Sunday, March 1, 2009

Raiding Isn't a "Skillset"

My last post was one about how some random guy in a PUG said that Ulduar should be nerfed, which made me laugh at the time, and then (of course) became some long winded discussion in the comments about how raiding used to be hard, and blah blah blah, and omg doesn't WoW suck now these days.

I defended WoW's current raiding situation because I really don't get the whole "it's not like it used to be" mentality. While my wife might argue otherwise, I also don't really spend every waking moment of my existence logged into WoW. I love playing it. I think it's the 'best game out there' right now. Don't get me wrong. I feel like one of the main reasons I have this interest in trying to get a job that has me basically "making WoW" is because I feel like I understand it on a certain leel that goes deeper than just playing it, and I want to take that understanding to the next level. Test that understanding, almost. If you love love love to drive cars, eventually one day you're going to pull over and pop the hood and look at that engine block, and want to know how it works.

There's this feeling, though, that Blizzard is doing it all wrong, and that the game isn't fun enough to play anymore. I honestly just do. not. understand. that. sentiment.

The best analogy I could come up with is building computers. Hell, knowing how to use computers, even. My first PC was an 8086. It ran MS DOS. I then moved on to a 286, and eventually a 386. I learned how to edit my CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT files, how to load DOS into upper memory (386max or QEMM ftw) to free up more memory for Wing Commander or Maniac Mansion. I had an AdLib soundcard and would need to manually need to specify an IRQ in CONFIG.SYS. All of this is irrelevant. The point is that I used to do all of that shit by hand, and reboot (back when Ctrl-Alt-Del would restart the system), and see if it worked.

None of that shit matters anymore, because Windows does it all for you now. I still know how to troubleshoot a system if something isn't working, but I don't cry when I buy a new soundcard, plug it in, and it just fucking works. My computer doesn't challenge me any more to make sound come out of my speakers. It's all done for me.

When you think of the average raiding UI, does it even occur to anyone that we now have tools at our disposal that basically do all of this shit for us? Omen (and before that KTM) all give us instantaneous indications of who is number 17 on threat out of a 25 man raid. Recount tells us, within tenths of a decimal place, how much pure damage PER SECOND we deal, and this is totally normal for us. Raid windows show buffs, debuffs, health and mana of the entire raid at a glance. If you want raiding to be challenging again, run one where EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON. is running a vanilla UI. One shot every boss in Naxx like that, and then cry about it.

Have you run a 'dungeon' in Warhammer? That shit is ridiculous. Complete garbage. It's like the raiding community of WoW has a kitchen full of the top chefs in the world cooking them breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day, and they still have the nerve to complain that their potatoes aren't golden brown enough. When all you eat is ice cream all day long, over and over for weeks and months and years on end, even the best ice cream in the world is just ice cream. Put your fucking spoon down. You're done. Shut the fuck up and let someone else enjoy their new bowl of ice cream in peace.

Back to the computer thing: I was talking to some kid in vent who wanted to build himself a system, and we took a good 5 or 10 minutes trying to explain to him what a motherboard is. Like, what it looks like, and how it's important. This doesn't make me angry. I didn't rage on some forum about how he's a casual and doesn't deserve to enjoy computers. That shit just doesn't really matter to him, and he just wants to enjoy the final product: fancy graphics at a good frame rate. While I could go off and call him a fucking noob that's threatening my future ability to enjoy building a system, it just doesn't matter.

The title of this post (which I had actually forgotten about for a bit there, on side tangets) is that raiding isn't meant to be some huge "hard to do thing". It's a means to enjoy a different aspect of the game. Lots of people can build their own computers these days. It used to be that I was one of the few people I knew that could. Now lots of kids grow up upgrading their system themselves. The fact is that building computers was never hard, per se, it's just that not very many people bothered to do it, and there were a few tricks you needed to know. Manually assigning IRQs for different PCI slots in the BIOS, whatever. Specifying your HD size by punching in the number of heads and cylinders it had.

As time went on, more and more people realized that building a computer is hardly on par with rocket surgery, and so now there are way more people that do it. BIOSes have evolved to autodetect your HDs, and IRQs are automatically allocated. ISA slots gave way to PCI slots. AGP and PCI-Express came along, but the general rule of "PCI cards go in PCI slots" is still as true today as it was back then. Raid tanking is still "maintain threat". DPS is still "don't surpass the tank's threat". Healing is still... well, healing. Fundamentally, nothing has changed. We have new talents that lighten the load; instead of only having Sunder and Shield Slam, we now have Devastate and Shockwave, too. It's also that more people are doing it, and discovering that it really isn't as difficult as some people made it out to be. The point is that this doesn't upset me. The building of a computer was hardly some elite thing, or maybe I personally just never really felt that way. When my parents or friends came into my room and saw my rig in pieces perhaps they were impressed, but I always told them it wasn't really a big deal. It's like that "round hole, round peg" thing you have as a kid. I certainly never puffed my chest out and stood in front of my house at my mailbox with my computer hoping someone would inspect me and oooh and ahhh at my prowess.

