Monday, June 13, 2011

Remove the Daily Heroic

Kleps had a post a while back on segregating the playbase. Basically, the idea is that groups are happiest when all the group members share the same goals and are roughly the same skill level.

I think there is some sense to that when you look at LFD groups. Levelling instances are pretty much on the same page, as are normal 85 instances. It's really only Heroics where a lot of the negativity and conflicts come into play.

This is because there are three separate groups running Heroics: people gearing up; non-raiders collecting Valor; and raiders supplementing the Valor gained from raiding. Yet the goals, methods, and standards of these three groups often conflict. People start complaining when the tank is new, or refuse to use CC, or skip bosses trying to get to the end as fast as possible.

But suppose that Heroic 5-mans never gave out Valor? That the only way you could get Valor is from raiding. What would happen?

Well, immediately, Heroics would become the province of those people who needed Justice points and Heroic blue gear. People who had "outgrown" heroics would not run them. Heroic groups would share the same purpose. People would not skip bosses. Tanks learning the ropes, or being less-geared, would be more understandable. CC would still be used, as it would be less likely that everyone would out-gear the instance.

A lot of other people have said that having Heroics give badges (the old equivalent of Valor), was the worst mistake made in the endgame. There is some truth to that. But it was done for a reason. It was done because people who did not raid 25-mans had no way of advancing their character. But in the current game, there are 10-man raids, 25-man raids, as well as normal and heroic versions. Pick-up groups are a lot more common.

Additionally, even with just Justice points a non-raider would still be able to advance her character. When new tier of raid gear comes out, the old tier rolls over to Justice points. Admittedly, the non-raider is behind the raider, but she can still advance and make her character more powerful as time passes. It isn't like Vanilla, where if you couldn't raid, that was it for you.

There are advantages for the raiders as well. They are freed of the necessity to run instances long after they have outgrown them.

The big question is if this will increase queue times. After all, forcing raiders into the Heroic LFD pool makes the pool larger, and more likely that groups will form. Now increased queue times are certainly possible. But consider that leveling groups and normal 85 groups still form with reasonable queue times. Those pools are not artificially inflated, and yet you can still get groups for those dungeons.

Badges of Justice dropping in Heroics was a necessary solution back in TBC. But in Cataclysm the options for endgame, and for advancing your character, are much wider. Valor points in Heroics are no longer necessary. The Heroic experience will be much better without them, when all participants are on the same page and share the same goals.

18 comments:

Azuriel said...

Worst idea imaginable.

1) But consider that leveling groups and normal 85 groups still form with reasonable queue times. Those pools are not artificially inflated, and they still work.

Have you queued for normals lately? I forget if the pools are by battlegroup or larger now, but they are 45+ min on Retaliation whereas heroics are ~25 min. Furthermore, the pools only get worse over time UNLESS there are more new players coming in than A) players leaving, and B) players gearing up. Alts do not cover the gap in the same way a pyramid scheme does not cover the later "investors."

2) Additionally, even with just Justice points a non-raider would still be able to advance her character. When new tier of raid gear comes out, the old tier rolls over to Justice points.

Justice Point rewards do not cover many slots, but that is beside the point. Simply put, capping out on JP gear is ridiculously easy - a week of gameplay is more than enough, and then what? Unsub for 6 months? Getting VP for current tier items at least gives meaning to the farm content of heroic dungeons.

3) If you are a raider and get sat out, bumped, or miss a week, there is nothing you can do to overcome that massive gear progression loss. A missed week puts you a week behind. Missing two weeks essentially puts you an entire tier piece behind. If you are already competing for a raid slot, that slippery slope is rather steep.

4) There are advantages for the raiders as well. They are freed of the necessity to run instances long after they have outgrown them.

Raiders are also "freed" of having any meaningful activity to do on off-nights and/or any reason to log in at all. Yeah, yeah, "PvP, herb, Arch, etc," but nothing that actually impacts their raiding.

Yes, LFD is unsegregated and filled with different people with different expectations and skill levels. Any friction that develops is solved by LFD grease (e.g. content nerfs), not segregation. If you look how you described heroics among the three groups running them, not one of them are looking for challenging group content via pugging.

Carson 63000 said...

