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Monday, April 11, 2011

Call to Care, or Failure Thereof

/sigh. Yeah another post about the Call to Arms thing. Go read about it, if you truly have been living under a rock.

I've been trying to form an opinion on it, but every time I go to write something, I keep trying to come up with an alternative solution. And I keep arriving to the same conclusion. I can't solve this thing.

World of Warcraft is becoming a victim of it's own success. Many people hold that opinion, and we're starting to see the cracks. Blizzard are seeing it too. Dissatisfied subscribers walking away, because it's no longer fun, queue times for anything are too long, and players who have been with the game for several years are moving on with other games, or other stages in their own lives.

Here a a few of the random thoughts I've had, when I've gone to compose a response, or provide a quick comment to any of the other blogs that have posted a thing or two on the matter.

My first character through to 60 in vanilla was a tank. Pathak! He was always a reluctant tank. Spec'd for Arms nearly the whole time, because Prot couldn't cut for soloing or battle grounds, tanking those lower level bosses was a big deal. However, once on top of things, it became enjoyable, especially in the guild run environment. Being the only tank in an instance gave a sense of achievement. Any old mage can pull agro, but the tank is the only one to take it from several mobs at once, and gets to move the angry crowd around the small amount of space available, to steer clear of the crowd controlled mobs.

Tanking was fun, but you needed to trust your healer to keep you up, your healer needed to trust you to use your mitigation, and you needed to trust the DPS to keep up crowd control. I guess those were the basics of the group mechanic. That lasted through to TBC. WotLK did away with the crowd control, somewhat, and it just became an AoE-fest. I've got no idea with Cataclysm because I never ended up running an instance. The thought of learning a whole bunch of boss fights, outside of a guild environment, and putting up with the shenanigans of the anonymous LFD drolls was too much.

In TBC, I levelled a pally, and he (Colerejuste) went on to run Kara until he was blue in the face, exalted in the rep and then a bit more, as a healer. Healing was fun. In WotLK, I did quite a bit of druid healing, but just heroics.

Now, when I read that there are not enough tanking signing up for the LFD tool, I'm not surprised. If you're in a guild, and you're working on raid content, why on earth would you put yourself through the pain of a PuG, for anything. There's the AH and guild perks for gold, a bit of casual farming for consumables. You can do guild runs for practice. Who would rather run a PuG than a guild run? No many folks, but perhaps a lot more DPS players than tanks and healers (apparently).

There might be a solution for this, but I don't know where you'd find it.

Change the composition of the group. Swap two of those pure DPS roles to dedicated crowd control and support roles. Sure they do a bit of damage, but the benefits they bring to the group with those roles are required. But there we go.. we just bought the role, not the player. You won't find this solution in the World of Warcraft.

Perhaps a new faction that only gives rep when you use the LFD tool solo. That's about as useful as a goody bag.

Gah, and there I go, looking for solutions to a problem that is as deep seeded as the nature of the players themselves. Players, and I guess tanks in particular, just aren't going to run content they don't find enjoyable. They're certainly not going to with a random group if they don't have to.

I think one of the options might be to even out the population who are actually using the LFD tool. Bring on the battle mage who absorbs and channels received damage to imbued objects or other players in the group. Perhaps a similar things for warlocks, but they channel the damage to their pets (that demonic rock sure can take some damage). The avoidance taunting rogue, and the hunter with his battle chicken. If you've got a population of DPS players that far exceeds the population of tanks who are actually sticking around for the LFD tool, then perhaps you need to enable some of those DPS players to be tanks.

But that's not WoW, that's another game... that doesn't have a LFD tool, and doesn't have cross server instancing. And I really hope it never does. I'd rather see realms merge than enable that enable that sort of functionality that seems to bring out the worst in some players.

In the end, I'm a casual observer in the World of Warcraft. I've moved on, I'm enjoying the show from the side lines. I heard the Call to Arms, and I failed. I abandoned. Maybe I'll pick it up in the next expansion.

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