Making a Generation of Bad Players : WoW

There is nothing like a Timewalking event to make you appreciate old school MMO players and feel bad that newer MMO players haven’t had to learn what used to be “core competencies” in MMOs. Now to be sure – these skills aren’t as important because they aren’t prevalent in today’s gaming but for anyone who grew up when MMOs had a modicum of challenge this will be very familiar territory.

Love the old, ugly, mish mash of levelling gear

The setting was a 5 man Timewalking Dungeon from the Cataclysm expansion – specifically Throne of the Tides. I am levelling my 4th and 5th characters to cap (more on that later) and my Shaman has a heal spec which I spent many years playing so into Timewalking dungeons I go.  Throne of the Tides has some large pack pulls (5+) and very specific mobs that cast greater heal. With the de-levelling and gearing you can’t just muscle through it. You need focus fire, and interrupts, and/or CC. The first run I did of this dungeon was with “newer” WoW players. They just kept full AOE, no interrupts, and we literally spent over 5 minutes bashing our heads against a single pack until we wiped. I, as a healer, was the only person trying to interrupt. Even when I Hex’ed a healer (hard CC) someone would hit it to bring it into AOE fest. I took the time and energy to try and explain.

More ugly gear, my tanking set. Gross. Love it. Orange and Purple should match better.

Not only did they not get it, the Mage didn’t even have Polymorph on her hotbar. I kid you not. Of course, makes sense, because if you never have to use a spell/skill why bother? I remember those pulls “back in the day” and we would do a SAP, POLY, HEX, FREEZE TRAP and prioritize the others, rotating interrupts. When done it was a wonderful coordination and really made you feel like a team. Now it is just gather up as much as you can and AOE it all down. The beauty and intricacies of the genre are completely watered down.

But there is hope.

That group fell apart because people refused to communicate, mark mobs, and try something different. So I requeued up and decided to try again. This time I got a group that cleary was from the Cataclysm era. The tank marked mobs. BLue square was hunter trap. X was Polymorph. Was explained once, and everyone excuted throughout the whole 5 man. It was still the same old, same old WoW experience because no one said a word after the “rules” were set until the final piece of loot dropped (“ty all”, was the crux of it.) but it was a well oiled, experienced machine.

The Shaman class hall, on the edge of the Maelstrom is frightening and beautiful. Waves crash up and spray. I haven’t tried jumping in. Yet.

Rest of the runs were a mixed bag of both which was when I realized that a lot of players either just don’t know any better, or don’t care to put in the effort. All of this means that there is probably less complexity on it’s way in future games and they will continue to be questing snore-fests.

No wonder why nothing really new is coming out in the space “for the masses”, and hopefully the niche titles will try to recapture at least some of the personal responsibility along with personal loot boxes.

10 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I do wonder just how much the original diku-MUD combat came down to technical limitations rather than design. By having extremely powerful mobs in EQ, for example, most group encounters were limited to very small numbers and having a lot of crowd control meant that if the numbers threatened to increase players would work to reduce them again. Presumably a mezzed mob puts a lot less strain on the server than one using all its abilities and a rooted mob requires less processing power than on seeeking to find paths.

    As the technology has improved, not least in terms of connectivity, so the thrust has been towards ever faster fights with ever larger numbers using ever more impressive effects. If the original EQ or WoW devs could have had that tech, would they ever have bothered with taunting, tanking, pulling, mezzing, rooting or pretty much anything other than huge, fast, explosive AoE?

    Because we did live through that era, we have the understanding that things can be like that. Some of us developed a taste for it.. And because some devs cut their teeth on that type of gameplay there’s a good chance that more (niche) MMOs will be made that use it. Nevertheless, it might just be an artefact of history, a developmental anomaly that time and technology have corrected.

    1. I deleted a paragraph that talked about this a little – I am not saying the old way was “better” but it was necessary to be successful. There were extra steps and intricacies that really made a dungeon crawl something other than “gather all, aoe down, spam heal” that we have today. Whether technical limitations or not it was the way many of us learned to play so there is comfort there. But more than that there is a sense of challenge and accomplishment. If you didn’t do it you would likely fail. Hoping that Pantheon still does it if so – does that make it even less likely to be successful? Even more niche? in my experience the “new” crowd would rather quit than learn, albeit limited to this event.

