Greedy Goblin

Friday, September 2, 2011

Play to win or to improve

The PuG update: Jinchu, where are you? If you are the player who played Jinchu (and stopped some months ago), or know him, please contact me via the mail. I need you for a very interesting experiment (not the one below, another). I'll cover your re-subscription costs.

This new permanent page is holding the (I believe valuable and revealing) results about the necessity of a third way to play, besides "to win" and "for social fun", completing my extensions to Sirlin's "play to win" theory.

It also gives a deeper meaning to the undercommunicated idea, however it stand on its own too. Even if we accept that voice chat is necessary for hard modes, due to the lot of things happening, we can agree that it's not needed in normal modes. Yet normal mode guilds use voice chat, which can mean nothing else but boosting.

The same thing is going on as with gear: the topguilds use every tiny advantage they can find, including gear and voice, and the lesser ones blame their failures on the lack of gear or "not good enough communication". If we can prove nothing else than "you don't need voice to reach 2-3/7 HM" it itself a valuable point and can be a salvation to thousands of fellow good players, who desperately trying to communicate better instead of recognizing that his guildies suck. Just like they believed "they need more gear", now they believe "they need better leading". No! They need a kick at their butt.

Come! Raid and make a difference! Remember, it's something I already, successfully done in a similar point, and now the circumstances are much better (already working guild, more HC schedule), except now I need more dedicated raiders.


Gesh said...

While I was in your guild, I chatted with Jinchu for awhile and he said that he is going to the military, so I doubt he will be playing anytime soon. Thats all I know and cannot help you anymore.

Azuriel said...

The Play to Improve article is very nicely done, although I could say that it is splitting hairs a bit.

For example, improving can be "fun" and winning the battle but losing the match/war cannot really be said to be "playing to win," can it? Moreover, creating a learning environment and improving the skill of other people cannot be considered anything other than being social - the asocial goblin should not care for companionship nor the creation of smarter competitors of resources.

Aside from that, I can now understand the motivation of the Undercommunicated project, even if I disagree with the underlying premises.

Sten Düring said...

You use proper tools for improving as well.

Can learning be done without VC? Of course. Will it take (unneeded) extra time? Probably.

I'm not arguing a 'always use VC' or 'never use VC'. Anyone who does that has got it wrong from the beginning.

VC is ONE tool.

If you spend your days disputing the differing benefits gained by a battery-driven screwdriver or a plain old one, you'll never finish building your house.

If you never dispute those differenecs (ie you either always enforce the use of one or the other), you'll never learn which tool is indeed better for building different parts of the house.

Now, as you're prone to do, let's take this in a WoW environment.

A succesful raid-group is defined by its capacity of being flexible. By succesful I include those who become better than they were before. This would include groups doing normal content, but doing a higher percentage of it each tier compared to before.

Even with VC running you're likely to see very different fights.

Shut up and kill: We know this one, more killing, less talking.

Trial and error: This is the group-boosting fight. Ten more or less clueless players hit the same target over and over again, learning in the process. VC shines here due to the immediacy between error and feedback. (Provided it's used correctly). Players announce their own fuckups before wipes (sometimes temporarily saving the wipe) so that other players understand that they should NOT incorporate a new method as standard, because the method used saved a situation that should never have occured in the first place.
This is very different from the boosting you're so afraid of. VC is used wrong when it builds a standard tactics depending on one healer life-gripping the same hunter who always fails to move to the correct side of the WALL OF FIREY DEATH.

Speed runs: Usually handling trash. Tanks chain-pull mobs, healers and ranged call out incoming patrols so they get CC before the raid continues murdering the current trash-pack. VC is only used for announcing a very temporary 'change of plans'.

Rotating rooster: The raid-group is learning a specific fight, but new people are rotated into the raid between tries. Works both with or without VC depending on situation.
If your primary goal is to make newcomers get up to standard you can accept silent wipes until they know as much as the others.
If your primayr goal is to learn phase three of the fight, but the newcomers only know phase one. Dammit, get over yourself and hold their hands during phase two! You decided that phase three was important AND you decided to bring newcomers into the attempt.

Sten Düring said...

I believe I've identified your position more fully now. While it's a great strength, there's also a huge weakness in it.

You're advocating the overall benefits of anti-social motives.

The great benefit is that it improves individual performance.

The huge weakness is that, above a certain level, it decreases group performance.

Let me clarify:

Below the treshold I agree that prioritizing some abstract 'feeling well together' allows M&S to drag the entire group below its potential.

