WoW Roundup: Returning, Riot And (More) Reputation

What’s that? WoW blogging? Nope, can’t round it up now – I’m too busy grinding reputation…

Kidding aside, whilst the reputation debate is still in full flow, there’s more going on with WoW than just that:

  • Matticus thoughtfully joins the bloggers suggesting that Blizzard might want to take a long hard look at League of Legends’ anti-asshole systems“There’s no actual incentive here. There’s no access to free champions. There’s no additional skins. None of that. It’s just a simple point based system to rank other players based on their degree of helpfulness which is divided into 4 categories”
  • Lono responds to Kurn’s “Why I’m Leaving” series with an article on why he came back“You don’t play an MMO multiple years without loving something fundamental about it. “
  • Typhoon Andrew wonders whether endless rep/Valor grinds, whilst hard work for endgame, might be entirely appropriate for the Legendary chain“While I think the grind itself around gearing with Valor is poor in Pandaria, I’m all for the Legendary being brutally punishing, the harder they are the better.”
  • And Matthew Rossi looks at ways that the Reputation system could be and has been improved“As an insanely old bearded madman it is fair to say that I have dragged my ancient, grumbling carcass from expansion to expansion, finding various ways to get various groups to like me (often via the application of murdering pixels or collecting pixels off of murdered pixels) and I have always come to loathe the groups I’ve gained rep with along the way.”

I really hope that Blizzard do look at something like the League of Legends Honor system. Indeed, I have an idea or two on ways it could be implemented into the game – might be time for an editorial…

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Controversy Watch: Asshats, Dailies, and Is LFR Required

It’s that time again – time to look at the controversial topics currently spurring discussion in the MMORPG world!

Today we’ve got more about unpleasant players, dailies, and the “Is LFR Required?” question…

The Dailies Of MoP

Dailies, dailies, and more dailies – but are we still hating them?

  • Shy is annoyed, but not because of the effort – she’s annoyed about the lack of choice of activities to get Lucky Charms“Why not allow people to gain lesser charms by pvping? Or get a lesser charm through Scenarios? I love those scenarios, but the rewards are somewhat meager at the moment. And since I only have limited time to spend in the game I don’t get to do scenarios nearly as much as I would prefer. Instead I spend time doing stuff I don’t enjoy much.”
  • And Big Bear Butt has cracked, started doing the dailies – and discovered that to his astonishment, he loves them“But for story and playing and fun, the structure of the Klaxxi have been the one element I have enjoyed the most, right from the beginning and stayed with me as the faction has continued to grow.”

Unpleasant Players

It’s an eternal topic of discussion, in WoW in particular, thanks to the LFD tool – and this week, the “what to do about asshole players” discussion has reared once again –

  • We don’t normally link WoW Insider Breakfast Topics, but Robin Torres’ question about PuGing gathered some fascinating responses“It is definitely much more personal in a 5-man group. That’s certain. It’s not “you all suck,” but “you suck, Laurel.” If I’m really not doing well, there are better ways to tell me, obviously. More often, however, the blamer is the one with the problem.”
  • And Kurn, who has recently quit WoW, points to one commenter as an example of how her values don’t seem to match with many WoW players’ today“Not only do I have very little in common with the vast majority of the playerbase in terms of how they approach their character and their play, but the vitriol displayed in his comment, especially his parting words, just reinforces to me that the vast majority of players out there aren’t people with whom I care to associate.”

Is LFR Required?

And finally, the topic of yesterday was LFR, and whether it’s actually required for raiders – and a raid leader responds:

  • The Grumpy Elf explains why, in his opinion and his guild, LFR play is absolutely required for his raiders“Raiding is a team event, one that everyone should contribute to. Doing the LFR is you learning the plays from the playbook. Any decent team player at least checks the plays out before showing up for the game. “

What do you think of all this? Let us know in the comments below!

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Asshats, Enjoying the PUG pain and Henry V in WoW: The Friday WoW Roundup

It’s been a comparatively quiet week in WoW, but with new raids coming, a new patch on the way and several bloggers returning, I suspect it might become much more active soon! In the meantime, though, here are some peaceful WoW posts from this week – along with one very positive crusade:

  • Navimie is declaring open season on asshats, after several instances of bullying that made her worry nightmare players would end up ruling WoW“What I am afraid of is that people are scared of the bullies and sway towards them.”
  • In contrast, Spinks takes a surprising stance this week, talking about how much she loves the undergeared, uncertain days with a character in PuGs“I know not everyone likes excitement or that skin of the teeth feeling, but I do enjoy the learning curve.”
  • Redbeard asks if the Cross Realm Zones are doing their job, as he surveys zone after low-level zone empty of players“Let’s call the cross-server zones what they really are: Lowbie Server Merges. They’re indicative of an increasingly visible problem that WoW has: most of the toons are at or close to max level, and there’s a lack of new blood coming into the game.”
  • And Bravetank reinterprets Henry V’s famous “once more unto the breach” speech for a more Pandarian age“Once more unto the breach, dear Alliance, once more; Or close the wall up with our Human dead. In peace there’s nothing so becomes a Night Elf as modest stillness and humility (and less nonsense chat about Elune)”

Unfortunately, I think Navimie may be right about assholes driving people away from WoW – I know I basically have no intention to run an LFD or LFR in WoW ever again without a 90% guild presence, and from what I’ve been reading, I’m not the only one. I wonder if this, in the end, is what will sunset WoW as a major MMORPG – not ending with a bang, but a steady stream of “lolnub l2p”?

