Random in Boss fights?

A good find about how good or bad it is for encounters in PvE to be heavily or lightly scripted, which is interesting given how much the degree of “random” affects fun.

Tobold wrote:

In my opinion there is too little randomization in MMORPGs. They are nearly totally deterministic. Before combat even starts you know what the monster will do, and what keys to press in which order to optimally defeat it. Thus combat involves no thinking, only execution.

As Craig Stern says, the solution is not making the result of button presses unpredictable, but to make the opponent unpredictable, or the starting situation. That is why card games work: The cards you draw are random, but what you can do with them is not. And in a MMORPG the monsters could be made more unpredictable as well. Why do people need to know in advance what the boss mob is going to do after X minutes to beat him?

posted by Tobold Stoutfoot at 8:54 AM on Nov 18, 2012

To be fair, its better to read the entire post and linked articles.

Would introducing more randomness be good?

I think it would be terrible – consider that if you really want to make the bosses challenging then you make them more intelligent…..say they don’t have a threat table anymore, they just crush anyone who tries casts a heal.

Same issue in pen and paper – for some reason (story) the big bad orc (high CR monster) wails on the fighter, not the cleric.

I can see the point about execution and predetermined strategies removing “creative” aspects, but really the 4th wall is so present in an MMO that it is just differing personal perspectives for how far the slider between real and scripted the entire game is. I also think that some random is ok, but too much will be very disruptive to the players, as their outcome for victory is too much outside their control.

The card game in Tobold’s example is not a good match to the game style events in an MMO, given how different the perspective is, but does help my point: who likes playing solitaire when the game cannot be won?

Trial of the Champion had the pvp based fight which was excellent, but it still came down to a set of abilities, and a priority based kill order. It was also hated by a few raiders.

Another random fight was Lord Ryolyth in Firelands – who was basically impossible if the randomness didn’t go your way. That is a shitty way to spend an evening.

Go have a read as the discussion on both Tobolds and Craig’s blog are good stuff. Happy Killing.

Just a few random screenshots from leveling…

Just a few shots taken while I wander aimlessly through Pandaria.

LFD Quirks

I’ve noticed that the first group I get in LFD is typically a fresh run where everyone starts from the start. If for some reason somebody does not accept, then the next group will almost always be a mid-way through run of some form. Sometimes its early, other times is at a hard boss.

I have no idea if this is by design, and I think its good. But is it just me – does anyone know if this happens for Dps, or just Tanks, or if its just a strange consistency in recent randoms?

If its planned you’re typically going to wait for a group, it is sometimes better to get into a part way group so that the wait time (for the guys that wait) is overall the same from queue to completion.

A counter though is that joining a group that has issues might have you joining a group of terrible players, rather than replacing a terrible player. I guess there would be no pattern to that.

the loot system is farked

In another post’s comment, I wrote that “the loot system is farked in wow“. It really got me thinking that such a negative statement could gather up how I feel about PvE raid rewards in World of Warcraft. It is worrying. Not only for PvE raiders, but for the fact that other games will look to WoW and copy the reward system as a fundamental. In this case Blizzard has it fundamentally wrong.

I promise that this will be one of the last posts about loot, gearing, and the cycles involved for a while. Just one last rant to get off my chest.

a skinner box

A skinner box session in progress. I think the bird is DPS...?

The system is based upon grinding for gear, in a most inefficient manner. When you kill a boss a random sub-set of items is presented as awards and the team get to decide who gets what. I like the fact that we get to decide how we divvy up the booty, but there is no consideration to who participated, or what is needed in the team. And that is just broken.

We have entire systems (ilevels, gear points, reforging, enhancements and enchantments, etc) to classify gear, and improve the gear we have, but no way to reward repeat raiding effort to gain specific items. These items are often needed to move forward efficiently.

You might think that I am forgetting that you get widget-points for killing a boss (who cares what they are called – widget points is fine), which can be use to purchase items? I’m not. That is a good system, which is logical, and places the control back with the player to participate in the gearing choices. Widget points are well loved as a system, the real contention is how fast you acquire them, not if the system is useful.

I’m raising the idea (yet again) that we need the game to facilitate improvement through effort in a better manner for boss loot.

