A commenter yesterday made reference to something that has me thinking about the bad side of flexible raiding the other day and it got me to considering about some concerns I have about flexible raiding next expansion. In case you did not know flexible difficultly will become normal mode and normal will become heroic mode and use he same flexible technology. The current heroic model will become mythic and be held to a strict 20 man format.
Over all this is a great change, even more so when we will be able to run the new normal and the new heroic cross server. This is a huge boundary breaker on something that kept some people playing with friends that were on other servers or people they met in pugs or LFR that they had become friendly with. While there are still faction boundaries there will be no server ones, at least in these raid difficulties.
When flexible raiding was added it was hailed as a huge success by most if not all people, myself included. It was a breath of fresh air that the game really needed. It opened to doors with an easier difficulty, something to fill the gap between LFR and old normal which was needed. While everyone likes to say that raiding has gotten easier they seem to forget that they have gotten better with experience and it is not really that raiding has gotten easier. Old normal is probably equal in terms of difficulty to the original hard modes if not actually harder. That is why flexible difficulty was needed, to fill the gap of what normal was really intended to be as normal had progressed to become harder. So flexible is the new normal and come next expansion it is labeled as such.
This is all well and good. We have a new normal that is what normal should have been and the old normal is heroic, which is what is should have been, then we have a step up for mythic, which should be a real challenge and being it is only built for one size and one size only it can be designed tighter which should be great news for those old heroic raiders as it can really become more of the challenge of which they seek. But that is all about difficulty levels and as I said it is all well and good but what about the flexibility, which does that mean for the future and why am I concerned about it.
One of the simple and easiest keys to labeling someone a raider was someone that was willing to commit to a schedule to raid. One of my fears is that it will be harder to get actual raiders to raid at the new normal and new heroic level when they do not feel as if they need to commit to a schedule because the raids a "flexible".
I saw it stating to happen just a few months after 5.4 started and the new shine on the new style of raiding had started to lose its luster. People saying, if you don't need me I will sit out. Soon it got to the point that those better players, the ones you needed to help the newer players get through it easier and gear them up while they get a little experience so hopefully they could move up a level and become better raiders, were all choosing the sit and all you were left with was a group of people that were really not raiders. Maybe they would some day become a raider, but they were not there yet, and suddenly the fun of flex because it was easier and quick was lost because when left with a bunch of non raiders and no one to help them along it was no longer doable and most importantly, it is no longer easy.
Then of course you have the "I have everything I need" attitude that I see popping up all the time and not just in guild but on my server, in open raid, on the forums, you name it. It is understandable. If you need nothing your desire to do the content is reduced. So with a flexible format you just will not go, because you are not needed to fill the group. But when you are one person short you had to go even if you needed nothing because you needed that 10th or 25th person. You felt as if you were part of a team, a needed part of it. You would raid even if there was nothing you needed so others could get through it faster so they can get what they need so then you, as a group, could move further along. You made a commitment to raid and you raided, but now with flexibility I fear that a commitment to raid really does not mean much any more. It is no longer I will be there it is I will be there and if we are doing something I need loot from I will raid but if I do not need loot from it I will sit out and it should not hurt the team because it is flexible anyway.
The ability of people to come and go as they please is nice. It is cool to be able to run when start time comes and not care that one person showed up late. Just grab another warm body and go in. Then when that person comes you just add him without having to kick the person you dragged along as a fill in. So it is not all bad, there are many goods to flexible raiding, but it does scare me because I fear for what it will do to the player base.
There will no longer be a situation where people feel they need to show up every week. Without that feeling of being needed the connection to the group can dwindle. Opening the doors to allow people to come and go as they please means they will do just that and the guild no longer becomes the "team" you play with, it becomes the people you run with to get something for yourself.
For the mythic raiders this will not be a problem. There will still be the "team" mentality because you need to show up every week to keep your raid spot, you need to run even if you do not need anything from that boss, you need to continue to do what it is raiders do. But pre mythic, it is all come and go as you please. At least with a group with designs on mythic quickly you can use the "if you do not show for heroic you can not come on the mythic run" as motivation, but what if you are a casual guild, one that rarely does heroics (mythic)? Where is your ability to bait people to run, so they show up ever week, so they develop that sense of team play?
