The unsolvable problem of crafting professions

In every MMO, there “should” be crafting. WoW has crafting. I see its fundamental problem now that I do a WoW-moneymaking miniproject prompted by Azuriel.

In WoW gaining XP, gaining achievements and gaining gear drops includes gameplay. The gameplay in WoW is pressing hotkeys that cast spells on a monster until it dies, while avoiding some bad things on the floor. If you do the gameplay on the expected level, you get reward. If you are better, you can complete more challenging monster fights to get the loot. Sometimes some flavor gameplay is added like using cannons to shoot down … birds trying to eat baby turtles and other stuff, but even that is some form of active clicking for some reward.

Gathering professions are also based on gameplay: you wander around in the world, find node, kill monster that guards it and gather it. It could be translated into a world quest where the monster around the node is the quest completion criteria, while the ore or herb in it is the reward.

However crafting has no gameplay attached. You just grab the materials (gathering them can include gameplay but that’s irrelevant) press “craft” and you’re done.

To make this thing more engaging, recipes and crafting levels are often added which are to be gained by gameplay. However there is a fundamental flaw here: getting the recipe/level includes gameplay, not using them. You need to do gameplay once, but then you can craft the item forever. This also means a permanent split between those who have done it and those who have not. The former can mass-produce items, making stupid amount of gold. Of course if enough people do the recipe-gathering gameplay, then no one will make gold, since the cost of the actual crafting is a single mouseclick after the initial (and already sunk) cost is paid.

Any kind of band-aid just make it worse: for example WoW has daily cooldowns on some crafting. This doesn’t help with the fact that still no gameplay is added, but now players must wait which they hate. Also, this can be – and usually is – bypassed by using masses of alts.

I’d like to point out that the problem is unsolvable unless crafting is somehow turned into a gameplay, one that the players enjoy to do. For example actual crafting involves hammering the item using various actions. If such meaningful gameplay can’t be designed, I believe the best course of action is just ditching the whole concept and let NPCs do the crafting: you approach NPC with materials, select recipe, press craft, come back later when the NPC is done.

No point trying to solve the unsolvable. No matter how heretic the idea is, player crafting with professions and recipes is better be gone.

Numbers never lie. But they can be misinterpreted

I wrote how winning and losing streaks are a thing in World of Warships. In short: the outcome of a battle should be not correlated to the battle before. Ergo your chance to lose twice is L*L, win twice is W*W, lose once and win once is L*W*2. In reality, both double (and triple, and quadruple) wins and losses are more common, proving correlation between them.

I wrote some reasons why it can happen:

  1. me being tired, annoyed, distracted or other way unfit to play competitively
  2. if a game ends, many players queue again, so the next battle likely contain many of the people from the old game. If I manged to make them mad with my unique playstyle, they start the game mad when they see me on their team again.
  3. win chances greatly depend on ship composition, a 4-4 destroyer game is completely different from a 4x battleship game. Since most players play the same ships again and again, ship compositions are likely the same in the following games.

Then I “wisely” made the rule to don’t push “Battle On” after a defeat but do something else for 20-30 minutes. My results indeed increased, reaching rank 3 on Saturday. Then on Sunday I managed to get back to rank 5, losing 12 out of 14 games. I kept the letter of the rule.

I was sure that if I do statistics, I will find solutions and it clearly didn’t work and it upset me to no end (sure that helped with playing). But as the title says, the numbers don’t lie, but can be misinterpreted. For example see the list of possible explanations. Out of them only #2 is removed by waiting half an hour. #1 can be somewhat mitigated, but not if you spend your “break” in a random battle because “+200% XP weekend”.

So I went back to the same numbers and this time looked for longer trends:
prevscore

“Previous score” means the outcome of the previous N games, win being 1 and lose being 0. The first line is my total winrate during that period.

The first section, looking just the directly previous game is what I’ve found earlier: I have much higher chance to win a game after a won game than after a lost.

The second section looked for 2 previous games: the winrate after 2 losses is abysmal, it’s great after 1 win 1 loss (in any order) and average after 2 wins.

Looking at 3 games at a row was the most interesting: winrate after 3 losses or “2 loss 1 win” is bad. It’s great after “2 win 1 loss”. Surprisingly it’s bad again after 3 wins in a row.

