Monday, February 15, 2010

How the Casual Gamer Has Ruined World of Warcraft

Your Gearscore Sucks

We see it all the time in trade chat. Such and so raid is looking for more people to join, BUT... you have to have some outrageous gearscore. For those who are are new to achieving level 80 or haven't played the game but for only a few months, this might seem perfectly alright. However, what you don't know is that the game was never heavily gear dependent. I will be going over how the game has changed and for the worse. I will go over what was expected of a raider; how people achieved great gear; and how skill ruled the game.

Before Gearscore Was Even a Word

There was a time when they had not cracked the gearscore code. People had to rely on other things to determine if someone was worthy of going on a raid. What did they rely on you ask?

  • the reputation of the person that was hopeful to go on a raid
  • looking at their gear and knowing the class of the person and how the gear perfectly matched the person's class
  • only guilds went on raids, there were no such things as PUGs
Let's go over each of these points in depth. I will show you how removing this system in a game that relies on its own social aspect to make for a better experience of everyone. I will also compare some much harder games to the current system.

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Your Reputation Could Make or Break you

Back when WoW was much much smaller, people had reputations and you were made or broken by your actions in World of Warcraft. That meant if you ninjad something, you really did get black balled from any possible raiding or getting into a guild. You would be kicked out of a guild if you did anything that ruined your reputation and hence the reputation of the guild. You were also put on a list by the more experienced guilds as a persona non grata.

You could go to a message board and see posts about people that did things that were disreputable. That meant that not only were you outed to your guild, but everyone on the server, and the whole game, actually the world since it's on the internet. This was especially true of serious offenses, like ninjaing in a raid. Even if you were stupid, it was considered bad, like a hunter rolling on something that is perfectly suited for a tank or healer.

With the current changes, people no longer care about reputation. Why? Because gear is ridiculously easy to come by and you can simply kick someone and get a new idiot to take their place.

When a Guild Master Was Capable of Looking at Your Gear to Determine Your Skill

WoW has always had obscure gear rules to challenge the player to think outside the box when gearing themselves. What am I talking about? I'm talking about a paladin wearing cloth. I'm talking about a hunter wearing leather. I'm talking about a tank wielding rogue weapons.

If you didn't know your class sufficiently to understand these slight nuances in the game, you would seriously under gear your character and do less damage, or generate less threat or heal for less.

It was the excellent guild master that knew every class in the game to such and extent that he could look at your gear and tell that you knew nothing about both your class and specialization. I was once applying for a guild and they asked that I have "good gear". I got the beast gear I could at the time which were not only blues, but blues that were better than epic gear. When the guild master called to inspect me, he knew I had the beast gear and knew they were pieces that were not easy to get. So in blues and a couple of greens I was invited into the guild to be a raider.

Why do I include that story? Because raid leaders and guild masters of today would not know that a blue out of some obscure dungeon was better than a beginning epic. Today they would dismiss you out of hand and probably put you on their ignore list.

But could a guild master know you had skill by looking at your gear? Yes! If you knew your class so well that you were wearing obscure blues and greens that were focused on some aspect of your specialization, the guild master knew two things:
  • you knew your class to an elite status
  • you knew your spec to an elite status
It is highly improbable that someone with such an integral knowledge of their class could be unskilled at the game. You can't get to intimate knowledge of your class without knowing the skill to use it.

When You Had to Join a Guild to Raid

There was always this separation of the game into two groups: the casual gamer; the hardcore raider. To be a hardcore raider you needed to be in a guild. A hardcore raider schedules his life around raid time and the raid is scheduled around everyone's life. To be invited to a guild meant that you agreed to raid at their raid time. There was no way to get into a raid without first being in a guild. No one wanted to raid with someone:
  • they did not know
  • that did not know their class
  • that did not know the raid
  • that had a bad reputation
Remember one fine point. And, this is a fine point that escapes new players of World of Warcraft. Gear that was more powerful than the instance you were raiding was unheard of. It was only after raiding for months that a guild could finally breath easy and do an instance without any trouble. It was only then that they would start PUGs.

The casual gamer simply played the game for fun; didn't have time to play for long periods; didn't have every day to play; didn't want to invest time into a single task that might take him months to accomplish.

However, it has been the casual gamer that has been the loudest about his lack of raiding and / or gear.

The Beginning of the End

Blizzard is in the business of making money, not making a better game. Normally the two are opposite. In its infinite wisdom, Blizzard started listening to the casual gamer.
  • casual gamers wanted to raid
  • casual gamers wanted the epic gear
  • casual gamers wanted the tier gear
  • casual gamers wanted to not think about what gear to get to fit their class
With all of these demands Blizzard slowly changed the game to be easier and easier. At first these changes only affected the lower level. The end game was still held in reserve to those who were serious about the game. Blizzard reasoned that they must make the beginning game much easier for everyone to understand and therefore enjoy and purchase a subscription.

Due to their changes of making getting to the end game easier, more and more casual gamers achieved the highest level in the game. Then you had a much larger population of people that did not know their class and who did not raid. Blizzard finally changed the end game to be easier and easier.

People went from raiding Naxxramus in blues, to requiring people to be in epics coming into Naxx. They quickly forgot that Naxx was the first instance that dropped epics at all.

