A solution in search of a problem

If you were awake this past weekend, you probably saw the news that in WoD, there are a few design changes that will ultimately culminate in the requirement of a silver medal in the Proving Grounds before you can randomly queue for a Heroic 5-man instance.

That is an outstanding solution for a problem that we don’t actually have.

Let me quantify this with a pie chart. 


I think I’m turning Japanese


Let’s let the blue part of that chart represent the number of times I have had difficulty in a random Heroic5 because somebody in the group was incapable of playing his or her class. Let the red part represent the number of times I have had difficulty in a random Heroic5 because somebody in the group was an asshole.

I think you’re starting to get the picture.

Now, I immediately point out that data is not the plural of anecdote, so my personal experience is not by definition the experience others have. But I will also point out that no man is an island ((Also, no man is a woman. Whatever either of those mean.)), and we all share an experience here, so what I hear from other players can be used as a guide to help determine if I’m whistling in the dark here ((To continue the folksy idioms – I got a case of ’em on sale!)).

Well, the majority of what I see people complaining about online – other than the forums ((Don’t’ read the forums if you wish to retain your soul.)) is assholes.  Or, rather, if they’re complaining about the person not performing, it’s because that person is being an asshole. Or otherwise coupled with the person being an asshole, in some way.

Well, assume Blizz is starting small. Let’s have a look at how the poor performers break down.


Domo Arigato

The red part is people that are complaining about poor performers as an excuse for their groups’ failures.  The blue part is those people which would see improvement in their Heroic5 experience if only a silver medal was required for entry into a random Heroic5.

Okay, I’m full of shit and making those numbers up out of whole cloth, because I really don’t need a formal survey of the forums to form an opinion on this.

Of all the people having problems with randoms of any sort now, performance is rarely given as the cause of the failure. More times than not I’m reading about the seven healers that are left after all the DPS prima donnas left because they felt like effort was something they would like to avoid, and the tanks left out of disgust at that, and the healers are busy discussing who gets to be the biggest martyr this time ((I play all three roles, so I don’t wanna hear any sass.)).  It wasn’t performance. It was personality.

I really don’t care at the meta level. I’m not running random Heroic 5s, not because I don’t think people know how to play, but because I’m fed up with assholes.  And nothing Blizz is doing here is going to change an asshole’s opportunity to make LFD an unholy shithole of gaming society ((Still better than forums.)).

When Blizz comes up with social controls on trollish behavior, I’ll be more interested. 

Meanwhile, Blizz is wasting time and resources on something that won’t make any difference.  They could have done that on the dance studio and at least made people genuinely happy.

Posted on February 23, 2014, in Broken promises and shattered dreams, Game mechanics, Geek culture, The future is scary. Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Imraith Dos Santos



  2. You’re right, it’s not a problem -now-. I get the impression that this has been released as a way to curb said assholes faux rage that people who boost to 90 will somehow be ‘bad’ at their class. Though, that would mean that Blizzard is being proactive and when has that ever happened?! πŸ˜›


    • @Neri,

      Usually, Blizz has some sort of actual server data to back up the design change. I’m not sure where they’re coming up with this data in this case. It’s unlike them to move on something purely anectdotal.


  3. You really need to write more posts so I can marvel in your ability to find the Achilles heel of every discussion and take it down with a well-placed thwack πŸ˜€


    • @Godmother,

      The reason I don’t do that more often is that I rarely have that sort of insight – right or wrong!

      You should see my graveyard of regrettable posts (unposted). It’s not a pretty sight.


  4. I know he traditionally does some verious dubious things with data and designes experiements that “prove” his theories when all they do is prove the visible result, but Gevlon had a nice little LFR from May 2013. First he looked at the dps distribution curve (http://greedygoblin.blogspot.de/2013/05/i-told-you-its-not-normal-distribution.html) and found that there are two populations, the majority doing a reasonable damage level and a smaller group dealing very low damage.

