Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Lack of feedback and progression

I think I figured out why there are no successful PvP MMOs. I mean I can prove that such game not only have not been made, but theoretically cannot be made. PvP MMOs will always be a small niche.

No it's not a success post of great scientific breakthrough. While I believe it is an important result, it's also a personal failure. My ganking project, that I built with great enthusiasm and effort have failed and hereby terminated. While it had many successes and many of its parts are salvageable and reusable for other projects, its failure was inevitable and with knowing the contents of this post it would have been avoided. However if it stops the wasting of dozens or even hundredths of millions of real world dollars on PvP MMOs and millions of blogger/commenter hours planning the "good" PvP game, this failure was not without point.

Activity decreased recently but that could be attributed to the soccer championship, exams or simply summer. However Sunday's last WG proven without doubt that it's the project itself that is dying. 8 people were present from the guild. Only 3 bothered to fly to WG in time, 3-5 mins before the battle and get into the proper positions. The others just queued up at the battlemaster and spawned at the start GY, therefore couldn't make any effect of the outcome. You can guess the success chances of a 3-man "zerg". Still we broke 2 walls before the inevitable failure, showing that it could be an easy victory if people would care to spend 3 damn minutes to fly in. 1-2 weeks ago the whole online population was in a pre-made raid, in the same position, discussing strategy, buffing instantly after battle start and move as a team. The raid was smaller and smaller every time, but I did not (want to) notice that it's not simply not being online, it's begin online and not caring to do it right. Something took away the motivation of the people.

Earlier Sunday we properly destroyed the cannons and players on one side, promoted and went for sieges. Could build 2, because the other tank spots were taken by catapults. Of course I congratulated to the catapult-building retards. Soon one of them, with a familiar name answered in a defensive manner, urging me to not call him retard. The one thing I hate more than M&S is an M&S with pride, so I stressed that if he is riding a catapult, he is indeed a retard. This line was followed by "X has left the guild". The cata-riding retard was our member. I couldn't imagine how can someone in the guild so bad player. I mean the project was meant to be (and for a week it was) the pinnacle of World PvP. Imagine that Kungen would find a 0/0/71 spellpower/spirit geared hunter in the Ensidia firstkill-attempting raid. That's how I felt when I figured out that such person could get into our guild.

The two events are signals of systemic failure, irreparable inability for the system to provide flow to the people. Flow is the "proper" way of fun. It is "the mental state of operation in which a person in an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity." Note: the "improper" way of fun is social, when someone feels immersed in a positive-emotion providing (accepting/respecting) social group. The flow needs, among other factors:
  • Direct and immediate feedback (successes and failures in the course of the activity are apparent, so that behavior can be adjusted as needed).
  • Balance between ability level and challenge (the activity is neither too easy nor too difficult).
  • A sense of personal control over the situation or activity.
In a single-person activity, simply the outcome of the activity provides feedback, and the person can control the outcome by changing his behavior. If I quest alone, the completion or failure of the quest if directly the result of my actions. By changing my actions (for example getting a better solo spec) the outcome changes.

However in group activity, the outcome itself is the product of the behaviors of many people. The raid boss is either dead or alive. While my actions contributed to the kill (or the wipe), one can easily wipe without making mistakes if the others did, or experience success, despite he was lying on the ground 10 seconds after pull. This assumes that no MMO can provide flow, therefore only very primitive MMOs like Farmville can be successful since they attract social-fun seeking people. However it's not true as WoW is very successful and - as Karazhan proved - people want to raid.

The solution is personalized feedback via game mechanics and player-made addons. For example a healer can experience flow and feel successful in a terrible wipe if he kept all his assignments alive, saved several emergencies and the wipe happened only because they reached enrage due to the below-tank DPS. Similarly, a good DPS can experience challenge and control by avoiding damage that can be avoided and still doing very good DPS (shown on recount). While the mentioned players can be pissed because of others who failed, they can feel satisfied about themselves.

In a PvE encounter, the roles are set so personal goals can be set. It can be easily measured how good one was in attaining these goals. By looking at the recount or log parser, a DPS can see if he was good or bad. He can compare himself both to objective standards and peers. A tank and the healer get immediate feedback from the mechanics itself, in dubious situations the log parser helps.

