What Do Raiders Do When They’re Not Raiding?

Man – or woman – cannot live on raids alone. But what do raiders do when they’re not raiding?

A hell of a lot, as it turns out. Jasyla of Cannot Be Tamed wrote a fascinating post this week looking at what her guild, Apothesis, does to help the guild bond and have fun when they’re not raiding. It’s an interesting, varied list, and might be quite inspirational for any guild leaders struggling to keep things fresh:

“Sunday afternoons a bunch of us meet up in the Deeprun Tram for some Brawler’s Guild. We all get on Mumble to chat, share strategies and cheer each other on as we try to beat everything Gizmo can throw at us. I know Brawler’s Guild was sold as a solo PVE activity, but being grouped for matches is a great bonus since we can get fully buffed up and have the spectators act as coaches.

Sure, having ~10 people from our guild alone makes for longer queues, but having people to chat with makes it much more fun. These have been temporarily put off as most people have completed all ranks or have hit a brick wall but they’ll start up again soon, once people get a bit more gear. For now, people are doing old raids on Sunday instead.”

Read “Anatomy Of A Raid: Extracurriculars” here

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Are MMO Developers Colorblind To Some Major Discrimination?

Are MMOs discriminatory against a significant segment of the population? Yes – they might just be.

That’s the startling conclusion that Hawtpants of the Old Republic’s Njessi has come to recently, after her SWTOR guild added a new member – who is colorblind – and she realised that at least one of SWTOR’s fights is almost impossible for a colorblind person. And thinking about it, I’m pretty sure there have been similar color-dependent fights in other MMO raids, including WoW…

“Yes, that’s right. Terror from beyond – the boss that most people refer to as the “color boss.” The colors are orange, yellow, blue, and purple. With blue and purple looking about the same, and orange and red looking about the same too, there is no easy way to simply assign the color blind person to the color “easiest to see” because there is none.”

“It has completely changed the way I think about this fight. The first time I was in here, I thought “wow! This is fun and inventive!” Now I’m frustrated with the damn thing because it’s virtually impossible for someone with a fairly common and mild disability.”

Read The Rest Of Njessi’s Article

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Readjusting To Life In The Casual Lane

Ever had a huge project, one which has consumed most of your life? And then, one day, it’s finished – and you don’t know quite what to do?

I’m a filmmaker, so I certainly know that feeling. And that was what I found so interesting about Beruthiel’s latest post – she’s going through a very similar experience, having decided to stop raiding in WoW. From the feelings of “what now?” to the new activities she’s loving, it’s a really interesting piece:

“It took me some time, but eventually I realized that stopping raiding wasn’t closing a door for me – but rather it was opening about one hundred other doors. All of the sudden I had all of this free time to do whatever I felt like doing, and this realization was freeing. It was like someone turned on a light bulb over my head, and all of the sudden I was making lists of things I wanted to accomplish in WoW and started checking those things off those lists.

And the best part? Everything is on my schedule.

If I want to log in and play, I can. If I’d rather sit down at watch 4 hours of Buffy, I can. And it is…liberating (in its own way). I guess it just took me a bit of time to be comfortable with this new found free time and work out, in my own way, how WoW now fit into my (suddenly open) schedule. I will admit, making the adjustment was more challenging that I thought it would be. The adjustment of more free time was immediate and welcome, but the adjustment of figuring out how new WoW fit into my life was not as seamless as I would have thought.”

Read the rest of the article

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Can A Raid Leader In WoW Justify Demanding Top-Level Food?

When the 300-stat food in Mists of Pandaria was announced, plenty of people predicted it would be trouble. And lo, they were right.

Veteran raid leader Matticus writes a really interesting post looking at the struggle he had over whether to demand his raiders grind for the top-level food. Given that Matticus’ guild is reasonably serious, albeit not world-first chasers, this one’s a compelling, very human read

“As the GM, I could “demand” the players make the necessary changes and effort. But deep down I know that’s no small feat. How am I supposed to enforce a directive like that? This is one of those things where I have to appeal to them. Your GM needs to make the case to you that this stuff is important and the time and energy to get this steroid food created is worth it.”

Read the rest of the article here.

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Does Blizzard Even WANT You To Raid?

Wrath of The Lich King was an astonishing expansion for WoW in many ways, but one of them was the way it opened up raiding. For the first time ever, the ultimate endgame was accessible to all players – and I know a lot of people, including me, got their first real start in raiding then.

But has MoP gone back to the old model of raiding only being for the elite? Saxsy thinks so, and she makes a persuasive case – although I’m sure there will be counter-arguments – in her latest post:

“The upshot? If you wanted to raid, in practice you have to do dailies. Raiding without dailies meant somehow, through purchased items and a lot of heroics, scraping together a 460 ilvl set to get into LFR. And then in LFR, gearing would be slower than other people because you wouldn’t have those extra charms to get good loot. If a 460 ilvl is required for normal LFR, which rewards ilvl 476 items, one could reasonably extrapolate that you should have a 473 item level to enter normal MSV. Good luck hitting that without valor gear.

