Greedy Goblin

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Bone storm and you

I got lot of comments on the magical skill posts (1, 2, 3) guessing lot of "skills" being the "magical" one. Some of the suggestions:
  • Always trying again
  • Trusting in ourselves
  • Believing that we are in control of our life
  • Leadership
  • Rational evaluation of our own performance
  • Proper usage of social skills
And I kept answering: "these skills are products of the magical one". I think I have to clarify this statement. Imagine that someone would claim that the skills needed to be a good WoW raider are:
  • Switching to Snobolds
  • Bringing paralytic poison to burning bile
  • Switching light/dark according to our target color
  • Running out of bone storm
  • Killing empowered fanatic first
  • Jumping over to enemy ship when cannons frozen
  • Killing blood beasts fast while not being hit
  • Bringing oozes to big ooze
  • ...
No doubt that every good raider have these "skills". It's also without doubt that bad raiders don't have (many of) them. However, imagine that Kungen would write a book: "Bone storm and you, how to be successful in WoW raiding", where he would show several cases when people stayed in bone storm and died, his own early memories about bone storm and the the truth that you have to run away. Then he would bring detailed explanation to all skill/spec how to do it properly (like mages can blink, druids can cat-dash). All this on 2-300 pages.

Of course Kungen would never be so stupid to do it. So you can't read this book. But you can read a very similar one: Dale Carnegie's How to win friends and influence people. Or Kiyosaki's Rich dad, poor dad.

We can agree that the "bone storm and you" would be a 99% useless book. It would be useless despite every word in it is true and every raider who read it would say "yes I do it like that" or even "this book helped me increase my DPS on Marrowgar by 2% Thank you!" Why the "bone storm and you" has not been written?

Because it's obvious to every raider that the mentioned "skills" are just products of the real skill: "read up the fight, watch the video and follow the instructions". Anyone who has this skill automatically runs out of bone storm. It's true that a good raider could further improve by reading the book but a complete failure would not, simply because after reading and learning all the "skills" from the "bone storm and you" he would ignore the spike, nuke standing in coldflame, got cleaved by the boss and would know nothing about other bosses.

When you see proliferation of "skills" you can be sure that they are just products or representations of a real skill. They are appearances of the same thing expressed in the actual conditions. One who learns the product-skill may excel in those conditions but will fail in all others. Failing in the product-skill is not the lack of the product-skill, it's the lack of the real skill. If someone stands in the bone storm happily nuking is a "noob staying in the bad" and not "a noob who doesn't know bone storm". Bone storm is just one type of bad and any sensible raider would recognize it, even when he sees it first time.

Also the product-skill alone is not intuitive and learning it is hard (melee should stay on the boss, not run away). If someone has the real skill, all the product-skills spawning from it are "natural" and obvious, he magically gets them. A good raider who knew nothing about bone storm before his first ICC raid, "magically" got this "skill" just before the raid, when he read the wowwiki article.

Summary: while successful people have product-skills and losers do not, teaching these product-skills have little-to-none impact, since they have narrow scope and are also hard to learn. The underlying real skill give them to the people "magically" to the outside observer, while feeling natural from the inside.

PS: of course to be best among good you have to improve the narrow-scope skills. Carnegie's book can turn a $100K manager into a $200 middle manager, just like perfect handling of bone storm can turn a good raider into someone who is accepted to world top 10 guilds. But it won't turn any losers into winners.


Anonymous said...

Is the magical skill 'Common Sense'?

Gevlon said...

Nope, that's another product. If you disagree, good luck teaching common sense to someone without it.

Anonymous said...

i have no idea how you could teach it, but do you perhaps mean (situation) awareness?

Niz said...

So basically it appears to be what I said in my previous comment: luck is when preparation meets opportunity.

Kreeegor said...

Adaptability - that is the real skill. Hmm skill is not the correct word. Maybe trait. By being super efficient in try/error/improve cycles you are able to exploit everything into your advantage. After all this is the most powerful signal in our genes - adapt. Develop lungs, walk, take that stick and hit the lion with it.

