Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Thought for the day: Pure raiding games

Whether you want to solo quests, explore fantasy lands, or do various versions of PvP, you always have the choice between MMORPGs and other games. From games like Dragon Age: Origins to Team Fortress 2, the various different gameplay modes of MMORPGs also exist in smaller games, which focus on just one pure aspect. If you just like one mode of gameplay, you can play such a specialized game and avoid monthly fees. All except for raiding: There is no game that offers raiding that isn't a MMORPG, which means you not only have to pay monthly fees, you also have to level up through modes of gameplay you might not like so much only to get access to the raid endgame.

Why is that so? Why is there no pure raiding game without a persistent world?
Hate to nitpick, but I think this depends on what you would consider to be a single-player version of raiding. Doing a run against some epic encounters regardless of the number of people? God of War and the like have that covered pretty well. 3-5 man dungeon crawls show up in a lot of places. Large player controlled group versus a high ranking NPC and all their underlings? That's an RTS.

Now if you're looking for a 10-40 person army where you only control 1 unit that casts spells and uses special abilities in a fantasy dungeon setting that requires taking out trash mobs before reaching one or more bosses, then yeah, I don't think that's been done elsewhere. But I'm not sure how you create such a game without trivializing the role of the player.
I didn't say single player. Team Fortress 2 is PvP, multiplayer, without being a persisten world or being a MMORPG. Why not have a raid game like that, where you log on, find other players in the "lobby" and then raid with them?
Because without a persistent world, there is no gear, and with no gear, there is no raiding as we know it.
Would you consider Diablo II a raiding game or more of a hack and slash game?
@Azzur: Diablo is hack and slash, I even think it might be the genre defining game for hack and slash, not sure.

@Tobold: I remember seeing an FPS with class based units that would be like a raid dungeon. You work through the level with your group, I can't remember the name though, but it would be the closest thing to what you're suggesting. I was a while ago, and it was still preview, so it might not be finished, or might never come out, but someone was thinking about it.
Can only speak for me and I already have motivation problems raiding since it's its often hard to use the equip for PvP.

To raid, just for raiding seems totally pointless for me. It's also hard to create the social bindings unless you talk about a raiding game that random choses the raid members. Somethings even less motivating.

Raiding, especially the repeated grinding (no exploration) of scripted "boss mobs" in a group of mostly strangers isn't that much fun in itself.

I wouldn't raid if I couldn't enter BGs in PvE equip. Blizzard might not like it, but I resists the split in PvE and PvP equip. I also use PvP equip for PvE if it is useful.

(No, I do not use PvE equip in BGs to 'meld faces' or show my epeen. I do it, because I like to test a developing character against other people; and because I hate the predefined/standardized equip/sets.)
Losely connected, but you might, like to read this comment on Cataclysms ongoing design:
"Our hope is that players will be able to associate bosses with their loot tables and even associate specific artwork with specific item names to a far greater extent than today."

MMO Champion

Blizzard seems to intend to slow down the item replacement rate considerably, which I applaud!
Well to be fair there are some coop games. Left 4 Dead for example. I guess that can be considered a "raid type" of game, although just for 4 people unless you play Versus. But then it's a PvP game.
"Why is that so? Why is there no pure raiding game without a persistent world?"

Designing, developing and testing good raid content requires a lot of resources. And in the absence of other timesinks (levelling, PvP, AH mini-game), your game will need tons of said raid content to keep players interested.
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Let's look at the random dungeon finder. Today, I had my first Pit run on my paladin, who only hit 80 a week ago or so. Within the first 30 seconds, I fell in a ditch and pulled an extra mob pack that the group was trying to avoid. I did terrible dps compared to the rest of the group (although it was decent compared to my usual), and then I pulled an extra group trying to finish the slave freeing quest.

For some reason, the vote kick failed (the first time I've ever seen it fail).

Imagine having 20 of those guys randomly show up in your raid.

PvP games and other genres work well as standalone games because you can do a single player variant for teaching. For raiding, this isn't so. The rest of the game is sort of the training tool in which you learn your character class, what it can and can't do, and what your role in a group is. Without that, a "raiding only" game would be a 25 man version of the dungeon finder in which no one knew what was going on.

In addition to that, there wouldn't be much progression which would kind of defeat the point. For most raids, unless the content is done in a way where people could watch TV while doing it, the encounters require some form of coordination between its members. Some fights more than others. In a random raid, there is no time to form any sort of rapport with any of the raid members before you are saying goodbye and possibly never see them again. This somewhat limits encounter design.

