Friday, April 30, 2010

Why Hard Modes Need to Change

Please Note: This has been a good week for me. I've been called shallow, elitist, and a moron among other things. Well, now I'm about to put a cherry on top of the sundae. I'm sure parts of this post will piss some of you off. Just remember that these are my opinions and you are free to disagree. Insults however will not be tolerated. If you can't provide a thoughtful argument as to why you disagree with me, feel free not to comment.

Despite what some of my commenter say, I don't think I'm an elitist. I didn't get up set when they released all the badge gear in TBC that was equivalent to Black Temple gear. I didn't get upset when they made it so a new 80 could get a full set of T9 gear with just badges. And overall, I like the concept of hard modes.

I am all for everyone experiencing the content and story that raiding provides even though many people do not have the skill, time, or desire raid in a focused progression guild. I agree that it is unfair for Blizzard to spend millions of development dollars on an instance like Naxxramus that only a handful of raiders saw the first time it was released. Therefore, in concept Hard Modes are a fair balance. They give the progression focused players a challenge, and they give the experience focused players a way to see the content.

In theory it's a win/win, but I don't like the way they have been implemented in WotLK. I've already talked about what I think makes a good hard mode and a bad hard mode. In this post I will address what I think is wrong in the current hard mode structure, and take a look at ways I think hard modes can be improved.

What's wrong with current hard modes?

Blizzard has tried a lot of different things with hard modes in Wrath of the Lich King, but they seem to have come upon a favored format. With both ToC and ICC they released the normal mode first and then made the hard mode available when you cleared normal mode. So the raid progression path is normal mode, hard mode, normal mode, hard mode. This structure has a few problems.

First, it forces progression focused raiders to participate in watered down content that they don't necessarily find enjoyable. To illustrate my point let me use an example. When my guild was progressing through Ulduar we one or two shot Hodir on normal mode the first time we saw him. After the kill one of my guild leaders lamented that before hard modes Hodir would have had a 3minute enrage timer. Without the time restriction Hodir is basically a don't stand in the fire tank and spank. For a progression guild, not standing in the fire should not be a challenge, The real challenge of Hodir is using all of the various buffs to maximize DPS. (For the record,I realize we could have gone for the hard mode right away on Hodir. In fact we did on Flame Laviathan and Iron council. However, that does not seem possible going forward given how ICC and ToC were designed.)

Second, the normal mode acts as a stepping stone to the hard node and takes away some of the gravitas that I think an Hard Mode encounter should have. Lady Vashj is one of my all time favorite encounters because it was so challenging and it felt so good to finally kill her. Now imagine if you had to do that fight with only 2 shield generators and no Striders before you could do the full version. It's like being forced to read the Cliff Notes version of a book before you get to read the entire thing.

Finally, I don't think the current structure provides enough rewards for high achieving players or enough ways for players/guilds to distinguish themselves in the early days of new content. It also doesn't provide any incentive to go back and work on old content that you haven't completed. In the first two months of ICC it was near impossible to rank the guilds on any server because guilds could kill most if not all of the bosses available right away.

Since Blizzard is bending over backwards to make sure 10man raiders don't feel compelled to run content in a format they don't enjoy. Why should progression raiders be compelled to participate in a format of content they don't enjoy? Here are some changes I think Blizzard could make to fix the situation.

My Proposed Changes:

Allow two paths for hard mode attunement: I know attunment is a bad word for a lot of players, but hard modes already have an attunement process. Having to clear an instance on normal mode before being able to attempt the hard modes is an attunement. I propose that we allow guilds to attune themselves to hard modes in two ways. First they could clear the normal mode of the current instance as we currently have to do, or you could clear the prior instance on hard mode. Basically, if you want to attempt Heroic Marrowgar, you have to kill normal Lich King or heroic Anub. I am not proposing any attunements for normal modes.

I like this idea for two reasons. First, it allows progression guilds to skip the watered down versions of fights that they may not find enjoyable. Second it encourages guilds to complete content. When ICC was released there was only one guild on my server that had killed heroic anub. My guild killed him in the first week of ICC, but several of the progression guilds on my server skipped him for months, and I think that is a shame.

Release hard modes first: I like this idea, because it rewards high achieving guilds, and it helps to create a more distinct path to measure the quality of a guild and ultimately facilitates the progression race that many WoW players enjoy.

I know the casual raiders out there won't like this and I can hear the accusations of elitism already. No one wants to wait for content, especially when they know it is ready. That said, no one has a problem with letting the elite marathon runners start 30 minutes ahead of everyone else in the Boston Marathon. We don't hear a massive out cry from the runners starting later saying it is unfair.

I am sure that some of you will make the point that hard modes and normal modes could be released at the same time, which isn't a horrible idea either. However, I don't think it would provide enough of a separation. Releasing hards and normals at the same time would allow guilds to practice on normal with alts and then try the hard on mains after they figured out the mechanics. I also like the idea of rewarding achievement. Allowing progression guilds to see content a couple of weeks earlier would be a nice reward and provide some incentive for players to challenge themselves. If you only want experience content, then what does it matter if you wait a little longer?