Zyrus said...

Hmm... all of these magical people articles have just reminded me of a book I did read a long time.

Playing to win, by Sirlin.

You can read this online,

Anonymous said...

In response to your comment you left; can the "Magical Skill" be taught?

Anonymous said...

Your suggestion that there is one "real skill" seems flawed to me. It suggested that society is binary, that there are just good people and useless people, however we all know, from meeting people in a working environment, that there are many shades of grey in between these two absolutes.

Take a hospital for example:

Doctor 1 is good at their job, they can diagnose you correctly and administer the right medicine.

Doctor 2 is terrible, he mistakes a seizure for a heart attack.

Doctor 3 is amazing. He can walk into an operating theatre, asses the situation instantly and make split second decisions to save someone who has terminal injuries.

Anonymous said...

I've thought for years something like this:

What's the most important attribute of a good tank?

What's the most important attribute of a good healer?

What's the most important attribute of a good dps?

In all three cases, the answer is the same: situational awareness. That requires knowing the situation (the fight), knowing what part of it you're in, and knowing what you're supposed to do. The ability to hit the right buttons in the right order follows from that.

Tobold said...

"Your suggestion that there is one "real skill" seems flawed to me. It suggested that society is binary (...) "

That's the problem with most of the Gevlon's posts. He assumes that everything is black or white, zero or one, live or dead. He ignores all the spectrum between. I'm guessing because he assumes that one can be emotional OR rational which are, as is know to science, the same thing.

Am i wrong, Gevlon?

Anonymous said...

Oh lol, you just mentioned 2 books that I was about to read.

Aureon said...

Plate melee in my raid stay in bonestorms, especially warriors and DKs. Has been this way since progress on him 25, and on HM too.
change example ;)

Ulsaki said...

Gevlon, you can't just assert that there's a singular cause of skill and that every other quality is a product of this.

This is obvious because people display in varying quantities the various skills you see in successful people. This is also apparent because people display varying levels of success. Dividing people in to "successful" and "unsuccessful" is an arbitrary decision; it's not a true picture of reality.

It's like rich or poor. There are very rich people, rich, above average, average, and so on. Rich and poor are labels of convenience, but wealth is not binary because of this, it lies on a spectrum.

For example, successful people are usually intelligent, motivated, and able to deal with people effectively. This isn't a complete list, but it is a few characteristics they tend to share.

If there was a single skill, people would not vary in these dimensions. If you have one skill you have them all, but this is not the case in the real world.

Some people are motivated and get on with others but are not that intelligent.

Some people are intelligent and motivated, but do not get on well with others.

Some people are intelligent and get on with people, but are not motivated.

And so on.

Some skills are products of others (such as running out the fire). Because of that it's more useful to teach them these key skills instead.

Like your imagined WoW help book, a book that teaches maths would be stupid and a waste of time if it taught you how to add numbers separately. Adding numbers or killing bosses do have skills behind them, and they can be reduced down.

But it doesn't follow that because of this there must be one "magic" skill because some skills can be abstracted.

"Carnegie's book can turn a $100K manager into a $200 middle manager, just like perfect handling of bone storm can turn a good raider into someone who is accepted to world top 10 guilds. But it won't turn any losers into winners."

This ignores other explanations. The manager's social skills could be the limiting factor on his performance; improving this will increase his performance ceiling.

Or maybe the manager is more intelligent and knowledgeable, and can understand the concepts in the book far better than a loser. He might gain much more raw performance out the book.

Maybe the loser has several limiting factors on his performance, and this does increase his social skills, but he is still constrained by other factors.

sha said...

It makes no sense to talk ideas in shades of gray. Talking in black and white allows the examination of the broader topic while given the assumption that there will be a distribution between the two extremes.

the magical property would be "Able to find answers to the questions you find". The people that are born with that ability are able to understand a)there is a question there and B) there is an answer somewhere for it.

