Tobold's Blog
Friday, January 24, 2014
30 carrying 10

Clockwork from Out of Beta is against 40-man raids in Wildstar. He says: "So raids tended to be fairly generous with things like DPS timers which leads to the oft lamented "30 carrying 10" feeling, the idea that the majority of players were having to pick up the slack for the lesser-skilled/geared members. This adds fuel to frustration fires and leads to finger pointing amongst the group.". I beg to differ. I have always considered "30 carrying 10" to be a desirable feature, not a disadvantage of vanilla WoW raids. And I believe that the reason for this difference of opinion reveals a deep difference in attitudes towards what exactly a guild is.

Back in the days where Ultima Online and Everquest where the dominant MMORPGs, there was no such thing as Facebook. One of the main attractions at the time was running around in a virtual world, meeting new people and making friends. Your guild was your "social network", and consisted of the people you would want to hang out with, your online friends. If you build a guild after that model, it is important that guild activities are inclusive. You want to be able to raid with Mr. Nice Guy, even if his DPS isn't top notch. You might also want to raid when only 35 people show up; or you might have one guy in the raid responsible for giving directions on Teamspeak, even if that activity takes away from his damage output. Performance is less important, because you raid to be able to do something with your guild.

The modern version of guilds resembles more a sports team: Your club is in a certain league, and you need to be absolutely certain that all your players are up to the standards of that league and able to win. That leads to constant change, as there is absolutely no loyalty between player and guild: If a player is worse than his guild mates, he'll get kicked or at least not invited to raids unless really nobody else is available. If a player is better than his guild, he'll leave for a better one. The people in your guild are not your friends, they are means to an end. You are in a guild to be able to raid.

The frustration and finger pointing is pretty much exclusive to people who tend to think of guilds as sports clubs. If you think of a guild as a social club, you have more understanding for somebody underperforming, or having a bad day. The social aspects of playing together are more important than "winning" or getting epics.

The only thing that is wrong with Wildstar's ideas of 20-man and 40-man raids is giving out better loot for the 40-man version. I would have made the two sorts of raids give out the same loot. That would give a better chance to both viable social guilds and sports team guilds to evolve.

Apparently, the majority of the people preferes the Sports Team approach, since there are so many. Fair enough, from my perspective I definetely don't need or want any on-line 'friends', I'm perfectly satisfied with my RL ones.

I couldn't think of a game that favours your kind of 'social grouping' except for EvE, where corps are built around trust and the notion of replacing someone doesn't exist. (Always better to add someone to the fleet, no matter how low the performance).
I dislike hard coded raid number sizes. Benching people sucks even more than actually trying to fill spot #39. I had good time in Vanilla raiding but the logistics were a damn nightmare. Tranq shot hunter on? No loot for you.

I want to raid with people, without an exact science, have fun and be challenged. WoW's flex raids are the closest thing to it for a themepark so far.
Maybe they need try make raids like GW2 is doing... teqatl, the new 3 wurms (permanent) and the giant marionette (temporary).
Makes sense.

I think MMOs today are different than 7-10 years ago when there was less competition and people played one and for years. My guess is that the social guild is more stable in this environment. If you take a month or two off in the sports club, then you are behind in gear and in learning mechanics and have long since been replaced.

I found it so frustrating to sometimes have 9 on and sometimes have 13 and need to sit 3. IMO Flex is clearly a step forward.

If Raid size X gives the best loot, then it is the "real" raid and people will prefer to run it, especially if they share the same lockout.

P.S. I though it odd but made sense that SWTOR said they tuned the larger raids to be a bit easier, partly to compensate for the extra logistics.

Disagree on two points.

First, I would expect that except for a small minority of elites or wannabe-elites, the majority of the more hardcore raider guilds are just as tight knit and friendly as any more inclusive casual guild. I've been in several of both more hardcore and more casual guilds, and it was the hardcore guilds that felt more friendly. It's about investment. It's like how if you have a friend and they become unpleasant to be around, you'll easily drift away and find other friends. But if you have a girlfriend/boyfriend who's going through hard times and someone really hot approaches you, you'll still stick with your current sig/other, because of all the emotional investment. Hardcore guilds are more like that than casual, in my experience.

