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Posts with tag flex

The incredible aging demographic

Let me put it on the line - LFR and Flexible raid sizes are the most important raiding experiences currently available in World of Warcraft, and the upcoming Mythic 20 person raid difficulty is an atavism, barely even an appendix, that only a vanishing few players will experience when it is current. It exists for a sense of achievement and prestige that only a few players really have the time for anymore, and every year, that group of players gets smaller.

The reason for this is simple - as Tom Chilton put it, the demographic is getting older over time. People like me who played for the raid game back in classic are older. They have jobs, kids, schedules that don't permit the kind of time investment hard modes currently demand, the kind Mythic will demand. And it's not that you can't do cutting edge raiding in, say, six hours a week. I'm not arguing that you will have to put in 20 hours a week to do Mythic. I'm arguing that even scheduling one or two nights a week and being there reliably is actually really hard when you have other commitments that can often demand your time on a moment's notice - in essence. being able to go when you want/need to raid instead of when the group is scheduled to go is a huge boon to that aging demographic. For all the elitism, all the sneering, and all the slurs directed at the LFR player base, the feature allows people who love raiding but who can no longer commit to scheduled WoW play a place to do it.

You can ask if this is healthy for the game as a whole - whether or not your answer is yes or no, though, there is no escaping this simple fact. WoW is a decade old. Many of us playing it have been here for years now. Even players who started in Wrath or Cataclysm have now been playing for years. This is an aging game with aging players, this is the reality of the situation. And this means that more adaptive raiding solutions are going to keep presenting themselves.

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

What will raiding be like in Warlords?

When discussing how the changes coming in Warlords of Draenor will affect raiding, we're of course looking at an incomplete picture. We don't know what new spells and abilities might come, we just know to an extent what won't be there - abilities like Skull Banner will be gone, as well many CC abilities, and healing will be greatly changed - casting on the move will also see a significant decrease. What we therefore need to consider is that raiding itself will have to change to embody these changing philosophies. It would be a disaster to alter class abilities and leave raids designed around the same high damage, high mobility kit we see in modern raiding.

But what will raid design entail? Well, I'm not a raid designer. If I was, I'd be super busy designing some raids. What I am is a guy who raids a lot, so I can give you my perspective as a dude who has seen every fight in the game at this point. What are we in for in Warlords, based on what Blizzard has said is changing, and what they intend to try and do?

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

Why do we still have separate PvP and PvE gear?

While seeking out questions to a Queue I wrote, I was asked by a Twitter follower why we had separate PvE and PvP gear in the first place. A question I love, and that I wouldn't be able to respond to briefly enough for The Queue. I'm not going to go into a complete, exhaustive history of PvP gear. For starters, I didn't play in Classic, so I can't really comment on the gear then, but I gather that there was a lot more overlap between the two.

Then, with Burning Crusade, back in 2006, the combat rating system and Resilience were both introduced, along with arenas. PvP gear was born. It's been through many different iterations since then -- too easy to get, too hard to get, too bad for PvE, too good for PvE, different effects, stat budgets, you name it. But history, while it merits repetition, shouldn't have too much bearing on this question in today's game.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, PvP, Blood Sport (Arena PvP)

EU Heroic raider helps forums through Flex

There have been a good number of threads on the EU forums lately from would-be flex raiders complaining how they can't get into groups because they lack achievements or ilvl. While many would just tell them to learn to play, or turn a blind eye, heroic raider Anabelle of Revolution, EU-Kazzak-H has taken action. Anabelle has put together an "experiment" raid, with low ilvl requirements, and comprising of inexperienced players taken exclusively from the EU forums.

The sole purpose of the raid is to get forumers the achievements they need, and to hopefully get them some gear too. Anabelle's rule set prioritizes players who don't have relevant achievements, before taking players who do. Players need an item level of 520, and to bring along flasks and potions, Anabelle's covering the food. The first raid is scheduled at 1500 CET on Saturday.

And that's pretty awesome. Anabelle doesn't want to boost people, rather to have them work as a team, and is asking for nothing in return. Just to prove that a group of inexperienced people in 520 item level gear can do Flex, with leadership. It's a great initiative, we'd like to give Anabelle a special nod for being über, and helping out those fellow forumers who are struggling. Hopefully there'll be more of the same to follow!

Filed under: Raiding

Warlords of Draenor: Flex, Group Finder and Raid Finder's roles

Blizzard Community Manager Lore has been posting about the future roles of Flex, the new Group Finder, and Raid Finder in Warlords of Draenor. You can, as usual, see Lore's full post after the break, but what he's talking about is how, thanks to the success of Flex as a raid system and the resultant awkward position of LFR, a reshuffle needs to happen.

LFR has been wearing too many hats. It's been end-game progression for some, a gear grind for others, and a way to see the sights of a raid for even more, as well as everything in between. That's a hard act for one difficulty, that is simultaneously too hard and too easy.

