incentives for playing the game

So, when the new 5-man “call to arms” system was originally announced a few days ago, a lot of people got upset. Mostly, the upset people (at least on twitter) seemed to be DPS who couldn’t tank or heal. This leads me to believe that the “call to arms” will be a somewhat effective reward, since the rewards contained in the sachel are highly motivating (at least enough to upset people who can’t get it).

Add to this the more recent announcement that the rewards will be Bind on Account (BOA),  and you now have rewards that may drive people to play on their alt tank (to transfer rewards to their main) once their main no longer needs the gear from the instances (gear is still a stronger motivating reward than pets & mounts overall).

Blizzard uses incentives every day:

Video games are really designed using behavioral psychology principles, where people will work very hard for salient rewards even if they are rare. So, everything Blizzard does in designing WoW is to figure out what incentives they need to give us to play their game. These incentives come in the form of: gold, gear, tokens to redeem for gold & gear, vanity pets, mounts, experience that advances your character, etc. Then, they set up a guild system that allows you to bond socially with other people and thus you have player-created incentive systems to encourage their friends to keep playing (ie. why I like DKP point systems better than loot council or free-rolling for 25-man raiding).

Thus, giving the rewards to encourage people to play less-desired roles in 5-mans is actually a really awesome idea at a conceptual level. It should ideally have the result of increasing the number of people who sign up as tanks or healers. It makes me think more about wanting to level up my tanking alt so that I can tank for groups if needed. The entire point of BOA rewards is to get people to roll alts, or to play on their existing alts, to help bring down the queue times for the 5-man instances. In this regard, I think that Blizzard’s attempt at bringing incentives to playing less desired classes is a smart attempt to fix the problem, since Blizzard has never found other ways to fix the imbalance of roles (in raids, the social incentives work well for getting other players in your guild to change specs or roles, but that doesn’t work so well in a random dungeon world with no social rewards).

The problem Blizzard can’t solve:

Now, just because it’s an effective reward doesn’t mean it will make running random 5-mans more “fun”. The social rewards of playing the game with people we like and get along with is probably a stronger motivator than a low chance to get a mount. So, people who normally run with their guild have rewards that are more salient than the satchel (ie. they can just run the old instances with their friends for the mounts from their original drop locations in the first place).

These types of issues (and more) were brought up by R4HT’s blog post about why he didn’t think the LFD incentives would work. The problem is that Blizzard can’t add social motivating factors into the game (the “vote kick” system is really the closest proxy Blizzard could build, and it doesn’t seem to really have worked).

If people in the PUG groups keep being nasty to each other, then people will have a reason to want to avoid running those PUG 5-man instances. I’m not sure anyone can stop other players from being jerks, so long as those players aren’t actually doing things that blatantly break the rules. However, if we were all nicer to eachother in 5-man instances, and we changed the culture of the LFD system, then we could make those instances a better place for everyone involved. So, when you go into a 5-man instance, try to be nice to your tank & healer or other DPS players. Being mean to other people just makes the game less fun for everyone. Blizzard can’t change the social dynamic of instances, but we (as a playerbase) can make things more fun for ourselves.

When you go into a random instance, try starting with saying “hi everyone, nice to meet you,” like you would if you were meeting people for the first time in real life. A little kindness can go a long way in improving everyone’s day.

30 Comments

  1. Posted April 8, 2011 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    Great post! I am excited that they decided to make the rewards BoA. I still would like to see them make it so you don’t lose out on a chance for these rewards if you run with guild members.

    Also, I do agree that until the enviroment of LFD gets better, people are still not gonna have an incentive to do them.

    • Jonathan
      Posted April 12, 2011 at 8:46 am | Permalink

      “I still would like to see them make it so you don’t lose out on a chance for these rewards if you run with guild members.”

      This would kind of defeat the purpose. If you could run it with guild members to get the rewards, nothing would change as tanks would continue to run almost exclusively with guild groups.

