Greedy Goblin

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Can there be casual raiding?

The casual-HC issue is well-known to all MMOs. The very difference between the two is traditionally play time. In FPS or RTS games there are "good" and "bad" players and no one bothers to make definitions on play time.

The reason for that is simple. At the start of an FPS round everyone are equal in all aspects except skill. My shotgun is just as strong as the guys who is playing this game 6 hours/day since beta. All his advantages are in his reflexes, knowing the map and the "optimal shot rotation".

Games, even the most complicated ones are not rocket science. Someone can master a game in a couple of days to reach the 90% of "all that can be known". The remaining 10% are map-specific tricks (like shoot a grenade above the red house right next to the chimney and it will fall to a point where noobs like to camp) or mathematical theory-crafting needed to be faster by seconds than your opponent. This means that your power (= skill) is much more affected by your effort to learn these tricks than time spent playing the game. The "three months hard work in the lab can save you 2 hours reading in the library" is completely true in these cases.

However in MMOs your character is persistent, so everything you gather remain yours for the next round. Since there is no failure penalty, the worse case scenario in a playing session is that you gained nothing. Spending time playing, no matter how badly you do it, can not cause your character to become weaker.

Also, since raiding encounters are scripted, spending time learning them has an always-positive outcome. The monsters don't adapt, won't get smarter between battles, so every try brings you closer to the kill.

While it's still true that skill is much more important by both gear and boss-specific knowledge, these are not negligable factor either. The guy who just dinged lvl 80 with his main after 1 month playing, read EJ and has an enchanted blue gear still has higher DPS than the guy who plays since beta and dinged in January but haven't read EJ and has a collection of ilvl213-226 unenchanted gear with PvP and offspec pieces.

But the guy who read EJ and gems, enchants properly and playing 3hrs/day since January is significantly stronger.

To make a raid accessible to weaker players, it must have weaker enemies. However it has a fundamental problem. The raid that is challenging but doable to a player who raids once a week is also doable for bad HC players (socials). They have much more time to practice and much better gear to compensate for their mistakes. They also spend much more time online and mostly by socializing (surprise), so they will be much deeper in guild politics.

Also, exactly because they spend more time online more raid times are available for them. I mean if I want to raid once a week, on Friday evenings, I can raid with 1/7-th of the people who want to raid once a week. The other 6/7-th want to raid other days. However all socials can attend to my raid. So if I could organize a "casual raiding guild raiding once a week", most of my applicants would be not casuals but socials (mostly M&S), destroying my guild.

Good players will soon be fed up by the stupidity of the socials. While everyone make mistakes in raid, only M&S do the annoying ones like coming without consumables, in yellow-broken gear, going AFK or "DC" in the middle of something, making drama or littering the chat with "Megan Fox is so hot lol" class statements. The good players will either manage to get time for a more "serious" raiding guild or simply quit raiding.

One of my plans were to organize a 1 raid/week guild, but I've abandoned this idea because of the problems above. I'm in a special position because of this blog. I have thousands of random visitors and almost 3K subscribers. So it's possible that I could make a 1 raid/week guild, simply because I would have enough server transfers. However the experiment would have no value for the blog as only other highly visited blog's owners could use it. If an average person would start such a guild, failure would be guaranteed.

Being HC is not necessary to reach the skill/gear level where you can do the content. Blue Ulduar proved it without doubt. Being HC is necessary to reach the skill/gear level that the socials cannot reach even with 24/7 playing. Unless you've reached that level, your guild will be littered with M&S, frustrating your good members to the point of gquit.

I can imagine only one design trick to make casual raiding possible: limited time lockouts, like Algalon's. You can raid only 3 hours every week on a raid ID. It would have three positive effect:
  • The good HC players would not disappear for you. They couldn't raid more either, so they can only join your guild (or a better, but still casual guild)
  • The M&S cannot outplay the casuals. If you cannot get past Twin Valkyres, they won't be able to organize a PuG to continue, getting more experience and maybe enough good players to boost them.
  • The "I don't play enough for this" (while he's online 40 hours/week), would be rejected by all. There would be no other explanation for different character power than different skill. The myth of the "casual" would be destroyed.


Iiene of Kul Tiras said...

