Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The purpose of raiding

I continue seeking the deeper reasons why raiding is so messed up in WoW. I guess one of them is that Blizzard totally misunderstood the reason why people raid. No, it's not about "finishing the game/story". If people would be motivated by that, they would not accept the fact that you cannot finish it. C'thun is still happily sitting in AQ40, you can go and check him out, despite he was "defeated" 4 years and 3 expansions ago. If people would care about the story, they would demand the old content changed to reflect storyline changes.

It also cannot be a "fun rewarding activity" itself, as people would not accept the weekly lockout if raiding would be fun. Just think that Starcraft or HL-CS would have a weekly lockout on maps. I have seen no uproar about Blizzard limiting our access to "fun content". When they decided that the lockouts for 10, 25, normal and HC would be merged, so you can kill a boss once instead of 4 times (limiting your access to 1/4), all we heard was relief: "finally we don't have to kill them so many times".

The purpose of raiding is to test the players, to separate the winners from the "noobs" and to provide proof of their goodness. The raider go raid to come out and be displayed as winner. For primitive ones, it manifests in gear, that's why they worship and ninja it. For mature players it is the progress, the kill itself, knowing (as opposed to showing off) that "I did what others did not". Even for me it was the test and proof of the goodness of my ideas. Raiding in blues wasn't fun. Posting about it, reading the theorycraft that this or that boss is unkillable and then throw the killshot into their face was fun.

The reason of raiding is definitely not social. The popularity of the totally asocial mega-perk-guilds, the popularity of the often openly anti-social LFD proves that people would not go out of their way to play with friends. They rather pick an available stranger than wait 10 mins for a "friend" to show up.

The current raiding is unpopular because it cannot serve this "test, prove and display skills":
  • The dance is binary: you survive it, or you do not. There is not good, better, best; just OK and not OK.
  • The dance is random: you can stand in one spot being totally oblivious about anything and still survive Ragnaros, if you are lucky enough to not get a single bomb, smash and such. You can on the other hand get a Rageface+Immo combo on the easiest boss and you are down unless other players save you.
  • There is no glory in defeat: If Brutallus wiped you at 3% and you were damage first, you could go home proud or use the log to get in a higher guild. If some guy messed up the little spiders and Beth healed to full P2 start, you just go away angry and frustrated.
  • There is no place for personal excellence: 10 OK player fare better at Rhyolith than 9 Method members + 1 clueless newbie. That one guy alone can make the good Lord drink some magma. You will not save the day. You will not provide a narrow win by doing more damage/healing/20 sec tanking without heal. No matter how good you are, there is nothing you can do about others failing the dance.
  • There is no need for personal excellence: if the others don't fail, the boss will drop. If you do OK-ish DPS or you just beaten the DPS record of your spec, it doesn't matter. You just gained 10-20 seconds, while the enrage was several minutes away. A good DPS or healer is nice to have, speeds things up, but doesn't really matter.
  • Gear rewards are worthless: You killed Ragnaros HC and got his loot? Wonderful, you are better geared than anyone in the server for 1 more month, when valor points coming from facerolling LFD buys arthasdklol equal or better ones.
  • Gear rewards are not even needed: since your DPS doesn't matter, your gear doesn't matter.
If you keep the purpose in mind, you'll see why the constant progression Patchwerk (+adds) fight is the best. No, it's not fun, but it doesn't have to be. No one expects fun there. It tests and proves individual skill (damage/healing meter shows personal worth), it's reliable (bad RNG can't make you damage below the tank), your performance depends on only you, gear rewards increase your performance and last long.

Also, the success of LFD makes the biggest TBC issue invalid: if there are 6 consecutive tiers, but there is LFR, you can find a group for T3 progress on Monday 10 AM as there are more than a million other players out there, so even if just 0.01% is interested in T3, there is a 10K playerbase to find you groupmates.

25 comments:

Brent said...

Not sure if you read the comments, but a number of your posts about raiding and why have ignored the "Challenge" that commenters, myself included, post.

I raid for the personal challenge, amongst a group of like minded people who don't have to do the anti-social mega-perk or LFD stuff to enjoy themselves. Once a boss is dead, its sole use to us is to provide gear to allow us to surmount the next Challenge (next boss in progression). Like many raiders, once you progress to the point where all the bosses you want to kill (some want to clear Normal, some want to do Heroic as well) are dead, then the challenge is over and interest wanes until the next patch.

Steel said...

