Saturday, August 07, 2010
Where WotLK failed
In response to the heroics starting guide, readers were asking me for a guide on how to get started with raiding. Sorry, I don't have one. Wrath of the Lich King has one major design flaw, and that is that you had to be there at the right moment to raid. Even the term "starting to raid" in WotLK means something *completely* different than what it meant in previous versions of World of Warcraft: If you sit in trade chat long enough, you'll sooner or later hear somebody announcing the formation of a new guild, "Guild
Now most players are extremely selfish, and don't even *see* what could possibly be wrong with a raid system in which the "starting" raid dungeon is equal to the end raid dungeon. The argument often goes "Well, *I* was there when everybody did Naxxramas, *I* was there when everybody raided Ulduar, thus as *I* already did those places often enough, there is no need for a system that would allow other players to see these dungeons as well". But for new players and alts the design of Wrath of the Lich King makes it practically impossible to get a proper raid going into the previous big raid dungeons of WotLK. For all practical purposes, WotLK only has a single raid dungeon!. Naxxramas and Ulduar are a memory for some, and unknown territory for the rest. People are barely aware that these raid dungeons even belong to Wrath of the Lich King, as doing a run to Naxxramas or Ulduar is basically the same touristic event as doing a run to Molten Core or Karazhan.
Besides being a letdown for new players, this raid dungeon design is also rather wasteful for Blizzard. Designing a raid dungeon is a lot of work, but in WotLK each raid dungeon was only useable and useful for a few months, before being completely replaced by the next one. There are more players visiting The Oculus, probably the least popular of the 5-man dungeons of WotLK, every day than there are players visiting Naxxramas. The money spent on designing 5-man dungeons in WotLK had a very good return on investment in terms of keeping players occupied, but Ulduar was just a waste, having opened later and now already standing deserted.
So I really hope Blizzard comes up with a better plan for the next expansions. There is nothing wrong with raid guild outgrowing specific starter dungeons, but there should always be a next generation of new players still considering these places as starting point for a new raiding career. Starting your raiding career in Icecrown Citadel is a perversion, and means that latecomers have only a very short raiding career. If you haven't been there at the right time during Wrath of the Lich King, you missed the train. That is not good game design.