Saturday, May 29, 2010

Top WoW Videos - #1 - Frame of Mind

I know it's been a long while since I posted one of these. I'm probably going to write a post on the AVR mod, and in a lot of ways this video is crucial to my perspective on that issue.

I wonder if Blizzard imagined, when they decided to hold the Ataris Music Video contest, that they would get the best WoW video ever made. The #1 video on my countdown is Slashdance's masterpiece, Frame of Mind.

First off, this is a superb music video. All too often, music videos either ignore the lyrics, or follow them too literally. It's hard to get the right abstraction, and that is something this video does perfectly. It nails the song, but does so in a way that was not intended by the original artists.

In particular, from 1:17 to 1:24, the lines We threw out all convictions/and traded them for substance, video and song match up beautifully. A lot of videos stand alone, or you could imagine the video with a different song. But here the song makes the video better, and the video makes the song better.

In many ways, this is the best machinima because it is not machinima. Most machinima treats the game world as though it was a stage, with the character models being used as the actors. It is not really that different from television or movies, save that CG models are used in place of flesh-and-blood actors. This video is different. It is something that could not be replicated in a movie.

To see what I mean, consider the main character of the video. It is not Sedrin the Night Elf Priest. The protagonist is the player of Sedrin, and we learn about the player as his actions are reflected in the virtual world. This video exists in the boundary space between reality and game, and that's what makes it so compelling.

The video also resonates with a lot of players. Every single player has made a character, and starting off the video with that instantly allows us to identify with the protagonist. As well, there is some tension between loot and friendship, and most players can identify with that and the sentiments expressed in the video.

It is a somewhat common story. A man makes the choice in his youth to pursuit wealth and accomplishment, and with the passage of time realizes that he made the wrong choice. The genius is in translating familiar WoW elements to that story, and using those elements to signal emotion. Using the first few levels (instantly recognizable to anyone who's ever rolled a Night Elf) to stand in for youth, the passage of time reflected as running through the zones as you level up, raid healing as moment of epiphany, the Deserter debuff (particularly elegant in my opinion), and the destroying of gear.

The final concept, and what really puts this video head and shoulders above all other videos, is the idea of the user interface representing the elements that stand between people, that prevent them from connecting at a human level. Somehow, I'm not surprised that a raid healer came up with this metaphor. It succinctly encapsulates the difference between game and world, between real and virtual, and was nothing less than a stroke of brilliance.

Quite simply, Slashdance's Frame of Mind is the best WoW video ever made.

Top Video List:
  1. Frame of Mind
  2. Here Without You
  3. Tales of the Past III
  4. The Craft of War: BLIND
  5. Big Blue Dress

Monday, May 24, 2010

Ask Coriel: Ret and Prot Macros

John asks:
I’m running up my human female pally after being away from the game for about a year. I had played a warrior tank for a couple of years previous. Can you share some of your macro’s for tanking and retribution if you have any?

I don't really use a lot of macros for Prot and Ret.

For Ret, If you have On-use trinkets, you could bind them to Avenging Wrath.

#showtooltip Avenging Wrath
/use 13
/use 14
/cast Avenging Wrath

The only other macro I use is a castsequence for Divine Storm and
Consecration, to save button space.

/castsequence reset =10 Divine Storm,Consecrate

However, you cannot use this macro if you have 2-pc T10 (Ret).

For Protection, I'm not sure. You could use 2 macros to make the
96969 rotation easy.

#1: /castsequence Judgement of Light,Consecration,Holy Shield
#2: /castsequence Hammer of the Righteous,Shield of Righteousness

Then just alternate between the two buttons for easy-mode threat.
However, you have to be careful of fights where you can't use AoE
threat willy-nilly. For example, Deathbringer Saurfang in ICC. There
it is a bad idea to use Consecration and Hammer of the Righteous when
the Blood Beasts are up.

