Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Death of the raid model

MMO Melting Pot has a post about raid guild burnout and asks whether WoW is dying. That is revealing insofar as it equates World of Warcraft with its raiding endgame. As I happen to be married to someone who managed to play 6 years of WoW without ever setting foot into a raid dungeon, I can assure you that WoW and raiding are not the same. The raid endgame is just a subset of the game of World of Warcraft.

And that particular subset of the game certainly has problems. It is increasingly self-contained, that is the only use for the rewards of raiding is getting access to more raids. Raiding also has the biggest social problems of all the sub-games of WoW, because on the one side people are forced to rely on each other, but that on the other side leads to a strong segregation along the levels of virtual power. And raiding has the big problem that on the one side it is supposed to be the endgame goal for everybody, but on the other side the people who are raiding would like their activity to be exclusive.

But ultimately all comes down to a problem of simple mathematics: In a game like World of Warcraft where expansions are released only every two years, but offer only at best two months of leveling, people spend a huge amount of time in the endgame. If you raid X times per week for 100 weeks, and there are Y raid boss challenges in the game, you will need to spend (X * 100) / Y raid nights wiping on each boss if you want the challenge to last until the end. If you advance faster, you'll find yourself in a situation where there is no new raid boss to kill left before the next major content patch. If you advance slower, you never make it through. Because Blizzard can't offer hundreds of raid bosses, by definition you spend more raid nights wiping than progressing. Take all that together, and at some point you realize that you are working hard, under frequent frustration, with the reward being some even more frustrating content being made available to you.

Blizzard's decision in Cataclysm to reverse their Wrath of the Lich King "raiding is for everybody" policy, and to instead reinstate the "raiding is for the leet" game design isn't exactly helping. A much better design would have offered easier heroics and an easy entry-level raid dungeon, and then made the further raid dungeons harder. While advancing slowly or getting stuck can be frustrating, that is nothing compared with the frustration of not even getting a foot in the door. The average player today has problems even getting accepted into a BoT trash run, with the very existence of "trash runs" telling you a lot about the state of Cataclyms raiding.

Further contributing to the death of the raid model in World of Warcraft is the inconsistency in game design: While making raiding harder, Blizzard made the rest of the game easier. Even my casually playing wife is complaining that she is leveling *too fast*. And the lower level game appears to have been changed from "kill 10 foozles" to "just show up where the foozles are, and they will die on their own from a heart attack when seeing your overly powerful character".

Blizzard will need to decide whether they are making a game for everybody, and that would have to include letting everybody play in the endgame as well; or whether they are making a game in which the leveling game teaches you the skills necessary for the endgame, and that would mean making the leveling game less trivial. The current model with its stark contrast between trivial leveling game for the masses and raid endgame for the leet just isn't going to keep World of Warcraft running for the remaining 20 months of Cataclysm. But it won't be WoW that is dying, but just the raid endgame, which will become increasingly seen as a detached activity for a small minority of no-lifers, and not worthy of sustained investment.
As an "elite" player (effectively 12/12, missing only the farm Chogall + Alakir but have Nef down), Cata raiding has been extremely great for me. It is quite challenging and fun to play.

However, raiding was not the reason I got into vanilla WoW - I never set foot inside a raid instance in vanilla and only raided in TBC until much later in the expansion. WoW was my first MMORPG and the sense of wonder, excitement, danger and exploration in vanilla WoW is unmatched.

When I hit lvl60, I basically PvPed constantly and the alliance vs horde battles in BGs were great. It was fun that you basically recognised who your opponents were. However, once I started raiding, I didn't really look back and enjoyed it.

The point I'm trying to make is that the tides change all the time and I have a feeling that Tobold may be right. WoW raiding is near the end of the "themepark" cycle and something new and fresh is wanted by the public.
I am pretty much the opposite of Azzur. We have a guild with many people new to WoW (started around when Cata came out). I on the other hand have played WoW for 6 years.

We tried the first boss in one of the new raids and just failed. Its just too hard for new raiders, which means most of them dont even come back for a second try in raiding :(
I mostly agree. I'm a bit less optimistic about the leveling, because it is indeed as trivial as Tobold says. But WoW isn't going to die, of course. It will just take a hit.

Bioware has quite the potential to draw away players for the first few months. And Rift has already done it. Since both games don't seem to have areasonable endgame, however, some people might return to WoW.

I am quite hopeful about GW2. It's not the kind of game I am dreaming about, but it has several good ideas.

In any case, it is hard to imagine that WoW continues to grow in market share the comning years. It might grow, though, if the market grows.
I think it will be interesting to see if Blizzard keep the "everyone raids the same instance" theme that started in WotLK or if they will shift back to the multi levels of raiding. Making certain raids redundant was one of the things I disliked in LK.

Lowering the bar for raiding will help some people, but it will be brutal to some of the semi competent guilds. They will blitz through the normal raids then hit their brick wall on heroics earlier than they should. I'm not sure there's a way to make everyone happy without a crap tonne more difficulties. I guess it's a balancing game to try keep the majority interested.
On a side note the reason I quit wasn't due to end game, it was due to hating the rep/gear/5man grind I would have needed to do to get into a good raiding guild to start with.
What you term "raiding is for the leet" I would term "raiding is for those with the inclination and some semblance of intelligence"

And Blizzard do make a game for everyone. You said yourself that some players who have never done a dungeon, let alone a raid, so why should Blizzard tune the raids to those people on the off-chance they want to try it?

Blizzard do not think everyone's endgame goal should be raiding. Do you have a source for that? That's why there is PVP, achievements, pets and heirlooms for alts.

In most things in life you are expected to practice to become good at something. In WoW, it's more a case of "if I fail, moan that it's too hard so that it gets nerfed down to my level." Pathetic.
I was a hardmode raider in WoTLK but had to quit towards the end of the expansion due to changing jobs and new working hours.

At the time I could continue to raid as the majority of the guild had alts that were 'raid ready' and the content was easy enough that people weren't too stressed after the official runs.

I'm really disappointed to see that Blizzard have changed their approach from 'raiding is for everyone'. There wasn't anything fundamentally wrong having lots of guilds facerolling Naxx, TOTC and ICC. The prohibitively difficult Heroics/Raids combined with linear levelling 80+ make Catalclysm a bit of a failure in my book.
@Krisps: Your comment shows the easy arrogance of those who haven't seen their life change yet.
I was good and "smart" enough to see Naxx40 and most of TBC-Endgame, yet in Cataclysm the game was over for me after two heroics without even thinking about setting a foot into a raid dungeon.
What changed? Life did. Healthy humans try to keep a certain balance, they want to be challenged to a certain degree but they want a certain degree of slack too. In classic and TBC I was a bored student with quite some time on my hands. Today I am simultaneously working and studying in my final terms, which is taking my all. When I come home I want to relax in my favorite game, not be in a highstress-environment trying to heal suicidal damage dealers and tanks in situations where a single mistake (not even mine) can kill everyone.
What do you propose I should do as my personal endgame? Alts? Got those already in masses. PvP? Not stressfree either, quite contrary. Achievements? I fail to see what jumping through burning rings has to do with playing WoW. Hairlooms? Worthless since leveling already is too fast for my taste. Pets? Simply boring, I'm not that much of a collection-guy.
Wrath heroics where somewhat boring and taught lots of really bad habits to new players, but at least I was busy equipping my twinks. Instead my subscription is cancelled for the first time in 6 years and I don't see myself coming back. Blizzard made it clear enough that I am no longer the kind of guy they have in mind while developing their game.
@Kiseran: You talk of arrogance, and at the same time assume that you are the only one with RL issues! Since cata came out I started a new role at work. I have since been working for 10 hours a day and have a 100+ round trip. The only days that I play for more than 30 mins are usually raid nights. It's simply a myth that you need to be online for hours an hours each day to be a successful raider.