In short, a person not running dailies is at such a competitive disadvantage to someone running dailies that it’s unlikely they would find a raid spot on a raid team that had the aim of clearing current content in normal mode.

This is what people mean when they technically inaccurately claim that dailies are compulsory. They’re not strictly compulsory. But good luck raiding without them.

Read the article (note – the meat of the post starts about a page down): How Blizzard Convinces People Not To Raid

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Why Gimmicky Boss Fights Are Better

Hate boss fight gimmicks? You’re in good company. Indeed, from time to time most of us have wished for MMOs to go back to the “good old days” of straightforward, just-the-mechanics fights rather than whatever the latest raid gimmick is.

But today you might have your mind changed, as The Ancient Gaming Noob lays out the case for why gimmick-laden boss fights are great:

“While the stand up boss fight is the exception as opposed to the rule these days, you do still run into them. They get labeled as “simple tank and spank” and generally pose no issue to any group that is within the range and equipment parameters of the dungeon.

And that is the problem, really. They offer little or no challenge, unless your group isn’t up to par. I actually think that the first boss in every instance ought to be a hit point heavy tank and spank that tests the group’s ability to perform their basic roles, if only to act as a “you must be this powerful to hope for success in this dungeon” gate.

Fight gimmicks are in boss fights to make things interesting, to change things up, and to keep things from getting boring. And such things have been in for a long time. Dragons back in the MUD days always had special attacks and breath weapons had special effects. I recall one that would cause your bag to be destroyed if you did not have protection from cold on you. There would go all your extra gear and loot!”

Read The Article: http://tagn.wordpress.com/2013/01/15/bosses-and-gimmicks-and-nostalgia/

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Why Can’t WoW Let Us Raid Cross-Server?

It’s been a dream for a long while – since WoW was launched, in fact. That one day, some how, there would be a way that we could raid with our friends, no matter what server they were on.

Now, with cross-realm raiding a reality, it seems that day could be here – if Blizzard were to choose to make it so.

The reason they’re not? They’re worried about the effect on guilds.

Today, we’ve got two bloggers arguing that’s not a killer problem – and indeed, that Blizzard should let us raid current content cross-realm, already!

First up, Shy takes a wider look at the entire problem, and asks why realms matter at all

“But would the player base not find another way to measure how they are doing in the competition? Would in the end it not be better actually that you’re not measuring apples against pears?

There is no possible way that FP can compete with Dream Paragon for example. And doing so is only leading to disappointment in the end.

And even comparing ourselves against the number 1 on our own server is not a fair comparison. We raid 10s, they raid 25s. We raid only 8 hours per week, casually. They raid for 16+ hours.

Yet, these sort of sites compare the two guilds together and say how much better one is above the other.

I believe that if it would actually become possible to compare experience with experience, and time invested with same time invested with each other, it would become a lot more satisfactory, for a lot of players. It would feel good to be the best in your own league, the best in what you do. The best when all is set to even footing.”

Shy’s got a good point here, and overall I agree with her. It’d be great to have more sophisticated way to compare apples against apples in WoW.

Meanwhile, Big Bear Butt writes a beast of a post on the subject of cross-realm raiding, starting from Ghostcrawler’s point about worrying about guilds, and then thinking of the ramifications of that – and the solutions to that problem, and the ramifications of them, and so on

“I’ve heard that a big problem with cross-server guilds would be guild bank access shared across servers, places with different economies. I believe the argument is that would allow guilds to have the potential to become the East India Trading Company, doing triangle trade deals across servers, and placing ‘normal’ players at a competitive pricing disadvantage.

Imagine for a moment the rise of mercantile guilds, guilds of auction house traders purchasing cloth cheap on Azuremyst, selling it at higher prices on Kael’thas, using the profit to buy cheap Darkmoon Cards on Kael’thas and flipping them high on Vol’jin, and then buying cheap ore on Vol’jin to sell at a profit on Azuremyst.

Umm…. SO WHAT?!?!

Shit man, go for it. I’d love to see another, deeper aspect to the game economy emerge.

If you’re upset because you like the status quo, you’ve got a good thing going and this would make your gold-making system fail, well, I have no sympathy for you. You want to rule the auction house in a changing economy, adapt or die. Don’t try to throw up roadblocks to change to protect your own interests… or at least, acknowledge that you’re basically mirroring the real world business model by trying to stem the tides of change when that change isn’t in your favor.”

This is a lovely piece of MMORPG futurism, and I highly recommend it. If you want to see what WoW might look like in 5 years’ time – give it a read.

What do you think of all this? Could current-content cross-server raids work?

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How Much Committment Should An MMO Demand?

LFR. Dailies. Lucky Charms. Food. If there’s a single thread running through Mists of Pandaria’s reception, it’s “HOW MUCH STUFF ARE WE MEANT TO DO?”

But is that fair? Are raiders – or players in general – actually required to do any of it? And why’s it provoking such a stink?

