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The Inevitable Schism

August 16, 2013

Dear Reader,

I’ve been having a lot of great discussions with my fellow raiders recently.  One of them, Quori, is another blogger that I’ve linked here for a while, and he has a great ability to get people into discussions, to get them thinking and talking about the game.  It’s been my privilege to listen in and, occasionally (yeah right) chime in on the topics at hand.

In one of our recent discussions, the perennial debate about the differences between hardcore and casual surfaced.  We’d been continuing a discussion on what made our guild our guild, how our raiding was different, and where we fit on the spectrum.  This was all in context with the 5.4 changes and a discussion about how group A whines about change X while group B whines about change Y etc etc etc.

Someone mentioned that Blizzard was trying to make a game that appealed to the largest number of people possible (and cited the hardcore raiding population at 20% – a VAST over-calculation, but I’m not about to overtly contradict someone in my new guild), and it struck me clearly why precisely the Blizz devs will never be able to please everyone simultaneously.

We all have heard, of course, that you can please some people all the time and all the people some of the time, but not all the people all the time.  To be honest, I’m a little doubtful even of the second part in general, but I can pretty definitively say that with WoW, you’ll never please all the people, simply because of the players’ feelings about two mutually exclusive desires.  Every player either wants accessibility or exclusivity, and never the twain shall meet.

Those two polar opposites exist on an axis, sure, and people can exist towards the middle of the axis, but in the end, every player will prefer one of the following two options:

A game where everyone can participate in all activities
or
A game where merit earns you special opportunities

Sure, we can have deeper conversations and talk about points at which one opposite might be more important than the other, but in each player’s heart, one eventually trumps the other, and those feelings are what drives the whinefests associated with game changes.

There’s a similar dichotomy in Dungeons & Dragons regarding paladin players.  Traditionally, they must be Lawful Good, meaning they follow a clear code of behavior which includes respect for just law as well as does the morally right thing.  Mean DMs (all of them) invariably put the paladin in a position to decide whether, in the end, he’s more lawful or more good.  In the end, they have to discover, because while law and good overlap in some areas, they are not the same.  Exclusivity and accessibility don’t overlap much at all, so it’s even easier to find the eventual but inevitable schism between the two, and when those exist in the same raiding guild, it can lead to a real problem.

In other news, I downed my first Megaera.  We struggled with it for hours, and we always lost a person (in a 10 man raid) in the 6th to 7th head transfer or earlier.  Virtually all of my deaths were due to cinders being dispelled a second or two late.  I stayed back most of the time anyway, and I have ghost wolf + my shamanistic rage, so I was in place with a defensive cooldown popped, and I still died.  When the RL finally asked what was going on, I let him know – not to call people out or blame healers, because I’ve been there and know how chaotic it is – and he told us to start calling out our dispels as soon as we were ready (which for me was basically instantly).  We downed the boss on the next attempt.

After that I got to see Big Bird for my first time and was assigned to nests, something I was vaguely aware of from the LFR, but knew nothing about.  After an explanation and some questions on my part, we gave it a shot, and the other dps and I – who didn’t need a healer thanks to our own healing – blew the nests up perfectly.  Unfortunately, the dps on the platform part wasn’t enough, and the bird hit his downy-soft enrage timer.  The second attempt, I bungled getting the dps buff out of the air and we wiped almost immediately.  That was it for the night, too, so I felt a little sheepish about causing the wipe, since that’s my biggest worry – being an inconvenience.

So it was an exciting night with some new progression for me and the promise of likely progression next time (as I assume I can do the nests correctly from here out).

Sincerely,

Stubborn (and more for accessibility)

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. August 16, 2013 12:50 pm

    “Unfortunately, the dps on the platform part wasn’t enough, and the bird hit his downy-soft enrage timer.”

    Er, what enrage timer? I didn’t even think the boss had one. Are you talking about her activating nest #9 and nest #10 at the same time? If so, you just need to send one group to each – you can easily go to nest #13 or beyond.

    • August 16, 2013 1:09 pm

      Keep in mind that I’ve exactly 2 pulls on the boss, and only 1 where I ever got back to the main platform, but I thought I overheard in Mumble someone say something about a soft enrage when the boss starts dealing double damage or the like. We only do 9 nests and then burn the boss, so I didn’t even know there were nests 10-13, etc.
      Thanks for the comment!