Theoretically the same can be done in PvP. After all, the difference is only in the actor behind the opponent. Is it a player or an NPC? A good arena player can easily notice mistakes of a worse player, can say: "you could win by LoSing at this point, interrupting in that, using trinket on this and not that" and so on. However, exactly because the player enemy can make many moves, calculating the "perfect" move is not straightforward, therefore very hard for a program to evaluate. Writing a damage meter or a program that signals if you fail in void zone is simple. Writing a program that evaluates a PvP situation is in the complexity range of the Deep Blue. This means, to get a feedback for PvP you need another intelligent and experienced person. Being that person is not fun, and cannot be one. Watching someone else play and finding mistakes is a job, not a game. If we add that if someone is social even a tiny bit, his gut reaction to such evaluation is "being defensive", trying to reject the criticism or even attacking the person doing it (while people don't get defensive against their own recount addon). So, as a commenter said, the project needed "an altruist or other idiot", so it was doomed to fail.

In short: the 0/0/71 spellpower hunter gets several feedbacks from the game or simple addons telling him he must improve. Someone riding catapults can get no other than human feedback. Since in a game, most people are focused on their own activities, this feedback is missing, until the point when the mistake damages others directly, causing harass criticism.

Because of lack of feedback, the PvP quickly becomes dull. The most common problem of a PvP-er is "I'm stuck at 1800 rating and have no idea how could I improve". Similarly, our project could not provide flow, its initial successes are due to the third fun, the "fun from exploring". The people did something very new and the lust for new experiences filled them with enthusiasm. The initial successes can also be explained by the "lack of bad". WoW is full of lolling M&S, so getting in a guild with very little bad exposure can be a relief (a tank once exclaimed on guild chat after a full-guild 5-man: "It's the first time in my WoW play that all DPS were above me!"). However one quickly adapt to a higher standard, and soon the lack of idiots become obvious.


The other problem with PvP is the lack of progress. It's connected to the "the activity is neither too easy nor too difficult" point of the flow. Everyone starts as newbie and the non-retards improve over time. The same activity can be too difficult to a beginner and "boring grind" to an expert. In a PvE game the player can adjust difficulty by selecting different content. "Progress" is a buzzword for selecting harder and harder content. In a PvE game it's easy to provide several pieces of content with varying difficulty. On the other hand a PvP encounter's difficulty is pre-set by the skill of the enemy players and can't be adjusted. There is one WG match on a server and everyone must come there if want to play, the expert who knows every trick, therefore will be bored (or annoyed if others fail) and the newbie who is lost and everyone yells at him. Theoretically progress can be created by creating a ladder and matching players against players with similar strength. However it's still just an average strength and in a multi-class MMO it still generates lot of problems. Simply: a mage-druid team can easily win against a rogue-paladin team of equal rating an easily loses against a mage-shaman team. Neither match feels challenging, one is easy, one is annoying. A PvP game where you could win every match (challenging and outcome is under your control) cannot have classes (Unreal Tournament), must force equal classes on both sides (America's Army) or allow instant changes of classes (HL team fortress). All of these solutions are directly against either the "character progression" philosophy of an MMO or the "bring the player not the class" philosophy of a non-hardcore game.

After all these only one question remains: who play PvP games at all? No, I'm not talking about those who come down to a BG to farm honor to increase their gearscore by wearing ilvl264 PvP gear. I'm talking about those who really want PvP. They are in 3 small minorities, that allow PvP MMOs games to linger, but not to challenge PvE games:
  • Casuals. They play rarely, therefore they experience "fun from exploring", doing something new. Please note that an MMO requiring character leveling does not really support casual play. Such players have more fun in FPS or RTS games where they just log in and can play "the game" instantly instead of leveling up and getting gear first. Also, while casuals are a large group, their "exploring" activity means short attention span. They may buy a PvP MMO, play it for a few months and move on, not because they hated it, but because they played it and it's no longer new. The people in the guild were casuals. We loved this play - for a week or two.
  • Killers. They want to defeat a fellow human. They are ready to make any grind, do any research just to be better in direct combat. They are the core audience of PvP games. Strangely, they are the only people who can provide the much needed feedback in a PvP game, simply because if they point out someone's error, they feel they "bested" him and it's fun for them. A world full of "killers" could support a PvP MMO, but they are rare. Also, there always be losers in a PvP game, and "killers" are the worst losers. They shout "cheater" or stop playing if they are not the top-dogs.
  • Challenge seeking elite: they simply recognized that no PvE encounter can challenge them, only a similarly skilled human opponent can put up any fight. By definition they are a very small group.
Other factors contributing to the demise of the project: WG being unbalanced favoring defense terribly, delay in the patch that would stop the horde outnumbering us 3-6:1, the random alliance idiots joining the fight causing much more trouble than I initially believed (promoting horde by repeated deaths) and in the last week terrible server instability. Yet the real reason was the lack of feedback and progression causing boredom and annoyment in the guild, making them not showing up at all or showing up late.

