Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Ghostcrawler on raid difficulty

Ghostcrawler, having freshly escaped a mob of angry paladins with torches and pitchforks, answered a question on raid difficulty on the WoW forums:
I think it's too early to say. We just haven't gotten to that content yet. Everything that follows beyond this point is just my random brain dumping and not our official stance:

-- Raiding is easy at the moment. Even Naxx will be pretty easy. Part of that is because we thought Karazhan, Gruul and Magtheridon were too steep a jump in difficulty from the heroics. Part of that is because most of the Naxx encounters are well-understood.
-- You will not be able to AE tank and AE burn down every encounter in Lich King like we're all doing now in Hyjal and Sunwell.
-- Very few players experienced Sunwell pre-nerf.
-- On the other hand, those that did were generally very complimentary of the encounters. Despite the difficulty, people had fun.
-- No matter how difficult we make content, very hardcore groups will probably still finish it quickly. In other words, we can't make "insanely difficult" the barrier that keeps a boss alive for months.
-- It's probably okay if some content is only seen by a few players. It just amps up the epic quotient of those fights. Everyone knew who Ragnaros was, even if they hadn't been able to beat him.
-- Obviously the preceeding is a very slippery slope and it's easy to make content too difficult or too easy.
-- Part of the reason Sunwell was difficult was it mandated raid stacking. The buff / debuff system has changed so much that we don't anticipate that happening again the same way.
-- We really like optional objectives that let skilled groups really test their mettle (and then show off about it). I'm talking about things like the 45-min Baron run, ZA bear run, and Chamber of the Aspects with all drakes up. Does this mean Arthas will be doable by many groups but the uber mode to beat him will be 10x as hard and offer better loot? We're just not there yet.
Interesting! I agree with most of this, especially the "Karazhan, Gruul and Magtheridon were too steep a jump in difficulty from the heroics" part. And of course I like the "Naxx will be pretty easy" part, even if one of the reasons is "we recycled an old dungeon, and the videos how to beat the bosses on YouTube are still valid". The "we're just not there yet" part suggests that WotLK will ship unfinished, not really a surprise, and the high-end raid dungeons will be patched in later. The trick will be to find a good slope from pretty easy to insanely difficult, so that everyone can find raid content which is challenging for him. And if that means that some hardcore guilds will have Naxx on farm right from the start and move on from there quickly, that is okay with me.
It's weird to hear him say Kara/Gruul/Mag were too big a jump from heroics. How about heroics being way too big of a jump from blue regular 5 mans??

Until this last patch my Prot pally was in a rut going on 6 months. I was too geared for regular 5 mans, but not geared enough for heroics. The only thing I could really do was OT Kara and getting 1 drop a week (if I was lucky enough to find a pug group that didn't break up and make it through the whole thing) just wasn't nearly the progression I needed to make that character fun to play.

My priest and hunter had a much easier time breaking into heroics, but the fact still remains that Kara/Gruul was MUCH EASIER.

I'd rather see an easier transition into heroics than into raiding. Raiding was always pretty easy in TBC. Heroics were a bitch.
Then you did the wrong heroics. Some (mech) are easy, some like SL or BM are hard. Some are in the middle. This kind of post really shows why blizzard is King of PvE content creation. Blizzard seems to suck and copycat other at parts of MMORPG's (classes, crafting, etc). Luckly for them PvE dungeons is what people send most of there time doing and working towards.
"Everyone knew who Ragnaros was, even if they hadn't been able to beat him" I didn't learn till I looked it up online one day. Half the players I knew on my server had plenty of trouble with Lucifron and never got past him. Hence, I call bull.
Well, the major problem for BC is that 90% of the raid and heroic content was all about STA checks.

And the gear simply didn’t exist.

In kara the roadblocks were essentially Shade, Prince and NB. Shade was a pain because your healers never had the STA to reliably survive. Prince and Nightbane were STA checks on your tank.

In SWP it became all about the a DPS check.

Personally, besides Kael I found the actual encounters to be completely un-dynamic in BC.

Honestly Kara had more interesting fights then pretty much any other dungeon; and besides ZA, it was the only one that had at least some level of tuning from one boss to the next.

I mean seriously, Kael is in the same dungeon as Void Reaver? WInterchill is with Archimonde? Shade of Akama is relatively deep in BT?

My hope is that Blizzard learned its lesson of raid stacking from SWP, but also that they remember the Vanilla WoW axiom, that each raid encounter (or at least instance) should be harder then the one before it.

And nerfing content so people can see it needs to have some limits.

Undergeared groups are now killing Curator before the first evocate. No CC is needed for Moroes. We killed Gruul this week with 2/3rd of the raid trapped outside by the fence?