    • August 16, 2013 1:31 pm

      “I thought I overheard in Mumble someone say something about a soft enrage when the boss starts dealing double damage or the like. We only do 9 nests and then burn the boss, so I didn’t even know there were nests 10-13, etc.”

      Interesting. What happens is that nest #9 and nest #10 activate at the same time so you need two groups to cover them. The simplest way to handle it is to have 2-3 people assigned to handle nest #8 and #10 specifically – they drop down for #8 and then fly up for #10. You and anyone else in your group can continue to handle every other nest (so you’d do #1-7, #9, # 11-12). You can go beyond #12 but I don’t recall offhand when the next double nest is – probably something like #15+. I know our first heroic kill went up to nest 14 before we burned the boss.

  2. August 16, 2013 12:59 pm

    Oh, and how are you defining this?

    “A game where everyone can participate in all activities

    or

    A game where merit earns you special opportunities”

    I mean, everyone CAN participate in all activities in WoW – so do you simply mean a game where everyone is CAPABLE of completing all activities? If so, what “special opportunities” exist in WoW outside of Algalon/Sinestra/Ra-Den?

    How do you mesh this idea with the fact that something like half of WoW’s playbase is not even max level? Do you consider leveling to be a merit that unlocks special opportunities like scenarios or something?

    I can’t shake the feeling that your presented dichotomy seems off to me but perhaps I’m just not sure what you mean.

    “and cited the hardcore raiding population at 20% – a VAST over-calculation, but I’m not about to overtly contradict someone in my new guild”

    Yeah, it’s something like 2-3% of the population are heroic raiders and 10-15% are normal raiders (which includes anyone who’s ever stepped foot into a normal raid).

    • August 16, 2013 1:16 pm

      No, not everyone can participate in all activities in WoW. For some, you need large groups, often found in the form of guilds, which can be exclusionary (and have a right to be in many cases with difficult content).

      Regardless of that point, though, my point was that WoW tries to skirt the line between those two and for the most part does a good job, giving “hidden” bosses to heroic mode raiders while also providing lots of opportunities for the non-elite. What I was getting at was not a criticism of wow, but that it was impossible to please both sides because people who thrive on the exclusivity of some things – the best gear, achievements, heroic mode bosses – will not like greater accessibility and will deride it with terms like “welfare epics” and the like, whereas people who prefer greater accessibility will not like the hidden bosses that some players will never get to see and will make comments like “how much time did they put into designing boss X that only 3% of players will ever see.”

      This is not a direct correlation with hardcore and casual; I’m sure there are some hardcore raiders who believe in accessibility and some casuals who still want exclusive opportunities for their pet battling or the like. That’s my point, too; the dichotomy between hardcore and casual doesn’t get at the real chasm between players: accessibility vs. exclusivity does.

      As for the raid data, I admit I may have been mis-remembering, but the fact that you put that last part about people who’ve EVER stepped foot in means I may not have; I’m talking about the current raiding population, which I thought was much lower since Cata.

      Thanks for the comment!

  3. August 16, 2013 1:47 pm

    “No, not everyone can participate in all activities in WoW.”

    I think we’re using different definitions here. Outside of expansions, there are no parts of WoW where you have to pay extra to access them or something. Or things that can only be done at 2:39 PM every Wednesday or something. If people put in the time and effort, they can do anything they’d like in WoW.

    Which brings us to…

    “For some, you need large groups, often found in the form of guilds, which can be exclusionary (and have a right to be in many cases with difficult content). ”

    What do you mean by it *can* be exclusionary? Wouldn’t it be either exclusionary or not exclusionary if it requires a large group? It almost sounds to me like anything that is not solo content is exclusionary – which also brings up the question of whether difficulty is exclusionary (and whether it is even *possible* to have a game where nothing is exclusionary).

    Please note that I’m not claiming you’re arguing for these things, I’m just trying to get a feel for what you mean.

    “whereas people who prefer greater accessibility will not like the hidden bosses that some players will never get to see and will make comments like “how much time did they put into designing boss X that only 3% of players will ever see.””

