(Yes, I know they are called "operations" in SWTOR, but I refuse to talk about "operating" as a verb, and "running operations" feels unnecessarily clunky. "Raiding" it is.)
My guild had its first official raid the other night, our occasional killing of heroic world bosses while levelling up not included. I wasn't attending because I had... prior social commitments, but the fact that raids are already happening in the guild really made me thoughtful. The thing is, I'm not entirely sure I actually do want to raid in this game, at least at this point in time.
I didn't start raiding in WoW until I had already been playing the game for nine months or so. When I first started to play I had no idea about the game mechanics of an MMO, not to talk about any kind of understanding of concepts like endgame, so raiding simply wasn't a concern for me. There were plenty of other things to do.
However, when I did finally get into raiding, it did feel pretty natural at the time. I was playing with friends, and there were more people in the guild that I didn't know that well and that I wanted to get to know better. What better way to be social with a large number of people than to actually participate in activities that are designed for a large number of people?
I raided for four years, and I got a lot of enjoyment out of it. But when it ended, it wasn't pretty.
One of the main reasons I'm weary of getting into raiding in SWTOR is simply that I feel burnt by WoW's raid game. Blizzard made something that I enjoyed, and then they changed it and changed it and changed it some more, until it had become something that I didn't enjoy anymore. Now Bioware has made a great game, and I actually feel grateful because they managed to bring back so many things that I enjoyed in the past and that WoW did away with... but only time will tell whether they are willing to stick to their guns or whether they will also fall into the trap of constantly changing things for the sake of change.
I'm actually pretty optimistic that their solo and small group content content will remain good, but in terms of raiding I'm a little sceptical, largely because they already copied some of the more recent features of WoW's raid model that I didn't particularly like, such as each raid coming in two sizes, or the normal / hard mode split. This makes me very worried that they'll try to copy current-day WoW too much in this instance, which would eventually end up making the content unappealing to me.
Let me in!
However, when my inner pessimist is done talking, I look at what's out there and right now, the idea of raiding in SWTOR seems just plain fun. Hutts with top hats piloting giant droids? Yes, please!
I'm once again in a guild full of nice people, many of whom I'd really like to get to know better, but with a group size of four, the options to do so in small group content are limited. Operations once again seem like the natural step up.
Oh, and did I mention yet that my SO did get to join in last night's operation? I tried to avoid looking over his shoulder all the time, but I did get to hear him talk on Mumble and I was just so insanely jealous. Not to mention that he got to hoover up all the trooper loot. Some of that was supposed to be mine, damn it! It's been months since we last raided together in WoW, and it would be so nice to be part of something bigger together again.
Too soon, Executus?
As if I wasn't feeling conflicted enough on the subject yet, there's a third voice in my head which basically thinks that raiding is cool and that I should get into it eventually, but that it's simply too early for it right now.
I mean, it looks fun and all, but there are so many other aspects of the game that I haven't explored yet! I only hit the level cap a few days ago, for goodness' sake! Do I really want to devote my limited play time to concerns about gear, consumables and ability rotations already? Again, those things are fun in their own way, but the problem is that once you start thinking of the game in those technical terms, it becomes hard to go back and simply enjoy looking at the scenery and listening to the quests again. I don't think I'm ready to make that step up yet; I'm enjoying levelling and immersing myself in the world way too much.
There are also practical concerns to consider. I'm one of those increasingly rare gamers who have no problem with devoting several nights a week to gaming on a schedule, but there's still a limit to how much I can take, and right now I'm still committing two nights a week to WoW. It's dead to me in pretty much every other regard except interaction with my guildies, but those rated battlegrounds are still damned fun and I enjoy the company. More importantly, this fun pretty much has an expiration date built in since I don't intend to purchase the Mists of Pandaria expansion once it comes out, so I don't really want to "waste" what time I have left to play the game I enjoy. (God, that sounds so melodramatic!)
In the end, it's a tricky question, with social ties tugging me both ways simultaneously. Either way I suspect that I will take part in my first SWTOR raid fairly soon, but I'll try to take it easy for now if possible, and I'm not entirely sure where I'll end up eventually.