Second, 40 man raids in WoW were a nightmare for casual guilds, even with the whole 30 carry 10 thing. Just the difficulties in being able to field that many people at once kept a lot of people out of raiding, even with the lower competency standards. I remember spending hours with 20ish of us killing trash in Molten Core, hoping for the rare epic bracer trash drops, knowing we couldn't dare attempt a boss with so few people and never quite able to get enough to fill the raid. And we never did, I only was able to get into the raiding game by switching guilds. The drop from 40/20 to 25/10 was crazy good for casual guilds. It's hard for me to see how jumping back up to 40 will help smaller casual guilds.
I really think wow has the correct idea with it's dynamic scaling of raid size. One can easily argue the tuning is off/difficulty, but in general as far as raidsizes go, that seems to be the way. Each group can decide how many people it will add to 'carry'.
Back when I raided in WoW, I always felt that 15-17 or so was the sweet spot. 10-mans felt a bit too small for variety, 25 seemed a little too large. The most fun I had was when we did 25-mans (obviously the ones we could defeat easily with 25) with a smaller number.
If bosses only drop a fixed number of items why limit raid size at all?

If it takes 40 in a zerg to kill a boss but an elite group can kill it with 15 then the elites will progress a lot faster than the zerg because individual members have a much better chance of getting loot
I always hear the carrying thing. The reality is that someone is always getting carried because not all players are equally talented.

The size of the group doesn't matter, there will always be some within the group that are better than others.

30 carry 10 in a 40-man group. 20 carry 5 in a 25-man group. 8 carry 2 in a 10-man group. And so on.

The irony is that it's often not the very best in the group doing the complaining but those in the middle. The very best already know they carry everyone, including those doing the complaining.

The frustration comes when the group fails and then the blame starts. But honestly, if you were good enough to be in a group that didn't fail, then that would probably be because someone else was carrying YOU.
Hmm, I disagree that modern heroic raiding is as cutthroat as you think it is. It was way worse in TBC when everything was vertical progression. At the very top level of progression raiding that takes place in the world-first racing, perhaps. But the majority aren't like that.

I know that I adore 10-man because unlike the higher numbers of people, I know every single person I raid with really well. I can point to each person and give you a mini-biography about them, where they live and who they are, because we have had time to become friends. Back in 40-man raids there were legitimate strangers I knew absolutely nothing about and never would learn anything about because there were so many people. Even in 25 man there is enough room for there to be multiple cliques and loners.

It's one of my few worries about Mythic raiding in the next expansion, no clue how our guild will survive it. Personnel-wise, we're in good shape since we run two separate 10-man teams, but we all know it won't be as simple as that.

And of course the whole idea of flex raids has been a great success in this expansion towards letting people just go with their friends in a way LFR was apparently never able to succeed at.
"That leads to constant change, as there is absolutely no loyalty between player and guild"

So it's either "It's okay if you do 1% of your expected DPS, we'll carry you because we like you" or "You're doing 0.3% less DPS than you should we're cutting you?"

One extreme or the other?

Of course not, that's ridiculous. There's plenty of loyalty in heroic guilds -- hell, far more than in most casual guilds. Now, a person who wants to full clear heroic WILL leave a guild who can't get past the second boss on heroic...but he won't jump ship to a guild that kills bosses 5% faster as long as his current guild meets his goals.

Well, technically there's always some assholes but then you're talking 10% or less of heroic raiders or something -- most are not like that.

What makes you think the majority prefer the sports team approach?

With the recent changes to the WoW Armoury, sites like MMO Champ have been able to post graphs showing raiding trends and these confirm that organised raiding (cherry picked ability based teams) is in a very small minority.

Granted most of us knew that already. Only the minority themselves denied it but now we have the evidence to prove they are wrong.

Players mostly choose social teams or where none are available prefer to be in no team at all.

