Greedy Goblin

Monday, December 19, 2011

The urge for "progression"

While this effect is plaguing WoW, it's most apparent in World of Tanks. In WoT the "leveling" mechanism is getting XP on your current tank and using this XP to research further equipment to that tank. After researching one of the key items of that tank you could research the next tank. You buy the new tank with credits earned with the old one and start playing. The new tank is weak compared to the other tanks of its tier and can only be bought to level by playing it, getting experience and researching new components. Also its crew is rookie and gain experience only by playing with the weak tank.

The game is balanced in every tiers in a sense that you are facing with equal tier distribution of friendly and enemy tanks. Also, after the funny-tutorial lvl 1, all mechanics and classes are present. The maps are also all available. You can fully experience the game content on Tier 3-4. There is no practical reason to "progress" in World of Tanks. I play in Tier 3, 4, 5 and 6 and can tell that there is absolutely no improvement in the strategic sense of the players. The claim that "at T3 you play with noobs, at T10 you play with pros" is nonsense. The good players play in there clans, most T10 randoms are just as hopeless M&S as the T3 ones. Just played and paid more.

Yet people rush over the "low" tiers or even buy them in the in-game shop (in form of +50% XP, credits to buy stuff, free experience). The funny thing is that after tier 5-6 you must buy stuff in the item shop or you can't progress anymore because the repair cost of the tank takes all the credits you earned. Obviously, with a fresh tier 6 tank you are unlikely to do much damage or win the match (credit sources), and more likely end up dead (repair source), since your tank is seriously underpowered compared to the ones you are pitted against, "forcing" the player to buy even more stuff.

Considering that most players do not plan (or has real chance to) participate in the clan wars vast majority of players has no rational reason to go above tier 4-5. They could fully (and freely) play the game for free. Yet they pay and suffer several defeats but keep "progressing".

The urge for progression is a major stupid social trait. It is a remainder of the prehistoric experience: more food = better survival. Now socials collect more and more or "better" and "better", totally useless stuff. The same is clearly visible in WoW where lot of players do bizarre and clearly boring grinds to get completely useless achievements, pets and mounts.

The best goblinish advice I can give you, especially in the mad shopping spree of Christmas, is to always ask "what utility this item will give me?" and "do I need the improvement that this item has over my current one?". The answer is usually no. Your current car is perfectly serving its purpose, so your current clothing and clearly your current WoW mount. The answers "others have it" or "it's cooler" and especially "it's fun" are the products of your ape-mind. Resist it and save lot of money. Remember the advice that has 100% chance to make you rich: "spend less every month than you earned".

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

"since 7.0 even clan wars will be tiered"

You are mistaking the new tiered company battles with clan wars. CW will continue to be "field 15 best tanks for the map".

You are correct that the random games are equally frustrating at higher levels. People are just as stupid and clanmembers usually play in platoons or perhaps just some clan wars/tank companies.

Only difference in higher tier battles, is that the fights are more stale. People don't rush as blindly anymore and they also have slower tanks. Otherwise it's the same degree of idiocy. It's just as "fun" to play randoms in WoT as it is to play LFD in WoW. The skill of the playerbase never seems to reach it's bottom. There is constanly new surprise at the "brilliance" of players.

I hardly play randoms myself anymore. I have some different clan wars viable tanks and don't really need another one to help out my clan with more choices.

Carson 63000 said...

One possible incentive: playing in the mid tiers, you will see some higher tier tanks and some lower tier tanks in the game (both on your side and the opposition).

Mid-tier player might be thinking "if I was tier 10, there would be some 8's and 9's in game with me, but nobody higher. I'd be the toughest guy on my team, and none of the enemy would be tougher than me."

Some method to the madness?

madscorpion said...

Nice post.

Just a few tips though. Until you get to tier 5 and above (usually 7 and above), one can easily research a higher tier tank before his crew reaches max skill, before he needs to research all modules, etc. This means that when doing fights at lower than that level, you're facing off vs weaker enemies almost by default.

Once you get past tier 7, especially tier 8, you start getting more enjoyment because everybody is driving a fully researched & fully crewed vehicle. I think this is why most contests are played with tier 8 tanks instead of tier 10. And as the person in the above post said, the higher the tier level, the slower the game, the more careful people are. Strategy starts dictating over who can oneshot the other.

