Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Impact of Paragon’s World First

Last week Paragon got the world first kill of Lich King in heroic mode. Should we bother about it? Does it matter?

Yes I think it does. It doesn’t turn the world upside down, but it might have some impact on the opinions and perceptions in the community, and that’s’ what I’m going to talk about in this post.

1. Blizzard succeeded in the tuning
The tuning of difficulty of the raid instances is always a target for criticism. No matter where the Blizzard developers put the bar, they can count on that someone will consider it too high or too low. However I’ve heard very few complaints about how long it took before we saw the first kill in heroic mode. It didn’t come the first week it was available; we’ve had to wait for it for a few weeks.

As far as I’ve understood it, the slightest little mistake from any individual in the raid would lead to a wipe. To quote Paragon:

“Quite simply the perfect end-boss to finish the expansion with, couldn’t have hoped for more. My hat is off to Blizzard on this one. I can’t wait to see if this encounter can be outdone in Cataclysm.”
Paragon had over 170 tries before they succeeded. Anything more would have been ridiculous in my opinion, anything less would have been slightly disappointing. I think Blizzard can feel fairly happy and relieved that they did it spot on this time.

2. The World Firsts aren’t given on beforehand
There was a time where the cutting-edge raiding seemed to consist of more or less one guild. And that threatened to ruin any kind of tries to bring some e-sport competition into raiding. Ensidia, Enisida, Ensidia… Nihilum, Nihilum, Nihilum… whatever. This kill shows that it’s far from a one-guild show. The competition is there, and guilds who perform at their very best will always stand a chance.

In an earlier interview, which Kungen made with Tun at Ensidias own website, they took lightly on this:
“Icecrown is coming soon. What guild/guilds do you see as big competitors?

None. It's not been 1-2 consistent guilds threatening us, so if anything happens it will be another obscure random guild from somewhere nobody has ever heard of. Stars, Paragon, Premonition, etc are all overrated.

Do you really think any of those guilds will have a chance against Ensidia in a fair race to Arthas?

Not a chance. Ever.”

Well, it turned out that Tun was quite wrong. And hopefully he’s happy about it.

The Ensidia member Eoy wrote the following in a comment to a blog post at the Ensidia website, “Has Ensidia lost the Edge?” (written by a non-Ensidia member):
“How fun would the game be if there was only one team winning all the time? Ensidia had it's primetime in Ulduar, and now Paragon claimed the throne by killing LK HM. This happens, and is why the endgame is fun to watch! You can't consider it was very entertaining when Ensidia took every single world first in Naxx before anyone else had stepped into the instance, can you?”
True. So true.

3. “Normal” guilds can also be successful
I don’t say it’s fair – as a matter of fact it’s probably a bit unfair, but still I dare say that Ensidia has a problem with their image.

Regardless of if it’s true or just a bunch of lies, rumours and misconception, the brand "Ensidia" is suffering from connotations (to use marketing language) such as sponsor deals, commercialism and strange (or even shady) relations to Saudi Arabia. As far as I know of they DON’T get paid to play Warcraft. They’re just a guild of dedicated and skilled players. But when they do those star appearances at gaming events and sponsor cooperations, they get an aura of being different. This impression is reinforced by their slick, polished and pro-style website, regardless of the fact that it has a ton of good information on it. It smells of money, and people just can’t stand that.

Paragon on the other hand, this all-Finnish guild with the chaotic vent server, has a different image (mind you, I don’t talk about if it’s true or not, just about how it appears). They make me associate to the classic myth about the local football team, starting in the lowest series, and then step by step advancing to the elite, without ever losing their soul and comradeship.

According to their website they were formed in August 2008 from two previous guilds, quite similar to how Ensidia was created. But somehow they manage to convey a different image:

“Our roots go much deeper than those two guilds. Some of our members have been playing together since before World of Warcraft and have raided together in every raid instance there has been.”
When I look at their picture, it strikes me that the average age looks fairly low. But apart from that, they look more like the rest of us out there, appearing in their own shirts and not in some sponsored ones.

And I think this is something that everyone, including Blizzard, applauses. We can keep the dream alive. Any guild – sponsored or not – can succeed if they have the right attitude. Finnish Sisu FTW!

When Eoy in Ensidia got the question about how he would celebrate if he managed to get Arthas HM world first, he answered:

“Definitely NOT by screaming on vent. I never understood that. Maybe I'll log off early and get a good nights sleep or something. Nothing special tho, it's just a game.”
And that’s why I think we can identify ourselves more easily with Paragon. Just listen to the nerdscream at their vent server during the LK kill. Those guys are raiding with their hearts!

