Tobold's Blog
Thursday, April 24, 2008
 
It's just a game

Although I don't play a paladin, I do read Blessing of Kings, a blog specifically for World of Warcraft paladins. Not only is it well written, but it also has lots of information about raiding, specifically about paladins in raids. Rohan, the author, clearly knows the subject matter well, and is a dedicated player. So it came as a bit of a shock to me that when he applied for a top raiding guild, he got kicked out after a week due to bad performance. They took him on 4 raids to dungeons he hadn't seen yet, and when his healing wasn't quite as good as that of the other paladins, they kicked him out. And to me that story shows up all what is bad with WoW's raid game design.

To me it is obvious that Rohan is a good deal above average as a player. But the guild wasn't looking for above average, they were looking for the very best. And they aren't doing that because they are elitist jerks, but because the game is designed in a way that a group of 25 above average players still wouldn't get to see Sunwell Plateau. Instead it is designed in a way that only the top 1% or less will ever see the top raid content. But at the same time it is designed in a way that everyone can level up to 70, given enough time. And getting from level 69 to 70 does not require any more skill than getting from level 1 to level 2. The game starts with an extremely low skill requirement, then stays flat for a long time, and then at level 70 it sudden erects a huge barrier to entry to even succeeding in your very first raid, and an extremely steep skill requirement curve for any further progress. And I don't think that is good game design.

I think that WoW should do a better job of training people how to play their class better already during leveling. Higher level solo content should require more strategy than low level solo content. And even more importantly, the higher you get, the more advantageous should it be to group. Not "forced grouping", but at the very least as system where beyond the newbie levels you gain more experience in a group than alone. Group play is harder than solo play, so it should be encouraged and rewarded more.

But while I think that the required skill curve should be less flat during leveling, I also think that it should be less steep at the end. There shouldn't be any content that an above average player can't get to. After all, WoW is just a game! The very idea that anything in an online game would require the training and dedication of a top athlete is silly. The amount of hours required to reach stuff like the Sunwell Plateau at the moment is positively unhealthy. It is game elements like that which feed the impression that WoW is "addictive", and risk some form of backlash from politicians. There simply shouldn't be content which you can only reach by being an elitist jerk. It's just a game.
Comments:
Few comments:

a) most likely he got denied full membership because he wiped the raid repeatedly. Nobody expects trialists to be on par with your long time members - gear plays a big part. However you can expect a trialist to know the fights before you've seen them. These days there are sites plenty (wowwiki, wowhead/wowdb, EJ, even Youtube with video how-to's) that explain every fight from Deadmines/Ragefire chasm to the Illidan fight meticulously. When he wiped the raid (or failed to prevent it from happening by not shooting down other people's constructs for example), he made a bad first impression. And as the saying goes you don't get a second chance to make a first impression. As harsh as it may sound, that's probably what happened.

b) endgame is not for an elite few. On our server alone there are 12 guilds currently in Sunwell. Truth be told I'd only catalog 3-4 of them as "exceptional" - the others are just like my guild (which is still in Black Temple btw) - above average, with plenty of time to wipe and learn over and over again. The server also has a few dozen guilds in Black Temple and Mount Hyjal - granted only half of them got in because of 2.4 but now that they are inside, they are making good progress, tackling fights such as RoS without too much difficulty. Endgame isn't for the 1-5% elite players - it's open to everyone with enough time. Because in the end that's all there's to it - you need enough time, to grind out gear (through badges etc), to grind out flasks/food/oils and stones, and to grind cash for those endless wipe nights where you learn new fights. In the end even the biggest dimwit (trust me - I've seen a few in my time, fighting & beating Kael for example) will figure out how to beat a fight and they can end up in Sunwell.
 
> endgame is not for an elite few. On our server alone there are 12 guilds currently in Sunwell.

