Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Was Cataclysm Really That Bad?

I've always been one to rip apart this current expansion.  I can go and list point after point about the mistakes I believe Cataclysm has made and while some might be highly debatable over all it seems the consensus of the player base would agree that there where mistakes made.  Even people that say they love the expansion still have many things they complain about with it.  But was Cataclysm really that bad?

Some things are not really up for debate.  Mistakes where made with professions, questing, and areas that are not connected or fluid.  Having a big baddie that was less exciting and motivating than watching paint dry was also a bad call on their part.  So yes, Cataclysm sure did have it's issues and if it goes down as the worst expansion ever it will be a well deserved title it should wear in shame but there is another issue that Cataclysm takes the heat for over and over again that really is not the fault of the expansion but a fault of the community.

Back in those first days of people hitting 85 and doing the new heroics in 329, or faked 329, gear the downfall of Cataclysm really began.  The bad questing, people could deal with.  The areas not being connected, people could deal with.  The bad everything else the expansion will go down being known for, people could deal with.  The dungeons in the random setting, being they are what people would need to grind over and over on every character they make could not be easily forgiven. 

The increased difficulty was probably the number one reason for lost subscriptions early on.  However, there is one problem with saying that.  The increased difficulty was not really that hard.  Take any half way competent guild group or any premade group into one of them and it might take 45 minutes to an hour.  It might even result in a few wipes while everyone was still gearing up that first time.  But it sure as hell was not difficult, just a small challenge while learning it.

That same deadmines run that lasted 6 hours and went through 14 people in a random took and hour and only the starting five people with a guild group that first trip through while gearing up.

It was not the content that was the problem, it was the player base.

It really is that simple.  The number one problem with cataclysm was not a problem with design at all, it was a problem with over estimating the ability of the average player to work in a group setting while partnered with random people.

So yes, it is still blizzards design fault.  They should have known their own customer base better but the only reason things where bad was because of that same customer base.

The players could have fixed a huge portion of the problem by just being better at playing the game.  The players could have fixed what made sure cataclysm will go down being known as the worst expansion ever by working as a team.

If we take out the fact that it was the players that made dungeons so horrible, and that mistakes of the 2 zuls for such a long time, was cataclysm really all that bad?

There is a lot we can complain about but what it comes down to the most, the hallmark of how horrible cataclysm was, is the dungeon grind.

Even now you can get into a dungeon and it is a wipe fest.  I don't do dungeons any more except on the rare occasion and when I do I usually do them until I get one of those groups and I stop doing them again.  I have that ability, I am already geared, but new people gearing up that are trying to get geared still have to do the dungeon crawl and still have to deal with all those dreadful dungeons and pitiful players in them. 

Those are the people that are just learning now how horrible this game is, how horrible this expansion is.  They are noticing it is horrible because of the dungeon grind.

Those people will remember the pitiful players and complain about them but they will remember the dreadful dungeon as being the problem.  They will not fault the true reason that the dungeon was dreadful, the players in it.

If the skill of the players had been better, if the community was more helpful, if people took responsibility for knowing what to do on their own instead of expecting to be carried, the dungeons would have been better.

If the players had any self respect as to not go into them without knowing them, withing being ready for them, without being gemmed, enchanted, and informed, the dungeons would have went smoother.

If the dungeons went smoother, went as easy as they really are instead of the hell they became, then people would have been happier doing them.  If the community was happier doing the grind, the one true big grind nearly none of us can escape, then we would have been having fun instead of slinging insults back and forth about bad players and worse dungeons.

If they dungeon crawl was fun and we liked it then it would have been a lot easier to over look all the other problems like the linear questing, the disconnected areas, the professions not being aligned, the missing nesingwary quests, and all those other things that we might say where wrong in cataclysm.  If we where having fun doing what we ended up doing most of the expansion, dungeons, we could have overlooked the other failings of the expansion.

If we, the players, the community, where better, the expansion would have been better, or at least seemed better.  It might have still ended up being known as the worst expansion, but not as much as it will now.

The ones to blame for how bad cataclysm really was are the players.

So was cataclysm really that bad?  Maybe.

Could it have been made better?  Absolutely, if only the community was a better place with better people in it.

Cataclysm was a horrible expansion, no doubt about that, but it would have been a lot better, a lot more bearable, if not for the horrible player base.  The people are what turned cataclysm into a nightmare.  Not blizzard.

Just look at the tail end of the expansion.  The looking for raid as the perfect example of how the player base took something that could have been good and fun and helpful for many and ruined it just like they have everything else this expansion. 

