If there’s one thing I hate about WoW’s community (apart from hunters), it’s the vocal “hardcore” players.
Before I continue, I’ll clarify: A lot of people who play WoW more competitively than others are rather mute. They get on, do their raids, and have the content on farm in weeks rather than months. They don’t care about anyone lesser than them because they already know they’re the best around (nothing’s gonna ever keep them down). I would wager a guess that those who are a lot more brash on forums or in-game are not the cream of the crop like they think they are. It’s my personal belief that these most vociferous players are on the upper levels of the casual group or the lower of the hardcore. These are people who want the status of being the best raiders around, and when they get it, they want to make sure that nobody else gets what they’ve gotten, even if it’s old and outdated and they really shouldn’t care about it anymore.
I’m getting tired of saying it, but I’ll repeat it until I’m blue in the face if I have to: this has got to end. Because it’s stupid.
Author’s note: This post was actually started almost a year ago, before Mists of Pandaria even launched! The initial reason I wrote this was a little different, but I found it was surprisingly easy to update for a new angle, considering that a lot of the arguments that forum-going hardcores make all revolve around the same thing. When I saw a particular topic on that wonderful forum of MMO-Champion, I decided to dig this old post up, give it a polish, finish it off, and put it up. Hence why I’m actually writing two posts in one day (even though the other one was mostly written yesterday)! Unbelievable!
“Special snowflake” syndrome
I did a quick search for “special snowflake syndrome” and got this (surprisingly well-written) result from Urban Dictionary:
A malady affecting a significant portion of the world’s population wherein the afflicted will demand special treatment, conduct themselves with a ludicrous, unfounded sense of entitlement, and generally make the lives of everyone around them that much more miserable.The danger of this disease is that the sufferers rarely, if ever, know that they have contracted it, and continue about their merry way under the assumption that EVERYONE ELSE is the problem.
This condition, if left untreated, can radically alter the carrier’s demeanor, to include any of the following: a complete devolution to child-like behavior, temper tantrums, and/or fits of narcissistic rage.
When confronted with an individual suspected of harboring Special Snowflake Syndrome, one’s best course of action is to run away. Further attempts at educating the carrier on the reality of their condition (e.g., quoting Tyler Durden: “You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else.”) will likely prove futile, and potentially hazardous to the informer.
If this doesn’t sum up the vocal hardcore, I don’t know what does.
As much as I hate using that phrase (because it’s, frankly, overused at this point), these so-called “hardcore” players suffer from this problem. WoW’s vocal minority acts like petulant children whenever Blizzard threatens their potential hardcore-ness by opening more of the game to the average player, pushing a couple of the lower branches down to make their fruits easier to grab. Heaven forbid outdated content remain in the hands of a few percentage points of the population!
When I started writing this post (in July 2012!), I was initially writing about some topics I’d found on MMO-Champion about how old raid content should be exclusive to those who got it at the time, like the Plagued/Black Proto-Drakes were exclusive to those who completed the Glory of the Raider metas before 3.1. But I’ve found that the same mindset extends to the notion that casuals don’t deserve content just for them, that the only group that should be catered to is the hardcore.
Here’s the perfect example of this problem. An MMO-Champion forum-goer by the name of Mudor decided to create a topic just last night (at the time of this writing) entitled “Why do lesser skilled players feel entitled to see content?” The topic has, in less than a day, garnered
56 60 pages of posts with so much arguing and oversimplification and logical fallacies and terrible debate that I would be doing a disservice by trying to summarize it all. Hell, in the time between when I started to work on this post again this afternoon and now (merely 2 hours), it has already added another seven eleven pages; by the time I read all of it, I’d probably have two or three more to read.
Mid-writing edit: While I was writing, naturally, other people were still posting in the thread, so the counts are now updated. Considering that it would probably have taken me over an hour to read the whole thread, and it’s been an hour since I wrote these words, it’s now obvious that my estimates were way, way low. Jesus H. Christ.
So instead, I’ll offer up a rebuttal of his major points.
Why do they?
Well thank you for reminding us that your title was a question that presumably we already knew because we clicked on it because oh boy, yet another casuals-are-the-death-of-everything thread. We’re off to a great start here.
If you are a terrible player who has no chance to ever get into a raiding guild or pug normal modes, why do you expect to see raid content? That’s[sic] the reason LFR was implemented but WHY do terribads demand content just for them? LFR was made to see content, but why did Blizzard do so?