Any other good Prot/Ret macros out there?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Age of Conan: Rise of the Godslayer

Age of Conan released its first expansion, Rise of the Godslayer, last week. I know I ragged on Age of Conan a lot when it was first released, but I confess that it has rather grown on me. Maybe it is because I now have a system that can actually run the game fairly decently.

The thing about AoC is that they are willing to try new things at a slightly deeper level than most other MMOs. They're not always successful, mind you, but it's good to see them try. For example, the melee classes all use these combo-style attacks, where you attack from a specific direction, and your enemy has shields which shift.

(I actually found a good key-mapping for this. I use the Numpad, with 4,5,6 being the basic directional attacks, and the top and bottom rows being the specials with their respective directions. This system has made a world of a difference in how playable the game is for me.)

Meanwhile, healing is completely non-targeted. It's Heal-over-Time based with a little bit of positional requirements. Targets that are being healed get coloured circles around their feet, allowing the healer to see who is being healing inside the game world, rather than relying on the group interface.

Anyways, you can now accumulate free levels over time, making it an interesting second MMO. If you don't play as much, you can keep your character moving up with the free levels if you want, or spend them on an alt.

What's interesting about Rise of the Godslayer is that it is a "horizontal" expansion, rather than a vertical one. The level cap didn't increase. There is a new race, but you still have to go through Tortage with your new character. So you don't get to see the new stuff until level 20. Of course, my highest level character is 26, so I've never even seen most of the old stuff to compare it too.

It's interesting coming back to a game after a long absence. I'd completely forgotten how to play the Guardian, and so I have been trying different character classes to see if there's one I might like better. I picked the Guardian in a "must-have-pure-tank-or-healer-to-get-into-groups" phase, and I've since rethought that stance. I think it's better to pick a class that you like, and worry about groups later.

(Sidenote: Kalanthes of Ibis is really getting on my nerves.)

Some of the classes have some neat mechanics. For example, Conquerors have a self-buff that lasts an hour or so. But they can also throw down a Banner, which converts the self-buff into an associated group buff for 30s. After the 30s, the banner disappears, and the Conqueror gets her self-buff back.

It's a really interesting system that balances individual ability with the ability to give the group a buff. With the self-buff, the Conquerer can be as powerful as a pure DPS class. Throwing down the banner makes the group stronger, but the Conqueror weaker. If there are multiple Conquerors, one can buff the group, and the others can remain as strong individuals. I thought it was a rather elegant solution to buffing in general.

Age of Conan actually makes a nice complement to World of Warcraft, I think. They're kind of similar, but different enough that you don't automatically compare the two all the time.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Death with the Dungeon Finder

Traditionally, dungeons in WoW were in the hidden corners of the world. Players would get several quests leading them further and further until they finally uncovered the entrance. Deadmines is the classic example of this. This method was pretty good, reinforcing the idea of dungeons being in uncovered areas, while providing a storyline leading up to it. A consequence of this design was that players knew how to get to the dungeon.

With the new Dungeon Finder, this is no longer true. Now, if people die and respawn, they may have no idea where the dungeon is located. Then they have to use the Spirit Healer to respawn, and end up stuck in the middle of nowhere. Alliance has this problem very early, as the first dungeon is Ragefire Chasm, in the middle of Orgrimmar. A lot of people who haven't played Horde have no idea where RFC is.

Imagine trying to find Blackrock Depths if you've never been there before.

Not being able to find your way back to the dungeon is very frustrating. In Cataclysm, word is that Blizzard plans to address this problem by making the player "discover" the dungeon before they can access it through the Dungeon Finder. While this is a reasonable plan, it will cut down on the number of people who can enter a given dungeon at any time, making it harder to find groups.

My solution would be to change how death is handled in dungeons. When you die, the Release Spirit button should be disabled until the group is out of combat. Then if you hit Release, you respawn at the start of the instance. This is a simple mechanism that prevents graveyard-zerging, but removes a lot of the frustration from the run back. As well, it would train people to not release immediately, making it much easier to resurrect them after the fight, instead of having to hunt pixels to find their body.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Fall of the Lich King

It took a bit longer than it really should have, but at long last I have defeated the Lich King.

