Tobold's Blog
Friday, November 21, 2008
Designing difficulty levels

This week I have been playing a lot less World of Warcraft than I wanted, due to various work and private other commitments. That causes me some unhappiness, as I get a feeling of falling behind in my guild, a fear of not even being level 80 yet when the guild starts raiding. That fear is certainly to some extent irrational, as my guild in the past did a very good job of integrating the more casual players into raids. But if even I can feel it, I can understand under what amount of pressure somebody from a top raiding guild must feel to keep up.

The whole thing becomes absurd once you consider that Nihilum already clearly demonstrated that there is no reason to hurry. Unlike the previous expansion there is a considerable risk that if you play at the fastest possible speed, you will run out of raid content before Blizzard can patch in new one. Over the last week I had several comments from raiders (curiously mostly anonymous) expressing their fear that Wrath of the Lich King simply isn't made for them any more. Now imagine that would be true, Blizzard really changed their ways, and made an expansion which is less suited for the hardcore and more suited for the casual players, what would happen?

Imagine I could measure the skill/dedication/hardcoreness/whatever-you-wanna-callit of every single WoW player on a scale of 0 to 100, and make a graph of the number of players in every skill category. Such a curve would most likely be a Gauss bell curve, with lots of players of average skill, and decreasing numbers of players toward very high and very low skill levels. Now consider having to design an expansion, and having to choose a difficulty level. Unlike single-player games, which often have a selectable difficulty, the difficulty has to be the same for all players. You can try to cover an as wide range as possible, but it is impossible to design a difficulty which is both challenging and achievable by everyone. The Burning Crusade, pre-patch 3.0.2, was designed in a way that even the most skilled and dedicated player would find the raid endgame challenging. Lowering that difficulty level in Wrath of the Lich King would make the raid endgame more accessible to more of the average skilled players, but risks making the game too easy for the most hardcore players.

The question is whether that would be so bad. Ideally WotLK would just wided the skill range for which the game is fun. But even if it just kept the width of the range the same, and moved it lower, the nature of a bell curve dictates that you'd cover the maximum number of players if you move the range into the middle of the curve, away from the high end. For every player for whom the game now becomes too easy, there are several for who raiding becomes newly accessible. Which means that in terms of subscription numbers, a move of difficulty towards the average skilled can only help.

In terms of public relations the story looks a lot different. Average players are often a lot less visible than hardcore players. If Nihilum makes true their April's fool joke and quits WoW because it became too easy, that would cause a lot more news reports than if a number of average Joes quit because they never succeed in raiding. But even then it would remain to be seen how much of a role model these hardcore raiders really are. If the top guild on your server quits, that just means that the second-best guild now becomes the new top guild, changing nothing in the aspirations of the average player.

And it isn't as if a top raiding guild has many choices of other games to go to. WoW is the top raiding game in the MMORPG market place. A game like the original Everquest might be even more hardcore, but it is also somewhat outdated, and most of the remaining players are rather hardcore, which would make it difficult for a WoW guild to move there and make much of an impression. If there is a continueing trend towards MMORPGs that are more accessible for the average player, and thus too easy for the top players, maybe in the future we will see specialized niche games for hardcore raiders. If game companies produce hardcore PvP games, why not hardcore PvE games for a similar niche market as well?

So overall I think Blizzard isn't risking too much by making raiding more accessible in Wrath of the Lich King. We might see forum post for many years to come with people claiming how WotLK "ruined" WoW, just like others say Trammel "ruined" UO. But for subscription numbers a move to open up the endgame for more players can only be good. And in the end, subscription numbers and profits count for more than the bruised egos of some raiding divas.
A very good post which I agree with to 100%.
I agree, 100%. There's nothing wrong with either end of the spectrum. But, whether hardcore raiders want to agree with it or not, its likely the majority of those 11 million account holders are more casual players and a move toward more casual content can only be good for Blizzard's bottom line. (I'm not complaining either, since I tend toward playing more casually anyway.)

