Tobold's Blog
Friday, January 25, 2008
Epic to wipe ratio

Of course it is an extreme oversimplification, but besides the fun of hanging out with friends, seeing new places, or vanquishing new bosses, the epic to wipe ratio plays a large role in how much "fun" raiding is for people. Last night my guild did another Karazhan run, second half from Curator to Prince, and my epic to wipe ratio went through the roof. I got the shoulders from the Curator, boots from Aran, and T4 helmet from the Prince. Only Illhoof and the chess event didn't yield anything for me. And only the Prince put up any serious resistance. [From all the encounters in Karazhan, the Prince is the most luck based. The "safe spots" are a myth, because what was safe last run won't necessarily work next run. You can either go for a high risk strategy and tank the Prince in the doorway, and if you get lucky and no infernal drops on the position of the healers and ranged dps the fight becomes nearly trivial. Or you can tank the Prince along the wall, which gives you somewhat more options in case of bad luck with infernal drops.]

But I'm well aware that three epics in four hours with few wipes isn't "normal". This isn't how Blizzard designed it, the credit goes completely to my guild, because they are willing to take a few newbies with them on every Karazhan raid. Kudos to my guild, both for being nice and for being intelligent. Showering newbies with epics like that beats disenchanting said epics, especially in TBC where the market value of the void crystals you get from disenchanting epics has hit rock bottom and is now *below* that of the large prismatic shards you get from disenchanting blue gear. And I fully intend to repay my "debt" to the guild by using my new gear to either help them advance in the next level of the raiding circuit, or by helping the next generation of newbies to get through Karazhan. I just need to set some priorities and do either the one or the other. After 3 Karazhan raids this week I'm signed up for a SSC raid tonight, and I'm starting to feel physical exhaustion. I'm not a young man any more, staying up until midnight every night and getting up at 6:30 am in the morning isn't something I can do several times a week any more without feeling tired afterwards.

In a normal raid progression the epic to wipe ratio is much lower. Either you have a raid dungeon "on farm", but then you already have most of the epics from there and just hope for luck on finding the last one or two missing pieces. Or you go to a new raid dungeon, where you will wipe much more often and not kill all that many bosses. Note that when calculating epic to wipe ratio, I only consider epics that are actually an improvement. Thus going to ZG or AQ20 with a group full of level 70s has an epic to wipe ratio of zero, because nobody is going to find anything useful there.

So while I am in "fast forward" or "easy" mode, the raid progression for the majority of World of Warcraft players remains too slow. Even by the most optimistic interpretation of the WoWJutsu data only 50% of players in Europe and North America have ever seen Karazhan, and only 3% the Black Temple, after one year of TBC. Come patch 2.4 with an even more difficult raid dungeon Sunwell Plateau, and we are looking at a raid dungeon that only 1% of the player base will ever see, because Wrath of the Lich King will come out before many people reach the top raid dungeons. That is silly, an inefficient use of resources. Raid encounters are a lot more complex than regular mobs, and take up a huge chunk of development time. I'm pretty certain that the WotLK raid dungeons are a major contributor to the fact that the expansion is coming out so late. The resulting raid encounters are way more interesting than regular 5-man dungeons, and great fun. They should be accessible to a far greater number to players. After one year 50% of players should have seen the *last* raid dungeon, not just the first one.
50% of the players should have already seen BT? If you said 15-25% then I'd agree with you. If 50% of the player base has already reached BT, then a good percentage of that would have already maxed out all the content in TBC and I don't think that was Blizzard's intent.

I wonder what the effective playtime or raidtime it takes to progress from Kara to BT. My effective raidtime took a big hit when I left the game for three months because of school and then downgraded to a more casual raiding guild upon my return. Had I made different choices, I'd be in BT, but that was my decision.

I'm not an elitist, but reaching the endgame content is something that takes work just like other things in life. I've got friends that have only hit 63 on their first toon, and they're having a great time.
I'm not an elitist, but reaching the endgame content is something that takes work just like other things in life.

