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Ready Check: The human element of the Raid Finder {WoW}

Nov 11th 2011 10:03PM When I think about running the idea of solo queuing for LFR, I shudder- with 24 strangers it's almost impossible not to run into some real jerks. Then again, I can't really see myself ever queuing alone anyway, so I guess it's a moot point for me.

I'm curious how this will turn out on live. My big worry is that it's designed as an introductory tier, but patience is going to run very thin, particularly after people have a chance to learn the fights, so you'll get new players told to queue LFR to learn the raids and then get promptly kicked if they screw up. Then again, depending on it's tuning, it could be that wipes will be rare enough it won't matter. Optimistically, there will be more groups queuing for it on live compared to the PTR which will make the groups a bit more cohesive and less prone to griefing.

One thing I wonder is how often pugs will organize on servers to queue for LFR? I don't think it happens much with LFD, but I could definitely see people wanting to have a bit more control over things when dealing with a group this size.

Ready Check: Looking at raid accessibility {WoW}

Nov 6th 2011 1:30AM 1. I agree challenge is good, but having entry-level accessibility is mandatory. Ideally we get both.
2. You need to be more creative in thinking of ways fights can kill you. ;) Atramedes had lots of "one mistake, one wipe" mechanics, at least pre-nerf. The breath could catch you, you could drag it into someone else, you could be too slow on the gong, you could mishandle kiting.
3. In fact, I think all of the fights in T11 had multiple mechanics of this sort, except for Halfus, Magmaw, and Cho'gall.
4. I could go through them all, but you're right we're not on the same page here. I think you're used to being around players that don't make many mistakes. In my guild we had a some people who were very knowledgeable and skilled in most things, but struggled with "silly" things like jumping out of the lava on Nef, or reacting to things within a second.
5. If I can get you to take my word that there were, in T11, lots of fights that heavily punished mistakes, then what you see is that most T11 wasn't testing the strongest players but the weakest. You can progress as far as your weakest player is able to avoid making mistakes. Your better players can not compensate for a raid-wiping mistake.
6. Neither you nor I want a model like this. I don't like this model because it's horrid for new players, who need space to learn how to play their class before they're worrying about wiping raids. Also, it's inaccessible to groups with wide variation in skill.
7. You, however, don't (or shouldn't :) ) want this model because it acts to limit challenge. If you're only testing the weakest players you're not challenging the strongest. If a raid tests the weak the only way to make it accessible to players is to make it trivial. If it tests the average then you can ramp up the overall difficulty while still allowing wide participation.

Quick example: Ascendant Council p2. Instead of making everyone get the buff to live through shock/quake make the raid collect a number of stacks shared between everyone. Now you can actually make the mechanic more challenging but also making it more accessible. How? Because before it only tested who was bad at getting the buff, not who was good at it. Now you can crank the average difficulty up and still allow new or less-skilled players to participate.

Ready Check: Looking at raid accessibility {WoW}

Nov 5th 2011 3:22PM "I find it ironic that so many people are complaining that they only want to run current content, and also that the current content is not an entry level raid."

"Current" content is content that lets you advance your character. The system is set up now that you do this by running the most advanced raid or random dungeons. This means that all players are funneled in to each raid, regardless of experience. If there's only one tier, and you want new raiders, then every raid needs to have some content that's accessible to new players.

There are a lot of ways of changing the system so that this isn't necessarily true, and you can have "hard" and "easy" raids. If, e.g., you made it so that you only could earn valor points running raids, the now nerfed T11 would become "current" again, much like Kara remained as a popular introduction to raiding throughout most of BC. BC, though, brought along it's own share of problems in terms of accessibility. In Wrath, Naxx stayed fairly relevant throughout the life of Ulduar because there was no real gear reset in 4.1. It was ToC that really started the movement towards obsoleting all content every tier. It worked out okay in Wrath, however, because ToC and ICC both had content that was friendly to new players.

It's important to keep in mind, though, that when people (or at least me) talk about the inaccessibility of raids it's not an issue of feeling entitled to beat every encounter in the game without work, it's making sure there's relevant content there for everyone. I did beat Mimiron when he was current (and Yogg too), but I also wiped on Morose for two weeks when I first started playing with a group of similarly new payers. If we had to fight ODS as my first fight I'm pretty sure we would have said, eighty wipes later, "Raiding isn't for us." Without a constant influx of new raiders, all raiding guilds will eventually die to attrition.

