Tobold's Blog
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Raid lockouts

Solf commented on the post about improving raid progression that "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"." Good point! Meanwhile another reader, Stargazer, sent me an interesting idea: "I don't understand why people can't have their personal raid. Instead of a weekly reset, you get your own reset when you want to (max once a week) and you even get saved with this group until you descide you no longer want to be saved with them (after a week or whatever it takes to make sure we are not getting epics for free because that seems to be very important). That way you could have you group of friends and actually fight your way through all these interesting places, even though you are only able to do so every 3rd Wednesday from 19:00 to 22:00." So let us have a look at raid lockouts, and how they could be improved.

Raid lockouts have two functions, a positive and a negative one. The positive function is that they enable a group to do a long raid over several days, restarting another day where they left off the last time. The negative function is that raid lockouts prevent people from doing the same raid or raid boss more than once per X days. If that negative function didn't exist, a Karazhan raid group that had mastered lets say the first boss, Attumen, could "farm" him several times every night, until every member who wanted any of the epic loot that boss drops was fully equipped with it.

The complication is that the raid lockout is handled in the form of a raid ID that saves all the members of a raid when a boss is killed. Every raid has a different raid ID. So if your guild goes one evening to Karazhan with two groups, and the next day from both raids only 8 people show up, you can't even reform one single raid group with them. Everyone who was in raid A is prevented from entering the place while grouped with somebody from raid B. The only thing you could possibly do is invite people who don't have any raid ID for this week yet. But anyone who would "help out" in such a way would then be prevented from raiding the same dungeon with another group for the rest of the week. The system forces people into a relatively strict organization. And as Solf so correctly remarked it is a big obstacle to casual raiding. It also prevents guilds from trying to equip more of their members with Karazhan loot. Even if you have a main tank who would be willing to raid more often than the main raiding times, and would be willing to do a raid group with some less well equipped and experienced people to get them some Karazhan loot, he can't do so if he also wants to participate in the main raid. Every guild has some bottleneck of limited resources, usually tanks or healers, and once all those are distributed over raid groups, no more raid groups can be formed.

So I was wondering whether it wouldn't be better to save people individually to certain raid bosses. If you have been to Karazhan already this week and killed Attumen, you could still join another raid group, and as long as there was at least one person in there who hadn't killed Attumen, that boss would still be alive. But when that new raid group now kills the boss, those members who had already killed him this week won't be able to get any loot or reputation award. That would still allow some sort of guild-based farming, but at least every player only gets once shot to get loot from one boss per week. Speeding up the process in which guilds equip themselves with epics wouldn't hurt, seeing how only 4% of hardcore raiders (which translates to less than 1% of all players) have ever visited the Black Temple yet, according to WoWJutsu.

The problem for casual raids is not that a casual player could never find a few hours to visit a raid dungeon. The problem is that of any group of 10 casual players there will be rarely a time when all 10 of them simultaneously have a few hours for raiding at the same time. The raid lockout system makes pickup raids nearly impossible, and it discourages guilds from taking the more casual and less well equipped and experienced players with them occasionally. Even Tigole said in a recent interview with Warcry that "For Wrath of the Lich King, we're discussing ways to foster a healthy sense of competition among guilds on the forefront of raid progression while still allowing this content to become more accessible to others over time. I think we have a lot of innovative ideas and we'll keep trying to improve the system." I just hope that part of that improvement relaxes the current raid lockout system.
Some interesting discussion there... I like the idea of having a lock-out tailored to me... in that I may join any other raid, kill the same boos but not get the loot or rep for say 7 days.

It would certainly help the guild I am in and perhaps we would have got a bit more into the game.

Too late for me though in some respects. I cancelled my account this morning and have no intention of signing back up till I get wind of how things will shape for 3.0 perhaps you could keep me suitably informed Tobald via your thoughts here.

Said before... I only hope Bliz devs visit this site. If only the pseudo-guru Tigole would.
Tobold your suggestion sounds like a sensible way of overcoming the rigid groups that are enforced by raid lockouts.

I think Solf's comment is even more radical. If I understand him the bosses in a dungeon wouldn't reset once a week unless you wanted them too. That way casual groups of players could work their way through tough dungeons by hitting the bosses one at a time over a period of many weeks.