You might not be an elitist but surely are narrow-minded - no offense intended. Tobold and others have soooo often uttered what needs to be done: Set Raids to 3 difficulties (easy, normal, hard) as thousands of PC games have done before.

The only reason Blizzard is afraid of doing this is losing the players that follow the attitude that has been seen more often on elitist raiders: "Killed endboss, no fun in game anymore, quit."

Instead it should read: "Killes endboss, got average loot, know the fight, lets retry in normal or hard!".
Yep, I had high hopes when Blizz announced heroic difficulty pre-TBC. They failed to use the concept properly.

Difficulty grading is smart design, and the principle is very old.

The "work" argument is silly, when recent studies show that people want challenge, but they also want to unwind while gaming. Also no matter how hardcore people like the aspect of playing together with others.

So someone who raids 2-3 days a week for 4 hours each, didn't work? That's 52*(8 to 12)=416 to 623 hours of gameplay!

No single-player game ever demanded a paying customer to put in this much "work" to see the advertised endboss. No single-player game demanded that a large proportion of their player-base "fails".

The myth that people want easy mode is silly. People want interesting content tuned to their time availability and playing style.

This is true for the extremely hardcore and whatever one considers casuals and anyone inbetween.

There are ways to make content that scales with difficulty, or gives control over it (select normal vs heroic).

TBC fails at servicing a broader spectrum.

But the problem is that some folks simply want others to be excluded from parts of the game to feel special.
I'm not an elitist, but reaching the endgame content is something that takes work just like other things in life.

A game is not the same as life. Saying that a game should take work totally misses the point of what the purpose of a game is: entertainment. If you went to a cinema, you'd be understandably upset if a quarter of an hour before the end the film was stopped and the cinema manager would demand some work from the viewers (like 50 push-ups) before being allowed to see the end of the film.

Everyone who thinks game = work *is* an elitist, no matter what he claims to be.
Can you say "welfare epics" :)
Complaining that development time put into raid content is 'silly' seems a ridiculously biased perspective.

Blizzard has that over half the games accounts don't have a max level character. People who play seriously constantly underestimate the size of the market of people for whom new high level content is completely irrelevant, and Blizzard has to do very little to keep these customers. The initial leveling is one of WoW's strongest aspects.

Of those who play and group at max level, the fact that there is a whole aspect of the game provided there should they choose to indulge in it is certainly attractive to some. I've seen many people decide to experience a little raiding, despite it never having been a priority to them before, they choose to try it out, and often end up playing WoW for longer since there is content for them to consume.

I agree the development cycle is too long though.
Tobold you know very well that if 50% of the player base had completed BT, very likely 40% would not be playing WoW. The illusion that you can still progress your character is a major holding factor for many players. Plus, if half the player base was running around in BT epics, you would NEVER see any 5 mans or even mid-level raids being run, making the already large problem of unpopulated instances that much worse.
I've seen many people decide to experience a little raiding, despite it never having been a priority to them before, they choose to try it out, and often end up playing WoW for longer since there is content for them to consume.

But that is exactly what I want! A "try raiding, you'll like it" approach. But that necessitates lowering the barrier of entry and presenting a future raid progress that advances at acceptable speed. An "easy mode" Karazhan with no attunement necessary and which can be beat more easily by less well equipped people would get *more* people into raiding, get *more* people into playing WoW for longer.

I don't complain that development time put into raid content is silly, I complain that it is silly to make so much of that content accessible only to single digit percentages of the player base.
if 50% of the player base had completed BT, very likely 40% would not be playing WoW. The illusion that you can still progress your character is a major holding factor for many players.

