Tobold's Blog
Sunday, December 30, 2007
 
Making raiding more like PvP

In World of Warcraft there are people who like PvP very much, and rarely participate in the PvE endgame. And there are people who like PvE much more, and rarely do PvP (me, for example). And between these two small groups there is a much larger group of players who like both, and whose decision to do one or the other is often influenced by relative ease and reward of the activities. Which means that many of them are currently doing PvP, because once you done an initial tour of the non-heroic dungeons, it is easier to advance your character further by doing PvP than by doing heroics and raid PvE. Yesterday we discussed one of many proposals to nerf PvP. So lets have a look today at possibilities to make PvE more attractive to balance it out against PvP.

If you look at the epics you can get by PvP, they aren't better than the epics you can get by raiding. So why do so many people prefer PvP? There are three reasons: Less organizational effort, a guaranteed minimum rate of return, and choice of rewards.

You do not need a guild or group to participate in battleground PvP. You just sign up, and a group is being assigned to you. The deserter's debuff prevents people from cherry-picking the optimum group. If you really don't like the group you have been assigned to, you can afk out, but then you won't be able to rejoin another battleground for 15 minutes. And the whole PvP battleground is likely to last only around half an hour anyway. So people learn to live with suboptimal groups. With the opposition often having a suboptimal group as well, it isn't as if having a bad class mix is dooming you to failure. Arena PvP needs a bit more organizational effort, but not all that much. You can still log on, see if other team members are logged in, and organize a quick arena battle on the spot. You need far less people than for a raid, and you don't have to worry about lockouts. PvP is much easier to organize than a raid.

The more controversial feature of PvP is the guaranteed minimum rate of return. You don't need to actually win in PvP to gain something, you get a certain amount of points just for showing up. Show up often enough and you can get some reward even if you never killed a single opponent. PvPers have pointed out that getting a full set of arena epics while losing every battle in 2v2 would take 66 weeks, which is longer than one arena season, so the mythical "dancing naked in the arena" team doesn't exist. But if you are part of a 2v2, a 3v3, and a 5v5 team, you *will* have several epics at the end of a season, even if you completely suck at it. Even more problematic are the "leechers" in battlegrounds. It seems the reporting tool of Blizzard isn't efficient enough to eliminate those, I still hear from guild mates that up to half of the people in Alterac Valley end up with no damage dealt and no healing done on the final scorecard. Youtube has videos of guys tinkering contraptions that press keys on their keyboards repeatedly to avoid going afk, and it takes only a tiny amount of effort to hide somewhere else than the starting cave and avoid getting reported. This part needs some improvement from Blizzard, so that people that put in a honest effort and lose are still rewarded, while those who don't even try don't get anything.

The rewards in PvP come in the form of points and badges, which you can hand in for a reward of your choice. [side-rant: a reward of your choice unless you are a tank. My warrior just collected spirit shards, which you get from doing Auchindoun dungeons while your faction is controlling the towers. When I finally had enough to hand them in for a helmet, I found out that of the three plate helmets there are, one is for dps warriors, and the other two are for paladins. I was told that this is the same for other PvP gear you get for honor or arena points, there is no tanking gear. Presumably because tanking gear is so essential for raiding, and tanks aren't useful for PvP. But it annoys me that I don't even get the option to PvP for rewards unless I respec.] If you ever tried to get a complete set of raid epics, you'll know how big an advantage the ability of choosing your reward is. In raids you get random rewards from a loot table, and you can end up with no reward at all even if you have the most successful raid and clear out the whole place without a single wipe.

So how could we change dungeons and raids to be more like PvP and regain popularity? Obviously we need to give PvE the same advantages of easy organization, and guaranteed rewards of the player's choice that PvP already has. Players need to be able to queue up for a raid and get assigned to a pickup raid, just like they are assigned to a pickup group for battlegrounds. Of course that necessitates "easy mode" raid dungeons, for example in a system where the current difficulty level is labeled as heroic, and an easier "normal" difficulty is introduced in which a pickup raid group has actually a chance to kill a boss. This is simply a question of number of trash mobs, respawn rates, amount of health the mobs have, and for how much damage they hit. Creating an easy copy of a raid dungeon like Karazhan is very easy by just fiddling with these numerical parameters. Once we have that, Blizzard only needs to introduce the queue system for raids, making sure somebody in the raid group can tank and somebody can heal. And of course they need to remove the lockouts for the easy mode raid dungeons.

Once our automatically formed pickup raid group is in the easy mode raid dungeon, they should get "raid points" for every trash mob they kill, and "raid badges" for every boss. There shouldn't be any epic loot drops, just points and badges, which then can be handed in somewhere for epics. To prevent leechers, the pickup raid group should be able to kick out people by majority vote. But otherwise sticking with the raid group you have been assigned to should be encouraged by the same deserter's debuff system that battlegrounds have. How many times you would need to go pickup raiding, how many points and badges you'd need for what reward has to be balanced against the effort to reward ratio of PvP. But in the end you should have a choice where gaining similar epics from PvP and PvE should take comparable effort and time.

