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The Real Challenge of Raiding

November 6, 2012

Dear Reader,

So, I hit 90.  That moment was met with a mixed feeling.  The first, of course, was joy.  I made it!  Of course, it wasn’t that much of a challenge; I took my time, wasn’t rushing, and simply enjoyed the ride.  That in and of itself is a cause for joy, too.  I can check out scenarios!  Explore the factions!  FLY!

Then again, there was some negativity about it, too.  No one in my guild congratulated me.  That shouldn’t necessarily be an issue, depending on your guild, but I always congratulate people, and there were plenty of people on.  That spoke volumes to me about my place, really, though I heartily acknowledge I may simply be reading too much into it.  Additionally, the excuse to play – to get to 90 – no longer holds up.  I’m not going to fall into the “11 x 90″ trap that I did before.  I will probably get 2 characters to 90, and maybe a third horde character.  Still, I’m not only in no rush (an acceptable double negative), but I’m actively avoiding grinding through those same zones again.

So I had to start asking the hard question: what is my goal for this expansion?  Did I just want to get to 90?  Do I want to try to get into raiding again?  Terrifyingly, I think I do.  Despite the gargantuan amount of pre-raid nonsense this expansion apparently expects (or so I’ve heard from others), I think I might be interested.  That’s when it hit me, though: the real challenge of raiding, at least for me.  It’s not hard for me to raid, prep for a raid, grind dailies; it’s hard for me to find a group of people I want to raid with.  Without that, I don’t have an incentive to do all those boring things.

Anyone who’s been around here a while knows my trials at finding a guild to fit in to.  Like shooting the albatross, it seems that after I left my “best” raid guild for loyalty reasons, I have been cursed to wander the barren seas of crappy guilds.  Hell, I’ve tried on four servers to find a place to no avail.  Of course, this has frustrated me to the point of simply giving up and settling into the guild I currently occupy, a place where no one even bothers to congratulate my wife or I on 90.

What, then?  It’s crossed my mind to just try to make a guild from the ground up.  Find a server with only a small number of strong raid organizations and begin my own for people who want to raid seriously but are professional adults who can’t commit 40 hours per week to raid prep or raiding.  Still, I don’t think I have that amount of hard work in me anymore.  I could keep searching, too, but each failure chips away the little veneer of happiness I have with the game.  It’s simply really: The game is supposed to be about the challenges in the mechanics, but instead, it’s the challenge of socialization.

I’m good at socializing, but I don’t like it.  It’s hard for me to be peppy and happy and shallow and talk about nothing.  I can go to one of my wife’s professional parties and get along, be friendly, and leave with a lot of the room having enjoyed my company, but it exhausts me.  I’m just not built for that.  Finding guilds, talking to the leaders about their vision, joining, seeing what’s going on without the officer’s sales pitch or varnish, trying to become a part of the closed raiding cliques – it’s a lot of effort, and frankly I’m doing it for two: my wife and I.  It’s a lot of hassle, and I just don’t know if I’m up for it.

But that means not raiding, of course, not doing what I kind of want to do.

It’s not dealing with the dailies, the farming, or the routine that’s preventing me from wanting to continue.  It’s dealing with the people.

And this may be why we’re starting to see a migration back to single player games; like reality television, MMOs made a lot of money and were replicated to death, but now people are getting back to what they really like.  But that’s certainly a topic for another day.

Sincerely,

Stubborn (and vaguely misanthropic)

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. November 6, 2012 5:28 am

    It’s rather… funny this post comes so hot on the heels of your post about leadership and frustration. ;)
    It’s simply really: The game is supposed to be about the challenges in the mechanics, but instead, it’s the challenge of socialization.
    I disagree, and this is where the modern MMO landscape has missed the boat in a big way. From inception, MMOs *were never* about the game! The game was always just a backdrop to social interaction. A lovely, intricate backdrop at times, sure.
    In fact, Bartle has explicitly stated his reasons for creating MUD were to escape social norms and preconceptions formed around his accent- thus able to interact freely with others. The game was a tool, not the goal.

    • November 6, 2012 9:30 am

      It’s not funny or coincidental at all; this topic came to me while I was writing that one, as it’s my grave fear that the reason I can’t find a decent place to rest my feet is because of that particular problem. The two thoughts are very intertwined, but I can’t be 100% whether it’s self-sabotage or just self-doubt.

      I won’t argue with Bartle about what Bartle had in mind, but Bartle didn’t design MMOs, he designed MUDs, which were a very different landscape in the same way that text adventures are the same as Braid. They share similar goal – story completion and puzzle solving – but they’re hardly the same. MMOs and MUDs share a similar link, I think, so comparing what one designer had in mind with an ancestor of another genre doesn’t seem like a good argument. MMOs clearly have a ton of game play elements, and while some of them I agree are completely about enabling socialization, others are about the game play at the cost of socialization, like elite hardcore raiding.

      You may remember the collectivism and individualism series from a few months ago; I argued on the same side you’re arguing now about MMOs encouraging collective action, but it was a very popular opinion here that MMOs were designed in spite of collectivism, and that any social organizations that rose up were in spite of the game, not because of it. I don’t agree with that, but I want to point out the spectrum on this “what MMOs are for” argument. I think I’m somewhere closer to the middle of those two ends.

