A Prime Example of Blizzard's Failure

I promise, I am not going to bash Blizzard much more than I did before I decided to quit the game after this expansion and I promise that I will not try to convince anyone that the game is terrible or that Blizzard is the greatest evil we’ve ever seen. I am still passionate about WoW topics and this is one of them.

An opportunity arose tonight for me to discuss a prime example of how Blizzard has failed its userbase.

My guild, Apotheosis, perhaps like many, is recruiting and part of that recruitment effort is having a “posting” available for people on our realm in the Guild Finder tool. We never accept applicants from this alone — if there’s a potentially good candidate, I funnel them to the guild website and they apply for real over there. I always, always take the time to respond to these people before declining them, though, even if it’s just a short “Thanks for your interest, but we’re full on your class at the moment. Thanks again for thinking of us and best of luck to you!”. (Note to self: add that to the list of stuff either a recruitment officer/person or GM should do.)

Tonight, I checked the Guild Finder tool and saw a mage candidate. I promptly went to his armory.

At first, I laughed. Then I facepalmed. And then I asked Twitter if they had any decent mage resources, like BEGINNER mage resources, to help this poor guy.

I imported him into chardev. Here’s the link:

http://chardev.org/profile/403339-fail-mage.html

Let’s look at this character real quick, shall we?

Missing enchants on: helm (though is revered with Hyjal), shoulders (hated by Therazane, is not a scribe), chest, gloves, belt (that is, no belt buckle), boots, weapon, offhand

Missing gems on: helm, shoulders, chest, belt, boots

Questionable gems: 2, 1 Quick Amberjewel (40 haste) and 1 Rigid Deepholm Iolite (50 hit)

Gear worn that is not meant for a mage: helm (spirit), shoulders (spirit), bracers (spirit), boots (spirit), ring #2 (agility), trinket #2 (melee attack proc), offhand (spirit)

Other weird stats: 13.32% hit

Surprisingly, the spec isn’t the worst I’ve ever seen and the glyphs are decent (at least he has all his glyphs and the primes are what he should have for an arcane mage).

This individual reached 85 on April 22nd, so this is a very new character. Whether or not it’s a new player is uncertain.

I feel that this player (and countless more like him — or her) has been done a grave disservice by Blizzard. In fact, many of us, myself included, probably have experienced the same thing. Blizzard has done little, if anything, to educate its playerbase.

When’s the last time you looked at the class pages on the official WoW site? Here’s the mage one.

http://us.battle.net/wow/en/game/class/mage

No mention of stats that are useful. No mention of that thing called “hit rating”. No hints as to which abilities which spec should use.

They do, to their credit, link to Wowhead and Wowpedia, but even the Wowhead article isn’t all that useful and the Wowpedia one is bogged down with lore and such before it gets to what will make someone play their class much more closely to how it was intended to be played.

I think it was Cory Stockton, the lead content designer, who said at BlizzCon that a fury warrior who chooses not to take Raging Blow, I think it was, wasn’t being a “unique” fury warrior; they were being a “bad” fury warrior, which is one reason they decided to give out so many passives to the classes in Mists and leave talents as those sort of “depends on the fight or your playstyle” tools. Removing the ability to make a “bad” choice is, in my opinion, a mistake. I think that players who actually care about their characters might want to play with those choices and LEARN from their mistakes. I know I did, back when I was a wee hunter, and throughout various tiers as my holy paladin. I’ve experimented with and without Tower of Radiance and Light of Dawn, I’ve played with and without Improved Judgements and Protector of the Innocent, I’ve used Sacred Cleansing and I’ve not specced for it and such.

I think the graver mistake is not having information available to new players. The learning curve in World of Warcraft is huge. Think about it, you have to:

– pick a class
– choose a spec
– learn what abilities do what and which you probably don’t need to use often
– figure out what stats are most beneficial to your class and spec
– learn to cooperate with others, whether in PVE or PVP

And that doesn’t even take into consideration the language in WoW, by which I mean the ability to translate something like:

“LF1M Tank, DM Trib, g2g, PST!” into “Our group that is attempting to do a run in the northern Dire Maul instance, in which we do not kill the special guards, is looking for a someone who is able to hold the creatures’ attention from us as we deal damage to them. Once we have found such an individual, we can start the run immediately. Please let me know if you’re interested by sending me a tell/whisper.”

Or, perhaps you’d prefer a more recent example:

“Need 1 heals, 2 DPS, 1 tank for DS, want to go 2/8 heroic & clear, ilvl 385+ PST” which means “Our group is looking for one healer, two damage-dealers and one tank for the Dragon Soul raid instance. We would like for the group to do two of the eight bosses on the heroic mode, plus finish the rest of the raid instance. Your item level should be at least 385. Please let me know if you’re interested by sending me a tell/whisper.”

(Language in WoW is a whole OTHER post.)

So you have this gargantuan learning curve and you have zero real support from within the game. Instead of spending resources to teach people the basics of their classes (stat priorities, things like hit rating, maybe rotations), they’re spending resources attempting to make things seem less difficult for the average player.