Above it, not so. An efficient group is just that, a goup. It's by definition a social construct. You do indeed have a 'we' that performs well. The ability to perform well is actually enhanced by the ability of individual members to back away from personal gains 'for the better of the group'. However, that in itself depends entirely on said individual being able to see an even greater personal benefit from belonging to that group.

In WoW groups make results during the end-game, not individuals. The best groups are well oiled machines. The composition of such a machine is more important than the quality of each and every part of the machine. The sum is greater than the sum of the parts.

The machine is social, and thence needs social considerations. Those also include kicking M&S who refuse to be part of improving the machine. After all, kicking them is 'for the better of the group'.

Anonymous said...

gevlon said

"If we can prove nothing else than "you don't need voice to reach 2-3/7 HM""

This as already been proved, as a comenter said in a previous day, Nihilum now Ensidia raided all of BC with no VC and cleared it all before nerfs, so I dont really see what you are trying to prove here.

Is it that no VC will increase the skill cap of the average player?
If it's that, I can tell you that it wont, the skill will be just the same, it will only make them pay more attention to DBM warnings, something that can easily be done even with VC by just NOT calling warnings and what not, and still allowing for the RL to make adjustments on the fly and say assignments easier.

If on the other hand you have that stance so that there is no risk of social interaction in your guild I should say that I agree, since that was one of the stated purposes of your project, at least the way I perceived your stated intention was to simulate a trade PUG, a group with zero attachment to each other, because quite honestly all the rest is already done and has been done for quite a while.

Sry for any errors on text, English is not my first language.

Anonymous said...

I agree much more with this post than with the original play to win vs play for fun article. Improving my play is a strong motivation for me to play the game and also the reason why I don't use DBM or such addons.

"Gluth will cast decimate after 5 times enrage" or "there is half a second difference between Rune of Blood falling off and the re-application of the debuff", and such observations have made me the de facto "raid warning caller" on voice chat, even though I don't use timers, popups or anything.

Often times I see that people around me just don't see things, or don't have the capability of handling a situation without either DBM or me yelling to them on vent. It is clear that voice chat and addons improves the performance of the raid, but the skill of the players remains the same.

This especially shows in situations where either resource is not availible. If vent is not up, or right after a patch and DBM has not been updated, these players walk around like headless chickens and have no clue what they should be doing or what to watch out for.

They will never get anywhere in the race since like you said, they can only start participating once the race is aleady over...

Comp said...

I find this while idea rather interesting, as someone who played solidly since the EU launch and recently quit the game due to the tiresome onslaught of M&S and real life commitments hampering raiding 5 hours a night 5 nights a week (Guild was world top 100 before I called it a day) I may well be tempted to comeback and try out with your guys.

Sheldon said...

You already raid 5-7 nights a week, you've said, with 1.5 to 4.5 hours a night. You've got, what? 70 or 80 active raiders? And you're trying to recruit more. People in guilds like mine (1 or 2 nights a week, 15 raiders, explicitly social) aren't going to say "wow, they went 2/7 heroic this patch while we only did 4/7 (or whatever). We should jettison Teamspeak too!" Instead, it'll be more like "That many more man-hours than us and that's all they got? Wonder how much farther they could've gone if they used voice chat."

If your goal is to persuade doubters that you're right about voice chat, you're going to need a better argument.

Anonymous said...

"Yet normal mode guilds use voice chat, which can mean nothing else but boosting."

This is where you will never convinve me (and many others).

If you have 10 raiders of (roughly) equal skill there is no "boosting" by the definition of "boosting" (= stonger players carrying weaker players). Yet, 10 players of equal skill and proper use of voice chat will perform better than the same 10 people without.

And this is true for almost all levels of difficulty. The only difference is that some content is so trivial that the advantage of voice chat is just neglible. 4/7 normal mode 10 man raids this late of the patch falls in that category.

Anonymous said...

This non communication project is not goblinish but rather it is elitist and thus social.

You are refusing to use a tool that is available to help you succeed. You are, in essence, saying "We are good enough that we don't need voice chat like you do". This is an elitist ego driven stance to take. It is thus social.

A true goblin will use whatever tools are available in order to succeed in the quickest/easiest time.

Jack Le Maniac said...

Laughable comments.

Elitist thus social? Being an asocial Goblin doesn't prevent him to be elitist. Gevlon's ideas are elitist in nature. For him, Elite (those who work and do not leech) are those who should decide, and children (those who leech or do jack shit) should not be taken in consideration, yet allowed to live, but not to vote or take decisions.

