Tobold's Blog
Thursday, January 12, 2012
 
Rohan explains why we can't have nice things in endgame raiding

Just a short link to a must-read post over at Rohan's Blessing of Kings blog. Rohan talks from the heart about attitudes towards failure in a raid: "They were all very good players, at least pure skill-wise. But their response to any wipe, any failure, was to yell at people, to point fingers and berate them. Sometimes the yelling would start before the attempt even finished, while we still attacking the boss. It was the worst raiding experience of my life."

One of the reasons why I currently prefer playing Star Wars: The Old Republic over playing World of Warcraft is that in SWTOR failure is more of an option in solo content. That makes the game more exciting for me, and the increased risk results in increased fun. Up to now I only encountered people with similar views even in group situations, thus no social problems when having to try again after a wipe in a flashpoint. But I'm not sure that will last. Once we reach a point in the game where the content we play isn't new to us any more, our expectations of success will rise, and failure will be less tolerated. Which leads to situations as the one Rohan describes, with people channeling the "-50 DKP Onyxia wipe" yelling guy when things go wrong. In the current MMORPG design, boss encounters have a binary outcome, you either succeed or fail, and too many people can't deal with failure very well. (Which loops back to yesterday's discussion of taking achievements in video games too seriously.)

As long as the endgame of MMORPGs is more about people shouting at each other for failure, or those succeeding insulting those who fail, it will never be a feature that drives the long-term success of a game. World of Warcraft is a success DESPITE it's endgame, not because of it.
Comments:
You do realize that what you write has absolutely nothing to do with the game or the game design, but it's 100% about the people you play with?

I mean, if you scream at each other playing bridge, monopoly or WoW, it's time to change the friends, not the game....
 
I don't think it has "absolutely nothing to do with the game". A MMORPG is not only a game, it is also a social network platform. And the rules of that platform influence player behavior. Why would people complain, for example, about the LFD and LFR groups, if the cross-realm nature of these social tools had zero effect?

There must be some reason why people shouting at each other in WoW is so much more likely, widespread, and often reported, than the same happening among bridge players.
 
Tobold: There must be some reason why people shouting at each other in WoW is so much more likely, widespread, and often reported, than the same happening among bridge players.

The reasons are the relative anonymity or - as you may argue people in guilds know each other very well and don't play with strangers - the lack of consequences in the online situation.
If you compare online gaming to a board game or let's say to teamsports like soccer etc. there are many parallels but the situation still is different. People are absent and not present, at least bodily.
I'm not a psychologist, but I guess today still most people are more polite/civilized when they encounter real people 5 meters next to them as they are in online situations.
Perhaps there will be a change within the next 100 years but sociologists always emphasize the importance of physical presence and closeness.
As the online world makes people more equal and reduces prejudices etc. leading to low-treshold-communication situations for lots of people, the problem you are describing might be the other, the problematic side of it.
 
Tobold, you have obviously never played some of the more PvP centric games like HoN, LoL and DotA. In these ones, screaming is part of a daily routine so to speak. To yell and point fingers is the most common thing that happens after a lost teamfight or even just a random kill.

These kind of stuff happens to communities with a quite competitve mindset. But you say, this stuff happens to guilds with just 1/8 HC! Shouldn't that happen to guilds who are going for World Firsts? Well, it's more for that to happen among the good-but-not-best players and less likely to happen at the absolute tip top guilds. Again, if you are mediocre and don't understand that the other players are, in fact PEOPLE, you will start yelling, shouting and pointing fingers instead of trying to understand why that happened and what can we do to improve it.

Now, you say why this hasn't happened to SWTOR yet or even any other MMO? Well, in my opinion it's because SWTOR didn't have the time to become as focused on the endgame as WoW is. I mean, look at how fast you get 85 in WoW. It's my firm belief that in ANY game that is competitve on some level, people rage and yell and point fingers. It's just how the humans work.

Of course, that shouldn't happen in ANY game. But what can you do? The general consesus is that if it wasn't your fault, whine and point fingers.
 
Grouping is, or at least should be, about bonding and comradeship (it has it's origin in buddy-buddy stories such as LOTR), where your group is trying to achieve a shared goal. Unfortunately that all breaks down when group members have only selfish goals - such as loot that needs to be squabbled over.

