Thursday, April 7, 2011

Dungeon Finder: Call to Arms - Thoughts

Looks like Blizzard has announced another new feature for the 4.1 patch. It's the Call To Arms for the dungeon finder which offers bonus rewards for people that queue as the least represented role (tank/healer/dps) to help reduce wait times.

Cool idea but I don't actually see this being a good move. I think it's simply going to increase problems I've already seen, namely, people queuing for rolls for which they're not properly geared, spec'd, or proficient.

A few weeks ago, I was healing an instance in which the tank was simply taking ridiculous amounts of damage. Crits were landing for half his total health left and right. Additionally, he couldn't hold any aggro. I inspected him to see that he dropped all his points in the prot tree, and was wearing about half pvp gear, some healing gear, and only one actual tanking piece. He'd never tanked before and only queued because he "wanted fast queues".

Unfortunately, the timer prevented us from kicking his ass out of the group so we agreed in whispers to let him pull, not heal him or get engaged in combat, and let him break all his gear and hopefully rageface enough he to drop group. It eventually worked.

While this was a pretty extreme example, I've seen it several times. People think that PVP gear = tanking gear because it has tons of stam and that tank threat = dps. It doesn't.

And it's not just tanks. When not healing, I'm very curious to see how priest healers break down their healing. Using Recount, I can see just how much of their healing is made up by what spells and I think most priests are doing it dead wrong. There's a ton out there that are still using Flash Heal as their primary heal and burning through their mana in 30 seconds. Bzzt. Wrong. Sure, you'll probably keep the tank up pretty well in that time, but you're wasting your party's time having to stop to drink after every pull. Additionally, those healers are lucky to have enough mana for longer, boss fights in which they're blowing every cooldown and requiring tanks to do the same. Big cooldowns (Lay on Hands, Last Stand, etc...) are generally considered "oh shit!" buttons. Not "my healer sucks" buttons.

Players that really don't know how to play a particular role can't be stopped from doing it, but this new system looks like it will encourage them.

In some ways, I don't mind this: Hopefully they'll learn quickly, or go read up on how to play, or someone in the group will give them some friendly tips. However, I also know from my experience both in game and out, that telling people they need to improve at something or what they're doing is wrong is something they don't take kindly too.

For example: Shadow priests have had the ability to cast Mind Sear on friendly party members since the last major patch. But I frequently see them casting it on enemies, which reduces the number of targets it will hit for an already underpowered spell. I generally remind them they should channel it off the tank if they're going to bother casting it at all (they can do more dps single targeting currently). The last time I tried this, I was met with a curt, "STFU! I kno how 2 play".

Obviously not.

Again, getting people to try out new things is awesome. It gives the game variety that will hopefully help to keep players entertained and keep playing.

So by all means, Blizzard should give the carrot of rewards gold, gear, and pet bonuses that the Call to Arms feature promises. But as with other things, there should also be a stick.

What I'd really like to see is Blizzard put in a ranking system where players were given a brief "thumbs up/thumbs down" for each member of their party after a random instance. Players that suck and get voted down repeatedly would be punished by getting pushed further down on the queue next time.

The problem with this would be that some players just have a hard time because they're not sufficiently geared. For example, a tank that is absolutely awesome, when first transitioning to heroics would likely suddenly find his rating dropping as people blame him for wipes that were simply caused by not having sufficient skill. Thus, there should be another factor: Some sort of algorithm that included the gear level appropriateness for the particular instance (and perhaps the gear type as well which could knock people for thinking that they're a PVP tank).

So while I think the idea is an OK one, I worry about the side effects. It may fix queue times, but I think it's also going to bring a lot of stupid players out of the wings and into the spotlight.

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