Dealing With Our Most Precious Resource: the Perils of Separate Lockouts

Once upon a time I lived in a world where I could raid as many nights a week as I wanted. Sometimes I would be online in WoW In some form, at some hour of the evening, up to six days a week. I had forsaken all other games despite being an avid gamer since the age of six. I embraced the raiding scene just like many others did at the time: full bore into the 40-man raid team content. I was 8 years younger than I am now and I had nary a care in the world with the only concern I really had was money. WoW offered me so much entertainment for so little money compared to going out and buying other $60 games.

Back then raiding was different of course. Not everyone could raid or could get into a 40 man team and it showed when folks in Orgrimmar or Ironforge would ogle your shiny purple epics and ask where you got them. There was a clear delineation between the haves and the have-nots which only become more apparent once AQ40 and Naxxramas rolled around. While I was fortunate, or unfortunate if you consider my raiding schedule and my girlfriend’s displeasure, to clear Naxx40 before the Burning Crusade patch the number of people who did experience any substantial portion of the instance is amazing small. The barrier to entry for raiding guilds was exceptionally high and there was no shortcut to gearing up through all of the instances in order.

I’m older now.

I have a wedding to plan, a house to fix up, a well-paying job that I like, people to see, and other games to play. While money will forever be a concern for me it is now one on another level. I’m not worrying that I can’t get all of the games that I’d like to get because I can afford the ones I want. I’m instead worrying about fixing the gutters, having the pool fixed, and creating an addition on the house. Life has shifted my priorities significantly and I’m sure this is the case for many WoW players.

The most precious commodity we have in our daily and weekly lives…is TIME.

Simply put there is not enough time in the day to do everything, see everyone, and be as productive as you’d like without making sacrifices. Those sacrifices are often forsaking recreational things like video games for an evening to enrich other aspects of your life. It is for this reason that I have staunchly stuck to my goal of never raiding any more than three nights a week. If a guild that I am in decides it needs a fourth night because a boss is close I may or may not be able to make it and it must be something I wouldn’t be held accountable for missing. My guild is important to me, but my life and my free time are more important to me. This is non-negotiable.

Mists of Pandaria is attacking my free time constantly with its rather endless stream of things to do. Some of these things I like such as Pet Battles (though I haven’t done any since I swapped servers), running old dungeons, killing alliance players, the tillers, and even some of the dailies. Overall though the vast amount of dailies available as well as LFR and working to cap VP with heroics as needed suck up a large amount of time. The blessing though is that each of these things is bite sized and can done piecemeal throughout a day or the week. Nothing fully intrudes on my ability to maintain my schedule. Worst case scenario is that I stay up a little bit after raid ends at 11 and I bang out my dailies before bed. I might run LFR in the morning or afternoon on the weekend and heroics happen whenever. Managing my time is the largest responsibility I have as a potential husband and gamer.

When I read people clamoring for the return of separate 10 and 25 man lockouts it confuses me greatly. While I agree that someone putting additional time into the game should gain additional benefits, those benefits should not be substantial enough to give them a massive leg up in the raiding environment (with the exception of people spending that extra time on their main raid, e.g. top guilds when content is released). Spending ten more hours than me doing non-main raid content in a week should net you reputation, rewards, extra gold etc. What it isn’t, is a reason to feel entitled to more loot and gear. World of Warcraft has become a lifestyle and as such needs to be planned according to their (Blizzard’s) views on a healthy raiding schedule. They cannot safely design a model that makes the average raider tack on an additional one or two nights during the week to raid a second raid size out of obligation to make their character the best It can be. They  use the word ‘optional’ a lot and while sometimes we all know it might not be, they are aware that separate lockouts with equal loot would NOT be optional for many.

