Tangent to difficulty

I’ve got a rant sitting in my drafts.

Like most of my rants, it’s long, convoluted, and bitchy. More so than normal.

So that will come out another day to play.

Instead of ranting, today will be musing.

A few days ago, a string of posts came out regarding what made a game hard. My involvement began with a friend linking me Tobold’s post and then Dee’s post popped up in my feeder.

This post is NOT about what makes games hard. But the related posts were very good reads, especially the comments. Click them. I dare you.

What this post IS about, was a thought that wove in and out of the posts and their comments – “hard” and community.

Games like EQ (which I have never played, but read Tobold’s post so I am now an expert) and Rappelz (which I did play and was even in what could be considered a medium/high-end guild, not Paragon-esque but a good guild) have a certain amount of tedium to them.

Stuff takes time. A large portion of the game(s) involved running from A to B, killing mobs in the vain hopes of getting drops (in Rappelz you would actually have to de-level for certain drops. Imagine having to de-level to 20 or so if you needed to farm wool), crafting skills that had less to do with skill and relied more on wishes and prayers, time spent sitting around waiting for groups to fill, camping mobs, etc.

In WoW, stuff takes time, but not nearly as much time. Tir recently took a druid virtually from 1 to raiding in about a month and maintained his other raiding characters. In Rappelz, and I’m guessing EQ, this would have been a feat of madness and required a miracle. I’ve powerlevel professions in a day. In relation, the amount of time to get something done in WoW is┬áminuscule┬áto the other games.

But what does this have to do with community?

If you read the forums, blogs, and trade chat, there are a lot of complaints about the WoW community in general. We are all baddies, we’re all dicks, we’re all ninjas, we’re all retards and asshats.

I’ve never heard anyone speak ill of the EQ community and I can’t recall any truly bad apples in the Rappelz community. Granted, the Rappelz community was a bit smaller, but we had our forums and “trade chat” was server-wide. Everyone knew everyone else.

I don’t think tedious games make for better, nicer people.

But I do think that personalities given to asshattery are less likely to tolerate a game that requires tedium for success.

Take ninjas for instance.

In Rappelz, you couldn’t ninja at all. The loot system was bugged and stuck on “round robin” ALL THE TIME. There were like, 5 other loot distribution selections that didn’t work. So each item was distributed in order in a continuous loop through the party list. Because drops were so rare (you could grind a dungeon for 3-4 hours and only see 2 pieces of gear drop, with 8 people in a party), there was no expectation that if you got a healer piece that you would give it to the healer and they would trade you a DPS piece (with the exception of guild runs, of course). Oh no, you were well within your rights to take that drop to the capital, set up shop and try to get as much for it as possible so you could afford purchasing your own gear.

There were sneaky things you could do with shops to trick people into selling you their items when they thought they were getting a great deal and pet cards could be stolen by tamers. But due to the absolute time sink it was to get a pet card in the first place (not to mention all the deleveling to farm it) and the risk of it failing, people researched the fuck out of their tamer. If you didn’t have a guild tamer, you would spend hours looking for the person on the server with the best skill and the best reputation. If a tamer developed a bad rep, EVERY ONE on the server would know. They would be completely blackballed. No name changes, no server transfers, no hiding. You would have to start over from scratch – very time consuming, even if you were willing to pour real cash into it.

In WoW, ninjaing is as easy as putting together a pug run, putting it on master looter and awarding it all to yourself or your friends. Yes, people will bitch on trade chat and maybe even the forums, but due to the population size, it’s just one more name in a sea of thousands, assuming that any interested individuals were logged on and reading trade chat at the time. A name change and a server transfer if things get bad enough and you’ve got a clean slate. If it’s even worse, just level a new toon and you’re off the hook completely.

In conjunction with how easy it is to ninja, with the exception of incredibly rare drops (Ashes of A’lar, etc.), it’s a simple matter of running the dungeon or raid again, either the next day or the next week. Odds are good that you could get the drop again in a relatively short period of time. Calendar-wise, it may take a few days, but the actual real time invested in the run will amount to just a few hours, as opposed to countless hours farming for pet cards or for profession mats.

It’s my guess that ninjas and other idiots are individuals looking for quick rewards with no real expenditure of effort on their part. (Note that I’m not saying that all asshats are into instant gratification, nor am I saying that a person that prefers rapid rewards will necessarily be a dick. But I bet you’re more likely to find the pair of traits together in the people that piss us off.)

A game like EQ or Rappelz would quickly bore them since they would have to work to achieve anything. (And by work, I mean spend time. In Rappelz, it wasn’t like you had a complicated rotation or stat weighting to consider, there was no theory craft, not even a combat log. Gems were introduced as I was leaving and that was the first gear enhancement option available).

In WoW, because rewards are so plentiful compared to the amount of “weeding” required (go read Dee’s post), the asshole portion of the population has less to lose as compared to being in a grind fest game.

I am not asking for more grind in WoW (although I am a big fan of attunements), I enjoy the game much of the way it is. But I am interested in hearing from people that played vanilla or even BC, when the game had more grind-type mechanics. As the game has become less time-consuming, have you seen a change in the personality of the population that could be related?