And yes, that would change the face of raiding completely, it would make raiding accessible for nearly everyone. Which is actually the big advantage of the system. The "old style" raids could live on in the form of heroic raids, but at least everybody would be able to see the various raid dungeons and experience the various raid boss encounters.
Comments:
> Creating an easy copy of a raid dungeon like Karazhan is very easy by just fiddling with these numerical parameters. Once we have that, Blizzard only needs to introduce the queue system for raids, making sure somebody in the raid group can tank and somebody can heal.

I'm going to refer to this point because I feel that this is the heart of your post. Without the ability to make a raid dungeon easier, your idea doesn't work.

My argument is that your above idea is impossible to achieve.

If you've done *any* raiding in WoW, you will know that you need more than "someone to tank and someone to heal". A raid is not a 5-man (and even in 5-man instances that approach wouldn't usually work!)
Raid bosses and even trash have special tactics and abilities that require cooperation and knowledge and sometime special gear from the raiders. Throwing a bunch of random strangers together would allow them to raid only if the raid instance were trivially easy compared to their gear/level. In that case, either the rewards would be trivial or WoW would be ruined.

> Once our automatically formed pickup raid group is in the easy mode raid dungeon, they should get "raid points" for every trash mob they kill, and "raid badges" for every boss. There shouldn't be any epic loot drops, just points and badges, which then can be handed in somewhere for epics.
You've just invented heroic badges and reputation based rewards. Gz :)
 
Raid bosses and even trash have special tactics and abilities that require cooperation and knowledge and sometime special gear from the raiders.

Wrong. The special tactics, abilities, cooperation, and knowledge is only necessary because the encounters are so hard. Simple thought experiment: Would that boss require that special tactic if he only had 1 point of health? Obviously not. The trick is to fiddle with the numeric parameters to get them to a setting where the encounter is still challenging and fun to an average pickup group. That of course means it would be too easy to a hardcore raid group, but those aren't the target audience here.

You've just invented heroic badges and reputation based rewards.

No, I want badges and points *instead* of loot, not in addition to it. And I want it for 10- and 25-man raid encounters tuned in a way that they would actually be *easier* than 5-man heroics.
 
It saddens me how deeply gear-oriented WOW has become... and strengthens me in my decision, half a year ago, to stop playing WOW.

We should be playing MMOs for the fun of it, for the pure experience (like in FPSs) - and not for the sake of grinding virtual valuables, like it was some kind of tamagotchi.
 
There's an awesome add-on your pvp-ing guildies might be interested in.
It's called TuringTest AFK Reporter and uses some fairly sophisticated stats gathering to determine if someone is afk or not, even if they are not in the starting zone.

Downloadpage from Curse
 
I love the idea of using the Battlegrounds-tested queue, points, and badges mechanic to make raid content accessible to more people. I hope Blizzard is looking into something similar, as it's a shame that a lot of people who aren't able to commit themselves to the rigorous schedule that raiding entails won't ever experience the content that's squirreled away in raid instances.
 
You've just invented heroic badges and reputation based rewards.

This was my original reaction as well. :) Although it is not exactly what you are looking for, it is closer to your ideal situation than things used to be (especially with the badges).

Another idea I've been kicking around for a while now, that is sort of related, is how the game would be effected if bosses dropped two items, instead of the customary one. This might have the effect of making PVE more attractive (I'm thinking of 5-man dungeons here) since there is a greater chance of the item you want dropping. Or at least more items to sell or shard.
 
Wouldn't nerfing down the bossfights by such an amount render the instance as a whole trivial? Not only trivial to hardcore raiders, but trivial to everybody? There are things that can't be changed through numbers. Its a bit difficult for me to find an example for you, because I don't know what bossfights you know. But most of the fights would be nerfed down to simple tank and spank encounters, in difficulty even lower than Molten Core. And MC had a problem: It needed too less attention because most of the time you smashed the same one button. Your attention lowered, you began drifting away, switched your TV on - as more and more people did this, horrible things began to happen. Bosses that should be a piece of cake wiped everyone, because half of the raid didn't even notice that this is not another molten giant or something like that.
If you trivialise content too much, it becomes difficult again because nobody takes it serious anymore.
 
Some interesting, though radical, ideas here. I'd like to see what Blizzard can do to make the high-end game more like the lower level game.

One of the ideas I had was for a weekly quest similar to the daily quest but with a higher reward that one can only receive once a week. The reward shouldn't be as good as what you could get with 40 hours of work, but it could be a lot better than what you would get with four.

