Monday, September 12, 2011

A Transient Endgame

In the last post, we concluded that Transient players are not likely to be converted into Extended players. But they still need an endgame. Further, we have seen that the current Transient endgame--which is basically run 5 mans for points which can buy Extended endgame gear--has had a negative effect on the Extended endgame.

The Transient endgame needs to become a First Class Citizen. Or at least as close to First Class as we can get without destroying the Extended endgame. Luckily there is a good model for a Transient endgame: Pickup Raids.

Pickup raids have a number of good qualities. It's the latest content, the latest storyline, the latest artwork, the best gear. So what are the elements necessary to make Transient raiding successful?

1. A Specific Difficulty Setting

Extended raiding is meant to be difficult. You're expected to wipe, to kill bosses slowly. Your team becomes greater than the sum of their parts as they work together over the course of several nights.

Transient content has none of those advantages. It needs to be easier.  Having a separate difficulty setting, let's call it Easy, decouples Transient tuning from Extended tuning. Transient raiding can be tuned separately. As well, it's not just lower dps or healing or tanking requirements that go down. A separate difficulty setting can also adjust or remove mechanics which are too unforgiving for a Transient setting.

Adding an Easy difficulty setting is the best way to go here. As well, an Easy setting will benefit those guilds at the lower end of the Extended spectrum.

2. Automatic Group Creation

In my view, Transient content is crippled without automatic group creation. Sitting around in Stormwind spamming trade chat with "LF 1 Tank" is a horrific waste of time.

For Transient content to work, there needs to be a Raid Finder.

3. A Barrier to Entry

The final element a good Transient raiding system needs is some way to tell players that they are ready or not ready for the content. There is a reason mods like Gearscore came into being.

There are two ways of doing this: attunements or gear checks. What I would suggest would be a combination of the two. An attunement quest chain to get into the first (and only the first) tier of raiding.

Second, if you look on the WoW armory, there's a really nice "audit" tool that tells you if you are missing gems or enchants. I would have an audit tool built into the Raid Finder, and you cannot sign up unless your character passes the audit.

4. Flexibility in Completion

Transient groups are not stable. You might not kill all the bosses in one group. You need some way to kill bosses with multiple groups. The flexible lockouts that already exist are probably good enough.

The only improvement I can think of might be a system where you can create raids where deeper bosses are dead, but early bosses are not. I.e. If you've killed Ragnaros, you can still join a raid which has the first few bosses up, but Ragnaros does not spawn. I don't know if this will be too weird, but the other option is joining a raid which is already at the final boss and getting stuck with only one boss kill that week.

Conclusions

I think that would be enough to get a solid Transient raiding system up and running. Having Transient raids drop the same item level of gear as Extended raids (even if less gear drops) keeps the Transient endgame on the same footing as the Extended endgame.

A first class Transient endgame would help WoW immensely. Transient players would have an endgame that  that fits their playstyle. Even Extended players would use a Transient system for alts or times when their mains can't raid. And it would provide a perfect opportunity to get rid of all the excessive mechanical baggage such as valor points, multiple raid sizes, and multiple item levels of gear that the raid game has accumulated. A chance to go back to the simple, clean roots of raiding.  Get a group, kill the boss, get some shiny loot.

13 comments:

spinksville said...

I firmly believe that the best model for casual raiding would be completely separate raids and a much larger cap on numbers. Go for a more Hollywood feel, design it as an evening's entertainment, keep the difficulty down, and design around player zergs.

But what kind of rewards would you give for this content? Better than hard 5 man instances? Better than normal mode regular (extended) raids?

Rodos said...

Interesting idea Spinks. That is certainly a play style that appeals to a segment of the population, given the popularity of Crossroads raids in days gone by. Award JP like HP for being "part of the action". Maybe put some more trade goods up for sale for JP. (Rift works a bit like this, yes?)

I'll be very interested to see what Blizzard's raid finder ends up being like. One direction I've seen bandied about is that a random raid queue could pop for a single boss encounter - clear its trash, kill it, done. Then you can queue again and get any other boss.

TyphoonAndrew said...

I read (somewhere) recently about the idea of Easy mode raids. These are raids where the bosses, rewards, and composition needs are tuned downward to allow a more casual style.

eg. In Tier 11 the rewards might be 365, bosses might be missing a key bastard ability, or or has less affect, and the lockout would not be shared.

Reward wise the offering might even go as low as the same level as the current "hard" 5 mans, as the goal is to allow entry and success in the content, not to devalue the rewards of Normal and Heroic runs.

Imakulata said...

@Rohan, one thing I'm wondering about, do you think the difficulty of the content should be so that the transient groups will always kill the boss(es) or should there be a chance they will walk away without a kill? In the latter case, should they get any reward for their unsuccessful tries too?

Also, I was wondering whether the transient raid model could be used to get back to the "progress through all raids" gearing model. I'm not sure whether there will be enough people in the old raids to make them viable (i. e. short queues) - that is what I see as the most compelling argument not to make people gear through old raids.

@Typhoonandrew, I don't think the transient raids need to award better items than the extended ones because then the majority of extended players would just go for the transient content in order to get the rewards. I don't see a reason for separate lockout either, I would even propose a shared one: I haven't done heroic raids in 3.2 but I am yet to see someone praising the separate lockout for normals and heroics in ToC.

Kring said...