Tomorrow's post will be about the good things that worked in the ganking project and worth reusing in an upcoming PvE project. Some of them are pretty nonstandard and deserve further elaboration.


PS: no need to comment "you did not lead it right", as I know it. The leader is the person who is giving the much needed feedback to the others, allowing them to have fun at the expense of his own. I obviously refuse to do this huge work in my free time. I would also point out that the Undergeared project needs no such leader and still running amazingly.

PS2: yesterday thenoisyrogue suggested a new kind of PvE where players don't take damage if they interrupt/CC the boss(es), so no healer or tank needed. This holds the same problem: if 10 could interrupt and none did, all failed. But if 1 did and 9 didn't no one failed, yet 9 people did the same in the two situation. The "success" and "failure" must be clearly defined on the personal level to provide fun.

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Veni, vidi, vici"
it Was fun
-Fubuar

Yaggle said...

Before you started the project, you talked about how few items there were available on the alliance auction house, and how few alliance players were ever online. I am wondering, has your project changed things much? Will there be any change to the ally side of the server now that you are done with the project?

Larísa said...

This was a sudden change of mind. As late as two days ago, you were still recruiting. Didn't you have any idea that this might come to an end? If I had been one of your readers transferring to join you, I would have been rather diasppointed.

I've never been any PvP:er and I probably would have needed a ton of feedback to improve. And I can see your point why giving such feedback, being that leader isn't much of fun.

Anyway: I'm looking forward to see your next PvE project. Maybe something that can give us food for thought over the summer.

Butterface said...

"To get a feedback for PvP you need another intelligent and experienced person."

I concur. Of course, not all of us are intelligent, but those who are get that experience you're mentioning while playing. If you're intelligent enough (which just means that you are not a facerolling retard), you can do a try-fail-correct yourself-repeat cycle, just like you do in the undergeared raids. This is how the "intelligent and experienced" people got their high competence in the first place.

Who needs intelligent people to tell you that you're doing X wrong if you can be that intelligent person yourself?

This does however support your theory of PvP games being a niche, as only intelligent, self-correcting players can progress in it.

Michael A said...

I think your project probably died out primarily because doing Wintergrasp day after day gets, well, really boring. it was a good idea, but the repetition just makes it not fun, which at the end of the day is the goal of playing WoW.

But I think the real reason that PvP MMOs don't work well is due to to the human psychology of not liking losing. In PvP, by definintion, 50% of all people will be losers, and people by nature just don't like losing. Compare that to PvE, where essentially you are always a winner. Even the fail Pugs that wipe on Saurfang have "won" in the minds of a lot of their participants by defeating 3 bosses.

Gevlon said...

@Michael A: MMOs always have repetition. WG after WG is no more repetitous than random HC after random HC or ICC every week 10 and 25 with more alts or wiping 100 times in a row on LK HM. Yet people are doing that. They see how they master the encounter. However you can't really tell if you got any better in WG, can't see your direct contribution.

@Butterface: but how do you measure your progress? While one gets better in PvP over time, there are no milestones, there are no sense of accomplishment.

@Larísa: I did not want to see what's going on and was hoping until failure became obvious.

@Yaggle: Friday post

David said...

I'm not going to pretend I'm part of anything but a small minority, but I like PVP (specifically open PVP with only player defined factions) because is makes the social aspects of gameplay a lot more fun. Nothing makes a group gel socially quite like having to rely on each other all the time in order to not get hacked to pieces.

