Reading an article over at wow insider about the proving grounds feature coming up made me think about the situation of it being used as a yardstick to measure a players worth. I have thought on this before I read the article, thought about it a lot since it was first released. I even have considered making some level of it, maybe even as low as bronze, a prerequisite to join the 25 man raid team when it comes out. Does that make me a bad person?
Let me give you a little background on me however just in case you do not know. I hate people that list in trade some silly requirement to join their pug. Absolutely hate it. I even hate people that would post "meet me in the trade district for inspection". You either want me or you don't. If you are too lazy to type my name into battle.net and look me up yourself then I am too lazy to come find you for inspection. You are looking for me to join you, not the other way around. so you do the leg work. End of story.
As a raid leader myself I understand the need for things like that. I do understand that when I bring my DK to your group you do not want me gemmed for spell power so my icy touch hits for more. I do understand that you do not want me using a strength weapon on my druid because it has parry when I can not even parry to begin with. I do understand that my warlock should not have spirit on his gear, but also am willing to explain if I do end up with one or two pieces while gearing up that it is was better than what I had and leave it up to you if you take that as a measure that means I know it is wrong or I am just making excuses.
The thing is, whenever I would pug I would just tell people to whisper me and I would look them up on my own. I would not tell them to come to me. I want them, so I do the work. It is demeaning to ask them to come to you, like calling your dog, here king, here king. At least I think it is and I would never ask someone to do something I would not do myself. I would not walk to someone to let them inspect me so I would not ask someone to do the same.
There was the whole "must link achievement" crap too that I never got into. Sometimes people would ask for insane achievements to be linked. This was common place when achievements came out in wrath faded somewhat after gear score made it big. It never went away however, we still see it from time to time.
I even remember when cataclysm first came out and we had BH for the first time, at least the first time I ever saw us have it. Someone started a group saying, must link achievement. Dude, the game has been out for a week and the alliance have never controlled BH before, how the hell can anyone have the achievement? Someone actually asked that in chat and the person assembling the group linked his achievement and said, we had it last week around 2 server time Thursday night.
Yeap, link achievement crap is ridiculous. I, like the person in trade, was denied access because I am actually sleeping in the middle of the night, god forbid. Poor us. No big deal, I made my own group and did it, screw him. We even finished it before he did. You should never need an achievement to do something. Never. There is no reason for it unless you are assembling it to be carried because you suck. Simple as that.
Gear score was another joke. While gear score could be amazingly useful to view gear it did not take into account that some items of a lower item level were actually better. In wrath the greatness card was awesome if you could not get a better drop and many, if not most, people still had it heading into ICC. I know I did. It was a great item even if its item level was much lower than current gear. The paladin relic was the same too. The low level one was great for a very long time.
The final nail in the coffin for gear score in my opinion was when wrath introduced the weekly raid. People would start asking for groups for naxx, 5000 gear score needed. So I need all ICC gear to do a boss that was not even hard when I was in dungeon blues? Excuse me. Yeah. That was the end of gear score.
Item level became the big thing in cataclysm and that too started to take the approach of the gear score joke asking for 5K for naxx. Toward the end of cataclysm I would routinely see people asking for people item level 490 or better for firelands. Normal folks, not heroic. I can see asking for a higher item level to pug heroics. Heroics by nature are harder, pugs by nature are harder. So maybe asking for a higher item level can ease some of the pain. But we are talking normal here. There was a rogue on my server that would set up a DS pug each week asking for a 495 item level or better. Dude, if someone has a 495 or better item level they are doing heroics thank you very much. I was never a fan of the item level thing either.
Experience is another one of those numbers people love to throw around. I am x/12 normal or x/12 heroic. Congrats, that is what your guild or pug is capable of doing. Raiding is a team sport. You did not do that all by yourself and it is not a measure of how good you are. All that shows me is you have experience and I do value that highly, but that doesn't mean you are any good. Maybe at the extreme high end with harder heroic kills it would mean a lot, but when we are only talking normals, it means nothing. There are dozens of people if not hundreds I carried to kills over the years that were not even raiders. Having kills means nothing, at least it isn't without context behind it.