That’s the question a number of bloggers are addressing today, looking at the design of MMORPGs as a whole, and whether they do, will, should or can demand massive time commitment…

  • Jeromai considers the question from a psychological perspective, delving into Myers-Briggs personality types to find out why some people love grind and others hate it“The Judging preference might be more telling. I’m guessing that Judgers really like a sense of structure to their gaming. They need to be able to make plans, to see the next goal ahead of them, and are probably the most likely to enjoy making lots of to-do lists and checking them off.”
  • The Game Delver argues that MMORPGs as a whole have changed – that not every MMORPG is going to be a “virtual life” to play, and we should stop expecting them to be“Maybe it is time that instead of bloating their games beyond necessary, developers design MMORPGs to be picked up and played like League of Legends or a typical shooter.”
  • Vixsin, a very hardcore raider, argues that even hardcore players shouldn’t be complaining about the things there are to do, but thanking Blizzard for all their choices“This game isn’t a quicktime event, I don’t have to press “X” to continue, and I don’t have to do anything I don’t damn well feel like doing. And I’m going to thank Blizzard for giving me that option.”
  • Healing The Masses muses on the topics of committment, fun, entitlement, group play and more“So forget those self absorbed urges you have, find a group, get committed and be social.. its what we’ve been working towards with this always online world of ours.”
  • And Green Armadillo says that saying dailies, LFR or coin hunting is optional is rather like saying wearing pants is optional“Lecturing the customer on why they are incorrect, not as good at playing the game as people who are beating the content with the minimum gear, and need to find new friends with lower expectations – however accurate all of these statements may be – is not a good business strategy. “

This one’s going to run and run, I suspect, particularly with Blizzard showing no inclination to reduce the amount of Stuff To Do. I must admit, even as a non-hardcore raider, I’d be feeling the pressure of time if I was raiding this expansion – time before the nerfbat hits and raids suddenly get easier…

What do you think? ARE players required to do all this stuff?

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Will This 1 Simple Change Fix WoW Raiding?

A few days ago, we reported on Lono at Screaming Monkeys’ grand project to figure out what made a great raid.

Well, today he’s back with his results – and they make for interesting reading. But even more than that, he thinks he has a single silver bullet which could change all of WoW raiding for the better – and it’s amazingly simple –

“When I set out to write this I had envisioned complicated changes, technical stuff that would take multiple posts to explain and finely tuned details but after having done all this research I find myself reaching a very simple solution. A simple solution but one that would probably change the face of endgame if it was to be done.

Let’s remove gear out of the equation.

I can already feel the initial silence, then the low rumble as people forms ideas and finally the outburst at the heresy I’m proposing but let’s take a moment here.

Of all the reasons mentioned as to why people loved a particular raid, whether on Elitist Jerks or on a casual family site, gear has never ever been mentioned as one of the reasons why a raid was great. While some people fondly remember a drop for a number of reason, it’s never what makes a particular raid the best ever.

Likewise, fights that are used solely as gear checks are almost all reviled. They’re seen as boring facerolls at best and frustrating progression walls at worst. People don’t feel rewarded because they had the ability to equip gear, they feel rewarded for playing their characters.”

Despite Lono’s grand ambitions here, this isn’t a wall-of-text post – in fact, it’s short, interesting, and very readable. I found I agreed with some of his ideas – notably his comparison with single-player RPGs and their epic final dungeons – more than others, but at no point did he bore me, or did I feel that his ideas were obvious.

Have a read and see if you agree with him – I can see this one starting a real debate!

So what do you think? Get rid of gear?

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Nightmares of Farming, Death In Beta, and A Main Changes

The “all change” atmosphere in the MMOsphere at the moment reflects itself in the rest of today’s posts – whether it’s premature death, excessive farming or one of the most notable mains in all the blogosphere changing…

  • Tobold looks at the increasing appreciation for losing in games (FTL, X-COM, Dark Souls) and asks what this means for MMORPGs“But if losing is back in single-player games, maybe it can be brought back into MMORPGs as well. In the original Everquest you could lose levels and equipment. In a game that has that, slow progress looks comparatively attractive.”
  • Big Bear Butt writes about how he’s hanging up his – well, his butt, I suppose – as he admits he’s lost the love of the bear“But I don’t know that I want to. It’s just not… it’s no longer fun for me to be a Bear. And while I know I could attain the skill level I expect out of myself, that’s not the same as finding that sense of joy, or that magical conenction to the class.”
  • Clockwork rants about the increasing tendancy of players to write a game off before it’s even out of beta“declaring games dead before release is antithetical to the desire to have more originality in gaming. Development of a game is a costly endeavor, and declaring a game “bad” simply because it breaks conventions or isn’t like “that other game” stifles creativity. “
  • And Anafielle writes about her raiding experience so far in MoP – or rather, her desperately-grinding-with-the-hope-of-time-to-raid-too experience…“I’ve never, ever had to do this much out of raid work. My guild is feeling it too, since we have always historically been on that line between “low time investment” and “high performance.” There is nothing low about the time investment that raiding in a serious manner requires right now. Absolutely nothing. When I’m spending as much time raid-prepping as I am raiding, something is seriously fucking wrong.”

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