There was nothing wrong with the loot rolling system, but the players abusing said system is what made it a horrible loot system.  There was nothing wrong with the content, but the player base dogging it and making others carry them is what makes it horrible.  There is nothing wrong with the minimal challenge it offers for random people but the player base that purposely does things wrong to grief others is what makes it horrible. 

The looking for raid is a fantastic tool for quick valor and some fun, too bad the community, that horrible player base, turned it into hell.  Blizzard did well making it, the players are the ones that made it horrible.

Blame your fellow player for how bad cataclysm is.  Sure it might have been bad on its own, but it is not really as bad on its own as any of us will remember.  The players made it that bad by being horrible players and horrible people and a horrible community.

So when people say cataclysm was the worst expansion ever they are telling the truth but they should realize that it is also the worst the community has ever been.

We are all looking forward to mists, hoping mists can make things better than cataclysm was.  Blizzard is making their efforts on their end.  Making dungeons easier and challenge mode have no random finder option.  Attempting to fix some of the community created problems that came with the looking for raid.  But no matter what blizzard does, no matter how hard they try, even if there is a miracle and it is the best thing since sliced bread you have to remember, the community can destroy it.

The community destroyed cataclysm.  Lets hope the players learned something and don't go around destroying another expansion like they did this one.

So was cataclysm really that bad?  Yes and no.  But the community is absolutely the worst it has ever been in the game, that is for sure.

So it the community the reason for cataclysm being so bad or is it because cataclysm was so bad that made the community worse?

Chicken or egg question there.


  1. If only we lived in a utopia filled with perfect people who are respectful and care for each other, certainly none of the community-related problems you listed would have happened.

    But we don't... And I think you have severely downplayed how much responsibility Blizzard has on the state of the playerbase.

    Social engineering plays a HUGE role in shaping the behavior of players in this game, and the only entity with the real power to do it is Blizzard. Every single design decision they make veers the players to act in a certain way - some overtly, some subtly, but all of them have an impact. I might write a 10-page essay on this, but I’m sure somebody somewhere has already done it better.

    Where this is most visible is in the tools the very community has to police itself (or lack thereof). Blizzard incentivizes the creation of random groups more and more, empowering the asshats with anonymity, and gives no reliable way to punish them for their bad behavior. We all know how that turned out.

    1. I have said it before that blizzard created the environment that festered all of this downgraded community. So yes, blizzard is at fault for allowing it to happen.

      My point here was the player base could have enjoyed everything just fine if it acted like adults instead of little children misbehaving while mommy was away.

      Blizzard might have put the system in motion for letting people act like asshats, but the people could have just not been that way.

      I am not that way in randoms, maybe you are not either. There are many of us that are decent people willing to help and looking to have fun.

      If we can resist the urge to be complete asshats, everyone else can as well. There is nothing special or hard or challenging about acting like a decent human being that would keep anyone from doing it.

      But then again, seeing all these people in randoms would lead me to believe that I am wrong, there is indeed something special and extremely rare in acting like a decent human being because as it seems 90% of the player base can't do it.

    2. And if the wal street bankers hadn't been greedy the Recession wouldn't have happened. Designing a system that assumes people will act a certain way without and penalties or rewards for that behavior is just stupid.

      Yes people could be better. But the definition of crazy is doing the same thing over and expecting a new result. the LFG debacle has been one repeated stupidity after another by blizzard. Same result everytime, same confused developers. Same people blaming the players.

      Wow is getting more like Somalia every day. No consequences mean bad behavior anytime you have people involved. Until the devs accept that there have to be negative consequences backed up by positive rewards to get the behavior they want it won't get any better.

      Any parent could explain it to them. Adults aren't any different than kids. Except that they are better are rationalizing how much better they are.

  2. Everyone who I have asked will all give a different reason for not liking Cataclysm. That says to me that there is a lot more subjective at play than there has been in any other Expansion to date.

  3. "There was nothing wrong with the loot rolling system, but the players abusing said system is what made it a horrible loot system."

    LFR is gogogo town, and there is no time in that scenario to carefully evaluate which loot should be rolled need on vs greed vs pass. Blizzard recognized this and is making improvements so that you don't have to roll at all. You will just keep moving and killing things without worrying about it.

    As far as community goes, the limitations of the ignore list tell me that Blizzard doesn't want us to ignore all the jerks. If they increased the size of the ignore list, or allowed us to ignore all characters on a battle.net account then it might be more pleasant. Third party ideas like http://playerscore.com and http://Openraid.us also exist as an attempt to add reputation to the game as a way to filter people out.