Well, I did go check out C’Thun. I’m also spamming /g for a BT/SWP run every time I feel bored and nothing happens in the guild. In late 3.3 I kept an Ulduar lock for months, begging the guild and the whole server for a group, just to go and “finish the story”. I believe you were also checking out Ulduar at that time... Also having a compelling story and lore is important. It doesn’t need to be Tolkien 2, but just a basic of what any story needs to provide – emotional involvement from the audience (aka giving a damn about those pixel dragons). A complaint I see frequently is that the lore in Cata was bad (to non-existent, hello BWD), that there wasn’t a compelling villain, and we don’t care about Deathwing at all, and so forth. I know I was bored about all the raid bosses in T11 (and even T12), because “I don’t care what happens to these people”. “tell them only that the Lich King is dead, and that World of Warcraft… died with him”

I admit I cheered for Cata locks to, but now I see how it was a bad idea (ha!). Pretty much everyone I talk to (raiders) unanimously agrees too. And “save us from ourselves” is a fallacy. It greatly limited raiders freedom and flexibility. The biggest casualty was the 25man-4/12-forever guilds, that the had an inner core of good raiders that would then go on 10man outside main hours, and push progression further. Like it or not, boosting was a legitimate concept of game play, it allowed more freedom in mixtures of good and umm… less capable/more casual/whatever players to function successfully. Plus, now 25mans require 25(+5) players, each must be twitch fingered enough and fully capable of doing all the dances.

Oh and I do find raiding fun (except #$%@ heroic 25man Rhyolith, but who does?). Can’t explain it exactly, and frankly, I don’t want to deconstruct it. Even though I could progress much further in a 10man guild, I transferred guilds and servers because the main thing I wanted was the feel of a 25man raid. And that’s that. Plus, apart from raiding, what else is there left?

Oshen said...

Well, I'm sure LFR will be a huge success just as the LFD was!

I can't wait for the 4.3 to hit as it means that I should be able to raild when I have time. if that's 04.00 AM it's still ok.

Certainly LFD changed the WoW and I'm sure LFR will change it again.

Mick said...

Well you have been raging against the dance for a couple of weeks now, but this is the first time you have hit the problem on the head, it is the "one fails all fails" type of fight that is really the problem. It brings to mind for me the absolute dread our guild faced every week on the Archimonde fight, the stereotypical "one fails all fails" fight, where the ammount of frustration faced by the entire guild as a whole when we had a good attempt going only for someone to stuff it up was huge. The much better fight designs are ones that reward strong play instead of punish poor play. Many of my best memories of boss kills come from having a large chunk of the raid being wiped out but a heroic few draging the rest over the line, my best memory being when although the tank and all but one of the healers survived Onyxia's (level 60 version) deep breath, only two DPS remained but we managed to bring it home over about 10 minutes of nerve wracking play. I can't think of too many fights this expansion where you could do such a thing.

Grim said...

I think "finishing the game" is a valid reason to raid. Not story-wise (there's a story in WoW? really?), but completionism-wise.

It doesn't matter that C`thun is still sitting there if I killed him and could tick that box in my list.

Anonymous said...

You keep talking about how the dps doesn't matter at all, the enrage timers are too loose. Well, if you'd try a bit harder and got to a couple of HC-modes, then the enrage timers would be much tighter.

As an example, our guild (which is by no means any good, 3/7 HC after nerfs) got our first HC Majordomokill with 2 seconds to spare. The fight mechanics are quite easy, about same as normal mode. The difference is that there is a set hard enrage, not just a soft enrage.

As I see it, the normal modes are merely a warm-up and a chance to see the content. The true raiding is the hardmodes, which definately require very good dps, for the most part.

Azuriel said...

It also cannot be a "fun rewarding activity" itself, as people would not accept the weekly lockout if raiding would we fun.

By that logic, people should only enjoy sex five times a day, every day, for years... or not at all. Or to use a non-sex example, how about watching a television series you enjoy for hours and hours every day of the week? Do people in softball leagues play every day, or just once a week?

There is something to be said for exhaustion and burnout and diminishing returns. Cookies taste good, but twenty cookies make you sick.

For mature players it is the progress, the kill itself, knowing (as opposed to showing off) that "I did what others did not".

