When good players aren’t

lantanasham made a comment on one of my posts this weekend which really struck home.

“Call me naive, but it’s recently been sinking in that a tremendous number of people who play WoW do so while: a) watching TV; b) tipsy, drunk, or really drunk; c) high as a kite; d) reading/watching videos/posting online; or e) all of the above.

In my tiny, tiny experience (~.000043% of all WoW players is my calculation), those who do so are usually the ‘hardcore’ – and frequently behave like morons.”

And I was thinking, yes I’ve seen this type of behaviour. You invite someone to a PUG or raid, you see that they’re a member of a hardcore guild or maybe recognise their name, and you think it’s going to be a great help and a smooth run. But no. They screw around. They act like a total noob. They go pull extra patrols just for the hell of it. The run is actually ten times harder because of having them there. You think, “Wow, these hardcore players are total jerks, and they’re not even all that good. They’re used to being dragged through content by having overpowered dps.”

These things are actually all true. Except that they may well be good players. Just:

  1. many of them care so little what anyone thinks outside their social group that they won’t even try
  2. some are just used to running instances in a very different way and can’t or won’t adjust. if you’re used to overpowered tanks and dps, you’re going to approach an encounter differently. A good player will adjust to whoever is in the group, a hardcore one may or may not be able to adjust. It’s simply not a skill they need to use a lot in raids.

When I was a class officer in a hardcoreish raid guild, I used to avoid running 5 mans with our guys. I often had more luck and more fun in PUGs. Because the guys from my guild would just mess around and not take the instance seriously. They got bored, so they made things more interesting for themselves. They broke crowd control because they were careless – they just didn’t care. They knew we’d handle it. As a healer, sometimes I just wanted a nice easy run without me having to think too much and not bored tanks seeing how much they could pull so they could boast about it in guild chat.

I remember running ZA back in the day with a friend who is a priest in a hardcore raid guild. He singlehandedly screwed up our run. And I know he’s a good player. It was at the point where I wondered if someone else was playing his toon (hardcore players let others do this a lot, by the way, so be careful). But no, it was just his ‘evening off’ and he couldn’t be bothered to try, just for us.

It’s not everyone by any means. Some people are just fantastic players, they’ll adjust how they behave to the level of the group. And any group taking them WILL have a smoother run. You’ll end up with an incredible impression both of the player and of their guild.

So I’m not saying never group with anyone from a more hardcore guild. Just that … you’ll often find in PUGs that you end up with people who have different playing styles. Don’t assume that because someone wears a hardcore guild tag it means that they’ll be good at playing at your level.

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32 thoughts on “When good players aren’t

  1. I can’t disagree more. The skilled player plays for playing or maybe for rewards. There is no point doing the described behaviour. If I don’t care about a 5-man, I don’t go.

    The “many of them care so little what anyone thinks outside their social group that they won’t even try” attitude is not HC. Changing behavior based on social situation sounds like a SOCIAL who got into a HC guild. He is most probably a carried “friend” who don’t raid outside of very-easy farm content.

    BTW I completely disagree that HC players let others play their character. You must be VERY social to let some friend touch the toon you invested 100+ days /played into.

    He does not get into 5-man groups of his own guild as the guildmembers know that he suck. So he is doomed to PuG, he comes there with an “I’m the man here” attitude, and blame every error to the “undergeared” teammates.

  2. I think the problem is not necessarily hardcore or, err, softcore players but the vast, twilight realm of wannabe-hardcores. *These* are the people who don’t seem to care about the instances they run because they’re only doing it anyway for the loot or the the XP, and want to get through as quickly as possible even if it means crashing through in an inept and annoying fashion.

    By the way another really interesting and thoughtful posts – I really enjoyed “How dumb is too dumb?” as well but I couldn’t think of anything to say about it beyond “I like this post” which is hardly a valuable or worthwhile comment =P

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  4. “It was at the point where I wondered if someone else was playing his toon (hardcore players let others do this a lot, by the way, so be careful)”

    Huh? What? The only people I’ve ever known to do this were in my casual guild….. it was a big problem then – even some officers allowed their toons to be played by others.

    I NEVER saw this in my HC guild.

  5. OK, my experience may be different from yours.

    I’ve known hardcore players who frequently played each other’s characters for PvP. I’ve known guilds where it was quite common for players to let officers have their login details in case they weren’t able to raid but the guild needed that character. I’ve known guilds where officers jointly levelled those resto shaman that they needed for sunwell because it was the only way they could find the people they needed.

    I know hardcore guilds on my server that specifically ask if anyone else has an applicants password and will reject applications if they do. They wouldn’t need to ask if it wasn’t common. In my old guild, we had to watch players like hawks because some of them liked to play each other’s characters when they got bored. I don’t think it’s as unusual as you do.