Give players a bit more credit. Most of the players who will never see the Black Temple KNOW that they will never see the Black Temple. Plus, the illusion would be kept alive, and the problems you mentioned with 5-mans avoided, if there was an "easy mode" Black Temple with less good loot. That would leave the illusion that you still can get the phat epic loot from the heroic mode BT, but occupy players by giving them easy raid dungeons to play.
But then you are hoping your ONLY method of retention is loot upgrades, since a large portion of players would have seen all the 'content'. Easy mode BT would still use the same models and layout as normal BT, so the only difference would be the epics that drop.

I'm not sure how many people would stick around just for that. Back when I raided, a major reason we pushed so hard in Nax was not the gear, since we knew TBC was coming. It was to see the content in it's intended form before it became obsolete.
All I'm saying is that I don't think more people would quit because they were finished with BT than there are already people quitting because they'll never see BT. It hasn't happened in MMORPG history yet that people stopped playing because they finished, so we don't know exactly what we would at minimum need to offer to keep people in the game. I'd say it would be better to use the content that the devs already developed instead of just presenting it as an "illusion", as you call it.
Personally, Kara needs it's timer removed and should revert to being like ubers was. That thing is puggable at this point. And treating it as such as big deal, still, is not needed.
I brought up the problem of unpopulated dungeons before. I still contend that easy to obtain PvP epics are the primary reason for this. Not the ease of obtaining Kara gear. In fact PvP gear is making the acquisition of PvE gear from Kara trivial. I should know, thats how I got mine. @ anon, it's not trivial if you are in dungeon blues as it was intended. It's a joke wearing Vindicator's and assorted S1 and S2 gear. That's not a reason to remove a timer for guilds learning the place.

So here I sit, in ZA, in full Kara and badge reward epics, knowing that when I down my last 10 man boss, our guild is out of content. We don't raid 25 mans, period. It's too much damn hassle to constantly recruit and organize. That's the barrier to entry for us. WTB all 10 man raids from now on.

By the way, the Blizzard designer who coined the term "welfare epics" ought to be fired. To design a system of otaining gear, and then demean the items, and by extension those who buy them with a term like that shows an incredible lack of foresight on their part. Raiders(including the designer who uttered the term) who think it requires any more true skill to down a boss than farm honor is kidding themselves. I've done both, the only difference is that you can solo the honor. I loathe that phrase and the elitists who spew it.
But then you are hoping your ONLY method of retention is loot upgrades, since a large portion of players would have seen all the 'content'. Easy mode BT would still use the same models and layout as normal BT, so the only difference would be the epics that drop.

People stay in wow after time for two reasons. The people they play with and advancing thier character. I feel quite safe in saying only 5% or so of the population are the ones who do something once and raise thier hands and say I'm done.
PVP should illustrate this better than anything else. People I know have quit running 5 mans that they prefer to do because pvp is more rewarding. They don't like pvp but they want to advance thier character.
@syncaine. People's interst IS tied to loot; I mentioned in a previous post that there are almost no pugs going to AQ20/AQ40/Naxx/ZG etc.
People want to see Black Temple, but only because of the loot that is available, otherwise why aren't guilds running Naxx raids every week?
WoW is loot-driven; people spend hours in BGs and Arena, but all you here about is 'I need another x honor and then I can get y epic.'
There is little mention of 'We played really well in EOTS today'.
"y the way, the Blizzard designer who coined the term "welfare epics" ought to be fired. To design a system of otaining gear, and then demean the items, and by extension those who buy them with a term like that shows an incredible lack of foresight on their part. Raiders(including the designer who uttered the term) who think it requires any more true skill to down a boss than farm honor is kidding themselves. I've done both, the only difference is that you can solo the honor. I loathe that phrase and the elitists who spew it."

