Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Social Differences in Raiding

The following occurred as I was talking with a friend about raiding and how there's a difficult balance between doing necessary content and content people want to do. It's a balance of needs, wants and social structure that's much different than just playing the game by yourself.
(1:41:43 AM) Paradox: It's a game. If you don't want to go on that raid, why not just not go?

(1:43:28 AM) Bellwether: it's kind of different once you're in a raiding guild

(1:44:10 AM) Bellwether: it's like being on a sports team. People depend on you. If you decide to just up and not come because, for one night, it doesn't benefit you, what incentive does the guild as a whole have to do things that do benefit you?

(1:44:27 AM) Bellwether: After all, you've just proven you're only in it for yourself, and the hell with the other people.

It's easier when you're just playing by yourself or with a few other people. It ends faster, and you have a lot more control over what you do, who you play with and how long you play. When you get into the more complicated area of guild play, however, there's much more to it than that.

In a twenty five man guild, twenty four (or more) other people depend on you to be there not just for yourself, but for the group as a whole. People want to be able to rely on you and trust you'll be there for them like they were for you. Show you're just there for that sweet trinket or weapon, and they'll be less inclined to give it to you. In fact, you're more liable to be replaced or phased out for someone new.

(1:44:53 AM) Paradox: There's a difference between "not going because there's no incentive for you" and "not going because it's not enjoyable for you."

(1:45:15 AM) Paradox: I'd be willing to go on a raid I didn't need just for kicks if that's what my friends were doing.

(1:45:48 AM) Paradox: I ran a few people I met in PUGs through low level instances for the hell of it on Duranon a few times.

(1:45:57 AM) Paradox: If you're bitching about it, you do not need to be there.

(1:46:46 AM) Bellwether: Like I said; it's different when you're in a raiding guild. And we have incentives that make people want to be valuable to us. Our most valuable players are the ones who do things for the good of everyone, even if maybe on that particular raid night we are not doing the bosses they like.

(1:47:16 AM) Bellwether: You cannot cater to the desires of 25+ people and have a functional raid.

Raiding guilds can get a lot of flak in this area for taking a game too seriously. If you aren't enjoying a game, you need to leave, stop playing, go do something else, right? Well, in a raiding guild, that's not always an option.

As mentioned previously, a guild wants to know you are valuable to them. The guild is already valuable to you; unless you can find another guild of similar or greater progression, you need the guild, as a working entity, to get to the content you want to see, to get the gear you want to wear, and to play the game where you've said you want to play.

Except on first boss kills (and sometimes not even then) you will probably never find a raid group of 25 people who are completely chill and totally happy about what's happening. The main goal is to maximize the enjoyment of the most raiders possible; when the amount not enjoying it exceeds the amount enjoying it, it is time to switch. If only one or two are upset...well, it is tough luck for them.

Sounds pretty mercenary, doesn't it? Mercenary, maybe, but necessary.

(1:47:43 AM) Paradox: Mmm. Sounds to me like raiding guilds just aren't where I wanna be.

(1:47:56 AM) Bellwether: It isn't for everyone.

(1:48:04 AM) Paradox: I'd like to do raids when I get back in, but the idea of being obligated to play a game just boggles my mind a bit.

(1:48:45 AM) Paradox: When you get to the point that you're complaining about what you're doing in the game beyond an occasional bitch about this or that minor thing, it's time to reevaluate things I think.

(1:49:03 AM) Bellwether: You're not obligated. You do exactly how much you want to/feel the need to -- and the guild makes a decision on whether or not you're the kind of person they want around.

(1:49:17 AM) Paradox: //shrug

(1:50:09 AM) Bellwether: There's no forcing. There are incentives, such as "if you prove you're unreliable, we will replace you." or "we can't trust you to show up when we need you so there isn't a real incentive for us to want to give you gear over the person who is always here when we need them."

(1:50:38 AM) Bellwether: Raiding doesn't work without synergy and people moving together towards a goal.

(1:50:57 AM) Bellwether: Sometimes, to get to the things you really want, you have to kill the boss you hate.

You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you might find
You get what you need.

(1:51:33 AM) Paradox: Mmm. When/if I get back into it, I might give it a try. I do want to check out more endgame content.

(1:51:40 AM) Bellwether: You can pug a lot of it.

