Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Less Skill Required, The More Fun the Content is

The title of this post is something I just mentioned in a comment to someone with regards to the timewalker dungeons and some issues he had in it.  The line refers to random group content only.  And I 100% completely believe it to be true.

The problem with the timewalker dungeons (which I have none, I love them) is that a lot of "bad" players run into them thinking they can just plow through them like they do a current dungeon and they meet their demise.  This happens by the tank not being able to take all the damage, the healer not being able to keep up with the healing, or the damage dealers just not doing enough damage to down the mobs in a timely manner.

These players are the ones that think they are good players because "I can solo heroics if I wanted to" and do not realize that their gear is scaled down.  The first time they run into something where they might need skill, and they do not have their over geared characters gear to carry them through it, they fail.  Miserably.  Welcome to timewalkers.

There really is no reason to ever wipe in a timewalker dungeon.  I've done them all.  I've done them with great groups, I've done them with poor groups.  I've done them as tank, as healer and as damage dealer.  I've done them on characters I was good at and characters I played quite poorly on.  And one thing I am absolutely certain of is that these dungeons are a push over compared to what they originally were.  They are easy, very easy.  Assuming you do not try to play as if you were are over gearing it and try pulling the entire dungeon at once.  Yeah, that won't end well.

To illustrate my point I am going to play a game of make believe, because that is just fun to do.  We are going to take a group of "poor" players and put them in 710 item level gear.  We have Bob the rogue, Ann the hunter, Dave the Mage, Megan the healer and Tom the tank.

They are "decent" in the idea that with enough practice they can eventually get things down, or can at least sneak in and do well enough to not be kicked in a pug so they can get a few bosses down here and there, but each on their own is a poor player.

Now in this make believe world lets send those players into two random dungeons together.

Enter Dungeon #1: Upper Backrock Spires Heroic.

They walk in and start pulling, the tank is taking little damage, the healer is able to keep everyone up with hots only for the most part and the DPS are all on different targets but everything is dying fairly quick.  They are not even stopping the mobs from operating the canons and they don't even notice they are there because things are going down so fast.

They get to the first boss and screw up a bit, Dave the Mage even dies trying to deactivate the things when he jumps down but Megan uses the battle rez on him and he is back to trying to open them again.  The boss goes down pretty quick even if they do not do the fight right, so to speak, because they over gear it.

Second boss comes and they do not interrupt, the boss switches focus to a damage dealer and because no one was interrupting, the healer just heals them through it.  They stand in bad a little too long, the two adds with the boss go down seconds apart because of split DPS instead of one at a time nice and fast as intended.  The tank does not even hold aggro on all three as the adds routinely attack the damage dealers instead of the tank and the healer still has no problem.

On the way to the next boss they get knocked back into more mobs, and then still some more, pulling the entire room.  The tank goes into panic mode and instead of rolling his coodowns he hits everything at once, but it works and they get by because the DPS is so OP.

The rest of the dungeon goes like this.  Mistakes, misusing of abilities, abilities not being used at all, ignoring stuff because the healer can heal through it, you know the deal, the standard poor skilled pug thing.

When all is over, everyone had a great time.  Things got slaughtered, things moved fast, and with the exception of Dave, who wears tissue paper as armor, no one died.

Enter Dungeon #2: Ahn'kehet, the Old Kingdom, Timerwalkers

Tom the tank runs in and pulls a pack with a spell flinger, not one of them or even two of them, but three of them.  With the lowered gear scaled closer to correctly, but still pretty OP for this content, the poor players are not downing the mobs as fast as they just were in the last dungeon they did.

Being the mobs are not going down, that means three spell flingers are up.  Being the group does not know anything about stunning or interrupting the spell flingers start flinging spells and the tank goes down faster than a thai hooker, then the healer melts and everyone else follows suit pretty quickly.

They reassemble, tom the tank blames the healer for not healing him, megan the healer says he went from 100 to 0 instantly, and she is not lying, and the damage dealers just sit back and let them argue because to them, it is both the tank and the healers fault.

They go in and pull again, doing the same thing.  One mob less then before because that is all they killed, one mob, and it was not even a spell flinger.  This attempt ends in the same way the previous one did, with the tank dying, the healer dying and then the damage dealers dying.

After playing the blame game once again where Megan calls Tom the worst tank ever, even after she said in the last dungeon "You are so easy to heal Tom, you take no damage, you are a great tank" they go at it again and decide that perhaps they will only pull one pack this time.