Also, the top guilds cleared content on the live servers in three days (or less?), but we all know they've been clearing that content on the beta for months. So, the difficulty level, according to them, is going to be different than the difficulty level according to the average Joe.
I'll be interesting to see whether the split to 10-man and 25-man raids has the intended effect of catering to both the casuals and the hardcore. So far, my guild's been clearing some of the wings in Naxxramas without any difficulty, but they're doing it in a 25-man raid. I have a hunch that despite the public opinion, 10-mans are for the hardcore and the 25-mans are for the casuals.

The main cause for that would be that whenever the group size goes up, the proportional contribution of a single player to the group goes down. Whether that is enough to offset the difficulty of organizing 25 people vs the difficulty of organizing 10 people remains to be seen.
I still think the biggest problem the devs created, and to be fair I thought it was a good decision at the time, was smaller raids.

For casual players that wanted the feeling of advancement Large guilds were far superior. A well run large guild could field a core group and keep a large number of casual players as filler and advance fairly well and most people were happy with that. With smaller guilds raiding is harder for casauals because guilds trimmed the fat and most don't keep the extra players hanging around as filler. Thats what finally led me to quit. I couldn't raid regularly as I did pre BC and I don't like blizzards PVP model. They left a rather large non-vocal group of casual players stuck in a bad place.

As backwards as it seems Large raids are more accessable for casual players. Not at first. But as the higher end of the raiding groups begin to put raids on farm status and the other guilds move up they were better off than currently.

I almost came back for WOTLK but i'm so far behind now theres no real reason too. I love to explore but I have to have that feeling of advancement as well and blizzard killed that for casuals with BC. Unless they like PVP and I'll give up PC gaming before I'll embrace blizzards broken PVP model.

It sounds like they've fixed a lot of things from BC. But they've still done nothing that'll bring players like me back. It's a shame, I wish they would.

I do agree that if they'd just ignore Nihilum and the other guys at the top they'd be better off. That and I wish they'd take a bit of thier profits and do private play testing with NDA's. And Completely abandon thier public test realms so everyone doesn't start the game with WOWHEAD to guide them.
I don't see it as difficulty so much as time, which is a feature/flaw of WoW. I think Blizzard was on the right path with Heroics... let everyone experience the content, and you decide the risk/reward and time spent playing.

Personally I think raiders are in a self-inflicted masochistic state. The developer can only produce so much content, and so the only way to slow raiders down is artifically such as grinding content gates. MMO devs don't seem to want to go the route of dynamic content and I guess PvP is not what a raider wants.

To me, the raiding endgame of WoW always seemed to be mostly about three things:

1) The experience and challenge
2) The gear
3) The bragging rights

Couldn't they expand their "heroic mode" feature a bit more to design two different endgames for the two different crowds (the average and the hardcore)? The current simplificiation of WotLK benefits the large middle group (averages) who can finally experience all of what an expansion has to offer. Expanding the heroic concept could add a few more challenges, bosses, slightly better gear, and obviously bragging rights (special achievements and unlocks) for the hardcores.

Is this idea way off?
I'm a hardcore raider. I don't like the ease of the new raids. Now I'd be fine with their current level of difficulty if there was another more difficult raid. Honestly, I think that was their intent, but due to time constraints they moved those instances to the first content patch. I think raiding should be more accesable to others than it was in BC. I just think there should be more challenging content as well. I wonder what will happen to the game without the hardcore raiders. I mean how much of the economy is driven by them? Trade skills, server leadership etc.. What kind of hidden impact do they have that isn't easily seen until they are gone?
The problem is Nihilum/SK Gaming did not actually complete the content in 4 days. They had months of experience during beta, learned and mastered the fights in that time, and did nothing but rush to 80 to say they had "beaten" WOTLK quickly.

Only a fool would listen to that kind of nonsense.

Besides, Blizzard already has the solution in hand. You can run an instance on normal and heroic difficulty currently. Why not simply add a "super heroic" difficulty setting so the whiny <1% hard-core pro-gamer idiots can STFU and let the rest of us enjoy this awesome game at our own pace.

Just my 2 cents.
What would the game world be like without the hardcore Raiders?