This may be true if you consider raiding bwl, while naxx was the thing for high end raids, the standard. actually rading unnerfed encounters without 500 guides of how to kill the boss in the internet actually takes some skill. if you think otherwise i guess you have never been in such a raid.

honor farming in the alterac bg on the other hand just needs time nothing more.

p.s. don´t take my comment as a hidden "all non hardcore raiders can not be skilled" i just wanted to point out that raiding infact requires skill once come nearer to the bleeding edge of content.
much time is a must too of course :)

the phrase "welfare epics" might not be very diplomatically correct, but in its very core it is a true statement.
when you compare season 3 pvp epics gained in the alterac valley, that are of the same quality than t6, then you have to compare the skill and the time invested you needed to get this items.
in that comparison you will find out that there is an imbalance.
why else does every 2nd player you see in shattrah wear those pvp epix and only 3% of all people have t6 ?
I think most people believe that once Sunwell is released that the attunements will be lifted for Mount Hyjal and Black Temple. That certainly doesn't mean that guilds in the middle of TK/SSC will turn around and kill Illidan and Archimonde the next week, but I guarantee that guilds stuck on Kael'Thas will be pouring in to Mount Hyjal and knocking over Rage Winterchill on night 1, and doing the same to Najentus in Black Temple.

Most guilds banging their head on Vashj and/or Kael'Thas will be able to clear the first 4 bosses in Hyjal after a month or two. They'll be able to clear the first 3 bosses in Black Temple probably even quicker. So while the guilds in MH/BT now can feel "superior" by being a part of the small number of guilds there, they'll also have the gear when Sunwell releases (without an attunement requirement) to be able to feel superior there while lower tier guilds begin pushing through content that bleeding edge guilds have left behind.

Long story short, Kael'Thas and Vashj are the blocks put in place to keep you from getting to some pretty easy bosses. Once those blocks are removed, lots of guilds will start knocking those bosses over.
the phrase "welfare epics" might not be very diplomatically correct, but in its very core it is a true statement.

You miss my point Beelze. If Blizzard designs a system, and it is a total failure of a system but the players use it to their benefit, then using terminology like that is an indictment on BLIZZARD! Not the players. And that phrasing is insulting to the player base, when all they did was use the system put in front of them.

We'll agree to disagree about the skill involved in raiding. The skill is getting 25 people to do their job together. The individual roles are not complicated. Don't confuse individual skills with the ability of a group to work together.
Getting 25 people to synchronise their timing is indeed the difficulty. Standing in BGs and dotting anyone of the opposing faction requires no planning whatsoever.
In any case, people have a choice of how they get their gear; don't blame the players.
Your final paragraph is the exact reason I and many others have left WoW for greener pastures (even if greener pastures = not playing an MMORPG at all until something decent comes out).

It is quite apparent that WoW's endgame is purely geared towards PvE raiding and that just isn't my cup of tea. Blizzard even conciously introduced "MUDflation" to keep people in the cycle. Not only do the greens and blues of an expansion make the top-tier epic raiding gear from the previous expansion obsolete, it keeps the "n00bs," i.e., 97% of other people who didn't make it to BT, competitive.

You know how I see Blizzard in 5 years? Each toon running around with 100000+ HP, 100000+ power, doing insane crits, having good resists, etc. The whole game is based around increased level caps, gear, and statistics. In their current expansion model, they're the only things that actually increase. One year after WotLK, 97% of the player base STILL won't have experienced all the expansion has to offer.

That's pretty weak IMO. Why not give 97% of players a discounted rate on the box?
I've done a fair share of recruitment for endgame PvE guilds (mostly before TBC). People saying there's no skill involved in raiding beyond organization and gear either 1) don't know what they're talking about 2) have been lucky enough to never meet some of the players I've seen.

If there's no skill involved, why do some people move during flame wreath week after week (just to use a Karazhan example)?