Examples of the issues:

  • There is no point dropping Priest specific gear if we don’t have on in the raid. It is useless.
  • There is no point dropping an item that cannot be used by anyone in the raid at all, like Spell plate with no Paladins.
  • No prohibition on rolling for items which are irrelevant for a spec as a “Need” item.

Oh, but am I forgetting that it will get converted to a shard, and shards have value? No. An item being “sharded” in early content is a total waste, as the team really need upgrades to progress, and it late content you have so many that they are almost irrelevant. Shards only have high value and high use in the middle of the game, when you have gear worth using the shard on, but also don’t have 90% of your raid geared.

It is all really illogical.

But then is it really illogical to everyone? The drop randomness keeps a percentage of the players raiding each week. They can do nothing except raid to clear, and hope an item drops. This means they keep at it, and keep playing longer. It is not a stretch to suspect that if the loot system was improved then we could see more players switching to alts, or switching to other games.

Perhaps it is only illogical to keep doing it.

Well then you might ask what can be done. Well if you go digging through this blog you’ll find all manner of suggestions. In the wider wow community you’ll see more, and if you look as far as outside the wow community (gasp), there are plenty of good examples of other ways to handle rewards and loot. Far too many to bother with a summary here, but a few driving principals apply:

  • Minimise the amount of wasted loot
  • Balance loot amongst the classes and specs present
  • Guide loot distribution using the assigned role
  • Minimise the impact of greedy players

However here are a few I prepared earlier: Better gear rewards from runs, and Algorithm for need vs greed by role.

The opportunity to change this in the current 4.2 game is not a reality. It is probably too large a change to be made except by change in major version like the next expansion, but it could be made.

May your dice roll high, and you always see your loot. TyphoonAndrew

Better gear rewards from runs and raids

a lot of gears

Not that type of gear! Damn it.

Another enhancement (adding to a post about Need vs Greed by class & role) which would not hurt the Warcraft game at all would be to constrain the types of drops to at least the classes present in the run/raid. This an old idea, but a feature which seems blindingly obvious as a value add to players. It is the kind of assumption that a new player has, which is adjusted when the gear drop discussion happens.

Would you rather play for a slim chance of reward to your team, or a consistent reward to the team? Is there a significant disadvantage to adding this?

The suggestions is to mod the loot system mechanics so that:

  • Don’t drop gear for a class that is not present. Especially the class tokens, or class specific gear.
  • Don’t drop the same item, unless there is more than one of the class.

Continue reading

algorithm for need vs greed rolls by role

I’ve bashed the LFD Call to Arms as not going far enough, and not being an effective solution; and as a blogger with no leverage or responsibility in the game that is easy to do. So instead of a blog post which grumbles, here is a blog post with a suggestion.

Item stat based rules for Need vs Greed, for group roles.

The random dungeon finder tool now filters on armour type, but no further. I’m proposing that there is an algorithm which can filter the Need vs Greed option even further, so that gear is far less likely to be awarded to the wrong role. Using this the players would be getting gear with a far higher (but not imperfect) degree of focus on the role they joined to execute.

We have four roles and a range of special cases for gear within the class combinations created by those roles (Range DPS, Melee DPS, Tank, and Heal). It’s a bad thing to see a Need roll on an item which will never be used, such as a Death Knight rolling need on a Plate item which has Int on it, or a Hunter rolling on a staff with Spirit.

Here is a suggested solution to improve the algorithm which filters Need vs Greed selection:

Use role based filters for all Need role which restrict based upon:

  • Apply a primary stat filter, where the item must have that stat present.
  • Apply a secondary stat filter, where any one of the listed stats must be present.
  • Apply a secondary stat filter, where if any of the listed stats are present then the character is excluded from the Need roll.

This allows for the armor type restriction to hold as currently implemented, and the armor type restriction would still act as a restriction. It allows trinkets, rings, necks and other non-armor type items to be classified using the stats assigned to the item. This mean that it is not an arbitrary assignment of priority, but one based on the stats which the item has and how they are valued as recognised by item weightings.

The rules allow for an item within a armour type that a role might current role on to be corrected, like Int plate vs Dodge plate, or a trinket with only one stat, and allows for ignoring the Stamina values on gear. While this might disadvantage Tanks slightly, I am not sure of many items which would otherwise be selectable which would not also be valid choices for DPS characters – so the degree of impact is less.

