled more and must work harder to make ends meet, the game would be much more enjoyable.

Anonymous said...

Gevlon meaned to say that if 1 in 3 chance to fail, then almost 99% chance to success with 3 tries.