Thursday, December 18, 2014

It must have been her period

You probably heard that I'm trying to clear the normal and heroic content of WoW without having a guild or fixed raiding groups, just with PuGs. It's going well, 6/7 normal and 5/7 HC bosses down on the second week.

Actually it goes too well. The original plan was from my girlfriend, who tested it in the earlier content with an alt healer shaman. She got a few mythic (old heroic) bosses down, when her guild had 8/14. So her pre-eliminary results were "pug raiding is possible, but definitely worse than guild raiding". Her guild was world #12K, which we considered "good". After all, that's about 150-250K players out of 7.5M, top 3-4%.

For the project she leveled a tank druid and I reactivated my old healer shaman and on the first week we killed 5 normal bosses in the first run and were happy. Then she logged to her "main" and went to raid with her guild, just to see them fail where our random group succeeded. This was surprising and unexpected. Since WoWprogress doesn't track normal kills, it wasn't obvious what is now, with the heroic kills: our pug isn't top 4% but top 1%, much better than her guild. Anyway, that's not the point today.

The point is that she was the only one who killed the boss (Butcher) in the raid. She was tanking and co-raid leading on the kill. We oneshotted him, while her guild wiped again and again. Yet the guys in her guild couldn't care less about her ideas and pressed the official strategy that is optimal, but tolerates no mistakes. Her impromptu Butcher strategy was much better for starter groups, hence the oneshot with a bunch of firstkilling puggers: only two groups, after melee get 3 stacks, the tanks move the boss to the stacked ranged and let him cleave them twice, then pull it back.

Anyway, after a bunch of wipes and they keep not caring for her ideas (despite she oneshotted Butcher and they wiped on him), she left the guild. The reaction is the epic title, which revealed that dismissing her had nothing to do with her idea, it was coming from the fact that she wasn't a man. No woman should tell the big and strong man what to do! Even if she succeeded where they were failing. No! Woman should stay in the kitchen!

It was surprising event for me. I guess this is what feminists often mention: "guys don't even notice sexism". After all - without the primitive comment - we could dismiss it as an argument between equals, followed by an incompetent decision of the raid leader (for neither teaching the members the right strategy, kicking failers, nor adopting a dumb-resistant strategy). But this way it was clear that her ideas weren't even considered, because they were coming from a woman. It's pretty sad.

However the a-social pug-raiding helps, since in a pug, everyone is an unknown person, no one knows that she's a woman, she is judged by her merit. Which is tanking a Heroic raid, oneshotting 4 bosses, two-shotting the fifth:

Her old guild? Still on 1/7 heroic. This deserves celebration:

PS: later, I did LFR (the lowest difficulty). It's a shame that this disgrace still can give me upgrades. What shows its pathetic level the best? Maybe the fact that tiger cages are closed? Or that Butcher cleaves can be ignored? Or that Bracken add can be just tanked till the end? Or maybe this discussion?

Or maybe that you can get 8 stacks of fire at Twins while standing in the whirlwind on purpose and live? Or that the melee spends most of Ko'ragh fight in a supression circle and no one cares? They are all pretty bad, but you can't beat this:
No, you don't have double vision. The happy crew gathered for Looking For Retards kept damaging the other shard after the first died, spawning 4 more motes. And then AoE-d them down, while standing in the red, with not a single man dying. That's the summary of LFR. Since 5-man heroics need some brains, LFR should be giving 615 and not 640.

PS2: epic idiot from Pandemic Legion. It seems even the most elite is riddled with braindead ones.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

PvP isn't challenging out of tournaments

In various games people define themselves as "PvP-ers". It's especially widespread in EVE. They then indulge themselves with statements like "I play for challenge" or "frigate PvP needs the most skill" and so on, endlessly. They are all liars, most of them lying to themselves.

Not because PvP can't be challenging or that EVE frigates are easy to fly optimally. But because most players are just hideously bad:

Please note that the scale is logarithmic on this 2013 activity report. It found that about 15% of the members did 85% of the PvP activity of these alliances. And they are PvP alliances while and most players are staying in highsec. It means that about 90% of the EVE players have little to none PvP activity. So if you engage in PvP with a random stranger, you have 90% chance to simply catch a completely incapable player. Killing him is no bigger challenge than ganking a miner. So even if you are a mediocre PvP-er, you can have over 10:1 kill:death, which looks amazing, until you look at the results of miner gankers.

