Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Question about Raiders

I'm thinking through an idea for my next post, which which will be relatively complex. But I want to make sure that I am not missing a possibility somewhere, so I'm asking for feedback on a couple of underlying assumptions.

Assumption 1: 25-man raiders are a small minority of the playerbase.

Assumption 2: A disproportionate amount of development time is spent creating content for them.

Can anyone refute these assumptions?

Also, assuming 1 and 2 are correct, why is it worthwhile for Blizzard to create content usable only by such a small portion of the player base?

I have my own ideas about that, and I've written about them before, but I'd like to see if anyone has any other reasons that I may not have considered.

Edit: For reference, here is the last article I wrote on the subject.


  1. 1. Yes a minority. A very vocal minority at that, at typically the people who play the most/keep playing and paying money.

    2. For patched content, yes. However I would say that more development time is spend designing the outdoor world and the 5 mans than for raid content when Blizzard designed the game and its expansions.

  2. Me and the majority of my guildmates are serious players, but we can't seem to get enough likeminded mature players to do 25 man content -- it always seems to come down to a choice between being overgeared for Kara and heroics with cool people or recruiting and herding 13 year olds into Gruuls. No brainer, imo.

  3. Hazarding a guess, I'd say the far endgame helps keep many more subscribers than actually participate in it. The fact that these raids exist - the Nihlium first kills, reading loot lists online, seeing someone with Tier 6 shoulders in Stormwind for the first time - provides a high watermark to measure your own progression against. I won't see Black Temple, but knowing there's a significant body of challenging content between 70 dungeons and vending my blues in Howling Fjord makes each improvement in gear and skill feel relatively more useful.

    High-end raiders probably burn out on raid content quickly, but if they produce some anecdotes/video/loot lists about that content before they wowquit, I'm less likely to feel like I've met a ceiling of useful progression on my main.

    Why the far-endgame needs to be 25 I don't know. Maybe it's fun to develop for :)

  4. 1.
    WoW Jutsu currently tracks about 1.7 million characters who have killed a boss in Karazhan. Of those, 73% have killed Maulgar and about 33% have killed Gruul, Magtheridon or something in Serpentshrine or the Eye. That's about 561 000 characters. Since we're only talking about ballpark figures, I think we can safely assume that most people raiding are using their mains and thus the number of players is not significantly smaller than the number of characters. Of the roughly 4 million Westeners (Wow Jutsu only tracks the USA and the EU), that's about 14% of the player base. If anyone who's killed Maulgar counts as a raider, that's 31% of the playerbase. 43%, if Karazhan counts. So while bleeding-edge raiders are indeed a minority, raid content in general is what interests a significant chunk of the player base.

    2. Yes, and no. I'm one of those who groan whenever Blizzard releases Yet Another Raid Instance that I'm not going to see because I won't reach it until the next expansion where it will become obsolete (Naxxramas, Black Temple, Sunwell Plateau), but all of those have been accompanied (or will be accompanied in the case of Sunwell Plateau) with large chunks of non-raider content. The Scourge Invasion, Argent Dawn gathering quests, revamps of Netherwing Ledge, Skettis, Blade's Edge Plateaus, the Ethereal camp near Manaforge Ultris, upcoming 5-man Sunwell instance and Zul'Aman). Even Searing Gorge got revamped before Blackwing Lair, Silithus got revamped with Ahn'Qiraj, and both Dire Maul and Maraudon were not in the initial US release version of WoW. And many still look back fondly towards Zul'Gurub.

  5. While it's definitely a minority, it's a significant minority. Typically, these players are highly 'visible' due to the visual differences in raiding gear, as well as the large amounts of time they usual spend playing the game.