And why should every aspect of WoW be relaxing? There are plenty of relaxing elements as I mentioned, but these seem to be TOO relaxing for you? Video games, to me, are supposed be a challenge and a test of skill and reflexes. Why should raiding be nerfed just so you can find it relaxing?
Personally (and I do wish to point out that this is my opinion alone and that others will disagree) I would just like the raiding end game style to die completely. It's stressful, too time consuming and too much like work. On top of that it's probably the most anti-social thing in the game since it just promotes you to guild hop until you find the guild that suits your needs.

When I play a MMO I just want to relax and have fun. I don't want to spend hours upon hours wiping on raid boss X in instance Y, learning Mario skills, having to read up on bosses beforehand and have certain addons installed. seriously I can't grasp what is fun in that. It's like having a second job.

I like the usual group instances though, as long as you can just form the group and jump in for just an hour or two at the most. I don't mind wiping once or twice or even a few times but it's not fun when it adds aspects which I listed above.

I guess that if you want to keep raid content that WotLK style is the optimal way to go (or something similar) since the most people will get to see the content, but I never even experienced that because even that is too much for me.

I'm not 50 yet in Rift, but I hear that it's a lot like WoW in that aspect, meaning heavy raiding content ahead. So while I have so far loved the game I'm starting to have my doubts now since raiding is really not for me. I will still level a few alts and such but if there's no content added which is attractive to me I'll probably leave it in a few months. I just hope it keeps me going until SWTOR.
I think nothing is wrong with hard raid content, as long as it is (=feels) optional. In classic/TBC you could raid, but you didn't exspect to raid or didn't feel like you were exspected to raid.

But what Blizzard did with WotLK was to make raiding the official endgame activity. This, in combination with classic or TBC-like difficulty, is a problem for Cataclysm.

The solution is to either return to WotLK difficulty or to offer the players some other endgame activities. Rated-BGs in their current realization don't cut it.

Within the existing game, it would be so easy to offer some dangerous outdoor areas where guild could mine minerals, unpredictable dungeon crawls or a real economy based on trade.

It is a pity Blizzard wants to keep WoW focused on instanced PvP/PvE and nothing more.

If those are truly your feelings on it, then just don't raid. That would be the easier solution. No one is making ou take on this "second job." Raiding helps me wind down after a long day, and all o my bet "wow friends" hbe been made through raiding. I find there is nothing like overcoming a tough challenge to form bonds, so I would disagree that it is not social.

@Nils: What alternatives to raiding did Blizzard offer in TBC that they have now removed?
@Krisps: I merely asked you to acknoledge that not everyone is in your situation and than an unwillingness to accept the current situation in WoW does not automatically make you stupid and a bad player.
While your new job may count as "life changing" I would argue that it seems not challenging enough to make your brain beg for a break or you wouldn't challenge yourself willingly and needlessly further.
I also never said that you need vast amounts of time to raid (neglecting the fact that I usually find myself in a officer-role which *does* take vast amounts of time), I just implied that I would like to do something different in WoW with my limited time.
"Challenge" and "test of skill and reflexes" are a key element of certain video games like RTS (challenge), Shooters (reflexes), etc, but they are not necessary key elements of roleplaying games.

And you can't really tell me that any of the relaxing elements you mentioned will satisfy anyone but the most casual players over a longer period of time. Hardcore/Casual is no binary situation, there is plenty inbetween and Blizzard would be smart to supply fun content for people who are not casual enough to enjoy six years of fishing and collecting pets but not hardcore enough to raid and PvP.
I guess we'll have a clearer segmentation between casual gamers (the proverbial women with jobs and kids), raiders (students (again, proverbial...)), and PVPers (male school students).

Of course, these groups serve as a broad outline only. We'll all agree that there are many raiders with kids, many male school students playing casually etc.

So, my take is that what's imminent is rather the death of the raid model for those not in the target group.

I will happily concede your point on being an officer - that is a whole different issue. And while my job is quite intellectually challenging, once I finish I like to do something a bit more stimulating - this is either raiding or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I can see that many wouldn't did either of these relaxing!

To your comment on RPGs; MMOs struggle to tell an epic (and I mean that in the classic sense) story in the way that a final fantasy can, due to the number of players and persistent world. And very few players actually "RP". So I you take away any challenge, reflex and skill from the equation, I'm not sure exactly what you're left with. A poor interactive movie perhaps?

I agree that pets etc are boring and would never appeal to me. It seems to me that the issue here isn't the game, which is satisfying millions, but your individual circumstances. Unfortunately it will never be able to please every single one of us.
If you need to raid to prove that you are intelligent, then you ain't all that smart. (there are easier ways :) ).

I think that raiding as an endgame is looking tired now, Blizzard /could/ revitalise it with some knockout raid instances but their policy now seems to be moving away from places like Ulduar that were just thrilling to explore and towards shorter raids, padded with hard modes.

I wonder if they will bother thinking of ways to revitalise the WoW endgame when they have a new MMO to work on and when there are enough people who are happy with the way it is.

Personally I do think it was getting tired, and I was bored of chasing the better gear treadmill just in time for the next patch etc etc
@Nils: What alternatives to raiding did Blizzard offer in TBC that they have now removed?

Since WoW was not as old back then, many people would twink much more. They didn't have every class yet. Also, the classes were more diverse, which encouraged twinking.

Doing dungeons took longer, but was more casual. You didn't do it for the daily or for the points, but for the fun of it and maybe a little reupation.
People didn't burn out on running dunegons. Even when the first daily dungeon quests were created, it didn't feel like you had to run them every day. Speed runs were non-existent; mostly due to tradion.

Battlegrounds were used much more. Alterac valley had sometimes 20 instances open at a time in my battlegroup; each 40 players.

Blizzard didn't really 'remove' content. But most palyers will tell you that 'somehow' there was much more to do during classic/TBC. Excessive teleports may play a role, too.
Why should raiding be nerfed just so you can find it relaxing?

Read what I wrote, Krisp! I'm not proposing to nerf all raiding, I'm proposing to have an accessible entry-level raid dungeon before the existing hard raid dungeons.

Just because YOU don't want raiding to be relaxing doesn't mean nobody else should have the right to a relaxing raid.
@Tobold: That was in response to Kiseran's comment, not your original post.