  2. Tinkertoytank
    Posted April 8, 2011 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    So there I was…a small lvl 19 Dwarf Resto Shaman. My LFD que pops and I happily join, everyone shares a nice small greeting as we grab our quests and head off into the dungeon 0 problems. Well we get to the last boss and everyone knows “Kill the Ghouls” right? Wrong, I had a bit of a problem with the Tank/Dps not killing the ghoul adds + not avoiding the AoE. The group wipes and the blame stick passes around which I try to tell them as nice as possible “Please kill the adds and avoid the AoEs!” 2nd wipe the Tank and a DPS call me the worst resto shaman, which on that final boss I get kicked from the group. Tbh I leveled him maybe to 20 from another quest after and haven’t touched him since :(

    I wish people would understand that not everything is as easy as pie, we all haven’t played healers, we all don’t know our class mechanics (unless you’re 85 then I hope you would know!). Just because you have BoAs doesn’t make you the overlord champion of the game (this isn’t PvP), well that’s my rant/complaint :D

  3. Ben
    Posted April 8, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    Solution to pug bad behavior – make lfd for 85 heroics server-specific. Seems like no reason not to if incentives work the way they are expected to. People are probably going to be nicer when its people they may want to raid with someday, and if they are likely to see them again. If things are still bad, worst case you won a list of people/guilds NOT to raid with :)

  4. Galashin
    Posted April 8, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    Except people interpret any criticism at all as “not being nice.” Posting DPS for a non-gimmick, non-interrupt fight, and then adding “Please do more damage than the tank” is apparently far, far too much to ask. Doing so again after the second boss is harassment. Daring to suggest kicking someone who still can’t do more damage than the tank three bosses in a row is elitist.

    Never mind that people expect tanks to hold aggro, or healers to keep people alive–those healers and tanks aren’t allowed to expect DPS to fill their role adequately in return.

    The best way to improve LFD is to rid the community of the notion that heroic 5man content is the birthright of all 85 toons. Everyone should ask themselves the following question: were the other four players to perform at the level I do (be it due to lack of gear, lack of skill, inattention, disinterest, or any other factor), would the run succeed without undue hassle? If the answer is no, don’t queue. If you’re not willing and able to be an asset, don’t expect four strangers to happily cover for you.

    Given that the rewards are BoA, it seems likely that there will be more tanks in LFD, sure. I fear, however, that the likely quality of said tanks will be sorely lacking. When you choose to motivate people with greed, they’re going to cut corners.

    • Ben
      Posted April 8, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

      otoh, for people who are just concerned with time, it will remove all the crappy tanks who just wanted a shorter queue time but really shouldn’t be tanking.

      • Galashin
        Posted April 8, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

        How exactly do you figure that? Even with this change, DPS still aren’t going to get instant queues–tanking will still be much shorter. Now, the “tanks” who only selected the role for a faster queue will have even *more* incentive, not less: faster queue AND extra rewards.

        • Ben
          Posted April 8, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

          we can’t know for sure until the system is in place, but they stated that the reward will be available any time queues are longer than a few minutes. so with dps times going from 40 minutes to 5 minutes, someone who doesn’t know how to tank won’t be as tempted by the instant queue. for myself, if i’m gearing up an undergeared toon, i’d take a 5 minute stress-free dps run over an instant queue rough tanking run, even with the extra rewards, since i don’t care about gold or mounts.

          so yeah, i’m not saying it will definitely be better, i’m just saying that it won’t definitely be worst :) can’t know until we see it

          • Galashin
            Posted April 8, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

            It can’t guarantee DPS times go to 5 minutes. It’s that the system activates if any queue is over “a few minutes:”

            “Any time the Dungeon Finder queue is longer than a few minutes for level-85 Heroics, the Call to Arms system kicks in and determines which role is the least represented.”

            That is, if the DPS queue is 40 minutes, tanks (assuming they’re the least represented) will start to get the bonus. That does not mean in any way that DPS queues will be under any given amount, just that, in theory, more tanks will queue, leading to shorter DPS queues in general.

            Say there are 15000 DPS waiting and 1000 tanks queue per 10 minutes. That would give the 15001st DPS player a queue of 50 minutes (grossly oversimplified). Let’s assume the bonuses even get three times as many tanks to queue–so 3000 per 10 minutes (still with enough healers). The 15001st DPS now has a queue time of ~16 minutes.