I'm quite sure that's the exception. Maybe your server had a reputation of having good raiding guilds, so many people interested in and capable of high-end raiding moved there. Wowjutsu lists 3.48% of the guilds it counts (basically every guild that has a Karazhan group) as doing Sunwell. There are exceptions in the other direction as well: My server, which was opened a few months before TBC and attracted a lot of casual players, is listed as "full" and has NO guild at all killing Sunwell bosses. That's ZERO out of 18000 characters that benefit from all the new content.

But please, could we please not have this discussion every time Tobold posts something about raiding being elitist? This has been proven again and again with numbers, quotes from Blizzard, quotes from Nihilum, yet a few stubborn high-end raiders can't cope with the fact that they put significantly more effort into this game than the vast majority.
 
I agree with what Ithilien said.
He applied to join a hard-core guild, and he knew that before he applied.
Hard-core means just that - show you can do it or go somewhere else.
Even Rohan agreed that he didn't make the grade; the reasons why don't really matter.
You don't have to be hard-core to get to Sunwell. I remember the time when Gruul seemed impossible to our guild, and now he is a push=over.
The difference between our guild and a hard-core guild is, that we care more about the people in the guild having fun, rather than rushing to be server first on any particular boss, or proving that we are better than anyone else.

We know that with enough practice we WILL kill any boss we come to; it's just a matter of time and learning the fights.

Unless you make all these boss fights simple tank and spank, people are not going to beat them without a lot of time commitment.

Raiding does not involve a huge amount of skill; it requires the ability to work as part of a team, to get on well with 24 other people, and to push buttons when you need to push buttons.
The average raid requires less button pushing than the average Heroic, imo.

The one thing it does require, is a lot of time. If you don't have the time, then yes, you aren't going to take down Illidan, ever.
 
I think you're a bit off the mark on this one, Tobold. Sunwell is only accessibly by the best of the best *at this point in time.* You mentioned how you have characters who are now able to go into SSC, have fun, and that's that. If you look back to this time last year, only the top 1% SSC guilds, Lady Vashj was so overtuned that virtually no one could beat her -- and those who did generally exploited game mechanics (one guild made all their members level up warlocks to level 20 so they could soulstone their mains... and only killed Vashj because of *twenty five* battle rezzes. They then proceeded to wipe to the non-despawning sporebats that had unlimited range and no line of sight.)

Players who are above average skill wise will be able to see the Sunwell encounters -- just not right Black Temple encounters until 2.4.
 
most likely he got denied full membership because he wiped the raid repeatedly

That is just slander. You should check his site and the web stats posted there before posting accusations like that.

endgame is not for an elite few. On our server alone there are 12 guilds currently in Sunwell.

Oh wow, 12 guilds time 25 players, or 300 players out of a server population of up to 20,000. You're just confirming what you set out to disprove: Sunwell Plateau is for a handful of elite players only.

Note that I don't blame the guild for not accepting Rohan. I blame a game design in which kicking somebody out of a guild because he doesn't heal quite as many points per second as somebody else actually makes sense. Which happens to be the same game design in which quitting your guild to join a more advanced guild actually makes sense. WoW game design not only encourages people to play more hours than are healthy, but also encourages them to behave like jerks just to advance.
 
I think you're a bit off the mark on this one, Tobold. Sunwell is only accessibly by the best of the best *at this point in time.* You mentioned how you have characters who are now able to go into SSC, have fun, and that's that. If you look back to this time last year, only the top 1% SSC guilds

That is exactly what I'm saying. SSC took a year of hard work and a couple of nerfs before it was accessible. In my opinion there are still not even enough players who have seen even Karazhan. Sunwell Plateau should be about as hard as Karazhan is now, with everything else being proportionally easier. Basic raiding should be easily accessible to the average player. The top raid content should be accessible with a few months of work by a somewhat above average player. The people who are "top raiders" now by having spend thousands of hours raiding should have run out of content long ago and moved on to some more healthy occupation. There simply shouldn't be content in the game which you can only reach by playing an amount of hours which gets you classified as "addicted" by the media.
 