With regards to an entry level raid though, wouldn't that just delay how long it takes for people to complain thy raiding is too hard? After they do the easier "entry" level one, they will still hit a wall when they start BoT, BWD etc.

For me, the new Heroics fill this gap between dungeons and raids, difficulty wise. An entry level raid would be the same difficulty, just dropping epics?
On raid difficulty: Hmm, I don't know about raiding or heroics being extremely hard any more. I see pug raids going on my server every once in a while. One of them that my guildie was in on her alt did Heroic Halfus, while others clear the majority of the instances (leaving aside the final bosses).

I wouldn't say Blizzard reversed their decision on "Raiding is for everybody". I mean, that's why there are explicit normal modes and heroic modes. I do like the idea of entry-level raids, but honestly, that's what heroics are for.

On trash runs: You're overstating trash runs quite a bit in your article. Bastion of Twilight trash runs drop a good deal amount of epics for not a lot of effort. It's also repeatable, since doing trash runs doesn't kill a boss; you can always do a real run of BoT later. It says more about the drop rates of the epics off trash than it does about the difficulty of the bosses.
If those are truly your feelings on it, then just don't raid. That would be the easier solution. No one is making ou take on this "second job."

I don't raid. I thought I already said that? But I would like some better "end game". No I don't count hunting achievements and such an end game.

I do like PvP, but that is an extremely frustrating experience in a gear based game. And no I don't play on PvP servers because I want to be able to PvP on my terms, not when someone else wants to gank me in the middle of a mob fight.

I actually thought that WAR was one of the better games in this regard, and I'll probably go back to that at some point. At least for a while.

I find there is nothing like overcoming a tough challenge to form bonds, so I would disagree that it is not social.

Yes it might be social for a moment, but as soon as those other players start thinking that your guild isn't progressing fast enough they are out the door faster than you can spell it. THAT'S the kind of social behaviour that this kind of system promotes.
I raid only on weekends, work a job with long hours, and my guild and I are 1/13 HM (just downed heroic Halfus on Sunday). This idea that you have to be a "no lifer" to get anywhere in raiding is complete nonsense. However, you DO need to be competent at your role, and find nine others that can do so as well. Read up on strats, watch a video or two (time invested? 20 minutes or so), and then go for it!

By the way, wiping will happen, it may take you a raid or two to get your first kill. That is normal. What happens then is you know the strats, and that boss goes on farm. Move to the next one.

My guild has invested 6-8 hours every weekend, 3-6ish saturdays, 8-11ish sundays. The rest of the time we do as we please.

If you can't figure out raiding, fine, but don't assume people who can are unshaven ghouls who dwell in their parent's basements and are logged on with two accounts 24/7.
Other than PvP and instanced PvE, what else could they do? Other than endless random "events" like Rift, which by all accounts can be simple zergs, no tactics or skill required.

Come to think of it, maybe that's perfect for a lot of the moaning players at the moment.

@MagrothJ: You can say that about any social situation. School, University, Work, Sport teams: in all of these situations you can make good friends, yet they could move on the next day due to a promotion etc. It's not WoW you have a problem with, but aspiration it seems.

@Spinksville: I can see that if the only reason you want to raid is for more gear, then it would become a grind. For me it's all about the excitement of downing a progression boss. If I get a drop out of it then it's merely a bonus.
@Brian: I couldn't have put it better myself. And I've been trying.
I fully agree with every assessment in Tobold's post. Blizzard has a decision to make. Until then, I'm unsubbed on the side line waiting.
Krisps: Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed raiding for ages. What got to me at the end was the constant repeating cycles:

- farming for gear in time for the next patch where you could farm for more gear (esp when there was one best in slot item that loads of people wanted). The fact you can't raid for a really cool item that will at least last to the next expansion did get to me and it's because I'm not big on loot, not cos I'm obsessed with it.

- people continually cycling in and out of the raid group because they either got frustrated at progress or got bored.

- hard modes. They are not interesting progression for me, I want to see new stuff.

After you've gone through the cycle often enough and seen it all so many times, you do get bored. I think the people who don't are the minority really.
For me, the new Heroics fill this gap between dungeons and raids, difficulty wise. An entry level raid would be the same difficulty, just dropping epics?

Do I really have to explain to a raider what the difference is between a heroic and a raid?

Heroics are basically unplanned events, where you can either log on and ask your guild mates to do one with you, or jump in with complete strangers into a pickup group. Raids are FAR more elaborate, organization-wise. For somebody starting to raid it would be a great help if there was one entry-level raid dungeon, where their casual guild could start getting raids organized, to have the whole structure in place before raiding gets really hard.

Why are you so reluctant to give people ANY easy raids at all? It very much enforces the vision that raiders only want to keep others out of their favorite hobby to be able to feel more exclusive and leet.
'However, you DO need to be competent at your role, and find nine others that can do so as well. '

The key fixable issue here is that it needs to be 9. 8 is not enough, 10 is too many.

Even if doing it with 6 good players and 6 semi-idiots would be more fun and just as challenging as with 10 strictly nostril-only breathers.

In comparison, the Rifts approach is that low end raiding may be tuned to 10, but if you want to take 12, (or 20), then that's your choice. Only the high-end instanced raids have hard-coded restrictions.

It remains to be seen whether that change will turn out to fix the social problems of WoW raiding, and so eventually (next expansion 2013?) get copied back.
Games change, you change, the market changes.

The fact is: wow is an OLD game, notwithstanding the expansions. Is it a wonder that some of you are actually tired of it?

Don't worry. Wow is not a lifestyle choice. You CAN quit if you want to.

The game may be quite fun for thousands who may just be discovering it, even if you're sick of it.

It's ok to let go.
I totally agree with you Tobold.

Personally I think that the powers the be at Blizzard made a big mistake with this expansion.

I'm guessing that their idea was to 'force' players to become better raiders at the endgame. The problem is that the average player is just an average raider, and simply can't get any better for whatever reason.

Older players are having a hard time keeping up with the twitch. The average player simply does not read up on strats, or do research - and the game has very little hand-holding. And experienced player are having a hard time adjusting to the combination of class changes and dramatically increased raid difficulty.

It is much easier to give up and go play something else than to face frustration day after day with a game that is supposed to be 'fun'.

The biggest problem, the one that I'm facing, is the lack of alternative content at max level. It is basically raid or die. There really is nothing else of interest to do. I'm currently in a raiding guild that is making progress slowly, but in between raid nights I go play Rift.

Maybe that's ok. But it is definitely loosening WoW's hold on me.
I find myself partially agreeing and disagreeing with both sides of this discussion.


According to WoWProgress, just under 47k guilds have downed Magmaw, out of around 6 million NA and European players. You have to admit that the vast, vast majority of WoW players have indicated they are either unwilling or unable to do the current raid content.

So what are all those players supposed to be doing right now? The heroics/dailies/reputation grind was easily done weeks ago. The only thing currently offered to a huge chunk of the population is the daily heroic for valor points. So that's it, do the daily heroic and you're done playing for the day?