            Better? Sure–but it’s not 5 minutes, even with what I take to be a very generous assumption on the increase.

          • Lissanna
            Posted April 9, 2011 at 10:38 am | Permalink

            Yeah, the queue times will still be pretty high even after the change. I think the 15 minute range is probably about where this change will re-adjust queue times to.

  5. Posted April 8, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    I actually did not read about the BOA announcement until I read your post. I had already commented on a few posts on other wow blogs about the limitations and benefits of Call to Arms but the BOA factor really excites me. I for one have no interest in running a heroic purely for a (very small) chance at a rare mount but if I could run it on my prot pala alt and then transfer it over to my main that would be very enticing. Let us hope the system works and is not exploited by dpsers trying to heal or tank without experience, gear or skills!

  6. Maor
    Posted April 8, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    “I think that Blizzard’s attempt at bringing incentives to playing less desired classes is a smart attempt to fix the problem, since Blizzard has never found other ways to fix the imbalance of roles”

    I can’t agree that this is a smart fix. Mainly because it’s not actually fixing anything, it’s just trying to get more people to do something that they don’t really necessarily want to do because they might get a few extra shineys. The real fix may not be possible, or out of the scope of what the game can reasonably be changed to, but that doesn’t mean a bad fix should go in.

    I also don’t think that this is going to have the desired affect. There have been enough “This sin’t going to get me tanking” posts that, while the queues may get a bit shorter, it’s not going to be anything where people will stop complaining about queue times. Or they’ll bouce back to what they were as people who tried tanking figure that the current carrot isn’t worth it.

    Honestly, maybe it’s time that Blizzard add an Heroic heroic mode for people who form their own groups. The rewards would be slightly better (somewhere between raids and heroics now) and the LFD system runs of heroics like we had back in Wrath.

    • Lissanna
      Posted April 8, 2011 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

      Well, I did call it an “attempt to fix the problem” with attempt being a key word in the sentence. :)

  7. Triplet
    Posted April 9, 2011 at 12:31 am | Permalink

    The “rewards are highly motivating” is IMO false, and can lead tanks/healers to actually be worse off by participating in this system and boost/motivate DPS if you think about it. Please read through my post before flaming or trolling me:

    Things in the satchel:
    1: Things you can buy with gold, or just gold. Whatever sum of Gold the satchel provides can easily be farmed faster than running an instance
    2: Cosmetic items. The mounts in the satchel have the same drop rate as the mounts in instances. All of the listed mounts can be farmed faster solo, and typically faster than running a PUG instance (I did 67 attempts before I got my Raven Lord, and back when the cap was 80 I could do my daily run in < 15 minutes). You also get the benefit of targeting what you want

    Things not in the satchel:
    1: Valor points. Blizzard specifically says they had no intention of including this. Tanks already get valor points faster since our queues are shorter, so I have no clue what the difference is in including these. There is a weekly cap after all….
    2: Purples. Really? No equipable gear? Come on, at least include BoA gear.

    Major Points to Consider:
    1: If you are a Tank / Healer, you are actually BETTER OFF queuing as DPS and working on your Arch. That way you get cosmetic items that are MUCH more rare (see Tol'Vir bug mount), equippable BOA items that actually improve your chars, and more gold from farming while you are in the queue. The incentives for queueing in the new system are WORSE than waiting it out.
    2: You have to queue SOLO. Really? This is an MMO, we have guilds, friends, spouses all who have alts and want to run. You seriously mean I can't take ONE other person with me!!! This alone is enough to trash the entire system.
    3: While in the queue you can do 25 daily quests, farm HK's in TB, gather raiding supplies, farm gold, and work the auction house. If you manage to do all of that and you are still waiting on a queue, you can do real life stuff such as watch a movie, cleanup your media library, write comments on people's blog, etc.