They do just that and they do a little better.  The spell flinger is getting casts off as the damage dealers are attacking what seems to be everything but the mob they should be focused on and the tank, of course, can't be bothered interrupting an ability that does 80% health damage to him.  The healer struggles to keep him up and keeps struggling, until the end when Tom dies and then Bob pops evasion and evasion tanks for a few seconds before it goes down.

Wow, that was really hard for these poor players.  If only they knew how to interrupt, how to stun, now to focus damage, how to actually do damage at decent level in this gear instead of letting the gear carry them like normal, it would have been no problem.

They move on to the next two flinger packs and do it as they did the first, with 2 pulls for each pack.  Their repair bill is already a nightmare and they have not touched the first boss.

When the first boss comes it ends up being another wipe fest as Tom does not pick up the big add, and unlike the second boss in UBRS where the healer, when over geared, could heal through the damage that was being put on to the damage dealer, that was also over geared, this time a lower scaled geared healer could not keep up the lower scaled geared DPS that was getting beat on by the add.  They wipe.

It happens a second time too before the tank realizes that he needs to pick up the add.  Surprise surprise, who would have ever thought that the tank should do that.  Bad Tom.  After they down it, Dave says some of his gear is broke so he is heading back out to repair, everyone else follows to take the chance to repair and when outside they all come to the conclusion that it is not worth finishing this dungeon.

So when this is all over, before it is even finished, no one had any fun because the content required skill, something this make believe "test" group did not have.  No fun was had by anyone, well, except for the spell flingers perhaps.

I like the timewalkers dungeons.  They are a fun throw back and they are extremely easy when compared to the original ones, but even if I do like them, I freely admit, I love blowing through a heroic dungeon now even more.  I love the fact I can basically solo them, and so can anyone else in decent gear.  It is just flat out fun to blow things up.  Anyone that says otherwise is lying.

While I can interrupt, stun, knockback, trap, tranq, etc, in the timewalkers, and while I do find them fun, doing things where you do not need to do any of that because you can just destroy stuff is just more fun, sometimes at least.  And in my opinion "sometimes" means "in random groups".

I am of the opinion that anything that uses the random group making system should never, not in a million years, include anything that requires any modicum of skill.  Leave that stuff for raids, mythic dungeons, and other content were you assemble a group yourself and don't let the system do it for you.

The reason people remember BC and wrath dungeons so fondly is because at the time they were released, when they were new and no one knew what they were doing and they were still a challenge until they were learned, we needed to assemble groups by hand. 

Look what happened when they added that same concept with cataclysm.  The cataclysm heroic were no harder than the wrath or BC ones on release.  But they were random groupings.  And what happened there?  Dungeons are too hard happened.  Sorry, they were not too hard, they were never too hard, they were easier than wrath heroics, they were easier than BC heroics, but they allowed random grouping.  That is what made them hard.

Come to think of it, I did not need those make believe examples, all I needed was the cataclysm heroics.

With guild = awesome fun, a bit of a challenge, but felt great doing them.

With random grouping = Curl up in a ball crying while whimpering mommy or it was great.  A flip of the coin, random if you will.

Bottom line is, for random content, the less skill required, the more fun the content is.


  1. Before reading your last couple of posts, I didn't know that gear was all scaled the same. I don't know why, but I thought, for some reason, that someone in 720ish gear had an advantage over someone in 685 gear, after scaling down. But now knowing that it all scales the same, I feel much better about doing 50-80% of the damage in most timewalking dungeons. :-) I haven't bothered making a timewalking set, and didn't even bother getting out my legendary cloak for this weekend's events... huh...

    Anyhow, I can't decide how I feel about timewalking. Right now, they feel like a chore. When I do them on my hunters, they feel pointless (as none of my hunters benefit from TW gear). When I did the 5 on my druid (the only non-hunter I have at 100 at the moment), i went in as a healer, and it just took forever.

    In both Cata and MoP, I liked hard dungeons, even in the group finder. A couple of the troll dungeons in 4.1 (i think) were a bit too complicated for random groups to do, but the dragon soul dungeons were fun, and the MoP dungeons were fun right when you first hit 90. I remember wiping a lot to the shado-pan dungeon, and trying to explain to mostly below average players in all greens how to get through it, and still having lots of fun.