I think the amount non-raiders would appreciate "all participants being on the same page and sharing the same goals" might be outweighed by how much they currently appreciate queuing for a heroic and finding themselves grouped up with experienced raiders rocking full epics who can help guarantee a smooth and painless run.

lancore said...

In early Wrath, heroics became soon obsolete for every raider (a much higher part of the playerbase then) and new chars had troubles finding a group for it. That was when attached raid level badges to the daily heroic, to force raiders into the heroic so that you find a group more quickly and to make equipping a new char easier.

Since then, the dungeon finder came into play. Finding a group wouldn't be the problem anymore, it wouldn't be much slower then now. So why are they still forcing raiders into the heroics?
Thanks to the anonymity of the DF, the coordinated playstyle pretty much died. Everyone just queues without any knowledge of his class and without the will to play well together, while still expecting to finish the dungeon. So, to bring that type of players to the end you need someone who's boosting them. That's the only reason why blizzard are forcing raiders into heroics: only to boost morons.

They will never remove the valor point rewards and will probably never again make the vp cap reachable only through heroics

Babar said...

An easy fix is just to allow raiders to cap out on weekly valor points from raiding. This gives you pretty much the best of both worlds. I did hardcore progression in most of Wrath, and the biggest issue raiders have with heroics giving valor, is that they are forced to run them. Most don't care if "casuals" also get raiding gear from it, it's just that they don't want to do them.

That being said, current heroics would have to be nerfed if raiders suddenly wouldn't run them anymore.

Everblue said...

Forcing people to grind dull content that they have seen hundreds of times before is what is killing warcraft. It forces Blizzard to design easy, short, non-epic instances which can be run quickly every day. It burns players out from the game ever more quickly.

The removal of valor points from the daily heroic is just part of what Blizzard will have to do to keep the game going.

Maldwiz said...

Everblue said:

Forcing people to grind dull content that they have seen hundreds of times before is what is killing warcraft. It forces Blizzard to design easy, short, non-epic instances which can be run quickly every day. It burns players out from the game ever more quickly.

This!

In Vanialla and TBC even non-raid dungeons offered meaningful content for everyone involved. This was also true for low-level dungeons. Content was there to enjoy for itself and not only as a means to an end.

I'd like to point the interested reader to Zellviren: The point of heroic dungeons, a very well written and informative article that summarizes this entire problem.

Zinn said...

I'm not sure if I've just been damn lucky, but I rarely see the goals of the group as being the problem. When my group falls apart it's never (like 1/100 seriously) because someone wanted to do a boss that no one else wanted. It's nearly always because some people just dinged and don't have the skills/gear to complete the encounter.

Whenever I do dungeons most people actually agree on what bosses should be killed (!). Someone goes "oh I need to kill that guy for a trinket, could we?" and everyone goes "sure, why not?" because the undergeared need gear/rep too and the overgeared know they will make swift work of the encounter.

That doesn't mean I don't think there's a problem with having to work through the same content over and over for other reasons... :P

Shintar said...

I may be misremembering, but didn't badges of justice (the BC original) drop only from heroic bosses at the beginning, and not from raids? The idea being at the time that they would offer an alternative progression path for five-man runners. Later Blizzard added badges to raid bosses as well because raiders were craving the currency too and the devs felt that they might as well get it from raiding - no point in forcing them into heroics just for that? Yet now we have a system where points drop everywhere, the developers want raiders to get back into heroics, and so they make them give even better points. Talk about bizarre circular design?

Anyway, I agree that your suggestion would make for a better group environment, but as a commenter said it would also mean that people would run out of reasons to run heroics faster, and the devs rely on players running heroics ad infinitum to stay busy in the game.

Klepsacovic said...

@Azuriel:
1) Remember that leveling is a rush activity, people get in and out quickly. Contrast that with heroics which can keep people around longer, especially with the new badge loot every tier.

2) The point gain can be tweaked, new slots can be added. Neither of those are relevant to the core idea.

3) If you're getting bumped two weeks in a row, you had problems beside a piece of gear.

4) If you're looking for arbitrary wastes of time outside the desired activity, we could demand that consumable requirements go back up; that would make herbalism on off-nights very important. Or bring back the old BC dailies that gave badges.

