Tuesday, April 15, 2008

raid leaders aren't your friends

In response to Cameron's excellent post on Massively:

General George Patton once said, "I don't want my men to like me. I want them to fight for me." He was right. He got more out of his men than General Bradley, who used honey. But he wasn't talking about fun. He was talking about war.

Raids, in their current form, place unnecessary tension between fun and efficiency... and make me wonder if endgame MMO content is really about entertainment. A sense of achievement shouldn't be confused with fun. A raid (again, in the present form) is basically a group struggle focused on individual reward. Not all struggles are enjoyable.

Basketball and football are rigidly organized. The best coaches are always hard-nosed generals who only loosen up after victory (look at "Bear" Bryant, the coach with the greatest record in the history of NCAA football). But, likewise, those players often don't consider their sport fun during the games... only after the games, in retrospect.

Raids seem similar. During the raid, fun isn't a real value; but it might be considered fun in retrospect.

The sad thing is that all raiding is that way. MMOs include content for a variety of interests and playstyles in their early levels. Why must the endgame always boil down to mechanical guild work and achievement-focused gameplay?

Also, soldiers should be more than mere cogs in a rigidly ordered machine (as they are in reality). Efficiently performing one's role shouldn't negate all individuality.


  1. There's a fine line to walk in content design between "so easy it's not fun" (which is basically where you hand out loot if they bring the right number of people) and "challenge to overcome." In my experience, raid content usually starts at the challenging and frustrating end of the spectrum and moves towards the fun end as your progress through it.

    Case in point: Kara is EZ mode for my guild right now, and it's a blast every week (for the most part). We shoot through in 3 1/2 hours, get 22 badges, and maybe score a few epics. It's really fun.

    SSC, which we're starting on, is hard. We wipe a lot, mess up a lot, are busy learning it, and it can be frustrating. It's still fun (as you discuss), but it's different.

    If you make the initial fight too easy, where's the challenge that allows progression and the sense of accomplishment towards mastery?

  2. In Call of Duty 4 multiplayer, the battles are hard as hell... yet organization is unplanned, fluid, and self-imposed. A player sees most of his teammates covering the east side of the map, so he goes west. A player notices his team playing too defensively, so he goes on the offense. A player notices an enemy flanking the team, so he takes it upon himself to defend the flank.

    Obviously, there are some significant differences between that game and a typical MMO, but I think that general style of team-play is possible in MMOs. It's even more possible now, with voice communication becoming increasingly common.

    Difficulty in team-focused content doesn't require heavy and rigid organization, nor ant-like loss of individuality.

  3. The flipside of cogs-in-a-machine thinking is favoritism. If one of the cogs is constantly polished and lubricated even if it's missing a tooth, you get drama of epic propotions.


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