Procrastination Amplification: Punditry on MMOs and games in general.

Re: Teamwork

Whatever would I do without Tobold? He just keeps on delivering material for me to disagree with. Today, he posted about teamwork and how it doesn’t matter in World of Warcraft as opposed to World of Tanks. He claims that if everyone in a WoW raid performs perfectly individually, the fight will be won while performing perfectly in World of Tanks can still lead to an overall loss if individual actions aren’t properly coordinated. I couldn’t disagree more.

Raids in WoW are all about coordination and teamwork. One of the biggest problems my guilds have had during their raiding careers was that of very strong players who focused on their individual performance instead of coordinating for a higher goal. Have you never met the DPS player who wouldn’t interrupt or keep up a debuff because that would lessen her individual damage output? How about the healer that keeps on sniping heals wherever possible instead of concentrating on the assigned target?

Take the 25 best WoW players and put them into an encounter previously unknown to them without methods of communication. Then see them fail horribly, no matter how good their individual performance is.

What Tobold is observing is the difference between predictable, scripted encounters and unpredictable player vs. player fights. Once you know exactly how an opponent will behave it is of course possible to create a plan that counters that behavior if executed properly. When this plan is completely ironed out, the fight becomes a pure matter of execution. This does not mean that it isn’t about teamwork anymore, just that the optimal way to work together has been found and broken down into individual tasks. As long as this detailed plan doesn’t exist (and I’ve had many a WoW fight in which it didn’t), live communication and teamwork are essential. Hell, that is pretty much exactly what guilds need voice communication for in the first place. If individual performance was everything, communication would not matter.

For a reasonable comparison regarding teamwork, one would have to look at unscripted gameplay in WoW as well, battlegrounds being the obvious choice. Lo and behold, great performance by individuals does not mean that your team wins the battleground if you do not work together and coordinate on the spot. I have seen many an Arathi Basin being lost because of people focusing on their individual performance instead of properly distributing their forces. Not having played WoT, I can only assume from Tobold’s description that the strategic distribution of forces in Arathi Basin is not very different from what happens in World of Tanks.

Now, I’m not saying that the ultra-scripted nature of current raid encounters is a good thing, but it is folly to claim that raids are not about teamwork. Even a pure tank’n’spank encounter (which hardly exist anymore) requires your team to at least communicate in such a way that you have a dedicated tank and healers. If individual performance was all that counted, bringing 25 DPS classes to each raid would be a perfectly valid strategy.