It was the second kill for my guild. The first was two weeks ago. We've had a rough spring, with a fair bit of turnover, but it looks like we're doing much better now. We're 6/12 in Heroics as well.

I really like the Lich King fight. It's hard, and complex. But it also has a lot of the lore woven through the fight, in a manner that's unique in WoW raid fights so far. Blizzard did a really good job of integrating the lore into the fight.

Not to mention that's a great event for paladins, as it features three paladins or former paladins: Arthas, Tirion, and Bolvar.

About the only element I'd quibble with is Defile. Defile is a touch too hard, at least on normal. As well, the stacking buff doesn't really help with Defile. But then again, you could argue that the LK fight is all about Defile, and once your raid masters that, then the fight is 95% won.

This fight is pretty nerve-wracking for a paladin healer. Heavy tank damage plus high mobility is always dicey.

Last but not least, I like the decision to make the last 10% a free-for-all. It was fun as a healer to throw up Seal of Righteousness and start tossing Judgements, Holy Shock and Hammer of Wrath. We even popped Heroism for style.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Review: The Guild Leader's Handbook

The good people at No Starch Press sent me a review copy of The Guild Leader's Handbook. It's written by Scott F. Andrews, a long time guild leader and WoWInsider columnist.

Preliminary Observations

The Handbook is a medium-sided softcover book, about 190 pages in length. It actually looks pretty classy, with just a coat of arms on the front cover. It's written well, and covers almost all aspects of guild management (save one major exception) in solid detail.

For the most part I agree with most of what Andrews has written, though this review may seem to dwell on the points I disagree with. But those are more interesting, so that's probably where the ink is going to flow. Please keep that in mind.

The Handbook is not WoW-specific, as Andrews does pull in examples from other games such as Eve Online. But it is from a primarily-WoW perspective, if that makes any sense.

Chapter 1 - Forging a Guild Identity

Andrews goes through the process of creating the identity of a guild. He lays it down as a step-by-step process of considering the various options such as size, focus, and the hardcore/casual debate. These are all essential elements that should be thought about before even starting the guild, and it is right that Andrews puts them right upfront. There's a nice flowchart at the end of the chapter that unifies all these elements into a cohesive whole.

I particularly like that Andrews uses the Guild as Business metaphor to start talking about guilds. It's much more useful than Guild as Nation-State.

Chapter 2 - Humble Origins: Foundations of a Successful Guild

In this chapter, Andrews goes through the process of creating the underlying structure starting with the name, policies, and tools like websites, forums, applications, and officers. A good chapter with often ignored concerns.

The real standout here is Andrews' concept of the Guild Policy Triangle made of the concepts Stability, Transparency, and Opportunity. Stability and Transparency are often mentioned in discussions about guilds, but this is the first time that I have really seen someone draw out Opportunity and weight it as important as the other two elements. And Opportunity really is that important.

On the other hand, Andrews' rules on naming guilds are just terrible. When almost every good guild has a name which violates your rules, that's probably a sign that your rules are rubbish. Andrews seems to disdain guild naming styles just because they are popular, and doesn't seem to understand that they are popular for a reason.

There is also an amusing segment on Paperwork. In one paragraph, Andrews bemoans the process of getting signatures, condemning it as "needless, mind-numbing bureaucracy." Then two paragraphs later, he strongly advises prospective guild leaders not to create a guild until "you even know half a dozen people who would like to join." One almost thinks that the game developers might believe that these two ideas are related.

Chapter 3 - Nonhuman Resources: Recruiting Players and Evaluating Recruits.

A solid chapter on the fundamentals of recruiting. It also includes a discussion on applications and people you should avoid.

If there is one problem with this chapter it is that it discusses recruitment from a general personality-based perspective. It does not address recruiting for competence, which is how most raiding guilds recruit. I'm not saying that competence is more important than personality, but a very common complaint on the Guild Relations Forums is that Sally is a great player but a terrible person. Or that Dave is the life of the party, but can't DPS his way out of a wet paper bag. Some commentary on this aspect of guild recruitment would have been most welcome, and it seems odd that it was skipped entirely.

