Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
 
Take your raid out of my lore - and vice versa

The end of Cataclysm is near, and I haven't got a clue how the story of Deathwing ends. Which isn't surprising, because I haven't seen Illidan or the Lich King die either. Basically World of Warcraft tells the beginning of stories with cinematics that everybody can see, and the end of those stories in the last raid of an expansion. There are two problems with that approach: First, only a small percentage of players gets to see the end of the stories, and second the players who get to see the end of the stories usually aren't much interested. They raid because of the challenge, the achievement, the loot, and lots of other reasons other than an interest in the lore.

Thus when Mists of Pandaria was presented without a big bad boss, I actually considered that an improvement. For World of Warcraft that is. I would say that the way other games, like Star Wars: The Old Republic, tell their stories without requiring players to raid to see the end is superior to the WoW way.

I remember when Magisters' Terrace opened up, it had a cinematic sequence in the middle explaining things about the Sunwell. And me and some other people in the group I was in were watching that, because we were interested in the lore. With the predictable outcome that the other group members chided us for not pressing escape to skip the sequence, so as to finish the dungeon a minute earlier.

Right now in World of Warcraft I'm busy with gearing up my priest, only so that I can see the Caverns of Time dungeons added in patch 4.3. I'd happily visit them in normal mode, but unfortunately they only exist in heroic. So if I want to see that story, I have to be able to do the hardest heroics in the game, which includes having the gear for them.

I think it is likely that the people who like the lore most are those who aren't all that interested in high-end dungeons and raids. And that the people who are interested in high-end dungeons and raids are not that much interested in the lore. There is a mismatch here between where the content is, and what kind of people want to see it.

Comments:
I think that making every 5-man after the base Cata instances Heroic only was a mistake.

After Cata dropped, I doubt I've seen the inside of any of the three ICC 5-mans in Heroic mode (aside from sneaking into Pit of Saron to farm trash for the Battered Hilt). I've gone into the instances in Normal mode, however, and enjoyed the story elements for each toon. But with the later Cata instances, I've not touched them at all.

I've spent my time running BGs rather than get into the Cata Heroic queues, and beyond the initial gear boost that the Cata normals give you (and the lore stuff), there's no reason for me to see the inside of the other Cata instances. I'm the sort that doesn't bring PvP gear into instances or raids, and so I simply refuse to get into another (and longer) gear grind just to see the Zuls and the Caverns of Time instances.

If Blizz had kept to their old routine of having both modes for their 5-mans, this wouldn't have been an issue. I could have rolled into the Zuls with my gear from the Cata normals and the occasional Badge purchase, and I'd have seen the story within. From there to the CoT instances would have been the same gear jump from Tempest Keep's 5-mans to Magister's Terrace (or Trial of the Champion to the ICC 5-mans), and that's something people can navigate well enough.

Of course, I get annoyed by Blizz' insistence on using novels to handle stories that could be better off done in-game, but maybe that's just me.

 
> So if I want to see that story,
> I have to be able to do the
> hardest heroics in the game
Hey, they're actually not too hard. And LFR is even easier. So if you fill any gaps in gear with crafted PVP items, you'll do just fine in LFR. And most probably in new HCs too.
 
Tobold,

I think you can easily make it through both raids in a month. Gearing up with points is already reasonably quick, like a couple of weeks at most, and the high end dungeons have gear for just about all your slots. One of the recent patches added "Raid Finder," which basically allows you to use a dungeon finder-like tool to get placed in a slightly nerfed version of the Deathwing raids. More than half of these raids finish successfully in my experience. A month is plenty of time to get through them if you're dedicated.
 
This expansion has 3 or 4 books associated with it if you REALLY want lore.

But the dungeons/raids are far more accessible than they ever were. And with scenarios being even more accessible, I imagine you'll be able to experience more of the lore with fewer extended time commitments.

But I think Blizzard has their limits how much they want to remove the end-game from the end-game lore. They certainly want people to be able to experience the lore. And they want late comers to be able to catch up. But they want you to spend some time playing to get to the good stuff.
 
