Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Do This, Don't Do That, Can't You Read the Signs

Signs, signs, everywhere there's signs.  If you are old enough to remember that song you are older than I or just like that genre of music as I do but what does music have to do warcraft?  The entire concept of signs we see in game now made that song pop into my head.  That is what it has to do with it.

Blizzard has gone through great lengths to add signs to the game, signs for everything it seems and I am a big fan of it.  Some of, if not all, of the mobs you run into in the world that do effects also leave you signs to tell what area that effect will hit.

A shockwave shows the outline at least two seconds before it happens.  That is a sign.  A rain of fire leaves a circle showing the area which the rain of fire will hit.  That is a sign.  All the mobs you fight seem to leave you signs.  Signs signs everywhere there's signs and it is a great thing if you ask me.

Not only does this teach players what the true dimensions of an area of effect spell reaches but it makes them actually get a feel for it.  So that at some point people will begin to instinctively know that they need to move X amount even without looking at the little circle on the ground.

In the months and years to come new raiders will become used to it and expect it and even wonder how we raided without it.  Well, we wiped, a lot more than new players will now.  We wiped until we learned on our own what the area effect would hit.  We used our own minds and eyes to figure out how far we needed to move, we did not have some nice neat little sign to tell us how far to move out.

It might sound like I am going to say it is simplifying the game too much as if it is a bad thing but I am not.  I think it is a fantastic thing.  The game is drawing in a lot of new players that are not fantasy gamers.  Any fantasy gamer, or any type of gamer for that matter, never needed the signs, it is what we did, we knew how to move, when to move and how far to move because we like this type of thing and we understand how it works.  Those new players are not that type of player.  They need the signs and it is a good thing they are there.

If you do not believe me that the average person needs signs for everything just take a look around your house.  Check your iron that has a sign, also known as a warning label, that says do not iron clothing while it is on your body.  Or check your hairdryer and notice it says do not use while in shower.  There is a reason that signs like these are needed and that is because the majority of people we have the dishonor of being related to as part of the human race are stupid.  Really stupid.  The type of people that would iron their clothes while they are still wearing them type of stupid.

In terms of game play ironing your clothing while you are wearing it is roughly the same as standing in a rain of fire.  It will hurt, perhaps a hell of a lot, but it isn't likely to kill you because as soon as you notice the pain you move/stop.  Standing in a shockwave might be like using your hairdryer while still in the shower.  It will likely kill you and even if it doesn't you will be left in need of serious immediate medical attention.

These new signs are a great for teaching people, but only if they learn.  That is one problem where the signs do not go far enough.  It still allows people to make mistakes, if you can even call them that.  Where the person ironing their clothes on their body will stop roughly round the same time as they start screaming in pain, and you do not need intelligence for that one, in the game you still need someone to have some intelligence.

While the raid of fire might hurt it does not really hurt them, they will try to kill whatever they are fighting without moving hoping to beat the thing before it beats them or if they are in a group they will just think the healer will heal them.  So while these signs are great, the penalty is not enough.  Human nature of stupidity, the same one that requires us to put these warning labels on things, will always win out.

Doesn't mean having these things is a bad thing.  Some people can learn and it is a lot easier to teach them with these signs all over the place.  Hey, see when that boss puts that spell on you that there is a big blue circle around you?  Well, make sure no one else is in the circle.  See.  A lot easier than trying to tell people when the boss casts the spell on you to get away from everyone.  The circle around them gives a definitive guide of what away from everyone means. It no longer leaves it up to the person to learn how far away is far enough.  I like that.

I have had many types of raiders over the years from good to bad to everything in between and most, even the bad ones, can learn.  The difference is the bad ones take longer to learn and having that little tool teach them what away from everyone means will make a world of difference, so much so that even when that circle is not there they will have some sort of frame of reference from something else they did that will teach them what the standard distance of a spell is.  This makes teaching people so much easier.

There is a line in the song that does keep ringing in my head however.

You ain't supposed to be here.

Now this is something signs are really good for.  In the song it was referring to some place where membership was needed to get in, the sign said, members only basically.

See, signs tell us things.  Like the signs on the warning labels or the sign that says members only.  They tell us information we need.  If we do not follow those instructions we are effectively stupid as in it is stupid to use the hairdryer in the shower after you were directly advised against it.

These signs help us noticed the truly bad players over the seemingly bad players.  Many times, even more so when someone is new to something, it takes them some time to adapt, to understand.  Signs can help those people that seem bad but just don't understand.

