Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wow Raiding Breakdown

I like the way the raiding has balanced out in Wrath of the Lich King. With Vanilla WoW, you had a jump from instances to raiding. Cut to Wrath's life cycle:

Instances for beginners
Heroics for skilled or geared
Naxx, OS for skilled and geared
EoE for the highly skilled and geared

Instances and Heroics for beginners
Naxx, OS for skilled or geared
EoE for skilled and geared
Ulduar for the highly skilled and geared

Instances and Heroics for beginners
Naxx, OS, EoE for skilled or geared
Ulduar for skilled and geared
ToC for the highly skilled and geared

And now you have people who might not have been able to get into Ulduar or ToC now able to get Triumphs (and a few Frosts) from doing the random heroics. The random group finder is definitely going to help people who have been struggling finding groups for casual play get into some better gear. The new heroics and raid are not accessible by everyone, but it is simply the newest challenge. There has to be something for those who want to be on the bleeding edge of progression, but I think Bliz has done well keeping the casual players happy. I think many of us knew the horror of the perpetual Kara raid group...


  1. I have to disagree. Blizzard is slowly but surely killing the game for the casual player in various ways.

    The original dynamic of the game is diminishing, being replaced with a disjointed, raid-driven atmosphere that is very hard for the casual player to sync with. What motivation does one have to start a new character in WoW? There is no fun in questing anymore because the game has created a sense of urgency to reach max level and max gear because, according to Blizzard, all anyone should want to do ultimately is raid. While raids are fun, they should not be the backbone of the game. Players who want to avoid the drama and constraints of being in a guild should have ways of staying engaged in the game, not feeling like they are stuck on the outside looking in.

    Blizzard probably thinks they are helping the casual player with the random daily heroic quests and the instance queue system, but by imposing gear score limitations they are doing the opposite. Using gear score as a metric of player performance is short-sited at best, for if one doesn't know how to play their character, no level of gear will save them. Now, even though players can earn Emblems of Triumph from heroics, and thus slowly accumulate 232 gear, this will not get them into newer 5 and 10 man raids (based on the new gear score limitiations). And, there will still remain the alienation of non-guilded players in a guild and raid driven game environement.

    Aside from all of that, the original feel of the game is going away. In the beginning, there was differentiation between factions - a sense of pride even for belonging to one or the other. It added a unique feel that other games didn't have. It made PvP and world events meaningful. It created a haven for those who weren't interested in raiding. Now, you can change factions, race, sex, everything. There is nothing unique or special about one's character anymore, because not only can you change it in everyway, but wait a while and you can go back if you don't like it. It removes so much from the game that the casual player has nothing to hold them in. WoW used to be a living, engaging entity, now it is becoming a stagnant robot of a game.

  2. I have to disagree. Blizzard is slowly improving the game for the casual player in various ways.
    The original dynamic of the game was to level grind for hours trying to get to 60. Questing has become fun and enriching, and the parts that aren’t are a lot faster to get through. They are retooling the ENTIRE pre-60 questing experience. Each race will have a more unique quest chain, meaning more replay value. They have even made the Bind on Account gear to make you more interested in making an awesome alt.
    As far as the problems of the nonguilded, with the random dungeon/raid finder, they can just pug things and not worry about dealing with people on their off time. The gear score limitations are to keep people who have nowhere near the gear needed to do the much harder content. A fresh 80 has no business in a H Trial of the Champion run, and a sort of geared 80 has no business in the new instances, which on Heroic are equivalent to Trial of the Crusader. Nonguilded players will be able to fill pug positions in raids by simply selecting the raid they want to do and then get matched up with any raid group on any server in their battle group that needs someone. Since there are special randomly generated awards and some achievements for bringing in random pugs, guilds will start to use the feature and get into that habit.
    The original feel of the game was bland themed areas and a few gems of design. They were pushing out a vast world as fast as possible. The similarity in the factions is a problem, but I think they are moving away from that with Cataclysm. They have already hinted that the horde and alliance are going to move farther apart diplomatically. We will just have to see.
    I think changing your character is something that makes the casual gamers feel more welcome. Being told that you have to dedicate yourself to one character for the rest of your time in the game, never being able to fix their appearance, or maybe choose a different server/faction, means that that poor casual player might get discouraged and quit outright. The people it doesn’t make happy are the hardcore players. They want a sense of permanency from the thing in which they dump so much time and effort. Sadly, me and you were absent from the raiding scene during the Ulduar prime, and now it feels like we just got ToC geared and it is already new content time. In perspective though, Trial of the Crusade came out August 4th, four months ago. Wow is changing, but it is a five year old, and the Blizzard dev team is really maturing their product, refining it. Nothing stagnant there, if you feel its stagnant, play an alt and honestly tell me that the experience isn’t better then the first time you leveled to max level.