Clan Wars requires top level tanks. It's basically "if somebody can put a better tank in your face, why dont you?" I think you meant the tiered company battles. And with the company sizes getting increased to 15, yes, they will resemble clan wars much more. With restrictions placed on the number of landings one can make in clan wars, i fully expect the 15-tank companies to include the best players much more actively. Winning a land in clan wars is extremely hard, keeping that land is even harder - yet we play it despite losing repeatedly because we face against good enemies & playing requires the best performance from us. (I have multiple top tier tanks but that's because i switch tanks in clan wars depending on what the strategy needs, sometimes i'm the IS7 vanguard, sometimes i'm the E100 hammer and sometimes i'm the T54 scout, etc)

Gevlon said...

@Madscorpion: if he wants the big tank fast, he will research only the necessary modules for it. If he is limited by credits, he may research other modules but won't buy them, nor the crew training as he is "saving" for the big tank.

Kaj said...

There are reasons to "progress" to higher tier tanks in WoT: Curiosity and flavor of the next tank in the tree. One must however always ask oneself if it is worth the grind through a horrible stock tank to satisfy that curiosity. As the grind becomes longer and longer the higher the tier is, sane people are less likely to progress past a certain point. My absolute threshold is T7. Grinding in a horrible T7 tank is not worth it even if the T8 tank seems incredibly fun to drive.

Sane people in WoT try a few trees and keeps their decked out favourite tanks which they feel have a good relative strength. For myself, such keepers are Hetzer, PzIII, VK3601 and SU-85. Always fun to drive, always useful in their matches and very good relative strength.

Azuriel said...

The urge for progression is a major stupid social trait.

(Character) Progression is the defining characteristic of RPGs. And the utility that progression provides is stimulating that "more food = better survival" nerve.

It's not complicated, nor is it stupid. What is the utility of entertainment? What is the utility of you progressing through WoW raid bosses?

I never understand these sort of posts from you. Yes, people shouldn't buy stupid shit they don't need. But if people are entertained by the in-game grind or its eventual rewards, then the progression had 100% utility by definition.

Ahtchu said...

Said it once, and saying it again:
when a game becomes all about collecting for collecting's sake, it's time to go. When game mechanics are all uncovered, and progression has been made, the biggest (and most worthless) grind of all is collecting.

Sunyin said...

The ape idea has been on my mind now for years. How we act and think, what drives us, all boils down to eating, reproducing and not dieting. Our impulses seem to be the most real thing to us and is our predatory "go to" when things get hard or we don't understand what is going on.

I have a compulsive need to collect things, be the best at my job, eat healthy, be fit and get on with people around me. This all boils down to the basic driving forces that kept the human race alive up until this day.

What I'm saying is, if these warped left over instincts are no longer needed, what is there to guide us or belive in?

TBTSan said...

True, no point in rushing to higher tiers. I just do daily first victory. That means that I reach first tier 9 in half year (no premium here), but who needs rushing there?

Anonymous said...

(Character) Progression is the defining characteristic of RPGs.

This goes for every game with a rising difficulty from beginning to end.
The main purpose of playing these games is getting strong enough and well equipped to be able to beat the endboss/game. Stories that go along with it are the flavour and big distinction and can make a difference between bad and superb.
Taking out the levelling part in WoW (making it ridiculously fast, easy and unrewarding) was probably the biggest mistake of Cataclysm.

Anonymous said...

(Character) Progression is the defining characteristic of RPGs.

Nope... pretty sure "storytelling" is the defining characteristic of a ROLE PLAYING GAME.

Anonymous said...

I think the most practical and logical is to not play this (or any) game.

But if you re going to play a game about progression - and all current vendors make it about progression - then I don't quite understand the point of playing a progression game without progressing.

Bristal said...

I find that I have the most fun playing my chosen MMO when I have a perceived "need" for something. The stronger that need, the more immersive.

I sometimes foster that feeling by stripping away rational thoughts of utility. When I achieve whatever objective, I feel the satisfaction of progression, but the real payoff was that hour or two of slowly progressing.

