Thursday, May 7, 2009

Catching the Raiding Frustration Bug

It's seemed that a lot of my fellow bloggers have been recently been broadcasting their frustrations with raiding. From hardcore to casual, problems have seemed to be cropping up amongst previously successful groups. Some have blamed this one the ease of the originally offered raid content in WotLK. Some have pointed to different raiding ideologies and desires. Some have just talked about the changing nature of the game.

The bottom line, though, is that the end game raiding scene has changed in many ways with the Wrath of the Lich King expansion. Perhaps for better, perhaps for worse, but it has certainly changed. We have hard/easy modes, we have achievements, we have 10/25 mans, we have a plethora of different emblems. We have short raids and long raids. We have easy bosses and hard bosses. All this change has come at a price: our comfort with the game.

Yes, I said it. We are uncomfortable with the game as a community. The big change of an expansion came through and we all went: "Oh snap, shit's different!" Which can only be immediately followed by this internal dialogue: "Well, if everything's changing, what does that mean for me?"

That is the question being asked right now in hardcore and casual communities across Azeroth: "What's in it for me?" (Is that why you did this, Ray, for you?)

This malaise has not left my own raiding alliance unscathed. There is a great deal of frustration right now among our members who are itching for Ulduar when we haven't yet full cleared the 25-man flavor of Naxx. For us, getting 25 people together, focused, and efficient is a rather daunting task. We schooled the 10 man version, but we're still struggling through the 25 man stuff.

It isn't matter of skill. For us, it's a matter of seriousness. It's a matter of having too many different opinions and trying in vain to reconcile them with each other. We're a casual group of friends who want to see content. We open our arms to just about anyone with the same goals of "having fun" and "seeing end game content" without caveats. This has resulted in a melting pot of different raiding ideologies, however. We get people who want a lot of breaks, people who seem to always be late, people with tight time constraints, and people with neighbors who sometimes throw each other through the wall neccisstating a call to the cops (yeah, it's happened during one of our raids). You can't please all of the people all of the time, right?

So what, really, is the problem here? From what I can see, it's this: There are so many different end game paths, and we're not comfortable with it as a community. We haven't yet "figured it out".

You see, we've been given a whole bunch of new options when it comes to raiding at 80. Back in the day (which was a Tuesday), if you said you wanted to "see end game content", there was pretty much one path you had to follow.

In TBC, for instance, you did some 10-man Kara and got geared up. Then, you took your crew to some Gruul's and Mags for larger and harder raids. After than you probably went to SSC and geared through there. Finally, you might have seen the Tempest Keep, then Black Temple, then maybe the Sunwell (I never got past SSC, personally, but I think that's how you'd progress if I recall). The point being, there was pretty much one path to follow. In Vanilla WoW, I gather it was much the same.

In WotLK, we don't have just one path. We can start raiding in a bunch of different places; OS, VoA, and Naxx. You can start on 10 mans, or 25 mans, depending on your group. Then you can do Eye of Eternity if you gear through Naxx... but wait, you could also go back and try hard mode OS with drakes up. Or maybe you want to get all the raiding achievements because "just gearing up" isn't enough now. You need to "ace" the instance. With the addition of Ulduar, we see even more options. You can 10 or 25, you can hard or easy mode, you can go after more achievements.

Recall in TBC and before, we didn't have these options. Sure you could put them on "heroic" mode, but I think for the most part that people ran through one instance until they were geared enough to succeed in the next step. Then, you went to the next step and did the same thing there. As a group, there just weren't choices. If you joined an "end game raiding group", you knew what you were getting into. You would run some stuff until you got gear, then run some more stuff, going until your skill level was exhausted. The number of people needed may change based on where you're at in the progression, but it was the same goal.

Now, it's not so simple. You can join a purely 10-man end game group. You can join an achievement end game group. You could join a 3D and EoE farming end game group or just a "we've got Naxx on farm" end game group. The choice isn't just "casual" or "hardcore" any more, we now have a million shades of gray in between.

