Friday, June 15, 2012

Are you Good or is it Easy?

We all hear people saying that the game is getting easier.  I've even often complained about how fast leveling is and that it is too easy now and doesn't teach anything.  The fact is, while things have been made a little easier and a lot faster they are not always as easy as we all make them out to be.

As proof I could offer one thing, what your eyes can see, so open your eyes.  

Look at the fact that it has been said that around 50% of the player base does not even have a max level character.  Look at the fact that, even with the now 25% nerf, a fair deal less than 10% of the total number of players have even completed DS on normal.  Look at the people in your random dungeon that can not even pull 8K DPS at an item level of 380+.  We like to call all these players bad players but the simple fact is they are not bad players, or at least not as bad as we make them out to be, they are just not as experienced as we are.

While I will still argue that leveling has been made way to fast it is not as fast as I make it out to be.  I've leveled a hunter in 1 day 18 hours and could have done it in less if I had not messed around doing nothing a couple of times.  I did it without any refer a friend for triple experience either and no rested, being I basically did it straight away and had no time to build up any substantial rested.  Just heirlooms and guild bonus.

The thing is, that was my 6th level 85 hunter.  I've been playing hunters since I started playing the game.  I love hunters and I love being a hunter.  I know the class better than any other class in the game.  With that type of experience in the class and having done all the quest what seems like a million times I knew what to do, where to go, how to do it and more importantly, the fastest way to get it done.

For someone new to the game, even if they pick it up really fast, they have no prayer of doing it that fast.  They will not know which quests to hold on to because they can piggy back them with another one that comes a short time later so they speed up their leveling.  They will not know what areas are best to quest in with good, tight hubs.  And more importantly, they will not know where everything is and how to get there, that alone will eat up a fair amount of their time while leveling.  So it will take them longer, much longer.

So that begs the question, is leveling that fast because I am good at it or because it is easy?

It is that fast because I am good at it.  Yes, it is easier then it had been, but add the fact that I am good at it to the fact it was made a little easier and that is why I am flying through it fast.  Some people can still take 20 days played to get to level cap because it is their first time.  They don't know where everything is and they have to find their way and experience everything for the first time whereas for me it is old hat.  I know where everything is already.  Heck, just finding a certain vendor somewhere could waste a new players time to the tune of an hour or two.  I remember my first time in stormwind and getting lost there for at least three hours while I tried to find where everything was.

It is fast for me because I am good at leveling, not because it is really that easy.

Now let us take a look at the dungeons.  When cataclysm was first released and people entered the dungeons we could all tell who the raiders were and who the non raiders were instantly.  The first time that guy pulled you in when doing blackrock caverns the raiders switched to the chains and then ran out, the non raiders kept attacking the boss and died instantly because they did not run out.

That is just one example of is it easy or are we just good.  Raiders, people that are not raiders but have game experience, anyone that read it before hand, they all knew what to do because they had all seen it before.  They did not know how to do it right because it was easy.  They knew how to do it right because they knew it.

Corla and her beams were, and still are, a random killer.  Any players with some experience even not knowing the fight might get caught off guard by it and mess it up the first or second time but once they had it they had it whereas others still just could not get it.  Does that mean it was easy?  Nope, it just means the people that have raided before understood how mechanics like that worked so they picked up on it instantly and the players that were new or never raided just could not understand it because they have never seen anything like that before.

I could go on and on with fights and their little mechanics, the ones where you would see people rage in the random, "it is so easy, just step in and out", but the thing most people don't seem to grasp is it is really not as easy as it seems to me and you.  The only reason it is easy for us is because we are good.  We already know how to handle things like that so it is easy for us.  Just because it is easy for us does not mean it is easy.

So dungeons are not easier than they used to be, they are actually harder.  The issue is that raiders and regular players have the been there done that feeling to everything so they adapt quickly, it is because they are good, not because the fight is easy.

Raiding is the absolute perfect example of good vs easy.