I totally see your point.

I know exactly one person whom I would consider a 'casual raider'. She is 'casual' because her raiding play time is limited to one night a week. There's nothing 'casual' about her skills... she's a tank and can do the job.

I know dozens of people who are Socials, about eight that are Hard Core (but not in Hard Mode raiding guilds... Hard Core based on attitude, preparedness level, and play time)

I... Don't see how you can have casual raiding. It just doesn't work. You can have casual FARMING of crushed content.. but to RAID in any progression context you need to be able to say "Ok... we'll try this again tomorrow"

Anonymous said...

Pretty sure the 50 attempts per week for totc hard mode already proves skill > playtime. The stupid comments laughing at the world first guilds having no lives playing wow the whole day etc has disappeared.

Iiene of Kul Tiras said...

Hmm. You bolded this statement:

"Being HC is necessary to reach the skill/gear level that the socials cannot reach even with 24/7 playing."

Even a casual pugging once a week can get to the skill level a Social cannot attain... but gear? What with Emblem gear just requiring being boosted by "Friendly, social ppl" the socials have the upper hand in that aspect.

Iiene of Kul Tiras said...


ToTC Hard Mode 50 attempt limit proves ... NOTHING in this discussion.

OBVIOUSLY... no casual could POSSIBLY do 50 attempts at ToTC hard mode in a freakin' MONTH, much less a week.

Anonymous said...

Define casual. 50 wipes on 5 bosses without trash doesn't take more than 4-5 hours.

Rohan said...

I think one thing that contributed a lot to the disparity was server transfers.

Server transfers allowed the skilled players to coalesce on specific servers, and we ended up with edge guilds that were much stronger than average. Without server transfers, guilds would have been limited to the talent pool on their realm, and the average skill level would have been lower.

But server transfers were important to allow friends to play together. It just ended up being a double edged sword, in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Edit: 50 wipes on 3-4 bosses in heroic 25 totc since less than 70 guilds in the whole world can kill anub'arak. Add another 1-2 hours to clear normal 25 totc. How much more casual do u want to get? That's barely 6-7 hours of raiding a week. They have already toned downed so much, even more easier content than Ulduar but much better loot...

Do you really want to see Icecrown Citadel become a circular arena room like totc where we clear all the bosses in less than an hour, the lich king spawns and we kill him in less than a minute? So epic.

MLW said...

Raiding will never be casual-friendly until they eliminate the Raid ID.

The hardcore (both good and bad) will be available for every event, whether it is scheduled or not. The casual (both good and bad) will miss most opportunities, if only because they cannot be there at *one specific* time for *one specific* event.

Because of Raid IDs, they cannot join later. They lose.

I once suggested that our Raid IDs save us to loot, not instances. That is, we get "saved" to Ignis the first time, and get our share of loot. We can go back to help our friends, and maybe get a bit farther with this new group, but we cannot see the loot off old bosses.

It is not a perfect solution, but it is less restricting.

Iiene of Kul Tiras said...

"Define casual. 50 wipes on 5 bosses without trash doesn't take more than 4-5 hours."

Are you insane or just on crack?

The first 'boss' alone is a 3 banger consisting of the Beasts of Northrend.

Sure, I suppose if you wipe on FREAKIN' GORMOK THE IMPALER within 3 minutes, then spend 2 minutes getting the group back together... you can manage to get all 50 wipes done in only 4 hours and 15 minutes.

Flex said...

Casual raiding is a topic that's always interested me. In vanilla I ran a 'casual raiding' guild, but I really don't see how such a guild would work in today's WoW.

In general, 'casual' was just a playtime restraint; members with limited playtime would still improve in ability over time if we worked on them. With 40 man content it was a big job, but we did take complete newbies to raiding and turn them into decent raiders, even with our relatively short 'casual' raids.

The key to it was being organised. A well communicated guild charter. Strict recruiting policies, unrepentant gkicks of m&s, and plenty of communication via forums etc. In that respect then, perhaps it was really 'hardcore'. But with only a few hours of raiding a week that guild still managed to be the third progressed horde guild on our server. Not bad for people who just wanted to see 'raid' content after putting the kids to bed.

