Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Achievement Unlocked: Raiding with Credit Cards

There's an issue right now that I don't get with Blizzard's MMO, World of Warcraft.  It's sort of a big deal, maybe you've heard of the game.  It's been out 10 years and promotes Massively Multi-player Online game play, while separating people among servers.  The issue is, as the decade has progressed, people have moved on, they've transferred servers, and servers have even been merged over time because the MMO has gone more and more the Single Player Online (SPO) route while still trying to be MMO, even though some tools are in place to promote MMO, it's still mostly SPO.

They've initiated lots of changes trying to get more people to be able to play.  They went to cross realm battlegrounds first, then crossrealm dungeons, then cross realm raids in looking for raid, crossrealm Arena and RBG teams, then merges and Normal/Heroic raiding crossrealm.  Amazing stuff.  Where does it end?  Well, ask any Mythic level raider.  20 people enter, all must be from the same server.

Why would they not allow people from all servers to perform Mythic raids together?  I would guess it's one of several reasons, some even stated by them.  Like most things that are spewed forth from the maker, I believe there are underlying reasons that are politically challenging and are not wanting to be addressed.

1) We don't want Realm First achievements being stolen by non-realm raids.
2) Mythic raiding should be exciting and only with friends, who are such good friends they are on your exact server.  If not, too bad.
3) High end raiders have a severe problem with guild bouncing.  Because of this, they are a steady flow of cash for Blizzard.  They should transfer (pay) for their trial periods, and then transfer (pay) again when they get benched, cut or leave.
4) An arbitrary reason is in place, which will one day be walked back on and reasons will be given that make complete sense making everyone wonder why the reason was in place to begin with.
5) The highest quality PvE items could be potentially available for cold, hard cash from the most unscrupulous people in the world - item sellers.  Top players could simply group up with anyone in the region and collect good money selling drops.  Not like this has ever happened with other things that don't matter, like Gladiator/Rank 1 titles and high arena ratings, because we've long established eSports isn't important.

Let's tackle this one by one.

I Want My Realm First, Remember AQ Opening Events!?

Realm Firsts matter... to servers of course.  Nobody else cares if you are Realm First on Backwater US-Horde.  What if a guild like Blood Legion or Method felt like blowing your future legacy achievement chances just to help some friends?  Midwinter comes and helps your server second or tenth guild score the achievement and upends the 'balance of power'.  Or someone could bribe enough people and a guild appears to assist.

Easily solved here... can you think of a way around this?  I sure can.

Simply prevent realm firsts from being awarded to any guilds that have another member in the raid from another server.  After all, a cutting edge world guild would obviously require transfers in this situation, so no change to business as usual.  The same for server leading guilds.  They cannot port to another server with a guild just to score the achievement.  The balance of power is preserved, dogs still chase cats, everyone stays happy.

This reason goes down really easily.  Programming, how does it work?

Friends are Gone with the Wind

Over 10 years, people move away.  I don't think I have the same neighbors in my neighborhood as I did 10 years ago.  People I got along with great and who parked in their driveways and not the street, who always dragged their trash bins from the street after pickup, and who didn't mow their laws at 6am on Saturday mornings have all moved on to other things.  In fact, the dude that never cuts his lawn is still here, that creepy neighbor who never waves at you when you drive by, and the guy who's house has needed a paint job since 1989 are still there.  Basically, the good people moved to greener pastures while the baddies stuck around.

Just like WoW.  I was on a smaller server from Classic up until the close of Wrath, but I saw property values decreasing and decided to GTFO of the town and move to the big city.  I left behind friends who decided to stick it out, only to see their servers become ghost towns since.  Old friends today are scattered across servers, and if we want to play with them again, or they're short a DPS or healer or tank in Mythic, tough luck, Chuck.  Pickup someone from your own server, because friends of yours aren't allowed.  After all, those people on your own server are your new friends, play nice with others.  Yeah, right.  Not buying it.

RealID and Battletags have made the game more social.  Prior to these, my friend list was pretty much limited to a few people I ran dungeons with when we had to actually find people to run with rather than push a button.  Or I used it to track friends in other guilds.  My guild however was always my primary friend list.  Today, I have about 30 active people on my RealID list.  Hmm, 30.  That's 10 more than needed for Mythic.  Hell I have a raid group of friends with a bench spread all over.  But I shouldn't be allowed to do the hardest content with them, because that's not allowed.