Look at tier 11 raiding.  It was awesome on so many levels but it proved that it was not for everyone.  It was the perfect example of good vs easy.  It is why nearly every server in the game experienced the massive pug lull in the game during this point, it was not actually easy, it was a lot to handle for people that where not raiders with experience.  For some people it was easy, the raiders with experience, but it was not really easy, it was because they had a fair deal of game experience and they where good at doing those things because they had done them all before.

Elemental monstrosity is the perfect example and in my opinion the most pug unfriendly fight in this entire expansion, right ahead of omnitron defense system, because of the amount of things going on for that fight.  There were basically five bosses with five different sets of abilities.  You needed to stand near someone when you had one buff, run into something when you had another debuff, switch targets, interrupt, kite, pick up one buff for this and another for that, you name it and this fight had it.

Go in there with a group of people that have been raiding for an expansion or two and even if you had to bang your head against the wall for a few wipes you got it done because everyone had experienced every single one of those mechanics before.  Oh yeah, this is like the thing from ToC that when I get it I have to run to the other snake, so I will run into the fire when I get it, now I understand.  Stuff like that.  A good player was only good because they picked it up faster and they only picked it up faster because they knew how to do it already, they learned somewhere else and just had to do it here.  New players can learn it, but new players can also be overwhelmed on a fight like this with a lot of stuff going on a lot faster than someone with experience would.

A pug group of people that never raided before and that fight turned into a nightmare.  Even ODS could very well be a nightmare in a pug because of the target switching and mechanics of two things at once and four things they needed to remember.  For people with raiding experience, it was easy to understand that two different sets of mechanics out of four possible ones where going on at the same time but for someone new, the idea of one set of mechanics is enough to drive them insane never the less remembering four sets of mechanics and having one set active on a mob you are not even targeting.  It could make new players really confused and fast. 

For many guilds ODS was easy, because it was a whole bunch of easy mechanics and stuff we have seen a million times before but for new guilds or people that where new to raiding this could very well be a massive road block in teaching people how to monitor a few things going on at once which is information over load to people that are new to raiding which made this fight extremely hard for them.

I know where everyone is coming from.  I have been there.  I have said that.  I have felt it, the stress, the how can you not know how to do that feeling.  All because I felt it was easy.  It was not easy, it is just that I already knew how to do it before I did it, if you get what I mean.

Things like the poison boss in ZG come to mind as good examples.  First time in there I saw the pattern it puts on the ground and noticed it was always the same.  I never got caught by it.  That is something that someone with experience notices, that is what makes it easy for me and others, we know how things like that work.  Others died from it, others, even if they understood what to do, always found themselves caught because they did not realize it is the same pattern every time.  It was them learning so the next time a fight like that comes up they will be the ones saying, this is easy because they already did it before.

So I present to you my observations and point out that the game is not getting easier, you are just getting better at playing it.

The real issue here is that they keep designing the game to try and be a little harder but there are always new players coming in and those new players will always start at the beginning of the learning curve and as they keep adding more mechanics to make it harder on us, the ones that have been there and done that, they are making it so much harder for the new people to learn when they first start.

The next time you see someone die to something and think, how could you die to that, it is so easy, remember that it is only easy to you because you have done it a million times.  It is not easy to someone that is new.

If anything, I say that the game, from the raiding and dungeon standpoint at least, is harder than it has ever been in the history of the game.  It just does not seem like that to us because we have all been there and done that.

While it is true, to raiders, dragon soul is the easiest raid ever it only feels that way because for us, the raiders, because it didn't offer us anything new.  It was actually correctly designed to let new people come in and raid too.  We might think it is easier but if anything, it is correctly balanced if the game wants to keep luring new people in and turning them into raiders too.  Actually, if anything, it could even use being a little easier when we consider that still less than 10% of the player base has actually killed the last boss with a 25% buff.

The game is not getting easier, you are just getting better at it.

That is what it really comes down to.


  1. I've often thought for many this was the case, although for myself I'm never sure since I mostly solo and have nothing to compare my ability with.

