No more casual vs hardcore?

I think we need a better set of terms for players than Casual vs Hardcore. The two terms cause constant arguments and are about as subjective as calling somebody out for not being ethical.Your ethics are not mine, just like your version of Hardcore will be different from mine.Is it time spent, completion-ism, performance, consistency, background knowledge, or what..? Well its all those things and more.

Once its (obviously) recognised as being subjective, the problem then becomes that the same vague interpretation and personalisation that affects the terms Casual and Hardcore also apply to almost every other set of words you’d use. Viewing any of the options as definitive extremes poor and it becomes an absolute disaster when you try to use one word to surmise a person’s goals.

There is also the problem of viewing the terms in isolation within a single game like World of Warcraft, or broader to all MMO’s, or even to open as wide as possible to any type/style of gamer. For this measurement I’m sticking to Warcraft. The reason is that a measurement of games is too wide, and the same person might play 12 different games, and play each in a different manner. By way of example I play WoW, a few iPhone games, and some basic strategy and card games. I cannot think of a way that the play styles and dedication could be rationalised in a cohesive manner. Solitaire is too different from Warcraft; its comparing Apples to Spacecraft.

Basically its a huge mess, so as a solution I’m offering this post into the already overly populated sea of opinions; in the hope that it somewhat floats.

Joystick had a very logical summary last year, which covered the basics as far as WoW was concerned. If you’re hunting for a reasonable compilation of the basic issues, or a perspective of what the wider community was thinking around the mid-Lich-King days, then its a darn handy resource. Also check out some of these other links, which all cover the types of gamers in the Casual vs hardcore debate in some way. Even a post from the official forums. They’re all good. These linked posts also identify that many of the community fell outside the range of classifications in these posts too. Commenters offered up new types such as “Serious Hobbyists”, or “Definitely Time Crunched”, and so on. The posts, terms, and comments were all fine, but still missed the mark.

I also commented and linked a post many years ago (whoa – in 2008 no less) by a mate of mine who also had a perspective, mainly born from the conflicts found within a guild for the more casual members vs the more dedicated players. My take at the time was based around the amount of time it takes to explain to somebody else:

  • If you have to explain why you’re not hardcore in more than one sentence; you’re talking to a softcore or hardcore.
  • If it starts an argument or takes 15 minutes, you’re talking to a hardcore.
  • If you grief somebody for non-attendance you are hardcore (and a wanker).
  • If you have sacrificed a good time out of game for WoW, then you’re at least softcore. If you didn’t view it as a sacrifice, then you’re hardcore.
  • And if fun is more important than any of these questions; then you’re casual. In which case I’d like you to consider finding a great casual (not softcore) guild on your sever, or join ours.

Three years of time has only slightly changed my perspective, and generally I still hold those comments as true. They are though as lacking as the other posts.

For this alternate definition I’m mainly thinking of World of Warcraft, but I think that some of the logic should apply very widely. What I was thinking was changing from having two binary options to chose from, to creating more a Myers-Briggs personality type play-style measurement, which details what a person is using a short acronym (AELOSF – see below). A few of the pages above offered stylistic templates rather than binary choices too, much like a horoscope; where a player could read the description and pick one that matched them the closest. I guess I’m trying this as I fell through the definitions of both those approaches.

The Myers-Briggs style picks a set of paired terms that are fairly ambiguous, that can also be placed diametrically opposed to each other with a fair degree of logic – and then has the reader pick which they match better to. In effect they pick between the two extremes in the same manner as the Casual vs Hardcore, but where they sit is expanded due to the range of options in the definition.

These are some of the ideas I had for the juxtaposed measurements:

  • Professional vs Amateur – where a Professional is being paid money to participate, and an Amateur is unpaid. There is a very clear difference, although not overly useful to most of the community as I’d bet most people are not paid to play games. I’m not sure if this has practical application or not, and if it was applied, if it should be applied to a game on a case by case basis.
  • Experienced vs Newbie – where a Experienced player is one who is very familiar with the game, and a Newbie is learning the basic concepts. Now this is a far more subjective range, where there is a much greater range between the two ends. As terms they’ll create debate unto themselves, but I hope when added to the rest of the mix the terms themselves will become more descriptive of the player’s goals.
  • Unlimited time vs Limited time – where the unlimited person has high availability to play, and the limited person has almost none. This could also contain a sub-range of people who have interruption free vs constant interruption, but I’m not sure yet if that level of granularity is needed.
  • Optimal vs Relaxed – as to their use of their time and their resources. This is an interesting one, as the style of use of resources is the focus of many blogs and websites, and they themselves are often focused on maximum efficiency. The gold per hour type measurement, kills per raid, and if the player cares how long it takes to get a dungeon done. Some players are very relaxed and are not overly fussed if a dungeon completion takes 20 extra minutes, but others are excited by the prospect of beating a record, or even frustrated by 30 seconds of dead time after a boss kill.
  • Social vs Hidden – is a measure of how important the interaction with others plays is for their valuable gameplay. There are players who raid (which obviously requires other players) but would not otherwise interact with anyone. There are also the players who only play due to the social aspects, and there are players who may as well be playing a solo game, as they talk to nobody.
  • Focused vs Wide range of focus – are you a player who seeks to complete all your chosen activities? Professions, archaeology, or participate in both pvp and pve content, or have a range of alts vs. just one character.

So we end up with a set of choices, still somewhat binary, but not as restrictive as a single word.

I would be: (A)ELOSF.

This is because I’m an unpaid Amateur but Experienced WoW player, with very Limited time, who always plays Optimally. I highly value the Social aspects of the game, but tend to Focus on pve for a few characters only. The Brackets are there as I think almost everyone will be an “A” as far as World of Warcraft is concerned.

