Friday, October 30, 2009

Tickled Pink: Do titles matter to you?

Bane of the Fallen King. The Ashen Verdict. Wrathful gladiator. Three new titles that will come with the 3.3 patch. How much do we care about them? Do the titles as such tickle us enough to make an effort to get them? Or should they come with other rewards? Plectical at Rawrcast suggests that players with the Loremaster title should get 10 percent more gold from quest rewards or that Battlemasters should do more damage in BG:s and arenas. Is that a good idea?
Titles. Who cares about titles in real life? I don’t. On the contrary – people who are obsessed with titles give me giggles. As I grew up we always used to laugh at Germans who seemed to be excessively interested in that stuff. As if it wasn’t enough to write “doctor” about someone who was that, they had to add another “doctor”, as if they just had to make sure. But on me the effect was rather the opposite. How could you ever take someone who called himself “Herr Doktor Doktor” seriously?

Do you remember how it used to be in the old days? Sure, there were some titles around, but people didn’t make such a big deal of it. I barely noticed them to be honest. I remember a guildie who was particularly proud of some title she had gotten in the old PvP system. Could it have been “Commander”? But to me it didn’t’ say anything. The first titles I got were Champion of the Naaru and Hand of A'dal. It was pretty far into TBC and didn’t come with a lot of prestige. I saw them as nice souvenirs, reminding me of those endless quest chains to get them, but I didn’t really expect anyone to notice.

Enter WotLK. Enter titles. A ton of them, ranging on the entire scale from silly to imba.
On the silly front I count “Jenkins”. I guess that title is supposed to be funny, but it only gives me shivers. Yeah, I’ve got it on my mage, but I wouldn’t dream of displaying it. Whenever I find a “Jenkins” in my pug, I fear the worst and expect all sorts of immature behaviour - l33t-speech, loot drama and ninja pulls.

The imba titles on the other side are quite impressive – for a little while. The sad thing is that their value decreases rapidly as time passes. While “Twilight vanquisher” was pretty cool early in the expansion, it can be acquired easily now with people geared in ToC epics. It doesn’t say a thing, so if you still wear it, it’s rather for some sort of RP reasons. You think it goes well with your character. You feel like a “twilight vanquisher”.

All in all, if you ask me, I’m almost as uninterested of titles in WoW as I am in real life. The only one that ever caught my attention was “Merrymaker”. I thought it so fit well with a sweet little pink pigtailed gnome with a sweet giggle and explosive spells. So Merrymaker it is. Larísa is also Elder, Hallowed, Matron, Love Fool and God knows what after the long strange trip which ended recently (yay!), but I don’t bother show it.
Would I make an effort to get one of the new titles? Well, I certainly want to kill the Lich King in heroic mode. But it’s not primarily in order to be able to expose myself as Bane of the fallen king. The title would just be a side effect.

So should Blizzard should add more incentives for players to get those titles? In my opinion: only in the form of vanity items. Dragons and non combat pets are fine as rewards, but giving substantial advantages to players with certain titles wouldn’t only cause imbalances in the game. It could also become a too strong incentive, making it harder for some players to keep the RL/game balance at a healthy level. And that’s exactly the kind of gaming behaviour that Blizzard is trying to move away from.

I agree with Larísa that there should be no substantial rewards tied to titles in game. Unlike her, I like to collect titles. I have five of them now: Ambassador, the Explorer, Chef, The Argent Champion, and The Guardian of Cenarius. I usually wear whatever holiday title I have during the holiday but in-between I almost always use Ambassador for role playing purposes.

Interestingly, I also share Larisa's dislike for titles outside the game as well. Except for the polite terms of "sir" and "ma'am" (which are originally titles) I never use them; it seems to go against the grain of our American sentimental egalitarianism. This is why it frustrates me when people give me titles that I don't actually have. It's true. All I have to do is show up on a college campus and with minutes I will be addressed as "Doctor" or "Professor" even though I do not have a doctorate or ever taught a college level course. I guess I just look like a professor and that's good enough for most people. Thankfully no one has ever called me Doctor Doctor because I would lose lose it it and smash smash their their face face.

