Discussion: Skill-Based Difficulty, Time-Based Difficulty, and Value Preservation

Recently, I have seen several posts that seem like good ideas on the surface, but, their implementation would end up hurting the player base and overall game. The following is a short list of ideas that would benefit the individual player but at the expense of the playerbase:

  1. Increase the drop rate of the X-45 Heartbreaker
  2. Add skips in legacy dungeons
  3. Earn all weapon appearances for Balance of Power for all classes if completed once

Components of Item Value

I will do my best to keep this concise, but I feel it is important to illustrate the importance of value and even more importantly preserving value. In this case, we are talking about the value of acquiring a mount, battle pet, title, transmog, achievement, toy, and/or whatever may apply here.

The value of an item can come in many forms, but we will primarily focus on two: Time and Effort. Because we are discussing WoW, we will equate Effort to Skill (which includes supporting activities such as learning your class, understand the fights, researching other classes, and generally understanding topics surrounding your gameplay).

Time can be further broken down into two categories: Micro-level and Macro-level. Micro-level time is considered the raw gameplay (both direct and indirect) a player uses to earn an item. The Macro-level is the amount of time between when the item was available to when it was acquired.

The Macro-level variant is a bit trickier to conceptualize but think it as the inverse of prestige. If you are the first Gladiator of a season, then you have the most prestige as it took you the least amount of time to earn that title since its availability. Conversely, if you are the last gladiator of a season, you would have taken the most time to earn the title – consequently giving you the least prestige of that group (other factors may contribute such as the meta classes for that season, but we will ignore that level detail for now).

Item Value Breakdown Summary

We can simply this concept further by breaking down the value of an item into two categories:

  1. Skill-Based Difficulty – Content that is dependent on a player’s or group of player’s skill / effort level which is the final output of a player’s encounter (PvP or PvE), role, class, rotation, situational awareness, prediction, response, and responsiveness. This should also account the development time of these skills. Your more prestigious items can be found here.
  2. Time-Based Difficulty – Content that is dependent on amount of time the average player will be required to actively play the game. This time may be measured in short incremental bursts over a long period of time as well as raw totality of gameplay. Finally, the amount of time between availability and participation will also play a factor in the difficulty.

Value Preservation through Difficulty Transition

So, why point this out? Well, if you remember from earlier, we need a method to determine the value of an item as well as means of preserving that value. As I mentioned earlier, we are not going to dive so deep into this that we can give numerical value to represent an items total value. We can save that for another day. Right now, we just need to operate on the elemental building blocks of this concept. So, we need a means of converting from Skill-Based content to Time-Based content as well as combinations of both. If you noticed Skill-Based content still requires time, and Time-Based content requires some degree of skill. Therefore, transition and combination between the two is compatible.

Alright, so let’s move from a conceptual conversation to an example. In the past, the last boss of a Mythic raid will drop a mount specific to that difficulty. Many of these mounts have been 100% drop rates while the content is current. Once the content changes to legacy, the drop chance reduces to 1%. In this example, the difficulty of this mount was primarily Skill-Based difficulty in current content that was changed to Time-Based difficulty in legacy content. In most conversations, this is where the example stops, but if we dive a little deeper, we can see the transition is a little smoother.

So, let’s use a more specific example: Glacial Tidestorm – a mount that drops from Mythic-Difficulty Lady Jaina Proudmoore. When this raid was released, value of this mount was nearly all Skill-Based Difficulty content. Therefore, players were able to earn this in the least amount of Macro-level time, which as we discussed, is a component of Time-Based difficulty. Now, those players definitely put in some game time, so I am not saying that there was no Time-Based difficulty, but it was at its lowest. In summary, the largest part of Glacial Tidestorm’s value can be attributed to it the skill required to earn it.

Now, for the smoother transition. The next raid tier was Ny’alotha, the Waking City while at the same time Lady Jaina Proudmoore was still considered current content. At the time, several months (maybe a year?) later players returned to Lady Jaina Proudmoore to claim the mount. Keep in mind that players running this content now outgear it quite a bit. So, it would be reasonable to say that the Skill-Difficulty has diminished a bit. However, several months have passed since the mount was available – which in-turn causes the Time-Based difficulty to increase via Macro-level time. We can confirm this by understanding at this time the prestige in owning the Glacial Tidestorm may have been high overall, but it was the lowest it had ever been so far. This transition of Skill-Based and Time-Based difficulty continues until the end of BfA.

At this point Shadowland launches, and Lady Jaina Proudmoore becomes legacy content (I believe legacy loot was applied a bit later, but the mount changed to a 1% drop chance). However, the raid and encounters are far from soloable for a semi-geared level 60 character. However, instead of needing 20 people, you may have been able to get away with 15 people or less (depending on the skill level of those within the group). So, the skill required to get through this content is the lowest it has ever been, and now the time requirement was at an all-time high, because of how long the content has been available in combination with the reduced drop rate. This process continues to today, as this content continues to age it will require less and less skill to the point where a single player can solo the content.

Age of Item is Not an Indicator of Its Lack of Value

So, at this point you may be wondering why go through all the trouble of putting this into words? Because it is important to illustrate that just because something gets older doesn’t mean it is any less valuable. It is important to understand that the time span of the availability of the content in combination with the amount of gameplay required to earn the item is absolutely critical in the preservation of any item’s value.

So, let’s take our meters of Skill-Based and Time-Based difficulty content and apply to the Balance of Power appearances. Just to recap, there is a suggestion to give a player every single Balance of Power appearance if they earn it on one character. The reason given is that the artifact appearances are 5+ years old, and, therefore, are not as desirable. However, we now know that simply the age of the item is NOT a measurement of its value. Even if this wasn’t true, many in the WoW community still consider the Artifact appearance aesthetically comparable to weapons that came out in BfA and SL - and some even consider the Artifact variations the best weapon appearances in the game.

The second mistake or misassumption I have seen made with this suggestion is that you could complete the Balance of Power with only Normal-level difficulty of raids (maybe LFR, I can’t remember) which implies it didn’t really take a lot of skill. This is simply not accurate. While you need substantially more skill to participate in Mythic raiding over Normal, that doesn’t mean the lesser amount is zero. The same is true when it comes to simply questing in current vs legacy content. It takes a little more time and effort to kill same level mobs than it does to 1-shot them. Therefore, there is still value that needs to be preserved.

And let’s be honest, with Time-Walking bonuses apply 50% increase rep to content combined with reputation tokens purchasable with Bind-on-Account Time-Walking Badges, rep isn’t really that much of an issue. For the 30 Bloods of Sargeras, just wait for a day where several quests reward 5 – 7 each on the Broken Shore, and complete those in 3 – 5 minutes. Also, you can purchase these with Order Hall Resources in your Order Hall. If one of your characters has a ton of extra Bloods of Sargeras, then purchase the BoA Order Hall Resources and mail that to your alt. As far as all the questing, most things you can 1-shot. The short-cuts are out there, you just need to find them and sometimes wait for them.

So, when you run a Complete-1-and-Get-11-Free deal on the Balance of Power appearances, you are completely gutting and devaluing the content. I would bet almost anything someone out there saw either of those posts and stopped working on Balance of Power on their alts out of fear of their time and effort being devalued. The content has transitioned to almost all Time-Based difficulty content, so any reduction of gameplay in this manner does a massive disservice to its value and those participating in it.

Devaluing Impacts on the Community

So, at this point we have established there is a value to be maintained, and that this value shares a balance of Skill-Based and Time-Based difficulty which varies depending on the content in question. So, why is this a big deal? How does blindly making something easier negatively impact the community?

Let’s start by an example. Let’s pretend I tell you that if you walk a mile today, then I will give you $100. So, you walk a mile, and I give the $100. Everything is good at this point. However, next week your friend comes up to you and says he just got $100 from me for walking 50 feet. Well… why? So, you ask me and I say that the deal became old, so I sweetened up the deal for your friend. Well, that doesn’t really seem fair right? But you decide to shrug it off even though you spent significantly more effort – even if it was a week ago. You still have your $100, so you should just be happy, right?

A few weeks later, I come to you again and offer $100 for you to swim a mile. You are a little apprehensive, but you take the time and effort to swim a mile and take the $100. Once again, your friend stops by a week later and says I paid them $100 to dip their toes in water. OK… now at this point you would be upset, right? So, you ask me why I gave your friend the same thing as you for a fraction of the time and effort? And I then respond with, “Well, he didn’t want to swim a mile for the money.”. You still have your $200, but you are no longer happy about it. You still have what you agreed to, it feels like you paid too much time and effort for it. Apparently, I am giving the $100 away for much less if I just sit and wait.

So, the next time I come to you with $100, what are you going to do? Simply not do anything I request? Maybe wait a bit? Procrastinate? Now image your response multiplied by millions of players. How likely are people chase after cosmetic items when they first come out compared to waiting it out. Sure, some will dive right into it, but the participation will definitely decline as people expect the value of that item to drop in the future.

You could see this within the community and on the forums, when Blizzard announced that not getting the Love Rocket doesn’t feel good, and they implied potential changes in the future. Obviously, people assumed that the mount was going to be made easier one way or another. After that announcement, people immediately stopped running for the mount, stating they might try for it next year. I would love the see the participation numbers for those two weeks and compare the decline in participation to previous years.

People value their time and effort – even if they spent it already, and they will not invest them into items that they feel to be at risk of being devalued (generally speaking here, there are exceptions). So, once again, the preservation of value in an item is critical for that item itself, the current game, and the future of the game. While there are many great suggestions here, I would be hesitant advocate for randomly and arbitrarily making random items easier to acquire.

Honorable Mention for Topics Not Discussed

Bad Luck Protection. When discussing Time-Based Difficulty content, I am generalizing a bell curve to 2-3 standard deviations. This post is about the general concepts and majority of experiences. Inevitably, many people use outlier cases to represent the overall sample size or basic concepts. For example, someone may say, “Well, my friend has run ICC 1,700 times and still doesn’t have the mount.” Yeah, sure, but that a different discussion revolving around the idea of being exceptionally unlucky. And I am all for talking about that, but right now, we are discussing the preservation of value. Being unlucky should be a separate conversation as it is a relatable but separate topic.

