Friday, January 2, 2009

The easier it gets the pickier we become

Lately there have been a couple of posts about pugging which have caught my attention.

Keen at Keen and Graev’s Gaming Blog wrote a post about a new and increasing phenomenon in the game, that people ask you about your stats before joining an heroic five-man PUG. In spite of the fact that he had sufficient gear and had completed the instance before he has been denied more and more often, since the PUG leader won’t settle with less than “imba” gear.

He finds this attitude quite frustrating, since he needs to do those instances in order to upgrade his gear. This is a new approach, according to Keen. You would never have seen it in Old school WoW – or in any other game.

A few suggestions
WyldKard at Mendax wrote another post, commenting on Keen’s complaints. He shares Keens objections, and points out that it resembles to how people play their alts. You’ll rarely find a player doing instances in the “normal” way, at the appropriate level in an equally levelled and not overgeared party, making it a challenge. If players levelling alts bother to run instances at all, they’ll be likely to get help from guildies or other friends with higher levelled toons, more or less boosting them. They want a smooth run and get over with it quickly, and they think they’ve had their share of wipes and struggling when they did the instances “for real” levelling their mains.

WyldKard things this attitude is quite harmful to WoW and has a few suggestions what Blizzard should do about it. One of his more wild ideas is to disallow two characters on the same account on the same server. Hmm… Alts forbidden… No I don’t think that would be a hit, to be honest.

His second idea is more interesting, though I don’t think it’s flawless. He suggests that you gimp characters so that their characters will be reduced in power if they’re running a low level instance. I can see a point in it – it would allow friends with characters at different levels to play together and have good, entertaining instance experiences, in spite of the level gap. They won’t be referred into the pretty boring boosting industry.

His third idea doesn’t make sense to me, especially not with the achievement system alive: he says that players should be locked out from endgame instances way below their gear level.

Being spoiled
Now over to my take on this. Where does this pickiness come from? It’s hard to say, but I’ve got the feeling that we’ve become a bit spoiled. It wasn’t too long time ago when a run in Shadow Lab heroic was a whole-night venture, which you could expect would take at least two hours and a number of corpse runs. But we seem to forget about that quickly. Towards the end of TBC pretty much everyone was overgeared for the instances and we ran through them in no time at all. In the expansion the instances have turned out to be fairly easy and above all short. If you get a spot in a party for an instance it’s quite common that you’ll end up doing two or three in a row, since they’re so short.

You could think that since the instances are quite easy and short, players should need to be LESS picky about the other PUG members then they used to be in TBC. But the effect has become the opposite. The easier it gets the pickier we become, starting to ask for stats as if we were about to make a try on the hardest 25 man raid boss in stead of just running a simple dungeon.

Honestly, I can’t help thinking that we’ve become a bit lazy. Do we expect everything in the game to be a free ride those days? Where is our appetite for challenges? Have we forgotten that a few wipes in the beginning makes the killing of the boss so much sweeter in the end?
And when did we become so obsessed with gear? If we want guarantees for an easy PUG, good gear definitely won’t give the whole story. You may found extremely lousy players dressed up in the shiniest purples if you’re unlucky.

Reasons for being picky
Do I ever ask for gear stats myself when I’m about to start a PUG? Normally I don’t. But I must admit that I’ll throw a glance and inspect my fellow players before starting. I only remember once when I’ve had objections. But that actually was in a PUG raid in Zul Aman, before the last nerf patch. We were supposed to do a timer run for mounts and I noticed that one of the healers was all in green and blue quest rewards. It was obvious that he would be a big burden to the raid so I informed the raid leader and he removed him.

If I’m doing a heroic PUG just for badges and rep I won’t be picky about gear. But if I was going for a certain achievement it would be a different matter. There are achievements which are designed as dps races, where a certain level is required, no matter of the skill of the player.
A little while ago I did a half pugged timer run in Stratholme. It was late at night and we formed the group with a couple of guildies and a couple of pick-ups. It turned out that one of the outsiders was a hunter with terrible gear. His poor dps slowed us down and we didn’t make it against the timer. If we had only remembered to check him a bit better before I’m sure he’d never have been invited; we would have waited another ten minutes, found another one and reached our goal.

