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Posts with tag Flex-Raiding

Raid design evolution from Cataclysm to now

Horridon header
Yesterday Lead Game Designer Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas published a fascinating Dev Watercooler blog that discussed the history and evolution of raid design in World of Warcraft. That article was part one of a three-part series, and looked into the way that raiding developed from WoW's original release through to Wrath of the Lich King. In part two, published today, Watcher discusses the ways raid design has changed, and stayed the same, through Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria.

The article focuses primarily on difficulty levels and raiding. Watcher discusses in detail the problems inherent in the "10-man is easier, 25-man is harder" approach, as well as the ways that making 10- and 25-man raiding more equivalent in difficulty led to new problems that hadn't existed before. From there we learn about the origin of both the LFR and Flex raiding options from the perspective of how different raiding difficulties serve different portions of the WoW player population. If you've ever wondered about the thought processes that went into developing the different types of raid systems we see in the game today, this is an excellent article on exactly that.

Check out the full blue post after the break.

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Filed under: Raiding, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Reminder: Get your Garrosh heirlooms while you still can

When Garrosh Hellscream's loot list for Siege of Orgrimmar was first revealed, the list included a ton of heirloom weapons for every spec and class under the sun. However, unlike every other heirloom currently present in the game, the weapons are intended for use from level 90 through level 100 -- to be used while leveling through Warlords of Draenor. It's a pretty cool idea, one that will likely help, at least a little, with leveling both mains and alts through Warlords content.

However, if you want to get your hands on these heirlooms, you better act quickly. Once Warlords is here, the heirlooms will be removed from Garrosh's loot table.

Currently, there are no intentions at all to add the heirloom weapons to Garrosh's loot table in LFR -- as Watcher mentioned, they were meant as a reward for those doing Flex and above difficulty. And once Warlords is out and Draenor is unlocked, the rewards will be going away, so that players can't simply farm Hellscream for more heirloom items when they outgear the former Warchief. If you've been meaning to get your hands on these heirlooms, be aware that there is a finite limit as to how long they'll be available -- and get them while you still can.

Filed under: News items, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor: New info from PAX East

Elekks on Draenor
PAX East 2014 has come and gone, but we at WoW Insider have come away from the weekend with juicy new information to share with you about Warlords of Draenor. During the expo, I sat down for a chat with senior game designers Steve Burke and Brian Holinka, lead class designer Kris Zierhut, and other developers.

In our brief time together, they told me some exciting info about garrisons, raiding, transmog, and the expansion's starting experience. They also provided insight into what a boosted level 90 will experience after the expansion launches.

Please note that mild spoilers about the early story of Warlords of Draenor will follow. Join me after the break for all the new info!

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Filed under: News items, Raiding, Interviews, Transmogrification, Warlords of Draenor

Cross-realm raiding now enabled on all servers

Raiders, rejoice -- a new cross-realm raiding feature has now been implemented. In a blue post by Rygarius, it was announced that cross-realm raiding via BattleTag and RealID has been enabled not just for Flex mode, but for Normal and Heroic mode raiding on all servers. These cross-realm raids will be allowed to get the Reins of the Kor'kron War Wolf and all titles associated with the Siege of Orgrimmar, none of which were previously allowed on Flex or LFR difficulty.

Rygarius
We've recently implemented an often requested feature to enable cross-realm raiding for Siege of Orgrimmar. Cross-realm BattleTag™ and Real ID friends can now raid together and take the fight to Garrosh on Normal or Heroic difficulty. Players will be able to earn greater rewards such as Reins of the Kor'kron War Wolf or the title of Conqueror/Liberator of Orgrimmar; both of which aren't available to be earned within Flexible or Raid Finder difficulty.

This change is currently live.


If your cross-realm Flex group has been doing well and defeating Garrosh, now might just be the time to step into Normal mode, test the waters against the forces of Hellscream on a higher difficulty, and reap all the rewards for doing so. Good luck!

Edit: Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas has stepped into the thread in question to clarify a few points. Read on after the break.

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Filed under: News items, Raiding, Mists of Pandaria

Siege of Orgrimmar: 14 is not the magic number

WoW Insider posted previously about the changes coming in to reinforce the point that 14 is not some magic number for Siege of Orgrimmar Flex raiding. Lead Encounter Designer Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas has posted on the official forums once again to clarify that the recent hotfixes reinforce that position.

