Fault-Finding vs Solutions

faultfinding

I overheard this conversation in one of my guilds, herefore to remained unnamed.

Person A was having a moderate dramatic episode, presumably why it was being publicly broadcast over guild chat.

Now I have zero context for what actually happened.

It may very well be that Person A’s performance was indeed abysmal and was pulling down the group, be it a 10-member raid or a 5-person fractal or dungeon.

In order not to feed any drama flames further, I, like probably 10-30 other online guild members overhearing, said nothing over guild chat to aggravate the situation and it ended there without devolving into a full-blown histrionic fit.

Inside though, I was fully sympathizing with Person A.

It reminded me of my own fairly recent experience at one of the “training” raids said guild had organized.

Every now and then I try to make the effort to attend one of these scheduled events, under the vague possibly-mistaken impression that I might be able to contribute in a positive way to the success of one of these training raids and help out others.

After all, while I’m not top-of-the-line with action/reaction and the video-watching meta strategies (merely passable to decent,) I do have all three wings’ encounters experience under my belt with my static raid group and multiple geared classes to offer. There’s something to be said for practice, after all.

Not to mention, it’s also a good opportunity for -myself- to practice a class that I’m less familiar with, since the phrase “training raid” usually equates to everyone having the expectation that success is not guaranteed (and to be frank, given the experience level of some of the players that join, not at all likely) but whom are also committed to offering a low-stress non-hostile environment for everyone to get some experience with the encounter.

Unfortunately, what usually ends up unfurling before my naturally critical eyes are some forehead-to-desk examples of the blind leading the blind.

Fault and blame can be apportioned to the wrong party, in a fairly haphazard, if attempted constructive manner. (Of course, in the conversation above, Person B was anything but.)

More specifically, the difficulty Person B exhibits is pinpointing the exact issue causing the problem and telling Person A how to solve it (or conversely, telling person C or changing the situation so that the problem is minimized.)

All they can see is, Person A is dying, therefore Person A must be the problem.

But -what- is killing Person A?

Is it something that Person A is doing, and really shouldn’t be doing?

Then what should be addressed is that action: “Hey, Person A, don’t stand in front of the boss. He cleaves / does a fire breath / whatever.”

Not, “STOP GOING DOWN, YOU RETARD.”

Hell, I’d accept, “YOU MORON, STOP STANDING IN FRONT OF HIS ATTACKS.”

That’s just me though. I have fairly thick skin. If I can learn something from it, I will.

Some guy did that to me in the dredge underground fractal, “FUCK YOUR PET,” and I silently acknowledged that this was the first time I was playing a necro in that particular fractal and that I had -no idea whatsoever- that the bone fiend would sit there and stop the boss from being pulled over to the lava bucket.

Issue succinctly if rudely identified. Issue promptly addressed.

I triggered the heal skill again, killing off the pet, and made sure that I didn’t spawn the bone fiend again, consuming it when I needed a heal.

(I might not group with you again though, cos that’s not a relaxing low-energy encounter.)

Something even more helpful, if you can see the person struggling, is to point the tell for the attack. “When Slothasor stands up on two feet, he’s about to fire breath.”

And even better, describe how to avoid it in a manner the person might be able to follow. “Dodge sideways or dodge -through- him to avoid it.” Or double dodge or jump or use skill X for other mechanics.

But what if Person A -is- doing everything (or most things, cos no one’s perfect) right? And -still- dying?

I found myself in that kind of awkward situation just the other day.

Mea culpa things: I was playing a staff elementalist. I have very little experience with staff eles, I have very little ability to self-adapt skills/traits/weapons to the situation.

I tend to play higher hp classes in raids and do accidentally run facefirst into damaging things without meaning to, because my other characters can take the hit AND I’m spoiled in my static raid with a very good healer that carries all of us and tops up our health in a couple seconds.

I may have tried to take on more responsibility than I could chew, under the impression that it would help the raid succeed.

Objective fact things: Staff eles are very squishy. The training raid group had no revenant in their group composition.

Non mea culpa things: My placement in the raid team’s group composition. The task assigned to me by the raid leader. Imperfect play by other raid members.