I don’t know why win-streaks predict worse results than “good winrate with some losses”. It’s possible that I get overconfident and pull stupid stunts. It’s possible that the matchmaker has some anti-streak method. But the new rule is: I “Battle On” even if I lose my first game in the session and keep “Battle On” until

  • I lose both of my first 2 games
  • My last 3 games have 2 losses
  • All my last 3 games are won

After these I end my session and do something else for at least 2 hours. If I do randoms for XP, the 2 hours starts from the end of closing the client.

I am pretty confident that I’ll rank out soon with this. Long pauses help regenerate if the problem was my lack of ability and help the players replace if the problem was unfavorable ship composition.

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Update: I wrote this post on early Monday, since then I’ve done some sessions:

  1. 2x Loss
  2. 3x Win
  3. 2x Loss
  4. LWL
  5. WWLWL
  6. 3x Win
  7. 3x Win
  8. WWLL
  9. WLWWW

This works like a charm. As you can see 4 out of 9 sessions contain 3x Win blocks, despite the chance is about 1/8. To the victor go the spoils:
rank2

Oh I hate streamers, yotubers and other game leeches

I hate “content creators” since my EVE days. The reason is that their goal isn’t to win, but to set up a good show for their viewers. If their roam ends in a complete annihilation, that’s funny and people watch it. Shroud and the rest of PUBG streamers jumping to the dumbest places on purpose to rack up kills (usually on their own buddies who sometimes bring them flying cars) didn’t help me love them either.

Today I’ve met another great specimen, Frazelleth and let me say I was less than amused. During the game I just put him on mute for offering a retarded strategy. If only he was an obscure moron, we might have won. But he is not obscure. He has a youtube channel, if you want to see him crying over CV rework, you can, though I advise against giving them Youtube money. I wish I had replays. But the scoreboard can tell it all:
moronfraz

Now the story. Sorry for no actual screenshots, I didn’t look him up until the end of the battle, I dismissed him as “just another moron”. So you have to settle with this MsPaint map and recollection of the happenings:
hotspot

  1. is where we spawn. Our hero announced that everyone must stay together and swarm C. I of course went to the left side of the map and muted him when he complained.
  2. is where I spotted the first enemy after the RPF shown his direction, a Zao. I sent some torps at his way. Then I spotted a battleship south from there. And another. In the meantime, the rest of the team was on their way to C, unable to do anything. Our hero sent his planes to sink the Zao, only to spot the entire enemy fleet at the same zone. All the planes were lost to the Minotaur and enemy fighters.
  3. is where I died, crossdropped, chased by Grozovoi
  4. is where our “content creator” died, permaspotted by enemy planes he couldn’t counter due to losing his planes #2. The team was still wandering between the islands of C. No other ships were damaged at this point besides the one who ate one of my torps.

His plan was moronic from the start, but it shouldn’t have ended so horribly, especially since I went to the best place to slow down the enemy. It ended in a disaster because he had some fame, so probably one of the players in the enemy team recognized him, knew about his less than smart strategy and told the team the obvious counter: “all go left and A, since the CV will be the closest to us”.

The question is, why is he using this obviously bad plan? Because it makes good videos when it works. Lemming trains mostly end in defeat, but in minority of the cases, it ends with a complete victory. The lemmings encounter half of the enemy team, obliterate them, then turn and kill the other half. I’m sure he posted many of these videos, proving how awesome and great he is. The majority of the games that end in the expected way won’t make it to youtube.

I hope next time I see him, he’ll be on the enemy team. Though the best would be never seeing his dumb face again. It was funny that he tried to blame me, but when I pointed out that he died second despite I slowed the enemy down at least a bit, he went silent. Let me guess, this great battle won’t make it to his videos.

This is the first time I saw a team actually following the self-made admiral. Usually most just ignore the strategy in the chat. It’s Europe, so most of the players don’t even speak English. I don’t get why there wasn’t just one cruiser to go to the usual “hug island” position (mirror of #2), preferably with radar, or a battleship sailing near #3. They could give enough support for me and the moron to retreat. If the cruiser had radar, the enemy plan would have been revealed before all airplanes were lost. But no. For the first time I had to get a bunch of obedient socials who do as “famous man” orders them, even if he is nothing but clown doing stunts on Youtube.

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PS: another game, without youtuber, “go shima cap” they said:
capshima

What was Blizzard thinking?

