A Little Elbow Grease   11 comments

When I was a kid my parents had the Easter Bunny deliver me my very first two wheel bike for Easter one year.  They had probably saved for months to be able to afford it, and had likely stayed up until three in the morning assembling it – complete with training wheels, banana seat and flowered basket on the front.  My dad took me out that day and helped me up on it, and watched me wheel around completely in love with the gift.

After a period of time, it was decided that I had become proficient enough that it was time to take the training wheels off of the bike, and let me have a go on my own.  I remember my dad running behind me holding onto the back of the seat as I peddled furiously.  Knowing that he wouldn’t let me fall off the bike, I felt uninhibited.  I was a big girl now, look at me go! 

Of course, it was only a short time after, as I peddling around in a circle around the parking lot, that I looked over and saw my dad on the far side of the lot waving at me.  It took my mind a bit to connect that if Dad was standing over there waving at me, he most definitely wasn’t holding onto the back of the seat anymore and I was riding the “big girl” bike all by myself!  Yes!

Days went by, and then weeks, and I went out and rode my new bike around the parking lot (by myself!) without incident.  Mom or dad, or sometimes even the friendly neighbor lady from upstairs would keep an eye on me and cheer me on as I peddled along, content as could be. 

And then one day it happened.

I mean, it was bound to happen, right?  You dont learn to ride a bike without a scraped knee here and there.  But up to this point, I’d never really fallen off of my bike.  Truth be told, this is probably a very good thing because I’ve always pretty much been a wuss.  However, it was inevitable that at some point I was going to take a spill.  And sure enough, I did.  But not only did I manage to take a spill, I somehow managed to fall into a parked car with a dented bumper (only me…).  A scraggly thing, with sharp edges.

In addition to scraping my knee, I cut a massive gash in my right index finger on the bumper of the parked car.  And it bled.  Profusely.  And I panicked and started screaming, sending my mom, dad and the neighbor lady from upstairs on a mad dash to see what had happened to me.  As parents do, they got me all patched up, and calmed me down.  The cut was bad enough that I still have the scar on my finger to this day – but I also still have my finger

Of course, the entire incident shattered my confidence and I refused to ride my bike again unless my dad would come out with me and make sure I didn’t fall off again.  In fact, I was so terrified of falling off of the bike that I would constantly look over my shoulder to make sure that he was still there and hadn’t pulled his trick shenanigans making me think he was there but really not.

However, as time passed, so did my fear of falling off the bike again.  I regained my confidence and was eventually back to peddling my way to glory all on my own.  To this day I’m still terrified of falling off of my bike, I am still a giant wuss, but those things don’t stop me from getting on a bike.  I didn’t quit just because I fell down, in fact my parents made it a point to make sure I didn’t quit by dusting me off and putting me back on the bike – even if I needed the security of my Dad’s help for a bit.

Hey Beru, great story!  But this is a WoW blog, what exactly does this have to do with anything?

Are you still with me?  Yes?  Ok, let me get to where I want to go with this post – because as much as I may think my childhood adventures may be intriguing, I’m sure you don’t really much care!  What I really want to talk about is raider fortitude.  Or, more specifically, I want to address an attitude that I’ve seen from a a good number of raiders across the WoW community with alarming frequency.  I’m talking about the mentality that you should be able to kill a new raid boss with little effort, a few pulls and in one night’s raid time.

Weeks vs. Days

Maybe it’s because I’m a 6+ year veteran of the game that I feel that the game should present long term challenges to its players, and that I have a problem with walking in to easily clear content with little or no effort.  You see, back in the day when you walked uphill both ways to get to Molten Core (could you please, for the love of all things holy, LOOT THE DAMN DOGS!), you didn’t zone in expecting to kill a boss in a few hours time.  Quite the opposite in fact.  You went in expecting to wipe most of the night while your team worked out mechanics, positioning and strategy for your team’s success.