Basically, we were doing VG, and the instructions I received were, “Since you’re playing staff elementalist, which is ranged, please run green circles with the rest in phase 3 onwards.”

Beyond internally wincing, because I’ve never seen non-heal build staff eles running green circles to go very well, and said, “Okay.”

On the very first attempt, as I’m setting up my rotations and cheerfully beginning what I came to do, which is to practice doing as much dps as possible on a staff ele, out of the corner of my eye – what do I see? One, two… three? people running to the green circle.

Yikes. So I fling myself over to the green circle, just before the distributed magic strike happens, and then decide that well, I usually run green circles anyway as condi in my static group, I might as well just be the fifth all the time SINCE the raid leader had no confidence in the first place that four people could do it past phase 3.

This ended up not that great a decision because our particular group’s druid seemed only capable of topping up our health bars every second green circle at best, and did not seem to be predicting distributed magic strikes accordingly and topping up after.

The druid, frankly, seemed more focused on trying to heal the tank and melee group, running forward after every green circle to do so.

Mind you, in GW2 raids, the strict tank/dps/heal holy trinity doesn’t quite exist.

In VG, specifically, everybody in the raid takes overall periodic pulsing damage (thus encouraging the presence of a healer, because the self-heal is insufficient) and one biggest source of unavoidable damage is the distributed magic strike that comes from standing in the green circle.

(The boss’ forward cleaving punch also hurts, but some tanks can deal with it themselves better than others; and running into a seeker also hurts, but is generally avoidable if people bring enough control.)

I started taking an alarming amount of damage, so much so that I was forced to learn what my water attunement skills were in a hurry, losing all the dps I was supposed to be providing if I could stay in fire.

And let’s face it, I have very little experience on an elementalist, I have zero idea if my half filled red hp reservoir showing 5600 out of 11,000 health is sufficient to withstand a green circle strike.

Turns out, with no revenant or druid pulsing protection and me not having a faintest clue how to give myself prot or heal up further, 5600 is not enough.

I go down as the distributed magic strike hits the green circle, and blam, the raid takes a raid wiping amount of damage.

Twice.

I get called out for this, because hey, you’re taking a heap of damage and going down A LOT. What’s happening?

I point out that I’m at half hp just before the green circle strike hits, and going down as a result.

There’s a fun little discussion where the raid leader says, well, you’re not even supposed to be in the green circles anyway before phase 3, and I’m thinking to myself, if I wasn’t, how is it that just me going down in the green circles equals raid wipe? ie. someone else wasn’t running them.

I’m also internally thinking that there’s something a little wrong with the team composition because we’re apparently in a 4/4/2 split, minus a revenant (so I can’t even remember who was with the chronotank in the 2) but we only have one primary healer – of which I, and two daredevils are in.

There is another druid, which I suspect is primarily condi, in the other group of 4, along with another tempest elementalist and a burnzerker and something else I can’t recall, probably a reaper condi.

Normally, if there is one primary healer, a 7/2/1 split is used, so that heals and buffs from the 1 druid go out equally to all.

But here we have a situation where the primary healer and condi team is running circles, and they’re not even in the same group… and yet I am in the same group as the primary healer, but somehow not catching sufficient heals?

Is it a group priority buff/heal problem? Or is the healer just not aiming their heals in the right place, or using them well at all?

But you know, you don’t want to be THAT GUY.

Especially NOT that guy who blames the healer.

It just doesn’t look at all kosher.

So I say nothing about my internal thoughts, and agree very publicly and loudly-on-purpose that I will not be running green circles any longer until phase 3.

At least, I think, I will FINALLY be able to practice the skill rotation which was the reason I attended this training raid in the first place… right up to the moment when the green circle team falls apart because something else went wrong.

I also notice, though I am not sure anyone else does, that my character has been sneakily shifted out of the primary healing druid’s party and put into the group with the other elementalist and other druid.

The burnzerker takes my place in the first party.

The next VG attempt, we hit a 6.45 phase time, much faster than the previous goes, and my health bar doesn’t shift from 90-100% at all.

Unfortunately, we hit a bit of carnage in phase 3 when seekers are knocked into the green team and that attempt was a wash.

