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.


  1. The narrative becomes too skewed and inaccurate about midway through explaining what happened in BC. It isn't mostly right by any stretch.

  2. I found her post to be very accurate.

    There was even a blue post during early Wrath where they acknowledge that people tend to gravitate towards the easiest means to collect the best loot (citing the TBC Arena/BG gear as an example).

  3. @ Shayzani:

    How so? Sounds scarily accurate to me. I remember people grinding honor/arena for weapons/gear constantly. My scrub guild, which before had barely dented anything past Magtheridon, made it about halfway through SSC, the first boss or 2 in Hyjal. (and we were far behind the curve for 'normal' due to guild politics). Other guilds on the server also surged, but into Hyjal, BT, and in one case, Sunwell.

    And it's definately the exclusion part i'm most wary of. I've been guilty of farming gear- but i also always did the stuff i found fun. I also liked doing 25s and 10s for different reasons. Only getting pidgeon holed in one is going to result in less options overall, for me.

  4. My issue with the narrative is with the assumptions and motivations provided for the actual events described. Yes, a lot of players did the battleground grind for some gear, weapons primarily, but I strongly disagree with the idea that this happened simply because it was easier, required less effort or was even more efficient necessarily.

    In many cases, the honor grind for pvp gear was done to shore up holes in the loot tables of early raids. As a caster dps you had two options for weapons in Karazhan, one was only so-so quality and the other was from the last boss of the instance. These kinds of equipment gaps could be filled by afk'ing in AV for a number of hours. I did the grind for a season one staff and a season two spellblade myself in fact.

    If your guild was nearing the end of SSC and TK and you were just starting your raiding career you could either try to get a tier 4 weapon from Kara which would still put you behind the curve or you could pvp for a season 2 spellblade and be much more on par with the rest of your group. Your only option for a caster weapon on that same tier was one sword from Leo. That's pretty terrible odds. Until Zul'Aman, which dumped a sizable amount of new weapons and other gear into the game, your gearing options could be quite limited.

    I disagree with the timeline set down in regards to the popularity of Karazhan as well. Kara was immensely popular well before the bosses started dropping badges and not just because it was most player's first source of gear either. A lot of people genuinely enjoyed the instance itself, enjoyed playing with a smaller group of friends and all kinds of other reasons. To say that Karazhan's popularity was due solely or even primarily because of the badge grind it became comes across to me as fairly cynical.

    The Quel'Danas badge vendor gear was pretty amazing stuff but it wasn't equivalent to Sunwell gear. Item level-wise it stands equivalent to tier 6 gear, still absolutely amazing but not quite to the levels described in the original post. The itemization on the badge gear was also less impressive than loot coming from tier 6 raids in many cases. For example, while the few raiding Ret paladins that existed made out like bandits when Smith Hauthaa opened shop, Fury warriors were much less enthused.

    There's more I could go on about but I think I've gone well over the amount of time I was going to spend on this already. The main problem I have with the original post's narrative is that the motivations, contributing factors and logic behind why things happened the way they did is told with cynicism and a relatively small, but important, skewing of things generally.

    Some of my issues with the post might be fairly nitpicky but if we're going to say that things happened because of x and only x then its only going to muddle our perspective and lead to more problems in the future.

  5. The thing with Karazhan as I recall is that people did genuinely enjoy it. But they kept running it long long past they were bored stiff with the place because of the badge grind.

    And sure the badge gear wasn't as good as sunwell drops. But the vast majority of people in the game did not run sunwell.

  6. Wheter the wall of arguments are innacurate or not is somewhat beside the point. The core is true, the majority of players raid or play for better gear. For many this is what the game is about. That beeing said, the issue with 10 vs 25 will not be about better gear but it will be about the status it brings. So bringing gear to the same level means that with 25 raiding you will not get a higher gearscore and henche higher status.

  7. That may have been your experience and the experience of some of those you knew but it wasn't everyone's experience.

    Its disingenuous to discount or dismiss the idea that people did Kara repeatedly out of enjoyment because a lot of people still enjoyed it long after running it for months on end.