It was expected, and normal, to potentially spend a week or more working on the same boss, and in some cases a month or more (hello farming resist gear!).  There was no instant gratification.  There was no expectation that you would go in, sneeze in the direction of the boss, and subsequently have him be so terrified of your prowess that he shit his loot out for you as he was running away in fear.  The expectation was that you were going to work for your gear.

Much like when I was learning to ride my bike as a kid, raiders of the day knew that it was inevitable that they would fall down and have to pick themselves up again and again.  Raid leaders knew that it was important to keep pushing and putting their raid back up on the bike, and not letting them quit the first few times they fell down.

Raids continued to follow this format up through the end of the Burning Crusade.  Teams knew that the content in front of them was going to push and challenge them.  They didn’t zone into Black Temple and expect to be sitting on Illidan’s lap the next night.  They didn’t face Lady Vashj and expect to only take her on one date before she put out (her loot!  get your mind out of the gutter!).  You didn’t get to Mu’ru and give him the stink eye and have him produce purples for you.

The encounters were designed to offer challenges for you.  To foster teamwork and to push your raid to find creative solutions to deal with the puzzles presented by each encounter.  In fact, I’d even go as far as to say that’s what made raids fun.  Raid teams knew that these puzzles were going to take time to solve – and it was generally accepted that this is how progression worked. 

After all, raiding shouldn’t be about shiny purples.  It should be about solving the puzzles.  It should be about team work.  It should be about celebrating successes.  In fact, I take the view that loot is a tool that helps you succeed; that prepares you to face your next challenge.  It is not the reason you raid – and if it is, it really shouldn’t be.

Fast Forward

Somewhere between the end of the Burning Crusade and the start of Cataclysm, many raiders became spoiled.  Got soft.  In fact, I’d wager that there are some raiders out there that, up until Cataclysm, didn’t realize that bosses were supposed to be challenges that required many hours of effort to overcome.  They didn’t realize that encounters were supposed to take effort, dedication, fortitude and time to defeat.

Now, I’m not going to necessarily point a finger at WotLK for this, because I don’t think that it’s entirely the fault of the expansion – and I do feel that there were some very successful instances, and challenges, presented to us that expansion.  But I will go ahead an point my finger at the players who got comfortable with the easier content and created the expectation that be the status quo for the rest of the game.  I will point my finger at the player who left that Malygos pug after the 5th wipe because the raid hadn’t succeeded.  And I will point my finger at the player who thinks that just because he’s all decked out in purples he should be able to do anything without thought or purpose.

You see, I find myself growing increasingly frustrated at people who get aggravated, or find it inconceivable, that you may need to work on a new boss for several days, or even *gasp* weeks, to achieve success.  People who after a night or two (or even an hour or two) of work  on an encounter, become indignant and default to the “you guys are just fucking terrible and that’s why we can’t succeed” mentality.  These are often generally the same people who don’t understand or accept that sometimes the raid is just having a bad night.

The truth of the matter is that people with the attitude mentioned above actually do more harm to the raid’s success than just about anything else.  And another truth is that content shouldn’t just fall over because you want it to be dead.  It should take time, execution and effort.  It should challenge your raid team – make you analyze your weaknesses and fortify your strengths.  And you know what?  Sometimes it can be frustrating to watch the same people make the same mistake, or working through your team’s weaknesses, but raiding requires patience.  Patience is a key asset in any raider – and something that a good number of raiders today are missing.

Much like riding a bike, raid teams should expect to fall down many times before finally succeeding.  And raid teams should also expect to dust themselves off and get back in the seat, optimistic that patience and time will lead to success.  People didn’t learn to ride a bike overnight – so I’m not sure why people should expect to overcome every challenge in which they are faced without some effort.

Thomas Edison told us that “opportunity is missed by most people because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work”.  This is just as applicable to raiding as it is to anything else.  Keeping a positive attitude, and putting a little elbow grease into what you are working on will generally bear more favorable results than not even trying or expecting to achieve success without effort.