While I agree with this, there is honestly no distinction between that and the whole "finishing the game/story" reason you derided earlier. I can tell you that Mario saves the princess or that we kill Deathwing or otherwise spoil any medium like books and movies too and most people would still play/read/watch them. The underlying reason is the "progress" and the objective reality of doing as opposed to knowing, but it's the same with stories. There is a difference between knowing the story and experiencing it.

As for the rest, your continued irrational dismissal of all social elements in an MMO is baffling. If people were really as asocial at heart as you claim, they would be demonstrating their mastery in other mediums, not ones that require some semblance of otherwise useless grouping.

chewy said...

I see your point about "dance" vs "skill" but personally I don't have a problem. The skill is almost a given, I don't mean everyone has it but rather those that have it don't need to continue proving that they can use it.

The dance introduces a variation to test your skills under duress. Imagine learning to drive a car, once you've mastered the controls that's as much as you need but to test your skills you might try off road driving or racing. To me it's the same thing as a dance whilst using your skills.

Anonymous said...

On Beth'ilac 25H we did miss around 7-8% DPS to kill it and decided to postpone it until we have more gear. In the meantime we killed Majordomo 5-6 seconds after the enrage with the "classic" strategy (5 ranged, 5 healer, 1 tank all others melee). Now that more people have Heroic pieces Betty will go down for sure, thanks to the higher dps.

You are basing most of your cricicism on normal 10 man. Firelands is very easy in normal and super-easy in 10 man. If you find it too lenient with outpur requirements you should go and try some heroics.

About 10H, Shannox is very easy and if you can down Ragnaros normal he is easily within your reach.
Ryholith is annoying but if you can do it in normal and have enough DPS to nuke the adds is perfectly doable.
If you want fights where the DPS matters, try Beth'ilac (which is annoying only for the taunt mechanic) or Majordomo (in 10 man is *much* easier than 25 and actually one of the easier 10H bosses).

You can go and try some BWD/BoT heroics too. Some are pretty challenging and fun fights and some are even harder than Firelands heroics.

Gevlon said...

@Azuriel: I don't question burnout. But no one said we are forced to have sex 6x a day or play HL CS 8 hours every day.

However a law that limits sex to 1/week would cause outrage.

While we don't do X fun activity all day, we prefer to do it when we want and are not happy when limited in it.

Anonymous said...

"all we heard was relief: "finally we don't have to kill them so many times"."

No. All YOU heard was relief. Go to the WoW forums, and there's always a thread lamenting the lockouts. See, this is the problem with "experts". The only perspective they draw on is what they hear from their iwn circles.

Shamus said...

It looks like you're proposing pure tank and spank fights over movement fights. This seems to beg the question: what do you do when you've perfected your rotation?

The next boss/tier needs more dps. Your rotation is perfected so you need more gear. Does this not make everything functionally equivalent and just mean different skins for everything?

Or, to put it another way, how do you challenge the people who are pushing the theoretical maximum output caps?

Yagamoth said...

Personally (!) I agree with Micks reasoning:

The much better fight designs are ones that reward strong play instead of punish poor play.

And at the same time I realized, that there can't be a global answer to "Why is TBC raiding widely considered to be better?". There are too many different reasons. A multitude of small ones which are forgotten (or not being realized) that add up.
Well, "it felt better" would come closest to a general answer.

Anonymous said...

@Gevlon

Blizzard had to stretch content with lockouts and/or gating to get a monthly fee from the largest number of players.

Without weekly lockout, people would play every night for these reasons:
- they find raiding fun
- there's nothing else to do
- "forced" by their guildies/GM.

Raid lock was introduced to keep players playing, since clearing a raid every single night:
- can cause burnout after a month (imagine in WotLK if you had to do ToC 4 times a day every day to gear up and achievements)
- make people quit once you had accomplished all the possible goals (again, gear and achievements)

You don't see excessive outrage at raid lockout because people, more or less implicitly, recognize this and are fine with someone else limiting their weekly fun if that makes it last longer.

Keidot said...

...but this is the first time you have hit the problem on the head, it is the "one fails all fails" type of fight that is really the problem.

This is it. That's probably the main reason why I quit the game in may. As Gevlon points out it does not matter how good you are in your class/role, if 1/10 makes a mistake, the other 9 have to suffer. No "a tank with excellent awareness and skills picks up the the additional adds", no "a dps kites the boss for the last 10%", no "a healer team can outheal a non-interrupted ability wihtout going oom". Every misstep is the death of all.

Anonymous said...

@Keidot

That's why you gotta surround yourself with players of equal skill to yours. Raiding is the most fun in that surrounding.

