Raiding Research Online

Exploring and mapping the MMO raiding culture

Archive for November, 2009

What matters most during a raid

November 29, 2009 By: Ladan Category: Polls, raiding, World of Warcraft

Well, the results of my latest micro-survey are in and it looks like a significant number of participants rated solid teamworking skills as the most important quality to have during a raid.

  • Solid teamwork skills (71%)
  • Knowledge of class and skills (21%)
  • Knowledge of the fight (7%)
  • Good gear (1%)

I know it was an aggravating poll as I asked you to pick just one, but I wanted to see what we thought was deemed necessary above all else. It does seem like although we are concerned about how well equipped we are and how well we know the fights, if we can’t follow directions or work as a team, the raid will be a failure. I am surprised about the distance between the 2nd and 3rd rankings. I would have thought knowing the boss fight would receive more votes, to be honest.  Again this may be attributable to how I designed the poll–meaning that by asking you to pick just one thing, you had to be unreasonably selective.

When a new boss encounter addon came into my life…

November 18, 2009 By: Ladan Category: addons, raiding, user interface, World of Warcraft

So I wrote in my last post that I had decided to try out Deus Vox Encounters in replacement of Deadly Boss Mods. This has been a big change for me. I’ve used DBM for all of my quirky and checkered life as a raider since late 2006. It’s really one of the only addons (in addition to a threat metre and cooldown timer) I’ve used consistently since then.

So how has it been? Some things I love about it and some things take some getting used to. It has some very new-agey sounds that I can’t figure out yet. I was so used to the trumpet blare warning sound that DBM make that I hadn’t realised how accustomed I had come to responding the instant it blared up! This way with DXE I’ve had to pay more attention and try hard to respond. So far not too bad, although last night I did find myself doing a few stupid things during a TOC-10 man because I was too focused on the addon and not paying attention to where I was standing. Shame on me, really.

What I do love are these arrows! And the fancier proximity screen! They look like the arrows on questhelper but much bigger and they help you. For example, if you get paralytic toxin in heroic beasts and need to find someone with burning bile, the arrow tells you where they are and how far away. I like that.

So my personal experiment into “how to get used to a new addon once you’ve used another one for years” is going well so far. I’ll see how I feel in a week or so when I have to decide if I’m going back to DBM or staying with the new one.


New poll! Site use! UI change afoot!

November 15, 2009 By: Ladan Category: raiding, screenshots, user interface

Hi everyone,

Thanks for the visits so far. It’s still a pretty tiny site, but the response to my poll has been great! Very interesting. Please feel free to tell others about it and invite them to add comments or post on the forum. I hope you don’t feel like you have to write a book to accompany any upload, by the way. Even if you just post your UI screenshots without much said, that’s very helpful to me.

I’ve put up a new poll for everyone to vote in. I’m curious to see how often we like to change how our UI looks. This is admittedly vague but I’m trying to see how often we change things. I, for one, have only modified my UI a few times. I get anxious about changes because I’m worried that it’ll cause me to miss something important during a raid.

We’ve been chattering in guild a bit about a new raid encounter management addon, Deus Vox Encounters. A few guildies seem to like it. Most guilds tend to use Deadly Boss Mods. For non-raiders, these are software programmes that helps you manage the chaos that can happen during a fight with a particular boss. For example, you could be fighting a boss who periodically throws a ball of goo on random members of the team which can damage everyone around you within a 20 metre radius. Standard practice is to run away from those  you are near to protect them from this damage. So these software addons function to help warn you when something bad like that happens during a fight. They will typically make a big loud sound or crease flashing lights. I’ve used DBM since I started raiding, about 2 years ago. The idea of trying something new with something so important makes me nervous, but I’m giving it a go. Let’s hope I don’t wipe the raid!


Is there a raiding culture?

November 11, 2009 By: Ladan Category: raid leader, raiding culture, raiding guild, World of Warcraft

Naturally I have to respond yes to this as it’s sort of the backbone of my entire research approach. But I would challenge anyone who disputes this claim. After all, raiders have an identity, a set of ideals and expectations, and social norms and standards. We tend to inhabit particular spaces in the game and share a collective goal: downing bosses in raiding instances and moving along–as fast as possible–to the next big, bad challenge.

And this prompts me to pause and reflect on this very unscientific poll that I put up here. What do we see as the most important values in this raiding culture…. and so far it seems that our community and the raiding encounters themselves are ranking highest. Curiously enough, while the discussion of gear and DKP seem to rank pretty high when I informally observe guild and game chat, we didn’t rate it as our top priority in this survey. Perhaps this seeming contradiction arises from the fact that as raiders, when our needs for community (the guild) and encounters (the game and guild) are met, we can then focus on secondary concerns such as gear and our internal/external rankings with other raiders. I don’t really know if that’s true, but I realise that there is a disconnect between what we seem particularly interested in discussing in the game versus what we value as important on a broader scale.

