I find, generally, that raids go well.
It's a testimony to both my guild raiders and their ability to follow directions, as well as other web sources, that we've been able to clear the content that we have. I'd like to be able to add my own charismatic and incomparable leadership to the mix, but that would be unforgiveably arrogant and certain guild members wouldn't forgive me. Truthfully speaking, though, there is rarely an encounter that we miscomprehend to the point that we can't learn to execute it with practice and time. As such, phased encounters that seemed extraordinarily difficult to start with (such as Malygos or Mimiron) have been completed successfully after a couple of nights trying. We've not hit the fabled "brick wall" and I've been proud of my guild when I've read forums of people who have banged into just such walls.
I'm writing this after another frustrating evening with Yogg-Saron. Yep, even in TotC gear, we have yet to take down the immortal god at the heart of Ulduar's Descent into Madness. Last night was by far our best effort, with one particularly successful attempt seeing us get the brain down to around 50% (phase two, of course) before the obligatory inducing of madness on one of the melee in the brain room, and Diminishing Power stacking twice. By that point, however, we'd been at it well over an hour and people were starting to flag whilst, put simply, not performing as well as they had during the first hour of raiding. So, we come to the point of this blog; the attention span.
This has been a recurring theme on our evenings fighting Yogg-Saron, and more times before that when I look back. Once a boss becomes reasonably difficult, to the point where it's wiping us repeatedly on an evening, anything else that happens to be going on in the world seems to be more fun. People need the toilet more often. They need a drink more often. The TV starts talking to them, specifically. "Brb's", "afk's" and other assorted hold ups start to predominate. I've lost count of the number of promising raids that have been irreperably derailed by a couple of wipes and the effect it had on our raiders.
The problem is, I'd imagine, horribly common.
The solution, unfortunately, is harder to find.
First up, it's an unfortunate fact that younger people have lower attentions spans in the main. Certainly that's the evidence in our guild, with the older people being able to push on without unnecessary breaks whilst the younger members, under 16's particularly, start to need constant periods away from the screen. This is not always the case, of course, but it is true in the main. So, solution one would be to only recruit, and subsequently raid with, those over the age of 18. Erm, no. That would be unreasonably harsh on the larger demographic playing World of Warcraft, and especially hard on our guild that does have a few younger raiders who are otherwise good to have around.
We've tried prescribed breaks during our alloted raid time (1930 - 2300), generally on the hour. Again, though, people "need" to take breaks before and after that, while also choosing to take liberties during those break times and extending them. Again, this just causes the attention of those who are patiently/impatiently waiting on them to diminish still further. I'm also wont to telling people to get off for 10 minutes or so if a boss has wiped us a few times, so that people can grab a quick drink, give a girlfriend a kiss, relax for a bit and then come back refreshed and refocused for the next tries.
But of course, there is an underlying problem here. When blazing through Naxxramas, Ulduar or Trial of the Crusader, nobody needs their attention span cuddled or massaged in any way. The correlation between failure and morale is obvious. This means lowering morale is a direct cause of attention loss, so dealing with morale is the root problem and it's just as hard to pick up morale when things aren't going so well. Again, our little breaks are our best ideas up until now, along with a deliberate attempt on the part of the raid leader (typically me) to talk up what has been going well in an encounter, reinforcing the fact that we "can" do something if we just put everything together.
However, Yogg-Saron has now become "that" boss that people generally fear going in to try and kill because it's in their head that they "can't" do it.
It's incredibly frustrating.
But what's more frustrating is the currently fruitless search for a way to keep morale high and attention sharp when the chips are down.
The search continues.