There's no question that when spawning or quest objectives are not handled properly on our side, the tap system can create negative and anti-social experiences, wherein seeing players of your own faction nearby becomes a nuisance. We very much want to limit and rectify those situations. The most helpful thing you can do in that regard during beta is to bring to our attention specific quests or areas in which you felt competition for spawns was overly detrimental to your experience. We have a number of ways of fixing those problems, ranging from simply adding additional spawns, to dynamic spawn thresholds that ramp up density as player density increases, to making specific targets open tap.
The main reason we don't embrace a fully open-tap world is that we feel that those mechanics are asocial. To be fair, that is certainly better than antisocial - no question there, and antisocial experiences usually reflect spawning and mechanics that we need to adjust. However, while a world in which everyone runs around damaging things a few times (or however much is needed to qualify for credit) may be one in which you don't feel bad about other players being around, at some point it also makes those players nearly indistinguishable from NPCs or bots with decent AI. You don't need to talk, or ask if someone has room in their group or would like to join yours. You just attack a few times, and then move on.
On the other hand, mob tagging rules inherently reward and encourage social gameplay. Even in solo areas like daily quest hubs in Mists, we'd commonly see transient pickup groups form for the sake of efficiency, and stick together through that hub or maybe even another ("hey, anyone up for Klaxxi after this?"). But once again, it's incumbent upon us to make sure that we avoid situations where that is outweighed by negatives like competing for underspawned quest targets or objects.
Philosophically, for a while now, we've made sure that any time multiple players are sent to kill a single specific target that has a respawn timer (be it named quest boss, world boss, or an event like the Battlefield: Barrens commanders in patch 5.3), the mob is open to credit for all. We're certainly open to extending that treatment where it makes sense, and where it serves to improve the overall experience. But I wouldn't expect a wholesale overhaul of our tap mechanics in the near future.
First I want to mention that what watcher said is his, or bizzards as it may be, opinion. Nothing more. There are no facts behind what he stated, there was no exhaustive research done, there were no polls made, there was nothing what so ever to back up his opinion.
So in that same vein I will post my opinion which is no less valid than his.
If all mobs were designed to be shared tags, and loot fixed to represent that so everyone got their share if they participated, I think a no tag environment would actively benefit the community more than watcher and the other blizzard mouth pieces tend to think. They are entitled to their opinion just as I am entitled to mine. I am however going to site some examples, just as watcher did, which I believe show that mob sharing works as a social tool, even more so than the tagging system does.
If all mobs were to give individual loot and everyone could hit them people would work together. I have played games like this and when you have to kill 10 mobs it is so much nicer when you see someone in the area killing to just help them kill. You get credit and loot, they get credit and loot.
In a most recent example of this I will reference wildstar which uses an individual loot system with shared tags. I would enter a cave and unlike in wow where I take the first mob and someone runs by me to take the second and I run by them to grab the third and forth and they run by me to try and get the fifth, sixth and seventh, and we end up fighting for mobs in wildstar we end up working together. Not fighting for mobs, we notice that killing them as a team benefits us both and makes it easier and faster on us both. I can not even imagine how dreadful wildstar would be without a system like this with the super fast respawns and much harder mobs, but I have grown to love the shared tag system there and on some occasions I even hung out in an area for a few minutes waiting for someone else to come by so I could help them as helping them was helping me.
Often if we end up running into each other a few times we end up grouping up, but either way we are working together, in a group or not. This has lead to conversations and even friendships to form. This has been what made me meet the people I joined guilds with and the people I made neighbors to my player housing. Just meeting people even if I was never in a group with them. And this is without mob tagging.
Watcher seems to think that having mobs with shared tags would make people not want to group but I disagree. Just visit the timeless island and spend a few minutes there on any server listed as medium or higher. You will see people asking for rare farming groups, orodos groups, celestial groups. All groups that you do not need to be in a group to take advantage of.
When it comes to reputation grinds you need to be in a group there so you get a lot of people asking for groups for them. I also see people asking for frog farming groups for stones as well. This is because you "have to" be in a group to benefit, meaning to get those stones or to get that reputation. It is forced grouping which I do not think benefits the game. You are being forced to group, or even possibly need a group depending on your gear and / or skill.
I would think that anything that ever made people feel they "have to" do it would be something blizzard would want to try to keep the an absolute minimum with all the backlash they had at the start of this expansion with things feeling mandatory because people felt like they "have to" do it.
Those same people you see posting LF rep farm could be posting that for hours. I was on the island yesterday and did ordos and celetials on four different characters and during that time I saw this person looking for a reputation group.
If you need a group because of gear or skill issues or because you are only a healer and can not kill them on your own or want a group just because you do not like to do it alone, it could very well slow down your game play, not speed it up. As you can see from this one example, and there are surely hundreds more like it, this person spent the better part of an hour doing nothing but posting in general seeking a group instead of actually playing the game. Is this really the type of loot system blizzard is supporting?
If there were shared tags with personal loot that person would be in an area with yungol killing them, getting reputation, and maybe, just maybe, getting an invite because he is right there. Even if he doesn't and all they do is kill together outside of a group that person actually gets to play the game instead of spamming general for an hour looking for a group.
There are many times, even more so when the island just came out, that I would be farming reputation on the other side of the bridge and someone would ask to join a group with me because they needed help. I could solo them from the moment of release so I did not need help but I have no problem helping someone so I would invite them. I never actively looked for a group and would never go grab someone form general that was asking for a group but if someone was there, I would invite them.
