Burnout: The Proof Is In The Comments

by on March 22, 2011

Burn out. That word’s bouncing backwards and forwards in the blogosphere like a grenade with a faulty fuse. You’re never quite sure when it’s going to go off, and if it does whether it’s going to be somewhere near you. The latest post about burnout, this time from Scott Andrews at WoW Insider, has got me a little worried.

The post itself is a pretty good guide for raid leaders who are feeling the burnout pinch. It’s helpful and above all, Scott’s being compassionate. He goes through a raiding guild master’s likely experience in WoW from the ICC marathon right up to now, with Cataclysm being so different. All through he points out that it can be a hell of an asking for one person to keep a whole guild motivated throughout the environment he describes.

The burnout isn’t the shameful part, and you should never be ashamed to admit those feelings. The shameful part is not handling it decently, by skulking away or by refusing to give up your position. If you must do something drastic to manage your burnout, then resign with dignity and give your guild a chance to succeed without you.

Scott goes on to advise on how to handle being burned out as a guild master. It’s at once comforting and hard advice any raiding GM needs to hear. All in all a good post.

But what’s really made me feature it is the comments. There are 124 comments so far. In that players are stating what’s wrong with Cata – not a small list – and over 75% of the commenters are people saying that they are a burned out GM, that their guild has crumbled in Cata, or both. Oftentimes one because of the other. That is an astonishing – and worrying – amount of guilds falling apart because of burnout. Already.

Or is it? Tell me. Is this normal for this stage of a WoW expansion, or is this amount of burnout unusual? Is WoW dying on its posterior?

Quote taken directly from Scott’s post
You can find WoW Insider’s homepage here

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Cozmo March 22, 2011 at 9:31 pm

To be honest something feels very different this time around. I have not been able to put my finger on it but something just isn’t the same. Now I am not declaring this the beginning of the end for WoW but something isn’t right.


Keeva March 22, 2011 at 11:02 pm

I burned out, and stepped down as GM, because I felt that I was setting a bad example, and because I’ve had absentee GMs before, and it sucks. So I calmly and quietly handed it over with an explanation of why.

Two months later, new guild, back at the wheel. I could have just taken a “break”, but even while having a break, you still have that heavy title sitting on your shoulders. I really needed to step away entirely and not be responsible; I needed to be able to log in, do whatever the hell I wanted, and not get hit with complaints, problems, recruitment enquiries, officer meetings, etc.  After 6 years of WoW with no real break, and years of being an officer and GM, I just needed a break badly, I think.

They wanted me back, and I wanted to come back, so I did. This time around, I’ve surrounded myself with a larger bunch of officers, to share the burden, and I have a website that is easier to maintain (and can be maintained by other authors).
(And I lowered my blood pressure through diet..)


Gazimoff March 22, 2011 at 11:03 pm

I have a theory but I need to do some more investigation. Basically though, Blizzard focused on the wrong content.


Keeva March 22, 2011 at 11:03 pm

eww, why does it take out the paragraph spacing  – my walls of text are even more painful that way!


Syl March 23, 2011 at 8:35 am

I replied to this on Gazimoff’s post; I’m with Cozmo here, I think it’s just a different time and situation altogether, at least for me personally and what I hear my mates tell me. maybe wow is just facing a huge ‘generation change’ which is bound to happen sometime.
No doubt some players are also tired and burned out though, GMs and raidleaders certainly, struggling to make it through this period unharmed. but you can’t brute force everything, a lot of times burnouts are also self-made by people either too proud or too ambitious to accept that times change and so do people. nobody plays the same game forever. so I second your quote – “The shameful part is not handling it decently, by skulking away or by refusing to give up your position.” I’m glad I never played WoW beyond that point personally, shaming my ‘memory’ in the process. I left when I felt I wasn’t gonna be able to positively contribute anymore. It’s not cool to take your personal frustrations out on other people. and good leadership is as much about pushing forward as it is about knowing when to stop /step down.