(I am also not trying -super- hard to rush for green circles. Hey, I’m the fifth, right? If I can make it, I’ll go. If I have low health and am going to go down in the green circle anyway, I’m not going. Because someone took issue with my going down a lot. So I will NOT go down a lot.)

In the subsequent attempts, we don’t get to phase 3 about 50% of the time, because in two highly entertaining tries, I see the -druid- go down in the green circle (where previously I’d drop first) and in the other also pretty entertaining attempts, I watch as the burnzerker drops to 3/4 health and starts expressing befuddlement that they’re suddenly taking a LOT of damage.

Hmm. Odd. -I’m- not taking any damage now. Must be you, huh?

Of course, in the interests of politeness and a civil experience, I leave all the above unsaid.

Instead, I mostly sneak peeks at my combat log, having resigned myself to the fact that I’m not going to get a really good opportunity to practice staff dps rotations (I have to switch to water every now and then and throw extra heals, the chronotank has started to periodically go down too.)

I’ve replaced the hope for practising staff rotations with a vague curiosity to figure out what the hell is going on with the heals, and just how exactly our leet static group healer can do what they do.

I still don’t really understand what was going on fully, but I did notice with some bemusement that I was catching more heals from the other tempest and myself in the new group I was in, than I was catching in my combat log from the prior group.

In the next static group raid I did, I started screen capping my combat log to record the leet druid’s skills that were hitting me. It was about 6-8 more skills than the other druid, including a water blast combo. (Dayum.)

Some day, if I ever get my ranger his elite spec, and maybe start doing more PvP or PvE with him… I wanna grow up to be more like leet druid.

It does make me wonder about the effectiveness of so-called “training raids” though.

We failed on VG several more times, never getting to the second split, and the raid leader decided to call it there.

I got some mumbled, almost condescending sounding, feedback about “you can improve by not going down so much” (no, really, did you notice I -stopped- taking damage once I was shifted to the other group and ceased running green circles?) and seemingly out of left field, a “tip” that I could use Overload Earth to give myself protection.

Which I’d grant is useful, as a potential survival tactic when shit hits the fan, if a little bit non-meta in terms of actually doing dps by not swapping out of fire.

It’s okay, I learned something else inadvertently – aka my static raid group’s healer is a god that works in mysterious ways – so it was still a valuable learning experience.

The point of raids is group coverage and skill synergies. The rev or guardian or druid with stone spirit gives protection, the PS warrior gives might and banners, freeing up the elementalist and daredevil to dps. (That is, assuming your ele is built for dps. You could build it to heal or what not.)

“Training raids” become almost a raid “hard mode,” in the sense that the group coordination and skill synergies probably aren’t there at all, and the group/role coverage is imperfect at best.

Best of all, I wonder if participants can actually learn anything from them, if they don’t have a self-driven analytical mind and/or lack the experience to contrast a “training raid” with a successful one.

(Not everyone is lucky enough to have a static raid group that knows what they’re doing. My raid guild has some 8-9 statics formed and only 2 clear all three wings regularly. The knowledge is disseminating though, the guild leader announced some substantial progress, eg. killed Xera, or killed Matthias, or finally got Sab, for other groups recently.)

Especially if they aren’t getting any feedback because other people don’t want to hurt their feelings or cause drama… or because other people don’t quite know how to give the useful, constructive kind of feedback.

I mean, don’t look at me, I couldn’t teach anyone how to druid for nuts, for example. I know nuthing. Zilch about healing. Please ask my static group’s druids. That’s what I’ll do if I eventually make one.

(But I -could- probably sit and dissect with someone all the ways to generate might as a PS warrior, and figure out why Person C isn’t giving 25 might stacks to his raid group. Or suggest a more helpful heal skill to use to a warrior that’s consistently falling over with healing signet slotted, and point out tells to look out for in order to dodge attacks.

Except no one will probably ever ask me, and I’d make a terrible grumpy hermit teacher anyway.

Nor am I about to just come out and say it to randoms and PUGs where the chances of them being receptive aren’t terribly high to begin with, unless I just happen to be -there- in that situation and I think one or two sentences might help fix the issue.)

This blind leading the blind, and those-who-know being unwilling to teach is a situation which I have not yet worked out a satisfactory solution to.

