Tobold's Blog
Friday, December 12, 2008
 
If I'm not doing it, then it can't be epic

Syncaine considers that today's raids aren't epic any more. Why would that be? Because he isn't raiding any more of course! With impecable logic he concludes that if he isn't doing it, then it can't be worth doing, and definitely can't be epic. I mentioned the Zen koan about the tree falling in the forest before, and here is a great example: The epicness of this or that activity isn't so much defined by how easy or accessible it is, but by whether you're doing it or not. Not raiding at the moment? Then raids must be worthless, of course!

So what was so epic about the raids that Syncaine did back then? Quote: "Officer chat was one long bitch list about how our members are a bunch of babies, and what we would do for just a few people who could focus for longer than 10 minutes. At the time, it was a lot of fun, in that odd “I hate you” kind of way." So doing things you hate is epic, as long as it gives you the opportunity to trash talk about the serfs behind their back. If the serfs start to raid on their own, it's time to leave and trash talk about them on your blog.

I agree with Syncaine that times have changed, but I'd say for the better. He is exactly demonstrating what I always hated about the old style of raiding: It wasn't so much the fact that it wasn't accessible to everyone, but more the incredibly annoying attitude of superiority of those who raided over those who didn't. I *did* get up to the last boss of BWL pre-TBC, but I never considered raiding to be any more than one alternative mode of gameplay among many other equal possibilities. So I'd answer Syncaine's question of "What is raiding in WoW today?" with: What it always was; a raid dungeon is an instance into which you can (and usually should) bring more than 5 people. If anyone thinks that he is superior to somebody else, just because he had more success in a game, should seriously reconsider his life priorities. Even considering that skill might have been involved, in the end your skill in playing a video game gets you exactly nowhere in life.
Comments:
Very well said and I couldn't agree more.
 
Don't get me wrong, I agree with most of what you're written. But in the end people do and value a lot of things that "get them exactly nowhere in life". You can do a lot of things in life, the quote from Keynes you used a while ago can be applied to everything, in the long run none of it really gets you anywhere in life.

So people should do and try to excel at whatever they enjoy. They should be proud about what they accomplish in the particular field they choose to devote their time to but not look down on people who don't make it such a priority.
 
I agree with most of what you said, but there's one factor in raiding that is more than an alternative mode of gameplay and can be useful in life: Organizing people. In the end, you're dealing with real people. You just use guild chat instead of instant messaging, Teamspeak/Vent instead of conference calls and forums instead of emails. You need to know their strengths and weaknesses, manage relationships and guide their efforts towards a common goal. Of course, I'm not saying that guild/raid leaders are inherently superior: A leader is only as good as his team, and some teams succeed despite their leaders, not because of them.
 
"in the end your skill in playing a video game gets you exactly nowhere in life"

-->

http://play.tm/interview/18005/pro-gaming-boss-michael-o-dell/
 
@Tobold:

"I never considered raiding to be any more than one alternative mode of gameplay among many other equal possibilities."

Sorry, did you finish reading Syncaine's full post and the comments? You appear to agree with him.
 
I agree with Shalkis on this one. I'm pretty sure that once the current crop of young gamers grows up having game experience will be a plus on your resume, depending on job and what kind of games you play/played. Not only the raid leader learns important things he or she will find useful later in life, but also the members of the guild. They learn the importance of punctuality, being prepared, paying attention, not giving up, etc. The reason I wouldn't put "semihardcore raider in World of Warcraft" on my resume (yet) is because these are qualities the older crowd don't realize that you can get that from "just a game". It's social stigma that causes people to say that games teach you nothing useful, once gamers around my age grow older and get into important positions this might change. I hope it does, because gaming is a hobby just like for example stamp collection. Raiding in an MMO can easily be compared to playing football or other organized sports, the only difference being that you "stare at a bunch of pixels" instead of chasing a ball across a field. Again it's social stigma that stops people from realizing this.
 