Anonymous said...

"I obviously refuse to do this huge work in my free time"

This project clearly needed a "altruist or other idiot" to success.

spinksville said...

Good luck with whatever you decide to do next. I don't think the PvP guild was a failure, you proved that the idea was sound. But you also proved that it was just too difficult to keep players motivated in that type of guild.

You mention the trouble with feedback, but I wonder if the rewards just weren't high enough (ie. hard to make people care.)

Armond said...

"To get a feedback for PvP you need another intelligent and experienced person."

I disagree. If you have an Observer Mode, such as the one Guild Wars has, you can easily see what mistakes you made, what you did right, what the other team did to counter you, etc. WoW lacks such a robust system; the best you get is videos of other people (or maybe yourself, but that tends to take up system resources).

As for progress, that's again a WoW problem and not a GW problem. In GW, you do "arenas" 8v8; it's not so simple to run into a team you smash easily or a team that easily smashes you (before ArenaNet threw game balance all to hell, at least). The GW ladder (back before Nightfall) actually means something; the top guilds are better players and don't tend to lose to gimmicky setups.

Nathan said...

When reading I was struck by how what you were saying explains why so many skilled pvpers (arena) go crazy in BGs as well...or why there's so much fighting away from flags, in the middle, or whatever.

I always assumed they were the killer type who went solo or apart from the group because they wanted glory, but the lack of feedback for what they do could explain it. When you're standing at a flag guarding in AB you can still lose. I'm sure we've all spent games guarding a flag that never even got attacked. Not fun, but more to the point, no individualized good/bad job feedback. We did what we were supposed to do and lost. We can go around strategy all day, not agree, and in the end the only way someone can get that positive feedback is to kill another player. It doesn't matter if it helps to progress the game, it doesn't matter if 3 are camping 1 in a GY when they're 5 capped, they get the feedback of success.

As you've pointed out before, you can get more honor per hour losing fast than winning. If we set the standard at gear/honor gain instead of winning (as many do) then the feedback you get can be counter productive. "Guys just give up so we can lose fast" makes more sense. It's changing behavior to make flow.

Very good post. One of my favorites.

chewy said...

A really interesting post. Your comment "After all, the difference is only in the actor behind the opponent. Is it a player or an NPC?" puts me in mind of the Turing test which considers some of the same points that you're discussing.

Turing was looking at this for different reasons but your idea that it can only be most challenging against other humans suggests that artificial intellegence in games (PVE) will always be inferior to human skill (PVP). I tend to agree.

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turing_test)

Anonymous said...

you could theoretically create a "leader" role. this leader would not play the game as such, but rather have an overview of the situation through the eyes of his/her team and just assign sub missions: like "defend LM" to various people.

that would mean that 1. whoever succeeds in assigned missions has positive feedback even if the game is lost by the team 2. there is a separate game being played between the "leaders" of the opposing teams - who creates better strategy - they get feedback from the overall result of the fight. if people executed my orders well, but we lost, then it's me. otherwise it's my team mates who need to get better at implementing the stategy i come up with.

at least for those who execute the orders it would be easier to get feedback personally. the "leaders" could be more experienced players who can self-improve easier.

ardoRic said...

I disagree with you on this one. Not that the project isn't running amazingly, it is. But you is underestimating the power of your leadership on this project. There are quite a few of us in Undergeared who are more-hardcore PvE players than you, and we do stuff in our own way. If it weren't for your thinking out of the box and persistence in making us go with Bloodlust after only one portal (which many of us thought was too soon), we might not have made the Valithria save. While we don't notice it much, you always seems to be analysing what went wrong and what could've gone better and him doing that instead of all of us is certainly helping to maintain our success.

It's not that we don't do some analysis ourselves, it's that on your project we listen to you. Some of us are Guild or Raid leaders in our "home" guilds and are used to making such decisions and analysis, but will (and I speak for myself, but I know others do the same) take your advice if it seems sound (it usually does).

The Undergeared project is doing fine. It could not go without the leadership you describe, the only difference is that it only requires such leadership in a very short period of time, Saturday evenings, while the Ganking project required that strenuous leadership every day.

