Highly Rated Post: Competitive Gaming

Arenas
1 2 3 13 Next
Highly Rated
There's a summary at the end for those of you who don't what to read the whole post. Now onto the topic.

Competitive gaming. It has become quite a big thing over the last few years and I'm confused as to why blizzard hasn't made much of an effort to make wow into a more competitive game. This game has gone from a former MLG game to the laughing-stock of pvp.

In this post I intend to outline some of the things that make competitive games and what changes blizzard could make to the game so that we could see a reemergence of this game as a E-sport.

1. Interest: Well Designed Game Mechanics And Uniqueness

This is probably one of the biggest things hurting wow. In cata we saw an abundance of class homogenization which in general, reduced the level of interest. It is far more interesting to watch how different play styles can go up against each-other than to watch 6 people who have essentially the same abilities compete. This is, perhaps, one of the reasons that we have seen games like LoL be so successful. There is a wide variety of champions all with very different mechanics so that many different play styles are viable.

Although WoW does have a variety of classes, the newer mechanics which were implemented to create easier balance and introduce a philosophy of "bring the player not the class" have failed. The balance is not much better than it was when classes were drastically different and the amount of people that watch the game has drastically decreased. At any given time on popular streaming sites, WoW is one of the least viewed, well known games simply because it has become far less interesting to watch than it once was. Different play styles are not nearly as viable as they once were and most competitive players are reduced to playing cookie-cutter comps and playing in standard, boring ways.
Highly Rated
2. Skill: What Once Was

The biggest problem here is probably the horrible design of cost-benefit. Let's compare the current game state to that of WOTLK (I'm talking about late season 7/season 8). Now there is an abundance of instant-cast, low cooldown disables that are easy to use with very little down-side. in WOTLK most CCs were either on long cooldowns coomparible to their duration, or required casting.

Looking at some specific examples let's use Smite and Freezing Trap. The current state Smite is one of high risk. This is fine but its reward is not paralleled with this. To cast a smite means staying still, and opening up your holy school for lockout. If used at an incorrect time, casting smites can be punished easily. Smiting used to be one of the fundamentals of priests. If you weren't Smiting then you weren't putting out the pressure required. Now, however, the benefit of smite is so low that it isn't worth casting. The decision aspect has been completely removed because it is always a better decision to just stick to healing. These kinds of mechanics make the game far more boring and don't allow a player to display their game-knowledge in knowing when to smite and when to heal.

Freezing Trap has, in my opinion, been completely ruined. Formally one of the best designed CCs in terms of counter play, it has now been reduced to another instant, low risk CC. Let's examine it's old design. It had an arming time which adds counter play in that other players can try to "eat" the trap when it was intended for, let's assume, a healer. This allows deep levels of counter play on both sides. The players trying to stop the trap would have to position themselves properly, and react quickly to a potential trap setup. The hunter could try to counter these maneuvers by using their pet abilities or synchronizing other CCs to limit the options of their targets. Using these abilities may not be optimal at all times because it may be better to save them, but using them when it guarantees the CC, could be a huge benefit. This is the kind of mechanic that allows better players to really differentiate themselves from the average player.

Now let's examine its current design. You shoot it and it instantly freezes them. The only thing that you have to do it aim it properly, which you had to do before, anyway. There really isn't much risk in throwing it out now, and worse yet, there's very little counter play. A far better design is to implement systems that have large costs for large potential rewards and low costs for low rewards.

Many other abilities have had their risk greatly reduced and their effectiveness reduced as well. This is the kind of thing that reduced the skill cap of a game. Making something easy to use but less effective when used well, makes the gap between the good and bad players smaller. This also results in a reduction of viewership. Many people watch pro players because they can do things that most players can't. To make reference to starcraft: people love to see marine splits against banelings. This is something that is hard to do and most casual players can't do it. This is something that brings people to events to watch (obviously not the only thing but you get the idea). If starcraft were redesigned with better A.I. so that marines split themselves but did 50% less damage, although it would not nessicarilly result in a balance issue because a buff were accompanied by a nerf, it would result in less amazing moments in game. It lowers the gap between the average player and the pros and makes for a less interesting E-sport.

A comparable scenario to this in WoW, is vanish. I used to love seeing rogues vanish death-coil. It was interesting and really displayed the skill of the player. Now if a player vanished death-coil I'm very unimpressed because the ability still affects them. The reward was reduced when the risk was reduced, once again, lowering the gap between the average-Joe player and the pros, making for less of a spectator game.

To summarize, the more of a skill cap there is (the more pros can do to separate themselves from an average player) the more watchable a game becomes. No one watches the Olympics to see the same level of athleticism that Bobby down the street has.
Highly Rated
3. Accessibility: Playing 10 Hours a Day to Stay Competitive is Fun, Right?

