The Benefits of Gating

I’ve long said that gearscore is one of the worst methods of determining a player’s value.  It just happens to be the easiest.  Playing in Wildstar after having done a fair chunk of FF14 sure does make you think.

When the family went to the zoo this summer, there was a section that had a height limitation, 48 inches.  My 5 year old was just under that.  She’s a giant (both are) but it still was’t tall enough.  Which is good, since the section had a clear strength requirement as well – I’d guess 7-8 year olds were the target demo.  What kind of test do they use then?  Pull ups and push ups?

Gaming isn’t much different.  Activities require 2 things, in varying amounts – skill and power.  FF14 takes a relaxed approach to this, with a 2.5s global timer in combat.  This slows everything down and the skill bar therefore drops down a lot in turn.  It then turns into a power game, where it’s slightly easier to balance.  FF14’s LFG system has a gear level requirement for some content – in order that you apply some meaningful benefit to random groups.

The question is always, what if I’m 1ilvl below?  Am I really that bad?  No, since in FF14 the gear level is so easily acquired.  You could certainly try the content at a lower level but a tank/healer that’s undergeared is a risk.  DPS… well that can be managed.

WoW has a gearscore requirement, that’s really more of a joke right now.  The only thing it prevents is alts joining top tier LFR 3 patches late.  Gear is like candy in WoW.  WoD forced people to go through proving grounds, which is great.  Probably #2 in my quality of life changes the game has applied after flex raids.

TSW has gear and skills, though only a single gate.  The Gatekeeper battles are what keeps you from top-tier content – ensuring that not only do you have the gear but also the skills and understanding to use them.  A fresh player will have a lot of trouble the first time in, though it does get better.

Wildstar though, that’s a different one.  Combat is extremely hectic, what with telegraphs all over the place.  The skill level is quite high, compared to what players learn while leveling.  What’s the last MMO you played where you needed to stun an enemy?  I mean to complete the content, not to get some sort of achievement.  Where did you need to coordinate interrupts in 5 group content? Most fresh level 50s don’t even have an interrupt slotted.  That means that skill level is super important.  Aside from raid attunement, there’s no content gating aside from level.

Some folks are pushing for an ilvl gate for dungeons.  While PvP gear can get you to ilvl70 for just a few gold, it’s not like ilvl alone allows you to complete content.  People still stand in the red.  People don’t slot runes, or amps, or use a mixture of support and assault gear.  There’s just a whole pack of variables well beyond ilvl that impact play.  And it’s those variables that are causing some frustration in the game today.  People are simply not used to the mechanics and admittedly, they are quite a bit more complicated that other games out on the market.

So my suggestion to Wildstar is the following:

  • A veteran dungeon has a pre-requisite that the Protostar dungeons be completed first
    • This ensures that the player has an understanding of group mechanics
  • A veteran dungeon has an ilvl requirement of 70 and that half the runes have to be filled
    • 70 is actually quite low, PvP gear can be bought at that level.
    • People need to rune their gear.  Not all slots are equal though and to save rerolls, only half need them.  That gives about 7 runes, which is about 1000 stat points or so.
    • Even at this ilvl, it’s should only be Stormtalon to start.
    • This ilvl requires a good amount of skill.

Anecdote quickly.  When my Esper was a fresh 50, I had a really, really hard time with the daily quest hubs, especially the 2man missions (spider queen is a good example).  It required a specific build to complete.  Now, with an ilvl in the mid 80s, it’s actually quite simple.  As if I had an additional 10 levels to the character.  The ilvl power curve in Wildstar is significant.

If the skill level in Wildstar was lower, then the ilvl itself could drop a fair chunk too.  It’s not, and unless there’s some sort of mandatory training (which any veteran player could do with ease), it’s a massive wall of hurt for new players.  The Protostar dungeons are a quick and easy way for people to learn the group mechanics, test out builds and ensure they can do group content.  It would be even better if they could be soloed (like proving grounds and the gatekeeper) in order to save time in a queue.  Keeping people playing is important and continual failure without feedback/practice does the opposite.

5 thoughts on “The Benefits of Gating

  1. WoW forced you to get silver for your role in Proving Grounds in order to be able to queue for random heroics. If you do LFR you don’t need Proving Grounds and LFR gives better gear. It was a nice idea, but horrible implementation.

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    • You could say that about a lot of things in WoD. I think I managed to do 4 heroics total before it was super clear how worthless they were.

      The idea is sound though. Works pretty well in TSW, though for slightly different reasons.

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  2. I really miss the quest-based gating of The Burning Crusade. I felt like those were accessible, but still had enough challenge that you weren’t completely unprepared for later things. I also think it ups my immersion factor ever so slightly to have attunements of some sort. I hate Destiny’s approach where gearscore unlocks everything and luck, more or less, determines gearscore assuming you play consistently/long enough. The feeling of having something to work toward or to aspire to just doesn’t feel the same in that kind of progression environment.

    I also loved how attunements allowed the next raid to be significantly easier in spots. Once my guild unlocked Hyjal, we farmed the first couple of bosses while still gearing up in older content because those bosses were automatically harder than the last hardest boss.

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    • Wildstar at launch tried a weird hybrid quest/rep based approach. Funnily enough, it was 12 steps. And it failed. Mostly because it set the bar too damn high (love that meme) for the non-raid content.

      BC’s gates were simple enough – just complete the instance. Well, maybe not Morass but generally that was it. The only bad thin about it was that there was no catch-up mechanic as more raids were released. By the time sunwell came out, the raid attunement / gearing process shut out pretty much everyone who wasn’t already farming BT.

      Did you ever try vanilla RIFT’s attunement? That was fun as it had you try a bunch of content, but only needed to complete it, not “5 star” it.

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      • I didn’t. I think the big issue with WildStar was the sheer volume of it all. It seemed overwhelming. I don’t mind catch-up raids, but I wish MMOs were so heavy on that kind of progression to warrant them. I also wish older raids were replayable so it would be worth attuning others.

        But those are all longer term questions.

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