Greedy Goblin

Monday, February 13, 2012

The monolith

The PuG update: you must make some changes in raiding, can't raid the same bosses all the time!

I was always thinking why game designers listen to bad players. I mean it's a sure way to make their game become worse and finally unplayable. Obviously the designers are neither idiots, nor aiming on destroying their games.

Funnily, the solution came from real world politics, while it should obviously be in the other way, as the game world is simpler. Yet it's hard to recognize things alien to us, unlike they are in our face. Like rioting protesters. The solution is quite straightforward: if you ask 10 good players where developer attention is needed or where the game needs tweaking, you get 10 different answers. One will suggest faster raid content creation, the next want more HCs, the next more tricky encounters, the next better stories, the next more sandboxy questing, the next better PvP balance, the next 0.01% balance between PvE specs in HM gear and so on.

However if you ask 10 bad players what to change, you get the very same answer 10 times: "moar shiny to me". The answers may differ in formulation, one wants more mounts while the other wants more gear and the third wants the bosses come to Stormwind and give it to him as going to a dungeon to /follow the healer is clearly too time-consuming for his rich real life. But at the end, all their needs can be satisfied by making sure that they have more shiny today than they had yesterday without them making any extra effort or improving in any way.

Since showering shiny stuff neither need complicated design, nor extra effort from developers, unlike balancing elemental shaman vs moonkin in Morchok HM where the totems don't affect the other group, the developers move toward the simplest way. This way is also seems to be the most popular as clearly it got the most votes.

For this reason, if developers listen to players, they will make the game into a mindless reward-dishing machine even if the morons and slackers who demand rewards for nothing are a numerical minority. If we have just 10% M&S, the highest vote will still be "easy rewards" followed by hundreds of different suggestions, each getting 0.1-1% votes.

The same effect plagues politics, making sure that the democratic governments won't climb out of the economic crisis: the various productive people are split into various groups (gun freedom, gun control, pro life, pro choice, save the climate, spread the democracy, better education, and so on) while the various inactive groups have one voice: "more money to us!". This way the governments cut defense costs, privatize services, fire employees, but would never touch pension or welfare money. In times of boom they increase these as they are simple (just changing a number in the budget), while saving the climate is a bit more complicated, even if we have the money and the will.

The problem in both cases is systemic: If you listen to the people, you get various ideas from the productive people and a monolithic "gimme moar" from the inactives. You must not listen to people!


Kelindia said...

What you have described is where Rift really thrives for me. They listen to the various 0.1% people that make sense and make the small changes that make the game better.

If you look for the rain of shinies Rift does it really well by slamming them with so much stuff that it simply keeps them busy having fun that they avoid needing to nerf and destroy much of their content for their other players. Rift raids remain unnerfed and when Trion decided to add a lfg feature they went and nerfed it only once for they knew the M&S would soon be there in flocks. They countered the more skilled players annoyance by adding in Master Mode dungeons for all the people looking for challenge with a small group.

Bones said...

As you say, the voice of the people is often (always) the voice of the loudest, and well, "empty vessels make the loudest noise".

Unfortunatly, our "democracy" will always lead to our ploicy makers thinking only of their re-election and so catering to the loud masses.

Strong leaders who can and will implement visionary (or common sense) change/policies are thin on the ground because what they will have to do will often be unpopular, pain now for mainfold gain tomorrow just doesn't win elections.

Strong leaders who bypass elections lapse into tyranny, power corrupts etc.

BUT...what about the original democracy as it was implemented in ancient Athens,leaders were held accountable for their actions at the end of term. The public voted (first they voted to see if they needed to vote) by writing a name on a pottery shard (ostraka (sp?) giving us the word ostracise) whoever got the most votes was exiled for 10 years.

Now here we have the other side of the coin that we are missing, at present its all gravy for politicians, there is no downside to screwing thigs up, hell, they even get a fat pension for life after one term in office.

Would Messrs Blair and Bush lie and manipulate our "democracy" if they faced 10years in prison for bullshitting us and wasting billions of taxpayers money and lining their own pockets ?(the Bush family buisness is oil, and Mr. Blair has been very well rewarded for his complicity)

Jumina said...

1) Blizzard created the most difficult raidning in this expansion.

2) Blizzard also gave people lot of welfare epics.

3) People say Blizzard failed on everything.

Well, this makes no sense.

Where'smychipi? said...

Your argument for not listening to the "inactives" is not clever or rational, is classist.

It is pretty easy (and stupid) to think that the unemployed and the analphabets of the world just want to get "moar". Maybe what you are deliberately omiting is that they not want more, maybe they want the same right to get a chance of upgrading to the next class, not just money; right that in a lot of actual "socialdemocracies", they would never get. Rights that were deliberated and legislated to get as a constitutional right in almost every european democracy.

Of course, it's prety easy to get that conclution when the only thing you hear about unemployed people is the classical stupid redneck that goes in (certain)tv programs and says something like "Mr. President, give me a house, y'all!" and that kind of bullshit. Negating that there are real M&S in the work world would be equally stupid as to think that ALL of them are, what you have to do is to back up your argument with numbers, not simple opinions or notions about what you feel maybe the "slackers" want. I've been studying Sociological Statistics and you would be pretty asmued of what the real opnions of this "morons" are.