Another big issue with WoW is it's pvp accesibility. To compare it to DOTA, WoW requires far more grinding, a subscription, and luck, to remain optimally competitive whereas DOTA is free, you enter with all the same gear options as your opponent, you don't have to level characters just to enter a game, and there is no luck in acquiring gear.

This accessibility makes many other games have a bigger pvp fan-base. I know that there are many people who do not engage in pvp because they do not want to spend 4 days in BGs getting stomped by more geared players just so that they can enter an arena and have a chance against other players. They also enter into arenas playing people that probably have far more experience than them and end up losing a lot, which deters them from continuing their pursuit of pvp.

If people aren't entering pvp they aren't likely to enjoy watching it and this hurts the potential for a game to become an E-sport. This problem can be rather easily addressed. A year-round tournament realm setup would allow new players to enter into pvp without having to spend days to weeks grinding gear in un-fun ways. A ladder system more like that of starcraft would allow new players to quickly be placed against opponents of similar level to them (I'm referring to the league system where you play 5 placement matches and are placed in leagues such as bronze silver gold etc. This allows new players to play against new players right from the get-go and prevents the discouragement that comes along with being placed against players that have more experience. It also allows better players to get high rated without playing 100+ games). Granted, WoW may not be able to adopt these exact systems, but I don't think there's much harm in making the ladder similar.

TL:DR

The reduction in skill-cap, the lower accessibility of WoW compared to other games, and a reduction in interesting and unique game-mechanics have reduced WoW from a former MLG game to a very low viewed game. An alteration in all of these fields would help in shifting WoW back towards its potential as an E-sport and would, in general, help pvp become more competitive.

If you agree with the points being made in this post, please like, comment, and spread it around to keep the thread alive.

Edits: Updating some out of date points.
You're so hot right now. Likes on all posts.
Agree on all accounts. I enjoyed my Feral in BC more than in any other expansion because of how unique it was. I had a very unique interrupt (the old bear Feral Charge) which was changed to the cookie cutter "Kick". My defensives consisted of barkskin, bear form tanking and enraged regen. Now I have "Shield Wall" and only go bear because Might of Ursoc puts me in bear automatically. I liked having to switch to bear form to bash. Our mobility was amazing and still is, we never needed "Shadowstep" to stay on top of people, Bear charge was doing just fine (you could argue "that's just like warrior Charge, but at least I'm shifting to different forms which is what being a Feral meant to begin with, not just sit in cat form all day). Just took everything that was unique about my class and threw it out the window and then proceeded to compensate by copy/pasting from other classes.

Just want to clarify I'm not complaining in any way shape or form on the current state of Feral PvP right now, simply the uniqueness of my class.
I disagree on grinding. Wow is one of the easiest games in terms of grinding, it's incredibly easy and everything's handed to you on a silver platter. It's unfair to compare an RTS or whatever you want to categorize dota as, to an mmo like wow.

The problem is that Blizzard refuses to stop progressing the game. Every expansion, it's more, more, more. For example, back in BC, yes things were "simpler," but that's what made skill more important. If you messed up, you most likely lost. You did not have god mode CDs to pop to get kills, you had to set up, anticipate, and outplay opponents often times. Things were dumbed down. A good example of being dumbed down is warriors. Warriors actually used to have a high skill cap, now it's incredibly low in comparison. You used to have to stance dance like a madman at times and actually think about what's going on. The other day, I (a moonkin who's been 2350 this season) lost to a warrior that literally trinketed pounce to start off the game, charged my shaman and proceeded to pop every single cooldown he had in the first .5 seconds of the game. That's not fun, that's not skillful. They need to remove abilities, not keep adding all these new ones.
fully agree, less homogenization, more of a gap between short, small cooldowns and large, powerful cooldowns. also if you think about it, 5 min intimidating shout, 10 min bubble, etc all made arena matches end faster, because you didnt have stupid mechanics like second wind in 2s where you can kite until shield wall is back up, or something.
Too long didn't read. WoW's competitive days are over, Blizzard will never have this game in good enough shape to be an esport again. Period. If you want a competitive game go spend 16 hours a day practicing SC2 or learn to play LoL.
Too long didn't read. WoW's competitive days are over, Blizzard will never have this game in good enough shape to be an esport again. Period. If you want a competitive game go spend 16 hours a day practicing SC2 or learn to play LoL.


Translation: "I'm not going to read your post you obviously put time into, but I'm going to reply as if I did anyway."

Genius.


Now you're getting it. I'm just like Ghostcrawler.
Sweet post. +1

12/04/2012 05:47 AMPosted by Vesthis
disagree on grinding. Wow is one of the easiest games in terms of grinding, it's incredibly easy and everything's handed to you on a silver platter.


I have to ask though, what is point/value of grinding(regardless of difficulty)? Especially if you're looking an equal playing field/competitive game??

