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Member Since 29 Mar 2011
Offline Last Active Nov 24 2015 05:48 AM

#4540158 Scripted PvP

Posted Bigmoran on 17 November 2015 - 02:20 AM

I was originally going to post this article on Skill-capped. After some deliberation, I decided it would be better suited for AJ. I needed something meaningful for my 1000th post on this website. Even if you don't read this entire post, try and think about what you REALLY value in PvP. Consider what makes you happy and what makes you feel rewarded. The future of WoW PvP rests in the ability not to create balance, but instead to make the game into a rewarding and enjoyable experience.

I've mentioned countless times in threads and on social media that WoD PvP feels scripted. My attitude is not uncommon. Plenty of other players have also expressed feelings of redundancy in gameplay. Overall, enjoyment of PvP seems to be at an all time low. While quantification of player satisfaction is often difficult to guage, the drop in sub numbers--down to a point in which Blizzard will no longer report them--suggests that less and less people are enjoying World of Warcraft. The goal of this article is to show how the scripted feeling of PvP and the lack of rewarding gameplay has contributed to the growing sentiment that PvP is not nearly as fun as it used to be.

What IS the Script?

I should first explain what I mean by 'scripted.' In order to do this, consider how a script works. A script is a series of relationships between conditional statements. A conditional statement is a simple if, then relationship. Here is an example of how this 'scripted' PvP paradigm might play out in an arena match:

-If the enemy Mage uses Polymorph, then I will use Counterspell
-If the enemy Mage is Counterspelled on Polymorph, then I will use Polymorph.

While this may not seem damaging at first, consider the fact that nearly all of the important decisions we make during an arena game revolve around this algorithmic way of thinking. For every enemy action, there is an optimal player reaction that is determined by the 'script' of PvP. For every matchup, there is one optimal strategy. This makes winning feel significantly less rewarding and meaningful. The script makes arena wins feel less like an experience full of ingenuity and creativity and more like persistent, monotonous labor. If you know exactly how a game will play out, your experience will ultimately suffer.

As an aside, there is one thing that we often shake our fists at in PvP. Although we tend to hate RNG, it is the only thing that interferes with the normal operations of the script. Consider an arena game where two teams perfectly matched. They have exactly the same gear, play on the same latency, and have the exact same strategy. Assume that either team will try its absolute best to score a kill while preventing deaths of its own teammates. Under these conditions, what would determine the outcome of the match? It would have to be RNG! If one team gets a series of critical strikes or multistrikes at the right time, it will allow the match to deviate from its harmonious scripted balance. I should add that RNG (and specifically critical strikes) actually contribute to our enjoyment of the game. Oftentimes players will suggest removing crits from the game. Doing so would be damaging to our enjoyment of gameplay. While it may seem meaningless, scoring critical strikes is one of the most intrinsically satisfying elements of gameplay. We love seeing the big numbers. We are enamored by our own ability to deal damage that lights up as slightly bigger font on our screen. I am not kidding. Big numbers feel better, and in a game we are wanting to feel good.

Holinka's Pacing Argument

Recently, PvP developer Brian Holinka posted on Twitter that the average length of games during the World Championships was five and a half minutes. Loosely veiled behind this metric is the idea that PvP is improving because the duration of tournament games is getting shorter. It is true that spectators want shorter games. During Cataclysm and especially during Mists of Pandaria, many players argued that tournament matches were exhausting to watch. It was quite common in MoP to see two wizard cleaves battle it out for 10-15 minutes in a series that could potentially last five games. All in all this provided for a very boring viewer experience.
The problem with this argument is that the pacing does not matter if the match itself is painfully predictable. If you carefully watch the final series between SK-Gaming and Skill-Capped, you can see just how repetitive the game is during its 5.5 minute average duration. Every 30 seconds, Skill-Capped's RMD does the following things:

-Uses either Bash or Cheapshot on SK's Warrior
-Cyclones SK's Warrior
-Kidney Shots SK's Shaman (the kill target)
-Deep Freezes SK's Druid
-Polymorphs SK's Druid

While there is some degree of variance to how this setup is executed, the fact remains that every 30 seconds the RMD is doing exactly the same thing. So in a five minute game, you can expect the same exact thing to happen over and over and over until SK-Gaming makes a mistake or Skill-Capped falls to the attrition of dampening. And by all means, I'm not blaming either team for playing the way they do. For the most part there is no flexibility with either team's strat. I had the opportunity to talk to Healingstat (Skill-Capped's Druid) and I asked him why they never tried to kill SK's Warrior despite him sitting in Battle Stance for the majority of the game, sometimes without a PvP trinket. His reply was that they had played thousands of games against each other and that the 30-second setup strat on the Shaman is the only strat the consistently works. In other words, deviating from the script of going Shaman is utterly futile. There is no point in playing creatively because it does not win games. (I should add that I also heard that Boetar raged at Joefernandes for intervening a Blind because he "didn't know what to trinket." If there is anything that grossly reinforces the script, this is certainly it.)

