Tobold's Blog
Friday, September 30, 2011
Looking for raid

I have been asking for a looking for raid feature for World of Warcraft for years. Now that it will be implemented in the next patch, I am not so sure any more it is a good idea. What changed? Well, raiding changed. During vanilla WoW a significant part of the difficulty of raiding was getting 40 people together. An automatic looking for raid functionality would have helped immensely. And a raid dungeon like Molten Core was actually quite suitable for a pickup raid group: It didn't matter if a handful of the 40 players went afk or disconnected or played just plain badly. There was sufficient "slack" in the system that the rest of the raid could pull it through (BTW: That changed with the first encounter in BWL, which made it a major hurdle in guild progression at the time). And during vanilla the main difficulty of a boss encounter was playing your character well, with "not standing in the fire" being a secondary problem.

I don't consider the current raid encounters to be very suitable for pickup groups. With just 10 players in a raid, the organizational difficulty the LFR feature overcomes wasn't that big anyway. And the actions of any single player count for more, making the raid more vulnerable to disconnected, afk, or just plain bad players. And while Blizzard plans to make LFR raids easier than the current version, I'm not convinced they can actually do much: The difficulty of current raid encounters is 90% having learned the dance, and just 10% playing your class well. When Gevlon recently got disappointed by the new WoW raiding he remarked that it was easier now to make a raid with undergeared players and voice chat than with overgeared players without voice communications. Game by Night Chris feels the same, saying "Players who don’t talk simply cannot complete raid content in today’s WoW." But LFR pickup raids will have to do without voice chat, because there are too many different systems, it is hard to organize for an instant pickup group, and many current non-raiders don't even have the relevant software installed.

That leaves us with two possibilities: Either LFR will fail, because pickup groups won't even be able to do raid content on the new, lower, difficulty level designed for them. Or Blizzard will have to nerf raid encounters by staggering amounts or remove features. If you have raid encounters where a single player standing in the wrong place can wipe the whole raid, that raid encounter would have to be nerfed to the point of being not recognizable any more to allow a pickup group without voice chat to complete it. By having made raiding all about learning specific encounter scripts, Blizzard has closed the door to successful LFR pickup raids, and I'm not sure how they are going to pry that door open again.

[EDIT: Seems the LFR raids will be 25-player only. Ignore what I said about 10-mans.]

Well hopefully LFR can force Blizzard back to the Molten Core raiding model which I vastly prefer to todays raiding model :)
Personally, I think the LFR will fail for a much simpler reason: queue times.

If you read the FAQ, the raids have no lockout... but you only have one shot at loot per boss - if you queue again later in the week, you automatically pass on loot from bosses you already killed, regardless of whether anything even dropped for you the firs time. It is the only rational way to counter 1st boss farms, but it DOES remove any reason for people to run the raid more than once a week.

Remember when Cata heroics were difficult and took 1-2 hours to complete in Pugs, assuming you finished at all? Remember the resulting 40+ minute queue times? Blizzard had contradict themselves within the span of a week because once queue times become greater than the average play session of level-capped characters, the whole LFD system collapses like a Ponzi scheme.

No one will be using LFR if it takes 1-2 hours to even get in, let alone how long it takes to down four raid bosses among strangers. And this is saying nothing about the actual difficulty of mechanics or complete strangers trying to herd cats in a 25m setting or the loot disputes (two tanks in raid, 8+ Need rolls on tank gear) or anything else. I want this to work. I also want cold fusion to work, and for humans to colonize other planets before we blow ourselves up with cold fusion bombs. I just do not see it as being very likely, unfortunately.
Blizzard will nerf those raids significantly. They already announced that those LFR raids will have a special challenge-level.
I think it might just work this way.
Why can't they turn all bosses into tank and spank? They can reuse the graphics and audio files from the normal bosses and adding a tank and spank script shouldn't take that much work.

After all tank and spank was a lot of fun for many player for years. (vanilla up to MC and TBC/WotLK all heroic boss fights). The LFR is not for established raider, it's for those player who would enjoy UBRS. And even with tank and spank you can experience the lore and see all content.

Now they just have to bring back 40 man raids for LFR.
Az, that's one of the reasons they're making it only work for 25man. With your heroic, you have a ratio of 1 tank to 3 DPS. With 25man, you have 2 tanks to 17 DPS. Far more spots open for DPS, far more representative of WoW's population. The queue times will be far shorter.
Hm. First, you seem to assume Blizzard will not be able to identify the encounter elements that will cause exceptional problems in PuGs (compared to pre-formed groups). To be honest, I do have doubts too but I wouldn't make the connection "I am not sure whether you make it (based on what you're saying now)" and "you will fail spectacularly". I remember a discussion on various blogs about the bosses' skills and they usually come in 3 variants: skills that challenge the best players in raid (i. e. raid can chose players to handle those), skills that challenge "average" and skill that challenge the worst or everyone. (I can explain in further details but I hope most of the readers will remember the discussion and know what I mean.) The further towards the 3rd group the skill is, the more the relative challenge for PuGs compared to pre-formed groups. (Let's say the truth: Majority of LFD players are not bad although they might get a little impatient. People from the horrible stories everyone likes to tell are not that common. - And I don't see any reason to assume LFR will be different, so the best and the average will not need that much nerfing.) As I said, I am not sure Blizzard will get it right but I think that the LFR encounters can be implemented without major nerfs - changes, maybe, but not nerfs.

