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Posts with tag raids

Interview with Lead Encounter Designer Ion Hazzikostas

At the Mists of Pandaria launch event in Irvine last week, I had the opportunity to talk to Ion Hazzikostas, lead encounter designer for World of Warcraft, about Mists of Pandaria's raids and dungeons, lessons learned from Cataclysm and beyond, and the road ahead.

WoW Insider: State your name and position!

Ion Hazzikostas: My name is Ion Hazzikostas and I am the lead encounter designer for World of Warcraft.

What does that job entail?

I'm the lead on the encounter team, which is self-explanatory; we make the dungeon and raid content, primarily. We're specialists in multiplayer PVE combat. On top of the dungeons and raids, we also help with outdoor raid bosses, scenario bosses, things like that.

What would you say that your biggest goal going into Mists of Pandaria was?

Particularly on the dungeon and raid front, to provide content for everybody, for all kinds of players. And we recognize that there's a massive spectrum of millions of people who are playing and enjoying World of Warcraft - a huge range of skill, frankly, and time commitment, the whole casual-hardcore spectrum people always talk about. And one of the things that we've been doing over the evolution of the game is to add additional difficulties, additional ways of consuming that content. So, you know, we now have LFR, normal, and heroic raids, and now we've introduced challenge modes, a sort of new tier of actually legitimately difficult five-player content. It's one of the biggest differences from Cataclysm at launch; one of the things we heard from people who were in guilds with friends and they'd say "these dungeons are awesome, we're having a lot of fun" ... but the people who queued up in Dungeon Finder would have a miserable time.

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Filed under: Mists of Pandaria

Healers need something like the raid dummies

Healers need something like the raid dummies
If you didn't know by now, there will be a new raid dummy setup in Mists of Pandaria's latest beta build. They will be located in Shattrath and are designed to mimic a raid boss. They will have 50 million health, can be killed, respawn quickly and are set up in such a way that they won't interfere with other people's tests. They will not turn to face you, so you can practice DPSing from behind, and will give a full suite of raid buffs for the duration of your combat with the dummy.

The idea behind this new marvelous tool is to make it so players can get a better idea of their actual numbers in terms of damage output under the optimal conditions. It's a way to really bring simcrafting back into the game instead of solely through a spread sheet, adding a layer of practical application.

It's a fantastic idea, something that I think should have been around for a long while. While I agree something like this is fantastic for DPSers, lets not leave out the other player types as well. Something like this could be absolutely amazing for healers, something that I know would be most welcome.

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Filed under: Mists of Pandaria

Mists of Pandaria raids will have staggered release, none available at launch

 Mists of Pandaria raids will have staggered release, no raids available on September 25th
There will be no raids available to players when Mists of Pandaria is released on Sept.25, 2012. Blizzard announced today that the first tier of raids in Mists of Pandaria will have a staggered release. A single raid will be released one week after the launch of the expansion, Mogu'shan Vaults, and the raid finder version of that raid won't be available for another week after that. Nothing will change regarding the release of heroic modes, which will be available for the following lockout after players complete the raid on normal mode.

Tier 14's other two raids, Heart of Fear and Terrace of Endless Spring, will be released four weeks after the release of Mogu'shan Vaults. The full details of this announcement are outlined in the blue post below.

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Filed under: Raiding, Mists of Pandaria

GuildOx data shows 50% decline in raiding guild activity

GuildOx data shows 50% decline in raiding guild activity
This news probably shouldn't come as a huge shock to anyone who understands the ebb and flow of WoW expansions, but GuildOx, a site that collects all kinds of data from the WoW Armory, has discovered that raiding guild activity has fallen 50% since the beginning of 2012. GuildOx site runner Polar tells us that a raiding guild is defined as "a guild that has gained a boss kill or raid achievement within the past month or those guilds that have completed heroic Madness of Deathwing." Activity in this case is defined, obviously, as killing a boss that week.