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. November 6, 2012 6:27 am

    I’ve always thought this was the biggest challenge in MMOs, finding a compatible guild. And raiding makes it harder because they also need to have a compatible raid schedule, have space for your class/spec, and have a roughly similar attitude towards progression. I love my guild but they raid two nights a week and one of those nights clashes with a RL group of friends I go out with, and they prefer to take people on the progression raids who know the raids better (ie. who don’t miss half of them). Maybe if I’m good I’ll be allowed to raid with the alts ;P

    So why Blizzard et al don’t really focus their efforts on making good guild-finding/recruiting tools I don’t know.

    • November 6, 2012 9:37 am

      I think I was very lucky early on to find places – my first three guilds were at least decent, and two of them were very good – and it spoiled me to the reality of what was out there. As a result, I’m having a much harder time adapting to new people who clearly aren’t the best fit but might fit at least a little.

      I’m wondering recently about the stringent link between guilds and raiding. I almost feel like there should be either two organizations which you can be a part of – social clubs and raid guilds – or just the opportunity to join multiple guilds. That way, bonds could form between people who often have the wall of GUILD MEMBERSHIP between them but who might honestly all work together really well in a raid. I have no doubt there’s people out there exactly like me who are stuck but want to raid, but finding them has been quite a challenge.

      Thanks for the comment!

  3. November 6, 2012 8:10 am

    I feel for your plight, but at the same time it’s strangely funny to me how the sentiment this post expresses is pretty much the polar opposite of what I was told by a friend not long ago, who is around your age I think, and married too. I was talking to him about changing guilds in TOR and how I was worried about finding a good fit, and he basically told me not to worry, because as someone who had been in quite a few guilds himself, he knew that there were nice people everywhere and you could pretty much “get along reasonably well” and have a good time pretty much in any guild you chose.

    When I did actually change guilds, I simply applied to one where I knew a couple of members as friendly, without even researching their raid schedule… and so far it’s working out well. I wonder how much of the difficulty of finding a good guild simply comes from our own preconception that it must be difficult.

    • November 6, 2012 9:42 am

      That’s certainly a possibility, but to be fair I don’t have much of a problem getting along reasonably well, but I can’t seem to find a guild where I get to raid in a fashion similar to my expectations AND get along reasonably well. I find guilds with similar raid feelings, but they seem to be filled with long-formed cliques with little social maneuverability or guilds with a lot of nice people who can’t raid worth a damn. Going back again to Windsoar’s point from a month or so ago: everyone who raids more is a no-lifer and everyone who raids less is a moron. It’s not that I actually feel that way, as I’m quite malleable in my raid schedule, but I just can’t seem to thread that needle between those two worlds.

      The obvious solution is simply to form my own guild and set its culture, but my god that seems like it may break me, and if it doesn’t work, I have no doubt that such a failure would end WoW for me for the last time. I’m not sure i want to gamble on that.

      Probably I’m just too choosy.

      Thanks for the comment!

  4. November 6, 2012 10:48 am

    Nice summary of why I haven’t raided (in a guild) since Vanilla. I’ve found that if I’m in a guild I’m either going to be massively frustrated or take over. The first isn’t fun and I’m paid to do project management so I’m not doing it as a hobby. And this doesn’t even consider the time issues and having to live to the guild schedule. Now it’s just small friends and family guilds where I can accept that I’m the only one interested in tanking, healing, or reading the EJ forums..

    This is also why so many of us are bitterly disappointed in D3. If it was designed to be the successor to D2, and not a test of alternative profit centers, it would have provided the single player challenge with the option to group and face things with friends. No raiding, no guild drama, just some friends or strangers fighting the good fight. Lacking this I’m creating my own challenge in WoW by soloing old raids. Nor really the solution I want, and why I at least try just about every new game, but it is what it is.

    At least my travel schedule has stilled and I can restart a pen & paper RPG.

    • November 8, 2012 4:43 pm

      Yes, from the responses I’ve gotten it seems pretty common that frustrated raiders who can’t raid as often as they might are running into this problem more and more. The work it would take to start a guild is simply too much, but the frustration of either staying in a mediocre one or searching for a better one is simply too daunting. At least we can find some refuge in a PnP RPG – if you can get a reliable group! Still, fewer people makes it more likely to work out. My Vamp group’s about a year old now, I’m just now realizing. I should throw a party!
      Thanks for the comment!

  5. Ralthrus permalink
    November 6, 2012 11:48 am

    I feel exactly the same, it’s the social interaction required in a guild that is so exhausting.

    That, paired with the fact that there is no viable single player option to raid; Not if you want to be competetive.

    Jeez.

    Make a guild, and I’m in!

    • November 8, 2012 4:44 pm

      Yes, the difficulty of a raid boss is basically never replicated in a single-player situation in WoW. That’s one thing I Liked about The Secret World; some of the “solo” (or small group) content was very raid-like, with complex mechanics and fights that had a decent duration. Some people complained about that – the speed of combat, but I liked it, in the end.

      Thanks for the comment!

  6. November 6, 2012 4:14 pm

    You should come raid once a week with me ;)

    • November 8, 2012 4:45 pm

      (: I appreciate the offer, but for now I just need to get my head straight and finalize what I want to do with WoW, though right now Mark of the Ninja’s preventing me from having to work it out. More on that later!

  7. November 12, 2012 5:21 pm

    I’m feeling much the same way right now. My husband and I moved our mains out of a long time guild of friends, because we felt we needed to raid more regularly to be challenged in the game. The new “raiding” guild we joined feels rather cold and impersonal. It turns out that to be fully satisfied I need both regular raiding and friends all rolled into one. It seems like an impossible task without either server transferring or spending a lot of time and effort recruiting.

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