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Posts with tag Dungeons

The Deserter Debuff is a good thing

We talked yesterday about dungeons. Today, while crawling the blue tweets, I came upon this exchange between community manager Lore and a player who doesn't like the deserter debuff. Only Lore's side of the twitter exchange remains, for whatever reason, but it's worth reading.

The disparity between tank/healer and DPS queues for heroics has always been there, and it's likely going to remain for the future. It's simply a matter of math - for every tank and healer in a dungeon, you need three DPS, but the actual number of DPS per tank and healer is much closer to what we see in LFR. And even LFR doesn't pop instantly or even close to it.

But the deserter debuff isn't just implemented to control tanks and healers and keep them from dropping group at the first sign of trouble, knowing they'll immediately get a new one. It also exists to try and curb the mentality that any perceived or real failure is immediately grounds for bad behavior - because dungeons are and are supposed to be a group activity, and using the dungeon finder is essentially partaking in a social matchmaking system that breaks down is such behavior isn't penalized in some fashion. The deserter debuff exists not necessarily to punish, but rather to serve as an incentive - it is as much carrot as it is stick.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Warlords of Draenor

Dungeon behavior, quests, and grouping

Okay, tanks and healers, let's be up front about something: we own LFD.

This came to mind while reading these posts on the forums about tanks queuing up for a dungeon solely to get the early quest item, then dropping the group as soon as they had it, forcing the group to wait to replace them. Tanks can do this because we have instant queues - if you want to tank a dungeon, all you have to do is queue up and you're in almost immediately. Healers sometimes have a bit of a wait, but usually not much of one, and can often have instant queues as well.

DPS? Well, DPS players (the most popular role, so we know it's somewhat self-inflicted) have to wait. On average, they have to wait up to an hour to get into a heroic. So if you're a DPS player queuing up for a heroic, it can be immensely frustrating to finally get that group you've wanted, zone in, help the tank kill the mobs he or she needs to get to that quest item, and then the tank drops the group, at the very least setting you back a half hour if not outright dooming your dungeon run. You did your part - you helped clear to the quest objective. And your reward is more delay.

Rygarius mentions that a solution is in the works (it's now live), that the end boss' death will be an objective of the quests, and I think it's a solid workaround. And the reaction of some players to this workaround is revealing in a way I find disturbing.

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Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Warrior, Death Knight, Monk

Dungeon Hotfixes, Need before Greed now default

When Warlords of Draenor launched, it brought with it a new loot system - the personal loot of Raid Finder was now in place for dungeons. There were advantages and disadvantages to this - one of the advantages was that loot didn't drop that no one wanted, for example. But a lot of players found it a less than compelling system.

And apparently their voices have been heard, because it's back, baby. Rygarius posted a host of dungeon and raid hotfixes, including but not limited to the return of Need before Greed as the default loot system in dungeons. What else is happening?
  • Completing your first Heroic Warlords dungeon nets you a reward of 50 Garrison Resources.
  • The return of the Call to Arms feature for in-demand roles like tanks and healers.
  • You will now once again be able to queue for dungeons from the Ashram cities of Stormshield and Warspear.
What do you think of these changes?

Filed under: News items, Hotfixes, Warlords of Draenor

Will running five player content be viable in Warlords?

I actually really enjoy five player dungeons. One of my disappointments in Mists of Pandaria was that we never got any five mans beyond the start of the expansion and that they basically became just a means to farm some valor - since no new fives were introduced, they couldn't be tuned to in any way keep up with gear from Throne of Thunder much less Siege of Orgrimmar. They became laughably easy unless you were running them as Challenge Modes, ultimately.