Again, not a huge shock; we're officially in Cataclysm's twilight (heh) years, and drop-off like this before an expansion is to be expected. It's worth noting in this case that the numbers for active raiders might be a little better than what's reflected here -- after all, plenty of guildless people have been able to raid thanks to Raid Finder, and that sort of activity wouldn't be tracked by this metric.

One thing's definitely for sure, though -- the game needs a jump start in the form of Mists of Pandaria if Blizzard wants people to stick around. Thankfully, it's right around the corner, but one wonders just how long this cycle can perpetuate. The end of Wrath and the lifetime of Cataclysm showed us that diminishing returns are already in effect, Annual Pass or no, but MoP's endgame is decidedly different than what we've seen in the past. Perhaps things will be different this time.

Filed under: Raiding, Cataclysm

Big Pineapple problems

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Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Mathew McCurley takes you through the world running parallel to the games we love and enjoy, full of rules, regulations, and esoteroic topics that slip through the cracks.

Diablo III is a popular video game for the PC and Mac that sold a lot of copies and made a lot of people happy. Also, there was a lot of money. With great success comes great responsibility and cost, since the amount of success becomes proportional to the amount of crap to deal with to make the operation run smoothly. Being successful in the video game industry is not always what it's cracked up to be.

This past week has shed some light on two very interesting Diablo-related news pieces, putting Blizzard and its blockbuster dungeon crawler at the heart of scandals, government raids, clever vendors, banned games, and more international intrigue. You'd think that this was all a James Bond plot, but for the presence of guys with fanny packs and an overabundance of Utilikilts.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

Enjoying the spoils of progress

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I enjoy a lot of aspects of World of Warcraft, and one of those aspects is the actual playing of the game. I like combat, whether I am tanking or DPS, the active working through of encounters and even the unfolding of trash pulls. I like learning what new mechanics do, how fights unfold and how they can be successfully completed. I love all of that -- but what I also love is the period after mastering content.

I shamelessly admit it here. I love when content goes on farm. I was ecstatic as Firelands went from hard to easy. I love feeling my gear improve, seeing my DPS or health go up, looking at my avoidance and mitigation and realizing that yes, I actually can get passive unhittable just through gear. (I'll miss that when the two-roll combat system comes out.) I like going back, months down the road, and tearing Baleroc in half like wet tissue paper. Remember me?

Part of this is simply because I like WoW best when I'm killing stuff. I don't like to sit idle in Stormwind or Orgrimmar, and I'm not terribly moved to stand around hawking my crafting wares or playing the Auction House. These are fine activities, to be sure, but they're most certainly not what I like to do in the game. No, the reason I played seven years ago is the reason I play now, because I like to hit things in the face with the largest possible things I can.

And taking their stuff -- I mustn't forget how much I like taking their stuff.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Cataclysm

How do you feel about warming the bench?

You know how raid nights go. Sometimes you have the bare minimum of people showing up, and you're desperately trying to fill spots. And on some occasions, everyone inexplicably shows up at the same time. When you go from barely scraping by with eight or 22 to suddenly dealing with a glut of 15 to 25, obviously somebody's not making it into the mix. So how do you decide who?

Some guilds simply go by attendance numbers; if you've shown up consistently, you're in. If you just happen to be making an appearance for farm night, you're out. Some guilds pick based solely on performance in the raid itself; if you're consistently pulling high DPS and not standing in fire, you're in. If you can't find your way out of a poison cloud with a map and GPS system showing you the way, you're out.

But what do you do when you're the one being sat?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding

Mists of Pandaria Beta: First look at the new raid instances

YouTube user WazopVids has dropped some of the Mists of Pandaria beta files into a model viewer and recorded the results -- our first look at the Mogu'shan Vaults and the Mantid raid zones. I must stress that these are works in progress and not running in WoW software, so take all of this with a grain of salt. However, what we have seen so far looks pretty damn promising. Check out the Mogu'shan Vaults up above and the Mantid zone after the jump.

