Tuesday, May 8, 2012

How to Fix Bad Players: Part II - Leveling Content

This is a second 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
How to Fix Bad Players: Part II - Leveling Content

The concept of content dictating what people learn was touched on last post about leveling.  Longer leveling meant you needed to use each ability for a longer amount of time which in turn means you get used to using it and get used to what each ability does making it more a reflex, which is what we call skill.

You can argue many points because they are mostly based on opinions with some facts sprinkled in here and there but you can never argue that repetition helps people learn.  That is a known fact of life and that is where the faster leveling mentioned in the last post abandoned the aspect of teaching people.  However, this is about content and not the speed of leveling as last post was.

So lets touch on the leveling content that has abandoned teaching in favor of just letting people get to max level as fast as possible.

Before I start I want to remind people that they need to think about when they where new.  Sure, we all know how to play now but when we did not know how to play our leveling did teach us things.  Sure, nothing is ever really hard in game but when you had no idea what you where doing it was challenging and we learned how to play our classes because of that challenge.

Each and every person that plays the game probably has learned a hell of a lot from questing and they do not even realize it.

Before leveling was changed to be as quick and easy as it has become there were inherent difficulties with it.  The mob packs were tighter grouped.  The mob packs were in bigger groups.  There were more roaming mobs that would come and join the fight.  Mobs would last longer meaning runners could become a huge issue, even more so if they happened to run into a pack of four or five more mobs.

With the decrease of mobs in the world it has become increasingly easier for new players that do not know any better to pull one mob at a time.  That is something the people that leveled before the old world was changed did not have the pleasure of.  It was rare you could get one mob at a time in dense areas, now it is commonplace.

When going into a questing area, to hunt murlocs for example, it was well known to anyone that has been there in the past that you where going to die.  Many times.  Those buggers traveled in packs, large packs, they moved fast and they bought friends when they moved and there were always murlocs circling your hunting grounds.

If there were ever a case of mobs teaching you how to pull at a low level, murlocs were it.  There is not one of us, at least on alliance side, that can say we have not ended up getting our asses handed to us by murlocs at least once.

While it is true that is it still possible to get two or three murlocs in a pull, the packs have been thinned out greatly.  So much so that it is to the point where someone new, someone that does not know better, could very possibly go to kill their 10 murlocs and never once pull more then one, even if they didn't know their history and even if they didn't actively try to only get one at a time.  Getting one at a time in some areas back before the world was changed was a skill, a real skill.  Murlcos do not come one at a time.

The thinning of the packs have made it that new players do not die as easily when questing which means they do not learn from their deaths.  There is something to be said about having the murlocs rip you limb from limb and that is the next time you went there you paid close attention to their pathing.  

You paid close attention to when you pulled so you could get the least amount possible.  You paid close attention to which one was getting low on life and into that life total running range so you could kill it before it took off to grab some friends. You paid close attention to anything and everything whenever you went into an area with murlocs or you where dead.

Those bunched up packs, like it or not, taught people pulling procedures, taught people to wait for the right moment to pull, taught people an attack priority, taught people to use abilities that are best classified as utility abilities such as slows or crowd control or any other trick you could pull out of your sleeve, taught you positioning to get them as far away from others so they might not run quickly into more mobs.  It taught you a lot.

Now add another part to the then and now equation.  Life total and damage dealing.  The mobs had more life than they do now and you dealt less damage.

When you had gotten three murlocs, by accident or on purpose because you did not know better yet, you would die.  It was just the way things were.  Maybe on some rare occasions you might make it out alive but that had a lot of luck to it if you did.

There was no way in hell you could kill all three before they started to rip the flesh from your bones most of the time.  They did not go down in one shot or two.  Heck, they did not go down in three or four even.  Maybe if you had some good gear you might be able to down them in six shots or five if you happened to land a crit or two.

Usually, back then, a mispull like that would spell death with a capital D.  It is a pull we all had happen.  It is part of the reason we needed to pay attention to what we pulled and how many of them we pulled and where we pulled too and when we pulled them.

Now lets look at today's version of the same pulls in the same area.  The mobs are not as tightly packed which means the odds of trying to pull one murloc and ending up with 42 (slight exaggeration of course) of them is really rare. 

Worse case scenario would be three at most and while three can still surprise you and kill you, most classes can handle it without much of a hassle.  It wouldn't force them to have to rethink their plan of attack to try to learn from it.  They would still run straight back in because something like that is amazingly rare.

