Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
WoW attunement changes

Thanks to everybody who commented or sent me mail telling me that Blizzard dropped the attunement requirements for Serpentshrine and The Eye a day after I mentioned attunements as one of many reasons for cancelling my account. The timing is hilarious, but there is no causal connection, I don't have that kind of influence. Nevertheless it was both a confirmation that my opinion wasn't that far off, and a comic relief after the flood of scary hate mail from WoW fanbois who think they must mug anyone posting he's quittting.

Blizzard's marketing cleverly painted the company as something like a charitable foundation for the advancement of better games, and many people fell for that image. But in reality this is just a normal company which discovered that making good products is good for the bottom line. The people making the decisions at the top aren't really interested in the question whether reserving the end-game for the elite, the best and most dedicated players, is really better game design. They are only interested whether the prospect of this elite content keeps people subscribed to the game. When dangling that carrot stops working, they backpedal.

I do believe that some accountants and managers at Blizzard watch very closely what is going on in the game and with the subscription numbers. And while I don't have these exact numbers they do, I believe that they couldn't fail but notice that there are relatively few people in the high-end raiding dungeons every week, and a much larger number of people cancelling their accounts complaining that the end-game sucks. I don't know how close to the truth the famous Warcraft Realms numbers are, but explanations like "it's summer time" obviously fail to explain why there wasn't the same drop in numbers in previous summers. It seems obvious that the Burning Crusade initially attracted a lot of interest, and then failed to hold that interest. Of course doomcasting WoW would be premature, but any company reacts in some way if instead of going steadily up, sales and profits are down a few percent.

I think that Blizzard correctly identified part of the problem, and did a good job starting to fix it. I'm not exactly the only one complaining about attunement, this is a feature nearly universally hated, and I haven't found one blog or forum where people are really enthusiastic about it. I presume that Blizzard will continue making raiding content more accessible. The next raiding dungeon opening up will probably be the equivalent of a Zul'Gurub, an alternative to Karazhan without attunement, and maybe even slightly easier. I still think The Burning Crusade moved World of Warcraft in the wrong direction, but I'm happy that Blizzard seems to be reversing that direction, because it didn't work for their bottom line. Here's hoping these lessons learned will show up in the next expansion.
I agree. Blizzards starts to make some smart moves on their product. Good thing that they can still tweak and change a product for the better. Imagine a car company that targets a niche market (SUV 10 years ago for example), suddenly notices that their cars sell like crazy and everyone follows up. They can't change their cars much once they are sold.

Fortunately for Blizzard they can. After my first glimpse of the abomination of attunement chart posted in, I knew raiding would be much, much more difficult and all the "less effort raiding guilds" aka known as normal time involvment but still paying customer would have severe problems catching up.

Same in our guild. Folks start to lean towards the "pro-gamer faction" in their behaviour as Nightbane, Maulgar and Gruul require more effort for the kill than we were used to. This starts to tear the guild apart with all the usual drama.

Honestly, I hope the next 25 raid encounters will get another small reduction in difficulty. Let's wait what happens.

On a sidenote: Read the comments from people in the relevant websites (e.g. Many of these wannabe hardcore players totally freak out, like some of those people who wrote comments to you leaving WOW.

Funny world.
Hopefully this will mean more casual content as well.
A good move too late... if the next patch gears up like this, then I am back in. We shall see.

Reading the official forums, EU and US, made me laugh last night.

I feel, only a little bit, for those who have spent the time doing the attunement. But the wannabe Nihilum girls blouses are talking nonsense on how the game is now destroyed... if it wasn't for the folk who need these changes they wouldn't have a game to play IMO.

The line I hate the most... If you can't do this then you don't deserve or have the right to do that!
Well, I'm really looking forward to the implementation of that new 10-man instance, Zul'Aman.

The lift on the attunement line... I consider it good, though myself, I'd like to still complete at least these Trial of the Naaru quests, because it seems fun.
"The line I hate the most... If you can't do this then you don't deserve or have the right to do that!"

