Sunday, October 11, 2009

If It's Red, Then It's Dead: What's Broken With The Battleground System?

Alright, so I want to talk a little bit about the overall battleground format and why it is not working. I think a big clue we can take from Blizzard is during the last major patch they accidentally changed the levels for grouping up in battlegrounds. Now I completely agree with the changes, however I feel it shows how little work they really put into the battleground system in general. I am not a computer programmer, but in a previous job I did do systems testing for development prior to implentation of said system for a large national financial company and a change like that is not just something you accidentally flip the switch on or accidentaly impliment. So I think it is safe to say that Blizzard doesn't really care that much for the Battleground system based upon the fact that it would be almost impossible to "accidentaly" throw it into the patch.

How can I say that with the new battleground they added? Well, have you played it? It has no creativity in it at all. It feels like to me they just went and through all the battlegrounds into a bag and shook it around and when they dumped it out they gasped in awe at the work they had created. I will admit jumping off of a ship and attacking from inside the keep is cool, but how original was that? That was litteraly the only new thing they added. Their previous battleground addition has, in my opinion, been crap. Now I realize we can never go back to the old days of WoW and what the "old timers" loved about the game, but I think that they could put a little more thought into the overall battleground system.

Let's step back from the bitchfest that we could have about the development and implimentation of the battleground though and let's examine our options with both the good and the bad. Now this is from my persepective and I do not claim to be unbiased or non-opinionated, in fact I am just the opposite!

Warsong Gulch

The very first battleground experience that we get is Warsong Gulch. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard people say that they hate this one. The biggest complaint was that it took too long. I really disagree with the overall opinion of those who feel that way. Warsong Gulch was a battleground that required skill and teamwork. You had to have a solid group of players to defend your own flag while a skilled group went out to retrieve the opposing faction's flag. The problem was that for most players the idea of working together and utilizing a strategy is simply not there. Most players would run in and do one of two things:

1. Charge straight for the opposing faction's flag room leaving no one behind to defend their own flag and thus create a long game of who will drop the flag first.

2. Charge to the middle of the field and proceed to farm honorable kills, but not contribute to the goal of the overall battleground.

In reality, when we look at Warsong Gulch we see that it was not really Blizzard who ruined this battleground originally. It was instead the players. We did not wish to play by the "rules" so to say. Sure there are no rules and all is fair in love and war, but the battlegrounds were established for players to experience PVP, but with a goal. It was not so bad way back in the day because you had only players from PVP servers playing other PVP servers and the same for the non-PVP servers. However, when Blizzard mixed the battlegroups to include the non-PVP servers with the PVP servers, the quality of the battlegroups went down and we were tossed into battlegrounds where the non-PVP server players were simply there to farm honor. You cannot reason with them nor can you do anything about it, after all it is their only way to earn honorable kills in large amounts.

Now let's flash forward to the present. We have all gotten use to how the battlegrounds are, but Blizzard decides that they want to change Warsong Gulch one more time by adding a timer. Apparantly people are mad because they do not want to be in a neverending battleground. So instead of Blizzard coming up with a way to cause players to actually try to reach the goal of the battleground they simply put a time limit on the battleground. While I understand their reasoning in that it keeps it at the same time frame of most other battlegrounds, it did nothing at all to address what is truly wrong with the battleground overall.

So how would I approach this issue if I were in Blizzard's position? Well, there have been plenty of topics on this matter and plenty of ideas around it as well. I think one way to solve the issue would be through utilizing a system that would not award any honorable kills for a losing team. This would deal with those who wish to farm honorable kills, but what about the ones who are using the battlegrounds as a method to attempt to level? I know when I ran AV to level my hunter from 71 - 80, I did not care about the win as much as taking down Bal, IWB, and SHB. Sure a win was even better but if the group was solid enough to take those three it was around 5% of a level each game. A loss was actually a quicker method for earning experience verses winning a long drawn out fight. I would institute a system that did not award experience until the end of the battleground. I would then assign a set amount of experience to the whole battleground rather than individual targets. As an example, let's say that Warsong Gulch is worth 50,000 experience for both factions at level 79. I would then throw the experience into a large pot so the total experience combined would be 100,000 experience awarded. Then the winning team would receive 75% (75,000) of the total experience and the losing team would receive 25% (25,000) of the experience. In this simple strategy, you now give every player a reason to want to win. It would also then be able to utilize the AFK system for those who are reported and do not partake would also lose any experience thus removing the lazy players from receiving any experience as well as no honor.

I had intended to take a look at all of the battlegrounds as I think each one deserves a little seperate attention and I guess in the coming weeks I will look at each of the battlegrounds and discuss possible fixes for each. I did not realize how much I would actually have to say on this topic, but I feel it is a valid discussion as so many players are now running the battlegrounds to level and creating a whole new set of issues and concerns.

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