I'm planning a series of posts looking at players' motives for wanting to raid.
Clearly the first thing that springs to mind is loot. But loot is a snake eating its own tail, the more you spoil players with Amazing Awesomeblades of Awesomeness the harder they become to impress.
I remember when epic armour was literally a traffic stopper in World Of Warcraft. Players used to stop running wherever they were running to and just stop and admire the armour or weapon. "/t Uberman hi, where did you get that sword pls?"
Moving on from that design let's look around. In Eve the top content includes very hard PVE such as soloing level 5 missions, wormhole exploration and hunting officer plexes in 0,0 space but the pervasive end game is PVP. Even those PVE activities are made daunting by the fact they take place in low sec or null sec so you're at risk of being ganked while PVEing. There are extreme solo challenges (and extremely competent soloers/small gangs) but the closest to raid type content has to be the battle for null sec space.
So how is that incentivised?
Well it is incredibly lucrative to hold good areas of null sec. The system is soon to be revamped but at the moment null sec gives you both passive income from moon mining and excellent PVE spawns for players you allow to operate in your systems.
But a huge part of the motivation is loyalty to your team and disdain for the other team. This is a much bigger factor than loot. It's a PVP game and players want their team to beat the enemy team.
In DDO raiding seems to be much more for a sense of accomplishment than for loot. It has many different dynamics than WoW raiding. Smaller raids mean that there isn't quite such a jump from group content to raid content. Going from 6 to 12 is nothing like going from 5 to 25. Small sizes mean less tolerance for incompetent players (which is both a good thing and a bad thing). DDO's relatively horizontal progression and difficulty settings (solo/normal/hard/elite and a new one just being introduced: epic) mean that a good raid leader can tailor the challenge to suit his group much more than in WoW.
The small community seems to really change the motivations. If there are 50 people at your level of ability on the server screwing up means more than just missing out on a drop.
So here are three elements of raid incentives to think about:
2) Clan building
3) Peer approval
I'm inviting comments on how raids can be designed to keep people interested and having fun in other ways than just the simple loot mudflation system. I'm not saying don't consider loot in your scheme but please do comment if you think you can see how an interesting raid system could be built in a MMO game.