Friday, March 25, 2011

Tier pieces or just a candle – how much does it matter what the boss drops for our willingness to wipe on him?

Is it worth wiping on Al’Akir, considering that he only drops some randomly enchanted stuff and no tier pieces whatsoever?

How many wipes does it take before you say: “screw this, let’s go and grab some more epics from the bosses we already have on farm?”

Recent discussions in my guild showed that there are many different views on this. Some players argue that it’s a waste of time, while others (including me) think that the lack of interesting loot is highly irrelevant and that we’ve never shied away from any challenge previously, so why would we now?

So far I think it’s the loot-is-irrelevant side that is winning. Last Sunday we had a wipe night in good old fashioned style, 22 in a row, without ever making it into phase 3. In my world it’s just a starter. When we’re up above 100 wipes we could start talking, and maybe playing the Benny Hill signature on vent during the corpse runs. But until then? No reason to despair.

Gear cap at level 359?
It’s a funny thing though, how much we differ in the value we put to loot – how important it is to us as motivator. One of the commenters on Ghostcrawler’s post on raid difficulties questioned the idea of constant gear progression through the tiers. Stop handing out better and better epic loot, was his suggestion. Put a cap at item level 359 so the players don’t become more powerful. The point of raiding isn’t to get loot anyway; it’s the feeling of accomplishment, of downing the boss. According to him, they could award vanity items for fluff, fun and bragging. The gear levelling curve should be capped though.

As I read it I asked myself: how many raiders would keep raiding if there wasn’t any more gear to win, if your character didn’t get more powerful thanks to it. How many would be willing to wipe o Al’Akir if it only cost you time and consumables, with no reward apart from the entertainment during the raid? My answer is: probably very few. Just look at what happens to the final tier instances during the months before a new expansion is about to be launched.

I’m pretty certain that more players would have bothered about Ruby Sanctum if it, for instance, had awarded loot that you couldn’t equip right away, but would be useful later on at level 85. Like it or not, to most players – but mind you, not all – WoW is still very much all about improving your character from a gear point of view until you hit the ceiling and can’t realistically improve it anymore.

Raiding like dancing
But does it really have to be that way? Let’s make a parallel to my other current hobby, namely historical dances. Every second week I’m raiding with my dance guild. Well, we don’t call it a raid, but actually it feels pretty much like it, especially those nights when we get a new boss to conquer, a new dance to learn, upon the ones we already have on farm. Just like in any raid there are all those moves and actions that the group of 10-20 people have to learn to master. I

Initially we wipe a lot, since there’s always one or two who miss out something completely. And our learning curves differ a bit, so we have to wait for each other. But eventually, after many wipes, and many nights of training, it clicks and we nail the dance and afterwards we put our hands in the air and cheer of relief, happiness and pride of what we’ve accomplished. Do we get any loot? Not at all. Not as much as an achievement. All we get is the sense of having learned to master something, as a group. The joy of making it well, of beating the challenge. And that’s all we ask for.

To me raiding in WoW is pretty much the same thing as learning how to dance a pavane, a branle or a country dance, with the difference that the raid group is dominated by men rather than by women, that we're in physical and not just digital contact, and that there doesn’t come any fire balls from my hands (even though they DO get sweaty sometimes)

Different motivations
I feel a confession is incoming and I know my guild officers won’t be pleased to hear this. But to be honest: most of the time when I raid I have no idea of what loot will drop from a certain boss. I know I should; I know I’m expected to plan my gear in advance and keep close track on such things. But it’s so largely irrelevant for my motivation and generally it’s easy enough for me to see weather a drop is an upgrade or not. I’d rather spend time studying the dance moves than the loot lists, which just bore me out of my mind.

For me WoW isn’t about the loot, it never was. Al’Akir could drop candles for what I was concerned. I would still have a burning desire to keep wiping on him until we’ve learned the dance.

This said: I don’t look down on loot driven players. I just note the fact that we’re not triggered by the same things in the game. I enjoy dancing and reaching the top of the mountain, and the more suffering we’ve been through on the way, the happier I’ll be once I get there. Others get their kicks from a new piece of gear or from topping the damage chart. Different players have different motivations, and I guess that’s all fine, as long as we’re working towards the same goal and do it as a team.