I don’t play WoW for 5 years now. Sure I’ve learned about the new things, but the little changes eluded me. However Azuriel wrote two parts of using old methods to make gold in WoW. My initial idea was “I could do better” and convinced my GF who is still playing to utilize some forgotten alts to make gold.

You will hear about what was found, but that’s not the story here. That story started with a lvl 100 boost of a Highmountain Tauren bank alt. The boost was given free long ago and was not needed. So the lvl 20 tauren – who had no Highmountain questline whatsoever, was just dumped to Orgrimmar got the boost and completed the Legion intro questline (the one that ends with the death of the king and the coronation of Sylvanas). After that she went to the dark portal to do the Draenor intro quests to get her garrison.

Then came the surprise. Despite sporting in Legion gear and being lvl 100, the mobs died slowly. As you can see on the picture, the monster gets 2-400 damage from pets despite having 10000 HP. Sure, main abilities did more, but still the time to kill is around 20 seconds.
brute

The monsters are also lvl 100, with the elites being lvl 102. How? When Draenor opened, people just left Pandaria as lvl 90. They sure didn’t face lvl 100 monsters!
It turned out, they still don’t. But the monsters automatically level scale. So despite being in an old content, the questing pace is normal. This is pants on head retarded. What’s the point of gear and level progression if the same monsters scale with you. Sure, there was always a threadmill in MMORPGs that you get better gear and levels just to face stronger monsters, but that gave a sense of progression. But this?! The Draenor questline took more time than the Legion. I’d say the monsters were even overtuned.

I have serious trouble understanding what Blizzard was expecting with this. Who they were trying to cater to? Who welcomed this change? I’ve never heard anyone saying “hey, old monsters I kill for some vanity achievement are too weak”. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I personally disagree. I disagree with lot of things in WoW, hence I’m not playing. But I always understood why they did those things and who they catered to (always the morons and slackers). But I doubt that the M&S is celebrating that they have to slowly kill old monsters for their vanity nonsense.

This was just dumb.

Weekend minipost: more Warship ranked

My new strategy, plus the “don’t play after defeat” rule works like a charm:
rank3got

My last battle was hilarious. They went on both sides, leaving a huge gap in the middle where I passed. Unfortunately the gap wasn’t huge enough to avoid a 11.7km Moskva radar. Since they noticed me, they chased me to the corner of the map. 3 of them. A Moskva, a Zao and a Conqueror. Because 3 ships are needed to catch a single Shima in the literal bottom left corner. In the meantime I torped 60K into the BBs.

When I reached the corner, I smoked, turned back and they looked pretty surprised when I appeared 2 km from them full speed. Poor Moskva was the closest and went from 100% to 0 due to a point blank range torp volley.

Blogging is NOT l’art pour l’art

OK, the title is not true. You can blog about anything. Hell, you can make a photo of your ass every day and post that. There is a platform created for exactly that activity: Instagram.

However to write something that is worthy of reading, you have to do research and post something people didn’t know. Bhagpuss did that about the investors behind Daybreak.

Then he got upset by the lack of traffic and had to rationalize it by rambling about the … sixties? He clearly believes that he worked his ass off to create something valuable and people don’t value it.

He is wrong. Discussion doesn’t mean being valued, it means being disagreed. The dumber thing you write, the more discussion you spawn. The internet trolls purposefully post dumb things to spawn “emotionally charged discussion”.

If you post something valuable, there won’t be much discussion, because people are unable to discuss. I know nothing about Daybreak financials. His post was the first time I’ve even heard of Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong. How could I add anything to the post in the comment section?

Sure, I could write “great post” or “I didn’t know that”, but that’s spam and if I delete them from my own blog, I sure won’t litter other people’s blog with it, even if they would feel better by it.

Did I remember anything about the doctor? Nope, it was too much dry information that I cannot use. But I do remember that there is a post on the blog of Bhagpuss about the topic, so if I ever get into a situation when I need Daybreak investor info (for example investigating corruption within a Daybreak game), I know to search for “Bhagpuss doctor Daybreak” and I will have what I need. Then I can also write a valuable, researched post instead of a comment pulled out of my ass in 2 minutes and reference his work, implying that my post couldn’t be made without his.