    Also, it is inspiring to see folks wearing epic gear. It makes players go 'oh man I want that stuff' and I certainly felt the same way the first time I saw someone in full Wrath carrying a Thunderfury! I didn't know what it was, I didn't know where it was from, I just knew it was awesome. I think the game would be greatly diminished without raiding content. While it does take a long time to create this content, I think Blizzard has come to a more balanced point for their playerbase. Most of the people I know who don't raid are doing it for one or more of a few reasons: 1) don't have the time, 2) don't have the inclination, 3) can't find a guild to raid with, 4) won't leave their social guild to raid.

    I think some more level 70 dungeons would be nice, and some more instances from 20-60 would be great. But new zones? I'll pass. More development time for new content for the people who aren't raiding (I'm defining new content as dailies, new zones and perhaps even new dungeons) have possibly even less of a lifespan after launch. It takes, what, a month to hit exalted with a daily grind? Then you're done. You can blow through a zone in a few days. Now a raiding dungeon, we're talking more like a few months per *dungeon*.

    The game's huge as is and already the player base is spread thin across all that space. I think it's more than a question of 'what number of people are using the content'. I think it's also a question of 'how long are they using it for'. Arenas are a good example of content with a long lifespan. But a new Shadowmoon Valley, or a new Shattered Halls? Respectively done in a week or two, or boring after the sixth or so run. Blizzard wants to make sure that they develop what gives them the greatest return value. In this case, raiding dungeons are a great investment, although they do implement content for non-raiders.

  6. Shalkis gives a good breakdown of the raw numbers, Another factor and one we have almost no information on is the playtime breakdown. Ok your average 25 man raider spends say 15 hours a week raiding,10 hours on farming to support that raiding and assorted other.
    How much time does someone who doesnt do any raiding or pvp spend per weeek? Blizzard has those sort of numbers, we dont.

    Assumption 2. How do you know? Personally I have zero information about to support/refute this. But do you have any information beyond wild guesses to support it?

    Their was some information released about the holiday events, The team that designs and supports these is independent of the team that designs dungeons. That apparently is all they do, design ,support,test and maintain the holiday events.

    Raiding in general is probably a loss leader. It attacts a lot more people to the game then actually do raid.

  7. I personally think the leap between 5 mans and 10 mans is the big problem. It is very much a possibility to go with a PuG into a heroic and clear it. But doing the same in Karazhan is harder.

    The old UBRS was a good think imo. Getting a group together wasnt that hard (PuG) and you would make it through unless some unforseen problems like DC's and 'mommy says I need to go to bed'=)

    The problem with heroics is also that they dont make you feel good in a explorer kind of way. Its the same old instance all over. Only reason for heoics is to gear up for raids. And if you cant go raiding there is little reason to go heroics either.

    I understand that they cant make whole new set of instances. But what about using the old layout and expanding the story?

    Like: Slave Pens is now inhabited by the remnants of the fel orcs driven out of HFC by the heroes. A new warlord has risen there and is enslaving boglords and nagas to do his bidding.

    Will take some extar job with new bosses. But not very much so. Instance layout and trash skins are all there to reuse.

  8. Let's look at this from Blizzard's profit perspective.

    Lets assume that most long-time subscription holders (1 year+) raid, or at the very least lets assume that raiders are generally long term subscription holders.

    Long term subscription holders (raiders, predominantly) are much more demanding in terms of quality/difficulty of content. Thus, to satisfy these subscription holders, Blizzard must spend a large proportion of development time designing complex, challenging and well tuned encounters...which are constantly being rebalanced, and retuned.

    The investment in end-game content is worth their money...a long term subscriber base is what ensures the longevity of the game.

    The 70% of players who don't raid (in addition to short term subscription holders) are easily satisfied with the leveling content, which can basically remain untouched after release. By means of the diversity of content available while leveling, most subscription holders will find an experience they enjoy.

  9. 1. Yes a minority.

    2. In order to motivate players to engage in the game I belive that there is a need for a goal for players to aim for. Finnishing a game quickly bores you and challenging the players, even the ones that are not rising up to that challenge, is a important point in WOW. The vocal minority mentioned by dazanna contributes as rolemodels and by discovering play technics that are inspiering players that are not there yet, or may never be there.