And this bothers me because I'm one of those people who feels like five player content never really had lived up to its promise in World of Warcraft. Especially now that raid dungeons have become so accessible, with LFR and flex making it easier than ever for almost all players to get some level of raiding if they want it, I've always felt like fives need a refocusing. Having normal and heroic difficulty fives really separate with better rewards for fives is a good start, but where Challenge Modes didn't grab me was in their completely cosmetic rewards. I always felt like CM's should offer gear on par with at least normal mode raiding - a group that decided to focus exclusively on Challenge Modes or some other form of very hard five player content should be able to progress their character not just visually, but actually as well.

Why do I feel this way? Well, I'll tell you.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor: Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas on healing in dungeons

Dungeons can be tricky to balance. Too easy, and everything turns into a 'go go go' zergdown. Too hard, and no one wants to run them. This is of course subject to change as gear and skill and familiarity all increase, of course. But it's a topic that Ion Hazzikostas recently took up on the forums. One of the things people have been concerned about is the change to how healing works, and Ion discussed it and why they made the changes. Basically, it came down to the idea that with mana regen effectively not a factor in Mists, the only way to kill players in raids was with massive spikes of damage that required immediate reaction from healers to survive.
Our goal is not to make healing more difficult. Note that nowhere in the above did I say that a problem with Mists healing is that it was too "easy." We want to slow down the pace a bit, and for the challenge in healing to lie more in making decisions about spell usage and targeting, and less in twitch-reaction and sustaining a DPS-style rotation. This also means that the cost of a mistake is not a dead player, but rather a more injured one, giving you a chance to fix your error.
So what does this have to do with dungeon tuning? Quite a bit, as it turns out. Dungeons are being tested on the beta now (I've recently gotten to run Auchindoun and Shadowmoon Burial Grounds) and when they're tested, your level is adjusted to the bare minimum necessary to run said dungeons. This of course means that players are testing the content at its lowest possible threshold, because it has to function for players in the minimum gear to get into the door. And this leads to issues with healing, because the dungeons aren't final yet. It's an interesting job, beta testing. Often, stuff doesn't work - that's why you test it.

We've reproduced Watcher's post in full after the cut. For the most part, I'm interested to see if Blizzard actually succeeds with their goal of slowing down healing.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Warlords of Draenor

WoW Archivist: Tier 0.5 and the birth of modern dungeons

Bokk
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

For a long time in classic WoW, nonraiders felt neglected. Dungeons were the only endgame PvE option for nonraiders. Back then, dungeons didn't have a 5-player limit. They could be "raided," even though they weren't considered raids. Blizzard added new raiding content on a regular basis, but the developers didn't release new dungeons after adding Dire Maul in patch 1.3, four months after the game's release.

Until the launch of The Burning Crusade in early 2007, nonraiders ran the same dungeons for almost two years.

Amidst a storm of complaints, Blizzard said they wanted to offer additional content for nonraiders. In patch 1.10, Blizzard delivered a new endgame quest line using existing dungeons. Comprised of 29 steps in all, this was one of the game's most elaborate -- and most punishing -- quest lines ever.

Blizzard called it the "high-level armor set" quest line. Players called it Tier 0.5. To create it, Blizzard had to reimagine what WoW's dungeons should be.

This quest line was removed, like many others, when Deathwing brought the Cataclysm. Let's walk through what once was, and explore how it gave rise to the modern dungeons we tackle today.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

Could WoW have an expansion without raiding?

I have raided in World of Warcraft since the beginning. Raiding has always been a big part of why I play the game. If not the reason I play, certainly a reason. So when I was sitting up last night and it occurred to me that I've never gone an entire expansion without raiding, I didn't initially think anything of it -- to me, raiding is what you do in WoW. But then I started really thinking about it. Because lots of people don't raid. Before the rise of LFR and flex, a lot of players -- the majority of players, really -- never set foot in a raid at all. They had 5-mans, and that was basically it for group content for them outside of PvP.

So I started asking myself if it would be possible to release an expansion with little to no raiding content at all. Would players accept it? It's a cliche (and an overused one among the community) that Blizzard didn't do this or that 'because it would cost us a raid tier' but let's really consider -- what if we could have the expansion next month, but it wouldn't have any raids? Would that be an expansion people would be willing to play?