Quality of Life Changes. These are changes that may end up saving a player some time and headaches, but it is done in a manner that doesn’t reduce active gameplay. For example, removing the total currency cap for legacy loot coins would reduce the amount of AFK and / tabbed out ‘gameplay’. While travel from one location to another does have value, the activity can reduce the drive and interest to play. I, myself, have had days where, I was going to run Throne of Thunder, but realized I need to go back to Timeless Isle for coins. So, I get on the fly path, get up from the computer, come back, still flying, check out Netflix, and not return to the game that night. So, I am not talking about these types of changes as much as those that gut content.

8 Likes

I’d like to bring up one value that I do think is overlooked in your post: fun.

While the definition of what’s fun and what’s not is highly subjective, there are things in WoW that are simply not appreciated by the majority of the community. And not just in WoW, but in basically any game, having fun should be a number one goal.

Using these examples that you provided for instance. Starting with the X-45 Heartbreaker:

While there may be some prestige to have this mount that will most likely take a player hundreds (if not thousands) of attempts to earn - relating to time-based difficulty - repeating the same trivial dungeon over and over again in a very short period of time (as it is only available for a short period of time each year), is insanely boring and unfun, as there’s effectively no skill-based difficulty for it. The time-based difficulty for it is also flawed as someone could theoretically earn the mount on their first attempt - in my opinion, this type of ‘‘difficulty’’ only truly makes sense when you can imagine a progress bar that’ll eventually reach 100% whenever farming for something. Grinding reputations or experience is the most straightforward example, but FOMO items/achievements are also a notable example - playing the game at the right time, while actively making progress towards things like AoTC/CE, KSM, Glad, Legion Mage Towers, the Longboi gold grind, etc.

In the case of the Heartbreaker mount, the prestige, or the value for it, is flawed as you could spend plenty of time grinding it each day it’s available on 50 characters for 5 years, only to see it drop for another group member who ‘‘just started playing’’, ‘‘never done the instance before’’, ‘‘didn’t know a mount dropped’’. Truly heartbreaking.

I do not think that RNG is a different topic in cases like this. While of course someone looting the mount on their first try or someone looting it after a whopping 20k attempts are outlier cases, those are still unfun for everyone to see. I feel like it’s comparable to how Titanforging was, where some players could get insanely lucky looting BiS items at max level from low-level content, while some more hardcore players would still struggle to get the base item to drop in the first place. Obviously this issue affected a lot more players as it directly affected character-power, but considering collecting mounts or achievements is the one true end-game for a lot of players out there, it’s saddening to see players being treated poorly by the RNG gods, or players feeling bad looting an item they never really farmed for, directly in front of a friend who spent hours trying to get it with no luck.

Secondly, when it comes to more skips in legacy content, or shortcuts for alts (things like Balance of Power):

Going back to the fun unit of measure, one of the things I’ve seen a lot is people complaining about having to repeat major questlines or even rep grinds to unlock things they already have done on their main. While I do think there’s a need for alt progression in some ways (so that your alts aren’t exactly the same toon as your main but with a different name/class/race), being forced to re-do quests, especially if you have already done them recently, is generally something people don’t find fun. Common and recent example would be the covenant campaigns, for instance.

Balance of Power simply unlock weapon appearances. Having them on your alts doesn’t really hurt anyone, you don’t have an unfair advantage over other players, it’s something that simply affects the way your character look. Obviously you could argue that since it’s not really impactful, then nothing has to change about it. Counter-argument would be it’s just not fun having to re-do the rep grinds (even if it’s easier), the quests (even if you one-shot mobs), and the raids (even if they can be soloed).

I would like to specifically reply to this quote. One of the things that I did like about your post was mentioning the ‘‘macro-level’’ of time-based difficulty. There’s definitely something unique about being one of the first ones to show off an incredible feat of strength. I don’t think that making something easier overtime is something that really decreases the player activity. Lots of players actually have fun doing content while it’s current so that they can flex on their friends, guildies and pugs that they managed to do/obtain something before they did. FOMO rewards (such as KSM mounts) push that to an extreme level where players can flex even harder but at the cost that other players may feel bad for missing out on something cool.

The way I see it, is that people are currently feeling forced to do it on alts, while not having fun doing so. I don’t think the content is being gutted; they already had done it once, so it’s not like they’re skipping content they had never done before.

While you are technically right in some ways, active gameplay is often not reduced by gutting content. A lot of players end up quitting or giving up on grinding something because some grinds are either fun once but not on alts (things like questlines, rep grinds, Balance of Power, unskippable RP or annoying bosses in legacy raids, etc.) or are repetitive, trivial or simply not fun content (like the H-45 dungeon, waiting 15 minutes on MoP world bosses, etc.).

19 Likes

I honestly don’t care if someone else got the same $100 for less effort at a later point. It doesn’t devalue your achievements. If the criteria + rewards changed, you’re free to do it for that yourself as well. Someone else getting more for less doesn’t mean I’m suddenly unhappy with what I got, nor should someone else get less because you got it for less.

Especially when you’re talking about things that have RNG involved, it doesn’t even have a stable value. I got Mimiron’s first try without even knowing it existed, it has 0 value for me, while someone else might’ve been farming for years and still hasn’t gotten it. They could value it highly.

It’s normal for things to get cheaper over time, it happens in real life all the time. New hardware is released that “devalues” the old ones, because you can get better stuff for the same effort/price. Then there’s this thing called inflation, meaning that if something stays the same price, the value decreases regardless.

This is very similar to the argument a lot of people make when cancelling student loans comes up. Other people getting something doesn’t devalue you education or item. If you have it for the sake of it being unique or rare, especially when supply is infinite (in-game items), you’re only gatekeeping it from others.

I just want my missing glaidators mogs and artifact appearances so I can finish my sets and make my character look awesome. I don’t care what arbitrary value a red piece or a glowy piece has because it has a 0.1% droprate or requires gladiator.

If you have an appearance or mog for the sake of it being rare, it’s useless to you. Let others enjoy something they’ll actually use. It’s a game, it’s supposed to be fun, and gatekeeping appearances for the sake of gatekeeping is not fun.


I’d like to add that all these arguments are moot for appearances/mounts that can be obtained through boosts. Rich people can just buy their way to a mount or appearance when it’s “current”, it just gatekeeps poor people. For that reason alone there’s 0 skill requirement involved, so there’s also 0 reason it should get an absurdly low drop rate once it’s not current content anymore.

15 Likes

Thank you for the feedback, and I absolutely agree with you here! What is fun should be your number 1 decision maker in deciding if raiding, M+, PvP, which one of the 850+ mounts, 1,400+ battle pets, and 60,000+ sources of transmogs, and other items in the game to chase after. Naturally, some of these things will be more fun than others, but through your own admission “what’s fun and what’s not is highly subjective”. Therefore, you cannot use fun as a measuring device for value and its preservation. It can only be used in determining what to participate in.

To you. And, honestly, to many others as well. However, it is fun for many. In fact, there are people who specifically level up characters just to have more attempts at this mount. Maybe using a difference example, look at penny-slot machines. I am sure there are some very skilled poker players that consider penny-slot machines as one of the dumbest things in the world try and win at (assuming gambling is fun here). I mean, the odds are abysmal for the massive payout. However, this mechanic of play is clearly fun to many people.

Should we make the chance of winning penny-slot machines much higher, and the payout almost nothing, just because some poker players consider it skill-less, mindless activity? Do we even consider the feelings of those who enjoy the chase? Repetition may not be fun for you, but for others it is another way to enjoy the game.

Nice pun! However, everyone understands what the odds are that they are playing into: 1 in 3,333 chances. Therefore, most players are able to derive that this will be a very rare mount due to the expected bell curve of possibilities. Hence, the value of this item comes primarily from Time-Based difficulty. As proof of concept if you have 100 groups of 100 people (so 10,000 people total), below is the average number of people in each group that would likely receive the mount after a specific number of attempts.

Roughly 10 people in each group after attempting 350 times.
Roughly 25 people in each group after attempting 950 times.
Roughly 50 people in each group after attempting 2,300 times.
Roughly 75 people in each group after attempting 4,600 times.
Roughly 90 people in each group after attempting 7,600 times.
Roughly 99 people in each group after attempting 15,000 times.

As I mentioned earlier, there are other potential suggestions here that can preserve the difficulty while increasing the quality of life. For example, if you wanted to suggest to remove the 1-time-per-day limiter, that may not be a bad idea (perhaps this would be good for people who enjoy the attempts, but don’t care for leveling alts). If you wanted to purchase ‘extra loot coins’ with the Holiday currency or Time-Walking Badges, that may be alright as well (this may be a way of deriving extra attempts from other content). If you wanted to remove the minimal level cap, that would even be something to consider (again for those who may not have a ton of high level alts, especially at the beginning of an expansion). Either way, you know the odds of getting that item are low. So, here, I would return your question to you, “Do you find this activity fun?”, if not, then don’t do it.

Also, you speak of being empathetic towards players who put in an incredible amount of time and effort, only to see another player get the mount who “just started playing.”. While in the same breath, advocating for the mount to be made incredibly easier, devoid of any empathy for those same players. For example, if you placed 1,500 attempts and felt bad when you saw 5 or 10 people get the mount, then what makes you think you would feel good when the drop chance is arbitrarily reduced to 1% or 5%? This almost looks like self-serving desire masquerading as empathy.

This doesn’t even touch on the mess of a decision of determining a new droprate. This is a lose-lose situation for everyone involved. Right now, you have a pocket of the community do not like the odds being 1:3,333. However, as soon as you change the drop chance from 1:3,333 to 1:2,500, now you have upset even more people. Now you have people who are angry that the value changed at all. You have people who are angry the change was too small. And you have people who are angry the change is too large. So, is 1:2,000 better? 1:1,000? 1:500? 1:100? 1:20? Do we simply not care about those who are upset at the change? If so, why care about those do not like the current odds?

Now, if you noticed, there was never a line saying 100% participants picked up the mount after a certain number of attempts. I think this is the most fear-inducing element of RNG – there is a possibility where shear effort and infinite time will reward you absolutely nothing. There are some people who will never see the mount after 20,000 attempts. I think it is this fact that concerns most people – which is fair.

So, maybe Blizzard could implement some sort of deterministic way of acquiring the mount such that you can simply purchase the amount after so many attempts. However, at what number do we determine that price to be? Should you be able to buy the mount at a 50% likelihood? So, after 2,300 attempts, you can just go to vendor and get it? Or should you have to endure some level of bad luck, and base the price at 75% or 90% likelihood generating 4,600 of 7,600 attempts, respectively?