A shared tag system (with individual loot) would inspire people to come up there and just start killing with me just like the person that asked for the invite. But instead they were standing someone else looking for a group. I was not going to invite them because, as I said, I did not need the help, but if they were there standing next to me and helping me I would shoot them an invite. There would be a lot more players there participating if there was a shared tag system which would benefit me, as they would go down faster, and benefit them, as they get the help they needed.
Admittedly that is not always a good thing with groups either. A friend and I were farming frogs for stones when a warrior in low gear came by and helped us kill a few frogs. He then asked us if he could join, and I invited him. My friend on vent said, never invite anyone to a group, we do not need him. He was right, but I figured what the heck, I'm a nice guy that way.
We went on and killed a large pack of frogs and three timeless pieces dropped. One plate and two cloth. The warrior hit need on all three. Maybe he needed the plate one but there is no way he needed the cloth ones on a warrior and even if he did need them for an alt the appropriate thing would have been to ask, do you mind if I need. We would have said go for it, neither of us needed anything, but it was the principle of the matter, him just needing that infuriated my friend. My friend said kick him, I said no, maybe he just does not know group etiquette. I said in party, to explain to him standard group rules, unless you actually need something for the character you are on please hit greed on it.
I think I was polite, it is only fair that if you do not need something you do not hit need on it. Not to mention, it was our group, which means our rules, even if those were not our rules, those were the standard group rules that exist in all games really. And I do not believe in the "I need it for gold" argument. That is completely bull shit, sorry if you are one of the people that use that argument, but you are wrong. You need gold more than I need the gold because you are greedy and that means a greed roll.
Next pack another bunch of things to roll on drop and he hits need on all of them, including a lockbox, which no one needs, there is no way anyone could "need" a lockbox. I kick him from group without saying a word and he asks me why. I explain, in a group setting it is rude to hit need on everything that drops, go find someone else to take advantage of, you will not be taking advantage of me any longer. This is why it sometimes does not pay to be nice, this is also why tagging is bad, it discourages grouping for fear you might get a warrior like that.
This is one of the reasons that people do not actively like grouping. That friend, and many others I know, will not group with anyone they do not know for reasons just like that one. It is not worth the time to invite someone that is a need roll troll.
Shared tags would help with this. He could help us and we could help him and we would never need to be in a group and no ill will would ever be had from him because we kicked him or from us because we were helping him and he was taking advantage of us.
Then there is the queue case which if I had to guess happened to me so many times I could not even guess how many. I get a whisper asking "Can I join" or just a unsolicited invite to a group and I have to reply, sorry, in queue.
With the queue system most of the time if I am online I am in queue for something. This means I can not help you. With shared tags we can work together but with the tag system you are on your own. How exactly is the tag system being a social system there? It is not and that is not just talking about the island, that is talking about leveling too. I can not tell you the number of times I was waiting on mobs to spawn and someone was looking to form a group and most of the people there would say "sorry, in queue" or just outright decline and now we are all fighting for mobs instead of just killing what we need for the quest and enjoying ourselves.
The tag system is more anti-social in my opinion even if blizzard and watcher do not believe so. It makes you not want to be in groups. I am in queue, or I do not want you needing on my stuff, or I want to move at my pace, or I want to go left, or what have you. I'll just kill my mobs and you kill yours. Good luck beating me to the tag. That creates animosity between players.
With a shared system it would not matter if I was in queue or I did not want them needing on my stuff or I wanted to move at my pace or I wanted to go left. They could either hit what I am hitting or not hit what I am hitting, either way, I am doing what I want, they are doing what they want and both of us are moving along happily with our quest instead of fighting over things.
A shared tag system also creates more of a sense of community because, even if for selfish reasons, you would be more likely to help someone in trouble if you could get something from it. I can not even begin to tell you the number of times I have been in trouble and someone ran right past me to get one of the same mob I was fighting, or I saw someone in trouble and just moved right past them because if I stopped to help them it would slow me down.
If I, or they, could get credit from the kill, loot from the kill, and the feeling of helping out we have a triple stacked pile of goodness going there. I get that warm fuzzy feeling of helping my fellow man as well as some shiny loot and credit for my quest completion and guess what, maybe I might even tell the guy/gal lets team up and finish this off. And if they tell me, sorry I am in queue, it won't make a difference because we can still work together even if we are not grouped together. How does blizzard not share my opinion on this one that this is a very good thing? Oh well, everyone is entitled to their opinion.
In the end a shared mob tagging system is long over due in game and I believe it would not hurt the game in any way greater than having a singular tagging system does now. Sure both ways would have their faults but neither more than the other.
The key to making the shared tag system work however would be an individual loot system. All mobs would have to work like the timeless island rares, that everyone gets to loot them and gets their own loot. Like if I go and kill bufo solo, or in a group, and get a timeless chest piece someone else might get mail boots and another might get nothing but some coins. We would each get what was meant for us. So a shared tag system with individual loot is the way to go.
As I said, I disagree with watcher and I will not call him wrong, but my opinion completely differs from his and is no less valid than his. Just because he said it does not mean he is right. It is his, and the company he works for, opinion. Nothing more. Mob tagging is not better for the game just because he said so, he just follows the company line saying so as their opinion just as I disagree with him as it is my opinion.
In the end it is blizzards game and as such only their opinion matters. If they like it, it is here to stay. If we hold a difference of opinion it is our job, if we choose to accept it, to try and persuade them to change their opinion but based on the way watcher went at this one when blizzard and their employees usually shy away from making such blanket opinions shown on the forums I doubt this is one we would be able to convince them differently on.
So with all that said I too think it is time for the tagging system to go just as the person that started this conversion had said. It has no place in the game any longer and it seems to create more isolation than it does group play and working together. At least that is my opinion. What is yours?