Apologies for the lack of a post over the weekend, my social life spiralled out of control and blogging took a bit of a back seat. However, every cloud has a silver lining, as the slight delay does mean I am able to post in the Blog Azeroth Shared Topic for this week. The shared topic is taken from Naithin’s post here – go visit his blog and give it a read if you have the opportunity to do so.
Naithin talked about the natural human ability to internalise steps of a task and change them into their simplest high-level instruction as soon as the task became routine, which then allows the mind to concentrate on the other aspects of the fight, gradually building up until an entire phase is summed up in a single phrase and it becomes a case of ‘killing the boss’ as the entire instructions you need.
Back in 2009 I read an article on the Greedy Goblin site where he questioned why people run content more than once and why endlessly wiping was necessary. He referred to wiping and learning an encounter as banging your head against a wall, and in particular the unnecessary wipes caused by players with low performance is like head-butting a wall. One particular comment on that article caught my eye, and stuck in my memory ever since. It’s relevant to the conversation, so I’ll reproduce the comment here:
“See, an average human’s brain is not designed to operate well under conditions of high stress and informational overload. When people find themselves in such circumstances, they become prone to either panic or mental stupor, and thus likely to make stupid mistakes that one wouldn’t expect of them otherwise. And this is not limited to games, either, as anyone who has seen the stupid things that people do during environmental disasters can attest.
Fortunately, humankind has long ago developed a method of combating such behavior: drills. If you repeat the same actions many times, they will become ingrained in muscle memory. Should you then find yourself under overwhelming circumstances, such as a fire in your building, an aerial attack on your military installation, or Kil’jaeden going into Phase 5, your reflexes will take over and carry your through.
That’s why an endgame raider bangs his head against the wall: so that, when the time comes to face a wall of enemies, he’d headbutt them in the face without fear or hesitation.”
All credit goes to Ephemeron for the quote – I’ve searched for a blog by him/her but came up empty-handed. Please let me know in the comments if I have missed something.
This all ties in with Naithin’s original article, that states that until the concepts of the phase have become internalised and condensed because they are familiar, the phase will still remain subject to chance and an opportunity to wipe. It will seem more intense and more difficult until those instructions have first become condensed and then become a drill.
There is also a preceding step that Naithin missed, which primarily applies to the raid leaders but does affect every other raider as well. There is a stage where the entire instance is the complete unknown – despite the increasing number of very impressive raid guides, nothing compares to actually (or should that be virtually) standing in front of the boss and seeing how the abilities fit together and how they affect you. At that point, any theories you have conceived based on boss abilities, strategy guides and raid videos can get turned on their heads, and you have to figure out how to kill the boss as you go along. The sudden realisation of how the encounter is designed and the best way to tackle it is another form of the encounter ‘clicking’.
Overall, there are three ways in which an encounter can click, or three things that make it click. Firstly, you need to see and experience the boss abilities in order to understand which are important and which can be mostly ignored – the strategy for defeating the boss will suddenly click at that point. Secondly, you can condense the instructions for the encounter into more and more high-level commands as Naithin describes in his article, which leads to the execution clicking. Finally, you use drills to make the body go into a routine of behaviour that has already been prepared, and then the encounter clicks to the point of being viewed as easy.