Friday, November 28, 2008

Node stealing, inner moral compasses and a true story

Recently there has been a lot of talk on the blogs about player behaviour. Some players have complained about supposed “ninja actions”, when players “steal nodes” from other players, who have cleared the way to the node, killing the mobs around it.

Others have witnessed about the opposite – how easy it is nowadays to group in player heavy areas instead of fighting over a certain named, slow spawning mob, needed for a quest. People help each other because it benefits everyone in the long run.

Goblin philosophy
Gevlon at the Greedy Goblin took another approach to it the other day, pointing out that there is no such a thing as a rule that you “earn” nodes or certain mobs. With his usual goblin logic he showed the futility in doing such claims. Not surprising he got quite a few comments on this post, including one from myself.

Something in me revolted against the idea that only rules that are written down and decided from an authority should be respected. Life – in Azeroth as well as outside of it – is full of unwritten rules, conventions and agreements people have made since hundreds and thousands of years. Of course some people don’t care about them, but most do, and that makes life a lot easier and more pleasant than it would have been if they hadn’t existed.

The idea that you “earn” a node by killing the mobs around you comes out of a feeling of justice, no different from real life. If you work you expect to get the fruit of it (with the exception of taxes of course.)

Differently tuned
Now comes the inevitable question: how do I know what is fair? Well, I think I have a sort of inner moral compass. A feeling of what’s right and wrong, coming out of some kind of humanity dwelling inside of me in my brain, my heart or perhaps an organ yet to be discovered by scientists. And I think I share this feeling with many people, no matter of what beliefs they may have and not have. It’s not about religion. It’s about being human.

What I think causes some problems in the game is that for some reason the inner compasses of some players are differently tuned in the game than in real life. I doubt that the guys who grab the opportunity to snatch nodes from others would do the same thing if they were out in a forest picking mushrooms. “Hey, someone else found a spot of mushrooms over there, I’d better rush and pick as many as I can in front of their eyes. After all there’s no law against it”. You don’t see that often, if ever. But in the game you do.

Where does this difference come from? Well, maybe our inner compasses aren’t telling the whole story after all. Maybe we all carry more features of selfishness or even evilness than we want to admit, even to ourselves. There’s an additional arrow in our compass, pointing in another direction. And the game provides an anonymous arena where we can try it out, obeying those less flattering sides of ourselves. Maybe we need it, as an outlet.

This is an attempt to explain it – but still I still don’t think it’s a valid excuse for behaving like a moron. If you want to explore your aggressive and mean sides, you can do that in PvP and no one will whine about it the slightest.

How to handle it
However, even if I do disagree with Gevlon – in the aspect I think that we as civilized citizens have moral contracts apart from the written laws – I do agree with his conclusion:

Of course you can call the people, who don't follow your non-existing rule "asshats" or "jerks", but it does not change anything. They most probably don't even know what you think, and if you /w it to them, remember, you are just an /ignore away. Calling them anything won't stop them taking "your" node. It increases your blood pressure though.

How true isn’t this! Getting angry won’t change anything, it will only make you more miserable – and what’s the point about that? Stay calm. Turn your back to hate and blaming and keep your eyes open. When you least expect it you’ll find someone with an inner compass pointing in the same direction as you and it will make your day.

A true story
I’ll end this quite messy, ranting post (which I apologize for, for some reason my mind seems to wander more than usual today) with a sweet – and true – little story. It all took place in Sholazar Basin, where I was questing the other day. I was on a mission to make a quest where you’re supposed to kill an elite by using a ward, reflecting his nasty deathbolts. When I arrived at the spot the mob was dead and I saw another guy waiting there. Now this was a hordie, so we couldn’t group. Since he was first on spot I waited to see him take down the guy first. He didn’t. He died, even though I tried to help him. When he had died, the tag went over to me, but of course I died too. (This quest was a bit tricky until you understood the drill). Corpse run back, followed by a new try, which also ended up in both dying. The third time however I managed to help him take down the mob. Conversation was impossible, for known reasons but he thanked me in gestures and I happily hugged him back. Then this hordie stayed around and waited for the mob to respawn and returned the service, helping me out.

There was no written rule that forced me to help him in the first place. And certainly no law told him to return the service. Still we partied in the way we could, since our inner moral compasses were synchronized. And you bet the warm and cosy feeling I felt in my stomach after this short encounter was a much bigger reward to me than the xp, gold and gear that the questgiver gave me.

