Greedy Goblin

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Accessible content is casual unfriendly

Yesterday I wrote how gear accessibility created a situation when everyone who plays a lot is decked up in good gear, making the casual (someone who plays a little) be behind the curve terribly. Now I go forward and say that accessible content has the similar effect. Locking content behind time constraints, keys, membership of good guilds and succeeding previous content is needed to make the game casual friendly.

I wrote happily how successful I am in World of Tanks. Many commenters reminded me that I used a low-level tank. Maybe they are right. Maybe those guys who played 5K matches and have T10 tanks would roflstomp me in equal tanks. If I would be given a T10 tank, I would have 0.1:1 kill:death instead of 1.6:1.

Maybe I am in the bottom 20% of players of World of Tanks. But the game don't throw it into my face. I'm not matched against the T10 skilled people. I'm matched against people who has similar tanks, therefore similar experience. While theoretically a top player could grab a fully twinked T3 tank to grief the newbies like me, the game doesn't reward it in any way. He would get less credit for a 7 kills win than he'd get for a 0 kill loss on this T7 farming tank. The XP gained for the T3 tank would be also little and without paying money, useless to him.

By not having a T10 tank, I'm locked out from the T10 content. I can't go where the "cool kids" are, but it  saves me from being terribly massacred. I am forced to play in my league and here, with a bit of meta-gaming I'm doing pretty good. And happy.

In WoW, every barriers that separated the good from the bad were removed to help out the loud M&S. They are now happily peacock around in their gear. But the casual players, the ones who are new to the game or don't want do enough effort to be successful, get nothing just constant mocking and being pwned. Make no mistake: they are bad players. But it's because of them playing little or with no gaming goals, and not because of being stupid or wanting rewards for nothing. They should have their own place where they can play at their level. But there is no such thing. Everyone plays on the same BG, everyone runs the same dungeon.

Stratifying players (while supported loudly only by the "elite), is needed to make the game casual friendly, simply by barring casuals from content and competition they are not ready for. "I can't go to a HC dungeon because I don't have 2 hours and 4 good and geared people" is much less of a funkiller than "I was in a HC dungeon, it finished in 30 mins, I was below the tank, everyone else knew the place, I  pulled an extra pack and despite we did not wipe they all called me an idiot".


Andru said...

I am not quite sure that you're in a position to judge that.

Every player is different, and for myself, at least, if I were in that position, I would have preffered the second outcome. The ends justify the means, and internal feelings of inadequacy pale in the face of objective progress.

Of course, in Bartle's gaming test, I end up a strong Achiever and a moderate Killer scoring very little on the Social/Exploration scale.

I can imagine that for a Socializer, the second outcome would be soul-crushing, but the point is that gaming habits are different from gaming personality.

Personally, I despised the hoops and keys system of TBC. If I'm bad enough to be crushed by the game, let me face that truth, and don't coddle me.

In the end, restricting content isn't quite the best way to achieve the goal of retaining casual players, when adding new casual-friendly content would be a lot more successful. (And less controversial.)

Azuriel said...

"I can't go to a HC dungeon because I don't have 2 hours and 4 good and geared people" is much less of a funkiller than "I was in a HC dungeon, it finished in 30 mins, I was below the tank, everyone else knew the place, I pulled an extra pack and despite we did not wipe they all called me an idiot".


Where does "I cannot progress my character in any way, shape, or form anymore" fall on that spectrum? Are you limited to a single map in World of Tanks until you graduate to a higher MMR? From what I gather, once you hit T4 you get access to all of the maps. And a casual player can hit T10 after X amount of time, without having to necessarily improve.

Stratification of the playerbase can indeed be good for the casual player, if it ensures they get to play with other casual players while still being capable of meaningful progression. That's the bit you continue to disregard with these arguments.

Unless you are arguing for a PvE MMR that matches casuals in LFD together for a ZA/ZG run whose difficulty has been scaled down to their PvE MMR, then I have no idea why you brought World of Tanks up as an example of anything.

Clockw0rk said...

