Transparency of Mechanics

I was listening to The Hunting Lodge Podcast #27 today and found Brigwyn and Daewin talking about upcoming gear changes, and it sparked a train of thought that I’ve been wrestling with for some time:  Transparency of WoW mechanics.  To make a long story short, there isn’t much, and it bugs me.      

To give some context, I have only been playing WoW for a little over a year and I came to it, not from a background of playing other MMO’s, or console games, but rather from D&D and other table top games.  Tabletop RPG’s have total rule transparency because the players have to do the math, the rolls, everything.  I am used to being able to read a class’s description and know, at least in a basic sense, how my class works.  I have found it frustrating that WoW provides little to no guidance about the basic mechanics of how the game works.  If I roll a new class that I know nothing about, say a warrior (which I do actually have, this is just an example), where do I go to learn the basics about what stats are important to me?  If you go to the official World of Warcraft site, there is indeed a Getting Started section where you might expect these things to be explained.  I go here to learn about the basics of my class, and then to here.  Hmm, not much there telling me about what type of gear I should be looking for, or how to judge gear that I come across.  The only official place that I see attributes explained is here.   If I roll a warrior, I can guess that Strength is a good stat for me to work because it says this:

Strength (STR)

  • Increases your Attack Power with melee weapons.
  • Increases the amount of damage you can block with a shield.

What about Agility?  It says this:

Agility (AGI)

  • Increases your Attack Power with ranged weapons.
  • Increases your Armor.
  • Increases your chance to score a critical hit with a weapon.
  • Increases your chance to dodge attacks.
  • Increases your Attack Power with melee weapons (rogue, hunter, and druids in cat form only).

This sounds pretty good for a warrior, in a general sense.  But how much does it increase my armor, critical hit chance, and dodge?  Is Agility more valuable than Stamina which only says this:

Stamina (STA)

  • Increases Health.
  • Increases your pet’s Stamina.

If don’t know how much health Stamina gives me, and how much armor/dodge Agility gives me, and how Str affects my block, how do I know which stat improves my survivability better?  I don’t.  If I don’t know how much Strength increases my AP, and how much critical chance I get from Agility, how do I know which one has the greater impact on my dps?  I don’t.  I’m not even going to get into the obscure mechanics of Defense Rating, Spell Power differing on slower/faster spells, or proc rates (I just love powers/items that say, “you have a chance on a hit to do XXX thing.”  What chance?  How much?).  And people wonder why we have mages asking to have their cloak enchanted with Agility so that they will get hit less? 

Now this is the point at which someone points the helpless noob to the WoW forums, or WoWHead, or Elitist Jerks, etc.  However, where is the official statement of how this stuff works?  The information is available on these wonderful forums because people figured it out.  Should I really have to go to unofficial, uncontrolled sources to understand even the most basic mechanics of my class?  I don’t think I should. 

I personally do go these places to read a lot, because I like doing that.  I did the same thing when I was playing D&D.  But my wife has no interest in doing this research, though she likes to play the game.  I know that Blizzards desire is to have this game be easy to learn and difficult to master, which I totally support.  However, it seems like it’s easy to learn, but then very easy to learn wrong if you don’t have an interest in exploring external forums, particularly as you get in the mid levels where you actually start making choices.  I believe a major cause of this is the lack of transparency about how the mechanics work. 

What do people think? 

-Razorstorm

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4 Responses to “Transparency of Mechanics”

  1. One of the Blues (GC, maybe) commented on this within the past couple weeks on the WoW forums. Basically what they said is that this is an intentional design decision. There is a LOT to learn about WoW when you’re first jumping in. You (as a D&D player) and I (as a long-time gamer) have a big advantage in that we already understand basic game mechanics and complex stat systems. So if Blizz were to hand us some of the underlying numbers, we’d be able to absorb them in parallel with just learning the game.

    But there are a lot of people that play WoW that aren’t like us. I got my dad into the game in the past couple months and he’s having a blast. But just learning the basic goings-on of the WoW world and what the in-game options give him is complex enough. If he had to start stat juggling big-time, it’d probably be too much.

    The same blue post as above also said that the devs like the meta-game of figuring out stat-calculations as it gives those people who have reached level caps or are willing and able to juggle that complexity the ability to figure them out. With the abundance of forums, blogs, and addons out there, it’s easy for the rest of us to benefit from that work if we want to.

  2. Windsoar Says:

    I’m undecided on the issue. There used to be much less to figure out in the way of stats. When I played a rogue in Vanilla, I didn’t have to worry about expertise or armor penetration, I simply grabbed anything with a ton of agility and used trial and error with weapons I picked up to see what hand needed a fast weapon, and which a slow weapon.

    Pretty simple, didn’t cost me a fortune, and I had a blast.

    When I rolled up a tanking paladin in BC, I discovered the numbers game. Every single piece had to be agonized over to determine whether I not could maintain my 102.4% avoidance bonus + keep enough spell power to aggro mobs + enough stamina to not be insta-killed by a mob. I actually had a lot of fun with it, BUT at that point in the game, I was an advanced to expert player, and the simpler numbers game wasn’t so much a game.

    However, I also found out, that having a character that required that much attention kept me from doing other game activities I enjoyed (leveling new characters, maxing professions, exploring for the heck of it!)

    I think better tooltips or in-game guides (heck, even having the Warrior trainer offering advice as you level as an optional conversation) would make the game much more user friendly.

  3. […] Posted on March 21, 2010. Filed under: Class Discussion | Tags: 2.0.1, attributes, cataclysm, statistics, Vanilla | This post is inspired by a comment I made over at The WoWStorm.  Thanks to Razorstorm for the topic! […]

  4. […] WoWstorm starts a discussion on the transparency of mechanics.  You know, and I know that in-game the tools are insufficient for helping new characters make […]

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