Tobold wrote:

"That is exactly what I'm saying. SSC took a year of hard work and a couple of nerfs before it was accessible. In my opinion there are still not even enough players who have seen even Karazhan."

I completely agree with Tobold. On my server there is not one guild who is currently in the Sunwell. Two guilds are working on Hyjal a bit now, but only because the attunements were removed.

If you really count the amount of days it takes to progress a guild to a certain point it is really amazing the amount of time that goes by for the average guild before something of the size of a 25 man becomes "farm" content.

As for the guy who said 12 guilds in sunwell. That is a lot for one server; however, even with that amount that is still only 300 players out of at least 10,000.
 
I'm not convinced by your argument, Tobold - and for the record, I'm one of those people who's never even done Kara. (Starting on it in a week and a half - woo!)

I'd say that end-game WoW is more a sport than a conventional video game - 10 or 25 people come together for a difficult cooperative activity requiring reflexes, teamwork and quick thinking. And I must say, I don't have a problem with a) it being hard or b) the fact that I'll probably never see Sunwell Plateau.

Well, OK, I don't have *much* of a problem with the latter. It's a bit of a bugger, but it's not a game-killer.

The game does have a significant problem with the increase in difficulty between soloing to 70, end-game dungeons, and Heroics/Kara. There's also just the problem with requiring players to suddenly go from 5-mans to 25-mans: personally, I'd like to see Black Temple etc-level 5-mans. But after that, I'm not so sure.
 
It isn't a problem because people know eventually they will get there. It is a "carrot on a stick" that entices them to keep playing knowing one day they will be good enough to get in and get gear that they currently only see on a small % of the players. Actually though, it will just be tuned down and they will get in thinking they are better when in fact it just got easier.

Now I broke that stick and left the game because that style didn't appeal to me. However, several million don't mind it and Blizz won't do anything about it until they do mind.

I doubt we'll ever see blizz dish out new and easily assessible content because they don't want the elite guilds to get the gear and be bored, they would rather have the other 95% to not have access for months until they tone it down.
 
Blizzard keep falling into the same trap. I've said it again, and again, and again.

You cannot design for the obsessives prepared to spend hours playing every day. Don't even try. They will trivialise your content no matter WHAT you do. Ignore them. Cater for the fat part of your distribution curve. Design EVERYTHING to be accessible for the MAJORITY of your players.

Sooner or later, some company will figure that out, and will make WoW's success look like Everquest, I remain absolutely convinced.
 
Honestly Tobold, You seem to be a bit off the mark.
Nobody asked the guy to join that RG- HE asked for trial.

HC raiding is defined by its very name- it is supposed to be difficult, and yes it is supposed to be demanding in terms of both time, some skill and foremost of all committment.

As said by some predecessors, a membership in SP-raiding guild is, to some extent, a privilege. If, for some reason, You can not keep up the pace, or simply do not perform well enough, You should be out - in a way it also ensures, that time spent by the whole group is spend well enough.

PS. it seems that our culprit got killed a few times - which is not something You would not expect from a newcomer. On the other hand, his healing performance was also poor, due to some 'macro problem' - now this is something I would double-check before getting invited if U asked me.
 
I've said it before and I'll say it again: high end-game difficulty is a business decision that was made to maximize revenue, not fun. If you let people 'beat' the game, many will quit after they do it, as opposred to continuing to pay you thier monthly fee.

So... don't let them beat the game! Sure, dangle completion in front of the players and let them make (slow) progress towards it, lest they lose interest. Let the select few obsessive-comulsives reach the end even, just to show the rest that the goal is not a red herring. But keep the rest safely away from that "the End" screen and paying their bills!

Look at D&D Online. Look at Tabula Rasa. Look at City of Heroes. These games have no infinite end-game. They are good games, but their subscription numbers are in the gutter. Then look at WoW with it's multi-million following. Blizzard would have to be mad to change anything!