This ability can be taught but it is not something as simple as "question everything". Those that truly understand that main concept WONT question everything simply because they already know where to get the answer (whether in their head, boss,, etc).

The bads simply don't know that they should be asking "what happened" and investigate instead of believing it is random variance. The people that have the magical property (questioning/gathering answers) will counter the bads with "is what just occurred truly random?" and proceed to research it.

Sten Düring said...

There is no magical skill. There are, however, a few attributes shared among highly succesful people.

Two easily identifiable ones are:

1) Ruthlessness
2) Selfrighteousness

Observe that these traits are not overlapping. You can be absolutely ruthless while doing nothing but obeying orders, and you can be 100% certain that everything you do is right and still lack the guts to act on that belief.

There is a reason why psychologists have identified traits common to psychopaths among fortune 500 CEO:s and national leaders.

Observe that you can be both ruthless and selfrighteous and STILL be a raving moron. Without at least average intelligence you're not going anywhere.

Anonymous said...

The two rumps in income distribution suggests binariety in some skill. The whole spectrum inbetween come from the normal distribution of things like luck or IQ. The M&S doctor has no magical skill and no intelligence, the good doctor has a high IQ and no magical skill, the excellent doctor has the magical skill, but maybe not a high IQ/luck.

Adaptability = intelligence. It's the main human skill.

The magical skill must lead to such things as leadership, good social relations and etc, but must not be the product of those, since success may come in many different ways.

Also, Rational/Emotional seems more like the predominant factor. A rational person don't need to be Spock, just let's his reason affect his feelings.

Anonymous said...

@Sha but the who theory is based on there not being any grey in between. There is only people with and people without the "Magical Skill" The discussion isnt black and white to help broaden the topic, the theory is black and white by definition, which is an incorrect assumption, meaning the theory is flawed.

BamaTank Inc. said...

"learning from your mistakes"

BamaTank Inc. said...

or even better:
"learning from other people's mistakes"

sha said...

Re-reading it it does explicitly read out black and white, it was my own opinion that there would be shades of gray (ie you can have a little magical skill or a lot as well as none and 100%). Sorry for that, I used my typical way of thinking in black and white and using that to work within shades of gray when I commented.

Only Gevlon could say if his theory would include gray areas or if it is really based on just an off/on switch.

Juicebøx said...


Gevlon is stating (and confirms) that his black-and-white really does exist... and your example UTTERLY confirms it.

Using your examples with Gevlon's criteria we have:

Doctor #1 is the guy that would read Kungen's book, and understand what it says, but isn't capable of extracting more meaningful information. He would be the raider who is decent at the content he has been taught... but fail at new content, or content with hardmodes that are different from the normal (Firefighter?)

Doctor #2 is your typical M&S who doesn't understand the definition of "fire" let alone know why he shouldn't stand in it. He's that nub who gives the Black Knight's ghouls a /hug right as they explode (ALWAYS going into the phase 3 transition).

Doctor #3 is the only one who has Gevlon's "magical skill".

The first doctor is a moron... but at least he can learn to follow instructions. He doesn't think for himself, he just reads from a book, and does what it says.

The second doctor is a moron who doesn't even know that there ARE instructions to follow...

The third is the one that we need more of.

It appears to me that the "magical skill" is intellegence in the old "Dungeons and Dragons" form of the word. It's your ability to take in new information, process that information... and relate it to "life" (past, present and future experiences). I am not talking about intellegence in terms of "knowledge".

Khaas said...

It's funny, because one of the questions I have for applicants in our vent interviews is: "How do you learn fight mechanics?" specifically because I'm looking for proactive raiders, in today's raiding environment it's not necessary to walk people through every aspect of the fight before you pull, and frankly it wastes time (and time is money).

With the proliferation of sites like EJ, tankspot, etc. Raiders who don't already have a decent grasp on how to survive "Bonestorm" are quite simply lazy or ignorant.

Keep it up, the articles are interesting.

Bristal said...