The game has changed though. The avenues for improved gear have diversified greatly, and with it so has the focus of your potential raiders. In vanilla, if you wanted purple gear, you raided. Period, end of story. Now, if raiding gets too hard, or a player sucks at it, they can bow out of a raid and run a heroic, or pvp, or craft, or do some dailies for rep rewards or gold for the AH.

The threat of a casual losing their spot in their raiding guild is evaporating as other avenues for character advancement open. And with that, so does much of the reason for running a casual raiding guild.

I don't think the trick is limited lockouts. I think the trick is making people care about raiding enough.

Unknown said...

I'm somewhat off topic here, sorry about it but: I'd very much like that 1 raid / week guild you were thinking of!

icye said...

I don't really understand about this hard core casual social m&s argument. There's one thing for sure though. Raid encounters are a big deal in WoW. They have spawned their own sites, strategy guides, videos, progression rankings etc. One has even been responsible for a flash game (teron gorefiend). While to some they are nothing but a meaningless exercise in pressing buttons in a predetermined order, to others (including myself) they are the pinnacle of the game, the reason we play. I love the challenge and competitiveness between raiding guilds, and the sheer joy of downing bosses after so many wipes when they are so hard to kill.

What I am trying to say is, I really do not wish to see raiding being toned down for casuals or whatever M&S. People no longer care about raiding as much as they used to ever since the early wotlk too easy raids and the beginning of dividing players between those doing hard mode and normal mode. Without the hardcore players, websites like elitistjerks, wowhead, your favourite addons, videos etc wouldn't even exist since the casuals do not have time and the M&S 'can't be bothered.' Tell me, will you guys actually enjoy the game then? Please show the hardcore players some respect instead of dissing them all the time about having no lives and playing too much.

Unknown said...

The "three months hard work in the lab can save you 2 hours reading in the library" is completely true in these cases.
Er, isn't this the other way around or did I just miss the meaning of the euphemism?-) I used to play 10-13 hours per week with 95+% attendance (which we didn't enforce, we had non-M&S members who only raided once per week) in a guild that farmed Hyjal and BT and progressed to M'uru. A large contributing factor to being able to make do with 3-hour raids was that there was vibrant discussion and analysis about strategies and past performance on the forum. By the time we gathered at the instance, everyone knew exactly what to do, and if our strategy wasn't working out, the raid leader didn't shy away from cutting the raid short, revising the strategies and coming back next time.

Granted, getting enough competent people together who share the same time window for raiding can be hard, especially on low-population servers. But if you manage to do just that, one can do wonders with very little time spent in game. You probably won't get any realm-first kills, though. :-)

Anonymous said...

I raid once or twice a week and I've completed every raid. So yes, casual raiding can exist.

I don't do 25mans and I don't do hard modes. Those are just variations of the regular instance.

In a few month I'm going to break in to Icecrown Citadel and kill the Lich King just like the rest of them.

Pretty much everyone get to participate in the story line.If that's not casual, idk what is.

Anonymous said...

50 trys per ID or 1 hour of trys, is just crap, the worst thing blizzard has ever made. as far as i know, you where in windwalker (3 raids a week) so you should know that casual-hardcore guilds can exists with no problems. with the easy content nowadays (ensidia cleared all ulduar 25 hardmodes in 4 hours or so, and there are no attunemets or res-gear farming) to be casual hardcore is easier than ever.

Anonymous said...

I think this is what killed my Horde guild. The good guys just decided to up and bail.

Larísa said...

Interesting enough Ensidia is completely against constructions such as time limits, 50-tries limits etc.

Mek wrote an interesting rant about skills the other day:(

A couple of quotes:

"I don't think I've talked to anyone from a "top" guild that actually thinks that the 50 try structure was good for the game. I'm not going to ramble on about this anymore but essentially I really hope this is the last we will see of it. Sitting around waiting for combat res timers before every boss is not my idea of fun. Not being able to spam tries and test out fun strategies and crazy ideas is also extremely confining. The whole thing is just bad for the enjoyment of raiding. All that is left now is this Immortal achievement which is a lovely achievement when one disconnect can cause you to waste an entire lockout. So to Blizzard and I know a few of you read this blog, please ... never again."