I think there's transient and extended content. But there's also transient and extended player interaction.

What's the great thing about raiding? The thing that motivates you for weeks to farm the same bosses? Is it a) "the content" or b) "beating the content together with your "friends""?

I think for most people it's clearly and mainly b). It's the extended player interaction. And in a group for transient raid content that falls away because you're playing together with random strangers for which you don't give a shit. It's not only transient content (good) but also transient player interaction (bad).

Raid content is the wrong content for transient content players.

"Content" must be created in a way that you care about the people you play with. "Content", no matter if transient or extended "content" should be created in a way to lead to some extended player interaction.

If that's not the case then you're soloing alongside each other and if that's the case there's no point to group at all and no point to create group content for your soloing players.

Khrakan - Paladin, Shandris Realm said...

@Rohan I'm not sure your as on target with this post. As a Transient myself who's recently left WoW, I'm not truely as attracted to the large group content. Without the large group commitment it feels too much like herding cats (thinking to the weekly raid quests in Wrath) - I can't see transient raiding being any thing more than a mess that requires an Extended content player to be present to herd the horde.

I think that something akin to the last three heroics in Wrath is the path - but make it mean more somehow. It's a parallel path that either in appearance or actuality supports the extended path - there's content that your server must clear - or must keep clear in order for raiding content to open/remain open. In wrath, it was great to get into the citadel (albeit in three small dungeons), what was missing was some requirement to go in and keep going.

I guess the big issue is that Transient players don't necessarily want raiding content, they want rewards and progression for their time and effort, but it has to be tasks tailored to the individual or small PUG group. Why can't you have challenges that test the individual to the same level that a raider in an extended group is challenged? Why does individual or small group content have to be "grindy"? That's what I want to go hand in hand with the more social content that is only available in an MMO (read: holiday events, guild gatherings, auction house, etc.).

masterlooter said...

Building on what Kring and Khrakan said...

I don't believe that raid content is for transient players.
Even by your own definitions, it becomes immediately confusing
"Transient group content is content that is expected to be completed in a single session of play."
"You need some way to kill bosses with multiple groups." - regarding transient raids.

These statements contradict themselves. It makes it seem that the only differences between Extended content and Transient content is that "Extended content is...where the group is composed (more or less) of the same individuals throughout".

I wouldn't be totally against another difficulty setting for raid content (still not sure why it's such a popular idea though). Although I disagree that this will, or should, bring in those players that currently do not do it.

Redbeard said...

Khrakan has some good points that I'd like to build upon.

The pick-up raid concept works for transients who want to do extended content but for whatever reason can't raid with their guild and/or friends. For those who aren't interested in raids or don't have time to go raiding, the pick-up raid is a non-starter.

The transient PvE endgame now is to run heroic 5-mans into the dirt, but the implementation of that endgame is problematic at best.

As it is right now, the two Zul's are the "ICC 5-mans" of Cata. When you hear people complain that "there's only two 5-mans to run in Cata", that's what they're talking about. You can't throw all of the Cata heroic 5-mans together like you could in Wrath, so you have to make a choice between the Zandalari 5-mans or everything else. If you're geared up with Zandalari loot, the other 5-mans will be akin to running A-N at the end of Wrath.

Now, Blizz could fix the gear issues by creating a "sliding scale" heroic, where the bosses are tweaked in health and damage based on the group's iLvl. That way, the heroic boss in Stonecore that the-barely-ready-for-heroic group sees is different than what the Zul veterans see.

Even so, this only puts a band-aid on the entire problem of transient content for endgame.

What I think is needed are some Quel'Delar-esque questlines for endgame in Cata. Q'D wasn't a legendary, but it was the best non-raid PvE weapon in Wrath, and it had a great questline to go with it. Maybe if there were class specific quests for transient endgame, that would be worthwhile.

kadaan said...

Did you see today's announcement? :D

Typhoonandrew said...

The "Quel'Delar-esque questlines" were great if you happened to get the drop. I got it once, through dumb luck grinding every day as a Tank on 3 characters. That is not transient.

The content delivery for transients should be focused on getting those players to have an appreciation and exposure to the lore and fights that the serious players have. They don't have to be challenged greatly for doing it, as it is more about seeing the content and closing the story loop than being a realm leader.

It is ok too that these runs will wipe. They'll be no better than Baradin Hold - and that is fine.

I've been a serious raider and I'm a transient now, but not by choice (so much). This way I'll see and possibly defeat the content, which is enough. It is better than watching from afar while guys do Sunwell or BWL and not really understanding the overall game.

Typhoonandrew said...

@Kadaan - "Did you see today's announcement?" Yup, its an easy mode raid.

I asked about this a few days ago and it seems pretty close to what they are thinking. http://typhoonandrew.wordpress.com/2011/09/13/easy-mode-raiding-why-not/

Rohan said...

@masterlooter, you are right to a degree.

The idea is that you could complete a Transient raid in one play session, but if the group breaks up you aren't completely finished. I.e. you can still join another group working on the content.

Ephemeron said...

Throughout the history of humankind, games have been am overwhelmingly Transient activity.

From chariot races and gladiator fights of Roman days, to dice and card games played in the smoky medieval taverns, to the Mayan ceremonial ball matches, to family evenings spent over Monopoly, the result of the game was almost always determined in a single gaming session.

The Extended gaming style did not surface until the emergence of D&D and other tabletop RPGs.