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.
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.