Friday, July 13, 2012

Should Content be Exclusive?

With all the talk being about gating content with attunement or some other sort of gate and reading comments on my own blog and others as well as forums all over the place lately it has me thinking that what it all boils down to is exclusive content.

The two sides seem to have common ground on some points.  The main one is that neither side wants bad players in their raids.

What they seem to disagree with is how you would go about this.  The pro-attunement side says that using them as a gate would scare away some of those players and the anti-attunment side says that the bad players will still get in.

They are both right.  Bad players will still make it in and some of those bad players won't want to bother themselves doing it so they would do whatever else they want to do in game instead.

Basically this all comes down to another argument, not just one of attunements because having attunements will not fix the problem and not having one will not fix the problem.

Do you believe that content should be exclusive or inclusive?

The current format of the game is that regardless of a persons ability to play the game they can enter any part of the game.  They can gear up for any part of the game without ever doing that part of the game.  A PvP player can enter PvE and a PvE player can enter PvP.  Each type could buy gear for the other type.  The game now is more inclusive than it has ever been.

Do you support that type of game play?

Or would you rather a more exclusive type of game play.  One where PvE geared players can not enter an arena.  One where PvP geared players can not expect to raid.  One where you need to work your way through content instead of just joining any type of top level content the second you hit top level.

Would you prefer that?

If you want my opinion, I think there should be middle ground.  I think it should be inclusive enough to allow my alts to move into end game seamlessly, but I would love to see some more serious gates to keep new players and first time PvP/PvE type players from joining in on the end game content. 

Something closer to BC/Wrath.  Not as exclusive as vanilla by requiring people to have copious amounts of free time to grind materials needed for resist gear and consumables but not as inclusive as the end of cataclysm where people that do not even know the basics of their class can get into a looking for raid.

Some food for thought from something someone posted that I found interesting.

Vanilla -  The most exclusive release. Solid growth, and the making of a hit game.
Burning Crusade - The 60% exclusive release. Continued solid growth building on a successful game.
Wrath - The 60% inclusive release.  Slower growth, but a continuous upward tick.
Cataclysm - The most inclusive release. Massive subscription losses and not even gimmicks can stop them from falling..

They said it shows that the more inclusive the game becomes the worse it does over all.  Not sure I agree 100% with that theory, I think it might have a little to do with the game just being old and people moving on, but what they said does ring a little true when looking at it.  The more inclusive the game becomes, the less people play it.

Is there something to that and should content be exclusive?


  1. Intend to give a more thorough comment, atm bit too sleepy.

    The inclusiveness is a bit slanted, you can for example convert Valor to Conquest but not vice versa.

    Also, with regards to the various Expansions and growth: people are imo looking at it from the wrong angle, they keep looking at the end-game when most subscribers (*crak!* says the record) don't even have a single character camping the last bracket. Vanilla had more 'game' than TBC pre-end cap, TBC more than Wrath, etc., with TBC having Arena and Belfs as additional reasons for its success (it opened up the game for those that liked Beat Em Up games and, to put it bluntly, evil Barbie dolls). Cataclysm, according to some/many, basically removed everything but end-game, part of the whole 'Raid or Die' issue people had and have with Cata, and as a result people ranging from 'Tobold's wife' to a whole slew of post-XP Patch Twink players left the game.

    How MoP's even-faster race to end-cap but more apparent alternatives to Raiding will pan out remains to be seen, but personally I think that many people just are disillusioned with end-game in general (notice that over the Expansions end-cap tooons seem to have become more common, more inclusive if you uwill, yet subs faltered).

    But off to bed now :)

    1. You raise a valid point. It is a well known fact, even now that they are trying to make everyone a raider, that roughly 7% of the player base raids including those that do LFR.

      So maybe the issue is that blizzard is trying to push people into a part of the game that most people do not really want to be a part of.

      If they made raiding so inclusive and people still do not want to do it perhaps it is better to just leave it as the exclusive thing it used to be and develop more non raid material.

      Just a thought, not really advocating that.

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    1. I do not have a twitter account but perhaps I will make one this weekend. Thanks.

  3. I've been thinking a lot why a lot of people who used to play have left the game after Wrath.

    My guild was your more or less typical social raiding guild. In Wrath we had a 10m progression team that was working towards LK heroic (let's call it core raiders). Then we had another 10m that was working towards getting LK normal kill (let's call them casual raiders). And then there was our thursday 25m run which basically had most of our guild involved and we used to down, I don't know, two-three quarters. Anyway, this worked sort of great. At the start of Cataclysm, there was a problem. First off, dungeons. They were harder. Required some group coordination at the start. Tanks and healers were limited and we, the core raiders, kept to ourselves. Why, because even though we loved to help, we sometimes ended up wiping two hours on some boss like Valiona in Grim Batol. Here we felt the first crack of the rift. Then there were the first raids. We, the core raiders, were ready sooner then the rest because, well, we just were more dedicated. So we did raids and they weren't easy, we still had lots of blues and all that. The casual raiders wanted to raid and officers explained that they need better gear and all that since they're not as easy as LK runs at the end of runs. Eventually, the dps officer organized a raid for them. They wiped for 3 hours on Magmaw. Dps officer said he doesn't want to go with them ever again. We kept organizing stuff but they bearly downed 1-2 bosses per week. It was hard for them and we, the core raiders (half of us being the officers) seemed to care more about our own progress. Which was true to some extent, I mean I can't force someone to wipe 5 hours a week just because some players want to try and try and try. The rift got beigger. Players who wanted to raid but didn't make the core group moved on. Us core raiders became more progress focused, like never before. And we became vicious about our performance and that eventually split us too. I know a lot of guilds had that happen. Players form 25m moved on for better progress in 10m and so on and so forth.