Watcher
You can read the latest hotfix notes here: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/11944164/542_Hotfixes_December_16-12_16_2013

Fun fact: The hotfix has actually been active since just before the weekend, but it didn't get caught in the prior round of hotfix notes. It's no surprise that it went largely unnoticed, since most all of the abilities with actual breakpoints going from 14->15 are things with very minor impact (Protectors' Shadow Word: Bane, Nazgrim's Bonecracker, Hisek's Multi-Shot, etc.). There are indeed a couple of more impactful breakpoints on Garrosh's Touch of Y'Shaarj and Sha of Pride's Imprison, but those both occur at raid sizes well above 14, and randomization isn't the correct solution to either.

The 14-player "magic number" is actually a fairly interesting social dynamic, since there never was anything particularly special about the number, and now there really is objectively no advantage. As we've said in the past, there's certainly nothing wrong with wanting to form a 14-player raid, but if you're turning away strong players or friends because you're convinced that your raid as a whole will have a harder time, you're making a mistake.

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Filed under: News items, Raiding

Flex difficulty smoothing coming soon

Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas has posted today on Flexible raids, and the scaling thereof. As ever, you can read Ion's whole post after the break, but the key points relate to what was discussed at BlizzCon regarding raid scaling. Essentially, the new system will, in most cases, introduce a chance at getting an extra instance of whatever ability. Ion explains this in full after the break, so I'll spare you the repetition, but the exciting news is that, to combat the current issues, it's coming in sooner than the expansion.

There are some misconceptions floating around, particularly in PuG Flex groups, that there are certain break points which make a raid drastically harder. While it is the case that, as Ion notes, certain abilities scale up with hard breaks at certain numbers, the scaling of Flex favors larger groups. The new scaling will do so even more, essentially removing hard breakpoints for raid size.

Hit the break for Ion's full post.

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Filed under: Raiding

Patch 5.4.2: This is just the beginning for Blizzard's Raid Finder

We posted earlier about Blizzard's first steps towards building their own answer to oQueue, leveling various criticisms at what they had done so far for patch 5.4.2. Basically, you can head back and read the previous post, but the changes so far have all been to the existing Raid Finder tool. The one that nobody knows exists. And the one that nobody can find. Lead Systems Designer Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street was quick to add, though, that this is only the beginning for Blizzard's group finder.

So we can allow ourselves to hope for better with 6.0. What would you like to see? Personally, I think oQueue, for all its bugs and quirks, does a pretty great job of finding cross-realm groups for people. I'd like to see something that mirrors oQueue, but with fewer issues like spam, memory use, and more. Of course, with Blizzard designing this themselves, it's very likely to be the case that it doesn't suffer any of these ills. I'd love to see it have all the ilvl restrictions, completion restrictions and other group restrictions applicable, and to have the option to appear offline, or hide.

One big thing, too, is visibility. It needs to either be integrated into the LFG panel, or have its own micro-menu entry. The single thing that such a system needs, as I mentioned in the earlier article, is people. It needs to be right in players' faces, more convenient than the competition. I believe Blizzard can do it, but to replace such a popular addon that's done so much good to the game, they'll have to do it well.

Filed under: Raiding

Officers' Quarters: Officers of Draenor

Town square somewhere in Draenor
Every Monday, Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership. He is the author of The Guild Leader's Handbook.

BlizzCon 2013 gave us a glimpse into WoW's future. As officers, it's never too early to plan and adjust for the evolution of the game. Let's take a look at the some of the issues that could affect your guild next year.

No new perks

It appears that guilds will remain capped at level 25, which also means no new perks. In the systems panel, Blizzard said that they don't see the point of piling on perks. They said, "The system accomplished what we wanted it to accomplish."

That's good news, in a way, for smaller guilds or people who plan to start new guilds in the future. For those of us who hoped for more, it's a bit disappointing.

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Filed under: Officers' Quarters (Guild Leadership)

Looking for Raid must not be destroyed

Every so often, a new forum thread comes up saying that LFR is awful and should be removed from the game. This is one, but it's hardly new or unique (as the post closing the thread makes clear, there are already several forum posts on the topic) - the argument has existed in one form or another since LFR debuted at the end of Cataclysm.