"in the end your skill in playing a video game gets you exactly nowhere in life"

I suspect there are plenty of players in mmos that have got nowhere in real life, and that is why the status of their virtual characters is even more important to them. Imagine you have no job, no partner, no friends in real life but you are the raid leader of the best guild on your server where everyone respects you and follows your orders in a computer game. Wwhich world would you rather live in? the real one or the virtual one?
 
"Officer chat was one long bitch list about how our members are a bunch of babies, and what we would do for just a few people who could focus for longer than 10 minutes. At the time, it was a lot of fun, in that odd “I hate you” kind of way."

How can it be fun let alone epic, to do something together with people in a close community that guilds are, if you disrespect the majority of them?
 
Raiding is what you make of it. So whether or not it is 'epic' will always be subjective.

A fight against impossible odds to save the world is epic. Spending hours following a script, hitting keys and getting a 2dps improvement from your shoulders is not so epic.
 
Raiding isn't what it used to be, and thank god. This argument popped up on my blog as well but I do like the changes in the game in THIS expansion, not Burning Crusade.

Besides it is not like Blizzard came up with the 25 man raid first anyway, EQ2 has been doing it for 4 years. BUT a 10 man version of larger 25 man versions was a great move. A lot of people are still living in 2005 when it comes to WoW also because they quit and havent gone back and level capped. You can just toss those opinions out anyway.
 
This touches upon why I quit WoW and haven't bought the expansion. Raiding and 'leetness' attitudes amongst guild members/officers burnt me out. It's made me mildly allergic to guilds in general, in fact. So why buy the expansion if you don't want to raid? It'd be like playing WAR and not wanting to RvR. Or Guitar Hero and not liking music.
 
"Leetness" as you put it is a condition of the human race, it is not specific to playing World of Warcraft.
What's the point in buying a Ferrari? That won't get you any further in life than a Mini, but if you see someone in a Ferrari you won't start raging against them unless you are very left of centre in your politics.
"I did something which the majority didn't", is the raison d'etre behind most accomplishments, in the virtual world or in real life.
I don't know why you are so against people wanting to have hard-core raids, Tobold. If that is what they want to so, why shouldn't they? and don't start calling me an elitist, as I have explained time and again I am not one; I haven't even got to level 80 yet.
 
I stopped reading the guy when he turned out to be a zealous WoW hater in defence of the game he plays. Please, do not bring up idiots on blog, Tobold! It only serves to decrease the level of your writings.
 
So Blizzard has truly opened up raiding for the general public in the Lich King expansion? Good for them. Many, many people can now look forward to seeing sights and doing things that, compared to the Burning Crusade, they wouldn't have a chance to experience.

Much of the raid content in the Burning Crusade expansion was custom designed for the so-called "uberguilds" and I was starting to wonder if World of Warcraft was heading down the same slippery slope that claimed EverQuest. Thankfully, Blizzard seemed to remember that one of the core attractions to their game is that it is designed for the average gamer to enjoy, and designed Lich King's gameplay accordingly.
 
A fight with a mob that you can take down with ten guys versus one that you need 40+ guys just doesn't feel as "epic." A fight that can be done in four hours versus one that take 12+ hours does not feel as "epic." WoW will never have anything as "epic" feeling as certain encounters in DAoC, EQ, and FFXI.

Does that mean I think 24 hour encounters that tax 80 players to the absolute limits of their patience are a good thing? No, actually I think anyone that has the spare time for that crap is either rich or unemployed, and I am neither. Honestly even if I had that kind of spare time I'd rather stab my eyes out with a fork than spend 8+ hours same damn instance or zone with the same 20+ players, MUCH LESS do it three times a week until I get a full set of gear. I thought the old 40 man raids in WoW were completely asinine design element to tack on in a game that is so casual friendly 1-59. When it comes to it, I hate raiding nearly passionately.