The first few weeks or even months after release would see a sharp decline in players who just get fed up with all the wipes and fails. I just don't see how it could work. I mean, it's always possible that any concept could be made to work. I just think that if it were attempted, there would be a lot of misses before the first one got it right, if enough companies even decided it was worth it to keep trying and get that far.
Raiding in itself, as we know it from mmorpg's, is just not "fun" as gameplay. (Raph Koster type of fun.)

Raiding becomes engaging as a social catalyst. To make raiding a fun game we would have to design something which is completely different, mmorpg players would most likely not find it to be anything similar to what they are experienced with.

The first question to answer down the path of making a raiding game is to figure out what goals to give the player.
The heart of raiding is narcissism. I mean, I hate to go here since it's the elephant in the room when discussing raiding, but after lots of thought, I can't find any other solution. What makes raiding fun is accomplishing something and being able to show it off to the world and have them not only see it, but understand just how cool you are by having it.

Yes, raiding by itself is fun, but I don't think it is self-sustaining. The showing off is what puts it over the threshold to being an enjoyable use of time.
1: in a game you must not be hopeless, doomed to fail
2: in any multiplayer game, large % of the playerbase are M&S

Conclusion: the game content must be easy enough to be sometimes defeatable by a team having large % of M&S.

In a PvP team game you have a chance to win with large % M&S on your team, simply because large % of the enemy are also M&S players.

In a PvE game a boss that is defeatable by a half-retard team is by definition "too easy".

The big difference is that every retarded PvP enemy is different. One is camping in a stupid point, the other is zerging, the third simply couldn't hit the water from the bottom of the lake. It gives you endless different tasks to find and kill them.

On the other hand a weak PvE enemy is always weak the same way, therefore boring.

So a raiding game must have challenging bosses requiring non-M&S team. Building such team takes LOT of time. The MMO activities help you pass this time.
I agree with the general consensus here that a purely lobby based raiding game wouldn’t work using the system we have now. Raiding is the one part of an MMORPG that absolutely requires teamwork. In battlegrounds you can go solo and inevitably contribute to your team but in a raid you’d be kicked out in minutes.

Raiding is kind of like multiplayer co-op, but with far more people, so I do think it could be done with plenty of tweaks. Maybe if the dungeons were randomly generated (like from what I’ve seen about Diablo 3) and the events and monsters scaled based on attendance and level/gear score/whatever it could work. It could be structured to suit more solo-minded PvE in a raid setting, kind of like a public quest. There are PvE points in WoW’s Alterac Valley that [used to be] targeted by the raid, but still worked alright. Roles would have to be melded together a little to avoid relying on the necessity of certain classes randomly joining, but there would probably be a core group throughout the dungeon and stragglers that drop in and out providing essential but uncoordinated assistance.

Then of course there would have to be a difficulty setting for more experienced groups, but I’m not sure how the rewards system would work, since usually raiding is only done as a means to an end. The gameplay would have to be exceptional for such a large group of mostly strangers to enjoy only fighting AI creatures.

It’s an interesting point that I’ve never thought of, but I doubt it would work. Purely PvE games basically DO turn into raid only games at the level cap. So while a lot of the tedium might be removed, the feelings surrounding a raid would be lost.

I’d love to reference an example, but I honestly can’t think of a single game of any genre that allowed ten or more strangers from a lobby fight together through an AI controlled area. So maybe this has a chance as a niche game.
"usually raiding is only done as a means to an end"

That's tru to HC raiders but to the socials it's just a way to show they epeen.
aren't multiplayer RPGs as close as it gets to actual "raiding"?

I remember seeing, back a few years, custom Neverwinter Nights modules tailored for multiplayer.

I mean sure, there's more to the game, than a dungeon with some bosses, but the idea is the same.
"That's tru to HC raiders but to the socials it's just a way to show they epeen."

Why do you raid in blues? Why do have a blog based on how awesome you are? Why do you have a ganking guild or whatever? More and more I think that "Gevlon" is a very refined irony to denounce the idiocy of objectivist-like ideas... Good job, sir. :)

Anyway, aren't there small raids in Borderlands?

You have been fooled by the fake Gevlon. Notice that he even hasn't a picture. He uses a I instead of l to fool people.
Just that we now have 2 fake Gevlons. This is getting tricky :)
The easiest way to determine the identity should be to click at "Gevlon".
What's so persistent in a raid that resets every week or in a instance what can be reseted on the spot? Nothing! But you're right: raiding is one of the "motors" of any MMORPG. That's why EVE (since you've been talking about it a lot) can never be successful. The slow-thinking minded players that play it don't have the skills to play a game based of FPS reaction times. A raid in EVE would take months to complete.