Of course the term "social" isn't clear cut. As you say these people aren't really "friends". But the bottom line is that we bring people due to having casual acquaintances with them or just because they are available and they are better than having an empty spot (when mechanics permit). The old inclusive v exclusive chestnut again.
I get where you are coming from, but I think you are setting up a false dichotomy. It is perfectly viable and okay for guilds to be a bit of both.

In my own experience, being in a progression raiding guild was fun for being top of the server, but even more fun for playing with a bunch of like-minded players. I made friends in that guild that will last me a lifetime.

Guilds have drama and issues when the guild's culture doesn't reflect its members and vice versa. People didn't join our guild expecting to always raid or to raid without effort, nor did we recruit those sorts of people.

You can call that a sports team if you want, but I call it a common sense view of wanting to play with people who share your goals.
If you have 20 giving the same as 40, then the sports teams would only do 20's.

I would think have nothing exclusive to the 40 man - you can get it on 20, but have to collect more currency or something. But the same loot - no, that wont assist anything.

Further it's the set number that's the social poison - if you are just trying to get more guild members so you can get to 20, let alone 40, then you've taken your first steps towards sports team play since you don't care about just playing with the people you like, but instead you are recruiting and doing so purely as a means to the end of raiding. Not because you actually like those people.

I thought they had various scales for raiding in WOW now, right down to 6 or something?
I appreciate the link Tobold. Personally I like the social club option more than the sports team. Since I wrote my post I have come to the conclusion that I think my ideal setting would be a sort of Flex 20+ raid. Starts at 20, goes as high as 50 or so. The 30 carrying 10 issue becomes most problematic when those 10 are showing substantially less contribution, or are even AFK (or nearly). I would prefer the social club to the sports team, but I opposed strict 40-man raids because I want to raid with people I WANT to , not people I HAVE to. That is to say, it's much easier to find 9 than 39. There can also be a 7 carrying 3 problem in 10 man, it's not specific to 40's but my experience was it became exacerbated in them because the wiggle room was much greater.
I feel like you all are only arguing over how to arrange the deck chairs on the Titanic. I am more annoyed that yet another game is basing their end game activities entirely around raiding. I will not rehash my many objections to raiding, but more importantly from a developer's point of view, the VAST majority of MMORPG players have clearly shown they do NOT want to raid.

And yet, if you suggested to 10 developers that they create an end game that isn't designed around raiding, you would get 9 blank stares and one guy saying, "you mean...PvP?"

Several of you mentioned the success of flex raiding. What do you think would happen if all raids were 100% flexible to any group size? You could solo it, or you could bring 100 players, it would scale to any size. What do you think the average group size would be?

Even if you averaged based on players rather than raids (i.e., a 40 person raid counts 40 times, a 2 man counts twice), it would shock me if the number were over 5.

And yet, we are once again presented with a game where the end game is highly focused on something most players don't want.
"You could solo it, or you could bring 100 players, it would scale to any size. What do you think the average group size would be?

Even if you averaged based on players rather than raids (i.e., a 40 person raid counts 40 times, a 2 man counts twice), it would shock me if the number were over 5"


This is your "proof" that people don't like to raid? Hint: it's because people will take an easier way out if they can in 90%+ of cases. Unless the content is much easier with 10 people than 5, you get far more loot per person with 10 people than 5, or there's some special prestige attached to doing it with 10 people versus 5...OF COURSE people are going to take the path of least resistance.
Well Samus it's kind of hard to imagine and "end game" aside from something like raiding or pvp.

I mean, when most games hit the end game, that's right before the game ends and you move on. So there's got to be something there, and since it's an MMO, it's got to be time consuming and elitist.

You are absolutely right.

The figures show that raiding is a minority interest activity.

In WoW were it not for Raid Finder I suspect that the pressure to reverse the decline in subs would have resulted in a change in policy by now. Too many people quitting out of boredom whilst the majority of the development budget is being spent on content for a tiny niche. That is how it was before RF was introduced.