Thinking in the interest of society is actually Goblinish. No goblin would make a profit in a society where everyone was poor. In fact, a Goblin must be concerned about society, since without society, he could not be a Goblin.

Gevlon has Elitist ideals he would like implemented in the world. Elitist is necessary social? I don't think so. The Elite, those who lead the world, are not social.

They are definitly cold, ruthless people. Politicians will tear each other to shreds without an inch of respect. Why? Because if one concedes the other is right, the other will use that against him so people think that "Wow, even his opponent said X politician is right, X must be good /vote X ".

That's pretty much why Elite, those who make systems and manage systems (in society of course) are definitly asocial.

Anonymous said...

Why voice chat? Why not DBM (or any of the other addons that make raiding and playing in general so much easier)? Why not raid without reading walkthroughs and watch videos? I remember when reading walkthroughs for games was actually considered cheating. I never heard anybody call voice chat cheating.

"Voice chat allows more skilled players to call out switches, warnings, tips to worse players."

Your can replace "voice chat" with "raid chat" here (and basically in all your posts) and it stays as true (or false). So do you forbid any written communication during boss fights and only allow raid chat for organization inbetween (loot distribution etc.)?

"When you know you are not in the league you want to be, you must improve and to do so, you must restrict yourself from using loopholes. Not because they are "cheap", but because they won't be there in the real game."

And why again would voice chat not be there in the "real game"?

Anonymous said...

What would be interesting is to take 9 people who have not raided a specific raid or 2. This could even involve going backwards in expansions and requiring people to remove gear to increase the difficulty.

Raid instance A. Without voice chat you attempt to kill at least 3 bosses for the week. Record the results like who died where and how.

Raid instance B. With voice chat you attempt to kill 3 bosses for the week. Record the results.

After the reset you could do one of 2 things now. Run each raid like you did before and look at improvements/failures or swap communication types for each and look for improvements/failures. With the same group you may be able to see if they function better under voice chat or if they are able to increase their skills with no voice chat.

Of course finding 9 other people who have not raided a specific raid let alone 2 raids would be tough. You would end up with M&S and all sorts of wild characters but that sampling may provide the best result as you would want to see if they improve as a group and as an individual.

Anonymous said...

Voice chat may make lazy people too. If I know someone is going to call something out then I stop watching for it. Poor performance on my part. I think it will always help the hard core raiders but for everyone else it situational to the group they are raiding with. Sometimes forcing someone to pay attention all the time will cause them to see things they missed before.

Anonymous said...

Your "play to improve" is not a third way, it's merely a subset of "play to win".

Play to win uses all tools necessary to "win". If your skill is too low (yet) to win, you need to use measures to increase your skill. One way to increase your skill is repeating easy test-cases that you know you can beat and make them artifically harder.

The question though is: before introducing artifical difficulty, why don't you use the naturally more difficult cases to train on?

I.e. if you are 4/7 normal modes, what makes you think that players learn more from not using voice chat over training the 5th boss until they have figured out how to use their brain to beat it?

Jon said...

People, stop trying to make the claim that "group X with voice chat will do better than group X without voice chat." Gevlon has already made it very clear this is NOT what he is trying to prove. If you haven't comprehended this, perhaps you need to RE READ THE ARTICLE.

kaidash said...

Gevlon, sirlin already has written about the 'playing to improve'

You haven't really covered any sort of new ground here, just basically restated it and framed it slightly differently.

Plus, you've misinterpreted the playing to win mindset (as presented by sirlin) imo.

For example, you suggest cheating (by stealing the exam answers) is a reasonable method if you're playing to win in an exam, but sirlin says that 'So what lengths should a player go to in order to win? A player should use any tournament legal move available to him that maximizes his chances of winning the game.' (For the purposes of this analogy, just pretend that game = exam, and winning = getting a good grade)

So, cheating in an exam couldn't possibly be considered a 'legal move', and as such does is not a legitimate thing to do, even with a playing to win mindset.

WoWMidas said...

"Yet normal mode guilds use voice chat, which can mean nothing else but boosting."

again we're back to

interdependent > independent > dependent

One person - or several - helping others doesn't necessarily mean boosting. As many have pointed out, people's inbound information inputs vary and are limited; not everyone can see everything.

VC is just a tool, plain and simple, but an extremely effective tool - one that allows players OF ALL SKILL LEVELS to perform better, all else equal. Of course if they get lazy and substitute VC for knowledge the results may be worse. Durr.

Denying audio queues is undeniably giving up the opportunity to be more effective and efficient.

It has been scientifically demonstrated that straight out reading is one of the least effective ways of learning content.

