Sunday, August 16, 2009

Thank you, Microsoft. No really, thanks.

Humans are interesting animals. We lift ourselves above the animal kingdom like we're better than them. I recently saw an episode of That 70's Show where Eric got caught masturbating in Donna's bathroom. In a dazzling display of how completely unaware of our own nature people are, Red shouted out against this atrocity, asking Eric: "What are you, an animal?!"

As if human beings have climbed to such a high pedestal that our primal nature doesn't affect us. I disagree.

Have you ever seen a rat run through a maze to find the cheese? He (or she) was taught to do so. Because of the promise of reward he was able to learn which way he needed to go to reach the feeder bar for a reward. Humans work the same exact way, and Microsoft has perhaps unwittingly begun the destruction of common sense online.

If you run Windows Vista you probably know what this is. The prompt that rears it's ugly head on average every 3.7 seconds while you're tooling around on your computer. The point of it is to make sure the user intended to initiate some change to the computer that could affect the system in any significant way. It's a measure of security to make sure important system settings cannot be initiated without direct input from the user. And it's good on paper.

Unfortunately, the frequency with which these pop-ups occur causes the user to become complacent. We expect the window to pop up and we know that 'Continue' button is the feeder bar. We don't care what the window says, it could say 'Click continue to install a virus on your computer and send your social security number to a disreputable individual so he can buy a boat!' and hundreds of thousands of people would click continue.

One of the less disastrous examples of this behavior is in, you guessed it, World of Warcraft.

One of the best ways to get some small group play in is to run heroics. They are designed for only a small group and the loot is better than anywhere else you could go with only 5 people. The drawback is that you can only do each heroic once every 24 hours. When you kill a boss that yields loot you get 'saved' to the instance. If, however, you go into a heroic where the bosses have already been killed you will have the option of whether or not you want to get saved to the instance.

This helps because previously people would join a group not realizing that someone in the group was already saved and upon zoning in become saved themselves. And with the bosses killed there is nothing to be had other than a piddly few gold's worth of trash to clear. So Blizzard in their infinite wisdom came up with this!

  • Players first entering any dungeon that will result in a lock-out timer will be warned if they are going to be saved to the instance. This warning will include an option to port to the nearest graveyard before being saved.

It is a warning of sorts. If you enter an instance that has already been saved to a player (P.S. this always means a boss is dead) you are prompted with this window. You can then click accept to accept the save, zone out, or click the other button to be taken to the nearest graveyard outside the instance.

This morning I had decided to resume my emblem farming with my Death Knight Tank. I got an invite to the daily dungeon almost immediately, so I knew something was up. There's no way it could be that easy.

It turned out that one of the DPSers in the group had done that dungeon the night before, and as it was still before noon the instances had not reset yet. Of course, he didn't realize it until myself and another group member were zoning back out screaming 'WTF who's saved to HoL?!?!". He admitted he had forgotten about the save readily enough and offered to drop so we could pick up another. It happens, it's no big deal. In fact, that's the exact reason for the dialog. We, as animals, are not perfect and forget things.

Unfortunately the healer was apparently part of Microsoft's new culture of lemmings. So now that the healer was saved the rest of the group evaporated in a matter of seconds. This, also, is normal. It's not at all uncommon that the loss of one of the major roles will disband a group. People aren't interested in taking the role of leader or even taking over the role of leader so when things look like they might slow to a crawl most players will abandon the group and go in search of another when that group is 3-4 other strangers.

So now I sit and type, and wait for noon.

No comments:

Post a Comment