Tuesday, April 13, 2010

How to make every player see all the content

How to make every player see all the content?

This question has been around since Black Wing Lair. It was all so much fun, but only a few players did it. Blizzard spent millions on it, but only a handful of players visited the original Naxxramas.

Now, you could argue that that is not necessarily bad and I sympathize with that opinion. But the truck is driving the other way. So, let's think about the least harmful method that allows everybody to see all the content.

Blizzard recently tried badges. With the introduction of a new raid dungeon, everybody can get the badges of the prior dungeon by doing any raid dungeon or heroic 5-man dungeons.

Unfortunately that doesn't solve the problem. A player who just reached level 80 might be able to visit Ice Crown Citadel within a week now, but firstly that week is spent with an extraordinary grind in heroic dungeon speed runs. That's fun at first, but inherently unfun later. The very definition of a grind and AoE fest.
Secondly, even worse, players cannot find groups to visit the prior raid dungeons. So, the problem is not solved. Without badges all late players, who like to raid, see only the first raid dungeon (MC/Karazhan) and with badges they only see the last one (ICC).

There is a better option:
ICC-like auras.
It might be no surprise that when Blizzard thought about how to solve the problem they thought about items first, because Blizzard always thinks about items first, just like the player base their game has attracted and formed.
But an ICC-like aura is superior to items.

My suggestion:
When players visit an early raid dungeon, they can choose to play with an aura that makes the raid easier. They are able to select several levels of the effect. The less powerful the aura, the more items drop. But that should be a minor effect, like one random loot item, more per raid ID. This is just so that players don't always choose the easiest aura, but the one that fits their abilities best.

Additional levels of the aura are added over time.
The aura can be changed during the raid, but the most powerful aura chosen determines the bonus loot.

If the aura effect can be chosen strong enough, everybody can do any raid dungeon, so even cross server random groups could do any dungeon that way. The aura cannot be so strong (or the penalty so weak) that it makes more sense to visit the next dungeon at a much lower difficulty too early. Since the next raid dungeon has available less aura levels, it should be possible to find a sweet spot.

I'd also change the aura. It should not increase healing, damage and stamina of the raid, but reduce the damage and stamina of the mobs. That way players do not get used to 'imba crits' at one raid dungeon and have to 'suffer' of lesser crits in the outside world or the next dungeon. Healers and damage dealers alike like their crits. Don't mess with them :)

So, you start late in WotLK. You look for a group of people who also started late, didn't find the time to raid so far or play twinks. You visit Naxxramas and select an appropriate difficulty. You farm Naxxramas, like most raids did already and you are quite successful because of the aura. After that you visit Ulduar etc.

You see all the content and eventually reach Ice Crown Citadel. Due to the aura you also are considerably faster than the original raiders. You didn't spent wiping for days or weeks. Indeed, if you started to wipe you just lowered the difficulty. Heroic 5-man dungeons do not have that aura, so they do not become a stupid grind at all, but can indeed be used to prepare for the first raid.

Problem solved.

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