With this mindset the entire game went down hill. People started requiring higher and higher gearscores to do content that did not require it.

Gearscore the Straw That Broke the Camels Back

Finally the addon gearscore came out. You could now look at someone and determine what their gear's level was. You could also check online and get their gearscore. Gone was the necessity of the raid leader or guild master to know the game so much that they could look at your gear and determine your skill.

It has been a failure on the parts of the raid leaders and guild masters to depend on gearscore. I have found that gearscore is useless. I was in a basic heroic instance with a mage that had a gearscore of 5400. He pulled 1.5k dps. End of story. I have been in regular instances where the healer dripping in epics let the tank die, along with the rest of the party. Gearscore is useless.

Be that as it may, the changes Blizzard has made is akin to gold sellers. Once people start buying gold, they can then buy all the best gear that Bind on Equip. Once people have access to this, then people see that more of the population is walking around in much higher gear. They then come to expect everyone to have higher gear. This is effectively what Blizzard has done. They have made it easier for people to equip higher gear and so people expect higher gear from everyone.

The end result is that terrible players are walking around in pristine gear. Now no one knows who is a joy to play with and who is and absolute nightmare. I expect it will only get worse. Unless the new expansion makes the player concentrate on the skill aspect of the game, I see no possible way to fix this. You will end up with very frustrated end game players that want the casual gamers to go away and Blizzard wanting everyone to enjoy the full content of the game.

All that being said, the very end game instances still require skill. You cannot get around it. Being dressed up, still does not account for skill. I think it is going to be a big disappointment when the casual gamer gets dressed in the highest gear possible only to find that their skills do not match the gear they are in.

I say go back to reserving Player vs Environment equipment for those that acquire it in raids only and leave the non-skilled players to do player vs player games.

We just had a player join our guild raid dressed in full pvp gear and he had the same gearscore as my healer paladin. After a couple of fights it was found he healed 1/3rd of what I healed. He was removed promptly and someone else was invited. The only reason he was invited was because of his gearscore.

You might be saying "he's in pvp gear though." Other than adding the "resilience" stat to his gear, all of his gear was gemed better than mine and he had far superior spell power than my paladin. He was just a terrible player. He had no idea of what to do in a raid, nor how to heal.

Gearscore is useless. You could buy gold in the game and end up with 200,000 gold and simply go the the AH and buy full crafted gear that could put your into nose bleed gearscore overnight. Who would know? They would simply look at the gearscore and take you into their raids. Then find out your skill is zero.

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Anonymous said...

/salute I stumbled on this I was once well known on my server as a High Warlord. Created a guild with people who had never raided, but myself coming from an AQ40 guild eventually teaching them to raid and step into Old Naxx. Now many of those people are the top of my old server. I truly miss the skill required for raids and PvP alike. Steamrolling other premades in WSG or sometimes 4 hour games deadlocked till the final cap. Timing heals without spamming aoe, breaking fear, being a good warrior able to multi-tank without aoe abilities and hold aggro. Build aggro and fight for it with other warriors and my favorite in pvp, deadzones. Now the game is so sad a bunch of useless idiots running around with instant abilities spamming keys. Most key pivot can't strafe or kite, or time anything for that matter. I remember farming DM for mindtap talismans for shamans in my guild and doing Mara for NR gear for aq lol. Skill and dedication went hand in hand, going to raids with nr pots, tubers, and any elixir or flask imaginable. The kids these days don't know the meaning of raid. I am glad to see there are other Vanilla wow players out there that miss those old days.

Anonymous said...

Can't say I agree or disagree with you. See I pull 7k dps on my rogue with only a gear score of 4500. On top of that I have NEVER been nothing more then a casual gamer playing about 10 hours a week total since pre-tbc. You make a good point however and there are some points that make sense.

Thing is not everyone has the ability to put their normal life on hold so that they can go do a raid, some of us work two jobs at over 70 hours a week. We pay the same amount of money as you "Hardcore Gamers" but just because we dont dedicate our lives to the game we should not miss out on end game content. Blizzard obviously see's this and has made certain things geared more towards the casual gamer for that reason, because if they kept it for the more hardcore players they would not make as much money.

What has been done for all of you players out there who complain about the game being easy is a little something called "Heroic Mode" which can now be done in both 10 and 25 man. In this mode you need to know your class/roll and the raid itself. On top of all that you get even better gear to drop out of those instances.

So instead of bitching about you not being the only person on the server in epics anymore. Or the fact that other people out there who can only play from time to time are now enjoying the end game content, maybe you should get into a guild that does heroic 25 man mode...but I guess that would make too much sense. Oh and instead of blogging about your QQ's get enough people to bother blizzard about bringing back 40 man raids for you super elitists so that you can spend 30+ hours a week in the game trying to beat it.

Oh and if you don't like what I have to say, well maybe you shouldn't have voiced your opinion on the internet.

Shakaama said...

I have come up with a new category: Casual Fanboy. It's the casual gamer that whines so much, that Blizzard listens, yet only plays once a week, but defends Blizzard's choice to change the game for them, with their dying breath.

Awww, ain't that precious?

But seriously.

Cool story bro. And yes i posted your comment. I'm not afraid of you :P

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