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If you can't stand the heat...

The amount of Dragon Age I've been playing lately hasn't allowed for much WoW brainspace, and I've felt a little burned out on WoW, but Blizzard's "call to arms" (CTA) dungeon finder idea currently on the PTR has me back on the wow-social introspection train again, so here we go.

It's not often that I facepalm at Blizzard, and at first I felt, for reasons you can find anywhere where this is being discussed (seriously, the "WoW insider" comment discussions are fascinating and bloody eternal), I thought this was quite simply one of the stupidest ideas they've ever had.

And then it hit me: they know that.

This well intended yet clearly ungodly misplaced idea is a disclamatory effort, and just more coal in the forgefire that Cataclysm represents for the WoW community.

Follow me on this, I swear I'm not crazy here.

The resounding message of Cataclysm is "play with friends and win". With the social flavour being pushed on all levels of WoW, execution fights on all tiers of PVE content, rewards out the butt for playing as a community, the dungeon finder is left as a last resort, a purposely and unfixably flawed but automatedly accessible default level of presence for WoW's PVE nucleus, the 5- man instance.

The biggest mechanical "flaw" with the dungeon finder's functionality within the product is the queue time disparity, a disparity in product experience that, while community centric, is indeed blizzard's perceived responsibility to address, and the only way to do that is to entice more tanks into the mix, so CTA is their publicly visible "see? That's what we're doing" action. If I'm right, this makes the CTA mechanic less moronic and more genius.

Hey, vocal minority of the WoW community: sometimes, it's you.

Blizzard can't tell you that, because you pay their bills, and that would just be bad form that you'd never let them forget, but it doesn't make it any less true. My point is, right on schedule with my predictions for Cataclysm, tanks are swearing off of PUG tanking left and right (within the circles I read), and this is part of the forgefire that Cataclysm is about: be a team player, or WoW will, on this front anyway, rapidly move into the "maybe it's not for you" category. The people making these tanks quit PUG have no one to blame for their queue times but themselves, and Blizzard knows that.

And that's why the CTA is genius!

It does two things at once. First, yes, it will put more tanks in queue, which will, in theory, lower queue times. That's a good thing. I'm not going to go on the tangent of the worst case attitude/aptitude of some of those tanks, because my rule #1 of tanking I enforce only to myself is always "don't be new" (on the time of those you don't have a mutual personal investment of understanding friendship with), and I know that's not common, popular or intended.

The second byproduct of the CTA, though, and this is the genius of it, is that there is a subset of skilled, friendly and geared tanks that this won't work on, and Blizzard MUST know this. This subset has read the writing on the wall, they see the community forgefire in its slag-melting inferno of frustration, and are sticking to guild groups, and given the current PUG climate, nothing, no bribe, no class buff, will change that. These people "get it" on a very integral front... and Blizzard knows that. They're counting on it.

There are people whom, after this change, will still be unhappy with the queue times, the treatment, and the general inferiority of the dungeon finder experience. It's inevitable. These people have, essentially, three options:

1) They still love WoW, and take up something less team reliant, like non-rated PVP, or achievement hunting, or auction house PVP, or archeology, etc, etc.

2) They leave WoW.

3) They gravitate away from the intendedly inferior and yet still visibly and actively "tweaked" dungeon finder... and toward the intendedly social, inherently accountable, purposely superior in design team/guild experience that blizzard has put a glowing beacon on, and for very good reason.

The single greatest weakness to Blizzard's centerpiece product right now has nothing to do with design or mechanics, and everything to do with the out of control monster that Blizzard has begun to nerf via the subtle methods that are the only option. That monster is the community, and its attitude in a sea of twelve million faceless text voices. This CTA feature is their way of indirectly saying "we've done all we can. Sometimes, it's you".

The good news, is that the slag are the minority. The vocal, steaming, stinking, smoking minority. I implore the good, solid metal beneath and within to wait out the fires, stay close to home, and wait for the hottest, most uncomfortable part of the smelting process to pass. Blizzard is ambitiously laying the groundwork for a better community, and in the meantime, you know you have a good thing going at home, so cherish that, and weather the heat.

Admit it, you wanna hop on your mount and go mine some ore now! ;)

Thank you for reading!

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.