Anyway, I'm hoping Blizzard keeps trying things like this. The PVP welfare epic idea is a good one and deserves further improvement with PVE.
 
----------

Tobold says:

"Wrong. The special tactics, abilities, cooperation, and knowledge is only necessary because the encounters are so hard. Simple thought experiment: Would that boss require that special tactic if he only had 1 point of health? Obviously not. The trick is to fiddle with the numeric parameters to get them to a setting where the encounter is still challenging and fun to an average pickup group. That of course means it would be too easy to a hardcore raid group, but those aren't the target audience here."

and...

"This is simply a question of number of trash mobs, respawn rates, amount of health the mobs have, and for how much damage they hit."
----------

Disagree with Tobold here.

Taking Tobolds own thought experiment further - is the boss still fun if he has 1 point of health? Certainly not. How about increasing it to 10 or 100? At which point does the boss becomes challenging and fun again? I think the answer is this - at the point where it will require special tactics and coordination to kill him again!

Important thing is that the numbers are different for different bosses, even the parameters to be tuned are different for different bosses.

From my own experience of BC raids, I would venture to say that it is impossible to tune the encounters by a simple numerical formula (ie. reduce across the board the mobs hp by x% and dmg by y%, and then label the instance "casual-friendly" mode). For example, Attumen the first boss in Kara will certainly be tunable that way, same for Nalorakk first boss in ZA. Both are tank and spank fights. Then you have something like say Aran who has no threat table (hence untankable), who has special attacks which can be completely avoided, but will wipe the raid if not avoided. And furthermore the encounter will have two further special events at 40% life and 20% mana, which can be dealt with easier by certain raid compositions. The essence of that encounter is learning as a team to avoid his specials, and handling the two special events. So these specials must still exist and still threaten to wipe the raid, else easy mode Aran will be pointless. Can this boss be casual-friendly? I would say most certainly yes, but the tuning will have to be done manually. If I were to do it, I would do it thus.
1) Reduce his hp but leave enough so that he will still do each of his specials a few times;
2) Reduce his non-special attacks by a pretty large amount;
3) Retain or reduce only slightly the dmg done by his specials;
4) Reduce his trash by a huge amount (much much more than other bosses);
5) Increase his trash respawn timer by huge amount (much much more than other bosses);
6) Make the warnings to his incoming specials more obvious and with more time given to react to it;
7) Reduce the amount done by his elementals (40% life event) by a large amount to reduce reliance on having warlocks;
8) Reduce his super-pyroblast (20% mana event) by a large amount to reduce the need for having the adept interrupters (rogues/warriors/shamans) that will allow this event to skipped.

Points 4 and 5 are there not as a generic trash nerf, the point of nerfing these is because wiping at Aran is unavoidable. I would say that even for casual-friendly mode one must still tune it such that the raid will wipe until the raid learn to avoid his specials. It is part of the fun :p Points 7 & 8 is actually used because the LFG tool envisioned by Tobolds is only "smart" enough to know tank and healer, but not specific classes. I would say it is more fun to have these class specific features in there (but in a slightly weaker form), but then we will need a much smarter LFG tool (and maybe still pay the price of a longer queue for the "PVE raid-queuing" system envisioned by Tobold).

The Aran example is long and painful, but the point I am trying to make is that to tune these encounters is a manual and difficult process, if we want to retain the flavor of the encounter and yet make it more casual-friendly.

The first poster here is of the opinion that it is impossible to tune a raid dungeon easier without completely trivializing it. I think it is still possible, but I am quite certain the tuning job will be a lot more complicated than what Tobold is envisioning. It is important to note the definition of "easier" when applied to raid dungeons. The one Tobold seem to have in mind, which I agree with, is - clearable with effort by a pickup group formed by a smart LFG tool, yet not so easy as to be trivial and not fun. But given the "market-size" of such raids (everyone in non-raiding guilds as it were), it looks like it is still worth Blizzard's effort to be doing these "casual-friendly" raid dungeons.
 
I think I touched on this in a different topics Tobold posted months ago, but I think it applies here.

Raids should continue as they are, hardcore content that requires time, teamwork and orginazation. While this will be the source of the best gear in the game, Blizzard should also start of a form of "walfare", "ez-mode" "l2play" raiding.

This easier type of raiding would take the above time, teamwork and orginzation and make those easier. You queue up just like a BG. You're assigned to a 25 man group. The queue will need to assign the rolls of healer and tank. The raid would have to be easy enough so that it could be healed and tanked by a hybrids. It really isn't much of a jump from the old AV which was basically a PvE race by the two factions. Also the queue system would be responsible for either "playing" characters who have disconncted or left, or filling their spot with a new player.

What dungeons would be EZ raid accesable? This could go two ways...completely different dungeons because these raids would probably have to be shorter, like less then one hour to keep most casual players. The second option would be to raid current dugeons, and segmented so that no raid is likely to take a very long time. Maybe even put on a raid timer that will just stop the raid if it is not completed in a certain amount of time? That right there could be a challenge for players.

