The way You want to play is Wrong

| Friday, July 13, 2012
I know I'm guilty of this too, but like Jesus said, let he who is without guilt throw the first stone so he can feel bad that he just killed someone in cold blood.  Or something like that.

You might have noticed this trend, of players claiming that something in a game is bad.  Bad?  What is bad?  I mean, the very concept of bad, what does it even mean in this context?

Bad could mean that a mechanic was intended to do X but actually failed to do X (in case I need a classification system, let's call this a Type A Bad: TAB).  It could mean that it was intended to do X, and it did X, but it also did Y and Y caused some sort of problem (let's make this a Type B Bad: TBB).  Objectively, we could look at bugs.  Maybe there is a bug that causes players to randomly dismount in mid-air and fall to their deaths, leading to a surge in the population of druids, paladins, priests, and mages as every other class is wiped out.  To fix this, Blizzard releases a patch and it fails to fix the bug, which is bad.  Or, it releases a patch which fixes the bug, but now has a bug that causes players to randomly explode when riding raptors, which is bad (because it's a bug).

It gets fuzzier when it comes to players rather than bugs.  Maybe they fix the bug by just removing flying.  Is that bad?  Well if there are quests which require flying, then yes, because the fix has broken something else (TBB).  For the record, there are some quests which require flying mounts to reach.  As I discovered one day, most of Storm Peaks and Icecrown can be reached by ground mounts, though some quest NPCs will be out of reach.  But let's imagine that all the NPCs were at ground level.  Now the removal of flying doesn't break any quests, but it does require running some gauntlets which are probably not in the original plan, nor anticipated as problems when the flying bug was 'fixed'.  The quests aren't broken, but the developers have gone against their own plans: they have failed at their goal.  Is that the definition of bad, that the result did not match the plan?  Let's go ahead and say that works, but is it a complete definition or an incomplete one?  If all unintended consequences are bad, then are all intended consequences not bad, perhaps even good?  There is that wonderful phrase, "working as intended" as a response to player complaints.

"Working as intended" suggests a sort of "take it or leave it" mentality, suggesting that as things are is how they are, are meant to be, and will continue to be.  In this context there isn't really a "good" or "bad", but merely "what it is" and whether the players like that or not.  If they don't, they leave (excluding other compensating factors).

That's the key thing that I wanted to get at: If there is not a bug or oversight, then there is no objective good or bad.  Well maybe if all the quest text was excerpts from Mein Kampf that would be a bad thing, but excluding the Hitler Scenario, there isn't a right or wrong, good or bad.

You want to play with 3 friends and someone else wants to play with 50.  Neither is right or wrong.  A game designed for playing with 3 people would better suit the first player than the second, but that doesn't not mean that the game is bad or wrong and it doesn't mean that the first player is bad or wrong either.  If the game were changed to better suit the second player, that is not bad or wrong either.  The first player may complain and may quit, but that's his problem, not a moral failing on the part of the developers.  The second player may be quite happy about the change and will attempt to argue against reverting back to the "play with three friends" format.

The cause of the conflict is completing goals.  50 player guy likes some aspect of the 50 player content.  Maybe the guild size appeals to him.  Maybe the ability to hide among the masses and disguise his failings is what he likes.  There is nothing wrong with that.  The player who likes playing with 3 friends may want to see his individual contribution make a difference or he may not enjoy being in 51 player guilds.

The problem arises when players fail to state these goals.  Instead they jump straight to the method, saying that something is wrong, saying why, but not quite getting at why.  They miss the part where they say "this style of the game does not appeal to me" and instead jump straight into the same rhetoric that we'd use for the Hitler Scenario.  Worse, words and phrases are used, "elitist", "sense of entitlement", "I pay $15 a month too."  All of these fail the "so what?" test, wherein someone responds with "so what?" and the person has to elaborate.