There are alternative ways of keeping the end-game going:

- Keep adding more content faster.
But that's expensive.

- Use computer-generated content. But that's boring.

- Use subscription timer lockouts (e.g. you must have your account active for 3 months before you can access the new content).
But that's frustrating.

- Use player-created content.
But that's uncontrollable and prone to intellectual property issues.

- Focus the end-game on PvP and/or other player-to-player interaction.
Okay, thay are doing that. But it's not everyone's cup of tea.

Anyone got better ideas?
 
I think the single biggest issue is their inability to speed up their content creation process. Clearly they are wise to not wish to sacrifice quality, but they really need to try to get expansions out sooner.

If expansions were more frequent, then the high end content of each need not be such a ridiculous timesink.
 
> Anyone got better ideas?

Make an easy version of the content accessible to anyone, and reuse the same content in higher difficulty modes. That's what Diablo did, where you would play the game in Normal mode to the final boss, to unlock Nightmare where you were suddenly in Act I again, but all the monsters were at least your level. Beating the game on the final difficulty, Hell, was even somewhat an achievement in the later patches. That's IMO what Blizzard tried to do with heroic dungeons, only they screwed up the risk/reward ratio for those -- Karazhan is easier and gives better gear.

Advantages of this system: everybody gets to see all the content. High-end raiders keep their bragging rights for having killed boss X on "elite" difficulty. Blizzard saves money, because they retuning existing encounters for a higher item level and more well organized groups costs only a fraction of the effort of designing a completely new raid instance like Sunwell. Put the other way round, Blizzard can invest 95% of their budget into designing beautiful normal dungeons (that everybody will see), and 5% into retuning them for the uber-elite 5% of the players (I consider that fair). As opposed to the situation now, where they spend 50% of their time on the casual 95% and another 50% of their time into designing Sunwell Plateau for the 5% hardcore raiders. (That's even too generous, because Sunwell Plateau is much larger than Magister's Terrace.)
 
"That is just slander."

Sorry Tobold, I'm a long time reader here, but you're wrong on this one. In a following post, Rohan says "I wiped the raid once on Gorefiend. I died in the wrong spot, and didn't realize you could shoot other people's constructs--I thought it was like Leotheras for some reason--so I'm pretty sure I was not shooting my own constructs. I also wiped the raid once on Archimonde (Doomfire)."

http://blessingofkings.blogspot.com/2008/04/wws-reports.html

I agree with you regarding HC raiding being for the elite, however I wanted to correct you here and defend your other commenter.
 
I'm on Rexxar, a pretty healthy server. On Rexxar, according to Wowjutzu, there is one Horde guild that has downed a couple of Sunwell bosses, and no Alliance.

I've checked into that guild just out of curiosity, and they're run like what seems to be typical of high-end, 2nd-job guilds. Resume, trial period, 'working hours'. That's what it takes to get there and succeed, and grats to them -- but that's not for me. I'm paying to play a game.

The account of Rohan was interesting to me because of how much is just taken for granted in hardcore raiding. There are sites devoted to best gear and spell rotations and theorycrafting. You'd best be good on a computer so you can find and download add-ons, and implement macros. You'll need to research those fights from help sites and videos. Add-ons track performance like you're in a 21st-century battlefield environment -- wait; what happened to being a fantasy hero in a game?

And whatever you do, don't wipe the raid! This isn't fun, this is a second job, and that will get you fired!

As Tobold says, going from mundane leveling at 69 (killing one more Foozle) to endgame raiding is really a huge leap, and what is strange to me is that while hardcore raiding is built into WoW, there is essentially no in-game preparation for that jump in seriousness. Or the letdown that the WoW you enjoyed while leveling ends at 70.
 
That's what you get for playing Alliance.

Seriously, when your faction is overpopulated, you tend to get these spreadsheet geeks that watch all the monitors and try to min/max every encounter. GMs on Alliance side on my server (I have one Gnome Warlock 60 and one BE SP 70) have a stick up their butts.