How much LFD grease is needed to prevent people from being horrible to each other? LK clearly didn't have enough. Cata is worse. Why call it a heroic if the instance is designed to be so trivial that no one could possibly ever have trouble?

Phelps said...

The point of the daily heroic is to get raid geared people to boost bad players through the heroics. Nothing else.

Unless you account for that, you will never get through to blizzard.

Kring said...

I think they should removed VP from raids. Raids already have their drops, there's no point in having drops and VP. Return the VP to where they belong, to the alternative endgame of TBC. And there's no reason why people who prefer heroics over raids should be one tier behind in items.

Then make raids require an additional stat, let's call it fire resistance and put it on any raid drop but not on badge gear. Now, badge gear will be less optimal for raiding and raiders no longer have to run the daily heroic. This extra stat already works wonderful for PvP (res).

stubborn said...

I wholeheartedly agree with your point. I think that would solve a lot of the issues, actually, with LFD. It would probably create all new issues, but it would at least solve those.

I also agree with your commentator who suggested that long grinds were what was killing WoW. While I agree, I think the corollary to that is that a lot of the oldest players have simply done too many of them. They're nerfing some of the older ones now (Timbermaw, Thorium Brotherhood,etc), but some of the oldest players - the ones who ground out MC and AQ40 and so forth - are just getting fed up with it. I know I am.

Firelands. Oh joy. 25 more daily quests to do.

Azuriel said...

Forcing people to grind dull content that they have seen hundreds of times before is what is killing warcraft. It forces Blizzard to design easy, short, non-epic instances which can be run quickly every day. It burns players out from the game ever more quickly.

It is not the grinding of dull content, it is how long the dull content takes. Wrath heroics could be wrapped up in 10-20 minutes, but Cata heroics took ~2 hours at the beginning and even now are over "quickly" if you finish them in 40 minutes.

I have never understood the delusion of appeal of "hard, long, epic instances." You really think people want 5-man raids? Was that not debunked a week into Cata's release? Suppose Blizzard makes a bunch of BRDs... how many times will people actually do that content? Once? How often do you farm raid content when you already have all the gear from it (outside of obligation to your guildies)? It obviously takes Blizzard 3+ months to design even rehashed content, let alone entirely new raid content - it would be impossible for them to design content fast enough to keep pace with the rate players consume it. Ergo, the reason we have daily heroic content is to fill that gap between patches with a meaningful activity. The grinding of dull content has arguably been the design philosophy since Day 1 - it is a staple of the entire genre - but it is absolutely the design since heroic dungeons were created in TBC, and indisputably since patch 2.3 when they introduced the random daily heroic.

Azuriel said...

1) Remember that leveling is a rush activity, people get in and out quickly. Contrast that with heroics which can keep people around longer, especially with the new badge loot every tier.

Right... but that wasn't what we're talking about. Rohan specifically said "normal 85 groups still form in reasonable queue times," which is either patently untrue or untrue for different battlegroups, depending on how LFD works these days. If it is ceded that normal 85 dungeons have unreasonable queue times, it weakens the argument that heroic queues would not be devastated without the raiders - new JP gear every 6-7 months means little when it does not take 6-7 months to gear up. The queue only gets worse over time as people gear up, hence my pyramid scheme analogy. With VP being metered out in 980 increments, the content stays "meaningful" for months longer than the JP for everyone involved.

3) If you're getting bumped two weeks in a row, you had problems beside a piece of gear.

Other commitments the first week, then 11 people show up the next. Hope you are in a guild that decides to sit better-geared players for less-geared ones on progression nights simply because you haven't raided in a while. Let me know if they are recruiting - I have plenty of alts.

4) If you're looking for arbitrary wastes of time outside the desired activity, we could demand that consumable requirements go back up; that would make herbalism on off-nights very important. Or bring back the old BC dailies that gave badges.

It is not so much "arbitrary" (everything is technically arbitrary) as it is "actually playing the game" and/or having something to use all that shiny raid gear on. If you enjoy raiding, chances are you enjoy pushing the buttons of your class/role in a group setting. Grinding out consumables or doing the Sunwell dailies does not give you the opportunity to push the same buttons in similar ways.