Again, fun cannot be used as measurement of value, because as you mentioned earlier, it is highly subjective. You use what is fun to determine what you participate in. Some people like to run. Others hate running. Some people also like running and challenging themselves. Others find challenging activities as punishing. Yet, nobody is advocating for the removal of marathons. If someone doesn’t like a marathon, they are free not to participate. If someone enjoys marathons, then they can join with the goal of finishing. The value of the marathon comes from the time and effort placed into the activity, while the fun is the determine for whether or not you will participate. All I am saying is that if a reward is being given for running a marathon, that same reward should not be given for walking to your mailbox level of time and effort. It simply devalues the marathon. Put another way, rewards are your value attributors for activities. Fun is your decision maker for participation in those activities.

However, I will extend an olive branch that I didn’t discuss in the original post. So, why do we have alt-friendly mechanics? It is to allow players a means of continuing to play the game at at the current level without the burden of the original pacing of the main. Why? Because the raiding, M+, Arena, RBG, and other endgame content is Skill-Based difficulty content that is also time limited. So, developers do not want players repeating activity at the same pace, not because the activity isn’t fun. They do this to allow them access to what they find the most fun and experience it in a different way. What they do not do, allow players to earn the Mythic Raid tier on their main, and allow their alts to automatically receive the same gear.

So, to answer your question, if Blizzard decides to make the campaigns skippable in 9.2.5, then more power to them and everyone making new alts! And IF Blizzard had made the Balance of Power account-wide during Legion, THEN I would agree with you and congratulate you on all your new fantastic transmogs. However, Legion ended and the value for the items was set – and, furthermore, should be preserved.

This is an excellent example of why fun cannot be used to determine value. In the first half of this statement, the implication is that because this is only an appearance (as opposed to gearing, I guess) its value is not significant. You could say the exact same thing about the X-45 Heartbreaker, “Having [this] on your alts doesn’t really hurt anyone, you don’t have an unfair advantage over other players.”.

It is not about the item itself. Whether we are talking about gear upgrades, mounts, pets, titles, achievements, or anything else you have, the same item will mean more to some people and less to other people. A person’s prioritization of items in the game doesn’t set the value. For example, let’s say there is a group of people who just like to log in, gather some material, do some quests here and there, may be put in some attempts at a few mounts or something. They don’t have much interest in gearing their character, because they don’t care for the RNG of 3-4 pieces of gear dropping for 20 people. Nobody here would entertain their argument that, “I don’t find raiding, M+, Arenas or RBGs fun. I should be given Mythic level raiding gear. It doesn’t affect anyone – I just do WQ, level alts, and farm mounts.”

The fun involved doesn’t set the value. Why? Because that will change from person to person, and within the same person it will change again from one day to the next.

Again, if an activity is not fun and item is only [insert category here], then they should not do it. If they do, then it sounds like they are doing things that are not fun for items they don’t care about. Fun is a decision maker based on what you personally find valuable and worth-while doing, but it does not set the value of item or activity across the community like time and effort do.

That’s perfect. So, if someone is able to acquire what you own with less time and effort, you definitely shouldn’t have an issue with it remaining the same cumulative time and effort value.

To be clear, similar to Marohnak’s response, you’re speaking about value from an individual perspective. And that is great for determining what you want to do and what you find the most fun and rewarding. However, the value that I am speaking of the is the design value with the expectation of a certain amount of Skill-Based Difficulty and Time-Based Difficulty.

So, while Mimiron’s head has no value to you, I know some people personally value it enough to have killed Yogg-Saron over 1,000 times. Just like we cannot take your personal value, and determine it is meaningless to the community, we cannot take their personal value and increase the difficulty of the content.

Some things, yes, other things, no. Your assumption is that whatever is new will replace what is old, and devalue it, which is simply not true when applied to items in WoW. Take Invincible for example, for all intents and purposes this mount is still the favorite of many despite there being 500+ mounts added to the game since then. Same thing with the Artifact weapon appearances.

In other words, this is not a great example, because what you get next doesn’t replace what you currently have with regards to mounts, pets, achievements, titles, and pretty much anything else except current gear (which is not what we are talking about).

Alright, lots to unpack here. First off, you are absolutely correct in stating that other people getting something doesn’t devalue an item! What devalues an item is the reduction of requirements to acquire it. So, if I can pick up Mythic raid gear from LFR at the same pace as someone who is raiding on Mythic, then that would mean the value of Mythic gear is reduced, right? The gear was able to be attained with less skill and effort.

Now, just to make sure we are still clear in this example. The value may not change for you personally, because it still delivers the same power. However, across the community (which is what we are talking about), the overall value has been reduced.

Gatekeeping is defined limiting general access to something. Nothing is being limited here. Only existing requirements are being maintained. Pixel imagery is infinite, yes. However, time and skill are not. And when time and skill are required to access these infinite supply of pixels, there is a value associated with that set of pixels regardless of the numerical availability of them.

Go get it! It’s still in the game (assuming Balance of Power appearances). People are still activity pursuing these items. If you can’t be bothered, then maybe you don’t want it as much as some others do. Just as a side note, if this is about items removed from the game, that is a different topic for a different time.

Though, I feel like you don’t have a grasp on what we are talking about when discussing ‘value.’ In this case we are using value as tool to smoothly transition items from current content to legacy content. We are not randomly assigning various items a hierarchy of value. That comes naturally from the developers and the playerbase, since different items require more or less as well as more or less time. What I am suggesting is that this value be preserved throughout its lifetime in the game.

Otherwise, we might as well suggest if we a Warrior Tier 1 set from Molten Core, then we should get the Tier 1 sets for all the other classes at the same time. Because, you know, it would be repeated content.

Again, gatekeeping is defined as limiting general access to something. Nothing is being made more difficult here. Nothing is being suggested to be removed from the game. Everything we have discussed is in the game still for you to go acquire.

Now, fun should be your determiner for deciding what content you would like to participate in (so, again your personal value), not as a metering an items value. This is because what is fun will differ from person to person depending on what they find enjoyable.

I didn’t want to really go down this route, but since we are here, it is a good case in point. So, there are a few people out there that might exchange gold for carries, right? So, that should tell you by itself, items do posses value. It’s just in this case, there is a gold exchange value being applied to the time and effort necessary to gain access to these infinite pixels.

Also, there is nothing wrong with various communities exchanging services for services, by the way. PvE and PvP communities have exchanged carries for each other every season since it started. If anything, it is good for all communities, because it allows for the continuation of content. If a gold maker can continue supplying the Auction House, because they are saving up for a carry, they are just earning a literal Mythic amount of gold. And that gold helps supply guilds for their continuation of raids.

Lastly, there is no gatekeeping here. Players that have the most skill get access to the best items in the game (usually first), and those that don’t have to pay in the form of time to get the same gear (either by gearing up equating to more runs or maybe even waiting until the next raid tier). After a certain amount of time, the larger requirement shifts to requiring more time. So, players with the most time will eventually pick it up.

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Decreasing droprates, making gold a factor, or simply removing access altogether (PvP gear for example), is most certainly gatekeeping.

I’m talking about items that are removed altogether, and items that become incredibly obnoxious to obtain specifically yes. I have balance of power on one of my characters. The problem is that the price actually DOES go up for things like balance of power. When doing balance of power in legion when it was current, you’d get usable rewards, and in fact already passively got a bunch of progress anyway. Now you have to go out of your way to obtain it while world/quest rewards are close to worthless.

Making something harder to acquire is still a form of gatekeeping.

As per definition, people who do not have access to gold to buy boosts for raid mounts, are by definition being gatekept from obtaining it, as they either:

  • have to find a guild to get CE with, and this is by definition already a problem that’s worth a topic on its own. Based on my own experience I have to leave friends behind to join more toxic community where I’m often not welcome
  • requiring real money to to buy gold for a boost
  • have to farm it on a 1% droprate with weekly lockouts, costing way more time than the average progression of CE kills
7 Likes

Changing or modifying a method to acquire something is not gatekeeping. If you go back to the original description of transitioning between Skill-Based Difficulty and Time-Based Difficulty, then you will see there is a method of preserving value by exchanging difficulties, such that those with less skill but more time have access to content. If anything, it is opening opportunities for more people to acquire this item. It would not be a far-reaching assumption that there are more people who have Invincible now compared to the end of Wrath. Same with any other mount in the game.

Also, if there is a person who wants a Mythic mount and they can make a tremendous amount of gold, and there is a group of people who want a lot more gold and they have the skill to get the mount, then what is the harm in them working together so that they both come away with what they want? Again, this is increasing access to this mount (and in this case, the person in question has enough skill in making gold that they can get it while it is current).

Opening opportunities to others who may not have the skill to complete the content is the oddest way of gatekeeping that I have ever seen.

The removal of gear, mounts, and other content is an entirely separate subject and conversation. You cannot preserve the value of something if it is removed from the game. As a reminder, this is post about the preservation of what is in the game. So, again, removed content is not what is being discussed here. We might even agree about removed content, but that is for another day.

This grossly oversimplified almost to the point of misleading. Whenever you would get those usable rewards, you also needed quite a bit more skill to get through that content. You needed to find 4 other people to get through that Mythic dungeon. Therefore, you received usable rewards. Conversely, you can borderline 1-shot everything in Mythic and clear it in a 10th of the time, so why would they give you a usable ilvl reward?

When it comes to WQ, more than likely those rewards were useless to you then as well when you did them. Even if they weren’t, it may take you 5 – 7 minutes to complete a WQ if you were moderately geared. Now, that same quest likely takes 30 seconds. So, again, why would you get any progress ilvl. Now, if you are clever with your timing, you can get 50% more rep if you time it with Legion Time-Walking. But this goes back to Macro-level of Time-Based difficulty discussed earlier.

You still have a hearthstone to Dalaran. Dalaran now is the exact same distance from WQ and other content now as it was in Legion. When you are done, use your other hearthstone to leave the area. Are you really going that far out of your way?

If you have more skill than time, then get the items when they come out. If you have more time than skill, then wait it out. This is not gatekeeping, it is giving people who have different strengths a chance at the same item. And for some people, their strength is their quantity and/or management of time.