The reason I like to use titles in game is two fold. One, they are useful for role playing purpose. It's cool when I meet another Ambassador that plays along and we can discuss the respective duties of the our Ambassadorships and what we think of the big political decision of the day. I've probably learned more about the actual lore behind Warcraft though this means than I have any other way.

The other reason I use titles is because I think it creates a sense of identity in the same way that people dress up their AH alts in bunny ears or with a diamond tipped cane. Let's be honest. From a distance all night elves look basically the same: tall with pointy ears. If we are in tree form we all look exactly the same: like wilted celery. And don't give me nonsense about how I'm disrespecting trees. I'm a druid healer myself. But if you take out a sheaf of celery that has been in the fridge for too long, stand it on the counter, and walk it along it moves and shakes exactly like a running "tree" does. If it looks like wilted celery and runs like wilted celery than celery it is and I don't care if people want to sex it up by calling it a "tree". It's celery. Call me Ambassador Celery. I'm O.K with it.

Where was I again? The fact that from a distance all gnomes look like balls of cotton candy. No? Titles. That's right; titles. As I was saying titles help to spruce up the trees and give their identity some bark. Without titles trees would be rootless and leave the forest whenever they could, fir sure. Do we players want that? I think not. It's roots that give trees their nourishment and allow to them thrive. If Blizzard allows rootless trees the next thing you know they will begin to wilt and people will mistake them for walking celery. So a title for every tree and a tree for every title.

I do think that titles do tell you something about a person that you can't tell just by looking at them. For example, my own impression of the Jenkins title is exactly the same as Larísa's impression and arrived at completely independently. The problem is that the interface limits one to displaying one title at a time, which limits the amount of information conveyed. So I think we should be able to display all our titles and see who really has the biggest ego. I want my title to be: The Explorer Ambassador to the Chef of the Argent Champion. Now that's a title that commands respect, isn't it Herr Doktor Doktor.


jeffo said...

The only title I truly, actively pursued for the sake of the title was 'Argent Champion'. I'm not a 'lore nerd' or an RP player, but my main is a Paladin and I always felt a particular affinity for the Argent Dawn (even though I started playing in BC when they didn't really matter anymore), getting to exalted with them in time to get into Naxx just before it moved north. That said, I do like to display the 'Crusader' title, too.

My 'problem' with special titles, achievements, special pets and the like is that it's become 'the tail that wags the dog'. Is our motivation to play at this point so low that the only way people will run things is if they can get an achievement or title?

Gen said...

If its in game tiles are something some people collect. Such as Vanity Pets, Mounts ect ect. Just something people like having. And also a sense of accomplishments (when achieved pre nerf/access to better gear)

In IRL titles such as MBA, Ph.D's ect are something you worked for and shows the commitment you put.

homeric said...

I use Crusader for my paladin, of course, and Ambassador for my shaman because I think it looks nice.

I think some titles will retain their value, at least for the rest of this expansion. Starcaller, the Astral Walker, Immortal, and the Undying titles come to mind. Since it's really a group effort, having those titles means you're running around with a pretty competent bunch.

Klepsacovic said...

I like titles for the RP and identity value. I'm proud of my Loremaster title and I feel it helps to show who I am: a person who cares about the stories and strives to learn more. Sometimes I like to be a Crusader for when some undead really need to die. The rest are less used, being mostly fluff to me. I'm no Matron.

Bell said...

The only character I have that uses a title is my Druid, Bellwether. I use her Corporal title because I like it, and she used to be in a self-made guild titled Field Medic.

My Paladin has several titles, but all she has worn has been Twilight Vanquisher for...five minutes? I don't put titles on her.

My hunter has none and I can't see her wearing any.

IRL I don't mind titles on other people. I'll probably be going for my PhD in Psychology; being called "Doctor" will come with it, but I can't say I'm entirely comfortable with the idea. Still, many people have made the point that it does take a lot of effort to gain those titles (far more than it takes in WoW!) and that they deserve to be recognized.

Carra said...

Fun post, Elnia.

I've got the Merrymaker title and I'm only using that one on my cutesy cute pink haired gnome.

The diminishing value of a reward is easy to fix. You have to kill the boss before the next major patch with the next instance rolls in. Only then should you get a title.

Ing. Ing. Carra

Melaisis said...

