Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Call to Arms Discussion- a DPS Perspective

Ever since Blizzard's announcement of the new "Call to Arms" feature, I've been reading various blogs, threads, and in general arguments over the new feature. If you magically haven't heard about this new feature (Full text found here: Call to Arms Release Statement ) This feature kicks in when a queue time is taking to long and rewards the spec that is least represented in the queue, either tank, healer or dps. This "Satchel of Exotic Mysteries" can contain many rewards including flasks, gold, gems, and rarely minipets and dungeon drop mounts. What the majority of people are up in arms against is the fact that the majority of the time, the tank role is the least represented and occasionally the healer. It will almost never be a DPS role that will be eligible for the satchel.

In general, I've noticed a lot of the participants in these discussions have focused their arguments around "dps are the only ones at fault". A lot of peoples main arguments seem to be that the dps are causing everyones problems and ruining the game for everyone else. Some people don't even bother to specify they mean bad damage dealers, leaving one to hope they don't hate every dps class in the game! I'd like to remind everyone of one fact:

Bad DPS hurt good DPS as much as, if not more than, tanks and healers. 

Have you ever gotten into a group and immediately had some some go "Oh great, a freaking hunter", or whatever class you play? I have. Does this seem like a great way to start a group off? It's not very much fun to immediately have someone bash you and the class you enjoy, on top of knowing that that person is pretty much waiting for you to make one little mistake of any sort so that they can feel their opinion is justified. The trouble is, that person who said that had another group where they had a really bad player of your class. Maybe even a couple of bad groups! There's a reason why terms like 'huntard' exist. They don't give anyone the benefit of the doubt, they just assume based on the actions of an extremely small sampling of the classes group that all players of that class will be terrible. In any case, it's not a lot of fun to try and run a dungeon where people are expecting you to fail.

I think part of this problem is that Tanks and Healers get a more pinpointed sampling of the players available. When you queue as a tank say, you have the chance of getting ether/or a poor healer or dps'ers. As a healer, you have the chance of getting either/or a poor tank or dps'ers. When I role for a dungeon, I can get a cruddy tank, healer and/or DPS. A good tank never has to deal with the anarchy that having a bad tank in the group can cause, because they ARE the only tank. Same with the healer. The chance of one of those two roles coming up as a bad player for a tank or healer is much smaller then the chance of getting a bad dps or two simply because of the group makeup.

What's worse is that when a tank or healer leave the group in a fit of rage over a bad player, they leave several other players up a creek without a paddle. If I'm in a group that has a bad dps and the tank leaves, chances are it will be another five to ten minutes and least before I can get another tank to continue with. My groups usually fall apart before then. And even worse then having a tank or healer leave, is having one who is terrible at their job. Tanks and healers DO carry a lot of responsibility for how the dungeons will progress. When they are not solid on how to proceed, or do a poor job, it can cause just as much havoc or more then a poor dps.

The good dps out there are already far more punished by those few bad players then the tanks and healers.

Boosting one class role over the others is not the answer.

I can't really think of any situation where groups of people who should be equal and should work together towards a common goal have benefited from one group getting a better reward then the others. It breeds resentment. It breeds superiority conflicts. It breeds trouble.

Rather then trying to bribe the players into playing classes they don't like/want to play perhaps it would be better to try and solve the inherent issues with those classes that makes them unfun or undesirable to play? 

Inherent issues with the game...

So why IS it so hard to find a tank, and on occasion a healer?

Let start off with the most apparent problem- the DPS. I'll be the first to admit that a lot of dps out there are stupid! I've initiated many vote kicks while peeking out from around my facepalm. Whether they are impatient, careless, overconfident, new, or just plain dumb, poor DPS do cause a TON of problems. But WHY?

Firstly there are the true newbies. They've just bought the game and raced up to level 85 to play with their friends! Have you leveled a new toon recently? Leveling is insanely fast now, and thinking back to how fast I leveled Brunnstag when  I first caught the WoW bug, a new person who is fully enamored in the game is going to BLOW through levels like no other. With the LFG tool, finding groups for those low level dungeons are easy! Unfortunately, so are the dungeons. It takes no thought to blast through lower level dungeons, and this is up to and including the wrath instances. In fact, until you get up to the mid sixties, you don't even really need a tank. You can just plow through them with no CC of any sort, and little thought behind your actions. You have to seriously mess up to wipe. This teaches new players nothing and in no way prepares them for the challenge the Cataclysm dungeons will provide.

Redoing some of these low level dungeons to make them slightly more difficult would help immensely with the new player problem. It won't be "If I mash buttons as quickly as possible, I get rewarded with loot!"- instead it would be "If I work together with my group, I get rewarded with loot!". I'm not saying retooling all the dungeons to be as hard as Cata is, that's insane. And I know that no one wants to make their leveling time any longer then need be. But those low levels dungeons aren't just there to hand out loot; they're there to hep you learn your class, your class roles, and how to work with the variety of other classes. These are some of the places where you should learn to CC, LOS, Kite, how to pull groups safely, and how to manage your cooldowns, and manage them around the rest of the groups cooldowns. Not all at once in an endgame dungeon with impatient people who've already mastered these tactics.