    I don't know what it is that causes me to sometimes be very annoyed by wiping, and sometimes not. I don't think it's only being in random group content, but that's probably part of it. It definitely didn't used to be the case, for me at least.

    1. You could go in with all 400 item level gear and be the same as someone in all 720 gear. It is scaled down, but never up.

      There are ways to get "better" gear. Such as powerful trinkets that scale well, deathbringers will for example, and it is fun too. And of course getting gear with multiple gem slots and lower then current item level so you can enchant it. So you, you CAN over power timewalkers, but very very few would go through the effort to. Also using the mists legendary weapon gem in the weapon, the legendary helm gem in the helm and the legendary cape is OP as hell in timewalkers as they all work and scale in your favor.

      I think doing 50-80%, which I do as well, shows how poor the other players are. But I must warn you, hunters in stuff like this always have a huge advantage, even at equal skill levels. More so MM. So we will do more than someone equally skilled anyway. Not as in 80% of the damage type of more, but still some more.

      I get annoyed wiping only when people refuse to learn. I do not mind wiping if people correct their mistakes. But I hate wiping to the same people doing the same mistakes over and over. It is just frustrating. I would rather just go in and blow things up, that is more fun with random people.

      Like the cataclysm release dungeons that first day. I had such a dreadful time in them. One guild mate was in deadmines for 6 hours, not kidding. But when we did them in a guild group they were great fun, even if sometimes someone made a mistake. I say leave the challenge for me when I choose who I am with, take it out when I don't.

  2. Timewalking may scale, but some classes / specs have a clear advantage. Mobs die pretty fast, so something like affliction lock isn't all that great in there. Sure, a good player will still top meters, but an average one will not do the same damage of an average player with a more 'bursty' class. I speak from what my own experience so milage may vary.
    Also, casting seems to take forever. Seems, didn't check.

    That being said I was with a terrible group in Ahn'kahet just yesterday. I was tanking, but that didn't stop a dk dps rushing up after he zoned, pulling, dying and leaving, or downing that add on the first boss seemed to take forever even with skull on it, or that priest who died at the avoidable spells those 3 faceless throw, in the room with the last boss (I pulled them one by one, but still). We never wiped but yeah, no fun.

    1. Yeah, as I mentioned to someone else, that is why it is kind of hard to judge hunters. Even more so MM hunters. Between barrage, aimed shot crits and kill shot at 35% with any otherwise "weak" group it is easy to take the majority of damage done. Like I said, I do not even try on trash and I am still over 60% of the damage done.

      Melee in timewalkers sucks if there are two ranged. I did it the other day and nearly everything was dead before I even got to it. lol

      Those three faceless are funny. Even at the end of wrath I saw many a group wipe there. Nice to see they can still kill people.

      Random groups are what make them hard, otherwise they are really kind of a fun throw back.

  3. You forgot to mention that Ann the Hunter uses Barrage at the top of the first set of steps in Ahn'kehet and pulls the entire area to cause a wipe. I had that happen 3 different times this past week. Believe me, it is easier to wipe than you portray :(

    1. Ann the hunter only had one ability on her bar and that is barrage, which she uses in melee range for maximum pull potential.

      The spell flingers do percentage based damage, not a set number, so even at the end of wrath they were still destroying pugs that did not know to interrupt. It always amazed me, it has a 3 or 4 second cast time, how can you not manage to interrupt something that takes that long to cast, but they do.

      I think, as sick as it might sound, that is why I love those mobs. No matter your gear, they hurt if you screw up.

  4. I ran my 5 TW dungeons this weekend on my newly minted 100 Disc Priest. Like James, I had a non-tank come into AK and try to pull the entire first room. It was dreadful dying 3-4 times to the spider trash. Happily the dps dropped after first boss and we went on fairly painlessly for the rest of the dungeon. Later dungeon, a dps said, "what would it take to get some heals?" (ok, you're 100% health, but here's a penance) after the trash (the one where their in ice tombs to start) pull in colderra(?) and no one died. [Secretely I was thinking, um, you want heals, next time be the tank.] Was happy when the tank backed me up, "that was a lot to deal with and we all got heals, (eride) did a good job."

    Overall, tank and I stuck together long enough to complete the 5-dungeon quest and netting a shiny i695 trinket.

