Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Playing to win.

I like sports. Well, some sports. I like football (proper football, mind you - not armoured rugby on a stopwatch), I enjoy the National Hockey League (go Devils!), I follow Le Tour dé France religiously every summer. And obviously, like your average glutton-for-punishment-sports-fan, I take sides. I enjoy watching "my" team win, and I get discouraged by seeing "my" team getting outplayed. It's about dignity, you know?

For me, it makes no difference whether I play my druid, my priest, or a class I've never played before, if it gets the job done. This game is first and foremost about progression and competition for me. To throw your question backwards: I do not get any pleasure from playing my main in a raid - I get pleasure from being there and killing bosses. I actually specifically enjoy the concept of transcending the traditional mindset of having a single character of a specific class and spec, although the practicalities can be annoying at times.
- Xaar,

This week, several hotfixes were applied to heroic versions of certain bosses within the current tier. Among these were a change to Nefarian's Stolen Power ability, rendering it now unable to affect certain DoTs that could be held rolling throughout the fight. Several changes were made to Atramedes as well, effectively putting an end to tanking him in the doorway (which has been something of a habit in certain circles of late).

What makes these changes interesting, is that no one have actually killed Nefarian after the hotfix. The now infamous "Many druids! Handle it!"-strategy died with the "nerf" to Rip, rendering the boss now only killable through "real" damage output - which there are still, apparently, not enough of in your average top tier guild. Likewise, while the kill has been duplicated several times by several guilds post-fix, there is little doubt that Atramedes went down "too early", progression- and gear-wise, due to the possibility of negating key elements of the encounter through a flaw in the game code.

No player or guild were banned for these kills, however - unlike the infamous Ensidia incident on normal Arthas 25, these design flaws were not considered to impact encounter difficulty to such an extent that it trivialized aspects of the overall challenge. I personally disagree with this, on the Atramedes incident specifically. Negating sound values is, to me, a far more serious offence than accidentally negating the Val'Kyr drop. Why? Because the Val'Kyr drop could already be negated by a class ability (the warlock portal), while the sound values effectively plays a part in the encounters soft enrage timer. Granted, losing all your DPS and healers certainly make an effective soft enrage timer, but this is true of any encounter - not the Val'Kyr alone.

Let's for a moment head back to the world of sports, specifically the aspects of supporters, and their opinion on how things "should be". We've all seen charicature of slightly obese men wearing slightly too tight team shirts yelling "FOUL!" at the television set. Some of us read the Twitter notes, Facebook statuses and various blogs regarding the Contador/Schleck incident last year, which effectively settled the Tour over the course of 18 small seconds. And, with my target audience in mind, a fair few of you have probably read or even participated in bashing Paragon and Method the last few weeks.

Because e-sport fans are, ladies and gentlemen, the absolute worst. What hooligans settle with breaking chairs across your back, the e-sports fan will "settle" with a flame, troll or insult, often of the most degenerate kind. The word "retard" is the new "idiot", exploits are the new fouls, and guilds are the new teams. And like every losing team's supporters, e-sport fans seems to forget that guilds - like teams - play to win.

I would never bring 11 feral druids to a raid, even if I had the chance. I wouldn't stack affliction warlocks either, nor would I get all six paladins to glyph something in particular to chainstun an add. I do, however, understand why Paragon and Stars did - they play to win. Second place is, in the world of e-sports, first loser. Paragon killed Nefarian, like they did Anub'Arak, and like Ensidia did Hodir, through using existing buffs and abilities in a creative manner. It's what separates them - the performers - from us - the supporters; the ability to not only discover, but utilize game mechanics in such a manner that they ensure a win, even if they will get changed after Blizzard understands the flaw in the initial design.

It's what separates the clever tricks from the outright cheating that's the issue here. Now that Sinestra is live, and the encounter is already being tuned a matter of days after she was first available, it's more important than ever to understand the difference between cheating, clever tricks and simple skill and perfect execution.

Most of all, though - let's hope it never becomes an issue in the first place.

No comments:

Post a Comment