This is exactly why I liked the fact that Blizz put in that Dalaran fountain thing where you could (at the end of wrath, not sure if it's still there) see what the final moments of LK looked like. It wrapped up the expansion for me nicely as my guild fell apart after sindragosa :(
 
This comment seems like it would have been more on target an expansion or two ago.

Blizzard has famously been working to make raids more and more and more accessible. At this point, there are almost no barriers to entry for the LFR version of Dragon Soul. I think that its probably easier to get yourself into an LFR raid than it is to finish the Twilight Highlands and Uldum questlines.

Yes, they have used the raid to tell the story. I think that the only people who aren't raiding are the people who don't want to raid.

If someone is intentionally avoiding part of the game, then that person can't blame Blizzard for hiding content from them. Its their choice not to experience it.

What if they told the story through quests? That seems like a reasonable method. However, if someone leveled through LFD and not through questing, would they have a complaint?
 
Is this problem less common on RP servers?
 
@Russell--

I disagree on the time it takes to gear up, because people's WoW time varies.

If you've got a couple of hours a day to play WoW, you can fit in a couple of instances per day via the LFD tool. More, perhaps, if you're a tank or a healer, but since most people play DPS, let's take that.

But if you've only got an hour a day at most to play, you might get in a single instance per day if the stars align and you're not stuck waiting forever for a queue to pop. At that rate, it may be well over a month before you get geared enough just to get into the tier above you. Add that to the successive gear grinds and you're talking couple of months just to go from base-Cata-Heroic ready to Dragon Soul.

 
They are not the hardest, sure you need throughput as dps or heals, but the fights are simple and the trash is light. Best of all most players know what they are doing and that makes a huge difference.


Their is also no reason you can't do lfr. Do it early in the raid reset, Say a wednesday or thursday night. This was a big reason behind it, to let players see the content.

 
Redbeard their isn't really successive gear grinds because valor always buys the current top gear. Besides this month is a special case. Everything can be brought with Justice, perhaps 4 heroics for a item thats the equivalent of the second best gear in game
 
Blizzard made the lore very accessible in 4.3. The dungeons were quite easy, and so is LFR. There's very little grind requires for either and both were designed _precisely_ to allow casual players to experience the lore.

What you cannot expect however is being able to play WoW casually after quiting for 1+ year and then expecting to quickly gear up to experience the lore. Actually, you could, if you buy the PvP gearset and a few more items from JP/VP but its a question if it fits in your casual playstyle.

Btw, I'd happily do LFR with you so you can see the lore.
 
I've always thought that this was a bad design regarding WoW, even right from the launch of vanilla. If you're not interested in raiding you never get to see the end of the stories.

And while many commenters say that it's easy today to finish the raid dungeons, that might be true now, but it wasn't at launch of the expansions. And even then if you're not interested in raiding you will never see the story progress.
 
Does anybody have actual numbers of how many percent of people now participate in the "easy" raids? It used to be single digit percentages for the last raid of an expansion before LFR, so even if that doubled it still isn't much.
 
Tobold: wowprogress doesn't track LFR, but MMO-C had a database trawl that showed participation in LFR was several times that of normal mode.

This was last December, however, before the waves of planned nerfs to normal mode.

http://www.mmo-champion.com/content/2614-Dragon-Soul-and-Firelands-Statistics-Blue-Posts-Poll
 
The 4.3 heroics are easier than ZA and ZG, by far. Dragon Soul LFR is also piss easy, you can pretty much ignore all raid mechanics and live through the fights. If you could heal ZG or ZA, then LFR will be a complete joke.

Even if you cannot do LFR for some reason, there is an NPC in Orgrimmar (near the portals) that will let you see the end cinematic of the Raid.
 
Afraid I have to disagree. I know that some people like to raid because of 'yay, purples' but I think many instead do it because 1) it's a way to play the game they've committed time to alongside lots of friends, and 2) because it feels epic, it lets you feel like you're accomplishing something grand, acts of great renown.