    TW is great for quick upgrades of these freshly minted or close to 100s. First off, since it levels your gear, you can basically go in with greens and do awesome. Second with the 500 tw tokens they provide each week, you can get a number of upgrades. My priest was able to purchase roughly 6 items (trinkets, wrist, chest,) and still have tw tokens left over. From that first TW dungeon, she went from 610 to 650.

    I think the biggest issue with TW dungeons is people have forgotten to CC. They probably don't even have the buttons on their screens any longer. Blizz's trend has been to 'simplify' pug mechanics so much so that having the healer silenced/stunned is rare (post Panda).

    When they ask "Why did I not get any heals?"

    I was entombed in ice and no one broke me out.
    I was silenced by the spell caster.
    I was stunned by the stampeding rhino.
    I was feared.

    WoD has brought back some of this, but as you said, now we're all just steamrolling the mechanics. It's only because of the gear leveling (proving grounds, tw dungeons, now PVP) really that we even see it.

    1. Sounds like you were in one of the groups I had, or heck, the group I just made up. lol Sorry to hear about that bad run. OK was always a dangerous place with a bad tank and damage dealers that did not know priority targets and how to interrupt.

      Congrats on the trinket, I got a 700 wrist I believe. Trinkets are the best things to get from them in my opinion.

      I loved doing it on my fresh 100 monk, first run, get the 500, buy all the pieces I could. Awesome. For older characters, not much to offer, but for new ones, pretty great if you ask me.

      Those dungeons were all made before LFD, that is why. When you had a "real" group you worked together, you had to. Server reputation mention something. If you kept screwing up, guess who was never getting into a pug again. Once LFD was added, concepts like CC were out the door, because people did not care any more, why would they, if my rep got ruined on your server, how would it hurt me? That is what people think with LFD and that is why they all act so poorly.

  5. Anon, Grumpy's former Guild Leader:

    You skirt around it, but the problem is the fact that random groups are assembled mechanically by the game and not by the social procedure. I don't run specialty stuff anymore, but I ran all of those Time walking dungeons when they were brand new and I saw how badly Wrath was affected by them when the idea of LFG was introduced. Oh yea, everyone claimed they loved it but also everyone claimed bad groups were the norm until the gear score overwhelmed the dungeons and turned them into zergfests.

    Contradict me all you please but I was there too, and I know folks at first screamed about poor groups all the time...at least initially. Then the cumulative gear score changed that into pull everything and hang on for the ride. That was the beginning of the end of any chance of getting rid of LFG and the reason that the Cata dungeons were overwhelming to so many at the beginning.

    I know it is not popular to still be against the Looking For system. I know there are advantages to the thing. I also know that I am firmly convinced much of the socialization problems in Warcraft stem from implementing the system of Looking For. It is the change that made socialization irrelevant to getting into the game play. The "oh it saves time" argument holds water true, but it also doesn't show the poison pill of not needing to socialize at the bottom of the bucket.

    Grumpy, you and I are both not socially super skilled, but we both come from a time in the game where you had to learn how to be a part of the game's society if you wanted to get anything done. Now a days, not so much. Now, from all the things I read, most often it is "go, go, go, and then go some more." Crowd Control? Focused DPS? Those aren't things from the past, those are things unheard of altogether for far to much of the WoW population.

    I don't think it is possible now for Blizzard to revamp the Looking For system. Not in any meaningful way at any rate. So you folks who are playing the Looking For system are just going to have to suck it up and endure your clueless game mates. They are not going away. For that matter, neither are the complaints that are going to be generated by the clueless in the future. Welcome to WoW:2015.

    1. When you needed to hand assemble and server reputation meant something groups were better. It is the anonymity of the LFD that makes people act up, because what can you do to them... nothing. Not like the old days where word got around that someone was an asshat and they stopped getting invites to stuff.

      I will not contradict you at all. By the end of wrath we could stomp through them. The spell flingers in OK however even after over gearing, could still cause problems with bad groups do to their percentage based damage, not flat number damage.

      You recall the first week, or few weeks, of the ICC dungeons don't you? It was a nightmare to say the very least. It was like people forgot that you could not just blow everything up in one huge pull. All "new" things are like that. A challenge until you know them, and until you over gear them.

      I agree that 90%, around that at least, of the problems with the toxic community, comes from the random grouping and no accountability in game for people who act poorly.

