On Tobold and Raiding

by Jon on November 21st, 2007

Tobold made an excellent post entitled Improving raid endgame progression about the flawed positioning of the newest Zul’Aman instance. Blizzard continues to create and implement content for the hardcore while leaving us casual players to enjoy our raid-content by proxy.

This post apparently attracted quite a few elitist raiders that had a negative reaction to Tobold’s gripe. He made an excellent riposte with Invaded by raiders that delves deeper into his interpretation of the raider mentality and Blizzards decision to cater to it almost entirely.

A lot of what Tobold says mirrors my own thoughts. As much as I’d love to experience end-game content, it’s just not practical for someone who can’t dedicate a significant amount of uninterrupted time to the required gearing up process. I enjoy running instances, but running the same instance in a “heroic” flavor (no change in the encounter, just the stats of the mobs) multiple times does not appeal to me in the least. The only instance that I can really withstand running more than once per character is the Deadmines. (Heroic Deadmines maybe?).

I think I might understand Blizzard’s thought process though. They focus a lot of initial energy into developing the primary game (or expansion) content and once the game is released, all efforts are shifted to keeping that Carrot on a Stick dangling just out of reach of the top players. Why do this? Because you don’t want the top players to leave, either by “winning” the game and completing all of the content, or by hitting a rough patch were progression seems impossible or not worth it. When the end-game isn’t appealing to the top players, you will have a trickle-down effect that will instill apathy in even the most casual of players.

This reasoning is a shot in the dark, I’d love to be a fly on the wall in some of Blizzards Top Secret planning meetings. Regardless, I think that the paradigm needs to shift to a casualcore player focus. Release new content that will actually be seen by a majority of your player-base. 2.3 was a step in the right direction (new midlevel-zone content makes an alt-aholic like myself very happy). Existing instance refreshment seems also like a logical choice. How many people have had the opportunity to experience Blackwing Lair or even Molten Core? Even the level 60 5-man content is bypassed at 58 for superior quests and rewards in Outland.

It’ll be interesting to see what the future holds. Will WotLK turn Outland into the new Azeroth–a veritable ghost-town with the occasional alt scrambling through on their way to the top? Will we ever see a major content patch or even an expansion that focuses on revamping the old-world? Regretfully, I’m a frayed knot.

  1. Chad permalink

    I agree 100%. I’m one of those casual players (and by “casual” I mean what you said – its hard to play uninterrupted for long periods of time). I enjoy solo and small group stuff, although I don’t do much instance running anymore unless its a special occasion. The 100+ times I’ve gone through some of those dungeons for two level 70s has kind of turned me off to all the 5-man instance content like that.

    I loved 2.3 – it gave me some new vanity pets to work toward getting, a new flying mount to obtain and a new place for my multiple lower level alts to quest. ;)

  2. I believe Blizzard should try and do something to make all those old instances worth running.
    I would love to see AQ40 and finish Blackwing Lair. Even doing a Molten Core or Onyxia raid might be fun as a bunch of Level 70/80 characters as long as it rewarded something.

    Maybe make it so if you clear the dungeon in under X minutes with under X participants you get reward XYZ.
    Maybe the reward is just some sort of ‘achievement’.
    Maybe you need to go through the old dungeons to learn new skills or recipes. It’ll be a fine line between not so important to make it required, yet not so worthless to make it meaningless.

    When is the last time anyone cared about Lava/Fiery cores?

  3. I hear this argument a lot, and I feel like the biggest things against casual players is their variety. If I say “hard-core” then you can be 99% sure that it’s someone devoting multiple nights a week to raiding with the goal of progressing through content. How to make them happy? Add harder 25-mans. Done. Sold.

    If I say “casual” you could write 2 or 3 books about all of the different aspects. Are you all about the 5-mans so new ones are right up your alley? Maybe you run Kara once a week, so you’re looking for something in parallel to that (ZA is not it). Or maybe you’re an explorer and just want to run around seeing everything? Or maybe you just like PvP, and 10 arena matches a week is your calling? Or it’s a mix? Or it’s none of these?

    When people say they want to “see all of the content” what does that mean? Would they enjoy a tourist pass where you can run through raid instances without an interaction with the mobs? Or maybe you could sit in on other guild’s runs, to really see everything? Or should there be a “Light Version” where all of the encounters are watered down so you don’t need group balance to defeat them? What’s the requirements so you’re satisfied that you’ve experienced all the game has to offer?