You may not care, but Blizzard had better start caring. For many, the solution to boredom has been "try out Rift." This will get worse, especially with more compelling games on the horizon.

@Kiseran & others

Raiding 10 mans requires exactly 10 players at the same time. NOT 9, you will have too few and can't raid. NOT 11, you will have to leave someone out. And this is before finding the optimal class/role breakdown.

Unless you make raiding so faceroll easy that you can PuG it, it is inherently something only for players who make their schedule around playing WoW (i.e., the hardcore), NOT for players who play WoW around their schedule (i.e., the casual).

I agree that casual players need something right now, but I don't think raids are it. I think Nils was on to something with actual, difficult progression 5-mans like they had in BC. We have previously discussed here having meaningful solo progression. I'm sure there are other alternatives as well.
@Tobold: That's a fair point with regards to organisation. But the majority of that burden falls on the officers and raid leaders of these guilds. The actual mechanics of the fights, from an individual point of view, are not significantly harder. This is more the difficulty I was referring to.

And to elaborate, I want as many people to raid as possible. The more raiders on my server, the more potential recruits for the guild. My point stands though that by adding an easy raid, you are just delaying the moans of "raiding is too hard."

My other worry would be that they would then make the next raid only slightly harder (and so on) so that my guild is no longer challenged. We are not a leading guild by any stretch of the imagination (9/12 so far) but the difficulty is perfect for us ATM.
@Samus: Fair point, that's around 1/6 of players I'd we assume 20 per guild. But that's not to say the other 5/6 of players are twiddling their thumbs or on forums complaining about endgame content. I think the vast majority of Wow players are happy to constantly reroll alts, collect PETA and mounts, and just socialise with the only guild they have ever been in. We just rarely hear about them in the circles we move in.
It could also be they're trying to killing off the casual player in favour of the raiding player.
I've been a huge wow player since its release, done almost all the raiding content till before Cataclysm.

But people change, circumstances change and needs change. Wow just seems to currently cater to 1 or 2 specific needs (Not too sure about PvP as I don't do it). But for the more casual player, we're out of luck.

The harder raiding was too much for me. I could do it but I'm just .. over the whole getting better loot just to junk it in X months and then junk them all in 24 months. I guess I'm burned out and looking for ... more or different.

@Krisp - Opinions are fine, but the tone of your comments and the way you answer are very combative and elitist. I think you'll find people more receptive to your thoughts if you didn't comment as if you wanted to bash peoples brains out. Kind of makes you seem young and immature.
It's fascinating how opinions differ depending on which side of the casual fence you are on. For us "elitists", raiding is all we have in the entirety of the game. A far as I'm concerned, the rest of the game is for "casuals", PvP aside. Blizzard remade the entire old world, and that was certainly not for the raiders benefit. Seeing as raidin is all we have, it is really so difficult to see why we want to keep it challenging for ourselves? We don't want to keep people out but keep it interesting for us.
An 'entry level' raid is about as easy to identify as a 'non-entry level' raid. What's trivial for some is hard-mode for others. If the first raid truly is as easy as the leveling game or 5-mans, you are not going to teach casuals much about raiding other than forming a group larger than 5 people. If it's a step up, some casuals won't be able to make that step and keep asking for a
'real' entry-level dungeon.

From a raiders perspective, why waste an entire raid on people who ultimately don't care enough to really raid (and need something easy)? Given the rapid pace of content delivery Blizzard has set over the years, it's not unreasonable to see raiders clinging to what little they get as is.

You seem to confuse the elitist view of keeping casuals out with keeping the casuals difficulty level out. 10m casuals raiding has zero effect on a raid guild. A raid dungeon being tuned to a 30min a week player does.
You can say that about any social situation. School, University, Work, Sport teams: in all of these situations you can make good friends, yet they could move on the next day due to a promotion etc. It's not WoW you have a problem with, but aspiration it seems.

So WoW (and other raid based MMOs) have to mimic that? It's not better to design a game that supports friendship and social bonds instead of breaking them? It has been said before but can't be stressed enough, it's supposed to be a game. Not a career ladder.
If you want an easy relaxing raid, you can raid ICC (or ulduar HMs even, as we do). If you don't want or can't raid, you have (soon) two tier of heroics.

I totally don't see what has changed from wotlk, or if the raid model is "dead" (afaik, still 1M+ raiders in wow)

The cata raids don't need more work than ICC, the only difference is there isn't a faceroll buff, so someone in your raid that stands in the fire or trigger bad things has more chance to wipe you. Thus, it is currently harder to kill cata bosses while drunk, high or not bothering with tactics, like it was in ICC pre buff :)
An 'entry level raid' is usually aimed at players or raid groups who hadn't raided before in previous expansions. Those of us who learned in Molten Core won't need it, but there are newer players who might not be ready to jump right into a raid designed for Wrath veterans as their first raid experience.

That was the idea, anyhow.

It's not that Wow tries to mimic that, its that people want to achieve their goals. What could Blizzard possibly to do to prevent that, other than making content beatable by every single subscriber? They introduced guild rep and levels which goes some way to reducing guild hopping. At the end of the day you can't force people to stay together I'd they have vastly different goals. You shouldn't blame Wow for your friends joining a better guild. It's human nature, game or not.
@Spinksville: I think that is what they tried to achieve by increasing the difficulty of heroics. They are now truly a step between normal dungeons and raids.

And a competent player, brand new to raiding, could easily step into a raid team and perform. It's when you have a team full that problems may arise due to lack of raid experience.
Krisps: Well I guess we will just have to agree to disagree then because I do blame WoW (or rather raid game developers). It must be possible to design a game where egoism isn't the highest valued trait.
"Read what I wrote, Krisp! I'm not proposing to nerf all raiding, I'm proposing to have an accessible entry-level raid dungeon before the existing hard raid dungeons." - Tobold

I considered your point, and realized that you're 100% right.

After all, in many ways, Cataclysm is similar to Burning Crusade:

Bastion of Twilight is the new Serpentshrine Cavern.
Blackwing Descent is the new Tempest Keep.
Throne of Four Winds is the new Gruul's Lair.
Baradin Hold is the new Magtheridon's Lair.

So what is missing? Why, the new Karazhan, of course!
interesting remark, but there was three tier of gear in TBC, as far as i remember. There was even Sunwell plateau if you managed to finish BT and were full T6 :)

But despite the sheer tbc raid content size, i think there was less people who raided in tbc than now (?)

there sure was less raiding guilds.
@MagrothJ: Leaving a guild is not (for most) due to ego, but due to a desire to be challenged and progress. Socials-casuals seem to be unable to understand this natural human urge.

And the most desired attribute by far is competence. Not as easy to find as it sounds...
@MagrothJ:It must be possible to design a game where egoism isn't the highest valued trait.

I don't get why people see raiding as an ego-boost for raiding people to goad over "commoners". It's not. Has it ever occurred to you that raiders simply enjoy downing bosses?

Maybe perhaps it's not egoism but rather their own fun is the most valued trait? I'll be honest; I have some real life friends who play WoW, but never in my life will I ever raid with them, because they are simply not that good at it. But that's ok, because they don't share my goals and they do their own thing. I enjoy activities outside of WoW with them, just not inside it.