      I would rather play alone, I work better alone, if something goes wrong, I know I am the only one to fix it. So yes, I am not used to playing with other people, but I fake it well, because I have to. We both did so because it was a benefit, and we made friends because of it, when we needed to hand assemble groups. If I started today, I don't think I would have ever stayed playing because I would have never met people like you who has become a friend, because basically, I would have never needed to make friends.

      The LFG system, as you said, has a great many pluses, but the minuses are that it killed community and friendships in the process to do so.

    2. Anon, Grumpy's former Guild Leader:

      Yea, I remember both our Warrior tank and our Paladin tank of the time leading us on rampages through places. I also remember how damn fortunate we were to have tanks that would slow down while our gear built up, even though slow down means not pulling everything all at once. As long as I had mana enough to heal with, neither one ever stopped pulling it seemed like to me. That was about as much go go go as I can stand personally.

      I very seldom used the Looking for Group tool, and certainly never without a number of guildmates along. In fact, thinking on it, I most often used it while we were doing the RAF thing and you queued us up for a lot of runs. Even then, I was with you. Prior to the LFG tool, I would approach folks near a dungeon and actually talk to them to see if they were interested in running it. I always got the dungeons run somehow and usually contributed to the victory in a meaningful way by playing my class role to my best ability. Playing with strangers like that never really bothered me, but that is due to the social interaction I had with them.

      The LF system would have been a much better solution applied on a server by server basis. Then your reputation on the server would have stilled mattered. Assholery would have suffered the same penalties. Where and when servers become to low in population to maintain the LF system, then Blizzard should have immediately forced mergers between low population servers. No cluster F... of CRZ and no reason to think server anonymity is possible. That would have been a proper application of the Looking For system that would not have disrupted the natural socialization of a server.

      But it is to late now for Blizzard to do something so radical in my opinion. I just don't think they have the innovation to see such a solution even when it lies within their grasp.

      It is almost as if Blizzard had intentionally designed a system that would foster the worst social environment. And having created the monster, stood back to admire it for it's brilliant diabolical design in accomplishing social fracture. The people I see in Iron Forge or Darnassus, should also be the ones I see in Stormwind and out in the various provinces and worlds. Instead, none of it matters when I see someone interesting. I won't be able to interact with them again without going out of my way to introduce myself or at least most likely I won't. Random chance may eventually throw us together again or not. That is no way to have a worthwhile social environment.

    3. As they say, the cat is out of the bag. There is no going back now but LFG would have been better on a server by server basis. And they should have merged servers, not used CRZ, and that would have fixed things some. It would still not be perfect, but it would have allowed for a more community feel where reputation mattered.

  6. "... and the tank goes down faster than a thai hooker..."

    Totally had me laughing my butt off here at work!

    On the subject of TW dungeons, I ran them on all of my level 100s and a couple of my mid 90s characters and one thing struck out to me... Seems like something is different this TW weekend with incoming damage scaling. I noticed that in all the groups I was in (regardless of my role), some trash packs were hitting excessively hard. To the point where I found the boss fights easier than the trash. I've run TW dungeons every time they've been offered on all these characters and I don't recall this being an issue in the past... Which made me wonder if there was something strange occurring with mob damage...

    1. I am glad you liked it. Hopefully you did not get any strange looks. lol

      The trash in them always hit hard, as in really really hard. We just out geared it back then so no one remembers. If a DPS pulled a mob it killed them, that is when threat still mattered and it was harder for a tank to keep treat. So I think they are pretty true to form as what the original ones were like. But I do know what you mean. They do seem to be a tiny bit much.

  7. @Grumpy: To me, TW doesn't pass my "reward vs. effort" analysis. At least, not with my WoD gear. If I could get worked up to have a set of TW gear for all 3 expansions (Cata coming up in the pipeline), I might consider doing them. Yes, I enjoy facerolling stuff. I can do CC, LOS pulling, that sort of stuff. But, not if I want to play all my characters.

    1. I was thinking of making an "ultimate" gear set for my hunter, just for the fun of it to face roll. It is fun, as you mentioned, to do that. But as it is, even in my raid gear scaled down, I think I would be able to solo all of them on my hunter, so I do not need ultimate gear. They seem to be scaled very low over all.

  8. it is no game it is a clickfest for retarded wankers

    1. Not sure what you are commenting on, but okay I guess, if that is the way you feel. Just not sure what you feel is a clickfest, but okay either way.