Alliance side, guilds have little to no cohesion, because GMs don't give a rats behind for actual people and that results in no loyalty from the players.

Horde side, you don't have a surplus of players to choose from. You bring in people who aren't topflight out of the gate and you work with them. You teach them how to gear up, to gem, enchant and how to get the most out of their talents. And your guilds and raid groups are that much stronger because of it.

Horde side, yeah, the progression isn't as fast, but it's a whole lot less stressful and a lot more fun.
 
"Endgame isn't for the 1-5% elite players - it's open to everyone with enough time."

That's Tobold's point. Should you really have to devote so much time to participate in high-end raiding?

I can't think of any other "hobby" that requires such a devotion of time. Honestly, what other "fun "thing do you do for 3-5 hours a day, 3-5 days a week?
 
Basic raiding should be easily accessible to the average player. The top raid content should be accessible with a few months of work by a somewhat above average player. The people who are "top raiders" now by having spend thousands of hours raiding should have run out of content long ago and moved on to some more healthy occupation.

You just described LotRO.
 
@Michael

Yet on my server:

Horde: The 1st Illidan kill was in November. There are 5+ Horde guilds that have taken down Illidan and are now in Sunwell.

Alliance: The 1st Illidan kill was last week. The 2nd Illidan kill was literally the very next day. The next closest guild has been stuck on RoS for a month or more.

I'm a non-raiding member of the 2nd Illidan killing guild. I know what the guild is like (I'm close friends with the GM) and there certainly isn't any "stick up their butt".

Just because your server is one way doesn't mean all servers are that way.
 
I think that WoW should do a better job of training people how to play their class better already during leveling. Higher level solo content should require more strategy than low level solo content. And even more importantly, the higher you get, the more advantageous should it be to group. Not "forced grouping", but at the very least as system where beyond the newbie levels you gain more experience in a group than alone. Group play is harder than solo play, so it should be encouraged and rewarded more.

This post and the subsequent comments have simply restated everything thats wrong with WoW and its playerbase.

Its a mystery to me why everybody still plays it. Even if it may be the best MMO out there, there ARE other genres. I don't know why people put in so much time and effort and deal with so much drama bullshirt for a couple short minutes of thrill and 18% more glowy swords or 21% more spikier shoulders.

Its just a game. Its only as important as YOU MAKE IT.
 
Endgame isn't for the 1-5% elite players - it's open to everyone with enough time.

thank you for agreeing with tobold without realizing it.

WOW 12 guilds out of how many? 200 200 sounding pretty elitist in design.
 
Key points:

The game should be designed to teach a player the class they are playing in a group environment.

The difficulty curve should be increased for normal leveling and reduced for end game content.

To those I say - "yes please". It's not just WoW it's MMO's in general. The games need to teach the mechanics better. That said, there are quests that teach group play while leveling while requiring a group, those are the one's most people who solo skip :).

In addition, that is what the various 5 person instances (remember they used to be 10 and 15 person)are for. So I do think they can do a better job of teaching the classes and mechanics but I also think they tried with the game design.

What I think they should do is add specific class quests every 10 levels that requires use of a specific class defining skill in a group quest in order to get that skill. For instance, taunt is only going to be used in a group environment. Why not have a quest that teaches it? You can make the quest soloable by using NPC's the person have to save.

That sort of approach should be used for all classes to teach the basic mechanics.

I remember in my first MMO I played a Wizard (ranged class). I was excited about MMO's and I read up on them and learned ranged classes should stay away from the mobs (due to aggro modifiers and such). I had my first pickup group with 2 melee classes. They pulled and I was in the back waiting for them to build a little aggro and then nuking away. After about 3 pulls they both yelled at me and said I wasn't doing anything (because I wasn't in melee range) and the leader kicked me from the group. I was really angry and confused. The game didn't teach them the game - it wasn't their fault for not researching "outside of the game" to learn the mechanics, the game should teach them.