And the second part of that is all about the lore. I played precisely because I wanted to see the arthas die, burning crusade to see illidan's fall. Even in vanilla a good chunk of the quest lore was about the fight between rag and the dark irons of the molten core and nefarian and the orcs of blackrock spire. Or fighting through kalimdor and seeing each new qiraji hive, seeing the swarm spreading.

The lore was what motivated me to raid in the first place. It almost seems like if you don't want to raid, don't even want to do the dungeons, then you must not really care that much about the lore. o.O

It's one of the reasons I'm sad about MoP. There seems to be no grand conflict, no grand event to participate in. No epic-ness. :o
 
"Does anybody have actual numbers of how many percent of people now participate in the "easy" raids?"

http://www.mmo-champion.com/content/2614-Dragon-Soul-and-Firelands-Statistics-Blue-Posts-Poll?page=8

Looks like 34% of the sample MMO Champion took completed Dragon Soul on LFR. I'd call that a success if the goal is to give more people access to end raids, especially ones that are so much a part of the story.

And Tobold, using PvP gear is fine. In many cases, it's much better than the gear you can get from normal mode dungeons. If you fully enchant it and have a few epic PvE pieces, you'll do fine in any heroic or the LFR raid. As a healer, you'll probably find that most characters are so far over geared at this point that they aren't nearly as squishy as you may think they are.
 
WoW has changed with LFR. Vastly higher % complete LFR.

BTW, recent;y Preach (of Method & Youtube) got some views on his piece that it was a good thing that 1% of the playerbase completed original Nax. /sigh.

The latest contretemps was started a comment from Blizzard that they may lower the gear quality from LFR so normal raiders would not feel compelled to run LFR for gearing and might consider putting LFR and normal on same lockout. /huh

So a little time or gold and you can get the gear to get through LFR. I hope you get through it while still in WoW. Since you can buy enough gear to get a fresh 85 into LFR on the first day, at least do that and kill DW before pausing WoW. Anf don't judge WoW on this month. Today everyone has new characters with new spells; the quality will decline which could raise frustrations.
 
Oh, another thing I just thought of. If you're going to be using PVP gear, make sure to take advantage of the reforging feature. Basically you can forge away 1/3 of the resilience and replace it with a stat that's useful to you, like crit or mastery or something. If it's already a solid piece of gear then that can go a long way toward closing the difference.
 
With the exception of one trash pack before the last boss in End Time, the new Heroic 5mans are easier than the original Cataclysm ones. Yeas, I know it asks for 378 (or whatever) item level, but it's truly not necessary. Good players were doing ~10k DPS in <333 item level, and that is sufficient to complete the new ones - despite what your party mates will say. So yeah, feel free to cheat the system with PvP crafted gear.
 
The 4.3 instances are not that hard. As long as you pull carefully the strongest mobs (read this as: use CC on the End Time dragonkin packs before Murozond) and the group can handle the 1-2 relevant mechanics per boss, you can easily complete a wipeless run.
 
@Ngita-- You still have to do the grind to get the Valor to get the gear, because Valor points don't magically pop into your queue without actually running instances. It may go quicker, but you still have to queue up to get the gear.

By comparison, in the same hour I can get at minimum 2 BGs done, maybe more depending upon how quickly some of them go, and have enough Honor that way that I can convert. Of course, that doesn't convert to Valor, but that's the breaks.

Cata normals, unlike their heroic brethren, don't seem to be populated with jerks in LFD. Perhaps that's because those wanting to raid quickly migrate out of normals, but those who run normals tend to not freak out so much about screwups. And I have seen plenty of screwups in Cata normals, even now.

So when I hear about how easy all the heroics are, that's from the view of the end of an expac for people who are severely overgeared for the instance they're in. I heard the exact opposite at the beginning of Cata when people freaked out over how hard they all were, which caused Blizz to nerf them in the first place.

 
"It's one of the reasons I'm sad about MoP. There seems to be no grand conflict, no grand event to participate in. No epic-ness. :o"

A whole new island with new lore to explore. Garrosh burning down Theramoore, new antagonist from alliance (like Thrall was), the Sha, world bosses, and last but not least world PvP. A big part of this expansion is going to be the PvP aspect. But there is also PvE: scenarios, LFR, LFD, normal and heroic (slowly nerfed with debuff).