Chapter 4 - Dramatis Persona: Dealing with Guild Drama

Ahh, drama. The advice here about how an officer should deal with drama is very well thought out.

However, Andrews also tries to divide up people into different archetypes to predict personality clashes, and I think he is far less successful here. For one thing, he has 10 archetypes and each one has two subtypes. He also tries to get cute and names the roles after traditional RPG classes. This makes the whole classification scheme rather non-intuitive. Like what's the difference between a Samaritan White Knight and a Wisdom-spec Priest?

Archetypes work best when they are "over-broad", rather than precise. I'm not sure that the classification presented here is actually helpful.

Chapter 5 - Epic Encounters: Raiding As a Guild

This is a very good chapter on how to raid. I've often observed that it's very hard to understand how a good raiding guild works until you've actually been in one. This chapter does a superb job. The section on Discipline alone makes the entire book worthwhile.

If you're a guild leader or officer looking at moving into raiding, or in the lower tiers of raiding guilds, I would highly recommend reading and understanding this chapter.

Chapter 6 - The Protocols of Plunder: Loot Distribution

This chapter goes through several loot systems: Loot Council, Basic Rolling, Suicide Kings (oddly put in the random section), Modified Rolling/Karma, and Point-based Systems. Nothing even moderately exotic like Wishlist, Shroud Loot System, or Vickrey Bidding is mentioned.

I don't really like this chapter. It's serviceable, but I find it rather lacking in structure. For example, Zero-Sum is discussed but not as its own system, but rather as a solution to inflation problems.

As well, Andrews scores each system based on three criteria: Complexity, Officer Effort, and Drama Factor. While those three criteria are important, they don't tell the whole story. If you go just by Andrews' scores, Suicide Kings is the clear winner, when it fact it has significant disadvantages that cause a lot of guilds to avoid it. In SK, loot that could be used is sometimes sharded, which is the cardinal sin for any loot system.

I think Andrews really fails to get across the idea that every loot system makes trade-offs, sacrificing some aspects to enhance other aspects. This chapter is good enough for a new guild, as it will give a general idea about loot systems. But there are better discussions out there. Angelie's thread on the Guild Relations Forum is probably the best starting point if you are interested in loot systems.

Chapter 7 - PvP and Roleplaying Guilds

I'll be honest, I skimmed this chapter as I don't care about organized PvP or roleplaying. Seemed decent enough, though.

Chapter 8 - The Burdens of Command: Managing Officers

This is a very strong chapter on handling officers, including important traits and roles, officer discipline, and handling burnout.

Chapter 9 - The Long Term

This chapter discusses what happens after your guild gets up and running. There are some very nice sections here, particularly the one on Morale. In particular, the idea of managing Morale Gains, not just Losses was insightful.

Sadly, Andrews' tendency towards terrible archetypes trips him up here in the section on Reputation. Describing a guild as an Angelic Kingdom or a Demonic Empire is less than helpful. To reiterate, archetypes have to be fundamental. The sign of a good archetype is that you don't actually have to explain it, that just the name carries all the connotations you desire.

Chapter 10 - IRL: Dealing with Reality

This chapter advises the guild leadership on situations where Real Life interacts with the game negatively. The advice seems pretty solid, though I don't have any experience with these situations so I cannot truly judge it.

Final Observations

The major issue that Andrews does not cover is Time Management. It's alluded to here and there, but I believe that Time Management is a crucial aspect of running an organized guild, and really deserves to be pulled out and examined on its own.

Other than that, The Guild Leader's Handbook is an extremely solid book on guild leadership. It is an amazing resource for a new or inexperienced guild leader or officer. Even an experienced guild leader will find some new ideas or inspiration in it.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Cataclysm Blessings

By way of Righteous Defense, paladin blessings are revealed to be:
Blessing of Might — Places a Blessing on the friendly target, increasing attack power by 11% and restoring 2 mana every 5 seconds for 1 hour. If target is in your party or raid, all party and raid members will be affected. Players may only have one Blessing on them per Paladin at any one time.

