Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Why were Attunements there in the first place?

It's the talk of the town at the moment and I can't resist adding my two cents into the discussion. Of course I'm talking about the decision of the World of Warcraft developers to cut attunements from their raiding game. Now at the moment only the Serpentshrine Caverns and the Eye attunements have been lifted but I suspect that from now on new raid zones will lack any attunement requirements. We'll know for sure in a couple months when Blizzard releases the much anticipated raid dungeon, Zul'aman.

The original decision to put attunements into the Burning Crusade raids zones most likely had a lot to do with the small power difference between raid and dungeon gear. The old world raid zones were linear since the difficulty of each zone got progressively higher and required gear from the previous raid zone. Since raiding was the only method for getting better gear the raid system became almost a straight line from Molten Core to Naxx.

However, in the expansion the developers realized that they would quickly break their promises to casual players if they greatly increased the quality of gear in each progressive raid zone. Plus rewards from the different PvP activities were now sufficient to allow players to jump into most of the raid zones. With a lot of the higher end raids filled with bugs and not well tested the developers definitely wanted to encourage guilds into a linear progression starting at Karazhan.

With the amount of developers originally from Everquest now employed by Blizzard I'm sure it was only a matter of time before someone raised the idea of an attunement system. It worked beautifully and kept all but the most fanatical guilds from doing anything after Serpentshrine Caverns. However, what Blizzard failed to calculate was that the MMO playerbase is much different from what it was during Everquest's Planes of Power.

A lot of guilds simply fell apart from knocking their heads against attunements and creating multiple teams for Karazhan. The MMO market is simply bigger then it was 4 years ago and many non hardcore raiders simply said "screw this" and left for another game. Good timing by Turbine placed Lord of the Rings Online in a position to pick up a lot of these ex-WoW players. I'm sure their initial good numbers were in part due to the short lifetime of the Burning Crusade and its horrid raid game.

Now with Blizzard taking a step backwards and scrapping parts of the attunement system they might be able to salvage some of their end game. The problem is that the majority of their subscription losses over the last couple of months probably game from disgusted raiders. The faction grind quests for Ogri'la, Skyguard, and Etherium was a kick in a face to most casual group oriented players who actually desired more 5-man dungeons. If Blizzard is seen as doing more development on raid content for a much smaller player sub-population then they are going to tank further in the subscription numbers.

I think the only real hope Blizzard has is to make sure Zul'aman is very friendly to casual players. This means making it so pick up groups can complete the entire dungeon. A 10 man raid shouldn't have to have a very delicate balance of classes be able to proceed to the last boss. As long as the raid has a decent tank, healers and dps classes they should be fine. No more bosses that penalize a raid for not having a specific class ability like blessing of sacrifice or shackle. Blizzard needs to introduce Zul'aman as easier then Karazhan if they want to create new raiders.


Kaziel said...

If you notice the two attunement chains they removed were the ones that involved doing heroics. I think this is why they changed it. Attunement itself isn't so bad. Having to go back and do some quests for money, followed up by a quick run or three through some 5-mans? Not a huge deal. Having to get revered with 4 factions just to be able to do some of the hardest heroics in the game, only to gain access to the next portion of raidiing, which you NEED to do to go beyond it (need to beat Kael to get into Mt. Hyjal which you need to be able to access to go to BT)? That's ridiculous.

Relmstein said...

you think after Naxx they would have learned not to hide raid dungeons behind factions let alone 4 of them.

Kinless said...

Molten Core was not easy epics. Far from it. (Not if you were there from the first visit of your raiding group.)

Attunement for Molten Core: Touch a rock in a lower level instance.

Was Orgrimmar overrun by folks all wearing Tier 1? Never.

BWL Attunement: Get this note and brand your arm after killing the last boss in UBRS.

Was Orgrimmar overrun by folks all wearing Tier 2? Hardly.

What kept people out. Nigh impossible until you figured it out, and until you'd gotten decently geared up in MC.

Naxxramas? I don't even really know what that gear even looks like. Saw a few pieces on a Shaman once. Saw a Warrior equipped with a little in an AV.

Kara Attunement: Do two collection quests, run Shadow Labs, run Arcatraz and Steamvault. Do Durnhold and Black Morass.

Heck. At some point access will be limited to those that sign on with Tigole's account.

If they developed mid-game content with vigor equal to their exclusive end-game content there'd be a LOT of happy people.

Do all MMORPG's evolve on their bleeding forward edge?

JR said...

Do all MMORPG's evolve on their bleeding forward edge?

Unfortunately, I think the answer is yes.

Having played EQ, I saw the same thing happen.