The only way to do challenging PvP is fighting a worthy opponent, which can't be done in an environment where most people are unworthy. And even if you engage another PvP-er (someone with killboard similar to yours), it's likely that he is yet another mediocre guy who feasts on the same morons and slackers as you. So in EVE you can have a PvP-er career with nothing but ganking carebears and fighting with other gankers.

The only way to find challenging opponents is an organized tournament where the participants prove their skills by defeating other opponents. Only in direct competition can one prove that he is among the best.

The problem comes from the "natural" belief that being above average is good. The guy who finished 90% of his fights victorious is definitely above average. But in the current World with extreme power differences being in the top 10% group doesn't mean you are good, it just means you aren't a complete failure. The "PvP-er" who proves his above average status again and again by "finding fights" is proving something obvious and irrelevant.

Their situation is like saying "I'm rich because I can PLEX one account". This is factually true. For every PLEX buyer, there is a PLEX seller, so everyone who can afford a PLEX is in the richer half of the EVE population. But we are aware that earning 900M/month isn't particularly stellar, are we?

PS: Goons totally don't care about Mordus Angels. After all that NPC trash bunch does nothing. Goons only camped the MoA HQ with a whole capital fleet, because it's so much fun:
While the time Goons were having lot of fun staring at an NPC station and a bubble, poor MoA was left with the boring grind of an interceptor roam.

PS2: Hellman, the brave Marmite pilot, accompanied by only a tackler friend/alt engaged a Goon capital ship and won, bringing another glorious chapter to small gang PvP in EVE.

PS3: my crusade to complete WoW raid content without a guild is going on:

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Pay to spectate: the real world game monetizing

The real world games are strictly fair, non-newbie-friendly and zero-sum PvP games. If you play football, you have to adhere to the rules. If your team is weak, you'll be defeated badly. No one will give you an achievement for entering the field. Same for chess or even tabletop games the kids play: the rules are clear, the players are opposing each other and only one can win. Getting unfair advantage is hunted and harshly punished, just ask Lance Armstrong. Sportmanship is expected and enforced, flamers are punished.

It's a very sharp contrast to video games where "everyone is a winner and a hero" and also the rules can be bent with paying money to the game organizer (the developer). It's like the UCI were selling the drugs to Armstrong. Sportmanship is practically non existent. Let's add no-life play (getting game scores while the competitors are asleep), which is simply unimaginable in a real world game. Why?

Because video games are either pay-to-play or pay-to-win, while real world games are pay-to-spectate. The football player or cyclist doesn't pay anything. He is paid. The ones who pay for the show aren't players but spectators. They should have fun, and their fun must not be spoiled by cheating or even toxic behavior. This environment creates the professional gaming atmosphere of the real life which serves as an example for "casual gaming". While you pay-to-play if you rent a tennis field, "they" (organizers, other player) won't let you break the rules of tennis because they expect the "big game" be represented in their casual game. Also, they don't want their place to have a bad name.

The point is that the interest of the player is to behave as he wish and to win without effort. In video games, he is a customer and if the developer finds a way to serve this entitlement without alienating another paying customer, he will go that way. It's done by pushover NPCs who can be killed by the worst of players and never complain, or non-paying players who might complain, but no one cares. On the other hand the real world professional athlete is not a paying customer, the specators are. No one cares if he doesn't have fun, no one cares if he is frustrated because he had to submit the 10th urine sample on this day, there are thousands who'd love to take his place, because of the fame and payment. The fun of the paying customers: the spectators matter.

Maybe the future of video gaming is brighter than we see now. As companies want more money, they might turn to spectating. The various streaming services point this way. There are also efforts to recognize video gaming as a "real sport". As soon as spectators will be the major income source of developers, all kind of cheat-selling, no-life, toxic attitude will be purged. What the demands of millions of forum posters can't do, the presentation of one accountant can achieve.

Maybe this will happen in our life. Hope dies last.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Evil by design: worse than AFK

I haven't played World of Tanks for years, since I realized that the matchmaker is rigged. But I still remember a battle, from the beginning to the end, despite I had no recording of it and saw it only once. I was a newb in 2011 and this one battle is responsible for trying WoT again and again, until I had undisputable proof that the devs control my results instead of my gameplay. I didn't want to let WoT go, because I wanted to experience this battle again:

11 kills in a 15v15 battle. Several of them above my tier. And I could take the rest if I don't run out of ammo. The point isn't that I was obviously leagues above everyone on field. It's not even that the flow was so perfect that I have fond memories of it years later.