The second issue is spot on IMHO. The game needs to increase in difficulty in solo encounters to slowly build the players skill. In addition, once at the level cap the raid difficulty should be scalable. IMO make an easy mode and normal mode (3 modes would be my preference, easy/normal/hard). The rewards in easy mode can be slightly above the 5 person instances. The easy mode can be offered in the first 2 raid instances (25 person not 10 person - since there shouldn't be a 10 person barrier to entry for 25 person raid - but that's another post). After that players should have more skills with their class and easy mode shouldn't be required.

My experience with MMO's, WoW included, is that they take a lot of research to get "really good" at. That research is usually outside of the game environment (forums, cheat guides, walkthroughs, blogs, videos, etc...). I wish the game taught us more of the basics (i.e the ranged versus melee distance aggro modifier).
 
I like the idea of questing teaching you to play your class. What I would like to see is an "instance" that can only be entered in solo which tests your skills using the abilities you have until that point. Say a mage enters in the portal. The content he has to pass would be tough enough that he must learn to sheep and kite with nova. You could even use friendly NPCs to teach concepts of aggro. Make the solo content hard so you have to know how to use the skills well.

OK, maybe Bliz would never do something like that because it would be tough to implement, but I like the idea of a "trials" kind of thing. Maybe make it part of a keying process. Or an arena style event where you must fight waves of monsters.
 
You are exactly right- it *is* BAD GAME DESIGN. The ridiculous time requirement of WoW end game is the reason I would leave WoW in an instant for a similar game that offered end game content for the average player to experience.
 
This comment has been removed by the author.
 
Make an easy version of the content accessible to anyone, and reuse the same content in higher difficulty modes.

NO just make the games content reasonably balanced, and forget the hardcore. As tobold said its been proven time and time again that they are a very small percentage. And that also makes them the least profitable group in wow. They blow through content too fast, require excessive dev interaction for tuning and content.
 
I do tend to agree with making all content more available, but I do have a problem with the "forget the ahrdcore" mentality. Part of what makes the game exciting for me is knowing that there is something else out there. I get the feeling that these superguilds destroy some content and then get bored with the game and leave for a while. If there was no hardcore content, then more people would "finish" the game and while that sounds like fun to me, it doesn't seem to be a place Blizz wants a lot of their customers.

However, the vast majority of content that is really unaccessible to me (and apparently others from what I read) is rediculous.
 

Note that I don't blame the guild for not accepting Rohan. I blame a game design in which kicking somebody out of a guild because he doesn't heal quite as many points per second as somebody else actually makes sense. Which happens to be the same game design in which quitting your guild to join a more advanced guild actually makes sense. WoW game design not only encourages people to play more hours than are healthy, but also encourages them to behave like jerks just to advance.


nailed it
 
think about it this way nathan. When UBRS was end game the model worked really well. Now the carrot is on Mount Everest. I'm not saying run off the hard core. I'm saying quit balancing the content to keep them busy for 2 or 3 months. It never lasts that long anyway. And then you have hundreds of dev cycles wasted on content that almost no one else will use.

Nihilum used to be fun to watch. Now they are so far up in the clouds i don't care. The are a Universe away from me. nothing they ever do will ever help me, entertain me or make my game better
 
forget the hardcore. […] They blow through content too fast, require excessive dev interaction for tuning and content.

I agree with you, Sam. But here is the problem. Lots of players (including the media) listen to what these hardcore players have to say about a game. If someone blows through the content 1 month after release and then starts talking about how “it was a good game for 1 month” then people are going to listen. I would. Heck, that’s why I didn’t pick up PotBS. So while these hardcore don’t matter much in the long-term, they present a PR problem in the short-term if the game doesn’t meet their expectations.

If I were Blizzard, I would start out making the top end-game content REALLY hard and inaccessible. Then when most of my player base caught up, I would make it dramatically easier to get access to it. Sound familiar? That’s exactly what they are doing by removing attunements and providing welfare epics for badges and honor.

