Talk to Me

So, we’re trying a little experiment in our guild. We’ve shaken up the raid schedule a little bit on order to get more of a focus on clearing 25 man content and to keep that good old raid momentum moving from week to week. A suggestion was made by some guildies that maybe we could structure our raid weeks different, and the officership decided to give it a try – despite the reservations of some guildies and some officers. (And me.)

Our old raid system was a “two on, one off” sort of thing. We’d raid two weeks, usually 6 days a week, then have one week off where there would be no scheduled raids. You could PuG any content you liked, do your PvP, your farming, chill with your fam – do whatever you needed to do on those off weeks. We raided pretty hard during our on weeks, but never had a set schedule – just some 25 mans and some random 10 mans, whatever we were feeling like doing whenever that week.

I liked this system because the time off was nice. I disliked this system because of the lack of focus and structure. The opinions in our guild varied, but most people really seem to like that week off – it’s really helpful in managing raider burnout. It’s why we have that system in the first place.

We are in the second week of a trial run of a new system. (We’re expecting to go with this new system until mid-December.) Under this new system, we raid three 25 mans a week, and two 10 mans a week. (We raid slighly different days every other week, so as to make sure that if people have one set day a week they absolutely cannot raid, they can still make at least some raids.) The 10 mans are completely optional and arranged so that if you decide to not go to the 10 mans, you can have four consecutive days off in a week. The idea here was not only to have set raid days, but to really focus on 25 mans, as well as to give people some time off during the week, now that we don’t have off weeks.

Results have been mixed.

We have some people who like the structure and focus of the new system, but we have some (vocal) people who really want their off weeks back and who are feeling even more burnt out after two weeks of this new system than they are under the old system.

I understand that just because a raid is (repeatedly emphasised) as completely, totally, guilt-free and optional doesn’t mean that people will not feel any pressure to attend them. And I understand that even with four days off in a week (two of those days being weekends – which may or may not need to be Family Time) that there may not be enough time to get the gold and mats you need to keep raiding. (Though I think Gevlon might have a thing or two to say abbout that.) And I also know that I myself am not raiding because I’m out here on the Bald Prairie, working, so I’m disconnected from being able to judge my own level of burnout or monitor others in person.

I’m witholding my final judgement on the effectiveness of the new raid schedule. I’m going to keep observing and listening to people and collecting data and viewpoints. I think that this experiment should at least run another two weeks to really judge it.

So, in the spirit of gathering data – how do you schedule your raids, O Great WoW Blogspherizens? Do you have off weeks? How do you manage raid burnout? What do you think of our raid scheduling, both the new and the old? Talk to me, it’s lonely out here.


This Isn’t Where I Parked My Game

So, the casuals are ruining WoW for everyone.

(No wait. That’s a miserable opening. Let me try again.)

So, the hardcore players are ruining WoW for everyone.

(Actually, that’s crap too. Let’s give it one more try. They do say third time’s a charm and all that.)

So, WoW has changed. Some people like it, some people don’t and all people are talking about it. Now I firmly believe that the definition of hardcore is “anyone who plays more than you” and that the definition of casual is likewise “anyone who plays less than you” and I always marvel about how you have managed to find that perfect balance between success in WoW and success and happiness in life-that’s-not-WoW. It sort of reminds me of when we get together for family gatherings and everyone in the world except the person talking is a shitty driver who should have their license revoked and/or be sentenced to a firing squad. Perception, people. It’s all about perception.

WoW and life balance is an overarching theme of this blog and I will freely admit that I play more WoW than I should. I ignore my family/friends sometimes because I’d rather do this raid or get that level or farm for the other rare pet. I have knocked off work early to rush home and play, I’ll admit that. I’ve neglected the household chores on saturdays and spent all day in front of the computer. I’d say I spend on average as much time in WoW as I do at work, on any given week.

That being said, I don’t feel I’m addicted. Or at least, if I am, it’s a manageable addiction. I don’t get grouchy or twitchy when I can’t play Warcraft. I don’t play even when I don’t really want to play. I try to budget my time better and I purposely make leisure time to do things that are not WoW. So I think I’m a moderately hardcore player. I play a lot, I spend a lot of time out of game thinking and reading and writing and talking about WoW and I am competative and goal-driven when I do play.

