Monday, June 10, 2013

Flexible Raiding

I'm really glad I got in that post on Variable Group Size instead of sitting on it for a while like I normally do.

So Blizzard is introducing Flexible Raids, which can have 10 to 25 players and scale in difficulty. This will be interesting to see. I think it will be a success, but I also think it will end up cannibalizing Normal mode raiding. Removing modes is never very popular, but I can see the next expac having Raid Finder, Flexible Raids (with a slight difficulty increase at the top end) and Heroic Raiding (with a slight difficulty decrease at the bottom end.

I think the administrative advantages of Flexible Raids will prove to be too tempting for Normal Mode guilds. After all, a Normal Mode guild has all the headaches of Heroic Raid roster management, but lesser gear and lesser prestige than Heroics. Another small step down is not much compared to not having to worry about rosters.

Flexible Raids will use the Raid Finder loot system. I think that's pretty good, because it scales. To be honest, I think if Blizzard announced loot being won to everyone in the group, people would be happier with the loot system. There would be tangible evidence that someone is getting loot whenever a boss dies, and it's not just you getting gold all the time. Plus you could congratulate others when they get lucky, and they could congratulate you.  Bosses would feel more rewarding because you would see that someone in your group won something and the group became stronger.

I also see a lot of chatter that everyone will be "forced" to do Flexible Raids. Since it has its own gear level, I don't think much of this concern. If people insist on killing themselves for lower quality gear, maybe it's time to just let them go their own way. I do think that a lot of this concern would be mitigated if Blizzard overlapped some of the item levels between tiers (the way The Old Republic does). That way people would already have upgrades from the previous tiers.

All in all, Flexible Raids a big step forward for PvE MMOs. Blizzard continues to raise the bar. It will be interesting to see how other upcoming MMOs (*cough* Wildstar *cough*) respond.


Gevlon said...

I think flexible raids are a horrible mistake, because the best way to increase the chance of group success is kicking the lowest member. You lose a below-average DPS and the boss loses average amount of DPS requirement.

While a 10-man meant someone had to sit out, that's just annoying but not hurting. Now imagine that the raid leader says: X, we can't kill it with you, please leave and then the boss died BECAUSE he wasn't there.

Roman Zamishka said...

@Rohan Flex is perfect for me. I play with four friends; LFR is too easy, Normal is impossible because of logistics. Flex makes it possible for all of us to raid together.

@Gevlon Blizzard has indicated that while this will be harder than LFR, there will still be plenty of room for error since it's designed for friends and family.

Kring said...

> but I can see the next expac having [...] Flexible Raids with a slight difficulty increase at the top end

The last add-on where they thought it would be a good idea to increase difficulty and make content more exclusive wasn't really the add-on know for it's great success. I can only hope they learned from that and don't do that mistake again.

The first, second and third tier of an add-on must have the same difficulty for flex mode. The target audience for flex doesn't improve throughout an add-on. The target audience doesn't enjoy to be horridon-walled, not in the first tier, not in the second tier and not in the last tier.

Redbeard said...

I'm with Gevlon on this one. This allows a raid leader to start with a larger number group and then pare it down by dumping the lowest DPS.

Flexible raiding = "Let's cause more guild drama" from my standpoint.

eknar said...

Rohan said:
" I think if Blizzard announced loot being won to everyone in the group, people would be happier with the loot system."

I'm completely on the opposite here, this would just cause more drama because people see some good geared guy get a piece he already has and start bitching why they didn't get loot..

for Gevlons argument, I think it stands and falls with the difficulty level. DPS-requirements in flex raiding will need to be low so the F&F guilds don't have this problem... Otherwise, there could really be a lot of guild drama

Jeff Potts said...

Completely agree with Gevlon.. The geared get even more geared while the under-geared will be kicked due to loses and rarely get new gear to improve. Drama and guild segmentation occurs. Hopefully the difficulty difference with a single member isn't a big enough difference to warrant 'dropping the weak link'

Electrolux said...