I have a few people in my guild with heroic kills from when they were on another server and transferred over thanks to free transfers or something. I would not even bring them on our 25s when we can carry a few people, yes they are that bad. I bring some people in the 460s and 470 each week but I would not bring them. The best two players I have ever seen in my life playing the game are both 0/12 this patch because they have not been playing. But I know what they can do, they are great with mechanics as well as doing their job extremely well at the same time and I would take them into my team in a heartbeat because of that. The fact they have no kills means nothing to me.
While I do admit that all of these systems could draw my attention. If someone whispered me wanting to join and said he had the achievement, I would be interested and would definitely look him up. If someone offered to come to me so I could inspect him, I would know right off the bat I did not need to. If someone said I have a 5000 item level for the naxx weekly when I would have taken a fresh 80 in all greens to begin with I would send them an invite without even thinking. When someone says to me they have a 510 item level now, I tell them I will test them out to see what they can do. If someone said I have cleared it on normal I would at least know I should not need to explain the fights to them. So yes, offering those bits of information to me will, or could, sway me into inviting you. The key is, I would never ask for them.
When I pug and someone whispers me my first question is, can you follow instructions and mechanics? If they answer yes I will follow up by asking them what their gear is and if they have any experience in the content we are doing. But if they said they can follow instructions and mechanics I will at least give them a try. Even without the best gear or any experience in the content I am pugging for. They are worth at least testing out to see what they can do as long as they can do those key thing, follow instruction and mechanics.
So, with all that babble said, being I am so completely against all these measuring sticks like achievements, gear score, item level, why would I actually be considering using proving grounds as a requirement to raid?
Because proving grounds are completely different from everything else. It is not some made up number that means nothing to me.
Lets go over all the previously mentioned things and I'll explain why they are useless as a single meaning stick. As I said, all would make me look at your potential but I would not blindly send you an invitation because of it.
Achievements: I killed LK on my priest before I did my main. I am better at my main. If you judge me by my achievements you would say I am better on my priest. My priest just happened to be a disc priest and that really helped on that fight, hence the reason I got a kill on that before my hunter. The fact it has the achievement before my hunter means nothing. It sure as hell did not mean I was better at it.
Now add the shared achievements and the fact I can link anything I have done on any character as if it was coming from that character itself. I could link various achievements that show I have done current content on my warrior and he just hit 90 and has never even done a dungeon yet. No, achievements mean nothing. Maybe I will look at you because you said you did it, but it will not sell me on you knowing how to play that character all by itself.
Gear Score / Item Level: You can get fairly geared without ever stepping foot into a raid. You could get to, just a guess, a 530 item level. Some might say, that would be ready for heroics. I would say, that is nice, but lets see what you can do with that gear. Gear just shows potential and yes I would prefer to have a tank that has the gear to take the hit over a tank that does not even have the gear to take the hit but if the tank does not know how to use cooldowns, even that gear will not be enough to carry him through without making the life of the healers a freaking nightmare. Right healers?
So while I do put value on the potential gear offers, like someone in 440 gear is not going to do the 80K minimum I seek, it is not the be all end all and I would never invite someone just because they have gear alone.
Experience: Experience can mean two different things and I would need to actually do the leg work to see which it is. If I look you up and see you have 14 full clears it means a lot more than me looking you up and it saying you have 1. Both people would say they are 12/12 wouldn't they because they both are. Yet their skill level most likely is not the same.
One of those people from my guild that I mentioned earlier has 3 heroic bosses down and 2 full clears. I've seen him play. He was carried, no doubt in my mind. There is no way that someone that can't break 40K DPS in 523 gear is doing heroic content when we have a person in our guild that is the same item level and same class and spec and he can do over 150K and over 300K+ on buff fights. So I would not invite someone based on their experience only.
Inspection: Like I mentioned in the experience, it only means something when you inspect someone. You will see that their experience could be real and not just one run through where they might have been carried. You can see their gear, you can see their gems, you can see their talents, you can see their reforges. You can really see them.
However, there is something that, for me at least, always felt wrong about using this as the only measuring stick even if it is the best of all the ones I have mentioned. This could be an alt. They could be a great player but can't afford the better gems because they suck at making gold. They could have not put on a shoulder enchant because they know they are replacing it soon. All this can be found out by asking, but when making a pug I am not recruiting for my guild. I am not going to go through this much effort for everyone. So while inspection is a fantastic way and really the best way of all of these to judge someone, sadly, it is not very practical and it can tend to leave you with false impressions.