There's also this "I was the first guy with Hand of Rag, and everyone wanted to blow me" thing that keeps coming up, but I personally never gave two shits about anyone else that had the Hand of Rag. I think perhaps this stems from the "i have a bigger xbox live score" and "let's call random strangers faggot niggers on voice chat" thing that I don't really partake in, either. I wanted to get Eskhander's claw out of Molten Core because I thought it looked neat, I liked the undead female 'fist weapon' attack animation, and thought was a good tanking weapon for my warrior (probably in that order, even). Not so internet groupies would hold me in high esteem.

Like, what if WoW released some toolset where you could legally launch your own private server, and tune the bosses to "OMFG challenging", and then you and 25 of your best pals went and slayed the internet dragons, would that please you? Where would the crowds of noobs be to ooh and ahh over your shiny shield at the mailbox? The fact is that they'd still be in "normal, EZ-moad, gay" WoW, just playing the game. These are the people that play Guitar Hero, and can enjoy the fact that the guitar has five buttons. While I'm sure every hard core raider in WoW can play a real guitar, and spits on the noobs with their five little colored buttons, there are still other people that are just happy that they're interacting with music in a new way.

It's not meant to be a struggle uphill. I guess I'm just old. Maybe Ulduar will be a hard raid, or maybe it won't be. We're all going to zone in and run it regardless. For fuck's sake, let's just try and enjoy it.

18 comments:

David said...

People look back at 'hard content' with a sense of nostalgia. But that's all it is, recalling the thrill of first experience older content, in spite of its flaws.

I recently cleared God of War on PSP on 'normal' mode. It was a really fun and engaging game. After a clear, I thought I would like a challenge and chose 'God' difficulty. That shit owned my ass so hard. It took me about 2 hours to get past the first boss. Soon after there were a group of about 5 enemies I had to get past. As hard as I tried they always trashed me. I could see where I could have killed them. I could see that maybe, after about an hour of practice, I might get past that one tiny encounter in a game with a hundred more like it after. And the reward? I think maybe if you clear it on God mode you get to watch a developer video or something.

The point is, people are asking for 'God mode' content without having even playing it on normal. If they want to be 'teh hardcore eleet' of WoW, try running Naxx with five people or something. Don't cripple other's access to a game for your sadomasochistic tendencies.

Hell, if you have Sarth 3D on farm, congratulations, you've beaten patch 3.0. Log off for a month and come back when new stuff is ready for you. People can't expect endless challenge from any game - there will be a point where the content that is there is finished and you can't get any more out of it.

And then there's the fallacy that the majority of WoW gamers are demanding harder content. I would guess that less than 5% of the WoW community posts regularly on Warcraft forums, which is the most visible barometer for 'popular' opinions. And I would not be surprised if that 5% were the ones that are crying for harder content. Well, sorry, you are not the majority, just a vocal minority. Deal with it.

p.s. That DOS stuff is so natsukashi! I remember having different boot disks for different games, and then I got fancy and made batch files. You were resetting your computer every 5 minutes but goshdarnit the sound worked! I think we shared the exact same childhood through some multidimensional wormhole.

Khatib said...

"Back to the computer thing: I was talking to some kid in vent who wanted to build himself a system, and we took a good 5 or 10 minutes trying to explain to him what a motherboard is. Like, what it looks like, and how it's important. This doesn't make me angry. I didn't rage on some forum about how he's a casual and doesn't deserve to enjoy computers. That shit just doesn't really matter to him, and he just wants to enjoy the final product: fancy graphics at a good frame rate. While I could go off and call him a fucking noob that's threatening my future ability to enjoy building a system, it just doesn't matter."


Yeah, everyone has a right to build a system and enjoy it. But did you tell the kid to watercool his first one? Or is that more of an "advanced build technique" that the casual new guy should avoid until he knows more about everything?

Everyone has the right to play games, but if you want any kind of competitive gameplay, there should be stuff that beginners just can't pull off without some time in the trenches.