So my final words are: keep listening to your own inner moral compass – no matter what the formal rules of Blizzard say. Do what’s right and don’t feel as a looser if other players take advantage of you because you’re “soft hearted”. Sooner or later you’ll run into likeminded players and in the long run I think you’ll end up as a winner, one way or the other.

If nothing else you’ll have a warm tummy.


David said...

In WotLK, I have generally had more positive experiences than negative ones with my fellow players. Many times I have grouped with strangers to work together on a quest, or I have been helped (or helped) alliance folks across faction lines.

Its always nice to get a /thanks or other friendly emote for your efforts. However, I can clearly remember the very few times I had a node grabbed from under me or I had been waiting on an NPC corpse for it to respawn and a caster came in and was spamming aoe to grab it first. I think its because they stick out they remain at the forefront of your memory, and you lose sight of all the pleasant experiences you have had. So when someone ninjas my node, I shrug and move on. It is just a game, after all.

On a side note, if you are a rogue or hunter and something is being ninja'd from you, its so nice to be able to feign death or vanish and then the ninja gets to deal with your mob while you grab your node and go on your merry way!

Anonymous said...

Its something we'll continue to face, especially as the population fights over spawn points. I think asking and being polite is the way to go, but sometimes you just have to be quick about it.

I spend a few minutes last night asking the 3 or 4 guys waiting for a spawn, to see if they'd like to team up. That way we all get the same kill. No answers, they just kept standing there. So I put my pet on aggro, dropped the AoE and grabbed the spawn. A quick kill and I'm off. Then one of the players starts getting huffy as I didn't wait "my turn".

Sorry bud, you decided that teaming up wasn't the right strategy, and chose every man for himself. I was just luckier. Suck it up and move on.

I'll help somebody kill a mob if I'm waiting, and team up with anyone to help both of us, but if they don't answer - then first wins.

Anonymous said...

I had an indident while questing and my mob that I had been killing trolls for 10 mins to get to respawn was tagged by someone who hadn't done the 10 min of killing required. There were 3 bosses like that and he 10ish min later got a boss I had already killed to spawn, I could have tagged his mob even though I didn't need it for revenge - While tempted - its not my style. The catch though is stealing someones kills/mobs/nodes when the intention is clear is a form of bullying and you shouldn't have to let people walk all over you.
I did cross the line once when a Tauren hunter was being annoying with my mobs - I had agro'd some mobs in my travels and was planning on shadow melding but it was too good an opportunity to pass up -so I did it ontop of him - and his pet took on the 6 mobs, He didn't die, but I felt a little better..

Gevlon said...

Dear Larísa!

A moral compass is a dangerous thing. You don't know how it works or why, it just works. Most probably it was programmed by your parents when you were a little child. The catch is that since it's not YOUR programming, it can make you do harmful things.

Just think of the neo-nazis. Nobody pays them do do what they do. It's definitely against their personal interest to spend their money on nazi regalia and weapons, spend their time on marching and attacking people, risking being imprisoned or get injured in combat. So if they were selfish, they would not do it.

They do it because their moral compass says that it's right to "clense" the country from "aliens".

Same for islamic fanatics, communists, neo-conservatives. They all believe that what they are doing is morally right.

Remember, no selfish people caused wars since we don't risk being killed. The wars are always made by those who believe that they have to follow their moral compass even if it cost their lifes.

Anonymous said...

Mining nodes, slow spawn mobs, killing x mobs quest , finding x drops from mobs…

With so many petitions and /cry for changing I only feel it adds to the game a very wellcomed (imo) posibility of interaction with different people that acts very differently. Social interaction being the core of the game for me.

I have seem , and take myself!, many different conducts, from cross-faction colaboration ( and I play in PvP server) to same faction ninja behaviour via DoT areas of spamming points

As for the goblins way thinking… I have to admit that a big part of colaborations (same and cross factions) come for selfishness… If there is a pink pingtailed little gnome killing the elite mob I “need” I can take three ways of action:

1 “Backstab” her with a good pair of Arcane barrages
2 Aim those same barrages to the mob
3 Wait for “my turn” idly

Option 1 would be the choice if she or his guild is on my “black list”…(Or I had a very bad day :-S) , in any other case probably this only would make to lose time on the long run, as it is very probable we meet on another quest step…when odds could be different

Opt 2 , I help the little (and cute) gnome she kills quickly the mob, less waiting, and its very probable she will stay to help me…If only to assure same behaviour in next step from my part..