10 comments on “Tangent to difficulty

  1. telanarra says:

    “Tir recently took a druid virtually from 1 to raiding in about a month and maintained his other raiding characters” We need to find him a small padded room.

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  2. slice213 says:

    Yup…WoW’s instant gratification does play to the crowd that would ninja etc. Anyone and their mother can get epics. There is no real sense of hardwork in WoW. Sure you have to get there and get some what geared…but it is not hard…

    I do agree atunement is some form is a good idea. Endgame in FFXI was not obtainable without some atunement etc.

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  3. [...] been thinking and she’ s pretty sure that the harder and more painful the game grind, the better and more mature its community becomes: Due to the absolute time sink it was to get a pet card in the first place [...]

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  4. DarkDalamar says:

    Hey I was vaguely referenced in this post. Go me. =)

    Great post, Arioch. I’m very interested to see where this series takes you.

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  5. Ghandy says:

    You said you were interested in hearing from people that raided in the Vanilla/BC era. So I figured I would grace you with a few words, having played the game since about 3 months after its’ original release.

    I know it’s a little late probably to be commenting on this post, since it’s been almost two weeks since the last comment. However, you seem to be the type that would be interested in hearing what I have to say whether it came today or a month from now. Unless you just interest hop from topic to topic and forget the last when the next pops into your head. I doubt that, so I’m going to go on with this comment.

    Back in Vanilla the raiding was quite a bit different in quite a few ways. For one thing, instead of having 10 and 25 mans there were 10, 20, and 40 mans. I participated in all 3 on a regular basis, however I admittedly started after 20 mans were introduced. Once you could get some gear in the 20 mans (Which was still not an easy feat) it made getting through the 40 mans a little bit easier. Hats off to anyone that went from UBRS to MC and actually downed Rags.

    I suppose that what you’re wondering is how the people in the raids acted as apposed to how they act now, since people are what this post was about and not really the content itself.

    Ultimately, they were a lot more cooperative and reliable. It was hard enough to get 20 people together to raid (much less 40), and it generally involved guild “alliances” of two or three guilds joining together to form a raid on a weekly basis. You don’t really see that much anymore because most guilds can manage to pull together at least 10 people and thats all you really NEED to raid anymore. Anyway, with the “alliance” setup, there was usually one guild that had fairly well geared players and the other two guilds would have moderately geared players. The well geared guild would run the raids and the other would just join in. That seemed to accomplish two things: It motivated the moderately geared people to try harder and be on time and such, because they had a chance to get better gear through the better guild. It also motivated the better guild to be reliable because they now had enough players to gear up to actually make it through the bigger raids. For the most part everyone seemed to know what they were doing, and if you failed it was due to people not being geared well enough, and not so much because they wanted to steamroll everything whether they knew what the fuck they were doing or not.

    I raided ZG and AQ 20 for quite a long time before the guild I was with moved on to MC (Which was challenging even fully geared in 20 man blues and epics). However, again, when you were invited to a 40 man raid it was because you knew what you were doing. You knew your class in and out, you knew the fights in and out, and you did everything you could to accomplish the desired outcome (which was obviously to down bosses). Obviously people were pugged on occassion, but it was always people that someone in the raid knew was a reliable replacement. I only remember a couple of instances where we recruited in trade chat. But you also have to remember that in a 40 man raid, you could have 2 or 3 people that weren’t well geared (especially dps) and still accomplish what you wanted. 2 or 3 people out of 40 wasn’t a huge difference. Of course it helped if they were equipped for the job, but if not it wasn’t to the detriment of the raid like it is now with 10s.

    As far as loot goes, there was usually someone in the raid that determined who the loot should go to, and most guilds used some form of DKP system back then anyway. However, you still couldn’t spend your DKP on an item that would obviously be useless to you. Also, a lot of times people with a really crappy piece for the particular slot that dropped would get the drop over someone that had something not quite as good but whatever dropped was only a minor upgrade. This ensured that everyone was at relatively the same gear level and thus helped the raid as a whole.

    Since it was so hard to gather that many people together on any given night (especially without some form of guild alliance) then if you weren’t on you didn’t go. Period. If you were on and capable of doing your job, you got a spot, and kept it until the raid was called or you left voluntarily. If you were replaced because you were late, that was your problem, and often times it didn’t matter because with that many people there were people being swapped in and out all the time because it was very hard to keep 40 people on long enough to complete an entire raid without pulling people off the bench. People that were “on the bench” were actually really appreciative about getting into the raid at all, and very seldom complained about not getting into it when it started. They still studied the fights, and they made sure that they knew what they were doing when they did get in, because that significantly increased their chances of getting in again.

    I have yet to raid in cataclysm yet due to time constraints and such, and I admittedly didn’t raid much during Wrath. But I will say that from what I hear about both, raiding during Vanilla and BC was a much more rewarding, and less frustrating experience. The people were easier to work with, they didn’t expect anything they didn’t deserve (in large part because of DKP systems) and they earned everyting they did get because if you didn’t do your part you didn’t get invited back, whether you were in the guild or not.

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  6. [...] single, solitary post about difficulty in games. For that month I either had 1500 dedicated readers or a handful of you spammed the refresh each [...]

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