However, I still feel that the Undergeared project could do with more activity. I feel that there are a few new guys who are discouraged by the lack of every day activity. If raiders could be online more often, even if for just an hour or 30 mins, the new guys could see us doing something instead of just reading about it. That's why I proposed to complete Glory of the Hero in our blue gear, so that we met more often and the leveling wouldn't be such a lonely process. It didn't stick.

(this is a repost from here, so the grammar might be a bit off)

Andru said...

The Undergeared is going fine because all it's members have acquired the experience somewhere else.

Also, how can we trust in your "projects" when just 2 days ago you were recruiting with enthusiasm and today you're terminating the project? So much has changed in only 1 day? You "did not want to see what's going on"? That's what M&S do. I wasn't expecting from Gevlon.

Gevlon said...

@Armond, Anonymous: these are design problems that I cannot fix. A player must always play within the system.

@Ardoric: and Ulatekso came with the zombie-kiting idea, someone made the "skeleton left kill it" macro and so on. EVERYONE are making their own part of "leading". Also, if someone is discouraged by an empty guildchat, he'll be discouraged by attempting "impossible" Festergut.


@Andru: and where did they get experience in the first place? Also is there anything new in me not being flawless? Do you think I care what you expected from me?

thenoisyrogue said...

The feedback issue is an interesting one as it pertains to this situation. Gevlon has repeatedly stated in the past that he does not want to ego massage players along the road. Everyone should just do their job. In theory this is fine, but in practice it falls down, even with people of high playing ability.

When managing a team of rafting guides, I am always looking out to give feedback where needed, be it positive or negative. I do not wait for the person to come to me for feedback, I give it when I see that something needs to be said, whether to lift them up or to bring them into line.

The approach that I use with one person can be completely different from an approach that I use with another. With some guides I have to sugar-coat the feedback. Others respond better to more abrupt and direct feedback. But whichever form it takes, I am constantly monitoring the overall situation so that the group is oeprating at the best of its ability.

These are top class whitewater professionals, but they still need this guidance. Just as a top football team gets the same feedback from their coach. Gevlons hands off approach works very well when not putting up with social nonsense, but when it comes to fine tuning a team and keeping it running in a certain direction I find that the hands off approach falls down.

Feedback just from the game itself is fine when you are just playing the general game. However, when you pursue an active goal within a game with a group, it is the leader who needs to provide the feedback and in a proactive way.

Gevlon said...

@thenoisyrogue: the problem is that I'm UNABLE to provide feedback on things I don't know or see. The problem with PvP is that to provide proper feedback I must see everyone and know everything which I'm unable to.

In the normal game the addons and the mechanics provide feedback and also the other players are present in the same position, letting them see what you are doing. It's pretty hard to give feedback to the WP team from east tower cannon.

Andru said...

@Gevlon

I don't care if you care or not. I said i wasn't expecting this from you because it goes against everything you've been preaching about, not to get some sort of apologies.

They go the experience from their guilds, before they joined the Undergeared. Don't you seriously believe that every player didn't killed the same bosses before and in a much harder difficulty? Wearing blues it's just a perfectionism of the former tactics and it's easier to adapt when all the players are experienced raiders, even if with different characters (they already know what to do because they have seen and heard their guild mates in previous fights).

But in the end, and going against what you claimed just 2 days ago, the naysayers were right this time: people got bored and they got bored pretty quickly.

Muneyoshi said...

"Cult of Personality"

To quote someone else. For the next project may I suggest Gevlon that you create a cadre of experienced officers, and label them as such. Make it clear promotion is on merit and is subject to demotion.

thenoisyrogue said...

I'm not talking about feedback in the heat of the moment. I'm talking about individual feedback when things are quiet. But perhaps you're right: it's easy for me to give feedback to my guides or for a coach to give feedback to his players because it's easy to see what is going on. It's not so easy in a game like WoW to get a clear picture. Perhaps what I am talking about is more the dreaded type of social feedback. Good people want to know that they are doing a good job, (useless people don't even care). Sometimes as an effective leader you have to go up to them and tell them that they are doing a good job. Of course they should know this. But if you do this as a leader then you have the situation under control. If you don't give this positive reinforcement then you are leaving your team to the casual winds of social chance.

