The sanity deadzone

| Tuesday, June 14, 2011
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.


Nils said...

Insightful post. I agree.

In fact, the 30 minutes every day (=3.5 hours a week) dailies made players burn out! That's how effective they were !
That's why Blizzard changed the system. Rift also has a nice system here.

Have I mentioned that I love diminishing returns? The gating of content can leave you without anything useful to do in the game although you may have alot of time that one Sunday; terrible.

Anonymous said...

Really interesting post.

Another way to look at the "sanity deadzone" is Blizzard giving people a way to sort themselves out in finer variations. Cataclysm is, in many ways, possessing of much smaller gradations of difficulty and seriousness than LK was. For example, you did one easy heroic, or none. There was virtually no way to fail at doing a heroic if you were willing to sit in queue. Now, you can skip it entirely, or succeed, or almost, or sometimes succeed. You can have time to do it 3 days, but not 7, which is going to put you in a different badge bracket from the other
reasonable people who capped 2 days, or five.

You see it in the raid instances, too - in ICC, of guilds who put serious effort into raiding, you ended up 11/12 or 12/12. Very very rarely did a team get good enough to kill Putricide but not Sindragosa, for example. You didn't see a lot of raid teams finish up and say "you know, we just can't get Rotface."

That's not the case anymore. A casual raid can be 3/12. A hardcore, serious raiding guild can be 8/13H or 13/13H or anywhere in between. It's a HUGE adjustment for guilds that "cleared all content" in LK to accept they're no longer good enough to do that.

The "dead zone" only starts to look like a deadzone if we measure by LK standards, either you succeed, or you fail. Either you clear ALL the raid content, or you are a failure or a casual or a bad. Either you get no points or all the points. If we accept that Blizzard is allowing us to get whatever points/bosses we WANT to get, and not expecting everyone to get all of them, it provides a lot of freedom and relief. The impossible expectations aren't from Blizzard, they're from the community.
- Narci

Kring said...

Very good post.

Nils, you mean the 30 min daily heroic? Because they left the "30 min daily quests" in and they even add more with 4.2. Those daily quest hubs are in the sanity deadzone too and should be changed...

Anonymous said...

normthetree: I've been beating on the drum about finer gradations of difficulty. It's the PvE equivalent of PvP ratings. The net effect is to tell everyone more accurately how much they don't live up to their own expectations.

For some reason, Blizzard thinks this is a good thing for a game to do. It's as if a brothel decided to rate their customers on how good they were in bed, and post those ratings for all to see.

Nils said...

I mean this, Kring.

Klepsacovic said...

@normthetree: "Sorting themselves" and any mention of heroics is a contradiction.

I may have failed to explain the deadzone and the insanity region beyond it. I don't think it's directly applicable to raiding, though I can see how with some twisting it can be useful.

The deadzone is not a place of choice. It is instead a place where the devs have defined expectations for the players. Contrast this with the insanity beyond in which the devs are not setting any expectation, so players can freely choose for themselves.

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