Bring Back Reward

Of all the things that threaten WoW's ability to remain the most successful MMO of all time, its the fact that the game itself feels unrewarding. While I feel like the script has definitely contributed to this, there are numerous other examples in which gameplay itself does not feel like a rewarding experience. One instance of this is the conversion of many abilities into passive perks and set bonuses. Nature's Grasp was removed from the game and instead turned into a set bonus connected with use of Barkskin and Ironbark. Cold Blood was also pruned and converted into the four piece set bonus for Assassination Rogues. The real damage of pruning is that it left many of its removed abilities into mechanics attached to other spells. Two abilities became one. Two globals became one. Passives are not fun in virtue of being passive. You do not actually perform them--they just happen. Mages don't look at their Flameglow reducing damage and say, "Man, this is awesome!"

Another gross example of unrewarding gameplay is the conversion of many hardcasted damaging spells into instant cast burst abilities. Ice Nova is an ability that not only removes 50% of your root control, but also tunnel visions gameplay into managing two charges of a boring spell. Casted spells always feel better than instant casts. Hard casting involves risk and should result in high payoff. While I do think the class has some deep seeded balance and design problems, Destruction Warlocks are a perfect example of well-balanced risk/reward. Chaos Bolt is a long cast time that deals large damage. When it successfully lands, the Warlock feels like they have done something that required diligent effort. Compare this with the feeling of using two Ice Novas. There is little to no risk (outside of breaking CC). The ability is pressed and the damage is dealt. End of story.

The Hybrid Problem

While this has been an important point of discussion for ages, something needs to be done to address the strength and role of hybrid DPS in matchups. Hybrid healing was gutted for Balance Druids, Shadow Priests, and Elemental Shamans but still remains a problem for Feral Druids, Enhancement Shamans, and Retribution Paladins (perhaps WW Monks to an extend as well). These physical DPS classes are able to provide instant cast heals to themselves and their partners and are able to maintain high damage AND healing throughput over the course of a 3v3 match. There is no good reason that an Enhancement Shaman should be able to do 20k DPS in a game while also doing 10k HPS.

Some Nostalgia

Although he is one of the most controversial posters on this site, Bilian's PvP video continues to be one of my favorite PvP videos of all time. The RMP clips remind me of a time where gameplay was creative and each player made unique contributions to scoring kills.

#4535352 Blizzcon

Posted Dills on 07 November 2015 - 01:01 AM

No1 wins in wow u only lose slightly less

#4535187 Blizzcon

Posted Lloix on 06 November 2015 - 11:31 PM

Just here to say rmd is clearly too strong, and xonika is a huge faggot.

#4535184 Blizzcon

Posted Lolflay on 06 November 2015 - 11:30 PM

View PostXonika, on 06 November 2015 - 11:06 PM, said:

im actually quite nice but i think your a disgusting twitchchat bot now fuck off

You have the personality of a pop diva while on bath salts and meth, tldr you're a little arrogant shit, now shut the fuck up and speak only when you have something to say that isn't calling someone a retard, telling someone to kill himself, or telling someone to fuck off whenever they say something that you don't agree with.

#4533843 Constructive criticism

Posted ROKMODE on 04 November 2015 - 07:28 PM

game and forum is so dead that not a single US disruption to this disgusting EU circlejerk here

#4530963 blizzcon championship thread

Posted Lloix on 31 October 2015 - 12:06 AM

View PostMarshmellow, on 30 October 2015 - 11:44 PM, said:

babymichael is what happens when one of Maldivas Filipino prostitutes forgets to take her after morning pill

It's a morning after pill ya virgin!

#4526160 Former ESPN and NFL Network CEO joins Blizzard to Head eSports Division

Posted ROKMODE on 22 October 2015 - 08:13 PM

Me visiting this site has absolutely nothing to do with me having hope for this game. I think this game is a miserably boring piece of shit, and that pvp is a cesspool of watered down fundamentals that were once far more crucial to individual skillcap.