I'm telling you this not because I am personally a welfare whore. I also hate with all my guts the fucking assholes that goes on tv saying that kind of "GIVEMEMOAR" crap. What I'm telling you is to not do the same errors of "classist" thinking as upper classes intelectuals do, and extend that kind of view to all the lower classes.
(Really, I want to stress that up: I'm not a banging communist bitch. I am really trying to avocate here for a rational analysis, defining paradigms and that shit, because without that, what you get are not Philosophy's posts, just unfundamentally opinions that don't help at all.)

(Sorry for my welfare's whore english)

Coralina said...

I think you are playing games with numbers here.

The number of M&S in the game is not insignificant. They may be a minority but they are a large one.

However it doesn’t stop there. There are an even larger group of players (casuals) that play casually but are perfectly good from a skills perspective. They rely on automatic group forming tools like DF and RF. These tools are THE premiere method by which people run content these days.

Those running in 100% premade organised groups are the tiny insignificant minority and since 4.3 that statement applies to raids as well as 5 man dungeons.

The crux of the matter is that the automatic grouping tool cannot prevent itself from being infiltrated by the large minority of M&S. As we saw at the start of this expansion; if content isn’t designed for M&S it has the unintended consequence of rendering all content unviable for the majority of the player base.

As a result the majority of players are unwillingly placed in a situation where they have the same desires as the M&S. They want unchallenging content that drops the same level of reward that it would have dropped had it been tuned for M&S-free casual groups. Playing easy content in groups with M&S is equally as hard as playing hard content in premades so I don’t have issues with shiny levels.

Many of the casuals playing in M&S-infiltrated groups do indeed deserve this showering of shiny rewards. Indeed in your notorious ZG “10k dps or kick” incident you demonstrated that you do understand the impact M&S have on groups and why tailoring of content for M&S is required for everyone else that uses the grouping tool.

You can’t force out the M&S either. We tried that the start of Cataclysm and they proved too resilient, we had hoped they would eventually give up and stop joining random groups such that the casual players could gain access to the content again but sadly we lost the game of chicken, they hung in there for far longer than everyone else was prepared to.

TLDR: M&S are a minority albeit a large one but their infiltration of content via automated grouping tools and the resulting content-blocking creates a situation where the majority of players including productives are aligned with the M&S in terms of their demands.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand.
Why do you claim there is an absolute good way of building the game?
In the absence of such an absolute, the majority vote works just fine.

Goodmongo said...

In RL the M&S don't want the opportunity to get more they just want more. This is proved by their supports using group ratios comparing incomes and other things.

Opportunity doesn't automatically mean they will end up with more. If they are true M&S you can give them all the opportunity they need and they will never take adavatage of it. They will just point out that someone else has shiny purples and they need those same purples. Even after you ginve them additional methods or opportunities to get it.

And this is what the supports of M&S (progressives) will never understand.

Anonymous said...

Congrats, but why did you do 4.0 HC raid? Why not 4.3 HC? You killed Morchok HC, why not continue? V&T with current gear is a complete joke, and does not drop anything interesting. You can zerg it easily. Try Ascendant Council 25m HC, Cho'Gall 10/25m HC, or Sinestra 10/25m HC. Even post-nerf and with current gear they still require excellent execution and for sure some proper setup + respeccing. Good luck doing them without voice chat, since there is heavy RNG and coordination required including usage of CC/interrupt and lots of dance (the thing you detest and claim was only present in Firelands). Nevertheless, as a resto shaman you will find SLT a powerful tool on Cho'Gall HC, and if you can find a good arcane mage in your guild it may turn out to be a very interesting yet doable challenge.

"However if you ask 10 bad players what to change, you get the very same answer 10 times: "moar shiny to me"."

The bad players -and some casuals, too- want what the good players have. This includes but is not limited to "epix". The baddies and casuals were not able to raid in vanilla, and neither were they able to in TBC (maybe some Kara and a few normal modes). In WotLK this was changed: even the casuals and baddies had to do HC dungeons and raid everything (Naxx was cleared by people in Brutal). What happened in Cata was they reverted this: raiding on normal required a bit more skill, and the same was true for heroic dungeons. They never learned what CC is because they didn't have to use this in WotLK. For the baddies and casuals this was a step backwards; they were used to being able to raid and do HC dungeons. They were hurt in their pride that they weren't able to do this. You can't take the candy back once you gave it. So now they give the baddies and casuals LFR and slowly nerf the raid so that everyone is able to kill everything on normal and HC.

You have to listen to arguments and not to how vocal and many. We call this echo chamber effect, and Blizzard is well aware of it.

Also, there is short-term gain in listening to vocal majority, but in long term the game may become so bad that the long-term effect is damaging overal. I believe this is the result of the Wrath of the Lich King expansion. Everything became -relatively- so easy that people are used to it being easy, and once everything is easy it becomes boring. But because people are used to getting their shinies and achi and mount and pet so easily they don't want to go back -like Cata did- since it means they won't get 'em.