My Vision:

To use ICC as the example, in my vision the hard versions of the first 4 bosses in ICC would be released first. If you haven't completed ToGC, you know have incentive to finish it up. If you have completed ToGC, you have two content to measure yourself against with out having to worry about other guilds cheating by practicing the fight in another format. A few weeks later the Plague Wing of ICC is released for hard modes and the normal mode of the first 4 bosses are released. The guilds that having completed ToGC now have new content. They can still move up to the heroic content by completing ToGC if they want to. The other wings would be released in a similar fashion. Eventually casual raiders would have access to the entire instance. Then they could try hard modes by either completing ToGC or by completing normal ICC.


The current format of hard modes forces progression raiders to run content that they don't necessarily enjoy. The current format also provides little opportunity for guilds to distinguish themselves in the early days of new content and I think doesn't provide enough rewards.

With that in mind, I propose two changes to the current format. First, allow progression guilds to attune for hard modes by completing the previous hard modes as well as competing the current normal mode. Second, release the hard modes first to reward high achieving guilds and allow for a better way to measure the progression race that many players enjoy.


Kalon said...

Nice post. One minor quibble:

Releasing hards and normals at the same time would allow guilds to practice on normal with alts and then try the hard on mains after they figured out the mechanics

Why would they have to do this? There's no reason not to run it with their mains; there aren't going to be limited attempts.

I think attuning for hard modes by beating the last boss is a really neat idea. If you did this, I don't think you'd need to release hard modes first; let people do the normal modes if they can't do the hard modes, and let the other folks who are capable try the hard modes. Both are clearly signs of progression one way or another, so there are good ways to differentiate yourself.

Honors Code said...

Guilds were ready for Hard Modes day in part because the previous tiers hard mode provided gear very close to the new instance normal mode. ToGC hard was 258 while ICC normal was 264. I would be cautious to change hard modes before we are how the new equitable gearing philosophy affects guilds abilities to do hard modes on day one.

Voink said...

I do like your attunement idea, and I'm disapointed they dropped attunements because I too enjoy doing old content, and hated the fact that we did Yogg after we finished Anub (10 man, not 25).

To keep things civil, I would say I disagree with your second idea (for pretty much the same reason you made a passing reference to; if the content's ready for hard mode folks it's ready for eveyrone) and leave it at that. If better items are not enough of an incentive for hard modes perhaps keeping any titles or even achievments there would be.

Anonymous said...

I definitely agree with you that I don't like the current way hard modes were done for ICC. I personally liked the Ulduar method of just doing the fight a little differently or triggering a hard mode in some way. However, I understand this limited the designers and could result in accidental hard modes like happened on thorim a couple of times.

So their new system of selecting the mode before you start the boss works for me. I just would like to have been able to try the hard modes without having to farm normals for a few months till they released the LK to even allow you to unlock them.

Personally, I'd probably be considered an elitist too, but I like the idea of attunements in some form. Having to have killed the previous instance I don't see as a problem. Where they went overboard on attunements was in early TBC when there was a graph that would take up an entire wall to get attuned and it had to be each player. The main reason it sucked was because after you'd cleared SSC and TK you wanted to work on the new content but instead had to go back whenever you got a new person that couldn't raid with you. I like the idea of the guild getting attuned though.

Much along the same lines of the new guild achievement system that they've talked about if the guild had to complete the attunement of defeating the previous instance at least once before moving on, I don't see a problem with that. It's extra incentive to finish the content put before you. So many guilds never killed yogg on regular even because toc came out and it was easier to go kill a few bosses there.

If when ICC came out hard modes were available the first day we probably would have spent some time trying the hard modes at least before killing the normal mode. Instead we didn't even take a full main raid into ICC. We took two half main half alt raids in and were done with the new content on both groups in two days.

Duskstorm said...

I really agree with this approach, however, I would add one more change to this suggestion, and that is to make heroic gear from one content be itemized better (higher ilvil) than the subsequent tier's normal mode content.

Also, give it a new color. Purple is just not epic anymore. They could use orange, but that's really just for legendary weapons.

I think really good raiders remember the time before badges when running around Shattrah decked out in T5 obviously separated them from 95% of the rest of the raiding community. I think they deserve to get that feeling back.

Nightmane said...

As to your first point (Previous tier end boss kill unlocks hard modes in the next tier), I like the idea, as long as this applied to both 10 and 25 progression paths. In other words, a 10 man guild that had Anub dead on hard mode prior to ICC launch should have immediate 10 man ICC hard mode access, but not 25 ICC hard mode. Same for a guild with 25 man anub hard mode completed prior to ICC launch. They should be able to go into hard mode ICC 25 right away, but not hard mode ICC 10. Obviously if a guild had completed both versions of hard anub prior, then both ICC hard sizes would unlock.

As to your second point, I highly doubt Blizzard would release a hard sooner than the normal launch. I also don't really see the need for this. Releasing at the same time still gives the guild that wants a challenge the opportunity to go in and do hard immediately. The logic that they "could cheat by going in and practicing on normal" is faulty. If they choose to do that and lessen their hard experience, then that is their choice. Its the same thing you were discussing the other day about people now getting some 25 gear and then doing 10s with a slight advantage vs. 10 man strict. Its a choice and if you choose to take the easier path by learning some fights on normal first before attempting heroics right out the gate, then that is your prerogative (remember too that if people did attempt normals first, they would be locking their ability to do the same fight on heroic until the following week. This might put them behind another guild that just buckles down and learns it on hard and perhaps downs it that same week.