I forget which board I read it in - the US or the EU - but one of the CM's said:

"Last time I checked my subscription payment was the same as your subscription payment. That means my opinion as a gamer is as valid as yours..."

The truth of the matter is that Blizzard wants players to do these raids, therefore it's not down to the efforts of individual gamers that this is happening.

What those elite players should really do is boycott the game to force Blizzard to backpedal their backpedal! :)
If Blizzard noticed this tred and decided to act accordingly.... for sure can do changes... some immediatly in a very short time like what already did (changing attunements requirement, lowering or eliminating them). Other changes can be done with repeated patches over time like making istances more easy like tuning down a bit some portion of them....
Hopefully they will add also new soloable and small pug group friendly content. This obviously can't be done today for tomorrow. But I hope they are already at work for it so that is ready in an upcoming patch.
The downside to this is, that those in our guild lucky enough to have got their loot drops from Kara are already talking about going to SSC.
It just goes to show you that the only message a player can send - that will be listened to - is canceling their account.

Not one player alone - obviously - but enough canceled accounts to get the bean counter's attention.

This is why a lifetime sub to LOTRO is bad. It takes away a player's best leverage.

And can we stop with the Blizzard worship. Let's get one thing straight - there is no Blizzard. It's just a brand name.

Blizzard was absorbed by Vivendi; a transnational corporation that is - no doubt - run by people who haven't the slightest interest in gaming.

Blizzard is gone. It's been gone for years. Let it go.
I read the WoW forums this morning and was like "WTF?...Blizz must read Tobold's blog". After putting my pants back on I realized how great this actually was. I might get to go to SSC now. Also if anyone read the BS I posted about my guild not allowing anyone to raid Kara or grull until they get attuned to SSC, I guess thats out the window. Now I don't have to /gquit but I'm still considering it because that rule was really lame.

I'm assuming the reasoning for Blizz to make this change had to do with statistics on how many people are actually raiding these dungeons. Attunments originally put in as a pacemaker for the hardcore players are also serving as a brick wall to casual players. The same thing happened before TBC when Blizzard let you buy epic PvP gear with honor points. Hardcore players got the points super quick, blizzard lowered honor points. Casuals got shafter by the "hardcore pacemaker".

Now I pose this those currently not attuned to SSC, thus not much heroic/kara/grull raids, stand a chance in SSC or TK? Removing the attunement is great because it will guilds like mine to start raiding it, but with half of the 25 people in 70 blues, what chance do we have?
"After putting my pants back on I realized how great this actually was."

That's interesting to know that you like to take your pants on off to read Tobold's blog.
Makes sense. The more people that experience the content, the better value Blizzard from the time spent developing it. Those attunement restrictions were just to artificially delay players from finishing all the content before 2.1 could be released.

As for me, I'll second Konata's statement: I want Zul'Aman. Once they release that then Blizzard will have released all the "promised" content of the expansion and can get started on some actual new stuff.

Crazyflanger's last question gets to the very heart of why I'm not sure these changes are going to matter one bit. (though I'm directing any of this at you)

People, by and large, seem unwilling to accept any block to a raid, whether it be a gear check or an attunement. The TBC endgame is set up to be linear from 5man, heroics, Kara, Gruul/Mag, SSC, TK. No differently than it was MC, BWL, AQ, Naxx.

The question is people unwilling to accept a block to a raid? My gut tells me its that many folks don't need much of reason to leave, and working that hard for a game most of us have been playing for over 2 years, isn't as acceptable as it was before. And that's okay, I'm firmly in that camp now too. I do arenas, BG's, dabble in heroics, etc. But Flanger hit on a point that I'm sure we'll hear a lot more about. "I can get in, but now I can't beat any of it." Well, you get to skip parts 1-3 that get you ready for it, what did you expect?

You always get out of raiding, what you are willing to put into it. No effort to get geared for TK, means no phat loots for you. And that's something that doesn't need to change.
For me the problem never was that attunement existed. The problem was that the type of attunements TBC used meant extra additional logistics, extra delays way beyond what we had in WoW 1.0 etc.

This change won't help raiders who are not prepared for SSC to succeed there.