Blessing of Kings — Places a Blessing on the friendly target, increasing strength, agility, stamina, and intellect by 6% for 1 hour. If target is in your party or raid, all party and raid members will be affected. Players may only have one Blessing on them per Paladin at any one time.

Finally, one click, and the entire raid is buffed. We're a long ways away from handing out 40 5-minute Blessings in Molten Core.

I'm somewhat surprised that Blessing of Might still increases mana regeneration. I guess they want it to be attractive to casters. Still, I wonder why they didn't extend the Demonic Pact Spell Power boost to it instead of mana regen. However, that might make Blessing of Might too good.

As well, apparently Mark of the Wild will now have the same effect as Blessing of Kings, making Blessings much easier if you have both a druid and a paladin. A good move.

The thing I like best about the new Blessings is that they retain the ability to do "drive-by" buffing. It's odd, but I enjoy casting Blessings on random people who pass by, especially when out leveling, or when you come across a lowbie questing. One of the best changes in recent memory was when buffs were changed to automatically cast the correct version on lower level characters. I was a bit concerned that in order to get one-click Blessings we would have to give up the ability to buff random strangers. I'm happy to see that this is not the case. Excellent work by the dev team to recognize this corner case.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Ask Coriel: New Paladin Healer?

Cathak asks:
Been reading your blog for a few years now and Ive got bitten by the Healing Bug (IE, supporting my guilds raid as a Tank and a Healer). How exactly do I want to spec as a Holy Paladin, what should I Gem and Enchant for - should I just base what I do off your own armory profile? Additionally, as a brand new healer - should I go with a FoL or HL build?

I recommend going with a 51/20/0 build. It's almost identical to my build, only with Aura Mastery. AM is good, I just haven't gotten around to respeccing.

Gemming and Enchanting, it's easiest to go for Intellect, with Spellpower as a second choice. I like getting set bonuses, so I use SP/Int, Int, and Int/Mp5 gems, but many paladins just gem straight Intellect (with a couple of mult-colored gems to get your meta-gem bonus).

I suggest going with a Holy Light build. One of the things a new paladin needs to learn is not to be timid with Holy Light, but to be willing to use it a great deal, even if there is a lot of overhealing.

For Glyphs, I recommend Glyph of Holy Light, Seal of Wisdom, and Beacon of Light. I use Seal of Light to max performance on Valrithia Dreamwalker, but Seal of Wisdom is better for undergeared paladins.

I also like the BoL/SS tracker. It's really useful for tracking Beacon and Sacred Shield durations.

Other than that, paladin healing is just a lot of practice. Keep Beacon and Sacred Shield up on the tank, Judge as often as you can, use Holy Shock when you move, use Divine Plea early and often, and don't be afraid to bomb Holy Lights.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Cataclysm Tank Theorycraft

Via Honor's Code and, comes an observation at Blue Murder that, in Cataclysm, a 10-man tank will have just as much health as a 25-man tank. Therefore the 25-man boss cannot do more dps to the tank, though, because the tank will not have more stamina than in 10-man. However, 10-mans only have 3 healers, while 25-mans have 6-8 healers, so what are all these extra healers supposed to do?

I think this observation is looking at Cataclysm through the lens of the current game.

Right now, the most important variable for a tank is her Worst-case Time to Live. Because bosses hit so hard and fast, a tank needs enough effective health so that she can survive long enough for a heal to land. This is why Effective Health (Stamina + Armor) has been the king tank stat for so long. Effective Health directly increases your Worst-case Time to Live. Increasing your Time to Live from 2.0s to 3.0s makes a huge difference to the healers' ability to keep the tank up.