Friday night
Enough talk about loot. Let’s get to the essentials: a drink and a fireplace is all I ask for right now. I have no worries to share, no tears to shred, no doom or gloom or sad tidings from the world. Actually I have one thing I’d like to mention. In case you haven’t already seen it, head over the The Daily Blink and see what buffs the mages will get in 4.1. At least it gave me a refreshing laugh. Now I remember why I chose to play a mage in the first place. Under the cover of cute pink pigtails, I’m made out of evil.

And with those words I’ll bring out the toast for the week. It goes to all guilds that are currently wiping on a boss. May your dancing be enjoyable and eventually successful! May the RNG force be with you in the loot bag!



Mhorgrim said...

an interesting comparison on motivations for gameplay. You are the first person I've noticed that Raids for learning the raid and in a way it seems for social puposes. Hats off to ya girl! I also liked the analogies to the folk dances (did it years ago with a gf for fun). But it holds true with your thoughts on raiding. Very insightful and enjoyable. Have a great day!

Syl said...

In direct answer to the main question: loot matters little for a first kill, matters lots for longterm motivation and repeated kills (especially if the boss is tough).

that's why a proper loot system in place has always been pivotal to me for raidguilds; loot matters if you're supposed to farm content.
I enjoy learning to some extent (at least my personal learning, not so much other people's), but I'm not a great fan of the grind unless there are incentives. even then, random loot luck and me are no close friends. ;)

DannyFlorida said...

Larisa said, "But to be honest: most of the time when I raid I have no idea of what loot will drop from a certain boss. ... For me WoW isn’t about the loot, it never was."

My sentiments exactly. Although we and other players with a similar outlook are probably a minority, there are probably more of us than you'd think, especially among the vast majority of players who are non-raiders.

Rades said...

The only gear I tend to look ahead for on my DK are weapons, because of how critical they are for DPS (unlike statsticks for casters/hunters). Plus, I have to admit I get a thrill out of knowing I might be receiving an awesome looking sword...or half-hearted thrill knowing I may soon be wielding a terribly ugly mace. ;)

Everything else I like to leave as a surprise! We don't use any sort of DKP system or anything, mind you. If we had a bidding/points system I would probably do a little more research ahead of time, since I would want to know what I'd want to spend my allotment on.

SpiritusRex said...

You've summed up exactly why I play the game much better than I could myself. The loot is the icing, the raiding itself is the cake and the cake does not lie. :)

I've learned more about myself and my guildmates as a result of wipes than I ever will as a result of our successes. Glad to see a little more happiness in your writing today. Have a great weekend.

Stubborn said...

For me, it's always been about seeing content. I've fought through hours and hours of wipes just to get to see the next boss. The "wings" structure of raids, then, did little to help me because in the end, all the bosses still had to fall. The raid ID saving helped me, though, because it prevented having to repeat every single boss every single week if we didn't finish the week before, a common part-core raider's problem.

That's not to say I've never gotten irritated with not getting loot, but I will say that every time it was due to who ended up with the loot, not that I didn't get it. When hangers-on or brand new people in a raid take a very rare piece of loot from someone who's been grinding and wiping and glass chewing for weeks, that burns me up, regardless of if I would have gotten it or not.

Nils said...

In the beginning it was about loot and numbers. Then, it became about my guild-mates. Then, it became boring. ;)

Klepsacovic said...

Ignorance is bliss. When I don't know the loot off a boss, I'll just do it for the fun of it. Then at some point I always make the same mistake of looking at the loot table, seeing what I need, and the moment I get it, I stop wanting to fight that boss.

Intrinsic reward + extrinsic - extrinsic = no motivation

Fuzzy_Magicz said...

Interesting. Not quite sure which camp I'm in, but I definitely lean towards the social side. Then again, getting purples is satisfying in a primal sort of way.

Sean said...

Reading through your post I began to wonder, "Why do I raid? What's my motivation?" Oddly enough, I can't really pinpoint it right off the top of my head. At my current state of progression, Loot certainly plays a large part of it. I don't have a lot and would like more so I can be all Rawr and Grrrr on the bosses. But the bosses themselves are as big a part of it for me, and I love seeing new content (new being what I've never seen before.) I think boiled down, my motivation for continuing to raid is 60% Accomplishment and 40% Loot. I can only see the percentages swinging more in favor of the former as time goes by and my gearscore climbs.

