Tobold's Blog
Saturday, January 24, 2009
A new kind of raiding?

Another reader post, this one proposing a solution to having always enough challenge for the hardcore raiders:
"A rift in the maelstrom has opened and an (Old God/Titan/Ancient Demon/Giant Murloc) has appeared! Adventurers are invited to take a boat from Tanaris to challenge him on his magical purple floating island.

Of course, the boss would be ridiculously hard. Upon engaging the boss, any new boats that head to the island are rerouted to a circular path around the island, preventing griefing from players not in the raid. This would create the sometime-asked-for spectator-mode for instances/arenas, while preventing the griefing that occured with Kazzak.

Actual mechanics of the fight are up to debate. I tend to lean towards any battle system that requires perfect "know your role" playing, along with a musical-chairs type event that will result in the gradual reduction of the raid, one member at a time. I would say whoever didn't get "seated" in time would be taken out of the battle, not killed but unable to help.

It doesn't really matter how hard we make the fight, though. The hardcore guilds will defeat the boss in a day or two. Upon his defeat, he will grant a buff/title/mount or some other useless but cool trinket. Maybe everyone in the raid will become an Elite? Anyway, each time the boss will also drop a crystal/vial/coin that will unlock his second difficulty available the next week.

This process of "upgrading" the boss after each defeat would create a new challenge ... ultimately upon the 8th (or whatever number you choose) incarnation of the boss he should become "unbeatable" according to Blizzard. This is the key to this challenge. I believe Everquest did this with some dragon or something, they didn't intend for the boss to be killable, but it was.

Here's the second key part. The boss should be tuned in a way that he is only defeatable at his easiest difficulty if everyone in the raid is in full Tier-whatever. This way, when guilds beat their chests and proclaim that they've defeated the 3rd-Crystal Giant Murloc (or whatever he ends up being) the rest of the world knows it is due to skill, not gear.

This boss would have no trash to clear, and would be relatively simple to implement. It would provide a severe difficulty curve at the very apex of raiding ... a challenge that would keep the most hardcore guilds busy with a goal, but wouldn't provide a massive time-sink on the part of Blizzard.
So, what do you think about it? A boss with several difficulty levels, from very hard to unbeatable, giving out highly visible status symbols as loot, not gear. Does WoW need an ultimate challenge?
"The boss should be tuned in a way that he is only defeatable at his easiest difficulty if everyone in the raid is in full Tier-whatever."

UGH. I'd rather the raid just gave gear out to everyone when they zoned in. Being forced to get all tier pieces for a whole raid sounds horrible.

I don't hate the idea. Just bear in mind that not everyone has a fixed group of 10/25 the whole time and sometimes you want to swap people in and out, and the new people need a chance to see the fights too.
Bah, this new comment form eats more posts than the official forums..

In any case, this would be Sartharion version 2. All it would do is to replace the boilerplate response "If you haven't killed Sarth with 3 drakes, STFU!" into "If you haven't killed Giant Murloc with 8 crystals, STFU!". And while the spectator mechanic would be interesting, making Giant Murloc into a world boss would be a bad idea. If Guild A upgrades him to 2nd crystal status, Guild B would still face the proverbial brick wall we all know and hate.
What about something completely different...
Instead of easy raids or insanely hard ones, what about the following:

Every raid would be very hard at first. That is each boss would be TBC hard, but as soon as each boss was defeated, it would unlock the Aftermath mode. The Aftermath mode would be as if the boss would return after his defeat but in a weakened situation thus allowing guilds with less skill or time available to defeat it and get some upgrades. The last boss in each raid would be impossible to beat and here's another catch: it's difficulty would be inversely proportional to the number of accounts in that realm that would kill the previous ones.

That way, the less skilled guilds or with less time available would actually root for the more skilled (or with more time available) ones to beat the content. The so called "elite" guilds would actually depend on more guilds being able to beat the content in order to progress. That way, raiding would be more of a realm activity than just a guild effort.

It would be like, Sartharion with 3 drakes would only be killed when a certain percentage of accounts on that particular realm ha already killed it with 1 and 2 drakes up.

