A Farewell to (Hardcore) Raiding

This likely won’t come as a surprise to people on Proudmoore who have already heard the news, but my time as a hardcore raider is over. Lunacy’s existence as a hardcore raiding guild is also finished (though I add “for now,” since we still exist as a social entity and a raid could form under the tag in the future).

The reasons I’m stepping back from the hardcore raiding scene are several. Prime in my reasoning is simply life. However, I still would have stepped away in the future, regardless. This is because the mid-level hardcore raiding atmosphere is extremely stressful and I was losing a lot of the enjoyment that used to come with hardcore raiding. I have to admit ToGC’s design also played a role in my loss of interest.

This So-Called “Real Life” Has Me Running

I don’t think the audience of a gaming blog would be very receptive to the story of my life. You’re here for insight into WoW and the act of playing it. If anything, you probably read this and other blogs because you can’t stand reading people’s personal blogs. But as it is a reason for stepping back, and stepping away from raiding will affect this blog’s content, I owe a short summary of why my life is getting hectic. So here goes:

  1. I’m finishing my BA in English.
  2. Afterwards, I will be applying to enter an MFA program in creative writing.
  3. I’d like to take running more seriously.
  4. Related to #1 and #2, I’ll be taking my writing from hobby to serious pursuit.

However, though I have plans, I don’t have expectations. I don’t expect to become a famous author of bestselling novels, or a Hollywoord screenwriter. I don’t expect to become an Olympic marathoner, though I’d love to break my personal bests. I just want to finish my degree and try things that will either work or not, be it journalism, commissioned writing, teaching, or something I don’t expect.

These are things I cannot do while maintaining a rigorous raiding schedule, much less while leading a hardcore guild. Gaming needs to take a back seat.

Wrath’s Mid-Level Hardcore Raiding Atmosphere Was Extremely Stressful

It’s difficult to talk about issues concerning the raiding atmosphere without being candid about recent events within my guild. However, because Lunacy still exists (albeit casually), I don’t feel comfortable discussing even vague examples that could be applied by our current and former members to specific incidents that may have occurred, no matter how accurate or inaccurate.

So I’ll use ambiguity.

I hate drama. I hate snark. I hate irrationality. I hate not having the tools to deal with people who have problems, be they attitude- or performance-related, because you worry about not being able to replace that person swiftly. When the major reason your guild exists is to progress and defeat bosses at all levels of difficulty, it’s difficult to potentially put yourself in a position where you can’t do that. People who joined to progress become unhappy when you can’t kill bosses, and when that happens you risk falling apart.

On the other hand, if you keep the people with attitude problems around, you risk driving others away. And if you lower your performance standards, you hurt your progression. So by not doing anything, you also risk the guild falling apart.

If I had 5 or 6 people waiting on the bench every night, the course of action would have been obvious. But because raiding is now much more accessible than it was before, mid-level hardcore guilds are bleeding members left and right. So you have a glut of guilds, and a shortage of recruits. Fixing problems becomes extremely difficult when that happens, as you become a victim of the situation.

It’s not Blizzard’s fault, however. The increase in accessibility to raiding is a good thing in the long-term. But it’s created a short-term problem with a glut of guilds and a shortage of hardcore raiders that I don’t think will resolve itself until Cataclysm’s release.

ToGC’s Design Problems

There are several reasons I dislike ToGC:

  • Limited attempts.
  • How the random mechanics of certain fights can affect your attempt count.
  • How the awkward AI on a couple fights can be a frustrating component that results in losing attempts.
  • Warriors in full block gear taking half the damage of a protadin in better overall gear.
  • How rushed it felt, with major changes needed on three of the heroic encounters shortly after the heroic modes opened (Northrend Beasts, Jaraxxus and the Twin Valks).

These issues warrant a much larger entry. A mere list of issues does not accurately summarize my thoughts in detail. For example, I wouldn’t care about RNG-based difficulty if the attempt system didn’t exist. In any case, I much prefer different design concepts, and I’ll express my full thoughts in a post as soon as possible (I want to try to get something out there before next Tuesday, as the PTR has a release candidate version going up).

So Where Do I Go from Here?

Honestly, I’m not sure where I’ll be going from here. There are so many conflicting issues going on, I just don’t know where I’ll be several months from now.

I really want to set up a serious PvP crew on Proudmoore (something that hasn’t been done for a very long time), but I worry about having to turn down people in Lunacy who just wouldn’t make the cut (the types that run off for HK’s instead of being there to assist the flag carrier in WSG).

I want to set up a serious 3v3 team, but I’m not sure my current plans will follow through the way I want them to. And I’m not sure Proudmoore will provide me with the tools to create a team as successful as I’d like, if the current plans don’t work out.

At the same time, I don’t want transfer off, because that would hurt my ability to rebuild the social side of Lunacy.

And then Cataclysm is likely to change the game in extreme ways. So I have no idea what I’ll be doing until I know what Cataclysm is actually going to change and introduce.

What I do know is that I’ll be playing much more casually than I was before.

What’s in Store for the Blog?

Stepping away from raiding means I won’t be writing about how well or poorly a boss is designed if I don’t experience it. But the blog is changing (and has already changed) for reasons more than just me stepping away form raiding.

To be honest, I’ve found it difficult to write about a game in the MMO industry with any sort of enthusiasm. It used to be that I was excited about a lot of things. I was even planning to develop my own web site, the details of which I’m going to keep under wraps, in case I end up going down that road if other life plans don’t work out. But the volatility behind the development of games in the industry has me weary, so I’d rather try other possibilities in my life first and not spend so much of my focus on it.