But Cataclysm is set to change this, by increasing a tank's normal Time to Live significantly. 2.0s to 3.0s is huge, but is going from 10s to 15s as important? Once the Time to Live is high enough, increasing it further doesn't really help anymore. If a tank has 60k health, but the most damage the boss does to her is 50k in 10s, she has significantly more health than she really needs.

In Cataclysm, the limiting resource is supposed to be healer mana. If a 10-man has 3 healers with 30k mana, then--ignoring mana regeneration--the raid can heal 90k mana worth of damage. A 25-man with 7 healers can heal 210k mana worth of damage. The extra damage can come to the tanks, or go to the raid or whatever. The incoming damage-per-second does not matter as much as the total damage taken and the efficiency of the healers.

Since the normal Time to Live will be high enough such that healers will have time to heal efficiently, tanks won't feel the need to maximize Effective Health. I predict that tank theorycraft in Cataclysm will shift to minimizing Damage Taken, focusing on Armor and Avoidance, rather than raw Stamina. Damage that is prevented in some fashion does not have to be healed, thus preserving the healer's mana. This increases the limiting resource available, and makes it less likely that the raid will wipe because the healers ran out of mana.

Of course, this prediction relies on the design direction where a tank can actually take several hits before dying. If that doesn't come true--if the Time to Live drops to a low value--then Stamina will be king once again.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Guest Post on 10s and 25s

Selynida emailed me the following regarding 10s and 25s:

I had written this comment to your blog, and unfortunately I seem to have vastly passed the character limit... however I still wanted to provide it.

One thing that is often missed is looking at history, players flock to whatever provides the most efficient access to powerful epics. Look at raid/PVP history through the expansions:

Pre-TBC, Pre patch 2.0, players primarily raided to obtain the best possible gear. There was no alternative at the highest end (Naxx/AQ 40) and the PVP gear required an even larger time commitment due to the original honor system.

Patch 2.0 pre TBC, players flocked to Battlegrounds, because the dynamic had shifted. It was now possible to completely circumvent the first several tiers of raiding (ZG, AQ 20, MC and BWL) simply by doing battle grounds and obtaining gear at a much more efficient route. Guilds that had touted themselves as raiding guilds ended up collapsing and/or simply running PVP pre mades to quickly stomp randomly assembled pugs to get the gear and marks as quickly as possible. Yet, even this is a bit of poor view, as most of these pre mades never wanted to face another pre made, and actively sent scouts into the BGs ahead of the group specifically to see if they would have to put in effort. This behavior persisted until TBC came out and provided a gear reset making most of the gear negligible.

Post TBC, Arena Season 1 and Season 2, even with a new 10 man introduced, heroics, and new raid encounters, the Arena was played by almost everyone, PVE and PVP player alike as there was no requirements to obtain the gear. You could lose every game a week, and get gear that equaled or surpassed the current raid tier. At the same time, the raid tier was restrictive both due to the initial tuned level of the encounters, attunement chains requiring guilds to go out of their way to make it so members could even attend the raids (SSC and TK attunements), and under-itemized initial raiding gear from the first tier of raiding. Dancing for Points was born here. This persisted until a combination of raid gear was re-itemized, attunements were lifted and removed, encounters were retuned and Arena began requiring person ratings to acquire the best items.

Late TBC, pre patch 3.0, Badge of Justice drops from Karazhan were introduced and were able to provide gear of the equivalent from the highest tier raid that existed at the time (Sunwell Plateau). At this time, players began flocking to Karazhan and farming it extensively on characters of all gear levels, as well as doing the, now trivialized through gear creep, heroic five man instances in order to obtain gear that was on par with the best in the game. Karazhan became “The most popular raid of all time” not because it was the most fun, the dynamics of only requiring 10 people, or because of the gear that drops, but simply due to the high Badge of Justice/Time ratio. Unrealistic requirements were set by the vast majority of guilds resulting in a harder time to break into raiding, despite so much better gear being made available through it; all for the sake of plowing through the trivial content faster.

