Saturday, April 4, 2009

Ashamed Of Victory

Longtime PVD commenter Fedaykin has been telling me that the worst that a PUG raid can inflict on me is something to write about and that OS-25 PUG's are even easier than Naxx. He turns out to be right on both counts, and I don't know that I've ever been more ashamed to walk out of a dungeon with the win.

The ugly details
Tobold says that he doesn't want to reveal his server because he doesn't want to use the very large platform that is his blog as a blunt instrument in this kind of situation. Obviously, I can't (and wouldn't) go back and anonymize Greenwiz's server, and mine is a substantially smaller platform than Tobold's, but his reasoning is sound. All names are omitted to protect the guilty.

The highlights of my first ever OS-25 PUG:
- The raid leader was apparently a freshly dinged Death Knight (wearing an atrocious mix of green and blue items) with one of those names that tends to spell trouble. You know, the ones so immature-sounding that one can make inferences about the player who would give a character that name, and generally turn out to be correct.

- The raid's lone druid ignored repeated calls for MOTW, and, when he finally realized that he was the lone druid, said that he would get us before the boss because he didn't want to shift out of Moonkin form. He also used whatever the spell Moonkin have which has the knockback effect, kicking trash mobs out of the AOE kill zone.

- The raid started out hopeful that even "scrubs" should be able to down Sarth with one of his Drake adds up. That impression was swiftly downgraded to "let's just try to finish" after at least one player died on each and every trash pull. (The raid leader may have contributed to this by assigning a different random plate-wearer to tank each pull, and not doing anything to ensure that healers had assignments.)

- Someone accidentally aggroed the third drake while we were fighting the pat that walks up to it. (Again, one might blame the raid leader for not moving the raid back.

- The MT for the actual fight against the dragon decided to tank the boss right in the middle of the path of the WALLS OF BLEEPING LAVA. In his defense, he did not know he was main tanking the encounter until moments before the pull, since the raid leader did not make up his mind (and initially assigned the job someone who clearly would not survive, only to have the raid protest en masse). He figured out that he was probably doing something wrong, so he proceeded to pull the dragon down to the ranged DPS spot, bunching the whole raid in a small area with a bunch of adds and a tail-swiping dragon. If the WALL OF BLEEPING LAVA had forced us to move, it would probably have hit 3/4 of the raid in the chaos and caused a wipe.

- When the boss died, the raid leader promptly ninjaed a T7.5 glove token for himself, and then proceeded to handle the rest of the loot distribution with the level of competence you might expect given the rest of the raid so far. He had consistent difficulty finding players on the loot interface, or reading the chat window to determine who won. The aforementioned moonkin decided to contribute to the idiocy by rolling on everything that dropped, including plate, and repeatedly rerolling if his number was not the highest. A typical raid leader would probably have kicked the guy, but our raid leader was an actual ninja looter, so I suppose his tolerance for such things was high.

Summing it up...
All in all? I'm outraged. Because of the incompetence, disorganization, and outright theft? Not at all. (I do already own T7.5 gloves, and got the 4 emblems of valor which were my main interest in running the raid in the first place.) Because we one-shotted the dungeon in about 30 minutes despite all these things.

I have zero problems with farming trivial content for loot on a regular basis - I'm still faithfully farming Archavon every week, and even though the fight is so easy that I can occasionally near the top of the damage meters with my non-raid-viable Frost-based Frostfire spec in a raid that still somehow manages to down the boss in three minutes. Still, even I have some low standards for encounters requiring some minimal competence for victory. Simply put, last night's OS-25 PUG deserved to fail. And instead we won, in a single attempt, with minimal casualties on the boss encounter.

There's a broader question, which I'd like to cover in more detail and will save for next week. In the mean time, though, this highly successful debacle of a raid has left even a proponent of raid accessibility like myself wondering if perhaps the bar has been set a bit too low.


Klepsacovic said...

To me accessibility means not having to farm for hours a day to get flasks and a bag full of pots before the raid. It means having little enough trash that you can at least get to bosses within a few hours; time should matter for raiding, but it shouldn't be like the old Naxx, or AQ40, both of which took tons of time and had ridiculous amounts of trash.

Accessibility doesn't mean easy. Intro raid should mean easy. But, not this easy. From my own experience of what is most fun, a starter boss should die the first night after maybe 5 tries (but not so many that trash repops). More challenging bosses, as I would have expected Sarth, should take coming back the next day after an hour of wiping.

