Monday, October 28, 2013

A Defense of Raiding? -- A Response to Responses To a Response to a Response

I think I have that title correct.

Rowan responded to my last post with two posts, effectively, here and here.  So let's discuss them.
My original post—as did Stubborn's, in my view—had more to do with guild drama, and some root causes of it, than the merits of WoW-style raid-gear treadmills.
Well, a few things.

First, you literally opened your original post in this series saying...
Samus brings up an interesting "fundamental" flaw in endgame raiding. He is referring to the way a group or guild must work together; but more often than not, individuals spend time without any reward for their efforts. DKP schemes are only a player band-aid for a faulty reward system design. Flaws in gear stats design can compound this, for instance when I was locked out of a loot roll in Ice Crown Citadel as a healer because the item had increased "hit," but there were no items that had a stat exclusively for healers. Occasions like that caused me eventually to forsake raiding altogether in every game I've played since.
And Jeromai said
Exactly. I simply cannot play games with need/greed loot systems where players end up competing with each other for the one desirable piece of loot. It just ends up boiling down to lots and lots of drama.

Give me a City of Heroes or GW style you-gets-your-own-personal-loot and no one knows what you got unless you choose to link it for them any day.
So I think I can be forgiven for thinking you were criticizing how loot worked in raids -- particularly since you seemed to be viewing getting gear as the reward for raiding, which is not how it works.  Everything seemed to point to you effectively saying "The rewards for normal/heroic raiding in WoW are messed up so I don't do them because I don't get loot."

Hence my post talking about why loot is only important as a nerfing mechanism for normal/heroic raiding!
[EDIT: OK, I missed somehow that you did say it's about killin' the bosses.]
Yeah, and, uh, that's kind of a really really really important point there!  My whole post was about how gear was not the goal of raiding!

Let's make an analogy of sorts.  Raiding is like playing basketball and gear indicates how physically fit you are.

A few things to note here:

1, the goal is playing basketball is not to stay fit.  The goal of basketball is to play basketball because you find it enjoyable and if it helps you stay fit so much the better.  It's something that comes naturally as a side benefit.

2, a person being more fit than someone else means very little if they don't have the skills to dribble/pass/shoot/etc.  In fact, being physically fit past a certain point is often one of the LEAST important things.  You're better off with someone who's 5% slower but 10% better at his actual skills.  Effectively, fitness only matters when skill is roughly equal or there's such a massive gap in fitness (a 400 lb man who can't run 10 feet is going to lose to an NBA player even if he can make 99.9% of his free throws).

3, if you play basketball while starting in less than tip-top shape, you'll become more fit over time simply by playing without focusing on it specifically.  This is gear progression.

Being able to use gear for anything outside of raids is a side benefit -- the main purpose is to allow progression over time for raiding groups rather than have to explicitly nerf content or start it out incredibly easy.
I prefer content that challenges me as a player as opposed to my character as "properly geared."
This...is exactly what raiding is.  Why do you think world first guilds kill a boss with far, far worse gear than most?  Because they're much better and the content is beatable at that point -- but most people aren't good enough to do it.  Therefore, to compensate for not being as good Blizzard lets people slowly get stronger with gear each week in addition to them practicing and becoming better.  This allows less skilled groups to kill bosses by putting in the effort of reclearing if they find a boss too difficult to beat with their lesser skill level.

Basically, it's "If you're good enough, you can kill the boss.  If you're not, then you can get a bit more gear each week and eventually kill the boss."  I promise you that you will never find a situation where you cannot beat the boss with skill unless you fall into one of two categories:

1, you're a world first raiding and literally doing 10-20% less output than the designers tuned for because your gear is so bad (due to spending 50+ hours the first week progressing through bosses and thus reaching the final boss after the first week instead of after a few months as intended).  This is not an issue for 99.9% of players.

2, you try to jump into the final tier of content right away or something.  This is like being that 400 lb man and challenging the NBA player.  You might be better at free throws but you're still going to lose.  You need to work at getting in shape first -- which, if you've been raiding the whole expansion, you already ARE because you have the gear from raiding during the previous tier.  So this is only an issue for people who come in at the end of an expansion or something and try to skip to the end.

In short, if you're raiding normally, you will never find a situation where you can't beat a boss with skill.  You will never need more gear.  Gear will HELP but that's its purpose -- to nerf the content if you don't have the skill.
 It bothered me (and others I have spoken with) that so much time and effort was spent on TBC raid content that so few people saw because it was hidden behind gear gates and other barriers. Blizzard has acted to change that in subsequent ex-pacs with Flex and LFR, and that is a great thing.
Sure, the TBC model had a lot of flaws and neither Stubborn nor I are defending it.  Interestingly enough the first effort to make more accessible content was the 10 man normal modes of WotLK.  LFR/Flex sort of came into being because they took 10 man WotLK normals away in Cataclysm when they equalized 10s and 25s.

Also, Stubborn was suggesting that the raids be used while leveling -- he's referring to content from previous expansions, not previous tiers of the current expansion.
Your reasons for being a loot hound don't change the fact that you are one.
I am sorry, but in terms of achievements, I'd rather work slow and steady than pray for just the right combination of numbers in a loot lottery.
I've said it before, but you seem not to be listening: Extrinsic rewards and virtual slot machines are not why I go through a given bit of content. I may sound condescending. I'm not trying to be. If you enjoy end-game raiding in WoW, that is wonderful. I did for a while, but then I realized I didn't, so I stopped.
So...uh...yeah.  You REALLY missed what I was saying about the bosses (as you subsequently noted).  But to make sure we're all on the same page...

