Friday, May 4, 2012

How to Fix Bad Players: Part I - Leveling

This is a first in a series of posts aimed at fixing bad players and determining what makes bad players bad.

How to Fix Bad Players: Part I - Leveling

The quality of players we see in our looking for dungeon and raid groups seems to keep going down.  More and more we run across people that we just have to look at and wonder how did they manage to make it that far.  It is really perplexing and easily explainable at the same time, if that is even possible. 

It is perplexing because you wonder why would anyone let themselves be that bad but it is easily explainable by the fact that blizzard lets them, even encouraged them, to be that bad.  There are many things the game is currently doing that actually develops bad players.  Leveling is one of those things that the game has changed to help develop bad players.

Leveling has been made so fast that it seems everyone has multiple characters at top level.  This is one of the problems with the game now and a reason there are so many horrible players in randoms. 

When anyone can level any class as quick and easily as it is now that means that they never get a change to really learn the character.  While it is true that you really do not need to learn to play a character until max level the fact that it was so easy to level gives people the feeling that it is that easy to play it well also.

#1 The easy leveling leads people to believe that end game is just as easy as the level, or should be.

#2 The easy leveling leads people to believe that because leveling needs no skill that max level needs no skill.

When it would take you 40 days of play time to get to max level people did not make an alt just for the hell of it.  It would be a lot of work and they were going to spend a fair deal of time on it.  So if you were going to get another character to top level you knew at least one thing was for sure, you are going to spend some serious time on doing it.

#3 The easy leveling means no real time investment for people to care if they are good at the character or not. 

#4 The easy leveling makes abandoning the character easy when it took no time to make it.

#5 The easy leveling means people are more likely to play something they are not good at just for something to do even if they know they are not good at it because it is not like it is going to waste a lot of time anyway.

People love to say that leveling did not teach people anything and you know what?  I agree.  Leveling did not really teach you anything, even when it took longer.  Not in and of itself it didn't at least but the time it took to level did teach people something.

Anyone that has ever been in charge of teaching something, anything, will tell you that the best way to teach something is repetition.  It is the reason in school the teachers had you practice your alphabet every day when you where first learning to write.  You write the letters enough and it becomes second nature.

When leveling took forever things became repetitious.  It might have felt annoying doing the same thing over and over again but it taught people something even if they did not notice they where being taught.

Lets look at a hunter for example now and then for one of those things that anyone that has been playing for some time might take for granted, kiting. 

In the leveling world, before, you where bound to get into a position where you needed to kite a mob from time to time because mobs where harder to kill, there were more elite mobs, there were much tighter pack clusters, there were more roaming mobs, crowd control would pull, pets being squishy, etc and you needed to kill roughly 12 million (might be a slight exaggeration) mobs to get one level so the odds are you would end up kiting a fair amount of mobs while leveling. 

It was not something leveling taught you, so to speak, but it was because of how leveling took longer and you did not breeze through it you ended up being forced to kite more often then not.  In most cases when us hunters first learned it, we did not even know it was called kiting, it was called keeping our freaking ass alive any way we could.  When killing 12 million (once again, might be slightly exaggerated) mobs you would end up kiting a lot of them, like it or not.  It taught you how to kite without you even knowing it was teaching you because leveling took time.

#6 The easy leveling has removed the repetition part of the game that taught many people without even making it seem like it was teaching them something.

#7 The easy leveling has removed the need to do some of the simple basic things that older players take for granted that everyone that plays said class should know, like ever hunter at max level should know how to kite.

Leveling offers new players and old players rolling on new classes a sense of instant gratification that is unparallelled in the game at any point ever in its history.  The feeling of moving so quickly is something that is easy to become addicted to.  Even if people like a challenge they will all say they like when they can beat that challenge.  They will also all say they like when they can beat that challenge faster and easier.

Just like back in vanilla people would try to level as fast as they could people still do that now.  I do it myself.  My current record is 1 day 18 hours with no rested, no refer a friend or anything like that.  Just basic heirlooms and guild bonus alone.  If I only played on rested I am sure I can get that under 1 day 12 hours.