So the big question here is this...
If I am so against judging people like that why am I considering using the proving grounds as a way to measure peoples worth as a player?
Because the proving grounds are different.
Achievement: Unlike other achievements that are time sensitive this one is not. Like having the achievement for doing BH when you have never been online to do BH this achievement can be attained at any time you are on. You can do it at your own leisure. You can fail it 101 times and finally do it, but in those 101 times you learned enough to get to the point where you are capable of doing it (or at least I hope so). This achievement can also only be earned solo. This means you earned it. Not the team you were with and being it is your achievement and your achievement only, it holds a hell of a lot more weight with me.
Gear Score / Item Level: It means absolutely nothing in the proving grounds. You have a set item level. You have to work within that set item level to complete the task at hand. So if you are a 440 item level or a 540 item level means nothing. This will prove you know what to do at the set gear level and show that you are a worthy investment to gearing up. I might even be more likely to pull someone into a raid that managed a gold but is seriously under geared for the current content because I know they know how to play their role well and are just in the position that they lack gear. Gear can be fixed and I would love to help a gold winner get that gear because me helping them means them helping me later when they are geared up.
Experience: Like I said with my priest getting a LK kill before my hunter. That did not mean I was good at my priest. So because it had kills means nothing. It was the group that did the kills, not me alone. All I did was just spam some bubbles, big freaking deal. Or like the person in my guild with heroic kills that can't break 40K. Or another that has a full clear because his friend is in the top guild on the server and they had an open space so they let him tag along, in his own words, they did not need me, they could have 9 manned it. Having experience does not mean you can do the content. Except here it does. You are alone, as I mentioned before. If you can do this, you can do this. Some might say you can let someone else in on your account and that might be true, but to me I would like to think people would not stoop that low. If I see you have done it I will believe you have the skills to do it.
See, the issue here is that all those things mean something else when in a group setting. Something, that while it might peak my interest in dragging you along on a pug, would not be enough in and of itself to sway me. But doing the proving grounds would indeed be enough to sway me all on its own.
For as much as I am against requiring things to join a raid I have to think I might just consider this as an option, the first ever I would endorse, to ask for when looking for people for a group.
Now, I would not ask for much. If I am doing pug content a bronze would be ample. It shows you have the basic abilities and in a pug you never expect too much, so all you want is people that have, at the very least, a grasp of their basic abilities and skills. And a bronze should be capable of showing that.
For my raid team, as a casual guild and seeing how most people play, I would think a silver would be a reasonable request from a normal mode guild. If you can not manage a silver you have to wonder if you should even be raiding. At least reading the reviews it leads me to believe that. Perhaps if I were looking for more than just casual progression I might ask for gold but that would even be pushing it. I doubt I would ever go that far, but it remains to be seen how easy or hard it is when it hits live.
I do have one huge question about this whole new proving grounds however and maybe someone else heard about it. With the advent of shared achievement what happens if I get the achievement for "the proven damage dealer" on my hunter and then link it on my rogue? As it is now, it would show as it is my rogues achievement. Lets be real, I will never in a million years be "the proven damage dealer" on my rogue. Not because I can't do it, I probably could if I put my mind to it, but because I don't like playing one and I would never consider investing the amount of time in it to get that good.
If people can fake their proving ground medals then the proving grounds really starts to lose a little of its... luster.
Perhaps that is when we have to fall back on the single best thing to ever judge someone in game. Inspection, online, where you can see if they indeed got the achievement on that character, and can look at everything else.
Even if I might consider using the proving grounds as a measuring stick for invites to pugs or the main raid team nothing can ever beat the good old fashion leg work of inspection. But at least now I can say, I will only inspect you if you have received a bronze, or silver or gold or proven in the proving grounds.
I think I will like this little addition to the game, even if I end up not using it to judge a persons worth and just use it as another tool to judge potential because it is something that is done solo and proves that you can do it.
What do you think?
Will the proving grounds become the next "link achieve" that people ask for to pug?
Do you think it will be a good judge of a persons ability?