Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
NewBreed on How TBC killed WoW

I don't have a monopoly on the opinion that the Burning Crusade changed World of Warcraft for the worse, by concentrating on a very small percentage of raiders. NewBreed of Work Avoidance Strategies did a wonderful job explaining the problem in this long post.

Most relevant quote in my view: "The fact that now if a person drops connection, doesn’t perform 1 task perfectly, or goes AFK, it wipes the raid. It doesn’t just hurt them, but WIPES them. This is not game design that I wish to participate in."

The thing is that before TBC there existed a strange beast, you could call him the "casual raider", and I certainly was one of them. Every guild had really hardcore raiders, but most guilds didn't have enough of them to fill every last raid spot, and there was room for the casual raiders. As a casual raider you didn't perform quite as well as the hardcore, didn't participate in every raid, spent less time on preparation. But you were still needed in the raid, and able to contribute in a positive way. TBC removed this possibility for casual raiders to do a positive contribution to a raid. Everyone has to play at 100%, and a moment of inattention, or a small technical problem, will not only kill you but wipe the whole raid as well. That is not the kind of responsability a casual raider wants to shoulder.

If you are a hardcore purist, you might be happy that the "slackers" are gone from the raids. The quality of the remaining raiders now is certainly higher than the average quality of raiders in Molten Core. But as people themselves rarely change, that increase in quality was achieved by a decrease in quantity. What I *hoped* TBC would do was split a large raid into two smaller raids. But what TBC *really* did was transform one large raid into one smaller raid, and slam the door in the face of the remainder. I used to be *in*, now I'm *out*, and that isn't totally by choice. I just happened to be in the less dedicated half of the raiding population, and this part now *isn't* part of the raiding population any more.

The percentage of the total player population that is raiding now is smaller than it was last year. I can't say exactly how high that percentage is, but as a percentage of subscribers (not as a percentage of people online, because measuring people online counts hardcore players more than casual ones) it is in the single digits. The game that went up to 8.5 million subscribers by being "for the rest of us" is now more and more turning into a game for the elite, which is why we don't see any new subscription records any more. World of Warcraft has stopped growing, and that is because it lost sight of their customer base.
Just a caviate...these are my opinions. It is why is killed WoW for ME and does not necessarily apply to everyone that plays WoW or currently raids end-game content. And I want give a BIG OLE' thank you to Tobold for linking my article.
Not trying to be contrary, but....

Since TBC I've had a lot more fun raiding. Maybe thats because I'm in a different guild, but I think its the different focus that the raids have.

In MC (all of the two or three times I went), I sat and pressed my frostbolt button. Occasionally I had to hit decursive a bunch of times.

Fighting Gruul, I mash frostbolt, figure out whether there are people around me, there's a silence, time to bandage up, ground slam, blink away from people, shatter, time to pop the elemental.... and so on. There's even fights I need to tank a boss! What's going on! (strawman at the Oz opera event, the mage on maulgar)

Part of it is propbably not being 'just another mage', part of it the people I'm with, and part of it is that the encounters are far more interesting.

Of course, I still only have two heroic keys: caverns of time, because thats the easiest thing in the world to get (two durnholdes, one to get into BM, three black morass, all to get someone keyed to Karazhan); and coilfang, because my guild wants people attuned to SSC. I don't particularly like the instances, so I don't run them much, especially if I have to rely on a PuG.
For the most part, I would have to agree.

I somewhat enjoyed Karazhan. I felt the boss encounters were too much of a jump in difficulty from the previous raid encounters, but the dungeon as a whole seemed very well-designed.

However, after my guild fell apart, the only time I saw the inside of Karazhan was when the new guild I joined needed a tank for Prince. They have a core group of people who raid and run heroics, and it seems like if you're not one of those people they couldn't care less about you.

Really, the only other thing to do is join a more hardcore raiding guild - that 1% who Blizz caters to. But I work, I have a life, and both of those would have to suffer if I ever want to see the inside of Black Temple. I'm not really angry that I won't see all this content... it just seems that Blizz made these changes to make raiding more accessible. On the contrary, I would rather not turn into someone like my roommates: jobless, playing through the night, sleeping through the day, wasting away their precious trust funds (what a joke).

Bottom line - this is a game. I don't understand why people need to be so serious over raiding, or why MMO's are designed that way. Damn you, Brad McQuaid!
"The percentage of the total player population that is raiding now is smaller than it was last year."

I don't really dispute this, as it seems intuitively possible or even probable, if by last year you mean last December. But do you have a quantitative source for this and the single digit estimate?

Although I agree with the premise to a certain extent -- the margin of error in BC in general seems much lower -- I also feel that the much greater pain of BC is the sequential nature of all the challenges, attunements and dungeons. This has been mentioned by others before.

Flip side comment: just got into Kara for the first time last night, and had a blast. Really great setting and encounters. Too exclusive? I'm still undecided on that, but it may just be worth it.
Interesting discussion. I've thought a lot about the "old WoW" versus "post-BC WoW" and, from a game-design perspective, think that the BC hit it about right. Sorry in advance about the length...