4. The issue with mages
Then there was this thing about the mages. Or rather the lack thereof in the setup Paragon used for their first kill. There wasn’t a single mage in the raid, and the question is if this will have an impact on the market value of mages. I'm probably not the only mage to feel a bit put off by this.

From the perspective of a min-maxer the decision was easy, as Paragon explains in a forum thread:

“Yes, we figured that mage would do very slightly less dps than some other classes which we had available. So we took the setup we though optimal as it was a first kill attempt.”

Even if it makes sense, I can’t help feeling a little sorry for my fellow mages in Paragon. Sure, everyone understands that unless you have a ridiculously slimmed roaster, someone will inevitably spend the first-kill on the bench. But at least it’s nice to have a class representative in the raid.

Paragon is very clear on that they don’t think mages are generally bad, and that the dps difference is very, very small. But nevertheless, I think it might reflect badly on mages. The top guilds get many followers and I wouldn’t be surprised if some guilds will let the decisions of Paragon influence their own raid set-ups, making the demand for mages decrease – not only for LK hardmode, but on a more general level.

Trying to see it from the bright side, you can always hope that Blizzard will see it as a reason to consider giving a slight buff to the mages dps output. But so far come into this expansion, I doubt it.

5. The beginning of the End
Finally I think that this first kill is yet another landmark in the expansion. The last one. Many, many guilds have yet to kill Lich King. Some – but far from all – will keep working on it. But somehow this is the beginning of the End.

With the World First settled, we’re all ready to fix our eyes to the upcoming Cataclysm.


*vlad* said...

I think most people who raid will be impressed by anyone who beats the Lich King in heroic mode; first or otherwise.
The Lich King should not be a faceroll; as Teron once said "You will show the proper respect!"
I think Blizzard gave him the proper respect, and so did Paragon.

Congratulations all round.

japj said...

Damn.. my guild still hasn't killed Yogg-Saron yet and now we already need to worry about the Lich King. Does that make sense?

Echo said...

I think it's a shame Ensidia have slipped a little - Considering their server uptime its hardly surprising they lost their footing. (fishing macro allegations)

It'd be quite nice to see the next race with the 2 best EU guilds in Cata from the same server.

Klepsacovic said...

It will look bad for mages. People have a bad habit of imitating top guilds without the logic. On that specific fight with the specific strat they chose, mages were inferior. That has no bearing on any other part of the game, and yet people will act as if it does.

Dwism said...

...which has beta start in april if you believe mmo-champion.

So it really is perfect timing :)

Yane (Yet another night elf) said...

Re Ensidia: We like to set people on a pedestal and tear them down as well.

It's not like Paragon is your local casual guild done good.

They are new enough to most of us that we can't find ways to pick at them.

And if they continue to get world firsts that is what will happen.

Kayllnn said...

This makes me really sad and confuses me. As far as every boss fight I have personally experienced in ICC, mages should excel. My dps is crazy awesome, but I haven't attempted Lich King yet. I just can't see how mages would be the lowest dps of any class, unless their mages are inferior to their other players. It must be very specific to this fight I suppose, but it will be really stupid if people start cutting out mages in ICC.

Suicidal Zebra said...

Re: Mages.

I'm somewhat surprised that a mage wouldn't bring more to the table than a 2nd Ret Paladin (as was used in Paragon's kill), so this may also be down to the particular composition of the Guild in question i.e. their best Mage wasn't quite as good as their other DPSers, skill-wise. Even so, this wouldn't be the first time that a class has struggled at the expansion end boss, only to come roaring back in the following one. I hardly think this will spell the death of mages.

As for Ensidia... sucky server stability sucks, but that's karma for you.

TheScribe said...

Great article! That Invincible mount is really amazing, an obvious gnome mount *nods*

I think this kind of competition is excellent and it is way better than the one guild show it was becoming. Some of the Ensidia's comments have been far from humble of late, this may do some good in that respect.

I wouldn't worry to much about the lack of mages in the raid composition either. Remember the sunwell and shaman stacking too. I think some guilds will follow a bit, but most will understand that this is a percentage of a percentage thing and stick with their regular players.

Also, it would have been different if they were alliance and had gnome mages, those are real magic users. *looks haughty*

Perdissa said...

Good for them! *Continues back to Prof Putricide normal, who refuses to die quietly*

Chewy said...

Quality article as always.

I particularly like the reference to sisu almost makes me wish I were Finnish.

I secretly wished that the first HM kill or 25 man HM kill of LK would have triggered the launch of Cataclysm. I know, it would have deprived others of the attempt and isn't entirely practical - but it would have been an excellent way to launch the new game.

