Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
 
Take out the trash

The April Fools' joke from the Death & Taxes guild was a fake map of Black Temple showing a huge rat maze with a handful of bosses, thousands of trash mobs and a remark saying that the respawn timer on the trash was 20 minutes. Whether it is for loot or the challenge, people go raiding to fight boss mobs. Spending hours to clear trash mobs, only to see them respawn and having to clear them again, is highly annoying. With the trash respawn timers being generally short in the Burning Crusade raid instances, complaints have been piling up.

Fortunately these complaints have come from the top raiding guilds, which are the only customers Blizzard is listening to. So WoWInsider now has the story that Tigole announced raid changes for patch 2.1.0 which would make trash mobs easier to clear and respawn slower. (Unspecified changes to how Elixirs and Flasks work have also been announced. As have changes that make rogues better in raids.) And no, this isn't another fake joke.

I think a certain amount of trash mobs in a dungeon is fine. But I do agree that they shouldn't respawn so fast. The respawn timer in the first part of Karazhan is only 30 minutes, so if your raid isn't working like a well-oiled machine, and there is some delay due to somebody getting disconnected or having to leave, you get caught in a wave of respawning trash. I also wouldn't mind them thinning out the trash a bit more, as fighting the same mob over and over gets old pretty fast.

What I'm a bit dubious about is the design philosophy to make raid dungeons deliberately too hard to start with, and then gradually nerfing them down to an acceptable level. Sure, that is more popular than starting too easy and making it harder later. But a bit more playtesting would have been nice.
Comments:
It indeed appears to be a conscious design decision to start out at with a high difficulty level and gradually nerf down instances to make them okay to do for the broader public.

I pretty much find this an insult to my intelligence and therefore have quit all raiding the moment TBC was close to release. For anyone who enjoys being a guinea pig in Blizzard's lab you can have your cake and eat it too. But not me anymore. I have done my time, I'm a free man yet again.

As for all the talk about challenge, etc etc. I've been deep into Naxxramas and never ever did I feel much of a challenge to someone's intellect was involved. What was involved was massive grinding of consumables and repetitive farming of instances. The former has only become worse in TBC, whereas the latter appears the same to me, added onto which is the organizational nightmare of Karazhan.

Off to play C&C3 until LotRO opens its doors. Good thing from my WoW days is that I know what I don't like now. My WoW account I'm closing off, for that's the only clear signal to Blizzard I'm no longer a satisfied customer. Not that they will care about me, but just hanging around grinding primals all day isn't really getting the message across either, hehe.
 
Why do you consider it "..an insult to my intelligence .."? Because maybe the Dev's wanted it to be hard and safeguarded against guilds PLOWING through every end game instance in BC just to make the patch a "30-60-90" day fix to the game? I think it's great. Make content unreacable to everyon right now. Make them spend their time in the "MC of BC". Earn your gear. In my opinion just because you purchased the patch doesn't mean Blizz should give you T4 gear on a silver spoon.
 
Fortunately these complaints have come from the top raiding guilds, which are the only customers Blizzard is listening to.

Okay Tobold, you can't say this without elaborating!
 
If WoW was designed for the masses, like it is billed to be, uber guilds that PLOW through every end game instance would get bored and leave the game. Let's be honest, even toning things down the amount of guilds who can PLOW through the content is maybe .01%. This .01% of the playerbase takes a lot of developer resources to please. Resources that should be used to make entertaining content for the remaining 99.99% of the player base.
 
Fortunately these complaints have come from the top raiding guilds, which are the only customers Blizzard is listening to.

Okay Tobold, you can't say this without elaborating!


I'd say this is pretty obvious. Since BC came out there have been numerous small patches and hotfixes. And very many of them have been changes to raid content, although the number of people that have already seen this raid content is relatively small. Everyone knows that Tigole is an ex-member of a large raiding guild. So the concerns of raiders seem to influence Blizzard's development far more than their numbers should suggest. Meanwhile the average player can't help the feeling that his concerns are never addressed by Blizzard, and are far slower to lead to some improvements through patches.
 