This may be all well and good. Maybe the average player doesn’t care. Maybe the average player will only ever do LFGs and LFRs and get kicked frequently for their performance because they don’t really get what they’re doing. And maybe Blizzard doesn’t care because this guy who expressed interest in joining my guild earlier tonight still pays $15, the same as I do, and that guy who doesn’t know how to gear his mage is almost certainly giving Blizzard less of a headache than I am. ;)

One of the major issues I’ve had with the game, which has become rapidly apparent to me throughout this expansion, is that people who know how to play their characters are not abundant. We are a dying breed. Sure, there are raiding guilds and you still have people like the vodkas, Methods, Blood Legions who know how to play their characters better than anyone else in the world, but the middle class, so to speak, of the playerbase is shrinking. We’re the people who aren’t getting world firsts, but understand (and care!) enough about our classes to write blog posts and confer with guildies. We’re the ones who’ll talk and debate for hours about the use of a particular talent spec or point, or whether reforging to this stat is better in this particular encounter and the like. Or maybe we’re the ones who are interested in picking up a new class and ask Twitter or our guildies for help and advice.

Meanwhile, the playerbase grows (or shrinks) and the people who don’t know much better or don’t CARE to know much better just keep multiplying. I’ve talked about having DK “tanks” who wear intellect plate and I’ve talked about people not wearing their maximum armor level before and this poor mage is just one more of those unfortunate individuals who sign up for group content, inflicting themselves on others, who don’t know what they’re doing. They’re everywhere. Go inspect a random character on your server. Go log in right now and look at some random, max-level (likely unguilded) person and you’ll see. Hell, inspect people on your next LFG or LFR.

They have made all aspects of the game a lot more accessible than they previously did, they’ve grown their userbase an insane amount since when I first started playing and they’ve done some great things with the game. Just the changes in PVE content alone, where you have boss fights that are so different from the tank and spank encounters or the single-debuff encounters like Lucifron in Molten Core, are astonishing. Imagine back in the day, could you have seen yourself fighting a boss like Alysrazor? What about Atramedes or Al’Akir? How about Rag 2.0 or Spine of Deathwing? I may not always like the encounters, but we have come a long, LONG way from the old days where you just had to dispell people appropriately and bring down adds before killing a boss.

However, while they’ve done this, refined the game and the classes, added new classes and races, changed PVE and PVP and built up their userbase, they have not done a good job in going about TEACHING people how to play. I’ve done some of the new starting zone quests and they don’t do a lot to teach you how to play. It’s great that they notify you that new abilities are available when you ding, but I feel strongly that if Blizzard was going to go in the direction of opening up their game to more than just the theorycrafting nerds (and I use that as a term of endearment) or the people who actually ENJOY farming up stuff, then they needed to throw something at those new players.

Blizzard seems to think that free gear is the answer or nerfs to current raid content are the answer. It’s certainly easier, but what I don’t get — and may never “get”, to be honest — is why they don’t care to help players improve to the point where nerfs aren’t as “needed” as Blizzard thinks they are. In the “Cataclysm Post Mortem“, with Scott “Daelo” Mercer, he said:

Q. What didn’t work out as planned or expected?

Initially, we started off the Heroic dungeons at too high of a difficulty. The difficulty level rather abruptly changed when compared to the Heroics players experienced at the end of Wrath of the Lich King. This major change caught many players off guard, and frustrated some of them. The difficulty also increased the effective amount of time required to complete a dungeon to a longer experience than we wanted.

To which I say, are you frigging kidding me? Yes, if you’re undergeared or don’t know what you’re doing, they were hard. It took some time to learn some of the fights. Heroic Deadmines, Heroic Stonecore, Heroic Shadowfang Keep all took some doing, but Heroic Vortex Pinnacle was easy. I still don’t understand how people fail at regular Corla in Blackrock Caverns, but they do, so I assume people still fail at it on Heroic as well. But all of that is solved with gear, which is laughably easy to get these days. The point is, these dungeons weren’t all that difficult for a group of players who knew how to play. They WERE impossible if your group was not geared enough or knowledgeable enough. (And maybe they have a point about being on the long side, but at the end of Wrath, Maj, my brother and I could tank/heal/DPS our way through Heroic Gundrak, extra boss included, with 2 completely moronic or AFK DPS, in 13 minutes. I think that’s a little ridiculous.)

I still don’t understand the apparent unwillingness of Blizzard to give even basic info to players to improve the overall skill and knowledge of the players.

I don’t play League of Legends, but looking at their website, they have a Learning Center. Look at this, there’s a whole page about Champion Statistics as in what stats do what.

Even Star Wars: The Old Republic (a game a played in the open beta long enough to get a lightsaber before I lost interest) has a new player guide and look here, halfway down the second page, it tells you all about tanks, healers and DPS.

Our poor mage friend, whose sad, sad armory started this two-thousand word post, might not be such a tragic, ignorant soul, if only Blizzard had bothered to tell him that he doesn’t need spirit. Yet, they don’t tell him that. They don’t even tell him he needs hit rating (although the hit chance/miss chance table is certainly a step in the right direction). This is, I believe, one of Blizzard’s great failures over the years and this poor mage is but one example of the millions of people who don’t know (and perhaps, admittedly, don’t care to know) how to play their class.

