Tobold's Blog
Thursday, September 22, 2011
 
An accurate description of World of Warcraft

I stopped reading Gevlon's blog when he started insulting my wife. So I only got the news that he actually wrote something sensible for once 6 days late, via a quote somewhere. After years of telling people that they are morons & slackers when they stand in the fire, Gevlon finally realized that getting out of the fire isn't fun because it isn't the core gameplay of World of Warcraft. And to boot he tops it off with a brilliant definition of what World of Warcraft is: ""WoW-playing" is therefore defined as "solving tasks by using class abilities"."

This is exactly why I am not playing World of Warcraft any more. I've been a pretty hardcore raider in vanilla WoW, where I got up to the end of BWL with my priest. And at that time it was all about how good I was at using my class abilities to heal the raid. Between triage and managing mana efficiency, that was challenging in a "using class abilities well" way. But with every expansion using my class abilities became less and less important. Instead World of Warcraft turned into a huge game of Simon Says, where everybody is supposed to learn all the boss encounters in the game, and to be able to quickly react correctly to a series of scripted inputs. Healing isn't easy, but if you compare the situation now to vanilla, the actual using of healing class abilities well has become easier with concepts like downranking spells or mana efficiency having been removed. And in place of the challenge of using class abilities well, there is now the challenge of finding the time to use a very basic set of class abilities while constantly jumping in tune to the blinking lights the boss fights are all about now. And in Cataclysm even the 5-man dungeons are about knowing the script instead of being about using class abilities.

Gevlon describes that as: "A math competition with differential equations is hard. But imagine that in a math exam one of the tests would be "do 100 pushups". That would make the exam significantly harder in the meaning of "less people can do it". However people would say "It's not mathematics, what the hell pushups do here?!"" I fully agree. Modern raiding is not solving tasks by using class abilities, what the hell is Simon Says doing here? I am not interested in learning scripted boss encounters, where mastering one boss does zilch for your ability to fight the next one. I am not interested in challenges that only test my split-second reaction time, where muscle memory leads to better results than actual thinking. I would like to succeed because I know how to play my class well, because I can solve tasks by using class abilities. This isn't about how easy or how hard raiding is, it is about what kind of challenge raiding offers this day. It sure is challenging, but it just isn't World of Warcraft any more.
Comments:
So... what do you imagine would have happen when you mastered healing on your priest? Or if not fully mastered, at least hit the point in which gaining an extra 1% efficiency/output required fighting against absurd diminishing returns?

I don't like memorizing raid boss gimmicks either, but can you honestly say WoW's raiding endgame could persist on class mastery alone?
 
I don't know about the idea that learning one scripted encounter doesn't carry over into learning the next. It's like cooking; the various recipes for cooking are wildly different, but I can't say that roasting a turkey and making gravy out of the drippings doesn't help me when I make a lasagna. There are still fundamental things that carry over between each thing (i.e. knowing how to use salt & spices correctly, and knowing that fire is bad).

And I'd say that, outside of healers maybe (I didn't play a healer for most of WoW, so I can't comment), this type of scripted event encounter style has been existant throughout WoW raiding, even since classic.
 
Please excuse the shameless plug here, but this is something I've been arguing for years.

http://www.frogdice.com/muckbeast/arrogance/fed-up-raiding-sucks-as-a-sole-form-of-end-game-content.html

"An hour of killing trash for the “reward” of a 10 minute, scripted boss battle is like suffering through a root canal for the reward of a prostate exam."

"There is no room for error or improvisation. Everything has to be done in a completely orchestrated way, and for the most part nobody can screw up."

Great post, Tobold.
 
I think the Simon Says thing derived from the needs of a tiny tiny percentage. Most WoW players are not raiders. Most raiders are not early adopter players, instead being people who wait for published strats. And even in hardcore raids most players are not in the decision-making team.

But for early adopter raid managers who are going into fights blind it is interesting and thought-provoking to have to figure out boss strats. And more so if they change each time.

So we end up with:

20% of WoW players are raiders
of which
2% of raiders do fights without video strats
of which 2-3 per raid are decision-makers.

