Tobold's Blog
Thursday, May 31, 2007
 
What is good?

Trick question: Which is the better movie, Spiderman or Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal? Which is the better book, Harry Potter or Joyce's Ulysses? In both pairs the first is the low-brow, popular one, and the second is the high-brow, critically acclaimed one for a much smaller and more select audience. Terms like "good" and "bad" don't really apply, and you can't really compare.

I've had some complaints that I'm talking bad of raiding in WoW, but in effect raiding is the high-brow part of WoW for the smaller and select audience, while leveling up and doing quests from 1 to 70 is the low-brow, popular choice for the whole family. There is nothing inherently wrong with either. What *is* inherently wrong is having both in the same game and expecting people to switch from one to the other at some point. What if Spiderman 4 was an angst-ridden, existential movie that had Spiderman play chess against Death? What if the last Harry Potter had a chapter which consisted of somebodies unsorted thoughts in one endless sentence without punctuation? People would justifiably complain. Not because the high-brow part is "bad", but because of the bait and switch.

I think there would be room in the MMORPG market for a well-done game with forced grouping shortly after the newbie zones, leading up to more and more difficult content, and a raiding end-game in which only the best players could succeed. Unfortunately the last games that tried that weren't very polished, and just failed to excite. But as a concept, that kind of gameplay is totally valid, and is just waiting for somebody to implement it right.

But turning World of Warcraft into a game which is primarily about raiding is a mistake. You just can't make a game in which you can solo casually all the way up to 70 and then expect people to jump into a hardcore type of raiding where the slightest mistake wipes the whole raid. If your main game is for the average Joe, your end-game has to be too. If you want to have raids, you need to make them easy enough that a group of 25 average pickup players stands a chance. And you need to put in other sorts of things to do that are accessible to every age group and gender, for example player housing. It is not that WoW raiding is "bad", it just doesn't fit with the rest of the game.
Comments:
To be fair, Tigole admitted in the dev chat held by stratics that they were not entirely happy with where raiding was in BC. From the Chat:

Exact Question:
*Warder* With the current status of raid progression and the corresponding attunements, it is becoming more and more clear to many people that their chances of beating (or even seeing) Black Temple or Hyjal before the next expansion is out are quite low. Only the most hardcore of the hardcore, even among raiders, seem to be making significant progress. Are there any plans to making BC raiding somewhat less unforgivable

Response (emphasis mine):

Tigole: Yes

Tigole: Tomorrow

Tigole: first thing in the morning

Tigole: 2.1.0 will go live and I think there are *many* significant changes to help with raid progression issues. If raid progression is still a problem after 2.1.0, we'll make further changes

Tigole: we WANT people doing the content

Tigole: we want the encounters to get beat

Tigole: i'd rather have fun, beaten encounters then a raid game full of mysteries that no one is going to see


I think a couple of things are clear:

1) Blizzard has (scuse the french) fucked up raiding with BC and closed it out to even more people than before, however...

2) They have recognised this and have proceeded to make changes to try and open it up (big buff to raiding gear, nerfing of encounters to let people progress a bit higher a big quicker)

3) Already committed to making further changes if these do not end up being enough.


For a few months before the expansion, i was very bored of WoW. I said to myself "If the expansion is not where its at (not just in regards to levelling again) ill stop playing". BC made the game fun and enjoyable again, and got me back into it.

Now that i am in end game, the same kind of thing is happening. Blizzard repayed my faith in them with the expansion, i plan to give them the chance to repay my faith again in regards to end game raiding.
 
erm, guess i'm a fanboy after all,
but remove those eyeglasses and look how much "casual" content there is in TBC and how little raid-content there is.

there are only 5raid dungeons, while there are about 15 normal dungeons and those can be done on heroic as well. not to mention tons of quests even after lvl70. add arena to it, a new bg. you have more world-pvp as well.
 
To my opinion the biggest problem is that everyone seems to "need" some "endgame" ... and every expects it to be all the same for everyone.

Why not accepting that there is a "endgame" for the casuals getting lvl70, getting reputation, new mounts and stuff .. and there is a completly differen "endgame" for raiders climbing the instance tree?

I'm personally seeing no need for a end ? And that works for a lot of games .. or have you seen the Endgame in "Tetris", "Bubble Bobble" .. or even in pinball or pool?

Why is there this urgent need in some people to have a "end" ?
 
Why is there this urgent need in some people to have a "end" ?

I think you misunderstand that. People want exactly what you are saying, for the game to NOT end. The term "endgame" is from that. Usually in a level based game there's not much to do once you hit max level, if not the game has some sort of endgame. Adding an "endgame" prevents the game from ending. It doesn't mean that you cause it to end. It could just as well be called "afterendgame" but the after is cut. ;)

but remove those eyeglasses and look how much "casual" content there is in TBC and how little raid-content there is.