I totally agree with the sentiment that titles should show something about a player that is not immediately apparent. Dungeon-related stuff is a bit obsolete because gear is the adherent indicator there. But stuff like 'Merrymaker' shows others you've been around WoW since at least last Xmas, and so forth. A little less ego, a little more exposition.

Azryu said...

It was to my knowledge that Twilight Vanquisher is no longer obtainable

River said...

Only title I ever liked, and wanted was from Warhammer Online.

The title was The Drunkard.

I wore it with pride.

d51v9g said...

I actively pursued Flame Warden on my shaman because I felt it suited her, as a weilder of the elements.

My elderly paladin would be a little insulted if referred to as Elder or Matron, but happily wears her "of Ironforge" because she is.

I'm very proud of finally scraping up two toons to being Champions of the Naaru just before Wrath, but being on a RP realm, the title isn't anything either of them would consider suitable to use - far too ostenatious and flashy for their personalities. Sad thing is, both those toons still carry the quest for the title Hand of Adal, even though I'll never likely get them it, and nor would they use it if I did.

Nice blog, and best wishes.

Ixobelle said...

this was one thing I feel like Warhammer realllly did right. They gave out titles like kleenex, and everyone had about 30 to choose from by the end of their first day playing.

Tanks taunting 50 times could get the Meatshield title, and after clicking on yourself 50 or 5000 times, you earned 'the Vain' or 'the Egomaniac'.

they were silly, but SOMETIMES got in the way of playing. Once people realized you got silly titles for doing BGs naked, everyone was naked for a week.


There were a billion titles to choose from, and they honestly were varied enough that seeing 'Vlad the Toe Stubber' made you laugh and maybe even send them a tell asking how they got that title.

WoW has about 12 titles, and everyone is either the exact same title as 300 others on the server, or they just don't bother to wear them. It shouldn't be a carrot, they should be given out freely. It's the same effect you felt with the vanity pets, it isn't special, because getting it wasn't FUN.

gnomeaggedon said...

Gnomeaggeon of Gnomeragan says:
Titles are very very important...

Mind you, there is only one important one.. Argent Tournament questing stopped when I claimed my birthright.

People often comment on how appropriate it is... but I knew that from the moment it was announced.

shame it takes up 1/2 my screen and I can't see the mobs past it...

Anonymous said...

I don't care how easy or hard is title to obtain, only how it sounds, looks, what associations it has and how it fits my character. I might /sigh I'm not able to get a shiny "Starcaller" because this one is one of the nicest titles, but hey, there are a lot others to choose from.

I remember downing Malygos for the first time, back then when it was the hardest raid released, and getting finally my "Champion of the Frozen Wastes". I wore the tile proudly... for maybe 2 hours. It's too long and obscures my sight, no thanks, I'll pass.

I'm happily using short titles like "Elder", "Chef" and so on.

My opinion?
Titles should be easy to get, at least some, so everyone can get one. They're for fun, not big prestige. People might laugh at those "the Noble", "the Explorer" or "of Stormwind", but I find it perfectly fine, titles range from easy & casual to very rare and impossible to get (Scarab Lord, Hand of A'dal, High Warlord), everyone will find something for themselves.

Bonuses for getting titles? No, I think the title is the reward on its own. And I agree on the Blizzard stance: titles, mounts, pets, tabards for achievements, sure, combat advantage, no. You think the achievement is not worth the rewards? Don't do it.

I would dread the day when every pvper would have to grind Battlemaster to be competitive in pvp and every raider would have to do "Glory of something" to not be a "gimp" in the raid.

Staffan said...

I thought your Doctor Doctor link would go to this song instead...

Erinys said...

The only title I use on any of my characters is "General" on my undead priest. I think partly because its the only one I felt I put effort into obtaining even though I have lots of raiding titles on other characters. Weird. Plus on a character created for PvP it just seems to fit.

On my Night elf priest (raiding main), even though I don't play on a RP server, I just feel none of the titles suit her. She's not a Merrymaker, Conqueror of Ulduar is ridiculously long and Jenkins.. never ever in a month of sundays. Then there are the titles like "the Astral Walker" which just sound like random words linked together. For me, titles are a bi product of things I enjoy, namely raiding and festival stuff. I did both before titles were added and I would continue to do them if they were removed.