And as far as the difference between hardcore/casual in WoW, that's fairly bullshit anyways as all it boils down to is gear checks. When I talk about hardcore/casual in relation to MMOs, personally my angle is more in death penalty and having a total fuck up set you back. Rather than just "I won" or "I didn't win." I really prefer "I won" or "I lost." Where the I lost costs you something and you damn sure better try not to do it again. In WoW, it's just a constant uphill line on a graph. If you suck ass, you'll have a few more flat spots, but you'll never, EVER, go down. And that's lame in my book. That's the thing I hate most about WoW.

Tragedyx said...

In a computer comparison: Time is money. If I spend $3000 on a computer with top end components, and "noob" spends $300 on low end components, we shouldn't have the same performance. Just as, if I spend 400 hours raiding new encounters, and he spends 40 with the difficulty slider on easy, we shouldn't be wearing the same gear or perform the same.

Building the computer isn't a good analogy. The computer is already built. What to expect from the computer is more on point.

I could rant for days but I won't. I miss old WoW. The hatchet is buried in 2 days and won't be dug up. Good riddance to past endeavors that actually meant something.

Mordiceius said...

"Yeah, everyone has a right to build a system and enjoy it. But did you tell the kid to watercool his first one? Or is that more of an "advanced build technique" that the casual new guy should avoid until he knows more about everything?

Everyone has the right to play games, but if you want any kind of competitive gameplay, there should be stuff that beginners just can't pull off without some time in the trenches."

Khatib, I think your comparison is a little off. I would compare water cooling to people doing crazy achievements like 3manning Onyxia at level 60.

Everyone has a right to see the content, the ones that deserve to be talked about are the ones that go above and beyond, like watercooling.

jdwarne said...

Let me throw out another analogy that might explain the current state of affairs a little better, at least from my point of view.

Model building is a fairly established hobby. Whether it is model cars, model planes, etc, there are a fair number of enthusiasts out there that take this hobby seriously, at least to a certain degree.

Now for arguments sake, lets say that the model designers determine that far too many people don't actually complete their models because there's just too many pieces, and it's too damn difficult for the masses to put in that much time and effort to get to the finished product. So instead of 1,000 pieces, the new model kits come with 20 pieces.

Awesome! Now anyone can put the model together. Really, it doesn't take that much time at all. Now everyone who buys a model car can have a nice, shiny mustang with minimal effort.

However, a lot of the model enthusiasts are upset. Where's the challenge, they say? Why have you dumbed down our hobby, they say?

The model designers respond: "The models may be easy, yes. However, if you want a challenge, you need to complete the model on 'hard mode'. For instance, have you assembled your model car blindfolded, using only your feet, while riding in the back of a pickup truck speeding down a dirt road? No? Then apparently you still haven't really 'conquered' the model, have you?"

Does this sound rediculous? Well, this is what the current game has become. The encounter itself is quite easy, however you can ramp up the difficulty by making it harder on yourself. Is this equivalent to 'progession'? Would a model enthusiast be placated by the above 'hard-mode'?

The answer is 'NO'.

Why? Because the hobby IS the challenge. It is defined by getting that kit of all those pieces and putting it all together, over time. If it was only about the finished product (i.e. the gear) then the hobbyists would just buy the finished mustang and forgo the whole model building process altogether.

I don't care about casual vs. hardcore. I don't care if every casual in the game sees every encounter out there. I don't care if they have exactly the same gear I do. I just want the model to have more than 20 pieces.

Klepsacovic said...

Raiding was somehow different in vanilla and I think I liked it more. Maybe it's my rose-colored glasses but I remember being being more elite and less elitist. In other words, some people were just plain badass (for a video game); they knew it and everyone else (that cared) knew it. There wasn't so much need to flaunt oneself. Now I think people who based their egos on WoW are finding themselves with no way to 'prove' how great they are, so they have to find a new way to act superior, such as complaining that hards are too easy or how PvP is welfare epics or whatever.

I didn't get much past MC but I honestly liked it a lot. The strange thing was that MC wasn't hard. It was really a simple, basic instance, an oversized 5-man. The difference was that people went in there undergeared and totally inexperienced, so it felt hard. In reality it was more of a gigantic cockblock, holding you back until you'd farmed X FR and had such and such gear overall.

Maybe what WoW raiders need is a crack on the head, some amnesia to make them forget it all. Then they go go "wow this is so cool!"

Ixobelle said...

Maybe what WoW raiders need is a crack on the head, some amnesia to make them forget it all. Then they go go "wow this is so cool!"

yeah, but that can't happen... the thing I was driving at, and maybe never got to is that raiding isn't HARD. it never really was.