But thanks to the runaway success of Flex, due in no small part to group-finding systems like OpenRaid or oQueue, the devs think they can make some changes to the tuning of LFR. The idea, it seems, is that the new Group Finder will make it just as easy to find a Flex group as it currently is to find an LFR one. Then, LFR tuning can be altered, allowing Blizz to "better provide for both the "busy raider" and "sightseer" styles of gameplay as a result."

So it seems likely that, if this remains the case (we're not even in beta after all) LFR will become the tourist difficulty. Flex via the Group Finder, and with friends, will become the new way to get meaningful progression encounters. And that makes sense, given how it'll be renamed to "Normal" come WoD. Hit the break for Lore's full post.

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Filed under: Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor: Blizzard's Group Finder will allow leaders to filter applicants

Blizzard Community Manager Lore has been all over the forums talking about how Blizzard will build their cross-realm group finder. The latest update for the would-be cross-realm raider, world boss killer or PvPer is as follows:
Lore
Quote:

But with OQ you can put restrictions, view how well they've done before, and how well they're liked with the public. Openraid had a reputation how well people liked your raids and gave you upvotes. Is there any way they will add something like that to help people avoid groups lead by bad players, mean leaders or elitist jerks?

We do want to provide some options for group leaders to put some restrictions for who can and can't request to join their group. We don't want to do it in a way that encourages people to be too heavy-handed, but we also want to make the system easy and intuitive to use, and feel it's better for everyone if the system lets leaders be upfront about who they're willing to bring along.

Basically, we want to avoid a situation where you can be invited to a group and then immediately be kicked when the leader inspects your gear and finds you're 10 item levels lower than he or she is looking for (and then have to repeat that process until you eventually either find a group that will bring you or give up entirely). We'd rather do our best to make sure you only see groups that you've actually got a shot at running with :)

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Filed under: News items, Warlords of Draenor

Patch 5.4.2: Blizzard's answer to oQueue enters testing [Updated]

It was announced at BlizzCon that Blizzard would be launching a revamped raid finding system, potentially in response to oQueue's huge popularity in finding groups for Flex and for things like the Celestial bosses required for the Legendary cloak. Lead Encounter Designer Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas has posted today about the first tentative steps towards realizing this goal launch of said group finder, namely a rework of the existing Raid Finding tool. The one you haven't ever used. His full posts are, as ever, after the break.

At first, it will just work for Flex raids and World Bosses, meaning that it won't oust oQueue from the game, but it seems likely that Blizzard will expand this technology to the new raids and perhaps even to PvP in 6.0. Right now, on the PTR, there have not been a lot of changes to the existing system. It's still really hard to find -- open up your social pane, then go over to raid, then go to Other Raids, then select the raids you want to do. Celestials, Ordos and Flex are all cross-realm, but the others are not.

Hit the break for Ion's full posts.

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Filed under: Raiding

Major raid changes coming in Warlords of Draenor

During the World of Warcraft - What's Next? panel, Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas unveiled the way raiding will be unveiled going forward. As you can see above, the term flexible raid is no longer used to describe a difficulty setting, and the flexible raid scaling system has been more widely implemented. Here's how it will basically work:
  • First up, the raid finder (LFR) will still aim for a fixed group size of 25 players. However, if you're in an LFR group and players drop before the next boss, that boss will scale to the size of the current group - as an example, if a raid of 25 players is fighting Paragons, then four players drop on the way to Garrosh, Mr. Hellscream (if you're nasty) will scale down to a 21 player size.
  • What we now call the Flexible difficulty will become Normal in patch 6.0 - it will scale just as it does now.
  • What we now call Normal difficulty (10 and 25 man) will scale flexibly and will be called Heroic difficulty. It will scale just as normal does.
  • Finally, Ion pointed out that scaling the most challenging encounters in terms of design requires a fixed raid size, and so, they've chosen that size to be 20 players. This difficulty, analogous to what we now call Heroic will be called Mythic difficulty.
I find it interesting that they chose to lock the most difficult raiding at a 20 player cap - I've always felt that we should have gone 10/20 at Burning Crusade's launch instead of 10/25, but I wonder why they didn't do a 10/20 split on Mythic for the dedicated 10 man guilds. I didn't expect that, but otherwise, I totally called it and I'm definitely excited. (I know for my guild, 20 man Mythic will be a lot easier to adjust to, but for dedicated 10's it won't be as easy a transition.)

Also, please forgive me a moment of smuggery, but I called it.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Guilds, Blizzard, Raiding, BlizzCon

Flexible raiding's magic numbers

Flexible raiding's magic numbers
Blizzard Community Manager Bashiok has blue-tagged an interesting discussion on the US forums today, asking for more feedback on Flexible raiding's numerical breakpoints.
Bashiok
Right now there are some assumptions being made about mechanical breakpoints in Flex, but there are also some valid concerns. The orbs on Norushen for example may need tweaking.