Another issue is the very unforgiving nature of these heroics. There's barely any chance to learn these tactics during the general gameplay, but they are all very important in end game dungeons. On top of this, in the past, if you were a good tank, a good healer, or a good dps, and a mistake happened, there was a chance you could save the group or prevent a total wipe. Now it all seems very out of control. It doesn't matter how good a player you are, if any of those five people in the dungeon makes a single mistake, you are most likely going to wipe. Horribly and painfully. There's no more heroic acts to save the party, no more epic kiting a mob around, or blowing all your cooldowns in a desperate chance to survive and win. You're going to die. I've heard a lot of tanks and healers say they'd like more control over the flow of instances, rather then hoping that no one accidently steps to close, or tabs to the wrong target... Their tool chests feel smaller, their mana pools run dry to soon. It's not fun to play a class where, if everything doesn't go off perfectly, there's nothing you can do.

So what should Blizzard do?

All in all, bribing players is a terrible idea. It's just not going to work, or only be a half-assed solution. 

What Blizzard needs to do is change the content. Lower level dungeons need to be the teaching ground to help learn these important tactics and thought processes, so new players can learn what may be expected of them. 

A solution needs to be found for the bad players problem- whether they are purposefully a bad player who doesn't care, or someone who is uneducated in the ins and outs of their class. Perhaps some way of endorsing pages and resources to be read, so that people know where to get good information. And a way to appropriately praise good performance without being unfair.

People need to stop having such high expectations of the 4 other people in their group. Even bad groups I've been in have managed to succeed in the end. It takes time and patience, and overall a dedication to playing the game. It's not instant kill-instant loot anymore. It takes time and effort. If your not willing to give your time to play with and enjoy the company of the other players your with, then a social MMO is not for you. Go play a solo game instead!

Tanking and healing need to be made fun again. A lot of people liked the difficult play style. A lot of people did not. There's no room for mistakes, or things not happening perfectly- chances are it's a lost cause as soon as the mistake occurs.

What I'm trying to say is- there are a lot of problems that are contributing to the tank shortage- putting this one little patch over the crack in the dam isn't going to fix it. Blizzard needs to fully address all the things that caused the crack in the first place!



Peashooter said...

great post! I tend to agree with most of what you shared here -- except for the notation about bribing not working in the past.

Remember Occulus? And the instant drop after drop from the group as players realized they drew the OCC. Blizz reverted to bribery then in the form of extra valor points and the chance at a rare mount.

Most of my groups didn't loose bodies to OCC luck after that.

Brunnstag said...

@ Peashooter

Aha! I agree with you there! Bribing players to perform a specific task has worked in the past. But do remember also that the entire group got a reward for their hard work in slogging through the instance, and everyone had an equal chance of getting the mount. My issue with this system is that it creates one special person in the group who will almost always be a tank who gets a special reward, regardless of everyone else's hard work as well. This is unbalanced, and quite frankly unfair to the rest of the party who put forth just as much effort. Being a special snowflake is great for the frosty one, but isn't much fun for the rest of the party.

The bribe may even work to a degree, but based on the perspectives I've seen throughout the blogosphere, I just don't think it will be enough. A temporary fix perhaps, but the real problems with these roles that makes them so undesirable need to be addressed!

Thanks for commenting! :3

Becca said...

I hear ya! LOUD AND CLEAR!

I think everyone is stressed out with the content. Even having mostly epic gear - healing is so stressful. One weak player and the group is bound to fail. One poor attitude and I'm sent over the edge - as healing alone is so much work still. I don't get why people instantly judge a class though. If I have a hunter join my group - I am excited because my experience is that most hunters can throw out MEGA dps, they also have CC abilities and pets have group benefits. (I also play most DPS classes and most healer classes - so I know what to expect with each class and appreciate all)

Regardless of role, it is work for all. Without DPS, tanks and healers are useless. It goes both ways! I can't solo a heroic with just a tank - and DPS can't venture through without some mega-heals. Attitude in game is at an all time low and recently if someone starts calling me names after one pull - I will leave. I don't have enough patience to deal with a jerkwad who doesn't play a healer class and know how frustrating it is now. I think those who are the meanest in heroics still have the WOTLK attitude, where they imagine that we can stroll through a heroic in 15 minutes and if it doesn't go that way, someone needs to be blamed.

I also have a dps class which I pretty much abandoned because I am sick of the wait - and rep grinding is impossible when at max I can only do 1 heroic, that is IF I can get in a good group!

It's sad that this game that was VERY fun for me, a stress relief - has turned into a job. I really agree with you - rewards, if only given to those who have the power to make or break a group - are useless. My DPS should be rewarded, as she sits in queues forever - loses groups - gets booted for things that never happened...


Becca said...

on another note - did you read about how you will be allowed to queue up in a dungeon even if the whole group leaves? That gives me a bit of hope! The worst is popping into a half-done heroic to a group that instantly leaves as soon as I get there... and then sitting there, after waiting 40 minutes - wondering what to do next... at that point I just want to sign off and throw my computer out the window.