Tobold's Blog
Monday, November 19, 2007
Improving raid endgame progression

Doeg left an excellent comment on the Zul'Aman thread, which I want to take up to better explain my position, as I feel I haven't expressed myself well in that ZA post.
ZA is not targeted for toons in blues-n-greens, or even fully blues. Heroics, crafting, and PvP are ways to get the epics needed to survive Kara, where you get more-and-better epics, and then on to ZA. (I like that variety in obtaining gear, because I remember the days back when pretty much the only realistic endgame gear path in WoW was 40-man raiding.)

Interestingly, the very same complaints that are being leveled against ZA (too hard) are also proving true in the case of the reduction of Heroic key requirements. Within a few days there were stories circulating on my server about "I'm 70 now I can run a Heroic!" groups trying to jump into Heroics and getting mercilessly slaughtered.

I suppose that is, in part, a game design failure of sorts. Blizz guides us by the nose though the 1-70 content, mostly controlling access by turning on those little "!" when we're deemed ready. I suppose those poor guys and gals thought that a Heroic key was the equivalent of a yellow "!". It reminds me of the guildies who ding 70 and immediately say, "When's the next Kara run?", to which you have to say, "Whoa, there, big fella..." :).
This is exactly the game design failure I'm talking about. Ideally a player hits level 70 and what he has to do next in the progression is identical to what he *wants* to do next. Many, many players *want* to raid, far more than are currently actually raiding.

"Hard" or "easy" content does not exist in absolute terms. How hard a given dungeon is depends to some extent on how familiar the players are with it, but to an even larger extent to their level and gear. The heroic dungeons are a very good example for that. If you would do lets say the non-heroic Underbog with a group of level 58 characters equipped in green gear it would be very hard. Now the players level up, and get better gear, so by the time they are level 70 the non-heroic Underbog is rather easy to beat. But if at that point the same players try the same dungeon in heroic mode, they are back to it being hard again, as hard as when they were 58. A couple of months of gear progression later, heroic Underbog becomes easy again. Note how what the mobs in Underbog are doing doesn't change at all during that progression, only the numerical values of the stats of the players and the mobs change.

Initially Blizzard tried to prevent people from entering dungeons that were too hard for them by attunement requirements. The reason you need a key for Karazhan is that getting the key for Karazhan should drag you through several level 70 dungeons and is thus likely to acquire you some necessary gear. But being forced to do certain things wasn't very popular, the attunement scheme was abandoned for the latter raid dungeons. Strangely you still need a key for Karazhan, but can enter the harder raid dungeons without one. That shifts the problem to the guilds, who now have to tell people that they can't join lets say a Zul'Aman raid before having done a certain number of Karazhan raids.

What I am proposing is a better progression. I can see how this might be too late for TBC, but I can still dream about something like it being implemented for Wrath of the Lich King. Imagine when players hit level 80 they have a *choice* between level 80 5-man dungeons and an entry-level raid dungeon. The "difficulty" of the entry-level raid dungeon would be such that you have pretty much the same chance to succeed with the same geared people (only more of them) in the raid dungeon than what you'd have if you went to a typical level 80 5-man dungeon. And the loot would also be similar, or a tiny bit better to make up for the fact that it is harder to organize a larger group. We could even have *two* entry-level raid dungeons, one for 10 players and one for 25, to accomodate all guild sizes.

The result of that would be that all those players shouting "Ding 80, I want to join a raid" could actually do so. And of course there would be "harder", that is Karazhan-equivalent and up, raid dungeons after those entry-level raid dungeons. So the real hardcore could probably skip or do very fast the entry-level raid dungeons and go right to the next level. But the entry-level raid dungeons would make entry into the raiding progression accessible for a much larger part of the player base. If these players don't play very well, or their real-life schedules prevents them from attending on a regular basis, they might never make the next level. But at least they could raid at all. And by doing so they would learn about how to behave in a raid, and ultimately get better at it. It isn't so much that Karazhan or Zul'Aman is "too hard", the problem is that there is no easier alternative to go on a raid. Why not give people the opportunity to raid with the training-wheels still on?
Imagine when players hit level 80 they have a *choice* between level 80 5-man dungeons and an entry-level raid dungeon.

Of course the 'hardcore raiders' would complain that then noone would ever raid, even if its the exact same difficulty. Of course, if they're right, that should say an awful lot about raiding in general.

Of course, the "casual" raiders would probably still raid for the challenge and socialness, it would be the "hardcores" who would not bother and just go for what gets them the best loot the quickest.

(nb: hardcore and casual may not be used in this comment as you use them, and almost certainly not how the hardcore and casual crowds use them)
I wish they would bring back the class runs, they were a hell of a lot of fun.
It would be nice if Blizzard would implement this, but it really doesn't seem like something they'd do. They've made their stance on raiding very clear -- raiding is for the hardcore, casuals need to apply.

I find blizzard's insinuation that Zul'aman would be a 'casual' raid during its development laughable now that we see the result. Its 'casual' for the hardcores, not casual in actuality.
Casuals need 'not' apply. Darn typo.
Having done a bit of raiding post TBC (after wanting to and not being able to pre-expansion, for what it's worth) I don't really get the big distinction between 5-mans and 10-mans.

I feel like if nobody ever told you different, this is a conversation you might have, and be totally satisfied with:

"I just hit 70, I want to raid!"

"Okay. First you need to raid Underbog a couple of times. Then raid Heroic Underbog a couple of times. Then raid Karazhan."

Nobody seems to mind having to run Kara to get geared for Tempest Keep. Why is there such a huge perecptual shift between that progression and Underbog => Kara, when there's actually LESS of a group size difference between those two?

I guess the real question is this: Why is a group of 10 people a "raid" and a group of 5 isn't? Is it just the group size limit, and the fact that more than 5 requires a /raid channel and has the word "Raid" in front of it?

There are so many 5-mans in TBC that I really don't think many players to get 70 having seen all of them. I had seen maybe a third of them, but maybe my experience was just wildly divergent from everybody else's, though.
"Nobody seems to mind having to run Kara to get geared for Tempest Keep."

I totally minded. So we come with a former 40-man raid group and now have to organize parallel runs for kara? If anything broke my spine in early TBC it was exactly that.

There should have been a 25-man entry level instance! Like MC was the lvl-40 entry level ones. Maulgar? I'm sorry the first 25-man boss is a pull more complex than anything before twin emps. Not really a casual entry. Magtheridon was supposed to feel like Onyxia? It's still not correct even today.

