Tobold's Blog
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 is forming, we are planning to raid soon, starting with ICC 10".

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.
I'm hoping Bliz extends the Dungeon Tool to 10man Raids as well, so that 10man PUGs are possible.
It's a shame but blue posts have stated more than once being totally fine with the situation you describe. Not that they could not just change their mind but I don't really expect anything to change in Cataclysm.
Other raid-oriented games I've played have often had "progression" guilds, whose purpose and mission is to to do all the raid content in chronological order. These guilds seemed to sprout up regularly, regardless of where the current state-of-the-raid game was at.

I'd have thought that, with it's vastly larger population, WoW would kick up this sort of guild regularly. Usually if something CAN be done in an MMO, someone will do it, never mind whether it's worth doing.

Are there no progression guilds in WoW?
I wholeheartly agree. And I am a bit surprised you see it this way.
Unfortunately, although Cataclysm will bring some good things (back), Blizzard intends to keep the current raid and Tx, T(x+1) gear system - God alone knows way.
Totally agree with you Tobold. Back in the BC days I was still raiding Kara with the guild while doing SSC, TK and MH.
I think I finished playing BC with some T4 bits still. I also managed to change mains half way through raiding and still got to our progress raids after a bit of work gearing.

For Wrath now if you are thinking about starting a new toon for raiding and you dont have a guild that will essentially boost you through ICC you are doomed. As most pugs are asking for ludicrous gear scores/ achievments.
On my realm now you dont even see many TOC pugs and that was the last raiding tier!

Unfortunately I think rampant gear inflation will still be about. Though the sharing of raid lockouts may kill off the pug excess we have been seeing recently forcing the resurgance of "gearing" guilds.

Zetter, I do think the gear inflation won't be quite as severe as with WOTLK, mainly because there's not going to be the 10/25-man gear level split, so stat values won't need to increase so much per tier. At least that's my hope.

I don't think Bliz will go back to a Vanilla/TBC model of raid tiering, however, where you have to do the raids in order of progression if you want to stand a hope of getting into the latest tier. Conversely, I don't think they'll go the same way as WOTLK either, for the reasons Tobold described: they spent an awful lot of money on places like Ulduar (possibly less so on ToC) yet so many players today haven't even been there, and quite possibly don't even know where it is. It's a folly.
It's a terrible design; the only expansion which had raiding right was vanilla - where a guild would start at the beginning together and work there way through the content, learning and conquering together, and keeping dungeons like MC relevent and fresh through the end of vanilla.
The idea of one guild that finds together and does content is sooo 2005. Today we pug. And if you don't pug, you are supposed to grind T(x+1) heroic sets in the latest raid only. Add achievements and daily heroic AE light shows if you are bored.

And the best: You can still do all the content: You just need to organise enough people on a regular basis who are willing to raid for no worthwhile reward whatsoever.
Zode: The problem with heavily progression-gated raiding tiers like in vanilla WoW and most of TBC boils down to: "What happens when one or two key roles in your raid suddenly need to be filled?"

Say your main tank (or a couple good healers, or your best DPS, or or or...) quits the game, or switches mains, or gets poached by another guild when you're up to half of AQ40 on farm, or are knee-deep in Black Temple. Even if an OT can step up to the plate gear-wise, you're still stuck finding a new person, then taking your entire raid back through raid content they all outgrew six months to a year ago, because there's no real way to leapfrog gear tier levels.

Now you're stuck with 25-40 people grumbling about "Molten Bore" and "I-Don't-Careazan" just to get a single key person geared up so you can continue on raiding at the level you were two months prior. That is, if your guild hasn't simply collapsed in the mean time. Of course, you could find a pug tank who's already geared for your current raid content, but geared people sitting guildless are usually guildless for a reason.

I didn't raid too heavily in vanilla WoW, but the above scenario happened all the time on my server during TBC, and is largely what led me to quit WoW for almost two years.