So the design direction is aimed at suiting a tiny fraction of the players, well under 1%. Simon Says offers no value to anyone else.
 
Absolutely spot on. The whole point of class or ability based gameplay is to allow the player to choose and make best use of the abilities available. Not to discover, practice, learn and execute a set of pre-ordained responses.

I was fine with raiding when it was all about "You're gonna need a bigger boat". Almost as soon as it became Simon Says I lost interest and never went near it again. I also stopped doing group content that required learning and countering a script very soon after that started to appear.

There's nothing wrong with those kind of games, and MMOs are large enough playspaces to incorporate them, but at some point they became the tail wagging the dog. Even though, as devs keep telling us, only a very small percentage of players ever participate in this kind of activity, becoming a vanishingly small percentage at the very high end, the direction of the game is frequently skewed towards that small or tiny percentage and their requirements.

I think that phase of MMO evolution is coming to a close, though. Good riddance. I'm sure there's a very profitable niche for some imaginative developer, making an MMO that starts with scripted raids and drops all the fluff and virtual world and roleplay and so on that waste raiders' time in traditional MMOs.

It's time the genre started spawning more subgenres.
 
Gevlon insulted Your wife? When, where that happened? I read both blogs for a long time now, and it looks I missed something...
 
@Azuriel: You are right, the raiding game couldn't exist now on class mastery alone. In vanilla WoW or burning crusade they could have done, and in fact they did.

Before they hugely simplified tanking and healing and many of the dps classes abilities(hunter trapping in 1.0 for example), being good at your class was something to be proud of and took skill and practice.

I think it's the dumbing down of the core gameplay for "casuals" or "M+S" or whatever you want to call them (I prefer idiots) that has led to the twitch gameplay which is causing so much frustration now for so many players. The raid deisgners have to make the raids appear challenging, but they don't have the tools at their disposal they once did. They can't rely on gear checks alone (and who would want them to?) because of the badge system we have now, so they have resorted to the "Simon Says" & twitch gameplay elements that we have today.
 
Gevlon insulted Your wife? When, where that happened? I read both blogs for a long time now, and it looks I missed something...

Well, if you have to know, you could simply Google it. Gevlon wrote a post with the title "The no-lifer wife of Tobold", which although the text was less insulting than the header, I found crossed the line of decency.
 
Strategy in MC was quite limited. And BWL was mostly boss mechanics + people still learning their classes. People know their classes now, they have worked out all the formulas.

There's not enough depth to classes for this to work. They would constantly need to be modifying classes significantly with each raid for it to stay fresh.

A mix of both worlds is best, but they watered the classes down each xpac so you brought the player not the class.
 
It's easy to forget that the Simon Says gameplay evolved out of the demands of the raiding community.

I know that Tobold sees Molten Core as a high point, but most of the commentary from the time refers to it as 'Molten Bore'.

Conversely, Naxx 1.0 was regarded as a high point of raiding due to the varied range of challenges. Gimmicks like the use of Mind Control on Razuvious and polarity swapping on Thaddius gave an interesting twist and were genuinely fun to execute. People had a reason to look up from their health/action bars.

Simon Says has remained popular with raids until 4.x because you CAN learn the pattern. With appropriate tuning, an average team WILL eventually beat the boss, much to their satisfaction.

I strongly believe that it is not the twitch-based gameplay that Blizzard got wrong in Cataclysm, more quality of life issues with difficulty tuning, 10 vs 25man lockouts, tedious 5man HCs, crap lore and so on.
 
This is pretty much an accurate description of World of Warcraft except for maybe the last sentence.

A MMO is subject to change over the years and WoW is certainly no exception. While it may not be the WoW that you (or I for that matter) care to play anymore and it is not the WoW that first hooked us way back when; it is what it is.

This is World of Warcraft as it it now.
 
You could also argue that TBC raiding was most successful because many encounters were tailor-made to use specific class abilities.

Like Mage tanks with spellsteal for Council fights (both ogre and Blood Elf), and warlock tanks for Leotheras/Illidan demon phase, or Vashj strider kiting.
 
