Thursday, July 27, 2006

Making WoW Raids a Casual Affair

I believe the future of end game raiding will take a shift in the expansion to be more inclusive to casual players. Its been hinted in interviews and community manager posts that several new design features are being implemented to end game raiding. Yet any change they might make must still reward the time invested into a character. Simply giving people who just turned 70 epic items is not going to solve the casual vs hardcore problem. But first lets look at what prevents raiding from being content for everyone.

Issues that Exclude Everyone from Raiding
-Time Constraints: Most people can't devote more then three hours at a time

-Organization: Without a guild its hard to gather enough people to raid

-Required Gear: BWL/AQ40/Naxx require gear from other raid instances first

-Attunement/Keys: Long quests/grinds to gain entrance

Now its not a secret that Blizzard is planning on expanding upon the design of Scarlet Monastery and using wings in some expansion instances. So how does this design affect the issues I listed up above?

-Time Constraints:
The last wing in a lot of new instances will be the one that requires a full 20 or 40 man raid force to complete. Developers have admitted that these wings will be the shortest and probably contain a few bosses without a lot of clearing. Think of Onyxia's Lair with some more mobs added in. I am just guessing here but I have a feeling such wings will require only about an hour to complete.

The main problem with getting a 20 or 40 person pick-up-group is finding such a large number of players that have the same goal. That’s why guilds have the advantage since they set goals for their members and are more unified on what they wish to accomplish. By having 20-40 man raid wings right next to single group wings players are closer together and share goals. It should be easy for a pick-up-raid to form in dungeons with this layout. This might have worked in Blackrock Mountain and helped pick-up-groups form for Molten Core if not for the lack of good gear in the smaller instances.

-Required Gear:
The main reason pick-up-groups usually don't succeed in Molten Core is the gear disparity. Players that have run BRD and UBRS usually don't have gear that is good enough for Molten Core. The jump in items from the two instances compared to Molten core is ridiculous. Hopefully the new wing dungeons will have less of a jump in gear.

The single player wings should be able to gear up characters so they can survive encounters in the raid wing. If the dungeon boss is a Mage then have arcane resist on the items that drop in the single group wings. Blackrock Depths almost did this correctly except that the gear quality was very bad and most players sacrificed a lot of hit points and mana to get fire resistance. A patch in 1.9 made the gear better in BRD but funny enough a lot of the gear improved had no fire resistance on it.

Dungeon wings give the developers a lot of options in designing attunement quests. Attunement most likely will involve accomplishing an objective in each single group wing of the dungeon. This way it still requires some time investment to gain attunement but players don't have problems getting a raid together for it. The Onxyia attunement comes close to this with objectives in BRD and BRS. However, it failed in that initially both required a raid force to accomplish it. Attunement should only require a single group to complete since most guilds require attunement before joining. This basically forces a catch 22 on a lot applicants and increases guild hopping.

While the wing dungeons are a nice way of introducing casual raid content, most hardcore raiding guilds might not like the idea of having to travel to an instance for only an hour of content. This is why I believe raid instances like the Cavern of Time and The Black Temple will be old fashion 4 to 5 hour raids. Also some dungeons like Kharazhan will be designed for half raids of 10 people. With a mix of 1 hour and 5 hour raid content the big hardcore guilds will have a lot more choice. Casual players and guilds should get a lot more practice at raiding and who knows maybe they will like it. Of course a lot of what I covered today depends on Blizzard's implementation. But if anyone can make raiding a casual affair its Blizzard.

Burning Crusade Instances (speculative)


Tide (Adam MacDonald) said...

Although I'm a casual player, I just don't see how this mudflation is going to help the game. Having BC greens > Tier3 blues doesn't make sense. There's a long thread over at FoH, f13, Q23 and Grimwell on this topic alone. Nice blog, I'll add you to my list.

BTW, you can vote for Playerep members now from within WoW. Check out the mod we have. Cheers.

Relmstein said...

I don't believe I covered the increase in item power in this article. The only item issue I covered was how dungeon wings could be used to gear up people in prepartion for small raids.

Eynoix recently hinted that Kharzahan (tower of midevh) is the first place where people will start getting upgrades better then tier-3. It's a level 70 instance thats designed for 10 man raids. So far I don't think the Burning Crusade will cause very much item inflation. (hate the catchphrase mudflation, used too much)

Saylah of Illidan said...

I say Blizzard should give you a job! One would think that providing casual-friendly raids is within Blizzard's development capability. In my mind, it's more of a content strategy mindset than anything else. They are talented programmers and could make this work "if" it was the intended direction, directive and desire.

If they don't want to create something new, then expand what exists to add wings, sections, what the heckever to facilitate more casual raiding. Adjust the loot accordingly and problem fixed. Or don't and lose these players when they get tired of rolling alts.

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