21 comments

  1. Rades says:

    This is an interesting topic. There definitely does seem to be a large amount of players who are rather…ill-informed about pretty rudimentary aspects of their class, that’s for sure.

    Is this something that has changed since WoW’s Vanilla or TBC days? (I don’t know, I wasn’t playing then.) Are we just better at spotting this now, or is it more readily apparent because for those of us who DO know the game, there’s so many blogs/sites out there that we wish people would use? I mean, there had to have been intellect plate warriors back in Vanilla. But maybe because the playerbase, as a whole, was much less informed (since there weren’t the countless blogs and wikis and EJ and etc) we just didn’t realize how bad it was?

    And if it HAS always been this way, maybe they’re content to let players learn the same way they always have, via word of mouth and general passed-on knowledge. Whether this is working less effectively than before, well that’s another question I guess.

    I have no idea if this is correct, I am just wondering.

    It really IS curious that Blizzard doesn’t have more tutorial-ish guides on their site, or heck, even more extensive links! I’m sure in some ways they are like “Why do a resto druid guide when a) there’s dozens of resources out there already, and b) our guide probably actually won’t be as GOOD as some of the bloggers!” But at the very least, you’d think they’d have some basic info about things like spirit/mana regen, hit caps, expertise caps, etc. Even if it’s not numbers, but just a layman’s explanation of what those stats are and why they are important. And, what stats are NOT important. Like a Noxxic lite, maybe.

    They could also even just have some links to bloggers/fansites/guides, or if they don’t want to get “unofficial”, to the stickied guides on their own forums, at least.

    On the other hand, I have noticed quite a few changes that came with Cata (the Shattering, specifically) that SEEM to be steps in the right direction as to teaching players basic gameplay skills. There’s some quests that seem to try to engage the player on a skill level, rather than just KILL X MOBS, such as the “raid awareness/move out of fire/etc” quests in Azshara that are quite tutorial-ish, considering the low level of the zone. And even a lot of the revamped dungeon bosses – or some quest bosses! – now have some basic awareness abilities. Move behind a rock, dodge the fire wall, keep moving to avoid getting hit, etc. Little additions, but in my opinion a huge improvement over all the previous fights where there was no mechanics worth mentioning at all.

    Definitely interesting to think about. I know my RL friend started playing again, and it seems painful because he just doesn’t KNOW basic things that we “knowledgeable” players take for granted. I don’t want to spend hours teaching him everything, but he also just wants to play, not read.

  2. Focushot says:

    Just a few bits I want to touch on. First the Language in wow. I can agree with this because I was there once when it came to people talking in Trade Chat. I had no idea what they where talking about.

    That being said, I don’t think it’s blizzard’s job to write up any sort of guild on their website for this. This wasn’t something they added to the game but simply the way people talk in all MMO’s I’m pretty sure such short hand type was used in MMO’s before WOW (some people do tend to forget WOW was not the first ever MMO).

    That would be like MSN or Yahoo writing a guide on IM talk or your cell phone company giving you a hand-book on text message slang. It’s just how people talk and it’s something you generally pick up on over time.

    Another I liked to point on are the heroics of Cata vs the Heroics of Wrath. Here is how I look at things, if you as a person can play for a while lets say 3+ hours at one time without having to get up and do something else; Then fine, make Heroics hard and long.

    The problem is the system itself, I was turn off from heroics in cata early on not because they where too hard but because they where hard which made them longer then they needed to be. Which was saying something given they where already long as it was.

    My first heroic took me 2 and half hours to finish and I didn’t get any upgrades. All that dropped was cloth, plate and a spirit ring or something and I play a hunter. All I got was a hand full of valor points that I could do nothing with unless I capped them out. Which means I needed to do that all over again. The grind to get gear at the start of Cata was just down right stupid.

    Like I said not everyone can sit there and play for hours at a time. There has been days where I sit down, okay I have like an hour I can play, I want to do a heroic, get my valor and maybe work on some achievements or something. Unless you’re able to pull a group together quickly and given the time of the day you may be waiting to get in that heroic. Personally for many people 13mins for a heroic run is not that horrible.

    The gear level makes things easy and you speak about being able to run wrath heroics so quickly, well you have to remember that those heroics where design for say ilvl 187 and you in 264 heroic gear so yeah you’re gonna run over it, just like people run over heroics now, heroics that while nerf, I’m sure had they not nerf them we still be rolling over them as we do now.

    I will agree however on a fail by blizzard, even at the start of wrath, which I was personally not at level cap to see (didn’t hit 80 until mid wrath) that you did not need CC, in fact I didn’t even come to know what the hell CC met until I started doing PVP, but as it came to heroics, you didnt need to CC even when a new heroic came out and they where hard because of the gear level.

    At the start of cata you NEEDED CC on almost every trash pull, there was no way to do them without, the gear level jump from Wrath to Cata was crazy too high IMO and the need to CC when no one needed too, and I’m sure half the people playing had no idea what CC was even used for.. made them even harder then they needed to be.