Granted, the current setup of "Do heroics for a week or two and now you can start doing the hardest raid content in the game" is a little extreme, but there has to be some better middle-ground between that and "Hope you like [entry-level raid content here]!"
i'm actually surprised that you've made this post and that it's getting so much support.

while there's definitely strength to the idea that updating dungeon loot to keep up with raid loot has not been an entirely successful endeavour i think it's a bit odd to talk about "selfish" people and all those "*I*"s.

people complained endlessly about the previous expansions' raid content since they were effectively just another form of gating, preventing friends play together.

the wrath model was a reaction to that and to the fact that SO few people saw naxx60 and sunwell. in that sense it has been a success. a new player can get the gear they need to see every single boss from this expansion without ever having to ask an entire raid to carry them through some content to get their gear up to the same level as the guild.

i wouldn't call it a complete success by any means, there is definitely tweaking to be done, but i think you're wrong that it was a disaster. if you were right then there would be guilds that ran the earlier raids regularly. ulduar is still a challenging raid (with hard modes still available if people want an extra challenge).

what blizzard did was make the playing field far more level than in previous expansions allowing players to do whatever content they want to with their friends. if most people reject the earlier raids then that's another issue.

personally i'm a big believer in letting like-minded people do whatever they want to do. so if you want to run those early raids, find a group of people who share that interest. there's no barrier to entry so it's up to the player to do this. basically, you're blaming blizzard for what has emerged from the players. you're also blaming the players for not organising enough of that stuff but why complain? go and do it if that's your interest. start a guild that makes a point of gear progression or something.

There is a limited number of raid dungeons on WoW. The get the most out of them, it is best if players raid all of them.

The Classic/BC system made raids do this.

If I (or any new player for that matter) could raid all raids from MC
to ICC for equip, we would be very happy.

I've actually suggested a middle ground some time ago:
How to make very player see all the content
WotLK only has a single raid dungeon!

Then again, according to most history reports, BC also only had a single raid dungeon: Karazhan, which apparently the majority of guilds never consistently got out of.
Ah, the drawbacks of a gear based system. And that's just a minor flaw tbh. Talk about how unfair PvP is for a newly dinged 80 without any backup to buy a lot of stuff off the AH and we will see some of the major ones.
That's wierd. I could have sworn that my 9/12 ICC HM raiding guild just did a Naxx Immortal run on a slow night (while also doing the weekly).

And a while back we worked on Glory of the Ulduar raider, and during the XT weekly did 4 Towers Flame Leviathan for fun.

Nobody makes anyone do nothing but ICC. Gearing a up new 80 can either be done with lots dungeon pugs, or they can do Naxx, Ulduar and ToC runs to get their starting 80s gear.

Doing the latter requires more organization. If your newbie guild is cutting its teeth on those old raids for learning and fun while people gear up (the gear is as good as most starting heroic gear), and a few people can't make it, they can fall back to running heroics (or if they are a tank or healer, doing some higher end normals) for a few weeks solo.

Its their CHOICE!

The problem I think you have, is you don't like the choice most players make. Many focus on gear, and gear score and brute forcing everything. Or not doing old dungeons for the billionth time. So you want blizzard force everyone to make a better choice.
"Or not doing old dungeons for the billionth time"

I meant to say raids. And yes people to run dungeons a billion times, but only because it can be done quickly and hopefully without as many hassles. People want to run past the old stuff to see the new stuff.

If enough people want to see the old stuff, they can. And some do.
This is not a failure, this is a necessity. The players want to be in the endgame. Being in Ulduar while the "big guys" are in ICC is "kinda fail lol".

Also, what about the M&S? They are like newbies (except they are permanently newbies). If we force the newbies to group with M&S, they leave the game in disgust.
I have to disagree and say that I think this model was a success.

If they had continued with the previous model (you must gear through Raid A before you can do Raid B before you can do Raid C) the new 80 would be in an even worse situation than now.