When I see people displaying the "Undying" or "Immortal" I get this urge to kill them just to prove a point. I also know people who kick people from PuGs for using Jenkins. Proving without a shadow of a doubt, titles are dangerous and should be avoided.

Elnia said...

@Klepsacovic. My problem with Loremaster is that it's such a grind. At some point in time I just find myself tuning the lore out, not because I'm uninterested in lore but because I don't find questing such a great means to deliver it.

@Carra. I'm glad someone saw it that way; it's what I intended.

@Staffan. LOL. I'd completely forgotten all about that song. That would have been another good choice.

@Erinys. When Larisa made that Jenkins comment it really opened my eyes because I honestly thought I was the only one who felt that way. I still don't understand what it's all about but I don't want to know either.

Larísa said...

That's a good reason to get a title! Argent Champion as well as Crusader sounds fine for a pala, if that's how you feel that your character are.

I can only speak for myself when I say that titles are not a prime motivator for me in game. But yeah, sometimes you can wonder...

@Gen: yeah, titles are something you work for. But are they equally valuable if you don't get an effect of other people being envious, respectful, impressed etc? I come to think about the post Gevlon had the other day where he very insightful pointed out that even the hardcore players are very social in one aspect.

@Homeric: Yeah, at least at an early stage those titles are sort of guild titles more than individual ones. Actually I've started to see "Undying" pugs now. But they're still rather unusual.

@Klepsacovic: the funny thing is that if I decided to become Loremaster I could grind away every single quest there is without learning a jota about lore. Just bringing those 10 rat whiskers to the NPCs x 1000. Is the title really appropriate? Shouldn't there rather be some sort of quiz that showed that you MASTERED the lore? Just a thought.

@Bell: I think that there are many people in the world who have done great research on their way for their title. They deserve to be recognized for that work, not for the title as such. And there are also many people who don't have titles but are much more innovative, smart, wise, whatever than title-wearers. They deserve recognition too! I admire and respect what people actually do. Not the titles as such.

@Carra: haha, the Merrymaker title was really made for pink haired gnomes, wasn't it?
And yeah, I think titles should be taken away just like the exclusive dragons. They did it for the Hand of A'dal and that was a wise thing.

@River: I guess they thought "Brewmaster" sounded nicer. But actually everyone who wanted that title had to become a Drunkard in game..

@d51v9g: that's how it should work I think. You find a title that you really fall for and go for it. Just like Larísa was a merrymaker. I thought for a while that "Elder" would fit her - or rather me, since I'm definitely among the elder players. But I never came around to use it in the end. It just made me feel... old. And when I'm playing I'm rather the opposite - letting my inner child get some playtime.

@Ixobelle: The more the merrier. Actually I think you have a point. More titles would give more diversity and a more relaxed attitude towards them.

@Gnome: poor creature, you must have troubles filling in forms, running out of space to write your full name... But I admire your loyalty. No one can doubt where you have your heart!

@Erinys: I may be prejudiced, but I agree: I don't either see NE priests as natural Merrymakers. I never thought about Undying and Immortal being provocative, but yeah, I guess they can be - especially in a BG!

Kromus said...

I remember Syrana posting about this a while back- and how there was so many titles, such as Stormwind, Darnassus..etc..

My answer is the same now as it was then, there is too many to choose.

I don't collect about titles, I only care about certain ones, such as Bloodsail Admiral and Twilight vanquisher, beacause that was a guild effort, and it has meaning attached to it.

not so bothered bout' the others such as "omgilikequests" and "lichkingkillerman" because they don't sound good.

Short answer, if it has meaning attached to it or it sounds good, give it me, otherwise no thanks.

Shamrockgirl said...

I have a fairly wide variety of titles to choose from, and i always have one displayed - although i don't really ever know which one i have on because i turned off the title display long ago when everyone was sporting Champion of the Frozen Waste... Dalaran just became a big blur of titles at that time and i was getting quite annoyed with it. the only thing i see on my display is your name.

HP said...

I like to collect the titles but I actually always wind up not sporting them =X

I remember I wanted Undying so bad and now it means nothing but it was a good feeling getting it.