    If you can name me one time in wrath you had to use CC on a trash pull at any point between when Naxx was the current content to ICC? I bet the answer is zero, where even into Firelands even if you had Fireland gear you still had to use CC on mobs in ZA/ZG to get them done and those still took an hour to do even with a good group who knew what they where doing.

    My point is, heroics should be hard but not so hard that you can’t do them within a timely matter. People need to face the facts; this isn’t 2004 anymore. Where everything was a grind. MMO’s where for the hardcore gamers who could spend 10+ hours and still didn’t get half as far as we do now. That’s just how it is, and the only way and reason WOW has stay on top for so long is because they have changed with the times.

    People want the old ways back, they want TBC back, where to do a heroic you needed to not only get rep but it was a grind in on itself to get to the rep needed, then the gear then if it was the 3rd tier of raiding, you couldn’t do that raid unless you progressed your way into the first 2 first.

    Would you mind if DS came out and in-order to do the new heroics you had to grind rep which would take you at most a month to do, then to even do DS itself you needed to finish FL. Well what if your raid needed a new tank. So you level a new one up, well you can’t just jump right in and help out, you have to grind content for rep to do older heroics, then grind older raiders, each tier at a time and into gear tier of heroics to have the gear needed for the next raid tier just to get to the current raid tier.

    That was TBC in a nut sheet in terms of progress, yeah it sounds fun, but back then people didn’t roll alts I’m sure, you had your one toon and that was it. because doing all that again was a painful process. I hear and read threads about people saying bring TBC ways back. I bet you if they did, if they made Mist like that people would complain more.

    And no I didn’t play end game TBC but I’ve talk to people who did and that was how it was. I don’t think there is anything wrong in the way things are done. The problem is there is no balance. They should made it so you have this easy mode where someone like myself who may have limited time can progress through and not have it be total face roll like LFR is.

    But if maybe I have more time or you are one of those who has all day to play, you can play at this harder level that requires more grind to do what you can do at easy and you get a personal title, mount, etc and if you’re one of those world first kind of people, another level that is hard as heck.

    I still say they should break it up into LFG/LFR, Normal, Heroic, Legendary.

    LFG/LFR: would be what we have now with those tools maybe a bit harder on LFR
    Normal: current heroic level; no cross server LFG but server LFG so everyone you are group with within the tool is from your server, this would shut up those people who complain LFG killed server community
    Heroic: the true heroic form of normal’s, for those people who basically have an hours to play, the grind is harder like TBC target to players who want a challenge
    Legendary: Blizzard as admit that the legendary in cata where too easy to get and basically fail. This would be the level of content those top tier raid guilds run and the only way to get the legendary is by doing this mode.

    So basically, for your normal players who want free epics, can progress in LFG/LFR, they maybe can push into Normal mode and if they are really good might find themselves in heroic level content. For people who truly want to progress, they can do heroics until they have the gear to progress into legendary.

    I think this would work, the content is the same across the board, so everyone would get to see it, the tier would be like 4 new dungeons (each with a LFG/Normal/Heroic modes) then a raid (LFG/Normal/Heroic/Legendary). Everyone would be able to see the content.

    Lockout wise, LFG/Normal would be on a share lockout, heroic/legendary on another. This would prevent people from feeling like they have to do everything. Those hardcore guilds wouldn’t want to do LFG level because the gear you get would not be good enough for Heroic, but if they did normals they could do heroics, and you wouldn’t be able to even do legendary until you did Heroics. I think a system like that would make everyone happy.

  3. Katherinne says:

    If you look at MoP beta, there is a better (though not really great) in-game explanation of your class. So I think they are trying. Yet I’ve seen people complain about it being there.

    My take is that I think a lot of people don’t really care about learning the finer details of how to play their class until they get to the point of raiding. Then they probably are figuring people will tell them.
    I’ve run into tons of people like that. I blame it on the fact that with the increased rate of leveling, people don’t spend that much time actually playing a char.

    When WoW came out, no game gave you that much info about how to play your char. You gathered that stuff from other players.
    And, as you know, there is now a wealth of info about each WoW class if you just Google.

    So… up until now, why should they put a lot of resources into developing something that is already in abundance. I daresay that your recruit could have easily found out what he needed to know before applying… if he really cared.

    You mention other games but in my experience so far with the newer MMOs, none give you ALL that much info… just a very basic explanation.

    I’ve not played LOL but GW2, TOR, TSW all are pretty basic in their ingame info. And I don’t recall them having very much on their websites except for that supplied by players on the Forums. I liked that D3 tells you in the tool tip which of your stats are relevant to your char. But GW2 doesn’t do that.

    Just my two cents.

  4. Justin says:

    I think this is another instance of Blizzard putting a band-aid on a problem instead of actually taking the time to solve it at least semi-permanently. Instead of taking the time to educate their player-base, they make things easier or give away gear (or both) so people can just brute-force their way through content. This approach only perpetuates the problem, because people are always going to take the approach of least resistance.