    Certainly some things are easier instance wise, for example when was the last time someone had to Mind Control the summoners in Scholomance? Although normal SFK seems harder when I'm in new groups, because there are mechanics to some bosses.

    I've been wondering quite a lot how a game might be balanced toward new folks just coming in and those that have been there some time, I really think quests and instances should have simpler versions of the mechanics in later game.

    1. I think that way myself too at times and then realize that making the quests harder might not help everyone. To some it would, it would teach them what is to come in dungeons and raids and to others it would be annoying because all they want to do it quest, they do not want it to be challenging. And when you look at blizzards very own statement that more than half the players in the game do not even have a max level character you have to think it would hurt them if they made the content more than half the people spend all their time in harder.

      I am like you, I think people should be taught, but I can somewhat understand why they are not. I guess I am a bit torn.

  2. Your observations towards the 'Current' Raiding content sound, to me as a 'bystander', logical. However, it does strengthen me in my opinion that the enforced Tier Resets are a bad thing for newcomers: besides the other issues it brings like a far more stressful gameplay, the few newcomers that are interested in Raiding are expected to skip all the previous content and dive straight into content that is tuned for add-on laden, Boss Fight etc. - reading established players. Of course that's never going to work well enough to justify all the sacrifices made to other areas of the game.

    However, I kind of disagree with you on the levelling part, in so far that using 'Xp/hour' is a flawed measuring stick to use.

    'XP/Hour' only matters in the context of reaching endgame ASAP, which in itself is something not all players aim for or seek in a virtual world game like MMO's (used to be). Quite a few people play these games for the exploration aspect, and not so much to spend hours cooped up in some hole in the ground with people they are forced to be with.

    For example, by the time I 'finished' a Zone, I used to know most, if not all, of the various Nodes, the way the various mobs reacted to things like Threat and water (spiders used to never enter rivers for example), where to fish for the various pools, the spawnplaces of Rares, the best ways to cross the region (mob density and paths) etc. Similarly, with Instances I found it far more interesting to know the maps and things like Patrol paths and pulling patterns of the various denizens than the Boss mechanics (sorry, but while I understand why it is like this, I just can't take supposed 'masterminds that make intricate plots that span eons' that can't figure 'Kill Healers First' out seriously, and I do not enjoy 'the dance' as it is often so...forced and scripted).

    No, imo a better measuring stick is how 'forgiving' content is : if you pull a group of mobs of your level, do you die, do they go for help, do they stand and shoot - or will you beat groups easily and will e.g archers loosen a few shots and then run to you for some completely nonsensical reason (something I always disliked about WoW, if older games like Dungeon Siege can get that right, why on earth have WoW mobs be so incredibly stupid?)

    And the levelling content has certainly become ever more forgiving over the years, just to (try to) herd people ASAP at cap, to do the exact same scripted content over and over and over (and over and over) again (made far worse by the Tier Reset/'buttonfarm' system).

    1. This time around skipping all the previous content is a good idea because dragon soul is much easier, even without the buff, than T11 is. Heck, dragon soul, without the buff is easier than T11 while wearing T13 gear for the non raider types. So skipping to the end makes sense... this time at least.

  3. This blog post hits the nail right on the head and the "leet" jackasses who complain too much should be required to read this post. I'm one who has finished heroic DS with the buff and bravo to those who did it without it. I'd love to take players from Vanilla, plop them into heroic spine with no addons per-se and see what happens. That right there is the measure of how learning helps you grow. I find myself getting pissed easily and throwing the "it's easy" around too much so I love that this blog put me in my place.


    1. Thanks for the comment.

      I too would like to see that.

      It is only easy because we have practice. It would not be easy, at all, to someone without all the practice we have.

      That is the bottom line.

  4. I totally agree with your post.
    Nobody is born knowing everything about this game, or how to play a certain class. It takes time and practice and getting used to certain mechanics to get better. Unfortunally there are very few guilds out there who have the patience for new players.