Of course, I think they made the game a bit too inaccessible at first and it remains too inaccessible now. I also don’t think they really follow a plan. It’s like they design for the super difficult mode and then don’t bother to think about how to curve it down over time. They just “try some stuff out” on the fly and hope it works. With some better planning, they could keep content relevant AND accessible to the players lagging behind the bleeding edge. The key is to think about the entire life cycle of the content at design creation instead of working backwards to fix it after the fact.
 
More consideration needs to be given to the idea that ALL content should be solo able.

Grouping in a MMORPG should be an option - not a requirement - even for the endgame.
 
I agree with Tobold on the game design being a bit jerky. The techniques to be successful in a group of any type (5-man or raid) are not anywhere in the solo or leveling game at all, unless you count the lowbie instances - and even then, there's no explanation.

When you reach level 8 as a mage, you get Polymorph. If you have not grouped or are otherwise new, you will wonder what the hell that spell is for. I did. I went and poly'd some Armored Scorpid and it sat there. I watched it for a few seconds, then it broke and I fought. I thought the spell was stupid, until I remembered it and used it on an add later.

The game designers could add in a lot of questing or even regular game mechanics to get leveling players to use those skills (taunt, healing others, cc, etc). It would help out a bit, although it's a bit late now.

I do disagree on the top end content requiring too much skill. Rather, I disagree that such a thing is bad. I don't think it's bad. I look at it like a ramp: every player makes it so far up the ramp. As long as there is more ahead of the player, then he'll continue to play. It stands to reason that the top part of the ramp (Sunwell Plateau today) must be very hard to reach. Players have the mindset of wanting to jump straight to the best/newest content and they complain that only a few people can, but they lose sight of all the "just a bit harder than what we're doing now" content that's out there.

Don't bitch about Sunwell Plateau if you're wearing Kara gear. Get over to Gruul and start enjoying the new stuff.
 
On the "a group of 25 above average players still wouldn't get to see Sunwell Plateau" front, my wife has been running PUG Sunwell recently.

With a more-or-less random group of 25 people she can get to the first boss. (She's advertising it as trash epic farming, naturally.)

This is on the US Khaz Modan server. Last I checked wowjutsu, we had three Sunwell guilds.
 
I support more forced grouping, either by requiring quests to unlock player abilities, or to pass certain level marks (like every 10 levels).

But there are a lot of skills which are hard to teach in any computer-scripted environment. Grouping with real people, with real challenges (like mini 1-boss instances) are the only way to do it.

I would play on an easy-mode server that allowed for a broader range of people to experience endgame content. The real hardcore would stay away from such "kiddy" servers or brag about clearing through the content in a week. But that's ok with me; I would just like to play with a broader group of friends, many of whom are much less skilled and learned.

I think one of the issues that has arisen in WoW is the spread of information. As WoW has become more popular, more people share information through Wowwiki, etc... So if you're not reading those sites, you are far behind the bell curve. Elite players are using spreadsheets to min-max everything, which was probably less common a few years ago.
 
OK sid I'd take your approach. I've complained since launch they seemed to need some really good project managers and a team that did nothing but make sure loot was balanced.

Honestly I'm slowly coming around to the opinion they'll never get better till they have an internal team of about 1000 beta testers that can test this stuf in an environment and then let the gaming community have it new and fresh without all the hard core guilds documenting everything in Thott before it ever goes live.
 
I think the general trend is that the time spent blogging about MMOs is inversely proportional to the skill of the blogger. When I used to write for uopowergamers.com it became blindingly obvious that the most loquacious posters were the least skilled.
 
I think the general trend is that the time spent blogging about MMOs is inversely proportional to the skill of the blogger. When I used to write for uopowergamers.com it became blindingly obvious that the most loquacious posters were the least skilled.