    I didn’t really realize exactly how bad Blizzard was at this until I played The Secret World after I got into the closed beta several months ago. The explanations of the abilities were very detailed, with some even telling you what other kinds of abilities complement each other. Recently they added video tutorials explaining how the abilities system works and how you should build your decks (which abilities you equip to exploit certain buffs debuffs). It’s a very intuitive system that rewards you for playing well and choosing well, while making it clear to you if you’re doing it wrong by either getting you killed or barely surviving.

    That made me realize not only how much pride I take in playing my hunter well in WoW, but also how much I -enjoy- it. Kiting adds on Nefarian or Beth’tilac, dropping well placed traps on Cho’gall, or using a well-timed and well-aimed Disengage to fly through Al’Akir’s tornado wall instead of using the gap… all these things are not just handy or necessary, they’re fun to do when you do them right.

    It’s hard these days to try to “mentor” somebody after how much innate hand-holding comes with just logging on. Not only will a lot of people play poorly, they’ll have no idea that they’re doing so. To me, that is the real problem; what happens when there’s nobody “good” left to pass down the knowledge? It’s already hard enough to find good players willing to impart knowledge because so few people want to admit they need help.

    The counter-argument to that is that it’s just a game, and people want to play, not do research. I understand that 100%, but as long as there’s raiding and heroic dungeons in the game, you’re going to have to do some research.

  5. AliPally says:

    Finding out how to play your class properly has always meant looking elsewhere. I remember in vanilla that gear traditionally didn’t have Spell Power or Hit before you got to level 60 dungeons. Then gear started dropping with “+1% hit” for example, and I was very confused. +1% hit? What use is that? Why do I need an extra 1% to hit something?? I didn’t need it before, but now I do? That’s when I found out about hit and level differences, but not through the gam, rather from elsewhere.
    How was anyone to know that a raid boss required you to have +18% hit unless someone told you or you were curious to look it up yourself? It is still the case now to some extent, but at least there is some basic info on the character sheet these days when you look close enough. Maybe people don’t even look.
    As for people wearing bad gear, why are people even allowed to wear bad gear by the game? Certain items are clearly marked only for a certain character class, so why not do that with all gear? DKs in Intellect gear? Make it so they can’t equip it. Also, why put bad talent choices into talent trees in the first place? If they aren’t good choices, why offer them to people? When I first started playing I chose talents based purely on if they sounded good or not. I guess a lot of people do that still. Why should you have to go to an external website to look up a cookie-cutter build?

    My 10 man raid group recently had 2 dps defect to another raid. We have been trying to replace them, and it’s oh so hard to find people who are specced properly, have the right gear on, the right gems and the right enchants, never mind capable of playing to the standard we want.
    Even then it seems every triallist comes to the raid totally ignorant of what to expect.
    It seems researching encounters just doesn’t happen. Everyone wants hand-holding and to be told during the raid exactly where to stand, what target to dps or interrupt, when to use their CDs. If this is true for the vast majority of players, then no wonder Blizz has to nerf everything down to the ground even on normal mode.

  6. Borsk says:

    I guess I’m confused by the premise here.

    Blizzard does tell you what every stat does, in the game. If you mouse over Spirit it says “Increases mana regeneration by X/Ns while not casting”. That is usable by a mage, it just isn’t optimal. They aren’t obligated to tell you “When you decide to raid, don’t use this stat, it doesn’t do anything for compared to how much damage you get from intellect.”

    The latter is what the player him/herself needs to figure out or ask someone else. All of the building blocks are there for every class, spec, and ability. It’s part of the game, as a player, to put them together. It’s the current players with knowledge responsibility to teach new players or inform them as to why what they are doing is not optimal, otherwise a player must find this information on their own.

    When people say “Don’t Know How to Play Their Class” what they’re really saying is “Don’t know how to play their class optimally in a raiding environment”.

    All of the other stuff about player created language and such is not blizzard’s responsibility to teach either. Everyone says they’re making the game easier, but not everyone is getting through the game on the hardest difficulties.

    Raiders don’t want to waste their time teaching players like this mage, which is why those that “have the knowledge” are dwindling. The top guilds recruit people that know and others don’t pass on their knowledge in game. Blizzard even provides links to fan sites with PAGES of this detailed information, so in essence, they are providing everything you are asking for.

    A football rule book doesn’t tell you the best stance to take when defending another player. It just tells what you are and aren’t allowed to do. The players make up the optimal strategies. The knowledge about how to play is COACHED and passed down. There is no coaching in WoW, people want blizzard to be the coach and it’s not their job.

  7. Borsk says:

    Further,

    Nowhere in a hockey rule book does it say “when choosing a hockey stick, as a defenseman, you probably want one that is slightly longer. This provides you with greater reach and better shots from long range. ”

    That is tribal knowledge or best practice, passed down by years of people playing the game. It also may change rapidly, if a rule changes, and players discover a better way to play. You adapt to the rules.

    If blizzard changes how stats work, they don’t have to tell you how to fix your build to stay at the same level, that’s your job. If you want to get better, you find someone with a lot of knowledge and ask them questions.

