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  1. #1

    The dangers of MUDflation - gear scaling in WoW

    I found this very valuable post on the SWTOR Forums and thought it worthy of discussion as it is mainly referring to WoW:

    I'll try to keep this as brief and visually-oriented as possible.

    First, what is MUDflation? Well, as you may have noticed, it's a portmanteau made up of the words "inflation" and "MUD" (which, in its turn, stands for Multi-User Dungeon, which we can basically file as a precursor to MMOs). The word was first coined to refer to actual monetary inflation that happened in Everquest. As time passed in EQ, platinum became less valuable, so it took more of it to buy items. This in many ways mirrored real-life inflation, but it got its own name: MUDflation.

    In more recent years MUDflation has also come to refer to item stats -- rather than gold -- in MMOs running out of control. I believe this is best illustrated with actual items, so bear with me for a second with a reference to WoW.

    Here is a standard level 60 2 hander:
    http://db.mmo-champion.com/i/19323

    Here is a standard level 70 2 hander:
    http://db.mmo-champion.com/i/28573

    Here is a good (but not best in slot) level 80 2 hander:
    http://db.mmo-champion.com/i/50415

    Here is a pending level 85 2 hander:
    http://db.mmo-champion.com/i/55066/elementium-poleaxe

    Even if we're going by DPS alone, the advances are staggering. What's worse is that this is true of all gear in WoW (not just weapons): with each expansion, stats have mushroomed almost uncontrollably, and the result is that a level 85 epic is now doing 100x the damage of a level 60 epic.

    "But Shrike, what does it matter?"

    The problem with MUDflation is twofold:

    1) First, it upsets stable progression and itemization.

    In vanilla WoW, items that moved up 1 or 2 DPS over their predecessors were considered very good. Thus, if you were wielding a dagger that did 45 DPS, a 47 DPS dagger was much, much better. This had a distinct side bonus, however: it kept "bad" gear from ever really being too bad. Thus, even at the end of vanilla, blue items -- while certainly not cherished -- were still considered good.

    Up to the very last day before Burning Crusade launched, people were still running Stratholme and Scholomance and Upper Blackrock Spire (for those of you who didn't play WoW, they're non-raid instances [except BRS, which was small raid]) for blue (not epic) gear. The stat bumps weren't so significant that they completely illegitimized earlier gear, and as a result, players who weren't at the cutting edge of gear were still able to hold their own.

    Ergo, Jimmy in his blues, might still have a hope of beating out Tom in purples if Tom sucked -- be it in PvP or PvE. None of this is true in WoW anymore.

    2) Second, and more importantly, MUDflation is breaking instance progression in WoW.

    In vanilla, up until the last few weeks, people still ran Molten Core and Onyxia (entry level raids), if not for their mains -- though some guilds were still on this content for their mains -- then for their alts. The gear was still considered good (if not great), and a full set, even of Tier 1, was something to be proud of. Flash forward 4 years to today. Of the 4 major endgame raid instances (Nax Redux, Ulda, TOC and Icecrown), the only two instances that progressed servers run are Icecrown and TOC hardmode (and the latter is becoming increasingly rare).

    Why?

    Because the stat leaps from set to set in modern WoW are so enormous that gear from old instances -- even one instance behind the present "cutting edge raid" -- is considered massively outdated. Let's look at two items as an example.

    Here's an epic 2 handed sword from modern Onyxia (one item level leap behind current raid progression):
    http://db.mmo-champion.com/i/49299

    Now here's the more modern Bryntroll again:
    http://db.mmo-champion.com/i/50415

    Of course, that's the non-heroic Brytroll -- this is the better version of the weapon:
    http://db.mmo-champion.com/i/50709

    And, if you're curious, here's the best-in-slot item:
    http://db.mmo-champion.com/i/49623

    And this isn't just bad because it suddenly gimps every piece of gear that you got out of the preceeding instance. No, it's bad because raid dungeons are incredibly complicated and expensive to design, and thus -- if MUDflation reduces their usefulness from the length of an expansion to the length of a patch -- the money and effort involved in their creation is debased as a result. In a nutshell, in-game inflation causes real-life deflation.

    TL;DR:
    Here's an image I whipped up for the discussion on page 22 of what happened in WoW, and what an ideal MMO should look like. The blue line is essentially the strength of players based on their stats and that of their gear:

    **********Edit***********

    In essense, WoW now has 1/4th of the content it might have had during this expansion, while simultaneously destroying the usefulness of entry-level gear, and ruining the chances of Jimmy to beat Tom no matter how unskilled Tom is. If Tom's wielding: http://db.mmo-champion.com/i/49623 ... Jimmy doesn't have a chance in hell with his: http://db.mmo-champion.com/i/45205

    That's the terror of MUDflation. It must be avoided at all costs.
    Last edited by Sunshine; 2011-07-06 at 03:09 AM. Reason: mmoc db links for tooltips

  2. #2
    Immortal Noomz's Avatar
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    It's not particularly hard for Jimmy to get Tom gear though. So the whole point goes away.