    In Summary:
    1: The incentives for the system are worse than simply queue'ing DPS and working on Arch.
    2: You can't bring a friend
    3: Once people score all three mounts or whatever they want out of this system they will stop using it and the problem will just return

    Recommendations:
    1: Valor points, because they are capped and it doesn't matter, and it would help offset the Hybrid tax. By letting you get gear for your main spec and off specs slightly faster.
    2: Bring at least one friend or guildy for company
    3: Make the valor point reward increase the big the queue is (5 valor points x each minute a DPS has to wait in queue)
    4: Compensate DPS for each minute they are trapped in a queue (yes, it needs some safeguards to prevent abuse)
    5: Everyone with the ability to Tank automatically gets a THIRD spec that is locked to said tanking spec
    6: Fix the broken Kick system, because DPS are going to get people with little tanking experience and really high gear scores because their main spec is not tanking (picture equipped 333 iLvl tanking the new 4.1 instances because their DPS set is high enough to let them queue and they want their new bracers)
    7: This is a long-stretch, but let people build their own parties region wide (across realms) using people in their real-id friend list. I would gladly tank or heal for some n00b co-workers on other realms which effectively removes them from the DPS queues. I'm not transferring because I've been on my server for five years, and they are not transferring because they rolled near other real-life friends or family before we met.

    I respect that some people are excited about this system or the are already tanks/ healers and are excited about the additional rewards. To those of you in that position, great, but consider asking blizzard for something more. They are smart and can come up with something better than this.

    • Lissanna
      Posted April 9, 2011 at 10:36 am | Permalink

      My fiance wants BOA gear in the bags so he can run on his tanks and then send the gear to his army of alts.

    • Jonathan
      Posted April 12, 2011 at 9:03 am | Permalink

      “Valor points. Blizzard specifically says they had no intention of including this. Tanks already get valor points faster since our queues are shorter, so I have no clue what the difference is in including these. There is a weekly cap after all….”

      This would only exacerbate the issue. If I’m Valor capped for the week already because of Call to Arms, what incentive do I have to do any more Heroic dungeons?

      • Posted April 12, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

        Jonathan asks:

        “If I’m Valor capped for the week already because of Call to Arms, what incentive do I have to do any more Heroic dungeons?”

        If you’re valor capped from running CtA, then the system did exactly what it was supposed to. It got you to tank (several) heroics.

  8. Posted April 9, 2011 at 2:50 am | Permalink

    I’m not so sure about these. Although I am glad they made them bind on account the chances that I will queue as a healer (on my main) or as a tank (dk alt) are very slim. I would love it if they made it to where you can *at least* queue with more than 1 person. I’ve had my fair share (as many have) of crumbly pugs and the perks offered by these bags just aren’t enough incentive to get to queue that much on either character.

    I have found in lower level dungeons (at least when my alt who is a priest ran dungeons) people were VERY nice. Always saying hello when they first joined (I try to do that now on my 85s in pugs :D!) it was always reassuring, for some reason even if we wiped. I think there idea of a fix is a start, not really a fix in itself but a start none the less … I just hope they think about it and develop it a lot more before the actual patch release.

  9. Atanae
    Posted April 9, 2011 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    Every single pug tank I have encountered has been obnoxious, rude and downright abusive (my favorite was one pally tank yelling (Druid, give me a F******* Mark!) just as I zoned in. I spent the rest of the night refusing to vote-kick an underperforming DK ONLY because the pally tank kept wanting it. It was delightful to see the tank completely lose his temper.

    However, I don’t need this kind of drama in my life. There’s no amount of reward to compensate for rude tanks and DPS and heals who come in undergeared and incapable of playing their class (like the hunter who refused to trap the pit vipers). I don’t care if I get a 100% chance on raven mount or if Blizzard decides to give tanks and heals their very own Deathwing mount, I’d rather run with my guild and have fun than deal with the immaturity and foolishness of pugs.

    • Lissanna
      Posted April 9, 2011 at 10:35 am | Permalink

      well, it doesn’t have to motivate everyone. Like I said, the social motivators are still a really strong pull. So, people who only run with guild members probably won’t be drawn all that much by the new system (since the social rewards of having “fun” > mount).