Haha. That’s not an inflammatory shot across the bow. :) I would agree with you if you were talking about official forum posters or commenter’s on some of the big sites like WoW Insider. Blogging by no means equates to skill, but if someone takes the time to blog about something, then they are likely well above the average level of experience for the game they are playing.

The farther you get away from forums that aren’t well policed or attract the uneducated, the closer you get to finding a community where people contribute intelligently. For the developer community, that may be a site the Ace forums. For the theorycrafters, maybe it’s Elitist Jerks. For raiders, maybe it’s Boss Killers. These communities are important and are comprised of the best skilled and knowledgeable players in the game. As many have pointed out, outside research on sites like those is pretty much a requirement for personal progression.
 
Give ALL instances three difficulty settings.

1. solo
2. group
3. raid

It's the only way to keep old content from dying and allowing new players to catch up. It also lessens guild drama as weaker players can do the same content.

Obviously, the quality of the loot would increase with each difficulty setting.

Perfection!
 
=##=:
Perfect except that the 99% that is only on group status will complain that they can't access the gear that the 1% on raid will be able to. No matter what it is it will be too easy, or too hard. Granted, I think currently it is skewed toward the too hard side, but overall you ar going to have some unhappy people and some happy people. The big issue i think could be addressed is the number of people in a raid. In my guild, we have 15 or so people who are able dedicated and such to do just about anything. However due to the 25 mans, cant really progress. If the end game stuff was more 10-15 man, there would be a lot more people able to see end game without having to "apply" to a HC raid guild. It would also lend itself to less drama due to gear disputes, etc. Make end game 12 man or so and things would be better.
 
That's what I'm talking about. BC has allowed a lot more people to experience "end game" than in the original WoW. I mean I know a lot of people who are now killing Gruul, Mags, and SSC/TK, than ever set foot in even Molten Core back in the day. The problem is that it is just too difficult for the avg person to have 25 friends that can be online at the same time every day necessary. If WotLK learns anything is that decreasing the number of people needed to "raid" will mean more people "raid" it will be a success. Make the instances like 12-15 man and a huge proportion of people will now get to see stuff that wouldnt before.
 
Well, the recent posts have reminded me of how weird it is, IMO, to simply assume that more people = more difficult.
So obviously the hardest raids in WoW were the 40-toon content, then the 25-toon, the 20-toon, the 10-toon, then heroics, right?
And doubles tennis is harder than singles tennis?

IMO, Blizzard has always had this skewed.
Generally speaking, there are two obvious variables: Individual skill, and teamwork.
In the case of an MMO like WoW this is complicated by the 'trinity' design and by classes. Also, there are strategy twists in many boss encounters as well.

But the issue that stands out to the casual is that big raid = big epic drops, and there aren't corresponding challenges & rewards at the individual level.
It would appear that in Blizzard's world, real heroes travel in packs... :)
 
So obviously the hardest raids in WoW were the 40-toon content, then the 25-toon, the 20-toon, the 10-toon, then heroics, right?

I would say the dungeon design has less to do with the difficulty than organizing the raid. Most fights in WoW are just variations on other fights that are simply scaled to be bigger and harder. For example, the fight isn’t more intelligent – it just has more of something. Boss has more hit points, more armor. does more damage, summons more adds, aoe’s more often, casts a certain spell more often and so forth.

A Heroic will always be “easier” than a 25-man because you only need to find 4 other competent people to join your group. Likewise, a 10-man is easier because you only need 9 more competent people. A twenty-five man requires you to find 24 more competent people. Of course, many guilds can’t field 25 competent people so they give everyone very specialized tasks to dumb down the encounter to make it easier. I wouldn’t call that “harder” from a game design perspective, but I can’t argue that it is significantly more challenging to organize a group to beat the instance.
 
well sid I remember 40 man raiding and While it is harder to organize 40 people until nax you had some leeway. You could have 10 or so people who were just average to good players. The smaller raids don't really allow for that till you are overgeared.

Also the number of people willing to lead raids and who have the skill set to do so didn't magically go up in BC.
 
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