When good enough is Good Enough

If a PvE challenge is too tough, you can go away and do something else and come back later when you’re tougher and have better gear. In Japanese-style RPGs (which let’s face it, is where most of the quest based play was taken from) you can do this by wandering around and killing random monsters that turn up just for that purpose.

So you can control your own difficulty by deciding just how overpowered you want to be when you take on that fight. Think of how many times you’ve gone back to a lowbie area to one-shot some annoying mob that made your life hell a few months ago. Just because you can.

At end game, this doesn’t work so well any more. There are limits there on how much more powerful it is possible to get. And it also takes a lot more time and effort to pursue end game gearing. So an end game challenge can be genuinely difficult in a way that means it can’t (yet) be beaten by being outgeared.

You  balance how hard you want the fight to be with how long you want to spend preparing for it. Or in other words, you have two resources to balance: your time, and challenge difficulty. The more time you have, the easier it gets.

So what does this have to do with being good enough?

I’ve been reading blog posts recently discussing the concept of ‘good enough’ with respect to raiding. Gevlon argues from a pragmatic point of view that some people are too competitive for their own good and as long as you are good enough to pull your weight and do your job, it’s enough.

This is very much where I stand also. If you’re good at assessing what sort of challenges you can take on at your current level, then you can save a lot of time and effort. Why put in extra work when you don’t need to?

This attitude can be interpreted as being lazy, or being satisfied with being mediocre. It isn’t necessarily either of these. You’re certainly saving some time, but whether or not it’s lazy depends on what you do with the time that you had saved. (This is aside from it being just plain weird to accuse people of playing a game lazily.)

I value my time, and leisure time not spend grinding instances is time that I can spend with my spouse, hanging out with family or friends, time to catch up on BSG DVDs, time to blog, or just time to catch up on housework. All of these things are more important to me than having best in slot gear when I know I’m already good enough to fill my role in the raids we run.

From this perspective, ‘good enough’ is all about balancing out resources. My time, my fun, my in game goals. Fun is an odd quantity, not necessarily at odds to the other two, but it’s worth mentioning because ultimately games are played for fun and if you aren’t having enough fun, you will burn out (or realise that you aren’t getting your money’s worth and go play something else).

As an aside, I do wonder if we’d value our time more if we had to pay by the hour rather than use a subscription model. I’m not sure any RMT games use this model but for any that did, I’d expect the player base to be very focussed on efficiency.

This sense of ‘good enough’ is important to project managers and raid leaders also. Groups (both in game and at work) gain morale from successfully completing tasks. Time is always a limited resource. So is manpower. iRL, budgets are also an issue. And as a leader, you have to make the judgement call, ‘Are we good enough with what we’ve got now?’

And if you get it right, then it’s a success for the whole team. Not a lazy success, not a mediocre success, but a smart and efficient success.

Efficiency, the best efforts from the least time

One of the things that marks out the real hardcore guilds in game is their dedication to efficiency. Not to doing crazy stunts just to prove how hardcore they are, but to achieving the best results in the least time.

It isn’t necessarily the 5 raids a week guys you should be looking to for true hardcore. It’s the guys who keep a disciplined 2-3 raids a week. And are able to clear content with fewer hours invested into the raids.

This is not a blog about being hardcore, since I’m not. But I appreciate the challenge of doing the best you can with the resources that you have. It doesn’t mean that you can’t improve, any good raider will always be striving to do better, and if you aim for efficiency then you want to make every minute count. But at the end of the day you have to ask: Did we succeed in our goal? Was it fun? Did I stick within my time budget? And as a raid leader, you really don’t want to make people stick around while you wait for that last perfect person to log in if there’s someone else around who wants to come who will make the raid possible.

Oh yes, sometimes good enough is absolutely Good Enough.

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7 thoughts on “When good enough is Good Enough

  1. I’m going to go with my thought that what classifies as “good enough” varies from raid to raid depending on the objectives. Hard mode definitely requires a higher level of “good enough” if that is what the raid wants to do.

  2. I think what Gevlon says has to be taken with a large pinch of salt as he is very new to raiding and doesn’t appear to have tried any difficult content.