This doesn't mean that you spend half your time running around ego massaging your team. But I ask you this: think about who the top 10 members of your ganking project would be. I'm not talking about the top 10 members of the ganking raid team as that is quite obvious from the mechanics of the game as you pointed out. Now, would these top 10 pvp gankers know that they were so valued by you? The game can't give them that feeback as it can for raiding teams, so the leader has to do it. Perhaps I could raise my own hand to be in your top 10. But this is based on my own feeling, not on any feedback received.

Anonymous said...

Are you sure people got bored because of the lack of progression?

You did WG several times a day. Honestly, that itself can become boring. Controlling WG sounds like something fun to do at first, but it can become really repetitive, especially if you're trying to win, it's all about building or destroying sieges.

And this is the problem with PvP guilds. There's just simply less PvP content in the game. We've been fighting on the same battlegrounds for how long? 4 years? Okay, so we get a new BG and a new arena with every expansion. However, we get a completely new set of bosses every half years.
Just when things would get boring and everyone is sick of farming the same bosses we get some new content. Not so much with PvP. Even WG has been around for 1.5 years, so people got sick of it in 2 weeks. How long do you think a Naxxramas farming guild last? This is why your guild failed. I know it's not the exactly same thing, yeah. But the fact is that there's extremely little new PvP content compared to PvE.

Homerclone said...

I wonder what your definition of success is. I've left WoW for EVE Online and could not be happier. The game is all PVP, so you have to work or group up to avoid it. There are no levels, so skill is all that you have and the community is friendlier and more helpful. EVE may not have the subscribers that WoW has, but they have enough to fund a steady stream of free expansions.

chewy said...

In respect of leadership and hence teamwork that Adam is talking about. Have you ever come across Belbin and his studies on team make up ? I have no idea if it works in wow and I've never run with you but I have a suspicion you're probably a plant or shaper.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belbin_Team_Inventory

Brodster said...

Good show, Gevlon. You are a curious inspiration to your fellow goblins. I only wish I knew about projects like this in the States to partake in.

Good luck in your future endeavors.

-Sanctos of Archimonde(US)

Nielas said...

It seems to me that the problems you are experiencing is due to the ganking project being considered a 'success'.

You started the project to prove a point and to most of us you have proven it. A group of dedicated PvPers can make a difference on a server even if the population imbalance is against them.

You probably wanted to prove a more complex point of how such a group of players can affect the demographics and social interaction on that server. However, it seems that most of your members were just not interested in such a long term project. They have proven the point they wanted to prove and now want to try other stuff.

craig said...

@andru
"They go the experience from their guilds, before they joined the Undergeared. Don't you seriously believe that every player didn't killed the same bosses before and in a much harder difficulty? Wearing blues it's just a perfectionism of the former tactics and it's easier to adapt when all the players are experienced raiders, even if with different characters (they already know what to do because they have seen and heard their guild mates in previous fights)."

I disagree. One of the rules was to reroll as a class unfamiliar to you. I'm sure a few people had played every class at some point in years of WoW, but not to the extent required of PvE Raiding with progression in mind.

Gevlon pointed out numerous times that reasons for failure or difficulties with kills was due to some players (even his own) unfamiliar with the class whether ti was abilities, situational specs, itmization, etc...

They learned by leveling and making numerous raid attempts and got better.

I'm sure previous raid experience made them more aware of when things didn't go right, but that does not mean they knew how they went right in all places.

Klepsacovic said...

Pride is a natural reaction to undue hostility. Most M&S can change their behavior if asked the right way; this doesn't mean nicely, but calling them retards obviously doesn't work.

"Challenge seeking elite: they simply recognized that no PvE encounter can challenge them, only a similarly skilled human opponent can put up any fight. By definition they are a very small group."
The challenge seeking group does not need to be an extreme outlier. It can be above average, but not elite, meaning that it does not have to be a very small group.

Lowtec said...

The end of the ganking project takes place right after you announced that the Horde side was actually able to take and defend WG. I'm sorry if I misinterpret something there, but this seems to be no coincidence.

Armond said...

@Gevlon: I thought the point of this post was "PvP MMOs in general cannot work", not "PvP MMOs cannot work without these designs"?

Gevlon said...

@Lowtec: it's no coincidence. The horde could take WG because our people lost interest and no longer fought.