  3. In response to " an alt and honestly tell me that the experience isn't better than the first time you leveled to max level.", I can honestly say I would not, if you are referring to leveling up from 1 through 70. When questing in the old world and outland, there is something missing. It is as if no one is interested in these areas anymore. The few people questing there seem as if they are on auto-pilot, just trying to get through it as fast as they can so they can get to Northrend. I hate that as soon as new content comes out, older content automatically becomes irrelevant, because Blizzard leaves no incentive for people to pursue old content. It makes everything disconnected, and renders a large percentage of the games content useless. The only reason people run old instances is for achievements, which themselves serve no better purpose then giving a player the right to say, "I have XXXX achievement points." Some give titles or mounts, but the majority of them require raid achievements that the casual player has little or no chance of getting, again because raid content is geared toward guilded players. To that point, I don't think the LFR feature is going to fix many of these problems, because too many guilds are fervantly against pugging, and have a preconceived notion of what these players are going to be like. This creates a less welcoming environment for the casual player, which will ultimately drive them away.

    Maybe the expansion will do what it promises, and revitalize the game by bringing players back to the old world and outland alike. Maybe Blizzard will successfully rebuild the inter-faction conflict that once held so many players interest. I hope, for the sake of the game, that it does.

  4. You say people don't pug, when last night we pugged 9 people. Now, it wasn't for new content, but we did pug them for 25 ToC. Now that there is a reward and such for using the cross-server queuing, there will be a log of raid groups getting a few people to fill out a run. Now, think about this: The people who usually pug are people doing pickup raids. Pickup raids are usually filled with nonguilded players. This means that the random, cross server raids will help nonguilded players get into content they normally couldn't..

    You went on at length about old content being forgotten then mention Cataclysm in passing, but I think this needs further looking at. Blizz has made it clear that they revitalize good content (Onyxia and Naxxramas), and now they are doing this on a grand scale. Sure questing from 1-70 right now is not that interesting, but to be fair you did get three characters to 70+, meaning you have done BC to death. If Blizz were to rework the entire world to be new and interesting every few months, it would be exhausting. They are updating the old world, which is for the new and casual and alt players. The hardcore are the ones hurt by this. The monuments to their achievements are being destroyed, replaced by a feat of strength achievement.

  5. To be honest I would love a few servers that run a retooled version of one of the older patches. Keep some (or all) of the new features, but limit it to 60th level and only have pre-BC content.

  6. In all honesty, it is going to take cooperation among the players - both casual and non-casual - to make the in game dynamics work once again. I have to agree that Blizzard is trying to create an environment in which every player can have fun and be fullfilled, especially by creating the instance queues and LFR, but like all fixes, it has the potential to do the opposite of what is intended. If the casual players who already feel alienated don't give up, and those who are new properly utilize the tools given them and really learn how to play their characters, then WoW really will be enjoyable for all.

  7. Speaking as someone who hasn't done anything BUT old-world/outland content (and very little of the latter), I'm really in the middle here. Most of my WoW experience has been a lengthy grind in which I balance the desperate bid for levels at which I can interact with people against the desire to actually have fun in-game. I speak here as a basically casual player -- in that I regularly fluctuate on the spectrum between non-player and hardcore player with only lowbie characters.

    It has at times been incredibly frustrating to see the level cap continually pulling away from me. Most of the time I just want to log on for a couple of hours and have fun, but that fun can be hard to come by unless you have someone to play with, and unless you're max level that generally means someone stepping away from the high-level content to hang out with you.

    Don't get me wrong; that works well, a lot of times. But I feel that there are some awesome experiences I'm missing out on. I don't believe that I have ever run VC at level, with an at-level party. In fact, I don't think I've ever done more than a half-dozen or so at-level instances. I've always been either being run through an instance (and trying very hard not to get in the way), running someone through an instance, or soloing a low-level instance. The few times I have run instances at level have generally been PUG'd -- and they were pretty bad PUGs. Now, I've frequently had fun on these, but I desperately want to reach max level (someday) so I can have the "default" instancing experience.

    Yet this brings up another major issue for casual players, one I don't recall seeing brought up above. As awesome as raiding is, it takes time. Lots of time. A lot of casual players -- myself included -- simply do not have time to PUG. I haven't tried the new PUGing system yet -- it looks positively fantastic, and pulling from multiple servers means a larger pool of people who might want to run a given instance, which is great. But if I only have a few hours at night, which may or may not be broken up by phone calls, surprise visits, and family needs, PUGing is frankly not an option. That leaves questing -- and while it's gotten better at higher levels, a lot of the questing content (I would dare say most of the questing content) is frankly not that inspiring.

    I'm glad they're retooling old world. I hope they do a good job with it, because it's getting old.