It's odd I really do feel vanilla got things better. AQ20 was more casual-friendly than ZA is.

And Karazhan? I'm sorry neither Moroes nor Aran are casual friendly bosses.

And yes, people should be able to raid dinging 70. Why? Social factors. You want to play with your friends. In vanilla that was possible, because 1 even 3 greenies in 40 wasn't an issue at all. In TBC? Forget bringing a green healer to Karazhan or a green tank. Maybe green DPS but you may have trouble still.

Tobold is quite right about casual raiding. And vanilla WoW already had it quite alright.
I think WoW is getting furture and furture away from 'casual raiding'. I don't think blizzard is doing this on purpose either. I think blizzard is trying to make wow raiding more casual friendly, thier designs are just back fireing on them.

When I first heard that TBC was going to have 25 max raid slots I was excited. I thought finally, win one for the casual. This was when I was raiding Onyxia and MC. I would do 2 raid runs per week. My guilds largest problem was filling the 40 slots for a raid. Most of the time we rolled Ony and MC over with about 30 people.

The kicker? Most of us were not very well geared. A few epics, but mostly blue dungeon gear. 30 average geared players were able to down ony and raid mc? That is the equivillant to 7.5k blue geared players going into Karazhan.

Above is why the current raid game sucks. How to improve it? Make things easier, and easier to plan. I think what stops a lot of casual raiders is wasting their time. That what stops me. I don't want to spend 5 hours wiping on bosses. Not fun...not going to do it. Currently there are much better options to get decent gear.

What I miss in raids is a lot. I miss a huge chunk of lore. I miss being able to play a game with the same people every week. I miss cool boss fights and the excitement of getting random gear. Sure I may have better Arena items, but after saving up for a month to get a helm, it isn't as exciting as just having a helm fall in your lap like when I raided MC.

Blizzard should make entry level raids, and also make some sort of queue system to get into a raid. We all know lfg ain't gonna cut it.
@jick: a lot of the difference between 5-mans and 10-mans has to do with guild dynamics. If the right combination of 5 players happens to be online for the evening, you can do a 5-man. That is (a) much more unlikely to happen for 10 people in your typical casual guild, and (b) you need to have the same people online on **another** evening in order to complete the raid. In other words, Karazhan and beyond doesn't happen spontaneously, it has to be planned. That's a huge step for many casuals.

@article: I agree with Tobold that the level 70 instance progression could be better. Another issue with attunement / key quests is that there are other sources of gear besides loot. With a combination of crafting and PvP, most classes can actually get gear now that is enough to bring you through heorics or Karazhan, without ever having entered a single instance. In theory at least, because in practice you still need to get the rep/attunement.

To reuse the analogy, if you grind your way to level 30 instead of going the official route of doing quests, you still get the yellow exclamation marks telling you what to do at level 30. The current attunement system shows (and only offers) you the level 1 quests instead. That needs to be fixed.
There's a couple of warring mindsets here, and they are almost impossible to extricate from each other. It really comes down to figuring out why players will play their characters, and how they perceive the game.

Honestly, it's a question of the feeling of entitlement. The players who do what they perceive is the 'hardest' thing (raid for 5 hours a day, etc.) feel unhappy when others can take the perceived 'easy' path to get similar rewards. It makes them feel like their time and effort spent was less worthwhile (see: arena vs raid gear complaints, 25-man raid vs Zul'Aman gear complaints, etc.). It's very much the old adage 'misery loves company'.

In the long run, it's a silly thing to get bent out of shape over. There was a huge furor in the wow forums when they found out the season 3 arena weapons would have a whole 3 DPS more than the tier 6 weapons from black temple and hyjal, because of the perceived 'ease' of use.

Some people would say that raid gear is for raid progression -- you need the raid gear to progress further. And sometimes it's true for some folks. However, as Nihilum (2 weeks to fully clear black temple) and Chinese gamers have taught us (TBC launch to first Illidan Kill in ~51 real days, if memory serves correctly), this isn't true for everyone. It's fully possible to progress and continue without arena gear, without fully gearing up, and definitely without a full complement of tier 5 and 6 gear.

So why, then, do all these people get their panties in a twist when alternative advancement methods are presented?

I'd venture to say that many people seek validation from their in-game conquests, and the loss of their perceived status is what jars them. It's a difficult puzzle to solve. How can you make people happy when some of their happiness stems directly from the fact others cannot attain it? The exclusivity is what drives these players.
Woohoo! Quoted by Tobold! :)

As I read Tobold's post, and the ensuing comments, I wondered:
Why wasn't the Normal / Heroic design applied to raids?

Of course, we're left only to speculate, but it does make one wonder since it seems to be such an obvious solution to Tobold's dilemma.

Correctly-tuned, it would solve the "need a place to teach the noobs to raid" and the "Kara is too hard" problems to have an easier "Normal" difficulty.
The 25-man content could have been made accessible out-the-BC-box with a "Normal" difficulty option.
ZA could have had a "fun casual" option; a "Normal" setting.

Perhaps Blizzard's concern was that if some raids had the option, *all* would be expected to have the option...?
Was there fear among Blizzard's planners that if Hyjal and BT had "Normal" difficulty, that the "hardcore raiders" would cancel in disgust because "lowly casuals" could stomp on their territory in 'easy mode'?
Or fear that casuals would kill the boss-on-the-game-box on "Normal", think "Game Over", and cancel?
One wonders...
Well put, Rawrasaur. On the other hand, now that we have WoWjutsu to tell us that only 4% if the **raiding** population has ever seen Black Temple, one has to wonder: is it really wise to exclude 96+% of the players from your most valuable content? I wonder if (a) this progression of ever more exciting and hard-to-reach content is supposed to serve as a motivation to continue playing, or if (b) the WoW designers are just mentally disconnected from the majority of their player base.
Sorry for the double-post...

I decided after I posted that I'd look to see if there was a Blizzard position on raids not having Normal and Heroic settings.

The first thing I ran across was this:;jsessionid=9CDC1AD8F7DC36DC45129F8762170FC8?topicId=1371643753&sid=1

As you can see for yourself, it didn't take long for leet raiderz to rip into that proposal.
However, no Blues picked up that hot potato (not surprising).