If you're going to troll you can do better than that...

And you were doing so fine up until "The slow-thinking minded players that play it"... That's too obvious mate. :)
A game in my opinion that could possibly be considered a pure raiding game without a persistent world would be Shadow of the Colossus. It may not apply to everyones definition of "raiding", however for me raiding is simply fighting bosses.

Although it is single player, the game is all about taking down one Colossus after another. Each Colossus also requires a unique strategy that must be discovered in order to win.

In terms of my definition of raiding, this seems to fit the bill.
No one does raids other than to get the rewards. Since the rewards are only relevant in a persistent world , it makes no sense to have raids ex mundio.

I wasn't trolling. EVE is really a slow game, and that's fine, but the majority of the people don't want to wait for it. They want instant action, instant reactions, instant rewards. The concept of raiding in a EVE-like game would be like a turn based strategy game and that's not very appealing. The majority of the players are also over 30 and while that can say that maturity is necessary to play such game it also says that older players aren't quick enough to handle modern day MMORPG and, as such, feel more conformable playing a slow game like EVE.
Gevlon made a good point, if you ignore the M&S part. You need to build the team outside the raid, otherwise people won't put up with fuck ups as well. People don't like wiping to a boss because someone else made a mistake. If that person is a stranger, it's 3 times worse (which is why i don't pug often ;)). If you're going to randomly die because of someone else, why not play a solo game?

You need that feeling of cooperation/working together to balance out the frustration of wiping because of someone else.

You'd have a much better chance of getting hooked into your raiding game, if i could port my 10man WoW team straight into the game.

There's also the dev time. From what i can tell, blizzard has already admitted it's impossible to keep up with player demand. That's why we see things like Gating, limited attempts, and hardmode. They're not just so the player "doesn't play for 3 days straight". They also extend the shelf life. Instead of adding a whole new sunwell, why not just make a button that makes stuff already in game harder? For half the dev time (im guessing), they got what they consider a whole new fight.

Those are the only things i can think of. Other than that, i'd be all for a raiding game ;D. If you could keep the content rolling, i'd definately give it a whirl (although i'd need to be able to reinvite people i liked back into the raid.) Eventually i could start/join a raiding team, and if it fit my style, i'd play it. The loot in wow is nice, but it isn't the only incentive. I think it's possible for a game like wow, they'd just have to get rid of some of the world designers, and hire more Daelo's ;). If there's just some chat channel (maybe 5mans can be used as places to meet people, without the level grinding?).

Would your pure raiding game have a persitent character, that would obtain 'better' gear, Tobold? Or is it a predefined one, who's damage never increase. Maybe unlock new abilities as you get to harder content. But Do raids need the persistent avatar for you to deck out, to be sucessful?

@gevion: hi. Fix your spelling and get the goblin picture if you're going to troll. that was a piss poor attempt. Atleast the other guy was good at it.

You are trolling for the only thing "slow thinking" about eve is mining on hisec, as anyone who played more than the trial will attest...
"@Tobold: I remember seeing an FPS with class based units that would be like a raid dungeon. You work through the level with your group, I can't remember the name though, but it would be the closest thing to what you're suggesting. I was a while ago, and it was still preview, so it might not be finished, or might never come out, but someone was thinking about it."

I recall hearing about this as well, and I believe it is out for PS3, but I can't remember the name.

IIRC, it's essentially WoW raiding in a FPS setting. You have tank types with shields and lower damage, DPS types that more fragile but bring the hurt, and support type roles that heal/re-arm/etc. with lower damage.

Gah I wish I could remember the name, and had a PS3.
Raiding is what you do when your character has "beat" the game and there is nothing else to do. Its just something to give people who've invested so much in thier character a new thing to do. Theres not a enough fun there to pay a monthly fee.

A raiding game such as you describe would only work as a log in and pay 5 bucks for a nights entertainment. And it wouldn't have the longevity to justify the development time
I don't particularly care for raiding, but I know players who love it and hate the leveling content. Why not let those players jump right into the "game" that starts at the level cap?

I suspect that the biggest barrier to that is how to monetize it. Players grinding up through the stuff they don't want to play are still paying subscription money to qualify for the stuff they do want to do.

