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The evolution of raid design in Cataclysm

Matthew Rossi

There is a plethora (and yes, I look for places to use plethora) of interesting information about how raids and raid lockouts will be designed in Cataclysm and how they've learned from what worked and didn't work in Wrath in this forum thread. Ghostcrawler exposits:

  • The developers believe that current raid design (separate 10/25 man lockouts) effectively asks raiders to raid twice as much if they want to maximize their emblem gain, which helps cause player burnout and boredom.
  • The ability to kill a boss in separate 10/25 man lockouts is 'nothing sacred' in terms of changing the design, since before Wrath it wasn't even possible.
  • Current design accounts for maximum emblem gain per week, because many players will attempt to gain the maximum of emblems per week. Changing the raid lockout means that this design can be altered.
  • ToC's four lockouts was far too many.
  • The designers expect more gearing up from quests and heroics (as well as crafted items) before people start raiding in Cataclysm.
  • The feeling is that the burnout caused 'in some of our most dedicated raiders' from feeling forced to run both 10/25 man content every week to stay competitive is a compelling reason to change the design away from allowing that.

One of the things I find most interesting about this thread is this statement:

Ghostcrawler - Re: Why does Blizz want us to raid less?

Q u o t e:
"It's not fair for Blizzard to remove a playstyle choice from the game that people enjoy."

I agree with you more when you phrase it that way, but we have a large player base, so someone is going to miss almost any feature that we remove or de-emphasize. In this case we think the folks who hated feeling like they had to run both 10 and 25 every week have a more legit case those who enjoyed running both every week. WoW, and by extension raiding, is supposed to be a fun pastime, not a soul-crushing chore. Note that I'm not talking about noobs here -- I'm talking about the design causing burnout in some of our most dedicated raiders.

To be completely honest, I don't think this goes far enough. I think Blizzard needs to rethink the policy in TotC and ICC of every fight having a heroic mode with heroic loot. While I find myself agreeing that having to run the content in 10 and 25 causes burnout, I'd like to add a posit that feeling like killing the end boss in a raid is not an accomplishment but just a stepping stone to killing him again in a couple of months but harder is just as difficult to swallow. Having four or five hard mode rights in ICC (the Ulduar model) would make those fights feel more special than just throwing the toggle and grinding it all all over again.

Ghostcrawler - Re: Why does Blizz want us to raid less?

Q u o t e:
I dont understand why blizzard seems to have this idea that people feel the need to run both. If you're a 10man guild you have no use for gear in 25mans, and vice versa.

This isn't speculation on our part. We have the data. As far as motivation, in some cases the 10 gear ends up being better than the 25 gear. Especially on 10 heroic, which a group of raiders in 25 level gear can often handle, the 10 gear is equivalent. There is also the issue of badges, which you can only maximize if you hit both versions every week.

We know there are a lot of players who want to run 10s who feel compelled to run 25s for the better loot. We know there are a lot of players who want to run 25s and feel like they still have to do 10s as well. We know both groups of players are getting frustrated and burning out -- not because they don't like raiding, but because they don't like raiding the same content twice a week, particularly when the 10 version tends to not even be challenging since their 25 participation ensures they overgear it.

One raid lockout with same item levels for 10 and 25 and a weekly cap on badge income solves all of those problems for us. It does creates two potential new problems. One, players may gravitate towards 10s because the logistics are easier. We intend to handle that by making 25s more efficient at earning gear. Two, players who really like to run both a 10 and 25 every week lose that opportunity. Sorry. If it's any consolation, because the bosses are divided among multiple raid zones you can still do some in a 10 and some in a 25 or have an alt that only does a couple of those zones a week without the full commitment of two complete boss kill cycles every week.

One of the reasons I was so excited this week for the new raid lockout system is that while I do feel constrained to raid the content twice a week on my main in addition to trying to run it on various alts on various servers, I do also like to feel that the option to see content from various angles was there. Changing the lock out to effectively work on a boss by boss setting (as was mentioned earlier in this post, there's nothing sacred about killing the same boss twice in a week) frees you up to experience 10 or 25 man content in a variety of ways.

Furthermore, having the opening tier of raiding be smaller, 5 or 6 boss raids means that you can clear one in a smaller chunk of time. Even now, a full clear of an outdated raid like Naxxramas takes a couple of hours even if you steamroll the place in 277 gear just because the instance is large, full of trash, and has up to 18 spots to hit. (Of course since you can skip right to the end bosses you don't need to full clear it.) Having raids be more manageable in size when working on introductory content (especially since every new expansion needs to be designed with the goal of the first tier of raiding being educational in terms of raiders learning to raid) means less time spent in the same place while avoiding ToC "round room" issues. Combine this with the flexibility of, say, running Bastion 25 but Firelands 10 in a week or killing the first bosses in Bastion on 25 but then splitting up into 3 10's to let as many people as possible see the Cho'gall fight is pretty interesting design to my mind.

Frankly, yes, I at least felt compelled to run 10 and 25. I did it because the emblem costs for tier pieces were extremely high. 60 for shoulders and gloves, 95 for everything else. If they can reduce these kinds of costs with the new design, and provide the flexibility that the new system seems to encourage, then my previous objections are more or less answered and I'm in support of it. I'll still prefer 25 man raids over 10 mans, but reducing the obligatory grinding is a move I can definitely support.

Ghostcrawler - Re: Why does Blizz want us to raid less?

Q u o t e:
Please nail down what exactly you're doing with 10/25 drops. Then tell us. Then gauge the reaction.

Charsi, I can predict what the reaction will be. I think this is one of those cases where it's not going to be possible to please everyone. Setting aside some of the folks in this thread who want to run both 10s and 25s every week to maximize reward potential, most players either prefer 10s and have no use for the 25s or want to run 25s and don't want to feel like they are being inefficient for doing so. In other words, half (I don't know if it's really half, but it makes the sentence easier to read) the community wants an incentive to run 10s and no incentive to run 25s and half the community wants the opposite. On the other hand, we feel like we need to offer both raid sizes in order to make raiding attractive to a broad swath of the community. As a result, I think it's likely that no matter what we do, proponents of each raid size will feel like we're not being fair enough to their side. It's going to be one of those hybrid vs. pure or PvE vs. PvP ongoing debates that never really get resolved because each party wants virtually the opposite of the other.

That's probably true but I still want to know, man. Come on. Little hint here?

Seriously this is the crux of the matter for many people. Pretending that raiding and raid issues aren't about getting the gear (I still cry that I never got an Armageddon) is disingenuous. There are a multitude of reasons why people like acquiring gear... to look cool in cities on mounts, to be OP and smash faces in both PvP and PvE (who hasn't enjoyed the sensation of massively outgearing a heroic?) and of course because gear makes it possible to clear harder content and get more gear. Balancing the gear situation between 10 and 25 man content is going to be a very delicate situation here, and partisans of each raid size are going to feel slighted no matter what occurs.

Also, let me go on record now agreeing that ToC was too many lockouts. Four? Madness. Absolute madness.

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