However, Syncaine does have a point. Encounters that require large numbers of players to act like mindless cogs in a big machine for 8+ hours to get through them do generally feel more "epic" than encounters designed for those with gainful employment and friends. Raids are a lazy developers way of getting that "epic" feeling across. It's much harder to pull off in small party or single player content.
 
Unfortunately one of the major problems i'm personally feeling now is the lack of engamenet within these encounters. AoEing down every trash mob, a lack of required ability to tank effectively and single button spam for most healing classes now because of downranking being shot in the foot has meant that the 'core' of raiders I still hang with have, like me, become bored of the raiding scene already.

We've not quite finished the content yet, but we feel no wanting desire to and that's somewhat of a growing problem amongst a few others within guilds across the server. No doubt we're the minority with this thinking at the moment but I can see that feeling settling in once it takes a few months for Blizzard to bring more content out. I love raiding, it's why I play MMORPGs. I love number crunching and I enjoy big coop movements against challenges but WotLK just feels... lacking in this. It's the only problem I have with this expansion. The rest is sheer brilliance (bar the PvP which i've not even dabbled in) but raiding feels lackluster.

It's not the giving away of the gear or the flinging around of the badges that bothers me. I've no problem with that. It's the lack of challenge within the encounters. I've found myself drifting away out of boredom, which is something I havn't really felt since grinding MC for the umpteenth time. Sure, some raids got boring after a long time (*cough Black Temple *cough) but this is fresh new content that has a 'once you've seen it, it'll never present a challenge to you again feel to it. I remember even after downing Bloodboil for the first time or RoS, that it would become a bit of a roadblock next week on. Yet there's not a single boss that has a feeling like that (in my humble view) so far. But unfortunately now the 'challenge' that's been thrown down at the feet of raiders are achievements - which is a weaksauce version of content. You turn around on the forums and state simply "I find the current content bland" and get the response "3 dragons achievement?!" as if having a singular achievement based encounter makes up for every other boss being as a challenging as nicking a purse from an old woman.

But we can't do anything but wait and simply grind out this god awful recession of bad raid encounters whilst we wait for something that might cause me to wonder how high my repair bill will be.
 
I generally agree with you on this, Tobold.

From my perspective, the top few percent of dedicated WoW raiders have held the game back for quite some time. It seems as if Blizzard has historically catered largely to this group, creating encounters that are "epic" only for them (and inaccessible to most others). I'm really glad to see this (apparently) changing now.

I have to disagree on one point, though:

I *did* get up to the last boss of BWL pre-TBC, but I never considered raiding to be any more than one alternative mode of gameplay among many other equal possibilities.

While originally I'm not sure that raiding was intended to be the be-all and end-all of WoW, it certainly seems to have become the focus over time. All of the other gameplay modes seem to be second-rate in comparison.
 
"I agree with Shalkis on this one. I'm pretty sure that once the current crop of young gamers grows up having game experience will be a plus on your resume, depending on job and what kind of games you play/played. Not only the raid leader learns important things he or she will find useful later in life, but also the members of the guild. They learn the importance of punctuality, being prepared, paying attention, not giving up, etc. The reason I wouldn't put "semihardcore raider in World of Warcraft" on my resume (yet) is because these are qualities the older crowd don't realize that you can get that from "just a game". It's social stigma that causes people to say that games teach you nothing useful, once gamers around my age grow older and get into important positions this might change. I hope it does, because gaming is a hobby just like for example stamp collection. Raiding in an MMO can easily be compared to playing football or other organized sports, the only difference being that you "stare at a bunch of pixels" instead of chasing a ball across a field. Again it's social stigma that stops people from realizing this."

I'm a former WoW player, and I can tell you that it's not just a social stigma. Or, at least, not an unwarranted one. Most people aren't going to be impressed with your ability to raid in WoW. Even current/former players. I wouldn't be. If my potential employer hired me because I managed to produce a resume detailing my experience raiding, I'd question my reasons for applying there in the first place. And there's a definite difference between playing physical sports and "e-sports" like raiding and arena in WoW. At the very least, sports require physical exercise in addition to the organizational/teamwork skills required. And besides, who puts "I played sports" on their resume? The only people that do and get away with it are ones that played in college or professionally.