Anyways, my 2cents on your post. One thing I propose also for making hard modes more interesting is to do more of what hard modes were in Ulduar. What I mean by this is instead of a hard mode meaning more HP, mode damage dealt, and perhaps 1-2 additional small mechanics (as it does in ICC), what was really neat about Uld hards was the fact that the entire fight changed. A good example would be the trio, where the order you killed them in completely changed the way you had to fight them, positioning for each boss, and made the fight actually feel different. Another good example would be Mimron, where hitting the big red button not only made for the usual more damage, more hp, type stuff, but it changed a lot about the fight and made it a MUCH more interesting encounter.

Your first point is good.
Your second point I don't really agree with for reasons above.
Make hards more interesting by "changing" the fight not just toughening it.

Astemus said...

I enjoyed your post. It was well thought out and presented some great arguments. I also somewhat agree with you that the hard modes should be released first or at the least at the same time. I also find your idea of killing the old end boss on heroic allowing access to the current heroic modes.

While the idea may be elitist and I personally wouldn't like it, it's really hard to argue with your reasoning. I'm glad that you took the time to consider both sides and it's shown through in the quality of your post. Thank you for a great and unbiased view.

Glacey said...

Releasing hards and normals at the same time would allow guilds to practice on normal with alts and then try the hard on mains after they figured out the mechanics

I think this point actually disagrees with most of your post. You state that allowing guilds to go straight to hard modes is best, so they do not have to experience watered down content. Why then would they bother to play the watered down content on alts first?

This statement disagrees with your own arguement that forcing progression guilds to try normal modes is unfair to their preferred level of enjoyment of the game. If they did want to try the normal modes on alts first, then they already do not fit in to the classification of raider you are speaking of.

When ICC was released, my guild was beyond bored with TOC. No, we didn't have heroic Anub down... because we're not in to hardmodes. Not our cup of tea, and we don't even pretend that it is. Heck, we didn't even have Heroic Beasts, and that was by choice. Releasing hardmodes only first would not have motivated us to finally venture into TOGC, it just would've pissed us off.

Otherwise, I agree with your post! My guild may not be the type to head to hardmodes at all, but my friend in a top 100 guild I know would love to be able to skip normals.

Astemus said...

Also, I think you may be underestimating how many people really care about a week or two of progress. There are those who enjoy the race and those who enjoy the trip. Having to wait a week or two to do the normal mode won't really impact the trip but does a great deal to the race. It could even be rationalized in a RP sense. The bosses need to be beaten down a bit before the majority of people will have a chance at them.

The only downside to this would be the guilds who may be new to the game or haven't had a chance to kill the heroic mode of the previous tier (due to attendance or just having difficulty with the mechanics). They would be stuck waiting to run the normal mode and finishing it before being allowed into the heroic modes, which would put them far behind the veterans. I think if there is enough time between tiers this goes away, but if the raids are released any quicker than they were in wrath, it'd see alot of people being left behind.

Graylo said...


If you're going to quote me take the entire quote. What I said was:

"Releasing hards and normals at the same time would allow guilds to practice on normal with alts and then try the hard on mains after they figured out the mechanics."

When you include the second part of my quote, you will realize that a majority of your arguement doesn't apply to my point.

I have no problem with a guild choosing to do an encounter on normal with mains rather then hard when both are available. As you say it is a choice, and I expect guilds to make that choice.

The problem is most top guilds now have raid geared alts due to the gating. Therefore they can practice the normal without risk of locking themselves out of the heroic.

I also don't like the idea that guild A can work on and kill Marrowgar hard, but guild be skips it and kills LDW hard. This ends with both guilds being 1/12 hard mode.

That said, I do agree that Ulduar has been the pinical of Hard Mode raiding. With a few exceptions, the Ulduar hard modes were distinctly different then the normal versions. ToGC was the worse, and ICC are only slightly better in my opinion.


If they run with their mains then there is always the risk that they accidentally push all the way through. This was common with Hodir hard, We Don't have an Eternity, and other such things. Imagine if you were practicing Lich King on normal mode and planned on whipping at 5%. Practicing with mains comes with a risk. Practicing with alts does not.

@Honors Code

Definately a possible concern, but I don't think a big one. I had kind of assumed that the current normal mode would drop gear with the same ilevel as the previous hard mode.

Druid Dude said...

You shallow elitist moron!

Just kidding, had to do it!

Your idea of two attunement paths is interesting, and seems workable. Myself, I would prefer to see something much simpler.

Many methods have been tried along the lines of attunements, from massive time sink quest lines (Ony 1.0) to previous kill requirements to the current 'soft' attunement of ICC. There were (and are) pluses and minuses for each.

In the end though, all attunement methods have ended up feeling artificial and have had problems. IMO, keep it simple, very simple. If you can kill it, well, you can kill it. The regular/hard switch in use in ICC is great, and should be available from the time an instance opens.

If you can kill it, you can kill it.

Graylo said...


I admit that is not my strongest arguement, but I will try and use Anub illustrate my reasoning.

There are really only 3 big issues in the Anub fight.