Do you agree with me? Why does it seem, so far, that community and encounters are ranking higher than gear and competitiveness?


What’s in a UI?

November 10, 2009 By: Ladan Category: user interface

I think one of the most impassioned areas of discussion amongst raiders is the user interface (UI). Thanks to the ease with which gamers can customise their user interfaces through the use of addon software, aside from the actual visual graphics of the game itself, the mechanics of how the game is interfaced with can differ wildly. You only have to watch a few videos of boss encounters on youtube or, say, tankspot, to see that everyone incorporates different functionality into the interface. For some it seems to be all about minimising distractions, for others it’s about maximising information and data, and for even more it’s about easy access to important functions. And somehow the original interface that Blizzard designed for WoW isn’t quite good enough. Most raiders will suppress a gasp when they learn that someone is raiding ‘old school’ with the original interface. They just won’t see the logic of it.

And no one seems to like anyone else’s UI but their own. I’ve got a few here that I’m posting with the permission of their users because I think they nicely illustrate how different things are. I’m going to start with my own first. I’m admittedly pretty low tech when it comes to how I set things up, which probably accounts for my low performance at times :) . I ended up copying the UI that the former raid leader of Chi created and liked some of the functions, though I do remember spending days whinging and fussing over the fact that I couldn’t see my original little character button (the one that’s in the upper left hand corner in the non-altered WoW user interface) because that would often tell me if I was suddenly combat (a handy bit of info if you are trying to herb, which I do a lot in game). So now my interface has about 3 character buttons because I couldn’t figure out how to remove the other two. I’m on the verge of trying something new–just to see how I respond to trying something new–but haven’t got a clue as to how to set it up properly.  We’ll see how that goes. :)


That’s pretty impossible to see, but you can see the buttons in the middle. I seem to like that. I also found that I prefer more screen over more text and info. Other than my cooldowns and pertinent information from DBM, I’d rather not see too much. I find my eyes don’t quite know where to go.

Now here, on the other hand, is my friend Varil’s screen. He’s packed with information and guidance. He’s one of the main tanks in Chi and I’m well impressed that he has so much information racing across his screen while he’s dealing with the mayhem of up-close and personal melee madness.


Now, one thing I want to point out here is that Varil is in the middle of a very hectic encounter with the first of the Northrend Beasts on heroic mode. It’s inevitable that a lot will be going on. My screenshot, on the other hand, is of me staring into a room and nothing is happening except for some chat in the bottom right hand corner.

The use of UIs is an area of particular interest to me, so I’m starting a section on the forum where I hope you will upload your UIs and share a few things about them:

  • Why did you set your UI up this way?
  • Has changing your UI helped you improve your performance? If so, how?
  • How often do you change your UI?

Why that picture?

November 05, 2009 By: Ladan Category: raiding, screenshots, World of Warcraft

So Alex and I spent ages trying to figure out what banner image to include for the site (points up there… see that?). I took endless random screenshots of places I thought were ‘pretty’ in WoW… then we realised it’s a site about raiding, so it ought to be a raiding shot… we found a few interesting images and took some ourselves (and others helped out too!), but Alex finally offered this image that she took during the ‘vanilla’ WoW days (that’s what is commonly used to refer to the first iteration of the game before the Burning Crusade and Wrath of Lich King upgrades of 2007 and 2008 respectively) when she and her guildmates went on a run to Molten Core.

I feel like it captures a few interesting aspects of raiding:

  1. We wait. A lot. If we’re trying to learn how to defeat a boss, it can take many attempts before we get it. So when we wipe and come back into the instance to try again, we’re often found standing around like that, waiting til our raid leader has given instructions or all of the group is ready.  Those waiting periods can be annoying but they can also be extremely funny with a lot of silly jokes and antics being played during these periods… til the raid leader smacks us back into focus.
  2. We’re a damn big group. 25 people is a lot of people, even from a virtual perspective. Since most of the complicated encounters are 25-man (they don’t seem to like to use the term 25-person for raiding… even though some women do play) these days (there are also 10-man and have been 40-man raids in the past and some MMOs have even bigger group encounters!)
  3. Our visual perspective is usually from behind. I find this to be an interesting thing, oddly enough. This perspective works for very practical reasons because this helps us all *face* our foe but it does impersonalise things in a way. Yes, we’re in a group together, but most of the time we’re looking at each other from behind. Sometimes it will be months before I see the virtual face of a person I’m spending hours with raiding. This has reinforced to me that how we look and who we embody in game is often a secondary concern for a raider over the practicalities of ‘getting the job done’.

Thanks again to Alex for showing this little snapshot into WoW-past. Maybe she will write a little bit some day about her memories of that raid. :)