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Posted: Sep 20th 2011 10:43PM Squidsnthings said

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I did one raid in WoW and said "LOLNOPE" cancelled my subscription. Took way too much time and felt like tedious work... and I didn't even get paid for it. It made me feel like an awful person and generally depressing.

Posted: Sep 21st 2011 12:40AM Jeromai said

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That's why I never got into WoW. Called it the moment the MMO was released, and have been patiently waiting for 5+ years for the hordes of players to complete the burnout cycle from the gleeful discovery of the leveling game/beginning raid to jaded no-longer-having-fun-but-still-forcing-self veteran.

Alas, I only recognized it in WoW because I was coming off that cycle hard from a MUD with the proto-raid system. The only folks who can empathize are those have gone through it.

It's not that raids are inherently bad. It's actually quite fun to get organised and get multiple people acting in concert to down a big bad. Especially when you get a superior elitist kick and a shiny stat-improving reward out of it. Achiever need - sated. Social need - sated. Even Explorer need is okay at the beginning because you're seeing content you haven't before, there's theorycrafting and improving your knowledge of the game in order to defeat the challenge. That's how it sucks you in.

Then somehow things change. Maybe it's just the lack of novelty eroding away your or another player's will to log in. Critical mass falls off, it's harder and harder to get sufficient people committed together for that length of time. You lose the magic combination of people and the wins stop coming and you get a lot more losing/wipes/rinse and repeat. Morale falls, stuff repeats in a vicious cycle.

And it's no longer fun to do the game activity, but you force yourself to do it anyway because a) people relying on me, b) I want the shiny at the end, c) I do not give up/lose, I must win or any other reason that assuages your ego that you are a good person and engaging in the activity is not wasted time.

And that's the point your subconscious goes "Bzzzzz, you're doing the activity for the wrong reasons. The activity has STOPPED BEING FUN." And things get really bad until you realize what it's trying to tell you and stop.

Honestly, a lot of this can be tweaked with game design. You don't need to distribute only one (or a few) shiny piece of loot that goes to one person leaving the rest drooling. You don't need a raid that takes 2-3 hours. You don't need a raid that relies so heavily on holy trinity or gear to the point where a certain player must be present else the raid may as well be called off.

Some oldschool players will argue that such a thing is no longer a traditional raid and won't "feel" like a proper raid unless you've worked for it both ways uphill in the snow.

It's really about all the different factors that go into a raid though. Is it theorycrafting or using a particular build or attack chain? Is it learning coordinated movements within a group? Is it a raid if there's no "trash mobs?" Or tanking-and-spanking? Is it a raid if you have to draw arrows on the minimap in or out of the game to direct people to their specific duties? Is it a raid if everyone gets a reward after killing the big bad, rather than only a select few? Or is it only raiding if the mob has to be repeatedly farmed over weeks for gear and to demonstrate mastery of the tactic.

Posted: Sep 21st 2011 11:31AM Link064 said

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@Jeromai
Great analysis. I have one more reason why you don't give up. D) You don't want to become that guy.

Surely during the course of your raiding, someone has quit and forced you to replace their spot with someone new. More frequently than not, this causes your group to fail more, causing more people to question their involvement and (sometimes) quit. As your group struggles to find additional members to fill the missing roles, you begin questioning your own involvement, but don't want to leave for fear of becoming "that guy that quit" and you feel bad for putting your group mates in that position. Even worse, you feel like if the group falls apart after you leave then it should be your fault.

I had a situation like this and eventually decided that it just wasn't worth it any more. My brother and I were in a pretty solid 10-man raiding guild that was a fun, friendly group with decent progression (nothing hardcore). After some time, my brother and I decided the stress wasn't worth it (there had been some group drama, both said and unsaid) and we left. It ended up killing both the group and the guild. I felt horrible and I still have a hard time talking to the guild leader (who still plays). However, in the end, I feel like it was the right decision. Sure, there is some growing pain involved, but the benefits outweigh the costs.
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Posted: Sep 24th 2011 12:41PM jynxycat said

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@Jeromai Or people have pride in their guild they have been in for years, with many core people who have also been there for years?