1. Killing the adds fast enough in phase one and three. DPS is DPS, practicing on normal shouldn't help much if any.

2. Surviving the Summerge phase. In normal it is a lot easier, because you get more frost patches.

3. Managing healing in phase 3 is quite difficult since you can't let people get to high, but penetrating cold can deal a lot of damage quickly.

Practicing on normal would allow guilds to get through phase 2 and see phase 3 so they know what to expect when they get their. Guilds would use the normal mode as a tool to learn the hard mode. It probably wouldn't help on a lot of fights like Marrowgar or Gunship, but on more difficult fights like Anub or Putricide I could see it being very helpful and upsetting the progression race a little.

Anonymous said...

While your suggestions work well from a player's perspective, I they fail to address the (presumed) reason Blizzard chose to release the raids as they did. The question Blizzard faced was how to keep people entertained for the longest amount of time given a fixed amount of content. Now, one could reasonably argue that forcing elite players to complete trivial content does not keep them entertained, but would you have been happier if heroic and normal were released at the same time, but the schedule was spread out more?

On a separate topic, you did not mention the gradually increasing zone buff they introduced in ICC as a difficulty tuning tool. In a way this follows your release the hard(er) mode first recommendation. What are your thoughts on this mechanism for future raids?


Graylo said...

@PC (anon1)

"On a separate topic, you did not mention the gradually increasing zone buff they introduced in ICC as a difficulty tuning tool. In a way this follows your release the hard(er) mode first recommendation. What are your thoughts on this mechanism for future raids?"

I hate it. If I had the power to remove it from the game entirely then I would.

The problem is you can't prevent anyone else from using it, so if you value the race then you have to use it or you get left behind.

Overall I think it is a sloppy mechanic designed to lessen the impact of the design mistakes made by Blizzard.

Instead of created a correctly tuned encounter they can just wait until the buff gets high enough. In addition to that, the control is binary. I can't try my hand at Paragon's 5% lich King kill or the 10% kill made by a handful of other guilds. I have to go with all or nothing.

I would rather they tune the fights correctly and then nerf everything when 4.0 comes out like they did in TBC.

Anonymous said...

Glacey pretty much has a concise summary of what I took out of your article. It isn't coherent within it's points.

One point is hard modes don't work because progression guilds are forced to do normal modes first; it lessens the gravitas of the hard modes which progression guilds I can only assume don't want otherwise it wouldn't be an issue.

Yet another point is we cannot have hard modes and normal modes at the same time, because the progression guilds would leverage the normal modes via alts to experience the encounters on an easier mode and presumably transfer that learning to their mains. Isn't that the progression guilds removing the gravitas of the hard modes of their own will and accord?

The take away I get from this is that hard modes first has to be the way because that way the progression guilds will be -forced- to enjoy the gravitas of the hard modes without any avenues of spoiling it via normal modes.

This seems like saying the progression guilds should be spoon-fed the level of content they enjoy to the potential detriment of all non-progression players because if the option were there to do normals first -even if not forced- they would do the normal modes and that would ruin the hard modes. It's like saying we want to take the high road and then complaining that the low road was too tempting, please remove the low road.

It's all practically moot anyway, all the serious progression guilds load onto the PTR and experience as much of the raid content as they can prior to release so they can zoom through it as fast as possible and then claim they're the server/realm/world 1st. In line with this argument, Blizzard should remove the PTRs because that's spoiling the gravitas of the encounters.

I do like that word. Gravitas. Gra-vee-tahs. Rolls off the tongue.

Anonymous said...

This post seems like a lot of pussyfooting around this one point so I'm going to go ahead and say it:

You want the game to be arranged in such a manner that you can clearly rank yourself against your peers at all times. And it doesn't matter if this needs to come at the detriment of all the players not in the "progression game". You want to be able to say "X has beat ABC and we have ABCD, we're ahead!" That's why the forced normal modes were bad to you, all the progression guilds could blow through them quickly and that leaves nothing to rank people by. Same reason why hards and normals at the same time won't fly for you - how would it be known if one guild "cheated" using the normal to practice for hard and another guild just did the hard directly? Lord help us if we can't rank ourselves we have no hope!! There's a word for this and it starts with an E =P

Yeah that is a harsh argument, but I think in this case it applies. The whole post is chock full of this would help distinguish, this would make guilds more distinct, this would help the progression race and that kind of talk. I'm here to tell you the progression race is not as big a deal as you think. Yeah you'll hear just about everyone chatting did you see Paragon got first this, Ensindia got first that, but that's just virtual water-cooler banter. Anything thrown up on mmo-champ gets chatted about. On a given realm there's only some tens of guilds that are going to believe they have a shot of being high up at the top and are going to care about who's downed ABC and who's downed ABCD and did they do it with this option on or that. Everyone else (the LARGE everyone else) is just going to play with their friends and guildmates, gear up as they are able, and down content as they are able. Maybe if there's a group of friends both working on the same encounter and one gets it first they'll tell the other and get a "gratz, nice job" but most of the time it's no more important than that.