Well, there wouldn't be quite as much demand for Trade Mats like Herbs, etc., which the Raiders use each week. Then again, some casuals like to level Tradeskills too, because it's there, and that's the kind of person they are. So demand may drop slightly, but it won't disappear altogether.

Without the hardcore Raiders, there'd be less asshats prancing around the mailbox on their Raven, or parking their Bear on top of the Battlemaster. That's a good thing.

So you could say things will actually balance out if the hardcore raiders leave, except...

What if we factor in all those developers and programmers, the ones who spent tens of thousands of hours creating content for the hardcore Raiders, who suddenly have a lot of free time on their hands?

Hmmm. Without the handful of hardcore raiders taking up so much of the developers' time, there just might be a lot more content for the casual players. The game world might just be a better place. What an intriguing thought.
:D Good post Tobold. Personally I am anti-elitism and moving the bell curve towards somethign more normal suits me just fine. Only wish they'd done it sooner.
WoW would be nothing with out hardcore raiding guilds. These guilds are the backbone of everything we do in the game. With out EPIC DIFFICULTY dungeons people will have nothing to look foward to doing. Why not just go play second life?

Although there should always be easier raids, training wheel raids, and other end game options(pvp, arena, crafting, standing around iron forge)...the main event of the WoW experience is the PvE raid, and the more difficult the raid, the more epic of a feeling it has. There is something to be said about doing a really difficult boss or clearing a really difficult dungeon. Not all players will experience this, but with out it WoW will loose some of it's magic. Any future raids Blizzard puts in better be difficult and Naxx shouldn't be avaliable to level 78's in green gear. Anything that drops purps should require blues.
I did 25 man naxx once on beta. It wasn't with my guild, it was a pick up and we cleared the whole thing. We were all in the pvp gear. I never did 40 man naxx. To be honest it may be to easy for even casual guilds. My 79 death knight already out dpses my 80 premade on beta. So a guild full of dungeon blues and heroic epics is going to smash the place.
you are right, but only in relative terms. the question is: what is a hardcore player you talk about in that article ? to get to the point, if only the most dedicated / skilled or whatever 5% of all players fall in that category and therefore run out of content and /or get bored that would be no problem.
but in the reality there are already PUGs starting to run naxx on my server and every, yes every pre wotlk raiding guild, already cleared naxx 25 by now. the gerneral chat is full of casuals asking what the hell blizzard did to 5 man instances cause they are more than trivial.
conlusion of all this is: i guess your dead wrong with believing that the content is only to easy for 5% of all players but more in the region of 20%-40% .
So you think all the people standing around and being asshats are raiders? You think they have the monopoly on dick heads? Most hardcore raiders I know don't even interact with people outside of their circle. Half my guild has general and trade turned off.
Nothing to do with subject, i apologize, but what happened to Die Wilde Jagd blog?
The problem is that this is not a casual player issue, but a non-RPG player vs. an RPG player issue.

In vanilla WoW, casuals (and PvPers) got screwed because there was little to nothing to do at end-game for them; and absolutely no way to advance their characters. But the majority of these casuals played the game to it’s full extent. They researched every quest and instance they could do, and knew their class well. Because they treated the game as an RPG, and were willing to invest in their characters (just maybe not in 8+ hour chunks). They added a bunch of to the community and deserved better.

The neo-casual brought in from Blizzard’s ham-fisted PvP welfare epic system should not be catered to in any way. These are the plethora of botters and “just losers” in BG’s that are rogues decked in season 2 gear but with zero LP skill and no idea how to bleed kite a plate target. These are console players who use cheat codes. They don’t stick with a game long term, and add nothing to the community.

Patch 3.0 was a preview of the current problem. People hailed it as opening up content, but that is completely erroneous. Sorry, but going into Kara in blues and killing Moroes without CC or Curator before the first evocate is not experiencing content. Those events are based upon those mechanics, and what that level of nerf brings is essentially a slideshow of character models followed by loot.

With difficult content the true casual does have some stuff they won’t see, but as long as you give them enough content to advance their character and fill their play time then who really cares. If you have no difficult content, then hardcore people will have nothing to do at all.

That’s the difference.

Slight nerfs such as 2.3 are acceptable but the starting point cannot be this low. I am a level 78 in level 70 gear blowing through level 80 instances.