It's no secret that I neither like LFR nor run it at all anymore. I am not the audience for LFR. And yet, I not only do not believe it should be removed, I believe it must not be removed. Why do I believe this? Well, multiple reasons.
  • LFR is the friendliest raiding option available to people with limited schedules or who are unable/unwilling to commit to overly structured play time.
  • LFR allows for access to content that would otherwise be unavailable for the majority of the player base.
  • LFR fills a niche - it is neither necessary nor forced upon players who have the time or ability to progress in flex, normal or heroic raiding.
One of the things I argued at the beginning of Mists of Pandaria was that content that wasn't necessarily content I personally cared about (pet battles, the Tillers, scenarios) was still good for the game. Options are good - it's better to have more of them, even if they don't suit everyone's playstyles. In many cases, I've only grown to believe this more strongly as LFR has moved from 'content I occasionally run' to 'content I never run' - my ability to completely disregard LFR as unimportant to my game only means that it proves that the developers have successfully balanced raiding.

I'm not blind to some of the problems that have hit LFR in the process, however. I've watched my wife (an excellent player hampered by the fact that her day job doesn't allow the kind of time we used to spend raiding together) struggle with bad LFR groups, and I do think there have been some changes to LFR that need to be addressed. Gutting the entire feature, however, is absolutely not the way to go.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, Mists of Pandaria

Lead Encounter Designer Ion Hazzikostas on Flex Raiding's magic numbers

Lead Encounter Designer Ion Hazzikostas on Flex Raiding's magic numbers
WoW Insider posted yesterday about Flexible Raiding's magic numbers. This was based on a blue-tagged forum post discussing certain breakpoints in Flex encounter scaling, so when your group increases in size, boss health and damage increases. This is just fine, but there are also things that have hard points -- it's not possible for 4.3 adds to be summoned. Lead Encounter Designer Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas has weighed in on the issue (his post continues after the break):
Watcher
Thanks for some excellent feedback so far. Boss mechanics inevitably involve some breakpoints (alas, there's no way for Malkorok to create precisely 3.7 Implosions), and they do need to scale in some form, or abilities only targeting maybe 2 players out of a 25-player Flex raid would make some of those mechanics feel completely trivial and detract from the intended experience and tuning. In general, we try to err on the side of rounding down, and making sure that the ratios are never worse for any group size than they would be for a normal 10- or 25-player raid. Norushen orbs are a great example of a place where that logic doesn't quite work, though, since you actually want more orbs, and not fewer. That's something we can adjust.

[Continued after the break.......]

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Filed under: News items, Raiding

Reminder: Siege of Orgrimmar wing The Underhold open for Flex Raiding

In case you're doing a decent amount of Flex Raiding (I have been, in addition to normal) then good news - this week, the Underhold, the third wing of the Siege of Orgrimmar, is now available via flex. Our friends at Wowhead have this roundup of the available loot options from new bosses Malkorok, Spoils of Pandaria and Thok the Bloodthirsty for you to look over and plan where to best use your Warforged Seals. My luck on weapon drops has been abysmal this tier, so I'm even considering that Britomart's Jagged Pike despite all that haste and mastery.

So far I've really liked Flex - it's completely replaced LFR for me, and I admit it speaks to that place inside me which used to run ICC 10 every week to gear up for ICC 25. Perhaps that's wrong of me to have that inner voice, but I do, and so I'm happy with Flex. How about yourselves? Done with it, tired of waiting for new wings, or really loving it so far?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items, Raiding, Mists of Pandaria

oQueue how-to for Flex raiding on demand

oQueue HowTo
So you want to do Flex raiding instead of LFR? Or as well as LFR, you crazy cats? But you don't have a guild or any friends or the time to sit in trade chat forlornly spamming "520 afflock LF Flex /w" for hours on end? You want to be out in the world doing Timeless Isle things rather than stuck in cities? If only there was another way to PuG Flex raids. Well fear not, my friends, oQueue is here to save your bacon. Or any other pork product.

Before I get into the oQueue how-to, I am just going to dedicate a moment to openraid. If you're organised enough to be able to say "Yes! I can raid on Monday at 7pm!" then openraid.us or openraid.eu depending on your region should be your weapon of choice. This allows you to sign up for pre-arranged raids, or indeed to set up your own. But if you want to log in, and immediately hop into a queue for a flex raid, without the need for organization or flexibility, oQueue's the way to go. So let's get started.

