GW2: I Get It, I Suddenly Get Why Raids Leave Me Cold…

And the epiphanies come hard and fast all of a sudden.

Apologies for the clickbait-y title once more, but I got hit with a sudden revelation on reading the raiding retrospective on the GW2 website, posted by what seem to be the six primary members of the dev team responsible for creating ten-man challenging encounters.

(Of course, what they don’t mention is how many artists were utilized to make the concept art, scenery, boss designs, animations, textures, item icons, etc., programmers or engineers for whatever it is they do behind the scenes to make sure things work as expected, testers to debug and work out the kinks, etc. But I digress.)

The first post by Byron Miller is really personally eye-opening.

The language used is all about emotions. Creating some kind of emotionally thrilling experience, complete with really high highs and awful lows, so that people who enjoy going on an emotional roller coaster ride get the experience they’re looking for.

The trend continues in the later posts, briefly mentioned as an aside here and there, but the heart of it is in the first bit.

I look back on nearly eight months? of raiding and besides the really awful stressful emotional rollercoaster of the first two months or so, where I was extremely frustrated and fearful that I wouldn’t find and get into a competent enough regular team to even stand a chance at completion, I cannot say that the rest of my raiding time has been that emotion-based.

A fact of which, I have to add, that I am extremely thankful about.

No doubt, you can tell by my subjective choice to use the words “awful” and “stressful” to describe frustration – which, laughably, existed more in the LFG part of the equation rather than the actual raid encounter itself.

(And I really don’t want to experience it again, to be honest. I would be deeply tempted to quit than to jump through that hoop again. My commiserations to all those new to raids who -want- to get into raids and are struggling to find a regular reliable raid team. I can’t help you. I’m not sure I dare to wade out into that shark pool again myself.)

I think back and I really struggle to feel this crazy fiero that people keep talking about when they beat a raid boss encounter. I only get a sense of mild relief. A little high, a small peak on the emotion meter that is usually on even keel.

Low lows are when/if the raid group disintegrates into a ball of toxicity and blaming. I don’t like that one bit.

A minor low (more of a internal sigh of resignation) is when the team must show some manner of elitism, in order to actually be successful at a raid encounter.

Team wipes, mistakes made by random parties, don’t even register most of the time.

A minor low if I’m the one that made the mistake – just resolve not to try and do the same thing next time.

Pick self up and continue on. Rinse and repeat. Analyze a little more if my understanding is still not complete. Wait if it’s not my understanding at fault but someone else’s. Patience gets it eventually.

But I don’t get those big emotional swings, and honestly, I don’t -want- to experience those. So all that experiential design? I’m not the target audience. Thanks but no thanks.

I’m motivated by being able to see and successfully clear new content and by a sense of personal competency. The showing off part? Not really necessary to me. As long as I’m internally satisfied, aka I got the thing, I cleared the thing,  I’m good.

(If the team cleared the thing for me, but I don’t know what’s going on, I’m less good, but I’ll take it. Expediency, you know. I will figure out what’s going on eventually.)

I want to pull out MBTI shorthand again to roughly describe what I think is going on.

My personality type falls into the somewhat rare INTP category. I am primarily a Thinker, I make decisions based on logical thought, rather than be influenced by the emotions of the moment. I am very much an analyzer.

The raid encounter is a puzzle to be solved. It is to be broken down into its constituent parts – what does this boss animation mean and what does it herald? What mechanic is in effect now => what must I do in response? what is the most optimal thing that I should be doing? => trial and error at the early stages to experiment and/or follow the meta guide when the group just wants to clear.

What triggers does the boss have, eg. at 75% health, what happens? Are those increments 75%, 66%, etc.? Of all the possibilities GW2 possesses, what does the boss aggro to? What does this mean for control options and ultimately, strategies?

Unsoweiter.

As such, any raid encounter is most enjoyable for me personally when I can find a safe enough space to contently break it down until I fully grok it all, after which, it is just about performing and trying to execute what I now know and understand in theory.

“Safe space” in this case, mostly (75%) translates into, “won’t get immediately kicked.”

The other 25% of “safe space” means (to me) people not talking nonstop in a distracting fashion, not displaying rampant toxicity like pointing the blame finger, bullying tactics, or otherwise suffering from going on an emotional see-saw and causing drama, temper tantrums, argumentation and so on.

All of which I’ve witnessed while PUGing and on regular guild teams.

(The latter tends to be a more ignorable one or two random emotional events – which when you put ten people in a room with each other, is understandable that emotional fuses do get lit from time to time.)

I get it now, I suddenly get why these emotional events volcano up.

They’re being intentionally designed into the raid encounter.

It’s somewhat eyebrow raising from my quirky point of view, that the most disruptive things that could happen to raiding (feelings of divisiveness, of superiority and inferiority within a team that must successfully work together, etc.) are being triggered by the intent to create some kind of emotionally rewarding final payoff to those that crave such a thing.

Maybe the above isn’t quite phrasing it properly, I don’t know. The concept is not very clear in my head yet.

But I’m struggling toward articulating that it’s the emotion-based Feeling (in the MBTI sense) people who need that high high and low low to feel that “challenging content” reward triumphant payout…

…that probably also tend to be the most susceptible to becoming toxic… (due to emotions flaring up)

…or suffer most from becoming the brunt of toxic behavior (due to taking the feelings of other people seriously or being sensitive to the emotional mood of a group.)