It will however help relieve some tension in raid groups who do go there or are close to and it will help keep raid leaders sane.

See WoW 1.0 had attunements, but only one of them took some effort (Onyxia).

The real problem is that raid groups have churn in membership! So you lose a member, what now? Of course try to replenish and keep going. But the question looms, what about attunement? In WoW 1.0 for most content bar Onyxia, you could get someone up to speed in 3 hours, and on top of it, the content was Puggable in that time frame.

Now TBC. Nightbane/Gruul are not puggable, even Karazhan attunement takes much more than 3 hours to complete. If you want real pain try PUG Trial Mercy etc.

The problem is not attunements but the effective effort they impose to keep a raid group going amidst fluctuations. That is the real concern and is why this is a good thing for those who have to worry about that kind of stuff.

A big feature of WoW 1.0 raiding was that you never had to wait to continue with content. Even if some people dropped out you could get them up to speed and in raid easily and continue as before.

You always had a learning boss available, because when you downed Ragnaros, Razorgore was accessible, and when you downed Neffy, Skeram was accessible.

Now? You down Nightbane, sorry no cookie. Still gotta wait for enough other folks to finish attunements before you can zone it.

I don't know about you but my raid group lost member the moment some had their SSC attunement done. Why? They didn't want to wait for a consistent 25 to have theirs, which would have been a few more IDs. Good for group cohesion? I don't think so. People shouldn't have to wait like this. Once Nightbane and Gruul falls, the group should be good to try SSC. Now we have a more extreme solution to this but alas.

So you have Vashj and Kael kills. Next signup only 17 of the original 25 are available. Sorry still gotta wait with new learning until a consistent group of 25 can zone into Hyjal.

Depending on your raid makeup and attendance rates, this can again be a couple of IDs.

WoW 1.0 has shown that this kind of waiting simply wasn't needed.

TBC raiding has attunement that removes access to the next learning content because of it's structure. That's a huge difference between WoW 1.0 and WoW TBC and I'm glad that at least in parts these attunements got lifted. They were a broken design.

Next time I hope they do attunements better, maybe comparable to WoW 1.0 again.
Chris, I think you nailed it. Most of us, even just 'casual-raiders' are getting the sense of "been here, done that" before. The game is wearing to an end I'm afraid and people are tired of the same old formula and literally looking for reasons to give up the game. I think this move by blizzard is purely a desperation move to avoid subscription drops.

Rewind a year ago and blizzard was already promising that the expansion would bring significant changes to raiding, they would 'open up raiding to the casual player'. Fast forward to today and people are beginning to realize it's the same thing all over again.

The emperor has has no clothes... and people are losing faith in the carrot on the stick and canceling.

I do find it hilarious that the people that have had the game absolutely catered to them on a golden platter (the hardcore raiding crowd) are the ones crying about these changes.
"For me the problem never was that attunement existed. The problem was that the type of attunements TBC used"

Agree 100%, and that aspect of the change is great.

Pre TBC, my guild never killed C'Thun, but we had moved on and killed 5 bosses in Naxx while still working on AQ. Now that's possible in TBC endgame. Choices are good.
the humankind are a bunch of selfcentered egocentric bunch of maggots where complaints are the highest goal to achieve. if we are happy we would be bored.

we don't need to invent a perpetuum mobile, we have it ourselves all along. we keep on living because we are complaining, otherwise our lives would be pointless.

give 8million people a wooden stick and ask for their opinion.
2 million would complain it's "just" a stick.
3 million will say "it's too short"
1 million will say "it's too long"
2 million will say "look at him, he got a better stick than me, why? is he better than me"
"Blizzard's marketing cleverly painted the company "
"They are only interested whether the prospect of this elite content keeps people subscribed to the game"
"do believe that some accountants and managers at Blizzard watch very closely "
"because it didn't work for their bottom line."

What's with all the bitterness toward Blizzard and your unsupported whine about them only being interested in money? You know for a fact that there's not one person at the company who just wants to make the game fun? I bet most of the developers do, based on interviews I've read.