Posted April 8, 2011 by Beruthiel in /rant, Deep Thoughts, Raid Leadership, Raiding

11 responses to “A Little Elbow Grease

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  1. You are so lucky. My Dad took me to the top of a hill, sat me on my bike.. and let go. *screaming terror*, and as it’s now my mode of transport, I am sure my mum sits praying all day just in case 😛

    There is so much truth in this post.

  2. Awesome! Exactly how I feel an can’t say enough on how this is so true!

  3. I think there’s a bit of a disconnect between what you expect as a 6 year serious raider and what some of us more casual types got used to in WotLK.

    I was part of a ‘group of buddies’ guild that was actually challenged by LK’s version of Naxx, who never finished Ulduar, and who didn’t finish ICC until 4.01. For us, though, that was pretty good, because in BC we never got past the Kara/Gruul/Mags level. I personally never minded that we didn’t get to see BT or Sunwell, I knew we weren’t good enough for that, but in LK I enjoyed the fact that given time and effort we had reason to be “optimistic that patience and time will lead to success”.

    The bar isn’t set at the same level for everyone. For you guys the Cataclysm-era raising of it means that you have to work harder, but that you will eventually succeed. It’s a foregone conclusion that you will eventually ‘win’. For us, and for a lot of other folks like us (and newer players that came on in LK and have never encountered this level of difficulty), that raised bar doesn’t mean that we have to work harder to succeed, it means that we may *never* succeed.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that we’re not all *gasp* “spoiled” and “soft” players who just want free epix. We want challenges, and we were actually challenged by WotLK. Cataclysm is just a little too much for us. That doesn’t make us lesser beings, and our dismay about it doesn’t mean that we’re whiny little QQ-ers who want everything for free. We worked for what we got in WotLK.

    Maybe we’re a little older now and don’t have all that “time” that you mentioned any more, maybe we’re not *that* bad but we value hanging out with friends in a casual guild above finding a hard-core progression guild, maybe we really *are* that bad and just want to have fun. Our money is just as valuable to Blizzard in the end – and just because they catered more to us in LK than you doesn’t mean that we like having “fingers pointed at us”.

    • TonyKP –

      As Glyneth states below (and she is spot on!) this has absolutely nothing to do with how you may chose to the play the game. I’m not criticisizing anyone for their choices, nor am I saying that “content should be so hard only the best can achieve it!”.

      What I’m discussing is the perception from a lot of people, in guilds of any level, that if you can’t succeed at something after two hours or two days (or maybe two weeks!) that the encounter is poorly done, or too difficult. I’m discussing the lack of stamina that I see in a lot of raiders today, the lack of focus, and the lack of patience and preserverence.

      I don’t think that any of those things are isolated to how you may chose to play the game – regardless of if you play the game for 4 hours or 40 hours a week.

  4. I am a casualty of a guild that broke up because of the mentality you’re describing. Two of the raiders in the guild declared that teaching fight mechanics to new raiders was beneath them, that the sole goal of the raid was their success at killing a boss and that they were willing to sacrifice the goals of our guild to make that happen. They succeeded in convincing a large enough number of guild members that this was the way to go, and presented an ultimatum: throw out our “everyone in our guild who wants to raid, can” rule, the rule our guild was founded upon, or we’re gone.

    And they’re gone. And I haven’t raided since. And it breaks my heart.

  5. @TonyKP

    Forgive me Beru for speaking out of turn, but Tony, she’s not addressing the casuals vs. hardcore debate you seem to think she is.

    She’s talking about (possibly hardcore, at least that’s my impression) raiders who have this mindset that everything should just fall over at their feet, and give them epics.

    It doesn’t sound like that’s what you want either. You want to work for it, and be happy when you succeed. It *is* possible in Cata. The early bosses in the dungeons were designed to be taken on in heroic blues, rep purples, and crafted items. And they can be taken down with a good group, dedication, and coordination. It’s possible you may not get it quickly, but it CAN be done.