One of the reasons I consider this a more controversial question that it would have been at the end of Wrath is because now, raiding is far, far more accessible than it was even then. With the advent of LFR and the recent development of flexible raiding, it's never been easier to raid than it is. While Warlords of Draenor is changing the raid game, those changes will only make mythic raiding in any way more restrictive -- the rest of raiding will remain very accessible.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Events, Blizzard, Raiding, The Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

What's going wrong with tanking in five player content?

Tanking is not always easy, mind you. But tanking can be an incredible amount of fun, and I hope that it'll make a real comeback in terms of popularity when Warlords of Draenor goes live. Right now, I feel like a few problems really keep tanking from being as universally popular as it could be.
  • Difficult to get starting gear - For most people, it's hard to get started as a tank. Gearing is an issue, because some tanks (DKs, warriors and paladins) need specific tanking gear, while even the leather tanks still generally use different stats to some degree, different enchants, different weapons for tanking than DPS or (especially) healing. This is a problem the gearing changes in Warlords should really help with.
  • Where can you learn it? - Tanking requires a different skill set from DPS or healing. While proving grounds exist, they don't really teach the most important part of being a tank - reacting to other players. It can be hard as a new tank to walk into a dungeon having never done it before. That leads into the third difficulty of picking up tanking.
  • Dungeons don't provide any sort of experience right now - With the wildly disparate gear levels on people running random dungeons, you can have a tank in 450 gear trying to hold aggro off of players in 580 gear. While it can be nice to be the tank in 580 gear, even you might have trouble when groups don't cooperate, run ahead of you, pull mobs half way across the zone, and generally simply refuse to act like any kind of groups at all. This is something I'm hoping the gear squish and ten levels will do away with - we'll all basically be on the same page when Warlords dungeons are being run.
While there are still a lot of places where tanking is both fun and rewarding - raiding (especially in a guild group, be it heroic, normal or flex), challenge modes, even in LFD or LFR if you get lucky - I do think it can be a lot to ask a new tank (whether or not she or he is a new player or just new to the role) to grow a thick skin fast enough to deal with the toxicity possible in the current random queue environment. Which is a real shame, because tanking is fun - it can be stressful, and oftentimes groups have an expectation of a tank doing the work of knowing how every fight works for them, but that's not always a negative.

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Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Death Knight, Monk, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor: Eight level 100 dungeons at ship

Warlords of Dreanor will ship with eight level 100 dungeons. These dungeons will be put into place in patch 6.0, which is currently in alpha testing at Blizzard. The clients that have been datamined are currently only showing six dungeons, however as Lead Game Designer Ion Hazzikostas points out, this is incorrect. Alpha clients are not final products, so there's a lot missing.

The dungeons we know about are:

  • Bloodmaul Slag Mines
  • Blackrock Depot
  • Auchindoun
  • Arakkoa Spires
  • Shadowmoon Burial Grounds
  • Iron Barracks
  • Upper Blackrock Spire (updated to a new layout and heroic difficulty)
A lot of people got upset over only having six dungeons at release. It was said at BlizzCon that at least six dungeons would be added, and then when there was only six in the alpha client, it caused angst. It appears, as is often the case with datamining, that no one needed to get upset at all.

Ion also noted that 7 out of the 8 dungeons are new.

Filed under: News items, Warlords of Draenor

Should there be another kind of five player dungeon?

The first dungeon I ran in World of Warcraft was the Deadmines. Not the Deadmines we have today, of course, although the layout is largely unchanged, but the original, Edwin VanCleef helmed Defias operation. From there, it's been a lot of years and a lot of dungeon crawls (not just in WoW, either - I've been crawling around in dungeons ever since the Caves of Chaos were build adjacent to a Keep on some Borderlands) and so I've come to have some opinions on dungeon design and variety that I think are worth nattering on about.

