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I’m nowhere near even close to being a Mythic raider. However, I have a lot of people who Mythic raid in my acquaintance (including at least one who’s a close friend) and I get how much this stuff matters. That’s why this extended Tweet is my focus, because it makes a potent point… not simply for those at the front end of content consumption, but for everybody. You should read it all, of course, but it is these particular two paragraphs that matter the most:

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The reason I’m here, talking about this, is those last three lines. Speaking as someone who’s given up even casual raiding for exactly this reason, it is an interesting issue to assess. ‘Optimal’ has always been an immensely subjective state of mind: what you might think is good, someone else will consider as woeful. What is average to one, will be amazeballs to another. One cannot help but think that ActiBlizz has far greater focus on providing content than concerns over how it is consumed, more so than has been the case for many years. In fact, very little if at all is now actively discussed over the state of the high end raider. Most of the time, we’re only interested in mechanics and execution.

It could almost be that Warcraft’s stopped catering to the Hardcore.

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Now, before you light that torch, put down your pitchfork and consider what Legion’s doing for the overall player base, and not simply a fraction. If the modus operandi of this company has always been to simply provide content and allow individuals to consume it, we’d all still be in Vanilla (if I believe what I read in certain parts of the Internet.) That means that there’s a baseline level of competence required to complete every single aspect of gamplay. If there wasn’t you wouldn’t need iLevels, or indeed Artefact power, everyone could be an Ironman and just do the job in white gear. So, this therefore presumes that to get to a point (let’s say Mythic Raiding) that you will be judged on any manner of criteria: weapon strength, gear, suitability in raid team, how many hours you can give a week… but that’s all irrelevant as an individual if someone else in a team decides you’re not good enough, or your face doesn’t fit.

You could be Best Raider EU, but if you slept with the GM’s boyfriend after the last Guild Meet? Forget it. There’s a ton of other factors at play before you even start crunching numbers. However even that pales into insignificance if, like me, you suffer a crisis of confidence and decide you can’t do this any more. I really don’t want to take away the maths and the reasoning from this excellent and thoughtful mega-Tweet (and that’s why I made sure it got CC-d to @WarcraftDevs because they need to understand this argument) because if this was my life, and what I wanted was to be the best, I know EXACTLY how playing catch-up would feel. However I am the woman who, for several weeks, has played the game without grasping I had a third Relic slot. I am, like it or not, the average player now, and for me the notion of progression pretty much negates the desire to be first, every time I log in.

However, I do still believe the Hardcore’s getting a raw deal.

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I still don’t understand why ActiBlizz, who are capable of so much magic now with raw numbers and scaling technology, don’t cut high end raiders a break sometimes, when it is abundantly apparent how much they care about the game to begin with. There, I said it: yeah, those people who have to my face on a Twitch livecast openly mocked for being happy I don’t raid. Yeah, you people who laugh at the scrubs and can’t understand why we’re happy not being relevant. I could sit here and state that if you could grasp that life wasn’t just Azeroth, that would help, but that takes away from the vast majority of decent, lovely people who really do have time commitments and just want to take part in this section of gameplay, who don’t need to be taught by attunement and gate jumping that this requires hard work. I genuinely believe AP scaling is an issue, and what worries me more is that, in the Artefact window, there’s space for more than one tab. At some point, Traits won’t be my only worry, will they?

What did you say about making this game simpler?

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We have more story now than I know what to do with. I’m still not attuned to every 5 man, even now (gotta get on that, someone in Guild asked to go to the Court of Stars yesterday.) 7.1.5 will show the way forward, undoubtedly, for the Artefact ‘path’, as one assumes they’re not about to trash this system at the end of this Expansion. These worries are genuine and need at least an answer, and not just a ‘well, we don’t tell people how to play’ from ActiBlizz. The fact that they keep employing theorycrafters and number-crunchers from the Community of hardcore raiders (on a fairly regular basis) says to me that the outlooks and opinions of this sector obviously matter… but it must be said, the raiding community have garnered very little actual love so far this Expansion.