And that great start (/sarcasm) just keeps on trucking. In just three sentences, our lovely warlock Mudor has called casual players “terrible” and “terribad,” implied that their desires don’t matter because they’re “terribad,” and then out and out questioned why Blizzard decided to spend resources on content that more than a fraction of a percent of the playerbase would ever see.
First off, it’s BAD debate tactics to attack a person’s character rather than their arguments, even worse form to do so before your opponent can respond. I’d advise good ol’ Mudor to take a look at this chart the next time he wants to make one of these threads:
Second, just because a player doesn’t play as much as someone in a heroic raiding guild, that doesn’t mean that their wants and desires are any less important than someone who does. Casual players wanted to get into raiding, something that was harder to do with the introduction of shared lockouts between 10- and 25-man raiding in Cataclysm. Raid groups that normally led 10-man runs in their spare time could not do so, since their lockout meant only one run a week on their mains. Also, because 10-mans were no longer tuned to be easier, casual players didn’t really have an option to raid; pugs were rare and got progressively more so over the expansion.
Thus, this is why Blizzard decided to introduce LFR, not only to allow anyone who wanted to to see a version of the content, but also to provide progression for more casual players who wanted to play on their terms and not a guild’s. Let’s not forget that if it weren’t for the subscriptions of the majority casual playerbase, heroic raiders wouldn’t even HAVE their content. Implementing something to help out that larger proportion of the playerbase isn’t a bad thing, and also doesn’t detract from heroic raiding content. Despite having three different difficulty levels to create and tune (and next patch, there will be a fourth!), Blizzard has produced two raid tiers this expansion with over a dozen bosses each, and a third of even greater size on the way. LFR isn’t hurting you, so don’t claim that it is.
I just don’t understand how hard can it be to read up on your class for 1 hour, ask a better player for tips and then improve yourself to get into raiding…
Well, newsflash: a lot of players didn’t know about Wowhead when they started, didn’t know to go to Elitist Jerks or Icy Veins to find out what their ideal rotations should be, didn’t know how to use Mr. Robot to help with their reforging. The game does its best to help a new player get started with beginner tips, but the more advanced stuff has to be learned elsewhere. And unless a player knows to go to these outside sources, knows where they are and what they’re talking about, they’re going to be suboptimal.
And that’s FINE. You were a newb once too, you didn’t know everything right off the bat. Maybe you had a friend who got you into the game and helped point you in the right direction. That’s great, but not everyone had that. I asked my friend for help a lot when I started, but eventually he clued me in to other sites that could help, so I didn’t have to get advice solely from him. I learned and I got better as well, but for a while, I didn’t really know what I was doing. Hell, through the end of Wrath, I used Chain Lightning all the time instead of only when there were multiple targets solely because I misread the tooltips and thought it was stronger by default.
Apparently, your newb phase was a long time ago, because you’re probably misremembering just how long it takes to learn your class, at least learning it well enough to perform competently in a raid. It doesn’t just take an hour and some tips to get ready for raiding; it involves quite a bit more practice getting your rotation down, learning triage, handling threat, understanding cooldowns and when to use them, and other aspects of the game. Not to mention that raiding is a high-pressure environment, and many early players are not confident that they can succeed there. When I was dragged into my first ICC, I was utterly terrified I was going to screw up. I learned it wasn’t so bad after I got in, of course, but I was still nervous of doing something wrong for months afterward.
It’s that fear that drives us to either meet it head-first and improve, or drop out. Before, if you dropped out, you were stuck. No more progression at max level, better roll an alt or do PVP. Now, you can continue to progress through LFR, and maybe even learn that raiding isn’t as bad as you think. There are people who graduate from LFR into normal raiding, and it provides a good stepping stone from dungeons to raids. Flexible raiding will help even more as high-geared players will head in for more chances at loot, and thus will be able to carry lower geared players more easily. The pool of raiders may very well go up, given enough time.
I think WoW is going down the toilet if something isn’t done soon to stop catering to the majority. Don’t[sic] get me wrong, I’m[sic] fine with catering to casuals, but not like this. Not this way with giving welfare “special” content just for them rather than incentive to improve your gaming skills.