I often just end up wussing out, keeping quiet and bowing gracefully out of the entire situation after some time to leave the ignorant to it.

No doubt, others have decided to leave me in the dark and just vamoosed away from my noobish ways as well.

It’s not a new problem. Some three years ago, I was in one of those semi-casual, semi-hardcore mid-range guilds that prided itself on WvW participation. This guild worked out great for me, being unwilling to be insanely hardcore committed, but also wanting a little bit more organization than totally casual guilds.

It was, you know, fairly chill – meta builds not -required- but if you wanted to, you were welcome to and it helped strengthen the guild force being fielded, so all’s well that ends well.

Various guild officers would take turns leading, if you had the interest, the guild was also very open to letting anyone command, and the members would dutifully (if more than a little suicidally) follow your orders and let you learn what works and doesn’t work when commandering a rag tag bunch of the semi-hardcore.

Except. We had -one- commander that was incapable of learning.

Without fail, he would be decked out in the hardiest set of high toughness high vitality gear on his guardian and he would cheerfully fling himself head-on into a much larger force. Over-extending doesn’t even begin to describe what he did. Over and over.

Mind you, he died too, just ten seconds later than everyone else who had already been run over, either from following him into the fray and dropping to AoEs, or by getting surrounded because he’d entirely separated his front and backline by his own orders.

This guy was constantly expressing sheer bamboozlement that his strategy wasn’t working. “Guys, please, please follow me. We can do this.” (Cue the faithful group wipe.)

“Let’s try again.” (Cue less faithful less willing followers.)

“Guys, we went down because we were separated! All together now!” (Cue mostly massive carnage, and one or two people, me included, beating feet and running far far away from the suspected, then confirmed, train wreck.)

As usual, I had the fortune of being able to contrast this guy’s commanding style with other ever-so-slightly-more tactically sound ones. The contrast helped -me- to learn what worked and what didn’t.

(Granted, I do make a pretty terrible follower, being liable to independently up and decide to do something else, if the leader’s not convincing or competent enough for my standards.)

I’m not sure that commander ever did realize why people started making excuses and politely leaving his WvW raids some 30-60 minutes into the event.


I notice most of the time we just leave things be and assume that over time, people will bang into enough practice and learning encounters to figure out, or be told outright by someone sharp and thick-skinned enough to pinpoint the real issue.

I just wonder if there are any shortcuts to this process.

Guides could be written and recorded, but people still have to have the motivation to read and watch in the first place. Those types usually have the self-motivation to learn by themselves in most situations anyway.

Hell, they could be told outright by someone, but still be unwilling to receive the message, and/or the someone could be wrong as well.

Granted, one could also -not- have to tell someone in a nice way that they suck at X in the first place. A bit of clever diplomacy and swapping of roles, and the issue might go away entirely because the player is -good- at Y and someone else can do X.

I have very little skill with this sort of diplomacy and indirect constructive solution finding. It may however be one of the better ways to resolve these types of people problems.

It’s something to think about, at any rate.

Low-Energy, Easy Fun

Apparently, Halvorson’s latest book “Focus” was not as objective as her prior summary, skewing more heavily towards the advantages of being promotion-focused. So I haven’t bothered to read it yet, preferring to use the ideas in the summary as more of a springboard for my own thoughts.

(Fortunately, I’m not a career psychologist, so I don’t have to substantiate my hypotheses with research and evidence, and can just play around with thought experiments and musings for fun.)

I find myself drawn to the portion on “energy.” To recap:

When your goal is an achievement, a gain, you feel happy—joyful, cheerful, excited, or, in the vernacular of a typical teenager, totally stoked. It’s a high-energy kind of good feeling to reach a promotion goal.

It’s a very different kind of good to reach a prevention goal. When you are trying to be safe and secure, to avoid losing something, and you succeed, you feel relaxed—calm, at ease, peaceful. You breathe the sweet sigh of relief. This is a much more low-energy kind of good feeling, but not any less rewarding.

When you are going for gain, trying to accomplish something important to you, and you fail, you tend to feel sadness—dejected, depressed, despondent. As a teen might put it, totally bummed. It’s the low-energy kind of bad feeling—the kind that makes you want to lay on the couch all day with a bag of chips.

