[GW2] Over-compensation

In The Essential 55, Ron Clark says to err on the side of over-celebration. Cheering something only marginally worthy is less bad than not cheering something that deserves it.

Guild Wars 2 rewards everything and goes on to reward everyone for everything. Guild Wars 2 does not care if you level too quickly. It believes that it is better to reward your minimal participation. Arriving at the tail end of an event? Pitch in anyway, get some karma. You contribute one attack to someone’s fight? Full rewards!

Every other MMO I know works on the principle that xp is a scarce, rivalrous resource. Higher leveling speed could mean fewer months subscribed. Keeping people from receiving the unearned (and exploiting) is a greater concern. With xp as a limited resource per enemy, ensuring that you do not take more than your share is an issue of fairness. Most games limit unfairness through tagging and limit exploitation through additional penalties for outside help.

Tagging does prevent rogue solo DPS from exploiting tanks. For those who did not play in that era, there have been xp systems under which a tank could engage and take aggro, only to have someone with more damage swoop in and take most or all of the xp at no personal risk, and back in the day death penalties meant meaningful risk. Xp systems might reward whoever gets the first hit, the last hit, or does the most damage (or some more complex calculation).

Guild Wars 2 takes a different approach: everyone gets full xp. If you have done 90% of the work and see someone get equal rewards for tossing in one attack, that can grate. The leech has not taken anything from you, and even contributed a little, but still, unfair! That is an attitude we will need to get past. The current system encourages everyone to help everyone, even for very small values of “help.” Encouraging help only trivially useful is less bad than not encouraging help that could make a difference.

I have noted for years that, in MMOs, the polite reaction to seeing someone in a life-or-death battle with three trolls is to ignore him/her unless s/he explicitly asks for help. That is weird. I would much rather establish a norm of “everyone helps everyone,” whether you are nice or just greedy. It is pro-social design. We just need to develop a new concept with positive connotations in place of “leech,” with bonus points if it can incorporate “drive by.”

: Zubon

31 thoughts on “[GW2] Over-compensation”

  1. I don’t get why people get mad at these ‘leechers’ in GW2. A leech is, by definition, someone that is taking something from you. Nobody loses out in any way under GW2’s system, so the sour grapes people have over the behavior is just silly to me.

    Sometimes as I’m running past someone fighting a mob I shoot it a couple of times — not because I -want to leech- but because why not? It makes their fight a little shorter and it costs me (and them) nothing.

  2. “Encouraging help only trivially useful is less bad than not encouraging help that could make a difference.”

    Doesn’t exactly roll of the tongue, but this is certainly one of the more beautiful insights I’ve encountered. Thank you! :D

  3. Interestingly, I’ve sort of run into this encouraged cooperation as an irritation regardless of the intent that you shouldn’t feel competition with other players. I’ll be fighting a small group of enemies, and I’m having a rough time of it (to the eye of a passer-by) but I know I’ll be able to survive, when along comes Mr. Charr Warrior axe-whirling through them, or the cry of an elementalist attuning behind me.

    Kind of a buzzkill when I know I’ll be able to handle it and just want to see it through; it’s not even about the reward, it’s about how I want to be faced with a challenge and kick its ass. While sometimes people start helping when I’m downed and think I’m a goner, it feels a little like an insult when I’m in the zone and gunning for the win.

  4. It’s just a symptom of most people being familiar with old-style MMO combat where mobs are tagged. GW2 will open their eyes to a new world of possibilities. :)

  5. I am in love with the game. Don’t get me wrong.

    I just think there are different methods of reward/punishment, for anything.

    I’m not saying this is bad of GW2 or they shouldn’t do it. Just throwing it out there.

    Guild Wars 2 rewarding of everything is very fun and everything is incentivized(Yes, I said it) to, maybe, encourage helping. Or is it to just let everyone get a reward? And the helping just happens.

    Would kids learn to help people because it’s good to help people and it actually “pays” to help people. Helping does benefit oneself, without anything in return.

