Saturday, October 11, 2014

Raid Mechanic Comparison: Drumuru vs Brontes

Coincidentally, both the Drumuru fight in WoW (Throne of Thunder raid) and Dread Master Brontes in SWTOR (Dread Fortress operation) share a very similar, yet unusual, mechanic. Let's compare the two implementations of this mechanic, and see which did a better job.

Both bosses have a phase where the boss stands in the center of the room and fires a beam towards the edge. The beam then sweeps around the room and players have to run around the boss, avoiding the beam. If a player is hit by the beam, the player instantly dies.

Drumuru differs by having a poisonous fog appear on the ground at the same time as the beam. There is a "path" through the fog, somewhat like being in a maze, and the players are supposed to follow that path as they move around the boss. The path opens up as the beam progresses, keeping the players in danger from the beam.

Brontes has six robots appear around the room. If the beam hits a robot, there is a massive explosion and everyone dies. So the players have to kill the robots in order, starting from the one closest to the beam and working around the room.

The biggest downside to the Drumuru version of the mechanic is that the colors chosen make seeing the path more difficult. The fog is dark purple in a dark room on a dark floor. It's a mechanic that people consistently failed on, even after several months. However, this was probably done to maintain difficulty. If the path was very easy to see, this would be a trivial phase.

The Drumuru mechanic is fairly artificial. The speed you move through the phase is restricted by the rate at which the path in the fog opens up, not by player skill.

The biggest downside to the Brontes version is that it is very much a mechanic where if one person fails and gets caught by the beam, the entire group wipes. For Drumuru, survival of the phase is independent for each player. (Thank God for that, else the fight would have been impossible in LFR.) One or two players dying doesn't affect the group getting through that phase.

The Brontes phase can be a little harsh on a melee-heavy group, since they have more running time to get from robot to robot. Drumuru had two paths, one for melee, and one for ranged.

All in all, the Brontes version of the mechanic is superior. For one thing, being able to actually see the battlefield is so much better than blindly running around in the dark. The fact that Drumuru never really saw improvement in survival rates over time (in LFR at least) is indicative that many players were simply unable to grasp the mechanic. The test of a good raid mechanic is "mastery", in that players learn the mechanic and continuously improve their skill at handling it.

The fog path is also an artificial "dancing" mechanic. Whereas killing the robots is a test of basic character skills like dps and positioning skills, while still maintaining the "threat" of the sweeping beam. The robots' health gives you a good measurement of how much you have to improve. Finally, you can see your group's improvement from week to week as you kill the robots faster and faster.

Drumuru vs Brontes is a good case study in how a single raid mechanic can be implemented in two different ways: one sucessful, and one unsucessful.


  1. The fog is dark purple in a dark room on a dark floor.

    The fog WAS dark purple. I've been there recently with a group for an achievement, and it's been patched (don't ask me when), the new graphics is much more clear than the old one, so it's a lot less "move and pray" than in the beginning. Why they didn't do this from the start is beyond me, just like I don't understand why some fights featured clearly identified circles on the floor to indicate the AoE of some boss abilities, while some other fights had nothing of the sort. Different dev teams maybe?

  2. The last time I did Drumuru, the problem wasn't the colour of the fog compared to the colour of the ground. The problem was the fog, as a fog, masked the pathway entirely with it's spread. There was only a handful of attempts I've ever made on him that I was able to properly follow the maze.

  3. If the beam hits a robot, there is a massive explosion and everyone dies. [...] The biggest downside to the Brontes version is that it is very much a mechanic where if one person fails and gets caught by the beam, the entire group wipes.

    This is only true on hard and nightmare mode though. On story a droid exploding hurts, but you can survive one or two. In fact, in pugs I found that the leader often told the group to ignore the first droid, assuming that some people would be dead/dps would be too low to get all of them anyway.

  4. Two things that make Durumu worse -- at least in LFR -- is that when the beam starts most people don't realize that they can look for the small, (again) purple lightning arcs to know where the start of the safe zone is. Telegraphs like that need to be crystal clear in the easier modes. Sure, make it really difficult in Mythic / NiM modes, but for LFR / Normal / Story modes there's no excuse for hard to catch boss telegraphs / emotes.

    The other bad design is that Durumu's platform is round and has a drop off. Because you have to clear his trash people tend to stand in the middle. The middle where Durumu descends down to from the ceiling after you've cleared trash. As a tank, I've had to be ready to grab the boss as someone often AFK-pull him because they've left their character in the middle...

    As skilled as the Blizzard Devs can be with raid bosses, sometimes I think they really over-estimate the abilities of their LFR folks. (Garrosh has another situation where you have a light blue telegraph on a light blue floor. -.- That's hard on older eyes like mine.)

    At least with Brontes the place you start is pretty obvious on Story Mode. (I haven't done HM/NiM.)

  5. In LFR, the proper strategy for Durumu is to ignore the maze entirely. The purple haze does little enough damage that it can be healed through, particularly if you pop self-heal and damage reduction CDs. (Don't stand in the lighter purple circles, of course.)

    What kills people in LFR is deer-in-headlights paralysis leading them to be one-shot by the beam.

  6. Speaking of an encounter like Durumu it was a good mechanic for a raid team coming in fresh to it with no knowledge of what to do, everyone had to work together to survive but LFR is a different story, should the dev's design a boss knowing that it will be done in LFR which is probably 95% of traffic or should they try mechanics to challenge the raid teams?

    I don't know the answer I wonder how they decide on that internally at blizz

  7. I've run Throne quite a bit, and frankly, anyone having issues with the maze mechanic needs to pay more attention. You want to know why everyone has issues with it in LFR? Because LFR is filled with people who either want easy loot/rewards, or who don't care enough to learn a bare minimum of information about the fights to live through them.

    If there was truly a problem with the mechanics itself, you'd see issues with it across the board. Instead, you only see issues in one segment of the raiding population, and it's a segment where most if not all mechanics are such that you can usually ignore them.