The point is that the outcome of the battle was "defeat", and I still loved this battle much more than any of my victories (maybe except this). I'm as play-to-win as one can be. I usually rather guard a boring spot all game if it gives a win than be in the middle of the action and lose. My EVE "gameplay" is making ISK and giving it to other people to have fun with, just because it's the optimal way generating dead enemies. Yet here I am, considering one of the pinnacles of my gaming a defeat.

Why do I mention this battle years later? Because Tobold asked why do we hate our teammates for being worse than us. You know how easily I hand out "morons and slackers" to other people. Yet in this game, where my teammates were obviously useless, I didn't write anything nasty to them. I was just sitting there, watching that debrifing, counting the dead ones again and again in disbelief.

Why? Because Wargaming did something perfectly what Blizzard and Riot did horribly: no teammates (besides bannable griefers) can go below the level of AFK, they can't harm your gameplay. Their lack of performance stopped me from winning, but didn't stop me from playing at my peak performance, scoring very high. In WoW raiding or League of Legends, a bad player isn't just "not pulling his weight". He is actively sabotating not only my win, but my gameplay. They are literally worse than having an AFK-er in the corner. This is the definition of a griefer, despite that aren't intentional griefers.

What am I talking about? Let's translate my WoT story to WoW raiding: one by one my raidmates died in the fire, but me and a few good ones kept fighting and getting stellar high DPS, HPS and record low damage taken, almost taking down the boss when we run out of time. Would it be awesome? Yes. Is it possible? No. What will really happen is that moron guy blinks over the raid and Kargath Bladefist cleaves everyone, or takes the healer spot on the chain, resulting in a dead chain group. We aren't just denied the bosskill without being bad, just because he is bad. We are denied gameplay, the fight ended after a minute and now we can spend more time running back, buffing up, explaining the strategy once more to those who don't listen anyway.

Or try League of Legends: despite my teammates was horrible, I could score kills after kills 1v1 until they simply steamrolled mid lane because 3 of us were busy running around somewhere else. Can it happen? No. What will happen is that I score some kills at the start, but then the enemy simply outgrow me, since the morons fed them and stole my last hits. I'm not only robbed of a win, but also I'm stuck under a tower for half an hour unless I want to feed too. What else could I do when my "support" is not supporting and the enemy is 2 levels above me because my teammate fed him 10 kills?

The hate against our own teammates is a design problem: a bad teammate can hurt my gameplay, not just my win chance. What would be the good mechanic in WoW? If standing in the fire would only hurt the bad one instead of the raid or even the healers. Remove all mechanics where other players pay for the failure of someone! If he stands in the fire, he should die, but he should die instantly (instead of giving work to the healers) and shouldn't bring anyone with him. These don't change the fact that the group still loses the encounter. You shouldn't be able to win with several members doing 0 DPS due to being dead. But you should be able to play until the enrage timer if you didn't fail.

Or with League of Legends mechanics: killing enemy players now gives you X gold and Y XP. It should instead destroy X gold (taking items if he has no gold) and Y XP for the victim! This way if you play good, the enemy can't outgrow you and you can still win 1v1 or set up ambushes with your useful teammates. At the end your team will still lose, since a late game 5v5 teamfight won't end well if one of you is a naked lvl 4 due to repeated deaths. But if you are good, you can still have several kills and just one death: the one when they aced the team and washed up midlane.

Now, if this was a movie, the game companies would give me some award for recognizing this Holy Grail and make the games no longer frustrating. Except they probably knew all of it for years. The old WoW was much more like this. Remember the old saying "tank dies: healers fault, healer dies: tank fault, DPS dies: his own damn fault". Also they know that one of the criteria of flow is "a sense of personal control or agency over the situation or activity". They are fully aware that your avatar being killed because another player failed is very much not fun. They simply look at the other side too: the bad player. Currently the bad player who wiped the raid has excuses (jungler didnt hepl me ffs) or even honestly unaware of his fail (the raid technically wipes when the healers run out of mana because of high avoidable damage). If the design would be changed to "you failed, you suffer", not only the bad players would not have fun (being dead while others playing or being lvl 4 when others are geared 18 is not fun), but they would be made aware of the fact that they are useless. Sooner or later, the bad players would quit, denying revenues to the game companies.