I visit this site because, contrary to popular belief, pressing f5 and typing short posts on a daily basis is not a full time job.

#4474682 Wow legion worth coming back to?

Posted denialz on 13 August 2015 - 05:42 PM

I have come to that "absolute" conclusion by looking at the so far released content, the game is still following the ridiculous alternate universe path because Guldan is still alive, the game is relying on our nostalgia of the good days of BC, and sure the pve component might be okay but I highly doubt after all the pruning of skills, dumbing down of the pvp game and reliance on instant damage/high uptime, that they will suddenly revert it.

#4474676 Wow legion worth coming back to?

Posted denialz on 13 August 2015 - 05:28 PM

They are not going to change the game back to its original style, the casual friendly nature of the game has already taken root, the pvp is all instant based, because they gave melee perma uptime/extremely high mobility and it takes an eternity for people to die including horrible players. You can get away with all manner of mistakes and still survive/reset.

#4518408 has wow ever been this bad?

Posted Bigmoran on 11 October 2015 - 09:04 AM

Dillypoo said it perfectly.

Balance wise, yes WoW has been worse. Holistically, though, WoW is at its absolute worst. I have no incentive to actually enjoy the game to its fullest potential. I don't know why this is. I actually think removing PvE gear from PvP was partially to blame for this. I remember in BC, WoTLK, Cata, and half of MoP, I would actively queue LFR or join groups for raids. While it seemed like a chore at the time, it really diversified what players did with their time. Now I just /afk and spam real-ID LF partners who apparently don't exist anymore. The game doesn't feel nearly as immersive or rewarding as it did in the past. It's literally just a ladder grinding, rating flaunting, ego flexing shitshow where all the competition is gone.

Also, this was from another thread and it blows my fucking mind:

Posted Image

#4517988 has wow ever been this bad?

Posted Freshqtz on 10 October 2015 - 08:50 PM

Typical scenario for me over the past several weeks:

Come home, log on bnet, see that 30 people are on. Click on friends list, jk only like 3 out of those 30 are actually in wow, everyone else just afk in bnet or hs.

Maybe the game isn't as awful as most people say but it's pretty damn awful in terms of overall interest and activity in the current state of the game.

#4508610 Why do you guys take WoW arena seriously?

Posted Speedymart on 28 September 2015 - 07:28 AM

Hard to change a decade of habit

I literally grew up with this game, starting like a month before TBC pre patch. I've seen the game go from pure joy to absolute trash. I -want- to continue to play. I really do. I love playing with my friends pwning some noobs and just generally having fun.

I did the same thing in cata, where everyone I knew includding myself quit because the game just wasn't fun. I came back for MoP and enjoyed it even though I got perma banned twice. It's friends that make this game worth playing.

Ever since WoD Beta I knew my class was going to be an absolutely nightmare to play, but had hope for prot and it was fun as hell. Then they nerfed it two weeks into the season and I was forced back into one of the most boring specs every concieved.

Then I proceed to queue up and not play for half of every match. I mained last season as WMD, one of the absolute worst comps that you could play. We had to play every match perfectly, with a single mistake almost always turning into a loss. Every match needed to go like a flow chart, with one step out meaning disaster.

While we're playing blitz chess the enemy is playing uno with savestates. Watching people make emberassing mistakes and win like nothing happened just because it's RMD or shatterplay puts such a bad taste in your mouth that you can only take so much before japanese shit porn looks tastier then the garbage that blizzard is putting out.

I want to enjoy the game like I've done for the majority of the last decade. The game balance can be absolutely awful, but as long as my class is enjoyable to play and I have friends to queue with, I'll keep playing. Right now I haven't logged on in over a month and let my sub finally expire as I never updated my payment method from a card expiring.

I'll play legion 100% just to see if they fixed anything; and when it becomes obvious they didn't give a fuck yet again I'll probably be done for good

#4508175 Why do you guys take WoW arena seriously?

Posted Jim_Jim on 27 September 2015 - 06:57 PM

View PostBalanceRexxar, on 27 September 2015 - 06:43 PM, said:

this plus selfies

Posted Image

#4508061 Why do you guys take WoW arena seriously?

Posted user_543622 on 27 September 2015 - 03:21 PM

Should add "overcompensating for failures in real world" or "healing complexes" as 90% of the people do it.

#4466594 WoW Down to 5.6 Million Subscribers

Posted roastys on 04 August 2015 - 09:01 PM

shit we are gnna have to start going outside soon