Greedy Goblin

Friday, December 16, 2011

You must respect fellow players to have fun

This is the Answer to the Ultimate Question of (multiplayer gaming) Life, the Universe, and Everything. Multiplayer games differ from single player in (surprise) that you play with or against other people. They let you cooperate and compete against fellow people, measure your skill against them. I don't think that (given the simplicity of current games) proper AI couldn't be written, yet AI is made dumb by design to force you to interact with people. I don't think developers purposefully make their game bad, they believe (for a good reason) that playing with or against other people is more fun than beating a script.

However there is one thing missing, and this is the answer for the Ultimate Question: just any guy don't suffice. It must be a guy you respect. Cooperation with someone unworthy is by definition boosting. You are carrying an undeserving idiot to victory who is laughing on you while leeching. Winning in competition against an unworthy opponent is "grinding", it's shallow fun. The massacre project isn't that popular as people only use it to max out points. No one massacres hopeless randoms for fun. The rare defeat or even a not-flawless victory over an unworthy opponent is annoying. I am annoyed when we have "just" 3 bases and flag in EoS and curse the enemy for stubbornly defending their last base or slowing our flag carrier when we already have 2 scores in 8 mins. Winning over a worthy opponent on the other hand is real victory. Even losing to them is "good game" in a sense that you'd prefer losing to such opponent over not playing.

OK, so to have fun we must embrace all fellow players, reaching some Buddha-phase, right? Theoretically yes, but it's impossible. "Respecting fellow players" is not something that players can do at will. Who you respect is deep in your psyche. While games can be tools to change your psyche if you want to, can be part of a therapy, most people don't play for that and expecting them to turn into Mother Therese to have fun in a game is bizarre.

"Respecting fellow players" is a design criteria. It is the responsibility of the designer to make sure that the player (besides rare mistakes) encounters only to fellow players he can respect. Stratification of players, exclusivity of different activities is needed for the fun of everyone. Mixing groups of players who view each other as "retards" and "no lifers" is a recipe for disaster. I mean look at the World of Tanks debriefing page below. It's fun to have such once, simply by the laughter on the utter uselessness of opponents and teammates alike. But after a few times one starts to ask "what the hell am I doing here with these failures?" (and also, "why doesn't Marder II have 5 more ammo so I could win?")

There is no shortcut. You can't obscure the unworthiness of bad players (or the extreme schedule of the top ones) in a hope of making them respectable. In such cases players seek signals in hope of finding them. The gearscore nonsense and even my obsessed rejection of lol-speak are symptoms of this: we want to spot and get rid of the people we can't respect.

The memory of the "golden age" that lives in the mind of the players who were there at the start exist because of this. In that brief period the game was played by enthusiasts only, people who came from similar backgrounds (and not because they saw the Chuck Norris commercial on TV or their buddy said that his brother is playing and it's cool), so players respected each other. This system keeps small and often quite unwelcoming MMOs like EVE running. The guy in the other corporation has the same problems, similar knowledge and attitude. You are on the opposing sides, but still alike. While winning is clearly better than losing, anyway it's "good game". And that's what we want.

The Pug update: we downed spine. At Spine DPS and HPS is much more of a factor than at Warmaster, less dancy, at least to DDs and tanks. To healers, the "coating" mechanic is quite annoying as you must heal damage that you don't see on your usual bars. My tip for those healers who haven't done it yet: it's not a single target heal fight. Coating does only 1K DPS, so you don't have to remove coating instantly (except for coat+grip). You can use AoE, HoT and smart heals to remove coating slowly. The most heal intensive parts are those when there are more than one corruptions up, typically right after the roll. Here people do not look damaged but 5-6 people are coated, so coat+grip is likely. Best schedule tranquility/divine hymn/spirit link to these parts.


JacktheManiac said...

Good post.

But like I wrote yesterday, most of the trash comes to be the cool kid playing and being leet.

In contrast, I play to be a rogue fighting with my comrades against evil, my comrades being my IRL friends, and I could also add to te list the other people who don't remind me of the real world while we play together.

Stratifying players would be a good idea.

It would be nice to have a post talking about the various methods to stratify the playerbase effectively.

To that, I would add; what kind of company with common sense would stratify its playerbase? They win too much having strong players who don't have a schedule allowing them to play with other players of the same skill carry noobs and Arthasdklol.

Andru said...

Guild Wars has such an AI helper system. The AI scripts, for better or worse, can be documented, and skill bars can be tailored to play on AI strengths and gap weaknesses. (For example, the AI in GW is VERY good at reaction times, so any kind of interrupts or conditional spikes, or tedious, repetitive micromanagement can be safely delegated to AI helpers who do it better than top players.)

To put it into perspective, there are builds for 7 AI/1 human teams, in which the human's role is to be a 'commander' whose only role is to give orders to AI.

This made it so that play with morons is unneeded. Of course there are still difficult areas in which 8 human players do better, and it's apparent that 8 good players perform FASTER than 7 AI+1human.

But the thing is, that the 7 AI/1 player model is safe and comfortable, since you can go AFK at any time (and the AI won't kick you, leave or whine), the risk is non-existant since you know how the AI will react, and you can join human groups only when you really want to.

Anonymous said...

How is this not a single target healing fight? Searing Plasma damages your target only every 10 seconds. As a result, your smart heals don't heal the right target. For 80-90% of the fight, you shouldn't have more than 1 or 2 debuffs up anyway. It's not like there's anything else to heal on the fight. Care to provide some WoL reports to prove your claim?

maxim said...

Players ending up with people they can respect as a design criteria?


Zlatko said...