Once you reach level 10, every class gets a powerful ability now.  Every class gets something that will most likely one shot one of them which means that three on one, worst case scenario, never happens after level 10.  Worst case becomes two on one.  If you happened to be one of the class and spec combos, like a protection paladin, that gets something that hits multiple targets you could very well kill all three with one shot. 

Yes, I've done it with my shield with only quest greys and whites at level 10, no heirlooms.  Three murlocs dead with one shield.  Sounds like a huge difference from grabbing three back in old days doesn't it?  Three in the old old world meant a very big chance you will die.  Now three means one key press and three mobs to loot.  That is not exactly going to teach anyone anything.

The old way a runner would become the top priority, and it taught you that because you knew what would happen if you did not stop it, but now a runner means you get more mobs and you want them.  You look at it as, thank you, now I do not need to move, and switch to target another murloc closer so you while the runner goes and gets you more loot, er, mobs.  Big difference from seeing one runner getting away and the only thing that went through your head was "oh shit, I'm dead".

The compact mobs, the tied together mobs, the crowd control pulling, the mobs that walked paths, the runners that could not be killed only by the DoT left of them when they took off, all those things made a difference in the difficulty of leveling.  All those things taught people while they were leveling.

While I did argue that leveling is faster now and it is true and I did argue that leveling faster helped make bad players it doesn't mean that those faster leveling quests and more experience giving mobs had to also be so watered down.  So not only is the speed of leveling an issue with the game developing bad players, the quests themselves and what is required of the players is developing bad players.  It just compounds the error that faster leveling has made further.

How about the elite mobs that were part of quests.  Some were group quests.  Some were just slightly harder end of the quest line quest mobs.  They taught people to get others to work with.  They taught people how to work as a team and make a plan of attack.  They taught people roles and how to work them in a group to best benefit everyone in the group.

Even the mobs that you could solo required you to clear an area to attack it beforehand or you would be in a special type of hell as soon as you had 15 mobs on you.  Even the classes that mastered soloing mobs like that, hunters come to mind being one myself, you still needed to plan your attack so you could solo something like that.  It was not like that big baddie end guy would be going down in three or four shots like it does now, the fight was going to take a little bit of time and you needed to make sure you had that area clear for however long it was going to take.

All of that taught you something, but those quests are gone now.  No more elites to run into, no more need to make groups, no more massive amounts of mobs that will come after you if you went straight to the big baddie.  No need to worry about respawn timers because it is not like the fight is going to take more then a few seconds.  No more epic battles that would require you to know every ability you have and be able to use them.

I know some people will say I am wrong and they are entitled to their opinion as much as I am.  All I know is that leveling used to teach you because as post one stated, it took time so you learned your main abilities by repetitive motions and as post two here says, it taught you the other basics like lesser used abilities and how to pull.

I first learned about pathing mobs from questing.  I first learned about pulling too many from questing.  I first learned about runners from questing.  I first learned about creating kill orders from questing.  I first learned how to best set a path to get to where I wanted to go from questing.  I first learned how to use my extra abilities like slows from questing.  I first learned the power of crowd control from questing.  I first learned how to kite from questing.  I first learned how to manage threat from questing (because I was a hunter, this does not fit for other classes solo). I first learned how to use line of sight to my advantage from questing.  I first learned how to pick a spot to stage my battle from questing.  I first learned my limits from questing.  I first learned how far I could push those limits from questing.  I first learned how to work as a team from questing. 

I first learned how to do so many things from questing.  All of those things I would not learn now because everything dies so fast even with only quest gear that planning is no longer a part of the game and neither is learning what your class can do apparently.

So it is not only the speed of leveling that is creating bad players, it is the content of the quest that people do while leveling that is creating bad players.

Leveling just does not teach anything any more.

It is kind of hard to teach things when one shield from your paladin can kill three mobs.

Next up:  Leveling dungeons are teaching players to be bad players.


  1. While I don't agree with everything you said (especially in regards to the learning by repetition you stress, I don't think one becomes master of difficult tasks by doing the simple ones repeatedly) I agree with the point of the post and add one more thing: Difficult quests during leveling might help players with having more confidence for dungeons. It's always more relaxing to learn new things when you know there is nobody else who depends on your ability to do something you've never done before.

    1. I know what you mean. Making a mistake alone is no biggie but making one in public view can be intimidating.

      Good point.