I never understood why the TBC beta didn't include premade lvl 70 characters. Sure maybe release them after a few months, but they went live with absolutely zero beta testing of any of these top level dungeons.
 
I really hope some of this fixing occurs in Karazhan... the trash in there seems rather disproportionate. Everything through the Opera Event doesn't take much time to clear, but between the opera and Curator, god forbid you need to reclear the packs of 6. Then it's even worse between Curator and Terestian/Aran... trash galore.

But yeah... I can't understand why Blizz caters to the "top" 0.1% hardcore raiding minority. It doesn't piss me off like it does for other people, but a little sign that they're paying attention to us wouldn't hurt.
 
If WoW was designed for the masses, like it is billed to be, uber guilds that PLOW through every end game instance would get bored and leave the game. Let's be honest, even toning things down the amount of guuilds who can PLOW through the content is maybe .01%. This .01% of the playerbase takes a lot of developer resources to please. Resources that should be used to make entertaining content for the remaining 99.99% of the player base.

I just have to "QFRT" (quote for relative truth ;) ). I believe the hardcore raiders are more than .01%, but even if you do a quite high estimate (say 10%) Blizzard would still be spending roughly 90% of their resources on 10% of their players.
Had this been a business where you make more money on a minority of your clients it would have been an economically sound strategy. But since those estimated 10% pay exactly the same amount of money as the rest it would be more wise to spend more money on the other 90%.
 
The consumables comment is where I'm intrigued.

When I was raiding pre-TBC, it was always my thought, even as an alchemist, that I would have been willing to forgo all the time and money I've spent cultivating the profession, to get rid of consumables altogether so Blizzard could retune the content around that.

It was my thought then, and reinforced now, that player buffs from group composition, should always be enough learn the content. Eliminating consumables would also significantly reduce the demand for gold services as well.

Alchemy as a transmute profession could easily be elaborated upon, and expanded into something meaningful if the consumables were taken out, but I doubt the devs care to take that drastic a step, especially at this point in the game's life cycle.
 
I guess it is hard for me to believe that the development/maintenance team that supports the raiding aspect is the same one that supports other areas.

Perhaps Tigole is more visible, perhaps the fixes to raid content are more visible.

What has the "casual" player asked for and not received? Is it something that can be hotfixed? Or is it something that would require lots of work?

My point is, and I know I'm having trouble explaining it - the "team" the is working on engineering may not be the same team that has to do work on Lady Vashj.

I'm just wondering if this whole "catering to 0.x%" is a bandwagon complaint that people get used to making without anything firm to back it up.
 
What I had hoped to hear about alchemy fixes is "we decided that "discovery potions" was really a stupid idea after all and made a change. Instead of you praying to get one of the 12 hidden reciepes, we've moved 6 to the trainers and made the other 6 BoP reciepes like all the other professions have. You can also still discover them. We hope this gives our suffering alchemists some relief."

I've actually looted 4 world epic drops, 10 or 12 BoP patterns/reciepes/enchants, but despite making thousands of potions/elixirs/etc, I've not discovered one reciepe yet. And the current BoP campable reciepes aren't worth making. A heal that then makes you super vulnerable afterwards? The gamble on that is too high for me.

(side note, the verification text for this was "omggbplz", made me laugh)
 
Oz, as a leatherworker let me just say that I'm impervious to your alchemy tears. Alchemy is in WAY better shape than most professions but you'd never know it from how loudly many alchemists complain. You actually have the ability to *gasp* make gold rather than lose gold on your profession. Me, I get to sell Riding Crops for less than the value of a Primal Might which is one of the ingredients needed to make it. Go me.

As for the complaints about the devs tuning the end game? Meh, I'm tired of that. That same complaint has been around too long, and really hasn't been valid for most of that time. The fact of the matter is that the hardcore endgame guilds are paying to beta test content. You can complain all you want that a small % of players is seeing the content, but that only applies right now. What does that mean ultimately? It means that only a small % of players is seeing this content in it's untuned, not ready-for-players state. In 6-9 months when far more "average" players are seeing the content it will be well tuned and much more fun, but at that time those "average" players will be too busy complaining that the devs are tuning the newest instance they feel like they'll never see to appreciate the fact that other players had to pay to beta test the content that the average player now enjoys.
 