In general, some of the dungeon complexes released with the launch of World of Warcraft took labyrinthine to new extremes. As much as I love it, Blackrock Depths is a positive pain to navigate for a new party - it was terrible before the dungeon finder existed, it's not any better now. Modern dungeons tend to have moved as far away from the 'sprawling mega complex' design as possible. Current dungeons tend to be what I call 'bite sized' in comparison - smaller, self contained wings or experiences that contain between three and four bosses, to be consumed in a 20 to 30 minute chunk of time with four strangers via LFD. It's understandable and even unavoidable that this had happened, but I think there's some wisdom in considering how to have a happy medium between these extremes.

Dungeons like Dire Maul, for instance, saw minimal change in Cataclysm because it was already perfect for the new system. Three wings, mostly self contained (one could previously get from north to west via a tunnel into the library, which was removed) with a reasonable assortment of bosses, tied together by theme yet distinct in terms of what you faced in each. Maraudon, on the other hand, is still a sprawling, difficult to navigate dungeon made worse by the addition of incredibly arbitrary starting locations that the dungeon finder only exacerbates.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

The struggle between gear disparity and good play

Okay, truth time - I can solo any five player heroic dungeon in Mists of Pandaria, as long as it doesn't have mechanics that prevent me. If I'm even concerned that I'll take too much damage and die, I'll pop on my tank set and go prot, but many times it isn't even a concern. Blow all my DPS cooldowns, blow my defensive cooldowns when I'm at about half health, boss falls over. Done it in Mogu'shan Palace and Scarlet Monastery. And I'm hardly the exception here - the fact is, the Mists of Pandaria dungeons were introduced at the beginning of the expansion and tuned so that players in ilevel 450 gear could complete them.

I'm at around ilevel 576.

Even players who are just in flex or LFR gear out gear these instances immensely. If a DPS player in full SoO LFR gear goes into Mogu'shan Palace and decides to pull more mobs than the tank was ready or waiting for, he or she can probably DPS them all down before dying themselves, especially if they get a few heals. Meanwhile, even the tanks can often put out enough damage (while taking so very little and having various means to heal it up) that they can basically solo the whole place if they want to, leaving absolutely everyone in the group feeling very little need to actually play as a group. As many, many people point out to me on twitter, it's just assumed that everyone is going to pull like crazy, so even undergeared players in a specific role often assume it's going to happen and react. Maybe your tank doesn't want to pull like a fiend, but they saw your gear and thought they had to in order to keep control of the dungeon. The lines of group communication have broken down into a silence that masks intent - runs are zoned into and pulled with grim efficiency.

Into this veil of silence enters you, the player. So what can be done about it?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria

Using the Dungeon Finder to level in a flash

If you're exhausted of leveling through the same old zones, it may be time to head to the Dungeon Finder for some of World of Warcraft's speediest leveling. How speedy are we talking about? Last night I spent about an hour with a just level 15 -- the minimum level for dungeons -- priest dungeon running and walked away with five levels and sacks full of loot. Admittedly, I had a stock of rested XP and a few heirlooms, but even without either, you should find dungeon leveling to be pretty zippy -- and a nice change of pace from the daily questing grind.

The downside? While you're here, you'll be playing in a group of five -- typically a tank, a healer, and three DPSers -- and you'll need to learn how to play well in a group, which can be a bit different than playing solo. Though dungeons -- especially low level dungeons -- are easier than ever, there are some tips that will help ease your way. So let's take a look at what you need to hit the dungeons so you're ready to take advantage of that sweet, sweet Dungeon Finder XP.

