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Quo vadis?


Desiring some quick VP before raid last night, I queued up for a heroic dungeon and was whisked away to the Temple of the Jade Serpent. I must admit, that dungeon gives me a bit of anxiety because for the past few months I’ve been laboring under the delusion that it’s possible to get the achievement Cleaning Up while in a LFD group. And yet, so far, things have not worked out — though my delusion persists.

Without fail, in every run, I turn to head into the library first and some of the group members stop in a haze of confusion and ask where I am going. Some can only muster up the strength to express a single “?” in party chat. I must know, when did it become the default for so many people to head into the pool room first for a little splashy-splashy, so much so that they would think starting with the library was actually an incorrect choice?

Brick Road, the dungeon-building character from Earthbound, once declared that “[his] statistics show about 70% of the people go to the right first.” But obviously that’s not really scientific, and further, I’m not entirely sure his dungeoneering degree is from an accredited institution. He may just be blowing smoke. (I don’t actually think that his declaration is a representation of any real data, mind you).

I only learned of that quote yesterday while reading a dissection of the first dungeon from the first Legend of Zelda game at one of my favorite gaming blogs. The author there was talking about how the designers at Nintendo were guiding the player through the dungeon — which starts with a similar left-right split — with subtle clues that would hint at what may be the correct path. Then hours later I had my Temple run with its similar left-right split at the entrance. Does that count as an example of the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon?

From a dungeon design or gamer psychology standpoint I’m willing to wager the reason that left seems to be the obvious first path for the Temple of the Jade Serpent is because, between the two otherwise equal paths, the left is distinguished by having enemies visible in the doorway. When you enter a dungeon, you’re on a mission to clear out all the mobs and collect all the loot, so the brain would be naturally inclined to start with the most immediate and clearly present threat.

I can’t speak for the actual designers at Blizzard, but I can imagine that their logic was to make the seemingly obvious path pool then library with mobs as cues, and then the achievement (because they have to involve some kind of flip or reversal) the counter-intuitive opposite. It’s subtle but, if intended, pretty clever in how it manipulates the players. And oh boy are there players who fall for it.

Anyway, just something I found interesting! Now if only I could get queued up with a group that doesn’t have that one dps player who can barely do above 5k dps. One day.

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April 18, 2013
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Bribes for tanks!

(I was originally going to do a raid recap for the week, but this Call to Arms business makes for a more compelling blog post. Instead, here’s a screenshot from Nef last night and a short diatribe on the news of the day. Recap coming tomorrow.)

I chuckled when I first saw the blue post last night that under-represented roles (read: usually tanks, sometimes healers) were going to be getting incentives to run random dungeons in the LFD. It’s a nice sentiment — recognizing that tanking in LFD sucks and no one wants to do it — and apparently Blizzard thinks greasing some palms will do the trick. I sincerely doubt it.

If you’ve never had the joy of tanking a random pug in LFD, let me assure you, you’re not missing much. It combines all the best worlds of anonymity, no reputation repercussions for poor or asinine play, no sense of responsibility, and a wide pool of random (and usually subpar) talent. All the logical results of any system that combines random folks from random servers and places them in a group for the one and (probably) only time they will ever meet and interact with each other. At that point, the only way you can really tell how the run is going to pan out is through a healthy application of Game Theory.

In my case, I can assure you that this carrot will definitely not compel me to solo queue into the LFD system. While I can’t speak for everyone, I feel exceedingly confident in extrapolating my position across a wide cross-section of the game’s tanks. If we’re not running randoms with random people, it’s not because there isn’t a compelling reward for us to do so, it’s because tanking a random is akin to sticking your hand in a beehive. All Blizzard is telling us now is that there’s some honey in there as well.

So who will answer this Call to Arms? Some pre-existing tanks, sure, but I suspect mostly those that will respond the most will be those who already aren’t turned off from LFD completely, and they’ll be pulled from various dps classes (be they hybrids or pures using a different character). Instead of this new system compelling tanks to return to the system in droves, you’re going to unleash a deluge of horror stories of various dps players in absurd kits and specs attempting to do the dirty work for a free shot at some rewards. I can’t exactly seeing LFD profit from this.

It does suck that dps are inordinately suffering under the burden of insane queue times, but there’s no systemic way to correct it. Tanking and healing are perceived by general populace as less fun, more responsibility, etc. And who would want to take that upon themselves, especially in the LFD environment here fun and responsibility are already rare commodities?

I hope this program works out and it really does foster the creation of a new generation of tanks that can do the job, and as a result the queue times go down, but I don’t have much confidence.

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April 7, 2011