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Filed under: Raiding, Mists of Pandaria

The most wicked creatures in WoW

Warcraft is a game that seems fairly straightforward in faction division. Alliance is good; Horde is bad. But once you delve into it, that straightforwardness becomes muddled and marred. The Alliance may seem like good guys, but they have their bad moments, and the Horde may seem evil, but even they've got their shining examples of goodness buried within. And when you examine the story and lore closely, you begin to realize that there is no black-and-white division between good and evil; all characters are loosely scattered and somewhere in shades of gray.

Sure, you can argue that the orcs are evil -- and they absolutely were, back in the day. But when you start looking at the justifications for the orcs' actions, that label of pure evil comes into question. As for the Alliance, you can argue that the human race is a bastion of goodness and light -- but then you look at things like the Scarlet Crusade, at Benedictus' betrayal, and you begin to wonder whether the human race is inherently good or just as scattered as the rest of the world.

... Unless, of course, you look at the one place where evil characters always hang out: instances.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Blizzard's post-mortem on Cataclysm dungeons and raids

Blizzard recently released a blog from Dave "Fargo" Kosak that acted as a post-mortem for Cataclysm's quest design. Following on its heels is this entry from Scott "Daelo" Mercer, the lead encounter designer for World of Warcraft. In it, Scott talks successes (Dungeon Journal, Raid Finder) and failures (difficulty level of launch heroics) in the dungeons and raids portion of the game's third expansion and shares what he's looking forward to with the release of Mists of Pandaria. I'm definitely with him in anticipating challenge modes and PvE scenarios.

Read the full interview after the break.

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Filed under: Blizzard, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria

How encounter design plays into game balance

Ready Check helps you prepare yourself and your raid for the bosses that simply require killing. Check back with Ready Check each week for the latest pointers on killing adds, not standing in fire, and hoping for loot that won't drop. Questions, comments, or something you would like to see? Email me at tyler@wowinsider or message me on Twitter @murmursofadruid.

Game balance is a very frequent topic when it comes to WoW. With every nerf or buff, there comes a vast explanation from the player base as to why it was and was not justified. Perhaps one of the most common lamentations regarding a nerf that we see is when Blizzard "nerfs PvE for the sake of PvP." While Blizzard does make PvP damage adjustments from time to time, there are far more damage changes that are made due to PvE concerns than there ever has been for PvP. It's an easy fallback to take up; blaming the aspect of the game which you don't actively take part in, yet it would be far more accurate for PvP players to complain about PvE.

There's another trap that's easy to fall into: that PvE balance is easy to do. To be fair, balancing against Patchwerk encounters isn't that difficult, although you'll still never get it perfect, but WoW has only had a single Patchwerk encounter, and that was Patchwerk. For all the damage juggling that Blizzard does, the largest factor in game balance is always going to be the encounters themselves. Each fight has unique mechanics which mingles with the way specs operate and it is that which determines how a spec fairs just as much as any damage balancing on Blizzard's part.

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Filed under: Raiding, Ready Check (Raiding)

Ready Check: The loss of itemization in Cataclysm

Ready Check helps you prepare yourself and your raid for the bosses that simply require killing. Check back with Ready Check each week for the latest pointers on killing adds, not standing in fire, and hoping for loot that won't drop. Questions, comments, or something you would like to see? Email me at tyler@wowinsider or message me on Twitter @murmursofadruid.

Like it or not, there's one constant about raiding. No matter what your reason for raiding is, and no matter what joy you happen to get from it, there's only one thing that matters at the end of the day. Obviously, I'm talking about loot. Loot is the one thing that makes the raiding world go 'round. Sure, we raid for story, we raid for friends, we raid for challenges. All of that is well and good and makes for a nice, lovely, non-selfish story that we can tell the world. Who knows? It might even be true -- but there's no avoiding that loot is the result.