  8. Elladrion says:

    While I completely agree that Blizzard SHOULD provide such basic, basic information like what stats are good and bad for your class, they never have. I started very early in BC and hit 70 thinking i was a great paladin tank because I kept such good aggro. It wasn’t until I started tanking a lot of pugs and got a LOT of comments on how I was too hard to heal that it even occured to me to look outside the game for information on protadins and I learned how truly wrong I was. I had looked at thottbot a lot for questing and such, but coming into my first MMO as a console gamer I never even CONSIDERED that you should look up class guides and talent builds and such. Most every other RPG I’d played had tutorials on how to play built into the game, and wow had those beginner tips and I leveled just fine. More than fine, actually, I was soloing group quests and elite mobs all the way up. I had absolutely no reason to think I was doing anything wrong until other players said something, and said it enough that it occured to me to google “protection paladin”. And all this was at a time when I was splitting an apartment with 2 friends that played and constantly had other wow-playing friends comng over and hanging out, I’d hate to think how a player with none of that IRL support would survive.

    So yes, I would love an in-game guide and think that ABSOLUTELY there should be something like it. With Scenarios coming in MoP it seems like class-Scenarios are a perfect place to implement such a guide, 1 man scenarios with an NPC is directing you how to use class abilities in certain situations. I know that has been suggested on the forums and blizzard has considered it, but it would take a lot of work to impement and keep up to date. Personally, I think all they REALLY need is a simple loading screen tip that says “The World of Warcraft has a large community outside the game with a wealth of information on how to become a better player. Try spending a little time searching the internet for class guides and resources to help you get the most out of your characters and the people you group with!”

    I still say a 15 minute google search did more for me than the 21 days of /played it took to level to 70 back then. Considering how much faster and easier it is to level to 85 now than it was to level to 70 back then, and of course it’s an issue.

  9. Elladrion says:

    I just had a thought, and it relates to what Alipally said about not letting you equip bad gear. What if instead, you could still wear the gear just like now, but Blizzard simply changed the color of stats on the gear and had a little exclamation point next to it that had a mouseover window, based on class/spec. That way, you look at the stat window for a piece of intellect plate on your frost DK. The Stamina and and haste or crit or mastery would be colored white or green, the intellect and spirit would be colored red and mousing over it would bring up a small tooltip window that said “Death knights do not use intellect for any of their attacks or abilities” and the same with spirit. And agility ring would do the same, agility in red. If you looked at a piece of strength plate/ring/neck the strength would be green and the tooltip would say “Strength is the key stat for Frost Death Knights”. Simple, easily implemented, and hard to miss.

  10. Matt says:

    I kind of agree with Borsk. WoW doesn’t need to tell you what to do exactly, it needs to give you meaningful feedback on whether what you are doing is working. While leveling this happens, but in group play there is no way to parse out individual contributions when there are multiple players of one role.

    At the same time, enchanting and gemming is expensive and it isn’t surprising that people don’t experiment more often with it, but that is a balance issue…some stats are so out of whack compared to others that it will make a significant difference in what you stack. If all the stats were similarly weighted, then hardmode raiders could go nuts trying to optimize and people who didn’t care could just play and not worry about it. This much is a failure of Blizzard’s.

    Another issue is thematic abilities…I don’t really want the tooltips to tell me what abilities go together or how to use them, but they should be thematically related so that I can judge for myself and perform adequately. Higher priority abilities should be the more exciting ones by default.

    And then in the end it won’t always make a difference….IQ is not constant among humans and some people are just dumb. Others are smart and will notice the numerical relationships and try to manipulate them.

  11. I’m going to feature this post on Monday – it’s really spot-on and very interesting, and I’m surprised it hasn’t drawn more response!

  12. Neil says:

    And it begins… a person that is leaving WOW just rants about hating all the time….Sorry kurn love your podcast and blog heaps but if this is how it going to be then then i will have stop reading don’t need all the negativity

  13. Alfimi says:

    Neil: Being critical of something doesn’t automatically mean someone hates /all/ the things related to the subject matter. Being able to look at something, and be willing and able to discuss the flaws as well as the strengths, does not automatically make someone a “hater” — even if this happens to be a long standing pet peeve. ;) Kurn’s commented on this particular topic before, and mentioned it on her podcast too, so it isn’t the first time!

    Now, on to the topic itself! Warning, this may be tl;dr and will tangent, because its past 3am after a looong work day and my brain is falling asleep. X)

    Some things that obvious to a veteran aren’t so much for a newer gamer — I mean, why wouldn’t a healer not gem dodge? They don’t want to get hit, right?? — and I’ve known my share of folks who didn’t realise that the colours for gem slots weren’t fixed to said colour, or that you didn’t have to activate a socket bonus if you didn’t want to!) In that regard, I think adding something like, say, the Diablo III stats tooltips would be handy – mousing over the stats on the character window in that game include a blurb on “this stat is used by X and Y class”.

    However, I do think Blizzard have come a long way in regards to teaching people how to start playing their class, in so far as they do anything at all — they got a LOT of flack for the teach-how-to quests that they added in the revamped starter zones in Cataclysm, for example. ohnoez, they’re dumbing down the game!11!!