What do you think?
Wyrn thats basically the AQ40 event, and that worked out great...

If this was added, I wonder if guilds would actually bother. Most guilds skipped the optional hard bosses in previous raids unless they were really bored. Granted that's the current situation, but this seems like a quick fix rather than a good step forward.
"only defeatable at his easiest difficulty if everyone in the raid is in full Tier-whatever. "

This is the kind of BS that has made me take a break from WoW. i was in Arch and won a roll on lock pants, but the raid leader didn't think i did well enough (i wasn't very well geared, which is why i there in the first place, easiest raid in WoW) and booted me before giving them to his friend.

I'd rather WoW went to a less old style raid/loot system and spent more time on expansion type content.
Everyone commenting on how people have to be in full tier-whatever to do this boss is missing the point. This is something to keep the hardcore raiders busy. Other raiders will still be able to go through Naxxramas and Uludar and have it be difficult, but for the other guilds who are bored with the new content after a month, this would be a new brick wall to beat their head against. Not to mention, getting full tier-whatever with Uludar will probably still be doable by all guilds, it might just take longer for the ones that aren't as hardcore.
As far as incentive goes, the best idea I can come up with is a little like Archavon. Have it drop random pieces of BoA Heirloom gear. Blizzard could reuse the Heirloom gear that's already in the game without creating something that would be exclusive to the hardcore players running it. Go for something like six difficulty levels: start with two pieces, add another each at 3 and 5, throw in a loot bag at 2 and a unique 22-slot at 4, and then something cosmetic for 6.
Fantastic idea. The whole system makes for the perfect unbeatable challenge for raiders to bash their heads into with no conceivable end. If raiders defeat the McGuffin at its Xth incarnation, blizz will have roughly a week to whip up an X+1 for them to deal with. The top end raiders get their top boss and the casual raiders go and enjoy the main content of the game.
Except that there's no reason for them to bash their heads against it without reasonable reward. There's a reason it's called progression raiding: the idea was that you did it to enable yourself to experience new content. Gearing up makes old things easier and new things possible. "Useless but cool" rewards can be a nice surprise (Ashes of Al'ar or Super Simian Sphere) or side benefit (Amani War Bear - clearing quickly and efficiently is its own reward), but they're not a worthwhile return on investment. If the boss is that hard, people will need to be at their best, which means not only perfect class balance, ideal gear, and thousands of gold squeezing the last 10-20 stat points out of enchantments and epic gems, but also flasks, feasts, 1 pot per attempt (Potions of Speed if nothing else), and massive repair bills. Very few (0.1%?) guilds will spend 5k+ a night in consumables hoping to get a vanity item that amounts to a pat on the back for one member.
I love this idea.

If Blizz were especially clever, they could implement this Real Soon Now. Buff Sartharion's HP, and have him resurrect a drake a certain amount of time after it dies. Once guilds get past 3 drakes and three rezzes, add more HP and more rez cycles with less time in between. If you were really evil, you could also put up a -1% to all damage and healing for each iteration.

It would be pretty awesome to be able to look forward to hearing some guild beat Sarth+3+17.
Also, a nifty idea to make it "worthwhile" for people to attempt without cluttering the game with either overpowered items or glitz items would be to have the boss drop Emblems of Impossibility for the whole raid.

Sarth+3+1 might drop 1 emblem, Sarth+3+2 might drop either 2, then the increases could be either +1, x2, x3, ^2... whatever fits the reward scheme and makes people want to keep attacking it.

1 emblem might buy a Tabard of Impossibility or a flask.
10 emblems gets you a mount
100 emblems lets you purchase a novelty item from elsewhere in the game that has such a low drop rate it precludes farming

Alternately, the boss could drop a Legendary with a drop rate that starts at .5% and increases depending on how many cycles you did.
I think the whole debate around raiding being too easy is premature at this point. People seem to forget that Naxxramas/Malygos/Sartharion are meant to be entry-level raids, with further content patches introducing more difficult encounters. For the time being, achievements should keep a good part of hardcore players occupied. I'm not talking about Ensidia-like folks, but are 0.0001% of players worth from a game designer's perspective ?
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