    Sumary: I agree with the first point and believe that the amount of work put into creating 25 man raids conten is valid.

  10. I am not a raider. I have been in Kara a couple of times, but I have no illusions that I will ever see Gruul's or above.

    However, I think that adding raid content is important because it adds to the game. Players like me can level to 70, do rep grinds to exalted, and get quest reward gear. Once that is done, what is left to do? What can Blizz add for me? Not much. So I either level an alt, help guildies, or quit. Its nice that they are adding a little new mid-level content, but I think that is targeted at a smaller part of the player base.

    On the other hand, for raiders, adding new raid content is adding new playable experiences. Note that Blizz is not adding anything beyond BT at this time - they are adding something more accessible. I think that is smart. It gives players something to do and keeps them in the game.

    For the rest of us? We'll keep playing alts and rep grinding as always.

  11. Blizzard keeps spending resources on difficult 25 man raids, making sure as few people as possible even makes it to "the end" of the game and quit. This also creates a kind of worship from lowlevels towards the high-end guilds, wich i think helps to keep the game alive in its own way.

    I dont think Blizzard should change focus, i think the expansions by their own is enough to keep the casual player happy. Im not even sure they focus most resources on raids as assumption #1 states; it must be a monstrous task to create an entire outdoor continent with 10 or so 5-man instances, not to mention the whole faction system that goes along with each continent created.

  12. I've been to Zul'Gurub a few times before the expansion and that was (is if anyone still does it!) 40 man. Sure, we could get along with 38 or a bit less if better geared, but definitely more than 25.

    The change to 25 man raids instead of the "old" 40 for new raiding instances also reflects that it was too hard to find a decent group of 40 people to successfully raid.

    I don't do PvP myself, but I won't dream of the day where classes stop getting nerfed just so they stay PvP balanced: it sure keeps messing with soloing PvE abilities, but PvPers (read: mostly youngsters) are probably a vast majority. Even if raiders are not a majority, I'd guess that any 6 year old could be a raider given enough time online and if he can follow instructions: raiding is a lot more forgiving to a few people underperforming than is an heroic.

    I know that I won't see many of such raids (already missed AQ, Naxx and whatever), but I'm not too worried: there's enough variety in content and gameplay and I'm a bit alt-aholic, so the game, even if it was left as it is, would still have enough content for me to explore for the next few years!

    Heck, I started around 18 months ago, and only now is my main druid 68 (and having a ball of a time with the instant cast flight form, like stealthing into a building, doing something, going to the upper floor, jumping through a window and pof: bird mode and fly away!) Or even entering through the window and then stealthing down!

    I would rather see Blizzard fix some annoyances though and preferably have a LOT more QC: I tried the 2.3 PTR: can you believe that you can't fly in Naggrand currently? Surely a bug, but what could have possibly caused such a bug? What are they messing with that caused this bug to happen? HUGE lack of QC here if you ask me...

  13. I think what you are struggling with is the concept of "raider". For many, a raider is seen as someone who plays 10 hours a day every day until they have the best of everything. However, I would suggest that a majority of raiders probably commit to 4-5 hours a few nights a week.

    When I first started with MMOs, I played EverQuest with the same group of 6 every time. We played two or three nights a week, always planning on being online at the same time. We played like this for about a year. I do not know how much more "casual" you could get.

    I also lead a friend-family for about two years. Every night there were enough people online, we raided something. Four to six hours was most typical. People were encouraged to participate, but were not necessarily expected.

    Now, I am an officer of a progression guild. We are actively engaging content in Mount Hyjal and Black Temple. The raid schedule is 4 nights a week, 5-6 hours. My raid time has cut back by three nights a week from the casual raiding, but it has become a lot more productive. We expect 80% attendance from our raiding core, means we can keep a smaller roster than the friends-family guild who needed as many people as possible just to have something to do every night. Progression raiding can be treated like joining a softball league, you are expected to participate if you sign up to join the team. If you stop making the games, someone else will be playing your position before too long. Its all about maximizing the production of the time you are asking people to commit to being available.

