Anyone who keeps a keen eye on our Facebook or Twitter feed knows I recently got talked back into playing World of Warcraft. I first started playing a few years ago back when Wrath of the Lich King came out; a couple of friends said I should play it with them, and it was pretty fun.
Leveling was fast, and Blizzard had just introduced a feature that allowed players to queue up to play in a random dungeon instance with other people. It seemed like a better version of the exact same feature they introduced to my beloved Guild Wars so hey, what’s not to like?
Seeing new stuff, meeting new people, getting phat loot and pimping it like a… uh, pimp with my awesome array of cloaks. Sadly, it wasn’t long until I started to notice flaws in the system.
But first, the basics of MMORPG balance
In MMORPGs, there are a number of classes which can perform different roles. Over the years of simplification of a few things in RPGs, a class is typically limited to one (or two) of three roles: Tank, Healer and DPS. Tanks are big hulking meat shields who charge in and make sure the enemies are whacking them instead of everyone else. Healers primarily try to keep the tank alive, but also watch out for the other players. Finally, DPS (Damage per Second) are the guys who help whack the enemies without drawing too much attention to themselves (also known as drawing aggro or pulling).
In theory, a balanced party of these roles should be able to quickly take on most challenges and can storm through things when working as a cohesive team. In WoW, the Dungeon Finder puts together a five man team including one tank, one healer and one DPS which, when working together, can easily just blitz through stuff. Depending on the game and the party sizes determines how many of each role you’ll need; Guild Wars usually went quite well with a tank, an off-tank (someone who can help tank and do damage), two healers, a couple of nukers (mages who blast the shit out of something with lots of damage very quickly) and then a couple of random DPS to fill up the eight man party.
The principle is the same. When everything goes swimmingly, a WoW dungeon will take around twenty minutes and everyone’s happy. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen.
When everything started to go wrong
As I was leveling up my mage character, I started to notice that not everyone I found through the Dungeon Finder particularly liked to work in a team. Being a mage, I was a DPS class, so what I should have been spending my time doing was hurting stuff and not drawing aggro. Instead, I spent most of my time just waiting to get into a dungeon.
You see, World of Warcraft has ten classes, of which four can do nothing but DPS, four can DPS or tank, and three can DPS or heal. Healing or tanking takes a fair bit of effort, so most of the time players just go with the “hit stuff” option of their class which means that there are masses of DPS classes, a fair few healers (healing doesn’t take that much effort, but players can be extremely nasty to healers) and hardly any tanks (it’s difficult and other players act like dicks to them).
On average, I would have to wait at least half an hour on my mage character before I could get into a dungeon. When I finally got in, I was either so gleefully happy to finally be there or so pissed off at the wait that I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to do it any more. Both of these situations can lead to group dynamic problems. I’d find myself either saying “Oh, we died. Never mind, let’s just try again” or “Oh, the tank failed to keep aggro again like a retard and I shall now announce this in every chat channel.” Multiply these mindsets by three, add a healer who gets nothing but verbal abuse if he/she slips up, and a tank who will almost always get in a party instantly, and things can start sucking very quickly.
There’s no nice way to say this, but most World of Warcraft players are assholes. I’m not just plucking that out of thin air because I don’t like them or anything, but most of them are just generally not nice people. I don’t know why this seems to happen with games that are marketed as “YOU ARE PLAYING WITH OTHER REAL PLAYERS” but it seems that some WoW subscribers would rather just grind by themselves with bots filling in the missing roles.
If something goes wrong, they flip their shit like you wouldn’t believe, no matter how trivial it was and, no matter what happens, it’s never their fault. Sadly, in my experience, most of these players are DPS classes to boot. If they pull a mob and things get delayed by a couple of minutes, they complain that the tank doesn’t know what they’re doing. If they charge in ahead of the tank and die because the healer wasn’t expecting an act of ritual suicide, the healer is the worst healer in the world and should kill themselves. If another DPS player isn’t quite doing as much damage as someone else, they’re “shitty noob fags” who should just “uninstall right now.”