It sorta goes back to your previous point:
It's not better to design a game that supports friendship and social bonds instead of breaking them? It has been said before but can't be stressed enough, it's supposed to be a game. Not a career ladder.

I often find and create friendships with like-minded individuals; I'm not usually going to be close friends with those who share a completely different viewpoint in the thing we have in common. Why would I? I would rather be with a group of people who at least share a common goal.

What your point describes is a game that tries to force a friendship between people who just simply don't want to be with each other.
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"But despite the sheer tbc raid content size, i think there was less people who raided in tbc than now (?)"

When WotLK released, just over 5% of raiding guilds had completed BT, just over 1% had completed Sunwell. And this is out of raiding guilds, you are also right that there were fewer raiding guilds at the time.

So yes, very, very few people saw that content.


I think you are under a misapprehension that not wanting to raid means not wanting to progress. I like progression and challenge, but I have other objections to raiding. Among those objections, there aren't any raid guilds on my server which do not require me to bend my real life around WoW (required attendance 4+ nights a week). I don't blame them at all, that is what is required to raid right now.

Keep in mind, the entire MMORPG genre is based around advancement. You are suggesting that 5/6 players have leveled to 85 and done the heroics/dailies/reputation grind, but then care nothing about advancement when they are done. Socializing and mounts? I'm not sure if that was a serious suggestion.

Alts are fine, but they are not for everyone, and that doesn't last forever. An alt only takes a month, maybe two, and then you are "done" with everything but raiding again. Eventually you have to address the lack of non-raid progression content.
A few things;

1) I did not say that a "bunny hill" entry-level raid that is easier than current raiding was a bad idea. However, Blizz does put in one shot bosses such as Argaloth in Baradin Hold that new players/guilds can cut their teeth on and learn how to work in a raid group as opposed to a 5 man group.

2) Normal 5-mans teach new players everything they need with regards to their chosen class, and are easy enough that players shouldn't be hitting a wall unless they are really doing it wrong.

3) It takes a lot of time and assets to put together a tier of raiding, which is why I assume there isn't a "bunny slope" tier of raiding. Naxx is unique in that it was a reboot of earlier content, with boss behaviors that were designed before the entire first expansion.

4) I do a lot of stuff besides raid in the game, including leveling alts, professions etc. Raiding is my main focus, but there is more to the game than that. If you feel that you want to raid, that the game is incomplete without you raiding, then apply yourself, get better, and start raiding. Part of the challenge of a game is getting better.

My earlier comment was simply to address this whole "no lifer" thing, which, at the risk of sounding harsh, is a lame explanation for why people who cannot get their stuff together fail at raiding. "Well, I would have to quit my job and not have a social life to be successful." Again, this is just not true.

The title of Tobold's post and the use of "no lifer" are extreme to say the least, lots of well adjusted people are having a great time in these raids, including myself. If WoW is really hemorrhaging players, and Blizz feels raiding is the culprit, don't worry, I am sure an ICC type buff would be incoming very quickly.
I agree with a good part of your post. Leveling is too easy, while the Tier 11 raids (and maybe heroic 5 mans) are too hard.

That being said, I do think that Blizzard is trying to shove players into end-game PvE moreso than any other aspect of the game. Raiding in WoW is a game in and of itself. It takes principals and concepts you don't find in any other part of the game - then magnifies them.

They don't do this to any other part of the game. I think the solution is to have more end-game content than just killing dragons with 9/24 friends. There needs to be something more to do in the 23 month time span between level cap and the next expansion.

There are some players that do not have the skillset, desire, or schedule to raid 10 or 25 man instances. No one ever states the percentage of players that have an active arena team, or the number of players that have done any other arbitrary task in WoW.

Why is it so important that every player raid? Why does this number mean so much? Raiding isn't for everyone - quit trying to shove it down everyone's throat.
@Samus: 5/6 players haven't killed Magmaw. Not all of these will be 85 and completed the "grind". And I was only partly joking - I know of an entire guild who have been level capped since the start of wrath who haven't stepped in a heroic. They play purely for achievements, pets etc. I bet there are a LOT more of these players than we realise, because they aren't posting on forums, in trade etc.

I am not suggesting this for everyone who can't raid :-)

It sucks that there are no raidin guilds on your server. I'd you truly wish to raid and progress, then maybe a server transfer is the only option. Guilds such as mine or Gevlon's The Pug have no min raid requirement.

However, (this is not directed at you Samus) most of the people who complain that they "have a life lol" probably spend more time logged in each week than me. I raid for 6 hours a week and maybe 30 mins on other nights, which is less than many who complain that they don't have time to raid. I appreciate raid times may be awkward, but I'm sure there is a guild somewhere for any crazy schedule!
Well I think I am about done with WoW, leading from no small fact of the schizophrenic design of Cata that Tobold pointed out. I have been playing since launch.

The leveling game no looks like this: 58 levels of face roll easy new content, 22 levels of old crap I have seen 4-8 times, followed by the railroad of Cata that forces me to do all quests in all zones if I want the quickest route to raiding. After hitting 85 comes the grind to get gear up to heroic grade and after that the grind to get raid acceptable.

Once I do that I might be able to find a raid group that will be successful. I have a home raid group that has had 0 success--its a friends a family guild and its heavier on older players. The way Cata raids are set up, I can't drag the willing but unable (or 90% able) with me.

Either we wipe on the willing but unable's errors or we kick people from the raid nights--and effectively from the guild.

Guesting in a 25 man group left me thoroughly unimpressed as they face rolled through the first couple off bosses and knocked off for the night as they didn't have the DPS to have any hope of making progress.

The biggest problem, right now, is that standing in the fire is a raid wipe.
@masterlooter: Raiding has always been the main endgame focus since the start of Wow. 7 years on seems a little late to realise this.

Other than raiding or PvP, what would you suggest to keep everyone happy? They are giving you harder 5 mans and epics in 4.1. Is that enough?
@War: If everything between level 1 and raiding is a grind, AND you don't care for Cata raiding, then this probably isn't the game for you, no.
That was meant to be @gut
@Krisps: I now count 17 comments of you in this thread. Would you please stop responding to every comment other people make? Let the others talk a bit, then write a thought-out response that answers the points of many other commenters, instead of picking at what they say line by line.

There are some players that do not have the skillset, desire, or schedule to raid 10 or 25 man instances.