So I guess once you get a free-ride scholarship to raid Naxx at Harvard, feel free to put it on your resume.
 
I am in a guild that is part of the second wave of raiding guilds (always not quite finished with an instance before the next one is out : Huhuran down pre-BC, Felmyst down pre-nerf to give you an idea). We had barely touched Naxx at lvl 60 (Anub and Razu down at the time) but we're now able to breeze through the 25-man version up to Thaddius 2 weeks after the first raid (not talking about the 10-man version which lasted 2 days from start to finish)... 10+ raid bosses down on the first week...
That does not strikes me as epic when you're able to face-roll your way into more than 70% of the instance. If only that was because of our gear, you could make a case for it but the thing is that any semi-competent group equipped in quest-blues could do the same thing as we do. That's a problem because the heroic 5-men instances become irrelevant (which means that available content actually shrinks because quite fast you won't do them except to rack up emblems).

In BC the curve for us was :
> Levelling 60-70 in 1-2 weeks
> 70 quest blues / normal instance for 1-2 weeks
> heroic instances for 2-3 weeks (and they were very challenging at the time)
> Karazhan for 4-5 weeks. The difficulty was what I expected from a first raiding tier, challenging and rewarding when finally downing a boss with some real lootbags on the way
> first attempts on Maulgar / Gruul, resulting in a down after 2-3 attempt raids
Admittedly the first raiding wall was here, Magtheridon was quite hard at the time, VR/Lurker were a trash-fest to get to and Hydross was a gear check. That wall was really hard to get through and 25-men content was scarce.

In WotLK the curve is :
> Levelling 70-80 in 1-2 weeks
> Directly head to heroic 5-men for the guild hardcore vanguard (no need of quest blues, no need of normal 80 instances) for 1 week, actually more because we had to wait than out of real gearing up need, first two heroics were a bit dicey, then most of them quickly got boring
> As soon as roster allows it first Archavon-10 / Sartharion-10 (actually did those with the first 8 lvl 80), Naxx-10 raid cleared in two nights (including one hour where we threw ourselves at the heroic-mode version with 10 players... hilarity ensues)
> As soon as roster allows it first Naxx-25, first night yielded us 5 kills, in three nights we had cleared three wings. I think only significant chain wipes was Razuvious (priests had to get used to the fight, followed by bad luck with MC breaks / disconnects of MCers).
> Second week saw us cleared what we had done last weeks then chain wiped a bit on Patchwerk (healing strat and off tanking to set up), one-shot Grobbulus/Gluth. One night of chain wipes on Thaddius (3 sec is bad) followed by last raiding night devoted to Archavon (one-shot) and Sartharion (two-shot)...

There are a few encounters which offer a little bit of challenge :
- Thaddius (admittedly because of the lag) / Sapphiron (if you're struggling on FrR like we are, lazy chinese farmers...)
- Sartharion with adds
- Maybe Malygos which I haven't seen for now

The problem is that current basic content is *really* too simple, achievement-wise only Sartharion is really designed to be interesting (and it is interesting, we have devoted one night to one-drake achievement attempts), the Naxx ones are either based on semi-luck (the immortal anyone ?), incomplete roster (and we won't cut people from our raids voluntarily, who does that ?) or brute force, not on real strat adjustments, furthermore there is no loot incentive like with Sartharion...
 
I have never set foot in a raid. I solo/duo'd a paladin to 70 and now I'm working on a DK. Props to those who have the time/skill to raid, I wish I did. Here's my (admittedly simple) suggestion to those who think the raiding game is too easy. Take fewer people. Do Naxx with 20 instead of 25, or 7 instead of 10. You'll get the challenge you wanted and you can claim a new "World First." I'd love to see more people posting about their actual accomplishments and what they're going to try next rather than more back and forth about how "easy" the game is. Just my two cents.
 
