I was talking to our GM last night about a post he wrote here. I suggest you read it because it's highly informative and echoes a sentiment a lot of people have had recently. There are just too many people being carried through content, getting cheap easy gear, and then using that gear as a crutch to carry them further. It is almost a self perpetuating cycle.
It got me to thinking about hockey again. I think Wow and hockey have a lot in common. They are both team based activities (I'm talking 5 mans here, I guess the analogy holds true to raiding, its just a bigger team), where the team functioning together as a whole is more important than the individual parts and weaknesses in key positions cause defeat to the team. If an instance run can't do enough damage before the tank dies, that group loses. If a team doesn't score enough to support their goalie, they lose. In hockey, I know what level I can play up to. When I play at this level, the games are challenging, but I make the saves more often than not and my team still has a good chance to win. When I skate out, I play in a lower division because frankly, I'm just not as good skating out as I am in goal, I don't shoot very well, so I am weak in a key area that can be exposed at higher difficulty levels. Imagine if one day, for participating in a game, I was rewarded with an amazing stick that was better than most everyone else's on my team and allowed me to shoot on par with the better players in the division.
Suddenly I can shoot (even though it's the stick, and not me learning proper technique), and since I got this awesome stick, maybe I'll play up a division and try for some skates that make me skate faster. Now, I've just gotten the ability to skate and shoot purely from new gear, why would I bother practicing technique? I can play well above the level I would normally be able to play at with these items alone.
Obviously, that example is preposterous. I play at the level that my skills allow me to. Occasionally I will play in a level I consider "easy" either because I enjoy hockey or a team needs a fill in. I practice to get better, but even with the best gear out there, I would never be able to keep up with a pro player in crappy 2nd hand gear. In Wow, this is not the case. Put me in Ulduar purples and an elite tank in white gear, and I will completely outclass them. Why does Wow encourage gear hoarding over skill developement?
Part of me says "don't worry about it, it doesn't really affect you. People who want to play that way pay their $15 the same as you do." I guess they're not really hurting me, but it bugs me. I felt the anguish in TBC when I hit the level cap and realized it was like being level 1 again. I ground reputation to get keyed for the heroics and even with a well geared group, upper level instances were HARD, there were wipes and CC was mandatory. I feel like I've developed skill an experience and people who get carried through a couple naxx runs for some gear and then think their l33t because of it just feels wrong. I guess I want to respect people who are more "progressed" than me, but more often than not, I just can't.
On a more positive note, I am doing some skills work myself this weekend. I'm going to be tanking some guild runs through the easier heroics, not so much for gear (for me at least, the only instance that has much of anything for me is heroic Utgarde Pinnacle), more to get experience running heroics with our team. I'm looking forward to it. Even if we wipe and things don't go that smoothly, I know why I play. I enjoy spending time with my guildies and contributing to the group.
1 year ago