Tobold's Blog
Thursday, August 11, 2011
 
The Raid documentary

If you get a chance to watch the documentary The Raid, I can recommend watching it. It is not always pleasant, but realistic enough, and touches a lot of the issues and misconceptions about raiding. Also gives you the opportunity to watch a complete Icecrown raid, in case you never did one yourself.

What struck me most about film was how much it made raiding look like work. You have to be there at a specific time for a specific amount of hours, and you have to perform well during that time. Sounds a lot like my job.

What the film failed to show was how the guild involved got their raid team together, and who got excluded. No interviews with guild members who didn't get a raid spot or got kicked from the guild, although those undoubtedly exist. Succeeding involves synchronous excellence of execution, and that ends up being both the biggest strength and the biggest weakness of the system: Winning together leads to a strong team spirit to develop (shown in the film), but losing together risks people pointing fingers at whoever they perceive to have been the weak spot.

Real-world groups of friends often include people who aren't quite as bright or successful than the others. Raiding makes that difficult for groups of friends in virtual worlds. Selecting your friends by their gearscore and raid performance gives you greater virtual rewards than selecting them based on how nice they or, or sticking with them through thick and thin out of loyalty. I still hope that we will get some mainstream MMORPG one day which is about people working together without penalizing players for sticking with their under-performing friends. I think that would lead to greater social cohesion than the raid system.
Comments:
I'm really glad they made this film, because I do think this style of raiding game and hardcore play won't be around forever so it's nice to document it.
 
I enjoyed the film, but they didn't do the best job explaining things to the non-indoctrinated. They fell into the MMO player trap of using lots of acronyms -- though they do at least try to explain their meanings early on.

My main issue is that it seemed like the majority of their team seemed like normal, decent people, but then Greyhammer and Lore just made them look horrible. Are they realistic representations? Maybe of some circles and times for guilds, but why the film maker felt the need to fall back on such stereotypes and just disgusting behavior is beyond me. Women are either b*tches or nice, really good or really bad? Well it's nice to know his world is so black and white. How do you even get that outlook on the opposite sex unless you have some serious bias going on? I don't know anyone that really thinks that way.

As for Greyhammer, it's true, I've known people like him -- and he caused nothing but problems in the guild and people wanted him gone. He was a loudmouth and not the norm, so why spend so much time focusing on how offensive this one person can be without highlighting the better qualities of some of the other members? It seems to be for the sake of being dramatic, which is fine for film-making, but it certainly doesn't paint the best picture of MMO players.

Overall though, I do think this is the best raiding document out currently. They didn't touch on the larger 'why' as much as some may have liked, but they did hit on it on the personal, individual level, and also explained what raiding actually is pretty well.
 
Reminded me of Onyxia 50dkp minus. :)

http://stadium.weblogsinc.com/joystiq/videos/onyxiawipe50dkpminus.swf
 
"What struck me most about film was how much it made raiding look like work. You have to be there at a specific time for a specific amount of hours, and you have to perform well during that time. Sounds a lot like my job."

I have been arguing this point for almost a year. Trying to push casual players into raiding as their only real end-game option is the biggest mistake Blizzard has made since WoW released. It is not a casual activity, and never will be (no matter how easy you make it).

Blizzard seems to view hardcore players as people who dedicate their lives to WoW, and casual players as unskilled people who still dedicate their lives to WoW. You cannot play WoW casually anymore.
 
'people working together without penalizing players for sticking with their under-performing friends."

You've described the Devolved team of Ambivalence pretty well. We've been raiding together since Karazhan. It's never been about performance (though we have some very good players). We are only 2/7, but Ryloth dies tonight.

Content isn't going anywhere. I'd rather have our pace and culture than sacrifice that culture to get the purple pixels a little faster.
 
Take group sports as a hobby. You have to show up at the right time and perform well. Plus it's competitive.

E-sports might be a better term than gaming for raids.
 
"Trying to push casual players into raiding as their only real end-game option is the biggest mistake Blizzard has made since WoW released."

Unfortunately it seems that the dailies grind for the Molten Front has not been a hugely successful endgame either. At least, if the blog/forum complaints are to be believed...
 
@Ted

That's pretty easy to say (Although to be fair, it seems that you're doing it as well) but for some people the feeling that their game time is being negatively impacted by others will drive them to try and find a better guild or something like that.

When I raided in WotLK (for me at least) it was never so much about getting those purple pixels, as it was successfully beating the content while it was hard, as well as the feeling that my contribution was meaningful and that others were making similar contributions in their own ways. (I think my second point is awkwardly worded, but the jist of it is that I didn't want to feel like I was carrying anyone).

--

@Tobold

(Only really replying to your last paragraph, as I've not seen The Raid yet and the rest of your post is basically commentary on it)

I think it's kind of an unreasonable expectation for raids to be easy enough for a group where the skill variation is high. Plus I don't really believe that anyone could be inherently bad at raiding, not with all the free resources for boss fights and how to play your class and etc. Like, if they aren't doing well at raiding for whatever reason, maybe it's because they just don't care as much as you do? I never raided with any close personal friends, but I've played dota and css with them and I've definitely found that to be true. My friends just wanted to screw around for a few hours and 'hang out' (so to speak) in the game, whereas I wanted more to be winning and doing well. I think it's a case where each of you want to do the same thing (raid, play games, w/e) but the enjoyment from that manifests in different ways, like downing bosses or just plain playing together.

And that's fine, but alot of the time what is fun for each person isn't really expressed clearly so you have some division on goals (stuff like 'why are you so serious about this' and etc).

So I guess what I'm trying to say is that maybe 'underperforming' friends are getting what they want out of the game and that doesn't necessarily including successfully downing alot of bosses.
 
They've changed WoW to require more time because they are aiming at China, where the game is paid for by the hour.

What do you want to bet their contract with NetEase included promises to make Cataclysm more grindy?
 
The problem with that theory is that, overall, you ned to invest less time now than you used to. Guild cauldrons and feasts mean less per-capita farming. Only one flask, no elixir stacking. Only either the 25-man or the 10-man version of a raid each week. And I didn't even try coming up with examples.
 
I started watching it but then I got busy and when I got back to it, was already off the gamebreakertv website, will it be on anywhere else in the near future?
 
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