Let's all just be honest: none of us have any better way to play or any worse way.  None of us know which game design will open the gates of Heaven or Hell.  Instead we're all just trying to get games that let us play the way we want to play, and for the sake of convenience we'll tend to argue that the game we are currently playing should be more like what we want to play.  A niche game may be able to simply change to match this with little loss for anyone involved.  A large game with a variety of players will inevitably make someone worse off and that person will logically protest, by which I mean that it is logical that they would protest, not that their methods of protest are necessarily logical.

To bring this to the specific, let's go with attunements.  I enjoyed having attunements.  Some were more fun for me than others.  Some were excessive and I'd have liked to see them toned down.  You might not like attunements.  That's fine.  But cut the crap about nostalgia, rose-colored glasses, and elitism.  I liked something, you did not, that doesn't make you the supreme objective observer of what is good.  It just makes you someone who enjoys a different way of playing.

That isn't any fun though, is it?  "I enjoy this" vs. "I enjoy that" doesn't make for a rousing discussion.  Searching for mutually acceptable middle grounds and areas of non-conflict can get somewhere, but eventually it just comes down to two people having different goals and nary a gun in sight to start a war over it.  So I must bring in something else which I enjoy: blogging, and as part of that, arguing (or maybe it's the other way around), so in light of that, I'm going to disregard the entire previous post and say that the way you play is wrong.  Sometimes the illusion is more fun than reality.

Flame on, noobs.


Kring said...

> as every other class is wiped out.

You completely forgot about engineering... :)

NetherLands said...

While I in general agree with you, it's imo different when optional content or content type is removed.

I have a hard time to see why removing already existing, optional content would be a good thing, or, to flip it around, not a bad thing.

After all, being optional content, you only end up removing content for people who liked that option and so have less content than before, the ones who didn't like that content (type) weren't concerned with it in the first place.

For example, when Class Quests are entirely optional (as they were by WotLK), removing them only means depriving people that liked doing them from having enjoyable content. No benefits, only negatives for certain players that do not partake in harmful activities is something I would classify as bad design.

Galaji said...

It sounds like you are finally realizing the vast majority of the internet is ignorant to the difference between Subjective and Objective.

Philosophy and logic are not taught in most elementary / high schools. The odds of crossing another individual on the internet who is trained in holding a proper discussion is exceedingly slim.

Anonymous said...

Pretty much agree with the above, except to point out that you can have stuff that's 'bad design' rather than 'bad code' and still be objectively bad. For example, having PvP instances that give almost as much reward for an AFKer on the losing team as they do for the winning team's most valued player is bad design - the outcome (an epidemic of leeches) almost certainly isn't what the designer actually wanted to have happen in his game. It's working as intended, but the intent was borked.
The problem is that a lot of players out there are narcissistic a-holes who assume that the intent of design must always be to deliver what they, personally, want most.
BTW, the way I play games is the way designers should design them, and would if they were as awesome as I am. If what I do causes a wipe, just remember that it's the result of bad design and what the devs should have done would have resulted in success :)

Bristal said...

I appreciate, and agree with your point, but the context of a forum that is moderated by developers changes the rules of a discussion.

The whole point becomes to sway the invisible minds of the almighty Blizzard, not to change the minds or gain the respect of other forum members. I'm stating my opinion, in such a way it might get attention or gather a small torch bearing crowd.

A moderated forum discussion is more analogous to a crowd of people trying to get their voices heard in a political caucus. You're there with an agenda, and the goal is persuasion, not polite discourse.

Azuriel said...

What leads you to believe attunements weren't an Objective TBB problem? It seemed pretty clear that attunements were not designed to punish alts or new players coming in mid-expansion or grinding guild progression to a halt across multiple patches. Blizzard has admitted as such in their reasoning for removing attunements altogether.

Klepsacovic said...

I'm not sure how attunements punish any of those players. Perhaps you're using the word "punishment" to mean something completely different?

Verilazic said...

Towards the end of your post I felt reminded of Tobold, I think because he also sometimes felt the need to point out that people sometimes act ridiculously when arguing on the internet.

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