[WoW] Guides ruined raiding?
In response to Gnomeaggedon's challenge: "Find one of my old posts from the 830 odd posts I have written and choose to agree or disagree with it. Compare life during TBC with life pre-MoP. Hate me, go on, hate me – ill love you for it!", I have chosen his post on how guides ruined the magic of raiding, with which I partially agree, but find lacking.
Gnome lists some of the complaints that raiders have made since time immemorial, and argues that everything amounts to the fact that we now resort to guides for everything. I do agree that guides deprive the players of that sense of discovery that only guide-writers (top guilds) get to experience (and possibly top tier raiders couldn't care less about the wonder of a boss mechanic, they just want to get the job done). Let's see step by step those claims made by raiders and what Gnome answers:
“Vanilla was the best because it was hard back then!” (regarding rotations) Theorycrafting, again, harms the learning process and provides the player with an alien but efficient rotation. There is really no solution to this, specially in the case of DPS, because there is often one very specific way of dealing more (the most) damage, whereas there are several ways of keeping people alive or pulling a mob without hampering your performance. Playstyle is key here; and I believe that healers and tanks have more choice regarding this.
"If I didn’t have to grind I could enjoy the game" Gnome believes that having a guide tell you how to grind will in the long term deprive the player of that feeling of accomplishment of succeeding by himself. I mostly agree with this, but consider also that there are many ways of obtaining gold which can also be a playstyle choice, out of the many suggestions that gold guides make, and therefore not harm the personal experience of grinding. For instance, my father didn't like the other options that guides promoted, like selling glyphs, and preferred to flood the AH with Savory Deviate Delights, a consummable which turned people into pirates. I never liked grinding or playing the AH, but still don't think that guides are to blame of the weariness of the players. Grinding, when it's a personal choice for a personal goal (like deciding to sell yourself for an epic mount) is a meaningful activity. Grinding dailies for each and every profession is not, it is a chore, there is no way around it, and doesn't allow choice. Dailies implemented as a necessity, a way to keep players occupied, are just wrong.
"Instances aren’t a challenge anymore." Because they can't be. Gnome believes this lack of challenge comes originally from guides. It might be so, but I remember a time when my friends and I ran the heroic BC instances, knowing more or less what to expect, and still found them difficult. But we wouldn't complain because we strove for progress (in equipment and playstyle). Instances were there to teach us about cooperation and prepare us for raiding, in the same way that Gruul was meant to teach you what to expect from SSC. Nowadays this motivation is not valid because players don't want to experience progression in their instances, because they are not playing them with friends. If Gnome's argument is that guides ruined everything, I believe that it was LFG. Not just because of the many faults of the system, but because the system harmed the sense of community.
"I raided when raiding meant something." Guides, again, act as a sort of nerf because the initial step of learning about the encounter is removed. But Blizzard did something about this, and this is why what Gnome states: "Problem: We can’t one-shot the raid trash let alone the raid bosses; Solution: Read the guides." is false. Nowadays, WoW expects you to read the guide, but requires you to perform a set of 'dance steps' that must be learnt in the same way that 'boss moves' were learnt and dealt with in Classic and TBC. Additionally, the claim that raids meant something has to do with the feeling of progression through content; raiders were the elite that worked hard to see the most engrossing content of the game (in TBC it was Black Temple and then Sunwell). Later on, with WotLK, content was accessible to everybody through the normal modes, and thus not the motivation of progression; that would be the bare accomplishment of beating the heroic mode and its loot. Raiding actually means less not because of the guides, but because it has foregone lore and progression.
Guides made the content more accesible. WoW is not a journey of discovery anymore (was it ever? Perhaps to our newbie-self that didn't know of the possibilities of the internet). But even then, when guilds demanded from their members to read the guides, they were not guaranteed that the strategy they would follow would be in the guide. Encounters were not designed to follow certain steps, or else wipe the entire raid. Before this was customary, bosses could be killed with some players afk or dead, as long as the boss and its abilities were managed. To fail a step did not mean that we were left with less people, and then decidedly fail. Downing A'lar, for instance, had less to do with guide-perfect performance and more with finding that intimate way your tanks could coordinate; taking down The Lurker's minions, with the tools (CCs) that you had available; Moroes was about combining multiple CCs with tank-switching and bursts of healing to the ones bleeding. You either had exceptional healers or quick DPS; you decided the strategy depending on your assets. There was so much the guide could tell you, because the encounters had multiple ways of beating them; not just one overly complex but quite straightforward.
And yet perhaps listening to us old players is not such a good idea after all. The demografics of WoW have changed, its target audience too. Do new people want harder, guide-less content, or just to be left playing alone?