Tobald, the only thing more annoying than a fanboi is a bitter ex-player who bad mouths the game and company every chance he can get. And yes, I read your whole post including the faint praise, but the tone is very different than in the past - don't let the bastards get you down!

Yep. And the fact that they invalidated all the old content made the world effectively smaller. I remember haveing and listening to many conversations of people who were looking forward to doing Naxx and BWL in the expansion while the Hard Core guilds hit the new stuff. Unfortunately the expansion killed all hope of that. Too bad cause Naxx and BWl could have been great leveling Raids for people that wanted them.
But things like that are why I cancelled my account. When long time friends, RL and ingame started saying things like "I don't want to group it's slowing down my leveling" I knew the game was in trouble. now those guys are all begging me to come back because they are bored and want socialization again. too bad Cause the old fun game where socialization was the norm was what I wanted. But no game lasts forever and the model they threw out with BC was unimaginative, lacking in substance and pushed everyone into the "level or die" mindset.
A friend of mine nailed it. "Vanilla Wow seemed lovingly crafted. there were little details everywhere that showed the love the devs had for thier world. BC was just thrown together. It's not bad it's just not the work of art the old world was.
The attunement process was a big pain, but if people think they can go to Black Temple without making any kind of effort to upgrade their gear, well think again.
If you can't beat Moroes you aren't going to live long in SSC, never mind BT.
People want rewards NOW, and they don't want to break sweat to get them.
If you want to play a team game, you need to put some effort in. Ever been in a football team? Were you the guy who never bothered going to training, then wondered why you never made the grade? If you don't want to put effort in,don't complain that the game is too hard.
Don't have time to put the effort in? Then raiding isn't for you. Sorry if that fact hurts.
"Don't have time to put the effort in? Then raiding isn't for you. Sorry if that fact hurts."

What patent nonsense. Before WoW people like you would have said that EQ-style non-instanced raids were 'just the way it was', that you 'just had to compete for boss kills' and if you don't like it don't raid.

The fact is, someone, someday, is going to work out that the majority of people don't want to waste their leisure time jumping through hoops, that there's no moral high ground to be had by putting the effort in - I mean, what utterly contemptible bullshit. People 'put the effort in' to their jobs, their wives, their friends and families, not some MMO.

Someone, someday, will get that, and tailor their MMO accordingly. And when they do they will reap the rewards. Blizzard have been by far the closest so far, a brilliant effort all round, and I left with no regrets or complaints after getting more than my money's worth from it. But to suggest that this is the state of play and always will be is just bollocks, sorry to put it so bluntly.
Nick, quoting someone generally means you've read the quote. It's only one line, and I don't see any implied message that current raiding is how it will always be.

Right now, at this moment, in this effort yields no rewards. And if that bothers you, then you really are out of luck and in the wrong game.

I don't think he's claiming some moral high ground by saying it requires effort either. Every game requires effort to beat, progress etc.

"Someone, someday, will get that, and tailor their MMO accordingly"

According to what? What hoops are left that you oppose? If a game requires no effort for nice rewards, you may be the only one playing it.

Hey Mafti, which category of the 8 million people does Nick fall into?
You're setting up a straw man, my friend :) - clearly a game which just hands everything to you on a plate without you doing anything is no sort of a game, I'm not implying otherwise.

The broad sweep of my point, such as it is, is that raiding as it exists in WoW need not be assumed to be the pinnacle of the genre. It can and should be made more accessible, it's a massive amount of development effort for a minority of the player base.

And the implication of people not 'wanting to put the effort in' is that it's laziness that merely prevents us unenlightened souls from enjoying raiding, I just don't think that's true. Rather, I think that the raiding gameplay is inherantly niche.
And for what its worth, people are willing to put more effort into a game that is new, popular, all the cool kids are doing it, or whatever reason that induces 8 million people to pay money for access.

Tobold went to LotRO and found farming and grinding fun and refreshing again. It was new, popular and all the cool kids were there smoking their pipeweed. Then it wasn't again.

WAR and AoC will come out, and millions will suddenly be willing to farm and grind and work and put effort into that too! Oh the humanity.