Any astute student of human interactions would just take one look at MMO grouping mechanisms, such as the looting rules, and predict the kind of behaviour that does actually occur.
 
Rohan's story matches my experience in every raid guild I ever joined in WoW.
 
This is an interesting topic.

I definately feel that raiding in MMOs sets the scene for this sort of petty finger-pointing.
When players are raiding because they want the loot rather than because they want to have fun, this is where the problems start.

One solution may be to remove any kind of loot reward from raiding.
"But then why would I raid at all?" is the predictable response to this.

My argument would be: any game system that relies on having the best loot available ingame in order to make people do that activity, rather than poeple wanting to do that activitiy for fun, is a failed system.

People get so tetchy in raids etc when they fail, because they dont really want to be there anyway...

Lets try an analog:
I go to the Bahamas for two weeks for fun and to unwind. I dont expect to be rewarded for going there.
I go to work to earn money, I dont go there for fun. If there was no reward I wouldnt do it.

Which one of the above more represents raiding in WOW these days?
 
"In the current MMORPG design, boss encounters have a binary outcome, you either succeed or fail, and too many people can't deal with failure very well. (Which loops back to yesterday's discussion of taking achievements in video games too seriously.)"

I'd argue today's model, in which players are told with incentives that they must continue to run content that no longer challenges them with people they don't know just to obtain points that will eventually earn them gear, has created that environment.

The system works - for enough points, players will form the groups needed to ensure that slots are available to get actual newcomers the gear they need. The attitude is a logical consequence - when you get someone to do something they don't want to do by promising to pay them and then you say that they won't be paid or have to work longer hours because one of their co-workers screwed up, the guilty party will not receive a stellar reaction, regardless of the forum.
 
@Tobold: what you see reported is mostly what you read/know about. There's a lot of screaming and pointing fingers everywhere else, too.

If you look at world of tanks, it's a whole lot worse that WoW. For every time someone attempts to use the (horribly implemented) chat box to indicate a strategy, there's another 100 where it's only used to insult or mock people.

@Remi: simple solution: find a group who raids for the fun first and for the loot second.... which is more or less exactly the approach you would use in any other game to determine the people you want to play with.
 
There's a lot of screaming and pointing fingers everywhere else, too.

There is zero screaming and pointing fingers for example in the Facebook game community. There is a lot less screaming and pointing fingers in SWTOR for the moment than in WoW. I play pen & paper RPGs with zero pointing fingers and screaming. Sorry, screaming and pointing fingers is NOT everywhere else.

To me it seems to be concentrated in highly competitive online games, and aggravated in games where you are grouped with (relative) strangers who then have an influence over whether you win or lose.
 
I think it's because raids have become too highly tuned and intolerant of failure. When I think of raids in older games, I think of big dragons with a bunch of health and fairly basic strategies to steer the group through.

I really feel that complex boss fights work better in single player or small group mode. All raids want is some cool scenery and cut scenes and a big dragon with loads of hit points to whale on.

And no damage meters.
 
It seems to be a natural consequence of a design that provides a positive reinforcement not from the process (the act of playing the game) rather than the end reward (some loot dropping at the end).
 
It doesn't happen to world first guilds. It happens to the other guilds that have people of varying levels of committment run buy people who are trying to keep up with the joneses. Those who are frustrated that the "slackers" won't keep up with them, have thier angst intensified by the fact that all the world first guilds have proved it can be done. Bad enough to fail, but doubly bad to fail when someone has showed you how to do it.

Anyone who thinks it's just the people and not the the game design needs to take a few psychology classes and then come back to the discussion. The games focus on gear and progression feed this kind of behavior in all but the top or most casual of guilds.

Every other guild has a mix of hard core and not so hard core and that causes conflict. Current game design is made with hard core in mind, and the idea that everyone else will be impressed and want to keep up.
 
Game design definitely has something to do with it.

Wiping in WoW, at least for 5-man dungeons (haven't raided), means minutes of downtime with respawning at a distant graveyard, running to the dungeon, and then running through the dungeon to the wipe point, while fighting respawning patrols.