    This is different from your point about what people who like exclusivity think. You said they liked “the best gear, achievements, heroic mode bosses.” So if every raid boss was available in LFR, would that mean the people who want accessibility would be happy?

    Extending your point, if every boss was beatable solo but was harder and gave better rewards for different groups sizes (like solo = super easy, 5 man = easy, 10 = medium, and 25 = hard), would that not appeal to both groups? The people wanting accessibility could see everything in the game but the people wanting exclusivity still have their higher difficulties, better gear, and special achievements.

    “As for the raid data, I admit I may have been mis-remembering, but the fact that you put that last part about people who’ve EVER stepped foot in means I may not have”

    When I said “EVER” I meant for this Throne of Thunder raid – not the whole history of WoW. Best numbers that I’ve seen indicate something like 10-15% of the WoW playerbase has stepped into normal Throne of Thunder with the intent of killing bosses (as opposed to trash farming or something).

    • August 16, 2013 3:19 pm

      If people put in the time and effort, they can do anything they’d like in WoW.

      Some people don’t have the time or can’t produce the effort to do anything in WoW. This is a common argument on the part of exclusivity people – not that I’m saying you’re one or are using it in that way right now – but it ignores the fact that not everyone has tons of time or experience with games to learn what they need to do produce the required effort.

      What do you mean by it *can* be exclusionary?

      Within reason, and we’re talking about a the majority of players here, anyone can queue for a group, and anyone can gather people in a large group. So it’s possible for people who can without a doubt never down a single trash pack in Throne of Thunder to see the bosses through LFR. However, for them to see some content – like Rated BGs or Heroic mode raids – they’d have to pass a series of socially agreed upon requirements like ilevel, competence, etc, set by the organizer of the group. That’s why I say “can.”

      As to whether it’s possible for a game to be purely accessible, I agree, most games will not be. The very idea of having a game requires some sort of goal, many of which require some sort of understanding or capability; even tic-tac-toe requires you understand the rules, and, thus, babies cannot play it. Still, I’m talking about a mainstream game for an average person; I’m not interested in dissecting my language down into its nuances. Yes, goals require some skill, and without having that skill, no matter how simple, all games could exclude some people, but those people would be far from the center of the spectrum.

      So if every raid boss was available in LFR, would that mean the people who want accessibility would be happy?

      Happier, for sure. I can’t comment on fully happy, because there may still be gated things that would bother them that I haven’t considered. I don’t think the two sets of examples are different, actually, as it’s about what people want. Access means seeing everything, and exclusivity means not. Downing a secret boss provides an achievement – which was mentioned – that one can feel proud of having due to its exclusivity. Access means seeing everything, which makes that type of player happy – just to have had the experience.

      What you describe afterwards is essentially where WoW is. We don’t have a solo raid mode yet, but LFR gets the job done up to the one final hidden boss. However, the people who want exclusivity would likely still complain about “welfare epics” and those who want access would complain they can’t get the best gear through LFR or valor or pet battling or whatever. Again, my entire argument is about people’s reaction, which is never as tidy as your example makes it seem. Every example I’ve used has been something I’ve personally witnessed. These aren’t hypotheticals; they’re real responses to changes that I’ve observed, and I suspect you have, too.

      The people who play happily and don’t complain are more towards the center of the spectrum – likely people like you and I who can see benefits to both and understand the need for each. Those who are more strongly aligned to one side or the other, though, will complain when they see activities or benchmarks (gear, achievements, etc) being made more or less accessible. No change can please both.

      As for the raid data, if those are the numbers you’ve seen, they’re certainly more recent as mine go back to the Cata time. Maybe raiding’s making a comeback and I was wrong. If that’s the case, so be it.

    • August 17, 2013 2:36 pm

      “Some people don’t have the time or can’t produce the effort to do anything in WoW.”

      True – hell, I formed my own two night guild because I wanted to do heroic raiding without committing 4+ nights like I used to do. More just a pet peeve of mine when people complain how Blizzard is keeping them down or something. Meh.

      “However, for them to see some content – like Rated BGs or Heroic mode raids – they’d have to pass a series of socially agreed upon requirements like ilevel, competence, etc, set by the organizer of the group.”