For a new raid group, starting at Naxx now with fresh blues would probably mean getting to Ulduar when Cataclysm comes out, meaning 3 raids are skipped.

For a fresh 80 joining an active raiding guild, well...

New 80 while guild is in Ulduar: We have an alt night you can roll with, you might get to see Ulduar next raid release!

New 80 while guild is in TOC:
A) We have an alt night for Naxx, can't gear you through Ulduar, sorry
B) We have an alt night for Ulduar, good luck getting geared through Naxx
C) Sorry, we're just doing TOC and High End Ulduar

New 80 while guild is in ICC: You're gonna have to PUG up, sorry

In today's system: sure they might miss older raids if their guild doesn't like alt nights, but they can play with their friends.

In the old system you might've been able to find a guild doing the entry raid, but odds are you weren't going beyond that. And then you don't get to play with your friends.
To everybody who thinks that players have a choice now:

If the fact that good gear drops in ICC and no gear (worse than heroic dungeon) drops in all other raids

1) doesn't limit anybodys choice nor
2) decreases fun while running old raids,
why don't we remove gear from WoW altogether?

Besides: A (new) player might want to experience a real Naxx run. Not one with itemlvl 264.
"It's a terrible design; the only expansion which had raiding right was vanilla - where a guild would start at the beginning together and work there way through the content, learning and conquering together, and keeping dungeons like MC relevent and fresh through the end of vanilla."

Yeah, but that was hard. Blizz is not going for hard, and hasn't been going for that for ages. They want everyone to be running the same stuff. Makes people feel important that they are running the same dungeons that the top guilds are running. You just can't feel that inferior, unlike back in the day when people might develop an inferiority complex when their guild was working its way through MC when someone else on the server is running Naxx.

Now you get badge boosted up to the point where you are ready to run the last raid, and then get a 30% buff on top of that.

If you view raiding as some sort of long term quest to reach the top this doesn't make sense. If you view raiding as little more than a cooperative Call of Duty match, then just getting some upgrades and a few achievement unlocks makes sense.

I think this system makes a lot of sense for Blizz, if you think their main strategic goal is retaining population. Old raiding was hard and time consuming. It make the officers running these raids burn out; it made guilds fall apart and friendships disintegrate (that really fun guy who couldn't DPS his way out of a paper bag), and so on. In short, it contributed a LOT to turnover for those who participated, and made the game less attractive to those who didn't, since they spent all their time getting destroyed by those who did. Relaxing raiding to the point where you can PUG the final raid dungeon, and non-raiders can gear up to the point where they are reasonable competitive with raiders, it's the best for Blizz, cause it keeps people logging in.
We really need to differentiate between difficulty of raid dungeons and the topic of this post.

You can easily make 4 successive raid dungeons, like in vanilla/TBC, and make them so easy that everybody can do them. You don't need to catapult everybody to the top-level raid via heroic dungeons - you can also catapult them via the prior raids.
Man, this argument has gone on many times before.

The current system is MUCH better for a new 80 than the old one was, because in this current system you can quickly start on the raiding content that everyone else is on, including the people you want to playing with, whereas in the old system, there were two choices:

A) Your guild, in an effort to gear you up to the point where you weren't dead weight, went back to old raids that they had cleared many times before, or
B) You were forced to guild-hop in order to get your gear in such a position where you weren't dead weight.

Now, at least, the grind to gear up to not be a burden is a self-grind, and afterwards you and your guild can go raid whatever you want.
Some people are suffering from a serious lack of imagination. Why should the only two possibilities be "like in BC" and "like in WotLK"? Both obviously have serious flaws.

A good system gives players the CHOICE which raid dungeon to go to. And not just a fake choice like today, but with sufficient rewards for all possible raid dungeons that going to each and any of them makes sense. That is obviously possible with 5-man dungeons, so it must be possible with raid dungeons as well.
This comment has been removed by the author.
Er, deleted my last post because I thought I'd said too much.