If a social scientist looked at Warcraft and how the player population has developed, I'm fairly certain they would also say that this system is flawed.

Recruiting, Insert Credit Card Here

Let's be honest.  This isn't Cataclysm or Mists.  Mythic is not the "New Heroic".  Given the difference in gear drops and boss difficulty between normal and Mythic, the place looks like it's going to be a slaughter for the vast majority of guilds even hoping to get there.  I've been in raids with people who compete for world firsts, and they are flat out not on the same planet as you and I.  Simcraft doesn't even register these people on the charts because their characters are putting up the top 0.01% in DPS, heals, and tanks are timing CDs and taunts like they're on rails.  Mythic is tuned for these player types, especially early on.  You raided SoO Mythic, grats. This is going to be a little different story and require more preparation and decision making.

If you've ever raided hardcore, been in a server first guild, or even worse been in a world progression guild (done all three, you see where I am today) you know that the roster changes frequently.  The shit sinks and cream rises very quickly in these guilds.  You dismiss the people who aren't cutting the mustard, you are always trying out new applicants, and people are either quitting or better dealing you right about the time you're about to hit the boss you brought them in for in the first place or they just looted the item that never drops that 3 other classes need.  People are also porting alts to assist with gearing runs in heavy progression guilds.

Check Wowprogress and look at the major guilds.  They actually track who's coming and going, and I assure you many are ports from other servers.  During progression, these timestamps are damned near epidemic. 

These issues are a cash cow for Blizz.  They didn't go from their old rule of "You cannot transfer servers" to "Transfer whenever you want" in a few years because they were being gracious.  The public demanded it.  Your standard transfer will have about two characters to transfer when they migrate, and in the larger scheme of things, they're buying the equivalent of over 2 months of game time with each transfer.  If there's something I know about Actiblizz, it's that they're pretty good about standing their ground when it comes to these fees, they aren't going away and nobody gets in the way of these things.

If Mythic was allowed cross-server, then a hardcore raider no longer needs to transfer to perform a tryout, it would become the norm that they tryout via proxy, and then only transfer if there's a slot for them.

But these types of raiders comprise of less than 0.5% of the player population, and they aren't doing it weekly, so is this a valid reason?  In the grand scheme of things, maybe not.

I think that if world raiders need to increase the span of their net, then they should have that freedom within reason. If this was a reason to hold back the other 98% of potential Mythic raiders, then it's a crappy reason at best.

Insert Your Favorite Dictator (here) 

I hate arbitrary rules.  It's this way because we say so, and here's our flimsy reason to back it up, and then a very vocal minority of fans back them up and will spit on you through the internet if you decide to challenge it.  I'm an American, dammit.  I question authority and rules because I have that right.

Rules were made to be broken.  One rule that comes to mind is that we aren't allowed to openly talk to the opposing faction.  Even on PvE servers, where PvP is usually by mistake, you can't send tells to someone complimenting them on their choice of transmog.  Meanwhile, you can go to the server's official forums and start an outright carpetbombing flamewar with the opposing faction.  You can even log into your alt of the opposing faction and go nuts today.

Along those lines, the holy rule of "PvE players will never be allowed to port to PvP servers" was broken some time ago.  And then one-server/one faction.  I do suspect they found #3's reason to be very compelling for opening up the floodgates.

Can anyone tell me a good reason for any of this stuff without quoting talking points?  While I can buy the RPer's claims of immersion, I don't buy it otherwise for non-RP servers.  After all, if a person borders on the point of harassing in tells, they put their accounts at risk of closure.  Timeless Isle was an example of what happens when you CAN talk to the opposing faction when they are your OWN faction.  PvP on a PvP server happened.  Wrath's opening event even allowed you to freely talk to the opposing faction while in zombie form.  Gamers are bullies online, so what?  They can be downright insulting and disgusting.  This is part of the online experience.  We're at a point now where this crap doesn't even matter anymore because all the previous rules have been broken.

So, no raiding Mythic cross-server because we say so.  Ok, mom, I'm grown up, I'm eating that cookie before dinner (Seinfeld).  You're in charge, we get it, so when I grow up can I raid with my friends cross-server in Mythic?  I see this as a foolish reason to gate friends from playing with one another.  Sort of like a mother who won't let her child play with the opposite sex until they reach the age of 25.  Thanks for playing social dictator, Blizz.