@Armond: the "design features" are mostly impossible to implement, unless you want to place a Deep Blue next to every player. PvP is just too complicated in an MMO to give proper feedback.

Bristal said...

Agree with Gevlon about feedback. Took a long time to figure out the simplest elements of this game due to lack of inherent feedback within the game.

I've raided with a few different guilds, and the RL's feedback is primarily limited to "do more dps", or "don't do something stupid".

Uh Huh. Occasionally, however, a whispered voice from the ether will hit the nail squarely.

It's one thing to coach a group of 11 year old soccer players for an hour. You very quickly can see who is good, who isn't, and who might benefit from simple advice.

Can you really say that about watching an hour of the light-show blast-fest that is most boss fights?

No. Which is why we degrade evaluating each other by GS and DPS.

Gevlon, you just explained why your hated GS is so popular.

Armond said...

@Gevlon, wait, what? First I say "here are game features that allow players to analyze their own game and improve it", then you say "but they're not in WoW so it doesn't matter", then I say "but I thought the idea was that no game could have these and here's a game that's had them for five years", and then you say "observer mode is impossible to create without giving Deep Blue to every player"?

Are you trying to say that Deep Blue is the only computer equivalent to a superior player giving advice to someone trying to improve their game? Are you trying to say that the only way to improve your game is to get advice from a superior player and/or Deep Blue, and that millions of players have wasted hundreds of hours each analyzing themselves and their peers and teammates in videos of various matches?

And what does all this have to do with, y'know, game balance, which is a bigger problem with MMO PvP than pretty much anything else in your post?

I'm very confused. Hopefully I've misinterpreted what you've said and you can correct me.

Lethora said...

@Lowtec
I had Master of Wintergrasp on 2 characters before even coming to Magtheridon and taking part in the project. There's no surprise I had more fun going and soloing Taerar / Lethon / Emeriss / Ysondre / Azuregos / Doomwalker than doing WG.
It's plain repetitive and boring. Especially after 250+ wins and god knows how many losses.

Squishalot said...

@ Gevlon - You don't need a Deep Blue. All you need is a systematic data collection system. For example, you could quite easily create an addon that identifies when people are manning cats on offense, or siege/demos on tower duty. The 'damage done' and 'healing done', killing blows, HKs tables in BGs are designed for precisely the same purpose as Recount DPS meters.

Cultivating its *proper* use is the leader's job. Just like it's up to the RL to boot the top DPS, bottom damage done Rogue for repeatedly dying in fires, it's up to the guild leader to use the available tools to keep tabs on their charges.

@ Nielas: "You started the project to prove a point and to most of us you have proven it. A group of dedicated PvPers can make a difference on a server even if the population imbalance is against them."

Actually, the point was to see if he could drive the Horde off Magtheridon, to annoy the M&S enough to get them to server-transfer elsewhere / stop playing. In the process of doing that, they've managed to boost their HKs by slaying numerous farming bots, win a few WGs in peak raiding periods (but mostly more off-peak), and make enough of a nuisance in PvP that the serious PvE'ers who wanted their VoA buckled down and zerged them off the map.

So at the end of the day, the net result is that Horde on Magtheridon are just as strong as ever, and now have an understanding of WG tactics. A couple of battles were won, but the overall war was a complete loss.

Hopefully, Undergeared will continue to enjoy their success, at least.

Gevlon said...

@Armond: replay function helps only to fix what you KNOW but messed up, like I know that "fanatics before LDW" but if I do not notice one resurrected. However if I don't know it, I can watch the video forever.

In a PvE game the startegy is simple enough that you can read up. It's written on WoWwiki to focus on adds at LDW.

On the other hand PvP is too complicated for simple guides. You can watch the video forever, without a more experienced player or Deep Blue, you'll never figure out that you died before you blow a cooldown A MINUTE AGO that you could save for now.

Class balance CAN be fixed, mostly by very strict class rules like 5 classes in the game and each team must have 1 each. Otherwise the PvP is rather "what class shall I power-level in a week" than actually playing.

While such strict rules can be applied, it's absolutely anti-casual, so while the game would "work", only a few HC would play it.

Anonymous said...