Somewhere, sometime, someone may come up with an MMO with no grind or effort. Maybe that same person will invent a way for me to read a book with my eyes closed or anything else I enjoy and reduce it to some effortless pile of mush.
Man, I can't believe the terrible terrible attunement that is still in place for Karazhan. I mean, really, why should I have to do three or even FOUR level 70 instances before I step foot into a raid instance? I even have to travel across this ugly ugly landscape and I'm forced to READ stupid pieces of paper that appear on my screen and click buttons. Really, I'd like it if Blizzard could just level my character to 70 and give me the highest gear available the next time I log in. I promise I won't cancel my account right after.

But seriously folks, I'd like the complaining about the Black Temple and Mount Hyjal attunement charts to end right now. Actually look at each item on the chart, and realize that it is NOT THAT HARD. For goodness sakes, they pad the flow chart with such doozies as "Level 70" and "Flying Mount". Woah, pretty heavy requirements there...
"And the implication of people not 'wanting to put the effort in' is that it's laziness that merely prevents us unenlightened souls from enjoying raiding, I just don't think that's true"

I don't think it's laziness, and I don't think the guy you went off on with expletives did either.

I'm going out on a limb here and guessing that what keeps you from raiding, as well as myelf these days, is a lock of copious amounts of free time to put the effort it. I lack the time to go learn encounters, but I don't blame Blizzard for that. They've just lowered the barriers to entry for raid content. Anything more than that is diminishing the content, and is going too far in my opinion.
It's partially the time, but it's really more about the flexibility. The moment you have to log in at certain times on certain days it becomes a chore not a game, to me at least.

I actually occasionally put quite a lot of time in, it's simply fragmented. And it is frustrating to me that the designers deem that true advancement may only come through significant, contiguous time investment.

But these are old battles. Perhaps indeed I am better off sticking to single player RPGs.
So did this change your mind? Are you sticking around, or are you still planning on taking some time off? Either way, it's good to hear from you again.
Well Tobold, you're spot on with your guess about the next instance - every dev comment suggests it's going to be 10-man Zul'Aman. Hopefully it has T4.5-T5 gear or so, catching everyone up to just a bit below the hardcore. Will that obsolete older instances? Oh well. Hopefully then there will be a new 25-man addition before the end of the year.

Crazyflanger, the consensus seems to be that you probably should gear up in Kara a bit before doing much in SSC/TK. Read the boards and pick some soft targets (Void Reaver, Lurker) to start.
The natural life cycle of successful MMO's is that subscriptions peak a month after the first expansion. And then it's a steady decline over the next few years, with blips for each new expansion.

It has very little to do with whether the game is good/bad, the changes are good/bad, or the expansions are good/bad. Multiple "bad" things can increase the decline rate, but ultimately it all pales in importance and relevance to the one simple fact that...

The average MMOers attention span is finite, and even if they're playing the greatest game man has ever known, they will become bored with it. Much like having sex with the same person, doing the same drug, eventually you've just had enough and want a new experience.

It's like that photo of the gorgeous naked chick with the caption that reads "Someone, somewhere, is tired of her shit".
What's with all the bitterness toward Blizzard and your unsupported whine about them only being interested in money?

Lol, you completely misread me there. I'm saying I *hope* Blizzard is interested in their bottom line, because only that will cause them to make their game really fun, as opposed to what a small bunch of developers like Tigole only *think* is fun, but happens to be not fun for most people.

Don't have time to put the effort in? Then raiding isn't for you. Sorry if that fact hurts.

That is black and white nonsense. The argument that raiding has to be exactly as hard as it is now, and the only alternative would be to have effortless raiding in which nobody would be interested is total bullshit. Obviously difficulty is a scale with millions of possible settings.

And you can't design selection in a MMORPG the same way as you design the selection of players for a football team. MMORPGs aren't exactly a spectator sport, you can't select the very best team and expect people to pay to watch them. The people paying for a MMORPG are the players, the average Joes, so you need to make content accessible and challenging to them, not impossible for the average man and challenging to the best.

Someone, someday, will get that, and tailor their MMO accordingly.

