Should we be LESS helpful?

| Wednesday, July 29, 2009
By 'we' I am not at all referring to myself and probably not you either. In fact 'we' was probably a terrible choice. 'They' might have worked better. Helpful refers to giving useful information: DPS rotations, boss kill strats, gear suggestions. Obviously this doesn't refer to anything I do since I am absolutely useless and the blogs I link tend to be useless as well, especially those times I linked Gevlon (though it should be noted that he is useless in a much different way than Larisa or her bartender, they are a delightful sort of useless). Now that I have this useless explanation of my title, which if it needs this much explaining must be useless, let's get on to the useless part of the post: the rest of it.

Tankspot makes some nice videos. They've been a lot of help for me the few times I watch them, showing what a fight looks like before actually doing it. Less useful are the written guides which tend to make no sense to me. I recall having some very strange visions of fights which I'd heard about but not actually seen; it was quite a shock to actually see them (usually an underwhelming sort of shock, if that is possible).

Maybe they should stop. How much fun is lost when you walk into a fight generally knowing what to do? When that happens you're not learning, you're just reducing failure rates. That strikes me as incredibly discouraging, to know from the start that anything that goes wrong is due to your failure rather than your opportunity to learn or develop a strategy. I can't remember the last time I thought out a strategy or even better, walked into a fight totally ignorant to learn as we went along.

Perhaps this is some of what appeals to me in the old world content, or at least used to. There are known strats for it, but they're made for 40 people and certain class mixes. There were no strats for Razonrgore with 10 people; it would be impossible to kite and can you imagine a tank trying to get aggro on that many mobs? At 70 they still could hurt enough that we couldn't just let them run freely. I figured out that the way to convince a mob 60 yards away to run to me is to stand next to a healer who was spamming Razorgore or the DPS fighting casters. That would send them running in our direction and then consecrate would pick them up. Tanking 40 or so mobs was fun. Fear not, this is not useful information as it is for 70; at 80 the fight is entirely trivial.

Would anyone want this though? Would you want to walk into a fight with no clue what to do and with no one else knowing any more? Sadly, I don't think most guilds would want to spend the time it takes to figure out some of the complex fights. They'd find the strats somehow. Or fights would have to be greatly simplified, but that carries the risk of there being nothing to learn or discover.

Maybe I should blame my mom. I was trying to explain in BoomBlox on the Wii how there are sometimes extra objects with no relevance to completing the puzzle, mostly for appearances, partly to trick you. Her response "well I don't like that." I guess it's a deep split with approaches to gaming: Is figuring out the game part of a fun challenge or just an obstacle to your fun? Obviously there are extremes; but in general I think I'm middle slightly towards the figuring out side while my mother, and I suspect many of the raid-strat-looker-uppers are on the obstacle side.


Hana said...

I'm a little disappointed with the shift from written strats to video strats, but I just view them as guide. You don't have to stick with them.

Sometimes my guild doesn't.

I remember back in TBC and Zul'Aman came out, we were having trouble on Jan'alai, the dragonhawk boss and the written strats just weren't working for us.

So we made our own. I've never seen anyone else write or use a similar strat with a tank actually moving Jan'alai out of his central area to keep him away from the rest of the raid while everyone else killed dragonhawk adds, but we did it, and it worked.

Stabs said...

The difficulty in a raid setting is that if one chooses to be the guy who approaches the fight blind you mess up and everyone gets killed.

There are raid guilds that don't check strats and approach fights without prior homework. And of course the bleeding edge has to work things out unhelped.

But most of us are in contexts where wiping the raid 7 times on Anub'Rekan because you're testing out different ways to get around Locust Swarm is unacceptable to most of the rest of the raid.

Kiryn said...

I don't tend to enjoy wiping repeatedly, learning a fight has never been a fun part of it for me. I'd rather read whatever I can so that I know what to expect, and hence minimize any wipes that might be due to my inexperience.

But then, I've rather given up on raiding these days. The only thing more frustrating for me than wiping due to my own mistakes is doing my own job perfectly and wiping due to someone else's mistakes.

MLW said...

It's a problem because it's incredibly stressful to get 25 people together and accomplish nothing, especially if the only reason you all are together is to raid.

I think that the game isn't forgiving enough to permit a group-friendly learning process at softcore levels. And as "Competitive PvE" has become more dominant, it's also more likely that you won't get to play if you don't already know what to do.

DeftyJames said...

"And as "Competitive PvE" has become more dominant,"

And that, dear friends, is the real source of the problem. Blizzard has allowed raiding to become a sort of glorified group PvP with guilds competing with each other for server first and such rot. That was never the way it was intended. It was intended to be more of a plot device like the phasing you see now in Icecrown.

I actually think they are trying to address this issue by discouraging 2v2 arenas and putting more emphasis on BG. This is also why they have backtracked on the whole how easy should gear get to be issue.

End game raiding was never intended to be a form of Guild Wars and that is what it has become. Given what has happened, I don't think it will ever go away but I think Blizzard will continue to take steps to discourage it.

jeffo said...

"Blizzard has allowed raiding to become a sort of glorified group PvP with guilds competing with each other for server first and such rot."

The 'guilds competing ... for server firsts' is not Blizzards fault -- that's just the nature of people to make a competition out of everything. The achievement system has maybe made things worse, but there were always world and realm firsts, etc. being competed for, as far as I know.

Fish said...

Seeing and doing are completely different skill sets, and I believe feel and instinct have to be learned firsthand and not through videos. I read and watched everything I could get my hands on before our first raid, and it didn't help much. I think having the resources out there helps, but if it was that big a benefit, everyone would be one-shotting everything. . .

Dwism said...

An interesting note on this is that no guild enters a room with a boss without knowing something. The cutting edge guilds have a list of abilities and try and work out a strat based on that.

And "realm first" achievements wouldnt exist if Blizz didnt want to encourage competition, defty, so I think your logic is flawed here.

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