As odd as it might sound I could not get a flex going in my guild if I tried. Sure there might be a few people who would come on alts, or help with their main so others can gear up, but otherwise, it just will not happen. People have reached the phase where they do not want to do flex any more. At least in guild, so in guild runs are almost completely out of the question, unless we do a flex 4, then people will come along for a chance at weapons. But again, it is for selfish reasons, not team reasons.
Why is that? Because flex does not matter. When you can come and go as you please, pick up a group 24/7 and cross server, the idea that this is a group event for a guild really starts to lose something for many it seems.
I am seeing it all over already and when the new expansion comes and us normal mode raiders in a causal guild that just dabble in heroics here and there become the heroic mode raiders that can not dabble in mythic because we do not have 20 people capable of doing it will have absolutely nothing to do.
Because of the flexible format moving forward from new heroic to mythic will become an issue. Even more so when people start saying, I don't need anything from there, when you are ready to do mythic I will raid, instead of helping the team by running each week so you could build up and train 20 solid raiders so you can attempt mythic.
See, that is my concern.
How will we end up recruiting more people to move into mythic if all the capable players will just rather sit out because they do not need anything from there. Or they just do not feel like raiding that night. Or what ever their reason might be. All in the name of "flexibility" and the feeling that because the raid will scale they are not needed if they want to take the day off. They do not understand, even more so at lower levels of raiding, better players are needed to get things down and so we can either weed out the lesser players to teach them. When people needed to raid to keep their raiding spot they would show and they would raid but when they feel you can clear the content without them because it is flexible it takes away from the team effort.
Moving to mythic next expansion I expect to find myself in the same situation I do now when I try to get a fill in for a normal. Some 517 item level player that stands in bad every chance they get (not kidding, we recruited a new guy like that and he swears up and down he is a raider) will want to come and I will say, do some LFR or maybe flex with the guild so we can get you some gear first and you can get some experience. And he replies, nah, I'll wait until you have the space in normal, not worth getting 540 gear when I can wait and get 553 gear. Guy does not grasp the idea that I am not going to let him have hand out if he is not willing to show he will try on his own, and that means, get the damn 540 gear first and learn to play a little better.
There will be people, some good and some bad, that will refuse to run new heroic in an effort to move into mythic because of the flexible ability that the new heroic mode will afford us because they are not needed but when there is a space in a limit spot raid, they will want it.
And that is what I think it comes down too.
Don't know how your raid leaders are going to handle it but I do know how this one is going to handle it, if I am still leading raids next expansion that is. If you do not show up for heroic, if you do not raid in heroic, if you will not come along and help the team in heroic, if you do not develop with the team, be part of the team, learn to work as a team, then you are not invited to the mythic because, guess why, you are not a team player. You can be a back up. Just like you are making yourself a back up for heroic.
The last thing I want to see is what I saw this expansion when 5.4 came out and seeing people say, nah, don't want to raid flex, I'll be on for normal tomorrow. No, you are either a team player or you are a bench player. Simple a that. Flexible raids blurs the line and allows people to be selfish. Selfish people are not good for group play.
In theory flexible sounds awesome, but I am worried it will destroy guilds like mine. Casual guilds do not have a chance if you let people come and go as they please. My guild might have never been great or even good, but we managed to get things down in a timely manner because we had people showing up each week, helping even if they needed nothing, and it moved us as high as #3 on the server at one point while raiding only one or two nights a week because we worked as a team, the same team, week in and week out. We didn't just have people coming and going whenever they wanted to.
Yeah, this is my concern with new flexible heroics. Moving from heroics to mythic because of the flexible nature of heroic might be really hard for the casual guild that was used to being a 10 man.
Do you think it will be harder to grow with people feeling less connected to their raid group, less needed, thanks to flexibility?