I play for killing bosses (not loot), my achievements are bosses dying (not loot), and I enjoy end-game raiding in WoW (not extrinsic rewards or virtual slot machines).  The complete reverse of what you originally said.

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This was then followed by the second post linked earlier.

Repeating content over and over for weeks and months—regardless of how easy it became before we moved on to the next challenge—lost its appeal long before I came to the realization that my raid group didn't really need me.
 I think there's two important parts here.

1, the reason you repeat the content each week is to slightly nerf the boss you apparently can't beat yet each week.  Otherwise, from Blizzard's perspective, you'd have killed him (or her) already so you must need help.  They eventually realized that sometimes it was due to people not having the time to do the whole thing in one week and thus started allowing lockout extensions -- meaning you could pick up where you left off last week and could keep working on the boss if you decided you didn't need the loot.

2, there are several reasons you keep raiding once everything is dead.  One, most raiders LIKE raiding inherently.  They enjoy beating the bosses just like you enjoy playing tennis with a friend for the three hundredth time.  Two, many raiders like the social atmosphere of farm content and hanging out with their raid group during a scheduled activity.  Three, groups that stop raiding typically break apart because many people within the group DON'T want to stop and thus they find a new team.  So you keep raiding to preserve the team for the next tier.

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There's clearly a lot of misconceptions about raiding out there.  Amusingly enough, many of them are from people who haven't played WoW in a long time (like BC).  I say "amusingly" because gear mattered even less in BC than it does now.

Bosses dropped less gear so the gearing rate was much slower.

Bosses were not tuned to have tight output checks so you could get by without much gear.

The gap between tiers was smaller which meant gear nerfed the content less which, in an interesting way, meant that skill mattered more.  That said, the bosses of BC (or at least the vast majority) were also MUCH easier and required much less skill -- the toughest bosses in history have been (in no particular order) Yogg+0, Lich King, Ragnaros (Firelands), Lei Shen, and potentially Garrosh.

That's not to say there weren't hard bosses in BC -- but they weren't nearly as hard.  No, not even M'uru.

So, in that sense, gear matters less now because it's far more about skill.  I think I discovered a paradox or something.

But the bottom line is that gear has always mattered very little for good players -- it just came naturally as you killed the bosses.  It only becomes an issue if your group is below the skill level required for the difficulty you are raiding.

4 comments:

  1. you seemed to be viewing getting gear as the reward for raiding, which is not how it works.

    You overstep yourself here. Loot is both Reward and Investment, and ignoring either side is a mistake. Here's a post of mine on the topic:

    Two Views of Loot (2007)

    If loot is not Reward, then why does the end boss drop loot, often the most valuable (and hence useful) loot in the game?

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    1. First of all....

      "If loot is not Reward, then why does the end boss drop loot, often the most valuable (and hence useful) loot in the game?"

      1. Consistency. Every other boss has dropped loot

      2. Lore. Makes sense the final boss has the best items

      3. Next tier. Except for the final boss of the final tier, the gear is used in the next tier

      4. Easier repeated kills. Makes it easier to farm bosses, bring in new raiders, and do achievements (you may ask "Why farm?" -- answer is to keep the group raiding like I mentioned in the post and also the next point).

      5. Fun. It's fun to have better gear to smash through dungeons with and such. Some people also like collecting item sets. The same reason final bosses often drop a mount or pet, really. So, yes, you can claim "Once gear has accomplished its goal of letting you kill the last boss then it can potentially become a reward for fun."

      "Here's a post of mine on the topic"

      Oh, I remember reading that years ago. However, gear was much rarer then and made less of a difference. Gear between tiers was especially less important -- Kael'thas dropped 141 weapons and Illidan dropped 151. Only 10 ilvls difference. We're up to 31 ilvls difference now and it's been at least 19 since Cataclysm.

      Blizzard has put more and more emphasis on the nerfing aspect of gear in Mists of Pandaria especially in an effort to avoid the zone nerfs of ICC, Firelands, and Dragon Soul.

      I can certainly see how someone might *like* getting gear. But if that's all they raid for they're going to burn out and be disappointed very quickly.

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  2. Thanks for your post. It's good to see I'm not alone on the "I raid because I like raiding" wagon..... at times when I peruse blogs (and comments), I get the feeling that everyone except me plays just for the reward at the end.
    (and you're right that most people talking about raiding don't or didn't raid :))

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    1. Quite welcome. And yeah -- it would be like having a basketball teammate constantly obsess about how much they can bench press or how fast they can sprint or something. You'd think "Dude, do you not enjoy playing the game itself or something?"

      I think LFR as "Free win, gimme epics" definitely did not help the situation. Raiding is about working together to overcome challenges. LFR removes the "working together" part and the "challenge part" so not only is the time in there usually not fun but the only "rewarding" part is the loot -- no sense of accomplishment.

      If someone less skilled works on normal modes all tier and barely manages to kill normal Garrosh before the next expansion, I will whole-heartedly congratulate them and be happy for them. They're working together as a group and trying and they've earned their accomplishment.

      Just because I could hit a drive 300 yards (I wish) doesn't mean someone who can only hit 200 isn't worthy of respect. But I can't respect the person who only uses their putter and claims suggesting they use another club is elitism.

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