Josefus March 23, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Cozmo – if you’re looking at how WoW “feels” different, the major change could be with the ability queue and the GCD.
Having written this, I can’t find where it is in the patch notes though.  However, it definitely was on the PTR-
Can anyone confirm whether this went through to live?  I seem to remember my enhance shaman suddenly feeling a whole lot less visceral; more passive, after the changes went through.


Nepenthe March 23, 2011 at 5:16 pm

Cozmo, you’re right, it does feel different. I remember when Wrath came out. 10 levels, a new continent to explore, a great new hub city, fun (and optional) quest lines, and a strong story-driven reason for the “rush to the north.” Dungeons were not as good as BC, but raiding was fun for a wider range of people; and certainly Wintergrasp was a good time.
Then it took two years to get Cataclysm. The focus was on redoing the old world for the 1-60 level grind. Apparently, the aim was to garner lots of new players. I don’t think that happened – in six years WoW has already attracted the majority of people who are likely to play it. Visually, the “so much work” that had to be done, other than wrecking a few cities, seemed to consist of finishing off the tops of endless mountains. New zones are scattered and graphically not cohesive. Story line (“big bad dragon”) is stale and uncompelling and does not drive the zone quests well. And questing has become a non-optional zerg fest. Not difficult and never requires you to ask for help (indeed the phasing makes it difficult to even enjoy questing with others), but I hate not being able to pick and choose quests. And most players out of practice (or never trained) in using the skills to defeat harder dungeons, and seemingly less able or willing to do so.
My toons are parked until I can find the enthusiasm again…


Arioch March 23, 2011 at 6:27 pm

They would have been better off just bumping the 1-60 to 80-110, and then instead of making everything brutal on raiders, scaled everything better with new sets of raid instances coming out every 3 months and tripling JP and VP rewards to get let the rest of the non-leets catch up.  As it is, Firelands may have to do for June-November and possibly one more raid until the next expansion in 2012, if it comes on time.


Cozmo March 23, 2011 at 9:25 pm

@ Josefus – I wasn’t aware of the changes you are referring to, but I don;t think those alone would cause the disconnect I am having with WoW atm.

@ Nepenthe -  Cataclysm is starting to resemble more of a refinement to the game compared to a full expansion. Apparently I am not the only one who is noticing.


Josefus March 24, 2011 at 8:16 am

I think there may be a disconnect with the story as well.
TBC had the threat of the burning legion, and the blood elves looking for a new home, and the expansion of the two factions into the Outland.  (It also had poncy, panty-waist elves as a main antagonist, which is laughably bad.  We also had to accept lolBloodElves into the Horde.  There were also retcons that looked like they were made up after a heavy evening of binge drinking)
WotLK was an urgent drive to the north.  The Lich King was an everpresent foe, the zones made sense and the storyline was well written and coherent.  As a player, I really wanted to take the Lich King down!  I felt that he had wronged me personally and I wanted to see his influence come to an end.
Cataclysm?  There’s a mad dragon.  Also, there’s some elementals that want to kill us; but they’re in no way related to the dragon.  In fact, I have no idea how the elementals tie into anything, really, they’re just thematic somehow.  Plot points are picked up and then dropped (Didn’t we end up in Vash’jir because there’s an island which would make a great vantage point to attack Stormwind?  What happened to that??).  We launch into the Twilight Highlands because….well, I have no idea why we’re attacking it, really, or what the Twilight Cultists are doing there in the first place.  To top it all off, the storyline is advanced by railroading or cutscenes, despite Blizzard telling us that they’re aware of how much players dislike losing control of their characters.


syllepsis March 26, 2011 at 1:45 pm

I was a raid leader in one of the more successful alliance guilds on my server. We weren’t world beaters, but we had Bane of the Fallen King and had knocked out a ton of raid achievements. So I was looking forward to Cataclysm and the new raid content that it would bring. I even liked the changes that were made to class design/talents. Then Cataclysm came out and despite the fact that I really enjoyed playing with my guildies, I got to the point where I could not log in anymore. I had gotten to the point where I hated the game.