Tragedy wants to say that spending obscene amounts of time in game should amount to some colossal ... something. but what if i spent 400 hours logged in just emoting at NPCs in the AH? the basic "manage your threat and health" still applies as much today as it did in the past, but more people have more experience.

you can't make the bosses hit harder than you can take. if a boss hits for 1000k, you're going to die no matter how skilled you are. where's the challenge in overcoming that? just grind badges until you can buy leg, ankle, cockring, buttplug, and nose hoop STA enchants? the fight isn't any more difficult, you just have a larger healthpool.

brutallis was a DPS race. squeezing every single iota of DPS out of a raid is a challenge, but what happened? people didn't beat it "fairly", they stacked raids with certain buffs to cheat the encounter. that SPECIFICALLY is where the whole "bring the player, not the class" thing came from. don't stack a 25 man raid with 10 ele shamans (or whatever). Don't NOT bring rogues because melee DPS blows on this one fight.

is that 'overcoming the challenge'?

the main point with the compuyter analogy is that people USED to think it was some arcane thing, and thought it took skill. it never did. it just took 'knowing the encounter'. now anyone can build a computer, but computer building wasn't really nerfed, more people just tried it and found it wasn;t as hard as they thought.

then the elites are like OH NOES, EVEN LITTLE BILLY CAN RAID NOW BOO HOO and ... bleh. kids coming in the room for a class, gotta run.

mavfin said...

I remember 40-man days. I was one of the tanks on our first 40-man kill of the Twin Emperors, among others. I'm not one of those terribad people.

However, I like the new expansion just fine. My favorite part? 10-man raiding. No more getting together 20 of my friends and having to recruit/invite 5 more people who are complete assholes, but I need them to fill the raid.

Now, I get me and 9 of my friends and go kill stuff. Easier than Vanilla? Well, considering I've been a raid tank for four years now, I would hope the intro content of a new expansion would be fairly easy for me. If it's not easy for *me*, then there's a whole buttload of new Blizzard customers who are going to bash their heads on a brick wall and quit playing.

Most of 'too easy' can be translated to "I don't get to be special because I can play more than others? Waaaaaaa!"

I have a life, a job, a wife, and 4 kids. I don't have time to raid 3 nights a week for 4-6 hours like I did back in vanilla. However, I can have a lot of fun raiding 1-2 nights for 3 hours each, and still *see the content*. I get to see the epic fights, the big baddies and all that.

I'm a casual-by-time. Skill has never been my issue.

Mordiceius said...

One more thing I'd like to touch on is I'm GLAD raiding isn't like it used to be. When you would spend WEEKS of just wiping on a boss, it got old REALLY quick. If a boss takes more than 2 nights of attempts from a group that is not completely retarded and has the proper gear level, it is taking too long.

Just now that if a group thinks a boss is too easy, they'll get rewards for challenging themselves (just the two mounts for now but better loot in Ulduar). I think the "hardcore" have no room to complain.

Silkworm said...

Lol the Dos stuff is so similar. The night I bought my Amiga I opened it to see what was inside. My mother almost had a heart attack in the morning. It took me two years of whining and crying and being a good student to make my parents buy the Amiga because it was really expensive and computers were not yet on the list of "40 things you can buy for your kid". I learned from magazines what was Fat Angus, the chipset number of Amiga etc. Same with my first ever 80286 PC. Ixo you brought back some good memories. IRQ's, QEMM. Come to think of it I used DOS well until late 1997. I had to switch to Windows because some of my games were not made for DOS anymore. I remember now I switched to Win95 in 1997 because Battle Isles game did not support DOS. Except where you had Adlib I had Creative Soundblaster and to this day I choose Creative over Apple Ipod or any other brand.

Anonymous said...

Oh my, the glory days of loading things into high memory, when a megabyte of memory was pretty good (And cost around a hundred dollars.) I wonder if the ultra hardcore kids would garner any enjoyment from the old games. 'Zomg, I looked up a walkthrough for Zork and beat it in five minutes. Make games harder!'

Vads said...

Seems we've opened quite the can of worms here. If the initial comments I wrote on the last post was what ticked ya off, sorry. ;)

I too have memories of the hours spent digging through autoexec and config files to make those DOS programs run, but for me at least that was definately not something I found fun, it was a necessary evil.

So much said here I'd like to comment on but I think there's not much point to it, doubt its going to change anything.

Except.. From Silkworm: "to this day I choose Creative over Apple Ipod or any other brand." -Amen. Damned Adlib cards!

Khatib said...

