Thursday, February 19, 2009

Power players and rule players

My recent post addressed a touchy subject of class vs. player. This time the class which I so readily deemed as the cream of the crappy players was Deathknights, because the recent PUGs I've been have been dominated with them. It's no wonder since DK's are the flavour of the month ever since the WotLK hit the shelves. After all, it's the new class and it starts from the high level right away.

The earlier source of the crappy players was Hunter class. The reason was pretty obviuos: hunter was -and as far as I know still is- probably the easiest class to level, being able to tank and dps at the same time with the proper pet and generally the most soloable class in the game. At least when compared to the beginning classes anyway. Of course, Paladins were the flavour of the month earlier, but honestly speaking, they seldom caused any problems in PUGs by stealing aggro from the tank. Instead, they caused more trouble in the healing ranks and loot, as Blizzard so generously added +INT and +Spellpower PLATE in the game.

In the previous posts discussion it was mentioned time and again that it's not the class that sucks, but the players playing them. And I wholly, totally agree. As the end game instances are designed more in the lines of "bring the player, not the class" ideals, the player part should come more important in the grouping, too. But as the levelling has been made faster, smoother and even more soloable, the game is actually removing the only tutorial it has: the current levelling game in WoW is single player content, where you should be learning to play the class and play in group. By speeding up the levelling so that the beginning toon overlevels the instances and improtant content, Blizzard has removed the tutorial to the grouping. 

Which leads to the interesting dilemma with the raid content: it has to be dumbed down so that the average Joe has even the chance to experience it. And at the same time the earlier raid content is trivialised and generally forgotten as content, instead of making at least part of it mandatory -or prerequisite- to the new end game content.

This wasn't what I started to write. Content part follows.

In pen and paper RPG's there is a proper name for the current WoW min-maxing players: Rule Player. That means the players that know the rulebooks better than the GM running the show, knows the strengths and weaknesses of all monsters and encounters in the game way before they are entered into the scene and know the best possible gear and only look for it. Tobold actually mentioned that the main interest for majority of p&p RPG players is "the game being more about minmaxing your character through his adventures, to make him stronger". That is the way of the Rule Player, not the roleplayer as such. Roleplayer goes by the flow of the story and things happening to the character, naturally trying to strenghten her/his character on the way.

WoW has steered the MMORPG into the swamp of different playstyles, and is actually encouraging the Ruleplaying part of the game time and again. As a matter of fact, I just watched my son play yesterday and saw this in it's brutality.

My son and his friend played earlier on a private server. Fun server that is, giving them lv70 on the first or second kill, giving Illidan farming rights with purchased gear. Well, they had fun in there, as they could play together. When 3.0 hit the game, the was removed (yes, I know that the private servers are working again) and they had a problem.

It was removed when my son's friend got half a year's subscription as Christmas present. So he rolled on the same server as my son. My son has played a hunter for sometime now, on a couple of servers and he's really testing the possibilities of the class. I would even say that he is a good hunter, not because he's MY son, but because he gets invites to instance groups he has been running before. We discuss the roles of the classes from time to time and I help him with the best of my abilities to find the information he's looking for.

But his friend is the extreme case of rule playing. He also rolled a hunter. He knows jack about hunters except that his cousing told that it's the best class. He seeks for the information about the 'best talent build' and goes with it. But he never learned to play that build. He seeks the information about the best possible gear at the level range they are and -quite obviously- steals them in the PUG's they run. He's the classic -oops- kind of ninja: "Sorry, it was a mistake... but I'm wearing it already".

Guess which has the better gear?
Guess who gets more instance time?
Guess who gets compliments and who gets the shouts?
And I bet you can guess which one of them will be prepared for raiding when they hit the end game.

The funny part of this is that my son feels sorry for his friend, who thinks he knows it all but hasn't experienced any of it. He's trying to keep his friends feet on the ground, but his friend just has his head full of his own expertise that he cannot see the truth.

Sadly, I see more hunters and deathknights like my son's friend than the likes of my son. And that really is scary when thinking about the population massing to the high end of the levelling.

Soon there will be no way to have challenging instances with the lots of these attitude jerks.


spinksville said...

I wonder if all computer games reward minmaxing, because the best way to do things has already been programmed in?

And now that you can just look up all the information without ever having to work it out yourself .... yeah. I think there are a lot of players around like your son's friend.

In a tabletop game, if players thought of something really cool that I hadn't predicted, I could adjust the enemies and the story to tell a better story. A game can never have that much freedom ;/

Crucifer said...

IIRC, the actual name for players who min-maxed in Tabletop RPGs was 'Rules Lawyers'; so named because they knew the rules back to front and would often twist them to suit their own agenda.

Interestingly enough, I do think that D&D, the grandfather of all Tabletop RPGs, now actually actively encourages min-maxing, and there is a similar encouragement in WoW.

Cap'n John's Blog said...

A few years ago I went to a Games Workshop convention with a friend and his teenage son. While my friend wandered off to look at the Golden Demon exhibit, his son and I took part in one of the giant tabletop battles. There was something like 40 people, 20 to a side, facing off against each other in a huge game of WH40K, Space Marines vs Tyranids.

40K was not my game so while I knew the basic rules, I had very little idea of how to actually get the most out of my Marines. My opponent, however, was your classic Rules Lawyer who took great delight in eating my Marines. Literally. When I charged a Hero model (he looked a little stronger than the regular Marines) into melee combat with a giant Bug my opponent insisted that he was allowed to make a roll, which he naturally passed, and my model got eaten before it could even attack.

At another point my friend's son looked over and asked my opponent why he'd rerolled his Saving Throws versus my attacks. He claimed it was because the Tyranids' had the equivalent of Power Armor which allowed for a Saving Throw.

My friend's son informed my opponent that rule had been changed, and although he feigned ignorance, the look on his face clearly showed he knew exactly what he'd been doing: Taking advantage of an inexperienced player and using the rules to his own benefit.

Copra said...

Actually, Rules Lawyers are a sub-group of Ruleplayers, and are most devoted to (ab)using the rules as whole. The min-maxers are another sub-group, specializing in getting the best gear, buffs and so on.

There are several sub-groups in the ruleplayers... or at least were way back when I was active in the pnp roleplaying. When G.Gygax was still The Guy and Siembieda's Palladium system was regarded as blasphemy...

The question is, though, what is the point of winning a game where there is no set winning conditions or cheating to win and gain a scalp?

Why does the min-maxing become the main aim in a game where the levelling is actually more dependant on levelling than having the coolest gear?

Cap'n John's Blog said...

We have, unfortunately, bred a generation where winning is everything.

It doesn't matter if you win or lose, it matters if I win or lose.

Second place is the first loser.


I'm reminded of a story I posted on my Blog a while ago...wonder if I can find it to link here.
Yup, here you go.