First I’d like to thank Ravious over at KTR for being an ass and posting a great review of The Guild Leaders Handbook. I’m also reading that book at the moment and more or less agree with what he has written, so writing my review of it is going to be very Alganon-like. Clear case of discrimination here as well, as the only reason Ravious read the book faster than me is due to my ESL disability, which he clearly exploited to further the KTR agenda and steal views and profits away from me. Damn blogger bullies picking on the weak!
But today’s main topic is actually inspired by said book, as while reading I noticed the familiar mention of why some people raid and why they get upset when those raids are made more ‘accessible’ to others. The author, and many before him, state that raiders raid in part so they can get items/power above anyone else, and this exclusivity is what drives them. As soon as the exclusivity is gone, they get upset.
I believe that’s not exactly true. While raiders certainly enjoy the spoils of raiding, and any serious guild is always striving to be at the top of a progression chart, most of them really don’t care what Joey Casual is up to, or what gear he is currently wearing. While raiding is a very social activity, that social interaction is limited to your guild, and perhaps the guilds you compete with. Everyone else is just ‘there’, and you could really care less what they are doing.
No, the reason a current raider hates to see raiding being made more ‘accessible’ is because to them, it means it’s going to be made trivial, and trivial raiding is boring. Solutions such as hard modes don’t work either, because too often hard mode is just a rehash of normal with a twist or two, and that’s a far cry from what the raiders were getting before. Same goes for a guild adding its own rules (no pots, only blue gear, turning XP off, whatever); if you are playing in a themepark and have to go that far to enjoy a ride, that’s not a well-designed themepark.
The motivation to raid is a complex formula rather than just one factor. It’s not about the epic gear, or about seeing a new boss, or about progressing a storyline, or the rush that comes with a world/server/guild first kill. It’s all of those things and more. So when you take away pieces of that formula, you weaken a raider’s motivation to progress. Without that motivation, all but the most dedicated guilds will fold or see activity decrease. And that motivation is key, because ask any raider, and they will tell you the highlight for them is always taking down that really tough boss the guild worked X weeks to get just right. Also notice that its on those type of encounters that players become very familiar with all of the bosses mechanics, and it’s only in those situations that those mechanics ‘matter’. Observe any raiding guild and you will see that pushover bosses, while nice loot piñatas, are always the most disappointing content. Notice that even if a boss has interesting mechanics, if they can be overcome by brute force and just smashed down, no one is entertained or amazed by said mechanics. Raiding, at its core, is about overcoming those seemingly impossible odds with others, and everyone sharing in that glory. When the odds are not only in your favor, but so far in your favor that failure seems almost impossible, you lose the really heart and soul of raiding.
I really believe that the core issue with WoW raids being made more ‘accessible’ over the years is not the challenge level itself, because certainly even 2004 WoW was easier than say EQ1 raiding, but that Blizzard continues to lower the bar year after year. If you started playing in 2004, but found 40 man raiding too difficult, BC and 25 man raiding might have made raiding accessible to you. Great for you, bad for those who found pre-BC raiding a proper challenge. Problem is, if you thought BC raiding was ‘just right’, WotLK making raiding even more ‘accessible’ means you are now in the same place those pre-BC raiders found themselves in a while back; playing through trivial content. Place your bets on what Cataclysm will do for those who find WotLK a challenge.