Tobold's Blog
Monday, January 22, 2007
 
Goodbye Molten Core

I got a mail from Stargazer asking me "How is all the new quest rewards going to affect us, who hasn't yet had a lvl 60 character. I mean are we ever going to see the inside of said instances as Molten Core and the like for zillion of hours, or will we simply move on and skip all that once we are lvl 58-60? "
 
Well, one thing that is certain is that you won't see Molten Core for zillion of hours, like the people who were stuck there pre-BC. From a pure loot point of view your best option is to step through the Dark Portal as soon as you reach level 58, and never look back. The quest rewards and random green loot items are as good as the stuff found in Molten Core, and the blue items you can find in the first instances (for which I'd recommend level 60) are as equivalent or better than Blackwing Lair loot. But what we old-time raiders often forget is that Molten Core is quite an interesting place by itself, from an exploration / tourist point of view. It has some interesting boss fights, and the summoning of Ragnaros event is certainly impressive, and not something you'd want to totally miss. It is only when you've been there many times that it becomes boring.
 
Are those that haven't reached level 60 yet ever going to see Molten Core? I'm not sure. Blizzard is counting on 90% of the WoW players buying the Burning Crusade, and the remaining 10% are probably not the kind to start a raiding guild. Even if you don't have the expansion, you can buy green level 58-60 items originating from Outland in the auction house. So not enough people will be really interested to go through the enormous effort of organizing a 40-man raid and repeatedly assault Molten Core until you arrive at Ragnaros. Most players have the expansion and will just skip that part, and probably Scholomance and Stratholme as well, and just go directly to Outland.
 
Your best bet to see Molten Core is with a big guild going to MC with a mix of level 60 to 70 characters. Either just for fun, or as a trip down memory lane, or maybe to farm stuff like core leather. I would assume that if the main tank and a couple of other characters in the raid group are level 70, it is going to be relatively easy to beat, as long as some people in the raid have done it before and know what to do. If no-one in the raid group knows MC, the boss fights aren't trivial, but the information on how to beat them can be found all over the internet. But it won't be the same experience as the pre-BC raiders had, of going to MC every week, and wiping often at the same boss until the guild was able to beat him, slowly advancing week by week until you finally met Ragnaros. Soon you'll hear the veterans talking of "back in the days", with nobody listening to their ramblings, and everybody wondering why anyone would do such a thing as Molten Core raiding every week, sometimes several times per week. The risk-reward structure that made such behavior understandable is gone for good. If you want to experience something similar, you'll probably have to hurry to get to level 70 before the next expansion. I assume that level 70 raids are going to be a repeat performance of the pre-BC endgame, just a bit easier to organize due to smaller dungeons and smaller number of players in the raid.

Comments:
I'm not so worried about the raids like MC and Ony etc. I got to lvl 60 just before Christmas but, as I'm working away, managed a quick BRD attempt (which failed badly) and most of Scholo (although still got a lot to do).

In discussing which quests to remove from our logs, my mate said "Well, might as well delete all the BRD quests now" which disappointed me. It's dungeon that defeated us and I'd love to complete it properly. As he said, later on, 3 level 70s should be able to manage something designed for 5 level 60s but as I pointed out, we can still get xp from it at the moment.

Unfortunately, because there's such a jump between low end greens in Outland and the Tier 0/0.5 dungeon sets, it hardly seems worth persisting with multiple scholo/strath runs to get them all. I somehow feel a little cheated.
 
Tobold,

You are usually adept at offering a suggestion to solve issues like this one.

Is there anything you think they can do a few months down the road when they see that no one has attempted to complete the 45 min Baron run, or even entered Strat?
 
This remember me other duscussions about mud and mmo games involving levels and expansions.

Beside threads in muddev mailing list (no longer working) I could point to other references like:
http://www.raphkoster.com/gaming/databasedeflation.shtml
http://www.raphkoster.com/?p=214
http://www.raphkoster.com/2005/12/22/do-levels-suck-part-ii/

For sure interesting reading for who is interested with design... and for sure the topic isn't an easy one, expecially as there's no solution as of now.

As of now, every expansion and addition will kill some content that is no longer profitable.
 
How about the new system concerning instance difficulty. As far as I remember there was a gray-out option of playing the instance as normal or at a higher up level pre-expansion.