    • Galashin
      Posted April 9, 2011 at 11:48 am | Permalink

      Great. Punish the healer and third DPS just to spite one guy being obnoxious.

      If people are being rude, /ignore solves the problem–mutes them for the run, and you won’t get them again. If people are unwilling or unable to pull their weight, your only choices are to hope the kick system will let you drop them (and that’s if the group is even willing to hold said player to a basic, minimal standard of gameplay) or drop yourself.

      If anything, the vote kick needs to have most restrictions removed. Require either the first boss to be dead, a wipe, or the kick-ee being AFK/DC’d (or out of the instance for 3-5 minutes), plus a majority. A short personal cooldown (1-2 minutes), just so people can’t spam it every 5 seconds. Then deal with the harassment issues as the game’s mechanics intend: report, resulting in official sanctions. When people start getting banned, there won’t be as many harassing. When people unwilling or unable to pull their weight get kicked every run, people won’t be so jaded about using LFD in the first place.

  10. Wynn
    Posted April 10, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    Only thing that makes me sad is I’ve been farming the raven mount since it went in we talking 100s of runs now tanks are going to be riding my dream mount

  11. Wysp
    Posted April 11, 2011 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    Let me say that I was a huge proponent of the LFG system when it first came out. As GM, we even snagged some new capable raiders from other servers who transferred after successful grouping.

    BUT…the bloom is off the rose.

    As a player with two raiding lvl 85 healers (with a newbie alt priest — going for that healer trifecta) I don’t forsee this changing much in an already problematic system. I’ve run in cross-server pugs where the tank went AFK immediately after we zoned in and we were unable to kick. I’ve run in groups with dreadful performers (both tanks and dps) who you couldn’t vote kick because there was a limit (“this player cannot be removed from group for 2 hours”– reaaalllly? On a toon that pulls less than 3K dps in a heroic and stands in fire despite coaching?)….members of our server are offering pretty substantial gold to tanks and healers JUST for a shorter queue. I now run my daily heroic with guild, or not at all. It’s just not worth it. The new “Call” isn’t enough to entice me. Not even for a chance at meeting potential recruits. :)

  12. paperclip
    Posted April 11, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    I think one of the problems with the LFD systems in the social sense is people have different expectations on what the experience should be like. This is obvious just from the comments here. Some people expect a speed run where everyone knows exactly what to do and others are expecting a more relaxed experience where its ok to mess up an try again. Neither option here is wrong, but when you randomly mix the players, everyone is frustrated. Perhaps a better match making system than just role (and gear level?) is required.

    As far as the tank incentives go. I would think that most players who are excited by mounts/pets would already have the farmable ones. Maybe not. Either way, I agree it will initially draw out less qualified tanks making the DPS queue times shorter, but the overall time from queuing to completion longer and more frustrating. Of course, the incentive isn’t given unitl completion, so over time I expect it will balance back to its current levels as those unqualified tanks realize they can’t make it to the end to get the reward.

    • Galashin
      Posted April 11, 2011 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

      At the end of the day, you can’t possibly know what another player’s goals are. The only logical thing is to accept and limit yourself to the sole existing external goal: completing the instance. That doesn’t mean a 15 minute clear. It doesn’t mean a wipe is unreasonable (or two, or a couple). It doesn’t mean everyone has to know the whole instance backwards and forwards already. It doesn’t mean everyone has to be wearing 359 epics, or even all 346 blues.

      It does mean to leave any of your other personal goals at the portal–if you want a run tailored to something more specific, you should no more impose that on random strangers than they should impose their secondary goals on you. It does mean that each player should perform their role adequately. So the next question: how to define adequately.

      Certainly, there’s an argument for a definition of “as long as bosses die.” However, I note that given a group of four solid players, the fifth could be flat out AFK on follow and bosses would still die–did that fifth player perform their role adequately?

      The absolute minimal step up, then, is to define “adequately” as “in such a way that, should the other four group members exactly match your performance, the sole external goal would be achieved.”