I'm fine with people wanting distinction (T2 gear or w/e...xmog could fix it), but grinding just seems like a time sink. The game play should be compelling so that you to want re-sub, and not "We'll throw these guys in a hampster wheel and make bank."

I think you can have progression without having to upgrade stats...but that's just me I spose.
I don't know. I came from FFXI, which was an incredibly grinding game. The entire game was a grind basically, even at max level. So wow doesn't phase me as much, but I used to have a ton of fun grinding. Getting max level meant I had tons of stuff to do, as far as heroics, 10 man raiding, questing, dailies etc to develop my character into something to be proud of. Yes, it's a video game, so maybe I shouldn't think of it that way. But right now, gear is just so easy to get in my opinion. I really miss the rating system, and feel it would have helped increase arena participation, too. Casual players have no reason to improve if they think they cant get 2200.
12/04/2012 07:29 AMPosted by Vesthis
But right now, gear is just so easy to get in my opinion.


Ah fair enough. I'd personally beg to differ, but that's more to do with me lol. I'm one of those can't sit still/small attention span types lol.
Agree with 1 and 2.

3... I don't know that a constant tournament realm like that would be the best. I think the ladder system we have now is more or less fine. It would be nice if they did something to help the gear gap, though. The penalty for not starting at the beginning of the season is enormous, and that just doesn't seem right.
At the end of the day this game is balanced around pve aspects first, they spend alot more time on pve.

Tournament type of games are pvp type of games first, not pve, people never baught starcraft or warcraft series for pve content.

Maybe one day blizzard will change course and focus on pvp way more, or add a hardcore pvp focused expansion with different types of maps, fixing the av and ioc that everyone has thumbs down'd and dumping the pve orientated battleground maps of racing to kill npc's, fixing the botting problem that plagues bg's, the low arena participation rates because most won't crack 2200, etc, and I think that truly will happen one day, even though it's been years, when the lifespan of this game begins to wind down I think they will try a pvp xpac more and put out a better type of pvp product out, but until then..
Yup. +1

Bring back TBC-style pvp. Rdruid vanish is dumb!
12/04/2012 07:29 AMPosted by Vesthis
I don't know. I came from FFXI, which was an incredibly grinding game. The entire game was a grind basically, even at max level. So wow doesn't phase me as much, but I used to have a ton of fun grinding. Getting max level meant I had tons of stuff to do, as far as heroics, 10 man raiding, questing, dailies etc to develop my character into something to be proud of. Yes, it's a video game, so maybe I shouldn't think of it that way. But right now, gear is just so easy to get in my opinion. I really miss the rating system, and feel it would have helped increase arena participation, too. Casual players have no reason to improve if they think they cant get 2200.


There are ways to implement methods of progression without making grinding a requirement to be competitive. Cosmetic upgrades have been added to many games. When we look at games like starcraft, there are a variety of cosmetic upgrades that can be grinded off (portraits/decals etc.) without making it mandatory. This just seems like a far better method of rewards. It would prevent people from hating the game because they get destroyed as soon as they enter a match while still giving people something to strive towards.
Agree with 1 and 2.

3... I don't know that a constant tournament realm like that would be the best. I think the ladder system we have now is more or less fine. It would be nice if they did something to help the gear gap, though. The penalty for not starting at the beginning of the season is enormous, and that just doesn't seem right.


A constant way of entering with a level playing field is pretty mandatory for most competitive games. This what we've seen on things like Arena-Tournament and it's quite successful. Other games like starcraft allow players to do this as well. It makes it far easier to re-roll and makes non-blizzard tournaments easier to run with a high degree of fairness. It's good for a competitive game and unless you can justify some down side it seems silly not to implement it.
At the end of the day this game is balanced around pve aspects first, they spend alot more time on pve.

Tournament type of games are pvp type of games first, not pve, people never baught starcraft or warcraft series for pve content.

Maybe one day blizzard will change course and focus on pvp way more, or add a hardcore pvp focused expansion with different types of maps, fixing the av and ioc that everyone has thumbs down'd and dumping the pve orientated battleground maps of racing to kill npc's, fixing the botting problem that plagues bg's, the low arena participation rates because most won't crack 2200, etc, and I think that truly will happen one day, even though it's been years, when the lifespan of this game begins to wind down I think they will try a pvp xpac more and put out a better type of pvp product out, but until then..


This is probably the biggest thing holding back WoW. There is, however, a market for this game as a competitive one. E-sports has many branches (moba,RTS, FPS etc.) but the one that has been missing for quite some time is an mmo. Other games like guild wars have had some good competitive philosophies but have failed in their game mechanics. WoW has a good chance to seize the market and make something out of this game. They can't do that until they make some changes to the way they design their game. I don't see how it would be a bad business decision to add features that would promote this game as an E-sport.

Join the Conversation

Return to Forum