First of all, the repeated admission of the old-school hardcore raiders is that they ate up the BC content WAY too fast. Many played the Beta and researched the BC in order to stockpile needed crafting resources, effectively consuming large chunks of BC content before the expansion was ever even released. The hardcore raced to 70 and pushed to be raiding as soon as possible. (Aside -- I do wonder how the person in the linked blog managed 100g-150g in 2-3 hours in old-WoW, but with gold flowing freely in the Outlands can't afford to raid?!) If you're under the top end of the bell curve, then you will eat the content up too quickly. That results in being 'stuck' grinding / farming raid content -- but perhaps that is only appealing the enticement of uber rewards, which leads to point two...

Second, it seems that with the BC, Blizz made a hard-and-fast design decision (that I hope they will stick to): Gear progression is strictly linear. Some would say that a "new ZG", a raid that is not in the linear progression (with minimal or no entry requirements) would fit the bill; sounds good until the first boss goes down and the drop is...?
If the drop is a side-grade from the Heroics, then will hardcore raiders really grind such a fun-but-casual raid?
If the drop is an upgrade from the Heroics, then one risks "killing" all of the existing instance content, and breaks the gear balance in PvP as well (PvE raiding to get the best PvP gear is bad design).
Bottom line: Is raiding about the fun, or the gear? Molten Core is still there; you can get a raid together and run it right now. If it was so much fun then, well, then have a nostalgia night if it was so great to farm MC.

It seems that Blizz decided with the BC that instances and raids would be harder. To me, a casual player and PvP-er, that makes perfect sense. Most raiders concede that 25 or 35 people in a 40-person raid are "doing the work" -- and yet raid bosses drop leet loot. The message that sends to a casual like me is that Blizz is handing out leet loot based on organizational skills and perhaps being lucky enough to land one of the last of the 40 slots (my son's toon got a ZG epic on his first run with a PUG). And as I recall, after the BC release there were a lot of people who complained about toons in Tier 2 or 3 that couldn't play their class -- again raising the hotly-debated question as to whether old-school raiding was all about scheduling, organization, and working with others in large groups, but not about actual skill (recalling how some classes used to say that hours of raiding boiled down pushing the same couple of buttons for every encounter).

My outside perspective on why the old-school hardcore raiders are leaving is that it's a human response to changing stimulus. Raiding changed, and they are quitting, which establishes that they were unable to accept the change (hey, I can relate -- I have hardly PvP-ed since the major changes way back in the 2.0.1 compatibility patch).
Whether Blizz should attempt to change back to old-WoW raiding design models is an open question.
It's also a business decision -- are the old-school hardcore raiders canceling in profit-cutting numbers... and is it even possible to win them back?
Correct me if I am wrong, but wasn't UBRS roughly the same way when it was first released? I can remember running UBRS with people who knew their stuff, and we would still wipe when a healer or tank DC'd. If we lost a DPS class, we would usually still make it out alive, once we were geared properly.

Is Serpentshrine the same way? Can you lose a mage or rogue and still be ok? I am willing to bet that you can. And there are multiple google videos to back me up on that. Losing a main tank or healer on the other hand I'm not so sure about.

I'm quickly learning that many of my fellow players would do so much better if they would come prepared for an event, rather than treat it like a Sunday run through the Deadmines. Blizzard tuned these dungeons around groups that are made up of people who have maxed out cooking, firstaid, fishing, and who are willing to bring the proper potions to the battle. You can't show up with 10 people in their birthday suits sporting Fort buffs and expect to flow smoothly through the encounter.

For most people cooking isn't fun, nor is fishing, but they are necessary for survival. And you can't blame Blizzard for requiring them for end game encounters because if they didn't, then the forums would be aflame with ZOMG I leveled cooking for nothing?? Not to mention all the bloggers who would be blogging about WOWs broken fishing/cooking systems.
Yes the 10 man instances are harder, because everyone is much more important than before. Let's say you have a reasonable two tanks, and three healers for Karazhan. That leaves 5 for off-heals and/or dps. So if one person isn't up to snuff, that means your dps can be cut by a minimum of 20%. This would be equivalent to trying ZG with only 12-15 people.

The problem our guild has right now, is that people who just hit level 70 recently want to go to Karazhan when they don't have the gear. They don't want to grind out all the 5 mans and heroics to get better blues and early epics, they just want to hop in with 5-6 greens and start burning down Curator. Doeg said it right, they made a decision to make everything very linear. Regular 5 mans get you ready for heroics, and heroics get you ready for Karazhan. Kara leads to Gruul's, which leads to Mag, which leads to the Outdoor Bosses, SSC, The Eye, etc.