It might be possible that they lost "play your class well" the moment they decided on "bring a player, not a class"... which was widely accepted as great move. That and making 10man raiding possible.

By stating those goals they denied encounter designers from making encounters that used specific classes (because you cannot expect to see any specific class in 10man), and they refused spreading special abilities to other classes. All that was left to designers to make unique encounters was "simon says" and non-class-specific encounter gimmicks.

You had fights in TBC where tank just HAD to spellreflect, and only warrior could do that... and instead of making spellreflect available to more tanks (which would actually align perfectly with their current philosophy of "active mitigation" for tanks) they made spellreflect non-mandatory.

Well, maybe they'll learn.
 
This is an inevitable result of the new composition philosophy. If you, as a game designer, want to make people "bring the players, not the class", you need to design encounters that are solved by player skills (moving out of the fire) rather than class skills. The reliance on movement and reaction is an unfortunate price we have to pay for reducing stacking and 'Sunwelling'.

Yes, I'm not particularly thrilled with challenges that test my muscle memory, but I'll gladly take them over challenges that determine whether I made the correct class choice years ago. Yes, it's not fun when my Rhyolith driving skills do nothing for me during the aerial battle against Alysrazor, but it's still better than being subbed in for Felmyst and M'uru for Mass Dispels and rotated out for Brutallus and Eredar Twins in favor of some shaman.
 
Here here.

This was one of the major things that prevented me from spending much time in Cata, being near unable to use the dungeon finder because I did't know where I'd end up, didn't know the encounters, and didn't want to deal with getting yelled at by pug's because I didn't start running towards the end as soon as the encounter started because I was reading wowhead.
 
That's been why I've always preferred EQ2 raiding. It's more about using your character abilities than it is gimmicks.

While some of that is simply dumbing down abilities by WoW, I think the amount of automation in WoW deserves blame as well. With something like Vuhdo it's extremely easy to be a perfect healer every time. I'm not sure that's a good thing because it forces developers to move the game in directions that add ons can't solve.
 
First, insulted your wife? We're not talking about Blizzard are we?

Second, "I am not interested in challenges that only test my split-second reaction time, where muscle memory leads to better results than actual thinking."

This statement confused me a little. Your entire post is about how you had to engage in triage, mana management and the correct use of class abilities to succeed. However, then you say jumping around to blinking lights is "muscle memory". if (muscle) memory serves, in vanilla, raid healing was all about muscle memory. You had to move very little, and it was all about pressing the right keys in the right order, which has a lot more to do with muscle memory than reaction to blinking lights.

Look, in essence I agree with you. As WoW has evolved, so have the mechanics and the fights, and I understand that. Your post would be a lot more scathing if seven years later you were still healing in the same way that you were in BWL. This is not to say that the evolution as for the better, god knows some of the mechanics are dumb as hell, but... OK, I have no idea what I am trying to drive at here. End of rambling.
 
I concur, and include my observations below.

Originally, RPGs had different classes to allow distinct playstyles. Classes all had strengths and weaknesses in different situations but this was compensated for by being complimentary. However, using the min-max mentality, players whined that class x was better at y in certain situations. Class BALANCE was more important than class EQUALITY-UNIQUENESS across different situations. So in an effort to makes classes balanced, they have become essentially the same. Doing this meant simplifying everything. Talents, procs, buffs, are all boiled down to a handful. Player choice is gone, class uniqueness is gone. The "One size fits all" strategy results in the boss script trumping any individual class contribution.

The MMORPG version of wow is dead, or rather, a mere facade of its former self. In its place we have, to quote you, "Simon Says."
 
Whenever I read this kind of posts (and answers), I always ask the same question: how would you design a boss encounter that is "interesting"?

Not generic handwaving as an answer, please... give some DETAILS. Sticking to the trinity, how should an "interesting" boss fight appear from the point of view of a DPS?
 
I absolutely agree. In fact, I frequently respond to a L2P blog as "when do you need to learn to play your class; raiding success is far more about doing the dance than playing your class.

