A discussion yesterday got me thinking about the need to actually train players new to a specific MMO, or to the genre, on certain basic skills. Movement can be a challenge if you’re not used to 3D gaming for instance. Beyond the basics however there are very genre-specific skills and knowledge that few if any of these games bother to teach players explicitly.
The concept of proving grounds in WoW has been mentioned for some time, the idea of solo scenarios that teach the player a specific lesson about their class or role (of the trinity of tank, healer or dps). If you pug much in any MMO this kind of lesson-based activity really does seem overdue, dps characters that feel they should pull monsters before the tank; people who have no concept of letting healers recover mana in-between fights; the list of examples could be very long.
This concept is actually much older than the Mists of Pandaria expansion for WoW. For instance Guild Wars 1′s Factions campaign had Instructor Ng’s Insignia Quests early on in the expansion. These arena-based fights against NPC opponents taught you key skills for your class (e.g. interrupts and skill-chaining if you were playing a ritualist). I count it as a real shame that ArenaNet didn’t do something similar in Guild Wars 2 actually as this is the best implementation of in-game training I’ve yet seen. Certainly the super-chaotic combat in GW2 would be better if the developers helped players to learn their classes in a structured manner early on…
WoW’s devs have promised proving grounds at some point, but I wonder to what extent they’ll be useful. Sure the tanks and healers could be given a ‘safe’ environment to learn the basics before they’re “thrown to the lions” in a pug leveling dungeon. But perhaps the most important lesson should be “how to play a damage dealer in a group”. So missions that hammer home that the game isn’t solely about maxing your recount DPS meter score; that pulling monsters because the group isn’t going fast enough for your own sense of impatience is *not* good teamwork etc.
Does this kind of loading screen advice make any difference I wonder? I wonder whether the proving grounds will actually have any real impact on player behaviour or the perceived lack of tanks and healers (in WoW).