Why I Don’t Like Raiding

Wintergrasp raid

I have no idea what's going on in this screenshot

I’ve never been a big fan of raiding in MMOs and it’s certainly something that I talk about fairly regularly. For me, raiding offers a pretty disjointed experience, counter intuiative to the whole leveling game in itself. Indeed, just like we now have games like League of Legends that offer what equates to essentially full-time PvP battlegrounds, maybe we should have completely separate games for raiding instead of trying to tack them onto a leveling game?

Perhaps I’m a ‘traditionalist’ in the way that I like my MMOs to be about leveling up and questing or fighting through static content. Not to say that I don’t appreciate the appeal of raiding, I do, and if it’s something you like then who I am to disagree. In fact, although it’s not for me, I can fully understand the thrill and enjoyment people get from activities such as competitive raiding and the like.

And although I’ve sometimes been tempted to get properly into the raiding scene, things always seemed to happen to put me off. Whether it was long, boring waits and futile progression, aggressive raid leaders who liked to order people about and shout at them or the fact I once had to pee in a bottle in front of my computer because I couldn’t leave the keyboard, I can’t say I’ve had good experiences. I also had a funny (as in odd, as in a little sad) one last night… and I wasn’t even on the raid team.

I was playing World of Warcraft with a new alt I’d made who had recently joined up to a new guild. It was one of their first ventures into raiding and I could smell the anxiety and excitement from across the Internet. They were all turning out and getting ready to go, performing their final checks like soldiers before a battle.

Then the bickering started. Following by the complaining. Followed by the whining.

You see, as every noob should know there are certain talent specs, glyphs, gems and enchants that are required for raiding and, without them, you are deemed incapable… right? Now, having never been on a serious WoW raid before, I honestly have no idea as to what degree of itemisation and talent specification is required to pull it off but I suspect, this being WoW, that there’s a reasonable degree of give or take and that one doesn’t need to be in the top percentile ranks of players to compete. Still, these requirements meant that a fair few players who were expecting to raid weren’t allowed to go by the GM.

Hence the bickering. And complaining. And whinning.

So a few thoughts crossed my mind. Firstly, this is raiding, there are gear and talent requirements so ultimately these guys should just suck it up and deal with it. Secondly, this is WoW on a Sunday night and I wouldn’t be surprised if a good few of my disgruntled guildmates were of a rather young age and unaccustomed to dealing with such circumstances. And thirdly, that raiding is really rather anti-social.

Maybe I’m a bit too much of a hippy at heart but I never liked the idea of turning people away from things. Games are for fun and everyone should get a chance to participate, regardless of ability or gear or whatever, right? If you have the iLevel to get on the raid then Blizzard has deemed you worthy so who are we to say otherwise? We shouldn’t put the competitiveness of raiding before the fun of it, at least not before making it clear to everyone who joins the guild.

And yes, all of the above also explains why my guild in Everquest 2 never got anywhere with raids. But gosh darnit, we were nice folk and no one went home unhappy. We were all about the people and just had a laugh regardless of where we got to with our raids. Now, I know that such an approach is a bit crazy and idealistic and probably isn’t very practical for gaming but I do find it a little sad that in MMOs designed for social interaction, we spend a lot of our time trying to find ways to prevent it.

I am wrong here and just letting a few bad experiences cloud my judgement? Or is raiding always about the progression regardless of whose feelings it hurts?

-Gordon

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32 Comments

  1. Keen says:

    I think you nailed it with your comment about raiding being disjointed from the rest of the game. I have only played one game where a “raid” felt connected to the rest of the game, and that was EQ. “Raids” on Nagafen (Dragon), or in the Plane of Fear, were large coordinated events between groups of players. In the early days it was rare for these to be only guilds. We had sometimes ten or more guilds represented in one large “raid” on the planes. It felt no different than going into any other public dungeon.

    Agreed on the rest of your points as well.

    • Gordon says:

      AFAIK, raids as we know it today were never designed to exist as they do. Like you said, they were more like community gatherings rather than a form of gamificated progression. I can see the appeal but to me they aren’t the heart of a MMO and likely never will be. I’m an old fashioned levels and dungeons man myself :)

      • bhagpuss says:

        Agree with you one hundred percent Gordon, and also with Keen’s comments. I’ve never enjoyed raiding and I very rarely do it in any form. In most MMOs it’s completely unrelated to and disruptive of the rest of the game, what I would think of as the “real” game. I’ve often proposed that the two elements, the raid “end game” and the virtual world leveling game, should be split, possibly by requiring a character to leave the leveling server to go to a raiding server but having raiding as a totally separate game altogether would be a better solution yet.