I think the point is that epicness is completely subjective. It doesn't matter how many players take part, how big the raidmob is, how long the fight actually takes or what loot drops. All that matters is your personal perception and emotions you associate with the particular encounter.

Example from my personal experience of epic raids as tank and ranged caster in EQ2 and ranged caster in WoW:

1. EQ2 - Darathar - Final raid of the best and most epic questline ever. Hardcore raiders said of course it's gimped but casuals thought WTF and had a blast. Hard fight for casuals but in essence you stood at the same spot for the entire time (pre and post the major change).

2. EQ2 - Trial of Leadership - fast trash repops therefore constant pressure to keep moving

3. WoW - Prince Malchezaa (Karazhan, pre 3.0) - DPS race with frequent repositioning (unless you used the boring "exploit")

4. WoW - Kaz'rogal (Battle for Mount Hyjal, pre 3.0) - wide open setting, fitting music, straight forward script with living bomb mechanic for mana users that would get out of control over time. famous quote: "YOU are marked!"

Those raids have in common more basic scripts, without being easy, so that you can actually enjoy the fight.
 
I don't know why you are so against people wanting to have hard-core raids, Tobold.

I'm not. I'm perfectly okay with people wanting hardcore raids, and I do hope that future raid dungeons patched into WotLK are somewhat harder than the current crop. But for a more average player, Naxxramas is challenging enough, as an entry level raid dungeon should be.

This guy is building Minas Tirith out of a million matchsticks. I can admire that. I can admit that I wouldn't have the patience or skill to do it. But if that guy came and claimed to be superior to me because of his leet matchstick building skills, I'd tell him where he can shove his attitude. With raiders it is just the same. I don't mind them asking for harder raid dungeons, but I do mind them belittling those for who the current raiding isn't trivial. If they want their hardcore raid dungeon, I'll support them. But if they are trying to away the raid dungeon that was made for people like me, I'm not going to sit silent and bow to their superior leetness.
 
Try not to be the center of the world, Tobold.
If WoW would suddenly be played by 6 year olds and the content would be made for them you would also think that WOW is now too easy for you.

It's just a matter of perspective. From the point of view of somebody who actually sacrifices some of his RL to play WOW, the current WotLK is terrible. But I agree. For people who play 10 hours a week it is great.
 
To the above. I sacrificed 16 hours of "real life" every week to main tank for a server top guild. I loved the experience overall, hated the elitist attitudes that inevitably cropped up and you know what? I love WotLK. It's relaxed and -key word- fun. It's not all that challenging compared to Sunwell, but so what? It's an entry level raid. I play to have fun, period. Part of the enjoyment I get is excelling as a player, not rubbing a never again obtainable title into other peoples faces or parking the server first T7.25 shoulders in front of the bank to maximize exposure. It's a game. Try to keep your perspective on that.
 
If WoW would suddenly be played by 6 year olds and the content would be made for them you would also think that WOW is now too easy for you

And? There are no objections to that there should be content for the "older" ones also. The issue is rather the attitude of one group towards another.
 
When you play a game you want to enjoy yourself. Some people play halo on easy and some enjoy the challenge of Legendary. In halo you can make that choice. In WoW you can't. You are stuck with whatever difficulty the devs decide to impliment. Now they have encounters like Sartharion that rewards better loot, but to be honest there is not enough of that. Blizzard should really make this applicable to all raid zones. You could take many of the harder raid achievements and have them reward bonus loot. The loot would also need to be different from what you could get on normal. Or blizzard could just offer 10 man, 25 man, and 25 man heroic. That may in fact to be to much work for the devs to push out in a timely manner, but rewards for meeting challenges is not.
 
Lol.

10 hours a week is casual.

Jesus Mary and Joe, WOTLK isn't casual enough!
 
@ Toxic:
I think it is impossible to spend less than 10 hours a week playing the multiplayer part of WoW while enjoying it.
That would be like watching a movie and taking a break every 5 minutes.
On the other hand. There are probably people who'd enjoy even this.
 