This is why LFR is a good way of letting the casuals and baddies play the content while keeping the normal content a little bit forgiving, and the HC content unforgiving. (And I don't agree with the stacking buff nerfing the content, but that is a different issue.) In fact, with the new scenario feature they give the casuals and baddies also something to do, so as far as I'm concerned they can make the HC dungeons again a little bit harder so that people who don't enchant/gem and don't know their class ("bind wut???") can be shafted from the group yet still be challenged in solo content. Perhaps that challenge will teach them more to min-max instead of getting boosted.

Anonymous said...

1The problem is that what is best for the game, and you, is not what is best for the decision makers (designers/politicians). The 2,000 year old phrase is "bread and circuses" - as Rome declined the masses were happy as long as they were rewarded. A real problem for democracies. I think the game designers will make more money catering to those you despise.

It's a problem of how big of a target audience you are going for. If you want to sell to the top thousand fighter pilots and race car drivers, then your game needs to be much, much more difficult than WoW HM. If you want to sell a hundred million, it needs to be Farmville or Angry Birds.

My opinion is that it is impossible to make a game that both

1) several million people will be willing to spend $15/month on
2) you approve of

You get the satisfaction of "fighting the good fight" but shall never be satisfied.

Anonymous said...

@ Last anonymous, there is already differentiation between the easy content, the moderate content, and the hard content. The competition in hardcore raiding has always been there since vanilla, and now the average, the baddies, the casual and the semi-hardcore can also play on their level and pace thanks to the 3-tier system. We went from a 1-tier gated (vanilla, TBC) to a 2-tier less gated/patch (WotLK, 4.0, 4.2) to a 3-tier less gated/patch (Cata 4.3, MoP). Since the income from the hardcore raiders cannot sustain the development cost the masses get their own content and candy, while part of the profit from that goes into the heroic content which far, far less subscribers see. Meanwhile, the masses are kept busy with scenarios and easy HC dungeons, while there is an additional optional challenge mode for those who want to min-max to the limits.

The solution to the M&S is very simple: don't play with them! I kick them out of LFD/LFR, or I leave. I have better things to do than boosting people for free. I'd rather help a friend than doing that because from that I at least get a good feeling, an the friend will help me back. I PuG DS10N full clear on my alts, and Morchok HC/Yor Sahj HC, Ultraxion HC. I simply kick out people who are incompetent or unable to do the DPS they should be doing based on their gear. People who are too dumb to push the button or do 45k DPS on MoP are not people I'd like to play with. If you are playing on a realm with a large base of good players it shouldn't be an issue. But if you play on a low pop realm, just join every other random group, and let every random player join then no you are just wasting your AND their time!!

Azuriel said...

There are quite a few baseless assumptions going on here:

1) M&S is a minority.
2) No non-M&S would have similar interests as M&S.
3) Enacting non-M&S philosophies would lead to a more profitable game.
4) Enacting non-M&S philosophies would lead to a better, longer lasting game.

None of these things are necessarily true. In fact, #3 alone calls into question your experience as a player versus designers/executives with six-figure salaries literally doing what you claim your actions would do. Even if we grant that designers are doing it wrong, and the game would be "better" (for a given value of better), if it in turn is not also more profitable then what rational goblin would care?

Game makers aren't in the business of making great games. They are selling a product or service. That any of these games end up being "good" is purely coincidental.

@Goodmongo: And this is what the supports of M&S (progressives) will never understand.

Oh, please.

Tell me how exactly, in your Conservative/libertarian fantasy land, everyone has the same opportunities as everyone else when there are 4 workers for every 1 open position? The US is just as productive today as it was before the Recession, now with 5+ million less workers.

Everyone has an equal opportunity, one guy gets the job... now what happens to the other 3? Let them starve in the streets? Not care, and hope they figure it out (with an understanding that poverty correlates strongly with crime)? If you have a solution to that, short of population control or pretending that picking strawberries for below minimum wage is a solution, by all means share with the class.

Twinstar said...

Ever heard of a bell curve? Someone has to cook the burgers and fries. If you want to get ahead, get out there and work your ass off, 2 jobs and night school. You know what? Somehow you'll magically "get lucky" and get ahead in life.

No one ever said life was easy. Some people are going to be on the bottom, some on the top. Idiots who refuse to accept that are causing the problems.

Goodmongo said...

@Azuriel, you just proved my point. I said that progressives only measure outcomes and not opportunity. Your statement that 4 people apply to a job and one gets it is somehow proving that hings are not fair.

It was a fair opportunity. they all applied. they all had an equal chance. The outcome was not ffair and can NEVER be fair. So the 3 people that lost take other jobs (some lower pay), go back for more training or try another day.

The only way to be fair in your world is if that one job was borken up into 4 low paying jobs and all 4 got the job. Or to tax the 1 who got the job and give welfare to the other 3.

RaduKing said...

In Romania the governing coalition cut the pensions last year... and now they are so unpopular that even an extremist party has higher voting intention among the population than the highest party in the coalition... sad but true...