What do you think? Do you love or hate PUGs? Are CRZs doing their job?

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Is LFR the new LFD? Has information ruined raiding? And is LFD the reason we can’t have nice things?

There’s a loose thread running through a number of posts today – a wondering about where WoW is going, and a dissatisfaction with the nature of the various Looking For… tools as they are now.

The Grumpy Elf kicks it all off with an idea I’d not even considered – that LFR will, over time, eclipse and replace LFD. He follows that up with a solid series of arguments demonstrating that for almost every purpose, the LFR environment beats LFD

“Can something protect anonymity and be more social both at the same time? Damn straight it can. While the people that just want to stay in the shadows can do so in the looking for raid setting a lot easier then they can in a five man, the person that wants to be the center of attention can be so more easily in the 25 man setting then they can in the 5 man setting. They have more people to talk to and more people to look at them and we know they want everyone to look at them. Social people want to be noticed and what better way for them to be noticed then to have 24 others trapped in a room with them.

For social people the LFR is a great fit for them.”

Interestingly, Grumpy’s most telling arguments center around anonymity and social elements. He successfully argues both that LFD offers a greater chance to avoid griefing and abuse for most classes – and that brings us on to our next post…

Big Bear Butt, meanwhile, has been chatting with friends who enjoy WoW, but aren’t familiar with the ecosystem of sites, guides, and recommendations that many hardcore players feel are “needed” to play the game (an interesting echo of the discussion about addons that’s still raging in the comments). And that conversation leads him on to thinking about how he used to play WoW, without websites to rely on, and what that information ecosystem has done to the game’s community

“You know what’s funny? For a long time now, gear upgrades and drops have not excited me.

Each new piece of loot has represented an increased possibility that I will not suffer abuse for my performance at the hands of complete strangers in a random group using specs and gear builds they read off the internet, pulling for me or on the wrong target, assuming any mistake is the fault of anyone but them.

And along the way I have had to remember that, if my choice of upgrade is not the approved item “as seen on TV”, I can get shit for that as well, and I have to be prepared to justify my choice with reason and logic.

And be ready to take shit for it anyhow. /ignore is your friend, until it is full.”

Obviously, both the Melting Pot and BBB himself are or have been part of that same information ecosystem, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with doing so. Indeed, the messages of thanks we get every day make me darn proud to write guides that help people out .

But nonetheless, WoW is part of a huge information network that’s unprecedented in the history of gaming, and the results of that network are… unexpected. And, unfortunately, where there’s information, there are idiots who overvalue it, and are willing to heap abuse on anyone not singing from the same hymnsheet as them – even if they are (as they usually are, in my experience) partially to completely wrong.

Which brings us, finally, to Darraxus The Warrior, who today writes an angry and personal post relating his experience taking his wife – someone who doesn’t normally participate in the LFD environment – into an LFD run

“Then he goes on a rant linking a few of the blue items my wife is wearing. Last I checked, you do not need full epics to get into the instance. He just kept going and going. Unforunately, the vote to kick was on cooldown because we had to kick a tank who DCed immediately after we zoned it.

It is not like they were doing terrible DPS. They were both doing between 12 and 13.5k DPS, which is more than enough for these instances.

The whole situation literally made my wife cry. In real life. This is the reason why I never had her do LFG instances. People can be douchebags. It was a new encounter, her gear and DPS was plenty sufficient, and some asshat decided that it was his mission to make someone feel like shit.”

No matter what the cause might be, when a game is causing encounters like the one Darraxus describes, it’s pretty clear the situation isn’t ideal.

Will LFR change things for the better? Can ANYTHING change WoW, or MMOs, to make them a less hostile place?

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The best way yet to deal with morons on LFD

I’ve discovered the best method yet for reducing the impact of morons on my MMO group play.

The problem, of course, is not that everyone who joins a PUG is a asshole, whether through the LFD tool in WoW, recruitment in DDO, or presumably some kind of spreadsheet-based market arbitrage in EVE. Clearly, the vast majority of players in WoW are varying degrees of OK. Maybe more competent, maybe less, but basically OK.

Let’s assume that none of us are tragic cases of social maladjustment, and we don’t believe we’re the few shining lights in a sea of idiocy.

However, it’s equally undeniable that we’re going to epically fail to get on with some of the WoW-playing world. Whether it’s the PvP player who starts shouting abuse because we use the “big letters and dots” when talking, or the elitist asshole who starts the run with “tank haz 4.3k gs lol ur gear sux”, they’ve got the ability to ruin a run. And sometimes it seems like they fill the WoW world.