There aren't any easy epics anymore.
This comment has been removed by the author.
This really hits the nail on the head. This was discussed in depth on the official forums a month or two ago:

Relevant quote:

"Blizz, I want to raid with my friends who are both exceptional players, and also average players.
What about my average players? They don't suck, they aren't horrible, they come to raids prepared, they pay attention. They were fine - even solid- in MC, BWL and Naxx.
So what's the problem?
Average players are wiping raids in TBC. One late shackle, one missed dispell, one mis-timed heal, one crappy enslave, one nuke that pulls the boss off the tank, one tank who can only tank a single target and misses the adds killing the healers.
How do you tell your buddy he sucks? How do you make it ok to leave people on the bench over newer members?
And you know, you can say L2P all you want. But the fact remains that this *is* a social game. And some of us like to game with our friends. Lets face it in a 40 man raid 5+ people could absolutely suck, and the raid would still be fine. In TBC, with the specialized jobs each class has, plus the brutal healing demands, one person sucking makes the raid an utter failure.
This is a game, not a job, and somehow TBC is just missing the mark for the raiding players. We're not trying to be cutting edge hardcore, but we are trying to *enjoy* reasonable progression. Being able to kill something one night, then the next night being completely unable to kill it just because 2-3 players are different from the last time, isn't fun."

Being the author of the linked blog, I will give you a bit of insight into my raiding career. I raided as a Resto Druid through AQ with lower raiding costs (50g a night for pots etc). I played in closed beta TBC and did exactly as you said. I had a 70 in beta. I learned most of dungeons before the game was even released. Once I hit TBC live I went in it as feral druid eating through the content insanely fast. I hit 70 within a week. Was heroic attuned to all of the instances within a month and found time for my KZ attunement somewhere in the middle there. Once I hit TBC I found raiding consumable costs to be ridiculously high. With flasks plus multiple elixirs plus pots (being a druid I played both healing and tanking/dps roles) and repair costs, it started reaching 100g a night just to raid. Add to this a 3-5 night raiding schedule and you may see where I am going. I spent every waking moment farming and selling enchants to make gold for raiding. Money may be abundant in TBC, but raiding sure does hit the pocketbook. Once we started hitting Gruul, I definitely started feeling the strain of burn-out. I am not a high-school/college kid that can spend endless hours playing, though I tried to pretend I was through my previous raiding.

As I stated above, these are simply MY opinions. Why the game killed WoW for ME. If others are loving the raid content and such, I wish them much luck, but I think the main directive of my post was that Blizzard is moving towards alienating and exiling part of their player-base. In this format the Raiding Casual will never exist again. Even the semi-hardcore will have a hard time keeping up.

If you disagree, more power to you as that is your right.

I'm kind of on the fence about this one. Our guild is pretty casual, in that we don't have required raiding for anyone, we open signups to our guild and guild friends, and we don't rush for progression. We've worked through Karazhan through the Prince, but it does seem that some groups just don't have what it takes to get through some of the bosses. Most of the time, it's either a lack of healing or a lack of burst DPS.

Now, I like the way gear progression is laid out in BC, with the exception of heroics, as they don't seem to be all that necessary in order to prepare for Karazhan. Sure, some of the gear helps, but I haven't gotten a single heroic drop, and I am able to MT Kara fine. Of course, that could be because we have some good healing most nights.

Most of BC is just excellent. There's a lot of content, and with 2.1 there are a lot of new solo / small group areas to explore. But, there does seem to be a hard line between those guilds that can run Kara, and those who can't.

Everyone here is correct in their statement that the smaller raids require everyone to be more attentive, and more skillful. It also does make it difficult for those who came along as buddies for the 40-man raids to participate.

I really don't know what the answer to the problem is. Perhaps Blizz could add another 10-man raid (Karazhan Catacombs?) that wasn't quite as demanding, kind of in the LBRS / UBRS mold. That would be a great way for people who aren't accustomed to raiding to learn how to play as part of a raid group that is much smaller than what we were all used to in the MC days.

Honestly, Blizzard seems to be making an effort to add content for all types of players. One thing I would suggest to them would be to publicize the small group content as much as the hardcore raid content, as 2.1 was the 'Black Temple' patch, even though there was a ton of content in it. Announcing patches as 'Here's a new high-end raid dungeon' really makes people think that your raid content is your focus, even if it isn't.

Blizzard can't succeed if they devote a ton of work to end-game raiding at the expense of casual players, but at this time, I think to call this the current situation is a bit premature. Areas such as Ogri'la and Skettis were in 2.1 as well, and they are focused on a more casual type of player.

As far as consumables, they are pricey. I have a lvl 70 alt that I use for nothing more than farming herbs and making pots to support my warrior's raiding. However, with the recent alchemy changes, that should negate some of that. Still, 100g a night for a Gruul's raid is not out of the question. In learning Kara, I got close to that on several occasions, especially once you repair your plate a time or two.

Will casual raiding ever make a comeback? I don't know. It seems like Blizz is kind of designing that out, as they have stated that there are no plans for any type of 40-man content. We'll just have to wait and see happens down the road.
I am glad to hear some reasonable arguments about WHY some people do not enjoy the expansion. All I was hearing in previous posts was "TBC sux because it's all for hard-core raiders". I don't understand this because there is content for all groups. If anything, the shear amount of content in TBC is its strong point. Don't be upset because they added content that doesn't fit your playstyle.