Content can't in my opinion be measured in quantity. It's the time measured to complete it that's the only thing that matters. I of course have no actual numbers on this but I'm pretty sure that the time it takes to complete all "endgame" content at the moment takes a lot more time than the "casual" content.

Of course one might argue that some content can't really be completed, like PvP and such. But that can actually be said about raiding too. You can keep doing it for as long as you want to, even if you've "completed" it.
 
Why not accepting that there is a "endgame" for the casuals getting lvl70, getting reputation, new mounts and stuff .. and there is a completly differen "endgame" for raiders climbing the instance tree?

The main problem is that there is no different end game... sure, casual players can collect rep and mounts and toys, but raiders get all that and more. And then you get overlap in a game that supports PvP, because once the raiders get going through the raids, once again they'll be head and shoulders above the non-raiders when it comes to gear, which breaks BGs and world-pvp from a non-raider stand point. In order for any semblance of balance, a game has to be casual solo/group OR raid focused OR has to remove competitive interaction between the two.

I love battlegrounds and PvP... I hate raiding... in WoW, BGs and PvP are only fun until it becomes statistically impossible to beat raiders. When my damage spell goes from doing 25% damage on a player to less than 10%, and his damage spell goes from doing 25% damage on me to 40%, the playing field stops being even close to level and no one enjoys losing noticeably more often than they win. Its only thing if they outmatch me in skill, its another if they are accessing items that defeat me even though I'm the superior player.
 
Tobold I usually agree with your premise, but here I differ. I don't think that WoW raiding is to WoW non-raiding like Harry Potter is to Ulysses.

See from your earlier post I gathered your case is roughly mine: We raided comfortably in 1.0 and the way raiding was designed in TBC we got pushed out of the class of people to whom raiding applied. But the change isn't as drastic as JK Rowling writing the next existential novel as the next harry potter book. The difference is that many many many small things got tuned and designed wrong to inadvertently make raiding design less accessible.

WoW endgame was always dominated by raiding for a lot of folks, hence in some sense we all read Ulysses old style. The new JK Rowling book would interest us, but we just can't muster the time and we just can't muster the tolerance levels (1 person wiping a raid due to DCs).

I actually believe what Tigole said that they want people to see content. I just hope that Tigole also understands that the core design is what made raiding less accessible and that this core design is still what makes TBC raiding, nerfs or not.

As you said a while back, why BT and not Zul'Aman. The answer is of course: a wrong strategy in providing content. Another question is: Why nerfs now and not before spades of people (like us) left the game realizing that it wasn't for them anymore. They could have hotfixed Romulo and Julianne long before they did, same with Gruul, same with many other things.

Did they seriously believe that people would ever tolerate the consumables situation they had with the TBC release? The way it looked like, it first took a huge uproar of the community for Tigole to come out and say, "we are aware of the problem, agree, and will fix it". But really if they had asked anyone it should have been blatantly obvious that the vast majority of Ulysses readers don't like any of that. Only a vanishing section of raiders tolerated Gruul in his original form.

I have yet to find someone who states that Karazhan as required 10-man content with 1 week lockout made entry to raiding easier. I know loads whose guilds got ruined over the way Karazhan put friction on the social fabric.

I'm still dumbfounded why this happened. My best guess is that Blizz wanted to up difficulty slightly to keep the intrigue and challange, but they grossly overdid it and overestimated how much people actually wanted that and totally overlooked the symptoms some design decisions would have.

Some hardcores love the long keying now in the game. Maybe Tigole actually did get input, but clearly not from a broad spectrum of players.

BTW there are other new barriers in the game besides raiding. For example crafting alts. I used to have lvl 60 crafting alts for all professions but smithing.

Given that rep plays such a big role in even standard crafting recipe access, alt crafters (alchemy being a great example) have become much harder. So much so that it killed that part of the game for me as well.

I have no clue why blizz decided to overdue the limitations to the game so much in TBC. Who ever said that anybody enjoyed rep grinds? Wasn't the AD rep brind hub added with Naxxramas a failure? ASAIK noone did any of them. In 1.0 they were largely optional or only if you wanted really rare crafting patterns. Now? Rep dominates good parts of the game. And it's for the worse as far as I am concerned.

Rep is the admission that they lost ways to have content pace the game or have genuine replayability of some stuff. People only go there "because I need more rep".

And yes, I still like Ulysses, but don't print it in A1 format please. Not everybody has a swimming pool size room to read. The balance between necessary challanges and unnecessary tedium between 1.0 and TBC tipped for me, which is I think different than the "cost for the masses" vs "cost for the select few" dichotomy of your argument here.
 
I like TBC. I like the fact that all members of a party need to put in some effort to take down bosses like Gruul and Prince Malchezaar (or however you spell it). I also like the CONCEPT of linearity in the raid progression.