And whatever amount of time SK had in Beta, the fact is that they crushed these instances in 3 days. So they bypassed huge amounts of content (heroics, 80 instances) and got the best end game gear.
I still haven't heard from anyone who thinks the tuning was off if the idea was to make Naxx10 like Kara 2.0 and Naxx25 like MC-early BWL, for someone coming in with questing/heroic blues. Before WotLK raiders were saying they didn't want to have to do all of the heroic 5-man gearing, claiming it put too much pressure on guild social structure (particularly tanks... 2-3/25 tanks for a raid, 1/5 tanks for a run is not balanced). Raiders also didn't want to have their epics replaced before the main raids as happened in TBC because they felt it cheapened their accomplishments. And nobody wanted to deal with the pressure that attunements were creating. Now Blizzard has tried going in those directions in WotLK and hardcore raiders are finding they preferred the longer ladder in TBC system. Everyone is also finding that it turns normal dungeons into a joke if they have even basic farmed badge and PVP gear, from what I'm hearing. Hopefully Blizzard's gear reset is between the TBC and WotLK extremes in the next expansion.

As far as raid difficulty, Blizzard has a conundrum; they have the assets to make 4-6 raid dungeons per expansion. Sure, they could expand their team, but with 150-200 people on WoW staff already they're reaching the point of diminishing returns. So how do you stretch that content out? I think there is no option that everybody is going to love and the question is what method of stretching the content pisses everyone off the least. WoW is a new phenomenon as far as having a huge semi-casual player base and so Blizzard has to experiment.

One option is to overtune and then progressively nerf. Maybe that will be the final compromise that gets arrived at in an expansion or two, but nobody seems to have liked it that much in TBC. Maybe people would like this approach more if it were explicit, say we'll nerf boss HP and damage 3% a month after the first 2-3 months instead of haphazard nerfs, or maybe that would cheapen things even more.

The option I think they are implicitly trying in WotLK is to have achievements take the place of boss kills as a marker of progress for hardcore guilds in the earlier dungeons. Nobody who is complaining about difficulty has their black proto-drake yet, I notice. Maybe what Blizzard will find with this experiment is that achievements aren't anywhere near as psychologically satisfying as the kill/no kill split. Maybe they need to add an epic mode, where the bosses are even tougher, or to codify the achievements they laid out in (heroic:glory of the raider) - make Patchwerk enrage at 3 min, make Sarth's drakes immune until he dies, make Frenzy undispellable, etc. Then you have the problem that without any additional gear rewards I doubt this content would get used by more than the top few hundred guilds doing it once or twice.

Another solution is to release an easy dungeon for casual players to get their feet wet, as well as a hard dungeon that will undergo some successive nerfs, at the start of the expansion. That way casual players aren't hearing about a "brick wall" as happened in with Gruul 1.0 etc. in TBC. Maybe this is the overarching plan; Blizzard claims Ulduar is ready. On the one hand I think they're trying to avoid the TBC fiasco where they pushed all the content out up front and hardcore guilds had nothing to do for a year. Perhaps they've gone a click too far in the other direction. On the other hand I remember Hyjal, which was supposedly "finished" and apparently showed up months later completely untuned on the test servers.

Another thought, Tobold... I feel you on the guild "pressure." I've managed to find two genuine adult/casual/social guilds with good players (mostly ex-hardcore raider level) in the last year, and in both cases spent less time in the guild before quitting the game than I did leveling my character up guildless. The core was still going to be on 4-5 nights a week and naturally they'll level together and make friends. Feel like taking a week off to say work on the U.S. elections or play Fallout 3? You're falling behind and out of the guild social structure. Sure, you can take a week here or there, but when WoW is your lowest priority hobby like it is for me and you naturally want to take every other week off, then there's a problem. I'm trying a resub where I don't join any guild, certainly not before getting my reroll to the level cap. (Why am I pontificating about raid content I've never seen, then? Horrible writer's block.)
Dreadhawk, a few bad apples can tar the whole basket, even if your specific Guild has nothing to do with those bad apples. Guilt by association, unfortunately.

