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Dragon Slaying 101: Understanding The Complexity of Raids

The complexity and intensity of social interaction and collaboration in MMOs is perhaps best illustrated by raids - an activity involving 10-200 players organized to achieve a common goal over a period of typically around 3-6 continuous hours. Oftentimes, raids involve slaying a high-level monster (such as a dragon), conquering a heavily-guarded enemy lair (such as a dungeon), or coordinating an attack against a large group of other human players (such as laying siege to a fortress). Drawing from player narratives, the following article describes how successful raids are the culmination of incredible leadership, management, teamwork and expertise that easily overshadow the complexity and intensity of most of our day-time jobs.


As many players note, getting a raid started is hard in and of itself. Several related problems are intertwined - coordinating schedules, publicizing the event, making sure enough people show up to perform the raid, and dealing with impatience as the group waits for people who are late.

Getting everyone where they need to be, at the right time, is quite possibly the hardest part of a large scale raid. There will always be late comers, and not many on time. Making judgment calls - even when people are saying that they are incoming - on when to leave can be tricky. Leaving too soon will leave some people behind - and not likely give them a good impression of your raids (meaning they'll not likely go on another one of yours, and possibly speak out against raids you do). However, leaving too late will cause frustration to those that were actually on time, and want to get the event going. Most inexperienced raids have a few issues. If the leader isn't well known - a good turnout can be hard to come by, weakening the group even more. Inexperienced raids will often attempt to do things they aren't capable of doing, or go about doing them wrong - leading to their demise. An unsuccessful raid for a relatively unknown leader doesn't do much to help his or her 'status' as a leader. [UO, M, 18]

The main problem with raids is that they never start on time. Would love to attend one that started around when it should instead of an hour later. [EQ, F, 42]

In the mud I played, I was a member of the strongest guild (we were commonly accused of cheating, but we were all very honest). When we did equipment runs through high level areas, the hardest part was arranging a time when everyone could be there and had time devoted to the run. Sometimes there were miscellaneous things that needed to be done beforehand that one or two players could accomplish (retrieving wands of shadow form from another high level zone, for example), but the biggest thing was getting everyone on at the same time. [M, 25]

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Posted on October 10, 2004 | Comments (6) | TrackBack (1)

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