A Bad Good Idea

Or would this be a good bad idea? You be the judge (emphasis added):

[...] Finally, we’re also going to have players be able to queue against other players [in Pet Battles]. But one of the important values for us with the queuing system is that we keep this very light and very casual. And as a result of that, we are doing everything that we possibly can to eliminate the shame of defeat. One of the things that really keeps a lot of players out of PvP types of activities is feeling bad about when they lose. ‘Cause ultimately, that’s really what drives a lot of people out of it. So we’re trying to do everything that we can to make sure that you do not feel bad about losing this.

We’re doing that in a number of different ways. For one, when you’re fighting an opponent in a match made battle, you’ll have no clue who they are, and they’ll have no clue who you are. So you’re playing this cross-server against who knows who. You won’t see their character name. You won’t be able to talk to them. They won’t be able to talk to you. So there won’t be any trash talking going on as they stomp your face in or whatever. Or you won’t be able to trash talk as you stomp their face in. It will feel a lot more like just some relatively intelligent AI then it would a normal kind of PvP ingame. In addition, not only will you not know who they are or not be able to communicate, but we also aren’t going to tabulate a running number of losses that you had. We’ll keep track of how many wins you had in your own statistics page, so you can always look at that out of curiosity. But the game is not going to record how many times you’ve lost. Again, we are really trying to eliminate all the sort of negative emotions that go along with PvP. So, that sums it up for the pet battles.

I know there are going to be people going into an apoplectic shock after reading this.

Something that should qualify as good good idea:

Could the gear scaling that is being added for challenge mode dungeons be applied in a similar manner for older content, allowing players to go back and play through old dungeons with an appropriately powerful character?

It’s like someone is reading our minds. That’s something that could 100% work for that. What we are starting with for challenge modes is the concept of doing it with the shipping dungeons for Mists of Pandaria. Then we’re going to watch it, see how it plays out and see how things go. Then the idea is if that goes well, we totally want to backdate that to some of our older dungeons. I mean, obviously it will probably be in thing like Scholomance, because that’s coming as new dungeon. But if it works out well, there’s no reason we couldn’t backport that to older dungeons. That could end up being in any of the more classic dungeons that players really like. That’s the kind of tech that we develop at the beginning to know that it could work in other places. Gear scaling that is something that could also work in a scenario if we really wanted to because it’s an instance. We could decide that we could build a scenario for say level 35, it takes place in say Southern Barrens, but then you could also play that scenario at level 90 because we could scale your gear. So in that way we could make content that works for the level up, but also for the max level. So there’s a lot of options of being able with being able to scale gear on players that we can use.

Yes, other games did it years ago. Yes, Guild Wars 2 will be doing it this summer. But just imagine: all the people who loved TBC could (potentially) go back play that content at its intended difficulty! Assuming you could find 24 other people willing to do so, of course.

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Posted on March 19, 2012, in WoW and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. Hmmm a lot of meat.

    The petPvP thing, I hope that they also allow people who know each other to do pet fights. But the whole idea of non-competitive “for the fun” fighting may work.

    The scaling thing: it was high time. But to make it so that old dungeons are at the right level of difficulty after all the class/skill changes is an enormous task.

    • I cut the quote down (it was a big quote) but, yes, you can challenge individual players. Incidentally, you can also challenge NPCs.

      Re: the scaling. No joke. How can they possibly balance, say, Molten Core around level 90 players who don’t even have talent points anymore? Is there even a record of the sort of talents/skills were available to players back then? Would Fire Resistance be phased back in? “Close enough” is probably the best anyone can hope for.

  2. Azuriel, would you mind posting your source for those quotes? You say “emphasis added”, implying they’re not your ideas, but the originals don’t seem to turn up in my web searches.

  3. The kind of people who would go into shock over those two quotes are the kind of people who won’t play pet battles. So no real loss there.

  4. @Hob: They’re from the interviews on MMO champion ( http://www.mmo-champion.com/content/ )

    For me, I am glad to have a mechanic that is only tracking wins and not losses, pet battles are meant to be a side game anyways. Something that drove me away from the competitive multiplayer of Bad Company 2, Global Agenda, Assassin’s Creed and others was that at some point I stopped having fun when I played because it became all about maintaining that “rank”…whether it is K/D or some game given rating. Even when logging in to try a different build or to screw off you are effecting some statistics page and I disliked that pressure.

    I think all games like this should have an “exhibition” or “skirmish” mode for people who want to just practice or mess around.

    PS: Bet a certain goblin is going to have a field day with the pet battles thing

  5. I think the pet battle implementation idea makes a lot of sense. I’m not sure I really like it, but then again, I’m probably not the target group either. But PvP that is not about telling other people the size of your genitals and where you would like to insert them does have a niche, I’m sure.