I've always looked at skill and attitude first, gear second. That's why there's such a thing as trial raids for new recruits. The rest of the raid group can help a new recruit to get gear, but if he/she repeatedly can't follow simple instructions there's not much we can do. And on quite a few raid bosses, one bad player could be all it takes (Aran is again one example, Archimonde is another).
but if he/she repeatedly can't follow simple instructions

absolutely correct. It's still not hard. I didn't say anyone can do it, I said it is not complicated. Folowing simple instructions does not require skill. People make mistakes, getting 25 people to not make a simple mistake on an encounter that has little margin of error is the real skill of raiding. Still, the hardest boss I ever helped kill was Twin Emps. So simple in theory, so difficult to execute.

Attitude first is very much what we look for as well. A willingness to want to learn an encounter is very important. So since you recruited, how did you quantify something like skill in a game where so little of it is required? The fact of the matter is you perceive what amount of skill an applicant has based on other factors, like the gear they have currently. It's why when an applicant posts their armory link, you get elitist @sshats replying "log off in your nonwelfare epics" so they can have a way to quantify skill based on that persons previous endgame experience, flawed as that methodology may be. And it is flawed, the churn of raiders in 25 man raiding guilds is incredible in the vast majority of them.
I luv my raider counterparts.
The reason is simple: PvP design, while improved, is still somewhat broken, in that a PvP-er is required to do PvE instances and rep for glyphs and patterns and nethers -- or buy the services from their raider friends.

Having thought about it for a while, I find Tigole's "welfare epic" Blizzcon comment / joke to be breathtakingly stupid when one considers both the source and - if you'll pardon my bluntness - ignorance of the statement. It rekindled the unnecessary but ever-present leet-loot envy grass-is-greener rivalry between PvE raiders and PvP BG and Arena participants. One wonders if that designer's attitude is the reason that the top-end raid content is only experienced by an estimated 3% of the paying customers, while PvP balloons in popularity and demonstrates amazing re-play-ability. Personal experience is only a micro-sample of attitudes in WoW, but in my circles many people are consistently choosing PvP over instances and raiding. Some are just plain tired of raid drama, of Kara, are stymied in the 25-man content, and Zul'Aman ended up being a tourism thing that continues to take a back seat to PvP content.

Another annoying thing is that some under-informed raiders post about the age-old AV honor-farmers imaginary Arena dancers as if that is an easy and fast way to get leet PvP gear. Not! Those people you see in S3 didn't get it in the BGs, it's not even available as a BG reward. FYI, the only Arena gear available from BGs is S1. And while you might, over time, AFK your way in AV to the 62250 honor for the five armor items -- you'll need another 50 AB and 30 WSG marks too. Additionally, as I can personally attest to, when the AFK-to-real-PvPer ratio gets too many leeches, you lose - the worse the ratio, the worse the loss -- the less honor (all the way down to cases of not enough players actually PvPing to take down Bal/Galv or destroy any towers - been there, suffered through that). Others have posted that /dancing your way through the Arena will pull in the S3 gear in, IIRC, 160-or-so *weeks*. The most telling thing, though, is that if they really were "welfare epics", then the raiders would get their set too - but in reality a raider will PvP just enough to get those one or few pieces that are useful to raiders. Ironically, it would appear that raiders "misusing" Arena gear is the reason that S3 gear is now partially ratings-protected! On the other hand, to my knowledge, not a single piece of raiding gear is similarly protected against use in PvP.

The bottom line IMO is not an epic-to-wipe ratio (which is a purely PvE instance/raid measure), but an epic-to-time ratio. What piqued my interest in Tobold's Kara experience was so many epics so fast! Now I don't care how good a PvP guild group you team with in Arena and the BGs, you'll *never* match the epic-to-time ratio that Tobold saw in Kara. Never.

Do I care? Not in the slightest! Grats to Tobold and his well-run guild!
But as I'm sure he already suspects, he will not match that epic-to-time pace in PvP, ever, should he choose to PvP in WoW.
So since you recruited, how did you quantify something like skill in a game where so little of it is required?

At first I was going to give a long and detailed answer, but then I remembered "arguing on the internet is like running in the special olympics..." :)

So a short answer instead.
We used several trial raids to separate those with "little skill" from those with even less.