    So here I am thinking... I think the game being more exclusive at the start is what broke a lot of guilds and make people leave. We did organize older raids but it didn't bridge the groups. Maybe I'm looking at it wrong. I think the inclusive thing is better.

    Or... maybe this could have been avoided if there actually *was* some sort of testing grounds. That way the player would have known through game mechanics if they are or aren't raid ready... call them attunements if you want (those that I've so far opposed), but with a sort of implementation that I find would never be possible to achieve (i.e. testing people's abilities to follow game mechanics, to coordinate, to hold aggro, to heal, to output a certain amount of dps etc)... so I'm not really sure where I'm standing anymore on this...

    1. I think you hit the nail on the head and I also think that is part of the reason so many people have no patience any more when doing dungeons.

      I know I have said it myself when I queue up for a random and get some new players and wipe a few times. I will help those looking for help, but if it is a bunch of people that just all seem to blame each other I leave and think... I already wiped on this boss 100 times 2 years ago. There is no way I am going to sit here wiping again... for people I don't even know.

      You are right however, my guild went through the same thing. We used to do 25s as a guild and ran 2 or 3 10s, so like yours, but the other angle. We did fine, we were able to include everyone, and while we did not get past 6/12 on heroic 25 we had a great time doing it.

      I think the difference is that a bad player in wrath vs a bad player in cataclysm is a HUGE difference.

      In wrath an average player would do 8K-10K and a bad player would do 6K-8K. So those good players that did 12K-14K more then balanced them out.

      Now, the good players do average player does 25K-30K and the bad players do 10K, so even if the good players are doing 35K-40K they do not made up the difference.

      I blame stat inflation on gear for making the game like it is. It made the gap between the good and bad bigger. 10K-40K vs 6K vs 12K. Where a good player doubled a bad player in wrath, they quadrupled a bad player in cataclysm. And it because bigger. Those are just DPS numbers, same goes for healing numbers and tanking numbers to some lesser extent.

      The stat inflation hurt the game more than anything else.

      I say it perfectly when I talk about hitting cap with a new number. In quest gear only, no gems and no enchants, I can do 12K. Most people can only do 6K. It is because I know my class so well. But even if I know my class so well, the difference should not be that huge, ever. The stat inflation on the gear makes that difference. It should be 6K vs 8K, not 6K vs 12K.

  4. Its obvious the game pushes an inclusion bias. But there is nothing to stop you from a more exclusive attitude. In raiding, you only recruit competent players. You can form your own groups outside of LFD. You can form a progression raid team that always clears a tier before moving on to the next (fortunately new recruits don't need to be carried through old content like in BC, they just gear up in dungeons or LFR).

    The downside is you get none of the conveniences that the game gives the inclusive crowd. Faster group/raid formation (so you can get to wiping faster :) Automated cross server groups.

    Your biggest barrier at that point is finding enough like minded people who want a game that is that exclusive.

    So Blizzard has decided that this level of exclusiveness is mostly the realm of Guilds. Or those few people who enjoys hanging out if trade chat for hours LFG. Basically they are done designing automated exclusion mechanics. Exclusive groups are now created manually.

    Fortunately they have designed several manual exclusion mechanics to choose from: guilds, arena teams, rated battlegrounds, challenge modes, Cross server invites for Real ID.

    1. You make some very good points about creating your own exclusiveness. Most raid teams, arena teams, etc, do that anyway without even noticing they are doing it.

      I think the basic question was missed however. Is it too inclusive now? So inclusive that it actually is hurting the game and more so the community as a whole. We have all heard horror stories about the looking for feature with people that should not be in it. Many of these people have either quit the game, quit using the system, or still use it and insult everyone that pass because they are fed up with the inability of many of the players in it.

      My personal opinion is it is way too inclusive. I have no issues with everyone seeing everything, but quite honestly some people shouldn't be included. Like a mage doing 2K in all valor and HoT gear. That is a level of incompetence that goes beyond bad play and sometimes being inclusive is just too much.

    2. My point is the automatic systems are NOT too inclusive. The problem is people want the benefits of the automatic systems, but find the drawbacks not to their liking (more specifically the level of player).

      If you want a near guarantee of avoiding bad players, engage the community directly and make your own groups. Don't use LFD. Use trade chat. Don't use LFR, create your own raids. Don't depend on Blizzard, depend on other players. Just like the good old days.

      You have a simple choice. Play the way you want 100% of the time, with a better (albeit smaller) community feel. Or use the quicky match up with random players and run the risk of getting a player you don't approve of.