    Suggest you guys head off to EJ and ask how common it is for people to share passwords. And Gevlon, it isn’t always for purely social reasons. If you give your GM your password so that /someone/ can play your resto shaman if the guild needs them for a raid, that isn’t especially social.

    • Odd.

      So if we combine our experiences we can now come up with:

      “It was at the point where I wondered if someone else was playing his toon (hardcore players let others do this a lot, by the way, so be careful)”

      Viola!

    • I completely agree with spinks. In fact, pretty much every one of the hardcore players I know has explained to me how he his rommmate used his toon, his buddy started that toon, he switched toons with someone, etc.

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  7. When I played WoW I had many experiences similar to the ones you describe. I think it’s possible that many of them are the “wannabe hardcore” players rather than the actual hardcore players, but I think there was a good amount who were genuinely hardcore players who acted the same way.

    Either way, I think everyone can agree that — whoever does it — it’s fucking annoying.

  8. I think you missed a few possible answers to “Why does this guy from a HC guild suck?”. Gevlon already suggested “He’s a farm raider”, which I think is a decent answer. My first thought would be “He’s a new 80 alt”.

    Outside of their guild, you can’t see his guild rank, so it could well be the newly leveled healer alt or tank alt of one of their DPSers*. He might be great at playing his mage/rogue main, but have healed all of twice while leveling up. Or he’s never had to check the healer’s mana bar, so he chain pulls because that’s what his tanks always do in Ulduar/Naxx.

    For that matter, it needn’t be his alt, it could just be his off-spec. I imagine there are a lot of Fury/Arms Warriors and Ret Pallies in hardcore guilds who would like the chance to try tanking, and can only get that opportunity in a PUG.

    * – This isn’t a “DPSers suck” comment. It could just as easily be that he’s screwing up moving from tank/heals -> DPS.

  9. Spinks ~ My experience is similar to yours. I know alot of hardcore players that do the account thing, with sharing.

    I just had someone ninja stuff from me from what used to be a hardcore raiding guild, or at least a decent enough guild, and I was shocked.

    I think ALOT of the good hardcore players just refuse to pug, so your left with the scrubs.

    • “I think ALOT of the good hardcore players just refuse to pug”

      In WotLK, there’s no incentive to PUG a heroic or Naxx if you’re in Ulduar. Unless you want BoA Heirlooms for multiple characters, you’ll have more Emblems of Heroism/Valor (EoH/EoV) than you know what to do with by the time you’re geared for Uld25. In TBC, the Badges of Justice from Heroics/Kara could buy Black Temple gear. Sure, you needed over 100 of them, but there was an incentive to run Heroics and Karazhan in your spare time to get these badges. That incentive no longer exists. Once you’re in Naxx25 gear, all you can get from EoH are gems and Frozen Orbs.

      Whether that’s a good thing (don’t “have to” farm as much) or a bad thing (no incentive to mix with less-advanced 80s) is up in the air.

  10. I think some people act like that not because they’re jerks, but because they’re bored. I’ve seen it happen with folks I know; put them out on the edge of progression content and they’re aware, they’re focused, they bring excellence every time. Remove them from that and put them in a typical gear-up-some-friends heroic run, and they’re just bored. So they “liven things up” by doing crazy stuff, except the rest of the group isn’t at the level where they can handle the crazy stuff, and wipes and hard feelings ensue.

    As for account sharing, I can tell you that back in the days ~3 years ago where high PvP ranks were competitive and there was only one Grand Marshal/High Warlord per server per week? It did happen, at least where I play. Accounts were passed back and forth to keep them online nearly 24/7 and PvPing to get the points and kills necessary to move up the ladder toward rank 14. Not all did it, not even most, but some did.

  11. Interesting account sharing tangent. I know officers among the upper echelons of my crew in Puzzle Pirates share account information, but these are oldtimers who trust each other. I think it’s a great way for friends to cooperate and really build a cooperative venture.

    It’s actually always bothered me that such is technically against the TOS in most MMOs. It’s my account, and it should be my call whether or not to trust people with it.

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  13. I take your point, Spinks, that just because someone belongs to a hardcore doesn’t actually make them a good player. I saw this a lot in EQ2. In fact, some of the best players I ever had the pleasure to group with never went near raiding. I would easily say they were more skilled than plenty of raiders I met.

    I guess you just need to keep an open mind and judge people based on their personal merits and your experiences with them rather than any sort of tag or reputation.