    Now, here's the thing. Unlike so many games before it, WoW allows more casual raiding. EverQuest required 72 people for raiding. 25 people for the TBC raids is nothing! There are so many PUG raids on Mannoroth, they have done SSC through Vashj I believe. Finding people in your position might be difficult, but if raiding is something you want to do it is really not difficult to make it happen.

    The tricky part about making middle ground content, you lose raiders and non-raiders alike. The most casual players I know do not raid because they might play one week and might not the next, they do not want to commit to being available on any particular night. These players might play a lot one month, might not renew the next. Blizzard cannot make any expectations. However, by creating raid content, anyone can eventually consume that content if they work toward it. In the end, the people who have something to be excited about are the ones you can expect will renew their account the next month. People who have yet to hit 70, how do you anticipate their purchasing the next expansion?

  14. Recently I've wondered why the arbitrary numbers 5, 10, 20, 25, and 40 were chosen.

    I'd like to see content tuned to be played by multiple group sizes; say, for example, instances that can be set for 4, 5, or 6 persons. That alone would save me a lot of grief in looking for groups. I also continue to wonder why there is a 10- to 25-person leap in raiding. I've never heard an explanation, and it is obviously counterintuitive, the 25-man model being a painful odd-man-out.

    By contrast, the PvP development team at Blizzard provided 2v2, 3v3, and 5v5 Arenas for flexibility. IMO, instance developers need to take a clue from their PvP counterparts and give players more endgame flexibility. After all, the solo-able 1-70 game leads into the forced-grouping-endgame - either into group-5 and instance quests, BG or Arena PvP, or into instances, heroics, and finally raids.

  15. 1. Yep, it's a minority, but there's a very large chunk of players who do the 25-person raids. 500,000 isn't a small number, no matter how you slice it.

    2. Do we know anything about how much dev-time is spent on 25-person raids? I remember reading somewhere that Blizz has a separate raid-development team that works mostly on whatever the next raid is, but we don't really have a good idea the work-hours involved in a raid vs. in a new 5-man or new quest hub.

  16. I raid Kara a couple times a week, and my guild wants to move on to 25-man content, but getting 25 people who want to raid and are geared to do so is a heck of a lot harder than getting 10 people, unless you make that the focus of your guild. My guild is focused on having a fun time and consists strictly of adults (and a few of their kids).

    I'd rather see more 5 and 10 mans, and I'm pleased that the next new dungeon is Zul'Aman. I know someone at Blizz said that Kara was their most popular dungeon ever, so perhaps they've begun to understand.

    To the people quoting numbers of people working on Gruul's Lair - that's not an indicator that we need more raid content. Tell me there are significant numbers of people working on Mount Hyjal / Black Temple and I'll say we need to get some more content out there. 25-man dungeons follow a mostly linear progression, so until the content is exhausted, no new content is needed.

    You want to talk small minority of players? The number of players who would actually use a new, post-BT 25-man is infinitesimal. Quoting numbers on Gruul's is irrelevant to the actual issue. And all these 25-mans that very few are seeing are instantly obsolete when the new expansion releases.


  17. @Someone:
    ZG was (is) a *20* man instance. Could be done with less if well geared, or especially so now given post 60 characters.

  18. I've actually been having exactly this discussion on MUD-Dev.

    Assumption 1: 25-man raiders are a small minority of the playerbase.

    Based on WoWJutsu's numbers, there are probably at least 750K *characters* who are raiding at least Gruul's Lair (the number of people hitting Karazhan probably is somewhat past 1M). 25 men is a small guild size - my own guild, for example, has about 35 regulars, and another dozen irregulars, who rotate into the various raids.

    What we don't know:
    * How many of them are alts (most will tend to be mains, due to the nature of 25 men content).
    * How many of them are doing it repeatedly, and/or how many are enjoying it.

