We’re not as stupid as we think we are

A post in three parts.

You’re probably reading this in a feedreader, so let me tell you about a change to the page layout of Mysterious Buttons that you haven’t seen and don’t care about. I’ve removed the wall-o-links sidebar that was my blogroll, and also the single largest thing on the page. I’ll keep the “recently updated” widget, but the blogroll has moved to its own page.

As part of the move, I’ve separated the blogs into categories (not by class or anything quite so useful — it’s me, remember?). One of the categories is “Near and dear”, which is people I play with/have played with/admire/nerdstalk.

Recently, I’ve found myself skipping merrily through the posts listed in my feedreader, barely reading *any* of them. A good number of wowblogs appear to have switched to more-or-less full time Cataclysm coverage, and I find myself less and less inclined to read. I think I’m at the point where I’d rather just take it as it comes. I don’t need to race to 85. I don’t need to optimise my rotation for a Worgen rogue I haven’t started to level yet. I won’t be competing for server firsts, or to own the <insert moneymaking thingy> market on the auction house. So I might as well have the pleasure of tripping over things, making mistakes and finding my own path. I can always look up what I’m supposed to be doing later, once the wrinkles are smoothed a little.

Unrelated? Not exactly. 2fps is one of the sites in the “near and dear” category and so I actually read Shay’s recent post on tanking on the PTR, “Rise of the Chicken”, and it made me wonder if we, the wow-playing peoples, are giving ourselves too little credit.

I feel like I’ve seen a good number of posts on healing/tanking in the Cataclysm model, and how playing in an “AoE everything” fashion will have terminal consequences for your party. My impression, based on the bits I *have* read, is that crowd control may be required (/wink). That focus fire will matter. That tank health, tank healing and tank threat will all conspire to prevent massive pulls from being anything other than a wipe-inducing mistake. Fine.

There also seems to be a widespread belief that your average wow-player will struggle to cope with this — particularly those who weren’t around for BC or vanilla WoW (where I understand this was the norm). That every PuG dungeon or raid will be wipe after avoidable wipe because drooling DPS idiots can’t keep their fingers off the max threat button, that tanks will blindly charge in, collect 200 trashmobs, die, and start flaming the healer.

I’m not convinced.

When I was very slowly and with much foolishness learning2play, I did so at first by seeing what worked and what didn’t, and (I suspect) playing incredibly badly. Thankfully, I was mostly soloing so I wasn’t inflicting my special brand of idiocy on others, but still. It was a fair while  before I started looking at the fantastic array of resources available on talents, rotations and the like. Even having visited them and read through the content, I still needed (and continue to need) to try things in game before I really absorbed anything. I’m not convinced I’m unique in that respect.

I’ve learned since via a number of mechanisms. I’ve learned by trying stuff, and seeing what got me dead or shouted at. I’ve learned with the help of others, who’ve offered advice on what to do, or what not to do, and why. I’ve learned by reading hugely instructive and helpful blogs where information is presented not just as “do <this> otherwise U R BAAD” but with reasoning and with alternatives. By reading the resource sites like Wowwiki, Wowhead, EJ etc.

Here’s the thing: I can do it again. And so can you, and so can she *points randomly*. We all can, as long as we give each other just the tiniest chance to do so. Sure, some habits might be hard to break. Some skills might need to be (re-)learned. But we can all do that, and if we help each other (rather than scream at each other) not only will this dungeon or raid or battleground or quest go more smoothly, but future ones will too.

Sure, there’ll be the occasional idiot who pointblank *refuses* to modify their behaviour, even after you’ve asked nicely. Even after you’ve explained why. But if we all start off assuming anyone who isn’t perfect already is somehow irredeemably bad, the game will be fundamentally broken.

So, this is my plea: if you see someone “doing it wrong”, forget all the times you might have tried to offer a suggestion and had it thrown back in your face. Try to help. Send a whisper. Or just do your damnedest to be non-confrontational when asking for something different. Obviously “FFS noobz, lern2CC” is unhelpful, but so is “Why didn’t you <ability>, mage?”. Use names — the pace of the dungeons seems likely to be slower, so you’re not gimping the emblem flow if you take an extra second to check a person’s name first. “I think we need more CC — Centrella, could you sheep the moon please?”. “Ano, I know it’ll reduce your DPS a bit but can you focus on cleansing for this pull? ‘Oother’-the-holy-pally needs every GCD for heals”.

My bet is that people will actually be keen to learn, and to help. I know I am.

12 thoughts on “We’re not as stupid as we think we are”

  1. I am near and dear? How exciting! I would like to know whether I am admired or nerdstalked, though. ;)

    As to the actual bulk of your post, I think you are correct that most people will make the transition back to needing to use CC just fine. And those who have never had to use extensive CC should be able to figure it out. I am looking forward to sheeping again, even if my dps doesn’t look as amazing. At least having to pay attention to something beyond herp-a-derp spamming the same three spells will be fun.

  2. I tend to read a lot, I’m beginning to wonder if I read too many blogs! I have many different reader folders, and I try to weed and update as I go – luckily your tip means it’s less effort than it used to be.

    I think the rest of your post is a very good point – we adapt to what works, sadly AoE think is what works for so many encounters. We’ll adapt again to new circumstances in the future.

  3. I think you make some really good points, and I have faith that most people will learn to use CC (again) and adapt to a new (or old for some) way of doing things.