If you don't see a grand conflict, you have no idea what Mists of Pandaria is going to be about (I gave some keywords above). Maybe you're not into world PvP or the alliance vs horde conflict? If you don't LIKE the grand conflict of MoP, fair enough that is your opinion, but not SEEING it is a different matter.

"Oh, another thing I just thought of. If you're going to be using PVP gear, make sure to take advantage of the reforging feature."

No, you cannot reforge to or from resilience.

I don't know about the new PvP stats though.
 
@redbeard, mmm stonecore seems to be in a special place for normals, I got that 3 times while leveling recently and each run had screw ups. But you are correct normals tend to be smoother then 4.0 heroics.

But my rogue dinged 85 last thursday, I ran the 3 85 normals, then i ran 4 heroics, 3 where ok, Grim batol was a total train wreck until we got a total replacement of the group besides me.

That gave me 3500 justice and 500 valor. Today I have 4000 justice and i will use that to buy 397 gear. That should give me 353 which is enough for the 4.3 heroics. Those I expect to be about as smooth as the normals.

Note I used zero pvp gear, I don't object to people wearing I just think its a bit like cheating at solitaire. I actually did a TB with the quest for 900 honor



 
@Ngita-- You must have better luck on the drops, then, because it seems like I've been completely dependent upon building up via Justice gear.

That notwithstanding, your 7 runs would have taken me the better part of two weeks to accomplish, which I believe would have earned me around three pieces of Justice gear, and if I were lucky, maybe a gear drop or two. From my perspective 4-5 pieces of gear, 3 of them Justice, might technically get me into a 4.3 5-man, but it would also guarantee I'd be a fifth wheel. I prefer to gear up until most of my gear is tier ready.

 
All this, "Actually, it's not so hard," and "but raids are more accessible than ever!" is exactly what's wrong.

People so close to the problem they can't even see it, they don't know how to put it in a frame of reference that makes sense to them.

I don't give a shit how hard or easy raiding is, or grinding gear to get into raiding is, in order to see the story. I just don't want to raid. I hate the mechanic, I hate the baggage, I hate the people.

A story is getting told one way, and I get to enjoy seeing most of it, but the very end is always locked off behind raiding. How would you feel if you went to go see a movie, but you couldn't see the end unless you jammed a giant dildo up your ass? Now, some people actually really enjoy that, and good for them. Not good for me.

I really wouldn't be surprised if the millions of customers who have abandoned WoW are in that group - don't want to grind endlessly or put up with raiding being the be-all-and-end-all of character advancement, gating the lore.

(And before anyone trots out that old boring, "If you don't raid, why do you need raid gear?" argument, understand: It's about character growth. Everyone wants their characters to grow. For non-raiders, that growth stops sooner than for raiders. That's BS.)

After cataclysm, but pre-LFR, the raider population is much smaller than the rest of the population. I doubt it exploded too far out of the single-figure percentage to become more than 50%. So effectively, MOST customers do not like raiding.

The trouble is... I'm pretty sure that there is one incredibly influential segment of the gamer population who enjoys both the lore AND raiding: Blizzard devs.
 
It is a problem Blizzard acknowledged. There needs to be a story-line reason for a fight, if the fight has a story you limit the people that can see it. As a result we now have easy-modes and simplified raid organisation to get people into the raids, and the end-boss cutscene is available to everyone.

There has been massive improvement in raid story accessability for non-raiders.
 
I've always thought why can't Bliz make "story" instances, where as a group of five you go through the instance and you get a chance to see the lore progress. Once you finish then it unlocks the heroic version, raid version, etc etc then you can grind to your hearts content.
For people like me who don't care about purple and endless griding for such, this would be great.
Though I don't know if I'd come back to WoW, as I've felt I've had enough, especially after receiving so much elitist attitude from a lot of players (that was my last straw, so to speak).
But good luck to Bliz with Pandaria.
 
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