The difference is, back in vanilla when people would try to speed level it took skill.  It took preparation.  It took knowledge.  You had to piggy back quests to maximize time spent doing them to experience gained from that time spent, you had to know the best routes to and from places, you had to know which quests to take and which ones not to, there was a lot to it.  It required analytical thinking.  Even in BC and wrath, both before the redesign of the old world, even with their updated leveling speeds, it still required analytical thinking to speed level because the old world did really like to send you all over the place.  Who would have ever thought those send you all over the place quests where actually teaching people time management?

So those people that raced to the end of the game where usually great players because they had to think things out and plan things to get the most out of it.  Low leveling time then was impressive.  My 1 day 18 hour leveling time in the leveling world of today, is not.  Anyone can do that.  It was not impressive that I did it that fast.  It just shows I was bored, that is all.

If you go to the darkmoon faire on a low level character you can get upwards of one and a half levels just doing those quests alone.  Excuse me?

#8 The easy leveling turned leveling fast from something that required still and a fair deal of intelligence into something that doesn't require skill or intelligence but many people will and do still mistake fast leveling for skill.

#9 The easy leveling gives people a false sense of ability because they think that a class must not be that hard if they have never even played one before and were able to level it so quick.

The lack of real threats in the world has also effected the people that level quickly now.  When a disc priest can walk up to Durn the hungerer and smite him to death without heirlooms and without top gear while three levels under him without ever having to worry about dying it takes something away from the game and the learning process for new players.

What was once something that would take an attack plan, a group with assigned roles and time to assemble is now another solo things for massive experience that takes no skill to do.  Quests like that taught people without even letting them know it was teaching them.  Kind of like the kiting example I mentioned before.  People would learn roles because they had to learn roles even if they had never used them before.  They would learn to make a plan of attack, like clearing the area out first so adds did not interfere.

The lack of areas filled with elites in the old world also took away from something.  They were removed to streamline leveling some but by doing so removed another important lesson people learned without even knowing they where learning.  The lesson that they should pay attention to their surroundings.

The mobs that had minions or pets that made it a choice of kill the helper first or the master first used to be a real choice.  Leave a warlocks imp up too long and it would rip you apart but go for the imp first and the warlock could ramp up a spell that could really hurt you.  The easy leveling now means that any class in the game will one shot the minion and then the master is no worry without the minion constantly pounding at you.

All these real threats in the world served as major learning experience even if no one ever took notice to the fact they where learning.  Those elite mobs are no longer elite so no worries.  The mobs with minions are no longer a worry either being the minions are easily one shot.  The multi player quests that require teamwork also stepped aside for faster and easier leveling in its place.

#10 The easy leveling removed the need for people to pay attention to their surroundings.

#11 The easy leveling removed the need to work as a team in the open world.

#12 The easy leveling removed the need to crowd control when doing something solo meaning many classes do not ever learn they have ways to control mobs.

#13 The easy leveling removed the need to silence, interrupt, disarm, buff, remove buffs, etc, mobs that were almost required when the mobs would kill you if you did not handle those things.

#14 The easy leveling changed it from the attitude that everyone is in this together and you should team up with someone when you can into an attitude that they better not kill your quest mob before you do, thus teaching new players a whole new level of selfishness.

The easy leveling has not only effected the solo content but it has also effected the group content.  With the super fast leveling combined with the lower level looking for dungeon system it has taken the previously mentioned new found selfishness to all new levels.

People are using each other as vehicles to speed up their leveling because the looking for dungeon allows them to level while never leaving their home city.  It teaches them that trolling trade while waiting in queue is a good thing to do to pass the time.  It teaches them that everyone else is just there to help them.  It teaches them that every time something goes wrong it was because of someone else, because they are these super fast levelers that have no problems on their own, so if there are any problems in a group setting it can't be their fault.

#15 The easy leveling makes people place blame whenever something goes wrong in a group setting.

#16 The easy leveling makes people believe they do not need to take responsibility for their own actions because they will never see these people again.

The biggest problem with leveling is that when numbered leveling ends and the real game, as most call it, begins those same players start in on a whole new unnumbered type of leveling.  The leveling of their ability to play their class.  When they enter that phase of the game they take everything they have learned and try to apply it and it just does not work the same in level capped game.

