No matter where you turn in the blogosphere right now you can’t go 2 clicks without being assaulted with Cataclysm information about this, that and the next thing. People preparing, people sharing Beta thoughts, people taking wild guess about what it’s all going to be like. In all that saturation, there aren’t a whole lot of people still talking about the game. They are talking about the future. Which, I guess I understand. The current iteration of the game has been around awhile, and there are new shiny things on the horizon. But let’s be honest here – we are, at best, almost two months out from a release.
Now, I don’t know about you, but for the most part I am feeling overwhelmed with Cataclysm information. And by overwhelmed, I kinda mean that with the exception of some of the resto druid changes, I’m tired of everything being about Cataclysm. As I sift through my blog list in the morning, I find that I revel at posts that are about anything other than Cataclysm, they are a breath of fresh air and I cherish each of them. More and more, I find that I largely just skip over the Cataclysm ones. If they seem somewhat interesting, I’ll give it a skim, but otherwise I generally just shrug and move along.
As I flip through post after post about Cataclysm, I can’t help but wonder if bloggers aren’t sort of doing to Cataclysm, and WoW in general, what the Paparazzi did to Britney Spears. Overexposed and Oversaturated to the point that largely, save the “can’t look away from the train wreck” factor, people just stopped caring. The more I read about Cataclysm, I’m finding, the less I care about it. I can’t imagine that this is a good thing!
So, I thought that I’d try to talk about something else for a bit.
Let’s talk about having fun at the end of an expansion.
Before we do that, I have a bit of a confession to make. Lately I’ve been having a hard time getting excited to continue pushing our current progression “challenge”, Hard Mode Halion. I’m having a hard time mustering up the energy to care about the fight. This is only exacerbated by the fact that it seems like a good portion of our progression team sort of mirrors my feelings. Not only that – but our farmed content is starting to get sloppy as people just phone in their performances and go through the motions during raids.
Hey, I can’t necessarily say that I blame them. We’ve had this content for something like nine months now.
I’m pretty sure that people had more fun last week when we brought in something like 8 alts to kill Lich King than they did in all of the fights preceding that encounter. This is something that I definitely recognized.
Now, this past Monday we went back into Ulduar to give another go at Alone in the Darkness. A couple of people posted some true “zerg” videos and so we figured “why not, what have we got to lose”, and gave the zerg a try. In case you are curious on how the zerg works, you basically have your two tanks tank the immortals far enough away from Yogg that when they heal, they don’t heal Yogg. Once you are at about 8 Immortals, you have your DKs come up and unleash their Armies of the Dead, and shortly after that you have your shaman let their rocks loose. You then cycle through your tank and healer cooldowns while praying that DPS does not go insane, and can get through Yogg’s life before the tanks die.
Going into the final phase on Monday night, we were down 3 DPS. Including both of our Death Knights. This meant no armies. Well, it’s all about practice, so we decided to go with it. We plucked away at Yogg’s life bit by bit, and at some point two people went insane. Ok – we are now down 5 DPS. Well, keep going, we are already invested in it now. We went through our rocks, we went through our priest cooldowns, we went through our tank cooldowns. And we still had 3% to go. Our first tank bit it. Shortly after our second tank bit it. And then in very short order our raid started to perish.
But somehow, with all of the guardians running amuck randomly extinguishing people, Yogg’s life kept ticking down until eventually he was dead. We had three people left standing. Three. And you know what? The raid was laughing. There was chatter in vent. The raid was in high spirits. And it was pretty clear why. The raid had fun.
After we all rolled for a shot at Mimiron’s head, we headed down to Ruby Sanctum. Someone asked if we were going to work a bit on hard mode – and so we left it to the raid to decide. And you know what? People were more interested in if we were going to go back in for more Alone in the Darkness kills than they were for Ruby Sanctum. Not that I can blame them. We had fun – and, well, Hard Mode Halion really isn’t all that fun. Ultimately, with some prodding, people started to indicate that they’d rather just have a short raid night than throw themselves at Halion.
It’s important to take the temperature of your guild regularly
When you step back and analyze the reactions of the two events, it’s pretty clear that a good number of people are starting, or are already, kind of worn down on WotLK raiding. As we plan our raids going forward, it’s important to us that we engage in events that people enjoy and want to do. In this case – I think just about everyone wants a shot at Mimiron’s head. And really, the only painful part about getting there is reclearing Ulduar every week.
But hey – we can spruce that up a bit by doing some of the more unique achievements in the zone as we clear. The “fun” ones that you really don’t pay much attention to while you are working progression in the zone.
However, ultimately, the goal is to find something at the end of the expansion to keep people engaged and regularly attending raids. To pinpoint what is worth pushing, and what isn’t. While two months may seem like a fair bit of time – really it’s only 8 raid resets. And as that number counts down, so will people’s focus and desire to keep throwing themselves at things. It’s truly a challenge to balance the risk of pushing versus the rewards for pushing. As an expansion draws to a close, the rewards start to minimize and the scales are disproportionately weighted.
The closer an expansion grows, the more focus should be shifted to having fun.
Let’s face it. Everyone is probably experiencing raiders who have seemingly fallen off of the face of the planet. Every guild’s goal at this point should be maintenance of their raiding roster, assuming of course that you’d like to keep your raiding roster. And that’s a lot harder than it sounds. It’s hard to engage people with content that’s been available to them for 9 months. It’s even harder to try to motivate people.
As you approach “D-Day” (or I suppose “C-day”?) ensuring that your raid team has fun should become a top priority. Because people having fun tend to continue doing things that are fun. Offering options for Alts to join in on raids. Doing some more low key achievement runs. Farming for silly things like Mimiron’s head. Those are largely all things that might be more intriguing to people than simply clearing through ICC…again.
At this point, most raid teams can clear ICC in a day. So, why not orchestrate some fun things into some of that extra time? As people what they are missing, and what they’d like to complete.
Sure, I’m a little disappointed that we aren’t going to kill HM LK in a 25 man setting. But you know what, I’m ok with that. Every day I read a blog post or see someone on twitter who is lamenting the loss of their guild. Guilds that have been working on HM LK since March. Guilds that could no longer sustain their rosters as people burned out. And you know what? I’m glad that we didn’t try to force it on our guild. And because I feel even less committed about HM Halion than I do HM LK – I think I’d be OK if we don’t check him off our list either.
At this point in the expansion’s life cycle, as long as we keep having fun, and people continue to enjoy raiding, I think that is all that is important.
While everyone else is talking about Cataclysm, I think it’s important to remember that unless people continue to have fun now – Cataclysm won’t matter.
What kinds of things are you doing to keep things fun? Are you starting to feel “Cataclysm’d out”? How is your guild holding up during this transition time?