      They do have to pass requirements for ilvl in LFR and LFD, though. Is the distinction between requirements Blizzard sets versus requirements that are socially set important? Also, Blizzard also mentioned they might use Proving Grounds scores instead of ilvl in the future for some stuff. So then Blizzard would be requiring competence as well – do you still think that is considered reasonable for an average player and thus not exclusionary?

      “However, the people who want exclusivity would likely still complain about “welfare epics” and those who want access would complain they can’t get the best gear through LFR or valor or pet battling or whatever”

      Well, this is the point I was trying to get at regarding accessibility. There’s a difference between accessibility in content and accessibility in rewards. In other words, there’s a difference between arguing “There’s no point in making a raid only 1% of players will see” and arguing “I should get the same rewards as the people doing it on a higher difficulty” and I think that’s important to realize.

      I mean, WoW could “easily” have every boss doable solo (rewards greens), in a five man group (rewards blues), in a ten man group (rewards epics), and in a 25 man group (rewards legendaries) with vast power differences and difficulty differences. Then there would be no welfare epics and everyone could see every boss…but you’d still have people complain they aren’t getting the best loot for the solo easy boss.

      The only way to achieve true accessibility of reward would to have the entire game be one easy difficulty with the same rewards and no challenges.

      Or to rephrase it, while I think people complaining about accessibility of content often have a point, people complaining about accessibility of rewards do not.

      “As for the raid data, if those are the numbers you’ve seen, they’re certainly more recent as mine go back to the Cata time. Maybe raiding’s making a comeback and I was wrong.”

      Well, let’s look at WoWProgress. Currently 32380 guilds registered as having killed normal Jin’rohk in the West. And let’s assume 20 people per guild (given that there are more 10s than 25s this isn’t perfectly accurate but there are also unregistered guilds and trade chat PUGs). That gives us roughly 650k people. If we assume there are 4 million players in the West (and there might be less), that’s 16.25% of the population who’s at least killed Jin’rohk. If you include duplicate accounts the percentage rises. And it’s always important to keep in mind something like half the playerbase isn’t even max level and a large chunk only PvP.

      Now, for heroic raiders, let’s toss out the three bosses with the most kills – many of those are really normal raiders experimenting with some heroics. That means the highest remaining is Iron Qon with 5612 kills. 5612 * 20 = 112k players. 112k/4000k = 2.8% of players.

      While those numbers aren’t perfect, I think they back up my earlier estimates as a rough approximation.

  4. August 16, 2013 3:58 pm

    Interesting topic. I think a big part of the issue is that some people want themselves to be the baseline of “those who deserve to do everything”… those even slightly below aren’t worthy, only those above are. In your terms, they want to have full accessibility, plus exclusivity for only those at or above their perceived level. I don’t think any normal raiders begrudge heroic raiders their shinier loot but I’ll bet some heroic raiders are more than a bit bitter that there are LFR slugs who get 4pc tier before they do. As you say, I don’t think there’s really a way to satisfy everyone, ever. This doesn’t even factor in folks who will simply find a negative in ANY change that Blizzard makes.

    They buffed Howling Blast by 30%?! IT NEEDED TO BE 50%! /WOWQUIT

    Ultimately, not everyone can do everything, which is an infinitely better situation than not having anything to do. If my Dad played WoW he couldn’t be a heroic raider. Period, end of discussion. My buddy who logs in once a month (if he’s still subscribed) wouldn’t be part of my normal raid. They’re both fully self-conscious individuals, though, and wouldn’t expect anything different. Problem is, not everyone recognizes their personal limitations (skill, time, effort) as limitations, they expect Blizzard to somehow compress whatever aspects of the game they want to participate in to fit their narrow, more or less unique circumstances. I haven’t touched pet battles because I know damned well if I did that’s all I’d do for 6 months. I’m not asking Blizzard to put some sort of cap on daily pet battles so that I can dip my toe in. That isn’t a Blizzard issue, it’s mine, and that’s how I’m dealing with it, I’m just avoiding it. I love having that option.