I definitely see the point that the individual raider is much more important now. If this ruins the fun for you, then obviously you don't enjoy the TBC raiding scene. There's no doubt it is a completely different monster than WoW 1.0. And if the 5-man dungeons, heroics, solo quests, or crafting don't do it for you, then the game does not have much value to you now. And there's nothing wrong with that.
Have to also throw my 2 cents in.

Not so much that TBC killed WOW as in I don't think raiding as a long term goal is fesiable.

I raided for almost 20 months with my old guild (a casual raiding guild) and we completed MC, BWL and downed the first boss in Nexx. Now for TBC it was a distinct change but we also did Karazhan, downed about 4-5 of the bosses there.

But here's the thing. First the epics dropping were not much incentive (I know they boosted them some but... not to a great degree). More over, after 20 months of 4 nights a week raiding, it gets to you.

It does not help that the encounters now force you to farm mats for consumerables. This is no longer optional, I used to be able to forgo consumerables in raids (I'm a priest) with careful mana management and being Discipline specced. This is no longer true. Everyone has to use consumerables for raids now, and the encounters are designed to cause you to wipe at least the first 3-5 times (at a min) you see a boss, combined with trash repops etc, its just too much of a hassle now.

At first glance TBC is a great expansion. But once you hit 70, and do the first few heroics and instances, the fun stops. It then becomes a grind with only about 10% of the population who will ever see the Black Temple.
Brast, there is something wrong with it. They shouldn't be developing content at all that only 10% (or in the case of BT, significantly less) of the userbase will ever see
The sky isn't falling.

Blizzard nerfed all the dungeons and all the raid dungeons in this last patch. This is the same thing they did with MC/BWL/ZG/AQ/etc.

The initial release of every dungeon/raid is very hard and oftentimes buggy. After the hardcore slam their heads against the dungeon and get some epics, Blizzard will nerf the dungeon to be more accessible to everyone else. In a couple of months, downing Vashj will be no big deal and a lot of people will be in tier 4/5.
I don't think TBC killed WoW at all. I think TBC Beta killed TBC.

I had a Beta key but I gave it away because I didn't want to spend time completing a bunch of quests in Beta and leveling my Hunter to 70, knowing I'd have to do everything over when TBC went live.

Tobold didn't do that. He spent time in Beta acquiring player information that he used to facilitate his progression when TBC went live, which naturally shortened the lifespan of TBC Live for him. It seems as though Newbreed did the same thing, and paid the same price. I'd say many of the seriously hardcore Raiders did exactly the same thing, using TBC Beta to gather information that made their TBC Live journey to 70 shorter and faster, and using this Player Knowledge they ate through TBC Live content at a pace far faster than Blizzard ever intended.

If you sneak downstairs in the middle of the night to open and play with your Christmas presents, it's unlikely you'll have as much fun with them come Christmas morning.
Everything was nerfed alot last patch, thats true. But its only going to help the middle ground guilds that were struggling with the entry level 25 man content. Its not going to help the casual 8 man guild with 6 friends doing karazhan.

I am in an end game guild and after discussing with my guild mates pretty much everyone is voting for the easy mod dungeon option. Same fights same strats less sting. Applicable to both 5 mans and raids.

Have the easy mode raids drop blues / epics from heroics and badges.

Have easy mode karazhan drop blues from normal dungeons.

Have easy mode dungeons drop greens.

I want everyone to be able to at least step inside these cool dungeons. It shouldnt be an exclusive party.

And one more thing, less pointless rooms in karazhan. Giant cool looking rooms with no mobs or only trash mobs... put a mini boss in there that drops blues / greens!!!
I do agree capn,

And do not take this as making excuses (I believe my opinions and they will not be changed) but look at it this way. Lets say you are on a top server for guild progression as I was (Mal'Ganis - 6+ guilds killed Kel'T before TBC and multiple guilds have downed Mag, bosses in SSC and are working into the Eye). The pressure is there to raid. I lead a mediocre raiding guild and when I finally let it collapse due to burn-out of the guild members (especially its leaders), I went to another top raiding guild. The pressure was there from guild-mates and the server in general to get as much information as possible in the beta (gear, pots, boss strats etc). Now the common retort to this is, "well you didn't have to do it." The problem is, in my mindset at the time, I did have to do it. It has always been "about the people" for me in WoW. Whether it be the guild I was leading or the guild I would be "letting down" if I didn't show up for a raid. That mentality of show up for every raid or you are worthless is very deeply engrained in the WoW Raiding Society. I cannot tell you the number of times I have not been 100% at work due to a raid that lasted late into the morning. Or have logged on early morning in order to get that little bit more farming in. Or even called in sick in order to get ready for that big weekend raid. I think alot of my burnout was not only the playing of the game, but leading a raiding guild. I wanted to keep my leadership of a guild out of this as I wanted to focus on the change in the raids but figured it fit in here.

Again, to anyone tempted to flame, feel free, but please do so on my blog and keep Tobold's free of off-topic discussion.