Other than asshat, what would you call someone who parks their mount on top of a Battlemaster so nobody can click them? I'm sure whatever you come up with is not a polite term. And if that asshat is on a Raider-only mount then it's logical to assume they're a Raider.

Now it is possible they're not true Raiders, that they just bought a spot on Raid specifically to get that Mount and as soon as they got it they made a beeline for the Battlemaster.

Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that if there weren't any Hardcore Raiders, then the asshats who block the Battlemasters wouldn't be able to get a Raider-only mount, although I'm sure they'd quickly work out a way to be equally as annoying. "Let's all get Elekks/Kodos and block the Battlemaster!"

I think we can agree that the game world would be a better place without the asshats, whether they be Raiders or Casuals.
Making assumptions about an entire group of people based on you experience with some of them is not an informed decision. I could easily say all non hardcore raiders are noobs, immature, welfare hungry, cry babies who want everything handed to them. It's not even close to true and neither are the statements you made about raiders.
"The whole thing becomes absurd once you consider that Nihilum already clearly demonstrated that there is no reason to hurry."
You could turn it the other way round. What if your guild clears the whole place before you are even 80? Naxx is featuring 15 Bosses, Sartharion is another. Thats a huge load of epics and its not too far off to fear that your guild might be over with that place before you even want to start. Then they will be moving on to another place where they can't take you with them because your equipment is too weak. If that concern is valid depends on how social your guild is, but it might happen to some. I already know someone who got excluded from his guilds 10-man-raid because he was too slow. He still has his place in their 25-man-raid, but for 10s he is on his own now.

Also I think you forgot an aspect. If the best 150 players from every server leave you don't lose just some players. Basically if Casual Jack who logged in twice a week for an hour to fish and do some battlegrounds quits the game, that doesn't really matter socially. Few people knew him, even fewer will miss him. Hardcore players know a lot more people ingame, they make friends, form raids..
At least on my server hardcore player don't just stick to themselves. Most of them have a guild with guys they like, raid with some completely other guys and do 10s with again some other guys. So if 3-4 big raids leave thats a massive blow to a server. Dozends of 10-man-raids will lose some of their most skilled players and many guilds will lose their most active members, leaving /g empty because the more casual gamers keep on missing themselves due to different schedules.
And speaking in my own experience, raidleaders tend to be pretty hardcore, so many of them will be those 150 leaving. In the end you might have an all-casual-raidenvironment, but you still won't experience it because noone is left to do the organising that I never saw a true casual doing.
Blizzard has actually come out and just straight up said that they want Naxx 10 & 25 to be as easy as Karazhan was at the END of bc lifespan. So they want Naxx to be a dungeon that anyone can pug and walk into and clear the majority of, without a lot of prep. The next batch of raids they patch in will be harder, and the one after that harder etc. Blizzard has been very good at designing extremely challenging and rewarding pve raids, and wrath will have them it is just going to take time. It is an intelligent way to do it, making the small elite group wait for a raid they can do instead of the other way around, forcing the casuals to wait for a nerfed karazhan, or a zul'grub to be released.

An interesting aside, did anyone else notice you can buy your T7 chest and gloves for emblems of heroism? You can farm heroics/naxx-10 and buy 2 pieces of your set, very cool. Nice workaround for those guys who chest never seem to get their tokens.
Too many hardcores come across as crybabies not wanting to share the endgame with casuals. It seem like an elitist attitude problem. Blizz appears to be doing their best to satisfy both the hardcore and the casual player bases. In BC less than 5% of guilds listed on wowjutsu made it to Sunwell and only 62% completed Kara. That doesn't count the small guilds that couldn't get listed or the guilds that come and go or the people who are not in guilds. That is a lot of people missing out of the endgame. For the endgame content to be interesting enough to satisfy high-end gamers it takes a lot of work. Think of how many man/years went into creating the tiered raid instances in BC. Mob models, placement, scripted encounters, quests, lore, environment, textures, tuning, bug fixes, retuning, more tuning. You get the point. Now, how many people got to experience it all. How many people got to experience even half of it. It just doesn't make sense to spend so much time on something that only 5-10% of they player base will ever see. It is also incredibly frustrating to people in smaller guilds who want to run with their friends but know that it means they forever give up seeing the endgame.