      That is, a damage dealer repeatedly providing only 4k DPS is guilty of violating the inherent social contract of the system. Likewise a healer whose only methods are “let all the DPS die to unavoidable damage, but keep the tank alive for 10 minutes” or “keep everyone alive through unavoidable damage, but run out of mana in 30 seconds.” Similarly a tank who continually stands in the zone of instant death. It makes no difference if the cause is lack of gear, skill, interest, or attention.

      For myself, I note that gimmick encounters aside, a tank should hold aggro and position mobs appropriately to avoid avoidable damage. A healer should be able to keep DPS alive through unavoidable AoE, while avoiding avoidable damage. The tank and healer should collaboratively be able to mitigate/heal the tank’s incoming damage for a duration directly related to the minimal requirement on damage dealers. DPS should distinguish themselves from the tanking role, namely, by doing more damage than an average pug tank, while avoiding avoidable damage. All players should have a rudimentary knowledge of gimmicks such as CC, interrupts, and dispels–enough to handle such assignments on request. All players should be able and willing to identify encounters with which they do not have experience; conversely players should be able and willing to give a brief explanation of encounters with which they do (often, but not always, that explanation is simply “nothing special–get out of fire, kill adds, kill the boss”).

      Of course, “completing the instance” is fairly wide open. Even in a run in which every player meets the minimal standards I mention, what if four players go AFK for 5 minutes after each combat? The instance would be completed, and each participant would have performed their role adequately during combat, but I doubt many would consider the eventual death of the final boss as an overall success. I recognize that even my attempt to codify absolute minimal reasonable expectations still leaves gray area.

  13. Wynn
    Posted April 12, 2011 at 1:52 am | Permalink

    I was thinking about it a rating system would go a long way. I mean if people could see how many complete heroics or something on armory I think would make people want to try. Maybe Xbox lives star rating system.

    • Jonathan
      Posted April 12, 2011 at 9:37 am | Permalink

      I’m at work and can’t check since the armory is blocked from here, but I’m reasonably sure that you can, in fact, see that information on the armory. I mean, there’s been a Facebook app that posts boss kills and loot drops that you get for ages and I have to assume that it’s pulling that info from the armory.

  14. Thursdaylast
    Posted April 12, 2011 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the post Lis. It’s great to see someone of caliber saying things that amount to: try to be a decent human being. =+) For myself, I stopped pugging 5 mans in LFG long before I stopped needing gear, because of both the consistent nastiness and the consistent baddness. I think another dimension to consider in your post is that second problem: The badness. Often I see OP’d players farming valors or JPs with a new/undergeared tank or healer. So instead of going all “OMG I’m OP hold aggro better you failtank!” or “I’m a 359ilvlmage trying to tank because I’m so cool why don’t you heal me better you failhealer!” How about taking a little time to teach instead? Ask your tank to mark, let him use CC if he wants, let that new healer only have to worry about his tank and chill out on your aggro. It’s faster to take your time in the instance than it is to leave and have to wait to re-que. And in the process you’ve made someone that much better at their job.

  15. Sno
    Posted April 14, 2011 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    I’m very disappointed at the way some people abuse the anonymity of the dungeon finder just to feed their twisted egos. I think that one way around the PUG behavior issue, could be to introduce a rating system for players. Those who consistently get down-rated for their negative behavior in PUGs could be faced with a one-week stand-down period or similar.

  16. mushu
    Posted April 14, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    This will be fail imo. Blizz isn’t trying hard enough because they will put more time into and effort something else that makes more money for them. This change will encourage ALL baddies to grab their unplayed tank alts and start queuing for heroics…thus making the overall experience bad for EVERYONE. After two wipes on a boss that’s because of a tank, and yes I know if it’s tank or healer or dps, I will votekick the tank. And there is going to be lots and lots and lots of new votekicked tanks after this patch…. :( But in the short term it may help queue times for dps since most will stop queuing after a couple days of fail tanks. I only LFD pug heroics when I can’t get a guild group and I’m almost at the point to where I no longer need VP so soon I’ll stop pugging completely. This is self-defeating for Blizz because all of the “good” players will not be using LFD and that leaves who? The bad/undergeared/noob players, and who wants to pug with them?

    inb4 someone cries about eleetism..

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