Filling up the Care Cup

| Monday, August 23, 2010
As an expansion comes to an end, people tend to stop caring, and start quitting. Their care cups are empty. Well this isn't about them.

Instead I want to talk about the care cup in normal times. I see two main areas of empty care cups: tabbed-out PvE and the auction house. In both instances, what might be otherwise intelligent and productive people are made significantly less valuable by their lack of caring and it hurts everyone around them. This is sounding emotional isn't it? I don't mean caring as an altruistic sort of caring, but instead seeing importance in something.

Why are we so often tabbed out, auto-attacking, /following, and generally barely even playing in PvE? The care cup is empty! A great deal of content has been trivialized, meaning that paying less attention isn't going to wipe the group. Perhaps more importantly: we are encouraged to do repetitive and trivial content (random heroics, the same raid trash we've cleared for months), and consequently are incredibly bored. We receive no internal benefit and we aren't externally punished. The care cup is empty, and understandably so!

I'm not sure what can fill it up. New content? We'd need to get it pretty quickly. I'll just leave this hanging here. Onward to the economy.

Earlier I advocated "killing the speculator", essentially paying greater attention to markets and pricing in order to maximize profits rather than leaving potential gold around for speculators to grab. I was intrigued by this comment:
Speculating and bragging about it is kinda dumb though. It's like kicking the ball into a net while people are lying on the grass reading or something and running around going I scored, I scored. Easy to make gold off people who don't give a rat's arse about playing Monopoly Online with you.
Clearly what we can see is that enough people (most?) don't care much. The economy isn't the game they play. They raid or quest or farm, they don't think about numbers on the AH.

Obviously this makes them poorer than they would be otherwise. So they farm more, run more dailies, and hold off on buying that crafted epic and instead hope that it drops. The result is people in worse gear, and worse still, doing activities which might not be what they really want to do.

What can fill the care cup? Numbers, of course!

Let's consider the idea of "fun optimization", attempting to maximize total fun. Obviously fun isn't easy to quantify, but for the sake of thought, let's pretend it is. We do this frequently in real life when picking between activities. We go to one movie rather than another, we work. Yes, work is part of fun optimization. While the money->happiness conversion has diminishing returns, there are still obvious case when more money is more happiness.

Many people work crummy jobs. But they do not quit and become homeless, despite a job which reduces the happiness in their lives. Why not? Because the money they gain more than offsets it. Optimizing happiness (thought clearly not very well) has resulted in them keeping a bad job rather than live in a dumpster.

The concept of working in a game isn't an easy one to handle. It sounds wrong, doesn't it? But taking on a virtual job could be beneficial overall. I often hear people proclaim a distaste for the AH and the sub-games within it. They're not particularly rich in game and often find themselves doing something else that they also dislike. Yet the AH would tend to give a higher income, meaning they could 'work' less, possibly have more gold, and therefore their remaining time could be better overall.

Or to put it in terms of arbitrary numbers, let's imagine that I need 100g a day to offset repairs and flasks from raiding. On the side I like to PvP and am building a set with honor (this is just to cut off honor gems as a source of income). I currently spend one hour a day farming ore and sell the result for 100g by undercutting whatever is up. If I instead took a few minutes to see what the other auctions are and how ore is selling, I could get 25% more for my ore, meaning I can spend less time farming and more time PvPing. Accepting an unfun activity for a short time allows the elimination of a boring activity in favor of a fun activity.

Let's bring this back to the random heroics now. When I tab out my DPS drops in half, slowing the run significantly. However I'm not getting a proportional gain in happiness, since I'm still in this boring heroic with terrible DPS (they're tabbed out too and think I suck). The slower heroics make me even more inclined to tab out, slowing them further, and before long I've decided the solution is to only run with people who are so overgeared that even tabbed out their DPS is high. Of course I'm failing to recognize that the tabbed out overgeared person is still wasting time. Why not instead tab back in and burn through the instance in 10 minutes and go spend the extra 10 minutes I gained to not run boring heroics?