    Choosing to help a stranger kill a boss, for instance, might make it possible to, actually, kill it. That is a reward. That could’ve been my act of “helping” that, in turn, helped me.

    Just throwing that idea out there.

    1. I see where you’re coming from, but that’s not exactly how it works. In real life, yes, I would gladly give a friend a ride, help to find the owner of a lost dog, help a guy on the side of the road change a flat tire, help out neighbors getting their electronics working, volunteering with Special Olympics, etc. and I would expect nothing for it. Just helping others is it’s own reward.

      However, these are video games. Where there are progress bars, levels, and every stat is kept in numbers, helping someone out “just to help out” makes no sense. Sure, you’re helping the other person and that’s cool, but you’re punishing yourself, and most times the “help” isn’t even wanted. The other person feels slighted. (It’s like holding a door open for someone, and them turning around and yelling at you for automatically thinking they couldn’t open it themselves. This happens more often than it really should…) In that instance, you are punished for helping, and in a game where time + effort = progression, a period of time + effort w/ no progression is a punishment.

      For GW2, it really is “let everyone get a reward, and the helping just happens”.

      1. I don’t agree that altruism makes no sense.

        If you help someone and get no obvious reward for it, there’s still a positive outcome. You and the person you helped will both likely feel better, which can in turn influence the outcomes of future events. Feeling better is in itself a reward, too, with psychological as well as physiological effects.

        I also don’t agree that I’m punishing myself – in any sense – by helping someone kill something, especially in GW2. First, if I receive nothing in return except the good feeling from having helped someone, well, that in itself is enough reward to disprove the punishment theory. Second, I’ll almost always receive full credit for the kill, which translates to exp and often loot; which is to say, the central and most important rewards in game. Third, when people help each other, everyone wins, because this isn’t a zero-sum game. If I can kill a monster every 15 seconds, for instance, and someone else comes along and we kill things together, we might literally get twice the reward in the same time; twice the exp and twice the loot, for the same time spent. I think it’s a bit silly to claim that’s a punishment. ;)

        Yes, sometimes people get cranky about being helped. In almost every case I’ve experienced, this is because people are upset at having something taken away from them. This, of course, doesn’t pertain to GW2 at all, since I can’t take any of your exp or loot away by attacking your foe.

        It’s true that some people want to test themselves and really, truly don’t want any help. That’s valid. If I want to test myself like that, I try to move well off the beaten path. If someone else comes along and “interferes”, well, I have nothing to be upset about; I’ll just wait till they leave or move away myself.

        I’m impressed by the designs in GW2; they really are pro-social. I think the community will have a bit of adapting to do, to get used to this idea, but in time, we’ll have a game where people just freely help each other. I think that’s a good thing overall, and in many respects it’s a great thing. Sure, there can be downsides, but most of those pertain to people who are being antisocial, or who don’t understand the new mechanics.

  6. Well from what i can tell healing someone while they fight mobs or players gets you nada. So no, not all behaviors in GW2 are incentivised.

    1. That’s a fair point. But I do it anyway in part because of the overall feel of the game, and because it’s not like I need the EXP so much that being short-changed in an event or two annoys me. For every one I get less reward for, I get free rewards for barely participating in another.

      Besides, it’s nice that people usually say thank you :)

  7. Not sure why anyone would “get over it” when in their real lives they feel the same way towards people on welfare, rich people, group assignments where the least useful members still get the same credit, and/or other broad-spectrum social injustices.

    The drive-by help you are describing can also be spun as some stranger walking up to you and penciling in the correct answer to your Crossword puzzle. Did it “help?” Uh… sure. It also trivialized the encounter/puzzle even more. Is there any difference between that combat help and someone giving directions to the secret cave in /Map chat?

    You tell me.

    1. Between a vicious community and a community where help is everywhere, generating a good vibe, I’d gladly take the latter.

      Also, u can turn off your map chat.

    2. Your crossword puzzle analogy doesn’t really fit. In that instance, yes, it is very rude for a stranger to come up and help you out without any previous social interaction.