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Filed under: WoW Rookie

The case for catch-up loot

I talked a while back about catch-up dungeons. Now, we'll talk about the more basic issue - why have 'catch up' mechanisms at all? Why have gear that exists so you can skip content? Recently Celestalon responded to this question on twitter and his answers are very, very interesting to me.
This idea of playerbase consolidation reminds me, as it always does whenever anyone brings it up, of the old days of Vanilla and BC raiding. That's how you can tell I'm crazy old - everything reminds me of something that happened years ago. But in this case it's apt. Back in Vanilla, there basically weren't any catch-up mechanisms. If you wanted to join a raiding guild that was clearing Blackwing Lair, if you hadn't set foot in Molten Core yet, you probably simply weren't getting in, and if you did, you'd likely end up being dragged through several MC and Onyxia runs (assuming you didn't have to get attuned) to get you caught up on gear. Often guilds didn't really want to do that, so if they didn't, you were basically out of luck. The 20 man raids Zul'Gurub and AQ20 served as stopgaps, with gear that could help, but it wasn't enough in many cases.

BC improved this to a degree. There were still attunements for a while, but guilds could at least rely on the Badge of Justice mechanic and get newer players geared up faster. I actually took some time off playing WoW after Vanilla ended and didn't start raiding in BC until my then-guild was working on the Tier 5 raids (Tempest Keep and Serpentshrine Cavern) and so, in order to get ready to join them, I ran a ton of Karazhan and heroic dungeons and bought tanking gear off of the Justice vendors - I ended up still having to tank in Zul'Aman with a green tanking ring and belt and a bunch of dungeon blues on, but at least I had some gear by that point.

Since those days, we've seen various mechanisms (Wrath and Cataclysm's patch five mans, Mists with justice and honor gear and the Timeless Isle) to allow players to get caught up to current content. And to my mind, while I'm not always on board with the specific way it's implemented, it's the best change imaginable for a variety of reasons.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Raiding

Warlords of Draenor: The return of hard heroic 5-mans?

Just occasionally I'll see a blue post that gets me really excited. And today, I saw one. Blizzard EU Community Manager Taepsilum posted in response to a thread about the difficulty of 5-man dungeons. It's a really long post, so do go and read it, but I'm just going to pull out the exciting stuff for now. He mentions, firstly, that Warlords will see the return of normal and heroic modes at max level, and goes on to add that "WoD heroics will be much harder than MoP heroics".

This is music to my ears. MoP has been a terrible expansion for 5-man content. And, while I appreciate that my experience is not the same as everyone's, 5-mans are some of my very favorite content to do to grind points, to grind gear, just to do for the sheer fun of it. I have hated the absence of new, relevant 5-mans in Mists. It's also something Blizzard devs are keenly aware of. And the latter ones in Cataclysm weren't that great either, yes there were a few tricky moments in Well of Eternity, but as ever, Blizzard overcompensated for players' complaints that the early Cata 5-mans were too hard.

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Filed under: Warlords of Draenor

The hope for more future five-mans

Dire Maul
A common refrain among casual players this expansion has been the lament for five-man content. Mists of Pandaria hasn't added any new five-man dungeons since it launched, and for fans of that format, it's a bit of a bummer. In fact, Mists of Pandaria marks the first time that Blizzard hasn't added new dungeons post-launch. In classic WoW, Maraudon was added in patch 1.2, and the Dire Maul set in patch 1.3. The Burning Crusade saw Magister's Terrace in patch 2.4, Wrath gained the three Icecrown five-mans in patch 3.3, Cataclysm had Zul'Aman and Zul'Gurub retooled as 5-mans in 4.2, plus the Well of Eternity dungeon suite in 4.3. Yes, if five-mans are your thing, Mists probably has you feeling pretty glum right about now.

So maybe the following tweet from Ghostcrawler will cheer you up a bit:

Instead of five-man dungeons, Mists definitely saw a focus on scenarios for casual group content. And while scenarios are fun, if you're a healer or a tank, you're not really necessary for them. I personally would love to see a bit more balance in the future between implementing scenarios and implementing five-mans, so here's to a WoW future where both will shine. What about you? Are you hoping for more five-mains, or could you do without them?

Filed under: News items, Mists of Pandaria

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