If that is people seeing content, then I might as well cancel my account and just watch youtube videos of boss kills. It’s about as interactive as this.
My first guild's first downing of Ragnaros is still my all time favorite moment in any video game. I actually let out a yell and spent the rest of the night just talking about the entire night's raid and getting drunk in the IF tavern (note...we were not on an RP server or even a RP guild) it was just too frikkin cool. That one moment has probably kept me playing this game longer than anything else as I have been trying to recapture that feeling ever since.
heh forgot to stay on topic :P

Kara when it was first introduced just about pretty much killed my guild. Pre BC we were farming AQ40 and BWL and hitting Naxx. After TBC When we finally got ready for Kara it single handedly killed the guild. There were no instances equivalent to say LBRS or UBRS were you could get prepared and get your coordination down. You went from relatively simple 5 man instances to 10 man raid where one person making a small error could kill the entire raid.

Kara would have been fine at its original difficulty if it weren't the first raid you got to.

You must've been freeloading in Kara/Gruul then or going there very late. I can assure that Kara is not more forgiving than the hardest heroics given a group that actually is at the entry level in gear for both.

The problem with most of these evaluations of raid difficulty is that they often come from people who only look at their own gear instead of the whole raid. Of course you're going to be able to tank kara in your 70 blues if your healers have 2k +healing and the dps is killing the mobs in no time. That doesn't mean the encounter was easier than a heroic.
totally off topic but...

OBAMA !!!!!!!!!!!
Ha, beaten to it. Huzzah to Obama. Kudos to McCain for bowing out graciously
I haven't been in the WoW scene for a while but I love what he said about Ragnaros. As unpopular as it may be, I do like having some insanely difficult sections to an MMO...even I am the one that doesn't get to see it. To me, it adds to the epic feeling of the game as well as an element of mystery. I used to love reading about "the sleeper" in EQ. The "impossible to kill" status of this mob sparked interest and many lore discussions. It drew me much deeper into the game than if he was killed much sooner than he was.
as much as i am an elitist sometimes, i have to admit that karazhan was much too difficult short after release of BC. everyone that says otherwise came after serveral nerfs or already outgeared karazhan.
we killed the prince back in february 07 and look at what gear we had:

so do it with that gear, where the difficulty is nerfed to the ground, and even then you can imagine how hard it was back then.

Making false assumptions doesn't serve as grounds for your argument. I've been playing since '04 and have never been carried ;)

Yes I understand the gear of the entire raid plays a factor.

But when heroic trash 2 shots blue-geared tanks when the same tank could multi-mob tank in the first half of Kara (pre-nerf) ... yea there's a disparity in difficulty and an obviously messed up line of progression.

And you're right some heroics were easier. I also think that was part of the problem.

I remember the first heroic I ever tried was Ramparts and BF. Big mistake. Of course my reasoning was perfect - they were the first BC dungeons, so they must be the easiest heroic dungeons.

That's something I'd like to see changed in WotLK as well - the heroic progression line is the same (or at least similar) to the regular progression line.
Frankly, I'm very happy with the way raids are headed long-term.

The current bonanza where you can faceroll your way through raid content I can remember being mind-numbingly hard simply encourages people to try raiding and to think of themselves as "raiders".

Some of this new intake will stay the course.

It's very similar to the adroit piece of social engineering Blizzard did at the end of vanilla WOW. Having established that High Warlord was a title worthy of considerable respect they made High Warlord weapons available to anyone who went to AV. A great many players proudly took their rank 14 weapons into TBC feeling that they were pretty tasty pvpers. And no doubt some of them turned the illusion into reality.

In WotLK a considerable number of people will level to 80 expecting to raid and kill raid bosses. They will no doubt get some purples from the first few facerollable Naxx 10 bosses then some will break and some will toughen as the pressures increase.

WoW has a large number of players who migrate to whatever form of play offers significant reward for minimal contribution. In TBC these guys played AV, in some cases afk, and got their hand-me-down pvp epics.

In WotLK most pvp sets require personal rating. Naxx will be pretty easy and the last few weeks have conditioned the large floating population of casual opportunists to expect easy epics from raids.

I'm expecting these players to be steered towards raiding in WotLK. I do think that difficult content will eventually come in but I think easy epics from somewhere is a core part of WoW's business model and I think they will switch it from afking in AV to afk autoshoting in raids.

And I don't think this does any harm. I'm expecting to be clearing Naxx 25 and/or Ulduar just as Naxx 10 pugs become common and I'm quite looking forward to easily accessible raid content for under-geared alts. UBRS, Strat and Scholo raiding was great fun 3 years ago and I don't think there was enough casual raiding in TBC.
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