Knowing how important it is for him, I write it down now: thank you Bhagpuss for the work you put in to create information. May your blog be full of discussion-free, informative posts.

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PS: one of my World of Warships games got into the youtube of a famous streamer, because I was together with another famous streamer. Hint: we lost because we had 2 extreme morons (who are the main attraction of the video), despite I did pretty well.

PS2:
rank4got

Wildstar was doomed to fail on launch (and how could it be rebooted to success)

Many in the blogosphere are sad because Wildstar is closing, despite them not playing it. This says two things: the creators made something lovable and remarkable that caught people’s eye, made people play and want to love the game.

The other is that the game was fundamentally flawed, broken to the core. Enthusiasts can ignore bugs, can look over unbalance, wait for “we’ll release it when we’re ready” feature and above all, they bring in their friends to play.

I needed no explanation why all these happened, I had the result the moment I’ve seen a video of the game about the beta and decided “no way”. The broken core was the telegraph action combat system. Don’t get me wrong, many successful games use telegraph action combat, League of Legends and Overwatch being the most well-known. But neither one is an MMORPG and for a good reason.

It’s bizarre that basics need to be explained to people who develop games for living. It’s like having to tell a chief power plant engineer that perpetuum mobile cannot be made and why. But let’s do it again:

Each genre of gaming focuses on one kind of “skill”. Those who like to hone this skill, find it fun to do so will be attracted to the genre. They are attracted exactly because they want to hone that skill. Everything that distract them from it (besides random, progression-irrelevant flavor stuff) hurt their fun.

For example FPS fans value the skill of quickly moving the mouse to the head pixels of the enemy. It’s a senso-motoric skill. The FPS games are purposefully bend everything for this one skill. The characters can turn back at infinite speed which is completely impossible for soldiers that the games formally simulate. Because the game is not simulating soldiers, the combat setting is just a lore-background, you are not roleplaying a soldier trying to stop terrorist, you are playing a “move cross to pixel faster” game, and if character turn speed was limited, it would put an artificial ceiling to your “skill”. The maps are fixed and few, because the players don’t want to be distracted by having to find their way or map the place when they focus on moving that cross. Any FPS which isn’t about moving the cross for the win will either fail – or like PUBG – the community ignores the other parts and just plays for headshots anyway.

The “skill” in MMORPGs is long-term planning and disciplined execution. Players collect items, reputation points, currencies, quest counters for progression that takes place over thousands of hours. While many games have thousands of hours of play by enthusiasts, those hours take place in thousands of independent short matches. In MMOs, it takes place in the same “round”, today session starts with all the advantages you collected in the previous days. You have more “stuff” than a newbie and players support that. Otherwise, they wouldn’t play.

The core MMO player values discipline (think of raiders with schedules and leaders), planning, “effort” and dependability. This is the setting they want to play in. Everything else distracts them. Putting action combat in an MMO is like putting year-long character progression into an FPS. Imagine that Counterstike would announce that you’ll have a persistent character that will get traits over time and a 2000-hours character will have 10x HP, 5x damage, 2x speed than a new player. The game would die in an hour, because players would be outraged that the combat isn’t won by the “skilled” (the one who moves crosshair to head faster), but the “lowly nolifer” who “grinded” out the upgrades.

This is exactly what Wildstar did. They created a game where players should collect items, get upgrades, play with a persistent character, while their progression wouldn’t depend on the mentioned things, but mainly on their ability to respond fast to telegraphed attacks. Players probably didn’t even got to the point of being outraged that progress goes to the “twitch-kiddies” instead of the “dedicated good players who make the necessary effort” because they vomited looking at the action combat in a video and refused to even try it, like I did.

An MMORPG must be very light on twitch-skill and heavy on planning, disciplined and organized play to succeed.

As a piece of good news: I think much of the development of Wildstar can be salvaged, by using the assets to make an Overwatch-clone. The classes would be the heroes, the combat system is perfect for that kind of game and the iconic places could be used for arenas. So Wildstar can shine, just not as an MMORPG.

Alternatively, Wildstar could be rebooted by dumping the action combat system for normal tab-targetting, 1.5sec GCD, skillbar casting MMO. Without double-jump, of course. The setting is clearly loved by many, the dungeons, bosses are already there.

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PS: Warships update: since I take a break after every defeat, the amount of wins grows fast:
noquad