There's no good reason for arbitrary rules against cross-server Mythic while allowing cross-server everything else.

Paypal, Ebay, and YouBuyWoWGoldHereNowExpress.tk.biz.org.com

Item sales are a fact of life in online games.  Whether it be for gold or real money trades (RMT), you're not going to close this down anytime soon.  RMT has been around since they invented credit card payments online.

At issue is that the most valuable items in the tier for PvE players are going to be Mythic level items.  If a casual player wanted, they could Mastercard their way into a guild looking strictly for a particular item level recruit.  Is this fair?  Not really and it really doesn't matter.

High end loot is really only needed to be able to tackle the current tier of progression.  You don't need it otherwise, unless you purely want to show off in LFR/LFD how awesome or pathetic you are at the class.  It's sort of like PvP, where you can get all the highest tier PvP items offered and still suck because you can't counter your counter class, or you need it to gank people in questing greens.  Item level, in the grand scheme of things, means jack and shit with regards to your ability.  I've geared out complete mouth-breathing, window-licking, chromosome-mutated players in hopes they would put the gear to use, when I should have just disenchanted the loot because it would have achieved the same result.  But these are people who also spend money on items in hopes they can balance out their trash DPS with harder hitting abilities.

This logic as a stopgap falls apart however, because a person willing to cough up $500 or $1000 for a set of gear is also the same person who would gladly transfer servers for $25 just to do it.  That's merely a minor inconvenience.  Therefore, RMT can still go on if you transfer servers in Mythic so preventing cross-realm for this reason is not a reason. Sure it's hard to prove and prevent, but in reality so is duping, which doesn't exist per the blues - except in TCG items, which won't be removed even though almost everyone dealing in them knows they're dupes because if they were real, they'd go for FAR more value than they do now.

The only argument I can buy is that people get ripped off when they do these transactions.  You know what?  Chicken butt and so what.  Anyone who buys anything online takes that risk, and since it's against the TOS and they barely enforce it against the people who do the buying, then the argument is flaccid.  Buck up and do some banning of gold buyers and maybe I'll sympathize with this argument and realize that the sheriff is back in town.

The opposite side is also true.  I myself love a solid GDKP run where I can run the tables.  But there is still a system in place to prevent me from using my gold to bid on gear on other servers - I cannot trade it to others from other servers.  Therefore, this mechanic as a reason for not allowing cross-realm Mythic groups also falls apart.


Phew.  I've said my peace on this issue.  Right now it does affect me because I and another Illidan friend are raiding with a fellow Wind Trader's guild over on another server.  We're going to go through Heroic, but once they hit Mythic our ass is on the pine and we're going to have to take another direction.  It's a real shame because they can use the assistance of good people cross realm while they progress through the most challenging content.  My friend and I are both very experienced raiders who don't stand in fire, play our classes optimally, actually understand mechanics and contribute to top of the dps chart so we're an asset.  But my friend is more than that.

A little advertisement.  My friend could easily raid with world leading guilds, but he took a Cata/MoP break.  This is a guy who has a steam library that would put anyone to shame and is probably one of the best actual gamers I've ever met and have known for years.  When you look up gamer, he's the definition.  He's that needle in the haystack every guild wants, but has to be given the chance to demonstrate that he can kick everyone's ass in the first place.  We're hoping his Heroic time will make it easier to locate someone on Illy who is looking for a resident badass in Mythic.  He's the guy who takes the class that's regarded as underpowered and makes it look like it needs nerfed asap.  If you are a true Mythic guild leader/officer/raider over here and reading this, I have someone you should meet.  Track me down here, on Twitter, or in game.  Battletags and character names in comments will be passed along and not posted.

Doesn't it suck that we're only good enough to run through Heroic with friends?  Blizzard: encouraging fantastic cross-realm friendships and then tearing them apart by their own decisions.  Maybe someday I'll get interested again in posting gold making results.

Thanks for stopping in!

Zerohour has spent nearly the entire expansion playing Garrison-ville and has forgotten what the outside world looks like.  If you would like to water his herb garden, applications are being taken within.

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