    But no one ever mentions the helpful revamp made to the Beginner’s Tooltips. They don’t go into a great deal of detail, obviously – there’s only so much tooltip space! – but I’ve been leveling a baby belf mage on the sly, and with the beginners tooltips activated, they actually give me clear advice on what an ability does, as well as a good time to use it.

    Examples (from a level 15 fire mage in heirlooms):
    PYROBLAST: Causes high Fire damage at long range, and continues damaging enemy for 12 more seconds. Long cast time, so use it as an opener or when enemies are far away.

    FROSTBOLT: Causes Frost damage at long range. Victim will move slowly, so best used as an opener in a new fight.

    COUNTERSPELL: Interrupts a spell being cast by enemy. Best used to prevent enemies from healing or using high-damage spells.

    FIRE BLAST: Causes low Fire damage at medium range. Casts instantly, so use while moving or when an enemy is in melee range.

    They’re on now by default when you create a new character. When you switch off the beginners tooltips, it reverts back to a typical Does XYZ Damage for ABC period of time.

    Example (from the above mentioned fire mage):
    PYROBLAST: Hurls an immense fiery boulder that causes 232 Fire damage and an additional 108 fire damage over 11.57 secs.

    So, starter quests that teach basic gameplay? Check. Better tooltips for newbies? Check. Large Tutorial Pop-Ups that annoy everyone and get switched off right away? Check. Clear details on dungeons and the bosses and what they do in the Dungeon/Raid Journal? Check.

    …But after that, how much more of it IS Blizzard’s job to do the teaching, and how much of it lies with the community? How much of it comes from the player learning by doing?

    I think Borsk really hit the nail on the head in regards to some attitudes on “l2play” better than I can, particularly for the end game. :) But suffice to say, at the end of the day, Blizzard can lead the horse to water, make said water as easy to reach and as clean and cool and tasty looking as possible — but they can’t make the horse drink.

    Ultimately, the player has to want to learn, and be prepared to go off and put that effort in too.

    One of the big things that really appealed to me when I started the game was how much info there was out there for the various classes, and how there were various hubs built by the community for the community. However, as older players have departed – be it due to lack of time, lack of interest or “outgrowing” the game – coupled with the gradual change in gamer mentality over the years, had led to a slow but steady drought in that helpful attitude. At least, in-game, that I’ve noticed. The blogsphere remains helpful as ever. :)

  14. Alfimi says:

    Clear details on dungeons and the bosses and what they do in the Dungeon/Raid Journal? Check.

    Knew I forgot to edit/add something — the dungeon journal explains the What (and sometimes the Where) pretty nicely. But the devs have always said the How is something they wanted players to figure out for themselves. To be honestly, I’m not really sure to effectively ‘teach’ folks higher level game mechanics though dungeon runs and quests alone — after all, just because they’re there doesn’t mean people will do them. Or not to their own thing at the end of the day, right or wrong. :|a

  15. Jaymz says:

    Easy solution: You want the “new” players to get information from the “old” players? You want people to learn their class?
    “To learn more about your class and spec you should visit your class Forum located [insert url here]”

    I can’t count the times I’ve come across a person who is raiding or wants to raid but has no idea that the Forums even exist, let alone the wealth of information contained in them.

    I am an endgame raider but I PuG alts with lesser progressed guilds on my server. It amazes me every week how little people know about their class/spec, and even more at the fact they don’t know the information is so easily found.
    I know many will say “just google it” – but try that, just once, and truly think about your class when you do. Look at the dates on the google results. The amount of information that is out of date or just flat out wrong is staggering.

    All of those issues could at least begin to be fixed if there was a simple pop up while making a new character that said “Check out the Forums for the information you will eventually need to know to be successful” or in WoW speak “WTL2Play? Read Forums”

  16. Paul says:

    It’s not just enchanting/gemming/glyphs/specs. Nor is it just those plus rotations.

    How many new players use add-ons, or optimize their keybinds, or even keybind at all? How many understand macros? Heck, how many of YOU understand macros, instead of just copying canned ones from Elitist Jerks or wowhead?

    I’m not sure figuring all that stuff out is a meta-game that delivers a lot of value.

  17. TheGrumpyElf says:

    I think I healed your mage the other day. Rades sent me over to your great article after he read a recent post of mine on the same exact issue.

    Nice article and you are not alone. Many of us players feel like the biggest problem with the game is blizzard lets these people lose on the rest of us and doesn’t give them any help in the slightest on learning how to play.

    Link for reference: http://thegrumpyelf.blogspot.com/2012/06/do-people-really-think-this-is-what.html

  18. Risotto says:

    It think you need to change your perspective a bit, instead of looking a the character and LOLing failure, try and understand what might posses a person to gear in such a way. If you think in the perspective of a gearing toon your top priority is to raise your item level as fast as possible to be eligible for LFD and LFR. It is very common for intellect base DPS to equip spirit gear to increase their item level while waiting for the appropriate gear to drop. With spirit gear you are still raising your base intellect and item level while only missing out on a secondary stat. Think how many people use PVP gear in the same fashion. In that vein of thinking, why enchant or gem items you plan to replace in a short amount of time? disregard the on use trinket and figure they took it for the increased haste and higher item level, same with the ring. Don’t get me wrong, I think it is very lazy to not put in at least the cheap enchants and gems but I can at least see the reasoning behind it.