    I think we're still at a misunderstanding about the Quel'Danas gear too but I'm not sure this point in particular is worth bothering over. Yeah it wasn't as good as Sunwell, it also wasn't as good as tier 6 in a fair number of situations either.

    I guess ultimately my issue with this has been that the original premise dismissed any kind of contradictory or supplementary perspectives in favor of holding onto one cynical viewpoint.

  8. @ JB - I think its pretty clear by now that I at least don't think what I've said is just 'beside the point'.

    However, I'm also clearly not doing a great job communicating my points judging by the responses so I'll bow out of the discussion here.

  9. I think there are important meta-aspects being overlooked in the 10s vs 25s debate, and issues that affect more social guilds. I've had a couple officers in my guild complain about the change, because they see an emphasis on 10s making it harder to "know" people in your guild outside your small group; and that 25s let you play with just about everyone.

    A shift on 10s also puts a higher stress on attendance, a 25-man guild is likely to recruit assuming people will miss raids on occasion, if you miss your 10-man for a few nights you may end up replaced.

    As for my guild, we're talking about trying to run _both_ 10s and 25s (each type on alternating weeks); and I don't see that option being discussed anywhere on the internet so I thought I'd throw it out there.

  10. I think Rohan's postscript is the most important caveat to the whole thing, because I'm someone for whom that post does not apply at all. I've raided since classic, and I took part in almost none of those activities mentioned. I had a certain amount of time to play the game, and did what I wanted to do first (raiding with my guild/friends), and did not engage in many extra activities, because those activities were not fun.

    I never AFKed in a battleground, or went after easy honor for weapons or other gear. I never had an arena team until Season 3 (with my non raid toon), and certainly never danced in an arena. I never farmed heroics or Karazhan for badges in TBC and maybe bought one or two pieces of badge gear total (although the amount of fun I had with my Kara 10 team did basically doom me to another several years of WoW-playing, I was close to quitting before that). When my arena character needed a weapon in WotLK, I didn't start raiding with her to get one. About the only thing I've ever done that Selynida described was doing heroics in WotLK for badges, and I feel that was more due to the fact that I really enjoy pugging and was glad to see it make a comeback in the LFD tool.

    I'm not denying that these things took place, or that people did flock to certain activities for the stated reasons, but I do wonder if the case is being overstated. There's a lot of assertions here and I'm not seeing any evidence other than anecdotal (which of course describes my previous paragraph as well, but there you go). So again, I think Rohan's comment is important. These activities were perhaps done, but if they were it was to support activities that didn't necessarily revolve around what offered the easiest epics. I don't think it's safe to explain even a plurality of the playerbase's motivations so simply.

  11. The thing is that 25's will still be a viable way to get more rewards (gear) faster. Not as a lot of ppl has specculated having 6+ pieces of loot drop from a boss kill, but twice or trice the amount of "badges", hence making it way faster for you to purchase your tier pieces + extras.
    Since the system currently favors farming for currency instead of relying on the drops this will surely be more efficient, providing the easiest means to access high quality gear.
    That said I think there should not be additional rewards for 25s logistic challenges since 10s are higher on a personal skill requirement. But if this system makes both types of raids viable (finally) I think its great.

  12. I agree with the premise that players tend to flock towards whichever activity provides the best gear for the least investment. That doesn't necessarily mean, though, that motives are being unfairly characterized to the majority of players. Why the activities became popular when they did is fairly obviously due to the investment:reward ratio, but why they became as popular as they did isn't something the narrative delves into too deeply. It doesn't differentiate between players who just did the popular activities for the loot vs. players who simply followed their friends vs. players who were burned out on the previous popular activity and were looking for something new to do, etc. And to be perfectly honest, I don't think it really matters. Also, nothing I saw in the posted e-mail precluded people from doing the popular activity and having fun at the same time.