    I don’t know where you read into this that she is pooh-poohing at casuals, but I’m 99% positive you couldn’t be farther from the truth.

    • @Glyneth – It was this part: “But I will go ahead an point my finger at the players who got comfortable with the easier content and created the expectation that be the status quo for the rest of the game. ”

      We got comfortable with it because it was well-tuned for our level of expertise, and it wasn’t us who created the expectation that this would be the status quo, it was Blizzard.

      I also wasn’t trying to phrase this as a casual-vs-hard core thing. More of a there’s-all-different-levels-of-raiders-and-for-some-of-us-WotLK-was-just-right thing.

      • TonyKP –

        Please don’t mistake “players who got comfortable with the easier content” to read “casual players”. That’s not what I meant at all. In fact, I was referring specifically to players who considered themselves “progression raiders” that took this attitude – and it’s bled over into the more challenging content. Many people who call themselves “hardcore raiders” lack stamina and perserverence. They think that they shouldn’t have to work for success – and it’s that mentality that I am frustrated with.

        I actually was one of the few raid oriented people who spoke well of the “hardmode” model, because I believe it’s important that everyone who wants to raid be able to see content. But on the same token, I think that you should still have to work for it at every level. I am keenly aware that something that I may not find challenging may seem almost insurmountable to others – just as something I may find insurmountable may be a walk in the park for the Paragons out there.

      • Fair enough. I’d just caution you against lumping everyone into that “lazy” category just because they might give up a little sooner than you would. A good portion of them might just realize that they’re in over their head and they’re just not having fun.

  6. I think there are many, many things that contribute to this problem… and there’s no way I could cover all of my ideas on what they are in a comment. But I think one issue that may be bigger than it seems is the variety of approaches to play and personal goals in the game.

    Some people want to see all the content. Some people want to get all the acheivements. Some people want to be able to fly around on a brand new hard-to-get drake before it’s a several-months-old drake more than half the server has. Some people enjoy the challenge and would do the same raids for half the reward. For them, conquering the obstacles IS the reward.

    I think that may be part of why many people want to see raids go back to being designed for raiders, rather than designed for “everybody”. (Which always ends up being about as inclusive of “everybody” as “one size fits all”.) It’s not that “hardcore vs casual” is a problem. It’s that putting people who have radically different reasons for wanting to do the same content together is a problem. There’s some overlap. People who want to see the story may very well be willing to work hard for it. People who really, really want that drake NOW may be willing to work as hard as necessary to get it. But there are also a lot of them who won’t. It’s not why they are there.

    One could say the people who want loot and achievements should grow up and accept that you have to work for what you want. When it comes down to how so much of the story takes you into raids, though, I have mixed feelings. I don’t think the default should be to assume raiders don’t care about story and leave it out… plenty of raiders are lorehounds! But I have my own struggles with raiding and am often disappointed to be cut off from story content because it’s in a place that is inaccessible to me.

    In the end, I think it’s a big problem with groups in general… from raids down to low-level dungeons. All being there for the same content doesn’t mean you’re all there for the same reasons. Until players can put aside their personal goals enough to say, “I will do whatever it takes for this to succeed and reach my own goal along the way,” everyone is getting further and further away from their personal “finish line”.

  7. (Late to the party, but I was traveling!)

    What’s baffling to me is seeing people who raided in TBC and even Vanilla expecting bosses to die in 2 nights. I was in a decent guild in TBC (social and not hardcore, but focused), and it feels like we wiped for weeks on Lady Vashj and Kael’thas. Anything less than that is easy to me…. yet some still get impatient when something isn’t dead in a night of attempts.

    (That being said, I’d argue that Wrath WAS challenging. Not Naxx and not normal ICC with a 30% buff, but we worked our asses off for those frost wyrms and Sindragosa was a bitch. People just seem to remember easy pugs and blazing through heroics…)

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