"yeah, but that can't happen... the thing I was driving at, and maybe never got to is that raiding isn't HARD. it never really was."


Yeah, that was kind of my point at the end of my first reply, saying how it's all just a gear check in the end.

But then I got to thinking a bit about WAY back. Remember when threat meters first started leaking out to the mod sites? It was like OMG hax. I remember raiding before threat meters, and there was just so much more of a level of intuition to it. You really had to know your characters output and that of everyone else in your raid, or at least most of it, to keep threat structured right, handle tank transitions right, etc, etc. Of course, MC being just an FR check didn't make too much out of that. But still.

Maybe it's not all Blizz's fault on some of this. I really think that mods make it too automated. But starting at TBC on... well hell, even before that. Probably with AQ really... Blizz knew the mods were out there, and they designed their encounters to be played with all those mods.

Which makes raiding today to the point that you just need to install the right mods which automatically remind you when to do everything, and then you've got your nice threat meters sitting there so you just mash 3 when you're in the right spot and press 3 less when you're gaining on the tanks too much.

It really has turned into the kind of thing that if everyone in your raid is halfways competant, and has the gear check covered, all you need to do is read about an encounter, have Deadly Boss Mods or whatever the hot one is these days, and in 3 tries or less, you should be able to drop a brand new boss. Just because there is TOO MUCH info at hand to screw it up if you're not a total raging moron.

And that's as much an evolution of the community as it is of the game.

Herc said...

Like one poster mentioned I too was in a guild who spends 30+ hours a week back in Vanilla WoW.

The elitist still compete with each other thru achievements, and this will be the cast when Ulduar comes out. This was one of the major shift in the paradigm of raiding that most players haven't grasp.

It's not about what bosses you down anymore, it's about what achievements has been completed is what sets apart the elitist amongst the elitist.

If you're complaining Naxx is too easy but don't have the Proto Drake then shut the fuck up.

Now spending 1-2 nights raiding isn't bad at all. I don't have the time and energy like I did in the past 4 years.

Larísa said...

Most of the time I don't care, but sometimes I get sick and tired of all the bitterness you hear from veteran players, pouring it out over newcomers like me. I didn't play WoW 2 years ago and there's no way I can change that fact. I never did the vanilla insanely hard raids. I enjoy the game as it is now. Does this make me stupid, a moron, someone who doesn't deserve to be in Azeroth?

It IS strange that so many players hold on so tightly to their titles and lost glory and that their wellbeing seems to rely so much on the admiration and envy from other players. I sometimes think that my selfesteem is to low, but in comparsion to some of the people you meet online, it's not...

Lot's of rambling here. Anyway I really liked your comparing to computers and your honest, humble and openminded way about it. I for one haven't got a clue about most computer stuff, which is a pain when it comes to doing something about my low fps. But putting it this way you make me not feel as ashamed about it. Thanks.

Tragedyx said...

"Just as, if I spend 400 hours raiding new encounters"

I didn't say emoting people. I specifically said raiding.

We wiped for two nights on Vael, namely due to no threat meters and rogues not vanishing properly. After 26 wipes or so, we got it. I felt a sense of accomplishment. For Illidan, us and another guild had a friendly race. They beat him literally 30 seconds before we did. Things like that never happen anymore. People don't even use consumables. You don't need to squeeze every drop of DPS out of DPS to ensure a boss dies.

As far as the model comparison, that's pretty much exactly what it is. Fights aren't as complex (or retarded as i've heard people who can't multitask call them).

Whatever. I give up on arguing a moot point. I don't even play.

Mordiceius said...

"Fights aren't as complex"

Go do 3 drake Sarth.


Also, why are people bitching so much about the ENTRY RAID for WotLK. I don't remember this level of bitching about Karazhan.

Random Poster said...

"Also, why are people bitching so much about the ENTRY RAID for WotLK. I don't remember this level of bitching about Karazhan"

Well Karazahn was a lot harder for most guilds when it was first released than Naxx is for everyone now. Kara went through a couple rounds of nerfs to get to the point where it was an "entry" level raid and by the time that happened there was other raid content in the game.

Basically Blizz screwed up for TBC and released the entry level content too hard and then got it fixed.

This time they got it right for an entry level ..but the people who were expecting a Kara like barrier blew through the content before there was anymore Raid Content.

And if people go in to Ulduar expecting Sunwell difficulty they are going to be sorely dissappointed. This is not the last raid in Wrath, it will be more difficult than Naxx yes, but not until Icecrown will we see truly difficult fights. Even then Blizzard has said that the odds are they will never release a raid as difficult as Sunwell again.