    On the flip side, what we do know is that the ballpark for level 70s is somewhere between 2M and 3M *characters*. So, while Gruul's only applies to a minority of players (most figures I've seen place the number of players who raid at 5-15%), it appeals to a significant percentage of those who actually manage to get to 70.

    Assumption 2: A disproportionate amount of development time is spent creating content for them.

    Not particularly. These players are more likely to (a) be the most devoted to the game, in terms of hours played and (b) out of content otherwise.

    Raid content also has the advantage of providing a lot of hours of worthwhile gameplay. Compare this to, say, when they add new solo quests. The new quests in Dustwallow upcoming will likely occupy 3-4 hours of a character's play time. The new Zul'Aman instance will likely occupy 5-6 hours a week for 3-4 months for the players who get to that.

  19. Most of it has been said already.

    2 things:

    #1, (@doeg)
    IMO, 25 and 10 man raids come from the following: with ZG and AQ20 they proved they could create contents as challenging for 40 man, but scaled down to 20 man. Many raiders enjoyed that, as there was less slacking, less AFK+autoshoot, they were easier to manage, and your own actions had more effect than on a 40-man. So they decided to go 20-man.

    By adding a 9th class to each faction, they had to scale the size up, so they chose 25. That's just my guess.

    Kara is a good stepping stone to the 25-man runs. It allows you to start your raidcomm with a smaller size, get the ball rolling, get people raiding and gearing up. Then you can double your size up to do 2x10 man, and then finally do the big 25 mans.

    I think Blizz has done a good thing with this.


    No one has mentioned the fact that the raid contents gets slightly nerfed on each patch, so that it is gradually easier to achieve for the masses. The Gruul we farm now is, suppossedly, not the Gruul that was farmed on the TBC release. I could not care less about that: let Nihilum and co. break ground. All I want to do is gradually see the contents myself with a fair amount of challenge to achieve it.

  20. As the the development time point, you guys are making good points about the lower tier dungeons.

    But what about the higher tier dungeons? Can anyone say with a straight face that AQ40, Naxxaramas, Mount Hyjal, Black Temple, and the upcoming Sunwell are going to be worthwhile in terms of numbers of players who see them?

    Additionally, the raiding playerbase expects these raids to be harder and more complex than the previous raids, and that requires more development time and tuning.

    Imagine if TBC ended 25-man raiding with T5 and Kael'thalas, and the resources saved had used for 5-man dungeons, heroics, and single-player quests. Wouldn't that have been a much better allocation of developer resources from a "number of players" utilization point-of-view?

  21. Imagine if TBC ended 25-man raiding with T5 and Kael'thalas, and the resources saved had used for 5-man dungeons, heroics, and single-player quests. Wouldn't that have been a much better allocation of developer resources from a "number of players" utilization point-of-view?

    First problem with this is the basic premise of what you're saying may not be true. Michael touched on it with his post, and while I don't have any hard evidence, I also believe I remember reading somewhere that the different dev teams are for each "type" of gaming. One dev team for quests, one for 5-mans/heroics, one for raiding, one for PvP. The guys who are designed Mt. Hyjal, Black Temple, and the forthcoming Zul'Aman and Sunwell Plateau aren't 5-man or quest designers. Maybe they might make a decent 5-man, but I'd bet their quests would just suck. Maybe they would be better off making more 10-mans, since those allow smaller guilds

    Also, I firmly agree with one sentiment that people have expressed: If there wasn't high end raiding to aim for I probably would have quit long ago. Yeah, I doubt I'll ever see whatever Sunwell Plateau's 25 man raid will offer personally, but knowing that if I chose to go that route I could reach it. It's like a Azerothian version of the American Dream: With enough hard work and skill, even I could kill Illidan some day!

  22. I sincerely doubt that a raid designer would be absolutely terrible at designing other content. That level of specialization in a gaming job is crazy.

    Yes, they have different teams, but you can always take resources from Team A and add them to Team B. Or have Team A do something completely different than their last project. The existance of separate teams does not make their size or workload static.