It's not fun to carry a bunch of people, nor is it funny to be carried. If you don't find yourself in a raidgroup of players about same skill level as yourself, it's time to change group, either upgrade or downgrade.

Also, if it's possible to correct somebody else's mistakes too much, then the raids would be tuned to a way too easy level.

Jumina said...

I have feeling Blizzard accidentally created "social raiding". I remember raiders in TBC who had the same approach to the raiding you are proposing. For them the raid was not a place for cooperation between players. Instead it was a place where their epeen could have been flexed. The top one once wrote on a forum that its normal healers heal their friends in the raid more than the other players. An ugly memory.

Such raiders often failed when faced with more complicated bosses and whole guilds were disbanded.

This also explains why my guild with just 12 hours per week can have almost the same progress like top guilds. Managment and professional approach. We come to raid in order to down the boss. We don't like players who do not help others or who do not communicate. We check performance but performance is there for raid not for an individual. And we are able to say: "Sorry guys, my fail. Give me a minus. I will do better next pull.".

Looks like more complicated tasks really require some social skills. And individualism in a guild can easily slip to the nepotism or pure chaos.

Anonymous said...

...there are more than a million other players out there, so even if just 0.01% is interested in T3, there is a 10K playerbase to find you groupmates

0.01% is one ten thousandth, so the playerbase would actually be 100.

Coralina said...

Personally I find nothing more frustrating than wiping through no fault of my own. That was one of the big factors that lead me to quit raiding. There is no fun in putting in a perfect personal performance and then still failing. At least not for me.

Personally I would prefer the bosses to be utter face roll but with the challenge to come from the meters.

I loved most of Wrath when I knew the boss would die regardless but as a healer I got a real sense of pride and satisfaction from topping the meters. I agree that even if we failed I’d still look at the meter and not feel quite so bad.

I gain no pleasure from group success (killing a tough dance based boss) because I am after all only 10% or 4% of the contribution in avoiding fire.

I believe we measure ourselves by comparing ourselves with the performance of other players. For me being better than other players is better than being better than a boss which by design is meant to be beaten.

Let me give you an example. If Gevlon is 7/7 and I am 3/7 I wouldn’t believe that he was a better player than me, I’d just say “well he has better team mates and I am actually doing more healing than he is in keeping my bad team alive”.

I’d be more interested in getting grouped with him in a BH pug and trying to beat him on the meters – even if the boss could die if we both sat there in mana saving mode instead of trying to snipe heals. I'd still go into Wrath spam heal mode and try to get one over on him and the other healers especially if they are better geared.

I’d be more proud of out healing someone in BH than looking at the armoury and seeing that I have killed a couple more FL bosses.

Sure filling out guild applications well so that you get in that better team is a skill in itself but frankly I didn’t sign up for that boring game (I want to be good healer, not a good salesman) and besides the best guilds might need his class but not mine etc so it still comes down to luck.

So yes I’d like output based bosses even if they are more simplistic. Ok I know that doesn’t help tanks but my fun when tanking in Wrath was trying to beat the DPS and being the guy up front. I don't have a solution for all tanks sadly but I bet most healers and dps'ers have meters and focus intently on where they sit.

Anonymous said...

My reply to lockout change back then was: good, less I am obliged to do on my main, and if I am bored I will do it on an alt. It is still my reply. If I want to kill the content again there are my alts. Now I killed Ragnaros on 6 of my alts, and am progressing on Ragnaros HC on my main. For me, the challenge is to kill the content ASAP on my main, and then kill as much on my alts as well defeating the end boss preferably. If end boss is easy, I'd want to do HC on them. Which is possible since I've managed to kill those even in PuGs on my alts. Being able to (trade) PuG _is_ a skill since you need to filter out retards.

"10 OK player fare better at Rhyolith than 9 Method members + 1 clueless newbie. That one guy alone can make the good Lord drink some magma."

Assuming you have Method players (with their gear and skill) you have 2 healers, 1 tank this means you have 7 DPS. This means 3 on legs, 4 on adds (can do with less but OK). The 1 clueless newbie is not able to outperform the 2 skilled melee DPS from Method even if he by purpose sabotages the fight. This is because the 2 Method players do at least 67% of the damage on the legs, probably way more. On top of that, the 4 people on the legs can step in (and if they are from Method they would without any doubt since we, a far worse guild, even manage to do this). If you are geared, skilled rotation wise, driver, and clueless (or assigned to help driver, and clueless) then you are far more dangerous for the raid.