(1:51:50 AM) Bellwether: But you won't get as far as a real, organized guild.

(1:52:26 AM) Bellwether: (with good players; there are "real, organized" guilds who do not get as far as pugs because their player base is lacking)

(1:53:21 AM) Bellwether: Raiding guilds aren't for everyone, by any means. But if you want to try one, understanding the social difference is important.

WoW has admittedly gotten easier. But some things do not change, and that is the fact that to get as far as possible, as soon as possible, you need a dedicated, working group of good players who know how to play and who work together. And this means that, sometimes, you have to sacrifice what you want to do and get done what others need.

In a perfect world, everyone would love all the content, would love all the encounters, the trash, the grind. But that's never going to happen, so you have to seek the proper balance in your raiding. If it eventually turns out that the cons out weigh the pros, then raiding is not for you.


Kayeri said...

Oh, man, does that ring true... my soon-to-be former guild, I was forced to raid every time every week, and boy did I catch hell if I tried to take a night off... The soon-to-be current guild has enough healers I should be able to do that, and what a relief it will be... :)

I do love raiding, but not ALL the time... :)

Mia said...

wow...(Being one of the guild leaders in my raiding guild) This post was really helpful to me. Thank you.

Darthregis said...

I understand your points, where you can't necessarily take a night off from raiding because you want to be perceived as reliable. Being reliable gets you into those raids on nights you feel like going. Having a good team working together can make some good things happen.

But you say:
"If you aren't enjoying a game, you need to leave, stop playing, go do something else, right? Well, in a raiding guild, that's not always an option."

I disagree - it is an option.

Everything in life is an option. It's just a matter of what repecussions you are willing to deal with. If you are inconsitent with raids, you don't end up going to later raids. Just like a job; if you don't show up for work whenever you feel like it, you'll likely get fired.

So, I wouldn't say, "What choice do I have?"
I would say, "It's worth it to me to suck it up some nights because I'd rather not miss out."

But that's just my take on it. I'm in a casual guild make up of R/L friends, so if I've got non-WoW stuff to do, they understand. But I also haven't seen past Marrowgar. And I'm okay with that. :)

QJ said...

As someone who's been on either side of the fence, I will say that priorities has a lot to do with how I play the game right now. I play the drums in 2 bands and am helping out with a 3rd project as well. That means I just don't have the time right now to play. If I can snag a PUG run here and there and gear through heroics, great, but if not, making it to band practice is much more important.

Thusly, while I would love to raid, it's really not in my list of priorities. I think in so many words, the person you were talking to was saying the same thing - he feels like being obligated to a raid isn't a priority for him.

As someone who used to raid 5-7 days a week, I understand your need be a benefit to a guild's raid by being reliable and on time every time, but I don't identify with it right now. I identify more with the idea of "Why spend this time online when I have band practice to be at?"

Bell said...

@Kayeri - it's not bad to take nights off here and there. This is more about your reasons behind it.

@Mia - glad to help :)

@Darthregis - the choice is there, certainly, but it's a bit different. Without an actual raiding guild, there aren't really repercussions for just stopping. If you want to raid, there are a lot more things to weigh, as I went into later. You have to decide if this is what you want, and if it is, there's more strings attached than just "I'm not having fun."

@QJ - that's definitely part of it. If I didn't live somewhere where there's nothing going on and I actually had money to do things, I might not be as inclined to raid. As it is, WoW is a cheap sort of entertainment when all I have otherwise is schoolwork and drinking, and I don't drink!

Ron said...

It seems like the other person is trying to, without completely saying it, raid whenever he feels like it, and only when he feels like it.

It all comes down to balancing what you want/need versus what the guild wants/needs. If you want that kind of freedom, then find a guild thats ok with it, or something close to it. With that (usually) that means that raids will be much more unreliable/infrequent. Thats just the tradeoff.

For me, I would love to raid again. Unfortunately I can only play on Friday nights for 3-4 hours, and then at random times on Saturday and Sunday. I haven't found a guild on my server that is a fit for me, so I do other things (level an alt, do 5-mans, etc).

Kurn said...

Can I have your babies? I've often likened being part of a raiding guild as being part of a sports team, but without the understanding of the dedication and commitment one pours into it. After all, it's all "virtual", so none of this stuff really MATTERS, right? /eyeroll.