All that we need to do is decide on the primary stat for each class & role combination, set a valid list of secondary stats, and also set some stats to exclude. It is worth noting that the inclusion of a stat in the included or excluded list is not mean to dictate a priority amongst them, it just means that this is a potentially valid stat for the class-role.

For example: It would be a shame for a range Tank to miss a role for an upgrade with Dodge on it just because a DPS in the same group rolls need.

The syntax is = Class Role: Prime-Stat / Stats Included / Stats Excluded

DK mdps: str / mast, crit, hit, expertise, haste / !int, !spirit, !dodge, !parry, !block
Pally mdps: as above
War mdps: as above

Druid mdps: agi / mast, crit, hit, expertise, haste /  !int, !spirit, !dodge, !parry, !block
Rogue mdps: as above
Shaman mdps: as above

DK tank: str / dod, parr, mast, exp, hit / !block, !int, !spirit
Druid tank: agi / dod, mast, exp, hit / !block, !parry, !int, !spirit
Pally tank: str / dod, parr, block, mast, exp, hit / !int, !spirit
War tank: as above

Druid rdps: int / spell power, hit, crit, haste, mastery /
Hunter rdps: agi / hit, crit, haste, mastery / !int, !spi
Mage rdps: as per Druid
Priest rdps: int / spell power, hit, crit, haste, mastery, spirit /
Shaman rdps: as per Druid
Warlock rdps: as per Druid

Druid heal: spi/ int, mastery, crit, hate, spellpower / !hit
Pally heal: as above
Priest heal: as above
Shaman heal: as above

As a basic this does it. It could be expanded to understand the ratio of Spirit to Int in comparison of caster items, where one is valued to dps higher than healers.

It could be expanded to ignore the rules if the person who could roll Need already has an item in that location which exceeds the item weight by ~20%. Meaning a player could not roll Need on a ilevel: 333 item if they already have a ilevel 356 in that location. For them it becomes a forced Greed.  That might mean that another player is the only one who can greed, or that nobody can roll need. You could also open the rolling so that if nobody is normally allowed to roll Need due to this rule, then the system lets them role Need if it is in their armour type. This way a offset item goes to somebody who might actually use it, not to disenchant or vendor.

And I’m sure there is a huge range of exceptions that might apply for funny items. No way in hell I was going to try and parse all of the WoWHead data to validate this.

On plan I think this is a solid idea. What do you think?

Happy Gearing

Dungeon Finder: Call to Arms follow-up

I ranted in the last blog post, and altogether expected to be on the edge of the range of opinions. Surprisingly that is not the case; a lot of people are posting thoughst about this update. That may mean that it is not ideal, and will not address the range of issues that the community have.

But what if Blizzard said they’re going to pull it; what would happen?

I suspect that there is a loud voice of bloggers which speak out often, and speak more often when something is not quite right. This means that there is likely to be a body of players who are happy with this, will use it, and might be getting sick of the rants from bloggers (such as myself) who seem to be consistently talking down the game, or negative. That is not at all the case.

To be clear on what I want:

  1. Introduce this Call to Arms, its a good idea.
  2. Then add role based restriction on Need rolls in random dungeon groups. The armour type restriction was a good start, the end fix just needs to be implemented. 
  3. Then reduce the cooldown for kicks in groups for the group leader.
  4. Then reduce the cooldown on kicks for the Call to Arms player.

I am not sure if a character using the Call to Arms option should be identified to the group. It would make it clear that they are deliberately helping, but also may rub the rewards in the faces of others. I’ll ponder and get back to you.

Happy Randoms

Continue reading

Reward the rare in Random Dungeons?

Blizzard has announced a new scheme which will reward the rare types of role in the queue with rewards. If you are the role that is most needed – you’ll have extra cash, pets, mounts, all the good stuff. But it feels like a solution looking for a problem.

It will be worth tanking – but only slightly more. Not significantly more, and as the reward is not gained for guild groups – so we’re actually discouraging friends from playing together. Why? It should at least allow 2 people to sign-up together, and 3 would be better. Would it matter if 3 guildies took 2 stranges with them on a run? Wouldn’t that speed the rewards a little too?

It won’t fix the fact that dps rolls on my Tank gear, and vice versa.