My conclusion is that there are times when asking for stats for a PUG makes sense. But unless you’re going for achievements it’s often overkill.
After I wrote this Gevlon came up with a post on this topic, sharing his goblin PUG rules. They seem pretty harsh to the softhearted merrymaker Larísa, though I must admit most of it makes sense. And I must credit him for not demanding overgeared players in all purples. Blue gear will do according to him. Non-performing players won't do though.


Anonymous said...

I remember back in the days of BC, when I first got my priest to level 70.

I had ALOT of the dungeon 3 set, and merely one purple- merciless glad mace.

I was turned down by SO many groups because of my gear. Fortunately, one group was already half way done, and the "better" [geared] healers wouldn't join a raid for just half the bosses.

When I got in with my priest...
I rocked the healing. To say the least, the raid leader actually apologized for asking me so many questions about my gear, spec, and experience =P

It was SO annoying when people demanded you to have practically full tier 6 to even get invited to their Karazhan.

Ah well. I'm in a raiding guild now, so it's ok =P

Gevlon said...

Checking others it's not about being spoiled and wanting free rides. It's about everyone pulling their own weight. A noob slipped in and not kicked before the first boss is harmful two ways.

The smaller harm is making the instance long and painful for 4 other people who did not deserved it

The big harm is he gets gear, making it easier for him to fool others into taking him to the next ride. Maybe because you boosted him in HC UK, he will get into a Naxx25 PuG and makes the life of 24 innocent people miserable.

Fish said...

I think the pickiness comes from the sheer rules of supply and demand. There is an over-abundance of DPS characters and now with practically everyone having a death knight, "tanks" (not necessarily saying these death knights have any skill or desire to tank, just they have a general ability set and plate armor). Healers, at least on my server, are between super rare and non-existant.

I think you would find that healers not normally qualified to run heroics are being let into groups purely because they can heal.

Again, sheer supply and demand, if there are 10 people who can do the same thing, a group would be foolish not to take the best one for them.

Anonymous said...

I am not exactly sure why you couldn't post on my new update. I changed some of my settings around so it might work next time. Anyway, thanks for the feedburner idea, I have my account up and running now :).

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I think excluding someone who's perfectly fine because they may not have enough spellpower or might be 2% under hit cap or something. I mean, how're people supposed to gear if they can't get into runs.

I solve this problem by only running with guildies, which I suppose is an elitism all by itself. I just can't bring myself to be a part of the pug mayhem. I mean, pugs are just so nasty and unpleasant.

Anonymous said...

Previous comment is lacking something, sorry it didn't make sense. It should say...

"Honestly, I think excluding someone who's perfectly fine because they may not have enough spellpower or might be 2% under hit cap or something, is terrible. I mean, how're people supposed to gear if they can't get into runs?"

Anonymous said...

@a mages guide to life: yeah. I've seen a warlock topping the damage list in Gruul 30 minutes after dinging 70, mostly dressed in greens and quest rewards. Gear doesn't tell even half the story.

@Gevlon: Yes, but the question is where to draw the line for what's "good enough" and what isn't. For 5 man instances I don't think you should require epic gems in all slots or the most exclusive enchants. It's really overkill, something I thought you didn't approve of.

@Fish: yeah, when you point it out I think you're pretty right. It's really the buyers market when it comes to dps, while people more or less will accept any kind of healer as long as he heals, no matter of stats.

@Mae: well I guess people can gear up by crafting and rep grinding to some extent. But I agree it's a pity if you demand so good gear from people that most drops in the heroics will be sharded. Then there's something wrong in the concept.

Captain The First said...

Hmmm come to think of it I've been denied for groups lately just for mal-enchanting some of my gear due to training up enchanting.

I think what we're lacking at the moment is a general guideline for how much of stat x you should have to do heroic/raid y.

Once the numbers are out there and they settle in nicely with the population maybe the pickiness will stop.

I hope so, because I haven't run anything with my lock yet and I'd hate to be turned down for wearing frostsavage gear.

Ah well, it's only been 2 months into the expansion, I suppose things will smooth over a bit soon enough.