It's been a while since my last blog, so apologize about that to anyone who actually follows my blog. So, without further ado, here is a blog about raiding, from my point of view.
Raiding is perhaps the best or dirtiest word depending on which circles you hang around on the internet. There are few words that can polarize an MMO community more than the word raiding. It is perhaps one of the single most misunderstood and often mislabeled words in use out in the MMO market. For some this is the best word to hear because it means, to them at least, an endgame and things to grind for and brag about. For others, it's a dirty word that spells elitist and people that spend too much time taking things way too seriously, and for these people, they feel raiding completely and purposely shuts content off for them and of course they think that's unfair. This creates two camps of people that very much cannot see eye to eye when the chips are down.
Now, I would like to pretend I fall somewhere in the middle. I don't raid these days, though when The Old Republic comes out I do have some intentions of trying it out. I know back when in World of Warcraft, I think I probably considered myself in the first group I mentioned, but as the game wore on, and things started getting frayed at the edges in the guild I was in (that had split twice before mind you and broke apart roughly a month after they booted me when I decided to take a break) I started leaning closer to the second camp. The mentality as a whole is what creates the schism, I think, people and their desires to want to win instead of actually understanding they have to work towards something. And then on top of that the bitterness and frothing insults and resentment.
Now, my experience with raids is probably largely out of date. I raided back in the early days of World of Warcraft when the minimum raid size was 25 people and that was considered light, casual raiding by the Blizzard staff. Today, I know raiding goes in 10 for the light and 25 for the hardcore. So I will just be analyzing things from that old perspective, as I doubt much has changed other than things have gotten smaller and more condensed and thus easier to handle.
Now, the initial problem with raiding is just an inherent flaw with the mentality of the average MMO gamer. Needless to say, most MMO gamers imagine themselves as being indestructible and able to take on any foe without worry or need of others. Most gamers think it is unfair they can't take on a forty foot dragon and win without the help of a few friends. This creates a schism then, because when you have to rely on several groups of people, well the average MMO gamer mind set starts to crumble and then they begin to realize they aren't the only one in the game universe. This is one of those things that recent MMOs have created with the way the text works out in the end, the result is that they spend an unreasonable amount of time trying to tell people that they are special little gods but by the time they reach the end, or near it, they have to rely on others to help them out, and strangely enough people don't want to fathom the idea that in an MMO game they might have to rely on others to play.
Now my raiding experience covers a couple of games actually. To UOs world events of lagging death, to World of Warcraft, to Hamidon raids in City of Villains. Each one of them is a unique experience in of themselves and, like any experience, leaves a very distinct impression on the people participating in them. So the basic here is which type of raiding do I particularly enjoy? I don't think there is an easy answer, but I think I can safely say that WoW raiding I find the most boring and drab of all the raiding types when it concerns any MMO on the mainstream market now.
Now, the reason why I believe WoW raiding is the most boring out there is because, regardless of the fight you are going into, it requires being codified into a specific pattern and fighting the fight one specific way. There is no real deviation from it. Any attempt to do so results in either a failed attempt or near failure if your group happens to over gear the particular encounter. Some people call it strategy, I call it monotonous. I mean when your only method is to do something one way, it's going to get old hat. It becomes a routine job then, and that's the crux of the problem, because WoW raiding just feels like a job.
UO's raiding was random however. Because a majority of the events were one time and a lot of the time the big bad (at least back in the day) was generally ran by a GM or Seer, the end result was a critter that could actually think for itself. Team work was truly essential there, and it wasn't a boiler plate textbook tank and spank fight. Of course, this also generated some frustrations as some people could feel singled out in the event as well. However, back then the reward was a one of a kind item, though maybe not some purple super epic item, it was a rare, one of a kind item. These items have sense been destroyed due to UO's itemization and localization codes. So if any of the museums still exist on the oldest shards, the items will probably not have their original text they came with.
City of Villains Hamidon raid, it kind of falls into the middle there. It was predictable, but there wasn't a 100% it had to be done this way pattern. There were options outside of that. I can't exactly explain it, maybe it was the fact people were actually sociable but I enjoyed the Hamidon raid in City of Villains, versus WoW raiding, which felt like a chore and job I was being forced into. There wasn't anything super special about Hamidon raids, the rewards were pretty meager compared to everything else, at the time, you would ore received naturally. The bonuses weren't hot, but in the end it was just something to enjoy.
In the short of it, I do enjoy raiding, but not WoW style raiding. I want options when I raid, not the only one way to go about it approach to things. Having a large gathering of your guildies to do things together is always awesome to me, but when you are left pushing just one or two buttons the entire time, your attention and mind tends to wander, no matter how "tough" the boss might be that you are facing. This is the crux of WoW raiding. In City of Villains, you actually had a chain of abilities, and some you could place on auto. There were no macros or add ons that would automate things. People would actually have to pay attention and listen to the raid leader. WoW, everything's been automated to where it just gets dull and boring. Hell, I ran into a paladin the other night who was incapable of healing without a heal bot program. And trust me, I am a paladin healer in WoW, it's one of the easiest things in that game, and he was incapable of doing a basic boss fight without burning out his mana bar.
This is one thing I am looking forward to in TOR, honestly. The combat system seems to be set up more like City of Villains; ie there is no auto attacked and there are a series of abilities you run down a chain. This seems to allow for a bit more activity from the players part, and given how City of Villains operated, maybe the healer can do more than just focus on health bars for the entire fight. I can't say that will be how it will be. The Taral V, the healer was actually attacking and doing other things other than converting their blue bar for others green, but that was a mid level dungeon experience. No idea what the end game raiding or dungeon experience will be like.
I kind of also hope for small team numbers. Maybe nothing bigger than 12. You sort of lose your incentive when you feel like just another face in the crowd, which is what makes WoW raids so boring. You don't really feel like you are an important cog in the wheel, just another face in the crowd in the end. This is all wait and see, and maybe I might try out some raiding in Cataclysm WoW to see if anything is different there, but going by videos I've seen, I don't believe it is.