But failing to reach a prevention goal means danger, so in response you feel the high-energy kinds of bad feeling—anxiety, panic, nervousness, and fear. You freak out. Both kinds of feelings are awful, but very differently so.

I wonder if it might not help to explain why some gamers prefer more sedate types of gameplay – be it grinding for progress slowly, or a strategic challenge, or slower overall pacing.

In other words, we’re seeking the low-energy kinds of good feelings. We want to relax, be comfortable and content, be relieved, feel peace.

(Whether this has any correlation with being prevention-focused on a particular goal, or introversion-favoring, I’ll leave it to others to figure out and do the research.)

We -hate- being overstimulated by high energy feelings, especially when they tend to be the bad kind – aka being a fearful, anxious, nervous wreck, and are liable to either run away from the situation (avoiding/escape/flight) or take constructive steps to address said situation producing the bad feelings until the situation or feelings go away. (fight?)

The spot of good news, as mentioned previously, is that one has the high-energy motivation to take action and do either of those.

Other gamers, by contrast, probably loathe the low-energy bad feelings. They feel down, depressed, de-energized, bored. They’re liable to quit if they have *horror of horrors* “nothing to do.”

They’re looking for gameplay that excites them, gives them high-energy good feelings.

Hence the litany of constant demands for moar adrenaline-pumping “hardcore challenges” where they can earn deserved rewards, racking up one gain after another, addicted to the euphoria of achievement.

(I dunno. Sounds a bit like extraversion to me.)

It’s not easy as a game designer if you have to keep both camps happy, huh?

I don’t think they’re necessarily diametrically opposed, though. The perceived level of challenge is likely to prompt different energy levels of feelings.

The trick is, how do you get those looking for low-energy easy-fun to “be better” than those looking for high-energy hard-fun, so that they can look at the same mob and the former feels “okay, I can do this, easy peasy, no sweat, I’m having fun” and the latter feels “wow, this is so hard, this is so fun!”

The nature of practice being what it is, the adrenaline junkies are liable to be more practiced and experienced than the chill hipsters… so you tend to end up in an escalating situation of the former demanding more hits, while the latter stresses right out.

(Hrm, creative suggestions / solutions welcome.)

bloodstonefen1

Anyway, I find myself having a blast in the new Bloodstone Fen map.

That is, low-energy definitions of a “blast.”

bloodstonefen2

I trundle around, gliding and bouncing here and there and everywhere (bonus points for recognizing the phrase), collecting and harvesting all the things.

Every so often, an orange dynamic event comes up and I evaluate, “is this node more interesting or is that event more attractive?”

(Usually, the node wins, for the ten seconds it takes to harvest, and then I’m running over to spam 1 and dodge orange circles until the bouncy reward chests pop up.)

Rinse and repeat.

It’s a nice compact map, with high frequency of orange dynamic events, many doable solo or in small loosely assembling groups, and that seem to be less linearly linked to pushing some overall map wide meta.

bloodstonefen3

Every now and then, a big “world boss” type of event triggers, and then folks are drawn in to a centralized location, naturally congregating into a big zerg to defeat it.

Feels good. Feels like a bit more like Core Tyria (with less NPC settlements or friendly NPC interaction.)

I am greatly reminded of my relationship with City of Heroes’ Incarnate Trials and Dark Astoria zone.

That is, I was deeply uncomfortable with Incarnate Trials (to the point where I canceled my subscription, not being as motivated in CoH as in GW2 to play the raids – my ego is a lot more vested in accomplishments in GW2, whereas I was already getting bored with CoH and not at all tempted by gear-improvement rewards) and only re-subbed and tried out the Trials when Dark Astoria came into the picture.

Dark Astoria was the alternative, the philosophical recognition that people who enjoyed solo content should also have a means to earn Incarnate shards and achieve Incarnate levels of power, albeit at a slower rate than those who played the trials in a group setting.

Now, of course, if you -wanted- to speed up your rate of shard earning and could put up with a raid group, then yeah, go ahead and raid. It becomes an option, not a necessity.

We’re not quite 100% there yet with Bloodstone Fen.