    As for the argument that the PvP gear was used to shore up holes in PvE itemization, I'm not seeing how that's contradictory to the premise posited. If PvP gear was used to fill a gap because the PvE alternative was hard to obtain (either because of the randomness of drops or because one's raid group hadn't downed the boss that dropped it enough times, or whatever), that's just another way of saying that the PvP gear provided a better time/effort:reward ratio than its PvE equivalent. After all, the option to not do PvP and just wait for the PvE gear was still present, just less desirable since it required more patience and luck. (If the argument is that the PvE equivalent simply didn't exist in the game, that's a different story.)

    @Tucha: Badges are being converted into a point system (like current honor/arena points) where the higher quality points (Emblem of Frost equivalent) will be capped at a certain amount per week. What this means is that in terms of how many weeks it will take you to buy "badge gear", it can potentially be the same for 25-man raiders as 10-man raiders as 5-man random heroic runners. The only difference between the 3 is how many random heroics are needed to reach the cap.

  13. I enjoyed the article. Though in full it is mostly accurate there is 1 thing that really...really irks me.


    I've always done pve/pvp and enjoyed both.

    Vault is a place that many pve people don't care for. The loot isn't "good enough" for the petty time investment.
    My biggest gripe with Vault is simply that the loot table is just way too wacky. I've done it every week, since it has opened. In all the times...I have gotten 3 pieces of gear. 2 of them I outright bought because I lost the roll. Being rich in game does have its advantages.

    I would venture to say atleast 50% of the time, the most current Vault boss will NOT drop any pvp gear. An instance that is won through pvp, yet the boss a big chunk of the time does NOT drop pvp gear...that amazes me, saddens me at the same time.

    The pve gear that is dropped is pretty underwhelming. So much so that pve nerds don't want to even do it. Beside that, to a great majority vault is not "fun" All I have to point to is pre nerf Faction Champions in TOTC. How many of you were amazed at the silliness of comments from people in vent on abilities and lack of simple game mechanics. Or the waves of QQ about having a "boss" like that.

    I liked the Faction Champs alot. I liked the randomness of the setup. I liked that it was never the same scripted thing. Granted I Love!! pvp, but I know that they wont have any more fights like that because of all the qq from the boards.

  14. I just leveled a disc priest and a prot warrior doing battlegrounds and dungeons. The most fun I had was when both of those toons were in their late 70's. I could run dungeons to my heart's desire. I could pvp and it was actually fun because I wasn't two-shotted. Once I hit 80 most of the fun was just plain gone because I couldn't really pvp, nor could I do anything other than heroics because my all important gearscore was too low.

  15. Have you noticed too that there are generally not that many people playing anymore that used to play vanilla? I mean, 3/4 people I meet in game now say they started during tbc or wotlk. The player base has changed imo.

  16. Love the blog!

    Coupla points that may or may not advance the conversation:

    - TBC craftable gear, especially tailored was bis for a number of classes.

    - Kara was actually a huge failure, in design. It was developed in relative secrecy and at 'grand reveal' to the rest of the design team it was immediately apparent that it was far too small inside for 40 people. This dungeon was one of the reasons for 25s, and the reason Blizz never does 'grand reveals' any more.

    - New raid system: I think people forget there is a guild levelling system coming, and guild currency, and guild craftables, and lots of other stuff. Fact is we just don't know what the whole grindtastic menu will be, nor do we know how players will respond to these new incentives. Don't get your knickers in a twist just yet, have faith in Blizz to make it work - they have up till now.


  17. I was going to post my own long narrative, but basically I have to say my experience was at odds with this one.

    While I believe people flock to what they have access to, not that many people used PvP as a way to access gear, especially if they didn't like PvPing.

    And no mention of crafted epics ala Shadoweave and Lionheart?

    I think this was a nice review of someone's particular experience, but its not accurate, not totally.

  18. And by not accurate, I meant it's someone's specific experience. Not necessarily true for everyone.

    Also it's not a huge reveal to say people flock to epics.

    Basically saying
    "Throughout the history of this game, players flock to the easiest ways to get high quality loot." doesn't go far enough.

    I think many of us take the easiest path to loot so we can take that loot and do what we find fun.

    Would it make any sense at all for me to skip doing Coren Direbrew, when I know it drops decent trinkets just to make a point that I don't take the easy route?