At this point:

  • You don’t want to farm gold to pay for a carry for this item
  • You don’t want to play in a bracket of difficulty that requires this skill set for this item
  • You don’t want to pay for gold with RL money for this item
  • You don’t want to spend gameplay for it for this item

What do you want?

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It is when it becomes objectively harder and more obnoxious to get, especially when 95% of your time is wasted running through old raids where for some odd reason you can’t even mount up despite having enough space to house a space ship.

Having more opportunities doesn’t mean it isn’t gatekeeping, these two are not mutually exclusive.

I’m not saying that the dungeon should give an appropriate ilvl reward at all, I’m saying that while doing the quest line, your inventory gets filled with junk, and you waste time doing mindnumbing repetitive nonsense for the sake of the requirement being there. The requirement itself serves no purpose. There’s no challenge, it’s just wasting time that I could spend doing something that’s actually fun.

Time and skill are not comparable and cannot be used in a formulae where you can tweak one and get the same outcome.

The option with with raid mounts is either:

  • pay someone to do 499 pushups for you, and you get the mount on doing the 500th yourself
  • do 500 pushups in 1 day
  • do 1 push up every day for 500 days

There is no in between, you can’t say “I’ll play at 50% of the difficulty and obtain it double the time” for raid mounts.

This is an assumption you’re wrong in.

You don’t want to farm gold to pay for a carry for this item

Not what I said. If you don’t have the skill (or more like, you don’t know the right people) to do Mythic raiding to get the mount, you can buy a boost. Buying boosts cost gold, and if gold making isn’t an aspect you’re good at or even enjoy doing, you’re only left with buying gold by selling tokens. This is an option that is very limited to people who have RL money to spend.

As I said, finding a mythic raiding guild is worth a topic on its own, because that’s a toxic rabbit hole many people don’t even want to try, and gold making shouldn’t be a thing to get mythic raid mounts in the first place, otherwise they should just be sold by a vendor.

You don’t want to play in a bracket of difficulty that requires this skill set for this item

Last time I tried joining a mythic raiding guild, I had to endure bigotry and it meant leaving my friends behind. My friends simply aren’t CE raiders, so I’d have to force myself into a toxic environment that is disproportionately toxic to everyone who isn’t a white cishet man. No thanks, I’ve been there, done that, I nearly quit WoW last time because of it.

You don’t want to pay for gold with RL money for this item

I don’t want to pay for boosts. I’m okay putting this mount in a vendor and put it up for like 3~5m gold when it becomes legacy loot.

You don’t want to spend gameplay for it for this item

I don’t want to waste gameplay time. Time is precious, I don’t have unlimited time, so I much rather do something fun. I also don’t want dumb mechanics where person A is lucky and gets it on the first try, while others have 100+ attempts and still didn’t get it.

I’ll accept doing old content that’s grindy and pointless, as long as I have a guarantee that I get the reward. Balance of Power is an example where I did this. Farming Emerald Nightmare or Siege of Orgrimmar shoulders, or any >1% droprate mount isn’t part of it. Event mounts are even worse, especially the rocket.

At this point the low RNG rewards are nothing more than keeping people busy for the sake of keeping them busy. Introduce deterministic token systems where effort is rewarded.

If time is to be used as an indicator of value, the value of the rocket would be between nothing and infinite, because it’s very possible that it will never drop for some people, while it’s collecting dust in some people’s collections who don’t even play the game anymore while getting it on their first run.

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Lol, well, we may need to simply agree to disagree about your definition of gatekeeping. I will try this one more time, and if it doesn’t reach you, then we can move on. However, it seems really weird to take something that is accessible with ONLY certain level of skill and allow access to it for players that are skilled in another aspect of the game willing to trade services, and call that ‘gatekeeping’.

Furthermore, for players who may not be skilled at gold-making, raiding, arenas, RBGs, but they have time to invest in the game and are willing to wait until the content is not current – then ALSO are offered a route for them gain access to this content – must be the oddest form of ‘gatekeeping’ I have ever seen.

And we can break this down into steps:
When ICC first came out, nobody had the mount, Invincible.
Then, when ICC was out for a few months, some people had the mount.
Then, ICC was out for an even longer amount of time, and even more people had the mount.
Then, ICC had a small nerf, and even more people had the mount.
Then, ICC had a larger nerf, and even more people had the mount.
Then, ICC had its largest nerf, and even more people had the mount.
Then, Cata came out, and even more people had the mount.
Then, Tier 1 raid of Cata came out, and even more people had the mount.
Then, Tier 2 raid of Cata came out, and even more people had the mount.
.
.
.
Then the mount was available on the BMAH, and even more people had the mount.
.
.
.
Then, you come to today, where the most people ever now have the mount.

So, initially, you needed the most skill in the game in order to have a chance at the mount. Then, as time goes on, you needed less and less skill, but it took more and more time on a macro level (the time between when the content is released and when you run it) and the cumulative micro level (the actual time it takes to clear the encounter multiplied by the number of attempts) combination.

Oh no! That didn’t happen when the content was current did it?

Wrong. It is a challenge, just in another form. You are complaining exactly about the challenge. The challenge is having the time and discipline to go through and do the content. I don’t raid on a Mythic level, but I don’t tell those players that their skill requirement serves no purpose and that it is just a waste of time. That would be fairly insulting to them right? It just takes more skill and effort (and the time to develop those) than I am willing to put in at the moment. I wish them the best time in their pursuit of what they enjoy.

Dead wrong. It is used every day in the game via development of mechanics, and again as players exchange services. This a core principle of what makes the Auction House function. It is already being used with older content.

Oh, so you want a smoother scaling so-to speak? Alright, so you do agree that time and skill are comparable and can be used in a value-preserving formula. It just doesn’t come in the customized perfect size for you. OK, if this is your issue, maybe we can suggest something here and go down this route.

Gladiators, RBG Battlemasters, Raiders, and M+ Dungeoneers have all been exchanging runs with each other since the dawn of the content’s release. Maybe consider excelling in one of those activities instead. Or, you can find one of the many, many different ways to make gold (in a method that might be enjoyable to you) – there are a lot of very welcoming and helping gold making communities out there. Consider joining one and learning how to do it.

What? So, you don’t have an issue with it being available via gold? Or do you not like the price guilds and groups are listing? Or do you just want to take away the ability to make gold from Arena Masters, RBG Masters, Raiders, and M+ Dungeoneers?

Fantastic. So, you can at least identify what you don’t like. Then don’t do it - especially if you don’t feel the reward is worth it. Complete the content when it comes out while it requires more skill than time. However, outside of you, there are people who literally have NO chance of developing the skill necessary for this content (time limitations, rotating schedules, disabilities, weaker computers, and etc). So, allowing this content to become time-based is a necessary option for them. This doesn’t even include consideration (which you should) for people who really like this style of gameplay. They enjoy the idea of running content over and over for the small chance they will be lucky. Look at penny-slot machines. You are like the professional poker player that requires skill, effort, and some luck that says, “Penny-slots are a waste of time. They all should be removed from the casino.” If you are gambler that only enjoys poker-style gambling, then stay at the poker table.

The only amount of gatekeeping I am seeing here, is what you are applying to yourself. Honestly, try doing some of this stuff with an open mind. If you are running old content for a mount, download ATT, and see if you can also pick up some gear along the way. There are 65,000+ sources of transmogs in the game. I would imagine your horizons would expand if you started to take a closer look. There are ways to do content you might not enjoy in an enjoyable manner.

Re-Assessment of My Position

I went through this forum post (Balance of Power Acc Bound) and read all the comments in that thread (250+ at the time), and I really prioritized the comments that are advocating for all 12 sets of Balance of Power appearances to be rewarded after doing it once. Even though I disagree with this view, I wanted to test my own theory of preserving the value of an item through Skill-Based and Time-Based Difficulty. And if I felt it fell short, then say, “You’re right maybe it doesn’t really matter.” and move on to the next topic. Also, what I am calling ‘value’ is more in line with the idea of communal value - the summary of an item’s value from the community’s perspective. It looked like there was some confusion regarding the term value (and clarifying the difference of personal value and communal value), so this is a good starting point.

Just to recap, every item in the game has a personal and communal value. It is impossible to assess the personal value an item has for a player, because that relies on immeasurable elements such as fun, personal prioritization, and accessibility of each individual player. However, we can absolutely assess the communal value – the amount of expected skill (effort) and time it will take the average player to access an item when it is current content. I will not go into detail of how that is broken down here, because those details can be found in my original post. But in summary, the communal value can be broken down into Skill-Based Difficulty (comprised of knowledge of one’s class, potentially other classes, the encounter / content, the direct and indirect mechanics, and the resulting output) and Time-Based Difficulty (broken into to Macro-level and micro-level time).

Answering the ‘Why?’

So, let’s answer the ‘why’ first. Why do we need a communal value, especially if we already have personal value? If you look at the post I linked (Balance of Power Acc Bound), take a look at all of the different opinions, the reasons, the comparisons, the assumptions, and intensities of each post. Many of them are coming from personal experiences and preferences – which is not a bad thing in and of itself. As mentioned in my 2nd post in this thread, personal value is how a player decides what is best for them (and only them). However, personal value is unreliable as it is drastically changes from one person to another, requiring the need for a better, more consistent metric.

For example, let’s look at the mount Invincible. Some people do not like this mount at all, and if they got it, they would never ride it. Their resulting opinion could be that everyone who completes ICC should have the mount. Some people could take it or leave it, and if it dropped, then they might use it if it matched their transmog theme. Their resulting opinion could be they just don’t care one way or the other. Then there are those who are willing to run ICC over 1,500 times to try and get it. Their resulting opinion could be that all content should be on that level of difficulty. This is a wide range of opinions just based off the appearance of the mount.

The doesn’t even take into consideration the enjoyment or dislike of its rarity. As stated in a few posts above this one, some people refuse to run for anything with less than a 1% drop rate. However, there are other people who LOVE this type of challenge and look forward to the moment some content becomes legacy content.

This doesn’t consider the individual enjoyment or dislike of the details of its acquisition. Some people hate running dungeons and raids, and other people like running them. Some people hate unlocking content through a long series of quests and events, and some people love feeling of completing a massive feat over the course of weeks and months.

Finally, it doesn’t consider the individual enjoyment or dislike of its utility (like whether it can fly or swim or neither). Some people are willing to do any and all of the above if the mount can fly, but can’t be bothered if it doesn’t. While others will do any and all of the above if it “looks cool”, but it they don’t like the appearance, then they will not bother with it. And on top of that, there is everyone in between.

