Frustration != Challenge

There’s been some recent discussion in my guild regarding the ICC buff, and it got me thinking. 15% is where we downed Arthas on Team 1, and really it felt like we could have done just as well at 10%. When things were handles perfectly, there was absolutely no need for that extra 5% in terms of HP, healing, absorb, or damage done. Of course, there were attempts that would have ended sooner without the damage buff (unfortunate valkyr targets in Phase 2 for example) , but on our winning attempt I don’t feel that the extra 5% played any real part at all. Could we do it with 5%? Possibly… but it would take a lot more time to perfect our execution of the fight. Could we do it with no buff? Not with the current team comp. If we swapped people around to pick up the absolute perfect comp (adding a Shadow Priest, Rogue or Lock for example… perhaps a Tree), yes, I’m sure we could if given time to learn the encounter to absolute perfection.

However, as most folks well know by now, downing Arthas with no buff is absolutely pointless. There is no achievement for it, no extra loot, and no title. Even if you manage it, there is nothing to prove you did aside from screenshots of Arthas’s corpse with no buff icon… which, frankly, is easily faked. There’s absolutely no motivation, not even bragging rights (since it’s hard to prove beyond any doubt), to take on that extra challenge.

So, does this mean I’m against the scaling buff? Absolutely not. In fact, I hope they continue with it in Cataclysm. I’m not an elitist. I don’t believe it’s my right to see content and others in less capable guilds should be left out, and people who do both frustrate and disgust me. I think Blizzard’s intent of making sure the vast majority of players eventually see all of ICC is a great one, and while I personally feel 20% is starting to get silly (and it’s going to 30% last I heard), I understand there are still people stuck on Putricide Normal and they can use the extra oomph to hopefully clear ICC before 4.0 drops.

My opinion in all this is shaped by my experience in a much harsher raiding environment than most WoW raiders have ever seen… MC? AQ40? BT? Sunwell? Please… don’t make me laugh. I raided the Planes of Power. I remember Vex Thal… I’m keyed for Sleeper’s Tomb. The process of getting 72 people keyed for Vex Thal would send most WoW raid leaders screaming into the woods where, minds ruined, they would live the rest of their days eating berries and soiling themselves whilst babbling about Lucid Shards.

Even then, I never saw Veeshan’s Peak when it was new content. There exists in EQ worse than I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen worse than WoW’s ever had. Telling me that Blackwing Lair was hardcore is like telling an Iwo Jima veteran that Iraq is the most brutal fighting ever. It just does not impress me in any way.

Think it was hard to get 40 people in line? Try 72… with no voice chat client. Think it sucked to have to summon one of every level of Health Stone for every member of a 40-man raid for every attempt? Once you entered Veeshan’s Peak you either cleared it, got bailed out by a better raid team, or you lost all of your gear. Yes… all of it. As in start over naked, gear up again, and try the raid again. No, you couldn’t talk to a GM about it. That shit was by design.

Don’t come to me and talk to me about how ICC shouldn’t have a buff because you’re too hardcore for that. Not unless you’ve seen and done what I’ve done. Unless you can show me your EQ raiding scars, I don’t want to hear it. You don’t know what hard is… you don’t know that there’s a line between hard and needlessly punishing, because you haven’t been over that line so far that you’ve lost sight of it.

If you think you’re so hardcore that everything should be difficult way past the point of being fun anymore, then I have good news for you. EQ is still around. It’s still getting expansions. It’s actually been toned *down* from when I played it, but it’s still more brutal than vanilla WoW was. If you want to flex nut, go over there and do it. Try. I dare you. You rolling up over there and talking about raiding Molten Core with those guys is like trying to join Hell’s Angels on a Kawasaki crotch rocket.

Consider this: Furor, one of the original quest designers for WoW, was the guild leader of Fires of Heaven, a world first EQ1 guild. He himself was the first player in EQ to ever hit the original level cap of 50, and did so on a Rogue of all things.

Tigole, who was the Lead Game Designer of WoW from the beginning till he was recently reassigned to Blizzard’s new MMO, was also a guild leader in EQ. He lead Legacy of Steel after Pardo (developer for Diablo II and Warcraft III) left EQ, and they also achieved many world first raid kills in EQ. Tigole and his guild were actually largely responsible for influencing EQ and MMOs in general to focus strongly on ultra-hardcore end game content.

These guys have been through the EQ wringer, and they took what they learned to help shape WoW. Vanilla WoW was a greatly toned down version of the EQ they came from. Over the years, it’s been toned down more and more as it dawned on them, Blizzard, and the industry as a whole that “challenge” does not require punishing the player for playing your game. This is a perspective that really can only be gained by experiencing what it’s like to be brutally mauled by the game you’re playing and having that vicious beating being equated to levels of difficulty.