So now, everyone has an opinion, they have room to differ, and that's what we're hearing. We're seeing that while we all thought we had the same goals, we're actually a small bit different from each other. I mean a "gamer" isn't just a "gamer". You no long just have "casual" or "hardcore". What you have is people. And when you have people, that means you get a lot of different ideas and desires.

Not all of these ideas and desires fit together, thus we get friction. Friction we're not comfortable with. Friction we haven't had to deal with in the past. New game is new. Expansion is expanded.

I think at some point, as raid leaders, officers, GMs, and bloggers, we're going to have to realize that we're dealing with real people. We're in a massively multiplayer online game, and that means we have to deal with other people. It's going to be hard to condense everything into one common and cohesive goal or idea. We have a diverse game that is getting more diverse as it evolves. It's something to be proud of! We're a part of something that's pretty damn cool.

I suppose I'm just reiterating here what y'all already know. I'm not really offering any particularly clever solutions to the problems I've read about on the net. However, I am trying to identify and acknowledge the problem, because, as any good addict knows, that's the first step in breaking the cycle.

For my group of friends, it means we really have to buckle down and communicate better. We need to be able to share our in-game desires and compromise on them. If you want to work well as a team, that means you may need to give a little bit.

"But its MY game," you say. "Should not I focus on what is fun for ME?". Sure, when you're soloing. But, my friend, you gave up the "me" when you decided to become part of the "team". Raiding is a team event, remember that. You may need to "man-up" some nights for the good of the team. Like real life, it's not always sunshine and butterflies.

If being part of a team is not fun for you, you may want to acknowledge that and recognize it as a personal problem and stop complaining about it. A lot of us officers, GMs, RLs, and bloggers are trying really hard to fit this game back into our collective comfort boxes, so we can make the right decisions and have the most fun even if it takes some "un-fun" effort. Why? Because it means something more to us than "just a game". Because when the going gets tough... and all that jazz.

For me, I'm confident my group of friends will be successful. We'll figure it out. We'll get better. That's the kind of people we are. At this point, you should probably ask yourself, what kind of person are you?


  1. I have said it before - I'll say it again - nice post. I enjoy reading your take on the game.

    The times, they have changed. But it's not just the game, people change too.

    As I have mentioned before, I have played this game for four years. I rolled my first toon, joined a Guild one of my RL friends was in and immersed myself.

    I started raiding in Molten Core. I was part of my Guilds first kill of Chromaggus and Nefarion.

    I was part of every first boss kill as we cleared all of AQ40, I did 4-5 bosses in vanilla Naxx. Then BC came - I was part of every first kill as we cleared Kara, SSC,(more than 100 pulls on Vashj) and TK. I was there for all of Hyjal, Black Temple, and Sunwell.

    But as we progressed I got tired of the "bullshit"... the drama, the "e-peens", and I quit WOW.

    I came back after 4 months. But I no longer take part in the Guilds progression raids. I play with a group of friends. Each one of them used to be a "Hardcore Raider". The people I started raiding with. The people with the same thoughts and ideals I had.

    We all have the same goal of seeing new content, pushing ourselves, and most importantly, having FUN. Each one of us was tired of crap that comes with 25 man raids.

    We still have disagreements, but we have no drama. We don't argue over loot, we pass for each other; we play to have fun. We all have 2-3 level 80's that we can mix and match to get a group together, it does not matter, what we are doing, as long as we are doing it together, and having fun.

    We are not the most progressed 10man, but we have cleared to Yogg-Saron and are slowly putting a dent in him.

    Everything changes; the game, the people playing it. Ultimately how that change effects you is up to you.


  2. Our guild took a bit of a break for a few weeks and everyone got too antsy so we jumped in to a guild merge a bit too early I think. It didn't work so we're trying another one.. if that doesn't work, it looks like I'll be taking a raiding break to level some alts lol.

    I'm having backflashes of my old experiences on the Alliance side.