Does this mean they can't be PUGed? Well no, but the PUG should have competent people and should at least be in all blues (for naxx) and at least mixed purples (for sarth). I'm afraid Blizzard mixed up making content accessible and not ridiculously hard with excessively easy to the point that it diminishes the fun.

DeftyJames said...

it's interesting because normally I have great PUG experiences but lately I seem to be having the worst. Either the people are way overpowered (a bunch of 80s running a 60 level instance like Blood Furnace) or a group of mid-40s trying to do Black Rock Depths. Both these PUGs actually happened to me. Needless to say the first was boring and the second I bailed after the third wipe.

But the really fun/sad instance was downing Anzu in Heroic Sethekk Halls. On one hand it was super cool for my level 70 druid to get flight form the old fashioned way, and to see the Raven God in the flesh was awesome. It's a real cool quest chain. But the problem was that the only people who want to do that instance anymore are people who already have the Heroic Key. All I could get was a group of level three level 80s who wanted a shot at the drake drop (it didn't drop); we cleared the entire instance in 20 minutes. So while quest chain was awesome the end did not have that "epic" feel I was hoping for. But after three days of trying, I knew there was no way on earth I was going to get an at level PUG for than instance.

Gevlon said...

The story why my girlfriend left raiding in 80:

She dinged lvl 80 as prot warrior. Bought 2 titansteel items. Enchants, gems up. Barely defcapped, some blues, 2 purples, rest were lvl70 badge gear.

We saw a LFM Sarth 10. They needed healer and offtank. Soon it turned out that the "main tank" is a DK you described and had absolutely no chance to survive the encounter. So she was promoted, though she was sure that her gear is no way for raid MT, but some wipes worth practicing.

Oneshotted Shart of course. Healing was a bit hard, but was doable. After the raid it turned out that there were only 2 healers and the other one healed 1/3 of mine. And this was in early january when the people were not sporting in full 213, I had 1600-1700SP back then.

Next she gave a chance to VoA. Onshotted too in her mostly lvl 70 gear. She declared that this game is a joke and she won't raid more.

Syrana said...

*feels sick*

Regarding Gevlon's girlfriend, well, then she didn't really enjoy the game anyway.

I'm not saying the content is or isn't too easy. But regardless of difficulty, you should still be able to have fun and enjoy it, if you really, truly, enjoy this game.

Pangoria Fallstar said...

I see other people as luckier than me, since I'm not going to join a raiding guild, but I pug. On my server, pugs have problems with OS, and Naxx is not even doable with a pug, unless it's a guild that's just pugging last spot.

In these cases I'm not "ashamed" of victory, but glad that it's doable instead. What's a joke is having 25 man doable. 10man should be the puggable version, but 25 man is usually easier since so many players that are geared better can make up for the 5 pugged people, which makes me wonder why those guilds don't go for the less people achievements?

Betty said...

WTH @ Syrana...

I'm not sure how one is meant to 'really, truly, enjoy this game'.
There are many different reasons people like this game, some of us enjoy a challenge, others are more here for the 'social' aspects of the game.

The difficulty of the content has a direct effect on both types of people. If the content is too easy then people who wanted a challenge get bored and usually leave, if the content is too hard the quite often the tone of the raid changes and people who were there to social leave.

I don't understand why someone would quit after sarth/VoA due to it being too easy as neither encounter was meant to be very hard. She probably could have at least given the other content a go first. But that doesn't mean she should have to put up with this type of content.

The content is the game, and WoTLK is a fair bit different from TBC/Vanilla.

Syrana said...

@Betty - An "I don't agree with you" or "I'm not sure what you mean" would have sufficed rather than the tone of "WTH."

To clarify, first off, the feeling sick was my response to reading about the PuG encounter in the post.

And you apparently do know what is involved in really, truly, enjoying the game, because you went on to mention various aspects of the game. Yes, there are many different reasons why people play, but I think it is hard to enjoy the full game if you focus all your enjoyment into only one aspect of it.

Point being, if someone gives up or stops playing after two successful raid attempts, there wasn't a LOT tying their interest to the game.

Betty said...

@Syrana, fair enough. My 'WTH' was to show shock at your statement, which actually had lowered significantly by the time I had finished replying. I probably should have toned it down a bit =) but forgot to.