Why would I leave to join another guild full of people I do not know.


If a few newer members that haven't been there for that long jump ship, what do I mind? I stick around for my buddies who I've known for a long time. Not because I'm obligated, but because I like my guild.

That's not losing the fun, that could be quite the opposite. I'd say switching guilds, or leaving the game altogether would be losing the fun.


But that's your experience, and this is mine.
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Posted: Sep 21st 2011 1:16AM Vandal said

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Excellent article. And a good sign how the MMO genre is evolving when these kind of flaws in traditional MMO mechanics are being pointed out.

MMO developers have ALWAYS known about the social pressure exerted by raiding guilds and how that can be used to keep people paying those monthly subscriptions. They designed MMOs for years with that as the goal rather than having a goal of good gameplay or, god forbid, fun.

ActiBlizz is particularly guilty of this. They have come out and said that they are *proud* of turning soccer moms into raiders. That's been their point to their mechanics like the Dungeon Finder and raid dungeon instructions, all in an effort to suck people into raiding because ActiBlizz *knows* social pressure will help them keep leeching cash from their players with their out-dated subscription model.

Fortunately there are other developers who are not following the old-school traditions. The genre is finally evolving and I'm looking forward to the day when MMO players will look back at the 40-man, multi-hour, timesink, trash-mob filled raids and wonder why anyone would pay money to do that.

Posted: Sep 24th 2011 12:45PM jynxycat said

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@Vandal They're making things easier for the average raider, and not requiring nearly as much time as it used to.

In the original game, I spent 7 hours a day, 6 days a week doing the original raids as cutting edge. Nowadays we can clear firelands in 2 nights, 3-4 hours a night.

Casual players won't be spending nearly as much time as our guild, ESPECIALLY doing the non-commitment LFR runs. I don't get how they would spend any more time in the game than they do now, or feel committed to random 24 other people they won't even know.

As far as doing things after the level cap, what game has done something other than battlegrounds/large monsters? I'm not sure why people think any other new game will have anything different. You fight players, you fight AI. Seems simple.
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Posted: Sep 21st 2011 1:40AM Space Cobra said

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Great article.

Most people do get sucked in without realizing. For me, even before raiding (since I am a slow player) I realized the "treadmill of tiered equipment" early on would negate any progress I made. So yeah, with heightened emotions, I can see this factoring into it.

As you know, Cracked.com has that neat article on Pavlovian responses and Skinner Boxes. If not, read it.

Raiding, in and of itself, isn't bad, but when you do it over and over again (and lose the "fun factor"), like you said, it becomes a chore/job and is un=fun and nerves are frayed. Initially, such things are fun, but grinding and repeating ad nauseaum just makes it a job. I do understand about relying on others and they on you and that adds to it.

No matter who they are, people need to step back and see if this active is for them; if it helps or hurts them. People have different tolerances and while some can treat all the drama/grind and shake it off easily like water on a duck, many others can't. People have to examine their own mindsets and know themselves and most people, as you say, learn from experience. I can only hope once they are in such an activity, they do consider about their individual situations.

Posted: Sep 21st 2011 2:04AM RedWolf said

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Good article, very similar to my own experiences.

Posted: Sep 21st 2011 2:58AM JuliusSeizure said

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@TexRob

Having read and paid a lot of attention to Elliot's columns, I'd say just the opposite. He's a low A and high S, someone who keenly feels compelled to get caught up in the raid cycle for the sake of others, but has little enthusiasm for the goal chasing as a source of satisfaction in itself.