"We don't want gates, we don't want time limits or wipe limits. We want to be able to play as we wish and may the best guild win."

Simple as that.

So if the super-hardcore skilled players don't want your system and probably the m&s don't want it either, who is it really for?

bouncy gnome said...

To raid you need to put lots of time and effort into your character to know all there is to know about it and gear it up properly in order to take it to raid. Casual raider, yes it can excist, but I wonder about the level of performance. Amongst more HC players the casual one will be picked out straight away, amongst other casual players they can have a lot of fun and try to perform on their level together as casual raiders.
On every seperate level I think everything is possible. The deal in this game is to combine those players at equal level for an adventure of their needs.

Gevlon said...

@Larísa: for those who have limited play time.

It's obvious in EVERY sports that there is a fixed play time. You can't win a basketball match by going to the stadium at 2 PM and throw balls into the basket until the other team arrive.

The current system let players with more play time and less skill to get in the same league with players with less play time and more skill.

Leeho said...

I've transferred to Russian realm like 2 months ago. I dunno why, but 5\7 raiding is a common thing here, just like 3\7 in Europe. And despite of it, there're a couple of 3\7 raiding guilds with very good progress.
So i don't think that one-day-in-a-week raiding guild will be flooded with M&S. As long as your recruitment rules are strong and strict, you are able to gather a team for 10 modes at least.

Dinaer said...

Its certainly harder to run a casual raiding guild, but I don't agree that it is impossible. It takes patience.

If you want to raid just once a week, you're right that the problem is finding enough good players who want to raid just that one time a week. Players will come and go as they find that the raiding schedule doesn't fit their play time. With patience, though, you can eventually get a core group (10 man, certainly) who can all play that one night.

Earlier in WotLK this would have been tough to sustain. In one night a casual guild was unlikely to clear Naxx. If they couldn't clear Naxx, then it was hard to get enough gear to go into Ulduar. So play time was an obstacle.

Now, with all of the different routes to get gear, a group of players who don't raid often can overcome the gear barriers and raid whatever they want on that one night per week.

I run a guild that schedules raids two nights a week, but we often raid only one of those nights. We have been through most of the 10-man content in the game, and we have a solid group of 13-15 people who all prefer the limited raid schedule.

So it can be done.

Anonymous said...

As a raid leader for a casual raiding guild, I take umbrage with this post. My guild has collected around 30 mostly very experienced players, almost all of whom have real life commitments that limit their play time.

We raid 10 mans 4 times a week - individual players make 1-3 raids on average a week.

With Anubarak down and starting in on Heroic Colliseum, we are competing to be one of the top 10 man raiding guilds on the server.

Your run of Ulduar in blues proved skill > gear. You don't need to be hard core to raid. You can compensate for time with skill.

Hard Core raiders hate successful casuals because they are doing something very simple. Demonstrating that the hard core raiders are compensating for skill with time. Just like a bad goblin compensating by camping the AH 24/7.

Medwards said...

Rohan's point is very interesting. I never thought about that, but I think he has it right on the money. I remember two of the top 3 guilds on my server in vanilla (Arthas) breaking up or transferring shortly after the server transfers began.

Quicksilver said...

Arent we taking this a bit too far?
I mean, for god's sake its a silly game for crying out loud.

This whole amount of bitching about raiding is making me sick.

Everyone complains:
No lifers QQ about burnout and lack of content
Hardcore QQ about the lack of challenge
Socials QQ about their need of appreciation
Casuals QQ about their lack of time
Harcore QQ about casuals
Casuals QQ about hardcore
Everyone QQ about noobs
Everyone QQ about gear
You cant do it all you know!

Tbh nobody in his right mind should care about world firsts/hardcore raiding/hardmodes/skill/gear/in-game achievements.

Simply put: if you wanna dedicate more time to in-game activities(i.e hardcore) and get a kick about completing in-game challenges it is easy to find ppl with the same interest. Same for those who are the opposite. You are not forced into anything.

Same thing if you wanna spend little time but try to do difficult raids. Find the people who do the same! If you can't well, tough luck, maybe this aint the game for you...

other games are challenging too you know...

end troll...

Why dont we all take a deep breath here...

dozenz said...