I agree with syncaine here. Difficult raid dungeons that only a small percentage of players see provide a content horizon for the rest of the player base.

Have you considered that there might be a vocal minority of players who would like to see end game raid dungeons but don't have the time / inclination to put in that time? And that the majority of players are happy with the entertainment they get each hour and don't worry too much about whether they're seeing 100% of the game or not?

snafzg mentioned a discounted rate on the box purchase for those players unlikely to see "everything" in the game. I've purchased plenty of console games that I didn't finish. I don't consider them bad value for money. I enjoyed the time I played them for. It didn't spoil my enjoyment that there were things in them (find all the flags in Assassin's Creed for example) that I would never be able to do because I don't have the time / inclination :) MMOs seem to be a little different in that some people allow the fact that "others" are seeing more of the game than they are hurt their own enjoyment somehow.

You might personally enjoy the changes to raiding you suggest but if it doesn't make business sense to Blizzard based on how most of their players are using the service (in that keeping hard to access raid dungeons in there as temptation to existing players is a better use of resources than opening them up for a different demographic to enjoy and lose that temptation) then they won't do it.
Hi Tobold -

I've been reading your blog with keen interest for several weeks, but it's my first time

commenting. Here are some thoughts:

I'mvery amused to see how similar everyone's experiences are in WoW from server to server.

Even when it comes to such minutiae as Void Crystals being cheaper than Large Prismatic Shards.

In fact Shards are so expensive on my server I "farm" my own by making Imbued Netherweave Boots

and DE'ing them since it's so difficult to find groups to run 5mans with. The majority are

PVPing because just as you say, the rewards are better there.

Getting past Karazhan was a major hassle for me and my guild and took up almost all of last

year. Congratulations on getting your Shard off the Maiden, may it serve you well! We still run

Kara every week for badges, which have breathed new life into this raid (as well as giving my

holy priest an almost totally superfluous set of spell damage gear). I'm glad that epics are so

easy to get from PvP because we never would have been able to put Kara on farm without it.

"Welfare Epics" really seem to have been be the driver of the gear level of the average level

70 player on my server. My own server is kind of lower middle-class, population wise, and only

a handful of guilds were in SSC/TK until Season 1 PvP gear became available as a Battlegrounds

reward. Now, around 20 guilds are progressed in SSC/TK and a lot more people are finally

getting to see the new content.

Despite this, I actually don't care for WoW PvP much at all. I prefer PvP in my old MMO of

choice, Guild Wars, where PvP is much faster and tactical in nature. WoW PvP is sort of an

imbalanced, slow motion zerg fest by comparison. I did enough Arenas to get an epic wand for my

priest and have had just about enough of that... I still have to do enough Battlegrounds to get

enough honor for my snare removal trinket (which is actually advantageous to have around for

many PvE raid encounters)

Lastly, regarding accessibility to high end PvE areas in WoW... it may be useful to draw

another comparison to Guild Wars here. While Guild Wars has a real lack of depth in its PvE

content compared to WoW (and which leads to me spending most of my time in WoW these days), it

is much more accessible to the average player. Even the "raid" like areas (called Elite

Missions in GW), which are nominally controlled by powerful guild alliances, are periodically

opened by the devs for "holiday" periods so that the average player has access (at least

temporarily) to every last bit of PvE content in the game. It bothers me that WoW has no

concept of the sort. Let the hard core PvE raiders farm Black Temple week after week and

complete their Tier 6 set, that's fine by me. But at least open it for a weekend once every few

months to let the more casual players in and at least take a crack at one or two of the boss

encounters in there. I never got close to finishing any of the Elite Missions in GW, but I can

at least say I got a chance to see them and appreciate some of the work that the devs put into

them. That may very well never happen with Mount Hyjal (except for a fun wall-jumping evening a

year ago) or Black Temple.


