Thought of the Day: On elitism and speed runs

Melmoth suggested yesterday in comments that dungeon runs might be smoother if the LFD tool had an option for fast (gogogo speed run) vs slow (time to chat).

I’m wondering if there’s any way that the slower runs could become more elitist or if it’s inevitable that speed is always better. Maybe some kind of social scoring scheme based on (useful and grammatically correct) forum posts and votes from previous groupees, and some extra cosmetic rewards and titles …

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17 thoughts on “Thought of the Day: On elitism and speed runs

  1. I don’t know that the separate fast/slow queues would work in practice. You would likely get players with weaker gear or skills queueing for a fast run in order to get an easy carry or impatient players that react negatively to players in blues. That would essentially be what we have now, but with an added (and perhaps confusing) option. Composing groups with similar average ilevel gear might be an effective enough method; better gear generally permits greater speed.

    I like the social scoring idea. Recently somebody presented a similar idea on MMO Melting Pot that I liked. You could rate other players after a run and players with similar accumulated ratings would be placed together. If you play nice, you get to play with nice people. If you act jerky, you get to play with people who act jerky. Other rewards, in the form of titles, etc., wouldn’t be bad either.

  2. What would prevent someone from downvoting you after that casual run even though it was actually a good run?

    When giving jerks the opportunity to be jerks with no repercussions, they will be jerks. (As expected.)

    I don’t mind a slow run, but sometimes, there’s that expectation of being able to do a heroic in exactly x # of minutes. Sometimes, you want a quick in and out. When I used to run heroics, I’d sometimes want an extremely fast group. Other times, I’d be quite happy if everyone was a fresh 80 and steadily clearing the place. Just depended on my mood.

    • You could also design in repercussions for someone who consistently downrates others.

      I do think there’s a place for a speed setting, though I wonder how many players would actually use it.

    • Maker, you bring up two really good points about how the rating system could be disrupted by people attempting to abuse it. For a rating system to be worthwhile, there would need to be ways to mitigate the negative effects of those sorts of players.

      That said, there’s no need to prevent anybody from voting — that’s the point of the system, after all — but you can give somebody’s vote less weight if they are consistently in disagreement with the rest of the group. For example, if I get 3 ‘thumbs up’ votes and 1 ‘thumbs down’, chances are that my overall grade for the run should be better than the simple average.

      I agree, though, that it could be a problem if some players consistently vote ‘thumbs down’ on everybody. It might be worth tying the ability to kick people from the group to the degree to which their votes agree with everybody else’s vote. I’m uncertain about what other sanctions might serve as effective disincentives to always voting down.

    • One of the issues with social voting systems is that they can quite easily be gamed. In this case, imagine queueing with a couple of friends for a lot of PUGs and consistently voting each other high.

      There are some ways around this, I may post about it next week because I’ve had the experience of implementing a voting system in an online RPG. But for example, you can limit the number of times anyone votes for a single person per week, you can measure amount of time spent in instances, you can monitor the amount of chat, you can make someone’s votes count for more if they have grouped with a wider variety of people.

      The big thing you can do is actually not reward the voting either way. Just let other people see the scores and decide for themselves who they want to group with. If there’s no reward then maybe people won’t bother trying to grief it.

      (I suspect Blizzard’s answer now would be ‘just join a guild with people who play like you’, which isn’t going to help LFD much in the next expansion. I also worry that people in general have just forgotten how to play with players of varying skill levels – I know as a tank I always used to take the first couple of pulls fairly easy just to make sure everyone could cope before stepping up the pace. Now I’d prolly be yelled at if I did that.)

      • There was a voting system in a MMO a long time ago, it restricted to one player per vote on a weekly basis. What happened was people were “buying” positive votes from other players despite it provided zero incentives. In the end, it was a worthless thing and I’d hate to see that kind of stuff going on in WoW.

      • I agree that social voting systems are at substantial risk of being used in ways different than — or even counter to — the designers’ intention.

        Often people complain that LFD is impersonal, anonymous and fleeting; you don’t make friends in dungeons. In this case, though, I think this may be a strength of LFD in terms of implementing a voting system.

        Bribing for votes would be difficult because players are typically from different servers. Trading inside LFD is disabled and trading afterwards (by logging to an alt on another server) would be more trouble than it’s worth. So long as votes are kept secret, it would be impossible to enforce actual delivery of what was purchased (the vote).