Half of the players must lose in PvP and players must wipe for weeks in PvE or they run out of content. The game designers merely found that the better players are more invested in the game, so they are less likely quit if they are frustrated. So they design the game in a way that bad players - who are responsible for group defeat - are having fun, while good players bear the weight of the fail. In this setup, the good players venting their frustration on the bad ones is simply unavoidable. Remember: the bad player is a griefer in their eyes, someone who hurt their teammates more than an AFK-er.

Finally, the most evil part: why don't game companies limit toxicity by removing chats and replacing that with emotes? This way one could communicate "mid lane missing" with one click but couldn't communicate "you are the worst carry I've seen, uninstall the game you damn noob". Game companies only punish racist, homophobic and similar insults, but turn a blind eye on insulting the playing abilities of the other. Remember, I was never banned from WoW after years of calling others "morons and slackers" (I was suspended once for calling them "worthless animals"). The game companies know that they made you mad by giving you horrible teammates and mechanics that punish you for their mistakes. They won't stop doing it, because they want the money of the bad players. But they want yours too, and you won't give them if you ragequit in frustration. So they give you a simple way to cope with frustration: you can call the other player names, as long as you don't cross the line of "isms".

Hell isn't other players. It's the game companies. However, if you go through the process of creating a strategy where the jobs can be defined and every fail can be attributed to someone, you can still play. It just shouldn't be this hard.

It seems I'm travelling with this "world 4-5K guild" level. I'm just worried about my ilvl as the bosses give nothing.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Weekend minipost: killing blow

Since my girlfriend was busy raiding on an alt with her guild, I didn't form a heroic raid, but joined one. Then another. And another. Most of the heroic raids just fail. But after two hours of hopping:
Yep. 4 people alive and the killing blow as my lava burst. Also, I got heal #1. So happy me.

Especially happy for my progress:
4300 guilds are about 80-100K raiders. Out of 10M players, that's stable top 1%. Not bad without having a guild and raiding only with randoms.

Unfortunately Brackenspore lived because they didn't listen to use 3 tanks. The add just killed tanks and people were calling the overwhelmed tanks idiots which ended in the expected way.
PS: how did Blood raiders get on this kill?
PS2: I believed it to be RMT success. But then commenter informed that it was genuine moron.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Weekend minipost: SOLAR away

After comments on the November CFC reports I looked into SOLAR activity and they reinforced the statements that SOLAR are no longer flying with CFC elements. It seems their disgusting cooperation with the Evil is ended and they regained their freedom thanks to Phoebe. They also abandoned their space when CFC did. The CFC loss report will be redone, excluding SOLAR and associates. Their highsec wars are no longer funded. The ratting report is unaffected as SOLAR had no Sov.

I also looked into The Initiative, but found that they still fly with other CFC (many of their kills have other CFC elements on it) and their typical targets are CFC targets. So, despite the Evil betrayed them and tossed their Sov away, making them "NPC trash" they spitted on, they still serve the Evil.

Same for RvB, I see no reason to assume that they are no longer fighting for CFC in highsec.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Fish, egg, flesh and lot of morons

One of the changes in the latest expansion of WoW is that you no longer cook fish. You first gut the fish, getting flesh. This is needed, because fish comes in 3 qualities, small, normal and enormous. Each give the same flesh, but in different quantities. Gutting the fish takes one click per one batch (5 enormous, 10 normal, 20 small).

Today I went and bought 130 enormous Abyssal Gulper Eels for 12G each. That's 1560G. I gutted them and got 553 flesh. I sold them for 4G each, 2212G. That's a nice profit for a few clicks that literally anyone could do. Except morons. They can't do anything.

However, the story isn't over. There are daily fishing quests, requiring fish eggs. When you have the quest and gut fish, you get the usual amount of flesh and some eggs. If you have more than 10 eggs, you get no eggs. However if you list your 10 eggs on the AH, you get eggs again. As I listed eggs as they came, I also received 195 eggs that I could sell for 8G each, 1560G total, equal to the price of the fish. So I made 2200G pure profit without any skill or effort, on the expense of morons and slackers who buy their eggs on the AH.

As more and more competitors show up, the egg market is winding down. In the glorious first weeks I could sell an egg for 20G. It shows two things: M&S seem hopeless and that free market is their only hope, as the competition of sellers will finally drive the flesh and the eggs down to fish cost + some % profit.

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