I'll keep looking to see if there is an "official" Blizz position on that...
are you proposing an instance similar to UBRS? I remember doing those 10 man raids long before i first stepped inside MC with my guild...
While I agree that more content would be great, be it more 10 man raid instances, or 5 mans, etc, the whole "casual raid" phrase that gets thrown around just doesn't make sense. And not totally related to the semantic differences in the use of the word "casual".

I consider myself a "casual raider", as I raid whenever I want to. If I don't want to raid, I don't take the invite. If I do want to raid, I take the invite. To me, that is the definition of a "casual raider". At the moment, I am more of a PvP player, so I turn down Kara/ZA/Gruul/TK/SSC raids. I'm geared for it, but I don't want to deal with the hassles.

Other people will say that "casual" means that a person only has a few hours a week to play, and often not a lot more than an hour in any one sitting. To me, that makes perfect sense. they are a "casual player", in that they play when they can.

But what really confuses me is when people who are "casual players" complain about the lack of "casual raids".

A raid instance can be tuned up or down. Karazhan could be tuned for a 5 man group, or a 40 man group. But it was designed for 10. For better or worse, there will be arguments for or against a set number of people for a raid. I'm not taking any side on that issue.

But, Raiding is defined as gathering 2+ groups together, and killing trash in an instance to get access to a boss. No one says they are raiding when they run normal Shattered Halls. But they call Karazhan a raid. Difference? Raid has more than 1 group. Otherwise, its the same as a 5 man encounter. Of course there is tuning to make the instance challenging to how many people are allowed inside at a time.

Oh...and what I really think of, and I think most people do think of, when they hear "raid", is epic drops from bosses and occassionally trash.

So, you could tune down a raid instance so that 10 people could get together without the best gear, skill or class makeup, and possibly see some content/kill a boss. Is it possible? Sure. But look at what you get in return: almost nothing. Sure, as Tobold mentioned, you could give lvl 70 blues or weak epics, but you are requiring that more people work together, which is HARDER than 5 people working together. You are requiring that your competition for gear is more, so you are LESS LIKELY to get the drop that rarely drops.

But casual players who want to be casual raiders want to do it, because it will be fun for them? How many times before its no longer fun? How many times, until they realize that the boss fight is the same everytime? How long will a "casual raid" be fun, when the rewards are harder to get compared to 5 mans, and not really superior in quality? Remember, and don't forget it: Casual, at least in the normal sense, means that people have Limited Time to play. Sure, you can build these casual players a lot of raids...but how often will those raid instances be deserted, because those casual raiders finally realize that when you have limited time, its easier to get 4 others to join you, than it is to get 9 others to join you.

Look, I understand the gripes of the majority of players who don't think raiding should be so hard to break into, but then again, raiding has a whole infrastructure to it to support it.

To me, Raiding is all about Infrastructure, for your toon. You have at least decent gear, with gems equiped, enchants if applicable, and the consumables that go along with it. Why not make it much easier? Why not make it so that you can raid with, arguably crap gear, and still have a chance at killing something? Because this game is multiplayer, and one person's slacking off in terms of infrastructure hurts the raid group...not just themselves.

Infrastructure? But they only have a limited amount of time to play... well, they might have more fun jumping around in IF, or farming primals for their epic mount. But, if they want to be raid, they should at least improve their toon in preparation.

Look, to do Karazhan and be a contributing member, you are going to need at least some blue gear, with some decent stats on them. No, you don't need the full Dungeon 3 set and all lvl 70 blues to complete Karazhan. Likely, with the whole progression thing in effect, to move on in Kara, you simply kill bosses, and then those players who get the loot improve their stats, helping the raid in general, not just themselves, on later, harder bosses. Gear checks test the full raid: the boss won't go down, unless everyone is adequately geared, or enough of the raid is so geared that they make up the deficiency of the under-geared player.

Now, that is how raids work, more or less. I can see how non-raiders think its horribly unfair that they don't get to see Kara, down the bosses, and roll on the loots that drop, because they are a "casual player" who can't be on a lot of the time. They have a real life unlike some of us (although some of us have real lives, and just decide to cut into sleep to play). Well, all I can say is that the infrastructure I mentioned above is in fact a pre-requisite to raiding...something that needs to be done in order for a raid to succeed.

So, while I am not necessarily making an argument that you cannot and should not make a 10 man raid that is tuned down for the "casual" raider, I would instead argue that a raid like this would not be visited very often. As has been mentioned by Tobold and others before, you run instances for the tiny chance you might up your stats by a little bit. Sure, i like running some of them with friends, or guildies, but the reason you do them is to clear trash, do a boss fight, and "profit".

5 mans are nice, since you are likely only rolling against a couple of people. Now, add 5 more people to roll against, and your chance of getting a particular piece of gear drops even lower, when it does finally drop. Not to mention the increased difficulty in getting 9 other people organized enough to work together rather than at odds with each other. Which can be a problem even for experienced raiders, given certain boss fights.

Consider the extra time it would take to get 10 players to show up and actually start raiding, not to mention actually downing a boss. And I think you would find a lot of those raid instances empty, because people would rather do a 5 man in an hour and have a better chance to win a piece of gear. Or grind through a heroic for badges and the epic drop at the end.

And honestly, I think raiding is designed as one big reward for gearing your character and honing your skills. Do that, get some gear. Sure, boss fights may be fun, or challenging, but if they didn't drop anything, any upgrade, but instead just sent you an in-game mail congratulating you on your successful boss fight, almost every raid instance would be empty. Raiding IS about upping your gear. Boss fights are just gear and strategy checks.

So, while I feel for people who want to see Kara but never will, all I can say is that they choose what they do when they logon, for the amount of time that they are on. If someone can't get their gear up by crafting/dungeon or rep grinding, etc, b/c of time constraints, they won't likely make a good raider, since most raids don't allow for an hour run, unless this casual raider doesn't mind clearing trash as their whole raid experience.

And, because of this casual raider's limited time, and their limited gear, even the trash will take longer to clear. This creates a positive feedback cycle, whereby casual playtime makes a casual raid less likely of success. Success not being defined as clearing the instance in a single run, but of efficiently clearing the trash to get to the bosses.

Example from Kara: I'm sorry, but if you're group can't kill Attumen in Kara, it has no business going against pretty much any other boss in Kara. A decently geared raid should clear to and kill Attumen in 15 minutes or less. Call that a "raid check", nevermind the particular gear.