      I still think the old devs would have done it because there were other challenges built in that didn’t rely on tech. XP loss on death, full zone aggro length, etc. Surely the strain on resources could have been limited without those (or the trains they produced!)

  2. “a lot of players either just don’t know any better, or don’t care to put in the effort”

    It’s a depressing vicious cycle. Why teach if the other parties don’t want to learn? How does someone who -wants- to get better learn anything (or even realize there’s more to learn) if no one feels like investing the effort to teach?

    I don’t have a solution, but I do think a factor in the sorry equation is that of diminishing time and community investment into single game worlds with a small enough community to recognize each other. Without static connections and relationships, it’s just not worth the time to learn or teach.

    The catch-22 problem is that fewer these days are even willing to make that kind of investment, because there are so many other jump-in jump-out games that can provide amusement and entertainment without the bother of deep interactions with other people.

    1. I think if you make the rewards good enough people will. Mythic dungeons, for example, require people to eat stat food and drink potions, healers to aid in DPS to beat timers, and be overall proficient in your character and what they do. That is limited to the top percent of players though, but I think it should be the norm.

      1. I guess I don’t consider something limited to a top percent of players as a good solution. All that creates is a rich/poor divide where the top percent becomes even more elitist and superior… and justified in that superiority because they -are-.

        I’m more interested in how to help more people to those higher levels of knowledge and skill, till at least a majority of >50%? know something and treat it as understood.

        But well, it’s a tough ask if the Duning-Kruger effect is in play, and it usually is, beginners don’t realize what they don’t even know.

        Oh, you may like Pantheon, I caught a bit of it on cohhcarnage’s Twitch stream and it looks oldschool as hell. A little too boring and slow for me personally, I guess I’m an action gamer at heart, but I can see why others would like slower, more strategic combat. The group reliance is going to make it pretty darned niche though, along with their other choices.

        1. This is where we agree. I see no issue with needing under 10 heavy CC pulls per dungeon run. Even a couple to get people used to it. It’s not actually harder when done right, it just is smarter and more engaging gameplay.

          I will like Pantheon like I still enjoy playing EQ now and again on their progression servers. It’s one of the few spots left to have CC encouraged gaming. Not sure how FFXIV plays.

  3. It’s a comparison to the toughest dungeons WoW has ever put out, to those that were a relative cakewalk since Legion launch.

    I played Rogue every expansion. Sap was a bread and butter skill in dungeons, even the start of MoP. Never touched it since. Devs, at some point, decided that responsibility < offense, or more specifically that the dungeon's success is based on the healer's ability to manage chaos, and a tank's ability to keep the healer alive.

    The irony here is that MoP found a partial solution all those years ago… the proving ground. Don't allow random grouping until you complete at least all the silver ranks for a given spec on a given class. Legion missed an even greater opportunity to require class skills in the artefact quests. Ah well… single player RPGs for me.

    1. I still SAP with my rogue alt! Only because I have it macro’d with pick pocket since, oh TBC. So I sap, pick pocket, and move along. Otherwise, waste of time for sure.

      I still remember when you moved slower as a rogue in stealth and everyone had to stand around and wait for you to get in position….

      WoW is basically a single player RPG with advanced BOT AI now. At least, that is how I play it with LFG and LFR.

  4. Throne of Tides! Even with tanks marking Spiritmenders and begging people to hit them first, it was a no go, wipe wipe wipe on two different days. Never made it past the first boss on the second try.

    1. I had decent success with it but it was definitely hit or miss. I was chain running instances to get my Shaman from 95 to 98 to get into Legion territory. It was usually either a complete disaster or smooth run, not much in between. Funny you mention tanks, it still seems like most of them take the responsibility of leading a 5 man pretty seriously. DPS? Not so much… =)

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