By principle I would never take option 3, staying idly only adds to the waiting for the next spawn (as allways there is an exception, if the mob is realy winning the fight it could be an option ^^)

Free advice for people who increases their blod presssure, go play Neverwinter nights, its all for yourself.

Anonymous said...

About that mushroom patch in real life. What if those mushrooms was really expensive and if you got enough of them you could buy yourself a new TV. Also if you didnt get them tonight you probably wouldnt have the chance to go out in the forest for another month. Then I think a whole lot more would fail their inner compass checks.

Personally I could consider ninja a node for a horde player but not an alliance player, unless he is on the current "hate" list for like ninjaing a node in front of me or something. :)

Anonymous said...

@David: Ah, sweet revenge for a rogue! Even my moral compass would accept that.

@Typhoonandrew: in those cases you're perfectly in your right to try to snatch it. It's strange, those people not wanting to group. What are they afraid of?

@Pugnaciouspriest: well revenge again... as long as you didn't start it I guess it's ok.

@Gevlon: you DO have a point and I know I'm naïve. I read this morning in the paper about terror deeds in India. Those people probably thought they had a right cause. Sigh... The world is complicated.

@Eishen: I realize playing on a PvP server is pretty different. I think I wouldn't have any problem with node snatching etc from the opposite faction there. It's a part of the game and you have agreed to it.

@Zakesh: Snatching mushrooms for a TV???!!! Nah. For a super computer for Wowing maybe :)
No seriously I don't snatch mushrooms unless I really have to. If it was the end of the world and I was starving I guess my inner moral compass might change a bit, the instincts of survival would take over.

And I can't get that war against hordes into my head. I guess it's because I'm such a PvP noob. I fail to see the conflict.

Anonymous said...

I like to think I'm better than the Internet Ashattery Equation. I also like to think that when the situation arises, that I'm not just out for myself. But I also like to think that there really is a Dog Heaven, so maybe I'm just a foolish idealist.

The world is complicated, but I think that when you dissect it down into tiny, individual moments, you can see where there are times that you can do good for other people. For whatever reason, and maybe with unforseen repercussions, but hopefully for the (even localized) betterment of all.

Fish said...

I had a similar situation which surprised me involving a node (not an opposite faction player, it was on a PvP server). I was mining mithril in the badlands when I saw a level 71 pally come in after me near the node. I hurried up and killed my mob and started mining. He actually whispered me and said "Do you mind if I hit that, I am just trying to level" I was so taken aback that he was polite, I told him I was doing the same thing and I didnt mind. I went over to the ogre cave and we shared 2 other mithril nodes.

I guess I expect the lowest common denominator, but when people are courteous and mannerly, it is a memorable, enjoyable experience.

AJ said...

@Fish: Yup, most of us get used to expecting less of other people than we will expect of ourselves. It's that whole moral compass deal whereby for some reason we see the average actions of the average majority out there in WoW land and say "That's less than I want to be."

@Larisa: I think you hit it on the head at the end of your article, there's what's handed out as the norm from the top, and what we want to be. Like I said on Gevlon's post, I don't ninja, but I get over it when others do it to me. It's a game and nothing's worth losing sight of that, even a few titanium veins.... :)

Anonymous said...

@Oriniwen: I'm a firm believer in doing good in the small scale. I'm old enough giving up saving the world. But making someone smile a bit for a second... that's worth a great deal.

@Fish: a little bit of politeness will take you a long way. I bet you were pretty much prepared to share anything with this guy, since he asked first.

@AJ: I think you're right. The worst thing when you're ninjad isn't the loss of a node. It's the loss of your spirit. Which you can prevent by staying calm at it.

Anonymous said...

Sorry bud, you decided that teaming up wasn't the right strategy, and chose every man for himself. I was just luckier. Suck it up and move on.

I'll help somebody kill a mob if I'm waiting, and team up with anyone to help both of us, but if they don't answer - then first wins.

I agree 110% Typhoonanddrew. I can't stand when people wont group and waits for the mob to respawn. GRRR!