How to get more tanks: quests that teach

April 13, 2011 at 3:30 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

There has been a lot of recent discussion about how to address the shortage of tanks in LFD.  It’s a subject I find very interesting, so it’s no surprise that I’ve written about it before.  In this post, I’d like to talk about how the leveling experience can support players in learning to tank.

A few months ago, Matticus wrote an underappreciated post about two quests that can help to educate players about how healers work.  To summarize, there are NPCs that have abilities very similar to Holy Word:Sanctuary and Lightwell.   There is quest messaging that assists players in identifying and using these heals.  With any luck, players will have learned that the big gold circle is a good place to stand in order to receive healing.

Like Matticus, I wish there were more quests that helped players to learn about their class, their role and how to play effectively in groups.  Getting more tanks isn’t just a matter of making it possible for more classes or specs to tank, there’s also the issue of developing players with an understanding of tanking.  In WoW, leveling is designed as a solo-able activity while, in contrast, dungeons and raids are for groups.  This means that players — especially tanks and healers — tend not to develop the skills necessary for dungeons and raids when they level.

I think it would be better of leveling provided experiences that help players — again, especially tanks and healers — learn to work with a group.  There are a few quests of this sort, but they are rare.  I’ve written previously about some of the quests that test a player’s ability to perform common raid tasks:

Priest quest for Benediction: to get this staff, it was necessary to complete a difficult quest that required a priest to be able to use all their abilities.

Hunter quest for Rhok’delar: to get this bow, hunters needed to defeat several demons using a variety of skills including kiting.

Warrior quest for Berserker Stance: while nowhere near as difficult as the previous two, this quest all but required knowing how to use Demoralizing Shout.

Two of these quests came quite late in a player’s progression, so they served more as tests than as lessons, but I think they are still a useful sort of quest in the sense that completing them required players to do more than the typical quest requires.

The leveling experience is problematic not just because it affects the tank shortage, but also because it leads to player frustration.  As players progress through the game, the difficulty curve is relatively smooth.  When new challenges are introduced, they’re usually not far beyond what a player has done before; they’re manageable.   But when players progress from solo questing to dungeons and from dungeons to raids, the difficulty curve jumps sharply.  These sorts of jumps produce anxiety and break players out of ‘flow’.

By introducing tasks usually reserved to dungeons or raiding into the leveling experience, some of those bumpy spots in the difficulty progression could be smoothed out.  In general, questing usually doesn’t provide situations where players can or should:

  • interrupt
  • use defensive cooldowns
  • move out of the fire
  • taunt
  • heal
  • remove debuffs
  • stack with the group

Typical raid bosses require at least five of those be performed very effectively, but leveling rarely requires doing any of them!  There are several role-specific things that could be added here, too, such as picking up adds as a tank.

I’d like to see Blizzard develop solo content that supports performance in group content.  Quests would be a big part of doing so, but solo content in support of grouping doesn’t have to be limited to quests.  As an example, I’d like to have a training dummy that helps tanks to test their threat rotation.  For warrior tanks, this would mean the dummy would simulate incoming attacks (to proc Revenge) and incoming damage (to produce rage and Vengeance).

It’d be nice if new tanks could go into their first dungeon run with at least a little assurance that they understand their abilities and how to use them.  As it currently stands, the leveling experience often teaches players bad habits that they subsequently have to break in order to tank effectively.  Quests that teach won’t solve the tank shortage, but they could certainly help.

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3 Comments »

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  1. Sweet post! I can’t help but wonder if there’s a few lower level quests exclusive to druid, paladin, warrior or DKs that might involve teaching players how to hold aggro and stuff. Maybe make it an optional quest or something.

  2. I think Blizzard should have a quest for all tank classes where the reward is a link to TankSpot :P

    • Ha! Signu, aside from a recent post on For The Bubbles (http://forthebubbles.wordpress.com/), I think this is the only humorous thing I have seem posted about the whole CtA mess. Thanks.


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