Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Guardian Cubs and Gaming the System

Given the imminent release of the Guardian Cub in the Blizz store, does that mean that the Guardian Mount (aka the glowing sheepdog) wasn't so annoying as the Sparkle Pony?  After all, you'd think that there would be a market for the Blizzard version of My Little Pony as a pet.

I've seen enough of the brouhaha concerning the saleability of the pet on the AH, I have to ask just what the big deal is.  It's just a pet; it's not raid tier gear.  Having one won't imbalance the game any more than someone paying for a faction change just to sell pets cross faction.  Either way, the money will indirectly go for gold.  Why don't you hear a hue and cry over that?

Yes, I do get the slippery slope argument, and how blatant the "money for gold" aspect is.  (And so is selling a copy of the Collectors' Edition of the game on eBay just to access the exclusive pet, but I digress.)  But as minor as this is, gaming the system is nothing new to WoW.

There are always methods to game a system.  The WoW gold farmers are one method; faction changes are another.  Automated auction software that has more in common with day trader software is a third.  Automated leveling software, which sells prospective buyers on "the game only really starts at max level", is another.

But in the end, what all these methods do is to get a player to a point in time, whether it's with a pet, or gold, or gear.  A pet is strictly vanity, but gold and gear are a different matter.  Whether they obtain it by cheating or not, the player is then expected to actually do something with their gear.  Or their gold.  Or their newly minted L85.  Just amassing the stuff doesn't mean a lot in WoW terms, because flashing bling and a few silver will get you an apple from the fruit vendor in Shattrath's Lower City.

Failed pugs and raids are littered with people who didn't know how to play their class in that environment.*  If you gamed the system to get into Firelands raiding, your (lack of) skill will be on display for all to see.  I've been in too many 5-mans wherein poor undergeared me out DPSed toons with the latest gear found on the AH for me to think that gear = skill, and I'm sure I'm not alone.

Besides, who really cares when you flaunt your dubiously obtained gear?*  After all, vanity gear is just around the corner, and people aren't going to care if you've got T20 gear on you because people will be too busy outfitting themselves in T2 gear instead.  I mean, there will be people who will raid wearing a wedding dress, I can guarantee it.

If after all that you're expecting me to say some platitude about how someone who games the system is only hurting themselves, well, I'm not.  Because that's not true.  People get their accounts hacked in the name of keeping gold farmers' coffers full.  Raids, BGs, and 5-mans fail because of these shenanigans.  Just because you can game the system doesn't mean you should.

But in the end, the Guardian Cub controversy is a tempest in a teapot which is distracting from the more insidious methods of gaming the system.  Stop worrying about the Cub, because that's not where the action will be.

*This is different from people who leveled their way to L85 and then tried to get into instances/raids/BGs.  For starters, they know a bit about the mechanics, just not how to play a toon in a group format.  The person who let a leveling service take care of their toon from 1-85 missed out on a lot of critical lessons on how a toon's abilities work.  And believe me, it shows; we all can spot the DPS who keeps Righteous Fury on when playing.

**Remember people showing off their e-peen and their proto drakes perched on the Dal fountain?  Do you remember their names?  I sure don't, and I doubt no more than a few people do.

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