The big thing GW2 is still missing is an alternative means for Legendary Armor.

Given that a normal set of armor apparently takes them 8 months to make (ie. Legendary Armor takes even longer) and that this batch of experimental Envoy armor seems to be inextricably linked to PvE raid progress (and a bit of PvP and WvW) and is still far far away in its arrival, it’s little wonder that they’re keeping very very quiet about any possibility of a second set of Legendary Armor, gained by some other means.

Maybe if we’re lucky, ArenaNet will come up with an elegant solution involving build templates and resolving the rune/sigil problem, and nip the issue of extra functionality with a set of purple-named armor and then the whole lack of an alternative will be moot.

(Raiders having prestige cosmetics is okay, bonus functionality is not okay. To me, anyway. Philosophically. Ideally. Speaking from a better part of me.

In practice, if we wanna be pragmatic about things, up yours. I’m on the side with the shinies. Don’t we love Chinese pragmatism? Embrace the Dark Side, baby.)

But I digress.

Bloodstone Fen is a step in the right direction, a step that was missing and ought to have been there as the raids came into the GW2 picture.

(Too bad the raid team works so damn fast, as compared to the rest. Or so damn slow, if both Bloodstone Fen and the raid wings were -meant- to arrive during HoT launch. If only Anet had slightly better scheduling/project management…

On the other hand, Bloodstone Fen looks like it was cobbled together using a ton of re-used assets and specifically addresses a number of reaction feedback from HoT, so it does also look like a mad iterative stopgap scramble to band-aid fix some issues. All those elder wood nodes and leather/cloth salvage reward drops are no accident, for example.)

It generally functions as the soloer’s alternative, just as Dark Astoria did.

There is stuff to do. Stuff to earn. Aerial combat skills being one of them, and apparently there are now means to get HoT stats that were previously only found in raids (big philosophical no-no, there) in Bloodstone Fen.

It helps the soloer understand the White Mantle storyline, that was previously only being told in raids.

It puts easy-ish world bosses that utilize raid-like mechanics -just less punishing ones- into the open world, so that players have the safety of a zerg (aka people around to rez them) and uses it to introduce/scaffold raid-necessary concepts – like the use of the new special action key, break bars, dodging orange circles, running to specific defined locations aka non-orange circles to achieve some objective, etc.

(It’s a start. Then certain buffed up fractals take over the teaching, by ramping up the necessity for increased group coordination and communication and personal movement/dodging ability. More on fractals in another post later.)

Bloodstone Fen gives me my “easy fun” back.

And I’m happy about that.

In a totally chill, relaxed kind of way.

What Do I Have to Gain, And What Do I Stand to Lose?

With so many goals on my mind lately, it probably comes as no surprise that one of the books I’ve recently been reading is a pop psychology one by Heidi Grant Halvorson, pithily entitled “Succeed – How We Can Reach Our Goals.”

What I do like about it is that it’s an easy reading, almost-conversational-blog sprinkled-with-humor style summary of what appear to be fairly crunchy concepts in research, just distilled without having to wade through pages of jargon down to a level where a layperson can grasp the surface and make use of.

One of the more interesting summarized concepts was that a person can have a promotion or a prevention focus when it comes down to chasing goals.

Promotion-focused goals are thought about in terms of achievement and accomplishment. They are about doing something you would ideally like to do. In the language of economics, they are about maximizing gains (and avoiding missed opportunities).

Prevention-focused goals are thought about in terms of safety and danger. They are about fulfilling responsibilities, doing the things you feel you ought to do. In economic terms, they are about minimizing losses, trying to hang on to what you’ve got.

This goes a long way towards explaining my puzzlement at the odd sense of relief I get when successfully completing a raid boss, as contrasted by the elation I see other people experience.

When you set a goal for yourself and reach it, you feel good. That much is obvious. But what does “good” feel like?

When your goal is an achievement, a gain, you feel happy—joyful, cheerful, excited, or, in the vernacular of a typical teenager, totally stoked. It’s a high-energy kind of good feeling to reach a promotion goal.