If I fall around the 7.5 mark of a 1-10 Hardcoredness scale, I can also say that I know lots of players in and around a 2 or 3 and a few that are pushing 9 or 10. We have a pretty good spectrum in our guild, and we do our best to accomodate as many of the different styles of play and measures of dedication to the game. The people who just don’t give a crap enough to get their act together and be conscientious, capable, team-oriented raiders with the rest of the guild frustrate me, but no more so than the people who play 12 hours a day, get all the gear and levels and arrogance that goes along with it and cause a month-long drama-rama. I don’t think either hardcore players or casual players have ruined the game. I don’t think the game is ruined at all!

What I think the game is is mature. The WoW-playing community has changed. It has expanded, it has grown and it has grown up. Gamers in general are more discerning, they want prettier scenecery, more life-like characters and more intersting game worlds to explore. I think for the most part that Blizzard has done a very nice job of changing the game to reflect the maturing tastes of its subscribers. On the whole I think that gear is better looking, quests are more engaging and original, dungeons are more interesting and involved and boss fights have new and intersting mechanics.

(zomg please don’t post about how many ‘kill n critters’ or ‘go over there and get me Y random doohickies’ style quests there are. There are still some lame-o, grind-tastic, boring, poorly designed or just plain broken quests. I’m talking a general trend in game design here, don’t kill it with details.)

I like the new graphics, I like the new quests, I like the new dungeons and bosses. I like the idea of dual specs – I think that is a huge change for the better. I like the idea of 10 and 25 man versions of the same dungeons. I like what they have done in terms of world PvP, in terms of the (ugh!) rep grinds and for the most part I like the achievements.

For the most part.

I understand what Blizz has done in implementing the achivement system in order to give the more hardcore players something a little meatier to work with. However, I really think that they have fallen short of the mark. Yes, you can do dungeons and bosses with less people, more adds, no deaths or other convoluted circumstances and if you manage to overcome despite the odds being stacked against you, you get that fancy ding! sound and light show. I like that. What I don’t like is that the achievements don’t cater to my ego enough. Not enough! My ego demands more recogniton! Getting the best gear from the hardest dungeons and a rare pet and an expensive mount is all about chilling in Ironforge or Shattrath or Dalaran and having every lowbie and sundry player who walks by you check you out and be jealous at how awesome you are. Achievements need to cater to that gamer ego more. More titles. More mounts. More more more! If I am so awesome that I can get these achievements, I want everyone to know it!

The other thing that pisses me off about achievements is the points system. I have heard in the wind that there may come a time that you can spend the points on mounts/tabbards/pets/gears etc etc and lawdy I hope that never comes to pass. You can spend PvP/arena points on PvP gear so everyone can see how awesome a PvPer you are. You can spend raiding tokens on raid gear so that everyone can see how awesome a raider you are. If you can spend achievement points on gear (or other items) then my points that I have earned through performing death-defying feats in raid dungeons will be worth exactly the same as someone who did all the holiday achievements or got a lot of noncom pets. That does not feed the Hardcore Ego, and it does defeat the entire purpose of putting in the raid achievements in the first place.

As I said above, our guild is a spectrum of players and that spectrum is (to a large extent) a reflection of the specturm of WoW players in general. There are people who log on once a week and there are people who only log off once a week. I know from the standpoint of a Guild Leader that is pretty much an impossible task to please all of these people all of the time. But we do try. We do things for the casuals and we do things for the more hardcore and I think for the most part we succeed. Our guild has changed and grown since it’s inception and I think we’re a more stable, more successful and more mature guild than the awkward, knobble-kneed little fledgeling we were two years ago. And I know Blizzard is in the same situation. They have the same spectrum of players and play styles to keep happy (read: paying subscription fees) and I actually think they have done quite well. The game is better, the game is more acessable at all levels of play and it has a nicer, more polished, more mature feel to it. This is a game that changes and adapts and grows. It’s not a one-hit wonder.

I applaud Blizzard’s efforts to make the game better for everyone. I think the WoW universe is a better one today than it was even when TBC was released. I think that there is more fun to be had in it for everyone, and I think it will keep on getting better and better.

Except for the BM hunter nerfs in patch 3.08. You can fold those till they’re all corners and shove them! *grumble*