I would quibble that until you overgear it, healing still requires more thinking than the other classes. I.e. it would be easier to automate a DPS rotation than a healer having to triage targets and select big, fast or efficient heals. But again, Cata heals is mostly about avoiding the "poo on the ground."
 
Sticking to the trinity, how should an "interesting" boss fight appear from the point of view of a DPS?

I think to make a fight interesting, two conditions need to be fulfilled: First the encounter can't be scripted, but has to have random elements. And second the players need to have different abilities which are optimal for different situations, thus the task is to select the right one for the random boss ability you observe.

Interestingly enough Diablo III already has combat in which different abilities have different degrees of usefulness in different circumstances, and the random dungeons lead to some surprises.

it was all about pressing the right keys in the right order

Your memory seems to be failing you. Did you actually play a raid healer? Even now you can't simply press the right keys in the right order as a healer, as by definition you need to react to the health bars of the other players in the raid. With no "move out of the fire on the ground" a DPS might have the possibility to repeat the same spell rotation over and over, but a healer needs to time his healing output to fit the damage incoming. The difference between then and now is that previously running out of mana was a serious risk, and you needed to organize healing rotations, with some healer taking a break from healing and firing with a wand instead until his mana was back up.
 
Wow... pretty spot on.

I was going to write something about EQ on your post yesterday but I think it fits here just as good.

Alot of gamers say EQ was harder than WoW. Now in all honesty I don't think it was to much harder than Vanilla WoW, but I think this is why.


The vast majority of the encounters in EQ had no phases or gimmicks. It was about knowing which ability to use and when. I enjoyed raiding, and grouping, in EQ more than in WoW because while the encounters were more stagnant the combat felt more dynamic.

I don't play WoW anymore simply because I don't enjoy the raids. I don't like the "stay out of the fire dance" you have to do. You raid to get better gear so that you can raid harder mobs to get better gear. When the raid encounters stop being fun their is no reason to get the better gear.


(I played an Enchanter in EQ and a Priest in WoW)
 
I often feel that people are looking back at raiding through nostalgia tinted glasses. Perhaps mechanics for healers made fights more interesting, but as DPS boss encounters were too often nothing more than becoming as honed as possible at a single rotation unless you were singled out for some specific duty.

The change in boss encounters was a necessary evolution. Where I feel that Blizzard has dropped the ball is that they have decided that where they are at is the end of their evolution, and unfortunately many other MMO developers seem to be looking at WoW as the gold standard for raid design.

I would like to see a future where unique classes, or at the very least unique abilities made a return and were needed, but I also want dungeons and raids that challenge the coordination and strategy of the entire group. Where I am not penalized for playing a specific class, but I may be rewarded by it.

There is a fine line that we expect encounter designers to walk, and I hate to be overly critical when I'd design them to be any better.
 
I've only ever really raided in EQ2 during the Kingdom of Sky Expansion, with a bit of Desert of Flames raiding done as part of that. I recall those encounters being fun becuz the bosses each had a gimmick, maybe 2, but they didn't constantly spam them out unless you interrupted, there was often an element of randomness in them, and while they might (and often did) result in a death or 3 across the raid, they rarely led to a wipe if you weren't "perfect" either.

But then with the Echoes of Faydwer expansion, the level cap wasn't increased so the raids that were added started having more and more gimmicks added to them until it got to the point it was "everyone turn off all pets (even you, Mr Pet Class!), everyone stand at exactly 10 meters from the mob (you DO have that 10m range item that will show you when you're at the right spot, yes?), and use DOTs as your only damage until we get him to 82% health, at which point you now have to run over against THAT wall over THERE and stand under that ledge so he doesn't toss you up into the air and draw aggro from all the social trash mobs up there that you can't clear out without pulling the whole room and causing a wipe. After this knock-up thing fires, then the tank will reposition him in the original spot and everyone has to run to the 10m spot again within 4 seconds or else he'll start throwing raid-wiping AE's out, then when we get him to 69%. . . . . . " and so on and so forth. Raiding became insanely boring becuz the strat had to be explained each time, everyone had to be "ready" and "focused" and even then you would wipe more often than not. So much standing around for so little actual play, and that play was so scripted as to make it exactly what Tobold called it: Simon Says.