There are so many factors that change from person to person, that it is impossible to use personal value as a viable metric of an item’s value for the community. In short, we need something else to measure an item’s value on a community level – a communal value.

The communal value is designed to summarize the overall community’s value of an item (or content). And this value is designed, adjusted, maybe re-designed, and finally set while it is part of current content. If you would like an example of this, please look at the Glacial Tidestorm in the first post. Ultimately, through development’s design and the community’s gameplay feedback the communal value for an item is finally set in stone before becoming legacy content. Keep in mind, outliers exist, but we are speaking in general terms for the vast majority of content.

This should answer the question, “Why do we need to a communal value?”. In short, it is the closest we can get to an unbiased assessment of how much or how little the community values a specific item or content. This is necessary in order to preserve this value for the rest of the life of the game. Naturally, things may come that make it slightly easier (50% rep buff during Time-Walking) or more difficult (finding people for BfA legacy raids on LFR difficulty until becomes quickly soloable), but overall it remains the same.

What does Communal Value not cover?

So, let’s stop here for a second and specifically talk about what this communal value cannot be used for:

  1. Items / content removed from the game
  2. Items / content adjusted for engagement purposes
  3. Bad luck protection

1) Items / content removed from the game. You cannot preserve the value of something that no longer exists in the game. I will cover removed items in a later post.

2) Items / content adjusted for engagement purposes. Let’s use two examples here. The first of which will be the reduction / removal (I forget which) of reputation requirements to gain access to the original Allied Races. Since I am not on the development team, I don’t know the internal metrics, but it could have been possible that they found the initial requirements too much for the playerbase. Potentially, the number of people leveling Allied Races were too low at the time. So, maybe lowering the requirements gave more players a reason to level alts – another reason to play the game. In other words, due to potentially low participation levels, they found the initial requirements prohibitive to leveling gameplay and the subsequent continued gameplay. So, they removed some of them – benefitting the game as a whole (the overall community).

Another example is allowing players to simply have WoD and Legion flying. In a few of the comments in the thread linked (Balance of Power Acc Bound), someone stated that we should not care what other people feel about the time and effort it took to earn something, because Blizzard did not care about them when WoD and Legion flying requirements where removed. However, in full context, the game was being adjusted so that you can freely choose between all expansions equally as possible to level alts. If you were not able to fly in WoD or Legion, then the playerbase would likely always skip that content. So, it would devalue the choice between expansions. So, yes, maybe it did hurt some feelings that this was given away, but it was for the benefit of the game as a whole (the overall community).

The important thing with both of these changes is that while they made certain things easier to acquire, it was done because it improved the quality of the game and the overall community. Conversely, simply getting another 11 Class’s Balance of Power appearances only benefits the individual who found them not worthwhile to earn anyway. If anything, it negatively impacts the game. For example, if someone isn’t working on the Balance of Power appearances, then giving them the rest of the appearances for all classes isn’t going to change that. It is taking a player that is not participating in content and giving them 11 additional reasons not to.

3) Bad luck protection. While it is definitely possible to preserve the communal value of an item through Skill-Based and Time-Based Difficulty, there is and always has been a vulnerability with RNG. This vulnerability is that a person is limited to how lucky they can be, but they are unlimited in how unlucky they can be.

For example, you will never log into the game and have Invincible just fall into your bags. You will always need at least 1 attempt by clearing ICC. So, you can never earn the mount with 0 attempts; there is a hard start at 1. However, some people may need 1,000 or more attempts in order attain Invincible. Do I consider that potentially unfair? Yes, but that is not what we are talking about here. We are discussing the standard bell-curve of odds to 2 or 3 standard deviations. Outliers will be addressed in the future in a separate post. However, this tool, the communal value, cannot be used to address that problem.

Then what does Communal Value cover?

So, then at this point you may be asking, “Well, what is it useful for?”. Allow me to try a different method of explanation than before. Hopefully, this method should provide an example of the consistency that communal value brings as opposed to individual personal value.

1) Consistent Stance in Botting. Why do we not like botting in our community? In short, it devalues whatever we place our personal time and effort into. Why should you be forced to actively play the game for 4 hours (maybe farming materials for a crafted item), when someone else can turn on some software and accomplish the same thing in 10 minutes (the 10 minutes is in reference to the person behind the bot setting it up as opposed to the bot going for 6+ hours)? To elaborate further, some people really don’t care if there are bots in the game, some people might report them if they see them, and other players actively try to hunt them down and report them. However, as a community, we see them as a negative impact to our game, because they devalue of our time and effort – the communal value – of an item or content.

2) Value Preservation in Mounts. So, recently the X-45 Heartbreaker has been the focal point of many. There have several who have said this mount should be a 5% drop rate at the most. Others have said the drop rate should be 1%, and that there should even be no mounts that have a lower drop rate. Even more have stated maybe 0.2% is best. Who do the developers listen to? For any one of these suggestions they listen to, there are another five suggestions that they are ‘not listening to’. It’s a lose-lose for the development to randomly change values. Any changes they make will just increase the number of complaints – and for good reason. Any reduction in difficulty at this point is a forced, unnatural change that doesn’t even address the real problem. Even if the odds are reduced to 1:500, there will be players out there that would need to run the content 10,000+ times.

Going further, let’s say the developers reduce the X-45 Heartbreaker to a 1% drop chance. Then someone may make a post on the forums how they hate waiting 15 minutes for the MoP World Bosses, and that a 1 in 2,000 drop chance is unreasonable. Someone else, may tell them, “Consider working on making some gold and see if you can get one from the BMAH.” However, this person may hate making gold too, because the content is repetitive and boring. So, then what? Do we have the same conversation as we did for the X-45 Heartbreaker, and make them all 1% mounts too?

No, we fall back to the idea that the communal value has been set. For example, the drop rate of the Love Rocket should remain the same, but we could remove / reduce the level requirement for a drop chance. As far as the MoP World Boss mounts, those are probably fine. The odds are low, but you can still get them off the BMAH.

3) Value Preservation in Transmogs. The driver of this conversation seems to be the Balance of Power appearances, so let’s just say the developers fold and concede to those saying we should get all the appearances if we did it once. After all, some have said that the content is boring. The content is also old. And, you know, they are just transmogs, so who cares anyway, right? However, if only some players feel the content is boring, unfun, and ‘just’ for transmogs, then what about the consideration for players who find the content enjoyable and are primarily motivated by transmog collecting? This move would gut their content of a reason to do it.

Where does this line of reason stop? When it comes to legacy raids, should we be able to get our Tier 1 set on all the classes if we get it on 1 class, because running Molten Core is just repetitive and requires no skill? When it comes to legacy dungeons, should we be able to get all the transmogs once we have completed the dungeon and dungeon quests just because it is transmog? If we buy a PvP tier set on 1 class, then should we get it on all the classes, because PvP is boring to some? If we allow any one of these, then why not all of them?

The issue with each one of these answers, is that they are vulnerable to what people want to have and they are even more vulnerable to those who could not care less about that content. This is another lose-lose for the developers and the community. If people are not going to do the content again, then giving them the transmogs doesn’t change anything. It only takes away from those that were going to do it again.

4) Value Preservation Throughout the Game. The reason the communal value is so important, is that it is an unbiased summary from the first day of current content. If the content requires an extremely high skill set and level of effort, then as it ages and progresses into legacy content, the difficulty should be reflected in Time-Based Difficulty. Now, just to clarify once again, this is not saying nothing should ever be nerfed, but if it is to be nerfed (such as skips), then it should be done during the window that the content is current. Once, past this point, leave it as it is.

This also would apply to current content where the Skill-Based Difficulty was lower but had a Moderate level of Time-Based difficulty. As the content ages, you will need almost no skill, but it may require more time. Keep in mind that Time-Based Difficulty is broken into Macro-level and Micro-level subdivision. This can be seen, again, in Glacial Tidestorm example in the original post.

Consideration for the Fun of Others

WoW is a massive MMO with a massive playerbase, and what one person finds fun, there are probably two or three more who do not find that same activity fun. Many people in WoW do not and cannot play the game at a high level of skill. So, many of them look forward to the chance at running legacy raids for the rare mounts, shoulders, and other items. Not only are there players that look forward to this, but they also actively enjoy the gameplay of chasing after an item week after week.

They also may enjoy the accomplishment of taking all 12 classes and getting the Balance of Power, because they can say they put in the effort to get them all. They enjoy taking 4 of each armor type through a questing zone to pick up all the quest rewards. Does it require a high level of skill? No, but it does take a high level of dedication which is rewarded by having all of those rewards. In other words, removing the reason to rerun this type of content is gutting content for a lot of players in the game.

We should be considerate of each other’s preferred method of gameplay and careful to blindly suggest devaluing the reward system, because it may not be our cup of tea. At no point do we say, “I don’t find Mythic raiding fun. Therefore, for everyone, we should be able to pick up the same transmog appearance if we can complete the equivalent content in LFR.” We don’t say this, because it’s blatantly obvious that this gear takes skill / effort. More importantly, we don’t say this, because for some players the struggle of wiping for months to finally clear a raid on Mythic level is the fun. The time and effort to complete content is materialized as a reward. Therefore, the reward should be preserved through the transition of Skill-Based Difficulty and Time-Based difficulty.

Future Implications

As with anything regarding the future, it is impossible to predict. However, I would be very hesitant to change the communal value of items and content randomly, due to the potential negative shift in the playerbase’s mindset. People see their skill and time as investments, even in playing a game. And even though some of them may say, “Lol, imagine thinking of your time in a game as an investment.”, they say this while they look up what the best talents for the class or the fastest way to level up a character.

My concern is that if the value of something is forcibly reduced like reducing the drop rate of the Love Rocket or making Balance of Power account wide, then the playerbase will be more apprehensive to spend any amount of significant time on a more difficult item – reducing the overall participation levels. The Love Rocket is a good example, because as soon as there was an announcement that this wasn’t fun for the developers either and they were going to look further into it, many people stopped running the content. Think about that. Just the potential of something being devalued in the future caused many players stopped participating in that content now.

Counter-Arguments

So, I mentioned at the beginning of the post that I wanted to look at as many arguments against my stance as possible so that 1) I find they may be correct or 2) I need to readjust the whole concept of communal value and its preservation through Skill-Based Difficulty and Time-Based Difficulty.

