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Knowledge Groups and Content Tiers

March 21, 2014

Dear Reader,

Stubbornly isn’t my second 90, but he is the second 90 that I’ve really wanted to continue playing.  It’s amazing how much knowledge is lost during the long months of raiding, knowledge about how to go from a fresh 90 to a raiding 90.

Of course, nowadays there’s not as much difference as perhaps there should be.  In a comment on my last post, Shintar posted a humorous video showing a frustrated casual raider who’d ended up in an LFR with a lot of boosted 90s.  The boosters apparently hadn’t done their research on their classes nor bothered to gem or enchant a lot of their gear, and as a result, a lot of solid players were incapable of doing even the most basic of bosses.  

It’s easy to forget how hard it is to move from one playing field to another in MMOs.  I’ve spoken about this plenty before, but I think it bears mentioning again: there’s an absolute ton of content knowledge about this genre, and then about each game within in it specifically.  Take Kurn’s Guide to Being a Kick-Ass Raider.  That covers just one aspect of the genre, and it’s 84 pages long.  Ferrel over at Epic Slant Press has written two books now on aspects of the game: Guild Leading and Raiding.

I wouldn’t begin without any forethought to try to list all the various areas of content knowledge needed to play a game like WoW.  That’s a post for another day (or several days), but I would say that each “tier” of play requires it’s own group of content knowledge, and that while the practice of those tiers may not be very helpful for the next tier, the knowledge from each tier is absolutely required.

Here’s the groupings as I see them:
Basic over-the-shoulder gameplay knowledge (movement, camera control, attacking, etc)
Basic MMO knowledge (questing, crafting, talents, etc)
Leveling knowledge (zones, character development, etc)
Social grouping knowledge (guilds, dungeons, role systems, etc)
End-game gearing knowledge (key stats, factions, dailies, etc)
Raiding knowledge (strats, builds, rotations)
Heroic raiding knowledge (much like the last tier, but more detailed and practiced)

While there may be some overlap, each of those tiers has distinct knowledge that’s required to move on to the next tier.  And once you’ve spent enough time at a higher tier, the curse of knowledge takes over and makes it harder and harder to help people at lower tiers while maintaining patience and understanding.

I’d forgotten how much there is to do when you want to make a level 90 character ready to raid.  Just getting professions up and running to have a steady income is taking forever, and I’d like to have that ready to go before I start the gearing cycle, particularly because I want to be able to DE useless junk that drops to help with my enchanting.

Perhaps more should be examined regarding those tiers and what, precisely, is needed from tier to tier and where the most common lapses in knowledge exist.  That could really benefit designers in developing better instructional tools to improve their player retention from tier to tier.  I suspect each of these tiers acts as a potential “exit” location for frustrated players.  Making those tiers more closely knit could help reduce that.

It’s a thought.

Stubborn (and thinking)

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Cain permalink
    March 22, 2014 8:46 am

    There is definitely a lot of knowledge that I missed over the time I was away from the game and even since I came back but more casual that I still don’t know. Seems like they change some of the hidden rules every patch and often you end up with multiple versions across different content. Take raid lockouts for example how they are handled across older content and the rules about sharing them seem different for different tiers of old content.

  2. March 22, 2014 10:58 am

    Yikes – I love this post, and realize I don’t offer much of anything to anyone. Oh well. Being an expert dilettante may be an oxymoron, but hey…everyone’s good at something!

  3. Samus permalink
    March 22, 2014 2:32 pm

    Just a tip on your enchanting, one thing you used to be able to do (and I assume you still can) is to create an alt and mail them stuff. When you are ready for it back, log on the alt and click return to sender. The mail will sit in the alt’s mailbox for 30 days before automatically being returned to you (and you can leave it in your own mailbox for another 30 days). At least, that’s how it used to work.

    • March 31, 2014 12:31 pm

      I call that “mailbanking”… still works great, although if you have more than 50 mails you can lose track of the older ones, an add-on like Altaholic is invaluable for keeping track and warning you when something you can’t see is going to expire. Or just stop accumulating more than 50 mails worth of stuff, I suppose, but where’ the fun in that?

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