I think you pretty much nailed where the WoW developers are messing up. They are constantly trying to group good players with morons, while they should really be trying to do the opposite.

Anonymous said...

"Here people do not look damaged but 5-6 people are coated, so coat+grip is likely. Best schedule tranquility/divine hymn/spirit link to these parts."

As a healer my best advice is to have healer show both debuffs on their healer addon.

The way to heal also depends on your healer composition. We had our disco priest put shields on people who were coated + gripped. We also had our disco priest use PoH to get divine aegis up on all. For the rest she was focussed on tanks, with the holy paladin not doing the tank healing instead burning the healing debuff.

You need a non-DoT class to do a little bit of damage on the tentacle. We kept our AoE healing CDs for when shit hit the fan, but we only needed them on our first kill.

The reason we wiped here yesterday was dance fails from barrel roll and excessive DPS marked tentacle (that is the one you are NOT touching). After that, we one-shot MoD.

Anonymous said...

"They are constantly trying to group good players with morons, while they should really be trying to do the opposite."

Not entirely.

On low tier they do this: LFD, LFR, RBG.

On more competitive field such as rated BG, arena there is a matchmaking system.

On normal raid (including BH), heroic raid it is entirely up to the players to make their own group.

Anonymous said...

The problem is I do not see how you can get a AAA (large expensive devolpment that needs millions of subscribers to be profitable) game with people who a GG would respect.

The common flaw I see in all this is not what you want, which is quite reasonable. That you want it in a mass market game seems unrealistic. If I am a shareholder in the game company, then a better game that sells less is not better.

Goodmongo said...

It still comes down to you thinking paerson A is better than person B which might not be true.

Take politics. There are people on both sides that think their candidate is the smart good one and the other guy is stupid. But where is the netural rating system?

So who really proved that person A is someone that deserves respect? its you and that means its subjective. What if everyone had to take a test, ala SAT for the MMO? Do all the high scorers get the respect? After all they are the best players. The answer is that you the player would find something about them that you didn't like.

So saying that they need to create a game that lets you play with those you rspect is no differenet then saying you are free to join or form guilds. The devil is always in the details.

Markco said...

I haven't stopped by in a long time, but I'm glad I did today.

This is the best post you've ever written.

Tharamis said...

Rated Dungeons

When you LFD, boss kill times plus number of deaths can give you points. You are LFDed with equal pointed players. This would address your heroic raiders paired with M&S problem not only but automatically filtering them apart, but there would be more incentive to take the time to gather five intelligent players as opposed to just finding a tank to lower queue times.

The dungeons scale in difficulty with your points (higher points means things hits harder, bosses have faster ability usages, and everything has more health). This would drastically increase playability.

Finally, the rewards could include mounts to the people who have reached the top rating, sliding iLevel gear (Example: Cata entry level heroics could give 346 iLevel for starters, then as you progress to harder versions, you would get progressively closer to the entry raid iLevels of 359), or simply extra justice points or valor letting people hit the cap quicker.

Phelps said...

Jesus. Matches like that are why I keep trying to convince Tobold that win/loss is virtually meaningless in WoT. Whether you win in WoT has more to do with which team makes less mistakes than which team has more good players. Mistakes are punished much more than good play is rewarded.

It's the most frustrating part of the game in pubs. (In clan wars it makes total sense, but you also have total control over your team.)

Bristal said...

Totally agree with the point, in that I would love to play a game in which the players respect each other.

Where you are missing is that you think the game is responsible for somehow engineering player respect.

Your blog and it's popular us v.s. M&S fosters and justifies disrespect based on superficial indicators like gear enchantments. The failure of your guild to overachieve proved that you can't just bring in like-minded players and create a respectful environment that succeeds without strong leadership.

Leadership is what fosters respect. Parenting, setting an example, peer pressure, ie society and social pressure is what creates and sustains a respectful environment.

To me, your blog seems to be coming full circle from "social" being the problem to "social" being the answer.

Arkonos said...

"OK, so to have fun we must embrace all fellow players, reaching some Buddha-phase, right?"
Wrong (or I simply don't get your point there)

If we'd all be like Jesus (don't know the philosophy of Buddha that well) we would try to bring every player to our level so that everyone is at the same and thus we are in a perfect community.

But since that's impossible one can either develop a high tolerance to failure (acceptance of sinners), or try to play with his kind (christian, white suburbs).

In Arena there is a matchmaking system that tries to give you evenly strong opponents so you can have fun. In BGs it's a wild mix and as long as I played WoW, I could only enjoy the zerging masses if some buddies and I did our own thing leading to victory.

To really have fun in BGs you either have to enjoy owning the weaker players, have a high tolerance to idiocy or play rated BG (the last one is an assumption, I quit WoW before they went live)

Anonymous said...

Third option:

perceice the retards as additional handicap giving you a greater challenge.

Try to steer them into the right direction winning the game.

It's frustrating to swim against the river flow but quite fun to redirect it with a simple shovel

chewy said...

I agree with what you've written but in practice I would advise you to stop playing wow.

madscorpion said...

Actually, WoT has managed, in a limited way, what Gevlon has asked for. It's called Clan Wars. has been especially reluctant to introduce an internal rating like the pvp of WoW (Good thing too, they apparently suck at math). However, if you're after more coordinated play, you play clan wars. And depending on your skill, you can have better opponents to play against by choosing where to make a landing. Inexperienced & not great at strategy? Africa is the place. Better but pro? Med countries like spanish peninsula, med islands, etc. Feeling pro? Northern Europe. The quality of game play & opposition changes greatly. In the meantime, the random game continues to be the big pool of everything, satisfying everyone.