Here’s a mild example of raiding in EQ… in twelve easy steps:

1)      Get 50 to 72 people together and organized using an extremely unfriendly raid interface and no voice chat.

2)      Travel to the start of the raid that was in the way of the raid you were actually going to, and wait for the massive throng of people to all show up… and recover anyone killed by wildlife on the way.

3)      Spend about an hour raiding through enough of the first raid to get to the door to the raid you’re actually going to.

4)      Spend anywhere from an hour to two hours in that raid.

5)      Wipe on a boss.

6)      Show up completely naked wherever you bound your soul, and hope to god it’s remotely near the raid zone. Your mount’s on your corpse along with all your gear, so you’ll be going on foot back to the raid…

7)      Wait for all 72 people to make it back to the door of the FIRST raid zone and recover from even more wildlife deaths since everyone’s on foot and naked.

8)      Praise anyone who had even partial sets of gear in their bank to help with what comes next… the first raid zone, again, because in EQ everything repopped really fast even if a “boss” mob wasn’t up.

9)      Loot and use trash armor and weapons from the raid mobs to help fill out still empty gear slots while feeling really thankful for all the Monks, Beastmasters (good melee DPS without weapons equipped), and nukers. They’re pretty much the only people doing damage.

10)   Finally get into the second raid zone where your corpses are (and all your gear).

11)   Wait for the Necromancer and/or Shadow Knight to summon your corpses, one by one, using a long cost time/high mana/expensive reagent spell that’ll bring your corpse to their feet so long as you’re both in the same zone.

12)   Anywhere from an hour to two hours later, after everyone’s corpses are back, rezzed (to restore some of the XP lost from the death), and looted… get teleported out (no such thing as a Hearth Stone in EQ) and go to bed because it’s 2am now.

If that’s what you’d rather WoW was like, please do yourself a favor and just go play EQ. Seriously. I’m sure SOE would welcome the subscription.

Me? I’ve been there, done that, and came away with an understanding of the difference between a challenge and a needless frustration. I find it’s a handy bit of perspective to have.

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~ by Udiyvli on 06/01/2010.

3 Responses to “Frustration != Challenge”

  1. Damn right. I’ve seen video of EQ1 raiding. Hell, I tried an EQ1 private shard.

    As a vanilla raider with the scars of level 60 Naxx’s Four Horsemen all across my back, FUCK EQ1’s raiding.

  2. I never even got as far in EQ raiding as you did. I started playing EQ not long after release and stayed through the first three expansions. My old guild on Innoruuk (Spirit of the Moon) did raid some, but mainly Plane of Fear and Plane of Hate with a few stabs at Plane of Air, along with Lady Vox and the other dragon back before the level cap went from 50 to 60.

    Yeah, I don’t miss those Fox runs. Get there, get buffed by a shaman, and immediately log out to preserve your buffs, because by the time our shamans finished everybody, the first person’s buffs would wear off, like old 5-minute Blessings. Then log in and bumrush the dargon, and hope you pull it off.

    Plane of Fear, though, made the dragon raids look like easysauce. You’ve been there, so you probably twitch as hard as I do when you hear the word “plane break-in,” or the “rez corner” in PoF. There’s nothing like starting a raid KNOWING that you will lose xp because you WILL eat a death just getting to the staging area. Did your server ever have massive throwdowns about who was getting into PoF when, because the content wasn’t instanced? Many times we’d coordinated among other guilds to go into PoF on thus-and-such a time, only to walk in to a near-empty zone because somebody else had “jumped the line” and cleared it. Or, even better, getting dragged into a rescue raid to bail out a friendly guild who had gotten in over their heads and couldn’t get back to their bodies due to respawns or bad luck.

    Pretty much all of early Everquest was hard simply for the sake of being hard, not for the sake of being challenging. I’ve never subscribed to McQuaid and Smedley as being some kind of geniuses simply because of that. McQuaid in particular, jeebus…his “Vision” was of a game that hated you almost as much as you hated it. WoW has proven that you can make content challenging but yet not have it be too punitive if you fail. That’s something that Verant/SOE never quite picked up on, at least until later.

    • Oh yeah… toward the end of my time in EQ, just before EQ2 launched, we had a bard in guild who was possibly the best EQ player I’ve ever seen. He’d solo the Plane of Fear… everything that didn’t Death Touch or Summon anyway. He and I once rescued a whole other guild with him on his bard, and me two-boxing my Warrior and Cleric. That was a hell of a show.

      As for Fear raids… how’s this for a flashback?

      “OMG CAZIC AGGRO! CAZIC ADD! CLERICS CAMP NOW! CLERICS CAMP!!!!!”

      😄

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