    FYI, I’m asking because I want to understand. I’m a hard-core raider, so it’s pretty easy to figure out what I enjoy. That doesn’t mean I don’t want others to be happy, though. And I see this debate a lot, so I’m trying to relate to it.

  4. Interesting point of view.
    I didn’t read Tobold’s article on his site (yet), but I can honestly say that I would love to be able to go back and do Blackwing Lair, Onyxia’s Lair and other pre-BC raids. I might go back and do them with a group of 70s just for fun, but I want them to be worth doing. They sound fun and entertaining, and maybe they’ll be more enjoyable to my friends and I if phat loots aren’t at stake.

    I wouldn’t say Azeroth is a ghost town, either. True, there are mostly alts being run through Azeroth, but there are also a lot of new people playing the game, too. Though…yeah, most of them are alts. But every time I’m in Orgrimmar I still see quite a few people running about.

    Good post!

  5. It’s always been interesting for me because I didn’t start playing WoW until about six months ago. So my entire WoW experience has been leveling and growing for the “first time” in this world where basically everybody is an alt and had been playing forever already. It was awkward when I did Deadmines for the first time, everybody else could do it in their sleep with their hands behind their back, and I had no idea what was going on. A lot of stuff like that was awkward for me. Even now that I’m level 64 and in Outlands, you get this feeling that a lot of the people leveling with you are working on their second or third 70 or something, and have already done this before. On the other hand, I wouldn’t say it’s been a negative experience… just interesting. I sort of wonder what it was like back when everybody was new.

    It’s also very hard for me to play “uninterrupted” as well. I wish I had the time to be able to set aside three or four hours of dedicated 100% “no-interruptions” WoW time and do more instances, because I would really love to, but I just can’t do that because I’m brb/afk a lot, for various reasons that I can’t ignore. But that’s the nature of the game really… I wish I could devote more time to instances but I can’t, and I sort of reluctantly accept that and try to enjoy the solo’ing aspect of the game more. Afterall, it is possible to still enjoy the game that way, just in a different way. ^^

  6. Matt S permalink

    I have been both, and now I don’t play.

    As a hardcore raider, I enjoyed the challenge and the gear rewards. I am also an hardcore optimizer and planner. I enjoy the research aspect, and then grinding out gear. As a raider, we went through early parts of Naxx in vanilla.

    I attempted this in TBC, but I had already done the gear hunt in vanilla. I felt like doing it the first time was a huge waste of time, and my 60 tier 3 didn’t buy me that much when I switched specializations, so I quit playing.

    Hardcore people suffer from a sick sick addiction. As a reformed hardcore player though, I can’t say I see much draw from the casual gameplay.

  7. Dyvion permalink

    I’ve let my subscription laps at this point, and i’m sad and happy at the same time. I was never a hardcore player, but I was in Beta and played up until about 4 months ago. The highest level I ever got was a tauren warrior to level 64. I have many other characters at various ranges below that on multiple servers. Being in the military means moving all around the world, and i’ve moved 3 times since i started playing wow. Completely different time zones (like, the other side of the planet) means everyone i played with before is asleep while i’m awake. So i started characters on new servers that the people in my new shops played on. But probably 60% of the time i played was solo questing… 25% was playing with friends… and the last 15% was in pugs, with about 1% of the pugs being worth it, not slaughter fests with everyone trying to tell each other how to do each others jobs… (i really hate pugs) Anyway, i would have loved to see more, higher level content, and experience even 1 raid, but three kids means i spend most of my time with 1 eye on the game and 1 eye on the kids… my group time was when they were all asleep. But i’m done with it now… playing off-line games for the time being… (The Witcher, Hellgate London, returning to Oblivion… ) pausing whenever i need to is a great help. Anyway, I played a whole lot over the last two years, and had fun with friends, but i don’t have the kind of time this kind of game requires… but I did have fun, and enjoyed myself immensely. Obviously i’m still perusing WoW web sites, perhaps one day I’ll return to wow… or WoW 2… or 3 or something. But most likely it will be when i retire and have the kind of time to dedicate.

    What could bring me back to wow? At this point making it free wouldn’t even bring me back.

