Friday, November 19, 2010

On Tobold's Raid Design

This is a comment on Tobold’s blog that became too long for a comment ;)

Firstly, I appreciate that you use the delay between your posts to make longer, higher quality posts. Great read here.

Secondly, I appreciate that you active criticize WoW. I know that you claim to do that all the time. But then I also claim to regularly post about the good sides of WoW and then looking back I can almost understand why some people have problems believing me :)

So, on topic:
Everybody agrees that the key problem of raiding is its “difficulty”, which has been endlessly discussed all over forums and the blogosphere.
It is certainly a key problem, but not the key problem. Other key problems would be organization, impact of the individual player or immersion.

I think everybody would agree that raiding is more difficult than the other content of the game.
You probably ignore arena, because you do not participate in it. Nor do I. But becoming a Gladiator is certainly a hell of a lot more difficult than killing heroic Lich King. Even without buff. Just look at the number of people who achieved the one and the other.

The token system is useful to make sure that there is a constant improvement and progress, to make sure that it is really skill and not gear that determines how far and fast a player can progress.
If that is what you want, I’d suggest to remove the gear requirements. What is the point in giving everybody gear on a silver plate and then also scale the gear requirements? It only leads to the massive scaling problems WotLK suffered so much.

In Wrath of the Lich King, raid difficulty did not go up from Naxxramas to Icecrown Citadel. That is somewhat unintuitive
I agree that difficulty did not raise much. However, I think your idea is quite problematic. Not everybody who raids in a WoW expansion, raids for the first time. In fact, most have raided before. These people would be bored to death if you made MC-level entry raids and might even unsubscribe if they have to wait for over a year for any raid they could perceive as fun.

If Blizzard made use of all their raids and scaled them in difficulty, things would look different. But for some reason (I suspect too much influence of the raid content development department at Blizzard), they continuously throw old raids into the bin.

Concluding, I agree fully that iteration worked only so far for Blizzard. At some point you also need to know what you basically want. I sometimes feel like this has changed in WoW. It went from an adventure to an arcade game; from group experience, like killing Ragnaros after spamming frostbolts for 5 minutes, to an individual PUG game. From a game that allowed anybody to reach anything if he invested enough time to a game that was based on "skill". Iteration is fine, but you need to have a goal you want to reach with it. What is it that you want to perfect? Without that information, iteration runs danger to go the path of least resistance.


  1. Just a little bit of devil's advocate action for you, if nobody took arena seriously but still participated, there would still be gladiators. It's hard because other people make it hard :)

    Overall I'd say the biggest flaw in Tobold's post is that he hasn't seen the content he's making sweeping generalizations about. Having cleared 9/12 heroic icecrown myself, I'd estimate that the difficulty of even the normal mode encounters (which most people, Tobold included, couldn't complete without guild organized raiding) makes naxx look like child's play. Appropriate gear and all, when's the last time you ever met someone who thought that 4horseman was hard?

  2. Hehe, AndruX,

    and if everybody spent 40 hours a week trying to beat Lich King heroic, almost everybody would have done it.

    Fact is that quite a lot of players still competed for Gladiator title. ;)

    So, yes, it is hard, because other people make it hard. Because you fight other people. And that makes it harder than raiding.

    That said, I consider arena extremely boring and stopped competing halfway through TBC.

    Otherwise, I tend to agree. Tobold did not seem to have raided enough to judge raiding in WotLK.

  3. Andrux said:

    "when's the last time you ever met someone who thought that 4horseman was hard?"

    Few would say it, for fear of not being thought as 1337 as you.

    Nonetheless it is hard for somebody who has not yet done it. In fact the "4 horsemen" is quite a tricky encounter and requires co-ordination. I suspect if you were to go back to Naxxramas now in ilvl 200 gear, it would give you a bit of a wake-up. From an execution point of view, it's certainly more difficult than Lord Marrowgar, on whom we all wiped many times.

    Do you think a PuG in ilvl 200 gear could down the four horsemen?