  23. It's like a Azerothian version of the American Dream: With enough hard work and skill, even I could kill Illidan some day!

    The point of the American Dream is that it is achievable by everybody.

    If the Azerothian Dream is to kill Kael'thalas, does that make a significant difference other than more people will actually achieve the Dream?

  24. @indy: (/blushes) Yes, you're right! It's been so long now (about a year!) that I forgot! :) That guild was disbanded when people started leaving for the "bigger" more "hard-core" raiding guilds...

    I did go into MC once, but mostly to check it out since I was seriously undergeared for that one! :)

  25. Aside from the fact that the American Dream is not attainable by everyone (with our current socioeconomic situation it just isn't, but anyway), Coriel does make a good point.

    For the number of people who will see SWP there is a lot of development time for little return. But does that make that time wasted? I don't think so. If they had instead made Kael the final boss and spent all the dev time making more 5-man and solo content, what would you do after beating Kael? Obviously not that 5-man content, at least more than once, because it is lower level content that provides no challenge, little content after the first clear, and no upgrades to your character (which after all is the whole point of an RPG). So you would end up having players from quite a few guilds sitting around twiddling their thumbs until the next expansion, and when people twiddle in MMO's they typically end up quitting.

    One of the things I really like about WoW is that it is such a great honor to actually finish the game. If you tell someone, "hey I beat Halo 3 last night" they will say "whoopie, so did everyone else in the world". But if you are one of those few people that can clear through KT or the last boss of SWP or Arthas its a real accomplishment and a honor, and you deserve recognition for it (the main reason I hate Blizzard's cop-out to the PvP players by giving them almost identical looking sets to the top raid gear).

    I know it sucks if you can't finish all the raid content in the game, but I stand by the fact that what matters most is that you enjoy what you're doing. I would much rather be happy playing with the people I am with and not getting through BT than be racing through everything with Nihilum and treating WoW like a job.

    And on a side note the switch from 40 to 25 man raids was made supposedly to make it easier for casual players/guild to raid. In actuality it has made it much harder, as there is no more room for bad players or offspecs in raids (not saying casuals are bad though, don't get me wrong). You used to bring 30 good players and breeze through BWL, and those other 10 spots could be taken by the less serious. Now if you bring 23 good players you can't get past Vashj.

  26. @dazanna: If your dilemma regarding a higher percentage of players needing to be "good" to beat 25-man content than were needed to beat 40-man is accurate, then that indicates that 25-mans are tuned harder than 40-mans were, not that there is something inherently more challenging about a 25-man. Blizzard can obviously make them as easy or hard as they want to.

    Also, it's obviously still harder to find 30 "good" players and 10 "whatever" players than it is to find 25 "good" players, because 25 < 30, to say nothing of the other 10.


  27. 30/40 = 75%
    25/25 = 100%

    The raids in TBC were designed for 25 smart, well geared players. They don't allow for mistakes, and they don't allow for people to come when they feel like it if you want to complete the game. Thats as simple as it gets.

  28. I agree with the points that adding new raid contents create goals for players. New quests, even dailies, or 5-mans may get some interest due to their novelty, but aside from farming a set a daily quests that gives you the highest payout for least amount of time, the novelty will wear off quickly and it won't be long before people stop doing them or grow bored. Sure some people may like the new 5-mans and run them a lot, but for the most part it becomes SSDD.

    Raids on the other hand, take much longer for people to get tired of, provide solid checkpoints for progress, and the bigger pool of loot throughout the instance along with bigger group to disperse it amongst provides motivation for people to continue going. Farming a 5-man gets boring fast, as they're just less difficult and involved than raid fights. Repeatedly going into a raid instance with a difficulty on par with your group's skill and gear level is satisfying for longer, even if you have the strategy down pat, just because of how involved some of the fights can get. The fact that it may take several runs for a piece of loot you want to even drop, let alone get awarded to you, also helps make sure you keep coming back.