"The content is still there, go do if you really want to."
I did see one comment that is as dishonest as it is 1-diminsional, but still gets mentioned more than it should – “The content is still there. If you want to do it, you can still do that 12 times.” It’s not too hard to imagine that the reward is the driver for almost everything in WoW. And to pretend that people are wanting to Balance of Power 12 times without reward is just dishonest. The reward is what makes it worthwhile doing. Imagine if someone said, “If you really enjoy Mythic raiding, then you won’t mind if everyone is given equal gear (the transmog equivalent), because the content is still there.”. Again, the reward (the transmog, not the power in this case) is one of the drivers, and the assumption that no harm is done because the content is still there, is a 1-diminsional approach.

It has no effect on power or progression, so it doesn’t matter, just make it account-wide.
This is exactly why we need to consider communal value as the universal metric. This person clearly values their personal fun over what others may consider fun and/or rewarding. What if the tables were turned, and they said, “Not only should I get the Gladiator PvP appearances from the Brawl Comp Stomp, but I should also get them on all my classes when I get the first one.” because, you know, it has no effect on power or progression, so just make it account wide?

"It should be account bound because it is beyond awful to replay."
If a person’s personal value doesn’t match the communal value, then they should take their own fun factor into account and not participate in the content. In other words, if it is not fun for you, do something else. Again, a lot of people have these appearances because they do find it worth while to do the content. Those that do not have the appearances, do not find them worth the effort. I see no reason for this to change.

"Balance of Power has no aspect of it that makes more interesting on the second or further completions."
Except the transmog itself. Each class’s Balance of Power appearance is vastly different from the other classes. This same concept applies when running through legacy raids for transmogs. And it applies again when completing quests in various zones on different armor types. It applies to PvP and earning a class’s transmog for that season. It applies when leveling up another class. Does this make your 16th run through Molten Core more interesting than the last 15? No, but the satisfaction of acquiring that item does.

"It’s old, so who cares."
Again, just another case of why communal value should be considered and preserved – vulnerability to those who could not care less is a risk to the game as a whole. If you compare Invincible or any of the Artifact appearances to current content, they have aged well. Just because some players find the content older, doesn’t mean it is worth less now.

Explain to me what is fine about players spending ~3 months (2000 hours) of pure ingame playtime on one of these mounts.

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Where are they spending the 2,000 hours? For the gold to buy it or on the World Boss kills?

EDIT 1,2: (Also, sorry for all the edits and deleted post. It is early, and my grammar is all over the place evidently.)

EDIT 3: Well, I since I have already made 2 edits, why not make it 3 and answer with either scenario?

Freedom of Choice

So, there are a lot of things you can do over the course of 2,000 hours in the game. However, if someone decided to spend them all in an all-or-nothing gamble to get one or all of the MoP World Boss mounts, they should have that freedom, right? I mean, if they personally find it fun to leave all their characters there, wait for Sha to spawn while they send emails off to work, finish off some homework, or just stare at the screen, then they should be allowed to do that. It’s their time, let them spend it how they best see fit. No issue.

Black Market Auction House

Next, did they spend 2,000 hours farming gold to buy the mount of the BMAH? If so and they found that fun, more power to them. No issue. With this though, I guess the assumption would be that this mount will be go for the max gold bid (10 million gold) every time, which is incorrect. I managed to pick up the one from Nalak for 1.2 million gold and the one from Galleon for 0.8 million gold. Now, I had to be a bit creative and patient, level up a few characters on quieter realms, and build up their gold. But over the course of a few years, I managed to do just that, so when the time came that I saw those mounts on the Black Market Auction House, I was ready. Some may consider that way over the top, but they are extraordinary mounts that I wanted, so I persisted.

Something of note here, why do you think people drop 10 million gold on mounts like this? Because it is worth it to them. For me personally, none of those mounts are worth more than 3 million gold, but for some people it is worth 10 million, and every single time it pops up on the BMAH, they will win it because the mount is worth more to them. Where does this value come from? A variety of sources, but primarily the communal value that has been preserved over the years.

Now my question to you is, “If the drop rate is changed, what do you change it to?” And when you drop it to that rate, what do you say to all those who have put in the time, gold, and effort into acquiring this mount? “Tough luck?” “The content is there, so if you want to continue killing the boss, then you are free to do so?” That seems a little harsh – especially when you are asking developers to be empathic to you because you do not having the mount and/or the willingness to get it.

World Boss Kills

So, we will assume that this person is doing this is the longest possible way… the World Boss spawns every 15 minutes. That means 4 kills per hour. With 2,000 hours, that would equate to 8,000 kills. If they are a little more clever with their timing, they may be able to get 14,000 attempts in that same timespan. Again, having characters on different realm clusters that way not every single character is waiting for the same Sha. I have been able to get as many as 10 kills in an hour (single account, no multiboxing or anything).

However, if you are wanting bad luck protection, I can’t help you there in this post. As I mentioned before, the Communal Value is not a tool that be used to address that.

That will have to be a different post for a different day, maybe then we could discuss removing the caps for extra loot coins on legacy content. Maybe we can talk about having these coins be account wide. Maybe we can even discuss having World Bosses be a daily lockout. Maybe we could discuss you are able to buy the mount from a vendor after X number of attempts, and we base that number off of a 50% likelihood or a 90% likelihood metric (likelihood being the total odds of you getting an item after a number of attempts). But, again, that is another post of another time.

This could be done by 1000s of players over time yet only a few will even get the mount once it shows up on those BMAHs. The BMAH is not the better solution. It is an additional chance that might be even worse in terms of investment and potential outcome. If you argue that 2000 hours are fine to farm that gold: 2000 hours of effective gameplay are (currently) enough to amass 3-4x the gold cap if not more. So the mount showing up on BMAH might also be worth that much if it wasn’t for the cap. And even then YOU have to get it. A deadlock on spawn with > 9.6m gold can’t be countered anymore. Anecdotal evidence from different points in time where the available gold via vendor/quest or AH was less is not truely representative of the effort.

Edit:
To add some context and a different example: If the highest effort alone can dictate access to a mount then it comes rather close to former rk14 grinds in Vanilla (mount was rk 11 but still a huge undertaking). Your access to a mount should never be determined by outperforming other players on a limited access program.
On the baseline it should also not depend on structuring your entire weekly schedules around it. Running 30+ chars to up to 4 MoP mounts can easily take up double digit hours per week. At some point there has to be a better compromise.
In the early days of these specific mounts it was negligible to have them be a “once a week per server” drop so to speak. Players cared more about that bit of extra gear from that boss and that in droves. That aspect is not gone and the focus is 95%+ on those mount drops alone. I got my Oondasta mount in less than 150 kills while others will probably spend a couple more years on dozens of characters to get it. It is no longer a problem of relative effort. The absolute amount of hours is getting absurd over time.

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It’s been one of those days… here is another deleted post probably to be followed up with a heavily edited post.

From a design standpoint, this is what you want, right? If there is ever a rare drop in the game (or something just difficult to earn), then you don’t want the BMAH to become the better source for this item. The intent for the BMAH is to give players an additional chance at the item – not a better chance.

There are millions of players who play this game. Each with their own level of skill, gold-making ability, preferences of types of content, and availability of time. Whenever the development team designs a Mythic-level raid, they don’t center its overall design around the player who has an LFR level of skill. In fact, they don’t even design around the average player’s skillset. However, the opportunity is still there for players to push to a Mythic level – if they want to. Also, the transmog appearance specific to Mythic is only available from Mythic-level difficulty. This content becomes available to most others around 2 – 3 years later when the content is soloable. This is your preservation of communal value transitioning from Skill-Based Difficulty to Time-Based Difficulty.

The same is true for players who really enjoy the slot-machine style of RNG. This type of hunt on this level is content that is enjoyed by some within the community. I believe Mythic raiders make up 1% - 2% of the community, and yet there is an entire tier built specifically for them (and anyone who want to go to that level). So, it completely reasonable that a handful of mounts require an extraordinary amount of effort for those wanting to put in the effort. However, as opposed to Mythic-level raid transmogs, this content was available to everyone from Day 1, because it is Time-based content outright. So, the communal value is preserved because its Time-Based difficulty that isn’t forcibly changed. The compromise here is that there are 800+ mounts currently in the game for those who find the MoP WB mounts and X-45 Heartbreaker excessive.

Again, this is all for the standard bell curve to 2 – 3 standard deviations. We will cover bad luck protection later. I just want to focus on value preservation more than anything.

I’d like to point out that I’m generalizing when I’m talking about fun. Obviously we both agree that fun is a highly subjective matter - there will of course be some people that genuinely find it fun leveling 50 alts specifically for the X-45 Heartbreaker fun, for instance. So, in a way, you are correct when you say that that fun isn’t technically a proper unit of measure.

But in a way, it also is.

Personally, I see it more as something desperate rather than something people do for fun - and that’s coming for someone who do have 50 alts for the purpose of collecting. While I don’t want to jump into the subject of gambling too much, I do think it’s the best comparison there is. Because of something like the Heartbreaker, some people are willing to put it all in - however just a few lucky ones hit the jackpot. The very high majority loses, and doesn’t feel good. The majority is the keyword here. It’s hard to see people putting so much hours into something and still end up unrewarded. There’s no real consolation prizes for the Valentine dungeon either- unless you think a pet that’s barely worth a few gold, untradeable items that you probably got a few times already, cosmetic items you can’t actual transmog (please make the Vile Fumigator’s Mask transmoggeable) is a fair tradeoff for not hitting that jackpot.

While I’m fine with certain items being a low drop rate, I think there’s a general idea that the community would agree with of what ‘‘low’’ should be. 1/3333 is a simply too low and outdated drop rate, especially for something that’s not even available 24/7, from trivial content. I do believe the average player would prefer doing (at the very least) slightly more difficult content if they could have have a better chance at their favorite cosmetics, because it is more engaging to do something that’s challenging once, rather than repeating the same trivial tasks.

The way I see it, the more skilled you are, should reduces the amount of time it takes for you to get X (cosmetic) item. Perhaps make the Valentine dungeon harder, and to compensate, make the drop chance higher? Higher risk, better reward because, generally speaking, the majority would rather have challenging content than repetitive content, especially more if they can’t even have a true percentage bar showing their progress (such as truly have an increased drop chance every time they kill the boss, or a currency to buy X loot - bad luck protection).