Good comments so far, been a joy to read them. Thanks again to Tobold for spearheading this topic again.
This is the natural progression of raiding. Hardcores tear into new content, using mass consumables to make up for being initially undergeared. Casuals wait for the strats, their friends, and max-gear from non-raid content... or thats what they're supposed to do.

What has changed is:

1) The margin of error has increased slightly. This will be lessened over time with more nerfs and proper gearing up.

2) Peoples expectations and timeframe after 2 years of pre-TBC raiding has been warped. They seem to have forgotten that it took the better part of a year after release for casual guilds to start attempting/clearing/farming Molten Core. In that year, they had time to max out their gear from 5-mans, and had point-by-point strategies, maps, and videos for every boss encounter.

We're only 4 months in to TBC. Casuals who tried to skip the gearing up phase, and tried to be "hardcore" quickly discovered that they weren't. But rest assured that before too long, casuals will be farming Kara, downing Gruul & Mag, and banging their head against SSC, just like we did on Razorgore/Vael after clearing MC.

And yes, I am a "casual raider" in a casual guild who started Kara a couple of weeks ago. We took the time to gear up with rep rewards, heroics, crafted epics, and then read all the strats the hardcores nicely prepared for us. After 3 trips, one per week, we've cleared the front half through Curator.
anon, There is no problem designing upper end content for those on the cutting edge, as long as there is content for everybody. Obviously, and 8-man guild is not going to be able to do well in Karazan and why should they expect to? Because you pay $15 per month, does not give you a free pass to Illidan. It means you can play and have fun in the content that is available to you. By the way, Blizzard is on record that they do not want BT to only be visited by a small population and will continually retune until access is reasonable.

Newbreed, your argument seems to now have shifted from "TBC killed WoW" to "My addictive personality killed WoW". Blizzard is not at fault for you playing until 4am or feeling obligated to the people in your guild to do more than you are able to. I am honestly not flaming, but trying to draw out the distinction that the core problem is not TBC, it is burnout.
I wonder whether you would feel the game is still too unforgiving if you were able to come back and give it an honest shot post-2.1, Tobold/NewBreed. Gear is buffed, raid dungeons are nerfed, consumable requirements and strength are nerfed. All but 5 encounters in the endgame were beaten within a week of 2.1 release. Some of the top-tier guilds were doing new Hyjal encounters with 22 and 23 people on (didn't have more attuned).

Now, if your guilds fell apart like it sounds and the time away has exposed the futility of the gear grind or how sick of the mechanics you are, then that's another thing. That's what I'd say happend to me.
My view of TBC is that they geared it to those with personalities such as mine. People willing to put 6-8hours at a stretch to raid. Yes, my personality is totally at fault for the way I raided BUT TBC was definitely geared towards this "lifestyle" if you wanted to be on the leading edge of raiding. My post simply shows that I have identified that and have moved away from it.

If you want to have a little more insight, check my blog post on addiction.
Just a followup, I think my main point is:

Pre-TBC, casuals had been introduced to raiding and many adopted it as part of their playstyle.

Post-TBC, raiding was taken away from everyone for a period of time. The difference is that hardcores were back into raiding 3 weeks later, while casuals are still working their way back into it. Those casuals who tried to get back into it too early got crushed.

But over time, the door to raiding creaks open, so that eventually, there'll even be room in the raid for Joe's slightly-retarded wife with the worst talent spec imaginable.
I get the feeling that Blizzard knows it's popularity is falling with WoW. They even went as far as sending me a free CD with Burning Crusade on it to try to entice me to coming back to WoW. I quit WoW just prior to TBC coming out because I knew what it would do to our raiding guild. That and plus the fact that I was already burned out on the game. I needed a break. Online poker anyone?
Tobold didn't do that. He spent time in Beta acquiring player information that he used to facilitate his progression when TBC went live, which naturally shortened the lifespan of TBC Live for him.

Not true, and I reported about it. I never got out of Hellfire Peninsula in the TBC beta because I foresaw exactly that problem, and didn't want to spoil the fun. The only thing I really prepared for TBC "live" was jewelcrafting, nothing to do with speeding up the way to 70.
For what it's worth, I think TBC is the best thing to happen to WoW since I started playing it, right at the end of the open beta.

I probably shouldn't even throw my hat in this thread, because I've never done more than a 5-man instance, and I only just hit 70 a couple of days ago. But the people I play with are in a guild that considers itself a "casual raiding" crew, and, y'know, they all seem to be having fun, and they don't get pissed off at me for not knowing what I'm doing. They're not doing whatever the highest-order raiding guilds are doing these days, but they're not lamenting the dearth of endgame content, either.

I find the single and small-group content in TBC (including the 1-20 bits for the new races) to be the most compelling, interesting, well-crafted content WoW has ever had. It has totally renewed my interest in the game. When I hit 60, I just stopped, but I've spent a couple of nights doing level 70 quests with friends, and loving every minute of it.

I dunno if there are more people like me than there are hardcore raiders, but I've got my suspicions. I think it was in this blog, at one point, where it was brought up that maybe twinking alts is where the replayability is for most people, not the endgame. For me, at least, that's right on the money.
whenever you comment on raiding it makes you sound like a dipshit.

kthx bai

I'm going to rely on a technicality for my defense here: I never said you used your Player Information (PI) to level to 70, I just said you used it to facilitate your progression, which you did.