    The gear scaling thing sounds good in theory, but many others have tried and failed before. I don’t believe the system will work until I see it. While they’re at it, they could use this to finally implement mentoring, though.

  6. Can a fellow get an anti-histamine IV over here? Rather urgently, if it’s all the same.

    It’s no big deal for the pet battles, of course, but one hopes this ‘philosophy’ does not inform, sub rosa, their other PvP decisions in the future.

    • I’m actually somewhat conflicted. When I was talking about GW2 last month, the whole “all players are presented as nameless enemies” in WvWvW fights sounded like an excellent idea. In fact, I used the same exact phrasing: the shame of defeat.

      Arenas might lose a lot of nuance… or would they? I know of high-ranked people who drop teams (tanking rating as well) and reform just to chase a higher win-ratio as if that differentiates them from other high-ranked teams. Which it does, to an extent. Then again, no one would take the Cleveland Browns seriously if they disbanded and reformed each season in an effort to game the ratio in their favor.

      Names will probably still be around in BGs and Arena, if for no other reason than it being difficult to call out kill targets otherwise. But it is interesting to think about.

      • It would really gut the experience, imho. The P in PvP matters. Shame of defeat has its mirror in the satisfaction of imposing one’s will, another phrase you used before, in the context of Gevlon’s not ‘getting’ ganking. It’s not necessarily some petty sadism, either – you don’t lose respect for the opponent you defeat, but your solution to the problem presented by your mutual contest is vindicated. To paraphrase Sirlin: at its best, game combat is dialogue. And it matters whom you’re talking to.

        WvWvW might simply be big enough where it wouldn’t matter, but even there, I doubt it. After a few matches, you’d remember some names. Did the other realm bring its A-list to the table? Is the fellow who always manages to kill you one-on-one there, and will you have the opportunity to figure out his schtick this time around? Even WoW battlegroups over the course of an afternoon had people you’d see from queue to queue.

        I doubt arenas would be affected – it is a minor but persistent e-sport still, and people do look up to the Reckfuls and Hydras of that world, and at the higher ratings of each battlegroup where the pyramid narrows, most folks are aware of one another. Vanity team rerolls (and other gaming of the arena ladder system, which has had some serious issues in recent seasons) or not, the players remain recognisable.

        Actually, that might be a good canary in a coal mine – whether or not Blizzard continues to bother with WoW arena tournaments at BlizzCon.

      • Okay, you re-sold me.

        It’d be tough to gauge the effect though, right? The WvWvW match-ups presumably change every few weeks, so it’s entirely possible that a particular realm will never see any of those people again. Plus, since there is a third faction involved, it’s probably a less “us vs them” experience.

      • I admit I don’t actually know how WvWvW matchups are going to be made – the Reddit piece suggested some kind of server Elo matching – so if it’s that kind of random rotation, then yes, the value of having a face would be somewhat diminished. A few weeks might be a long time, though.

        I don’t want to come across as too much of a bitter grognard, though. I agree that it’s interesting to think about, in the abstract. I’m more broadly worried about the idea of changing core elements of theme park ‘rides’ to try to involve people who don’t actually like them. It’s almost like they’ve lost faith in the traditional MMO way to make people spend time on things they don’t want to do – social obligation.

  7. Why do people want to run old content? To see it for the first time, or to relive old memories are two common motives. But once you do that what motive do you have? Most runs at current levels are to get gear or accomplishments.

    Today we can do old stuff without 24 or 39 other people. We outgeat it and a group of 4 can accomplish the run, or we solo old 5 man stuff. But if you retro-fit gear and make it hard then where is the incentive for others to do it, especailly on a more than once basis?

    I have big reservations that this will actually get people to do it, especially more than once or twice.

    • Achievements was the first thing that came to mind; that doesn’t lead itself towards repeated runs, of course.

      Then again, Klepsacovic turned off XP at level 70 so he could relive TBC for a bit (presumably out of boredom).

  8. If they implement gear scaling for older dungeons, I hope they make it optional and not obligatory. There are many people who run older dungeons for whatever reason in their overpowered state of gear and level and enjoy it.
    Powerlevelling friends, getting items for transmog, achievement hunting, reputation grind etc.
    The more I think of it, optional would be the only way to do it.

    Having a choice would also work for the pet battles. Some people will want to compete with others in these pokemon duels and might want to make it know that they are a tough matchup. Giving players the option to queue/battle as Anonymous with a small check box in the pets window might be a better solution than outright making everyone – noone.