But even Raid Finder is starting to fail. The sessions lengths are simply too much for most players (mostly Blizzards doing with bad tuning). I bet most players are only doing RF because there isn't really anything else for them.

5 man dungeons or some form of solo content would have superior participation levels with the right rewards.

So yes it is disturbing when new MMORPG's continue to put raiding at the core of the end game.

They will likely scratch their heads when initial sales are promising but the majority of players vanish a month or two later....

They don't seem to learn. But why? Is it because they are listening too closely to the ever vocal minority on forums? Or could it be that the developers are likely people who are themselves from that minority?

They can see everything we can see. They read the same sites and see the same stats. I'd love to be a fly on the wall when they make these crazy decisions. How do they conclude that the focus on raiding is a great idea?

Well as I said in my first post; that particular minority have always been the last to accept that they are in a minority....
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"OF COURSE people are going to take the path of least resistance."

Absolutely. But think about what that "resistance" actually is, because you can change the difficulty level to whatever you want regardless of size. In fact, the larger the group the less individual challenge you can present. If I kept trying, I could eventually solo something where I had only a 10% chance of success. But it would be impossible for a 25 man raid to succeed if every player had a 90% chance of failure. Even just a 10% chance of individual failure (hardly an individual challenge) results in just a 7% chance of overall success.

The challenge of raiding is more logistical and social. Coordinating the schedules of 10 people is a huge hassle. Even within the raid itself, getting all those people to coordinate any even remotely complex strategy is like herding cats.

Which is fine, if that's what people want to do. But I don't regard one way as better than the other, to the point that you need to force one group to do what they don't like. This is a game, it's supposed to be fun. You should offer all types of gameplay and let players do what they want.

Definitely agreed.

I think the problem is that it isn't something developers think about, it is just an assumed part of any MMORPG like leveling. A developer would think, "how will players progress as they level," he wouldn't stop to consider that maybe there should be a different system with no leveling.

I think raiding is the same way. In fact, here's an excerpt from an interview with a producer for Wildstar talking about the endgame:

"War Plots feel like guild PvP challenges. How about PvE stuff?

We wanted to make raiding something that more people can compete in."

He gets asked about PvE content, and he doesn't even consider that might be something other than raiding.

To be fair, MMORPGs are the only genre that even has such a concept as "endgame." With other games (aside from PvP based games), that's just the end of the game. So it isn't like MMORPGs can pull from what other genres are doing, and within their genre raiding is all anyone has ever done.

On the other hand, I don't really feel like smaller group sizes are some foreign concept. WoW raids have moved from 40 to 25 to 10, and the response has been clear. If you don't know players want smaller groups, you aren't paying even minimal attention to the trends in your genre.
"Absolutely. But think about what that "resistance" actually is, because you can change the difficulty level to whatever you want regardless of size. In fact, the larger the group the less individual challenge you can present"

Baloney. Large groups smooth out individual class differences better.

If a rogue can solo it and it is extremely difficult for them, it might be flat out impossible for a priest but piss easy for a warrior. But when you assume a group with all three classes, you can throw in stuff that plays to the strengths and weaknesses of each class.

It is simply not possible to present individuals with equal challenges while having class distinctions. And a world where everyone has to respec to the "warrior" skill layout to be able to do a difficult challenge is pretty stupid.

This is why Blizzard can't even make 5 man content extremely difficult -- it's simply not possible to tune for a group that has a warrior, rogue, death knight, monk and shaman and ALSO one which has a paladin, priest, mage, warlock, and druid. This is why 10 people is the minimum they've been willing to go for raiding and even then Blizzard has complained about how so few people can cause odd group compositions which can make fights much easier or much harder than intended.
Making loot in 20 and 40 man raids identical makes no sense. The Sports club will go for 2x20 raids immediately as they get double loot in the same time.

Remember that raids are to equip your group for the next boss. So time and loot is of essence
The whole thing is a horse behind the cart thing. In EQ people would just find themselves with a massive guild and would like something to do together with all those people.

Now you have it that people want a massive guild so they can do this raiding thing.

It's the wrong way around and perverts the original intent of the idea.
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