Friday, March 7, 2008

WSG: Blizzard's failure of a BG

Obvious preface: WSG being a failure of a BG is my opinion, not a fact. Anything said here that you think might be an opinion and is stated like a fact is an opinion.

This weekend I took a little time and played my Druid. He's at 49 and I was taking some time to do PvP to get gear to help me out from fifty to fifty-eight. Not like I needed it, but PvP can be fun, so why not do something fun and get some rewards from it, right?

So I respecced to a resto build (was feral) did some AB and got the Highlander's Lizardhide Boots (for faster running in WSG). After this I started doing WSG for some of the rewards there... Over a few days the week before I had gotten the badges I needed for the healer cape, and did three more games. Those last three games lasted about forty-five minutes to an hour each.

This showed me the major flaw for WSG: Stalemates. This isn't really a huge revelation, but this is the first time I've really been effected by it. All three of the games I mentioned above were long games that happened not because both sides were effective in defending our flag from being taken, but because both sides would get the flag and then be able to effectively defend it. This problem stems from, I believe, a lack of foresight on Blizzard's part concerning the differences between FPSs and WoW. For most examples I will compare WSG with TF2, since I have played a fair amount of TF2 (compared to other multi-player FPSs with a CTF style stage).

First, the most obvious difference is player-controlled health and how healing works. In WSG, an intelligent healer (or two, if the flag carrier [FC] is really lucky) can keep the FC alive through pretty much anything. I've seen cases where two healers were able to keep the FC alive through an onslaught of the entire other team, while two or three of the DPS FC-defenders crushed the attackers under their heel. In addition, the ability to control and increase your health to levels making you close to, if not unkillable (with healing and, in limited cases, without), independent of your class (high DPS clothies with over 10,000 health?).

TF2 is an entirely different situation. With preset healing and health it means that you know what you're facing when going up against someone. If you see a Demoman and a Heavy coming at you, you know to shoot the Demoman first since they will die more quickly. and Also, in TF2, you can't heal yourself. Take the Medic in TF2, who can quickly heal others, and has a slow regeneration effect, but has no self heals. So focused fire on the healers can actually do something, unlike WoW where focused fire might kill them... if they aren't a Paladin or a Druid, or don't have any backup, or... well you get what I'm getting at. There's a way to equalize the advantage good healing gives in TF2, but it's not guaranteed in WSG.

These are just some examples of the problem, which is Blizzard didn't have foresight when it came to making a BG. It seems very much to me that when it came time to design the BGs, they put a lot of thought into making AV, and then realized maybe they should make another, a smaller one. So they started to brain storm that. Someone then thought... "Hey... people like playing 'Capture the Flag', right? Why not make a BG for that?" And it was generally agreed that it was a good idea. But without the limitations that most FPS designers place on the players, it's far less controlled, and leads to situations like I listed above, with players being able to stalemate the game for hours.

Does this mean that WSG is unfixable? Of course not. Nothing is beyond fixing, but it requires an ample change on the basic design to make it so that things like stalemates are not possible. Blizzard could take the simple way out and just make it so that you don't need to have your own flag to turn in your opponents, but this would make WSG very much like old AV, where it was a race to see who finishes first. You would have one person (most likely a Feral Druid) who's the FC, and everyone else guards them, as both sides run around and around on the opposite sides, making sure to not be slowed down by getting too close to the other side.

As for how to fix it? I'm not really sure, but the key is making it points based, much like AB and EotS are. Let's say both sides start at zero. Every 3 seconds 5 points are added to both sides, independent of the flag. For each kill that's done, that side gets 5 points (this is done to ensure that both sides won't turtle with their flag and cause a tie). For making a flag turn-in you get 500 points, and the goal is to reach 4,000 points. This would not change the mechanics of WSG too much (in fact it might encourage players to fight each other more), while allowing it so that if both sides are turtling, one will emerge the winner after a preset amount of time (discounting the points from killing and flag turn-ins, a game would end after 40 minutes (which would be guaranteed to be made shorter if by nothing else than points from killing).

And I'm sure that's not the only option. Does anyone else have ideas on how they could "fix" WSG or any other complaints about it? Or am I misguided in my opinions? Is WSG right the way it is, and if so why?


Honors Code said...

Here is the fix they chose:

From the 2.4 Patch Notes:

Warsong Gulch

When both flags are held, the flag carriers will receive 50% increased damage done to them after approximately 10 minutes and 100% increased damage after approximately 15 minutes.

Flag carriers can now be tracked 45 seconds after picking up the flag.

Nifen said...

I like WSG a lot, because out of all the battlegrounds it is the one where I feel most able to turn around a losing game. But the lack of a time limit does hurt it. I think the fix you describe makes it too similar to Eye of the Storm, personally. If that 2.4 note Honors Code posted is true, that may be a good answer, although I don't think it eliminates stalemates, just makes them harder to sustain.

Kaziel said...

@Honors code: I wasn't aware of those changes, but as nifen pointed out (and I noticed before I read his/her post), that will only make stalemates harder to sustain, not eliminate them.

Also, I think it will make turtling an even more prevalent factor. Imagine this scenario: At the ten minute mark the debuff increasing their damage will hit, and people will probably call for more defenders on the FC. The other side will possibly have a similar situation, with both sides sending three to four people to attack, while having five to six people guarding the FC.

And if things go as I predict above, then stalemates could become even more common, as a large defense is necessary to protect the FC from a smaller defense. The side the sends out a strong offense first will probably be the side that loses, since the weak offense/strong defense side will crush the opposing side's FC, and their flag will reappear before the strong offense can get through the strong defense, which will lead to the FC capping.

But maybe I'm wrong. We shall see.

The only thing I'm sure this change will prevent is a single person, like a Paladin or a Bear-Form Druid, holding the flag against multiple enemies.

Also, another question: Will this debuff restart if the flag is dropped and picked up by another, or is it associated with the flag? If it's the former then people will just swap flag carriers every five minutes or so and nothing will change. But I hope this is a silly concern, and Blizzard has enough foresight to prevent this.

@nifen: Yeah, I'll agree that WSG does have that nice feeling of "It's never too late to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat." which is nice (I've been part of quite a few of those victories), but they seem to be an exception, not the rule.

And yeah, my idea does bear a resemblance to EotS (only with two flags instead of one), but it was the best idea I could think of at the time. I still haven't thought of anything better though.

Anonymous said...

Here's an idea.

What if they changed it so that when both flags are picked up, both flag carriers are rooted in place?

At first I thought, just make your side's flag despawn when you pick up the enemie's, but that simplifies the strategy too much.

Similar with just allowing flag captures when your flag is picked up.

But here's how I see it play out. Say you have the typical your flag is picked up and they have it half way back to capture when your side picks up their flag. Now both FC are perma-rooted (until death or your side recaptures your flag from their FC). So you're stuck in the enemy base with the flag. Hard to turtle there when the enemy graveyard is much closer than your own. Plus their FC is now rooted in the middle of the field makeing them an easier target.

Either that or just put a time limit on it of 40 minutes. If neither side gets 3 captures, it's a draw and each side gets 1 mark.



Anonymous said...