  8. Elth permalink

    I understand why hardcore raiders feel that sense of entitlement to the rewards of months and months of grinding. It’s like the feeling you get when you’ve been a big fan of a certain band for years before they got discovered, and then they get discovered and everybody loves them and you feel offended. People are naturally defensive about what they consider their territory. What they need to understand is despite them paying a subscription fee, no player has any entitlement to any of the content.

    I have my moments of apathy and disgust with WoW, but I’m an old school fan of the Warcraft universe and would like to remain a part of it. I think many players keep playing WoW because they aren’t really sure what else to do anymore. I also think a lot of players stick around just to see what Blue is going to put out next. I think they should look back to the Warcraft RTS games to see what made them successful and add a level of refinement to WoW that is currently missing.

    1) More linear racial storylines: the Alliance and Horde are fine, but each race still has it’s own priorities and motivations and that should be apparent at every level of the storyline. Playing an orc should be very different from playing an undead content-wise. And conflicts between allied factions should be more emphasized because it exists in the storylines.

    2) Blizzard is famous for the amazing quality of the cutscenes it created as far back as Warcraft 1 and Starcraft. Those cutscenes should happen at critical points in-game as well, not just as a cinematic trailor. Maybe when taking down the end-boss of dungeons and raids, or when finishing an especially long quest-line. For some players seeing those cutscenes is reward enough to keep them motivated.

    3) The world needs to evolve. Let the gnomes have Gnomeragan back, and at some point the fires in Stratholme will go out. I think WotLK is a good time to evolve Azeroth because it will be more in-focus again as the main stage for the story.

    4) There is no contextual reason why raids shouldn’t be available at lower levels. 10 or 25 man content in the 30 – 50 level ranges would be enjoyable, a good way to help gear lower characters, and it would teach new players how to get into the raiding mindset before they hit the level cap and try to run things that their gear disqualifies them from.

    5) Level 60 raid content needs to be retuned. I think the dungeons should either be set to a 25 man level and the gear should be retuned to be useful until later levels, or they should be retuned to be run by 10 to 15 characters, and that epic gear should be made BoE so it can be traded or sold on the AH for players who really want to complete those armor sets. The old raiders who worked for months getting those sets would be upset, but they would get over it soon enough.

    There are many things blizzard could do to refresh the start and mid-game that would keep the less than hardcore players happy because most of us either want to feel rewarded with good dungeon experiences that don’t take up our whole lives, or we want to be rewarded with a good story to uncover. It might not make sense in the structure of their business model, but I believe it would make a huge difference in the number of players continue to pay their subscription fee every month.

    Elthrassar, 70 rogue, Twisting Nether

  9. Girik permalink

    Now that WoW has one expansion, it shows they are following the same route I’ve seen in other MMOs. Basically when there is new top level content, the previous top level content is abandoned.

    The reason being the previous top level content was hopping because of lot of the regular players did it often, giving more time strapped players a chance to join in when they had a few hours on a weekend. Ogrimmar had tons of shouts for UBRS, LBRS, BRD, Strat and Scholo, 5 and 10 man. I missed all of that, and when I finally did get close to 60 right after the expansion came out and all those messages disappeared I felt cheated. But that’s MMO life for ya.

    At least they are revamping the 20-60 game in both speed of leveling and dungeon rewards. So even though new players or old players leveling yet another alt don’t have to play as long to enjoy TBC. But alas, the 55-60 “end-game” offers little rewards for people of those leveling ranges. Cuz you go to TBC, do 5 quests and *poof* you have better gear than you would have gotten in the 60 end game.

    I have seen very little where WoW has done hardly anything absolutely new. Although maybe battlegrounds came out before FFXI’s equivalent (and WOW did it WAAAAAAAAAY better). But they have learned a lot of lessons from earlier endeavors. For each annoyance in earlier games, I’ve seen WoWs implementation as almost a direct answer to those problems. Things like horrific death penalties, corpse runs, spawn stealing, camping, lack of quests, impossible to figure out quests, boss contention, forced grouping, lackluster PVP, getting lost, 70-100 man raids, huge imbalance in getting groups, huge imbalance in solo capability, etc.

    I do thing that getting to top level is WAY easier than other games. That is probably good for many people but leaves other dissatisfied. But it looks like Blizzard is really trying to do SOMETHING. The problem is once they set a game’s mechanics, its very hard to make major changes. Other games have done huge revamps (usually to combat) and have done major damage to the game in an attempt to save it. WoW may not be perfect, but they haven’t had to do the level of complete revamp other games have.

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