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I guess I could do a better job at clarifying when I say fun cannot be used to determine the communal value of an item / content and its transition between Skill-Based Difficulty and Time-Based Difficuly. So, let’s take raiding as a category by itself. In a general conversation setting, we can say, “Raiding is fun.”, and most people will not push back on that too much. Occasionally, someone may say something along the lines of, “I don’t like it. It’s too much effort to not get loot after 10 boss kills.” However, we all understand that many people find raiding fun generally speaking.

Now transitioning from a general conversation setting to a more detailed design setting, these days we have 4 variations of raid difficulty. Why? Because people have different reasons they find the same content fun. Some people just like the idea of being in a large group clearing content as fun. They derive fun from the social, site-seeing aspect of being of the endgame content. They are not there for the challenge (for some this may be as challenging as they can go regarding skill set).

On the opposite end, we have those guilds and groups that wipe 100 – 200+ times on mythic bosses. Why? Because their fun comes directly from the challenge. My bet would be, if you placed many of them in an LFR setting, they would absolutely hate it, because they would be so bored. Now, individually, there are many who do both versions of the raid for various reasons, but again, we are speaking in general terms for these groups.

So far we have only discussed 2 of the 4 difficulties available for raiding. We don’t need to talk about Normal and Heroic, because the same thought pattern is true for them. The takeaway is that the reason we have a this many difficulties is that fun is very important – to the point where almost every aspect of WoW has a variety of difficulties (including Time-Based Difficulty). It is important for the individual to use what they find fun to decide what they would like to participate in and the intensity they wish to participate. If we went back to having 1 difficulty, then whose value of fun would we use to represent the community?

This same scaling format is applied to content that is less centered around skill (Skill-Based Difficulty), and more focused on continued, repeated content (Time-Based Difficulty). So, even within the category of Time-Based Difficulty, there is going to be a range of difficulties that corresponds to a range of player preferences. We made a entire tier of content for maybe 1% - 2% of the community (Mythic raiding in this case) for Skill-Based Difficulty, but we still have still have Heroic, Normal, and LFR variants for those who find that intensity unfun. Similarly, there are players who enjoy pursuing items / content (like mounts) that are extremely rare. We have 5 that seem to be the holy grail(s) of rare mounts, but there are still 800+ mounts to choose from to pursue if a player does not wish to partake in the more difficulty content.

So, going back to your consideration of fun, yes, it is absolutely important to consider what you find fun in determining which content you would like to participate in. However, we cannot take what a handful – or even a majority – of what players consider fun, and broadly paint everything the same color. Therefore, in the formula for communal value only Skill-Based Difficulty and Time-Based Difficulty (and their elemental components) can be considered, and fun is the decision maker for what content and its intensity the individual player participates in.

Personally, I think you understand this. However, in reading other comments, there still seems to be a bit of confusion as to why we cannot apply a one-size-fits-all mentally of fun to such a large playerbase, where what is fun and the intensity of fun changes from one person to another. So, I am just hoping that providing a different example makes it a bit clearer.

Also, what is fun will not only change from person to person, but from one type of activity to another. If I enjoy a soda, then that doesn’t mean I had fun drinking a soda. If I had fun competing in a race, then that doesn’t mean I enjoyed every footstep of the marathon. Furthermore, one cannot say that I hate sodas, because it wasn’t fun to drink it, nor can they say marathons are not enjoyable, because each step wasn’t a surge of fun. The same is true with various forms of content within WoW. While running the same dungeon, raid, or MoP World Boss doesn’t have the same intensity as pushing a new M+ high, it is still fun and enjoyable to many. Fun and enjoyment can come in many different forms and intensities. However, they are personal and not suitable for adjusting the communal value of an item / content.

Let’s see if we can rephrase this a few other ways to gain perspective. For PvE, what if we said, we should remove Mythic raiding tier or reduce its difficulty to the general community’s skill level? What about reducing the KSM mount to the average successful M+ completions over the season? For PvP, what if we said that the difficulty of the gladiator mount is reduced to Vicious Saddle level? The mounts and rewards like this are the crown jewel for people who like the type of content they participate in. The only difference is that you will never acquire a gladiator or KSM mount by accident, because that requires skill. At least with Sha, if you trip and fall on him on your way to Mogu’shan Vaults, then you have a small chance of getting that mount, because this is Time-Based Difficulty. Same thing with the Love Rocket. However, if you are making 50 characters or spending 2,000 hours to farm these mounts, then you know exactly what you are signing up for.

So, why is it that there is a heavily resistance against reducing the ease of Skill-Based Difficulty content, but some are willing to allow a pass for Time-Based Difficulty content? Let’s just answer the first half the question first. In short, if you make something easier, then you devalue not only the item / content itself, but also the individual and communal time and effort to acquire that item. And there may be some people who don’t care about other people’s time and effort, and they want that item now without the skill.

However, we protect these items from that mentality by having set minimal skill requirements for certain rewards while they are current. If someone wanted Heroic Castle Nathria gear the day it came out, then they needed quite a bit of skill. If they want that same set now, then they may be able to go in there with the same amount of people with ilvl 260 gear and a little less skill. However, they had to wait (the Macro-level subcategory of Time-Based Difficulty content), so the communal value is still preserved.

The same thing is happening to content whose difficulty is Time-Based. If the drop rate is reduced, then the value of it is also reduced because its difficulty is related to its rarity which is directly related to the amount of time it takes to earn that reward. I believe a lot of players are unaware that many others within community find this type of content fun and enjoyable. And they may be unknowingly gutting content for players who may not be able to focus on solely Skill-Based Difficulty content. Additionally, there is an assumption by some that skill is the only scale of value, and therefore, anything that doesn’t require skill should take no time. However, this is simply not true, and we protect against this mentality by preserving the communal value of the item.

Also, I am onboard for the mask transmog!

I think this a very good question. For example, when we are discussing preserving the communal value of an item, typically the transition is from Skill-Based Difficulty to Time-Based Difficulty. However, I don’t see a reason why that couldn’t be reversed for some content. What would be a few suggestions in how to do this? I know you mention potentially have a more difficulty variation of the Valentine dungeon. Would there be anything else? I will think about it on my end a bit, but this could be a fun avenue to explore.

In a scenario like raiding, the measure of fun is somewhat flawed, because I don’t believe multiple difficulty settings are in place because of what people think is fun, but simply because of accessibility. People either raid (on any difficulty) because they think it’s fun, or don’t raid at all because they don’t enjoy them. Having multiple difficulties is just a way for people who do enjoy raiding to have different ways to being able to enjoy them, not because of what’s fun and what’s not, but because of the time commitment it requires. In the case of LFR, you can solo queue to get in a single wing of a raid you want to do and get it done in less than an hour; in the case of Mythic, you (generally) need to find a guild, have a schedule set, and have a pre-made group of 20 players. I’m sure a lot more people would raid Mythic if it wasn’t for more important (usually IRL) commitments, rather than believe people would rather raid Heroic than Mythic because they simply think the lower difficulty is more fun for them - this is once again generally speaking, as I’m sure some people think that way.

I will simply go ahead and say it: skill-based difficulty is FAR more important than (your definition of) micro-level of time-based difficulty (while, on the other hand, the macro-level is still important). This is of course a personal opinion, but based of what I’ve heard and seen over the years, seems to be what most people think is true.

To use an example of what I mean here:

  1. Having Cutting Edge on the current raid tier (skill-based difficulty)
    It’s impressive, for most. It means you’re most likely a good player, people look up to you. It’s a great feeling having it done, and it’s a good feeling seeing people impressed by your feat of strength.

  2. Having a Hall of Fame title in the current raid tier (macro-level of time-based difficulty)
    Fascinating! You’re one of the of the best raiders in the world. People wish they could be good as you, and you’re glad the work you did finally paid off.

  3. Having some unobtainable FoS/achievements/items (FOMO variant of the macro-level of time-based difficulty)
    Amazing that you managed to obtain X at the time! I didn’t play back then, but I sure wish I did/I played back then, but I wasn’t as good as you!
    (side note - FOMO rewards is for sure a hot topic, but my point is that people can genuinely be impressed whatever rewards you managed to get then that’s now unobtainable)

  4. Having finally obtained Sha of Anger’s mount after 7590 attempts (micro-level of time-based difficulty, RNG variant)
    - You’re insane - not in a good way - you’re clinically insane, and need to get yourself checked.

Number 4 here is what I think is generally consider as wrong. While I do think time-based difficulty has some value, it doesn’t seem right that it can so easily be flawed by something as simple as luck. There’s something good about achieving an Exalted rep grind before anyone else, as well as finally getting a raid boss down after 100 attempts (assuming all of those attempts had good progress after each of them); but it’s widely seen as something bad when someone finally achieves something after a big amount of tries when someone could theoretically achieves the same - not because of of skills - but because of RNG. Fewer skills required is generally less engaging as well. Spamming one button to win a game is most likely less fun or engaging than pressing multiple buttons in various orders in order to win.

Another thing to prove my point (that skill-based-difficulty > time-based difficulty). This is solely because of its macro-level. Something like Cutting Edge continuously loses value overtime. The more people who have it, the less valuable it becomes. Assume two groups of similar ilvl/group comps in this scenario - the one group who first achieves CE is far more impressive than the group who did it weeks later after many more attempts, and outside resources (guides, WAs, videos, for instance). Even though the content was as much challenging for both parties (because we assumed they had similar ilvl and comp), the CE achievement already lost value to the 2nd group, because of the macro-level of time-based difficulty.

The whole value preservation concept is technically always flawed. While you may be able to preserve something like content difficulty (skill-based), the time-based value is always dropping considering more and more people continuously achieve something before you manage to do it yourself.

Unless I’m understanding that statement from the other way around, it’s already in place. Looking at how Mythic-only mount drop rates are reduced to 1% from guaranteed when a new tier is released, it’s a good example of how skill-based is reduced while time-based is increased. I do however think that (as I mentioned in my first post) people generally find it more boring having to repeatedly do trivial content than doing challenging content once. It does give a great advantage to less-skilled people to get a desirable item at the cost of diminishing the value of an item some people were proud of getting it for doing some more difficult content. It do however think that in that’s scenario, it’s a fair tradeoff because of the macro-level of time-based difficulty, as there’s still a big different between seeing someone riding Vengeance from Sylvanas the first month the raid’s been out as opposed to someone riding it five years later.