That said, I still enjoy parts of WoW. And the blog still exists. So I will write about it. But I probably won’t bother addressing topics like how Arthas is an antithetical version of King Arthur. It’s very possible Blizzard could have gone down that road. But then you know some head designer is going to say “No, scrap that! It wouldn’t make for an interesting raid encounter!”

I’m not saying the designer is wrong. You want an interesting encounter for the last boss in an expansion. Entertainment is as important as story. Take PvP, for example. PvP is a source of entertainment. And there needs to be a reason for PvP to exist in the game, even if Garrosh and Varian are extremely superficial characters.

I’ve merely come to the conclusion that various parts of the game won’t ever be exactly the way I want them. No matter how much I advocate the practice, I don’t think story arcs will ever be fully contained within the world of WoW. There will always be something introduced I won’t like. In short, “You can’t please everyone.” This is simply how MMO design and development works. And so I’ve lost some enthusiasm, and I won’t be going out of my way to write about certiain things anymore. You might have noticed I haven’t done that for almost a year, now. But I will probably write more than I have lately, at least.

In any case, I’ll be around.

A Public Response: Stop Telling People How to Game

I had a strange response to my entry about downing Kil’jaeden. I feel it deserves public treatment, because it highlights what I dislike about a specific portion of the anti-MMO community. The comment comes from someone named “Muckbeast.” I guess because he is trying to be a muckraker in the MMO community. Right…

I killed him solo in a private server months ago. Me solo > your raid guild.

Think about that, and then ask yourself if it was really worth all the broken friendships, drama, anger, rage, arguments, etc. that it took to get to this point.

Raiding gives a very FALSE sense of accomplishment that often results in people letting their real life accomplishments falter. Everyone has a certain amount of accomplishment they want to attain in life. When they get it from a game, they stop seeking it in real life.

HOLD THE FLAMETHROWERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Everything I have written above is an exaggeration. I wrote it to make a point. Raiding and gaming should be about fun, not about some kind of titanic “achivement” that feels like you just gave birth.

-Cambios

Are you suggesting any time a friendship breaks, an argument is presented, drama beheld, or rage expressed, the cause wasn’t worth it? I’ve lost friends over my time commitment to running, work and school of all things. Is the pursuit of accomplishments in these fields not worth the investment, considering these problems can arise? I guess I’ll just stop taking classes, quit my job, and sit on my couch all day so everyone can come over, have a few beers, and play X-Box or watch TV any time they want. Until, of course, I have to sell my television and my X-Box to pay for the quadruple bypass I needed to save my life after a debilitating heart attack onset by a sedentary lifestyle.

I use the Socratic method and the same style of exaggeration to counter your point and force you to really consider the argument you’re making. Obviously, I don’t believe any of the things I listed are worth dropping, as they are key to my well-being, success, and happiness in life. Just as MMOs can be an adequate source of entertainment providing happiness in life to those who prefer and enjoy them. I say this as someone who has played single and multi-player console games, FPS’s, RTS’s, dungeon crawlers, a couple MUD’s and MUSH’s (I even helped code a MUSH for a short while), top-down multiplayer games, etc. I’ve played games that adhere to all the MMO models: free, distributed, premium and subscription-based.

If you don’t think I’ve enjoyed raiding immensely, you’re terribly wrong. There surely have been frustrations and issues that arise during raids, but they are no different than those that occur in any social setting or business endeavor. It doesn’t mean there haven’t been rewarding experiences or friendships created in the process. Nor is it suggestive of abnormal behavior, something you seem to feverishly believe given the writings of your own blog. There are people I have met playing WoW I now consider “real life” friends. I have improved my time management and supervisory skills simply leading a guild. By writing this blog, I’ve found another outlet in which to hone my writing skills, something crucial to my major. All the while, I’ve enjoyed it, despite any minor complications. Furthermore, it is something that hasn’t consumed my every waking hour.

People who can’t grasp the positives others might obtain through this sort of gaming experience are just expressing personal opinion. I really don’t care if you personally think MMOs aren’t worth the investment. More power to you if you want to focus your time elsewhere. But all you seem to be doing here is raking the muck of the blogging world with outlandish straw man arguments that depict a gaming demographic stereotypically and vilify a genre with generalized typecasting.

Everyone is expected to do the best they can in life. But why should you care if they’re happy with what they do? No matter how trivial the enjoyment? Who cares if playing MMOs is something someone prefers over going for a doctorate. Maybe this person is content to live a middle class lifestyle and spend their time frivolously. Is it any different than someone who would rather spend their time at the movies every weekend instead of working on that dissertation they’ve found so frustrating to complete? Anything that can be reasoned in such a manner is fair game. It’s not your life to live. Let them live how they please.

The simple fact of the matter is that I don’t agree with you, nor do I appreciate you using my blog’s comment area as an advertisement space for blatant propaganda against something that has actually been a positive force in many people’s lives. Even if it has been a negative force for some, it is not the root of evil you make it out to be. People exhibiting their addictive or dependent personalities, be it through video games or drugs, is a serious issue and worth addressing. But not in the manner you seem to view as acceptable. Everyday, people make conscious decisions to play MMOs for good reasons. Only when the decision to continue playing them is unconscious should someone intervene. We should be treating the real cause: the addictive personality itself.