The problems with Cataclysm are numerous, but the number one problem with Cataclysm is the story. The story in WoW is terrible, and it has always been terrible. WoW is the definition of lorelol. And now, Blizzard has decided to put an even greater stake on storytelling? If you buy into the story, you might be interested in the quests (I was someone who would laugh at what a whiny pu&&# Arthas was while leveling up in WotLK). But if you don’t buy into the story, then the game’s emphasis on the story becomes a detriment. Frankly I got to the point where I didn’t care.

The number two problem with Cataclysm was the grind. Every profession has 75 more skill-up points, which is not trivial for crafting professions. There are 6 or 8 new factions to get to exalted with. There are heroics to run, and if you happen to use the LFD you have to pray you don’t get a bad tank or a bad healer or someone who likes to break CC at every opportunity. There are a variety of other problems with Cataclysm including glitchy phasing.

I think Blizzard lost sight of what their biggest asset was in the game. It wasn’t story and it wasn’t terrain. The biggest appeal to playing WoW was actually playing — pewpewing and healing and tanking.


Paul March 26, 2011 at 3:01 pm

Syllepsis: they didn’t lose sight of playing, but they misunderstood what people actually wanted. The notion that players want challenge is behind the talent changes and content buffs, and it’s what’s driving most people away from the game (even if they won’t admit it).

Blizzard, in the end, didn’t really understand why people play WoW. It’s not for challenge, it’s not for gear, it’s not for friends — it’s for ego. The purpose of the game is to make you feel better about yourself. That’s the hook, that’s the draw. Everything else in the game exists to serve that goal. Play with friends? It’s so you can show off in front of them. Gear? So you perform better, which makes you feel better. Challenging content? Good only if you actually can do it, in which case you feel great.

In retrospect, armory, achievements, and in-game APIs for inspecting other players were bad, bad ideas. Nothing harshes the glow of a falsely inflated ego than accurate comparisons to others. And offering a range of content difficulty is a bad idea too, since your progression into that content is another metric that objectively reveals how good you (and your friends) actually are.


Mshade March 30, 2011 at 5:57 pm

Wow, reading a lot fo these comments is like taking a snapshot of me. I started a guild in Wrath, and we weren’t overly hardcore, raided for about half what the other guild on our server were doing, yet usually were in the top five in progression and did get Bane before Cata came out. I really wanted to be excited for Cata, but after spending a year in ICC, managing personalities in a guild that really grew way faster and more powerful then I could’ve ever dreamed, when Cata finally hit, there was just really the sense of ‘really this is it?’ My mood in the game and towards the guild was getting worse and worse till I just decided to step down and let people that really cared run it. I personally stopped raiding, because after spending like two weeks grinding heroics that really weren’t harder, just painfully longer and not even having a decent enough gearset to start raiding.

Then the story is just bad. When I was originally questing to level 85, it didn’t feel like any of it had a single thing to do with deathwing till twilight highlands at 84. Northrend was like the moment that you got there it felt like the LK was watching you. Everyone really wanted to get a chance to kill him. It isn’t like Fantasy plotlines are ever that in depth, but Arthas was about as deep and well rounded of a character as there is in fantasy next to like Raistlin from Dragonlance. However Deathwing is a big angry dragon that wants to destroy stuff for some stupid reason, and that weak enemy character shows through in the questing that really doesn’t develop him as a character at all (how can you develop something with no depth).

Then from a pure design perspective it really just feels like Blizzard made all of ther decisions with the intention of allowing them to make less content and extend the ‘life’ of the current content. The gear grind added an extra teir in between hitting 80 and raiding, dungeons were so full of trash that they took forever to complete even with zero wipes and a good group, orbs were made BoP so as to gate the speed at which it gets in people’s hands and even PvP was designed to make all of the classes more and more similar, take 4x the amount of time to grind the points for gear, and slow down matches to make them go on forever and ever. It just feels that Blizzard didn’t really have the excitement when they were developing this expansion, and everyone that was so excited after the pure fun that WotLK offered (until they went a year with not making anything new and at the same time nerfing everything WAY too far), and we are left with a mindless grind, doing the same thing we have done for years, but this time with everything designed to make everything take as long as posisble just to get to the point where we finally can participate in the things we want to do.

Then the developer comments just always read like they are so arrogant, full of themselves, and completly out of touch with what made the game great in the past.


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