Going off on a slightly unrelated tangent I'm going to expand on the anonymous guy above. He/she is right on about PTR, it should be removed completely. The cycle is PTR comes out, all the progression guilds load up as fast as they can and then bash on the new content over and over until it is smashed into their brains exactly how to do it. Then they pat themselves on the back when they beat everyone else on their realm to the first kills, or worse they share their knowledge with the world via a Wowwiki and then people make posts complaining about how the encounters weren't hard enough when they first saw them. (Oh but that's ok because Wowwiki is available to everyone, it won't hose up the progression ranks! Right...) It's total crap that PTR is part of the cycle at all. I will say it's definitely some genius on Blizzard's part though
Blizzard says: Guys please play test our game while still paying money to do so!
Progression people say: Will it let us see the content before everyone else?
Blizzard: Absolutely!
Progression people: We're in! We'll tell everyone else it's because we love the game so much and care about the balance and gameplay.

Graylo said...


What's wrong with wanting to rank yourself against your peers? And what is wrong with letting the better guilds go first?

Is it unfair that elite marathon runners get to start first? Is it unfair that varsity sports tend to get better equipment and facilities then there Junior Varsity equivalent?

How is letting progression players go first detrimental to those not in the progression game? Is their experiance spoiled because they didn't get to go 2 weeks earlier even though you say they don't care about rankings and such?

If you want to say that you don't think progression raiders don't the extra reward of getting to the content first, that is your opinion and can't really argue with it.

However, that is not what you're saying. Your saying it is E(which I assume is elitist) to want to rank yourself. I'm sorry but that is ludicrous.

Is it elitist to want to have the best record in a basketball league? Is it elitist to want to be the manager at work if you are the best employee?

No it's not.

And how are you here to tell me the progression race is not as big a deal as I think? First of I doubt you know me so I doubt you know how big of a deal it is to me.

That said if it wasn't a big deal then sites like WoW progress and Guild Ox wouldn't exist. Guilds like Premonition and Ensidia wouldn't have to make big posts about why they didn't do as well as they hoped or were expected to. And it's not just the top 5 guilds on each server that care.

I have several friends in a guild with fairly low progression, yet they say things like, "if we do this and that we can move up from 20 to 15."

On the PTR thing I completely agree. I have a hard time believing that blizzard couldn't find a competant testing team to run the encounters before release instead of putting them on the PTR. Out of the thousands of employees I bet they could put togeather a pretty good raid team.

Kayeri said...

heh, Gray, I don't agree with everything you've put out the last few days and I've even said why, but I've never thought you elitist, a moron, or shallow for any of it. :)

Just hoping to throw some sprinkles over the cherry and whipped cream... :)

The attunement cycle back in BC was awesome... the problem was so few players could get to be a part of it... If you couldn't find a 25-man guild to take you on at the time they were doing it, you were basically screwed. I always felt the lack of completing the 'story' arc of BC because of that. If they could manage an attunement cycle that could be accomplished singularly or in smaller groups, that would be great, it would remove a lot of the obstacles that later players faced in BC without them having to remove all the attunements.

Not sure I agree with your ideas on hard modes, mostly because I dont care for the regular/hard mode model, personally... by the time I've worked through and mastered the regular with my guild, I'm honestly ready to move on to a NEW challenge, not some re-hash of the same fight made somewhat harder with some extra mechanics and a bigger HP bar on the boss... give us a fight... let us work it until we master it, then give us a NEW fight...

Anyway, just so you know, I appreciate your thoughts even when I don't agree with them. :)

Kalon said...

How is letting progression players go first detrimental to those not in the progression game? Is their experiance spoiled because they didn't get to go 2 weeks earlier even though you say they don't care about rankings and such?

I'm kinda surprised you'd say this. You know how detrimental it is to you now. This is exactly the situation everyone started with; you couldn't do the hard modes that you wanted to until you got the normal modes. So the normal modes came out and it wasn't what you wanted.

So you're suggesting that you get what you want while other people have to wait. Why wouldn't that be detrimental to a player's enjoyment of a game? Essentially you're saying that other guilds that aren't good enough to beat content have to sit around and work on something else and wait for things to get nerfed. I don't think that's reasonable, and it's shocking you can't see that as being detrimental to the health of a guild or the enjoyment of many players.

Anonymous said...

I wanted to inline comments under questions but hit the character limit... here's an attempt at splitting it over two comments. Hopefully it works.

What's wrong with wanting to rank yourself against your peers?
-Nothing inherently. Except you back the idea that changes be made to permit the job of ranking be made easier for those who care more about it at the cost of those who don't. Or that those who rank high initially should rank high indefinitely (or at least have an increased ability to do so) because everyone else will be wandering through attunements, artificial time restrictions, etc. That does not create a level playing field for current content.

And what is wrong with letting the better guilds go first?
-Everything apparently because Blizzard sees no gain in doing it so far and is even homogenizing 10 and 25 so the loot field is leveled. No more farming out 25 so you can go stomp 10s and call yourself the greatest.

Is it unfair that elite marathon runners get to start first?

Is it unfair that varsity sports tend to get better equipment and facilities then there Junior Varsity equivalent?