Ah, I was wondering when we’d get the “WoW is gonna die unless Blizzard does exactly what I say” line. Not only that, but he included the phrase “catering to casuals” even though he said he’s fine with it, which he’s very clearly not, as well as throwing in that old standby buzzword, welfare. True to form, Mudor. Did you take a class on How to Write an Inflammatory Holier-Than-Thou WoW Forum Topic?
Once again, you WANT to cater to your majority. Y’know, because they’re the biggest fraction of your userbase? If you piss off a large amount of your customers, you’re not going to stay in business long. See: EVERY BUSINESS EVER
Not only that, but a lot of design decisions in Mists were made in response to complaints of the higher-level players about the game being too easy. I’ll get more into that in a bit, but considering that raiding is harder than it’s ever been, gearing up isn’t as simple as chain-running dungeons and buying the latest gear, and other accommodations made to the upper tier of the community, I’d say that WoW is, as always, catering to everybody. Hell, they’re pretty disproportionately catering to the hardcore, considering how few heroic raiders have managed to complete this tier so far, even though we have a couple months to go.
But yes, go ahead and complain more about welfare content (that’s a first) and catering to casuals and the death of WoW. I do love writing these.
I’ve been there, clueless. I learned, asked better players. I’ve been high rated in PvP and raided top PvE content but we ALL started on the bottom some time. Why can’t[sic] those who run LFR do the same?
And we top it all off with anecdote presented as fact, along with a slight bit of bragging presented as expert opinion (I’ve been high rated in PvP AND raided top PvE content, so clearly I know what I’m talking about). A tour de force, 5 stars, two thumbs up, best post I’ve seen all year.
At least he understands that we all started out not knowing a whole lot, but what he fails to realize is that no two players’ stories are the same. He talked to better players who helped him out, but some players asked for advice and got snubbed. Why would that make them want to ask again? If anything, it would more likely make them afraid to try.
Some players just don’t have what it takes to raid competently, especially since normal modes are tougher than they’ve ever been, to say nothing of heroics. It’s a huge step up in complexity from dungeons, and even harder for people who decide to become healers or tanks. That this can be incredibly overwhelming for a lot of players is something that good ol’ Mudor can’t comprehend.
Because he’s gotten too good at the game to understand that not everyone is like him. He’s cleared ToT heroic, including Ra-den, and yes, he has quite a lot of PVP accomplishments under his belt. That puts him in a fraction of a percent of the WoW playerbase, and to him, it’s mind-boggling how someone can’t be as amazing and awesome as he is, or at least a little bit. “If they’d just learn, they’d be good, and then they wouldn’t have to have content just for them! Never mind that I’m a small part of the playerbase at large and I get content just for me! This game sucks but I’m going to continue to play it!”
So obviously this behavior extends all the way up to the upper parts of the playerbase, but it’s rampant throughout the mid-to-high end. Every day, dozens of topics get posted about how casuals suck and hardcores rule and WoW should only cater to the hardcore. It doesn’t look like it’ll end anytime soon.
But why not? Why can’t hardcores get along with casuals?
The player spectrum
I’m going to touch on some things here with my own experience from the game.
Back at the end of Wrath, I managed to snag a slot in my guild’s main run, which was at 11/12H. I was only taken because of my better Strength of Earth totem and because I was an extra body to fill the slots. On a side note, I do not miss the “take the class, not the player” model. I essentially got boosted up to being a heroic raider just because I was around.
This was a guild of people who pushed progression constantly, even when the roster fell apart because everyone was hating the year of ICC. I eventually had to be taken out because of how thoroughly the pre-Cata patch broke enhance, but before that happened, I was in mostly ilvl 277 gear, just about the best stuff in the game. I was one of the best-geared enhance shaman on my server. It was pretty great.
I’d like to think that how I fell into this position gives me a different perspective on the casual/hardcore debate. I was basically a casual player who found himself in a hardcore role. I showed up on time, I brought feasts for the raid, and I pushed progression as much as I could. It wasn’t enough to down the Lich King on heroic, but still, at least I helped. While I fancied myself hardcore, it wasn’t something I could keep up into Cata.
I learned that I have my own tolerance levels for content. I don’t like sitting on a boss and wiping to it for a whole night, only to do it again the next night, and then the next. I know that raiding is a learning experience, and that wipes are necessary to get your strategy down. It’s when the raid leader pushes for the raid to keep going after they’re already exhausted and the raid has stretched into the wee hours of the morning that I break down.