Like I mentioned with the blue circle around someone.  A bad player might not move being they do not know what it means even after being told or just do not care.  A seemingly bad player, once told how to act, will usually never made the mistake again because they have this huge blue circle sign all around them.  When it happens they read the sign and the sign says, makes sure no one else is in this circle.  A truly bad player will continue to screw it up, even if the sign is as bright as day under their feet.

How is that for making things easier to decide who can learn and who is a lost cause?  There will be giant signs all over the place and the people that can not read them, even after they have been explained to them, are the bad players, the 100% truly bad players.  Either because they don't get it or they don't care.  Either way, they are bad.  Nothing else needs to be said about it.  There will never be a need for debate about it, never someone saying I thought I was far enough away, or I thought I was out of the AoE.  There is a huge sign right there in game that tells them how far away is far enough or if they are standing in something.

Bad is no longer a subjective term when it comes to mechanics like that, it is a real thing that can be measured.  Bad is no longer an opinion it is a yes or no thing thanks to signs.

Yes, in many other cases it can still be subjective.  Is 40K DPS bad for someone?  Some might say yes and some might say no but when it comes to ground effects there is a true bad, one that can not ever be debated.  All thanks to signs.

The people that can not read the signs, even after having them explained to them, are bad players.  Like many in the looking for raid last night.  It was funny seeing half the raid wipe to obvious mechanics like the line of warriors walking across the room.  Things like that are signs in and of themselves, you see them coming, you move, simple right.  When explained to the raid, after the wipe of course, and seeing a few people that died the first time to it die a second time to it shows the good players from the bad ones.  Signs.  All thanks to signs.

Some might say these changes are dumbing down the game but I just say it is the opening of doors.  It is opening the doors to the type of player that did not play this type of game before and might not understand.  For me, you and many like us, the gamers, it is simple, we understand it not because we are better but because we have done it before in other games and been doing it for years in this game.  For new people, they can really benefit from those signs.

If I enter a new raid I know nothing about and am told if I get arcane something-or-other on me I need to get away from everyone I know roughly how far that means.  I do not need a sign to tell me because I have done that mechanic what feels like a million times before.  For a new player, seeing how far is far enough makes the learning curve smaller for them, they will adapt faster, if they are not one of the truly bad players.  It is not dumbing down, it is just saving time.  Instead of a new group wiping 30 times when teaching something like that, they might wipe once because of it.

In the constant effort of the game to allow us to spend more time playing and less time wiping these signs are a great way for new people to get their foot in the door. They basically tell them do this, don't do that.

In time they too will know how far away is far enough and will not even notice the blue outline on the ground any more, as they become better players, more adaptive.  Then, and only then, will they move to the next step of game play.  Job performance.  How well you tank and rotate your cooldowns.  How well you heal and manage your mana.  How much damage you do while also handling all the little things that are thrown at you like adds or interrupts.

That is where the games difficulty should be.  It should be on how well you do your job.  I've always said that mechanics like move out of the fire or be away from everyone else were annoying because for knowledgeable players it was just an inconvenience and for new players it was a roadblock while they learned.

Mechanics like that are not fun, never have been and never will be.  Adding all those signs just helps remove having to teach every new player these things we mastered long ago.  I think that is the main reason they added them. They added them so the newer people to raiding can catch up with the people that have been raiding forever.

The only way to keep the older raiders interested was to keep stepping it up but if you keep stepping it up you make it impossible for many new players to jump in.  All these signs make it easier for them to jump in and I think it is a great addition to the game.

What are your feelings about the new effect signs?

Signs, signs everywhere there's signs.  The song spoke of them as bad things but in this case I think they are good things.


  1. "Mechanics like that are not fun, never have been and never will be."

    I think that depends on what type of game you expect this to be. I actually want more of this so that it becomes an action RPG.

    I also want mass for players so you can do things like form a protective wall in front of your healer or force people off a cliff in pvp. I want jumping puzzles in boss fights and many other things. Of course what this means is I want a very different game.

    1. Well, moving from the fire does not really seem fun to me, seems something that just should be done. Doesn't seem like a mechanics just seems boring. But seeing as so many people fail at it I guess it could be looked at like a mechanics.

      Mechanics that change how the fight is done are fun in my opinion but they have their faults too. It makes it harder to teach new people. Like going up on alys. If you had someone that knew how to do it that was the easiest fight in firelands. If you didn't it could mean a lot of wipes while you were waiting for people to learn it.

      So with that said, mechanics like that are more fun but can also be more stressful on new players. I guess simple things like move from the fire are easier to teach, just seems boring as hell to me.