Free Epics Are The Logical Thing

| Saturday, February 4, 2012
An unwanted trip is always too long while a longed-for journey is always too short.

What is the point of randomly formed cross-server groups? They cannot possibly be to meet people, because well, they're useful for seeing people, but not for actually meeting them. Are they for the fun of running content? Maybe... sorta. But they would be more fun with friends, something which is directly contradictory to the random element. Aha, gear! They are clearly a way for us to get gear, in a quick and regulated manner, so that we gear up at a steady pace without needing to raid. Well they're pretty bad at that too.

I'm not suggesting that these random runs have not gained me any gear. They have. But so far, much of what I've gained has been from the instance quests, not the random tool rewards, meaning that the tool, at best, helped form a group, but did not directly contribute to my gear in that aspect. I did manage to get two pieces of justice point gear, gloves and a chest, with pants coming next, which were nice, but aren't going to get me into any raids on their own. But the thing that strikes me as odd is that the weekly valor point cap is lower than the cost of all but the relics and ranged weapons (no guns). It's a contradiction: We want you to use these randoms to get gear quickly... but not too quickly!

Now what is the point of that? If we're meant to quickly gear up, then why not let people quickly gear up? If we're not meant to quickly gear up, then why not remove the random element, encourage players to pick where they go, and run the instances they are most likely to enjoy?

Similarly for heirlooms, and even worse, the screwed up leveling curve, why speed up the process enough to ruin the journey, but not enough to actually fix the problem? If someone wants to be level 85 and be completely overwhelmed with a hundred class abilities, why not let them? It's not as if the trivialized leveling process is teaching much. It just doles out the abilities more slowly, without ever checking if we know what they do or why we have them.

Maybe getting instant level 85s with raid-ready epics isn't the best way to go about things, but it at least seems more honest, and more consistent, than wrecking any enjoyment from the process of leveling and gearing, without removing the now-undesirable process.


Azuriel said...

No, they are not for gear.

LFD is so that when you want to run a dungeon, you can log on and do so. LFD is for the people too introverted to join a guild, but still want to complain about random groups anyway. LFD is an automation of the "good old days" of spamming Trade for an hour before being able to play the game. LFD is for the ability to actually complete a dungeon even when someone logs off in the middle of it.

Christopher said...

Yes, they are for gear, but they are also fill the needs you listed. Badges (the precursor to JP/vp) and badge loot were added during BC as a way to gear up new or inexperienced players and get them into higher tier raids. Doing so created a dual use situation in which some portion of the people running instances are there solely to earn their points, while the other people are there for any number of other reasons, some of which are in that list. LFD was added to facilitate the formation of dungeon groups for both sets of people, without making a distinction between them. I think most of the conflict in LFD groups comes down to players not being able to control the style of group they are given, which results in valor farmers (many of whom know the instance thoroughly and want a fast efficient run above all else) being put in groups with people who are there for different reasons. The bickering and nastiness that results could be avoided if there were some way to label yourself according to your goal and be put with a group that shared those goals. People who wanted a laid back run to kill some time wouldn't feel pressured to gogogo through the instance, and people who wanted their valor ASAP wouldn't be frustrated by the slow pace, quest completions etc. Even just a box you could check labeled "speed run" would, IMO, make the whole LFD system more pleasant.

Azuriel said...

I agree that the majority of the problems associated with LFD is due to mixing people with different expectations together. If I have run heroic Deadmines a hundred times, my tolerance for failure is much lower than it was when I zoned in for the first few times.

It is a really sticky design problem to solve, if it is even possible. Imagine if the game somehow segregated all the raiders/experienced players away from the new/casuals. Now imagine what the queues would look like for both groups. Besides, Blizzard very clearly wants veterans to be the one teaching noobs how to play, even if that is outrageously unlikely to occur in practice.

Coreus said...

My understanding is that the purpose of the random tool is to give bad players the opportunity to "raid" without the group being organised enough to boot them for being dead weight. So much of the endgame structure these days seems purpose-built to protect people from discovering that they are subpar players.

You make a really good point in describing the levelling game as a compromise that pleases nobody. Actually scratch that, it does still please the aforementioned bad players by making them overlevel for everything at all times.

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