Wednesday, December 4, 2013

WoW Analysis: Bulletproofing Ninja Pulls

The Looking for Raid system can be a source of enormous grief, as shown by numerous anecdotes about it. It is an unfortunate trade-off in order to acquire stronger loot, but fortunately, measures have gradually been put in place to reduce the amount of grief players suffer (short of wiping on encounters, and even then...). One particular source of grief, which is literally part of the act of griefing, that hasn't been dealt with too well, however, is ninja pulling, which is an act of pulling a boss before the group is ready and potentially causing a wipe.

Ninja pulling is a relatively common issue in World of Warcraft's group play considering how the game's mechanics work. Enemies can aggro to players and bosses in particular are so strong there needs to be enough players paying attention to survive and down them. Given the fact the concept of ninja pulling has likely been around since the beginning of the game, it's surprising this issue wasn't handled better when public grouping systems became a staple aspect of the game. Not all hope is lost though, as Blizzard has finally seemed to catch on with a hotfix a couple weeks ago, as shown below:
This is the message that gets shown to the entire raid in LFR before the Spoils of Pandaria gets pulled, restricting the encounter from starting until 5 unique individuals request the encounter to begin. While the encounter already has some ninja pull proofing by forcing the player pulling to say messages, this is a nice additional layer to prevent a single person from ruining a group. This raises the question, however, of why this implementation isn't on more encounters. There are three other encounters that require prior interaction to begin the encounter (and they are ninja pulled rather often too).

What this comes down to is Blizzard needs to add further implementations that provide more information, particularly in public grouping systems like LFR and Dungeon Finder, about ninja pulls. I understand pointing the finger of blame is kind of a no-no in online games, but that rule does have some limits, such as when you or your party have the power to handle the offending player without having to resort to a bunch of complex, frustrating methods such as digging through the combat log (and changing the options up a bunch to show the correct information) or using specific addon(s) that distribute the "blame" anyways. Besides, while this sounds rather fallacious, it seems Blizzard is experimenting with the idea as it is, so why not go all the way and properly gate every encounter that requires prior interaction to minimize ninja pulls where they are most likely to not get caught griefing?

(On another note - I was out on a trip for Thanksgiving so I haven't been able to keep up on my articles, but I do have a larger League Analysis article incoming within what I think will be a couple of days. Keep an eye out for that.)

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