Tobold, if your point was to support a raiding tier system that was neither BC's nor WotLK's, then you've pretty much failed to make that clear.
Tobold, I can't believe I agree with you so completely whole-heartedly.

A couple points:

1) Before triumph badges from heroics/old raids, people still needed(wanted) gear from naxx or ulduar to fill out odd upgrades, being that they could only get 2 tier pieces from badges and other assorted pieces.

- I firmly believe LFD killed low-end raiding, but not in a "the sky is falling" kind of way, more in just that now it's possible to get gear on your own and in your own time.

2) The first 4 bosses of Icecrown (including the laughable Gunship) are itemized with an entire set worth of gear for everyone. This means that even the worst pugs still have a reasonable chance to completely fill out everyone's gear.

3) I raided in TBC and attunements gave guild officers a humongous headache. Due to the horrible guild-hopping that went on from the mememe's, once your guild broke through to a new tier of content (say T6), there was a serious concern that some people would jump to an already established T6 guild that could carry them and provide rot drops to quickly fill their gear.

One last thing I'd like to say, to everyone who complains about how some guilds only saw Karazhan in TBC, it's because you took on selfish guild members that didn't have the patience to let your guild become a 25-man guild. They instead guild hopped to 25 man guilds and left yours to rot. It's the fault of your guild leadership for not establishing objectives, timetables, and fulfilling that promise to its members.
Honestly, I think the best solution to this problem is to "upgrade" old raid instances to keep them on pace with current activities. For instance, if each boss in Naxx dropped 3-4 badges, people would roll Naxx badge runs all the time. Currently, it's much more time effective to run heroics instead. This could bring new players into Naxx runs in the same way that GDKP runs benefit most from people who need the gear, versus those who are just hoping to make money.

I don't see why each new raid has to be "harder" than the one before it, which is done by gear inflation as it stands today. I believe that Ulduar is much harder than Icecrown (except LK) at anything near the appropriate gear level, with or without hard modes.
What Tobold hinted at and Andrux almost said.

What if instead of new heroics dropping i232 or higher, you just turn up the gear ilvl on the older raid dungeons? Drop the better badges, with good numbers.

So, instead of running the same few heroics for badges and new heroics for gear every damn day, once a higher level dungeon is out, the previous tier dungeon can be tuned to a higher ilvl, with a 3 day lockout instead of a week. Drop the gear that would have dropped in the new heroic. Make each boss drop enough gear to equate to 3 heroics. Make each boss drop 3x as many badges (to equate to running a heroic every loss in number of badges).

That is one way to "force" the progression through raid dungeons, and to keep the previous raid dungeon gear relevant (since you can tune it up).

The only "downfall" is that requiring 10 people and doing harder fights than heroics could slow down the progression of the "M&S" as Gevlon likes to call them. But it is a way to keep raid dungeons both used and relevant.

Meh, whatever. I've given up on the treadmill. You guys are basically arguing over what kind of glitter you want to decorate the treadmill with.
I'm surprised that you have this viewpoint, since you're usually in favor of opening content to everyone. In fact, I think Blizzard's decision to make high-end raiding content accessible to all players was a great one.

Instead of forcing a specific progression on players, they could make Naxx and Ulduar more appealing by increasing the rewards to be on par with heroics and ICC (or maybe somewhere in between those two?). What if there was no such thing as raid progression, but all raids were equally valued by the reward system?
I'm surprised that you have this viewpoint, since you're usually in favor of opening content to everyone.

You don't understand. It is exactly my point that content should be open to everyone, and that in the current situation Naxxramas and Ulduar are *NOT* open, because nobody goes there any more. Thus a system which would still enable people to go to ICC, but also make it attractive to go raiding to Naxxramas and Ulduar would be much better.
What Tobold is saying is that all but ICC is closed to everybody but those with an organised group today.

That is no difference to the way it was in classic/TBC, where all but MC was cloased to those without an organised group.