It’s a very different kind of good to reach a prevention goal. When you are trying to be safe and secure, to avoid losing something, and you succeed, you feel relaxed—calm, at ease, peaceful. You breathe the sweet sigh of relief. This is a much more low-energy kind of good feeling, but not any less rewarding.

When I read the above paragraphs, I was amazed at just how right on the money it sounded.

Some of this subconscious choice of focus might be due to personality, or culture, or upbringing, but evidently I skew a lot more towards prevention where this is concerned.

(East Asians are enmeshed in a culture that revolves around saving face, it rubs off, even if you’d like to be optimistic and gain-focused. Singaporeans have the terms “kiasu” and “kiasi” – the Hokkien root word “kia” literally means “fear” or “afraid.”)

We could share the same goal of wanting to down the raid boss, but where someone else might be focused on the -gain-, on the prize and rewards and prestige and glory and satisfaction of a successful kill, my focus tends to end up on:

  • “I hope I’m not screwing up too badly, to the point that they kick me, cos that will mean more difficulty and obstacles in the path of Legendary armor collection” or;
  • “This group is not doing so well, we’re missing something, what are we missing, where is the flaw in the team that stands in our path of success, how can this flaw be fixed, either by the person responsible -is it possible to communicate this flaw without a drama blowout- or by me covering what’s missing.”
  • “What else can I be doing to ensure success? Am I making mistakes that I need to avoid or not do so much of? Am I fulfilling my roles and responsibilities in a raid without slipping up?”

Little wonder by the time a group I’m in first successfully downs a boss, I’m exhausted and relieved.

As for the opposite feeling, Halvorson had this to say:

The focus of your goal also determines the particular kind of bad you feel when things go wrong. In fact, Higgins first discovered the difference between promotion and prevention when he was trying to explain why some people reacted to their failures with anxiety, while others reacted by sinking into depression.

When you are going for gain, trying to accomplish something important to you, and you fail, you tend to feel sadness—dejected, depressed, despondent. As a teen might put it, totally bummed. It’s the low-energy kind of bad feeling—the kind that makes you want to lay on the couch all day with a bag of chips.

But failing to reach a prevention goal means danger, so in response you feel the high-energy kinds of bad feeling—anxiety, panic, nervousness, and fear. You freak out. Both kinds of feelings are awful, but very differently so.

Suddenly I understand why I ended up keyed up in a ball of nervous thwarted frustration in the early days, without the safety of a static group to fall back on.

I needed that safety, that ego defence of:

a) you have successfully killed all the bosses, ergo you do not suck,

b) you have a static group that can successfully kill all the bosses weekly, ergo your achievement plans are not threatened,

c) you have a respectable amount of face-saving legendary insights, sufficient to make Legendary Armor even if your raid group crumbles overnight (notice the urge to catastrophize)

From afar, it’s a little bit sad that my initial motivation seemed to stem more from a place of fear, of danger avoidance, rather than “fun” or gain-seeking.

It does help to explain why other people seem to get a lot more positive kicks out of raiding than me, though.

(That’s not to say I’m incapable of promotion-focused goals. I find I’m more able to focus on that kind of stuff -now-, after the “safety”/”avoid danger” bits are already resolved.

I’m more able to relax and look for gains and “fun” now that a lot less is “at stake” – even if the stakes only really existed in my head.)

The silver lining to this ever-so-slightly neurotic cloud is that prevention-minded pessimists like me are apparently very good at self-monitoring and future improvement. We can’t help but keep thinking of “what can be done better next time” and picking apart our mistakes like it’s the end of the world to commit one.

Optimists, on the other hand, are more liable to say, “well, it could have been worse if I had done this, or if that happened…” in order to make themselves feel better, which according to Halvorson, means they tend to blind themselves more to their own faults to protect their ego, and thus improve at a slower pace than worry-wart pessimists, if at all.

True, all the above is a simplification and a generalization. Optimists vs Pessismists or Promotion vs Prevention dichotomies don’t exist only in black or white terms.

In reality, a person can vary between being pessimistic and optimistic from one moment to another, or choose to be promotion-focused for goal A and prevention-focused for goal B, and it’s probably useful to be aware and consciously decide to do so.

But as a high-level concept, I thought it was fairly interesting to be able to categorize our tendencies to think along two major paths that way.