    I understand jerks are paying customers, but I still like the idea of letting them play with each other and not with the rest of us. I imagine jerks don't like other jerks though, so they need to be mixed in with the general population or they will unsub. (That's probably one reason the free-to-play people can't chat. They would be trolling without consequence.)

  4. lol...I'd love to agree but it's the same problem the Devs have had since Vanilla. They've always assumed that the players will use everything as intended. You'd think by now they'd have gotten wiser but they keep making the same mistake over and over. It's like listening to an Economics professor talk about how Economics is all about assuming people will make economically rational decisions.

    The original LFG tool was a disaster and they've slowly strangled the community with one fix after another that ignores human behavior.

  5. I think the problem is that with Dungeon Finder they first undermined social fabric that allowed hard dungeons - difficulty in assembling group (which allowed pre-screening, personal contact, and social pressure to perform better for the good of the group); and then in the next step created content that required it - which would worked perfectly fine if Dungeon Finder wasn't there.

    Community destruction came first, created by Blizzard themselves.

    And now they undermined Raid Running with LFR too.

  6. Sure, the playerbase could have handled it better, we all could have behaved better, that's absolutely fine.

    But from my POV around 70% of the playerbase are asshats. But why?

    I count myself as someone who doesn't want to ruin a persons game and generally wanting to have a good time for everybody in the run. But I have caught myself dropping group without saying a word, rolling need on stuff for my guildies and so on. All things that I don't really want to do. "but why did you Eki?"

    Firstly there are no consequences. And I mean NO consequences. Well now you say "but Eki, you said you were a decent guy who does not want to mess with peoples runs". Yes I still believe I am. But at that occasions I didn't really grasp that that warrior that can't tank was a person as well. He was "the thing that's supposed to maintain threat". And the priest was, well, "the thing supposed to keeping everyone alive".

    I failed to see that I myself was ruining the run for another PLAYER. So I left, rolled need and was being an asshat myself, just because I didn't really think about it.

    How many people do you think are really considering what they are doing when they roll need on something for their friend? Many do so, yes, but many just don't realize that they're being a jerk because they don't see the impact nor any consequences.

    And that's what blizzard has taken from us with that whole random-thing. We do not come in contact with people in our random-groups anymore, we don't talk to them. We just kill some internet dragons and leave group.

    This is ruining the community I think, and that's clearly Blizzards fault in my opinion.

    1. The original release of things things were fine, we, the players ruined it.

      The only mistake on blizzards part was not realizing that 90% of their player bases are asshats.

      In a way, you could say that was a huge mistake.

      After they made this misjudgement about the average player it was in our hands, we made it 100 times worse.

      They made a mistake, we made it worse.

      Blame is on both sides.

  7. I too found Cata to be the worst WOW expansion.

    However, at the very beginning of the expansion I was actually having the most fun in WOW in a long time. Dungeons were difficult, small mistakes of any group member would often lead to a fast wipe and it generally felt like it was (somewhat) challenging.

    I guess the reason I had such a good time at the start of Cata was due to the fact that I ran one or two PUGs and then noticed that 99% of WOWs players have an IQ that's lower then their own body temperature. Add to that the total lack of any challenge and the lack of any effective "idiot filters" during most of WotLK (on the contrary - they gave you a 30% buff to help compensate for the incompetence). The next thing you know you're chain-wiping in some measly little heroic dungeon. But I digress...

    What I then did was to stop running PUGs and simply played with my guild. This lead to some of the most fun dungeon runs I've ever had in WOW. Our equip was dismal but we still completed all the dungeon achievements and it was really great.

    Sadly the forum was filled with the imbeciles that whined for weeks and then Blizzard (being motivated purely by maximizing profits) caved in and started making the content imbecile-compatible.

    And that was the end of that.

    A further point I agree with is just how terrible the WOW-community really is... I played Rift for a few months on and off and there I really saw how even a semi-decent community can improve the game experience a great deal.

    In Rift people actually communicate (and by that I don't mean the usual WOW-style "lolol omg noob" but actual communication) and people somehow are willing to cooperate with each other. First I thought it had to do with the non-existent anonymity in Rift (because there was no cross-server LFG) but even after that was implemented in Rift people still remained way more decent in Rift then they ever were in WOW.

    If something goes wrong with a pull or boss fight then people will ask what the problem was (not simply to flame and troll but to help the new player get a grip of the content so he/she doesn't fail in the following try).

    Rift felt like playing a game with friends and WOW feels like playing a game with internet trolls or (at best) young teenagers.

