Imagine if capping your badge points of winning required 20-40 hours per week. Would you do that? I'm guessing you'd probably do it once, on some really awful week, and never ever again. You'd also never expect anyone else to do it, ever. In other words, you'd accept that people would be gaining in badges at less than the maximum rate. You would consciously accept that less than optimal is acceptable. Why?
Because optimal would be insane. Remember this idea, we'll need it later.
Now imagine that capping your points of super instead required a mere one hour per week. Would you ever not do that? I'm guessing yes, during some really awful week, or possibly a really great week, but in some way a week that causes you to not devote a mere one hour in an entire week to capping points. But in general you'll get it done, because it's just that easy. If you didn't cap points you'd probably look pretty lazy. I mean, wow. You cannot find one hour? Lazy, stupid, worthless piece of crap. Why?
Because optimal is too easy to not do. Also remember this one.
Now put that time requirement closer to the middle, somewhere between 2 and 8 hours. Over a week these aren't insane amounts of time to play, barely over an hour a day. But are they trivial? Can you guarantee that you will have 8 hours in a week? Remember, that's barely an hour a day. Not much, not trivial. You could very easily not have that 8 hours, particularly if those 8 hours are in addition to other activities.
But it still sounds reasonable. It's a trap.
The 8 hours sounds reasonable, and I think it is, but it is not universally reasonable. And yet, because it is so reasonable, it may be universally accepted and expected. It is the sanity deadzone.
Somewhere between so absurd that we'd never expect it and so trivial we'd never fail it, there is the sanity deadzone. In this area the requirement is not so high that we'd think anyone cannot do it, but high enough that some people cannot do it (or don't care enough to).
Of course this post is about why BC had a much better badge system than now.
BC badges were in the insane range. Would you ever expect someone to cap their badges for the week? BC had 16 instances. Some were short. Some were not. Even if they were a mere 15 minutes each (nowhere close, except some SH runs on my paladin...), that's still 4 hours, every day. Plus a few dailies that gave badges. And Karazhan (decent-length raid, best one ever). And every raid after that. Capping badges for the week was not a reasonable expectation at all. Capping for the day was not either. I did every heroic in a day, once, and never ever again.
LK used something fairly close to the trivial range. One random heroic a day and the weekly random raid to cap the good badges, plus possibly ICC. With heroics down to 15-30 minutes, this wasn't so bad. But I didn't count DPS queue times, did I? So add another 15-45 minutes. Now we're in that (arbitrarily defined) sanity deadzone. To cap isn't insane, but it isn't trivial either.
This carried over, but worse, into Cataclysm. Heroics take longer and fail more, yet the daily expectation remains. Yet it has become less reasonable. Of course you can argue that the failure rate is a temporary condition of gear, but is that any comfort to the person who has now had his 10th wipe, 5th healer, and 20th tank?
This is a rare situation where the extremes are better than a moderate position. An insane cap can be ignored. A trivial cap is trivial. But in the middle you get conflict. This is the sanity deadzone.
Behind "The Dark Side of Gameplay"
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