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts and opinions, I enjoy reading them.

Bristal said...

I'm a runner. I get an edorphin release from running. It makes me feel good. Not that pleasant while I'm doing it, but after I feel great. I would suspect a lot of the high you feel after dancing is like that.

I love to play WoW. Sometimes an especially exciting boss fight will give me that same feeling, but by the 5th kill, not so much. Winning a loot drop, however, always produces the rush. Even the CHANCE of an upgrade builds it up.

It's all about whatever reward you learn to crave. Humans are programmed to crave the reward. The reward drives us.

Ten million slot machines can't be wrong.

I believe that it's not necessarily just skill that separates the big-time raiders from the rest of us, it's a serious, super-human craving for the BIG reward, like a server first kill.

The big problem with Cata IMO is that all most of us have at this point is loot rewards.

Masith said...

I suspect your officers will be much happier that you focus on learning how to kill the boss rather than learning what loot will drop when it does die.

As raidleader of my guild I have no idea what loot the various bosses drop for me. All I care about regarding loot is that as much as possible is used as it means my raid team is growing stronger.

In general I find the players that are loot driven to be a pain to lead as they get upset if they are on standby for a boss that drops whatever loot they are lusting after or try to argue which targets we should kill next based on their own loot needs.

*vlad* said...

I don't know a single person who isn't happier if they get a piece of loot when a boss dies. No, it's not the main reason why you raid, but it is a way of feeling rewarded for accomplishing the kill.
Look at Athletes; when they come first in the Olympics, they get a Gold medal. It's the coming first that matters, doesn't it? But if you didn't also hand out medals, the sense of achievement just wouldn't be the same.
People want prizes to go with their victories, whether it's raiding, boxing (belt), golf (green jacket), football (trophy), you name it.

Carra said...

A friend is following carpenter lessons. And at the end he'll have his table achievement.

Others might take the folk dances for the girlfriend achievement.

People are motivated in different way. And yes, some do need a stick before they'll do something.

Azuriel said...

If we take what you say on face value...

1) Why are you playing an MMO in the first place?

2) Why do you consent to kill a boss more than once?

While I would actually say that I do not play for the loot either (no desire for heroic modes, don't care how geared people are compared to me, etc), I am willing to admit that bosses without a chance of any (meaningful) reward do not motivate me. Al'Akir? Zero interest. We could be spending that time progressing on other bosses.

Unknown said...


I find it interesting that you drew an analogy to dancing. My wife and some of our friends belong to a dance and recreation group (check out We all pretty much raid for fun, in fact we never did current raid content until LK. Probably because it wasn't accessible until then to casual players like us.

In fact we haven't done any raiding in Cata, as there is no good story driving it. Downing the LK was the second best part of the game since I started playing (flying on a Griffin the 1st time was the best).

But with the LK we continued doing it right up to the end on 10 man helping friends get in to see it, even though we were geared in 25 man gear we received no tangible reward. So I think people would raid for titles, vanity pets, etc. They would all just be on RP servers like me. The pve servers, IMO, would dry up if there was no loot for the raiders to get.

Anonymous said...

To my mind, any boss is interesting while learning the fight and for the first few kills. After that, the only interesting random factor is the loot.

So loot that is an upgrade makes you at least care about the drops a bit, possibly.

The other factor is the scare factor. This is where you have to care because you are terrified that your dps/heals/ etc wont' be able to keep up with your group requirements unless you can upgrade your gear.

Larísa said...

@Mhorgrim: Thanks! I just want to point out though that just because I enjoy the dancing aspect of it, it doesn't mean that I'm necessarily casual/social. It can be rather serious business. It's all a matter of how you approach it, how much effort you put into it.

Well... dancing can be serious business too... Just look at the Black Swan. Just because

@Syl: I think you're right that the loot incentive matters more later on. But in the case of a first kill, of weather it's worth wiping on a boss or not, loot isn't an issue to me. And yes, I'm a big fan of dkp myself and deeply skeptic to loot councils. Been there, done that. It just takes too much time and it opens up for speculations about favorism.