Now Blizz is creating raid instances for 10 and 25 mans. I genuinely believe that the 25s are intended to be the hardcore version. Even if a larger group gives more room for individuals to mess up I don't think they intended for the 10 mans to be the hardcore version. The devs have stated in blue posts that the 10 mans are going to be tuned to not require the level of specialization that 25 mans require, especially in terms of who can tank it. Also they have said that the gear that drops from a 25 man will be about 1 Tier more powerful than the 10 man gear. If they are giving better gear, I am certain they have made it harder. Furthermore, take a look at some of the raiding achievements that can be unlocked. Even if you can complete a certain 25 man encounter, can you do it in a certain amount of time or without loosing any players? or without loosing certain npc allies? or with less than 25 people?

It seem obvious to me that Blizz wanted to find a way to get more mileage out of the endgame raids by making it accessible to the average player and yet still wanted to create a challenge that would be significant for hardcore players. Now we have a complete 10 man endgame that can probably be done by anyone who is at least above the mean. For those who are hardcore we have a 25 man endgame that will probably be completed by less than 10% possibly less than 5%. Not many will be running around on a black proto-drake or a black war bear. There will be plenty of bragging rights to be had without keeping the cool content to just an elite few. If the casual game is not easy enough the 10 mans can be tuned down and if the hardcore game is not hard enough the 25 mans can be tuned up, without effecting the other group. Everyone wins.

Now, are things currently too easy? Maybe. but I don't think we can take the 3.0 nerf to the BC content as the example. It is, after all, the old stuff now and them making it accessible to average players in the last month or two of the expansion is not that big of a deal. It doesn't mean that is how Blizzard plans to tune high end heroic raids in the future. Nissl is also exactly right about Blizz tuning it so that our epic gear would last us until we got in the next tier of raiding. Blizz got a lot of hell last time for replacing epics with greens. So now they change that and we give them hell that we are able to skip though the instance that come before the raids and even the entry level raid? come on, give them a break. They still have to tune the entry level raids so that people coming up in greens can get their dungeon blues and people with new blues can survive in the entry raid. And if they really did mess up, (tuning is hard to do without live numbers) the opportunity is there for Blizz to tune up the 25s without killing the average player. I suspect Blizz will be tuning Naxx upwards a bit at the harder end. Have it take people from tougher heroic level to true T7. I truly doubt that Blizz's intention is to screw the hardcore players over now that they have a way to tune for both groups separately.

So, the hardcore need to just chill out and see how it all plays out. And, as has been said before, we cannot judge the difficulty of the end game based on the best 25 raiders out of 11 million players being able to best the first (and currently only) tier of the new endgame which they have been working on for a couple months now. If they hadn't completed it in a week I would be worried about normal hardcore raiding guilds being able to get anywhere at all in the end game.

Lumenon, Hand of A'dal ( recovering hardcore )
74 Shadow Priest (for now)
An I do think that Blizz is purposefully staggering the release of the endgame content. It would not surprise me at all to see a new instance released every quarter from now on. Doing so accomplishes two things. It gives the impression of the world storyline progressing more smoothly over time, and it helps to keep people subscribed more consistently. Going a year at a time between significant new content is not a good business model. Even for us customers. It sucks to go from a moderate population looking for things to do to 30min queue times and ninja's competing for elite repops.

I finally was able to finish my thoughts on this topic. It's much to long to talk about here so I posted it on my blog here:
I think guilds like Nihilum et al. that figured out the boss fights during beta and then claim that Blizz didn't make the content hard enough is a stab to the heart for Blizz. The whole point of Beta is to offer a select group of players the opportunity to play in order to gain valuable information about balancing characters, fine-tuning dungeons, etc. For Nihilum et al. to now claim that it simply isn't hard enough or hardcore enough, they have to consider that only some players will be starting out WotLK with T5-T6 gear and have access and experience to the WotLK raids.