The time limit/number of tries is a good think becasue it specifically rewards skill over people who can sink 10 hours on patch day to waste on an ecnounter.

Mek and Ensidia (and others) don't like it because now their ability to take a day off on patch day is no longer the advantage it was to get world firsts. I mean he even sattes that no longer spamming tries ruins it for them. And here i thought just throwing yourself at it until it falls over was a M&S idea.

Nothing is stopping them from "being creative" and "playing how they want"...they can still do it, but they take the risk of not getting a world first Achievement if their "fun play how we want" strategy doesn't work.

This last time arond the World 1sts-3rds were much more varied. Even Ensidia only got one because of a server transfer resetting their lockout for the week (not saying that the they would not have on the following Tuesday but they would have had to compete against others).

Im not saying every encounter needs a timer, and some do need to be more than simple tank-and-spank encounters, but the way Blizzard is going is a good thing.

Keeping it on topic, a 1 Raid/week is more than possible with the extended lockouts. You just have to be pretty selective with who you let in so that everybody is of the same decen skill.

Aelus said...

As others have mentioned, having a causal raiding guild is indeed possible. While it may take a certain guild make-up, several new features in WotLK make this style of raiding much more convenient.

My guild raids only 1 night per week. Playing 10-man content, since we only have 14 members, we are now at the end of Ulduar and beginning of ToC. The difference here is that we all know each other outside of the game, and to join our guild, you have to know one of the members. The result is that we have a collection of mature players who respect that we all have limited playtime. Additionally, we all take responsibility for the education of those who need/want assistance, so that each individual is skilled. No M&S here; everyone benefits.

In TBC, we were limited to Karazhan, Zul'Aman, and 5-man heroics. We progressed slowly, because there was limited means of gearing. In the game today, everything can be raided as a 10-man group, dual-specs allow a small group compositional flexibility, and raid lockouts can be extended, allowing large instances like Naxx and Ulduar to be cleared much faster. Additionally, there are multiple paths to gearing, allowing non-raid nights to progress the guild’s overall gear level, in turn making raiding even more efficient. The result is a much smoother and entertaining play experience.

InfoMofo said...

The reason I like WoW is it can be all things. I find all levels of the game offer rewards for your involvement.

I used to be in a 4 night a week hardcore 25 man guild and I burned out, but now I'm back in a casual mostly RL friend guild that just does 10 man raids 2 nights a week and I'm loving it! I am back to enjoying the game for what it is, a really rich, involved economy of players and interests.

Basically you have to find time to stop and smell the flowers... if there's an achievement for that.

Anonymous said...

I used to describe myself as a casual raiding, and I did run a one day a week group. However I found the exact type of people that you talk about in this blog post. Many of these people log more hours in the game than I ever could, but when the subject of CASUAL raiding comes up, that triggers all of the bads to think that they have FINALLY found a group that will tolerate their stupidity.

Our progression was terribly slow, we only downed up to Hodir in Ulduar, and I got fed up.

Now I raid 3-4 nights a week, but with good players who can actaully finish content without being babied along. However, I am also now raiding more than I really want to.

Bristal said...

@Okrane S.:
Give us a break. We all love to play, we're at work and can't play right now, so we're wasting time arguing minutiae until we get home and can play again.

What do you expect us to do, work?

Hana said...

I recently started a "casual hardcore" guild. I call it this because we raid two nights a week for a total of six hours, but everyone is expected to show up on time (or give reasonable notice when they can't) and if they do not we will recruit for replacements that do. I have told guildies that I will not jeopardize the raid by bringing in sub-par players who fall asleep at the wheel. So far it's been working.

Everyone's online at the start of raid time, we're clear ToC without a hitch, and we're halfway through Ulduar hard modes, which isn't bad for a 10-man guild that only started raiding together 2-3 weeks ago.

One thing we do for the Ulduar portion is extend the lockout each week. This prevents M&S from gearing with us (the "social" issue) because we're not repeatedly clearing the same content, so the only people there are the ones who want to do hard modes. They're not likely to get anything else out of it. Sure there's the odd piece of hard mode loot, but much of it isn't even that good anymore.

Will a guild that plays more often than us progress faster? Yes. But I believe we'll be able to see all the content.