I don't have any idea what it would do though. I can't imagine all the non-phat loot turning into upper-phat loot or what have you not, perhabs all the monsters are just a bit harder so you can have 40 level 70 forming new MC raids?
 
Stargazer,
"Heroic" difficulty setting is just for some of the instances in Outland. The option doesn't apply to anything in Azeroth currently.
(Link to blue post saying this: http://forums.worldofwarcraft.com/thread.html?topicId=52717687&pageNo=1&sid=1)

So no, you aren't going to see "Heroic" MC runs.

However, unlike Tobold, I don't think MC will go away so quickly. People will go there, either from curiosity, nostalgia, wanting some of the gear while they are still below level 60 or any other reason.
 
Tobold says:

I assume that level 70 raids are going to be a repeat performance of the pre-BC endgame, just a bit easier to organize due to smaller dungeons and smaller number of players in the raid.

But the attunements are much more difficult and complex. Getting attuned to Onyxia was a long chain quest, but at least it was linear. Have you seen the attunement processes for the new TBC dungeons? Here's a link:

http://worldofraids.free.fr/bc/tbc-attunement-chart.png
 
"From a pure loot point of view your best option is to step through the Dark Portal as soon as you reach level 58, and never look back "
Perhaps Blizzard should have made it so that you could only enter the BC portal by completing a number of quests in Azeroth first; eg the old Scholomance/Stratholme quest chains, and maybe having a certain reputation with Argent Dawn, & having killed General Drakki and Razelikh along the way.
That would give people a reason to play the content they are now going to skip, and it would also be a great milestone getting access to the Dark Portal.
 
Realistically, how long does one expect to be occupied by a video game?
Especially an expansion (as opposed to a new release)?
 
Is there anything you think they can do a few months down the road when they see that no one has attempted to complete the 45 min Baron run, or even entered Strat?

The problem is reward/effort ratio. The previous end game required more effort per reward than either the lower level and now the higher level content. So only people not interested in the reward would still do it, and that isn't very many. Being able to play old content in heroic difficulty would in fact be a possibility to fix that. Especially with that new "token" system to get equipment.

Realistically, how long does one expect to be occupied by a video game? Especially an expansion (as opposed to a new release)?

Ideally an expansion takes the average player as long to play through as it takes the game company to produce the next expansion. Everquest got that pretty much right, but Blizzard has always been slow. The problem in that is that if people quit before the next expansion comes out, you never know how many of them will come back.
 
I think Blizzard is missing an opportunity to provide content that is new to most players at a low development cost. What percentage of players have seen much of the "old" 20 and 40 man raids? It seems like rebalancing them for smaller but higher level groups and changing the loot would be a small marginal cost to offer content that would be welcomed by, I'd guess, 4+ million players.
 
From a business-model perspective, yes, WoW has to keep subscribers happy until the next for-pay release.

There are a lot of ways to do that.
Think, for instance, about how many people spent about 6 weeks in the PvP battlegrounds before the BC release, and there was no "new content" at all.
Why, just spewing a few demons out of a portal and offering a tabard entertained people for hours.

I guess we'll just have to wait and see what is up Blizzard's sleeve...
-
And on another point, from what I'm hearing there's a lot of talk about the surprisingly poor quality of play in Outland 5-man PUGs. Even more surprising when people are running uber-geared toons and seemingly don't have a clue how to play them well. And it seems to be a common problem, from what I've read.
Is it that 20- and 40-man raids were a high-reward, low-skill, orchestrated "easy-mode" where individuals could play by a script, while 5-mans actually ask one to play the class well and "carry your own weight" (as some allege)?
Or a bunch of "retired" level-60s showing the rust of disuse?
I'd like your comments, if any...

---

And I agree that the "old" instances could (should?) be re-tuned somehow to make them attractive.
There should be more motivation to run them than just "nostalgia" or "farming mats".

I really don't care for instance PUGs for several reasons. But I can't easily get together even five friends of the correct level, faction, and server very often, so what has been happening lately in leveling a new alt toon with my wife that we've just been bypassing the instances and only questing.

The reasoning is this.
Loot is temporary - throw-away - anyway; always replaced in a few more levels in a cycle repeated until max level.
So the only things of lasting value are:
(1) XP
(2) Gold

So when I'm leveling, and comparing questing against yellow mobs, or instancing against gray elite mobs, I look at my priorities and bypass the instance.
Not to mention that quests tend to be quick, and can be suspended at any time, while most instances require a large block of time because of pulling together a party and the slow and difficult going.