I agree that 25 man raids need to be incentivized, however breaking the lockouts and increasing the gear level slightly is not the way to go. If the ilevel difference is only 8 say, you will still be forced to run the 10 man raid in organized guild runs to maximize chances at tier tokens and those highly contested items shared between classes. This added requirement caters far too much to the people who have unusually large amounts of free time on their hands. These people are the exception rather than the rule and while they may be extremely vocal on forums and boards, do not represent the majority of players out there. If you are that gamer that plays only WoW, or has lots of free time, or maybe you’re single, or maybe you live at home still who knows, please respect others that are just as serious about the game as you and are determined to stay just as relevant as you but have less free time. WoW is not about who can commit the most time to the game and never should be. WoW should be able who makes the best use of their time within the game to reach their desired goals.

I don’t want to dwell too much on the 10’s vs. 25’s thing because that has been discussed to death by people with much better ideas and solutions than I could think up. I’m more concerned with how flippant and callous some players have become about how the shared lockout ‘ruined the game’. Thankfully we have alts for a reason. Forcing too much raiding on one character will burn out players far too fast, especially those with familial commitments. All in all I’m content with how raiding works right now as far as its time commitment and structure. I worry that if things were changed to force me to start adding raid days to my schedule I would probably have to quit the game entirely.

 

Things to come:

I’m currently working on my primers for the first 8 heroic encounters that I have completed as well as an update to my guide that has languished at ‘4.3’ for a while now. I also have a part two to my magic post as well. So much to write so little time.

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3 responses to “Dealing With Our Most Precious Resource: the Perils of Separate Lockouts

  1. Pingback: Group Quest #94 – Achievement Achieved! | Group Quest

  2. I have noticed that my real life has crept up and bit me in the ass. At this time last year, I had nothing ‘better’ to do then spend all night and weekends on WoW. This wasn’t a problem because it was the same thing my husband did but as 2012 progressed, things started to fill up my time. Work got busier which meant that I really enjoyed just idling while I chatted with my friends online.

    I am so busy now that it’s hard for me to get posts written for my blog, not that they are very interesting but still. The writing is a good outlet!

    I can’t imagine doing both 25’s and 10’s again. I’d go crazy. In our guild, we raid for 8-10 hours over the weekend and that is plenty for me. Plus, I’m able to NOW say “I need a day off”. I’ve not even capped my valor but once since Mists came out, I’m just that busy. Some nights I don’t even have time to log on.

    I fear I’ve fallen into what people would call the ‘casual’ raider. And it kills me a little inside.

  3. This isn’t just a problem for WoW players. I was just in a Twitter chat with people wondering about how to retain tabletop RPG players into their middle years. And I commented that there’s a huge hole in the demographic of people who do community bands and choruses that looks a lot like the one in tabletop, too.

    It’s natural for people get to a point in their lives where their free time drops precipitously. And that means if they have a time-consuming hobby it can easily fall by the wayside as new responsibilities (a house, a spouse, kids, etc.) crop up. It’s awesome to move into that part of your life where you’re doing adult things, but it sucks when you have to choose which hobbies you want to keep up with and which you need to drop or cut back.

    What keeps people’s hobbies – and especially group hobbies that require time commitment – alive is flexibility and easing of that time commitment. You can’t run a game with 8-12 hour sessions anymore. You can’t require someone to spend 16 hours a week raiding. You can’t have four hours of mandatory, scheduled rehearsal a week for your performing group, in addition to mandatory performances. You will simply lose people, and if your hobby isn’t sufficiently appealing to the retired crowd, you’ll never get them back.

    I would tend to think Blizzard understands this. I would tend to think they are aware that their aging player base can no longer keep up with the massive time commitment the game used to require for players to remain competitive with their peers. And everything they’ve done to this point suggests that they have changed the game to make it more appealing, if not to the “casual” player, to the committed player who no longer has the time they used to to play the game. (If nothing else, stories of people losing most of their lives to WoW were very bad press.)

    So my only advice to you would be don’t worry. Assuming they’ve got their heads on straight, the folks at Blizzard totally have your (grownup) back. And if they don’t, there are a hell of a lot of really good MMOs out there that are way beyond WoW both in terms of tech and gameplay (and mostly free to play to boot). Or if you’re feeling up to it, you and your friends could use Google Hangouts to play a tabletop game instead.*

    * I can’t help myself. I’m an RPG evangelist.

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