Thursday, November 22, 2007
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.