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  15. Spinks:

    I think it is rude to link without giving a heads up – so here is a snippet of my linkage :)

    “…as insightful as the wonderful Spinks over at Welcome to Spinksville…”

  16. Sounds like these sorts of problems could be reduced by having dynamic content that isn’t simply memorized by script. That way when you take a ‘good’ player into your group they’ll be able to adapt to whatever you’re facing.

    It also sounds like they could be reduced by having a rewards system that doesn’t invalidate content that you have ‘out leveled’.

    • Heartily seconded. I’ve wished for more dynamic content for a long time now. Not only would it help this sort of concern, but it would help to keep the game fresh for longer.

  17. My first experience playing a warlock was actually with a friend’s warlock in his guild’s Molten Core raid. But I can hardly say that he was hardcore. Quite the opposite, actually. Like Joe Nothin’, WoW is not even a game for many people, but a pastime. Fortunately for my friend, he had a like-minded guild, because nobody even noticed that he wasn’t playing.

    If you’re doing content that was designed for people like him, you will see the behavior you described. If the content is trivial, then the reward is trivial. And if the reward is trivial, then there’s no point in playing to win. And when one is not playing to win, then it makes sense to do as little as possible to stay in the group/game.

    So the next time you hear a Sebudai-wannabe posing a rhetorical question about “How crappy can you ****s be?!!”, beware. You’re about to find out. ;-)

  18. To recap: People will play as badly as other players and Blizzard allow them to. The longer you stay in a bad PuG (even if it is with guildies), the more bad playing you’re going to see. And you aren’t getting off that hole until you stop digging.

    • That doesn’t really explain good PUGs though? I’ve had a lot of fun playing with randoms from the LFG channel. I do think my server is unusually good for PUGs (or at least it’s what friends tell me who have transferred there) though.

      • Of course, not all everyone considers WoW to be just an irrelevant pastime. No matter whether it’s due to altruism, personal “work ethic”, desire for social acceptance or any other reason, one can have a decent PuG with these people.

      • Or else some people just enjoy trying to learn their class and have fun in groups. I don’t agree that everyone would slack as much as they can get away with. Some people just don’t get their fun like that is all.

      • And I’m not saying that everyone slacks all the time. But those who don’t even consider WoW to be a game to be taken seriously do slack. And that people may temporarily be in that mindset if they’re doing too easy or too hard content (relative to their skill/gear level).

        When one is in that mindset, the usual rewards of purple pixels, the play experience itself, social acceptance, learning the game, sense of accomplishment, victory over other players etc are worthless. Because there’s nothing to be gained, they venture nothing.

        I have no problems with the newbie that’s trying to better himself. And I don’t have any problems with the “not a game” types as long as they’re not slacking off in a group that I’m in. If they are.. I’ll use my freedom to not associate with them.

  19. Skilled players goofing off has varied a lot by role:

    Tanks: I’ve never seen a tank for a good raid guild who couldn’t play an excellent 5 man. I have seen them play semi-afk with long pointless pauses between pulls at irregular intervals. Understandable since tanks are often also officers but annoying too.

    Healers: I’ve never seen a healer from a strong guild who sucked in a 5 man. I’ve seen annoying superior or smug healers but never an incompetent one even by my own rather demanding standards.

    DPS: The natural tendency of well-geared dps slumming it with randoms in a pug is to create problems for other people. To be honest I saw it more in the level 60 wait for 3 sunders days when you were boned as a tank if a dps out-geared you. Now it’s still annoying to see them overaggro and blame the tank and healer. I’ve played with a couple like that this year who’ve ended up getting the boot and everyone cheered to see them go (while they presumably ran back to their guild whining about noobs). The current dynamic is that is your tanks have the same or better level of gear you almost never need to throttle threat so there are some dps raiders in very advanced guilds who can’t manage that basic skill.

  20. Get used to bad players like these. Like the barbarians at the gates of ancient Rome they are coming to a MMO near you in increasing numbers thanks to the insatiable need of MMO companies to broaden their demographics.

    http://www.wolfsheadonline.com/?p=852

    The problem is that the quality of the player base become more and more diluted. At what point will the community are large say “enough”? The problem is that as the community keeps getting worse no one will even care. By that time good people will have long left your favorite MMO if they already haven’t left.

  21. Stabs: I’ve seen tanks do crazy pulls to show off in instances (I *coff* may also have been slightly guilty of doing it myself on some occasions). It’s not bad play, but if you’re with people who aren’t used to it, it’s going to wipe you.

    Wolfshead: That makes a lot of sense. And it isn’t just the broader demographic, some of it is just experienced players dealing with less experienced players. Or people who’ve been hanging out online for 10 years with their own idea of netiquette having to deal with the facebook crowd. I honestly feel that we’re watching the internet grow up in front of us and this is part of the growing pains.

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