Exactly. That actually isn't all that hard. You just need to make the FIRST raid dungeon so easy that any PuG can do it, the second a bit harder, the third a bit harder again, etc., so that there is content for all levels of challenge. The problem of TBC is not that Mount Hyjal is too hard, the problem is that Karazhan is too hard.

If you can't train regularly for football, you can still shoot some balls around with your mates. But in WoW raiding you're either in the top, or you can't raid at all. Why is it so hard to understand that this is bad game design, which only drives away the paying customers?
Nick and Toblad you are both on the money and sooooo right!

It isn't about hard or laziness in the slightest!

Why is that so incredibly hard to see?

It is about access to content for most of the player base.

The roadblocks are there and conflict with avaiable time, kids, partners, jobs, other social life events and been a healthy player.

I could tank for the best guild on the planet and beat end game content... I don't have the time or the inclination to waste my life getting that far for something that should simply be a bit of fun.

Don't make it easy... just gimme a realistic chance of gaining access to it.
Chris. I bet you're fat. Get a life fatty.
Reading all those bitter anonymous comments, I think Tobold has hit the nail on the head once again.

What is really a shame, that those anonymouse people tend to be insulting, this should not happen.
I disagree with you whole-heartedly on the attunements. Why are casuals clamoring to get into Serpentshrine? If you can't down Gruul or Nightbane, why the heck are you going to go into SSC and get owned? The reason most forum and bloggers "agree" with you on the attunement thing is because the majority of them are casual like you. Yes, I consider you the ultimate casual and I have no idea how you got into Naxx, other than on your blogging rep. You always complained about everything being too hard.

Newsflash : Maybe you aren't very good. Black Morass was like this all consuming fire for you, and it's just not that hard. Sure it took a few tries to learn it, but shouldn't it? It goes back to casuals SAY that they want to work for the epics but in the end they just want to get their epics, "win WoW" and start playing the next game.
I have no idea how you got into Naxx, other than on your blogging rep.

Would have been difficult, seeing how my guild didn't know about my blog. Except for one guy who noticed how my stories corresponded to the guild adventures, but agreed with me that it wouldn't be good to tell the guild officers.

Newsflash: My fellow players consider me to play my priest very well, and I have been playing healers in various MMORPGs since Everquest. BM has been nerfed considerably, I did it when it was still hard, and the problem was that we didn't have sufficient DPS, for which you can hardly blame the priest. Raids are hard, but not on the individual level, I was always able to keep up with the best of them in any raid. But after evenings of wiping in Karazhan caused by single players disconnecting or making a minor mistake which results in 9 others dying, I just don't consider that as good gameplay. It only leads to people hating the other guys they raid with, and (as clearly seen in your case) to an elitist jerk attitude in anyone who succeeds.
Well, it's not about being elitist, it's letting the casuals know that their opinion should NOT be worth more than ours just because you claim there are more of you. On my server, I would say more people raid than not. I just don't come across these non-raiders in PuGs or anywhere else. Not everyone is hardcore, even myself am not. I raid 3 nights a week. Many people raid 2 nights a week, or 1 night if they are an alternate. The casuals that can only log on for 30mins at a time SHOULD NOT get more content aimed at them at the expense of everyone else. Sure Blizzard makes money off them, but these people are also the first to jump ship when the next "big game" comes out.
There are plenty of people who think the BC is great, and that it made the game much better than it was before. Did they do it perfectly? No, of course not. Blizzard should have created a 25 man equivalent to ZG (no attunement, easy and fun to play) in order to keep guilds from splintering over Karazhan. That has been the biggest challenge for me and my co-GM since BC came out. Yes, the BC made it so that the no-so-skilled players stood out. But you know what? It motivated those people to get better and we have seen a big change in their gameplay over the last three months because of the work they put into Karazhan and the Heroics. Once you learn the fights in Karazhan, you can survive someone screwing up or DC'ing most of the time, particularly since they have nerfed a few of the bosses. WoW is a social game, and everyone that wants to defeat Illidan solo needs to seriously start playing Oblivion.
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