Monday, July 13, 2009

Raiders are cheaters

I'm in a raiding guild... strictly on my own merits of course, it had nothing to do with the fact that I was dating a girl who happened to be neighbors with two of the guild members (including one officer). And then that guild got eaten up by a larger guild because another of our members happened to be married to one of their officers. No, I'm only in this guild because of my mad raiding skillz, and all that other stuff is inconsequential. At least that's what I keep telling myself when I cry myself to sleep every night.

So anyway...

When we raid, we cheat... a lot. I know this sounds bad, but I honestly don't think we are any different from 99.9% of other raiding guilds. I think cheating is the norm. In fact, in the "better" guilds (of which we aspire to be one), it seems that cheating is expected.

What do I mean by that? Well when you are in a raiding guild, before you come to a raid, you are expected to have already read up on all the boss encounters, have watched videos of others doing the encounter, understand all the strategies and nuances, and also have an add-on installed (Deadly Boss Mods) that will actually tell you to stop standing in the fire.

Am I the only one who thinks this is a bit cockeyed? Back in MY day, part of the enjoyment of playing video games, especially adventure / role-playing games, was to figure out the tricky parts for yourself; to see new things for the first time; to piece together how an encounter was supposed to function. You learned by doing; you won through intuition, deduction, reasoning, and generally paying attention. It was not unlike piecing together a puzzle.

There was a game I played as a very young kid (here we go, I'm going to date myself now) called Zork. Zork was a text-only game. (Stick with me here kids... "text-only" as in no graphics... you actually had to read everything and use your imagination. I know, bizarre. You would type in commands like "kill troll with sword" and the game would tell you the result of that action.) In Zork you would explore new areas, piece together clues and puzzles, and figure out how shit worked. And the satisfaction you got from actually solving the problem yourself was beyond compare! Now, it was possible to find cheats and cluebooks that would tell you how to solve everything, but no self-respecting gamer would ever do this. What would be the point? To prove that you can follow instructions?

This is kind of the same feeling I get in raiding. Last night we downed one of the Ulduar bosses for the first time (I forget her name; Areola or something like that). But there was very little challenge in actually figuring it out. It was just a matter of learning to execute the pre-planned strategy correctly. We had to change a few things around here and there before we got it right, but by and large we already knew what we were doing. We had already seen it done. We had ready about all the different boss abilities, the adds, the things to watch out for. We already knew all the tricks.

Somewhere along the way, someone came up with a unique suggestion that apparently wasn't in any of the strategies we had seen. (Something about stunning Feral Defenders; I wasn't paying close enough attention.) And not shockingly, everyone thought that was really cool that we came up with a strategy all our own, and it actually worked! That might have been the biggest sense of accomplishment for the whole night... because it was the one thing we actually earned ourselves.

In WoW, people are so wipe-averse that they completely miss the point of playing an RPG. The point is to explore, to learn, to use your mind and your imagination! But raiding is largely an exercise in how well you can follow instructions. There isn't any real challenge to it.

I mean, I'm still going to keep doing it. I'm just saying.


MomentEye said...

I'm really glad you wrote that.

It has really been putting me off the idea of raiding; the idea that you have to already know how to do it to be allowed to join in.

But then I've been pwned by a grue as well.

harpysnest said...

I must admit I rather preferred the innocent days of Vanilla WoW where there weren't so many guides running around (or if there were we just didn't know where to look). When we entered Molten Core for the first time each mob was an epic endeavour because we hadn't the faintest idea what they did.
Now we hang on the PTR and read everything we can before a new instance is released because you can't stay competitive if you just wander in without a clue. Which I think is a shame. I think I would prefer it a lot more if Blizzard just did in-house testing for new instances. Its also the reason I hated them reusing Naxxramas.

inmysissyrobe said...

Do be careful - you may get eaten by a grue.

I rather suspect that Blizzard designs its encounters now with on the assumption that you will a) have read up on it all anyway b) have DBM installed anyway. So it's questionable to what extent you're "cheating" and to what extent you're playing the game as, well, intended.

The thing is there's no way to survive those fights unelss you have done the above - learning by doing just isn't an option, morale is a finite resource, repair bills are expensive, etc. etc.

Also there's a degree to which there is only one strategy (that being so, it barely merits the term) although grats on coming up with your own :)

Zaphind said...

No, we're cheating! Don't try to rain on my QQing with your LOGIC and REASON! :)

Lantana said...

I too am really glad you wrote that! One of the best raiding experiences I've had in a long time was running Ulduar with my guild when the Big Kids had only done it once or twice. We acually had to figure some things out! We acutally had to come up with strategies!

Oh yes, we died. Over and over on mobs. And over again. We didn't down a single boss.

But fun! Thinking required!

As inmysissyrobe points out, I believe WoW is currently designed to require add-ons, reading up, and learning strategies from forums and the like. They depend on alllll that free-to-them stuff to make the game playable.

I mean, really. How long would I last without Quest Helper? It would get so incredibly frustrating just trying to find the guy "somewhere in Ashenvale" on foot... forget it. So it seems to me the content has shifted to use all those non-paid laborers who write and analyze and record and log.

Very clever, Blizzard. Very clever.

twonationarmy said...

I want to say that all the pre-raid research that gets done before facing a boss for the first time is lame and that you should learn your own strategy ideally...

...but then I remember that I'll be raiding with nine other people at the very least...

...all night...

...and then I think, in the interest of my sanity and blood pressure let's all get briefly acquainted with things beforehand.