  3. #3
    Gear iLevels

    Classic
    ---
    Blues: 63 from 5m dungeons with ~70 blues from ZG/AQ20
    Epics: ~90 from Naxx

    TBC
    ---
    Blues: 115 from 5m dungeons normal and heroic
    Epics: ~146 from Sunwell

    WOTLK
    ---
    Blues: 187 blues from 5m normals, 200 from 5m heroics
    Epics: 277 epics from ICC25 heroic, 284 from RS25

    Cataclysm
    ---
    ???

    Granted there were issues in WOTLK due to unplanned for gear tiers but the trend seems to be clear.

  4. #4
    Immortal mistuhbull's Avatar
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    it also compares a 232 to a 264 which is not a single tier jump, it is a two tier jump
    Theron/Bloodwatcher 2013!

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    Teasing, misdirection. It's the opposite of a spoiler. People expect one thing? BAM! Another thing happens.

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  5. #5
    Herald of the Titans Desaris's Avatar
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    in teresting read, sounds good

    They do not die; they do not live. They are outside the cycle. Your gods are not your gods, outsider.

  6. #6
    Bloodsail Admiral Muraza's Avatar
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    I agree 100%

  7. #7
    Herald of the Titans Amry's Avatar
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    1. "Jimmy in blue beats Tom in purples if Tom sucks" - this is true now. Assuming that the iLevel difference is not so great (e.g., 200 vs. 346), then a skilled player can and do stomp the idiot to the ground.

    2. Trivializing old content - why shouldn't old content be "trivialized" anyway? This is what progression means - moving from the older, outdated ones to the newer, harder raids / dungeons. If you are feeling nostalgic, nothing would stop you from equipping the inferior gear and having a go at it.
    "Oh yay! Happy little deer!
    Now they can grow up and have ADVENTURES.
    You're swell. "

    - Mylune
    (aww... she said I'm swell <3 )

  8. #8
    Interesting post, that's kind of f***ed up.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Amry View Post
    2. Trivializing old content - why shouldn't old content be "trivialized" anyway? This is what progression means - moving from the older, outdated ones to the newer, harder raids / dungeons. If you are feeling nostalgic, nothing would stop you from equipping the inferior gear and having a go at it.
    I think you missed the point entirely.

  10. #10
    Herald of the Titans Amry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cows For Life View Post
    I think you missed the point entirely.
    You're right, the point being...

    ... oh wait, you didn't say what it is.
    "Oh yay! Happy little deer!
    Now they can grow up and have ADVENTURES.
    You're swell. "

    - Mylune
    (aww... she said I'm swell <3 )

  11. #11
    The story is missing a lot of stuff.

    Specifically:
    1. Every expansion has to be rated on their own merits.
    2. The difficulty of gaining gear has decreased pretty significantly with the introduction of LK and the desire to move people up in gear levels to see new content.
    3. It completely disregards the idea of guild attrition that was so heavy in BC and Vanilla. Specifically you had two tiers of guilds, you had the "progression" guild and you had the "raiding" guild. What often happened is that the raiding guild would be like a farm team for the progression guild. So the moment someone finally got geared enough rather than stay and gear up the rest of the group they'd start to pug or generally migrate into the next higher tier. The main ones who suffered from this - and often still do - are tanks. I know people talk about the tank shortage but really if you're trying to move from one guild to another you're better off being a healer or dps over a tank because no one likes to trust a random tank, but always need heals and random dps get a shot since you can shore up with your good dps.

    Also it was pretty easy to see the results of even just small changes. Take for example that Naxx40 gear was a straight ticket into Kara and that people wearing Sunwell gear were clearing Naxx25 the day it popped.

    Really the only thing that retarded progression in Cat was the gear stat inflations and it's not a bad thing.

    For cryin' out loud, look at how well your level 60 character in just basic MC gear does against level 40 elites. I should be a fuckin' super-hero GOD at 85 in full purples to thinks 15 levels below me. Which, oddly enough, can often be more of a challenge than stuff 5 levels below me.

  12. #12
    I read the whole thing and I came away with this impression: Big numbers make me feel inferior. Please change it back so I can only kind of suck and not fully.
    "Certainly no one who is not a desirable parent should be permitted to produce progeny." - Tesla knew WoW was coming.
    (these two are in order of posting)
    Quote Originally Posted by Chockolate View Post
    Derp.
    Quote Originally Posted by Chockolate View Post
    I was actually expecting more people to agree with me. It seems like these forums are a place where young adults can show their debating skills.