Some small corrections on World of Tanks: the amount of credits you get for games does not go consistently up, actually around tier 5 it begins to decline because ammo and repair costs increase. Without paying for premium one usually takes a loss fighting in a tier 10 tank, even if they do very well. Many of the good players will have tanks in the 5-7 range (unless they spend $35 on a Lowe) so they can farm money as that seems to be where the highest credit/time ratio is. Granted things may be different on the EU servers. >.>

Yaggle said...

I know this has been quoted a thousand times, but it's so relevant:

'*Everyone* can be super! And when everyone's super... no one will be.'

-Syndrome "The Incredibles"

Anonymous said...

i agree one thougth also struck me, they dont mind us chainfarming the Same HCs Over and Over but Gods be darned if we set foot in a raid of the previous tier.
some leapfroggin is okay but they should wind it down if for no other reason, if they are behind it (progression) they basicaly have the icc buff thus feel as if they are Awesome! (i shal not pretend, i also gave into that i only killed LK HC because of the buff but i did it)

problem is i dont think you can rollback it at this point but im a terrrible judge of character, i think people behave like me and constantly gets surprised that in fact they do not.

NetherLands said...

PvP end-game gear progression is mainly there because PvE gear keeps progressing over the Patches, and (understandably) those that focus their time on PvP don't like the idea of 'a bunch of dragonslayers outgearing everyone'/making the choice on which part of the game you focus on should be relevant.

Without the PvE gear progression, it wouldn't be necessary for PvP, as in Rated content progress is 99% based on rating, not pixels.

The Twink BG's (and twinking in general) happens with this in mind as well: once you have your kit (which can be an adventure to get in itself), you've stepped out of the carrot-chase treadmill Blizz created and can 'just play' (something btw the constant Talent revamps don't help with).

But sadly WoW PvE content is focussed on 'gear progression' by adding new Raids every Patch, and things are compounded by the fact that while the game might be called 'World' of Warcraft, the main stories don't get told in the open world but in danky Instances aimed at the hardcore - thus raising the spectre of 'making things accessible' because otherwise people 'can't finish the story'.

The oddest (not really, considering the Dev background) thing about MMO's and esp. WoW is that while comparatively few players Raid, let alone when the content is 'relevant', most of the resoruces are diverted to new Raids instead of on the type of content most players actually do and can acesss without diluting the hardcore content.

gandzo said...


"Personally, I despised the hoops and keys system of TBC. If I'm bad enough to be crushed by the game, let me face that truth, and don't coddle me."

You're right about that, but you're missing the point.Content is already locked but it's not obvious since it gets artificially unlocked with gear inflation.

Anonymous said...

I've been thinking that this game is very casual unfriendly for a long time. Even with the simplification of talents and other areas. New players when they first start don't even get the concept of Need/greed rolls. I recently had a friend that started, that rolled Need on everything. Until I explain the concept several times (he still doesn't understand Raids, or why people would want to do that). He quit after a month.
A lot of features in WoW is taken for granted, through play experience. And that experience is years old for a lot of players.
Several things that I think would help for casuals and new players, would be:
-Class Quests
-Race Quests
-Epic story driven quests (not tokens/dailies)
-Open World bosses (i.e. fun ones like Stiches)
-World Events! that everyone join in, kinda like Rifts. That involves the community on realms.
-Emphasis on story
-Fewer gear resets.
-For PVP, perhaps "new player" battlegrounds based on some form of time played.

Hell, just more content that doesn't require a top guild on your realm to see or finish. Content that encourages community regardless of level or gear level.

Ninahagen said...

I hate the title. It's very misleading.

Accessible content is casual friendly.

Mixing casuals with haters is casual unfriendly. Mixing very inexperienced players with very experienced ones is ... unfriendly for both categories.

"Who you are grouped with" is not the definition of accessibility.

How is the job done in PvP ?
ELO or MMR system. The system tries to put you in an adequate difficulty level (yours, opponents almost equally rated).
That's what you like about WoT maybe ?