A vicious cycle, in other words, that those who might be most drawn to raiding based on an emotional experience, might very well be the ones most prone to making it NOT an enjoyable experience for the very people they also need in order to clear an encounter successfully.

Kinda funny, and ironic, from a Thinker perspective.

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5 thoughts on “GW2: I Get It, I Suddenly Get Why Raids Leave Me Cold…

  1. Jeromai says:

    P.S. Mind you, on thinking about it further, a subset of Thinkers are probably not excused from potential toxicity either, or even perceived toxicity.

    These would be the Thinkers who coldly analyze what they need for a particular raid encounter, decide that whatever they have is lacking, and either dismiss or kick people they don’t need/want anymore.

    It can be done in a non-respectful manner, in which case, they would be guilty of toxicity, or it can be done in a respectful manner, which from a fellow Thinker standpoint, I can see and understand the point of view and wouldn’t get -too- huffy about.

    Some Feelers though, might very interpret the behavior as “toxic” because it failed to take into account their feelings and emotions.

    Who knows.

    I do still find it ironic that the those who crave the emotional hits are the ones most susceptible to said emotional hits.

    Which… I guess works out for them. Since they’re looking for it?

    Makes my life a little less pleasant when I have to watch their emotional outbursts though. :/

  2. bhagpuss says:

    Great post. Very interesting and insightful analysis.

    I find it very difficult to understand why players do things in MMOs that they don’t, on some clear and present level, enjoy doing. This goes a little way towards explaining that seeming paradox.

    In fifteen years of playing MMOs I have mostly gone out of my way to avoid any situation that takes me on an “emotional roller coaster ride”. I haven’t been on an actual roller coaster for forty years and I didn’t much enjoy it even as a teenager. That “adrenaline rush” sensation that some people crave has exactly the effect on me that is is, as far as I understand, biologically intended to have, which is to get me the hell out of that situation and never go back.

    I also have absolutely no “completionist” gene. I can very easily stop doing anything in the middle of doing it as soon as I realize I’m not enjoying it, leave and never look back. I’m also very content to make snap judgments in advance about what i might or might not enjoy and make my choices on that basis.

    Consequently I haven’t even looked at the raids in GW2 and by “looked at” I don’t only mean “not tried to do them” I mean not looked at any dev blogs or interviews about them, not read Dulfy or the wiki, not watched a single video. All I know about the raids is the few lines in the patch notes or the headline in the launcher.

    When I play MMOs I automatically, almost unconsciously, sort all the available activities into “want”, “don’t want”, “might want some time”. Not much ever moves from one category to another. If a game ends up with not enough in the “want” category to hold my attention then I stop playing it.

    As far as GW2 goes, it has several items that make a huge “want” impact (WvW, PvE exploration, zerging, dressing up, character play) and that’s easily enough to sustain my long term interest. I really don’t care what else they add in for other special interest groups – Raiding, eSports, Liadri cage fights – I just see those as “in the game but not in my game”.

    For people who feel they need to try everything a game offers just because it’s being offered, though, the whole MMO concept seems fatally flawed. How can any dev team possibly make content that deeply satisifies one group without deeply alienating several more? It’s no wonder MMO communities are so fractious and discontented.

    My actual issue with raiding across the years, though, isn’t at all that it’s “an emotional rollercoaster”. It’s that it’s unforgivably boring. For there to be these huge emotional highs and lows I’d have to care. And I don’t. As I said, I don’t even care enough to watch or read about it. I could be spending those hours doing something fun and enjoyable like sorting my bank vaults!

    I do strongly regret the business decision that has diverted resources to Raids that I believe would better have been spent on more explorable content and more open, accessible content for zergs, which I believe are GW2’s USP but it’s their business. Lots of MMOs seem to want to be all things to all players. I think it’s a mistake but there you go. We can only play what they give us.

  3. knivesmith says:

    After playing Overwatch with a surprising amount of friends, I wonder if trying to design this emotional rollercoaster is flawed from the get go. Strangers don’t easily work together. Friends, or people in a social structure encouraging cooperation and friendship (i.e. guilds) will likely be able to keep the positives of the experience to the forefront and dissuade toxicity. At that point, you get that proper rollercoaster. Testing it with an internal team that will want to get along for various reasons, along with a bunch of guilds already in a structure to raid and enjoy it together based on their dungeon adventures, means they leave out some people.

    All of this is a long-winded way of saying that perhaps this really should have been 5-man content.

    • knivesmith says:

      Although it may be 10-man instead of 5-man because it’s easier to replace someone for 5-man content, so 10-man would encourage more stickiness between groups.

      • Jeromai says:

        Along those lines of thought, I would be exceedingly thrilled if they racheted down the type of mechanics found in raids to smaller group sizes, including duos or even (and especially) the masterful solo.

        Clearly the raid team can build challenging fights. An immense amount of my enjoyment disappears the moment I have to cater to a team expectation that guides are read, videos are watched, or be guided along by a single member or two that is much further along in learning than the rest.

        I crave the enjoyment of personal discovery. I want Liadris in personal instances.

        If the emotion-based, group-liking raiders have their ball to play with now, why not a ball tossed in for the soloers too?

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