This positive feedback cycle (from not having the required infrastructure discussed above) will then hurt the raid in total, as now other members who have the gear are suffering from the lack by their raid member. And the others who are undergeared who have more time to play the game, will (hopefully) go out and gear themselves better.

What happens then? The people who already had gear, and the ones who went out and got better geared, are going to leave out the "casual" raider the next time they raid. Or maybe they split off from the current guild to go to another guild with people more like themselves. Or they stop raiding b/c they feel it is too dependent on the skills and gear of others, who apparently don't care enough as them.

Either way, you will separate out the "casual" raiders from the "raiders" who are geared and know what is required (no use of the word hardcore raider, since they wouldn't have been in the position to begin with).

If casual in this way only means someone who doesn't have as much time to play, then that person needs to spend their time, even if only casual, getting themselves geared and ready for raiding...IF they want to raid. If not, then they can do whatever it is they want to do besides raiding.

The problem seems to be is that people want to raid, without being prepared to raid. If those people want to form guilds that describe themselves as casual, then they should make sure to inform everyone that they will be hitting their head against a wall, constantly, since the guild is not going to require any real effort to make raiding successful. Personally, I woulnd't touch that guild with a 10 foot pole, since I don't want to spend my hour (if a "casual" under this definition) wiping on trash mobs, nevermind a boss.

Hypothetically: So, Blizzard goes out, designs some blue geared raids for 10 people. Nothing too difficult, don't need blue gear, enchants, or consumables.

IMHO, no one goes more than a few times, since the very definition of casual implies the lack of time for raiding or spending huge chunks of time playing in one sitting (the very requirement of raiding...btw). If you are casual, are you really going to want to spend 4x as much time for a chance at a drop...and then having to roll against a whole other group worth of your class/specialty for the gear? Or do you go there to see the boss fights (time permitting, don't forget you are a casual raider, it's the whole purpose of this thread)and decide to spend your more limited time doing a 5 man that you can actually complete in the limited amount of playing time.

Seems like a 10 man raid that only offers blues similar to 5 mans will be visited once by casuals who want to "experience content", and likely once by non-casual raiders as a challenge to see how many people can be used to clear it under the maximum allowed. Then the raid instance goes dormant like Pre-BC raid instances, that become pointless because better gear can be received from less time and effort.

Look, sorry for the long post, but I see this argument for "casual raids", and I just don't understand why a "casual player" would even go to one. If time is so limited that you define yourself by it, how could you find the time to go to a "raid" that inherently...inherently requires more time to complete than a 5 man instance? I just don't get it.

Unless this isn't about "raiding" as much as it is making raid instances filled with less trash.

In fact, I'd go as far as saying that Gruuls is "casual raider" friendly, in that if you have the infrastructure I mentioned before (gear with enchants, gems, etc) than Gruuls can be cleared in an hour.

Talk about casual raider friendly! I'm less likely to turn down Gruul than Kara, since Gruul can be done in an hour.

But of course, that just has to do with trash mobs in front of bosses. You could design a 10 man raid instance where blues and greens would allow completion of the instance. And it might still take an hour to get to the first boss, and an hour of trash clearing between each boss.

Would that be "casual raider" friendly?

So, if "casual raid" is one that doesn't require the best of gear starting with, it doesn't necessarily follow that a casual player will go there, since limited time might make the place impossible to ever really see. And then throw in the fact that the gear is the same as a 5 man that can be done in an hour...

Or, in the alternative, the raid instance is so easy, since greens and blues are adequate to complete it, that gear drops aside, the content isn't challenging and isn't worth seeing more than once.

Either way, I just don't see why Blizzard would take time and spend resources on "easy raids", or "casual raids", that will be visited a few times before casuals realize their limited time is better spent in a 5 man instance, and non-casuals coast through it for large prismatic shards with 7 people. Instead, you get what you see now: raid instances that require some infrastructure and effort, and also provide rewards that are worth the time spent.

I'm not an elitist who doesn't want others to experience certain content. But unless there is a system that tunes up or down certain instances/raid instances to a set number of people, and then changes the gear that drops, I just don't think its feasible, from Blizzard's standpoint, to design some new dungeon for people with green and blue gear. Add an Easy, Normal and Heroic mode to dungeons, and change the loot depending on the difficulty, and I think you have a winner. But even then, Blizzard would have to spend time tuning an already made instance/raid instance for people who arguably won't be spending a lot of time there. They are casuals, by definition not being "dedicated".

You can say what you want about hardcore raiders, but they do spend a lot of time in the raid instances. Blizzard spends time designing them for the hardcore players. It might not seem fair, but its those players who keep their subscriptions up. Who troll forums, test out content on the PTR, etc. Casuals... they log on for a few times a week. I'm not saying they should be ignored, but you have to understand from Blizzard's point of view, why they basically least in terms of raiding.

Talk to a "casual PvP" person, and ask them if they get into BG's a lot more often in a given time span...whether their wait is a lot less than before. So, its not so much casual players who are left out in the cold, but casual players who want to raid. But again, casual raiding, at least to me, just doesn't make sense. To me, "casual raider" is an oxymoron.
"It might not seem fair, but its those players who keep their subscriptions up. Who troll forums, test out content on the PTR, etc. Casuals... they log on for a few times a week."

...and pay exactly the same amount of money. Bang for buck casuals give a lot more back to Blizzard than any hardcore raider ever did.

And 4% is hardly what I would call keeping the numbers up.
Not sure where you get the 4% number from. Only 4% of WoW players raid? Or only 4% of raiders are hardcore? Or only 4% of raiders are in MH/BT?

Only 4% of players are raiders??? If so...apparently raiding isn't that important for most people, right? Casuals keep playing, even without Blizzard designing a raid instance just for them?

So...what exactly is the impetus for Blizzard to design a raid for casual players, who apparently aren't about to cancel their accounts if they don't get it?

I think you are missing my argument though, to be honest. Raiders are the ones who are petitioning Blizzard. Casuals are not. Casuals have likely never checked Blizzard forums. Casuals likely aren't the ones on the PTR testing out patches, making suggestions. The raiders are. Nothing better than logging onto the PTR and getting into a ZA raid within 5 minutes.

But, the casuals, the ones who won't be raiding on their live realm, need to have raid instances designed for them... who cares if they actually use them, right?