It won’t stop any role gear going to the wrong roles at all, which is what pisses me off the most. Almost every dungeon the loot from the last roll will be a series of Need rolls. Why? Because there is no recourse to stop them doing it.

It won’t stop people being rude, or kicking without reason.

It won’t stop the time wasters, the AFK’ers, and the gogogo-moron-boys.

It won’t stop Loot Fever. Except it could be easily stopped, as we have had roles for a long time, and its just lazy to think that we can code specially for Orbs, or for some mounts, but can’t figure out that gear with Dodge is a Tank item. Total bullshit.

I really hope my friends and guild are happy to keep doing runs, and I’d rather run with them than get a new mount. I’d rather walk.

Happy killing….end rant.

grind, raid, grind, grind, wail,..grind, grind

There is a certain ratio between grinding, raiding and madness – a tipping point if you like – where everything starts to become surreal. I’m in that place now, staring outward from the game wondering where the game ends and what effect it is having on me.

Today’s post is another rant about the week that was, the pugs that were not, and the dreams of raids left uncleared. Another longish rant, skip if you’re not keen on random stuff. 🙂

Continue reading

Positive Random Dungeon Stories

Do I need or Green on this?...as a Hunter...

Need or Greed...Blizzard says no loot for you!

A shared topic via the TNB folks was about Positive Random Dungeon Stories. Now don’t get me wrong, I do have a lot “standard” pug stories where it works out OK; and sometimes a good event.

Often though the memorable is a bad event rather than a good event. Human nature to remember that way.”

So here goes – some good things that have happened…

It’s all Hunter Loot.

Did a quick SM run on my mid 30s Hunter and cleaned up on loot random rolls. We all rolled Greed on everything, but somehow I walked away with almost everything; in the order of 6 of the 10 random drops went to me.

I just had to laugh and keep rolling greed.

UberHeals in leveling run.

A GunDrak run was recently made a total laugh for my 74 Tankadin, where an 80 Paladin healer allowed us to zerg through almost everything. Doing 3 pack pulls as a level 74 Tank is too much fun to have. No idea why that happened in terms of “random dungeon”, but I can’t say I’m unhappy.

Quick solid run, plenty of polite and fun chatter in /party, and only the Warlock dps in the group died; which is par for the course for Warlocks.

Arkham the Warlock is back!

Along with my Tankadin, I’m also dusting off my old Warlock to see what he can do – Arkham is back with destruction on his mind. At 72 doing the random group dungeon run is just a blast (or is that a Conflagration?).

I’ve spec’ed deep into Destruction, hardly need the pet, and just nuke everything. I don’t even care about dying, as repairs are just so damn cheap.

Bear druid is Tank -Rawr

Lastly my Druid now has a solid 5 man tank set that can do almost everything. Halls of Stone is cake, I actually like doing packs of mobs, and even the painful tunnel in PoS is not the bitch it can be as a DK tank. Having a huge HP total helps too.

Cooldowns? Nope, just use Swipe.

Mob packs? Easy, just use AoE taunt and Swipe.

DPS with Threat fever? Taunt, maul, etc. Kids stuff.

Happy randoms to all, may your loot drop and repairs be cheap.

Guest on TNB Roundtable

Was recently invited to my first Roundtable on TNB – it was wonderful wonderful fun. Topic: Whatever!

The guests were of a particularly high caliber, and folks who I have read for a while (and I was chuffed to be asked):

Follow us all on Twitter: @stoppableforce @ladygypsy @theelitists @typhoonandrew and @daewin

We covered the following topics:

  • Masteries in Cataclysm, what are they?
  • Progressive “nerfication” of Raids (the buff that is being rolled out monthly)
  • The Purpose of a Guilds
  • The Perfect Random Dungeon group
  • Are Addons a Critical Tool or Crutch

Go download and listen, it was a blast!

Question: Dungeon finder has favourites?

Tried three times solo joining for a “random” dungeon this morning, and every time I was given HoR; which for me as a tank in my gear is a total waste of energy. I’m badly geared for it, and groups seem to wipe far too often for something not to be suss.So this morning the finder was playing favourites, and while I understand that you take a random and you get places where you are needed, but sheesh!

Consider too that I am certainly not the only person ranting about this.

So I have to ask, is the finder incorrect in putting that class/gear mix together?

Am I missing something very significant about the strategy for HoR?

What do we know about the gear level priority for groupings?