Two out of three of these problems can be solved by game design. If somebody has no desire, then he shouldn't raid. But if somebody has the desire, then keeping him from raiding because raiding currently requires a too high amount of skill or too much time commitment is bad game design. Nobody loses if such a person had an easy entry-level raid dungeon to play with, but everybody loses when he quits out of boredom.
Tobold, assuming you are correct (which you are), then I have no future in WoW or any other game that de-emphasizes leveling and emphasizes the raiding endgame. I can level a character from 1-85 in a somewhat short amount of time by simply bashing my forehead against the keyboard. Once I get to 85, I can run regs and then heroics (assuming I can wait patiently long enough to survive the queue, then wait while 5 people drop out of the heroic, then wipe 5 times on each boss, with the end result of a 3-12% chance of any reasonable loot drops). Once I get past heroics, however, I have to join a tight-knit group of 10 or 25 players that want a 4-hour-4-night committment from me, along with being prepared and doing my utmost outside of those 4 nights to gain rep, etc. I simply have no time for a game like this. The time sink alone to just reach raid-worthy gear is ridiculous. It is a worse time sink than Vanilla WoW or TBC. It is untenable for those with a life (e.g., a demanding job or a wife or kids or friends or not living with parents in basement or....etc.).
Two "good sense" comments :

- you can raid in wow without it being a second job. I raid twice a week for a grand total of 7 hours/ week. And we killed 6 bosses so far :)

- Rift is Totally the same story. With a good dps spec, i'm taking 2-3 mobs at a time now, and i'm already 44 without even grouping once. Press any key...

we have insufficient feedback atm, but from my rift raiding buddies, i hear that heroics are easy, and raids are hard. rings a bell? :)
What your point describes is a game that tries to force a friendship between people who just simply don't want to be with each other.

Not at all. But it's not a game that tries to split apart people that want to play together.

As I said, there are plenty of raiding guilds on my server, they just all have attendance requirements. WoW revolves around my leisure time, not the other way around. And that is not the only objection I have to raiding.

My solution (one of them, anyway) is 5-man raids. Not 5-man version of current raids, all new raids. These would differ from heroics in that:

A) They would have a 7 day lockout just like raids.
B) They would not be part of the random dungeon finder.
C) They would be way too hard to PuG (a step between heroics and raids).

Each mini-raid would take about 2 hours, give or take, assuming some wipes but eventual success. So it isn't something you would need to schedule days ahead of time on the guild calendar, you could just form a group right then (assuming you had competent people).

Keep in mind, this is content that you and every other raider could enjoy as well, not just the non-raiders who are past heroics. I especially think this is appropriate given that 4.1 will not even have a raid instance, because "so few have completed the current raid content."
Do we really think it's possible to create a game that has difficult (time consuming, takes practice & skill, potentially frustrating) end game content that also appeals to "I have a job/family and can only play 45 minutes at a time"?

Blizzard seems to be trying to do just that, but mostly I just read complaints, not ideas.

Everyone seems to want to be an "allstar" just by showing up.

It's always going to be either too hard or too easy. Or takes too much time. Or in retrospect was too fast.

Heroics in Wrath, too easy. Rewards too much. Created lazy players. Heroics in Cata, too hard. Take too long. Creates frustration. Not "relaxing"(?) enough.

It's not the content, people. It's the PEOPLE.
The raid endgame is just a subset of the game of World of Warcraft.

I don't agree... raiding is the game now...

With a fairly poor levelling and highly linear route from 80 to 85 there is nothing else to do. I agree with a recent comment you made about this deterring you from levelling another toon down the same route.

Crafting is a waste of time too... making your own gear but needing to run heroics to obtain orbs on a chance roll.

I have no inclination of running heroics without going with 4 players I know. The LFG ultimately killed that, but that's another discussion.

And what can we expect from patches... raid content whether it be rehashed or new?

Raiding really a subset of the game?
I enjoyed Lich King.

There. I said it.

I played with a handful of family whose skills were in high demand by raiders, but who did not like the social aspect of 'competitive raiding'. Fact is, a staggering number of those guilds are full of aggressive douchebags.

We started playing with a handful of really fun guys whose skill levels were not quite as good, but were awesome to hang out with. We really enjoyed all the various stories in LK, and eventually we hit the level cap together.

What Lich King did for us, was allow us to look at each other and say, "OK, we've mastered heroics together. There is something else we can do together... raids. Let's try it." We got our toes wet in weeklies, recruited a couple of guys who responded to our regular PUG-advertisements who were of fortunately stellar performance and laid-back attitude. A couple of our guys held us back a little bit, but progression was made every other week, til our little 10-man guild eventually managed to win a 10k gold bet against a rival 'superguild' (loads of members competing for slots) we sometimes did 25s with over who could get Sindi down first. We were a 10man guild whose members were sought after by the 25s to fill up even important slots. It felt good.

It was the most fun we ever had in WoW.

I don't care how the hardcore raider elite felt, getting bored or getting annoyed that their shiny epix weren't that much shinier than the epix of weekend warriors like me and my guys. All I know is my family and friends were having fun.

Cataclysm killed WoW for us three to six months before it was released. Just because every man and his god damn dog was either in the beta or would not shut the hell up about it. No-one was enjoying the 'now' because they were all too busy thinking about the future or distracting themselves with other games 'Until Cat comes out'.

It didn't help that Cataclysm fractured us more by race changes than anything else. I went from Horde to Worgen. (C'mon. Werewolves in plate, people.)

So no, I don't think the be-all and end-all of WoW was vanilla. Raiding up to BWL was novel and new for a while, but by AQ I was sick of treating a guild like a massive corporation with a human resources and complaints department and mandatory hours invested into paperwork/mat-grinding. TBC was just as bad, with the godawful inception of keys and guilds needing to take time out to 'key up' their members. Cataclysm improved the 1-60 levelling game no end, added a fresh coat of paint, but the 80-85 experience felt like less than half the experience offered by 70-80 in LK, and on more rigid rails, which lead you directly into the gaping maw of unpopular heroics.

It is no wonder we bailed.
Not at all. But it's not a game that tries to split apart people that want to play together.

And I would say WoW is not that game either. If a person leaves a group behind, then clearly he didn't want to play with that group any more. WoW isn't actively trying to split people that want to play together; it's basic human nature.

This will happen with any game where there is a gap of experience between the inexperienced and experienced. The experienced will get bored of playing with the inexperienced. The inexperienced will get frustrated at playing against the experienced. The only thing you can do is reduce the possible gaps, but then you also reduce the depth of gameplay, and come out with a lesser game altogether.

@Samus:Each mini-raid would take about 2 hours, give or take, assuming some wipes but eventual success. So it isn't something you would need to schedule days ahead of time on the guild calendar, you could just form a group right then (assuming you had competent people).

So... Heroics? The only thing you're proposing over heroics is a 7-day lockout and higher difficulty. But a 7-day lockout is irrelevant to actual raiding mechanics, and getting any harder than current heroics is essentially normal raid difficulty already. Not to mention that ZG/ZA are coming out with harder-than-heroic difficulties already, so it seems Blizzard has already read your mind.
Cam: I'm with you. Wrath was really the highpoint of the game for my raid group, it was pitched perfectly for us. People who were impatient with progress also had the option to go make their own uber 10 mans and still raid on 25 man nights with us.
@soru: it needs to be 9. 8 is not enough, 10 is too many.


Using the metaphor of music, raiding currently is like classical music. Not only do you need exactly the right number of people, but as @samus says, you'd better have the right selection of instruments or the orchestra ain't gonna work. And if anyone flubs a note or deviates from the score it's a wipe.