My opinion of why it happens is this:

The end-game raiders are the loudest, most vocal critics of content of whichever game they are playing. The casual players or even those at the top of the level scale but who do not raid regularly, I think, feel that perhaps they do not know enough about the game or have experienced enough end-game content to voice opinions loud enough for developers to hear. (And of course, not wanting to be bashed by said 'elite' raiders: STFU Nub, have you even been to 'x' raid? Your armory sux Nub, etc.)

Most developers hear the very vocal minority of raiders because they are the ones pushing the content. It's often skewed to how the raiders view things, of course.

Even now you can go all across the Blizz forums and see the uh, elitist attitude the advanced raid guilds and members are having about the attunements being dropped:

"We put the time and dedication in, why shouldn't you?"
"EZ Mode"
etc etc.

The Devs buy into the advanced raiders cry that all things should satisfy their needs and desires first and formost, screw everyone else(alchemy changes anyone?)for their own reasons. Mainly egotistical I think, to prove to the raiders, who somehow all fall under the category as being 'elite players' in the devs minds, that they as devs, have the skills to keep challenging and creating new content for them. (you are the ones with the jobs at blizz, L2code)

Somewhere along the line, people forget that it's the casual to 'raid sometimes' type people who pay the bills.

When I first started playing WoW, and only because a friend convinced me it was nothing of the time sink EQ turned out to be, I thought 'man, these guys have it figured out'. Only to see the expansion and run into the new end-game content, where just doing an end-game 5-man can take several hours or more if you are PUG'in (or with a bad guildie-only group, except you dont want to tell them they all suck, because you are supposed to be having 'fun').

I liked being able to log in for 30-45 min at 50th lev and actually get things done, have fun, do some quests, pick some flowers, make a little cash.

Now, I have limited choices:
Raid(if scheduled)
Heroic (or normal 5 man to help a friend or guildie)
Farm farm farm (have to have those consumables or mats for that crafted purplz, ugh)
Or, more eye-bleeding, teeth clecnhing rep-grinds (HAVE to have that exalted enchant or gear, etc).
All which take hours upon hours to get anywhere with.
(ok no, I don't PvP, never have, never will, totally seperate game and issue IMO)

Don't get me wrong, I love a lot of things about WoW, it is so heads and tails above EQ, but, Blizz will fall into the same ugly, hard-core end-game player driven downward spiral that EQ fell into if they keep things up.

Anonymous said...

To pick up on what jr said, I think the head designers of WoW think that the lure of epics from the higher level raid dungeons will entice the less hardcore to raid and continue through their hoops. This worked in WoW 1.0 to an extent but I think a lot of people burnt out on raiding in general.

They also seem to spend too much time with and take too much feedback from people who really know how to play the game and their class. The problem is, out of the 8 million subscribers a handful can even come close to this level of competence, gear and knowledge. So why are the encounters designed to challenge .01% of the population? Even if you are a good player, you need to seek out other superb players to progress in the raid game. Forget about playing with your less skilled friends.

They need to start testing their game content with the 'average' wow player and not the elite guilds or their internal testers. If they lose the Nihilims of WoW, who cares? They will end up retaining most of the people in the middle they've been hemorrhaging since about a month after TBC was released.

Anroth said...

hi relm,

first of all gratz on your blog. i find most of your posts very entertaining and my only "complaint" is that you should blog more often.

regarding WoW end-game, i guess most people haven't realized that it isn't a game anymore but rather a hobby.

you can't go through the end-game with the same laid-back attitude you had in leveling, you have to invest time and effort to do it. discipline is a key word.

i personally feel that the gruesome stories on hardcore raiding guilds stem from a lack of ability to commitment and organization. and that's from everybody: from raiders to officers.

everybody could be raiding, some quicker than others but if you have some discipline and schedule raids that will be attended by everyone that subscribes then things should be fine.

there are some flaws in current end-game, of course, but i do believe that people interested in raiding with enough competence and respect to the fellow raiders will be able to go through the content even if it is at a snail pace. but progress is progress.

if you don't want to raid at all, them i'm all for putting pressure on blizzard to release new small-group/solo content (but quality stuff, not ogri'la/skyguard fiasco), new battlegrounds, lots (and i mean LOTS) of world events.

bottom line is: blizz should provide content to everyone not only raiders. on the other hand, people should realize that it takes very little effort to raid if they are willing to organize and be serious about it (as would be a case in a hobby).

Relmstein said...

Yeah I wish I could post more often too but I've gotten more repsonsibility at my job which means I often have less time to play and write about MMOs.

On a different note I believe Blizzard has a bunch of guild management tools they are planning on releasing soon that should make organized raiding a bit easier to set-up.