So we’re bribing the tanks now
Posted by Rem on April 7, 2011
Blizzard finally caves in and pulls the Oculus maneuvre. Remember how all the whining about getting Oculus in the random dungeon finder abruptly disappeared when they added a small chance at getting a rare mount from the end boss, but only on random runs? Remember how the dungeon itself didn’t become any less annoying, but the complaints stopped anyway?
Now we get Call to Arms, which is supposed to do nothing other than bribe people into tanking dungeons. Much rejoicing to be expected from those who long ago suggested that tanks and healers are shiny and special and thus should receive special rewards compared to those filthy damage dealers who are totally exchangeable and surely contribute nothing to the success of a run.
The Oculus experience shows that this can work. Since WoW distilled itself down more and more to a purely reward oriented game, people will do everything for a reward. I would expect queue times to become shorter indeed. Not sure how much shorter though – or at what cost. It seems obvious that the club of “wanted to jump queue”, “wanted to help a friend jump queue”, “wanted to try tanking, can anyone tell me what rotation to use?” and others will get a new member in “wanted to get the mount lol”. The whole thing is about as bizarre as the demand for Blizzard to “fix the tank shortage” itself, because what’s happening here is that people who don’t want to tank or heal are being bribed into doing it anyway.
Are you happy running with a tank who doesn’t want to tank and a healer who doesn’t want to heal? Remember, their class had the spec for that role before, but they weren’t using it. Now they are. Not for the experience or because they’re interested, but for the mount. Exaggeration? Look at it this way, if you are a damage dealer and your queues became half as long as they used to be thanks to Call to Arms, that technically means that there are twice as many tanks and healers now. Which means that 50% of those available are doing something they don’t like, aren’t really interested in and consequently are probably not very good at. 50%. And that still leaves you with a 15-20 minutes queue.
The problem is not that tanking and healing are not rewarding – they are already more rewarding due to the high horse you automatically get placed upon, instant access to everything you want included. The problem is that most people find these roles boring, and not without a reason.
Healing goes from this nerve-wrecking experience with barely being able to keep people alive while going stark OOM to a ho-hum process of hardly having to do much within a few weeks of gearing. There’s only a brief period of time during which it feels “just right”, when it’s challenging but not exhausting, when you make interesting decisions rather than going through the motions or hectically jumping all over the place. And let’s not even talk about being forced to stare at little green bars for all eternity. Or actually let’s talk about it, but not now, because it’s too large a topic in itself. Healing is broken, fundamentally. A rare drop mount won’t fix it.
Tanking fun scales inversely with gear. Always has, because tanking gear is not exciting. Oh, being highly survivable is exciting. But you never know or feel what’s effecting it. When a damage dealer gets a higher crit chance, bigger numbers pop up more often on their screen and their crit-response procs trigger more often. When a tank gets more survivability stats, well, they can pull an additional mob. Which is why tanks end up overpulling, because it’s the only way to still get the kicks. And then the aforementioned healer suddenly goes from “ho-hum” to “oh my god, what just happened!?” and no one is really amused. And let’s not even talk about Vengeance.
The entire age old concept of the Holy Trinity is to blame. It comes in with the foregone assumption already that damage dealing is the “fun” role, and then introduces two other roles and offers them a Devil’s Contract: you’re going to be really good at This Essential Thing, but in return your damage MUST be rubbish and your play style WILL often be boring. Ever since, and Call to Arms is a great example, developers are mostly busy trying to coax players into signing that contract, rather than addressing the rubbish and boring parts.
Many people already enjoy many aspects of tanking and healing. Many more people could be encouraged to those or equivalent roles if the promise was interesting gameplay rather than inalienability. Everything else is merely a band-aid.