This has taught me one key lesson: WoW’s playerbase is so diverse, there is no binary casual/hardcore classification that lets the playerbase divvy themselves up into two distinct groups. It’s impossible. Rather, WoW players are better represented by a spectrum of playstyles and abilities.
People play WoW for a variety of reasons. You have the world-first guilds who have perfected their game over the years to become the absolute best in the game. You have the hardcore raiders who push progression as best they can. You have the casual raiders who consume content at their own pace. There are divisions amongst those who like PVP as well. Some play rated battlegrounds or arenas, some opt for normal battlegrounds, and some just go out and instigate fights wherever they please. There are those who are content to idly farm materials and sell them to others, those who enjoy offering bountiful crafting services, and those who play the auction house. There are roleplayers of various levels of seriousness. There are explorers. And I’m only scratching the surface!
The point I’m making is that this casual/hardcore kerfuffle is moronic. Yes, some people play less than others. Yes, some devote a lot of their life to the game. No, there’s nothing wrong with either of these. No, the rewards for both of these playstyles should not be equal in all regards. Casual players should end up taking longer to obtain certain items simply because they don’t play as much. But this is based solely on time played, and doesn’t need to be a feature coded into the game!
So why all the vitriol?
Living through old accomplishments
I equate a lot of the vocal “hardcore” to high school quarterbacks who haven’t gone anywhere with their lives. Both used to be on top at one point, but things took a turn for the worse eventually. They constantly go back and relive those golden moments, no longer able to top them. When they see others doing the same things now, with the benefits of the modern day, they scoff and say how much better things were back in their day.
I’ve heard about “back in my day” so much over the years, it doesn’t affect me anymore. A lot of the difficulties with raiding in ye olden days were getting people into the raid rather than the raid itself. Endless grinds for resist gear or potions, lengthy attunements, and just the hassle of coordinating forty people…I don’t envy anyone who raided back then. And need I remind you that Classic was considered casual in comparison to other MMOs of its day? EverQuest players scoffed at how easy WoW players had it; to them, just the act of playing WoW was casual compared to their ultra-hardcore MMO. WoW’s success was pretty much BECAUSE it was a more casual MMO, even if to EverQuest players, being the best at WoW was like winning at the Special Olympics.
Even when they get concessions, the vocal hardcore still demand more (or to be specific, less for others). Take for example raid progression. Forum-goers bemoaned the lack of progression, that players could queue up for dungeons at the end of an expansion, get geared up quickly, and get into the final raid of the expansion, all without having to go through the older raids. So for Mists, Blizzard conceded that maybe it was a bit too easy and opted for a mode of gearing that didn’t involve nothing but dungeon grinding and buying epics with valor.
A player coming in later to the expansion would need to gear up through heroics until their average ilvl was good enough to run the lowest tier of LFR, and then would have to gear up sufficiently there before they could tackle subsequent LFR tiers. By the time a player had a good amount of gear from the latest LFR tier, they would be more than capable of entering the latest normal raids. Valor purchases would help players boost their ilvl, and earlier valor gear would be discounted in later patches (and in 5.4, will be purchasable with justice).
It seems like a win-win, right? Casual players continue to have a means of gear progression, and the forum hardcores’ demands of raid progression should be met.
Well of course, give ’em an inch, they’ll take a yard. You can very, very easily find many topics about the game being too easy for casuals, or LFR shouldn’t offer epics, or other such nonsense. Despite the fact that LFR does NOT affect them in the slightest, despite the fact that Blizzard has intentionally designed LFR such that (with perhaps the exception of wanting to put together an off-spec set) normal-mode raiders don’t have to run it unless they want to, despite Blizzard’s reasoning (however true it may be) that LFR justifies bigger and better raids, it’s just not enough. It’s never enough.
Not only that, but for normal/heroic progression raiders, raid gearing progression still exists, and existed even back when casual gearing was much easier. A modern raiding guild at the start of an expansion will grind through the first tier until they’re geared up well. Then the next tier gets released, and they work through that. Repeat until the next expansion. Under the old system, players who joined later in the expansion didn’t have any easier ways to gear up than finding a group for the first tier and hoping they can gear up quick enough to see the end boss of the expansion before the next one comes out. The new system works better for everyone. Running old content just because one player hasn’t been attuned, and for that reason alone, is a bad gameplay decision.