"Fortunately these complaints have come from the top raiding guilds, which are the only customers Blizzard is listening to."

Right now, probably.
IMO, it's their turn.
Let's not forget that the BC (in some cases back to the 2.0.1 pre-BC patch) introduced two new starting areas, two new races, a new profession, nerfs to content scattered through the "old" game, a few new quests in the old game, an entirely new continent filled with quests and instances, changes to the PvP honor system and new PvP battlegrounds... By now, most of the content has been run through rather extensively, and the major problems have already settled out.

But frankly, I would expect there to be changes to raid content about 10 weeks into the BC. The number of raiding level-70s has reached critical mass, and the raid content is finally receiving a real testing at the hands of real players -- who are always more numerous, more innovative, more demanding, and more resourceful than play-testers. (Though sometimes the demands of real players are that thinking in old ways or running with poor play-skills, poor groupings, and poor talent spec choices should work in endgame content anyway... :P )

So I have no problem with patching raid content. The people who ran ahead in PvP and the Outlands while I leveled a BE alt paved the way for me to have an all-rested and relatively smooth run to level 70...

Doeg
 
It's time to fix up the raid game as more and more people start to head towards the entry-level encounters. The 5-man stuff is pretty good, a bug here or there but no major design flaws.

Tobold, I'm not sure you've got a clear picture of what's going on in SSC and beyond. Right now you have to farm multiple flasks for a single night of raiding, maybe farm 2/3 as much time as you raid. You clear trash for an hour, get maybe 3 shots on a boss, then your flasks run out as you're reclearing trash. The trash isn't even interesting, just has way more hp than necessary. After everything's under control there's still 5 minutes of dps to go. Which means everyone has to rest after too.

All of this to fight buggy, Naxx-difficulty bosses for 1-2% gear upgrades. Like I said, it's a mess. Not an area that needs a little attention, but a disaster.

I've said it before, I'll say it again, Blizz needs to say "sorry BT and Hyjal are not done" and let the uber-hardcore PVP/farm mats/farm gear a couple of months. It's a tested mechanic that sure as heck worked a lot better than tuning entry-level stuff ludicrously hard and filling it with tedious consumable farming and trash respawns.
 
Problems with casual content seem to have a much lower priority for developers when compared to raid content. The last round of bugs that were just recently fixed have been in the game for over a month.

Eye of the Storm cheat
Elevator in Mechanaar
Thrall bugging out in Old Hillsbrad

Plus there are still many issues related to the balancing of heroic content.

Heroic Trash mobs being overtuned for the rewards: Fel Guards in the Blood Furnace hitting for 9k non crit on plate wearers.

Non improved loot tables in higher end heroic dungeons

Sweeping strikes and cleave killing off melee classes.
 
I am kind of torn on the "develop for the 5% of users" idea. Part of me says yes of course pleasing 95% of your customers is important, which is why I think they made so many size 5 dungeons and heroic modes and Kara is a 10 man but important for everyone to get done. This fixes the size problem for the average player if not the difficulty.

But I think Blizzard also has to keep those 5% around because of a few reasons. One I don't look up to the players, but I like looking at their characters, their gear, and thinking "that is pretty cool I'd like to get one of those". Secondly, look at all the websites crunching numbers, analyzing strategies, working hard at planning everything out. I would bet These are mainly the "hardcore" players writing all this. without them, we might not have a lot of the resources we have, and instead of reading we'd be doing it by trial and error much more.

Just some thoughts I kick around.
 
What has the "casual" player asked for and not received? Is it something that can be hotfixed? Or is it something that would require lots of work?

A huge majority of the Hunter community has begged and pleaded since release, by which I mean 1.0 not TBC, for more Stable Slots. Despite this being a very easy fix (gee, how many Bank Bag Slots are available, at an escalating price?) Blizzard has refused to even give us one more Slot.
 
Cap'n, that's not a casual gamer fix. It impacts all hunters the same, and Blizzard obviously doesn't feel that additional slots are necessary. It's not something broken that needs fixing, it's something you'd like to see changed.
 
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