Gamers like these can single-handedly make the experience a bad one, but given the role numbers I mentioned above, things get ugly quite often. Due to their long wait time, DPS players won’t leave. Healers, with their relatively short wait time, often quit out of the party, which leaves the remaining players waiting for a new healer. Tanks do whatever the fuck they want because they can join a new party instantly. Basically, you get to choose whether your douchbag of the day either doesn’t go away, sticks you with a waiting period, or fucks you all over completely just before quitting. It’s a grab-bag of frustration.
When I started to get mad
Playing as a DPS was fun, but I really couldn’t stand the waiting times and seeing other DPS players drive our tank and/or healer to quit the party. After I quit and got roped back (again), I decided to make a completely new character on a new server: Willthebeast the Tauren Priest. I wanted to be a healer because more healers are always wanted (but hard to find). I’ve played healers in other games with huge success, plus I didn’t want to wait as long for dungeons any more. I leveled my guy up, got into my first few dungeons and thought “You know what? This isn’t as bad as I remember it.”
Then I got a few more dungeons in and started to regret my decision. In one particularly difficult dungeon, I barely met the level requirement to gain entry, and the other guys in the party all boasted higher levels than me. What this meant was that the enemies here would really quite hurt if they hit anyone at all, and my spells won’t be as effective because the other players had a larger health pool than I’ve been used to before. I would have my work cut out for me, but hey: I’m always up for a challenge.
Whilst we were waiting to set off, the tank said he was going to get a drink and be back in a minute. That’s fine, this happens all the time so I don’t really see this as a problem. What I did see as a problem was that the three DPS guys just charged all the way forward into massive enemy groups. This was the third time that this had happened that day, and I had finally had enough. I stood next to the AFK tank, emoted out a joyous dance, and let the DPS die. Immediately the abuse started coming in. It went something like this:
“YOU STUPID FUCKING HEALER, WTF ARE YOU DOING?! FUCKING HEAL US YOU DICK!!! I SHOULD FUCKING FIND WHERE YOU LIVE AND RAPE YOU YOU PIECE OF SHIT.”
“Can’t hear you, dancing.”
By this point, the tank had returned and was quite naturally shocked that the entire party was dead save for one dancing minotaur.
“THE FAGGY FUCKING PRIEST DIDN’T HEAL US WHEN WE MOVED IN SO WE ALL DIED BECAUSE HE’S SOME KIND OF COCK SUCKER, KICK PLEASE!!!!”
Apparently, it was my fault that they had ran in whilst our tank wasn’t there, bit off more than they could chew, got surrounded, and promptly died. There’s no way that they could have thought that the tank was right behind them because otherwise they would be yelling at him, too. They only had themselves to blame.
“HEY HEALER, YOU GOING TO RES US OR NOT?????”
Wait. No, you didn’t just say that. Really? You hurl abuse at me for something which is your fault and then demand that I bring you back to life? No fucking way. In World of Warcraft, the healer can resurrect you, or he can leave you to separate your soul from your body and walk back into the instance, then catch up to your party. I was not going to resurrect them. I told them this in my own special way:
“Fuck that, I’m not healing you until you learn how to play nice.”
More abuse exploded. But if they were so mad, why didn’t they throw me out? You see, you have to vote to kick someone out of the party in the Dungeon Finder, and you can’t vote someone out in the first few minutes or during combat. In this dungeon, you’re pretty much always in combat, so it would be a long time before they could kick me out. Until they could do that, I was making damn sure that they didn’t have a chance at staying alive whilst they were being abusive.
Was this childish of me? Probably. I’d had enough of idiots just running around and slinging verbal diarrhea at others for their mistakes; my protest was in the only language they’d understand: I’m going to ruin your game and waste your time until you can be nice.
Time for a relay!
You’ve gotten your share of the rage of Binerexis, but what about next week? Should Space Hamlet drop the Space Hammer, or would you prefer to see if FC2000 has the anger management issues necessary to work at Top Tier Tactics?