      Even if you do use the LFD, you have the option to leave the group, and queue for another. Or you could kick a truly bad player, as long as enough people in the group agree with you. And that is the big problem: not everyone will agree with you.

    3. I've only ever kicked one person. I prefer to try and teach, or to leave myself if I have to.

      I do assemble my own groups but you know how much of a pain that is. The good old days were only good after you got the group going and it worked. It was not so good when you were spending 3 hours making a five man group. So I love the ease of a group finder, but I also hate that there is nothing to keep people out of it that should not be there to begin with.

      That is what it comes down to for me now. I occasionally take the chance with a random, but have low expectations going in so I can not be let down.

      It is a take it of leave it system as it is now. I think it could be better, but I also think blizzard does not want it to be better.

      If anything, they would like to find a way to funnel even more bad players into it, without adjusting the difficulty level down to their level.

      That is what happened at the beginning of cataclysm. They tried to have something that needed team work and tried to get more people to do it and it backfired and subsequently led to 2M lost subs. Proof inclusive does not work with complex content, even if it was not really hard.

      If they want to make content more inclusive, it needs to be developed for the lowest common denominator. Sadly, I would say 50% of the people in LFR and LFD do not have the skills, knowledge or true desire to be there. They are only doing it because it lets them.

      The game is still too complicated for them and thus too complicated to be this inclusive, in my opinion of course.

  5. I think you disregarded an important question and that is, what basis should the content be exclusive on? There's an intrinsic/extrinsic scale of exclusivity. Of course, it can be argued the content difficulty can always be tuned, however many if not most players play certain content because of its difficulty falling in certain range so there are limits to it. There is not much that can be done with intrinsic difficulty; I find many people do content because of its intrinsic exclusivity not despite of it. (I. e. if you turn the content from intrinsically exclusive to non-exclusive or vice versa, the group of people doing it changes.)

    As for attunements, they are basically extrinsic but they can be moved a bit closer to the other end of the scale. It would involve making them based less on time and more on whatever is needed to actually do the content they provide access to. (Of course, if the content is just time-based grind - unlike raiding -, time-based attunements are quite intrinsic.)

    My opinion is that a wide range of intrinsic exclusivity is a good thing - consider Cataclysm which initially lacked inclusive endgame content; it saw a loss of WoW subscriptions. Of course, correlation does not equal causation but many people cited this as a problem which means it was one of the most probable causes - if not more.

    There are some arguments for extrinsic exclusivity, the fact MMORPGs used to be full of these (and still are) is one. Another one is that players show the right attitude by putting up with game being annoying instead of expecting to have fun in the game any time they want. The counter argument is that extrinsic exclusivity is often not fun for players who would have fun doing the exclusive content and to a smaller extent vice versa as well. My opinion is it's acceptable in smaller amounts but I wish the game makes tried to avoid putting too much of it in their games.

    1. Good question.

      Not sure I know a good way to answer it but I think I will use PvP as an example and compare battlegrounds to dungeons and arenas to raids.

      Anyone can do a battleground (or dungeons) and have some success at it. Even if geared incorrectly they can get it done. It is not always pretty but there is a general chance at success no matter what.

      In arenas (or raids) anyone can join, but those not capable of handling it will be basically used and abused and spit out. They can go into an arena and get their butt handed to them or they can stick to battleground where there is at least a chance to win or they can keep banging their head against the wall in arena until they learn to be better.

      I do agree that the starting raids of cataclysm were brutal, even more so being blizzard seemed to want everyone to do them. Their biggest issue was (again relating it to arena) it seemed like they put these new teams in against 2400 rated teams right off the bat and they had no chance in hell. If the beginning bosses where 800 rated teams and the end bosses where 2400 rated teams it would have been fine. But to most non-raiders that blizzard was trying to push into them it was like throwing them into a 2400 rated team to start off with, and no one can learn like that.

      If anything, I think raid scaling is the issue. They should be larger and should start off easy and get progressively harder as you get further in with the bosses. Just like a new arena team faces low level teams and at least gets to get a few wins in once in a while until they reach the point that they need to get better or find something else to do.

      Now how that all relates to attunements, not sure. But like I always said, I like the idea of having at least some sort of solo quest people can do before they go in to give them some lore behind the raid they are going to do and perhaps even a few mini encounters they can do solo that mimics some of the mechanics they will be coming up against. Nothing long, just something that is a tiny testing ground and back story development.

      I don't think blizzard has the will or desire to ever put a real true proving grounds in the game for people to prove they know how to play their class, so while that is a great suggestion I have heard, I don't see it ever happening.

  6. Regarding attunements, you mentioned them in your post and I thought it was a tangent to the attunement post.

    I agree with your observation about PvP but I'm not sure how would this be accepted. DS's first boss was quite simple compared to other Cata bosses, I think they were trying to do exactly the same thing you described. Cue a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth. I still hope and think Blizzard will design the initial bosses to be easy in order to ease newbies into raiding and won't cave to people who do not understand flow of newbies is necessary for the raiding and WoW in general to survive.