Now, nostalgia and originality are strong factors.
For example, we will probably at least visit Gnomer because IMO it's very original.
On the other hand, we've done RFC and WC (to have the "instance experience"), so we've bypassed RFK because a cave is a cave.
We'll probably try to do SM because the wings are relatively short, and we've chanced to be at the right level to get a hunter, priest, and druid together (and, sad to say, three capable players can run an instance where 5-man PUGs wipe and quit).
-
The "old content" questions will really come into play with all of that level-60 content if the "new generation" bypasses it all and jumps to the high-reward Outland at level 58 or so.
Unless I miss my guess, Blizzard *will* address the issue; it's a matter of "how" and "when", not "if".
 

Even more surprising when people are running uber-geared toons and seemingly don't have a clue how to play them well.


buying your ubergeared toon on ebay could also have that effect ;)
 
Even more surprising when people are running uber-geared toons and seemingly don't have a clue how to play them well.

The new dungeons, in my experience, require a real tank, and a real healer. Crowd control, preferably at least two reliable sources are also nice to have.

I think too many groups are rushing in with an arms warrior and shadow priest. It isn't going to work, sorry.

I've run Ramparts twice, Blood Furnace twice, and Slave Pens once, with 2 wipes total. But I'm a full protection warrior, and we have a full healing priest. Two mages make for nice sheeps, and a rogue with imp sap makes everything cake.
 
Therein is a major weakness of WoW, IMO.

Soloing with a Prot Warrior or Holy Priest is a real pain.
But tanking with an Arms or Fury warrior or healing with a shadow-specced priest is definitely not ideal either.

The real kicker is that the average person wants to be able to quest solo AND run instances - but the specs for warrior and priest are very specialized to one role or the other.
And with the tree extending to 41, there is even more specialization.

But in the end, I find it hard to believe that a Tier 2 Arms or Fury warrior should have much trouble tanking one of the first Outland instances. Or that an uber-geared priest would be unable to heal in Ramparts or Blood Furnace just because they were the wrong spec.

In the end, I still think it comes back to party composition, party coordination, and play skill, combined with the fact that there is no room for dead weight in a 5-man (especially when compared to a 40-man).

I mean, spec is important, but problems I'm reading about are along the lines of warriors not running Defensive stance and rogues not sapping and such, not that the instances are requiring a finely-tuned, properly specced party.
 
Yeah, I agree that its mostly an issue of not having the right class mix and not the right talents for 5-man groups. Too much questing and PvP going on, people don't specialize in 5-man groups much.
 
My guildies and I ran ramparts last night with 4 pally's (60-62) and a 60 warrior (me). I'm arms spec'd with 13 points in protection just for tanking 5 mans. One of the pally's was a 62 prot spec and tanked up to the first boss. Although it was a touch slow due to low dps, we had no problems until...

We wiped on the second boss, so our prot pally brought his 63 mage instead. I tanked the next 2 bosses with no trouble at all. It was real fun.

But reading the comments previous it makes me worried that BC is WoW on easy mode. I sure hope not. But I have to admit I was suprised we could get so far with 4 pallys and a warrior.
 
Yep, you hit the nail on the head Toby. I've never seen Ragnoros or ZG or any of the other Uber raid places, but I fully intend on going back there as a tourist once I'm 70.
 
No, it isn't that all the raiders from pre-BC have no skill from running easy-mode 40 mans. If you were ever in a raiding guild doing Naxx or AQ40, you'd know this. We'd go into a 5 man instance with 3 or 4 people and absolutely crush it.

The problem you are seeing is four-fold:
1) All the retired 60s coming back.
2) Ebayers.
3) PUGs ALWAYS sucked, but the 5 man instances pre-BC were weak and easy.
4) All the really good players who chose to join a raiding guild are IN a raiding guild where they have other good players to group with and won't be PUGing. The other really good players who couldn't or didn't want to raid found each other pre-BC and group together never need to PUG either.
 
Part of the reason why I abondoned WoW. Just as I almost hit level 60 on my main, BC invalidated all the things I'd been looking forward to doing for a long time. And then Lotro came along... I've started WoW once since getting Lotro and logged out again after an hour...
 
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