Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Mistakes are Good

Not sure what inspired this, could be some of the stuff I was reading on the forums, but it wasn't anything to do with mistakes.

It was about the change to talent trees.  It was about bad players in dungeons.  It was about the removal of head enchants

So what does all that have to do with mistakes being good?

Well, people with bad specs were a good thing.  You could look at the spec and tell if the person was worth taking along on your raid or not.  I mean, even with the super simplified versions in cataclysm I have still saw a few really interesting, for lack of a better word, specs.  People learn from mistakes in their spec.  They learn why one thing is better than another.  They are more likely to understand why their spells do different things if they have to choose them.  Admittedly, most just look online for "what is the best spec for a hunter" and go with it, no further knowledge is needed.  But for the people that actively want to learn, having the ability to make a mistake there is good.

People that are bad in dungeons are a good thing too.  Why is that?  Good players learn from their mistakes.  Bad players might learn from there mistakes.  Bad player that did learn from their mistakes become good players or at least have the potential to become good players.  Mistakes are good.

With the removal of head enchants it removes the need to grind to get exalted on at least one character.  But in a way, it also removes the need for people to choose their enchant or defend their choice even.  Not like it was hard to choose, but I had seen boomkins with the agility head enchant because it was the only thing they could get.  Okay, I can buy that, but how will the boomkin answer when I ask him about it, that is what the head enchants could teach.  If they said, it was the only thing I have exalted and the extra secondary stat is better than no stat even if the agility does nothing for me is a solid answer.  Anything else, is a bad answer.  If people make the mistake of putting the wrong thing on, it could be a good thing.

Making mistakes is a part of the game.  Sometimes you need to make mistakes to know you did something wrong.  A part of the reason there are so many bad players is because there are fewer and fewer chances for them to learn from their mistakes as chances to make mistakes are taken out of the game. (and because most people choose to yell instead of teach, but that is another story)

What is next?  Remove ground effects because people might make the mistakes of standing in it?  Removing bosses hitting too hard because tanks might forget to use a cooldown?  Remove any AoE damage because the healer might make the mistake of concentrating on a damage dealer too much and lose the tank?  Remove the need to even roll for items because people might roll on things they don't need?  Oh wait, they are removing that already in mists.

Mistakes are good, mistakes help people learn, mistakes are how you tell the good players from the bad ones.

What is the next thing they are going to remove to make it easier on people because they don't want people to make mistakes?

If I screw up, let me screw up.  Let me take responsibility for my actions.  I'll tell you what, when you have to say sorry to your raid because you messed up on something and caused a wipe you don't make the same mistake again.  Well, if you are a good player you don't.  And that is why mistakes are good.


  1. Yes, the possibility of learning from one's mistakes is good.

    However, some mistakes are esoteric enough that a player will be unable to realize that a mistake was actually made. Standing in the fire kills you. Maybe you can try and blame the healer, but the result (i.e. death) is obvious either way. Something went wrong.

    Choosing the wrong enchant or talent is worlds more subtle. How much of a DPS difference is that going to make really? 400 DPS out of potentially 16k? 1000?

    It isn't likely that a spellcaster with Agility on their hat will be doing 16k DPS, but that is besides the point. The point is that game never tells you "this is wrong" when it comes to certain things, like talents/gearing. The feedback part is missing. You simply deal less damage, which may still be more than enough to be successful. Those are designer "Gotcha!" moments, and I fully support minimizing them when possible because they are boring. And binary.

    Or maybe there are three levels:

    1) Someone who gears/specs/enchants based on mood, the weather, etc.
    2) Someone who knows the basic mechanics of the class, but might not know haste > crit for their class/spec, or stat break-points.
    3) Someone who reads EJ.

    The distance between 1 & 2 is enormous. Conversely, the distance between 2 & 3 is tiny. Yeah, it feels good to graduate from 1 --> 2, and that feeling would diminish under the new talent system. But think about it: why does someone spec/enchant wrong? Because they liked the "wrong" choice. That is a whole other level of design flaw; making players choose between the correct choice and the fun one. The correct choices should be fun too!

    1. I agree with Azuriel and think he said it better than I could have. People don't learn from mistakes, they learn from feedback given after they do mistakes (or even well).

      I can't argue against saying the possibility of mistakes is necessary although I'm not sure whether we need more of it - but it is definitely not enough for people to learn.

    2. @ Azuriel

      I agree 100%. When I was leveling my first ever hunter and got concussive shot I thought, what is this crap. As I learned to play my class and got better at it whenever I leveled a new hunter and got concussive shot it was a woohoo moment. All because I learned. Sometimes things sound good that aren't and sometime they sound bad and aren't. That is what sets the players apart. If I never learned my class I would still think concussive shot was useless. I learned, so I know better now.

      Correct choices should be fun. Making people decide between them is bad design. It is making them choose between doing well and doing bad and really that should never be a decision. I think these new no choice talents remove that from ever happening again and it sort of why they did it.

      @ Imakulata

      In the end it comes down to the person. A good player learns from their mistakes. So for them, mistakes are good. For anyone else, without the proper support system, mistakes don't really serve much of a purpose.