What they learned is that they can do anything and succeed and succeed fast and be rewarded well for it.  So entering things that require them to know their role and their class and do it better than just killing quest mobs in two or three shots it is a rude awakening.

#17 The easy leveling makes people think everything should be easy.

#18 The easy leveling makes people thing that if it isn't easy it is because someone else sucks.

This then carries on to getting gear and the hamster wheel that the end game is.  Everything they did to this point was so quick.  Everything they did to this point was so easy.  Everything was handed to them on a silver platter.  All without them ever needing to know what they where doing.

#19 The easy leveling makes people think that everything should be given to them for doing nothing, like is has for 85 levels so far.

#20 The easy leveling makes people falsely think that they are doing good enough because of how easy they leveled.

There you go folk, those are your bad players at max level and that is why they are bad, because the game teaches them to be bad instead of teaching them to be good by letting them level way too quickly.

To teach them to be better the leveling need to take longer.  Much longer, insanely longer compared to what it is now.  People would be much less likely to roll a throw away character.  People would be much less likely to make it to max level and not even have a basic understanding of the class they are playing.  People would be much less likely to not understand what real threats are.  People would be much less likely to expect everything to be handed to them nice and easily all the time because they would get used to working for everything they got.  People would be much less likely to put in all that work and effort and not try to be the best they can be because if they didn't get good that would mean they need to do all that hard work again on another character to try it once more.

Longer leveling, harder leveling, dangerous leveling, leveling where you earn your level every step of the way is a good thing for the game and in turn would make for a much better end game for everyone involved.

Do you want to know how to fix bad players?  Make them work to get to max level.  Most bad players would never make it.  Stop giving the bad players the free pass to end game and ruining the gaming experience for everyone else.  Make them work their way up, the way a good game does.


  1. All the speed levelling has been made even faster by the heirloom gear.

    I did the math once shortly before Cata's release, and I believe you can get a bonus of 50% xp from quests and mobs just off of heirloom gear if you get enough of it. Throw in the fact that rested bonus stacks on top, as well as the guild perks, and you're looking at HUGE numbers compared to how it was.

  2. I think a lot of the problem here is the shift in focus from the leveling portion being a game in itself to just something you go through before starting the real game. When WoW was first made the developers intended that the leveling game be the actual game and the endgame stuff was just time-killers, but then players went through it faster than they expected and the financial incentives lined up and the monster was born. That did it in for the leveling game being any kind of obstacle.

    1. Bingo.

      'End-game is King' is what really killed Levelling, as Nils and others have pointed out that's the main reason levelling has increasingly sped up and dumbed down. That may work for the 'Elitist Jerks' and 'Arena Junkies' without too many issues, but if you unleash it upon everybody, it's going to end in a world of hurt.

      As long as the Vanilla content was still there, one could at least to a degree stick to the more traditional kind of gameplay (even though all the fast XP schemes like Heirlooms did impede upon that - in Group/esp. PvP content you have little choice on what others will be using).

      As I noted when I still p(l)ayed the game: before The Shattering, the odd thing about WoW was that as your toon increased in Level, the levelling gameplay became increasingly easier/asked less commitment. The TBC content asked less awareness and travelling than the Classic content, and the WotLK even less than that.

      The thing Cata did (and MoP with its, to coin the phrase, No Choice Quest Rewards
      etc.) is that while uptill Wrath a player could to a point decide what kind of Questing/world he liked, now previous content gets royally affected as well so people can't chose for themselves anymore (Shattering, No Choice Rewards).

      That is btw a core issue: by (most notably) removing Red/Orange Quests people can't chose for themselves anymore how challenging they want their Questing to be.

      Sure, as a Cloggie I can't resist accepting Free Stuff/SoR's, but as literally the type of gameplay and content I liked has been ripped away from me (even though having paid plenty for it with two accounts & more Factions changes for extra content than I like to remember), with no realistic hope things will improve, I'm not going to sink more money in it.

      Though other companies would probably do the same (hello LotRO), and so far whenever a game looks interesting, they make a decision that worries me enough to not bother starting it.