What would be super helpful is if people have examples of breakpoints they think limit them to having a certain number of people, and what those are. It's in everyone's best interests to be able to invite whoever they want, and not feel like they're limited to some number because of mechanic scaling.
The forum thread in questions certainly brings up some valid concerns. Bashiok mentions the Norushen orbs, where going over a breakpoint by just one player can provide a substantial DPS or healing boost for a boss which can prove a tight DPS requirement for some groups. The Sha of Pride's prisons are another one which seems reasonable -- over a certain number and you'll get three prisons as opposed to two, so it'd be easier for some groups to just not bring that one player who tips the balance. What's more, on AoE mechanic-heavy fights like Dark Shaman, simply having more people standing in bad is a problem, if they're not able to put out the DPS, or are failing at mechanics. Crawler Mines on Iron Juggernaut could well be another problem, as could Malkorok's swirls and Matter Scramble in Spoils.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding

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

Ghostcrawler on flex raiding's rollout

Ghostcrawler on flex raiding's rollout
We had some discussion last week here at WoW Insider regarding the proposed roll-out of the new Flexible Raiding system coming with patch 5.4. If you weren't aware, it was previously proposed that Flex would roll out in phases similar to what we've become used to with Raid Finder, meaning that at the initial release of the tier Flex wouldn't be available, and would come in week-by-week, wing by wing. Blizzard Lead Systems Designer Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street commented on this on Twitter:

Ghostcrawler's approach certainly seems to make sense. By pushing the new difficulty out sooner, more players will be enticed to give it a go, and hopefully more will like it. However, the downside for this is of course the hardcore players, who might feel even more obliged to take on the new difficulty for gear if it's rolled out sooner. However, they are such a minute percentage of the player base that it seems illogical to excessively punish the rest for their benefit!

What's your take on this? When should Flex appear? Personally, I think I'd like to see the first wing release at roughly the same time as heroic, and then a wing per week until it's all out. I think Raid Finder should probably follow about a week behind that. But this is really just personal, and maybe you feel differently? If you do, then why?

Filed under: Raiding

Flexible Raiding lockouts and queues clarified

Flexible Raiding lockouts clarified
As with any new feature, confusion abounds around Flexible Raiding and just how it will work. Blizzard Community Manager Taepsilum took to the forums to clarify various aspects, including lockouts.
Taepsilum
Right now, the idea is to have FR lockouts work very similarly to lockouts in LFR.
You will be able to repeat bosses, and that will actually still be somewhat rewarding, you'll be able to use additional bonus rolls, earn Valor Points, and potentially loot some shinnies from trash...

There's something unique about FRs though, I'll explain it with an example:
Let's say you join a 12man and kill the first boss, leave the raid, and join a 20man, you might have to repeat the first boss.

"Might", so how does that work?
If everyone in the new 20man raid has already killed the first boss just like you did, then that boss will not spawn.
But even if only 1 of the players in that 20man has not killed the first boss, he will spawn again and everyone else will have to repeat the encounter.
This is all pretty confusing stuff! WoW Insider reached out to Blizzard for some additional clarity on just how the raid lockouts will work, and they came back with some more information.

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Filed under: Raiding

Breakfast Topic: Awesome animations



There have been some truly spectacular visual moments in Azeroth; scenes that make you gasp and glee. I'm thinking of occasions like the Scourge Invasion of Stormwind and Orgrimar or Kael'thas blowing up his room in Tempest Keep. Who can deny Wrathgate was incredible. However, there are also some awesome little animations that really add so much to the game. It's these little things that we can take for granted but sometimes jump out at us as something wonderful.

Even on a hard night of raid wiping in our guild, if someone chugs a stack of Pygmy Oil and /cower's it's bound to bring a laugh. Many a machinima has featured a /dance, from one race or many, with variously spectacular and humorous results.

Who's /flex is better, Draenei or Blood Elf? Have you ever left one of your characters alone for a while and then had their idle-animation surprise you? Are there any actions or animations you wish were in the game? What animations bring a smile to your face?

Filed under: Gnomes, Machinima, Breakfast Topics, Draenei, Blood Elves

Try out the Blood Of Gladiators TCG loot on the PTR

A little under a week ago we posted the details of the new TCG exclusive loot items, and more recently we've shown off some video. If you haven't heard about it yet, you can actually do yourself one better if you have access to the PTR: You can head down to Booty Bay and test out these items for free!

If you've never traded in a TCG code before, to do it you need to go down to the docks of Booty Bay and look for Landro Longshot. He's flanked by guards, so you can't really miss him. Ask him what he has to offer, select the Blood Of Gladiators set, and put in the following codes for the item you want:
Easy, isn't it? As of this posting the PTR is down for maintenance, so you'll need to wait until later today to try these out. Worth the wait, though? Certainly.

Filed under: Patches, Items, WoW TCG

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