    The parts that worry me are the encounters (on 5 man heroics, so not even raids) that seemed to be tuned rather high. I’m hoping that they adjust it a little, I don’t want things too easy – but I also don’t want things to be so difficult that the average PUG 5 man will give up. I watched a video of the first boss in a 5 man heroic, and it took them 3,5 hours to down the first boss, and four of the people were from the world’s nr. 4 guild or something like that. If it took them that long, I don’t want to think about how long it would take for the average pug from LFD.

    But I’m happy to wait and see how it works out, and when it comes to the general idea of learning to use CC again, I think people will pick up. I also have no problem asking people to do things, and I try to do it politely :)

    1. I don’t know if he’s right, but there was a recent post from Vrykerion over at Oddcraft which provided a plausible explanation for the apparent overtuning of Cataclysm heroics. Of course, it could just be that they’re overtuned and will have the numbers adjusted before launch, but if you haven’t already, check it out.

  4. The “noobification” of WoW is a vastly overblown phenomenon in my experience. Mostly fueled by overgearing content and inpatience. Yes, people can be “bad” but no one gets better from being yelled at and having everyone drop group. I used to beat on things with a 2 handed axe on my hunter for about 38 levels until someone in a SM-Armory pug was kind enough to explain how my gun worked. (It’s my favorite n00b story to tell, because by all accounts, I’m a fairly good player now and I started off THAT bad)

    As for how this will effect Cataclysm, all I know is that from when I tank ToC5 or PoS that people, regardless of their DPS meter performance or quality of their character, can recognize that the skull thingie dies first, then the X thingie, and then whatever is left. CC is a simple extension of this. “Please Sheep Moon” is a simple concept that I think most anyone regardless of how “bad” they are will be able to easily grasp. Even better if coated with a sense of politeness (Because nothing grinds my gears as people saying “Hey Mage. Table.” I don’t even have to BE the mage be annoyed by that.)

  5. I hate to say but from my experience you have things completely backwards.

    “By reading the resource sites like Wowwiki, Wowhead, EJ etc.” – This just shows you are a good player. A good player reads things and learns from their mistakes. You are in the minority I am sad to say. You suggest the perfect approach there and many people will do that. By many I mean maybe 10% at most. That is a large amount of players but it is still only 10% of the players.

    I also will never do what you suggested. If I see something wrong I will ignore it. Getting in 3rd grade “u r stpid” fights is not what I consider fun and most of the time that is what you get.

    On my tank (a bear) I say, give me a second to get aggro. The AoE is flying before I even get to the mobs. That makes me a bad tank when it is them and not me.

    On my hunter I MD on every pull that is not a single trash mob, those I wait a tiny bit on. I will still pull aggro all the time. That makes me a bad hunter even if it is a horrible tank.

    On my priest you get a boomkin dropping starfall in HoF the second the mobs spawn and then he wonders why I was not able to keep him alive. That makes me a bad healer.

    You see where I am getting here? I read up on my classes, I do everything I can do to the best of my ability and in as perfect text book fashion as I can and yet I am always the bad one.

    I am somehow supposed to get aggro on 6 mobs before I ever get near them. I am somehow supposed to not pull aggro even after waiting 3 seconds and using a MD. I am supposed to keep someone that is squishy up when they have 5 mobs attacking them that are supposed to be on the tank.

    There are more bad players then there are good players. That is a fact. Pure numbers prove that. Keep notes on your runs and you will see yourself. If they can suck that bad when there really is no reason to in WotLK I have little faith in them being any better when they actually have something to do.

    End note: As a hunter main I take special note of hunters I run with when healing. Maybe as much as 1 out of 10 will use misdirect in a 5 man and trust me, I know what to look for and when they do it from my own personal experience. That seemingly fits my 10% of players are at least half way decent dead on.

    I wish I shared your optimism.

    1. I get your point that many people (and I’m not exempt from this by any means) don’t make full use of their class’s capabilities, particularly in 5 man content. Most people will, by and large, do the very minimum necessary to complete a given task. That’s why relatively few people use abilities other than their primary attacks in 5 mans — for the most part, they aren’t necessary to complete the instance, even if they would make it easier for others. If that sort of play no longer works, then people will do something else that does work.

      And I’d still maintain that most people respond reasonably to a helpful suggestion, if it’s well worded. It’s the “Why aren’t you…?” and “You should be …” questions/statements, that people instinctively bristle at, that lead to those horrible “u r stupid” whinefests (in my experience).

  6. I naturally take special note of other hunters, too. :-) The other day I was running with one who seemed to be just turned 80 and was stacking spellpower. (the days of the pet-heal equip excuses are over! ;-)) So I whispered him:
    Me: “You just turned 80, didn’t you?”
    Him: “Yes.”
    Me:”Mind if I give you some advice?”
    Him:”Yes, LOL.”
    Me:”Well then, your choice. I’m just telling you one thing. Loose the spell-power and go for agility.”
    Him: “LOL, I have like four chars with 6k GS and you have zero Spellpower.”

    oO Oooookaaaaaayyyyy…..

    BUT – I also encountered players who would take some tips and tricks and be glad about it and who would even ask if they could whisper again if they have some questions. Those are the ones that keep me wanting to help. :-)

    1. Ow, ow, ow!

      That sort of blinkered I know it all attitude makes me want to hit my head on a desk repeatedly.

      So what if they have 4 6k gearscore? They could all be prot warriors in high level cloth for all THAT matters!

    2. Spellpower? Well ok. I guess it is called Arcane Shot. I think.


      To be honest, I only really look at people’s gear if they’re at an extreme — extremely bad or extremely good. But I’m probably just lazy :)

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