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WarcraftJun 4, 2016 4:00 pm CT

Legion Guides: A look at trends

I’ve written previously about the effect guides have on the community, as well as what goes into making a guide. This got me wondering, what do people really want in a guide? So I surveyed almost 1000 people to answer some questions.

What is your favorite guide, and what do you like most about it?

I asked these two open-ended questions in the survey and then categorized each response (yep, all of them). The most appreciated parts of a guide are the in-depth explanations. This turns out to be interesting, because it challenges the common assumption that most people just want to be told what to do and don’t care about anything else. Instead, it suggests that players really do want to learn why they should be doing what theorycrafters suggest.

But this doesn’t mean that people want walls of text, and they made that clear in the survey. Simplicity and organization were also cited as being important, almost as much as in-depth explanations. Organizing guide information well is key to presenting tons of information into digestible bits. And while it seems like an easy task, doing it well is a bit of an art, and takes a lot of time.

I asked a few of the fan favorite guide authors for permission to share their formats as a template for people to use. Wordup put a lot of love into his format, and it shows (see for yourself!). Not only is it well organized, but it is very complete. Another one to check out is Sunnier’s Art of War. Her guides are a great example of providing a lot of detail in small bits without overwhelming the reader, like her talent guides. She’s also passionate about this guide topic, talking about cookie cutter builds a while back, and the new talent swapping news more recently.

 Warcraft Medals

What is the most important content in a guide?

What would you say is the most important thing from this list: spell rotations, stat weights, tips for advanced players, talents, trinket & set bonus information, or best in slot information? These choices were shown in a random order in the survey.

Spell rotations was the very highly favored response with 43% of people ranking that as the most important thing in a guide. I suppose this makes sense, considering that the biggest improvement to DPS is usually from adjusting a spell rotation.

People also really want guides to give them in-depth tips for advanced players, which shouldn’t surprise anyone. But what is surprising, is that in-depth tips were considered the most important thing three times more often than talents (27% vs 10%). One possible explanation is that it’s relatively easy to find talent advice, but a lot harder to find quality in-depth tips.Guides-Helpful-Responses

What might be missing from guides?

Instead of asking people what is missing from a guide, I went about it in another way. I asked people what questions they have posted in forums and a few details surrounding those questions. My intent was to gain insight into the types of things that are either hard to find in guides or hard to provide in guides.

Half of the survey takers have asked a question in a public forum, with MMO-C being the most popular place to post. Were the responses helpful?

Turns out that most of them were, but it varies based on where the question was asked. Class specific sites have the best ‘helpful’ record with MMO-C running a close second. Battle.net has the worst record – which had as many reported mean people as nice people! While the results for Battle.net aren’t too surprising, I was pleasantly surprised to find that very few people feel other sources were mean. My best guess is Battle.net is worse due to lower levels of moderation, since the MVP’s have limited admin rights on Battle.net. If my guess is correct, it means we should place a lot of importance on choosing the right moderators (and thank them for a job well done!).

So what burning questions did people have?

About 80% of the people who’ve posted a question tried to find the answer, but couldn’t, and felt their question was unique. After reading the actual responses, which followed a theme of ‘why is my DPS low,’ it turns out that most of these people really just needed help to maximize their character for a specific fight. For example,

“How do I maximize my cooldowns on this boss?”
“At what point on Gorefiend is Barkskin the most useful?”
“How to maximize burst within the first X seconds to help push Archimonde with one doomfire.”

This presents an opportunity for people to make class-specific tips for each boss. Speaking of which…

Legion Outlook

Outlook on Legion Guides

How will Legion guides be changing? What should you be on the lookout for? Here’s my two cents.

Players will seek out boss specific advice for their specs in Legion. And there’s a general trend toward using videos and streams to learn class and boss specifics. This presents a great opportunity for video producers and traditional guide writers to collaborate. Guides could easily link to helpful streams (or highlights on Twitch) and video tutorials. And the video people could easily reference written guides for more information.

Collaboration should be a focus for Legion guides since there is so much incredible content out there, and too much for any one person to do alone. It’s relatively easy to find a guide to play your class, but can be quite difficult to find suggested addons, helpful UI setups, specific weak auras, how-to videos and in-depth discussions. And since it’s too much for one person to do, it would be awesome if people put together little bits and pieces, like a list of the best weak auras or helpful videos. Then send those lists to your favorite guide authors and sites and ask for them to be included. In my dream world, guides serve as not only a place to learn about your class, but a way to discover more resources by other authors. Increasing collaboration is a personal goal of mine for Legion, and I plan to start with adding more resource links to my own site, Ask Mr. Robot.

Real-Time answers to questions is the other trend to watch, with Discord sneaking up as a potential leader. Discord is a new group chat service, and if you want to check it out, Orthios put together a list of servers for each class. As with all chat programs, it isn’t good for finding permanent answers, but it is excellent for quick one-off questions. And it’s a great place to gather hints, tips, and resources if you put together one of those lists I mentioned, as well as reaching guide authors themselves.

I’ve also been working on a project at Ask Mr. Robot — a free web-based simulator, that I hope helps more players answer more questions. It will be super easy to do (no client needed, although we’ll have one), and we’ll also have a model for each boss. While the interface makes it easy, the backend makes it more powerful than anything yet! Hopefully this helps answer things like, “What is the best trinket for this boss,” or “How much damage should I really be doing on this particular fight.” Stay tuned, we plan to launch an open beta for that this month.

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Filed Under: Guides, Theorycrafting, WoW

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