You used PI to help you prepare for leveling your new tradeskill, Jewelcrafting. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But it did mean that you were able to eliminate a lot of the farming and resource gathering normally associated with leveling a tradeskill. This naturally shortened the lifespan of TBC Live for you, as (I believe) high-level Jewelcrafting was one of the things you were looking forward to.

Again, TBC Beta killed TBC Live.

That said I'm still logging in to WoW for a couple of hours each night, slowly leveling my Gnome Warrior Alt (51 atm) and working on his Armorsmith skills (255), and having a lot of fun doing so. But if most of my Guild jumped ship to LOTR, I'd be a Hobbit Minstrel before you could blink ;)
My Noob comment.

I only starting playing WoW December 2006 with 2 of my mates.

Within months the mage hit 58 and took off the Outlands, followed shortly buy the Pally. I took a bit longer being as I respec'd to a Tank at 50: and I have a life outside of WoW.

Anyway... my point is my 2 mates who were off in Outlands, quickly told me, 'when you hit 58, clean your quest log and come to outlands. You'll get better gear off Boars then you will in BRD.'

Last night after giving up on PUG I went with them to the Outlands and 4 or five quest later I had better green gear then all of my blues I worked so hard to get. But that's just it. There's all these instance that you get in your 50's, but there's really not point because the gear is weaker then the first quest you do in the outlands. I feel the game is all about rushing as fast as you can to 58 and taking off to the outlands. But I think the game content between levels 50 and 58 are lost. Why do the instances in the Eastern Plague lands anymore except to grind?

I don't have an answer, but I remember when the Diablo II expansion pack came out you had to have killed Diablo before you could play the expansion. In the TBC all you have to be is level 58, which you can grind your way up to without finishing instance or complete a quest.

My veteran friends who played WoW from begin would tell me, once you get to 60 the game starts all over again, but now I think all the end game content pre TBC is being skipped over now. I think something is being lost here.

PS I enjoy reading your blog.
I think both NewBreed and Tobold got that right.

But before I go there a note on beta'ing. I didn't beta before TBC release and I still quit for the reasons NewBreed and Tobold line out. It has everything to do with accessibility of the endgame. Everything.

Everything just takes more time, more effort, is more tight in difficulty.

Attunements? I got a minor heartattack just from trying to help guildies attune for Karazhan back when, which took me the better part of 3 weeks and got me exalted with all relevant factions. Fun? Not really.

My raid group is still in headache mode keeping track of who got the Gruul kill, and who got the nightbane kill, just to be able to sensibly and fairly start raiding SSC without railroading anybody. Great design? I think not.

Looking ahead, all content is linearized and there is no mid-game access. Even the 2.1 backflagging is a poor excuse of a mid-game access. So your raid group has everything down but Vashj. Sorry, no cookie for you.

As NewBreed correctly points out 1 person makes a huge difference. I'm sorry but a disconnet should not wipe you almost automatically. Already at Moroes it has a very good chance of wiping you and it never ever goes away again.

I think Tigole and whoever else is responsible for the raid game design in TBC needs a real slapping. The bonked it on so many levels it's really hard to believe. 2.1 is a band-aid that doesn't address the real problem, which is that TBC raid design philosophy from the ground up is misguided and broken.

Force everybody through a 1-week 10-man lockout? What where they smoking. You have 25 people who have to fight for 2*10 seats in very tight tuning. Karazhan would have been wonderful as purely optinoal instance with a 4 day lockout.

Heroic trials? Sorry but having to tune your setup for Mercy runs and bringing limited invuln pots for iwin isn't fun and it isn't great if you try to get a group of 45 people through this to be able to maintain the cohesion of your 25-size raid group.

I was on the hardcore end of my raid group but due to RL wanted to tone it down a little in TBC, this was impossible, in fact I would have needed to step up my time commitment (from 3 days raiding to 5). I couldn't hence TBC actually practically forced me to quit. Which is really odd.

I don't know about you guys, but I actually want to raid in WoW TBC. It's just made inaccessible for my available time commitment.

I don't know any real casual raid groups anymore, even those who were very casual in 1.0 have stepped up their level... not really because all wanted, lots quit, but because they needed to do that to survive at all.

So to plea for Blizz to realize that access for all playing styles and flexibility in encounter design and raid makeups are musts, and were great natural features of raiding in WoW 1.0 up to mid Naxx, that's what they'll need to do to have a hope to get my subscription back with 3.0 or possibly but unlikely with a Zul'Aman patch.

Certainly keeping tuning TBC comparable to late Naxx encounter (and worse) and nerfing them months too late wasn't the right approach at all.

Some things are still broken even in TBC, like the shot rotation for hunters, but so many things got just a little messed up with the launch of the expansion.

Finally, to end the rant. I never liked the word "slacker"... because that "slacker" was my real-life friend who had more on his RL plate than me. And a game that drives you to sever your social ties just to be able to keep going, is a horrible game.