"The dance is random: you can stand in one spot being totally oblivious about anything and still survive Ragnaros, if you are lucky enough to not get a single bomb, smash and such. You can on the other hand get a Rageface+Immo combo on the easiest boss and you are down unless other players save you."

If you stand in hammer it is magic debuff; immolation trap too. How hard is it to dispel? For some people, very hard. You, as in every class, also have survivability CDs. You can glyph some to be used when stunned. RNG is a bad excuse here to deal with bad positioning of healer and/or ragefaced person.

"There is no glory in defeat: If Brutallus wiped you at 3% and you were damage first, you could go home proud or use the log to get in a . If some guy messed up the little spiders and Beth healed to full P2 start, you just go away angry and frustrated."

Yes, there is, and has the very same underlying message: "I did my job, the other guy failed at doing his job" and "how can I help the raid to make sure that next time we kill the boss." If it is not directly in your personal power of your character/role you can talk to others to make it happen, thereby assisting the RL.

"There is no need for personal excellence: if the others don't fail, the boss will drop. If you do OK-ish DPS or you just beaten the DPS record of your spec, it doesn't matter. You just gained 10-20 seconds, while the enrage was several minutes away. A good DPS or healer is nice to have, speeds things up, but doesn't really matter."

That is due to content being nerfed. Pre-nerf this was not true, at least on HC. And it still is not true on Raggy HC since you want to have only 1 meteor, and you don't want too many traps either.

"Gear rewards are worthless: You killed Ragnaros HC and got his loot? Wonderful, you are better geared than anyone in the server for 1 more month, when valor points coming from facerolling LFD buys arthasdklol equal or better ones."

Again wrong and ill-informed. Greg Street was interviewed by Tankspot crew. Here he said that the new LFD drops ilvl 378. This is akin to normal FL (but remember there is BiS and tiersets). The FL/HC gear is still better than this. It will probably be almost as good as normal DS gear. Any FL/HC gear you are able to get will help you to make DS easier (it gives an edge, gear-wise), and the same is true for FL normal gear in the new LFD. The gear from end boss will also make the next kills on that end boss easier

Péter Zoltán said...

Some people liked the multilockout system, because:

1) gear up n+1th alt
2) get the best gear as soon as possible, even if you have to farm 4 lockouts of the same shit
3) had too much time to kill
4) 10mans were usually not used for serious raiding thus it allowed raid pugs without using your "serious lockout"

Or more of the above.

I think the single system is better, because the multi system leads to faster burn out.

JacktheManiac said...

Doubt Blizzard designed the raiding with that in mind. This said, it's indeed true this is how players view it, and it's disappointing.

Anonymous said...

You're comparisons are wrong. The single lockout doesn't prevent you from raiding as much as you like. If a guild wants to raid 6 hrs 7 days a week, they can. In fact, all of the top 20 guilds do.

If your guild doesn't want to do that, or your more into the business of farming the same bosses four times a week, you can also level an alt and raid on that. At least then it's not repetitive, because you get to perform a different role.

The difference is, to perform to the maximum of your classes ability, you do not have to spend 12hrs grinding shit you don't care about for valor points or minor upgrades. If you're into that, then raiding wasn't for you in the first place. Raiding is all about the challenge, not about getting better gear to look good in Stormwind.

Goodmongo said...

There used to be skill in the game. But Blizz took that out and really made it so anyone in the same gear can put out 98% of the DPS of a so called expert.

That means they only have the dance and twitch area left to make things harder.

No longer does it really matter if you know your class but instead what matters is if you have low lag and can get the heck out of the way in 1.5 seconds.

I used to play a druid and every so often had a chance to be a "hero bear". But in Cata it probably never happens as a mess up wipped the raid much earlier.

csdx said...

Being able to revist Cthun doesn't invalidate that the story, for that part at least, is completed.

To satirize for effect:
In that case, a book isn't really about story. Why, well because if it was then all the old chapters should be erased once you read them. The fact that you can go back and reread any chapter completely disproves the idea that anyone is actually reading it for the story.

Just because content still exists, doesn't mean it must be canon that it still exists in the world today. You do have to balance the fact of telling a story versus making the old parts available to new comers. Ripping out a book's pages is fine if you're only reading it, but it makes it impossible for anyone else to come in later and appreciate it.

Subscribe to the goblinish wisdom