So what about people who prefer improvisation and jazz? Who'd like to be able to pull up a chair to join in and start jamming with friends who've already been going for an hour? Who don't want to have to play the same pieces every night, down to the exact note?

It's the rigidity of endgame raiding that I find so annoying and has led me to quit WoW three times. The death of this raid model can't happen fast enough for me.
Long time reader first time reply.

Raiding isn't really hard if the raid you are playing the raid game with is a fully functioning raid. What Wrath did was fine IMO with the 30% buff and all the epics falling from the sky. What is killing the raid sub set game is that players have the wrong expectations of each other and the game.
Joining a raid as a "Role player" isn't good enough anymore. Everyone needs to play their class properly. Blizz removed the 10 man is weaker than 25 man specifically so that players could experience the content in 10 or 25 man mode and for things to feel generally the same.
There is more than enough content in this expansion for players to build the pre-raid gear and skills. It doesn't take a hardcore mentality to do so. Players just need to focus on what their toon is going to do for the life of the expansion. If you rush through the leveling and 5mans your going to learn how to either raid effectively ,switch to a alt or reroll. This is the way blizz set the standard.
Creating a encounter that requires a reasonable amount of coordination a performance isn't locking out the masses nor is it elitist to ask that players understand that their 10% of the effort is needed to kill the bad guy.
What Wrath did more than anything was allow every one to get what they wanted. Cata reset the game against developer expectations that most of the players complaining are simply not willing to meet.
Raiding really isn't harder in Cata it really isn't. Finding a group of players that have the same expectations you want to progress with did.
Yeah, death of raids not seeing it... oh wait wrong game.

I LOVED Wrath raiding... great time had by most. There I said it too. Cata raiding is raiding content from the "casual non-elite" Blizzard guild members.

and about that SWTOR thing... Darth Hater has this form PAX East

"Brown also talks about moving from a closed beta, to a semi-closed beta and then eventually to an open beta and then says that EA will talk more about Star Wars at E3, which takes place June 7-9th. Transcription follows after the jump. "

Yep Star Wars coming any day now... Semi-closed beta lol - like a semi-functioning game?

wait till E3 in June THEN we will have BIG news of another delay... to December!

You know Godot never comes right?
Interesting hint at 'Rifts' in WoW 4.3, following discussion of Guild Challenges.

Forum poster-
"I thought it would be more like guild quests that create a phased challenge somewhere in the world for your guild to complete. This just promotes even more LFG queueing while sitting in town. Some love for world zones in endgame please."

Zarhym (Blizzard)-
"We're working on something sort of along these lines as a much more robust content feature for the future, but I can't put a date or patch number on that yet. It also won't necessarily be centered around guilds."

"What is killing the raid sub set game is that players have the wrong expectations of each other and the game."

Right. Because we knew the rules, played by them for years, and the developers unilaterally changed the rules.

"Everyone needs to play their class properly. "

We were.

"Creating a encounter that requires a reasonable amount of coordination a performance isn't locking out the masses nor is it elitist to ask that players understand that their 10% of the effort is needed to kill the bad guy."

I agree. The problem is that the amount of coordination that is required is now UNreasonable for the AVERAGE player.

"Cata reset the game against developer expectations that most of the players complaining are simply not willing to meet. "

Exactly. Very stupid move by the developers, considering they are supposed to be the best in the business.

Look people, this is a GAME, it is supposed to be FUN. WoW is a lot less fun nowadays for the AVERAGE player.
WoW is a lot less fun nowadays for the AVERAGE player

I wonder if all that doesn't come from the raid size. Again, i don't think the raid changed much between ICC and Cata. We made some 25 raids (4/12 atm), and i can tell you, we took some VERY average players :-)

if i remember correctly, during ICC, we had two 25 normal runs and one "expert" 10 man with HMs.

In all honestly, i'd say the failure, if there's one, is setting a too small raid size. In 10, the pressure is on everyone.

Remember the MC runs with 40 ppl? you could clear MC with half the raid knowing what they had to do.
I think there's a lot of denial from the developers (at least publically) and from the minority that likes the current raid difficulty. Posters trotting out the same defensive non sequiturs understand at some level that what they're getting now isn't sustainable. Enjoy it while you can; the ongoing business disaster that is Cataclysm is likely to be the death of hardcore-oriented MMOs for years to come.
Very very belatedly -

Doesn't this entire idea really speak to the idea that the current paradigm of MMOs is broken?

Levels are a problem. Gated content is a problem. A lack of small-group high-end content is a problem, just as having large-group high-end content is a problem. Everybody can identify the issues, but no one really knows what to do with it.

WoW has lost its lustre to me simply because I see the fundamental flaws in the paradigm; games like Secret World (upcoming), Eve, Planetside - they shook (or are shaking) up the paradigm, with varying degrees of success.

Wouldn't it be interesting (for instance) to have a game world that isn't level or gear dependant? Imagine a game world where a starting player can immediately be pulled into the 'raid' scene, or a veteran can go play with new friends without the necessity of firing up yet another alt.

Take PvP in WoW as an example: first you need to level to the level range that interests you. Then you need to grind for gear, and you're not remotely competative until you have that gear. Oh, and your 'talent picks' for PvP aren't very good for PvE and vice-versa, so you need to sacrifice a spec for it... and the list goes on. What fun is it to enter a bg for the first time and get constantly eaten by those with better gear - to the point that relative skill is meaningless?

Raiding? I have to level to 85, do dungeons, do heroics, then find a guild that's interested in raiding and willing to let me in even though I'm likely going to be below their gear level.. /and/ who will put up with a newbie raider.

Bah. That's broken. Somewhere, a game designer will come up with a better way of doing things - but y'all are bored and leaving because the fundamental grind is losing its compelling nature. You know that, no matter what else comes, there's just more of the same ahead.

I'm suffering it myself - I have no impetuous to log in. Why should I? I've got nothing new waiting on me.
I'm suffering it myself - I have no impetuous to log in. Why should I? I've got nothing new waiting on me.

My feeling towards this is that it has to become worse before it can become better ;)
The concept of raiding being a broken game design is a little flawed.

We need to realise that prior to MMO's, people buy a game, play it a few days to 3-4 months and move on to the next game. Prior to DAOC, my longest time with a game was Diablo2 and that was in spurts as opposed to being glued to the game for 3 months straight, and I didn't have to play a monthly fee.

Prior to MMO's very few people stuck with a game for long periods and they were measured more in weeks than years.

Raiding evolved as a means to challenge players and keep them hooked paying monthly fees.

So the main question isn't how can we improve raiding. It should be how can we continue to entice players to keep paying a monthly fee? Not an easy thing to solve but the first company that does will be making a mint. (Like Blizzard)

I don't think bigger is better. For me and mine, smaller is better. My family and friends would never have raided together at all if we had to go find another 15 people to raid with, outnumbering us. Hell, we had a hard enough time coming up with 10. An 8-9 man raid would have suited us down to the ground.

We wanted to raid together so that we could play with each other through new content, not play with each other + random strangers who we were forced to play with to get better gear/see existing content.