Like Azuriel, I don't understand the point of indicting players for chasing non-utilitarian pixels in an essentially pointless leisure activity.

I Also don't agree that the need for progression is related to the drive for food. Survival and reproduction instincts are much different from progression. Progression is learned, conscious, and highly valued socially, not some base instinct.

Survival is binary, there is no "better" survival. Having excess resources frees us from the survival drive and allows conscious efforts at progression in areas like science and art and engineering.

"The urge for progression is a major stupid social trait" is just a silly statement.

Campitor said...

The ape idea has been on my mind now for years. How we act and think, what drives us, all boils down to eating, reproducing and not dieting. Our impulses seem to be the most real thing to us and is our predatory "go to" when things get hard or we don't understand what is going on.

I have a compulsive need to collect things, be the best at my job, eat healthy, be fit and get on with people around me. This all boils down to the basic driving forces that kept the human race alive up until this day.

What I'm saying is, if these warped left over instincts are no longer needed, what is there to guide us or belive in?


We have to get beyond the "survival of the fittest" (the individual is paramount) subroutine and evolve into the "survival of the species" (the group is paramount) subroutine. The "individual is paramount" subroutine is why people rob, cheat, are lazy, etc. and why corporations will take a massive dump on the local ecology without proper oversight.

We have one planet to live on and our mutual survival will depend on how well we learn to live together and become proper stewards of ecology and each other. Right now humanity is acting like yeast - it is consuming everything until nothing is left and it's killed off by it's own byproduct. Hopefully intellect and reason will triumph over superstition, selfishness, and the "me! me!" ego.

The Nameless One said...

@Anonymous

There isn't any clear-cut definition of computer Role-Playing Games. They were originally based on traditional RPGs and since the technology at a time didn't allow much else, they focused on complex statistic/skill system and their effects on combat and other actions. That's what RPGs traditionally are about.

Nowadays it's no longer necessary to simulate combat through complex calculations or to describe NPCs and events in great detail so the games can focus on the playing in-character aspect. Then again, there's only a couple of games that really are successful or even designed to be played in such a way. Think of something like Mass Effect (2): Bad writing makes the suspension of disbelief harder, there's a strong incentive to metagame rather than pick what Shepard would do, dialogue is limited and doesn't properly allow you to define the personality and mindset of your character, there's barely any consequence and so forth and so on. There are more things that work against role-playing than things that it has going for it.

Can you really say it was designed with role-playing in mind? I honestly wouldn't. If role-playing was the only definition, there would be only a handful of them (Planescape: Torment and The Witcher (original) being the most successful ones).

Carson 63000 said...

Anonymous: "pretty sure "storytelling" is the defining characteristic of a ROLE PLAYING GAME.

Nope. You might wish that to be the case, but a lot more people have spent a lot more time over a lot more years playing RPGs (pen & paper and computer) that were pure combat and character progression than playing ones which were pure storytelling.

Why do you think most D&D campaigns were derided decades ago as being "wargames where you get to name the pieces of cardboard"?

Bemoaning that "RPG" doesn't imply actual "role playing" any more is like bemoaning the fact that the word "gay" no longer means "happy".

Anonymous said...

"Taking out the levelling part in WoW (making it ridiculously fast, easy and unrewarding) was probably the biggest mistake of Cataclysm."

That started in WotLK with heirlooms. Cata just added more heirlooms. LFD.

Cata also made the lvling in BG better since lvls more closer, therefore making twinking less efficient. (More) heirlooms did too, but also made it less friendly for new players or x-realm rerollers.

Lvling up in vanilla (and TBC) was a lot harder. It was not only Cata which made it easier.

Not only not knowing your class. You can also lvl up to 85 without speaking to anyone. Without cooperating. LFD destroyed realm community. Hope LFR not do same..

Anonymous said...

I have this same issue with computers. My main desktop is a core duo E6600, 4gb ram and a GTX-260 card. Far from cutting edge, yet more than sufficient for my current and immediate future needs. Yet every month or so I have fight the internal ape-subroutine that demands I upgrade as the current system is "slow" and out of date.

Ellifain formerly @ Khaz'Goroth.