Learning from your mistakes, and the courage to take risks.

The more risks, the more mistakes, the more you ultimately learn. Obviously this has to start young, which suggests that it is (at least somewhat) innate.

People who make the same mistakes over and over irritate the hell out of me. They don't learn because they don't have the courage (self confidence) to actually admit and consequently dissect the mistake to benefit from it.

That is, in my opinion, the definition of M&S. Mistakes are deflected as someone else's doing, thus no meaningful learning happens.

Anonymous said...

Bone Storm is not the best example here. My guild uses the stack up even during bonestorm strat. Occasionally we have a new person or pug who runs out when DBM says run away, but the RL yells at them on vent.

So regardless of what the theoretical best strat is, in our raid staying together is what you should do. It doesn't matter whether you and EJ think the optimal strat is "stack on target of green unstable experiment" or a "dont waste time moving, burn it". If you know the correct BG strategy is to take BS or hangar and nobody else goes there, then you going alone is probably not what you should do. The thing a good raider will do is the strategy that the team is doing. In a team sport, your job is not to run the best play, it is to run the play your captain called and the rest of the team is doing.

Eaten by a Grue said...

I am surprised you are praising Rich Dad Poor Dad. That book, while popular, is widely regarded as junk, long on motivational speaking, short on actual, useful, accurate advice.

mark said...

this is just me being nitpicky, but I've found that at higher levels of gear ( this doesn't apply to undergeared) it is beneficial to stand in bonestorm in order to get higher dps. Of course this was not possible earlier this year when ICC was new, but the faster kill allows for faster progression, which in turn allows for more attempts on that obnoxious bastard the LK

Espoire said...

@Eaten by a Grue

Read again, that's not praise. He's saying that book is basically useless, like a book on Bonestorm would be.

Eric-Wubbo said...

While being a bit rusty on WoW, I'd say that the 'skill' most bad raiders lack is fanatical interest in doing as well as possible. If you really WANT to be the best, you'll brave WoWwiki, Elitist jerks and miscellaneous class/role forums. You'll take care of optimizing your talent build and thinking deeply about every skill you have and its various applications.

I remember once writing a rogue gear roundup (BC days) on how you could get a nice DPS starter set outside dungeon-luck (some quests and crafting). Once a hunter came to our general guild forums and asked how he could get a decent hunter starter set. I pointed him towards my rogue work (after all, AGI/CRIT/HIT are also useful for hunters); but he said he wanted HUNTER items. Then I explained that if he didn't like rogue guar, he could easily browse hunter forums or check Thottbot for quest rewards. He declined, saying it was too much work. So I'd think that many of your 'M&S' are just people who want nice epics, but not so much that they'd want to do actual work for it. A successful lawyer who is a terrible raider would fall into this category; he might be motivated to be a great lawyer, but not to be a great raider. Motivation depends on the combination person/goal (this is why many job adverts asking for 'motivated people' are actually blabbering - there are no 'generally motivated people')

'Situational awareness' is in my opinion just related to two things: proper preparation/coaching and skill/automation. If your rotation is not automated yet, you have too little working memory left to process new inputs like bone storm. In addition, by preparation or experience you must learn which of all inputs you get in WoW (all the buffs, debuffs, people dancing around) are important in a given fight. If, when in a bonestorm, the screen would turn a flat red, all keys would lock up, except the 'blink' icon which would blink, most people would have no problem seeing that they'd need to escape. However, as it is, people either don't notice that they're in a bonestorm since they don't tend to pay attention to their health or debuffs, or even to their screen (only looking at their DPS keys), or they panic so much (in combination with poor preparation) that their consciousness narrows and they 'don't know what to do' (other than die, that is).

Anonymous said...

you've already talked about luck, but i've seen player trying again and again to have stuff in raid or instances and failing to. Some part of the game is about random and some players get things easier than others, whatever is their gameplay...

Anonymous said...

Magical Skill = The ability to learn and apply that knowledge to future situations. (And not just from your own mistakes.)