So what are you? What type of gamers are out there?

ps – The Dead Good Tanking Guide as a great comment:

I know, I know – why would you bother reading yet another diatribe about who falls into what category? But I’m working from the knowledge that the same could be applied to EVERYTHING I write, so I’ll continue safe in the knowledge this piece is no better or worse than my usual offerings. 🙂

He’s spot on, and added to my feed reader.

What non-tanks need to know: CC

Dangfool/Kallixta from the Blog Azeroth shared topics created this thread, and its darn topical to me:

It was a little change and we’ve had some time to adjust. What’s life like now that Tanks need not worry as much about threat? What should tanks be aware now they have one less thing to stay aware of? What bad habits have DPS been freed to pick up?

While the change to threat is the obvious inspiration for this topic, it could just as easily be “What non-tanks need to know about tanking?”/”What tanks need to know about non-tanks?” We’ve never had that as a shared topic either.

The TLDR version of this post is:

  • Crowd Control is critical to a successful run – this has not changed since day one, and the threat change has nothing to do with it.
  • Interrupts are not optional. Dps need to do them, and so does the Tank. ZG is a bastard if nobody uses interrupts on trash and bosses.
  • If you don’t understand the fight script / mechanics, then ask beforehand. There is only shame on you if you ask afterwards, or don’t ask at all.
  • If you can’t do more than 7k or better dps on a single target, non-moving fight then do not sign up. You’re not ready. By comparison I’m wearing a jumble of gear that is basically similar to tier 11, and I can do 8-9k as the tank. You had better be able to keep up with me.

It resonates as the Tanking change has made Tanking better for threat but had no affect on the overall skill in the LFD community. It even looks like some dps have taken the stance that as Tanking is now easier then the fights are easier. No! The threat change means that it is much harder to pull threat, but all other constraints and limitations still apply.

I Tank the ZA/ZGs regularly to try to cap my valor points each week. Typically this means spending 45 minutes to 1.5 hours in a single run, hammering my way through the instance. Often I’ll do these back to back, as I get a few nights a week to play, and I don’t want to “waste” them on other activity when I have Valor to earn. This provides me with a wealth of experience on what it is like as a Tank in the LFD system.

For example recently I tried to complete ZA three times.

Group One:

  • The first Shaman healer left straight away, and I suspect he/she didn’t want to run ZA. The second Priest healer stayed until I left.
  • One of the dps (Warrior) insisted on pulling, and wiped us on two occasions. He was kicked, just after the first boss.
  • Nobody killed the Scouts, even when they had a Skull icon over them.
  • The Mage dps did not want to CC, and had to be told every time.
  • I quit after the 4th wipe, which due to battle res was my 5th death. We didn’t successfully kill the 2nd boss. Apparently a key fault was mine for not gathering up all the small birds, although I was regularly dying due to the amount of damage from the same birds…I’d say they we not being dps’ed at all.

Group Two:

  • We started in ZA again, with two Hunters from the same server, but different guilds. They were clearly friends, and both hated to trap. One didn’t seem to understand the idea or a re-trap at all. The other was slow, but generally polite.
  • The Hunters left just before the 3rd boss, both quit without explanation. They were replaced by a Mage and Hunter from different servers, who also didn’t know how to CC properly.
  • That team also had a Rogue who didn’t like to sap or interrupt, and just responded with “Lol” when asked. I decided early that he was a waste of oxygen, but was at least more useful than the Paladin dps who stood in front of the bosses next to me and did less than 5000 dps.
  • I quit just after the 3rd boss when the dps started insulting the healer. Now the healer was doing an average job, but to my read was busy keeping the fire-standers alive more than herself, so perhaps not valid criticism.
  • So many deaths.

Group Three:

  • Polite. Everyone said hello when we started.
  • I joked about having a metal head suited only to tanking, and the healer (priest) thought I was cake to heal and we started a casual banter through the rest of the run. Even when we had the odd death, it was ok as the mood was lightened.
  • The dps Shaman and Mage used CC regularly, with the Mage never being needed to be told. The Shaman was not as good, but got better as we went.
  • We lost a Warrior to a disconnect, but gained a DK who was basically the same. Both did what they should have, and despite them having average dps (~10k) they were still useful.
  • We completed the run after a long time, but we finished. Even the otherwise silent players said thanks at the end, and I would contemplate recruiting that healer if she was not on another server.

Now I know that a few examples do not create a rule, but the disparity of attitudes seems to be present in almost every session I sit down to play in.

What needs to change:

  • Crowd Control is critical to a successful run – this has not changed since day one, and the threat change has nothing to do with it. If your class can CC then you must learn when to use it, how best to use it, and how to reapply mid battle.
  • Interrupt the casters, mobs, bosses…etc.
  • Don’t be told every time to do it. Just use it and assume it’s needed.
  • Don’t face pull through moving, stay aware.
  • Don’t pull if its not your role. A tank may ask for a Mind Control or other affect that starts a fight, but nobody should ever take it upon themselves to start a fight when they’re not the tank. You just look like an idiot when some or all the group wipes.
  • Ask for help if you need it.

It is not a revolutionary concept to think that people should know what their role is, and do it without complaint. Further I have more respect for people who are less skilled or unsure, but will ask a question than those who will proceed regardless and just make a mess.

Asking questions and making mistakes is how some people (like myself) learn. I respect it. Staying silent just gives the impression that you are OK, and don’t want or need advice. If you are silent in a group I assume that you will be quick, efficient, and not screw-up too much.

Happy fighting, and may all your LFDs be graceful, educational, and error free.