I can empathise with that, a lot. I followed a similar path with Wrath myself, except I burned out much quicker then eventually came back for a while and was pretty much just pure RP and alt levelling. *cough* And then I burned out on RP drama queens and know-it-alls who know less than they think, but that's entirely beside the point. >_>

@Ren54

You're neither as smart nor as insightful as you think you are. Don't feel too bad, the clear majority of humanity shares that fault, as well as the lack of empathy for people you don't know well enough to consider truly real. Hope you can figure out how to grow past it someday. :)

Posted: Sep 21st 2011 3:00AM (Unverified) said

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@potaco Simple...because you're the only one at that point who *can*. I can relate *entirely* with the sentiment, as it's as true for a real job as it is for raiding--I know where I work, if I didn't show up and do my job, it'd end up in the hands of a bunch of screw-ups. :-/

Raiding, and especially it being the only option for end-game play in too many cases, is one of the primary reasons I'm not that fond of MMOs to begin with as compared to single-player games. I'm all for gaming with friends, but I can't stand being *forced* to play as part of an organized group (drop-in/drop-out setups like Public Quests and Rift's titular rifts not qualifying, as it's a choice to be in a group or not, and some of them can be soloed quite well) like that.

Kind of a shame, really--Dungeons/Lairs/Whatever the given game calls them tend to be some of the more interesting and creative designs in their respective games--from reading wikis and what little I can manage to get through at the doorstep...a shame they aren't set up to allow a soloist to recruit NPCs rather than be forced to team with other people to play it.

Posted: Sep 21st 2011 11:55AM Alex Oglitchkin said

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@Ceridith Since I game with my wife and she's one of the MTs. I'm usuually the top melee dps, and we got a healer friend. But ya if one of us isn't happy with a guild we leave and watch as the guild crumbles behind us. It's kind of sad how some guilds rely on 1 or 2 people so much that when they don't show you just don't raid and then people start to leave. Current guild in WoW went from 25man to 10man because of everyone going back to college which for me isn't an issue and 10man depresses me so chances are I'll end up making the 10man die.

Posted: Sep 21st 2011 3:15PM Haldurson said

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In EQ, I was in a top-tier raiding guild, and learned (over time) to hate it. We didn't start out that way -- we were a large group of friends at first, who enjoyed each others company. But a whole lot of people in the guild had high aspirations to turn the guild into something else. And that aspiration was really catchy. I even caught it myself for a year or two. I would mostly raid to be with friends, but after a while, you begin to live and die for that uber drop so that you become invaluable to your guild.

Joining a raiding guild changed me in ways that I did not like. So I became a casual player and never looked back.

The other aspect of raiding that I really didn't like was that, as a healing cleric who often would set up the healing rotations, if I didn't make it to a raid, that raid did not always happen. I would come home after having had to stay late at work, log on and find out that the raid didn't happen because of 'not enough healing'. That's way too much pressure for a game, at least for me.

Posted: Sep 21st 2011 4:38PM dndhatcher said

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Are large guilds evil? Being a guild leader or key officer of a large guild is also a huge time sink that often feels alot more like a babysitting, referee or event planning job than a game.

The author fails to grasp one key thing. Raids are designed that way not to cause people unhappiness. They are designed that way to keep you coming back month after month to retain your subscription fee. Raids are designed for greed, not for evil.

The rest is feelings (the feeling of obligation, the feeling of being needed). Any attempt to delegate responsibility for how you act to feelings caused by others is completely dis-empowering. If you believe people have free will and are not randomly programmed bio-computers then the vast bulk of the authors conclusions are invalid.

Posted: Sep 21st 2011 7:12PM Haldurson said

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@dndhatcher
Large guilds are not 'evil', but by necessity, they also are not very selective in their memberships. In a small guild, everyone tends to know everyone else so it can become almost like a family (whether that family is dysfunctional or not, depends on the people).

