So it's been a day or so since we first heard that Death and Taxes was disbanding, and since then, DnT member Xi- has posted a somewhat lengthy explanation as to why. In the end, the biggest reason Xi- gave is pride. Many people, he says, just stopped thinking about the raid and the guild as a whole, and were more focused on their own advancement and their own needs, and became impatient when a boss did not fall easily. When it was time to progress, many of them, even officers, would disappear and stop supporting them.
But the point about pride, about guild members who disappear for a while and expect to pick back up where they left off when they return, and about people who never show up for progress kills, or show up and complain if the boss doesn't fall after one or two tries, that rings true with me, as I am sure it rings true with a lot of current and former MMO raiders, whether from WoW or other games.
When the bosses are falling easily and the loot is flowing, it's easy to stick with it. It's easy to come in, kill the farmed boss, get your shiny purples (or oranges), and call it a night. It's when you've wiped for the 5th time, when you're looking for that breakthrough, when everyone wants to go to bed, that you really have to learn to buckle down and break through. The guilds that can do that are the ones that get the world firsts.
But it's not easy. Generally how it happens is that you have a core of about 10, maybe 15 people who are that dedicated. Sometimes you're lucky to have more. But there's this small core of people who just keep trying, who keep focusing the goal, who don't mind having nothing to show for the night but 30 gold in repair costs and another 50 gold or so in wasted reagents, as long as everyone was focused, and as long as everyone felt connected. Once you lose that focus, it's hard for a raid guild to survive. It seems that, according to XI-, that is what happened. The dedicated core either left, or let pride get to their head, or stopped caring. Once that happened, Progression became impossible.
There's a delicate balance to be had, to be sure. This is, in the end, a game, and it's tough to expect people to keep on keeping on if they aren't having fun. But as not fun as it is to wipe, it wouldn't be much more fun if you could just steamroll new content without a fight. Beyond that, you have to remember that you are playing with 9-39 more people when you raid, people with real feeling and emotions, who dedicate themselves to each other and to taking down that boss. If you break that bond, they feel it. If you come back later and try to take advantage of a bond that you abandoned, they feel it. There's a very satisfying rush from taking down a boss that's been a pain with a group of people who have stood beside you in thick and thin, attacking again and again, working at getting better in order to bring it down. If you try to wander in and out of that fellowship, people will notice, and they won't appreciate it if you act entitled to it.
Is this type of loss really unavoidable? Sometimes I wonder if it is. For me, I've been lucky to be in some very close knit guilds, where people are as close as real-life friends -- and often actually are real life friends, having flown or driven hundreds of miles to spend time together outside the computer screen. It seems like those guilds should last forever -- the friendships from them do last a long time, and I am still friends with some I have left behind from those guilds. But even those guilds, as DnT did, fall apart. Maybe it's letting World Firsts go to your head, maybe it's losing interest in the game and moving on. Maybe it's the ennui that comes when an old expansion is conquered and a new one is some time off. Maybe it's just pride.
Is it any of these? None of these? Is the way DnT collapsed avoidable, or are raiding guilds doomed to take the fall of Pride, either from lack of progression causing people to fall away, or from pride making people arrogant, or even both at once?