Are Gear Checks Inevitable?

Monday, May 11, 2009

This is an extension to my crafting post yesterday. Considering that the "supreme" end-game content is raiding, and therefore the "supreme" gear should be acquired from raiding, should we just expect to see crafted gear fall by the wayside? And should we accept it?

I don't raid. I'm not against raiding, I just don't like sitting down at games for large amounts of time wholly focused. I might do it casually, if such a thing is possible. As such, I can't objectively evaluate if gear checks are a good thing or not, as they're usually always associated with raiding. A fundamental goal of raids is to extend the end-game by creating group grinds. Adding a gear check into the process is a very good way of making raiding a grind. Only one person gets a piece of gear per run, therefore one has to run the raid multiple times to gear up every participant.

I think that's perfectly fine. Raiding is a particular game play style and system where a grind such as this is accepted and perhaps even embraced. In this sense, gear checks are inevitable. But raiding isn't an isolated feature of the game. It's connected through the gear progression, and in some cases through the quest chains. And because of the experience gained in raiding, be it gear, grouping mechanics, etc, players who participate in raiding approach other content differently. That's normal.

Because of this connection, there's more to it than just a gear check. So, perhaps raiding should be designed differently to acknowledge this connection. On the other hand, is this connection only superficial and meaningless. Why care about a gear check if you don't raid? I realized my goal of getting radiance gear wasn't necessary if I wasn't going to experience the watcher raid. Sure, the extra stats would help me in the rest of the game but my current gear will probably never be the death of me in gameplay other than raids.

So, to answer the question, yes. I had thought it might be avoidable, but actually, despite my desire to see gear crafting be important again, I also like the extra dimension a gear check like the radiance gear requirement gives to the raid game. However, like anything, it has its side effects. Cost benefit analysis anybody?

4 Responses to "Are Gear Checks Inevitable?"

jdw Says:

I think that the issue is not necessarily in whether or not we, the casual players, want to raid. We don't. We don't want to grind out top-of-the-line gear. We don't want to organize multiple full fellows to go into an instance and execute perfectly and kill high-end bosses. I've done that, personally -- not in an MMO, but I played competitive Counter-Strike -- and I'm done with that.

No, the issue is what sort of content is being locked away in raids. The Watcher is a major figure in LotR lore, and most of us casual sorts are fans of the lore. We want to see the Watcher, we want to see Durin's Bane. These characters and monsters are important to the lore and, by extension, important to us. Not seeing them feels, at least to me, like I'm missing something major. But I'm just not going to dedicate the time to get a set of full rad gear and then do the Watcher raid.

There's another issue, too, which is one I've just run into: Without a goodly-sized kinship, you simply aren't going to find groups for outdated raids. I've just gotten my main to the point where I'm receiving the Helegrod raid quests, and God knows I'll never be able to complete them. Unfortunately, for those of us who play for the journey rather than the destination, we seem to get a bit left out if we aren't around at the right time, in the right place; I don't care about the items in these outdated raids, but I do care about experiencing the content.

Perhaps gear checks are inevitable. That's understandable, and since most of us aren't going to try doing those raids, it's not really an issue. When it becomes an issue is when we want to experience the content, not the raid, but have no method to do so.

Barrista Says:

When you start focusing on gear checks more and more, then at some point it becomes the most important factor unless the person is a friend or kin. Then you have a whole group of people who gradually are left out of the game by those who are better geared.

Jaxom92 Says:

I think you're right on JDW, about why a casual player like myself wants to raid. Not because the system itself is fun - I detest the period of gathering groups together. But because I want to experience the content.

Some would argue, however, that if I want to experience the content, I have to want to experience everything that goes along with that content - the gear checks included.

Certainly that's true, but perhaps I'm just not creative enough to think of a way raiding can be a good extension of gameplay without gear checks. Like I said, one of the biggest goals of raiding isn't just putting in epic content, but slowing down progression until the new content comes out - very important for the hardcore players raids cater to because they tend to burn through normal content pretty fast. Maybe there's another way to accomplish this that doesn't leave out the casuals that want to see the content just to see it, not grind through it.

Then again, it could very well be a mutually exclusive relationship.

Barrista, you have an excellent point about being left in the dust by better equipped players. However, I think for most content, being geared out in radiance armor won't allow you to complete a quest that "normal" crafted armor wouldn't. So, for now, those of us who don't have radiance gear aren't left out of the game as a whole. And when the next expansion comes out, everybody is back on the same playing field so...

Kairos Says:

Helegrod was always a problem, even for the biggest kinships - finding 24 competent, well-equiped players willing to put in several hours was never easy. In the end, extra-kinship raiding groups were formed for the sole purpose of completing Helegrod and downing Thorog. Which is why it's a virtual certainty we won't see another 24-man raid, ever.

As for completing outdated raids, that is definitely a problem. On the other hand, any level 60 player going back into the Rift today is only doing it for fun, or to help a less experienced group - which means he or she will also be a lot more tolerant, and should be open to extending an invitation to solo players who would just like to come along for the ride. If you hear of a Helegrod or Rift raid being organised, ask to be invited; the chances are you will be.