    Which brings me to my last point: perhaps it is simply a generation or age problem. From the way the community acts you could think that the average age is about 13 and the mental age even lower then that.

    It used to be that barrens chat was the place for the kiddies to flame each other - nowadays the Og trade channel is filled with more "Anal [linked-ability]" then actual trading. For any adults (or even mature teenagers) this is very off-putting.

    Basically it doesn't really surprise me if the same imbeciles that are linking "Anal [Rend]" are also the ones that were whining for face-roll content and total anonymity so their anti-social behaviour doesn't fall back on them.

    What WOW needs is some sort of player-ranking - and I don't mean some epeen extension tool - but an actually possibility to punish the anti-social players.

    A big start would be if there were special WOW-servers that require you to always have Real-ID active (and viewable by everyone) and require you to be over 18 years of age to play there. Then implement some sort of infraction-system and if you get too many infractions then you get an automatic temp-ban for that server only or a mandatory character transfer to one of the regular (imbecile-)servers if you get warned repeatedly.

    But that would require Blizzard to acknowledge the problem with the terrible community and terrible individuals in the first place - and I guess that would be bad for their profit margin. Basically my 15$ are worth just as much as the 15$ of the barrens chat kiddies so I guess that won't be happening any time soon...

    Maybe I'm just getting too old for WOW..?

    1. If you are getting to old for it then so am I because I feel the same way.

      Those starter dungeons in starter gear where hell in pugs but extremely exciting with guild mates. It felt like we accomplished something when doing it as a guild.

      I think that is the biggest key. When doing things with a group of my design I want challenge. When doing things in a group of random people, I want it over as fast as possible.

      It seems everyone thinks the same way. The difference is, as an adult, when it does not go as fast as possible I can deal with it and not insult others whereas 90% of the players immediately turn to that as their outlet for anger for someone making what should have been done as fast as possible take more time.

      The key with random content, and why I actually agree with the masses here, is that it should be easy as sin. It should be idiot proof. If it is idiot proof people would not be pushed to the levels of anger I have seen from people being stuck wiping over and over again.

      That frustration is what drove the community into what it is. Most people will not be adults and just leave group, they will make a rude comment, which in turn upsets another person and another person after that and sooner or later there is a huge ball of hate rolling all over the place from one person to another.

      A player reporting system would be a good idea with the exception of what has already been stated here... 90% of the player base is horrible.

      If I win a piece of gear they wanted... bad rating for me. If I said, afk 1 minute and they wanted to keep pulling... bad rating for me. If I do more DPS than them... bad rating for me.

      People would just give bad ratings to people because they do not like them. It would have nothing to do with if the person is good or bad.

      Perfect example would be if I where in a dungeon with a new shaman healer and they said they where having a problems and I take three minutes to explain the basics for healer because I have an end game shaman I would have one good rating on me, from the healer, and three bad ratings because I was wasting the time of the other three people.

      So my player rating from one run would be 25% because I helped someone that asked for help.

      Rating systems would never work, the community is not good enough to do it honestly and correctly. You need a decent player base for something like that to work and that is something WoW is really lacking in.

    2. Interesting point about the community being too poor to rate itself.

      That is true if the total score of the community is used as an absolute ranking.

      However, if it were weighted then it could still work.

      If you rate someone down, then their ratings could be set to affect you less.
      If you rate someone up, you could be grouped more with people that they rate up.

      Actual implementation may be hard, but the concept is simple.

      see also

  8. Idiots exist. Anybody that forgets this (or that constructs hypotheticals where idiots do not exist) does so at their own peril.

    Blaming the community for the abuse of the LFD/LFR system is pretty dumb. Anybody that was paying attention could have predicted what would happen when idiots were introduced to the system.

    The blame should fall on Blizzard. The group play systems were designed with very little ability to handle problems or correct for the introduction of idiots. In real life, we build bridges with huge safety margins because of the deadly lessons of the past. In WoW, LFR was created with almost no corrective tools for removing troublemakers.

  9. I understand your perspective but for someone like me who was never interested in end-game in the first place, all the destruction brought by The Shattering etc. falls squarely on Blizzard's shoulders.

    And sometimes it's wasn't even 'really' game related but a choice made by Blizz nonetheless: the Battlegroup Fora were the place were a lot of the player interaction of e.g. the various XP-Locked communities took place in the EU, yet when Blizz EU revamped the Fora at +/- Cata launch it decided to remove those Fora - resulting in the decline and disappearance of most of that community.

    Same with the removal of the Suggestions and Off-topic Fora btw.