But of course, because that’s how they did it “back in my day,” it’s stupid and it sucks and Blizzard why are you catering to casuals.
Play what you want
Blizzard’s philosophy moving forward is all about increasing options, not limiting them. At level 90 in Mists, there is no shortage of content available to players anywhere on the spectrum. Raids have three difficulties (soon four), and one (soon two) of these can be queued for anywhere in the world. Dungeons have normal and heroic options for gearing, and challenge modes for the true test of skill. Scenarios offer a new type of PVE content for players to try, and heroic scenarios give a bonus challenge and a shot at pretty great gear. The average player will hit 90 with tons of quests left to complete to soak in the story, especially now that the xp required is significantly less. Despite the general fatigue with daily quests, there’s an incredible variety of them. While reputations had a rocky start (putting gear behind them and then only letting you grind two of them at first was pretty shit), most are fairly optional, and you can grind what you wish. All of this in addition to all the PVP things, pet battles, and more!
Hardcore players will, naturally, go for the biggest accomplishments, and they’ll be quickly rewarded. Hell, even though it was easy enough to tell if you’d done something when it was current by looking at achievement dates, they can now get feats of strength that make it patently easy to see that yes, they DID down Lei Shen on heroic when he was current! By and large, the best of the best will stick to their game and carry on, not giving a damn about the people below them on the totem pole because they don’t really matter to them in their lofty perch.
So are the most vocal players the ones who are at the top or bottom? Like I said, I’m pretty sure that (for the most part) they’re neither. They’re somewhere in the middle, but they overvalue their own skills and undervalue others. They might have been higher up before, but due to burnout have started feeling themselves sliding down the ranks, and in an attempt to recapture their days of glory, they inform others that their accomplishments don’t matter because they got to the game later. It’s somewhat sad, really.
A note on skillful play
I have absolutely nothing wrong with people who want to become the best they can be at a video game. Nothing whatsoever. It’s the same as wanting to master any other passion. They devote a lot of time, energy, study, and practice into learning the ins and outs of their game of choice, and they will hand lesser beings’ asses to them by doing so. I didn’t want this post to be misconstrued in intent by making it seem like I was lambasting the ultra-hardcore players just because they spend all their time on a video game. They play to win, and that’s a basic part of being human. We have a competitive drive in us, and no matter what we might say, we all play to win to some extent.
For the most part, though, I just don’t really care about heroic raiding beyond that first end-boss kill. I’ll follow the world-first race every tier like a lot of people do, but once the final boss has been downed on heroic for the first time, I don’t really care who came in second or third or fifth or tenth. I then proceed to stop caring about heroic raiding entirely until the next tier, where I’ll watch with some interest for a couple of weeks until it ends again.
I know that the second-place and on guilds are full of skillful players, and I don’t want to downplay their accomplishments. Hell, only 504 guilds have downed heroic Lei Shen; because this could have been done on 10- or 25-man, anywhere from 5040 to 12600 players total in the WORLD have managed to overthrow the Thunder King. While that might seem like a considerable number, remember that this is in a game whose last subscriber count was 8 million. Only one tenth of one percent of the entire population of the game (and that’s the high end) has accomplished this feat. But I just don’t really care about heroic raiding as a whole beyond finding out when it was first done.
This is a problem that is hard to solve, considering that it’s mostly just a problem of human nature. We want our accomplishments to mean something, and the midcores don’t like the thought of players lesser than them devaluing their achievements, even if someone killing Lei Shen on LFR is a world apart from downing him on heroic.
The best thing we can do is to ask why someone feels the way they do. Even though a million of these topics get created on every WoW forum every day (play a drinking game on MMO-Champ: open the general discussions forum and take a shot for every “casuals suck” topic you find. you’ll have alcohol poisoning before you reach the bottom of the first page), there’s always some particular reason a person feels casuals are ruining their game. Talk with them maturely, ask them questions without resorting to insults, and try to make a connection. They’re a stubborn bunch, so you’ll need persistence, but if you’re lucky, you might end up getting them to open their view a bit.
Even ol’ Mudor up there might get his eyes opened a little. One can only hope; that much anger is not healthy for a person.
Next time, I’m planning on writing about how to gear up as an enhancement shaman if you’re not in a raiding guild, and how to score the best gear you could possibly obtain. Might be up this weekend if I can put my mind to it. Fingers crossed!