A very old, but good cliche: The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

Look, I'm not saying that casuals should be treated like garbage. I'm just saying, they aren't likely to even use these raid instances that would be designed for them. They don't ask for it, at least not as much as the hardcore raiders ask for changes in existing raid instances.

Casuals, at least in Blizzard's eyes, are happy jumping in front of the mailbox in IF, or doing whatever it is they do. Why would Blizzard spend time (read: money) on people who aren't asking for anything? It's that simple, if you want to go ahead and ignore the rest of my previous argument about casual raiders and the likelihood that they wouldn't even use something designed specifically for them, go for it.

Sounds like someone resents raiders. Even if you can show me that only 4% of players raid...I can guarantee a raider pays just as much as a casual per month. Why should casuals who won't be raiding have money spent specifically on content they either don't want to see, or aren't worried about seeing, when it could be spent on the people who already raid and want to continue. Or the PvP'ers who want BG's changed, or Arena, or class abilities, etc.

My brain is starting to hurt now, but it seems like what the argument really is, is that Blizzard designs Raid Instances for raiders, and doesn't design raid instances for non-raiders. Seems like sound market strategy to me, but I'm not a casual player who wants casual raid instances. Of course, I don't see too many casual players who want casual raid instances. Either does Blizzard, unless you are arguing that there is this demand amongst casual players, and it's not being answered.

If so, those casual players need to be louder (I don't hear them besides here). Or, they need to tell Blizzard with their pursestrings. But, as you say Johnny, casuals aren't. Instead they keep playing WoW in their casual way and paying their monthly fees.

End game discussions are great. Again, I'm not against Blizzard offering 3 levels of every instance, and options to turn 5 mans into raids, etc.

I just don't see them doing it, because the designated beneficiaries aren't asking for it.
Nick: the 4% figure comes from, which collects armory data on guilds that have raid gear. 4% of the tracked players (those who are ~50% through Karazhan or further) have Hyjal/Black Temple gear.

Some people do resent raiders. It's not unfounded resentment either; patch 2.4 is bringing with it the 9th raid instance introduced a content patch since launch. 2.4 will also bring forth the 3rd 5-man instance introduced in a patch since launch. The last 5-man instance introduced in a patch was Dire Maul. Please don't argue that they introduced a ton of 5-man instances in the expansion pack. That sets a horrible precedent -- raiders get new raids in patches, but non-raiders have to buy expansions for new content. The resentment is mostly misplaced (I do remember my share of people telling me that I didn't need content because I didn't need progression). I do think, however, that Blizzard's mindset has somewhat changed. Originally, they planned on everyone just being funneled directly into 40-man raids. They even said at interviews that instances like ZG were meant to be a 'stepping stone' into raids, not their own alternate progression paths. They apparently didn't realize (until fairly recently, I suppose) that not everyone wants to raid, and that a lot of players actually don't like raiding and won't do it, no matter how many shinies you dangle in front of them.

It's impossible to paint "casual" players with such a broad brush; some casual players never visit the forums. Some players do, and they also enjoy playing a bit more. Some don't raid at all, some enjoy 10-man but abhor 25-man, and some like it all. I've got folks in my guild who play less than an hour a week, and others who play a few hours each day. I've got folks in my guild who like 25-man content, and those who hate it.

Decreasing some raids to 10-man was a good move. It definitely lowers the barrier to entry. However, what I think a lot of players are missing is simply a progression path for their given gameplay style.

A player who enjoys solo content should be able to do progressively harder solo content, and be commensurately rewarded for it. A player who enjoys small group content should be able to do progressively harder small group content, and be commensurately rewarded for it.

Currently, only raids get progressively harder. Heroic dungeons are effectively on the 'same' level, and the loot there isn't really all that impressive. The badges are a very good touch, but it doesn't help that the heroic dungeon enthusiast doesn't get any new content to go with the new gear. He's gone from farming heroic mechanar for a hat, shield/offhand, or trinket to farming heroic mechanar for some new pants and whatnot. The content being done is still the same. There needs to be something past the current 'heroic' level for the heroic enthusiast to work towards.

The Shartuul event, for example, is probably the hardest and most complex event in the game on an individual basis. However, the rewards it provides are nowhere near as good as they should be given the difficulty level. There should be advancement paths for the solo player as well.

Unfortunately, we'd go right back to my first comment (people with hefty senses of entitlement declaring that they didn't put in the same *work* to get better rewards, therefore they do not deserve them) if they ever implemented this sort of system.

Edit: the above post should say '4% of the tracked *characters*', not players. The numbers are highly inflated due to alts. I personally have at least 3 separate characters listed on Wowjutsu.

I don't know the percentage but every time a blue poster Kalgan himself included has deigned to wiegh in on the issue they have admitted that the raider's are a very small percentage of the player base.

What I see as the problem is this. Just before BC came out the game had matured to the point that if I as a "casual raider" someone in between whatever you want to call me, could log on and run 5 mans, a 10 man, a 15 man, I could pug MC, AQ20 or ZG. BWL and NAXX were obviously not puggable.
That game died with BC and in spite of all the raiders saying it would come back as the new content got older it never did. But that doesn't even address the issue of why it should have died with the expansion anyway. The hard core should have thier game, the guys in the middle should have thiers and the guys that just want to grind faction should have thier own fun. problem is both ends of the spectrum got thier stuff and the people in the middle got left completley out. Though I suspect blizzard really thought 5 man heroics was for them. If that was the case they totally misread the middle crowd. Not surprising they like everyone else have been trying to push everyone into HardCore or Casual and the honest truth is most people are somewhere in between.
i think the whole blizzard focus on raiding as endgame is alienating the whole casual population who dont raid. and their TBC expansion with its attunement and gear check raid zones are multiplying the problem.

i agree with tobold, easy alternative dungeon / raid zone for casual who arent geared (and dont force themselves to gear up) are the right way.

as for ppl who love raids like nick here with his elitist long post, it never occured to them that other ppl want more instead of raiding. jumping around IF mailbox is enough for casual ? the worst elitist commment i ever seen in all forum.
Your argument is clearly one dimensional and lacks any understanding of what some players actually require or need.

As player with time constraints - I ran, pre-tbc, ZG 2 or 3 times a month. I ran the instance for 6 months without getting bored. Our guild never got past the 4th boss on most runs.

We were there together, some of us knew each other in real life, some of us formed great friendships getting to 60. We were there together, to act together and enjoy the game together.