I happen to run a rogue who has T5/T6/Badge gear, so I will certainly be able to get up to 80 and gear up faster than others who still have 70s blue gear. Moreover, neither my rogue or many of these 70s blue players had ANY experience whatsoever in the WotLK raids through beta.

Simply unfair and non sequitur for Nihilum to claim that the WotLK raids are just not good enough...
The organized hardcore raiding guilds on my server have blown through most of the 25 man content already. I'm not phased though as I'm still having a greating time running heroics with my friends and waiting for the rest to catch up to begin naxx 10.
In vanilla WoW, casuals (and PvPers) got screwed because there was little to nothing to do at end-game for them; and absolutely no way to advance their characters. But the majority of these casuals played the game to it’s full extent. They researched every quest and instance they could do, and knew their class well. Because they treated the game as an RPG, and were willing to invest in their characters (just maybe not in 8+ hour chunks). They added a bunch of to the community and deserved better.

This just simply isn't true. Pre BC I could log in and pug MC, BWL, AQ20 or ZG. I played about 15 hours a week and pretty much did everything but pvp. I like AV but never did like the others. Lots of people were running the level 60 instances and I had no problem getting a group together. Post BC people for the most part just quit running anything once they got thier stuff. The only way post BC Wow was better for casuals was if they liked arenas.
You were clearly running in more advanced circles than the rest of us sam. My guild couldn't down the first boss in BWL let alone pug it.
The biggest problem that 99% of the, let's call them forum- or blog -oices has, is that they seem not to be able to look or think farther than their arms can reach. Now, there's fresh content out. Clearly designed for explorers. If you want to ruin the fun by rushing through it, your problem, but OK.

Then, one reaches Naxx. Who but a fool can expect this dungeon to be the TOP END of the ENDGAME instances? Why are thousands of pages written in tears about how too easy it is and how Blizz ruined the game for you wanna-be-hardcores (again)? I don't get it. Nax is an OLD dungeon model. It has been patched up a bit to make it fit into the LichKing level and talent environment. It was just a courtesy that Blizz included it, becuase so many people have never ever seen it in Vanilla. Difficulty is not what counts for this dungeon. Every NEW raiding instance will be different and actually be DESGINED for the addon environment. There will sure be the place to spent thousands of gold on rep costs again, don't worry.
That's "blog-voices", above. Sorry.
"Who but a fool can expect this dungeon to be the TOP END of the ENDGAME instances? Why are thousands of pages written in tears about how too easy it is and how Blizz ruined the game for you wanna-be-hardcores (again)? I don't get it."
Problem is that there are people out there who don't enjoy leveling and only want to do difficult raid dungeons. If you gave them the opportunity to /level 80, they would do it. And these people are currently left without ANY content, because Naxx is easy and the only raid so far. From the perspective of a (very) hardcore player its like "Casuals have the complete game from level 1 to 80 for themselves and now they take over endgame, leaving nothing for us".
From their perspective they were already treated like a small group should because not every dungeon from 1 to 80 had a hardcore-setting that makes everything far more difficult and with better drops. Not even to speak of quests which is an undefeatable domain of the casuals ;)

Before you burn me on the stake, I am NOT a hardcore player myself, I'm casual hardcore at best. I just enjoy seeing discussions from different angles :)
You were clearly running in more advanced circles than the rest of us sam. My guild couldn't down the first boss in BWL let alone pug it.

no you misunderstand. I only saw the inside of BWL a few times. And the pugs were painful. But the point was that I could run anything from BRD up. getting groups wasn't too hard. I had MC and ZG memorized. Unfortunately my luck on drops sucked and I never really had the gear for BWL. But come BC the options dwindled for those who don't like arenas.

In the bid 40 man guilds there was room for slack. We could bring our friends and family once we got geared up a bit. It was friend and family friendly. That died with BC. You either get in a hard core guild and progress or you get left behind with dwindling options. There is no game for the people in the middle that care some about advancement but realize they'll never be on top. That game died with Vanilla wow. Because everything about BC rewarded the assholes and punished the nice guys.
One consequence of making most content more accessible could be a lower rate of player retention. WoW’s subscription model depends on retaining players; if the bulk of the players can “complete” the game, the pressure will be on Blizzard to publish content at a quicker rate.
Personally I have trouble understanding players who want to play, but aren't willing to put in the effort to up their games, while spending most of their time lobbying the game makers to make content "more accessible".

