Procrastination Amplification: Punditry on MMOs and games in general.

On Efficiency in Raids

There’s a post by our favourite Blizzard-employed crab out there in which the Ghostcrawler talks about the playerbase’s obsession with efficiency and min-maxing. Larísa has a strong post on the topic as well, and the discussion in the comments is huge and well worth a read. Faithful readers will already know that I’m an avid min-maxer and I’m quite guilty of requiring other players in my raids to min-max as well. I still think that that is correct in an achievement-oriented (no not those stupid in-game achievements – I mean the real sense of the word) environment and that anyone who intentionally slacks there is a leech on two legs.

This is the kind of statement that will get me some “you evil elitist” hatemail again, so please let me explain and qualify. If we simplify raid mechanics, each boss requires a certain raid performance X to be killed. When your raid is below this (fictional) number, you will not kill the boss. Obviously this number can’t just be something like gearscore, or DPS – it’s an amalgam of various factors including each individual player’s ability to avoid fires as well as their gear and their general ability in playing their class.

Now, if you are raiding bosses that are way below the performance level of your raid group, then it doesn’t really matter whether someone doesn’t bring as much to the raid as they could. If on the other hand you are trying to kill a new boss you are trying to get your raid’s performance level up to match the one required by the raid encounter. In that scenario, every bit of performance you are not bringing needs to be brought by someone else. Clearly not everyone can bring the exact same amount to the raid (skill-wise and gear-wise) and there’s nothing wrong with being worse than another player. Absolutely nothing. But if you intentionally reduce your performance (i.e. by picking a “fun” talent over an efficient one) you are forcing the rest of your raid to play even better to make up for your slacking.

Yes, it is a game and you should have fun, but in a raid there are 24 (or 9) other people that have just as much right to have fun as you do. Spoiling their experience just so you can have a PvP talent or so you don’t have to spend money on gems or consumables is selfish and unfair. And it doesn’t matter how small of a difference your decision makes, the final small improvements are the most expensive to get – and if you don’t do it, someone else has to get even more expensive ones.

World of Warcraft (and similar games) is a game of small steps. Your overall performance is defined through a million of small improvements and you can’t just start skimping on these because they are so small. If you do that you will suddenly end up at way worse performance than you could have.

I have turned away many a recruit from the guilds I’ve been in for an unwillingness to accept this. This was not simply a case of getting the highest performance player for the guild, but the one with the highest potential. At one point we had an applicant for example that was freshly eighty on his first character – clearly not geared or experienced enough for the hard modes we were doing at the time. The player came well recommended though, showed optimal gearing (for what he had) and optimal talent specs and for that reason we decided to make an investment. We took him along to raids where our performance level was way ahead of what the fights required, which allowed us to easily pick up his deficits. This gave him access to gear and practice and he eventually turned out to be a valuable member of the raid.

On the other hand we had many better-geared players with more experience applying that showed either an unwillingness to make optimal choices or an inability to make them. Yes, these players didn’t get into the guild because of little things such as sticking to “fun” talents or not gemming/enchanting properly. We had no use for players that put themselves ahead of the guild and were willing to let others carry their slack. Some might call this an obsession with efficiency, I call it a necessity for successful teamwork.

Once again – I’m not talking about PUG raids to easy bosses here but about actual progression in which you have to make an effort to finally defeat an encounter.

  • I think your way of picking players for your guild is reasonable – even very wise, totally understandable. And I don’t accuse you for being an elitistic prick or something like that. But still… I think GC is onto something important as well. He’s especially right about how we stare at a 1 percent effect from for instance talent choices, while just being more efficiant in your actual performance would make a change of 10 percent. Some wanna-be-hardcore players focus on the wrong things, missing the essentials. And while they’re doing this, they also manage to make the game less fun. I honestly think that if you and GC had a conversation about this, you would be on the same side.

    And thank you for the link love. The discussion in the comments was very long and interesting, and for the first time ever I think, I actually wish there was some way I could turn over the comments to Blizzard, because I think they’re relevant and thoughtful and might give them some input as they’re pondering upon how they can change the current atmosphere (which they apparently want to do.)

  • You (and GC) are absolutely right that many players will focus on superficial but quantifiable differences (i.e. Gearscore) instead of things that matter much more (i.e. skill). I’ve been fortunate enough to pretty much avoid pugging since UBRS, allowing me to avoid the brunt of the whole Gearscore and achievement craze.

    If GC would want to have a discussion with me, I would be more than happy to oblige, though I think it’s quite more likely that he will read your post and the comments there instead 😉