      However, if you attended a convention where the whole point was for people to help out with each others crosswords and people jumped in and helped you out, as that was the idea, it wouldn’t be rude at all.

      Sadly, most MMO’s fit into the previous, but GW2 definitely fits into the latter.

      Angry that someone helped you out on a kill where the game encourages people to help each other out on kills? Really… they need to just get over themselves.

      1. “Get over yourself” — ahh, the inclusive GW2 fan community strikes again!

        As someone posted earlier, sometimes people take on difficult pulls because they like challenging themselves. Sometimes I’ve just hit a cooldown and it’s going to go to waste because someone jumped in. Some people just like playing alone and don’t like dealing with other people even if they’re helping.

        I mean hey, yes, two people can kill the same mob and both get credit for it, cool. But it’s rude to assume that everyone plays the game like you do.

  8. All valid arguments.

    And while I agree with both, I still think that keeping this “every little help is rewarded” system in will be more beneficial in the long run.

    Speaking from experience; it used to be that when you saw someone struggling with mobs in EQ or DAoC or core WoW, you dropped a simple “need help?” in say and if there is no answer you moved on..
    I liked this system, it was social, it was considerate, and it was polite.

    But as times moved on and pve started to become a strictly-solo-quest-grinding-easy-as-pie business (speaking from my own experience from wow later expansions), I stopped talking to my fellow players. When I saw someone in a bind in pve I just smirked and passed; it was painfully easy, why the hell were they having problems??. After dungeon finders/raid finders added to the system I did not even had to move outside the capital for pve so even seeing someone in need of help was gone.

    I am not criticizing WoWs actions, for good or bad it expanded the world of mmos from a niche market to what we see today where millions of people play them.
    I am just saying that I as an old player noticed the change for the worse in my behavior, just think about that millions of new players that did not experience the old mmos, just learned what mmo is from WoW or other titles from that era.
    They do not know mmos are better if you are social. They need to be taught. We need to teach them.

    And here comes GW2. It rewards everything: you help someone; you get full kill xp, no kill stealing, no leeching. You rez someone; you get massive xp. Yes it is like a carrot you hang in front of the mule to get it to move but it works.

    Definitely a step up towards the right way to play mmos I believe.

  9. What peeves me sometimes is that some players turn up and hit once to ensure they get rewards, then just stand back and go AFK… so, by their presence they scale the mob up, but they’re not pulling their weight yet at the end of the fight they get their rewards.
    That’s a leech for you.

    The other scenario with someone arriving at the end and just having time for a few strikes before event is over, and then getting their rewards, is just fine and how it needs to be :)

    1. Hitting a monster then letting the other person do all the work is a good example of leeching, yeah. And that is inconsiderate, no doubt.

  10. After playing GW2, I noticed it will be really hard to go back to an open world “you’re on your own” mentality. If, say, in LotRO, I see someone in combat with a bear, I’ll now feel very compelled to help out. Of course, now it won’t get me anything, and now the other play might feel slighted that I thought they couldn’t do it on their own and interjected.

    This concept of “leech” is new to me, too. I can see where people think that, but didn’t they know that coming in to GW2? It’s the entire point! And yeah, people just need to get over that. I’m sure I’ve already done that hundreds of time, and I’m sure hundreds of people have done it to me. So it goes. The answer isn’t to get mad at anyone else for it… that’s just immature.

  11. I love how it works right now and this is why: I don’t even notice XP. When I level, it is usually a blink in my mind and then gone, because it seems to me that levels hardly matter. I don’t even know what level my character is. In other games, gaining a level meant a trudge to a trainer to see if there are new skills. In GW2, gaining a level means I might have more health and damage I suppose – honestly I pay it no mind.

    No game has done more to encourage me to join and help fights. In jumping puzzles, I am known to stand near a common bad spot and rez people just because. I love it. I am having fun. When I play with some of my family – we often race to rez people we see on the map.

    I just love how it works. I was really tired of the old “help someone and they get mad at you” system.