I think that I've been complaining about various aspects of raiding, from the morons who stand in bad stuff to the lack of reliable players showing up consistently, from the content being too hard to the content being too easy and everything in between, since I began raiding. Which was in, like, 2006? And yet, I continue to do it because the guilds I've been in really do depend on me. I had pressing RL stuff last Thursday night and my current guild spend 3 hours wiping on Sindragosa. That doesn't make me feel good. (That we got her in 3 attempts on Sunday, with me in the raid, does, on the other hand.)

The fact remains that there will always be something that people don't like about raiding, but there will always be something people do like. Whether it's the best loot or the feeling of satisfaction in clearing content vs. wiping and repair bills and consumables, there will always be reasons to continue and reasons to quit. And they're different for everyone.

Our most valuable players are the ones who do things for the good of everyone, even if maybe on that particular raid night we are not doing the bosses they like.

I particularly agree with that line. Sure, I couldn't stand Leotheras the Blind in SSC, but I did my job. I hated A'lar and... okay, most of TK, but I still showed up and led the raids. Why? To get my people through the content and that led to the vast majority of my raiders getting Hand of A'dal. For me, the eventual reward (being the title, the knowledge that my ragtag band of raiders cleared T5 content) was worth the wipes and frustration and cancelled raids. And I complained about it the ENTIRE time, too. Haha. :)

Great post!

Russell Andes said...

You actually can have your cake and eat it too in some circumstances. On Silver Hand-US, we have an organization called Leftovers. It's a "Community Raiding" group, which means it's a bunch of people from different guilds, different levels of gear, etc., who don't necessarily want to--or can't--commit to a full-time raiding guild.


People form "charters" to run different raids at various times throughout the week. These runs are posted on a centralized calendar, and anyone can sign up for any charter's run--you don't have to be a member of the guild or group organizing the charter. Each charter has discretion on how they choose people to slot for a run (they might give preference to people in a particular guild or people with superior gear or they might be focused on helping noobs), but I've never found it difficult to get into something on a night that I have free.

If you want a progression group we've got those. If you want a casual raiding group, we've got those. If you want to play some old world content or gear up an alt in Naxx, we've got groups running those, too.

It may sound like organized pugging, and that's sorta what it is, but it's a step above that because the charters communicate. Is someone signing up for runs and not showing up? They're not gonna get slotted anymore. Is someone doing 500 dps in full ToC gear? They're not gonna get slotted.

As a whole we're not on the cutting edge of content, no. There's one charter that's downed the Lich King, and a few have downed Sindragosa, but most are somewhere in the middle of Icecrown. But overall you get a higher quality of raider when you know that you're going to be held accountable for how well you perform.

You don't have to sign up every week, but if you DO sign up, you're expected to come and bring your A game. If you don't, you probably won't be invited back.

(Some charters are more hardcore and serious about it, but others are more relaxed. Generally, if you want to find a group to do something, there's a charter that matches what you want.)

I didn't actually mean this as an advertisement, but more just as an example that it is possible for your friend to raid when they want, play the game as a game for the fun of it, and still see progress. It just requires thinking outside the traditional guild box a bit.

(Disclaimer: I have no official connection with Leftovers except as a raider. I just discovered it one day by accident and was amazed that there was an organization that let me play the game how I wanted to play it without actually requiring me to give up all other life to do so.)

Nightwhisp said...

It really is a paradox. We each have to decided how to balance our level of raiding commitment with our need for the real world and other wow activities. I've had to make my own decisions, in spite of being invited to join three of our servers best raiding guilds, I have chosen to remain in my guild. I love my guildies and realize that only two of us are raid capable, and the other is afraid of vent. . .don't ask I don't get it either. . . and mediocre on gear score. Even with me constantly training and offering my time to help the others, they just aren't willing to make the commitment to raiding. I do however love them and will remain with them. My largest raiding frustration is that I regularly raid with semi-pugs. Semi-pugs are guilds that have to recruit various players to fill key raiding roles. There are three of these that often contact me to run with them. I love the runs, particularly with one of them that has a awesome leader. The problem is that they are basically irresponsible. Two weeks in a row I have received a calendar invite to resume Icc10 on Monday evening, after a successful start on Friday night. Both of them I confirmed, along with most of the group. Both weeks I have been "stood up." Last night the raid leader who sent out the invite never even logged in. If someone pulled this crap in RL they would not be in my world. But due to my decision to basically be a PUG raider, I need to suck it up and realize that most continuations will never happen. One friend said, "I've stopped accepting continuations because they never happen," what a dumbass way to do things, if you are going to commit to something, show up and do it. I could avoid this by joining a raid guild, but I would have to sever friendships that have been build over at least a year of being in a guild together, and I am just not prepared to do that.