I'm still somewhat stumped by how people find the majority of current content hard =/

I mean I find myself shaking my head in disbelief when I see players cock things up in Naxx at the moment.

Plus the whole casual/hardcore thing is a bad mind set to be sitting in. For me casual/hardcore isn't down to the hours you play but instead down to the additional work you put in. This can be work inside/outside the game. Number crunching and data analyzing. Looking through reports or optimising specs, etc. I've known people who 'play' 30+ hours a week yet most of that involves them sitting around chatting to people. They're hardly 'hardcore'. They just prefer chatting to people online rather than say on the phone, MSN or watching TV. Yet there's other people, I myself was one in TBC, where I would only log in to raid then log straight back off afterwards with only the occasional hour spent on the weekends. This was whilst hitting Sunwell when it first came out. Now admittedly this was because I had nothing else to do, but I had in truth no interest in anything else. But when not playing I found myself constantly working through WWS parses, damage reports, etc. to work out where the 'cracks' were and attempt to fix them. Even if that meant printing them off and reading through them whilst sitting on the bus.

Yeah, i'm sad I know :p

Hours devoted whilst online mean nothing to 'what you are' within the game.
 
Just a few numbers to those people who think WoW is currently tuned too easy - which is basically what this whole argument is about. Saying stuff like "my guild breezed through Naxx" or "I just find current raid encounters too easy and boring" are just a personal story but they say nothing about what the majority of players are experiencing.

* There are 11 million active WoW subscribers.
* There are about 1.5 million players listed on wowjustu.com. That means only 14% of the player population are listed as belonging to active raiding guilds that get tracked by wowjutsu.
* Of the players listed on wowjustsu, only 37% (which is ~5% of all players) have managed to down Sapphiron in Naxx10. Only about half of this number have managed to down him in Naxx25.

Of course the above assumes that wowjustu is relatively accurate and up-to-date. But even if it's wildly wrong and has a 100% error that still means only 5% of all players have so far cleared Naxx25.

Based on these numbers, I would say WotLK is a smashing success, bringing lower-level/easier raids within the grasp of a much bigger part of the player population, compared to TBC.
 
Another set of numbers, wowprogress claims to track about 4.5 million players (well, characters) and lists 8% as having finished the Heroic Naxx achievement. Or in other words, 92% of all WoW players have still not finished Naxx25.
 
So many comments to say, sorry Tobold I didn't mean to swamp this post, I just keep finding new stuff...

Like this post from Lume the Mad I just read:
http://www.lumethemad.com/2008/12/09/im-back-transitioning-expansions-wotlk-raiding/
This guy is as hard-core as they come, his guild is the top of the top in raiding. Here is what he says about WotLK raiding: "I am actually inclined to look at the current content in a better light. I was initially disdainful, until we put in some serious work on Sartharion with three drakes up. I think this is a good direction for raiding."

Of course he has some suggestion for improvement on the current situation - he's not saying Blizzard did a 100% prefect job and I don't think you'll find anyone saying that (and if you did no one would take them seriously :)). But for me the message is clear - even as a hard core raider there is something to look for in the WotLK raiding scene.
 
I'm running a small guild that is short one or two alternate members to have full groups every raid. So I have to pug one member for each 10man we run on average. Over two weeks of raiding we've cleared arachnid wing and plague wing. We spent a night wiping on four horsemen due to dumb little mistakes, and another night wiping on grobbulus for the same reasons. Come this Wed we will go back in and I expect us to one shot every boss to where we are now and spend 3 - 4 attempts on each four horsemen/grobbulus before clearing through them with our improved gear. To me this is a great level of introductory raid content. About half of my guild has previous raid experience, and the other half does not. Naxxramas 10 man is easy enough that you can bring in players new to the game and down the first few bosses easily with some decent leadership. That is exactly what an introductory raid should be.
 
I love this post. =)
 
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