    There are 50 daily quests available? I MUST DO 50 DAILY QUESTS! There’s LFR and normal/heroic raiding available? I MUST DO BOTH EVERY WEEK! PvP gear is decent for PvE and there’s a PvP piece that’s incrementally better than a PvE piece? I MUST DO PVP! There’s a weekly VP cap of 1000VP? I MUST CAP 1000 VP EVERY WEEK! There are 3 Mogu Charms available every week? I MUST GET 50 LESSER CHARMS PER WEEK! I have 8 buttons to press in my normal rotation, plus 3 offensive cooldowns, plus a few defensive cooldowns, plus actually staying out of puddles and stacking/spreading as required and dropping puddles in the right spot, etc? WTF BLIZZ Y U GOT RID OF ARROWS WOW IS EZMODE / CATERING TO CASUALS / /WOWQUIT!

    Players who don’t have enough time to do it all complain about having to choose rather than appreciating the fact that limited playtime means they have an excuse (if they need one) for only doing what they want to do.

    Players who do have enough time and feel compelled to do it all complain because they’re burning out rather than appreciating the fact that they could do everything if they wanted to but have the flexibility to do all, or none, as they feel like.

    Players who have enough time to play based on their desires and are happy about it, unfortunately, generally aren’t the ones speaking up.

    I really don’t think there’s a way to satisfy everyone in this type of situation. Blizzard just have to do what THEY think is best for the game overall, whether that’s aiming for what the majority will like or whether it’s just minimizing the pain to the edge cases. Someone will always complain.

    • August 17, 2013 2:59 pm

      “Interesting topic. I think a big part of the issue is that some people want themselves to be the baseline of “those who deserve to do everything”… those even slightly below aren’t worthy, only those above are.”

      Anyone better than you is a no life basement dweller. Anyone worse is a casual scrub.

      “I’ll bet some heroic raiders are more than a bit bitter that there are LFR slugs who get 4pc tier before they do.”

      I think it’s important to understand the reason, though. The point of the heroic raiders is that those LFR players have absolutely no need for their four piece – they’re already guaranteed to clear LFR each time with Determination if they stick around. The heroic raiders, however, are attempting encounters undergeared and need every advantage they can get (doubly so when it comes to recruiting people).

      “Problem is, not everyone recognizes their personal limitations (skill, time, effort) as limitations, they expect Blizzard to somehow compress whatever aspects of the game they want to participate in to fit their narrow, more or less unique circumstances.”

      If Blizzard didn’t keep changing it people would be less upset.

      BC? Have flasks/potions/food.

      WotLK? Do some dailies at the start of the expansion and some daily dungeons at the start of a new tier, have flasks/potions/food.

      Cataclysm? Do some dailies at the start of the expansion, have flask/potions/food, do a few dungeons for valor capping if you don’t quite reach it while raiding (and even then only at the start of a tier). Plus do Dragon Soul LFR when it came out.

      MoP? Do dailies non-stop for something like two months with 20+ dailies a day. Continue doing dailies even after all reputations are maxed because you need to do 45 a week for Charms. Valor cap each week which is much harder because raiding doesn’t get you 80%+ of the way and you also have to do that indefinitely too due to item upgrades. Oh, and cooking became harder too. Plus flasks/potions. And did we mention you get to do LFR too for legendary items and tier pieces/trinkets (and you can’t stack the raid like Cataclysm)?

      That is a massive, massive jump in required stuff to do each week.

      “Players who don’t have enough time to do it all complain about having to choose rather than appreciating the fact that limited playtime means they have an excuse (if they need one) for only doing what they want to do.”

      There is no excuse. If you want to be a heroic progression raider, you find the time to do those things you mentioned. If you don’t find the time, you don’t have a good guild.

      I mean, there’s a reason Blizzard removed the whole “Run ToC four times a week” but I swear things might be worse right now (“Run normal/heroic, flex, and LFR while valor capping and doing dailies!”).

  5. October 2, 2013 11:43 am

    FYI. I may have said the 20% but not in terms of the actual “hardcore” being 20% of the population, but more they represent from a marketing/consumer basis 20% while everyone else is the 80%. In business when faced with pleasing either 80 or 20 but not both, the rule is take the 80.It began with the Pareto Principle and has been deviated from many times over. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pareto_principle

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