I quite raiding then. Haven't looked back. Tried a couple of pickup raids after they were supposedly trivialized, but even then all the various "you gotta click this statue here in the 3s window that it is clicky or else an add that will wipe the raid spawns, but you have to time your run over to the statue in between the AE that the boss does that's is of 1-shot kill levels. . . "

That was it. I was done.

I'm currently playing Rift. I've got a nicely geared level 50 cleric. I've never set foot in a raid instance, and never will either. From what I've heard all the encounters are every bit as scripted, and I find that to be boring. so no, I'll never have top of the line raid gear, but I don't need it for the activities that I find fun either, so it's really not a big deal to me either.
 
@Tobold: more details please. The description you give is even more playing Simon Says than the current raid design (see thing -> press corresponding button). Asking detailed questions:

- how many buttons used in total?
- combo or not combo (i.e. not just the button matters or also the sequence)?
- purely reactive (something happens, you press button X) or some prediction required (for example button Y has a CD, so you have to keep it for some special moment, or maybe button Y only works if you did Z before, so you must "prepare" for the eventuality of Y)?
- how critical/tolerant is the system: one error and you're dead? The raid is dead? Nothing bad happens?
- randomized: how do you ensure that some sequences are not incredibily easier than others, or that some sequences are downright impossible (e.g. requiring ten X presses but you only have resources for five)?
- how are events detected: is it a graphics, an emote, an addon can put a big icon of the button you must press on the screen?
- planning: is there a preparation phase which is important (gearing choice, or any other kind of character customization)?
- class balancing: are there events which require a specific class/combo/ability? (= if you don't have one, it's 0% probability of success).
- multi-tasking/coordination: do you need to look only for one event happening (and use the corresponding skill) or three events may be happening and you need to respond with a specific priority? Or three players must coordinate to counter them with the right three skills (if two overlap -> failure).

In the end all games are looking at the screen and pressing buttons on a keyboard/mouse. The problem is determining why/how/when you should press (or not press) them. This is why I ask details: the devil is in the details.
 
@Treason

I typically take offense when people say nostalgia is blinding me from the truth of the past. It's an easy statement that enables you to disregard anything people say when comparing past games to the present games. It also makes it impossible to compare the past games to current ones because you can always pull the nostalgia card.
 
@Epiny: the "nostalgia card" is very easily countered by pulling out encounter details/mechanics and comparing it with today's.

If all you write is "It was about knowing which ability to use and when." this is exactly true today as well. Which makes everyone think that it's not the game which has changed....
 
i have this theory that tobold and gevlon are really the same person. it might be more of a fantasy than a theory. you guys should come play eve online, i would love to read all your complaints about a new game.
 
@Tobold

“First the encounter can't be scripted, but has to have random elements. And second the players need to have different abilities which are optimal for different situations, thus the task is to select the right one for the random boss ability you observe.”

Like Helistar, I can see this turning into the worst kind of Simon Says:

The boss will have a finite number of possible abilities, grouped into general types (buff, debuff, channel, nuke, heal, knockback, wipe etc.)
Players will have a small number of possible abilities. To make this game accessible, you need to be able to fit them all on the average actionbar.

When the boss uses their ability, you have to choose your character’s response. Or Deadly Boss Mods will shout it on screen and you have to press the correct key.

Even if there are a million different attacks a boss might use, the possible responses need to be limited so that the average player can understand what they are and what to do.
 
You don't understand. The important part is that the random boss abilities would have to be reacted to WITH PLAYER ABILITIES. Not with generic moving and jumping around. Combat would be interactive, but unlike a Simon Says game it wouldn't be scripted and it wouldn't rely on players having to memorize the right moves beforehand. As playing without a script is obviously harder, there would also be a lot more time given to respond correctly.
 
Tobold, so what are some examples of the abilities the bosses would use, and abilities the players would react with?