-Adam in New Jersey
aka Deltanine, Undead Priest (Blackwing Lair - PvP - US)
Whoa, sorry about the word wrap there. I guess Blogger doesn't like copy n' paste commenting :(
Noone knows what makes business sense.

Sims2 is the non-online record breaking smash hit. That didn't make sense until they actually made Sims.

The fastest growing gaming market is accessible gaming called "casual gaming". And Blizzards is making a fortune not by having designed an inaccessible game.

I really think that raiders who use the argument that the raiding game is the way it is for business reasons miss the point.

Stephen said: "MMOs seem to be a little different in that some people allow the fact that "others" are seeing more of the game than they are hurt their own enjoyment somehow."

This is not how I feel about his at all. I don't care if you see more or less content. I care if content is not tuned to my time commitment, when it well could be!

There is content I hardly see. I have no problem that I haven't seen all quests of both factions. I would have every problem if I did decide to try horde to find that it was designed to be inaccessible to me.

Just for the arguments sake. Lets say Blizz hard designed alliance to be tuned the way it is now. And horde tuned to be only managable by players with 50 hours a week time commitment to the game.

Would that be good design? 50% of all content would by design be inaccessible to the vast majority of players.

Discount rates are completely silly, because I don't want to pay less to see less. I want to pay to see.

I think you could apply your own argument to yourself: What is it with folks who care if someone else also sees most content? Why does that hurt your enjoyment?

In an offline game you'd never know if I play BioShock on easy or hard. In MMOs suddenly people decide that there should only be one difficulty setting, and it's of course the one they prefer.

The real answer are the kinds of things Tobold has mentioned. Multiple levels of difficulty and access. This principle is as old as computer games, but we can't permit it for WoW raiding because?

The only real answer I have ever gotten for this, boils down to some people wanting others to not see the game.

I want to see the game and I will gladly pay for it. I already have. (And to preempt the standard circular counter: Oh you just want to pay to see it all now: No I want to play a well-tuned game that I can play at my time availability, which is 2-3 nights a week, 4 hours each with a skilled group).

To help this for some stuff you don't even need to change difficulty everywhere, just remove logistic time sinks, like for example all too linear and bottle-neck like attunements.
Tobold - excellent questions and comments to spur good discussions.

As a casual gamer (5-10 hours per week max), I must say that I am a bit jealous that I will never see end game content. Yes, I already know that I will not see it. Its not b/c I don't want to or am not skilled enough (new daddy status has downgraded my gaming habits /grin). No I don't want a refund.

I'm very happy for those that have the time/skill/inclination to get thru raids and get top tier gear. I'm glad Bliz has that avail to them b/c its what they want to do w/ their time (I probably would too if circumstances were diff). For me, there was never the 'rush' to get to 60 or 70 so that I could start raiding, etc. It was always about the adventure to get there (the journey..aka...the PVE).

Now, I just dinged 70 last week on my main (equipped w/ half blues and half greens) and my friends that still play alot more are trying to convince me to PVP b/c its the only way for me (the casual player) to get good epics but the problem is that I HATE PVP. I didn't buy this game to PVP, I bought it to PVE so I must say that I wish BLIZ would have a better method for the casual PVE only player to get some basic epics (by basic, I mean some cool stuff T1/T2 that would make any daily's or other PVE easier). And the way I would get this gear is by completing a long quest chain for each piece (10 or 15 quest chain nets you 1 epic). That way, I still have my PVE play I enjoy and I still get epics like PVP but w/o having to do something I don't want to do just so I'll be better equipped.

I guess I'm saying, let raiders keep their T6 (spec'd for raiding)and PVP keep their's (spec'd for PVP) but allow the PVE crowd something equivalent to PVP (spec'd for PVE of course). Then everyone in the game will have a method of obtaining epic's scaled for the respective gameplay needed.