How much LFD grease is needed to prevent people from being horrible to each other? LK clearly didn't have enough. Cata is worse. Why call it a heroic if the instance is designed to be so trivial that no one could possibly ever have trouble?

Wrath had plenty of LFD grease, outside of Halls of Reflection. As a raid-geared tank, it did not matter at all to me whether anyone was terrible in the group - I could carry them all to my 10 minute Frost badges, then log onto alts for theirs. Were people horrible to each other on the forums? Of course. But no amount of grease will fix assholes being themselves.

As for your last tautological argument... really? "Heroic" is just a name. If Blizzard called them Tier 2 like in Rift or whatever, would it make that much of a difference to you?

Klepsacovic said...

@Azuriel: "Other commitments the first week, then 11 people show up the next. Hope you are in a guild that decides to sit better-geared players for less-geared ones on progression nights simply because you haven't raided in a while."
Like I said, other problems beside a piece of gear. If you cannot make a raid, that is your problem, not the guild's, not the loot system's. And if you're getting passed over due to one piece of gear, then that would be the guild's problem. Beside that, if gear is so important in your guild, wouldn't the other raiders also be running the randoms, meaning that you're not getting anywhere any faster, relative to them? This is beside the issue that if you're so easily passed over, maybe the problem is you or being in an over-filled role.

"If you enjoy raiding, chances are you enjoy pushing the buttons of your class/role in a group setting."
A very specific group setting with people I know and respect, working toward a common goal, overcoming some sort of challenge. The similarity between a random heroic and a raid is pretty loose, especially when enough "LFD grease" is applied so that the content is as trivial, and as unlike raiding, as soloing dailies.

'As for your last tautological argument... really? "Heroic" is just a name. If Blizzard called them Tier 2 like in Rift or whatever, would it make that much of a difference to you?"
Sure. Wouldn't you dislike it if one day you saw that "raiding" was redefined as "running 25 dailies"? I can't say I'd like it, as I think throwing easy loot on top of anti-social grinds is a bad idea, but at least it wouldn't have a ridiculous name. And keep in mind that heroics used to be challenging content, not merely places to throw loot at people.

Minstrel said...

There are advantages for the raiders as well. They are freed of the necessity to run instances long after they have outgrown them.

They are already free of it...they aren't required to run them if they don't wish to. They won't get the valor, you say? Under your plan, they wouldn't anyway. Removing the option to do so doesn't make sense.

In general, I can't say I like your idea. I'm a raider who hasn't needed valor points for a long time and I don't run daily heroics. But I like the idea that more casual players have an (albeit slower) path to get some gear, allowing them the chance to perhaps join PUG raids while the content is still current.

Theoretically you may only need 346 ilevel to raid, but PUGs aren't looking for people who merely qualify. They generally want people well over the qualified level because they want their band of strangers to push through with some efficiency. No purples would mean no raiding.

If your viewpoint is that people too casual to be part of a proper raiding guild shouldn't be raiding on tier (and I'm not saying that is your viewpoint), that's fine. I disagree. I think allowing a wider variety of people to get into raids, without making raids too trivial to be fun, is a good goal for the game.

Winterpine said...

I would like to see more distinct differences in content for the "casual" player and "hardcore" raiders. People do tend to be happier when they get to play with like-minded people. While removing badges may create create more of a distinction between hardcores and casuals, it also interrupts the gear progression from casual to hardcore for those who wish to make it, makes it harder for casuals to experience any raid content at all, and makes it a pain for the substitutes/bench warmers in a raiding guild to get their Justice Points.

I think a more viable option is for Blizzard to simply develop more content to keep casual players busy or to challenge high caliber raiders. The limiting factor there may be the cost of development...well, if we want a better product, we may just have to be willing to pay more. I know I would pay $2-$5 more per month for more content. Either the price could go up a little (like $2) for everyone or more (maybe $5) for those who demand access to premium content. I would find it hard to believe that demand for the game is so elastic that a small price increase would dramatically affect subscription volume. That's still pretty darned cheap entertainment.

Winterpine said...

But consider that leveling groups and normal 85 groups still form with reasonable queue times. Those pools are not artificially inflated, and they still work.

Don't forget, it isn't just the size of the LFD pool that affects weight times, but the ratios of tanks:healers:dps. This issue may be more complicated than it appears on the surface.