Wiping in SWTOR flashpoints means respawning at the entrance of the flashpoint, and then reentering the flashpoint at the checkpoint placed right before the boss you wiped on.

A 5 minute reset versus a 30 second reset. Which would make people angrier?
 
Bridge players don't shout at each other? The ACBL actually had to implement what they call the 'zero tolerance' policy because of how badly bridge players would treat each other!

My WoW guild didn't have people yelling at each other for failures. Why? Probably because our leadership didn't allow it. Some people would rant privately to each other I'm sure but we made an effort to keep it out of Vent and 'public' in game chat.

It's entirely about who you play with and what social rules the leadership employs. If there are no rules requiring people to behave themselves then they won't regardless of game.
 
There must be some reason why people shouting at each other in WoW is so much more likely, widespread, and often reported, than the same happening among bridge players.

This may be simply a numbers thing. WoW has a larger player base so is therefore statistically more likely to have a higher proportion of ill mannered players.

It is also the most common game of choice for anyone who wants to play an MMO with their respective peer group.

LOTRO tends to have a slightly more mature (in age) player base. Many do not play other games, but signed up to because of their love of the IP.

They are not a perfect gaming community, but my experiences is that they are somewhat more laid back and civil than others. I have found raiding and puggin in that game a marginally better experience than others.
 
@Tobold

It's an event mostly contained to 'highly competitive online games' because when there is nothing on the line there is no reason to get agitated.
 
You guys are concentrating on the yelling, and that is important, because it is what made the game directly unpleasant.

But in my view, this paragraph is actually more important to the health of the guild in the long run:

There is a type of person who believes that all failure is caused by people playing badly. That skill is everything in this game. That the only response to any problem, any difficulty, is to tell people to play better, or recruit better people to replace the failures. That you must always take the "best" raiders you have to a raid to ensure success.

The people who believe this don't always yell. Sometimes they are calm and rational. And there is a logic to this. A focus on personal accountability makes people better raiders.

But the sole focus on this also hurts attempts to create structures that could make the guild more resilient.
 
There's no way that WoW has a higher player base than Bridge :)
 
"They were all very good players, at least pure skill-wise. But their response to any wipe, any failure, was to yell at people, to point fingers and berate them. Sometimes the yelling would start before the attempt even finished, while we still attacking the boss. It was the worst raiding experience of my life."

When I first read that, I thought it was a reference to the new LFR tool.
 
Toblod: "There must be some reason why people shouting at each other in WoW is so much more likely, widespread, and often reported, than the same happening among bridge players."

It strikes me that this could be frustration caused by the merger of a single player activity with a multiplayer activity. For most of WoW (or SWTOR) you are playing a single player game where you have control over your performance. In mutliplayer you are forced to give up that control. I could see how this would lead to added frustration when things go wrong.
 
For what its worth, I game exclusively with a large group of people who are all friends or acquaintances in real life. I can tell you that there is almost none of the behavior that Rohan describes -- presumably because we have to face these people (or their spouses) in RL contexts.

I believe that online friendships are not as robust as real life friendships and are less resilient in the face of stress.
 
I actually don't have many experiences like that. I've always been in casual raiding guilds, and because of that it was always the raid leader taking huge pains not to call anyone in specific out because we were friends and it wasn't worth it getting angry.

The worst it ever got was screwing up something that was on farm and having the raid leader go "Come on guys, get serious for a moment"

I guess my experiences are in the minority, but I thought all casual raiding was supposed to remove the stress from it.
 
I'm kind of surprised that raiding doesn't work like WOW PVP. In the PVP, if you fail, well, you get less tokens (1/3 as many as the victor). I'm surprised raiding doesn't give you tokens for, say, getting the boss down to half health or such.

I have to admit, I would have found WOW PVP to suck if you got nothing for failing (it's a progression game after all - if there was no progression...well then the victor wouldn't get anything (token wise) either)
 
I have my doubts on whether this is even limited to online only games. As Ziggyny pointed out, bridge players do lash out at each other. I would suspect that in competitive sports, there are a similar amount of instances of yelling and shouting at each other, whether it be between the coach and the players, or amongst teammates. We just don't see it, because for the most part this population of readers aren't familiar with them.
 
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