I read blogs about guilds and 'guild drama' like it's a fact of life. Fact is, it's NOT. Not if you're small and pick your people carefully. Artifically inflating it to meet some goal other than just 'playing together' means lowering your standards or bringing in people with different goals.

Sidenote: To me, this raiding argument is also kind of a non-issue, mostly because I didn't even start doing heroics in Cataclysm. Hell, I barely got a toon to level cap. I was bored by level 83. I had friends pinging me over the phone, saying, "Dude, you need to level up to 85 real quick so we can start doing dungeons together again! We needs our tank!" And I care about my lads, and want to make sure they're looked after, so I'd log in to Vash'jir (already completed Mt Hyjal and much preferred it) and all I could think was, "Meh," and log out. Just wasn't feeling it. Getting to 85 turned into a chore.

I don't know why. If I can put my finger on it, I'll let you know, but I honestly don't blame dungeon difficulty etc, since I was bored before that even became an issue.
How do you define what a average wow player is and what is fun to said player?

I have little doubt we could fill a lot of space detailing the multitude of players types and expectations.

IMO blizz set the difficulty bar at a fair spot for raiding in cata if it is measured against what a functioning raid could accomplish in the pre 30% buff ICC 25 or 10 man raid cycle. The level of difficulty it took to clear those normal mode raids broke many raids and guilds during Wrath.

I think most of the complaints directed at raid difficulties in cata miss a few big points.
TOC and ICC had many nontraditional factors that pushed more players into the end game faster than ever before. Most of those factors are not a part of this raid cycle and casual social gamers don't understand and think their being punished.

Most traditional raiding players don't think it's bad that it takes some amount of time to progress into raids. What the casual social gamers want in terms of accessibility would reduce the progression curve even further.

I personally doubt that the current raid cycle will bring about the end of the raid model as Tobold stated in his original post. What I think it will do is allow players a opportunity to decide what is fun for them and spend their money and time where they will find it.

Traditional raiding players are not turned off by this evolutions of the raid model casual players that never really understood what they were doing are.

It's fascinating that you think the 'sweet spot' is the point that broke many guilds in Wrath.

It strongly indicates to me that your post could be paraphrased as, "I'm trying to let casuals down easy by telling you that you were given an unfair glimpse into a world you don't belong in, which was Blizzard's fault, and distorted beyond what 'real' raiding is. Now that things have been fixed, real raiders can go about their business as usual, and we're really sorry that you got hurt by getting a taste of what you aren't ready for."

To which I would say... Your assessment may well be correct.
In which it is also not the way things should be - what 'traditional raiders' want is a step backwards, in the wrong direction.
Cam: yes, one gets a vibe from the "real raiders" that the lower classes are getting too uppity. We should stay in our places (and continue to subsidize their raid content, of course).
I'm not trying to let anyone down easy I just feel that many wow players progressed farther into end game raiding during Wrath with a big misunderstanding of what it took to get to that point in the raiding cycle from the beginning. What is hard today will be easy next month. ICC 25 man Lich King kills were a rare achievement pre-buff.

Clearing out all raid content on 10 or 25 man normal now is equivalent to clearing all 25 man normal raid content during each relevant raid tier in Wrath. I didn't expect to do it then and I wouldn't expect to do it now without the raid group meeting the requirements set out by the encounter designer.

I personally only became "serious" about raiding at the release of Wrath and spent most if not the entire expansion trying to penetrate what you refer to as "real raiding"

Traditional raiders are a mixed lot as are casual players and social players most of the stereotypes for all players types exist for a good reason.

In my opinion casuals and social players are in a bad spot due to what Tobold described in his original post about the speed and ease of leveling and running out of interesting stuff do outside of end game.

Referencing the pre 30% buff ICC and TOC raids the way I did was meant to point out that raiding was hard during Wrath progression it's just that it was so long ago for many that they forget. If it wasn't hard then you were carried by over geared players or were over geared yourself.

End game raiding isn't going to die due to it becoming hard for any amount of players during one raid cycle at the beginning of a expansion. During the next raid cycle you will see things return to the wrath raiding progression. Over gearing content is what made raiding easy in Wrath and it will make it easy in Cata. Players just have to wait out a cycle or play Rift if they don't want to play to Blizz expectations.
I'm a raider in my own little insular raiding world and really don't interact outside of my 25m guild (who has downed all reg mode content and 4 heroic bosses at this point). However, just like people who are struggling with reg modes, eventually we hit our "skill wall" as well. We are currently really struggling to repeat the successes we've had with some of those heroic bosses (Heroic Chimeron for example, we just wiped for two hours last night on him even though we first downed him weeks ago). Right now we are struggling with replacing and retraining people (a bigger hassle in 25s with more likelihood of people missing days/weeks).

So raiding eventually gets hard for everybody, the "bar" simply changes as your skill/experience/spare-time increases. I really don't see a huge problem with the current Cata model - it was a moderate adjustment of the bar upwards.

Oh, and as for the time thing, like most raiders I only really play the game to raid. We run 4 nights a week, 3 hours each and my time beyond that is minimal ... some auction housing (as I love the economy game in WoW) and that's it.
I enjoy the Cataclysm raids, the fact that they are not faceroll especially. I think the harder heroics we had (at least at the start of Cata) made a lot of people sit up and learn to play better. As GM of a 25 man raiding guild, I can say we have some in-experienced raiders and some very experienced raiders and lots in-between, and we are still progressing nicely, some nights we wipe a lot, some nights we plough through the bosses, either way its all good fun. I like the challenge, and these raids are not as hard as the TBC raids were.
End game raiding isn't going to die due to it becoming hard for any amount of players during one raid cycle at the beginning of a expansion.

Juggy, if Blizzard sees significant loss of business due to the design decisions in Cataclysm, you can bet they will be very reluctant to repeat those choices in future expansions or games. Cataclysm may be the swan song for default hard difficulty raids at Blizzard and possibly elsewhere.
Cataclysm was designed with dedicated gamers in mind,not with people who equate relaxing gameplay with fun. There is the mistake.

Not too many people want to pay for a frustrating hobby, and everything about Cataclysm end-game is frustrating for casual(ie relaxed) players.

Whether it is the inaccessibility of raids, the tedious pain in the arse heroics in a PUG environment, the fact that devs have decided to use healers as a tool to make content feel more difficult for everyone else, the fact that small or new guilds are SOL this expansion or what -- Cataclsym doesn't feel fun.
I am one of the silence mass. I dun a lot in LK Heroic, but only few run Cata normal. I never try their Heroic mode. I can feel how stressful they might and the design of the dun simply not attractive, neither do the cata expac itself. What i can feeling is that blizz mostly doing recycling content and change focus on new player. Most player are silence and wanna having funny. They simply act just like me Quit. The subscription number may reflect part of the truth. Now i can only see blizz are stressing and try some trivial method to amend. Wow is now too dumb and too hard and too bore. I can't see they have consistant and harmony design of the worth game.
It's amusing coming back to this thread now and reading all the comments defending Cataclysm. We critics called it, oh boy did we call it.
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