        Following on from what Keen said, back when I first played Everquest “raiding” meant getting a lot of people together and doing something together. And that was it. At one extreme an army of Good-aligned characters would gather en masse and raid Neriak, trying to force their way into the heart of the heavily defended dark elf city. At the other our family guild would invite everyone to come online on a Sunday afternoon and we’d choose somewhere to raid like Mistmoore or Tower of Frozen Shadows.

        That was all “raiding” meant – anything from two groups to as many people as it took to crash the zone getting together to do something, anything that was fun. Level? Didn’t matter. Gear? Didn’t matter. Spec? Didn’t matter. Skill? Didn’t matter. We didn’t do it that often, it was a bit of a day out, like a school trip or bank holiday at the seaside. Chaotic, tiring and quite often disappointing but a great break from routine.

        Then it became routine. Sad.

        • Gordon says:

          Indeed, it’s evolved from what was essentially an organised event in a community to another style of micro-gaming. I understand why people enjoy raiding, I just find the principle concept of it at odds with the ‘main’ leveling core game of MMOs. Plus it also seems a bit of a shame that most raids have a limited shelf-life and will never be experienced once the level cap is raised unlike static content (and dungeons) which is experienced by new players and alt characters time and time again.

  2. Imakulata says:

    “Games are for fun and everyone should get a chance to participate, regardless of ability or gear or whatever, right?”
    I think it’s a false dichotomy. Games can be both challenging and fun and in fact some people find challenging games more fun. Of course, others find it less fun.

    “If you have the iLevel to get on the raid”
    There is no such thing in WoW, as long as you’re 60/70/80/85, you can join a raid. Even naked, if you’re so inclined.

    “We shouldn’t put the competitiveness of raiding before the fun of it, at least not before making it clear to everyone who joins the guild.”
    I agree. Knowing what’s fun for you is important for gaming (and avoiding what’s not), as it’s something people expect to be fun. I think it’s kinda like vacations, many people expect to experience no problems at their vacation and get upset even with minor issues as they break their expectations.

    • Gordon says:

      An issue I’ve seen in WoW is that most guilds invite anyone and everyone randomly. I literally can create a new alt and have a guild invite popping up over my screen within minutes, often from some pretty big, max level guilds. I can’t imagine that it’s very conducive for setting rules around their raiding structures.

  3. Masith says:

    I have to say I like the fact that MMO’s contain so many different playstyle options. I rarely do any PvP and I am unlikely to take part in pet battles but I quite like the fact that they are/will be part of WoW as its makes the game feel like a broader world with a more interesting playerbase. The problem isn’t that raiding exists its that at least in WoW the community defines a players success by their raid progression. This means that people who aren’t suited to raiding feel left out.

    In terms of raiding, as someone who loves raiding and would of quit WoW 6 years a go if it wasn’t for raiding, it saddens me that you have such a negative view of raiding. Personally I love the team spirit of raiding. I love overcoming difficult challenges with a team of people all pulling in the same direction. I love the rush when you finally kill a new boss that you have been working on for weeks. I love the fact that this rush is made even better by the fact that you achieved it as part of a team of people you like and you know are as happy as you to get the kill. I love the friendly and sometimes not so friendly competition between guilds on your server.

    I think there are some negatives about raiding in a guild that is badly run/ doesn’t fit them that people mistake for negatives about raiding. Raiding doesn’t have to involve shouting and insults. Raiding can be just for fun with no concern about progression as long as everyone in the raid is on the same page. It is possible to have a reasonable amount of success raiding 1 day a week although you do need to be consistent. Drama is not the inevitable result of a raiding guild.

    I do appreciate that raiding isn’t for everyone I just felt the need to defend the part of the game I love.

    • Gordon says:

      Oh I can see the appeal and perhaps had I had different experiences to it over the years, I would be saying the complete opposite :) I’m sure it’s exactly why a lot of people dislike PvP, a facet of MMOs I adore.

  4. Kierbuu says:

    When I was new to raiding I was all about progression. I wanted to prove to my guild (and server… and self) that I deserved to be there. The best in slot gear was the proof I NEEDED!.

    After I had been raiding for awhile I stopped caring about that stuff. I just wanted to have fun and enjoy some challenging, but fun content. However, all the new players behaved like I did. With a few of the older hands they kept the progression at the center of raiding. Eventually, I hung up my spurs and retired from the raiding game.

    Kind of wondered if the LFR would return a more light hearted attitude to the raid scene. From what I’ve read on the forums though it sounds like it hasn’t.

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  6. Chris K. says:

    I think you are wrong about the social aspect of raiding.

    In fact, if you ever want to raid successfully in top-tier content, you need to be a complete altruist. Check any serious high-end progression guild.

    1. You’ll find that people volunteer to sit out of a fight, because they know that their class mechanics will hinder progress, sitting out for a while and then being pulled back in.