Moroagh remarked on social ties and mmo design here:

I really think Blizz just overlooked all these aspects and a lot of people quit over it.
Still can't believe that Blizzard expected players starting a new race to go slogging through the old familiar zones, once they hit 20th.

A new expansion with a 40 level gap between 20 and 60.

There's no valid excuse for that.
I remember going to UBRS at lv 60 and constantly wiping. The only chance you had (or so it seemed) was to have people with raid gear along to help you out.

My first couple of runs to Black Morass (just like yours, Tobold), were a disaster. We just didn't have enought dps to keep on top of the mob spawns.
A couple of months later, and Black Morass is no longer a problem. My dps has probably doubled since I first went there, and so has that of my guildies. The only thing I don't like about the place now is clearing all the crocs, pumas and spiders out before a run.

Spend long enough in Outlands earning quest rewards and doing normal 5-mans, and your gear will improve. I have yet to go to Khara and I haven't done any Heroics yet, but I'm starting to feel that soon I will be able to manage both.
My +spell damage currently stands at 800. I still have some items to get from Tailoring and instances that will push that up to 900.

Our guild goes to Khara every week, but there is no pressure on anyone to play all night or turn up without fail. If there aren't enough people available to join the raid, it's simply cancelled, with no blame attached to missing parties. There are no DKP, and because of that I suppose there isn't as much pressure to be there all the time.
Will we go to SSC? I really don't know, but I don't see it as a problem any time soon.

@anonymous, I think it would be more useful for there to be some sort of quest to gain entry to the Dark Portal, but it would have to be solo-able, because forcing players to go to instances would not be a good thing.
From my own perspective, all those people skipping Strat, Scholomance, UBRS and LBRS are missing out. I'm just glad I was able to experience them at Lv 60 when they were end-game.
As a casual raider you didn't perform quite as well as the hardcore, didn't participate in every raid, spent less time on preparation.

I have to disagree with this one. There are a lot of casual or social players that outplay a lot of hardcore raiders.

Have someone explain the bosses strategy to them (and it's doable in a couple of minutes or less especially if you have Ventrillo) and what they have to do and they can excel at it. The only difference could be the gear not being as good as the 'hardcore raiders', but actually performing their tasks doesn't depend on anything but skill and interest in doing their jobs properly.

I'm not a 'hardcore purist' as you say and wouldn't mind that raids had a 2-people-able-to-slack limit or something like that, but truth be told, you can't expect to have half a raid asleep or slacking and still be able to do what hardcore raiders do. There has to be a balance on raids between people who play well and people who don't. I don't enjoy carrying people through instances raid or 5 man if they don't make an effort to play well, and on the other side I don't want to burden raids to tougher places with a character that's not as well geared as I think she should be before heading there.

By the way, this gear part I mentioned was the same before TBC, so can't really blame it on the expansion because if you went to MC with 40 people who just had greens and quest rewards as gear, and not done their share or Scholo, Strat, DM, etc, you wouldn't get pass the first boss.

There are awesome casual/social players who ask about what people think of their spec, gear and performance so they can improve. There are other casual/social players who don't give a damn, and keep playing like crap for years. I had a HORRIBLE tank in my previous guild, who tanked almost every day, and he was always crap for the sole reason that he didn't seem to understand (or care) what his class was supposed to do. And this was a person who was online a lot more time than me and who at the time did more instances than I did.

What I *hoped* TBC would do was split a large raid into two smaller raids. But what TBC *really* did was transform one large raid into one smaller raid, and slam the door in the face of the remainder. I used to be *in*, now I'm *out*, and that isn't totally by choice.

This is a real problem actually. I see it happen on my previous guild, where the same 10 people go to Karazhan and just ignore everyone else wanting to go. They lost a few good members due to that, and I guess if they don't start rotating who goes in (like what my current guild does), they'll lose more people. It's a matter of adapting though. Larger, more organized guilds can implement rotation schedules if they bother to have the work.

Sophia the Healadin
Great comments all and thank you for directing the flames to my blog as opposed to posting them here.
Hey! This sucks! I had no idea! And I just really started playing, too. I'm casual, I guess - and was looking forward to casual raiding, since my job and life require more time than a video game. I definitely wouldn't leave a guild in the lurch by just shutting down, but even a technical error? What's up with that? It feels like the developers kinda gave up on us.

Hey Blizzard, what gives? That's bullshit game design and you know it! And don't even try the crap about how it's a technical limitation and all, because you guys have a bigger budget than some small countries.

Gah. Now I'm all pissed off.
TBC wrecked WOW for me after 1.5 years of playing. I bought into the promises of more accessible raiding and was not only disappointed, but insulted by the blatant lie told by Bliz. Oh well, I could care less, WOW is done for me. On to LOTRO, Tabula Rasa, Conan and the massive flood of awesome MMOs that are headed our way! A year from now people will be shaking their heads amazed that they played WOW much like we all look back at pong and marvel at the hours we spent playing that silly game. Oops, I dated myself, didn't I? :)
People like gunn killed WoW for me, though TBC probably mortally wounded it.