I used to like sporting Undying, Love Fool, Ambassador or of the Nightfall.

Starcaller would be a nice title to have though.

I don't actively seek out titles and pets to collect but sometimes I get in the mood to try for them. It's a good hobby when you are bored.

Lath said...

I love having titles to play around with! Whenever I'm doing Firefighter, I always wear the Flame Warden title. And when I'm in TOGC I always choose my Argent Defender :)

The problem I find is that as soon as I have a title, I don't think its that good anymore and I'm looking for the next one to get :(

What I would love Blizzard to implement with Cataclysm and all the Guild stuff is a Guild Title! So that the GM can set up a couple of silly (or important if your guild is super serious) titles that can be passed out to players.

falc said...

It's very good to know that others get a strange feeling when grouping with people who openly display the "Jenkins" title.

Generally tho, i would also like to see more titles that would actually describe mood or general attitudes towards something.

On my main, a warlock, i use the Elder title. Mainly because i feel that i am pretty good at the whole warlocking scene and because people quite often ask me for advice on gemming/specs/gear, so it just fits.

Tesh said...

The only title that would even vaguely tempt me would be something along the lines of "The Loner"... which is its own sort of weird reverse psychology. Yes, I'm a loner, but why should I care about advertising it?

In short, I don't care, just like I don't care about the other titles. That said, that's just me, and I see little harm in them as fluff, as Ixobelle rightly notes. I also agree that titles shouldn't confer mechanical bonuses. At least, not significant ones. (I could see them as being OK if they were on par with or weaker than Lesser Inscriptions.)

Larísa said...

@Kromus: Well, even though I don't care much about most titles I can understand that a player can get attached to certain titles which they've put in a ton of job to get. Such as Bloodsail Admiral. Or Insane.

@Shamrockgirl: I wonder how common it is to turn of the titles. Maybe those people who hope to impress their surroundings by their titles are tricked- in fact most players maybe don't even see it?

@HP: yeah, the feeling of novelty wears off most titles pretty quickly. You end up liking just a few, if any.

@Lath: Haha, good choice about Flame Warden! Never thought about that. Actually guild title isn't such a bad idea. But it should be easy to turn it off if you don't like it. Being a bit silly within the guild having a joking title is one thing - displaying it to the world is another.

@Falc: Yeah, there are pretty few titles who really evokes some sort of feeling, mood or attitude. Jenkins is one of those (negatively). Elder is another one. And Merrymaker. Would be nice to have more of those though.

@Tesh: The Loner... yeah, why not? I wonder who could deserve such a title... Maybe a list of instances/bosses you're supposed to solo? Could be a carrot actually, something to strive for, if you make the list a bit challenging. But I guess some squishy classes would protest then. Soloing Mgt might be doable for a few classes, but probably not for any class (and definitely not for dedicated healers.)

Hinenuitepo said...

In college I had a professor who's name was (no joke) Dr. Mary Doctor.

As someone with the RL title of "Doctor," there is a use to the title. It does convey a certain expertise and, dammit, indicates the hard work it took to get there. For my clients, it gives them confidence in my ability to help them.
On the other hand, I'm totally comfortable with some of them using my first name or rank (when I was in the military) and certainly ask my colleagues and/or friends to use first-name only (except my spouse where the correct title of "Master" is acceptible) j/k

Thinking about it this way leads me to respond: in game, I see them as mostly a frivolity, but they do convey a certain amount of work that went into them. Some convey very little work, some convey RNG, and some convey, well, insanity (Insane in the Brain).

I haven't sought very many titles, but it provides a little amusement from time to time to shuffle the ones that I do have.

Nice points overall!

Dink said...

I got Ambassador on two characters because not many knew how to get it or it was [difficult] for them to achieve.

I now where Champion of the Frozen Wastes as is does tell of "some" level of achievment in the game.

Carrie said...

Personally, I generally wear the title that I think sounds best with my character name. I like alliteration, so for me, that's Caelatria, Champion of the Naaru. Not only do I like how it sounds, but it's a small nod to something I worked hard to complete in BC. If I do earn a new title, I will often display it for a while, just because I'm proud to have it, but after a while, I go back to what I'm comfortable with. :)