    2. People, after a while, will pass on upgrades that other people need most. In our guild, most loot drama happens because everyone passes until the RL stomps his foot down and makes people take stuff.

    What you were seeing is a guild doing its first steps into raids and everyone is daydreaming about all the “epix!” . If people whine about not raiding for a day (until they get their stuff together, at least) then I wonder what will happen when they hit a brick wall and wipe 100 times on boss X.

    • Boxerdogs says:

      Chris K:
      Top-end raiders are not complete altruists, they are complete team players, which is rather different. Their altruism only extends (ONLY!) to other members of their elite team. They sit fights, they pass on upgrades, to other members of the elite team, to maximise the chance of the elite team’s success. This is not total altruism. Don’t get me wrong, team play is admirable, but it is not altruism.

      Gordon:
      A small funny (happy) anecdote on the other side. I don’t play WoW any more due to intolerance of the raiding game, but I have a particularly satisfying memory. I cleared ICC 10 with the drakes, no big deal ofc, but we were able to bring along two people who struggled with the game, a DK and a warr, to a LK kill. Those people have now left the game, but did so with HUGE gratitude to us for the coaching, the patience, the experience.

      I am prouder of having brought some underpowered people along for the ride than I am of any of my achievements. Personally, I like my single-player games to be as hard as nails, and I always play on the hardest difficulty I can manage. I like my multiplayer gaming to be fun and stress-free, and easy enough that anyone that I like will not be excluded from the content.

    • Gordon says:

      That’s what I’m heard and certainly the best guilds have players who will sit out fights, be benched and otherwise sacrifice for the greater good. I’m not sure that style of play is everyone’s cup of tea though, especially with the instant-gratification culture that MMOs often employ now.

  7. mynsc says:

    I think you’ve just had a couple of bad experiences, that are not representative of the entire concept.

    Raids are the ultimate team challenge you’ll find in MMOs right now. You not only have to learn to play together during those hours when you’re killing stuff, but in order to make any meaningful progress, your entire guilds needs to be a real family and help each other before and after a raid.

    You mention bickering and whining. That’s not a problem of the raid mechanic. It’s just what sometimes happens when more people meet together in a group. If they have the same vision and the same goals, everything will go smoothly, no matter the activity. If they don’t, well, there will be a lot of arguing.

    And about the iLvl problem. Especially towards the middle and end of an expansion, you’ll always have at least one raid that is easily doable with your gear, no matter the iLvl. Start out with that one and go from there.

    It’s not exactly realistic and honest to want to start right at the cutting age, no matter the gear or knowledge. It’s like wanting to start straight at level 85 when you first create a character. Or when taking on a profession, expecting to already know all the recipes for it.

    The fun of raiding comes from working together with other people to overcome a challenge. These challenges are split into numerous degrees of difficulty. All you have to do is asses your level of readiness and pick one that suits you. If you try to go straight for the top while not exactly investing much in getting prepared, you’ll fail and not have fun. If you pick something too easy, you might get bored. But once you start out at the right level (and implicitly with the right group), everything comes naturally from there.

    • Gordon says:

      Good advice. I knew these guys who were complaining were being a bit childish even if I didn’t like to see them being turned away. I think what was probably most at fault was the way the raid was organised in the first place.

  8. thade says:

    Virtually all of the end-game raiding that I’ve enjoyed is 10-man (or now 8-man) content; anything larger involved too much in the way of logistic strife for me to really get into it. While I could appreciate (on some level) the complexity of the encounters themselves, as well the complexity of arranging 25-40 people like a combat orchestra, the frustrations in it were too great for me. The only guilds that seemed truly capable of it in my experience were ones with small subsets of “screamers” and large subsets of “obsessives”.

    I really enjoyed Karazhan back in the day as I was able to run it with a small core of people that I came to know well over years of trying larger scale content and growing tired of it. The events were well-designed and engaging (e.g. the Netherspite “beams” battle) and it was easy enough to learn to work with nine other people.

    Insofar as raids being distinct from the rest of the content, I agree, mostly. SW:TOR has done the best job I’ve seen so far of making the raids seem more a part of the grander scheme of the game, as both the “leveling game” and the “raiding game” involve story quest elements: where your character engages in dialog with NPCs at kick-off and notable points throughout the raid instance. (Not everybody likes this, but I really do.) Also the leveling game involves more than it’s share of bosses and mini-bosses which the player must confront (at times solo…with only his or her companion to aid) so when you get to a raid instance and front a very, very large, very complex, very hard-hitting boss it’s actually reminiscent of the more major parts of the leveling experience.

    The same is true in Rift, to a degree, as the rift zone-wide events all culminate in raid boss battles where you are dynamically thrust into a party with others who participated in the zone battle and converged to fight the boss…a large raid boss who is scaled to whatever character level you are. This is another case (like SW:TOR) where big-time boss battles and even a raid-like party structure is integrated with the leveling experience.

