23/02/2017

Why Raid (in SWTOR)?

Raiding has been on my mind a lot lately. It's actually kind of strange how little I write about it on here, considering that it's the activity that I participate in with the most regularity in SWTOR, as I run operations with my guild several times a week. (It might even win in terms of overall time spent... but I'm not sure about that one.) True, Bioware hasn't exactly given us much to work with for a while, but still...


The announcement that a new operation is finally in the works has been welcome in these parts, but almost as soon as it was out, suddenly the opposition was out in full force again too. Even after two years, how dare Bioware "waste" time on things like a new raid when we still haven't got all our old companions back? And so on and so forth. Few MMO features seem to agitate people on both sides of the fence quite as much as raids, as you have both the supporters that keep shouting that the game needs them or it will surely die and the detractors that angrily denounce any time spent on them as a waste of resources that just caters to a tiny minority. I mean, obviously everyone wants the devs to focus on the stuff that they personally are the most interested in, but people don't seem nearly as passionate about shouting down other people's points of view when it comes to other features. Off the top of my head, only PvP comes close in terms of the amount of outrage it generates.

Looking at it from another angle, dev decisions on the subject of raiding remain inscrutable. Sure, there's WoW, which loves its raiding and which keeps being held up as the gold standard in that department. But other games seem to flip back and forth with no clear signs of whether treating raiding any particular way is good or bad. Wildstar pushed the hardcore raiding angle pretty hard and many put the blame for its lack of success solely on that. On the other hand we have games like Guild Wars 2, which prided themselves on being different from the rest, suddenly jumping on the raid bandwagon late in the game. LOTRO made headlines in gaming circles when it openly scoffed at raiders, yet a few years later they are back to trying to court them with new content. SWTOR never went so far as to say they weren't going to create any more operations, but still left its raiding community hanging for a really long time, just to frantically scramble to make a new release this year. It's funny because whether you think that raids are good or even necessary for a game's success or the complete opposite, if you look at the behaviour of different developers you can currently find evidence to support either point of view. Maybe everyone just keeps making raids because it's what WoW does and studios are still trying to find the secret sauce that will make them as successful as Blizzard.

I suppose it doesn't help that people raid for very different reasons, so even among the tiny raiding minority, not all raids will have equal appeal. Back in my WoW days I remember a fellow blogger explaining how raiding, for him, was all about solving the puzzle of the fight, and he reckoned that he'd be just as happy if instead of fighting dragons with magic missiles we were simply moving geometric shapes around. I knew right away that this definitely wasn't me. I like the feeling of immersion, of fighting a fight so grand that I alone am not strong enough to best it. That's something that matters to me to make raiding fun.


But I also like the camaraderie, which is a major reason of why I've happily continued to down (or die to) the same bunch of raid bosses in SWTOR for the last two years. This is one area where I have not seen or heard of anything that can truly replace the raiding experience yet. Large scale zergs mostly seem to appeal to people who aren't playing with a bunch of friends and just want easy random grouping, but from my point of view I found that they get pretty dull soon when you're actually looking for something to do as a pre-made group.

I'm not a "raid or die" kind of person: Not having raids is not a reason for me not to play a game, and I'm open to doing other types of group content. I just haven't encountered anything yet that really manages to scratch that itch in the same way. At the same time I would never start playing a game just because people say that it has good raiding. SWTOR could remove all raids tomorrow and I would continue to play it - though differently and a lot less - but there is a lot more to a good MMO than one type of content.

I actually wouldn't recommend SWTOR to anyone if they were asking for an MMO to raid in above everything else... but good raiding does add one more thing that can add to a game's overall appeal. The main things I like about SWTOR are the IP (which includes the setting and overall tone of the world), the graphical style finding a nice middle ground between cartoony and realistic, the classic hotbar MMO gameplay and the focus on good storytelling. Its raiding is a nice bonus because I've always been a middle-of-the-road raider, bored by zergs but not good enough to beat the hardest content, and this is the difficulty level that SWTOR's operations largely cater to. If you like SWTOR for other reasons but also like playing with other people, you could do a lot worse than giving its operations a try.

13 comments :

  1. Ich gebe es auf, in englischer Sprache zu kommentieren. Das Formulieren dauert zu lange und zudem komme ich vom Vokabular immer so rüber als wäre ich ein Kindergartenkind. :)

    Ich hoffe, dass macht Dir nichts aus?!

    Raiden war bisher aufgrund meiner mangelhaften Hardware keine Option. Nach einem Upgrade zu Beginn des Jahres steige ich langsam ein und es gefällt mir. Es ist schon ein ganz anderes Level an Gameplay. Die Anforderungen sind doch wesentlich höher, als wenn ich meine vier Leute in FPs -oder jetzt auch in Aufständen/Uprisings- heilen muss. Daran muss ich mich erst einmal gewöhnen.

    Vor mir liegt eine unglaublich große Menge an neuem Content, die ich mir in den nächsten Monaten/Jahren erschließen kann.

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    1. Hab kein Problem mit deutschen Kommentaren. ;)

      Ich wünsch dir viel Spaß beim Erkunden der Operations! Sie sind wirklich sehr solider Content. Die Leute würden nicht jammern, dass seit zwei Jahren keine neuen herausgekommen sind, wenn es keinen Spaß machen würde. Ich kämpf mich auch nach fünf Jahren immer noch gerne durch den Eternity Vault. ;)

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  2. A lot of the disagreement about raids can, imo, be fixed with design decisions:

    Anti-raiders fear a divide between non-raiders and raiders, toxicity stemming from differences in skill, and losing out in equivalence (stats, importance in devs' and players' eyes, etc.) due to not having the schedule to spare for raiding.