I've heard the arguments that you'll water down epics but what is wrong w/ 3 classes of epics (raid/PVP/PVE)? If a piece of equip can be labled by class why not by playstyle too? Incidentally, I love the idea of difficulty settings. Just my thoughts.
It all comes down to what the end game has to offer, doesn't it.

I mean, a casual player won't get to see BT whilst a Hardcore raider will. Should the casual player get to see BT?

If yes, why? Playing in an MMO is, no matter how much you wish to argue against, a matter of effort. It may not be work as such, but you still have to press buttons in the right order and spend at least as much doing it as you would working 9-5.

If no, why? Everyone is paying the same amount of money. Why insert content that only 10% of your audience will see. What should be happening, is that raiders get into BT within 4 months whilst casual players may get into BT within 10-12 months.

You can't boast that your product has 10 million players and is a success but then keep 9 million of them out of the most important dungeons. Can you see that happening in Warcraft 3? "Sorry, you need to play for 50,000 hours before you can complete the final episode."

And then of course, the next issue is that of Arthas. It's nearly impossible for people to get into BT, does that mean the same thing for WotlK?

"Are you prepared to pay £8.99pm only to find out that just like with BT you will only ever get to see Arthas challenged on YouTube?"

'Hmm, let me think about that. How about I don't pay you any money and still get to see Arthas beaten - on YouTube.'
*nearly impossible - for casual players obviously ^^
Here is an interesting theoretical thought, (spurred by the "casuals should pay less comments").

Assume, that everybody would pay in proportion to what content they have consumed, and the cost it took to produce it.

I.e. Raiders would be paying in proportion to the development effort it took to produce the content they see.

Not knowing numbers, my wild guess is that non-raiders or entry level raiders would pay a little less (a few bucks off everybody makes a load of cash). While raiders pay a large multiple of what they pay now (loads of cash distributed on few people).

Top-end raiding currently is welfare from the casuals to the hardcore. In real money... Think about that.

Or to make it even worse, casuals pay up so hardcore can feel special and keep insisting that casuals have no right to see the content.

Fact of the matter is that people asking for content for their playing style isn't insane.

For example rather than asking for casuals to get a discount, one could equally well ask for a raise of payment for raiders and ask blizz to add more casual-friendly content _in addition_ so that all crowds are better served.

Funny enough the so-called casuals do not run around and yell "give me discount", they run around asking for content! Clearly those who propose the discount don't understand what folks want.

But in reality the answer is simpler: Just make multi-difficulty access to existing content. Lesser rise (extra tuning) in production cost or subscription cost, and more people served by what's already there.
Terroxian, great post. Like you I've had to cut down on raiding since becoming a dad.
For my raid-equipped mage this is no big deal, he already has good gear.

But for my Priest and Hunter the lack of epic items has also caused me to look around to see if there are any viable options.

Arena is one such option. Even if you hate PvP, doing Arena 1 hour per week is all you need to finish the required 10 games in a 3v3 or 5v5 team (don't do 2v2, the points rewarded are lower and the queues are much longer). It takes months, but eventually you'll get access to some *really good* epics.

Some quest lines, especially in BEM, SMV and Netherstorm give surprisingly good blue items. You'll need a 5-man for most but it is well worth it, both in gear and gold.

Finally, instance runs (heroic+normal) and reputation rewards give some nice gear too.

There are also repeatable quests where you can get gear/rep/gold/shards, for example in Ogri'la or Skettis.
In Skettis for example you can repeatedly summon mini-bosses and then the big boss on the central isle, getting a blue item from each boss and a chance for an epic from the big one. The 40 Time-Lost Scrolls per 4 mini-bosses + one large boss are a bit of a hassle to get but it is doable in one evening of farming if you have a good farming class (I used my hunter :)). Just make sure to use friends for the bosses, would be a shame if someone in a PuG "accidently" ninja'd your loot after you worked your butt off farming the scrolls.
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