Seriously, I gave it a thought and I can't come up with anything that wouldn't be trivially easy.
 
I would say that raiding was interesting when boss encounters allowed for multiple ways of beating them, or at least some variation in them. At that point, every raid group had the intellectual challenge of "how do we beat this with what we've got" - maybe we off-tank the adds instead of burning them down fast, maybe we have more DPS, maybe we have an extra healer so we can heal through some effects instead of losing time by LOSing the boss... the WoW raids where I recall our guild making those decisions were MC, BWL and ZG. From AQ onwards, the design philosophy had switched to "this is a puzzle with one set solution and arbitrary limitation imposed to force players to use that one set solution", e.g. enrage timers. Having only one set solution in the internet age is tantamount to saying "don't think - Google it".
 
I can't come up with anything that wouldn't be trivially easy.

That is because the spells and abilities in World of Warcraft have developed to a point where they are trivially easy. If I look at the Diablo III beta, I can totally imagine a situation where I wipe in a fight at harder difficulty and in consequence completely change my strategy, using different combinations of spells and runes to beat that encounter. In World of Warcraft that option doesn't exist any more. You need to look at how combat works in other games to imagine a more interactive type of raiding combat for WoW.
 
Then the problem lies not with the encounter design, but with class/spec design.

Bashiok has already admitted that, when WoW adopted Diablo 2's talent tree system, it also inherited a number of serious flaws. They've tried to get rid of said flaws via dual specs, revamped talent trees and glyphs, with only a marginal rate of success.

Diablo 3's skill system is intended to be the next step in this process. If it turns out to be successful, we will probably see it carried over back into WoW (or Titan). And then - and only then - will we get encounters that specifically rely on class abilities.
 
Who says there even has to be a boss? An encounter can be many other things --- an army, obstacles, a maze, a puzzle, etc. Even if there is a boss, doesn't mean you need to kill him, etc. The boss-fight mentality is such a small box now, we can't even think outside it anymore.

The strict trinity mechanic really defines fights, since a good tank means no one else will ever even get him. *YAWN*. We need a looser trinity at least, where aggro can't be held so uniformly. Also, bosses need to stop being immune to all these abilities like slow, stun, etc.

To answer questions about class abilities, even cc'ing and kill order (remember old Magister's Terrace) is better than tank and spank. But really, part of Tobold's point is that in wow, class differentiation is so watered down, few options are now available.
 
WoW has consistently moved away from a player skill model to a gear only model. Play one raid with a PuG and you see it come into play. In my experience a typical raid requires less than a 1:10 ratio of competent players to complete morons to play successfully, give or take a few given leadership ability.

Having played since early vanilla; I remember when tanking was fun (hard and challenging) and DPS and Healers had to balance threat vs effectiveness or risk getting murdered by mobs. Now...now if your DPS or Healers go overboard, you get blamed for being a bad tank. No wonder tanks are always in short supply.

Being denied entry into a raid because your gear isn't good enough is a sad turn of events...especially when it is good enough; but not to raid leader X's standards. Usually gear is expected to be at a higher than necessary level to ensure that poor play skill is made up for.

Ah well, I'm a bittervet about it though.
-VG
 
@tobold: That is because the spells and abilities in World of Warcraft have developed to a point where they are trivially easy.

Never I wrote that you must limit yourself to WoW-like abilities. Introduce anything you like in the character developement/skills/whatever, but provide a detailed description, please. Because for the moment you're being very vague.
 
There are lots of ways for the damage dealers, tanks and healers to all have fun. For a good dynamic, hard and fast-paced combat style, I think of City of Heroes. While I don't enjoy the superhero theme, the class abilities were awesome.
Ideally, a healer does not just heal and heal. How about they teleport around the battlefield, they use cleansing abilities, they use buffs, they can do massive debuffs to mobs, they can crowd control, they toggle invisibility for the group to skip trash, etc. There should be plenty to do with all that in addition to casting heals.