    Raiders -say- that they enjoy the challenge of defeating difficult bosses and the socialing opportunities raids provide, but are either very quiet or very obnoxious about whether they think this makes them better than others who don't raid.

    I am waiting to see a brave game turn raiding on its head by making it just one of the activities by which one can get desirable rewards, but still make it possible to get equivalent stats elsewhere through other activities. (Cosmetics and shiny non-game-changing stuff can be unique for the show-off aspect.)

    Also, need/greed loot systems need to die in favor of personally rolled RNG loot or token buy, to reduce the disgruntled hostility between raiders in that very same group who got or didn't get a desired reward that day.

    I wish I could think of a design fix for overcompetitiveness and players liking to blame others for group failure, but if I knew that, I could be selling the idea and making millions. ;)

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    1. I am waiting to see a brave game turn raiding on its head by making it just one of the activities by which one can get desirable rewards, but still make it possible to get equivalent stats elsewhere through other activities.

      What, you mean like SWTOR has done recently? ;) You probably haven't been following it, but they introduced a new loot system in the last expansion where everyone gets their gear from random loot crates that are earned from doing pretty much any endgame activity (raids, PvP, dailies, just killing mobs etc.). It's been largely reviled by the player base for its RNG aspect, but it does give everyone the same chance at gear. Some activities earn crates faster than others of course, but they are still working on rebalancing that. Raiding is actually one of the slower methods right now and has been promised a buff.

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    2. Excellent. I haven't been following it indeed, but that is very heartening and positive news.

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    3. It should be noted that they started to give loot in operations again. So it's not quite what Jeromai was envisioning.

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    4. I don't have a problem with harder content giving out better rewards than easier content. I think a balance needs to be struck, but I don't think you should be able to gain absolutely everything from just one type of activity.

      And this means that there are certain cool things I know I shall probably never have (like Brontes' Wings of the Architect), and I'm okay with that. It also means that I prize my Qyzen Kephess customization a lot more than if I had just bought it from a vendor. It's a nice reminder that there was once a time when I actually did Nightmare mode ops, and it dropped, and somehow I bloody won it! (I think it drops in all modes, but it happened in the same op when I got the Warstalker title, probably the pinnacle of my SWTOR raiding career, and it has all been downhill since).

      I do think there should be a range of cool stuff available in every different activity. Just not necessarily the same cool stuff.

      I'm not a huge fan of this new system. I wish we could go back to the old loot drops in ops. I suppose it is more egalitarian, but it would be nice if you could skip the grind by doing harder content if you were so inclined. Nobody is denied anything by that, everyone has the choice to do it either way.

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    5. @The Nickster: Well, he didn't say that raids shouldn't give gear, just that the same gear should also be available through other activities. Which it is.

      @Guido: I agree, but I didn't really want to delve into the subject of effort and rewards here as that could easily be a whole post of its own and isn't an issue that is limited to raiding. The sameyness of gaining CXP for everything since 5.0 felt quite disheartening at first, though Bioware is slowly regaining some balance. What they really need now in my opinion is just some RNG protection for people who aren't doing ops or PvP. They could have a currency that drops from activities like dailies and flashpoints. It could be called "uncommon crystals" or something... ;)

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    6. It's perfectly ok to have raids give out loot, especially if in the case of SWTOR (based on what I skim read regarding the command crate issues) it was too much lockbox RNG in play to give useful, desirable loot at a nice frequency.

      Then raids can be a source of relatively controlled, planned, guaranteed loot of whatever you want (token buy systems also help with this) and remain attractive to players, but importantly the players don't feel "forced" into one activity - if you're willing to put up with RNG or whatever, there is the alternative of the crates that give you a chance at the same loot stats you would get from raiding to choose from.

      Best is those that choose to do both, they get an extra source of loot, and the devs get a super committed player willing to do lots of different activities in-game.

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  3. The camaraderie is entirely the reason I do ops, indeed it is the reason I am still playing SWTOR at all. All my best and most fun times in the game have been in ops or other large-group content (event bosses, world bosses, etc.) with my guild-mates.

    I've been very lucky that I found a group of folks who are so much fun to spend time with. Before I joined the guild I never did ops, I was put off with how angry and childish people in flashpoint PUGs could get, surely ops could only be worse, with the stakes that much higher. But with the right group of people it elevated my enjoyment of SWTOR to a whole new level. The guild is its own little culture, with banter, familiar characters, in-jokes, and shared memories (good and bad - our guild was formed from the wreckage of an earlier guild we were in that self-destructed quite acrimoniously).

    I don't suppose I would still be around if not for this comradeship, because I do regularly get tired of SWTOR and drop out for short (and sometimes not so short) periods. But it is always the prospect of fun with the guildies that brings me back, and ops are the best thing for that.

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    1. I don't think operations are meant for pugging. I mean, you can do it, I certainly have, but they aren't really designed for it in my opinion. That's good though, because it's part of their appeal that you're meant to do them with people who stick together.

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    2. Is the first picture one of those new(ish) Dark v. Light bosses? Haven't actually seen any of them yet myself.

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    3. Yep! Video of the kill is here. I keep trying to convince my guild to do more of these, but the fights seem to be tuned for 12+ people and our ops leader likes to chicken out if there aren't that many of us online. :P

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