Larger guilds will have a lot less cohesion. You'll have your cliques, your really vocal people, your really quiet people and so on. You sometimes can have guilds within your guilds, people who group with each other but not with the rest of the guild. This is especially common among the top-tier of that guild (the so-called 'stars'). If you are not one of the stars, you can get lost in the shuffle. Which gives further incentive for others to become stars as well.

In any case, there is the law of unforeseen consequences, and while yes, the guild system is NOT SPECIFICALLY designed to make people miserable, it actually often does do that, at least for the big raiding guilds. My personal solution to that is to stay out of those kinds of guilds, though you may not always realize that you are in one of those guilds, because they don't generally start out that way.
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Posted: Sep 21st 2011 11:51PM Aetrix said

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Though I may not have reached the extremes that you did, I definitely hear where you are coming from. When I finally gave up raiding for good, it wasn't because I disliked raiding. It was because I didn't want to feel OBLIGATED to raid anymore. Excellent article!

Posted: Sep 22nd 2011 10:47AM (Unverified) said

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This raiding experience, while perhaps common, is not universal.

Any game is what you make of it; if this was your experience, then unfortunately the choices *you* made are what left it wholly unsatisfying for you.

Posted: Sep 22nd 2011 1:09PM mysecretid said

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A number of people seem to be having trouble interpreting this article.

They complain that Eliot is saying "Raiding is bad", when what Eliot is actually saying is:

"There's an insidious psychology to how raiding is provided and structured in certain games which can sneak up on you, and affect your behavior for the worse, if you're not aware of it"

If you're going to complain at the author, it helps your case if you complain about what he actually said.

Good article, Eliot. Thanks!

Posted: Sep 24th 2011 12:52PM jynxycat said

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If your attendance each night is based on guilt of not showing and causing the guild to falter, maybe you're in too hardcore of a guild.

This isn't a fault of the game, it's a fault of the community. Many guilds field players who are on 100% of the time, 4 days a week. If people don't show, they can find others who will. If this isn't appealing to you, then don't sign up for that.

Plenty of guilds do 2 nights a week, for a few hours. A lot less of a commitment for most people. They are also probably a lot less casual on attendance, and progression. If people miss a day or two, more than likely no one will really complain. But that's what happens when the standards are lower, expect less results.



Put more time into ANY game, and you'll get more stuff. No newer MMO on the horizon will adapt a different approach, no matter how much the Devs promise.

Posted: Sep 24th 2011 6:17PM Marz said

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So now you're back in again, and you're doing this for the fortieth time this month alone, and you're watching people make the same mistakes, over and over, and then the boss finally dies and someone else wants that armor?
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unfortunately you see a lot of this in Games. If it wasn't for me you would all be fail and I want all the loot for myself. I agree people like this should not be raiding.

Posted: Sep 24th 2011 9:27PM (Unverified) said

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Great article. When I started playing WoW I considered raids (though back then I was still long way from end game), so when I finally reached level 60 I decided I won't raid. I thought it was simply crazy to be part of a group of 40 being reduced to an automaton that simply clicks one button (this was a story I heard from a friend who raided regularly and said all he had to do as a warlock was shadowbolt - that's it). I also got involved in a 20man of Zul'Gurub back then as well. It took 5 to 6 hours to complete (on a weekend thankfully). After that "brief" experience it only strengthened my resolve against raiding.
Now I'm glad I never got involved with raiding, as I've been at the brunt end of the attitude of raiders who have joined a random group. Again, it just cemented my thoughts on raiding, especially when I encountered so many arrogant douches who had little patience for people who may just be starting a dungeon for the first time (after reaching end level).
I've never understood why such integral story elements are put into raids where after the first run through, as the writer pointed out, people get bored of it and are just running through it for the next little item or whatever.
Where I would've liked some sort "story" version that allows EVERYONE access to the story in the raid. Then the people who enjoy self torture can move on to the actual raids. I know Bliz is kinda doing that with their next update, but it is too late for me as I have lost interest in WoW (mainly due to too many players that display atrocious attitudes towards players).

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