    So things aren’t so bad anymore. :) We’re a far cry from “Grind grind grind every day…then someday party up with everybody for a massive, placeless boss battle.”

    Finally, smaller party raid content (in the 10-or-less bracket) makes it easier to find a group of people that you get along with. I’ve had a spectacular time in SW:TOR as the group of people I’ve found fits my demographic pretty accurately; everybody is good-humored, patient, and while RL beckons often, they are focused and practiced when it comes to video games. I’ve had a good time. Wipes are laughs and boss-kills yield cheers.

    • Gordon says:

      I always thought it would be interesting if MMOs provided single group alternatives to raid encounters. In WoW there are both 25 and 10 player raids, so why not 5? I’d prefer the focus to be about experience the content rather than organising the people (although I can appreciate that it’s an element of the challenge itself).

  9. Tesh says:

    Raiding is the least disguised treadmill in modern MMO design. As such, it holds little interest for me at a very basic level. I’m an Explorer, so I’d rather be doing new things, not the same thing over and over in the same place. The social stresses don’t help either.

    It doesn’t bother me that raiding exists for those who like it, but it’s not something I’ll bother with. I’m all for a split in game design, though. Make a purely raiding game… or make raiding possible for players on day one so they can just go play the part they want.

    • Gordon says:

      “or make raiding possible for players on day one so they can just go play the part they want.”

      We see this now with PvP so I don’t think it would be a stretch to ask for it for raids as well. Strangely enough, I also think raids are probably some of the least used content in any MMO considering they are only available at the ‘end game’ by people willing to commit the not-unsustainable time and effort required to tackle them. Plus, as soon as the level cap is raised in an expansion, they are never utilised again.

  10. Dril says:

    I very much enjoy raiding, so long as it has a sense of permanence and a sense of accomplishment; i.e. I *vehemently* disagree with continuous vertical progression and nerfing everything that isn’t the current tier to make it accessible. Why?

    I have no idea.

    I just like being the tank/healer doing my bit to keep the everything going smoothly, working together and downing something. Alas, as it is I don’t foresee anything appearing in the future that will be mostly horizontal or tiny vertical increases, so I’m refraining from trying to partake in raiding.

    But, yeah, you’ve has bad experiences, but it’s not for everybody; if you don’t enjoy the core aspects of it there’s little point in forcing yourself through it.

  11. Spen says:

    Thought experiment: What is the alternative then, if you remove raiding gameplay from MMOs?

    A perpetual leveling game? While some may find it fun, I dare say players will start asking ‘what’s the point?’ when the tedium sets in. Devs will also be stuck in Groundhog Day hell: constantly coming up with leveling content that go obsolete in a fraction of the time it took to create.

    A game where you get to level cap and sit around playing minigames and drinking tea? There’s always Angry Birds and Farmville.

    PvP? There are players who thrive on competition but again, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

    Personally I see raiding as an *option*, particularly in more mature MMOs that have had time to cater to the non-raiding crowd. No one’s forcing you to do it, and it isn’t for everyone.

    The reason why raiding is in any game is that there probably is enough demand for it, and it provides the greatest ROI in terms of dev man-hours. Economic/business reasons, and certainly not to spite players who don’t like raiding.

    Wishing for the perfect MMO that caters exactly to your playstyle is like hoping for utopia. Not going to happen, as long as you play with others who have their own ideas of MMO utopia.

    • Gordon says:

      “Thought experiment: What is the alternative then, if you remove raiding gameplay from MMOs?”

      It’s a good question. I suppose I’d like to see an end game that is accessible via smaller groups or even solo content. After all, I spend the whole of WoW leveling up by myself so wouldn’t reason dictate that I could take on Deathwing alone too?

  12. DarthDiggler says:

    Sounds like you raiding with jerks.

    I don’t mind having content not everyone can get into. It separates the men from the boys. I play DCUO and sure I run into ass-hats, but they are pugs and not leaguemates.

  13. Ferrel says:

    I am going to have to weigh in on the side of “a few bad apples have ruined the whole experience.” I would argue that once you find the right raid organization you really won’t have to deal with that. That is certainly not what you’d experience on an Iniquity raid and we’re pretty darn successful. We focus more on building a fun team to play with where everyone can relax. Once you have that solid community the raiding comes easy. We win, we lose, we don’t care. We have fun.

    There are a lot of misconceptions about how raiding should be done these days. The problem is that there is little training outside of just showing up and watching someone else do it. If you’re a player, you see what you see, and then go on to run your own raid you do the same thing. It self perpetuates. I know I said a few bad apples but there are probably more than just a few.

    The way I look at it (and attempt to teach it) is that until you find the right team of people to play with you can’t really raid.

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