I think that could spark a revolutionary change - content that was hitherto reserved for elite raiding guilds could become accessible to more casual groups who were prepared to spend more time working through it.
I like the idea of having a minimum reset timer

Because of the casual nature of my guild, we get 2, maybe 3 nights in karazhan a week, and it's very rare that we do a full clear of all bosses (we do kill every boss, but very rarely do we have time to do them all within the same week)

Having one more day and resetting would help us a lot
The way I see it this is a merger of a few ideas put together:
-The bosses slain remain slain
-for set duration
-for those who have slain them

Anyhow, it sounds great!

How to spread this over the whole content, though?
Wouldn't there be a problem of an entire raid having finished the instance and then they run it through again with a single new person. Wouldn't that person be rolling in loot from the bosses that no one else could loot. Seems like a pretty easy way to farm tokens or loot for just a few guild members at a time.

They'd probably have to compensate by lowering loot drops by the percentage of people who've killed that boss before.
I didn't think the lockout was all that bad in vanilla, but then again both ZG and AQ20 were on half-week lockouts, which helped a ton.

Karazhan's long lockout is the real problem here combined with the small number of people needed and the tight tuning (ok we need a priest now, but our only priest online is locked out, oh-noes).

If you had two lockouts say Sunday->Wednesday and Thursday->Saturday suddenly things wouldn't be so bad. Schedule raids wednesday and thursday and you get the lockout reset if scheduling gets hard.

I really think the real problem with Karazhan is that it's too long and too linear. Both ZG and AQ20 had accessible multipath design.

So you wanted to try learn a new priest in ZG? No problem, clear to trash there and try that boss. In AQ you also have 2 paths to the end boss and most bosses are skippable. Good design.

Karazhan is very linear. It appears to be have skippable stuff, but the trash respawn mechanism makes it not so.

In fact the real problem is the whole design. It's lockout, it's instance layout, it's difficulty, attunement, entry gear levels etc etc.

If in ZG you were short in one class it didn't railroad you as badly as Kara can. Class flexibility is a big casual-friendly thing. Both AQ20 and ZG had it and were fairly flexible in raid makeup.

For me Karazhan is actually the main design blunder of TBC. It should have been like UBRS, MC or ZG in many ways. Accessible, after a while clearly puggable. Easy to explain boss fights, short lockouts. Easy access (limited or no attunements). All of this went wrong in Karazhan, and I am still to date dumbfounded why they ever thought Karazhan was good design for an entry level instance.

Karazhan would have been a neat second 10-man instance, for 10-man sized guilds who have time for longer commitments and have the organisation to handle Kara.

That's a long response to the lockout, which is an issue, but I think it's less of an issue in better and more accessible designs (see ZG, AQ20).
well, thats partially how raidlocks work in LotRO: you get a lock per boss and you can join another raidgroup which has more or less same locks... you just have to be careful with inviting some people who may have more locks than you...
What if a group clears all the way up to the last boss and then calls it a night. The next night, eight of those people log on and they want to finish the last guy off, so the grab two other people who haven't done the instance at all this week.

Suddenly, all the bosses are back! And they only have loot/reputation for the two new people!

Isn't this a fairly serious problem with your suggestion, or am I missing something?
nope, those two new people will inherit the locks of the group
Thanks for mentioning my comment Tobold! I will now consider myself slightly famous or something :)

But jokes aside (and again being somewhat late to the party) -- what I'm very interested in -- what are reasons to have raid lockouts that are specifically designed to prevent people from clearing raid instance more than once in X days?

Some might remember WoW and raid lock "cascading" -- which basically enabled certain people to kill, for example, Ragnaros more often than once per X days. This got stomped on by Blizzard (and hence we now have calendar-based resets for everyone rather than how it was earlier), so I feel fully justified in saying that preventing people from killing bosses IS [one of] the primary goal[s] of raid lock-outs.

I see a very obvious reason for Blizzard (and other MMORPG developers) that is simply about making more money by making people keep their subscription longer (by preventing them from progressing faster).

But easy money-grabbing scheme aside does anyone see any positive functions of limiting how often can you clear boss X that outweight the negatives? I'm really curious to know.

After all no pre-raiding content has lock-outs preventing people from farming (heroics aside, but 1-day lock-out seems to be mostly non-issue to me) -- so why all of sudden they become needed at raid level (again, money-grabbing scheme aside)?
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