-In both cases there is an easy possibility that newcomers to the field would excel just as well as the elite or varsity by their dedication and ability alone, but fail to do so because the elite and varsity are given the better starting advantage. This is something that is a reality in the real world, there is only so much running space on the course, there is only so much funding for equipment. And because people are not irrational they understand this. But- and this is where this point of yours falls apart completely, WOW IS A VIRTUAL WORLD. Building in scarcity into a virtual world or putting in artificial restrictions in the name of making the people at the "top" shine is unfair and unneeded. And because it is a virtual world it doesn't need to happen. And Blizzard agrees. No doubt you've seen the decision to remove rating requirements on the bulk of PvP gear. This is because the disparity in gear of those interested in joining the field to compete was an artificial and ridiculously high barrier compared to those who had already been competing and rolled gear season to season. Detach yourself from real world examples and realize that WOW is not the real world. It's a virtual world that does not have to be subject to restrictions that are a reality in the real world because... it's not real.

-On the flipside of the PvP example, it's not free either, people trying to get into the PvP field will have to dedicate time and effort to close the gap between them and the more experienced - but it won't be artifically restricted anymore. If you put the time in you will get the tools necessary to succeed but that does not mean you will succeed. The same has been happening in the "progression" world. Why not welcome the competitors with open arms? If your stance is going to be "but they didn't kill heroic X in the last tier of content, why do they get to start level with us now", killing heroic X in the last tier was your reward for -last tier-. You got the kill, everyone was in awe, you're the best, ok now how about another new, fair race? It would be like having a new more awesome Tour de France but only the top 20 of the old Tour de France get to compete on bicycles, the rest have to walk. Who's going to win? The 20 on bikes duh, unless there's one hella fast runner. It's giving everyone the tools to succeed - but that doesn't mean they will and the bulk do not, don't worry. You will still get your distinction if you -work for it- sorry it's not a default distinction that just happens over the flow of time anymore like in Vanilla and TBC because it was such a gruelling pain in the ass to get a fresh character through all the hoops.

End part 1

Anonymous said...

begin part 2

How is letting progression players go first detrimental to those not in the progression game?
-Again, maybe you disagree with the trend the game has taken in the last ... three, four years? But the bulk of the playerbase viewed restriction of content via attunements and months of necessary gear grinding as a bad thing and a barrier to enjoyment.

Is their experiance spoiled because they didn't get to go 2 weeks earlier even though you say they don't care about rankings and such?
-You answer this in your own post "No one wants to wait for content, especially when they know it is ready." And this separation in time you speak of -is already what is going on-. Not even a bulk of guilds have gotten into ICC hard modes at this point, months after it has been available. And that is fine because at least they are able to try for it - you seem to want there to be a rigid you-cannot-even-attempt-this until X time has passed.

If you want to say that you don't think progression raiders don't the extra reward of getting to the content first, that is your opinion and can't really argue with it.
-As I said, they already do get to the content first. Ages before the bulk of players. Yet you seem to want the gap to be even bigger.

However, that is not what you're saying. Your saying it is E(which I assume is elitist) to want to rank yourself. I'm sorry but that is ludicrous.
-It is elitist when you can't be happy with working on content that only a handful of guilds have actually completed in the entire playerbase because it's "too boring" or the rewards aren't great enough or the distinction not big enough. The content is there, the challenge is there, but it doesn't hold your interest enough to be worth doing to you so you want it to be adjusted so it is. And what is the adjustment that makes it worthwhile? More separation between you and others.

Is it elitist to want to have the best record in a basketball league?
Is it elitist to want to be the manager at work if you are the best employee?
-To having the best record, no. If a record is important to you or your team then strive for it. But again when you want the system tuned so the people at the top have an easier job of separating themselves from everyone else and patting themselves on the back, it is elitist. It should be a task, a chore, something to be worked at. But it should not be something artificially restricted to where those already on the top have an easier job of staying at the top. If anything permitting a more level playing field should motivate even MORE because to slack means there's more people able to pass you, it is HARDER to maintain the oh so important rank, doesn't that make it more valuable?
-To the manager analogy, that's pretty funny because as far as I know, at least in well run companies the manager takes on MORE work in exchange for their higher compensation and distinction, not less. And they don't complain "ohh this is just more work that's similar to what I was already doing this doesn't distinguish me enough!"

End part 2.

Anonymous said...

begin part 3... wow this is long

No it's not.

And how are you here to tell me the progression race is not as big a deal as I think? First of I doubt you know me so I doubt you know how big of a deal it is to me.
-That is correct I don't know you, I can only go by what you write. But what I took from those writings was that the progression race is important to you. If not so then why take the time and energy to make a post on what needs to be changed in order to keep progression raiding interesting, and post various experiences of what you thought was done correctly and incorrectly vis a vis progression raiders? You post ideas even knowing, as you wrote, that "casual raiders out there won't like this." "No no, all you non-elite, this is not an elitist idea, trust me!" At least in the real world examples you give there is a scarcity that makes the example make sense. Not so here.

That said if it wasn't a big deal then sites like WoW progress and Guild Ox wouldn't exist. Guilds like Premonition and Ensidia wouldn't have to make big posts about why they didn't do as well as they hoped or were expected to. And it's not just the top 5 guilds on each server that care.
-You'll note I said tens. That's potentially 1-99. This makes your later point here even more funny.