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I promise I am not trying to be rude, here, but I honestly don’t know what you are trying to tell me. So, I will recap our conversation in steps, and you tell me where we disconnected:

  1. Original post: I said that value is determined by Skill-Based Difficulty and Time-Based Difficulty content. Therefore, the preservation of this value should be maintained and transitioned by these two metrics and their subcomponents.
  2. Your 1st post: You said, ‘Hey, you forgot fun. Fun is really important contribution to value.’
  3. My 1st response: I said, ‘Oh yeah! My bad, I am talking about communal value when I say ‘value’. Fun is good for personal value, which is good for deciding what content to do. But I am not talking about decision making here.’
  4. Your 2nd post: You said, ‘Yeah, ok, so we both agree that fun is important. Also, here are some specifics as to what I, personally, find fun and here are some things I do not find fun. Lastly, there are also some other people that play they game, who share the same view as me of what I find unfun. Because of this, I can assess what the average would find fun for a niche of content.’
  5. My 2nd response: I reply, ‘Well, wait, it sounds like we are agreeing fun is important, but now you are trying to use fun (a personal value) as a tool for communal value. I mentioned that this cannot and should not be done, but let me try using another example. We have 4 raid difficulties, because we have a large enough playerbase that we can accommodate up to 4 personal levels of what person find fun. So now players can choose which difficulty to play based on what they personally find fun. Similarly, we have 800+ mounts available in the game, so players can choose to pursue what they find fun.’

Now on your 3rd post, you are saying, ‘The different difficulties are in place for better access.’ Yes, of course they are. Again, fun is your decision maker in figuring out which of the accessible content to pursue. So, we have 4 layers of difficulty for raiding. Each one’s value is set by the skill and time it takes to complete it. And, finally, you choose which one you want to do by which one is the most fun for you. So, I think we both agree fun is subjective and important. And because it is subjective, it cannot be used to measure value preservation of effort and time.

Also, the same thing is true with mounts. There are 800+ mounts available in the game, and if some are not fun for you to pursue, then pick another mount to chase after.

The same thing is true with transmogs. There are 65,000+ sources of transmogs in the game, and if some are not fun for you to pursue, then pick another transmog to chase after.

If someone that raided on a Normal raiding level said, “Hey, yeah, Mythic raiding is too hard and takes too much time. Developers need to drop it down to what I find fun.”, then people would simply say, “No, because your request comes at the expense of someone else’s fun.” If you would like that transmog or mounts from that level, then either take the time to develop the skill or wait it out and get access it later with less skill. And we do this for 1% - 2% of the playerbase.

All I am saying here is that there are people in the game that find the pursuit of really difficult (on an effort and / or time level) content fun. And those who do not, should not have free reign to pull that content from others.

Now, we can talk about the communal value again. The communal value is important because it protects the value of content from people’s personal assumption of what is fun from taking away content from other players in the community. If we can build an entire raid tier of difficulty for 1% - 2% of the community, then I think it will be OK to allow for 5 mounts to have a really low drop chance for those who enjoy the hunt.

You telling me that the X-45 Heartbreaker and MoP World Boss mounts are rare is the exact same thing as me telling you that Mythic raiding is difficult. Both statements are true. Neither content is designed for ‘most people’. This is a very small fraction of content for people who really enjoy a particular style of gameplay. However, at least with the mounts, everyone has a chance for them to drop (meaning the barrier to entry is low, but the demand for consistency will be high).

Well, at least you admitted you were biased toward Skill-Based Difficulty content, I guess. However, this example dances dangerously close to the edge to being dishonest and manipulative. Allow me to clear this up. You present this as if anyone to puts in that much effort toward the Sha of Anger mount is a degenerate, which is simply demeaning and insulting. All the while, this example is masquerading as if there are not people out there putting this level of time and effort into any of the first three activities listed is dishonest.

Just to be perfectly clear, there are people who play to an unhealthy level in every area of the game (and in other games too), but they do not represent the majority of the any playerbase and should not be a go-to example for any one niche of the community. This tactic is an underhanded attempt I have seen before - to attempt to guilt developers into changing content by causing the developers / producers to feel forced “prove” they care for the health and wellbeing of the community. This tactic can be very manipulative, so I want to put a spotlight on that now.

Also, during this very thread, I have stated several times that I am all for bad luck protection, and it’s a topic I will discuss in the future. However, the communal value and the preservation of it through Skill-Based and Time-Based Difficulty content does NOT cover bad luck protection.

Now let’s talk about the mechanics of preserving communal value.

Unfortunately, it appears flawed to you, because you misunderstand the mechanics. I will copy my explanation from the original post, but I am going to give an outline explanation now by answering the simple question, “What makes an item difficult to earn?”

  1. Higher Skill – The more skill required, the more difficult it is to earn the reward.
  2. Later Access (Macro-level time) – The longer it takes to gain access to the item, the more difficult it is to earn the reward. Between a week and a year, it requires more patience to wait a year.
  3. Reduced Chance (Micro-level time) – The longer it takes the average player to access an item with played time, the more difficult it is to earn the reward.

Therefore, using your example, the communal value is being preserved, because as the skill for it decreases (decreasing the Skill-Based Difficulty), the amount of time to gain access to that reward increases (increasing the Time-Based Difficulty). Therefore your example ultimately proves the communal value can be preserved through the exchange of skill and time (just as it lines of up with the example from my original post).

The value is preserved on a Macro-level of time, because you get access to it later. Why? Because the content requires less skill as most people will have a higher ilvl, allowing for more inefficient gameplay. Isn’t that what soloing content is all about? You (by yourself) go into content that is 3+ years old so that you can avoid most of the mechanics. Your limited access to the content is part of the difficulty, because how else would you allow players with less skill access to those items?

I gave an example of this in the original post.

So, just to recap, if you judge Cutting Edge by Skill-Based Difficulty alone, then yes it is decreasing Skill-Based Difficulty value over time. However, this is counter-balanced by the increase in Time-Based Difficulty, because people could attain this item by waiting and gearing up. Therefore, because they could not get the reward when it solely relied on skill, they waited until they had the gear to compensate for their lack of skill.

Figure I’ll throw my two cents into the pile.

X45-Heartbreaker:
Personally I’m in the camp of making the drop-rate a bit more in line with other rare mounts given it’s limited availability, but it also feels to me like a problem with no real solution.
Any change or lack thereof would anger a portion of the playerbase. The devs are kinda screwed either way.

Legacy Skips:
Most legacy raids don’t need them. But SoO and ToT could probably benefit from them.
The reason they started adding in raid skips was to alleviate the chore of reclearing long chonky raids, and help guilds focus on farming end-raid rewards when the rest was on farm.
A skip to Durumu in ToT means folks who want the mounts would still need to clear as much of ToT as they always have. Value perhaps preserved? In my eyes that’s a decent compromise.
A skip in Siege is a bit of a sticky wicket any way you slice it. The juiciest rewards are on Garrosh, so any fast forward to those rewards could arguably diminish the prestige/item value/preservation of value.
But from a design standpoint Siege should’ve had one to begin with. Every single raid with a skip function has fewer bosses than Siege. Most of which offer the same reward structure, with a rare mount/transmog at the end that gives the skip it’s value and incentive.
But as someone who’s already collected all the mounts/tusks out of ToT and Siege, I personally think there’s more to be gained than lost from adding skips to those two raids.
It’s also my personal opinion that they’ll probably never bother to do it. They’ve had the chance to do so for 8+ years.

Balance of Power:
Another case of no real solution. And also something I seriously doubt they’ll bother tinkering with.
If it were me I’d add a Threads of Fate type of option to Legion’s storyline, along with other expansions with clearly defined story quest lines.
It could also get folded into Chromie Time as a way to level alts through World Quests/Dailies, with a zone wide quest to work towards that gives juicy xp and a weapon/trinket reward, ala Reinforcing Revendreth/Rallying Maldraxxus.
With those story quest requirements out of the way you’re left with everything else, the sweet sweet grind. Which is pretty easy even for a Lv60 in ZM 226 gear.
Grind relatively intact, value preserved? Fair compromise?
But either way my money’s on things staying the same, with legacy content left on the waysides while they focus on Dragonflight.

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I appreciate your two cents! At least us admitting that there is no easy solution here, gives a little credence and validation to both sides of the conversation. It also justifies the necessary time it takes to have these conversations. I think there could be options out there that could be discovered through brainstorming that may ultimately be a win for everyone. However, like you said, these are difficulty to find, because we need to take into account the thoughts and opinions of:

  1. Those who have put in the time and effort and have the reward
  2. Those who have put in the time and effort and do not have the reward yet
  3. Those who have not put in the time and effort and have the reward
  4. Those who have not put in the time and effort and do not have the reward yet
  5. Those who could not care less one way or the other

Again, another reasonable take here giving credence and consideration to both sides of the conversation. Though I want to highlight something really important you said that developers should look at now!

If developers had placed skips into SoO in any of the 14 months it was the most current content, then you would not hear a single word from me regarding skips. At the time, if the developers and the community collectively decided to reduce the difficulty of clears for any reason during its malleable phase (current content), then the communal value would have been set. However, they chose not to, making it one of the more challenging legacy raids to run with respect to time. Furthermore, not only have people spent the skill / time when the content was current, but also people have spent the time since the content has been legacy. So, for now, yeah, let’s keep that locked in place. We can brainstorm ideas later, but for now let’s at least look at lessons learned from a design perspective and ask ourselves, “What can we learn from this?”.

My first response to that question would be to add skips to current content now! Maybe adding skips should be a default practice now that would prevent the scenario we have with SoO in the future – no real solution. If there is anything at the end in of Sepulcher of the First Ones (like a mount for example), then this conversation is going to come up again in 3 years as people are chasing after that mount.

Also, maybe putting some ‘juicy’ rare rewards like some unique and rare mail shoulders on the 3rd or 4th boss might be an option to consider. Maybe not. Again, just brainstorming, because I don’t have to spend my entire conversation defending those who enjoy a particular play style.

Honestly, I think this is a neat idea! Maybe incorporating a questing series that pushes you to get your Artifact first, then, like you said, through the story requirements of Balance of Power would be a great option! Nothing here would take away from achievement of earning each one. Additionally, players would be able to complete some of the requirements and level up another character at the same time if they chose to.