@Danny Florida: Well... actually I think there are raiders as well with this mindset. But I think the loot/gear/character progression is more common.

@Rades: I'll add that I'm not completely clueless. Even if I'm not sure of which boss drops what, I run Rawr from time to time to optimize my gear and to see about what upgrades that would be worth most to me. It's just that I don't memorize them that closely, from which boss they drop etc. But once I see them I remember: "oh, that was that offhand that would be the best upgrade for me atm, I'd better bid high on it".

@SpiritusRex: You too!

@Stubborn: Again a good reason why dkp is so good. The ones that have earned it through the wipe nights will most likely be on top and afford to bid high.

@Nils: I guess it's the way it develops for many players.

@Klepsacovic: Lesson learned: stay away from the loot tables!

@Fuzzy Magicz: Again: enjoying the team work, the challenge and the feeling of reaching perfection, of nailing it, isn't necessarily a social approach to raiding. Even though I appreciate that too. I just think that being a dancing raider not necessarily means that you're casual. That's what I'm trying to say.

@Sean: Thank you! Yes, unlocking new content is definitely an important motivator for me too. I want to see what waits beyond that boss that is guarding that door on the other side of the room so to say.

@Bristal: Yep, it's the same. The adrenaline rushes are definitely a part of my enjoyment too. And yeah, I guess it can be triggered a little by the chance of some extremely nice loot, but for wiping on new content, I still think loot is irrelevant.

@Masith: Well, if they mind my casual approach to loot too badly I'm sure they'll let me know.

@Vlad: Oh, of course I enjoy getting upgrades too. It's not that. But to return to the initial example, the lack of interesting loot doesn't affect my interest for wiping at Al'Akir.

@Azuriel: Why do we train the dance more than one time at my dancing classes once we've learned it? Why do you train horse riding when you've already learned how to make your horse go forward, backward, stop and jump? For perfection. Because you actually enjoy the activity of raiding. That's why.

@Robert Emond: Yes, maybe a cap on gear would stimulate more role playing? Although to be honest I suspect it would rather drive away players to other games. I know, I'm a bit of a cynic.

@Spinksville: Well... Yeah. I guess the more on farm a boss is, the more interesting does the loot become. Still.. I enjoy trying to strive for perfection in the boss kills. It feels satisfying when we do beautiful kills rather than sloppy, kills without deaths, kills you'd be proud to display on a public video.

Gevlon said...

Raiding (playing) should have a deeper reason than pixel loot. I almost never look up loot lists, the only exception is when I'm about to buy something for points. If 2 items can be bought, the decision is based on which has better chance to drop in raid.

I think if they would cap gear at 359, 95% would stop playing instantly. The rest of us on the other hand would have so much fun playing without them.

Redbeard said...

I'm with Gevlon and the rest who say that raiding --or anything game related-- shouldn't be about phat lootz, but something else. If it is all about the loot, then you're destined to have a letdown in the long run; you need to have more loot to replace that "new loot" high.

Perdissa said...

I remember that when I was first introduced to WoW by my friend, one of my first reactions after hearing his explanations on raiding and gearing up was this: “Huh? You mean we need to dress up our characters with new pieces of clothing? That sounds like a freaking girly dress-em-up game.” Him: “ITS NOT LIKE THAT AT ALL!!!” Sometimes, I still think it’s like that. Kinda.

Top Rosters said...

I think I am like most people in that the loot only matters when it is pretty!

Sad to see the Inn shut its doors. Thanks for entertaining us over the years and good luck with future endeavours.

Kring said...

There are two major differences between a raid and a dance group.

You might enjoy learning a new dance and you might enjoy learning a new boss. The difference is that most people also enjoy dancing a dance they already know because they enjoy dancing but most people don't enjoy farm raids because raiding itself is incredible boring. You only run farm raids to... farm gear. The gear is there to hide the fact that you do something you don't like to do.

And the other difference is that people group up in dance groups with other people of more or less the same skill. The same is true for raids. But with your dance group you select the difficulty by choosing dances which match the skill of your group. In a raid the difficulty is chosen by Blizzard and will always be not challenging enough for one group and to laborious for another group.

Anonymous said...

Come along, bill; we have to get there, or we won hear the first.