In addition, the Naxx/Ulduar experience is spoiled to new players, because going Naxx in an itemlvl264 group just isn't the same as raiding it with itemlvl200.

The main reason for why it is hard to find a group that goes Naxx is that there is no reasonable reward for going anywhere, but the latest content. Besides pure 'item greed' this also makes players feel wrong when going Naxx. It just doesn't feel like the way WoW is meant to be played. Blizzard trained players to hunt items. That's why all, but the most experienced players, do exactly this.

There are numerous way to fix this. But firstly, it is important to agree that the current way of using the content is far from optimal.
hindsight's 20/20?

this expansion has been great in terms of getting people the ability to see whatever content it is they like.

how about, instead of the first important thing being to agree that it was a failure, we accept that wrath was a great step in the iteration process which will undoubtedly continue as we go on?
Alf said: "this expansion has been great in terms of getting people the ability to see whatever content it is they like."

Except it hasn't.

I wanted to raid Ulduar, but I got geared too late, and so all I've seen is TOC and ICC. The only group going to Ulduar these days is the top-guild's "Pay 100k gold for drake/Mimiron HM mount" run. I don't have a place there.
i guarantee that you're not the only person on your server that feels that way though. build it and they will come ^_^
No, they won't.

Only experiences players would even think of not progressing their character in WoW. Want prove ?
Prove: There are almost no PUGs clearing Ulduar.

Generally: Don't tell us to just organise it. That was the same answer raiders told those who wanted to go Black Wing Lair in calssic or Black Temple in TBC.
This conversation sounds eerily familiar, but last time it was from a totally different angle. Something about "Guild Alliances" or "being part of multiple guilds/social groups at the same time" .

This problem does not seem to me like a gameplay-problem , this is clearly a SOCIAL problem. Players will never be at the same "level" in the game at the same time, there's always going to be people playing faster/slower/casually, yet want to be in a guild and want to experience all the content.

So the issue is: How to get those people together.

The current guild system is the failure, not the raids. I remember how i started playing BC very late [people was farming Black Temple and i wasn't even ready for Karazhan] , but my social group was at the exact same point in the game with their characters. We did all the raids all the way to Sunwell before WOTLK fact we went further than players who were in "hardcore" guilds who were doing raiding since the launch of BC, simply because we managed to pick up players who are not "overgeared" or "undergeared" , we did not need to "get players up to speed" or anything....

So ultimately, a new social networking tool [like the dungeon finder] will go a loong way. Why should we be grinding out heroics when you can have more fun doing an "entry" raid with people who also WANTS to do it?
this is a terribly selfish perspective. You are arguing for a return to vanilla/TBC raiding, where it was excruciatingly difficult for guild's to maintain momentum. Every time one of your current members stops playing or leaves, you'd have to get a replacement, who would have to be brought back through all the old layers.

If you don't have the time or attention span to participate in the full raiding experience, Blizz has made it so *everyone* can catch up. If you aren't interested in catching up, there are many single player RPGs out there. Why should nine or 24 other people have to go back redo things for one person?
You are arguing for a return to vanilla/TBC raiding,

No, he is not.
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yes, he is. Anything that "encourages" (and in raiding parlance that means "requires") you to go back and re-do outdated content is TBC/vanilla-land.

I don't care if you update the badge model every tier, you're still forcing the majority of raiders to rehash stale content. People don't do 5-mans for fun or to "relive old content" they do it to gear alts and off-specs very quickly or to get their 2 frost badge cookie. Raid time is a precious commodity, I don't want to spend it on stuff I shouldn't have to just because some people won't stitch together the 3 hours a week it takes to make minimum progress.
You have a very narrow vision there, Ben, only seeing the veteran raiders. Aren't you aware that there are still millions of WoW players who don't raid? The idea is not to channel the people who already did everything back to Naxxramas, but to set up a system in which somebody who doesn't raid has incentives to pug Naxxramas when he has more than 20 minutes, instead of running heroics.
Ben - I would alter your wording a little bit. The current game doesn't allow you to 'catch up' as much as it allows you to skip ahead. Some of use don't want to skip everything to get to the last dungeon, but there is no other option. (and , to commenters here in general, outgearing a raid by 3 tiers and going on a 'fun run' is NOT what I'm talking about..)