Maybe that's why raiding has popularity issues. Maybe it isn't the experience so much as it is the reward. I suppose we'll never know -- at least, not from this Ready Check. No, no, instead there's there one part of loot issues that I really want to get into, the problem that has been plaguing Blizzard for this entire expansion: the lack of loot.

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Filed under: Raiding, Ready Check (Raiding), Cataclysm

Ready Check: Tiered raid progression vs. raid accessibility

Ready Check helps you prepare yourself and your raid for the bosses that simply require killing. Check back with Ready Check each week for the latest pointers on killing adds, not standing in fire, and hoping for loot that won't drop. Questions, comments, or something you would like to see? Email me at tyler@wowinsider or message me on Twitter @murmursofadruid.

Let's do a little bit of polling in my head, shall we? How many of you raided during vanilla? Not all that many, I'm sure, and not purely because not that many folks from that time are still around but also because a horridly low number of people who were around back then did raid. But let's say you did raid. How many actually got to clear through the original Naxx? Now, that's a small number of hands; after all, even Blizzard said that less than 1% of the player base so much as downed a single boss in the that instance. Moving on to The Burning Crusade, how many raided there? More hands that previously, I'm sure. Now how many of you progressed past Karazhan? How many cleared through Black Temple? Sunwell?

Let's keep getting more current, though. How many say Naxx in Wrath? Now how many saw ICC? OK, how many say any T11 content? How many of those saw Dragon Soul? Interesting! The number of hands gets progressively smaller as the raids within vanilla WoW and The Burning Crusade progress, yet it stays relatively the same throughout Wrath and Cataclysm. That's because in Wrath, Blizzard drastically changed its view on raiding -- far beyond merely making it easier.

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Filed under: Raiding, Ready Check (Raiding)

Random raid factors and the high cost of failure

Klepsakovic over at Troll Racials are Overpowered has a thought-provoking post asking how Blizzard's advancing raid model is affecting players and how they relate to each other. In particular, he zeroes in on a point that I think a lot of players sense but never really articulate: Not every player in a raid is going to be equally stressed by a fight, and when the stressed party or parties is randomly determined, things get ugly fast.

Compare this to encounters where the primary difficulty is role-specific or even player-specific. Good DPSers pushed their output to the limit on Patchwerk, healers learned to anticipate damage during Malygos' Vortex while one or two people got good at yanking sparks into the raid, and tanks grew experienced with fast pick-ups on Kael'thas. But the average raid group, even when experienced, probably tripped over and over again on encounters like Teron Gorefiend or Anub'arak. When you can't control who gets targeted by Shadow of Death or Anub'arak's spikes and when the randomness limits the experience that any one player can get ... Well, it's easy to see how certain fights acquire the nightmare moniker.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Exclusive: Watch "Race to World First" documentary free through Feb. 3

In a game where tools like the Raid Finder have democratized raiding, how does the mindset of players in top-echelon guilds pushing for world firsts differ from yours and mine? How much time do bleeding-edge guilds really put in? What tricks help them push past wipes and overcome raid challenges? How do they make up time and nudge past other guilds to claim world firsts? And why do other WoW players love to follow the action?

The whole sprawling scene plays out onscreen in the feature-length documentary Race to World First -- and you can watch it free right here at WoW Insider now through Feb. 3. (The film is also available at RacetoWorldFirst.com for a small fee.)

The Looking for Group Productions film, begun back in the day when clawing to a top spot on raiding progression charts was perhaps at its cut-throat peak, follows a handful of top-tier WoW guilds in their sprint to the top. Producers John Keating and Zachary Henderson conducted some of the early interviews for Race two years ago at BlizzCon 2010's WoW Insider reader meetup, including familiar faces like WI Editor Adam Holisky and GM/actress/huntress extraordinaire Michele Morrow.

Get a peek at this film for free while you can right here at WoW Insider. Who knows what in-game challenges you might feel up to tackling after seeing that much fiery motivation in action?

Filed under: WoW Insider Business, Raiding

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