Maybe it is time that all that changed.

4 thoughts on “Open Up

  1. The line gets drawn somewhere – and say what they like about skill vs time invested in the game, unless you invest time to complete the levelling process, then the normal then HC dungeons, then Normal then HC raiding – you would not have the gear to be worthy of a Mythic raid spot.

    I think Legion caters even more for the hardcore player – just the line has shifted. So there are people who used to be in that bracket that are now outside of that group. This is nothing new it has just happened to them for the first time. The thing they need to worry about is that it is a slippery slope. Like a sports team falling on hard times, drop out of the top tier and you can plummet all the way to the bottom very quickly.

    My guild, during Cataclysm, reached a point where some wanted to become hardcore and some did not. Those that did invested the time and effort needed to become what they wanted to be and are still successfully raiding mythics. Those that did not now struggle to get a group to run 10 man normal, let alone kill anything.

    Its always been a game that rewarded time invested – honing skills, farming mats for the best food or making money to pay your way, completing the next level of content to unlock the one after or get the gear to do so. When your ability to be in the game enough to be on top of the time vs. reward equation changes it’s a shock. Do something about it or accept the consequences – many of us have already had to make that unpleasant choice.

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  2. Yeah, I think (theoretically, I’m not hardcore and wasn’t even playing WoW “back then”) that part of the enjoyment of the “good ol’ days” came from really losing yourself in the whole thing and forgetting about time. Time investment was a crucial aspect in all of this – you can’t have the same type of enjoyment without it, it will always be different. So you have to either accept the harsh reality or redefine your own enjoyment, redefine what’s acceptable, “optimal” etc. In the end it’s not (entirely) the game’s mechanics dictating those terms, it’s the people. If it’s possible to kill bosses far below a setup deemed “optimal” by many, then “optimal” is the question of “how”: how fast, how much effort etc. and that’s a broad spectrum there. An absolute 100% is not “optimal”, it’s obsessive, because it’s negating everything you have to factor in to make a decision, including real life commitments. With all the randomness added to the game Blizzard has actually taken a (slight!) turn against obsessiveness – it’s not humanly possible to reach exactly 100%, there’s always more you can do, you don’t even know what 100% is, you have to make a decision what that is FOR YOU. The game mechanics won’t do that for you, spreadsheets and hard data are not enough, a subjective aspect has to be dealt with. Perhaps that was the draw of this game for many people – to escape from such decisions, because in life you have to do them constantly and you can never do 100%. So here is the game where you are sure you can do 100%…. except now you don’t, when suddenly time becomes a factor. Inevitable reminder that even though it’s a game, there are some RL rules you can’t escape from even in the virtual world (the other being the baggage of social interactions BTW).

    It’s a dangerous move in a game that basically invented completionism, was designed around obsessiveness, a trend that dominates AAA games now and continues on to different genres that previously never had anything in common with MMOs.

    (God, I should be blogging or sth if my comments are to be that long… but I’m sorting things out in my head this way)

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  3. I gave up keeping up a long time ago. Usually at some point in the final year I do, then jump in. But now? With, what is it, a 4 month timescale? It just took raiding beyond jumping in on a fun night or an Alt run Normal evening. There is no way I can catch up. I have to live with the gut wrenching feeling when people are asking for a DPS to do Mythic +6 or another Kara run, and I have to pass. I am I believe 6 or 7 more slots to fill the artifact weapon. And I have only been focusing on 1. I would not be surprised if a once a week quest popped up for a good chunk of AP to aid people in keeping up. I think the line did get moved. I think they looked at what percentage ran Draenor Mythic raids, and moved the line to see if people would step up to cross it, or just stop. I know I will never be able to keep up or catch up, so I just stopped. Still plenty to do out in the world, and I am still working on my first 110.

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