    I also think his understanding of the maths here is flawed. Aiming to get your stats to 85% of what the best raiders have does not mean your raid will function at 85% of their performance, skill being equal. If your tank has 85% of the health, 85% of the armour, 85% of the evasion and is being healed by healers with 85% spellpower who oom faster you may be closer to 40% of the better geared raid’s potential.

    Next consider the social aspects. If you run a guild where some people slack and some people try the guild will normally fissure once you meet hard content. I think Ulduar will probably do this to a lot of raid guilds that are happily farming Naxx at the moment.

    I also think that sometimes these decisions are best if they are automatic. When I was raiding if I got a new piece of gear I gemmed it with blue gems and got it enchanted. If I had had the option – hmmm, should I slack and watch TV instead of doing dailies then possibly I wouldn’t have bothered but being in a guild where things were quite competitive for raid spots meant I didn’t feel able to do that. So I just got on and did it rather than wondering what corners I could and couldn’t cut.

    These attitudes become habits and if you train your raid to slack untraining them once the content becomes hard will be very difficult.

    Regarding “laziness” I think the point is if I have to wipe 4 more times per night which should have been kills because you and some others can’t be bothered to run some dailies to buy blue gems/enchants it’s annoying to me. I don’t see any issue in viewing slackers as lazy where it is impacting raid performance.

    I do think it can go too far, eg requiring flasks on farm content that you really aren’t going to wipe on. I can see why guilds simply have rules though and expect people to stick to them, it adds a lot more decision-making for the raid leaders to decide well Noth is a no-flask boss but Patch is a flask boss etc.

    In the end WoW is just a game and if you want to spend time with your spouse or watching TV you should do that. Regarding fun if you think it’s fun wiping in Ulduar because your unenchanted green-gemmed tank gets two-shotted then I expect you’ll be in for a world of enjoyment very soon!

    • I think this is an interesting example. You say that when raiding you always gemmed with blue gems. But why? The improvement you get over using cheap green gems is very small compared to the cost.

      I wouldn’t throw someone out of a raid just for having used green gems. I probably wouldn’t even notice unless they’d used wildly silly gemming choices. Because green gems are actually good enough.

      The main reason I use blues is because either a friend who is a jewelcrafter offered them to me, or I have more gold than I know what to do with. But if gold was even remotely an issue, you better believe I woulnd’t be throwing it away on such minor increases.

      The main thing is that good enough really does mean good enough. It doesn’t mean ‘not good enough’ (which is what turning up to ulduar in ungemmed green gear would mean) :)

  3. Afterthought: when I was 20, every morning after the alarm went off I went through an internal dialogue for a few minutes about whether I could throw a sickie. Nowadays the alarm goes off and I just get up and get ready for work. I’m actually happier not debating every morning whether to skive off.

    I think that’s the danger with good enough, you end up having an internal dialogue over many many game decisions that are actually more fun if you just get on with things and don’t worry about them.

  4. The main thing is that good enough really does mean good enough. It doesn’t mean ‘not good enough’ (which is what turning up to ulduar in ungemmed green gear would mean)

    OK, I’ll buy that. Personally I like to push myself. Settling for 2 stam less because I can’t be bothered to spend 10 minutes improving would leave me dissatisfied.

    On the other hand if we’re steaming through Naxx half-asleep then I accept that mandatory consumables is a silly requirement.

    I still think that trying to get a whole bunch of different players to appreciate when limited slacking is reasonable and when it’s killing us is a real hornet’s nest. If you’re herding cats “this way” works better than “pick a way to suit yourself as long as it doesn’t slow us down.”

  5. I thought players of WoW in China paid per in-game hour? I find it pretty funny that you just casually throw out there “oh no-one does this,” when in fact they do it in the very same game that you’re talking about!

    • Fair point, but that is in another continent on the other side of the world from here :P

      I’d be curious to know if chinese players’ play patterns are different to those in the subscription model. Or is the cost so cheap that no one really sees cost per hour as something important to work around?

      No idea. I do know that none of the MMOs I know of that are available here charge by the hour, though.

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