It was a Saturday night in, aimed at ejoyment for 20ish friends. Something that a 5 man does not bring to the table.

Your comment: Casuals, at least in Blizzard's eyes, are happy jumping in front of the mailbox in IF, or doing whatever it is they do. - shows clearly that you have no understanding at all of what players like me require in game. Do you honestly believe people pay good money to faff around outside postboxes in IF or do other completely pointless tasks? Do you think players like me pay just to push pixels around a screen?

I'm attuned for Kara... have been for 4 months and have never set foot in the place.

I wont PUG as it is simply a waste of time! Headaches and stress caused by inconsiderate players, doubt with players like yourself.

My guild has about 60 accounts and about 12 attuned players from about 50 level 70 players.

Our guild average age is about 30. We have jobs, wive, husbands, lives, other interests, pets and kids!

We log on at different times of the day from different parts of Europe. Some get extended play at the weekend, some don't.

The game is all but dead to most of our level 70 players in terms of working together.

You talk of having some secret knowledge of what it is like to be a casual player. I quote again: Talk about casual raider friendly! I'm less likely to turn down Gruul than Kara, since Gruul can be done in an hour and I'd go as far as saying that Gruuls is "casual raider" friendly, ...

Thats your answer to casual aimed content?

A raid that requires a large guild, only 2 bosses and on a one week timed lockout!

You do yourself no favours with an argument like this.

You say... If casual in this way only means someone who doesn't have as much time to play, then that person needs to spend their time, even if only casual, getting themselves geared and ready for raiding...IF they want to raid. If not, then they can do whatever it is they want to do besides raiding.

Why should I have spend my time running the same content week after week? Looking for pugs. Trying to geared for something the rest of my guild possibly wont be ready for for a very long time.

An intermediate raid is exactly what tBC needs/needed. Something between, say, level 70 and Kara.

No attunement, requires level 70 greens for the first couple of bosses and gets harder as you go on over the next 8 bosses.

The dungwon should be plot driven and fun... and thus will provide content that lasts.

You miss another point in your flawed argument.

You imply that casual players won't bother with the run more than a few times.

Well being casual those few times might last a month or two... and then they will played again and again.

Your argument suggests that Kara should be pretty dead to most seasoned players to it. I know players who have run it 30 times. Why doesn't that content become old hat to them then?

Because your argument is flawed. Folk are happy to play the same content again and again if they are with other capable players.

The thing is, there is no raid content for me, and players of my capable abilities.

You're not an elitist? you could have fooled me.

Good luck on your ventures... just remember the 20% (IMHO) of us who are faffing about at postboxes in Ironforge and Stormwind... whilst subsidising your game content.
I've played this game since the beginning like many here, and I already noticed of course someone mentioning UBRS, and I also feel like something like UBRS is missing in TBC.

When me and some random friends on a random server decided we were the most awesomest warriors of the known world of azeroth, the road was clear to us. It was raiding that ruled at that time (battlegrounds weren't implemented at that point). What made pre TBC raiding so good was UBRS, basically, instance to practice handling raiding situations.

When you ding to 70 and immediately want to raid, the problem isn't always about your gear, it might not even be about your skill, it might be just because you haven't raided before. Many players jumping from 5 mans to 40 mans (and I suppose 5 mans to 25 mans too, I quit raiding when TBC came out) were having problems especially with concentrating and seeing themselves as part of the whole that was whacking away at ragnaros during those pesky minutes he decided to stay up and visible. UBRS gave people the chance to go to a RELAXED (stress that word) 15-man (at that time) instance to practice what it feels like to work as a group around a certain task like doing damage, tanking or healing, managing aggro and managing the group and keeping people practically awake during the dreadful encounters that maybe gave you a hat.

All in all though, when we were farming BWL and AQ40 came out and we were practicing that, all the way when Naxxramas came out, we would sometimes recruit people with greens and blues if they showed promise. And a great place to test that was UBRS.

So I think a relaxed easier raiding instance is necessary for more reasons than just to make a smooth transition to raiding, it's also important to have a place to test potential players, learn co-operation within the guild and different raid groups and actually teach the leaders how to lead as well.

I quess the lack of such instance was because blizzard didn't think guilds would get reformed to the extent they did when TBC came out. We got loads of new players with no raiding experience and we got plenty of leaders without such experience as well. This results to many guilds, that would pretty much like to raid, ending up not raiding after all. I hate hearing world of warcraft dreams shatter in the night. *cries*
I agree with everything eldric said.

I also agree with sam. I think that's the whole "Evercraft" phenomenon people complain about. At this point, the endgame designers of WoW are entirely confused about the players, complaining "Why don't they raid? We put all this loot and all the important bosses in these dungeons!!!" And judging by the whole tone of the Blizzcon announcements, they still don't see the problem with this.
I have not read through all the replys (24, Tobold, your popularity climbs a steep curve again after you started WOW again).

My proposal for WotLK would be:

- Raid Dungeons with normal setting. Normal meaning: NORMAL, an average player.
- (Much) easier fights, allowing for 20%-30% slack in a group (worst example: Magtheridon)
- Token drops + Rep over time rewards (buy what you want instead of loot voodoo)
- heroic setting dropping the purples with super stats
- raids on normal become a social gathering with fun on Teamspeak, raids on heroic become a challenge for the capable players.
- Once the casuals have cleaned the first 25 man on normal, they should be geared to redo this on heroic or progress to the next raid dungeon on normal and so on.

The storyline should be open to all players, not only to the 5% raid guilds.

When Blizzard implements this, they will see a significant increase in popularity amongst casuals. Nowadays, raids are simply awful for "normal", nor raid-centric guilds. People are shunned because their DPS sucks, their situational awareness is not high enough, they don't have the necessary resist gear, they are not attuned etc. etc.
All the comments seem to me to stress the point which Tobold addressed sometime ago. People are playing the game to win, even though there is no 'Game Over' sign to it.

Have to get that gear. Must have that set.

I am truly a casual gamer: my main is only lv 41 at the moment because I try to enjoy the game. My current enjoyment is hindered by one thing: I cannot find anyone to venture into the Old World instances and thus I'm completely missing the thrills and the storylines!

By reading this thread I'm getting more and more convinced that there is not much for me to do in Outlands later. I hate the thought of rep grind just for the sake of it, the 5-mans seem to be out of reach as I will not have the gear, experience nor the contacts to join any party, and there is no way of convincing guilds to do 'practise runs' for the newcomers and shiny-70's, as it seems.