This, incidentally, is why I really think LFR is going to hurt raiding more than it helps. While it creates a space where anyone can raid, if LFD is any example it's going to be horribly unwelcoming to new players. 24 random strangers don't want to wipe, even once, while a new player learns raid awareness. Instead, the player will get kicked over a few objections, and they'll come out of the situation thinking, "I'm just not good enough for this." All the while, recruitment becomes even harder...

Ready Check: Looking at raid accessibility {WoW}

Nov 5th 2011 12:09AM First off, thanks for putting so much thought and effort in to responding to my comment from the previous post- I appreciate it! One quick note: Player vs. AH is now In An Age (http://inanage.com/), and also, in case anyone was wondering, I'm not associated with that blog in any way except as a reader.

I think we both agree that the there's currently a large chunk of the player base that's seen, learned, and improved from years of raiding, and in order to continue to challenge and entertain those players raid difficulty and complexity need to increase. I think where we differ, however, is that those increases can not come at the introductory raiding level. In many ways Blizzard has painted themselves into a corner here by, as you mentioned, moving to a model where only one tier is "current" at a time- with only one tier it becomes really difficult to continue to fit in appropriate content for a player base that's has some members constantly improving while still having complete novices joining.

Crucially, though, if that's the model they choose (and there are definitely some good reasons for doing so) I really don't think, long-term, they can do that by compromising the introductory content as they did with Tier 11. One of the reasons why I think output vs. mechanics makes a huge difference here in terms of accessibility is that a fight with mechanics ala pre-nerf T11 raids requires players to simultaneously learn the basics of raiding along with tricky mechanics, while putting a spotlight on their mistakes.

Put yourself in the shoes of a new player to WoW raiding with no or minimal raid experience starting the T11 raids: someone who had only done the levelling game before but decided to get into raiding with the onset of the new expansion, or got a taste of some pug raids (with the forgiving ICC buff) and decided to get serious about raiding in Cata, or perhaps someone's rl friend that got recruit-a-friended up and is eager to join them in raids.

Addons and learned experience aren't going to help that player very much. There's shared wisdom that can be passed down, but nothing can provide the experience of having done other spread out-collapse fights, dodge fire fights, blow cd fights, etc. Addons? They don't have hours of practice with raid awareness yet to be able to consistently monitor their boss mod along with everything else going on. Healers haven't tweaked their raid frames just right, buffs and debuffs aren't filtered, enemy cast bars don't have the right size and position to avoid missing interrupts, etc. They're not used to healing with other healers, or dps'ing anything for more than a minute, using tank cd's with these kinds of incoming damage. Neither were we when we started raiding, either. We learned, and new players will too.

The big difference, though, is that we didn't have to learn in an environment where the success of the raid depended specifically on how we individually performed, at least to any great deal. By stressing lots of mechanics in the introductory raids- particularly pass-fail mechanics- Blizzard didn't give new players the space to learn in T11. Conclave of Wind, e.g., separates the healers into 3 groups, which means that it's not a check on the raid's healing, it's a check on your worst healer. How many fights in Wrath forced zero cross healing? Even if you had strict assignments you could at least blow a cd to help out if one of the other healers was struggling, except for parts of a few fights late in the raids like Thorim and Thaddeus.

Likewise, ODS provides players with about half a dozen ways to kill themselves, and in a raid with 10 players (some new), a death is often a wipe. Those deaths aren't particularly difficult to avoid for an experienced player, but for a new player that's trying hard and gets lost in his or her rotation or raid frames they're a significant danger. And, like Conclave, the mechanics are testing the worst player, not the group or the best.

Those two fights were many players very first experience raiding! Unlike them, I got to learn on Attumen which required me to do practically nothing except focus on the basics of my class. By the time I was given the chance to blow up my guild with Flame Wreath I had plenty practice handling the basics.

I could be way off base here, but I think raiders who have been raiding for years may not realize that, over time, they've self-selected into groups with much more similar skill level than what one would find in guild just starting out, and thus these particular mechanisms just don't resonate as much.

TL;DR: I guess the way I see it is that fights that focus heavily on each individual raiders' ability to handle mechanics simply aren't particularly accessible in my mind. New players must learn both the basics of raiding and the mechanics simultaneously. Making guild
progress tied to the ability of the worst player's ability to handle mechanics is very disrupting to guilds with disparate levels of skill and a frustrating barrier to new players wanting to get into raiding.

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