    1. This is really something that a lot of players right now still have to learn. I still see a lot of people rushing to lvl 80 as fast as possible to get to the “endgame”, not realizing that there is no such thing.

    2. I hung out on one of the harder-to-reach vista climbs in the Plains of Ashford the other day, giving people swiftness as they passed to make the jumps easier for them to make. While I enjoy doing stuff like this, few games incentivize it or even allow it.

    3. Rewarding good behavior is always better than rewarding bad behavior. And, I’d argue, it’s even better than punishing bad behavior.

      Ocho mentions a lot of good possibilities that to me break down into: closed systems vs. open systems.

      Whereas the closed system does things for you, while the open system allows more free will.

      For instance: you mention you’re known to rez, just to rez, now. And I’m assuming this is a new thing for you?

      I’ve done that and continue to do that, as well as hanging out in starting areas for hours giving high-level buffs, and answering questions on local chat, pretty-much since I started playing MMOs.

      I believe the “It’s just a game rule” applies in many scenarios to help put things in perspective, but I think it’s putting things out of perspective in this case. These games still have people, real people in them, and that’s one of the underlying pins about a game that tightens possible outcomes for any situation.

      How much is up to you? How much is the game making you do something? How much of that game’s forced rules agreeing with you or going against what you like?

      It’s a tremendously fun game that many are finding very social and positive(me included).

      1. I’ve done that and continue to do that, as well as hanging out in starting areas for hours giving high-level buffs, and answering questions on local chat, pretty-much since I started playing MMOs.

        I don’t know, I think you’ve narrowed down a situation where that sort of thing might be appropriate and even welcome, but when I think of combat rezzing and shared experience as it works in GW2 I’m specifically recalling my experiences in LOTRO where I couldn’t toss a heal to a player I came across who appeared to be struggling with a mob or else I’d “tap” it. And in many cases I couldn’t offer even that much since the player I came across wasn’t a member of my fellowship.

        A drive-by buff on someone who isn’t in combat is another thing entirely, and my Captain engaged in that behavior as often as possible. So in such a case I’d say the game is expressly preventing me from engaging in behavior I’m regularly doing in GW2 (such as popping my Aegis with my Guardian around someone who’s struggling, or has just been rezzed, etc.).

        Just providing an example.

        1. And in City of Heroes, there are cases where the drive-by buff activates the same sort of code that drive-by healing does in LotRO (which is a functional equivalent, because CoX support is more about the buffs than the healing), so players there seeking to do the same thing need to make sure they are providing those buffs before the combat happens.

          Code matters.

        2. I agree with that ideal. That’s why I think something like that shouldn’t, maybe, have been instituted.

          I’m largely against many of the design implementations that have been happening since WoW hit the scene, but that’s what people wanted, so that’s what they got.

          Same thing, on a smaller scale, when Runes of Magic took away one-click gathering to stop node-jacking. There’s a freaking node every 2-inches in that game. They’re everywhere. Just go to a new one, if being griefed. Possibilities of group gathering and other, unknown, fun possibilities are now coded out, as they tighten the reigns and force that kind of control. GW2 did an excellent job. I adore the game and can’t stop playing, but there will always be alternatives and more advancements.

          And now we’re to today, and GW2 releasing.

  12. I can honestly say that I have never encountered even one single instance of anyone complaining about someone else joining a fight in GW2. Not at any time in beta nor since the first moment of headstart. Is this really happening?

    I should add that one of the very first things I ever did was make a chat tab that doesn’t have Map chat on it and that’s my normal tab for about 95% of my play, so if there are arguments about this going on in Map I wouldn’t have seen them. From previous experience in other MMOs, though, I’d expect to get /tells pretty quickly if people really objected to me joining in on their fights and I get none, even though I loose arrows into just about every fight I ever pass by as a matter of principle.

  13. Considering that a large number of players seem to blitz into a new MMO, rush to the level cap in a week or two, and then get bored and leave – for the next game launch, I assume – I don’t think letting people level too quickly is too big a deal. In theory it might hurt retention rates, but in practice players can and do achieve the same thing anyway even in a grindy game.

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