  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Amry View Post
    You're right, the point being...

    ... oh wait, you didn't say what it is.
    It was explained in the original post.

  14. #14
    Somethings are weird at different stat numbers.

    The way I think about it is like.. lets say.. level 15 gear has +1 strength and stamina. Level... 20 gear is +2 strength and stamina, that's twice the stats, it's 100% better. I agree that the scaling has gotten ridiculous, but if you go by percentages at the number of stats we have now it jumps up a lot.

  15. #15
    Herald of the Titans Amry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cows For Life View Post
    It was explained in the original post.
    Perhaps you're doing things differently, but I am responding to the original post ("breaking instance progression" = "trivializing previous content"). Now if you think my interpretation is wrong, do feel free to point out what it is.
    "Oh yay! Happy little deer!
    Now they can grow up and have ADVENTURES.
    You're swell. "

    - Mylune
    (aww... she said I'm swell <3 )

  16. #16
    Except the player who's behind in gear can easily gear up to do the content the better geared player can do. Obviously Blizzard is making this more and more so each new patch :P

    The only valid argument is that older content becomes disproportional as far as gear levels between old and new, but really, old outdated content isn't relevant anyhow.

  17. #17
    I do remember getting groups of people with nearly full epics still farming for rings and other items in dungeons at 60 as some were still viable for t3 raids. Take for instance the rogue .5 set Darkmantle which has a set bonus of 30 energy proc on chance. If you had this and your on par with someone wearing full t1 or t2. This 30 energy proc might be the advantage you need in order to out dps them. and it is a lower ilvl gear. Mainly because the raw stats were not such dramatic increases. this helped keep people who are less geared in the game as they can still compete. I am not saying it was perfect but I do feel this post has some valid points. All in all it has changed and undergone a lot of changes since then. stat values have changed and new stats added. It is hardly the same game, but that is fine with me. I do agree its annoying to see someone with better gear doing less dps or performing worse but this said person gets groups because of their ilvl.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Shelly View Post
    The story is missing a lot of stuff.

    Specifically:
    1. Every expansion has to be rated on their own merits.
    2. The difficulty of gaining gear has decreased pretty significantly with the introduction of LK and the desire to move people up in gear levels to see new content.
    3. It completely disregards the idea of guild attrition that was so heavy in BC and Vanilla. Specifically you had two tiers of guilds, you had the "progression" guild and you had the "raiding" guild. What often happened is that the raiding guild would be like a farm team for the progression guild. So the moment someone finally got geared enough rather than stay and gear up the rest of the group they'd start to pug or generally migrate into the next higher tier. The main ones who suffered from this - and often still do - are tanks. I know people talk about the tank shortage but really if you're trying to move from one guild to another you're better off being a healer or dps over a tank because no one likes to trust a random tank, but always need heals and random dps get a shot since you can shore up with your good dps.
    I would argue that one of the reasons why WoW suffered from the issues you mentioned is BECAUSE gear was so important and inflated at such an exponential rate. That's why hardcore guilds recruited players from semi-hardcore guilds and that's why Blizzard finally decided to make lower tier raiding gear more accessible.

    If a Heroic T12 raider wasn't 40% more effective than a normal T11 raider then the whole pressure of recruiting well-geared players would disappear.

    Imagine that instead of jumping 13 item levels between normal and heroic and 7 levels between each Tier, Items only jumped 10/5 levels each tier. People coming from Tier 11 raids could achieve close to 90% of the performance of T12 raiders and there would be a lot less need for welfare epics.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Amry View Post
    Perhaps you're doing things differently, but I am responding to the original post ("breaking instance progression" = "trivializing previous content"). Now if you think my interpretation is wrong, do feel free to point out what it is.
    And?

    I don't see anyone saying new gear shouldn't be better than old gear.

    You don't need to have huge gaps between one tier or another from start to end to have progression. It creates its own problems if you do it that way.

    They actually tried this at the start of TBC but people complained and Blizzard upgraded the gear and haven't looked back since then.

  20. #20
    Herald of the Titans Amry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crowe View Post
    Imagine that instead of jumping 13 item levels between normal and heroic and 7 levels between each Tier, Items only jumped 10/5 levels each tier. People coming from Tier 11 raids could achieve close to 90% of the performance of T12 raiders and there would be a lot less need for welfare epics.
    ... except that this means their performance will not be as high as intended to tackle the more powerful bosses of the new raid.
    "Oh yay! Happy little deer!
    Now they can grow up and have ADVENTURES.
    You're swell. "

    - Mylune
    (aww... she said I'm swell <3 )

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