I know I'm late to the party here. Tank bribing has been the story du jour for several jours now. I just had already written a lovely article about botting that was wicked interesting before, you know, actual shit hit an actual fan. And then there was IC Friday, and no way am I going to post about srs bzns on Friday. I had an Inception joke to make. (Side note: I'm still waiting for my top to stop spinning... is this all a dream?).
As such, I figured Monday was a good day to rehash the hash, so to speak, and sling my own mud. It's not really going to be all that epic since pretty much everything has already been said that can be said about the topic. There are so many links, I haven't read them all and don't plan to link them because they make my head hurt with their sheer volume. However, I do feel like I have something to add in my typical "offer up a half-ass solution or stop your whining" mindset.
Quick recap in case you've been living under a rock like the dudes in the Geico commerical: Blizz is going to bribe the "lowest common denominator (LCD)" (wrt to group make up (math minor much? :-p)) with extra lootz and phat mounts and stuff like that. Riches and fame... that old story. In probably 98% of the cases, that will mean tanks. A healer may pick up a loot bag or two. DPS are likely shit out of luck. People are raising Holy Fel about it for a variety or reasons. I think that, in general, the complaints can be boiled down to "this doesn't really solve the problem, IMHO." (YHMV - Your humbleness may vary).
Personally, I don't care too much. Yeah, it sort of seems a bit short sighted and unfair when seen through the eyes of a DPS. After all, no amount of magic is going to bring my tank/healing spec up to heroic par as a Warlock. Likely, I'll never had a random shot at the sweet extras they're offering. From the angle, it is a bit unbalanced, but it is not the first time the game has been unbalanced. I think Blizz can do better and, in all fairness, they probably will. At least I hope so.
So what about my potential solutions? Well, they both stem from the same perception of the problem. In my mind, the reason for the shortage of tanks in a PuG environment is because tanking in a pure pick up group is a lesson in patience at best. That is to say, as the disparity in gear widens (which it always does as the game trends away from the last reset/expansion), tanking almost becomes harder (instead of easier, as one might expect). The reason is that, though we start to "over gear" things, new problems just replace old ones. You'll still have it where lowbie tanks die, but then aggro also becomes a problem as they just can't hold threat in the face of uber-geared DPS. With tricky, long dungeons, groups still have to "play well" when they just want to "play mindlessly."
Not that there's anything wrong with playing mindlessly. A lot of folks would have you believe that we should always have to use CC and every trick in our toolbox or it's bad design. I would argue that it is perfectly valid to want to have some content that is "easy." That is, if you would like to choose to AoE rolfstomp a dungeon instead of really having to dial in and pay attention, that is no less "playing." Games don't have to be challenging to be fun. Sometimes that helps, but not always. Let's not get stuck on suffering for the sake of suffering. The tricky part is how to balance the two extremes. How to keep enough things challenging and provide some easier avenues without ruining either side of the game. Diff'rent strokes for diff'rent folks. This is no trivial matter.
So let's assume that in Cataclysm, Blizz attempted to originally cater to the base that wanted more of a challenge. I think we could say they succeeded fairly well in a lot of those goals. Heroics were hard right off the bat. Ironically, the challenge sort of ruined the former success of the dungeon finder. Where before a bit of asshatery was tolerable because runs were quick and finishing them was pretty much a foregone conclusion, now you're stuck spending longer with those same people and potentially not getting any reward for it when the group atrophies. Sort of lose-lose. Thus, what we want to do is make it easier to tolerate poor play without completely ruining the challenge for those who want it.
Enter my two suggestions. First, what if "pure PuG" tanks got a Superman Buff to threat. Only to threat. That is, they hit something once, it stays on them. In this way, you still might have to use CC to limit incoming damage (until sufficient gear levels). Healers might still have to work a bit at lower levels, but not work saving that damn rogue. It gives tanks an ultimate level of control without really changing the difficulty. Sure, you could argue that watching your threat is an added challenge, but really, how much of one? Good players will do it second nature, poor players just won't do it, and it's the latter that drive tanks nuts. With a simple, no rewards solution, we could potentially ease a lot of the stress on tanks. They could focus more on using cooldowns and stuff like that, instead of OMG WHERE IS THAT MOB GOING?! I could see this as a sort of "playground" for newer tanks getting used to abilities without failing at threat.
My second suggestion is that, instead of rewarding mounts and monies in these loot bags, why not stuff them with role specific gear? Reward tanks with tanking items, not generic items the rest of us would covet. Make it trivial to "gear" a tank. If you have a hybrid, make getting a "dungeon" set so quick and easy that there is no reason NOT to be geared. (This could apply to any role that we're globally short on, but just happens to likely be tanks at this point). I think we could agree that gear makes things easier. It should lead to more success and less headache. I think would go further toward alleviated the problems than getting pets and mounts and such. What good do those do anyone else?
Finally, we could always bring up the age-old idea of implementing some sort of rating/reputation system, whereby people get voted up or down based on behavior. The like have been used in certain forums for a while now, and seem to be generally effective. This would require a whole new design though and probably more manpower than Blizz would want to spend combating asshats. I think the other two are a bit more elegant in their simplicity. They use things like temporary buffs (that you could click off, mind you) for threat or filling already offered bags with specific items. No new infrastructure.
Anyway, this has gone on long enough for a Monday musing. I just wanted to offer up a couple ideas that I hadn't seen yet in the flurry of postings. I'll leave you with this: Hasn't it occurred to anyone that the decrease in effectiveness of the LFD tool may simply be due to the new guild perks working as intended? An increased emphasis on guild activity would lead to a shortage of random "pick ups," would it not? Should Blizzard, perhaps, simply respond to queue complaints with "join a guild then, since that's how we've designed the game....?"
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