Having played since launch (not beta) through 5-man and some casual raiding content, when I saw the attunement charts and heard about Blizz's ultra-soy-content-extender in the guise of "heroics" I just about pulled my own head off and send the box back.

I can see the boys Irvine discussing TBC now, ca. June 2006:

"Say there Johnson, this expansion content is dynamite. Best yet. One question: Where's the rest of it?"

"Rest of it sir?"

"The rest of it. This is boffo stuff, but you realize our playerbase will eat this up in a month. People will riot if they only get a month's worth of new content after a two year wait! And no one's going to pay $50 for that."

"I've got an idea sir..."

"What's that Johnson? It better be good."

"Instead of having players choose what content they want to play, lets make it linear so they have to earn their way into it?"

"Genius! I'm beginning to like you."

"And then, we can force them to replay it all again in "heroic" mode which is just the same stuff only harder!"

"Brilliant! Sheer genius! That'll keep the suckers going for another 8 months! By then I'm sure we'll have something figured out about the whole end-game problem. Johnson, for this I'm giving you the key to the executive washroom."

"Thank you sir."

"Oh, and Johnson?"

"Yes sir?"

"Make sure you don't fuck up the next expansion too or I'll have your balls."
Previous post rocks! Spot on Sir!

I may have to quote this on my blog and post a link to it here.

Thank you making it all so clear, I now understand where the game went wrong... scary things is, you're probably not far off the mark.
I made the mistake of believing the "more accessible raiding" promises as well. As many have pointed out, they weren't fulfilled. Friends in larger raiding guilds have found their guilds torn apart by the extended qualification process, tight requirements for success and the lockouts for the 10 person content. What happens to that group that was so good at running 40 person content - especially when the drops just aren't worth the pain?

Even in my casual "geezer guild," with relatively few raiders, the pleas for qualification help and the complaints about cliques (practically guaranteed by the raiding mechanics) are now almost constant.

That's the core of the game at 70 and it's just Not Fun anymore.

This is a great set of comments (well, with a couple of the typical exceptions). It's helped clarify for me why I've been so dissatisfied with TBC since my characters reached 70. Thanks, newbreed & tobold, for starting this and carrying it on. I hope they're listening...
I think Baroo pretty much nailed it.

Tobold's burnout is tricky, because as he's mentioned, he certainly plays enough to be "hardcore" (30 hours a week) but just doesn't enjoy raiding. Honestly, what company could keep up with that? (Remember how regular old RPGs were only designed for about 30 hours of gameplay - total?)

Newbreed's situation really sounds like something I'm seeing a lot of in people who raided pre-TBC: the realities of raiding are different, and either playstyles or expectations need to adapt. The people who around for the days when raiding guilds had the 25-carrying-15 don't remember (or weren't guilded) for what that guild went through when it *first* started raiding: when raid leaders didn't know the strats, when you didn't have a solid core of well-geared players, when it was NEW and you didn't have the luxury of a pool of people who'd been hanging around at 60 for a couple months before deciding to raid.

Frankly, I think it's a little silly to expect that 6-8 hours of playtime will equate into "leading edge" raiding. I know the kinds of hours Nihilum puts in - and I know that's not for me. So I'm happy with my guild puttering away in Karazhan and having a good time together.

I don't think either Tobold's or Newbreed's situation is universal enough to draw the conclusion that WoW raiding is dying. I do think you could safely say that raiding as we knew it is dead - but that's a little obvious. :)
Raiding didn't die. Just a certain type of raiding did. The one that allowed hardcore and casual to blend and still have success and low social pressures from the setup.

WoW raiding only died for certain individuals... and me and a few of my friends are among them.

But the paradox remains that WoW raiding certainly did come in with the advertisement to have broader appeal. I'm still not sure if that's true either.
To the ones that keep saying everyone should be patient, that the raiding scene will open up for the casual raider, you miss the point that just about the time that it really opened up wide for that kind of player BC made all the raids we were attempting pointless.

so really what you are saying is. Those players will really get going as the new content patch kills thier chance of ever really doing it.

I've said since day one that they should have tweaked the loot tables and left MC/ZG,AQ,BWL and NAXX as leveling content for those that would rather level that way.

Then youd have the old raids that were still worth doing and had a purpose.

As it is the message from blizzard Intentionally or not is "If your not hardcore you'll not see the content because our next patch will make it pointless."

It's really sad because I think they are at a crossroads. In spite of thier huge base a large part of the populace seems grumpy and discontented.
The moment I hear the next expansion announced, I'm stopping my account till it gets released. Because all this hub bub will be once again obsolete.
There is plenty of good information here, but there is one thing I do take exception to, and perhaps I am mus-understanding the intent:

There are multiple comments about how 'i have a life outside of wow' - this says to me that in your mind it is impossible to 'have a life outside of wow' if your a hardcore raider. I raid 5-6 nights a week and have a very active life outside of wow. It is all about time management.

Keep up the good posts!
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