    Even if you'll never see the highest level raid instances, how close you can get to being able to handle those instances serves as a mark of progression, and a reasonably good separator between the good groups of players and the bad ones.

    I imagine the real time-consuming part of developing and implementing raid instances is coming up with something unique for the encounters in the instance, as well as appropriate trash mobs, as well as implementing these unique and more intricate features. Since they're being handled by a separate group than other WoW content, this time isn't exactly being "wasted" by people responsible for quests and 5-mans.

  29. Yes, and that's a design decision Blizz made, but it's not a natural result of the number of people in a raid, and it's not an argument against having 25-man raids. All it says (if true) is that Blizz made these dungeons harder than the 40-mans. There's no reason to think that if they had stuck with 40-mans, they couldn't or wouldn't have made them equally demanding.


  30. The fact remains that the 25 man content requires you to have good and dedicated players. Even though Blizzard could have made them as easy as MC, they didn't. So right now the 25 man content is not conductive to casual raiders. The only 40 man fights that I can think of nearly the same demand for skill are late AQ40 (Huhu and C'thun come to mind first) and most of the fights in Naxx, which most casuals didn't reach in vanilla either.

  31. Imagine if TBC ended 25-man raiding with T5 and Kael'thalas, and the resources saved had used for 5-man dungeons, heroics, and single-player quests. Wouldn't that have been a much better allocation of developer resources from a "number of players" utilization point-of-view?

    Single-player quests, almost certainly not. It's consumed once, usually without extended effort, and then it's never repeated. (Single-player quests that are repeated usually suck as an experience - see Daily Quests).

    While I personally would love to see more 5-mans, I can also vouch for the fact that BC probably has too many 5-mans - enough so that its hard to find a group to do many of them. Diluting that even further could be risky.

    It's important to remember the other key things about Raiding - it provides the 'possibility horizon' - i.e. the aspirational fantasy within the space. If it's too easily obtainable, the players who are maxed hit it and leave quickly.

    Personally, I think Blizzard is building the right amount of content. However, I agree with a post that Brandon made that argues that they probably released too much of it too soon. They probably could have sat on Hyjal until now, released Black Temple in 3 months, and released Sunwell in 7 months, and things would have been better paced. Right now, most players see a possibility horizon that is too far away, whereas the high end players have gone 4 months now without any new challenges, and should expect to go at least 4 more (Zul'Aman is cool, but isn't going to occupy guilds like Nililum for very long).

  32. I think the basic question here is : "How much developer-time does it take to make a 25-player raid vs. a 10-player raid vs. a 5-player instance?"

    And I don't think anyone except Blizzard itself can correctly answer that question. Many casuals are pissed because they think Blizzard is catering to the hardcore raiding crowd by releasing BT/Hyjal type raids, but really, how much casual content would BT/Hyjal equate to?

  33. one question would be how many "casual" players are really all that angry about the introduction of new raid content? I'm not sure I'd consider myself a casual player, but since I've only recently reached 70, and never played before BC came out, I have never seen anything past 5 man instances, and the occasional 40man taking Halaa. Even with that, I'm not looking for Blizz to create more 5 man content, unless it vastly speeds the process of the faction grind.

    That being said, I don't know how many people go either way, it would be interesting to see some research into the numbers.

  34. 1. Definitely a minority. I feel that raiding is somewhat of a drawback to the game. Indeed, end-game should be challenging, but the challenging part is usually finding a group of 25 and making sure they all have time to raid. I would be in favor of more 10 mans. They are easier to form and I think they would add a different aspect to the game. Why make normal dungeons 5 man and raid 25. That is a signficant leap. Maybe even raids could vary from 10-25. I would not be apposed to that.

    2. I think patched content is normally for 5 man and outdoor experience. I do not recall seeing many changes for raids but maybe once every 5 or 6 patches. Even so they are some balances for bosses usually. As such, if most patches are geared to outdoor and five mans, then maybe they should re-structure the game to add some end game five mans.