Free tip:

Next time PAY someone to be the manager/worker/altruist/idiot while you retain control of the guild.

Anonymous said...

I might be wrong here but the lack of understanding how the 'human' factor works is a 'bit' detrimental to the project's chances. Every group needs an 'altruist' who would be able to manage other humans to a degree, meanwhile, you are holding the remote control over the whole guild.

It would be easier for you as you are clearly lacking on this field, however, they key point is to use these people not to exploit them. Although they might seem to have a hive worker's mentality, there is a hidden wish or agenda behind everyone and that is something you must know and keep in mind.

Delegate middle management positions to them and have a tight control over your managers.

Anonymous said...

Do you think horde will miss the challenge, or be happy that you are gone so they can do VoA?

Also; is it possible your next pve project will be as alliance? :p

Anonymous said...

I would actually say that EVE is a successful PvP MMO (320K active accounts and continuing to grow). It is probably one of the best thought out PvP designs I know of (ganking only makes sense if you can do it profitably, as attacking another player will trigger the mutual defense force to destroy your ship in higher security areas). This prevents people from being complacent in the safe areas but leaves the death has consequences feel that is missing from most MMOs (because they tend to end up at either extreme.)

Armond said...

@Gevlon: No, no, no. Guild Wars and Guild Wars: Factions exist as a gigantic counter to your arguments.

Bronte said...

Just when I was seriously considering transferring over...

Bronte said...

A question: since you are so active in the blogosphere, are you aware of any other projects, especially on U.S. servers that may be PvP-oriented or in the same vein as the Ganking project?

Not sure if you will get this question, so I will post it on your blog as well.

Anonymous said...

@Armond: I've been back and forth between Guild Wars alot for PVP and PVE comparisions. And I've always felt GW won out in PVP-balance hands down. There is always a way for any player to shutdown another person. With being restricted to only 8 skills at a time, a player has to think about what he wants to be able to do before going into the match. And compensate for what he knows he will be weak against. And even if you get you arse handed on a silver platter; after returning to the waiting area you can adjust your 8 skills to shut that person down who previously served you. There is no ultimate build, unless Touchers weren't severly nerfed enough. But I haven't seen one in ages now.

Auspice said...

I lurk your blog a lot, but I thought I would pass on some views of this from the competitive gaming side of things.

"A PvP game where you could win every match, must force equal classes on both sides or allow instant changes of classes."

In particular, I disagree with this statement. Fighting games such as Street Fighter have robust character selections that cannot be changed on the fly. A player must deal with counter-matchups that may be presented in these games. It is true that in some games, certain characters simply beat other characters, in a very rock-paper-scissors style. However, fighting gamers typically avoid the characters with no-win matchups or avoid the game altogether.

To illustrate my example, in SSBB, the top ten or so characters are the most frequently played. Occasionally a player selects one of the "lower tier" characters, but he often runs the risk of a nearly unwinnable counter-match. The "strong" characters, while they do have advantages and disadvantages in a given matchup, are generally able to overcome these relatively minor differences by a combination of matchup knowledge, strategy, and execution.

Another situation of note is when a player deeply knows his bad matchups and the limited set of tools he has to use against them. Often a player focused on a weaker character will spend a lot of time practicing a bad matchup. Thus, when he fights his counter-character(s), he is armed with exactly how to handle them. His opponent, who simply beats most of his easy matchups by default, will not have practiced the matchup as closely, and may end up surprised and beaten.

Another game to look at is StarCraft, although it has only three "classes" to choose from. Each "class" requires a different gameplan, and the matchup at any given moment may be different. A player who invests in a certain technology may be countered by another certain technology of the enemy, and the tempo can swing widely in favor of one player or the other depending on technology shifts, expansions, and well-timed attacks.

In closing, I suggest that the way to improve in WoW arena is outside of a vacuum. You need to have a good stable of players, who can practice a wide variety of team builds. If you're unsure of how to improve or build your arena rating, you need to concentrate on the matches you've lost and interpret why that is. For a novice PvPer, this kind of feedback really isn't necessary though. Novices just need to practice fundamentals until they are 100% solid, including paying attention to enemy actions and handling them properly. Experts can worry about strategy; novices should just practice the basics until they can win on those abilities alone.

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