Empty care cups lead to empty care cups. Let us instead have our cups overflow and get drunk as hell!

Attempting to maximize fun shouldn't be confused with the mistaken notion that people who aren't playing the way I'd play must be having less fun and are therefore doing it wrong. Fun is a personal thing, so perhaps that apparent moron camping your alt for two hours is actually having tons of fun and would be stupid to do something else. He might still be stupid, but he's at least being rationally stupid.


Quicksilver said...

c|_| : The Care Cup is Empty.

c|-| : The Care Cup is half full


Love these 2 macroed as a generic response :p

Gevlon said...

You make two mistakes here:
with the AH: time investing. To understand the market you have to spend some hours NOW and it will increase your income by X% for the rest of the time as long as you do the necessary update. On the long run is obviously positive, as if we assume your 25% increase, one hour invested pays after 4 hours of farming. But the dumb guy want to minimize "no fun" NOW.

With the Alt-Tab: external costs. If I half my DPS, the group DPS decreases by 1/6. So the run will be 1/6 longer for me only. The only solution here is agressive kicking: punishing people who don't perform, to force them to don't Alt-Tab

Dàchéng said...

It is a common argument that if only people would use the Auction House more carefully, they would not have to grind or farm as much, freeing more of their time for fun activities. I don't agree.

I like playing the AH, and as a result, I am rich in gold. I have a relative who hates the AH, and so he has less gold than I have: in fact he has only a quarter as much gold as me. But he still has an absolute fortune! He vendors epics, he never farms anything (except when he was levelling his herbalism, and he wasn't farming in order to make gold, but only to increase his herbalism. He stopped when he hit 450). Yet he has more than enough gold to cover his costs. The simple fact is, nobody has to farm or grind for gold nowadays. We get enough for our needs as a side-effect of whatever other in-game activities attract our attention. If you enjoy playing the AH, as I do, so much the better. If you don't enjoy the AH game, why waste time playing it?

The assumption has been that even people who don't enjoy the AH game can maximize their fun by playing it a little, because that will reduce the farming or grinding that they would otherwise have to do to make the level of gold needed to sustain their fun activities. My relative's experience is that this is just not true. He never farms. He does grind, but not for gold. He grinds for the real in-game currency, Emblems of Frost and Marks of Sanctification, which no amount of AH play can earn him (he has enough gold that he could offer to buy a Mark of Sanctification from anyone in his raid who is lucky to get it, but his experience of this is the same as mine. No matter how much gold I offer, they'd rather keep the mark)!

While the best gear cannot be crafted, and mostly cannot be bought with gold, he quite sensibly restricts his grinding to those activities that directly provide him with the most important in-game currencies, and together with the activities that he enjoys doing, he earns as a side effect as much of the second-class currency as he needs.

Me, I play the AH game anyway, because I enjoy it!

Dàchéng said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Klepsacovic said...

@Okrane S: I do hope the care cup was half full for this post.

@Gevlon: "Some people are dumb" tends to cover anything and everything and isn't what I'd call a mistake. 2+2=4 is true, even if someone is too dumb to understand it.

You're making a mistake if you think there's only one solution, especially to propose a solution that isn't likely to work. I'm being idealistic in hoping people will tab back in, while you're being idealistic in thinking that people will be able to all agree on what exactly constitutes unacceptable DPS.

@Dacheng: I'd never encourage someone to do something which damages their overall fun; so someone who enjoys higher-fun, lower-gold activities can do just fine and may in fact be maximizing their overall fun. I'm suggesting that there are cases when a mix of fun and unfun will yield a higher total. These cases will tend to be very time-restricted and possibly high on spending, such as someone who does very cutting-edge raiding (and therefore spends much of his time in the raid incuring repair bills) or who really likes rare and expensive pets. Or possibly someone who just really doesn't enjoy farming.

I'm not suggesting that your relative somehow isn't true or isn't representative of a large portion of the population, just that they aren't the total picture.

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