I'll just pucker up and head for the Dustwallow, wishing I found a group to enter RFD to complete at least those quests. I'm having wet dreams over getting into ZF later...

If the learning curve is too steep, there is no sense for 'casuals' like me to enter instances. And what is the point, lore and storywise, to be able to kill the same bosses time and again for the hopes of some gear? Goes beyond my reasoning.

You miss the point, but that's okay.

A casual player, like yourself, who doesn't pug, and dislikes 5 mans...but you'd raid? Right.

Your argument confuses me. You are limited on time, but would somehow come up with the time to put together a raid. If you don't have enough time to pug a 5 man, or you don't because you don't like it, why would you bother with a raid that will take more time out of your busy schedules. Notice, if you actually read what I say (although it takes a whole 1 minute to read my whole post, I'm an elitist...keep those personal attacks coming!) I say that I think there should be more content. I say that it would be nice to have 3 different modes for 5 man/ raid instances...but that Blizzard isn't going to go through and tune down raid instances for the few casual players who want to be casual raiders.

And no, I'm not an elitist, I simply made a different argument than you, and you got very upset. I don't go raiding high end anything, as I'd rather do PvP, or realife stuff. I stated an opinion on why Blizzard will not likely take time to do that: money.

But ignore that part of my argument, I'm just an elitist, calling me names makes everything all right, even if I never criticized the argument you are so valiantly defending.

And by the way, you don't subsidize my gameplay, I do. Think all you want that because you play less you pay for my account, but I pay for my account, whether I log on as much as you or not.

Such resentment for people who raid can't be healthy. And I don't really raid very much, I'm a casual raider.
Raider Nick says: And by the way, you don't subsidize my gameplay, I do. Think all you want that because you play less you pay for my account, but I pay for my account, whether I log on as much as you or not.

Everything you do in WoW has a cost for Blizzard, in server utilization, bandwith, etc., and that cost is proportional to the number of hours you play. So the raiders, who play a lot of hours cost Blizzard a lot more than the casual players do. Developers even admitted during a recent conference that the monthly fee model means overcharging half of their customers and undercharging the other half. A much fairer model would you have paying per hour, which would be much cheaper for the casual players and much more expensive for the raiders.
again elitist nick missed the point..

no one i repeat no one resent raiders.. if they want to raid hardcore instance and show off their gear its their own time, if some PVPer want to invest time to get arena gear its ok.


What is needed is an alternative endgame for ppl who DO NOT RAID. of for ppl who raid just for fun and not for gear. basically for ppl who do not take WOW seriously. like a beer and pretzel Warhammer40k session where everyone play for fun and dont monitor their rule so strictly like in WH40K tournament.

now now nick, why do every raider think casual resent them and casual want free gear ? thats just another elitist thinking.
If I have come across as nasty and vindictive in my post nick, then I apologise. Sincerely.

But my points stand.

I might get an empty house this weekend, if I am lucky. Which gives me a possible 5 or 6 hour stint to play on Saturday. I might get that once a month.

Thats when I get time to raid... but since tBC I have been unable to.
"Everything you do in WoW has a cost for Blizzard, in server utilization, bandwith, etc., and that cost is proportional to the number of hours you play. So the raiders, who play a lot of hours cost Blizzard a lot more than the casual players do."

You could say that about almost any club that you join.
I pay a monthly fee to go to a gym. If I go once or every day I pay the same. I could say that the people who go every day should pay more than me; I don't use the sauna, I don't do the cycle classes etc etc. I should get a reduction for only going once a week; it's not fair.
Pay for playtime will only lead to more people dropping out, and a greater of casuals will leave, I suspect - why pay to jump up and down on a mailbox, or spend time in Ironforge chatting when it's costing you money?
Imagine when players hit level 80 they have a *choice* between level 80 5-man dungeons and an entry-level raid dungeon.
Kind of like people can choose between Heroics and Karazhan now?

And the loot would also be similar, or a tiny bit better to make up for the fact that it is harder to organize a larger group.
Kind of like high-end Karazhan loot is slightly better than Heroic epic loot now?

Personally, I don't see the requirement of going through at least a few level 70 non-heroic dungeons a bad thing, since those dungeons teach you important skills you're going to need while raiding. Like mana efficiency, threat control, movement, line-of-sight, pre-emptive healing.. If you learn those, you can go do Heroics or Karazhan in non-heroic blues. You can even kill Maulgar with a decently-geared main tank and 24 fresh level 70ies. At least my guild did.

The only problems with the current scheme is that Gruul's Lair is way too small to be a raid instance which you could enjoy for the whole evening and that the difficulty gap between Maulgar and Gruul is huge. Hopefully this won't be a problem with Wrath of the Lich King, since the introductory 25-man dungeon there is (a level 80 version of) Naxxramas, which is definitely big enough.
After reading many of the posts again and select phrases from the longest ones (sorry, Nick, I stopped at the 1 minute mark on your post, not even half way through...), I can see a pattern in the messages. It is very obvious that the progression of the instances isn't planned or designed well enough.

It's a known fact that the gap between Old World instances and Outlands is way too big. The loot tables don't correspond to each others, thus making the casual newcomers life a pug or solo hell up to TBC content, after which it is grind, rinse and repeat alongside with the pug hell.

Sounds great, doesn't it!

Sam has stated a couple of times that the loot tables of the former level cap instances should be revamped. This would go great together with the idea that the casual players should progress the instances in a more slower manner than the hc-raiders.

Couldn't agree more: because of my time constraints, I would be ready to accept the slower pace in progression, if that was possible without mindless grinding and repetitive instancing!

Completely different issue is the lack of attendance in the Old World content, which currently doesn't seem to have any value to people power levelling to 70's... But hey, that's my bad for being late newcomer to the game and not being able to find like company in the game! Because my utter casualness I don't have the time to roam the Blizz forums in search of Guild, so my only hope is to 'find' one ingame.

I can live with that. But I would like to see Blizz do something to incite the spark in the old and lorewise rich content, too, and make the instancing a more interesting way to level up instead of complete solo.

Ah, well, late to the party, but still...

I'm very-very surprised that in all this huge discussion nobody mentioned raid lock-outs. To me it would seem that lock-outs and nothing else is the main obstacle towards "casual raiding".