My approach is to HoR is to stack up in a corner, and kill the Priests and Mages first, and the Hunter last. Open to suggestions, please, anything would help!

My fourth LFG random attempt was with a mate, and we got HoL, and finished it with no issues. Go figure.

LFG Penalty Points – 24 lockout

A great idea via the WoW.com forums for rating your fellow players in LFG:

“Blizzard needs to figure out a way to stop rewarding the lazy and inconsiderate, that’s all. I actually started a WoW forum thread a while back, suggesting an “unprepared for role” vote, where you could lock someone out of running Heroics in a particular role for 24 hours. – Sleutel

Oh yes! Damn thats a good idea. Somebody gets too many “you’re a friggin deadhead votes” and they get locked out for a day or so. Make the amount of votes an algorithm rather than just a flat number, and it will be golden.

The algorithm:

  • You only get to assign points by using the Dungeon Finder tool.
  • First point counts always, and next votes from the same party add another point. Max 2 pts.
  • When you get kicked from a group you get an auto-vote. Max 1 pt.
  • If you leave a group before the first boss kill you do not get points automatically. This is so that players can use the initial trash as a measure of performance.
  • If you leave group after the first boss kill you an additional point. Max 1 pt.
  • Each new group you join after the 15 minute timer can gift each other with votes, so repeat asshats will get a quick succession of votes (in sets of two or three probably).
  • When you reach 4, 6, and 8 points your queue time becomes longer.
  • When you reach 10 points you are locked out for 24 hours. Maybe 12 is better, but 10 will send a clear message.
  • Points decay over time, perhaps you drop 1 point every 2 hours.
  • Completing an instance successfully where there have been no successful votes to kick by you or another player remove x2 points from all participants. If there was a vote to kick, but you then finished you can remove 1 point instead.
  • Maybe (??) players who are repeatedly locked out for 24 hours all the time will get their queue times increased for weeks rather than just a lockout.
  • Points are acquired by the PLAYER not the character. So you can’t be a dickhead on your alts, then act normally on your main.

Thus good players get rewarded, and also get to counter the affect of possible abuse of the system.

Bad players suffer. The definition of a bad player is made by the community.

LFG Perspectives

Gnomeaggedon has a darn good post about how the Hardcore folks do not own the LFG randoms, and Gearscore checks and general 5k dps requirements are a total joke in random heroic runs. He’s dead right. The rude pricks should f*@k off.

I wrote a comment over there that was long enough to be a blog post, so I’m repeating it here too after the break.

Update:  Its going to get far far worse before it gets any better. This will be to boiling point, rants, spitting, and insults before we see any drop off of asshats. Why? The asshats either like to piss people off, or don’t realise they are a waste of oxygen (aka an Oxygen Thief).

Continue reading

Random odd stuff

A while back I’ve had a good few days doing Heroics. Was fun, and I saw some strange stuff in CoS heroic.

a) A great pick-up line if I’ve ever seen one: “My bed is looking pretty good right now.” That NPC is one very cool guy, who whilst under the pressure of a sociopath prince coming to kill him, still finds the time to impress the ladies. Well I’m impressed too.

npc-my-bed-is-looking

b) Back before 3.2 you would not see this. Cat dps seems to have taken a big hit. Gen normally pushes far harder. Bring on some fixes for cats in patch 3.3.

Can I haz dps back

Quick haiku and random thoughts

Some random creative lines that are running through my head. Some if this is warcraft-ish, some just observational. The further you read the less responsibility I take for your sanity and my writing. [rant inc]

Conan
Barbarian slave,
sunders a raging horde,
never to find peace.

unrelated to…

Proudly she walks on,
while adversity abounds.
I stand still amazed.

And lastly something that makes even my sense of sarcasm twinge with political incorrectness: I was chatting in guild a few days ago about the definition of wife. Its one of those guild chat conversations that stays borderline polite, but we’re taking the piss out of each other. When one guys says something like obviously you don’t know the definition of w.i.f.e.

I didn’t know what he was talking about so used the google:define tool to look it up. The 8th result was:

define: wife = A lady who said “I will” and has done so ever since.

…I did warn you. That is just mean. I bet she would say far worse things about her husband. Or perhaps her ex-husband. Reminds me of the Devils Dictionary, as that is pretty subtle.