But I think Blizzard overdid it, by far. Ok, you can take down Attumen if your main tank or healer goes down or disconnects (after he mounts). But already at Moroes you are almost guaranteed a wipe if it happens.

And the keying for raids is maybe the worst example of overdoing a good concept. To get into SSC you must kill Gruul and Nightbane (which is summoned after a long chain of hard quests). And keying for The Eye is just horrible. I'd rather see SSC access being given after killing Curator and/or Maulgar (just an example).

I am not worried that endgame raiding currently is very hard. It will be nerfed and more people will be able to participate in it. People are just being too impatient and expecting to kill Illidan without working too hard for it. Call me an elitist prick, but that's how I feel (and I haven't entered SSC yet, so I'm not close to being hardcore)

ElCaco
Kilrogg
 
There seemed to me to be a lot of grind involved in raiding this time round (and I was used to the weekly herbing / pot making session prior to TBC!). Now maybe that's just me burning out... but it's certainly a key reason I left. At the end of the day, it needed to be fun...

... oh and TBC seemed really *noisy* to me - that noise the consortium electricity thingies made set my teeth on edge! Just made it even easier not to log in ;)
 
Funny thing about patience, a word I heard a lot around TBC raiding...

I never felt I had to be patient in 1.0. Yes we wiped at Geddon for 4 weeks, but that wasn't a problem. It was clear that learning and refining was all that was needed.

Once almost any boss was learned, he was farm. In TBC even post nerf a farm boss can kill you. And in 1.0 there was no need for patience with attunements, because their effort was sensible (except horde side onyxia).

TBC is a collection of misdesigns and overdone base ideas that stretches our patience. Since when is testing patience a good game design concept? It really isn't.

You didn't need patience to try the next boss when the previous one was down in 1.0. In 2.1 you still need to wait for your 25 to get Nightbane kills before even setting foot and learning a new boss in SSC, someone missing a Gruul kill that you need to fill the raid. Sorry, noone is going. Unnecessary patience required here. Bad design. Pretty much all there is to that.

1.0 had linear progression but it was done the right way. You were never blocked from seeing the next boss in line due to soft chaining requirements (think core mats, onyxia cloaks).

That was good design.
 
i was about to write a lengthy comment but i think abel said it all.

even so, i have a few suggestions.

if blizz wants to fix the game and keep the 8,5 mil until worlds of starcraft comes out they will have to, imho:

a) drop the linear progression in favour of gear checks. (but be careful on that, don't let gear be more imoprtant than coordintaion and skill)

b) reduce the reset timer in karazhan to allow people to raid with different groups in a week, 3 days would be enough i think.

c) create more maps for BG's and also create some REAL rewards for world PVP.

d) make the crafting blue prints more accessible. the mats are hard enough to come by.

but i'm no game designer. what i feel is that most of the player are starting to feel the burnout of the game. WoW manage it's 8,5 mil player base not by providing the endless grinds it's predecessors did but for being entertaining. and that's what is failing now: when you reach seventy and you see all the 5-mans and did most of the quests, the game just becomes a painfull grind if you want to see a little bit more of content.

and that's what's turning players away.
 
I see both sides of the coin here. I am a former hardcore raider, trying to stay on the edge of raiding. I did the farming, I did the raiding till 3 AM, I did the wipes until you just wanted to scream. I have done this since day 1.

It comes to a point where you just have to stop and say to yourself "is this worth the time and effort I am putting into this?" The day I said no to that very question I quit. I was in the middle of a round of raiding (Gruul if I remember) and I said to myself...I am done, just can't do it anymore. My posts come from me sitting back an analyzing why I personally quit (hence my post name 'Why TBC killed End-game WoW for Me')

I think Abel has hit the nail on the head. The design was ok but was over done. Fights were designed to be TOO hard. They were designed to be TOO gimmicky and they were designed to be unaccessable to anyone but the elite. KZ is just now opening up to middle realm guilds and simply because of a huge nerf in 2.1.

To those who say you have to play 2.1 to comment I begrudgeonly agreed and I went back and did 1 KZ raid with a friends guild to simply see the differences. I agree that things have been nerfed, but I still see that for an entry level raid, your typical guild will not get through Prince and Nightbane (Curator seemed different but I cant put my finger on how). It still simply isn't for me. I still spent 2 hours gettin ready for a raid (since I hadn't raided in 2 months). I still ended up seeing wipes which previously (1.0) could have been more forgiving. I still saw a tank having over 150g repair bills. Until I see some type of change to TBC, I will not be renewing my account (it still has 3 days till expiration...stupid me paying 3 mos at a time). It is simply a personal choice and I am not telling anyone else they should cancel their account.

