Monday, February 04, 2008

Will removing diminishing honor returns fix the AFK problem?

Its seems that the information dam around patch 2.4 has finally sprung a leak with lot of news from the community managers spilling out onto the official WoW forums. Previous information had been mostly limited to a round of interviews done by Tigole which dealt with high level overviews of the patch. Near the end of last week though both the European and American CMs started dropping little tidbits left and right. Not everyone goes to the forums though since its basically a text version of Xbox live. Thankfully sites like MMO Champion, WoWinsider, and Blue Tracker wade around in the muck for us and have listed most of the known 2.4 changes.

Its funny because more so then the new PvE content I find myself excited by a change to the honor system. In fact the lifting of diminishing returns on honor is like music to my ears. Make no mistake I'll probably run the new Sunwell dungeon a few times on heroic but its not going to keep me entertained for another three months. Now running my new horde characters through a fixed battleground system where they can actually earn honor at a decent rate might keep me around that long.

I suspect the primary reason behind the recent AFK phenomena in battlegrounds can be attributed to diminishing honor returns. Players had gotten into the habit of playing a battleground to win until one side gained a slight advantage. Then everyone would switch over to farm mode, abandon the flags, and just try to kill each other for a little bit of honor. WSG was especially bad with the first flag capture often causing everyone just to zerg the center for honor. However, things got worse as soon as the arena rewards became available for honor.

Everyone wanted the arena season 1 gear and despite what raiders said it still wasn't readily available to the average player. The battlegrounds became flooded with people who wanted to earn honor fast and thought offense was the best way to get it. No one really guarded flags and playing a battleground to win became less and less common. With people primarily focus on offense the diminishing returns became more of a factor and I think a lot people started running into nightly honor calculations that were off by more then a couple thousand a night.

This should have made it so that people started playing the battlegrounds to win but the problem was there were just too many new players. Estimated honor calculations are instant and a lot of players just couldn't believe that they were being effected that much by diminishing returns. I think this was the point where a lot of people started going AFK. If you couldn't really earn that much honor by fighting and you couldn't get more then five people to help defend then going AFK had to start sounding like a good option. The new reporting tool was really only good for getting rid of bots and was easily bypass by a player paying a little attention to the game.

With the elimination of diminishing returns we should see a return of player participation to the battlegrounds. Of course it might just be the same offense only participation we've seen before but that's still a degree better then ten people AFK in every Alterac Valley. Speaking of Alterac Valley, this change should make it a little less painful to lose the game due to reinforcements. In fact this might be the main reason why Blizzard is changing how honor is gained. I know I was hearing more and more stories of hour long games where the losing side only got 40 bonus honor. Then again this could also be a situation where Blizzard is addressing the cause of the AFK problem instead of throwing a band aid (reporting tool) on it.


Klatz said...

I think removing diminishing honor for kills will lead to much more farming and gy camping. Let's say your team is dominating, why not camp the GY and farm kills for a while.

People who are on the receiving side will afk out, letting new people in to be farmed. Depending on the honor/hour rate it may be better than q ing again.

Relmstein said...

Well in the smaller battlegrounds like WSG, AB, and EotS its always been common practice to camp the last graveyard if you can force everyone to spawn there. I can't really see a change in honor returns increasing the behavior any more.

As for Alterac Valley with reinforcements already being a viable method to win, more and more tactics are being developed to rack up enemy kills. You might see someone not capping a graveyard in this BG so they can farm respawns but eventually too many people are going to rez at the same time. I think what we'll most likely see is new stranglehold tactics being developed like the current one at iceblood graveyard.

yunk said...

i thought people would AFK (in AV at least) since even if you lose you used to get so much honor that losing fast would get a lot of honor making it worth it to afk.

People don't afk much anymore, but I wonder if that was really due to adding reporting, or was it due to the change to AV making losing worth much less, removing the incentive to AFK in the first place (no point if you're not getting honor).

Yeah it's been awful lately. I take my 70 priest into WSG people yell "why aren't you capping? capture the flag!" and the carrier says "you can't cap until we get ours back from them" and they respond "wtf? what kind of game is that?" I mean almost every WSG I see that stuff.

Viet said...

With this change will come the end of any chance of defense in the eye, or AB. Who's going to stand and defend when there are no DRs on zerg offenses?

They need to make defending gain more individual honor. But finding a solution that doesn't encourage defender afk's is important.

Relmstein said...

They need to make it so defending is exciting and fun to do. Right now it usually just guarantees that you will be bored the entire game until eventually the opposing team's zerg mows you over.

One idea might be to put siege weapons in defensive objectives like towers and bunkers. If players got to shoot large arrows or bombs at the enemy by defending I'm sure it would make the practice more popular. It wouldn't surprise me to see defensive and offensive siege weapons in Lake Wintergrasp.

Viet said...

It would surprise me if they did not include siege weapons as Blizz has already announced them in WotLK.

Relmstein said...

Yes, I'm sure they'll be in there also since they've announced it back at Blizzcon.

What I'm predicting though is that it wouldn't surprise me if Blizzard "rooted" the best siege engines in defensive structures to encourage players to participate in defense.

Shatathi said...

I for one used to AFKV, and I will not any more after this patch. So I think that it will help w/ the people like me who just got depressed with the rate of honor return.