How should it be done in PvE ?
Difficulty system eventually mixed with success/failure rating (so the player cannot choose an inappropriate difficulty level, the system thinks a bit in his place). So you may enter in the content you want but with an appropriate difficulty level, and with appropriate companions.

LFR seems to be some sort of easy mode. There is already normal mode and hard mode.
But LFR is mixed with random queues (that's why difficulty level is set to easy, because ANYONE queues, that's for anyone).

I've read some player experience about LFR.
It's relatively easy, players step in and step out pretty often and without anyone noticing much. Like LFD, in fact.

I hate fully automatised queues, but I welcome the easy mode. Should be casual "friendly" isn't it ? And this, without stating new content should remain inaccessible (like your title ?).

Anonymous said...

In the past there was no dungeonfinder to form a dungeongroup and you spammed the trade- or some other channel to find players. (Like now searching for a raid, with no raidfinder tool at the moment)

You formed a group with players from your server, saw them playing and acting in the dungeon. You remembered the bad players and
could deside to leave a group without being punished. The friendlist was the tool, with which you like to play.

Not as easy as now, where you only have to push some buttons. But now you are doomed to play with the bad players. You like to leave because of a terrible tank? You are not allowed to play for some time using the tool.

You have stressing dd's pulling everything, dont listen to advices? Leave and you could go farm something instead, even if you like to play a dungeon right now and not in 30 minutes plus waiting time.

I'd like the idea not to be punished for leaving a dungeongroup when i decide it, if it is a pain in the ass, because of stupid players in your group.

10 million players dont mean, that 10 million are all "good" players.

The ones who are willing to learn, ask questions about a boss or what to do are ok. No social skilled player would blame them.

So my conclusion is, casual or not means nothing. Ashole or not, that is what counts. More players, more assholes. WoW isa big, so u see now more of the first category.

Phelps said...

One of my biggest complaints is that the game throws middling tiers (4-7) against tier 9-10 tanks too soon and too often.

But yeah, us guys in Tier 9-10 tanks do keep tier 2 tanks around, and go drive them for fun. I actually do make more in it than I do on a loss in my tier 9s (150-350 is common for a loss). I just don't want to spend the money to convert the xp. If I was willing to spend the money, I would buy a premium tank and do it with that.

It is funny to go and get Top Gun in my Tier 2 when I get bored, though.

Anonymous said...

No accessible content is casual friendly. Casual !=idiot.
I would love to raid in this sheme:
Log in, kill some bosses log out. Log in kill next bosses. Log out.
This would of course require beeing completly not dependant on gear and a system that would allow me to progress on my current boss list instead of resetting each week and asking to find people with same free id.

PvP is good as i can play 2,2k rating with 2h /week without problem. At that point im in the top 10% going by team ranking. I could never raid even normal mode in the same timeframe.

Nielas said...

What you call "barring casuals from content and competition they are not ready for", I prefer to call "luring the hardcore raiders away from the population and letting them settle far away from the normal people" :)

The problem is not that raiding content is made more accessible but that raiding has become the majority of the content being provided.

In vanilla WoW, raiding was something I thought of trying once I run out of all the other interesting things to do in the game. It took me about 1.5 years before I run out of other content to do and decided to try raiding. It was fun for a bit but ultimately the gear grind just proved silly.

When Burning Crusade came out I was overjoyed that I would finally have a ton of non-raiding stuff to do for another year. My disappointment in discovering that raiding has become the real focus of the game caused me to quit the game for the first time.

Raiding being made more accessible is just a symptom of the fact that casuals really do not enjoy constant raiding. They want to do stuff that they actually enjoy.

Making casual unfriendly more accessible does not change the fact that it is casual unfriendly.

Killan said...

I agree with the most of this, just wanted to mention that you probably don't realize why "attunement"-like quests were removed from the game.

They were a scourge of the near-top guilds. Such guilds had to clear old instances over and over to get new members "attuned" to the actual content. I remember days when we raided Hyjal and Black Temple with 20-22 people because we couldn't get enough "attuned" raiders.

"Attunements" were a terrible design and I'm glad Blizzard realized that and reverted it.