(The “big letters and dots” thing is a true story – one PUGger apparently found the use of capital letters and full stops deeply offensive.).

Why? Well, it’s pretty simple. Say we’ve got 15%, approximately 1 in 7, of the WoW playing world who are really going to get on our nerves. And when we run an LFD, we’re grouped with 4 other random people. That makes it almost 5050 (47.5%, if you want exact figures) that we’re going to end up with a tool in the group. Sometimes we’ll end up with more than one.

And thanks to a couple of well-documented flaws in human memory retention, not helped by the lack of reward or permanent record for meeting good players, that’s going to mean we end up feeling like all our groups are filled with idiots.

However.

The number of people we’d need to eliminate from the system is actually pretty small. If we can take out 23 of the morons somehow, or stop them from affecting our play, we’re suddenly looking at better than 4 in 5 chances that our groups will basically be OK. And cognitively, that’s a much nicer place to be.

The System

As soon as you decide anyone in your group is saying things which annoy you, say in party or raid chat “I’m putting PLAYERNAME on ignore, for REASON. Please let me know if he/she says anything I need to know about”.

Then, stick ’em on ignore.

That’s it.

I guarantee 70% increased peace of mind on runs, or your money back.

So the question is – why does it work? It’s a bit of a psychological trick, combining the best bits of votekicking and /ignore without comment.

Votekicking is the ultimate sanction, of course, short of using a RealID exploit to find the other guy’s name and going round to his house with a bat. But it’s got a few problems. For starters, it needs concensus, and that’s scary – if you try to votekick someone and it doesn’t work, it feels, conciously or subconciously, like the group’s just sided with them rather than you. And it’s a pretty major step, too – you’re removing the guy’s chance of completing the dungeon, having a pretty significant effect on his day, and if you’ve got any kind of empathy, that means you’ll not do it unless something feels really serious.

And the problem is that humans are also infamously bad at estimating actual effects of stimuli on their happiness. Small things, particularly interpersonal conflict, have a huge effect (see also Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintainance on the importance of fixing dripping taps). So we grit our teeth and put up with the guy who keeps making gay jokes, when we’d be much happier just to rub him out of our minds.

Finally, of course, you’ve got the problem that if you votekick a moron, there’s no guarantee the next guy won’t be worse. Hence we put up with the guy who’s only sort of pissing us off, because the next one might be a total nightmare. Another well-documented cognitive fail there, and the reason why it’s possible to make money on the stock market to boot.

Ignoring, meanwhile, doesn’t get used all that much, again for fairly understandable psychological reasons. Firstly, it introduces a wierd and unnatural social situation into the group. You can’t hear someone, but no-one else knows that, and it’s possible to conjure up all sorts of negative consequences from that. Silent ostracism, not fully participating in the group, is fairly seriously taboo in most societies, and so we find it hard to do.

At the same time, ignoring someone doesn’t allow us an important component of what our psyche needs after we’ve been upset or offended by something. We don’t get to express our anger. It’s silent, inoffensive, doesn’t have an impact on the person who’s upset us. If we’ve just been stung by something, our brains are crying out to say something. So we don’t use /ignore because on some deep level, it doesn’t satisfy our needs.

We could argue back, of course, start slinging insults ourselves. Let’s face it, we all know that doesn’t work very well. As any good self-defence instructor will tell you, argument mostly just leads to escalation, and that’s how we end up with the DPS who runs into the next four groups and wipes the dungeon, or the shouting match that leaves us feeling bad for the rest of the day. Plus, everyone else has to listen to or engage with the argument, which sucks the fun for the entire group.

Hence, annouce and ignore – The System. It prevents most of the problems of arguing – it allows us to express our anger, but avoids the possibility of engaging with a response, thus effectively de-escalating the situation. It brings the situation to the attention of the group, removing the silent ostracism stigma. And it removes the idiot from our conciousness; it’s hard to explain the effect that has, but I’ve tried it a couple of times with a friend also in the group who wasn’t using The System, and the difference between our moods at the end of the run was pretty startling.

Of course, sometimes other solutions are still needed. It seems to be pretty well accepted by now that if a DPS runs ahead and pulls, he or she deserves a swift votekick. Overaggroing DPS can, 90% of the time, be solved by letting them get on with the tanking – either they’ll stop overaggroing, they’ll deal with it themselves, or they’ll leave.

But the dripping tap of WoW is party chat. Unless it’s really egregious, insulting, abusive or just annoying conversation is a major drain on fun, and I’m really happy to have found a way to sort it out.

Concluding, though, something occurs to me here. Blizzard have put a hell of a lot of time into giving us tools to deal with assholes – ignores, votekicks, the new escalating cooldown on votekicking. But how much effort has been put into allowing us to celebrate, reward, and stay in touch with good players? No tools there at all.

I wonder why not?

And do you have any even better ways to reduce the impact of idiots or otherwise improve your playtime?

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