Regarding the voice chat, you asked how many encounters needed voice chat. Let me ask how many mechanics need voice chat. "People can't avoid fire unless yelled at by the RL" does not count because they can be yelled at by anybody - or anything (DBM or even WoW itself - I don't see any reason why should Blizzard avoid taking DBM's functionality for LFR encounters). I suspect the second number is not much larger than the first, i. e. many encounters only have a single mechanic or two that requires the voice chat - or none at all.

I understand your concern about 10-man normal PuGs competing with LFR but if the LFR difficulty is right, I don't think they will as the normal raids will require pre-screening and extra work on the side of raid leader, leading to more waiting before the raid which should balance better rewards and RL having more control.

@Azuriel, I'm actually worried how long will the raid itself take. If it's "kill all bosses in one session or never get to the final one", I can see how it'll get less used than it could.
Confound this lack of edit buttons!

It actually appears the raid will be divide in 2 with 4 bosses each... I still find it too much and would rather like to see the raid divided into 1-2 boss groups which would allow not to spend eternity in the group even if there's a couple of wipes.

Also, I'm a bit worried about the leader position (too much responsibilities, too little rights to do anything) and that it will be only ilvl that's needed for the raids - I would rather like to see the character audit from the Armory play a role.
I can see this work in one way: you have a raid and 22 people show up. You use the system to get the missing 3 people.

Another possibility is to make the older instances easier, something Blizzard has often done before. This way they're doable by pugs.
I very agree with you on this! also to add to your article it is also impossible to complete raids now without certain addons...

Blizzard have admitted that they design raids having in mind addons like DBM so they have to make it more complicated...

so people who will join they fail also if they don't have the correct addons installed..

I see LFR to be used mostly by guilds to get some easy gear to help them doing the normal mode faster and once they get that gear they will join with alts e.t.c.
WoW players have always been able to brute force content they lack the skill to dance through simply by waiting. Late TBC Kara runs were all about people forgetting to remove Garotte and moving in Flame Wreath and over-geared healers just healing through it.

Also the game has voice chat. It's a feature. In Eve when we do incursions (which are like pug raids) everyone is asked to get on in-game voice.
1)People will communicate on these raids. People with vent accounts will just /raid the info and people will log on for the raids.
2) People will sign up for multiple attempts for the same bosses even if loot is not available. They, like me, will do so in order to complete the "Glory of the Whatever" in order to get the guild mount for killing all Cata bosses. 3) People will sign up for these to be able to rapidly learn the fights even before going on guild runs so as not to be a drag learning on "guild time"

I think this is a great idea and only wish that blizzard would extend it to 10 mans and all previous content.
Doesn't WoW have its own built in voice chat system? It may not be optimal, but the possibility exists to use it if the LFR leaders want people to. You can also kick people who refuse to communicate.
Imagine if MMOs had more going on in them than skinner box, loot treadmills where the only thing to do was raid.

Then you wouldn't even have to worry about crap like this.

People who wanted to raid, and wanted to put the time into getting the right # of people together could do so.

People who wanted to do everything else could do everything else.

Sadly, WoW has no "everything else."
"Sadly, WoW has no "everything else.""

I really wonder why people post things like this. It's along the lines of "all journalists are communists" - nonsense hyperbole for histrionic effect.

I'm not an apologist for WoW but I do know a little about it. Please ensure you reach the same level before you comment on it again.
Yes, WoW has (or had?) its own voice chat but I don't know anyone who uses it. I guess it might become more widespread because it's the only option - the voice chat programs are mutually incompatible, some of them are not even compatible with themselves across major versions so they can't be relied on in PuG environment.
I sincerely doubt it's possible to nerf raids to the point where any 25 players that may queue will get anything done. The fact that pugs still wipe in absolutely trivial fiveman content is sufficient evidence as such.

25 players in a raid. It only takes one ninja puller, one troll, one raid chat spammer, let alone a group queueing to grief and veto kicks on each other, to ruin the experience for everyone else.

Sheer math is balanced against a successful raid.

LFR, whatever it may look like, won't be raiding. Raiding is defined by challenge and teamwork. 25 randoms zerging tank-and-spanks is none of that.

LFR will appeal to only one segment of the community. Loser kids, with no game skills and no social skills, who want purple pixels in the game, no matter how unpleasant or how time-inefficient their game experience.

Everyone else will continue to raid as they do now. Everyone who has the game skill to play in a pug raid or guild raid, or who has the social skills to make connections on-server. And everyone else who can't find a guild or pug but cares more about fun than purples will simply quit WoW.

The only reason to use LFR is lust for purples at any inconvenience. The only people who will do that have no lives. Simple as that.
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