        While it is possible to bring friends to a run, potentially skewing the vote, one option might be to disable voting on people from the same server. Getting votes from strangers means the votes are less likely to be coming from people who have other reasons to like/dislike you.

        For such as system, it might be useful to add both weighting and decay. What I mean by weighting is that it might be desirable to count 4-0 (favorable-unfavorable) votes as the same or very different than 1-0 votes in terms of how they affect overall score. How these would compare to 1-1, 1-2, 2-1 (and so on) votes would also be tricky things. A 0-4 vote might mean that somebody was very bad or that they were ganged up on by a 4 person premade. Likewise, a 1-0 vote might be seen as perfect or inconclusive. Getting the weighting right would be a touchy thing. I don’t have any good ideas right now on how to resolve this.

        By decay I mean that more recent votes should count for more when determining the overall score. This would allow players that made mistakes to repair their reputation through good play without it being a terribly long grind (cf. Insane in the Membrane). An appropriate rate of decay might need to be determined from actual player data, but my guess is that things from 6 months or 100 dungeon runs ago are mostly worth forgetting.

  3. Does WoW have in in-game integrated voice chat? Ever since EQ2 added it, most PUGs use it, and it makes runs go a lot smoother. Even “bad runs” with newer characters can still be fun simply becuz you can talk to everyone and find out that they’re new, bad gear, never done the instance before, don’t know the strategies or where to go, etc. Then it turns in to an opportunity to be helpful instead of a dick about it. And yeah, you might not finish, you night not get the gear, but you made a friend or 5, and had fun anyway.

    And all becuz you didn’t have to take a break from the action to actually type.

    And extending it further, you can then go with them on later runs also (obviously this isn’t dungeon finder) and get to see their improvement and feel like you might have had a small part in it. very satisfying.

      • Then maybe a more practical and mechanical idea for encouraging “slower” or “more social” play is the option to only queue with people who have voice chat and a microphone (a mic test would be enough to confirm its presence).

        People who wanted to banter or discuss pulls and strategy could at least be sure they could do it efficiently.

  4. In the best case, a fast run is the result of everybody playing well, doing what they need to do efficiently, not getting lost, etc. Likewise, a slow run is the result of wiping, low dps, ponderous decisions, players who are afk. Completion speed is a byproduct of player competence and familiarity; slowness a byproduct of the opposite.

    Predictably, a fast run is seen as better and a slow run as worse; just as predictably, some people confuse cause and effect or simply desire the outcome without the effort to bring it about. The result is a demand to “go faster” even when a faster pace isn’t productive (e.g., a big pull resulting in a wipe).

    Fast is just a symptom. What’s really wanted is a competent group.

  5. Frankly I don’t want time to talk in my dungeons, I just want a tank that will pull at a speed that the group can cope with while keeping things moving along, and have the rest of the group not pull for them. I’ve done each heroic too many times to want to admire the scenery, and mostly I don’t want to chat with people not on my server, as invariably they are incredibly sexist/racist/homophobic/transphobic as though they can’t think of anything else to say.

  6. I think in part the aim to go faster is grounded in searching for a challenge where there is otherwise none to be found. I don’t think anyone would argue that any of the original Wrath heroics are remotely challenging unless folks are being idiots.

    As mentioned though, people take this to a limiting case, reducing th interest of the run without actually making it much more challenging – but, critically, without recognising that they are not achieving what they want by following this strategy.

    So “gogogo” becomes the warcry of those who haven’t worked this out, while others use the same challenge (do it faster) in a place more appropriate to it, and benefit.

    I’d be a bit leery of hopping onto voice chat with 4 strangers. Admittedly, it might shield me from the bastardisation of language in the form of so-called internet speak, but I don’t have great faith in the masses of WoW players to be scintillating conversationalists. AsKatherine mentions, one is far more likely rto come across extremely objectional view points, gratuitous obscenity generally people who one prefers to avoid.

    Whether that would be worth it to meet the occasional gem of a player, I don’t know. It’s nice when it happens, but I’m never sure if that’s the novelty of the occurrence or genuine pleasure.

  7. Pingback: Thoughts on Elitism and Speed Runs, or, My Dinner with Yhrall - West Karana

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