    Then he cross-referenced damage-dealt with gear level (http://greedygoblin.blogspot.de/2013/05/who-are-second-group-of-players.html) and it turns out that the sub-group with rubbish dps were generally well geared players that weren’t bothering to try hard. My anecdote is that I have been grouped with some of the characters that he called out and know that they are not conductive group-happiness.

    Of course, that is raid based, and a couple of low ability players won’t scupper your plans (but rude, aggressive kicking and poor behaviour will). 5 mans on the other hand, especially at the start of an expansion can be undoable if you have a tank/healer that can’t do their job or a couple of damage deficient dps.


    • @Dobablo,

      I hate to say that his “data” agrees with my “theory” on this … but it does, sorta kinda.

      That being, nothing about requiring a silver medal would have improved that raid of his. Technical skill != raid suitability, or Heroic5. And no, I don’t think the difference between raid and Heroic5 matters in this very specific case; people behave poorly despite the audience, though traditional troll behavior DOES favor raids for the larger audience. πŸ™‚

      I’ve often held the same theory that a well-crafted Heroic is at least as difficult as a 10-Raid to execute properly, due to – as you note – the thinness of the ranks, and the singular load they carry. The same has been stated with regard to 10 vs 25, to be met with derision. Even Blizz (if I recall) has downranked that argument a bit. I’m not sure why the two don’t correlate.


  5. How old will the expansion be before the “You sure you got a silver in PG bro?” comment is uttered?

    The solution to the asshole problem should be a multiple-choice quiz akin to the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam that lawyers have to take before getting admitted to the bar. It’s not a pure right and wrong quiz, but has different degrees of rightness or correctitude. In the end, if you score high enough, you can use the group finder. Here is a simple, sample question:

    The tank dies for the second straight time to the same easily avoidable boss mechanic. You:

    a) Yell something racist or homophobic at the tank
    b) Tell everyone good luck with this loser and drop group
    c) Offer the tank advice on how to avoid the mechanic
    d) Quietly drop group and hope for better luck next time
    e) Whisper the healer so he knows it’s not your fault the group has wiped twice.

    If people get reported too many times, they lose the ability to queue until they pass the test a second time.


    • @Yngwe,

      I really have my suspicions that the same people that manage to sleaze through the Silver trial to get in, will also sleaze through the MPRE-ish exam.

      The problem is not that they don’t KNOW.

      The problem is that they don’t CARE.

      As long as they can get through the gates by lying, they’ll do so. It would seem that the only way to avoid this scenario is to not give them the opportunity to lie. No matter how that would be implemented, I doubt Blizz has the deft touch and subtle understanding of the problem to make a workable and sustainable solution.

      They could surprise me, though. After all, in 2003 I had serious reservations about a derivative MMO based off of a popular RTS property, and look where that went.


  6. This is absolutely great, absolutely priceless. I could not stop laughing all the way to the bottom, Salute


  7. Your entire premise is faulty. Dragging out Matticus’ line again (which is rapidly becoming my favourite line about anything, ever):

    “Lots of the freakout is taking future expansion plans and applying it to the current game.”

    That was said in regards to the upcoming healing changes but it pretty much covers ALL WOD DISCUSSION ABOUT ANYTHING.

    In MoP, heroics were EASY. You could have 3 underperforming players and succeed wonderfully. You could have a ret pally “tank” the place and as long as the healer was half-decent, you’d be fine. PG: Silver was definitely not a requirement for MoP heroics based on completion rates and where the failures came from.


    Heroics will again be HARDER. Performance will again be a requirement that, to a degree, determines success/failure. Assholes will still be assholes but while the vast majority of failures today are caused by people, THIS WILL NOT BE RETROACTIVE. It’s coming in WoD for WoD-era problems.

    And no, this won’t solve 100% of the problems that’ll be coming but it’s a decent first step and even if it improves 5% of the runs, that’s worth doing. It’ll also identify poor performers as slackers and not just ignorant or new, that they’ve actually DONE silver in that role on that toon ensures that. You won’t have to feel guilt when calling someone out for poor performance that they might just not know what they’re doing.


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