    The real problem here is the fact they chose to apply to your guild with out finishing their gear leveling or not explaining all of this in their application. That is wny almost every blogger in existence has writing the ” What not to do when applying to a raiding guild” post. This really doesn’t have much to do about lack of information.

    It’s my opinion that the player base hasn’t shrunken it’s that you personally have changed you perspective of what is tolerable, which often happens when one takes on the role of management of a successful raiding guild. Especially if you are involved in the recruitment of members.

    This is a MMO, which means that part of the game play is based on other players interacting with you. It just comes down to how you wanna contribute. Are you the person who types /p Learn how to tank this F’ing instance before you queue up! and then kicks because you wiped? Or are you the person who actually tries to help a player better themselves? /p This boss has a tricky mechanic, have you tanked this before? You need to watch out for XYZ then it should be no problem.

    This game was designed to be approachable from the noob to the hardcore, it gives more than enough information to play well and it requires investment from the player base if they want to improve above that. Hell, half the fun is visiting the forums and blogs like yours outside of the game. Don’t call it a disservice, it’s added years to the game play in my opinion.

  19. Loveliest says:

    I logged on my alliance paladin a few months ago, my very first char. He had all sorts of silly gear and I sort of remember when I picked them up they seemed like good stats. Mana regen – sure, I need that, why not. Intellect, sure, I use spells. Strength, yeah. Stamina, swell. Agility – increase crit, yep, that’s good too. It doesn’t even matter that I was protection with a two hander. I was horrified. I don’t recall when I decided to actually start learning to play a paladin right. I do remeber starting to learn to tank at level 18. People in the group taught me about line of sight and lots of other things. By the time I was 70 I already wanted to be better and started researching proper rotation outside the game. It never seemed to me like it was information I was supposed to find ingame. It seemed a natural process of learning from people who knew what to do and learning from other sources when wanting more. I don’t know, maybe too much information sucks the fun out of finding out more on your own. I was pretty proud every time I learned something new and successfully applied it.

    But you know, what I do recall was people asking in trade chat all the time how much defense rating / defense you needed for a a dungeon or a raid, respectively. Always. Also, hit rating and expertise rating values. 963 anyone? We have more information nowadays on the stats thingie, like miss chance etc, I think there’s just enough of it.

    In my previous guild I remember some warrior applying. He was accepted even though he was way off and he was pointed to me or to anothr warrior tank for info on how to get his gear and spec right. I think this approach is sufficient. There are more friendly raiding guilds out there who are willing to help people out. Isn’t that how an mmo should be?

  20. Imakulata says:

    Similar to many other commenters, my experience with MMOs is they have always expected the players to look the information up elsewhere. Blizzard is changing it but there’s not much info in Cata (MoP looks different).

    The other problem is level and gear power increase; while it’s not as big in some other games as it is in WoW, it still exists and might mislead the new players into thinking higher level or better gear would solve their problems with not losing fights. I am not sure how can a game “tell” a player the right way to beat an encounter is to change their tactics instead of trying the same with better gear or on higher level.

    In my opinion, informing a player their battle tactics are not good is more important than allowing them to find the information in-game but MMOs have been traditionally bad in it as quite often it was possible to overpower challenges by getting higher level or better equipment, which sends mixed messages to unsuccessful players.

  21. Merk says:

    To concur with Kurn’s point and place the blame for the current situation clearly where it belongs (in Blizzard’s lap), I’d like to make the following point.

    Blizzard made a decision to make the end game content (raids) more accessible and also made the decision to change the way gear is acquired to equalize the gear disparities between end-game raiders and people not inclined to participate at that level (either through lack of time, skill, or commitment). This was entirely Blizzard’s decision.

    Back in Vanilla, I don’t believe there were more skilled or knowledgeable players as a percentage of the player base. However, it was easy to see who was skilled, committed to high-end play, and had the time to do so. You could see it in their gear. The same was more or less true in TBC.

    Blizzard made a conscious decision to minimize that gear gap. Everyone got Blues. Then everyone got Purples. Then everyone got higher iLvL Purples.

    When everyone has gear of more or less comparable level, they’re more comfortable believing that they are capable of participating in the end-game raiding. Once they started believing that notion (they were capable, despite a lack of skill, or time, or commitment), it was only a short step to believe they were entitled to that participation. Blizzard’s decisions regarding nerfs and the LFR only reinforced that belief.

    Back in Vanilla, a level 60 with Green quest stuff would never think they were actually entitled to join a Guild facing down C’Thun. These days that same person wouldn’t give a second thought to believing they could down H-Madness. The gear color differences from Vanilla still exist, they’ve just been hidden. Instead of Greens, that person has gear un-gemmed or un-enchanted. They’re wearing gear designed for other specs or other classes.

    Blizzard hid the differences in gear and that was a deliberate choice. Blizzard then recognized that those people who were wearing Greens in Vanilla were still not getting access so they make the content more accessible. Neither of those decisions on Blizzard’s part actually fixed the real problem of people lacking the skill, time, or commitment. They papered over it.

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