It was never stated that the person quit the game, just that they stopped raiding. That said there really isn't much to do in this game (imo) if you don't raid. And if you were really into the social aspect then you'd probably raid anyway for fun as you said.

Here's hoping that Ulduar isn't puggable for a while. Not because I hate pugs (although I really do), but more because I'd love this game to be a challenge for a while again.

Green Armadillo said...

Wow, guess this topic hit home, cause I don't usually get this many comments. Sorry that each of you isn't getting more attention.

@Klep: The hard part for the designers is distinguishing between between a group that's making a good faith effort without consumables but with reasonable gear, and a group like my PUG that's overgeared and using that to compensate for incompetence.

@DJ: I guess your experience is why they chose not to require the quests. I wonder if it's possible to solo the Pally version at 80, I'd be willing to pay the gold for no reason other than to try it.

@Gevlon: Like I was saying to Klep, there's a difference between skilled players managing to overcome undergearing the content, and players managing to overcome failing the content outright. The former is always going to be true to some degree, but the latter is what bugs me.

@Pangoria: Yeah, my situation may be influenced by the fact that we have tons of guilds that have already cleared all the 25-man content, which greatly expands the competent PUG pool.

@Syrana and Betty: You've wandered into the murky frontier of incentives that weren't formally put there by the devs - things like hanging out with your friends or gearing up for content that may be coming down the line. I can understand either decision; for instance, my pug represented an excellent emblem:time return on investment, but a terrible social outing. Which one of those two do I weigh more highly in deciding whether to try again (hopefully with fewer ninja looters) next week? I think it is a slightly more complex question than simply whether I am serious about the game or not.

Stabs said...

Feydakin's prophecy that this experience would give you something to write about was certainly true. Not only have you produced a passionate and witty post that is superbly written but it's also caught people's imaginations.

My perspective on this is that crappy pugs have always existed and part of the search for a good play experience in these games is social. I know Gevlon tried to achieve good play experiences by quantative means (eg minimum 2k dps etc) but I think his methods have limitations.

Form your own raids, put great players and/or shortage classes on friends put obvious idiots on ignore and run raids for a few weeks. After 6 weeks you'll have considerably filtered your pool.

Or just join a "good guild"

Syrana said...

@Betty - Ah, that makes more sense. Dang text not giving the right tone! ;)

And yeah, to bring it back around full circle to incentives, developers haven't seemed to fully grasp the social incentive that plays into all of it.

We want "the right amount of challenge," we want to be with friends (or at least people we tolerate), and we want appropriate rewards.

Right now, the challenge is not enough across the board, but the rewards are just enough to allow many to be with people they would rather not be with in order to get them.

It's a crazy balance to strike, and something that, I think, led to the lowered numbers needed for raids.

Longasc said...

Instead of making raiding a joke, they should realize that only few people are interested in raiding. Most just want to collect the better gear.

I ask for alternative forms of endgame content, then people would not have to group up to do stuff that actually is not to their liking.

WOTLK started a downward spiral. I bet Ulduar gets nerfed hard if it is slightly harder than Naxxramas.

People get away with mistakes and playing bad, they still kill the boss and get the loot. They do not learn raiding and do not gain much experience this way.

I like the idea of very easy entry level raids, but I fear they produce rather a downward spiral and uninteresting gameplay for raiders, whereas those who do not care for the raiding itself but mainly for gear could think of better ways to farm their gear for sure, too.

Chris said...

I used to lead a casual guild (raiding 2x/week) and we full cleared naxx, obs, and maly all within the first month of Wotlk. We rarely did healing assignments, tank assignments, or for that matter, any assignments.

Once a player learns the general boss strategies, the game is cake. In fact, cake is offended - it's easier than cake.

It's why I quit WoW - only time is needed, not skill anymore. How can you take pleasure in doing anything when basically, anyone could do it given time?

Daria said...

Remember that this was Sarth with only 1 drake, which is easy.
If a PUG could walk into OS with blues/greens and down Sarth +3 drakes, then I could see why people are raising a stink about it.

Sarth is designed to be progressively harder, and we had better get used to this type of design since it is being reused in Ulduar.

Sure you can do Sarth with no drakes in a fail PUG, in order to obtain epics and emblems easily. But no matter what your gear, you will need some skill and tremendous coordination to get the 3 drakes achievement.

fedaykin98 said...

Woohoo, my name in light! By the way, I predicted the Elite Eight perfectly, too. XD