That said, I've recommended a Team Fortress 2 *with persistence* as a sort of "all-raiding MMO" more than once. I think it would find an audience and profitable niche. It wouldn't scratch the same itch as a more well-rounded title like WoW, but I do believe that it could work. You might have to make the lobby a shared game world space to accommodate those who want to show off their loot, if that's part of the game, but that shouldn't be a big problem.
I don't think raiding is fun when taken out of context from the rest of an MMO. If there is only raiding people tend to get bored quickly. There need to be all the side activities in an MMO to give it the feel of a virtual world instead of a straight up grindfest.
Isn't DDO kind of like a raiding only game? Seemed like everything was instanced. The veterans literally ran through the dungeon and if you died they would (might) rez you when they breaked or finished. If you were new good luck. I tried it briefly and grew bored quickly. And, I love the D&D pencil and paper version. As I remember the subscription numbers tanked. Don't know how they fair now.
Guild wars does let you start at the level cap btw. I dunno if it has any real raiding in it or not though. Subscription games don't do it because they want your money while you slog through leveling up.
I guess there are as much opinions about the motivation to raid as there are stategies to defeat a boss ;).

I for one think that if the core motivation to raid is gear, you are doing it wrong :P. For example, what about the idea to get together with 10+ guildies for a team effort to defeat an epic mob?
doesn't guild wars only let you start a PVP character at level cap?
Resistance 2 (Insomniac FPS for the PS3) comes with an eight player co-op mode with three classes, though that's just a portion of the game.

Could be fun to have a pure raiding game, though I'd prefer something more like WAR's Public Quests to WoW-style raiding in that situation.

And I always complain about this, but where are my PQ's for WoW? Isn't Bliz supposed to copy everything good?
For example, what about the idea to get together with 10+ guildies for a team effort to defeat an epic mob?

Every week for the same mob ?
Mercy !
@sam oh yeah, that's right. Sorry it's been a while.
There's Left 4 Dead (2), though it's not an exact match. A team of character, with different roles (depending on weapon choice, especially in 2 with possible melee weapons replacing the pistol). You move through an environment filled with large numbers of weak enemies. Occasionally you encounter a stronger enemy (though only the tank and the witch have anything like the relative strength of an MMO boss). At the end, you have a climactic fight.
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@Nils: No, not one but about 14+ different mobs. And I'm not even counting different approaches due to fluctuating raid setups, achievements, or the occasional PuG to lower tier content ;).
Raiding is currently too dependent on the social status accorded to gear acquisition and raid completion to exists without those incentives. Without that, a game has to rely on its gameplay for success, and that's where raiding is weakest. 25 is very large number of people to give something interesting to do. I don't know if there is any major organized sport with that many competitors on a side.
ffxi isnt far off a raid-style game since pretty much everything that involves xp or special equipment involves a party. Most xp parties are pugs and all end game equipment events/special monsters are organised raids.
People are dismissing Diablo 2 because it is "hack and slash", but it really does fit the bill:

Multiple people come together using different classes and different skills to defeat a more powerful enemy.

This is raiding at its core.

Team Fortress 2 could do the same thing:

Imagine a map that had a hideously powerful NPC (be it a tank or a person) that had to be defeated. TF2 has healers (Medic), "tanks" (Heavy Weapon guy), and direct damage classes. Heck, it even has support classes like the Engineer and Pyro who can provide specific bonuses at specific times.

I believe it is 100% possible for a "PvE Raid" map to be developed for TF2. Would it be a successful addition in that PvP culture? I don't know. But it CAN BE done.
I feel for the OP. I enjoy strategy games and to me, eq1 elemental mob raids were as good as it gets. Since then it's been all down hill. Raid sizes decreased with the idea being that it would be a smaller "friendlier" raid environment which really made for hordes of small a_hole guilds galore and less strategy and more gear/class dependent encounters. I was sad to see the majority of the thread responses boiling down to "do you like raids? yes or no?" which is not, I am sure, what the OP had intended.

I am currently thinking about leaving eq2 as I have hit the point where the only way I can move up in gear or progress, is to join one of the guilds on the server I play on, which all including the guild leaders would get kicked out of any organization I ran. Sadly, it appears in the time since I left eq1, did the endless revolving door training of folks for WoW raids(2 years of that garbage), warhammer (best pvp MMO I have played), vanguard (very close to eq2 with a few innovations in harvesting/crafting/combat but not innovative raiding and now apparently stagnant), nothing new at all MMO raid-wise has happened since the big "omg we could make it smaller and easier!" aha moment dev's seem to have come up with slightly before the release of eq2 and WoW.
Now I know I am going to have to read through tons of crud since WoW screwed the MMO world forever by bringing in 8 million console gamers into MMO’s who's ideas of raids is a gamepad/headset/tv and a couple friends "online" If nothing else comes out of this thread could someone point me, even the OP, to a link that might have MMO's, raid sizes, character complexity, etc? It seems almost impossible to glean this info from the free/pay MMO sites themselves. Please tell me someone has done this so I don't have to!!! /rant off
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