You're basically saying, "The only real-time queues people should be allowed are those they can discern themselves." A completely unnecessary straightjacket.

And the "play to improve" excuse is a copout. All you prove is that

independent > dependent

While shying away from

interdependent > independent > dependent

where the sum of a group's efforts and skills - folks doing their best to make sure the *group* succeeds despite weak links (and there are ALWAYS weak links: half the group is below average, I guarantee), can accomplish much more than a group where no one gets queues from anyone else, and where some arbitrary bar is set (M&S below it, non-M&S above it).

Seems stubborn to me.

WoWMidas said...


No one is claiming that

Communication > Skill

That's a strawman.

So what's the point of trying to prove

Skill > Communication?

Take a poll, see who disagrees with that? What's to prove?

All this really proves is a commitment to "Underperform"

Anonymous said...

Seeing as this Jinchu has been inactive for over four months, shouldn't he be kicked out of the guild? Doesn't seem every "anti-social" to favor some over others when it comes to /gkicking.

Lyxi said...

This whole Voice Chat debate is laughable.

Gevlon is against voice chat because it is 'social'. Gevlon was against gearscore because it was 'social'.

If the above weren't true, Gevlon would make some extra projects. Like:

"Underaddoned"; "Underbossmodded"; "Underraidchatted"; "Undertacticswatched"; "Undergemmed"; "Underenchanted" and so on and so forth.

The only difference between all of those and Voice Chat/Gear is that all of the above are asocial 'boosting' schemes, while Voice Chat is a 'social boosting' method.

Gevlon just likes rationalizations that fit his view on the world.

All the above methods rely on self-improvement, or so would Gevlon would like you to think.

Only not quite. The addon maker is boosting you when you use Healbot. The DBM/Bigwigs maker is boosting you when you listen to their warnings. The tankspot guy/girl is boosting you when you watch their movies. The EJ theorycrafter is boosting you when you read about what gems/enchants to use.

But the raid leader gets burnt out! Well so do the EJ theorycrafter, the tankspot guy, the addon writer, but no one cares about them. Out of sight, out of mind, right, Gevlon?

The only difference between them is because one is 'social' (you recognise the RL as some 'cuul dud' who does your work for you) while one is 'asocial' (nobody recognises the other parties, such advice being free and all around us like water, air, electricity and internet access. - NB: may contain traces of sarcasm.)

So there: Boosting is ok as long as you don't know the guy who boosts you. Because as soon as you do, it's a crime and such bevaviour must be stamped out. True story.


Pheredhel said...

@Gevlon:Actually, you may be able to prove a very interesting Point there.
Something you might consider to put as the "Big Theory behind the Experiments"

First: stop claiming Skill > Gear or Skill > Voice...

Actually most likely M&S are right if they claim they lack the gear for the Bosskill.

Sounds strange? It isn't.

1. Assume Bosskill = Skill + Gear + Communication

2. You show that you can do it without Gear and Communication by having superior skill.

They are right : with gear with double the Stats, they could kill the boss.
Ofcourse, that would make the boss trivially easy for most.

So, what do you show? You show, that the people who "need more gear" are not skilled and (at least for M&S) can't improve their skill.

Communicating it like this allows for a very interesting conclusion:
If they need better gear than what drops, they have no skill!

And it's even a completely valid (and well founded) Statement.
Maybe this is what you really try to prove.

Armond said...

@Pheredhel: But Gevlon already proved before starting the Undergeared project that gear has a markedly smaller effect on stats than most m&s believe.

Now, it's been a while since I unsubscribed (that was in January 2010, to be specific, near the end of Wrath), but I do remember now to wowhead. Let's compare some basic cloth chestpieces for a dps caster (in this case I've pidgeonholed us into a mage, but it makes little difference). Grinding out a shitload of JPs nets you 39 int, 16 crit, and 36 haste over doing heroic halls of origination. Granted, given your luck you may or may not have the JPs before the robe drops, but the point still stands - and doing the troll quests instead of grinding JPs gets you a similarly small upgrade over that blue.

Now, if that same mage is eyeing heroic t12, that's a bit of a different story... but it's still not a ridiculous upgrade. 158 int and 2.11% hit is important, but by that time you're downing HM 4/7 and are (hopefully) simply looking to perfect your gear, not make your gear adequate for the content.

Jon said...


Actually yes, that statement has reared its ugly head a few times already on this comments page. Not sure how you missed it.

Gevlon is not out to prove that raiding with VC is better than raiding without. Of course it's a strawman. Now if only everyone else would get that.