By all means if you enjoy WoW stick with it. But for me, with the principles I have for having to pay to play a game, it is not currently worth my 15 dollars a month. Having a second job just is not worth it to me.

Keep the comments coming. Great post Tobold.
 
WoW nice english on my part...sry for the double post. Its *inaccessible*
 
I'm enjoying raiding alot more since the 2.1 patch. My guild downed Magtheridon for the first time last week after the patch came out. We cleared Gruul's Lair last night in less than an hour by one-shotting both of the bosses. And we can clear Karazhan in 5-6 hours now (over 2 nights). We couldn't do any of these things pre-patch.

Old encounters are much easier to farm, new encounters are easier to beat, consumable costs are much lower, and the gear rewards are vastly improved. 2.1 was a godsend for the raiding scene.

While I myself am happy with the present raiding game, I do conceed that Karazhan, while a fun and well-designed instance, is a rough place for casuals to step into as a beginner raid zone. It requires complete attention, coordination and timely execution.

Perhaps Blizzard should implement a entry-level 25-man raid that is much easier. One that would allow raids to still succeed with about 25% - 40% of the raid comprised of players with sub-par gear or mediocre-skill or no raiding experience, thus allowing for a few disconnects and ninja afks per encounter. They could make it drop epics that are like 5 iLevels lower than existing more-difficult raid zones. It wouldn't hurt the hard-core raiders, and it would give a raid zone for casual raiders to get geared-up and experienced for harder stuff.

Oh, and they should just drop the attunements as well. They don't serve any purpose except irritating people. They can channel people through zones in the correct order by making gear check fights like they used to.

In any case, I'm enjoying the post-2.1 raiding scene. But I can understand the frustrations expressed here, and hope that some of your issues get addressed.
 
erm, guess i'm a fanboy after all,
but remove those eyeglasses and look how much "casual" content there is in TBC and how little raid-content there is.


Oh come on now. Lets be fair. After just under 2 years, Vanilla WoW had: Ony, MC, BWL, Nax, AQ20, AQ40 and ZG. 7 raid dungeons.

We are 4 months into BC and already we have Kara, Gruuls, Magtheridon, Serpentshine, Tempest Keep, Black Temple and Hyjal. 7 raid dungeons. Zul'Aman we know is coming will make 8, with rumor that BT will not be the last top level raid before the next expansion.

Make no mistake, BC has a very large amount of raid content, contrary to what you may think.
 
It's really tricky to compare TBC launch to Vanilla launch. Why?

Because Vanilla lauch started with no subscriptions, no in-game guilds and long histories of raiding.

TBC starts with 8.5 million base subscription and a large and bonded raiding community and prior expectations from this large community.

I agree that there is a lot of raiding content in TBC. I don't think there ever was a problem with TBC having no raiding content.

I do believe that Blizz actually hasn't solved the small group and solo play, but that's me. Rep grinds and repeating the same quests over and over isn't an actual solution.

For raiding the access model is different than it was and was tuning and sensitivity.

That's what makes vanilla raiding outline different than TBC. I haven't met anybody who argues that Karazhan in its nerfed state is like MC. It certainly isn't. And comparing access to SSC with access to BWL it's trivial to see how there is a clear difference there.

It may be paradox, but putting less content in at higher accessibility and making additional content available in steps when it's needed (like Vanilla) may have been better than putting in a lot of content in one go that the vast majority of people don't see.

TBC and Hyjal are current on live, and noone is zoning in. Replacing those two with content that people could actually zone into and spend their time on might indeed be more motivating. But I understand that Illidan defined TBC, so it's weird to have the game live with him not in it, so I guess in that light it makes some sense. But to wonder why for the bulk of raid groups still now, raiding is basically Karazhan+Gruul's Lair is valid, especially since 2.1 was supposed to solve that.

I was actually expecting there to be a flood of kill announcements since 2.1 given that lots of groups were stonewalled. And on my server to be perfectly honest it didn't happen. We had one Magtheridon announce since 2.1 and that's it. I'll be watching the next few weeks. Maybe this changes.

Maybe other servers do better, but we still see floods of leaving announcements and even the most progressed raid groups have constant hiring ads up. Again, I do hope that the next few weeks show an end or a reversal of this.

At least on my server this still doesn't look like a happy and stable raiding scene that looks forward to conquering all that content that is in the game to be conquered. I'll be curious if I have a different picture in a bit.
 
Furthering your point, it's about gold and the use of a casual player's time.

The typical casual player is used to making a small sum of gold after playing for an hour. But it's unlikely for the casual player to get have a purple Epic drop.

But when you raid, there's a decent chance of winning a purple Epic, along with a typical cost of having to spend 3-20g after a night of raiding.

The problem? A casual player is used to making gold after putting in some time. Certainly not losing/spending gold after a night of raiding.
 
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