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Filed under: Add-Ons, Raiding

Flex raiding lockouts changed in hotfix

Crithto explains new Flex raiding lockout
So, if you're confused about how Flex Raiding's lockout system works now, you're not the only one. The forums are abuzz with questions, and today Crithto posted to explain exactly what was up. The persistent pug explained that, thanks to player feedback, there were some changes to how Flex lockouts operate. Previously, the raid based which bosses were up in a given Flex raid on the player in the raid with the least kills, so if you were invited to a Flex raid that had killed two bosses but you'd killed none, those two bosses would be there. Now, that's all changed.
Crithto - I completely misunderstood Flex raiding
Once again, this community has come together in a constructive manner to share feedback and suggestions, and we thank you for that. Let's kick this update off with the most recent change:

After careful consideration of the feedback you've shared, and after weighing pros and cons of the Flex mode system that came with Patch 5.4, we've decided to change how raid progress is saved. At patch launch, entering Flex mode SoO was based upon who had progressed the least. For example, a raid of 11 players entered SoO and downed 3 bosses on Tuesday night. Wednesday night, all 11 come back together to continue but decide to bring along 4 new people. If the raid had queued together, they'd have had to start the raid over from the beginning because those 4 new players weren't flagged as having downed the first 3 bosses. Our original intent was to err on the side of making sure no one in the raid would miss out on a boss that they still needed to kill.

A hotfix applied this morning, however, takes a more traditional approach to raid lockouts by basing boss progression on the group leader's status. In other words, if the raid leader faced 3 bosses on Tuesday and decides to continue where he or she left off tonight, anyone who joins the Flex raid--even those who have never set foot into SoO--will begin the instance at the same point where the raid leader finished on Tuesday. This system is more straightforward and understandable for much of the WoW raiding community, therefore Flexible raids will no longer be based upon the least progressed member.


So there we have it - the community's voices have been heard, and the Flex boss lockout is now based on the raid leader instead of the least progressed player. Hopefully that will make Flex raiding less confusing for people.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, Mists of Pandaria

Everything there is to love about flex raiding

Ghostcrawler sums up everything there is to love about flex raiding

As is unfortunately usual in a Ghostcrawler twitter conversation, it starts out with a troll trying to get under the skin of WoW's lead system designer, and ends with Ghostcrawler making a point that everyone should hear. This time it struck home. Flex raiding is not going to be there for the hard core guild that wants to get world firsts, it's not going to be there for the people that want to raid just once every few months, and it's not going to be there as a cakewalk for newbies to just waltz into and get some epics.

It's going to be there for the former raid leader like me, that had no choice in The Burning Crusade but to have a "hard core" guild and all the drama and decision making that came along with it. Back in the day (note that I'm using the phrase here not as a positive) in order to see the end game content of Illidan, Archimonde, and hell, even Kael'thas, you had to have a guild that was well put together and full of dedicated raiders.

A dedicated raider was someone who farmed 10 to 20 hours a week, came prepared with their own food, flasks, and other assorted gadgetry. A dedicated raider read up on all the stats, knew the fights inside and out, and was ready to adept to new situations on a moment's notice. A dedicated raider also knew that we lived and died by the numbers. If you were not putting out 1,000 DPS (at the time), you were on the docket to be cut. When we entered Sunwell Plateau you had to be producing 1,500 DPS on Brutullas or you were going to be sat, and probably replaced in the long run.

A dedicated raider might have been the nicest guy in the world, but if they were not performing the way they needed to, then they didn't have a spot on the team. Sorry pal, we like you, but you can't mash your hand against your keyboard fast enough. You're cut.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Burning Crusade

Blizzard reveals Siege of Orgrimmar raid schedule

Next week, we hit Orgrimmar as the Siege begins. And Blizzard has just revealed the release schedule for the raid as a whole.

Next week, on September 10th, we get normal mode opening and Flex Raiding opens wing 1, the Vale of Eternal Sorrows. Heroic opens on the 17th (requiring a Garrosh kill on normal to unlock it), along with Flex wing 2, the Gates of Retribution, and LFR opening wing 1. This keeps the previous intention of unlocking Flex faster than LFR and staggers the normal and heroic releases as we saw in previous raids this expansion.

For the complete release schedule, we've reproduced the Blizzard post behind the jump. I for one am very much looking forward to the Siege.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Raiding, Mists of Pandaria

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