Mid TBC, Early seasons of arena gear provided through Honor resulted in Battlegrounds again receiving a surge in popularity. However, it wasn’t just the vast number of people playing so many Battlegrounds; it also was a large number of other issues associated with it. While it was providing gear that was a little behind the curve, it was being done at a much faster rate and with much less effort. Also, it rewarded mere attendance in some battlegrounds, and not actual participation resulting in many of the AFK Botting issues that have seen so many issues. Players didn’t want to actually participate, they simply wanted the rewards.

Late TBC, Post patch 3.0, boss ‘re-tuning’ and the removal of all attunements resulted in an explosion of guilds and raids going at least 4/5 in Mount Hyjal and also getting several bosses in Black Temple down. This combined with the still best Badge/Time ratio that Karazhan offered resulted in an incredibly fast gear up time from PVE. It was a similar situation as the end of Vanilla, after Patch 2.0, except instead of flooding Battlegrounds, guilds instead flooded the now substantially easier PVE content.

Early WoTLK, Early raid content was again tuned on the same level as post patch 3.0 TBC bosses were resulting in a much lower entry level for getting into raiding than ever before. Between the additions of easy to obtain epics at a much faster rate than other avenues 10 and 25 raids began to flourish. All content was regularly cleared by a majority of guilds with the exceptions of achievement kills (Sartharion with additional Drakes, 6 Minute Malygos, etc). Since the quality of gear from the 25 man raids were so much better than anything else available, many players who only wanted to PVP went to the PVE game simply to obtain certain weapons (Betrayer of Humanity, Envoy of Mortality, Turning Tide, etc) to actually do the activities they wanted to.

Early WoTLK, Vault is added. This happened concurrently with the previous point; however, a special note should be added to Vault. Vault provided a substantially easier way to obtain many pieces of gear, both PVE and PVP at a fraction of the time. It was substantially easier than the actual content of the level (with the potential exception of Emalon; though this was rectified with Koralon and Toravon so much lower tuned). Each season Vault was updated to provide gear, and with the short hiccup that was Emalon the bosses remained trivial compared to the actual raid encounters of the actual tier. This provided a fast easy way to obtain easy epics of the highest level in a fraction of the time. I would honestly like to see the stats on number of times Vault has been run. I suspect that it has far eclipsed Karazhan as the "Most popular raid of all time."

Late WoTLK, Badge of Triumphs and the Random Dungeon Finder were added to make 5 man encounters substantially more enjoyable. By adding Frost Badges into the mix once a day, it even encouraged more people to be in the system. This was again touted as a huge success (And comparatively speaking, it was) but for the wrong reasons. The vast majority in the system weren’t running the heroics because they enjoyed running heroics or doing dungeons, but they were doing it because it was simply the most efficient way to obtain easy gear. It was faster and more efficient to run heroics through the queue system of the Random Dungeon Finder than it was to run any previous level of content.

Throughout the history of this game, players flock to the easiest ways to get high quality loot. It doesn’t matter if that way is PVE or PVP centric, players will go to the highest quality for the lowest effort. Currently 25 (Or at least early Tier 10 content in 25s) is the highest quality for the lowest effort, with so many bosses killable by a majority of guilds all rewarding close to the best loot in the game. When Cataclysm is released, the best loot will be equally rewarded from 10 or 25 man content. However, even if it is just a logistical issue of not having as many to compete with as many people and needing less people to form a successful raid, the 10s will flourish; and it will be touted as a success of the system, similar to Arena Season two, and the RDF systems were, but it will be claimed as such because of how “Fun” it is.

Pretty much everything Selynida has written is true. However, one crucial aspect may have been missed. People always flock to the the easiest ways to get the higher quality loot. However, there is a question of whether they do this in addition to their preferred activities, or instead of those activities.

In the past, people have always done their regular activities. When PvP was the fastest way to loot, people still did large raids. They PvP'd as well for gear, but they didn't give up raiding.

That's the real key, I think. This is pretty much the first time in WoW that activities will become mutually exclusive. So events may play out in unforseen ways.