I have several friends in a guild with fairly low progression, yet they say things like, "if we do this and that we can move up from 20 to 15."
-A guild at 20 trying to move to 15 is not a "low progression" guild in the eyes of the bulk of the players. The bulk of the players have likely not even attempted the bosses or modes that a guild at rank 20 has. For people used to being at the top though, I could see how rank 20 would be kind low. Only 20? pshhh.

On the PTR thing I completely agree. I have a hard time believing that blizzard couldn't find a competant testing team to run the encounters before release instead of putting them on the PTR. Out of the thousands of employees I bet they could put togeather a pretty good raid team.
-At least we find some common ground on this.

Emd part 3.

Gevlon said...

Releasing hard mode content first has one more positive: if it's buggy, it annoys less people and these people are more likely able to write a good bug report ("this @#$@ succs hard" is not a good bug report)

Quicksilver said...

I agree. Good guilds should be encouraged to do the hardmodes, and finish the prior hardmode instance before the launch of the new.

I'd prefer it if the gear from hardmodes would be scaled up a bit so that its still favorable to do them after the new instance has been released.

Right now, ToC10HM drops 245 gear and ICC10 normal drops 251 gear. I'd prefer it if ToC10HM would drop smth like 258 gear instead, would make hardmodes more desirable.

In cataclysm itemlevels this would translate into:

Normal mode Tier 11: ilvl 300
Heroic mode Tier 11: ilvl 319
Normal mode Tier 12: ilvl 313
Heroic mode Tier 12: ilvl 332

Mister K said...

I just wanted to say you have put a lot of work into these posts this week. I don't agree or disagree with everything you have to say but I would like to applaud you for putting it out there and fostering these discussions. Good Work!

GamingLifer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
GamingLifer said...

I see nothing wrong with being "elitist." Wanting to do well in the progression race and having rewards associated with it that other, lesser performing people can't get is perfectly fine.

IMO, the term "elitist" is something shitty wow players use because they have some sort of inferiority complex or want the top rewards without having put in the work.

As far as Hard Modes, go, I think the BIGGEST issue with them right now is bad balance.

True, the way they are now can make the most hardcore guilds in the world experience a "race" while allowing the mouth breathers to see some content, but what does that mean for the guilds around the 80th-95th percentile (like LoE)?

WoW stopped being enjoyable for me because we'd go in and faceroll normal modes, and then wipe for three nights on something like heroic beasts (which was pretty stiffly tuned upon release).

I really liked the Ulduar-Sarth style tuning, where you could activate hard modes per encounter (and not a toggle). This made for a lot of fun because you could tailor the challenge to your ability. That way, better guilds can go after more of the hardmodes and more casual players can still feel challenged.

Even better were the fights where you could have three or four levels of challenge, like Yogg, FL, Freya, Sarth, or Iron Council.

I never ONCE felt bored in Ulduar because there was always something new to achieve, even after a new tier was released.


Chris and Cathy said...

Whatever method Blizzard uses, I do think there should be options for the more hard core players that have the time to put into maxing their toons.

In every aspect of life there are folks that excel. No different in the game. I'm an average player. I don't expect to get the top end loots but to get what I deserve for the time that I do put in and the skills that I have. I've never felt slighted in any way. Maybe a little envy that I don't have the time and skills of those folks but also admire the top raiders.

I wouldn't want to put that kind of time into raiding and more power to them for brinin' the pain.

SeeShubShapeShift said...

I have to say, I rather disagree with the raid changes too. I like your idea of atunement, but still don't think it will help the 10/25 issue, which is only made worse by the heroic sharing the same lockout per boss. You can find more on my reasoning in my own blog post, should you wish, here:

Lespaul said...

Hi Graylo!

Youve obviously put a lot of thought into your ideas, and for the most part I think theyre pretty good. I have a minor problem with your 'Boston Marathon' analogy tho: While the 'elite' racers may get to start the race before those that arent likely to be competing with them, so that essentially the two groups dont get in eachothers ways, they are still running the same race. The course is the same, and the conditions under which they run it are the same. Its not like they make the elite runners jump over walls and dodge traffic to make it harder and more enjoyable! And in that respect I dont think that the more successful guilds should get a 'head start' into hard modes, so to speak.

The way I would handle hard modes is this:
Rather than have seperate instances for easy and hard modes, I would have specific hard mode bosses that are unlocked when you complete regular mode boss achievements. These would be comparable to the regular final boss of the instance and drop superior loot to reflect their difficulty, but wouldnt actually be required in order to complete the instance. Instead, the more 'heroic' bosses you down before arriving at the final boss, the harder that encounter becomes and the better the loot from it.
To use ICC as an example: Say there was an achievement like the one on Maxena in Naxx; "Down Saurfang within 40 mins of downing Marrowgar". Once youve met the requirements of that achievement, Boss X is unlocked and available to have a go at. You are then able to go and take on Boss X, but dont have to actually kill him in order to carry on the instance. If you do kill him, and progress on through, when you get to LK he has 10% more health and an added element (or complete change) to his encounter.
The goal would be to complete the achievements on all four 'quarter bosses', kill the four new 'heroic mode' bosses, and down the final boss at his most difficult. A format similar to this would allow normal guilds a chance to progress through new content, make heroic content available to everyone without having to first complete the instance, and give top end players the oportunity to take on more challenging content from the off.