When you try to PUG (or gather a group from your guildies) non-raid instance, EVERYONE (who is willing) can go without losing anything. When you are talking about raiding, the ONLY people who can go are those who:
- Aren't saved in another instance yet.
- Are willing to be saved in your instance (meaning that they will not be able to join another instance for a week or so and they trust that your instance is the best option for them this week).

That shrinks your pool of available and willing players to almost nothing compared to what you'd have if you didn't have lock-outs.

I think big part of the success of ZG was that by that time a significant number of 'proper' raiding guilds just didn't bother staging "official" raids to that instance -- hence raising the pool of players available for PUG/casual raiding significantly.

Seriously, I think Attunemen in Karazhan is pretty easy and very much PUGgable -- no complex tactics required -- if there were no lock-outs I'd imagine *a lot* of people would be PUGging Karazhan to get him and then hopefully try to progress further.
Forget about casual vs hardcore. The sticking point for most people to run instances is that you have 75% of characters out there who are DPS. And you CANT COMPLETE AN INSTANCE (emphasis intended) with just DPS characters.

There's not a lot Blizzard can do about that- they cant put a cap on how many DPS vs Healing or Tanking toons. When you ask a guild why they dont raid, TBC introduced 2 hour non boss mob timers for that reason- you should be able to learn a boss in two hours. Ask a guild why they dont raid- odds are, they dont have enough or any toons that are Healing or Tanking capable.

I can already predict what will happen with Death knights- theyll be pvp toons, or DPS pve toons. Itll be rare to find a tanking DK- theyll need something really useful to do that- and I dont know what that will be.
The idea of creating an entry-level raid dungeon is not too bad. I would appreciate a "new UBRS".
You could even make it mandatory for attunements to higher raids, thus making sure that if it is PUG-able, ther will be a transfer of knowledge at least between players with further progress who just want their alts to get attuned as well, and the ones totally new to the content.

People outgearing the content pulling others through could also be prevented. Let there be guards not opening the doors for you once your faction with the "next" faction on the progression path has reached a certain level. Encounters should be tuned in a fashion they can be handled with the gear level achieved through the quests up to that point or something alike. "Ding 80, I want to raid!" won't work. If you want BLizzard to create content you will also have to follow the path Blizzard has created to get you there. They do it for a reason, and in this case it will be to make sure you are geared and have a vague idea about your role in a raid.
Maybe there should be a vendor having a varietyof cunsumables just for this instance on stock, to teach people their importance.

At the moment Blizz is tossing in upgrades for the people that are behind the top notch raiders. New rewards for badges of justice and Zul'Aman will not trigger wet dreams among the ones who are engaging Ilidan.

The only thing where WoW still really fails yet is in providing a tutorial. If other players don't teach you about the concept of aggro for example, you will never know. "How come he is coming for me, I was just healing!?!"
"The only thing where WoW still really fails yet is in providing a tutorial. If other players don't teach you about the concept of aggro for example, you will never know. "How come he is coming for me, I was just healing!?!"

The reason wow is failing at that currently is most players aren't really experiencing the content from 1 to 60 or even to 70 as it was designed. I learned all about aggro etc because I ran every instance and grouped a lot as I leveled my toon. Most players these days solo clost to 70 or all the way to 70 and then start trying to get keyed. No wonder they don't have thier characters down. I'm not saying it's hard to play the game but a month or so of play time in groups can make a huge difference. And at lower levels people are more open to learning. When people hit 70 the "I'm 70 and know my class" mentality sets in and a lot of people refuse to listen.

Add that to the growing number of old timers that are just too burned out to even bother trying to teach new players and I don't see the problem getting any better any time soon.

but the tutorial is there people have just chosen to bypass it to get to endgame.
/applaud Sam

Again a strike to the point.

I would LOVE to group more and really learn the toons I'm playing, but because of the trend of power levelling and the Blizzard taking the same stance I feel left out of the learning curve.

More grouping, more instancing and more experience on the group dynamics. I'm all for it.

"And yes, people should be able to raid dinging 70. Why? Social factors. You want to play with your friends. In vanilla that was possible, because 1 even 3 greenies in 40 wasn't an issue at all. In TBC? Forget bringing a green healer to Karazhan or a green tank. Maybe green DPS but you may have trouble still."

My guild consists of mostly all people within no more than a 30 minute drive of each other. I would guess we are about as casual as you can be about raiding, 2 nights a week, 8pm server to 11pm on the weekday and 1-2am on the weekend. We probably have about 17 70 level people now. Raiding after dinging 70 for social reason? You betcha.

I would say that with the rest of the group in nothing more than crafted and Kara loot we can clear Kara with 1 to 3 out of 10 being various levels of green including tanks and healers geared at the last minute with whatever could be found at the AH. We make it work or we don't run, and we've only missed one or two scheduled runs.

A few people only make it once or twice a month, we always make a spot for them. Sounds like the real problem here is not with the game mechanics but the ability for people to position themselves with a guild that isn't full of people who suck. =)

Maybe I'm spoiled, but I like the way TBC has played out in every way. I am new as of TBC, but WTF did you people do in the old world? There is barely any end game instances and you had to coordinate a minimum of 40 people to get a raid going? Good hell, 10 is hard enough.
"The "difficulty" of the entry-level raid dungeon would be such that you have pretty much the same chance to succeed with the same geared people (only more of them) in the raid dungeon than what you'd have if you went to a typical level 80 5-man dungeon."

Most 5 mans have 3-4 bosses. In most cases, with a smart group of people, I could down attumen-maiden with out any real issue. It would be diffuclt yes, but its entirely doable.

The issue is that raids scale in diffculty, and most instance dont. Instances are designed so that you are able to go in and kill all the bosses in one run, the first time you go in (though maybe w/ some diffuclty). Raids are not designed like that.

The problem lies in that the "elite" players are the ones that support the economy and server as a whole. If you don't have thse then the server falls apart. If you can fix that problem, then im sure blizzard would love you =D
The problem lies in that the "elite" players are the ones that support the economy and server as a whole. If you don't have thse then the server falls apart. If you can fix that problem, then im sure blizzard would love you

Okay, I just fixed the problem. Because the importance of raiders for the server economy is something that only exists in their own mind. In reality nothing bad at all would happen to the server economy if all the raiders left, the economy would just shift to slightly different priorities. The only losers would be the gold farmers, who are currently providing the raiders with the means to keep up their expensive hobby.
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