All of the criticism of this equates to 'Humans are self-defeating idiots mindlessly spinning towards the hell of their own making, so this won't work'.

I don't think Blizzard will fix that problem no matter how many raid variants they implement. At least a few more folk will be able to raid on their own terms. So, Yay!

Talarian said...

Perhaps Gevlon needs to find himself a better guild. Perhaps one that caters to the social player rather than progression at all costs (which I realize that is outside of Gevlon's personal experiences).

I don't see myself kicking the lowest performers in a flex raid, as I don't really kick the lowest performers in my Normal raid, either (and I do have a rotating bench where I can afford to kick a low performer and replace them eventually), unless they're really, really bad and unwanting or unable to improve.

We're currently having an actual discussion in my guild about this, and some of the pros and cons we've thrown together are as follows:


•No Bench. Everyone can raid.

•No Loot Organization. Purely a benefit for the Raid Leader. Requires less managerial overhead.

•Flexible. If we have 15 people one day, and 12 people the next, assuming we can meet the role requirement, we can still raid with everyone. It allows folks to take a day off without too much worry (though tanks, and to a lesser extent healers, still get the overhead of ensuring there's enough of their role in the group).

•Lower Difficulty. Given our struggle with keeping up with the difficulty curve that is Normal mode this expansion (we just downed Sha of Fear, post 5.3), we may benefit from a more lenient difficulty.


•No Bench. There are no scheduled days off, so it falls onto raiders to determine when they should take breaks, and attendance (or lack of) because there is less pressure may become an issue.

•No Loot Notifications. It's gratifying to know that your team is becoming more powerful. Even if you don't win the loot, it's nice to see someone getting something. Power curve becomes less visible, and less loot interplay between the team (ie: letting someone have a piece of gear because they need it more).

•Lower Difficulty. When we downed Elegon? Awesome. Getting Garalon? Fantastic. Normal difficulty is more difficult these days than in expansions past, and there's a lot of pride in struggling and taking down a boss. A lower difficulty level may be a negative to folks who really want to be downing the harder stuff.

•Chaos. I personally detest 25 mans because there's just too many people to be able to provide individual feedback to. If our raid stays in the 12 - 15 range, it's probably still manageable. If it were to grow large than that, it would be far more difficult to handle from a Raid Lead perspective. This is potentially mitigated by the lowered difficulty.

Joseph Skyrim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joseph Skyrim said...

Not a WOW fan but I agree that scaling content is the way forward in PvE.

Ideally what should happen is not only does the difficulty get scaled based on the people at the time, but so does the loot.

This means if you went in with 10 guys and at the last boss kicked half your party, the remaining guys would have an easier time sure, but they'd get exponentially crappier loot.

On the flip side, going in with max party should be incredibly difficult - almost to the point that everyone has to have a perfect game to survive it.

(deleted duplicate comment)

Thero said...

I disagree with Gevlon, Redbeard, et al - and I think they're missing the point. If X is going to be booted from a Flex because they're dragging the group down, then they never had any chance AT ALL of getting into a normal, or even to be on the bench... because Flex will be easier than normal is now.
Also, Flex is being aimed at casual groups - who don't min/max like the raid groups doing heroics etc. Heroic groups would boot a low performing raider. Casual groups, if they even notice, will say "too bad, we didn't get the boss down, you'll have better luck next week." And that's fine for a casual group, because the raiding is just a means to spend time joking with people you like - and Flex will let us have some wins at the same time.
Personally I think it will be the best thing that's ever happened to my small casual guild.

Thero said...

By the way, I've been thinking about starting blogging for a while, and had actually put a lot of thought into how to set up flexible raiding - I was going to make it my first post. Then I saw your post - Doh! Beaten to the punch! And then Blizz announced Flex, which is quite close to what I was thinking as well... So congrats on getting your timing right :-)