The reward system? I'd have to say badges for downing bosses. Badges for staying in the whole raid. Perhaps even badges based on how much healing/damage you have done, or how much damage you have taken? That might cause the rogues to pull aggro though....

If a like system was implemented I'm sure the casual player would be happy, as well as get much better at PvE style raiding, and gain gear that can be usefull in doing an actual raid.
 
Raids should continue as they are, hardcore content that requires time, teamwork and orginazation. While this will be the source of the best gear in the game, Blizzard should also start of a form of "walfare", "ez-mode" "l2play" raiding.


Ok I've said this before. If they would regularly go back and retune old stuff for thier new game that problem would be solved. If they had retuned all the loot in NAXX, BWL, AQ, ZG and MC then you'd have had your trainer raids. If the epics in those instances had been upgraded to BC standards NaXX gear would easily get people to 70 and at that point the next best gear should come from the level 70 raids. Then you would have new level 70's who have raided instead of soloers who think they are uber and have to learn how to play in groups.
 
IMO the PUGs from the queues need to face the same test as raids. No nerfs, though I would be open to some sort of reward system based upon performance even in failure, but that should be tied to a good effort, not an insta-wipe.

In the long run I would guess that people would eventually learn the fights and overcome them if the incentive was there.

Finally, I would like to see a "Join as group" included.
Not only that, but perhaps one should be able to "Join as Raid Leader".
And after you join, you'd get a second dialog: "Join as DPS", "Join as Tank", or "Join as Healer".
 
I hadn't thought of it in quite this way before, but this is what the folks over at Mythic are doing with "Public Quests". Or as one of the developers put it, "Not having to wait around for people to raid with quests".

Public Quests are going to have a series of stages culminating in a boss fight. Rewards will be based on your contribution to completing the quest, but everyone participates--it is not instanced in that sense.

Not only does this reduce organizational time and effort, but it will allow "raids" to be part of the story as you level up, and not simply an end game feature.

It definitely sounds like they are heading away from WoW style end game raiding.
 
Great idea! Le'ts make raids more like battlegrounds with a randomly selected raid leader nobody listen to, with people continuously insulting each other and arguing about the strategy to use or about who should be the raid leader, with people leaving the raid without notice to join the next "Black Temple PUG" or leaving after the first wipe, with people with abysmal gear or talents, etc.

People can already use the LFG system for a raid instance and yet nobody does that for a reason. A raid means coordination, team work and knowledge, things you can't get from 25 complete strangers picked at random. When people organize PUGs for Karazhan, there is a raid leader who invites people based upon their prior knowledge of the instance and their gear, chooses classes, etc.

The lack of leadership, the lack of a reason to stick with the raid when things go wrong would kill those raids.
 
This idea get brought up like 5000 million times a year and still people do not realize it will EPICLY(har pun) fail on soo many points its not even funny.


yeah how about we let people pug Vashj so we have a million 12 years running around in shat saying they wanna join a guild thats doing KT har!

Noone ever seems to understand this, the problem is not wow is too hard, the problem is most people that bitch and cry about wow, suck at it and are NOT ready for end game raiding.

Part of end game raiding is time, if you dont have the time sucks for you sorry maybe go organize a group of friends(amg guild) that can all meet up at the same time (amg raid schedule) and learn the encounters like everyone else.

an MMORPG takes working with people , so that means you have to interact with people, so if you want to raid find some people like that and get too it.

people can baely pug normal arc half the damn time, and you expect a FULL pug to kara, I'm sorry but unless its chess I think you need more then 1 warrior 1 priest and 8 rogues/hunters/fury warriors to do maiden sorry

also this is gonna put in to the mind set that people that rofldps the 10hp version of leo the blind are instanly ready for full raid verison. so when he gains transform ability (because you sure a hell aren't getting a pug through that) they are gonna have no fucking clue what to do.

There is a reason people like you love this idea, and it's not because your bad at wow, have no friends, or can't listen to instructions(although I'm sure its a mixture of all 3) because it takes all the thinking out of your hands you want to just que up and get uber epics... You don't take the time to research boss fights, gear upgrades, and such and that is why you will not experiance these types of raids
 
i read some of the posts and i believe most people seem to be missing the point here.

Raiding Ggrounds, or whatever it would be called, is more an occupation than a gearing up gimmick.

the rewards would not be on par with the actual instance, but it would nevertheless keep people busy. but even if they would be on par, it just would have to be as hard as getting an epic in a real raid. it's just mechanics that can be defined and changed, really...

anyway, this would be a fantastic way to at last open all of the game's content to everyone! raiding grounds could be made out of obsolete raid instances thus giving people a chance of experience a, very very faint, taste of raiding...
 
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