Hinenuitepo said...

A certain time investment IS required to perform at a high level. Running dailies to get the rep/skill/gear allows one to min/max your gems/slots/specials. Even the best raiding guilds typically require multiple efforts to down a boss, whether it be on the PTR or on Live.
Does it take 40 hours a week like some 'HC' guilds do? No. I found in my last two guilds you can raid ~10 hours a week and still down content in a timely fashion, with minimum of attempts required. Obviously, it requires a special breed of player.

Competitive, comptetent, but willing to NOT get server firsts. Where do you find them? They do exist. People who are trying to balance RL but still want to be in a high-performing guild. I fairly recently transferred to join a guild that raided less hours and later at night so I could continue to raid at a reasonably high level without the crazy times or hours required by many raiding guilds.

I've always referred to this as "hardcore casual" and it works for me.

Anonymous said...

You miss the point wide. You can have casual raiding, but it needs an intensive application process to weed out the "Lawlmgeanfx titties" crew. My guild weeds out these players with an app process that lasts 6-8 weeks in which we carefully look for any signs of that particular brand of the stupids.

It is just a matter of putting in effort to collect like minded individuals, we aren't hardcore, we're probably slightly more than casual, but the same theory could be applied to a once a night raiding system.

Rob Dejournett said...

I know what raiders say about casuals and socials having all the gear they do. It's not really true. You can crunch the numbers, but there is only enough conquest gear for about half the slots, and triumph gear just takes forever to obtain while running heroics. So for socials, there is def a cap where you reach after many many months of grinding, for now you're going to have mostly ulduar stuff with a few TOC stuff. Whereas a successful raiding guild can gear up in a few weeks if they run 10 mans and 25 man full clear of ulduar (or whatever, maybe even naxx). In serious hardcore guilds, the loot just flows, because everyone is not only doing the raids, but they are also doing their daily heroics and so forht, so they only need half of the gear from raids, then move on to best in slot stuff.

Also, your blue ulduar post, I mean is a great achievement, it really is, but can you do blue TOC? Probably not right? So its true that skill will get you a tier ahead, but probably not two or three tiers. At a certain point you just get one-shotted by various crap that the others live through bc they have more gear. So i wouldn't take that arguement too far either.

dozenz said...


The Blue Ulduar argument just shows that you can complete End Game content with gear that is several tiers lower:

ilevel 200 Blues -> ilevel 200 Purples -> Naxx Purples -> Ulduar Purples - > TOC Purples -> Icecrown Purples

Beating Ulduar with ilevel 200 Blues is proof that Blizzard is not designing content to force people to grind tiers to be able to do.

If you and 9-24 other skilled players are able to be decked out in full Naxx and Ulduar equivalent gear than you can beat won't be easy to learn encounters and may take awhile but you can do it.

Sven said...

Casual raiding exists and works just fine. It's just that, for equal skill levels, the casual player that raids once per week advances 4x as slowly as the hardcore player who raids 4x per week.

Now if you're looking for server firsts (which are measured in terms of *elapsed* time, rather than time spent actually raiding, casual play isn't the way to go, but if you are raiding for pleasure or challenge, it's fine. It also has the compensating advantage that you won't have burned through all the content before the next patch!

Anonymous said...

One thing that'd help casual raiding...

Let's suppose someone writes an addon called Karma that piggybacks on recount.

The addon accumulates points for every unique player ID as follows:
1 point for dying in a fire
1 point for missing readycheck
1 point for leetspeak
1 point for dps pulling boss aggro
1 point for first 5 people to die in a pull
1 point for doing less than 3k dps as dps
0.1 point per death before your own if tanking
1 point for tank death if healing cetera

and deducts points as follows:
1 point for being alive for a boss kill
1 point for doing over 5k dps
et cetera
The point score wouldn't be fair - but it would be fair on average.

Finally, Karma averages the point score of everyone in the raid and subtracts the average.

Later, when someone checks your Karma - it queries everyone in the raid/guild with a Karma entry for your toon and sums them - then reports that entry.

Finally, if the raid leader notices that a pug has massive bad Karma, they kick them.

Panasi said...

Something like the Noob Detector perhaps?