Yes, there is a gray area between content that is too difficult and trivial content, but playing a game is about beating challenges, no? The "slack" Sam mentioned in 40-man raids is probably enjoyed by players who aren't really there to *play* the game, but are showing up just hoping for a chance on the shinies. I'm not exactly sure whether this qualifies them as "nice guys".

If the game is indeed too challenging, there are certainly other games out there which are more "friend and family friendly".
Personally I have trouble understanding players who want to play, but aren't willing to put in the effort to up their games, while spending most of their time lobbying the game makers to make content "more accessible".

I would agree with that if we define "to up their game" by something related to skill. Play badly, and you can't enter. Play well, and you can beat the content. Unfortunately that is far from being the case in MMORPGs. Far more often you can beat any content, given the right gear. And the right gear is gained with an amount of grind that an average player with job and family just can't invest. I bet nobody in Nihilum is over 30.

While the most of their membership is indeed under 30, there's some exceptions. However, I strongly reject the notion that it's all about the quantity of time. Personally, 13 hours/week was enough to get to M'uru, and it probably could be done with much less. Unlike me, many of my guild members didn't have 100% attendance.
Personally I have trouble understanding players who want to play, but aren't willing to put in the effort to up their games, while spending most of their time lobbying the game makers to make content "more accessible".

Some of us like to play with our real life friends. And if we can't it ruins our fun. When you get past 16 emotionally you'll understand.
Blizz tried something new which in a lot of the raid game buha discussion is often lost. SK/Nihilum really has contributed to the confusion claiming that they are done.

But blizz tried to invent a way to have content accessible yet challenging. The trick is to use the achievement system. Sk/Nihilum wasn't quite right when they claimed they are done because they haven't beaten any of the achievements that were meant for the hardcore. In the meantime they have beaten one, but there are many more to go.

I never understood why the hardcore doesn't on its own find ways to make the game as given more challenging. Back in MC times there was a speed-run culture and people announced new best clearing times, but since BWL through ZA timed run there was no notion of clearing things fast or with few deaths. Just the first kill counted. And that first kill had to be hard and inaccessible.

Now the achievements encode exactly what the raiding scene hasn't embraced itself: Low-man encounters, beat them without deaths, beat them by not killing adds, or by allowing a debuff to persist. That naturally makes the encounters more difficult, though the content is the same.

So far the community doesn't seem to have understood the concept that blizz put out there in terms of multiple-difficulty scaling. Heroic: Glory of the Raider is rarely mentioned in the discussion though it really should. Blizz at least tried to make content that is both accessible to the masses and put the challenge and difficulty in there for those that want that kind of thing.

I think it's brilliant, it's just kind of sad that it's not being understood to work that way now.
"Some of us like to play with our real life friends. And if we can't it ruins our fun. When you get past 16 emotionally you'll understand."

Beating me with the 'maturity' stick doesn't really help your cause :)

I'm 34, working, and I've stopped my WoW subscription since early October, because raiding took too much time and effort that I couldn't give.

I've also played on the other end of the spectrum pre-BC, basically logging in to "spend time with real life friends". I didn't feel I was missing out on the 40-mans because the reward to me then was some light fun and chatter in the guild channels and some disastrous PvP outings. Just telling my story, not extrapolating my situation to yours.
Look its simple. The fact you were upset enough to respond. the fact that you had to throw your age out there. And the fact that you actually care if other people play the game differently from you just reinforces my opinion that you are emotionally stunted.

I stated why 40 man raids were more casual friendly and your response was to bash people that don't want to work for what they get. I never said those friends and family got a ton of stuff. And if they did what kind of emotionally stunted person even cares. The simple thing for me is I used to be able to play the game I liked, raid, quest etc and still play with my friends who might have less time or a different playstyle. Since BC blizzard seems to have gone out of thier way to cut the playerbase up into groups by playstyle creating barriers between friends who play differently. That sucks. It is also why I don't play anymore.
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