Lately we have been prepping for this audit at work. Preparing the type of reports that basically say, please oh please don’t find justification to try and outsource the department. So all the writing and wrangling of words has left me pretty unwilling to write anything on my blog. We’ve been beating our faces against Blood Queen 25, while fighting the traditional "it’s pretty outside" attendance breaks. All of my game time outside of raiding has been devoted to pushing up my shaman. I managed to cross the finish line this Wednesday, and have been working on gearing up since. I cheated and got a few pieces of gear crafted, which allowed me to instantly begin queuing for heroics.
Things I Learned in Randoms
Over the course of 5 characters I have gotten pretty good and pushing them up quickly, but this time I kept taking breaks in order to run random dungeons. I found them entertaining diversions from the quest grind. All of my friends and guild-mates can attest to the fact that when I start seriously leveling I am dead to the world. I zone out and stop paying attention to chat, tells, and the outside world. These groups helped to pull me out of this bubble every now and then and wake me up, as well as keep feeding me a ready source of much needed upgrades.
Problem is, I found it really hard to wrap my head around the idea that I was playing beside folks who you were honestly experiencing the content for the first time. Being a tank, I have ground these instances into the ground for various members of my guild. It feels like I have run all of these dungeons, be it old world, burning crusade, or Northrend, hundreds of times between my various characters. Having geared several different tank characters, it feels like I can pull most of them in my sleep.
So I was just floored the other day, while sitting in Halls of Stone normal, and I realized that I was the only player who had ever been in the zone. We all started out as nubs once, it had to happen, but for most of us that time was so long ago we can barely remember it. I talked about the Veteran handicap, a few posts back, and honestly it was smacking me in the face once more. I sat there trying not to get frustrated as the players stopped to smell the "granite", as it were. Instead of being frustrated at the slow pace, and how hard I was having to work to make up the low collective dps of the players, I forced myself to take a different approach. I could have been an elitist jerk, like so many players are these days in randoms, pushing the inexperienced out of the way for the safety of a fast run. Instead I offered suggestions, explaining how to tank the bosses, how to keep from getting too many mobs on the various pulls. I chose to take the role of the mentor, rather than the brat.
Kindness Repaid with Indifference
One of the nasty side effects of the random system is that players are nameless and faceless commodities. Before the group matching system, we had to actually make connections on our server to real living players, and our actions had consequences on whether or not we got groups again. Now we know, there is always an endless supply of more players to be abused. If we don’t like something about a DPS, punt them, because we know that DPS are literally a dime a dozen. I personally don’t run alot of randoms as any of my tanks, because I don’t enjoy being pushed to skip bosses, skip packs, and generally do whatever it takes to complete the zone and get those players their frost badges as fast as humanly possible. I’ve always found this detracts from the game. Which is highly ironic considering I have always been known within my guild and circles for my fast pulls.
The part of the anonymity that I dislike the most is the fact that no one communicates at all. Wednesday night I was running Forge of Souls normal mode, with a decent group. Since I had just dinged 80 a few hours beforehand I was obviously not dishing out a ton of damage. I was charting in around 2000 dps, which in my mind is more than enough for normal mode FoS. I was johnny on the spot, dropping the right totems at the right moment, doing as much to support the team as I could. Shortly after Bronjahm I was kicked from the group without warning, or notice. The only reason I could possibly think, was that my dps was lower than the rest of the party. What is distasteful, is that me being punted from the party was just a meaningless transaction to the rest of the party, who didn’t even bother to give a reason why.
Gearscore is Lazy
The growing apathy created by the random system, and the prevalence of addons like Gearscore has lead to a weird environment on most servers. Players in general have unrealistic requirements in their head as to what is really required to do something. On Argent Dawn for example, the requirement to get into any raid seems to be 5000 GearScore regardless of what the raid is from ICC 10 to the Weekly. Granted you can get to this made up number of 5000 pretty easily, with a certain amount of time spent gearing, but it doesn’t actually mean anything. I know personally I regularly have players fill in on my ICC 10 on their alts with GearScores of 4500 or less and do just fine, still being able to clear everything we have been able to clear in the past.
The worst thing is when I see people talking about Gearscores in heroics. This honestly makes my bile rise a little bit. We have arrived at a point where we expect to overgear the content so much, that it requires no effort at all. Storming through the instance, killing everything so fast that it doesn’t actually need to be tanked, isn’t really doing the content "as intended". I am not sure where these requirements have come from either. I remember tanking all of the heroics that were available at the release of wrath, in nothing but blues… why? Because we didn’t have access to anything better yet a week or two after the game released. Each of the dungeons has been nerfed a good deal since then, so if we could do them in blues back then, its certain that a player with 1500 dps is more than sufficient. I laughed at a guy the other day in a heroic, that said it required 35k hp to tank a heroic instance.
We’ve become Lazy
I think basically we as player population have become lazy. Many of the constructs we have now, were done for our benefit, and taken alone have been great things. I have applauded how easy it is to gear players currently. As a raid leader its great that we can grow up players from within our circle of friends and family rather than recruiting from outside. I have applauded at how easy it is to get a group, but it has caused us to stop relying on our social ties as much. I have applauded all of the AOE tanking changes in the game, because it is fun to pull entire rooms of mobs, but it has caused a generation of players who do not know how to CC, and more so NOT BREAK CC. Most simply put, all these nice features that Blizzard gave us have caused us to forget how to play the game.
As I look forward to Cataclysm I am hoping beyond hope that we return to dungeons that require thought. I want pulls that I have to reason with. I want to have to know what abilities the different mobs do, and which one to kill first and which to sheep, which to trap and which to shackle. I want us to have to think our way through a dungeon even if it takes a little longer to do so. We have these constructs in the game, like the raid target system, that served so well in burning crusade, that really are optional other than marking whatever we want to avoid these days. I don’t want things to be brutally stupid, and punishing. I am not one of those Everquest fanbois that longs for the return of the corpse run. I just want a reason to think again, and I want AOE tanking to be something that only the truly skilled could manage to pull off without killing their party.