:) me too...

Tessy said...

Very good post!

That quote from Eoy was probably one of the saddest thing I've read about raiding :-(

Getting the world first and celebrating by going to be early? It's just a game? Well it is a game and games are supposed to be fun - I cheer when I win in Monopoly or Trivial Pursuit and I definitely cheer when we down a boss in WoW - I may not scream with joy on Vent but I definitely do it in my home! Well, I shout at least :P

He makes it sound like WoW is more of a work to him, like a project report all finished neatly before time so he can go home early :-(

Larísa said...

@Vlad: Indeed. I’m not sure about how we’ll feel about it when the nerfing buff is up at 30 percent though. It’s not quite the same. Paragon just made it before the buff was up to 10 percent, which gives an extra golden aura to their accomplishment.

@Japj: Yogg-Saron is a fantastic and fun fight and kudos to you if you’re still working on it – even though you can get better gear from just silly-collecting frost emblems. We all have to put up our own goals and challenges in the game. And the fact that LK has been beaten doesn’t diminish the value of your efforts.

@Echo: yeah, I feel sorry for them with the server issues. It seems to have been pretty demoralizing looking at some of their comments in various forums. The transfer was probably a bit too late for them to be able to pick up.

: Yeah, it is a bit worrying tbh. Not that I would believe for a second that my own guild would ditch mages just because Parago did it. But still… I feel for my brothers and sisters.

@Dwism: yep, it feels like just-in-time.

@Yane: I’m afraid you’re absolutely right about that. Right now they’re probably on their height when it comes to image value. It will become a bit jaded as time goes by. It seems kind of inevitable, doesn’t it?

@Kaylnn: they’re really not pointing out mages as particularly bad in their forum post dealing with the issue. But for this very fight, mages apparently are judged being slightly worse than other dps classes. And yeah: it sucks.

Zebra: nah, it’s not the death of all mages, far from. But it might have some sort of impact on the general opinion, I’m afraid. People are sometimes pulling their conclusions way too far. Sadly enough.

@The Scribe: thanks! And yep, I agree it would make a perfect match for a gnome… especially one with pink pigtails. :)

: how rude of him!

@Chewy: thanks! And yeah, it would have been cool if somehow the death of LK hc would have affected the world on all realms. If nothing else: what about an x-realm announcement?

@Tessy: Thanks. Yes, I was a bit surprised to read it. I guess he wanted to sound cool and relaxed about his gaming, but he came out as rather indifferent. It’s odd isn’t it? I’m raiding at a far, far lower level than he is, and I’m much more excited about it.

Azryu said...

"“How fun would the game be if there was only one team winning all the time? Ensidia had it's primetime in Ulduar....................”

Having read Kungen's quote and then reading the one above... I can't get around how much it seems this is just a statement put out there in effort to at least try to appear humble.

It leaves me wondering whether the same statement would have followed the world first had they got it. But then again. Kungen and this person are different people and may genuienely have completely different philosophies, but most guilds typically have a mentality and atmosphere that is driven and shared by the whole guild.

But who knows. I myself care little of who got the world first kill. that's not to say that the kill matters none at all, it does, but specifically who doesn't. The kill itself represents a landmark, as you said, in this expansion... and most definitely has us looking beyond our daily grind to what is in store for the future.

Anonymous said...

Following up on what Azryu said in that (if I may paraphrase) it matters little who got the kill, rather that somebody got the kill. Perhaps I am little naive (delusional some (my wife) may say), but I prefer to think of all of these world first things as a community thing. For instance, I know that I will never have the time to devote to a guild that is on the leading edge of content progression, nor do I wish that I did - I am quite content with the current state of my life, thank you very much. However, I do know that, as a raider, my goal is to one day knock Boss X off the pedestal - with a buff or not. Further, I think that we all, as raiders, take a measure of pride in knowing that raiders, regardless of the who, has taken down the big guy. For me it also provides me with an incentive or goal; I mean, at a minimum, I can encourage myself during these next 6 months by saying: "Hey, Boss X, even though it may later than others and the content has been tuned, you have been beaten and, by god, my mates and I WILL get to you and beat you again. In fact, it must really suck to be you. I mean you know that you're gonna get your ass pwned forever from here on out! And, oh, by the way, I almost forgot, it's gonna get worse for you Boss X... a year from now you will probably be on farm status with my guild and will only be seen to help people gear up! Have your fun now, Boss X, 'cause the worm has just turned and it ain't ever pretty staring at the other end."