Anonymous said...

i think its unrealistic to have conjoined progression on hard modes. ie complete hardmode25 toc to enable hardmode25 icc right off the bat. it makes little sense and sounds more like a wish than a

learning and clearing regular25's are important in both a "learning" sense and a lengthening sense

its clear blizz thinks raiding is way too easy and want to extend our play time so we have something to do for 6 months while we wait for more content (ie. the reason behind gating, hardmodes, achivment drakes..etc)

blizz dont want to make the game so easy u finish it in a week and stop paying them $$$

Anonymous said...

I can understand the "see all content" approach that Blizz is taking. Especially when it comes to lore-rich encounters like the Lich King.

My sense is that "hard-core" raiders don't really care about lore. Or ambiance really. It's more about the challenge.

Would it really take that much development to throw an extra 5-6 boss raid instance together and stick it in some out of the way corner? Don't tie any lore to it, reuse character models (like they did with Jaraxxus), tune it hard as hell (if they could find some way to scale it with gear - even better).

Consider attuning it to the completion of the current hard mode system. Give those who complete it a title for their efforts.

Anonymous said...

Here is something to think about:

What if the reason that Blizzard doesn't release hard modes at the same time as normal modes is beacuase they collect the log data from the normal mode attempts and use it to tune the hard modes?

Jarl said...

The thing is..... I had no problem with attunements, or raids actually being challenging. If people cant clear it, then thats too damn bad. The whole point is to seperate the grown ups from the kiddies. Trying to provide two progression paths of different difficulty is alot like welfare. Unless people are actually driven to excel, they'll just be lazy and get almost as good of gear. If people DO go the extra mile and struggle through hard content, they shopuld be clearly seperated from the masses.

*queue up the inevitable "shut up elitist asshole" replies*

Anonymous said...

How large a % of the raiding playerbase has competition/winning as the prime motivator to raid? I think most would like to be "world first", but few think it's important enough to go ahead and put in the effort to make it happen. I don't have any numbers to prove my point so it's purley "imo". It makes perfect sense to spend your resources where they provide the most benefit and if it's true that the hardcore progression guilds represent a minority, the resources spent on the parts of the game they consider important should reflect that.

I think Blizz made a mistake when they decided they would try and create a game that has something for everyone. It's all compromises and wow has turned into the mother of all bloatware. It can't be great, only acceptable.
And "acceptable" isn't good enough for peeps that require high quality.
About things being "fair" or not. I can't see how that is important. Having fun otoh...

Inquisitor said...

I've been raid-leading a casual level friends-n-family 10-man guild for a couple of years, and I'd have no problem with this idea.

Sure, we'd have wiped on Marrowgar+ a couple of times, and then gone back to what we were doing before, but I'm good with that.

Then again, I'm not sure the hardcore *need* more recognition - I mean, they already have enough, or they wouldn't bother doing it, and what does Bizz gain by letting them rub it in people's faces more than they currently do?

Anonymous said...

The staged unlocking of an instance to extend raid content is the real problem. A single week wasted to unlock heroic modes isn't the worst thing in the world. Waiting 8? weeks for the first heroic attempt was frustrating.

I also liked the uldy concept of multi-phase hardmodes (eg. FL, IC, Freya, Yogg) which provided like a mini-hard mode progression.

I also would like to see some sort of buff so that there is actually a progression in difficulty that goes normal mode tier X, hard mode tier X, normal mode tier X+1.

Seems silly when normal mode ICC25 was dropping better loot than heroic TogC25 when it was so damn easy. Either being new content with a -hellscream type buff, or provide a +hellscream type buff to the previous tier.

This makes it more attractive to go back and finish older content for less progressed guilds whilst still providing a challenge for leet guilds (-hellscream for new content) and a decent progression for competitive but not top 100 guilds.

shifthappens said...

truthfully if u r going to bring back the attunement in raiding then u need to bring back in full force not a bs kill here and there to unlock one stupid extra loot u can get in a raid.

blizzard has learned from the amount of ppl they lost during tbc that catering to the .0000001% of players was stupid and non-profitable. however to make billions instead of millions catering to the nubs as most idiots(who r usually the nub with platwearing dps class using agility for necks rings and backs)call them, is more profitable in a short and long term effect for their bank account.

the majority of the ppl that play the game right now do not have the time to put in efforts for attunements (i.e. downing a certian boss prior or after to unlock hard modes or to quest even more at lvl cap after have already been raiding in the first place to unlock extra stuff). what they should have done imo is just make it where each boss is toggable no matter what has happened but change the entire mechanics of the fight (completely different abilities more dmg output drop in aoe dmg where there is none add an extra debuff and so on basically make the friggen HARD fight hard).

im in a smaller guild on the sen'jin realm with ppl like premo supposedly one of the biggest baddest guilds around (that had to recruit a person from another realm that already had 25lk killed in order to skip lk to get better gear and concentrate on getting the lk25h mode downed instead) that is bs. if u r going to make anything in the game "u have to kill this first" then everyone in your group should have to do it or make it where u never need the last one dead first.

instead to unlock hard modes on any bosses u should be required to kill that boss on normal first to unlock his personal hard mode and then change the fight completely to actually make it hard and more interesting. this way the top guilds can still have their better gear and top kills list to be number 1 and keep the "nubs" out of hard modes.