If you're a crowd controller (could be healer or damage dealer), you have various methods to crowd control mobs, to lower incoming damage significantly so that healing needs are lessened. Encounters can be designed so that damage would not be healable without cc, debuffs and buffs.

For damage dealers, you can have fun massive aoe abilities that knock mobs back, or stun them, or slow them (for a bit of crowd control). Single target abilities don't need to have a set rotation. Certain mobs are weak to certain elements for a wizard, and the wizard chooses the right spell. Or a rogue changes stances to attack in a different manner.

For tanks, have active protective abilities that decrease the damage they themselves and others are taking, activating boosts to defense, and hate management should be not about resource management. Tanks would be quite fun with lots of ways to knock mobs down, toss mobs about, yank mobs to them, toss them in the air, etc. Also tanks should have lots of aoe abilities as well as good damage reflect, and a bit of emergency self-healing and invulnerability (all complaints that were had from other tanks of the paladin tank in WoW).

See, that would be fun for everyone involved!to all have fun. For a good dynamic, hard and fast-paced combat style, I think of City of Heroes. While I don't enjoy the superhero theme, the class abilities were awesome.
Ideally, a healer does not just heal and heal. How about they teleport around the battlefield, they use cleansing abilities, they use buffs, they can do massive debuffs to mobs, they can crowd control, they toggle invisibility for the group to skip trash, etc. There should be plenty to do with all that in addition to casting heals.

If you're a crowd controller (could be healer or damage dealer), you have various methods to crowd control mobs, to lower incoming damage significantly so that healing needs are lessened. Encounters can be designed so that damage would not be healable without cc, debuffs and buffs.

For damage dealers, you can have fun massive aoe abilities that knock mobs back, or stun them, or slow them (for a bit of crowd control). Single target abilities don't need to have a set rotation. Certain mobs are weak to certain elements for a wizard, and the wizard chooses the right spell. Or a rogue changes stances to attack in a different manner.

For tanks, have active protective abilities that decrease the damage they themselves and others are taking, activating boosts to defense, and hate management should be not about resource management. Tanks would be quite fun with lots of ways to knock mobs down, toss mobs about, yank mobs to them, toss them in the air, etc. Also tanks should have lots of aoe abilities as well as good damage reflect, and a bit of emergency self-healing and invulnerability (all complaints that were had from other tanks of the paladin tank in WoW).

See, that would be fun for everyone involved!
 
The idea that 'raiding should be about playing the game', whoever said it, is just a blinding flash of the obvious.

The fundamental problem in the current state of WoW is that game design, if not actually being performed by people who don't actually play the game, is following their influence. I get the feeling most current WoW devs, when they log into the game, play it from the jaded point of view of a developer, with typical insider smugness and an attitude of total relativism.

The "Simon Says" design is all too obvious on encounters like Ragnaros - I was gifted a one month game card and zoned into the encounter for the first time a week before the big nerf, and that was what immediately struck me about it.

"Simon Says" design has two basic causes:
1) Unimaginative devs.
2) Trying to balance raids entirely through conceptually simple, math-based mechanics, so the content can eventually be tuned down so everyone and their blind mother can do it.

What the developers are trying to do is to narrow the scope of all endgame to a single, fundamentally hardcore activity, then water it down so it's accessible to casuals. This isn't working, and it can't work, because it contradicts the nature of the beast.

They're doing it, ironically enough, because despite griping about "how few people saw SWP/Naxx", building a new raid that a huge percentage of the playerbase will see is the most economical mass-endgame. Which was why raiding was initially invented. And of course this doesn't engage the question of quantity vs quality and how that affects playerbase growth in the long run.

I see modern raid design as an evolutionary dead end. Eventually some alternative to raiding as we know it will be developed. Personally, I think it will be more similar to platform-style gameplay, because execution-based gaming is fundamentally more fun than tinkering with numbers, at least for most people.

P.S. I once emailed Gevlon about one of his more specious points. He replied with a reference to "towelheads". Classic demagoguery, get offensive enough that people pay attention but not so offensive you anger someone who can hurt you, and try to get fools to believe you have a brain because you say so.
 
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