I wouldn't expect ICC-level guilds to go back to old content to gear me up. I'd happily play with a guild that was at the same level I was.
Thinking about it, the only reason I can imagine, for why Blizzard uses the raid/equip model they do, is that the Blizzard employees don't want to make themselves superfluous. They actively make players skip every single raid they every created just so that they would play the newest one.

This way there is always a need for even more raid dungeon designers.
"the only reason I can imagine, for why Blizzard uses the raid/equip model they do, is that the Blizzard employees don't want to make themselves superfluous."


sort of reiterating what i've been saying all along, if so many people in this comment thread want something like this then you can bet there's a ton of others who want it too. make a progression guild. make a guild that downgrades all badges to the tier you're doing and actively skips the newer 5mans until they're gear appropriate.

but, that sounds like the kind of thing you'd only get jaded end-game raiders doing with alts right? and tobold is saying that he's thinking more about new players hitting 80 at this late stage in the expansion?
well, we really need to be able to ask these people what they want. my guess is that they'd say they want to see/kill the LK. i'm sure they'd like to see the earlier content but do you think they want to be forced to progress through it before they get to play with their friends?

the current system is a little inelegant but in my opinion it is far superior to the vanilla and tBC arrangement. personally, i'll be interested to see the next iteration in the process.
This post and the discussion following it have inspired me to start a new Alliance guild on Doomhammer-US called Deserted. Clearly I'm not the only one who wants to raid all the older stuff, so here's your chance.
And in the attempt to make it so everyone could easily see the latest raid instance they actually made it so that those who came too late would not see the earlier instance.

Perhaps Blizzard's greatest contribution to the ongoing evolution of MMO gaming will be what to avoid in designing endgame progression.

And maybe dungeon finder. I am still up in the air on if this feature helps people get connected or if it makes connecting so easy that people stop trying to be social all together. It is amazing how many groups just form, run the heroic, finish and then desolve without more than a handful of words spoken. Dungeon finder sometimes reminds me of the random sex partner transporter thing in Logan's Run. I are you sure it is a good thing?
Good question, I'm leaning towards Dungeon Finder = good, but frost badges for running heroics = bad, which turns it into a treadmill for people who have already run the content 100 times.

If you just have people running the heroics who want the drops in there, I think the group experience would be more enjoyable.
I agree that Blizzard really needs to teach how to raid during the leveling gaming. But in the meantime, I've found these guides helpful:
I see two problems with the state of current raiding in WotLK, which I believe others have mentioned.

First, the rewards of the lower raids are not worth the time and effort. Naxx is providing i200 (and i213 but honestly how many Naxx25s are put together?) which is sigficantly below what can be purchased with Emblems. And more emblems can be obtained per hour and with less effort by running Heroics.

Second, even if a group is put together for Naxx, the current gear levels, that even a new toon can so quickly obtain, do not make for a valid raid experience. For example, the stamina levels of a clothie are now higher than the levels of tanks when the content was fresh. Combined with the power the most healer have now, 'standing in fire' no longer hurts the raid and does not teach new raiders to avoid the stuff on the floor or the coordination of moving.

A couple thoughts occurred to me. If Blizzard wants to maintain the 2 tier rewards, bump up the number of emblems awarded by Raid bosses to point where there would be more per hour than a Heroic.

Also, what if the raid dungeon difficulty scaled with the iLvl of the players - the higher the level the more damage inflicted. Blizzard already scales vehicles based on item level. Is this so much different? And maybe scale the rewards as well - the lower the level, the more emblems drop?
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