Nightwhisp said...

Oh how I wish that my server had this. . .

Analogue said...

I feel like I'm in a perfect situation for my interest/commitment level: in a "friends" role in a very good raiding guild. I can usually swing a pug every week if I have time made up mostly of the raider's third alts, I get to go on 10 man which is my preferred difficulty, and if it doesn't happen, it doesn't matter. Feel very lucky to be where I am even if that does make me a scrub. At least I'm no longer in a fail guild that needs ME to be the epic one if they want to get anything done (months behind). Sorry, I have one kid, I don't need 8 or 12 more.

Hana said...

GDKP raids are an option as well. My feral druid has seen 7/12 ICC without being part of a raid guild or having a regular raid schedule. It does take a decent amount of gold to get in one, but if it's well run you can see a lot in one night and there's no attendance requirement.

Imalinata said...

So true!

We don't expect 100% attendance from our guild members, but the officer core has the rare occasion when we're able to sit out.

Sure there are days when some of us are not physically available, and that's not a big deal because everyone knows in advance. But on the days that we're physically there, but not mentally in it (sick, pissed off, whatever) we still log in to make sure that the raid can go without us.

Unfortunately that means that if some of my other healers don't show up, I'm stuck raiding even when I really shouldn't be because I feel bad that if I choose to no-show that the other 24 people couldn't raid.

lissanna said...

There are varying levels of commitment to raiding:
A) PUG - Benefits: Totally flexible. Drawback: less consistent progress.

B) Raiding Optional guild - benefits: Mostly flexible. Drawback: Less consistent progress, since it tends to be more PUG-like, and raids likely to be canceled if not enough show.

C) Casual-friendly guild - Benefits: can sometimes take nights off because they understand that things pop up. Usually more consistent & good progress.
Drawback: May cancel raids fairly often if too many people take off the same night. You still may feel guilty if they cancel on a night you couldn't make, so you still may feel obligated to show.

D) no-lives-allowed guild - Benefits: Good progress, consistent people each raid. Drawbacks: Get in trouble when RL crops up and you have to cancel a raid (may lose points, lose standings, likely to be permanently replaced if you miss too many raids).

Bell said...

@lissanna - I think you're missing a step there. My guild is not "no lives allowed;" what my friend and I were discussing was more attitude and reasons for not showing up. For example, we have four people this week who cannot make it to the raid for real life reasons, and we don't have any problem with it. What I do have a problem with is people who hold themselves hostage unless we do what they want all the time. It's all about reason and attitude. We're not going to re-evaluate someone unless RL makes them a consistent no-show; not if they have to miss a week or night here and there.

Darsonsind said...

it is a wonderful article. i would love to share with my guildmate.


Anonymous said...

This got me thinking. Or rather, this got me thinking that I need to do something about my thinking. I can't not log into the game because I don't want to face the people there, I need to face the music and say that this is not for me anymore. If it means I can't be in the guild, that will hurt - but I don't want to avoid the game, I just want to play it like I want to play it.

Thanks Bell, just what I needed.

A. Wessel said...

I think there is an option in between C and D. I run a 10 man raiding guild that is progressing nicely (10 of 12 in ICC). We only raid 2 nights a week and there aren't any formal attendence requirements. We haven't had to cancel a raid in several months, even when 4 or 5 of our core raiders have been out.

We're able to do this by keeping a roster of 14-16 dedicated raiders. We actually have worked out a system to rotate raiders in and out on each boss so that nobody is sitting for the entire night. Even though we only raid for 3.5 hours a night and rotate people in we're able to down 7-8 of our farm bosses on our first raid night of the week. Our raiders realize they will have to sit on some bosses but with that there is also a lot of flexibility with attendence. If something in RL comes up they know they don't need to feel bad for missing a raid.

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