Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Difficulty of Automatic Transient Content

Alright, you guys are probably getting as tired of Tank Time/Call To Arms as me, so hopefully this will be the last post on the subject for a while.

Maybe this Call To Arms issue is showing us the upper limit of difficulty for transient content.

Maybe transient content can only be so difficult before we start seeing problems in the system, such as lack of critical roles. I know I complained that rifts in RIFT are nothing more than zergs, with no skill or strategy involved. But perhaps that's the way it has to be. It's entirely possible that if those pieces of transient content were too difficult, the system would break down. Arguably, that's what happened with Warhammer Online Public Quests, they got too difficult unless you had the numbers.

Perhaps Blizzard would be better off saying: here's easy content, and here's hard content. You get a Dungeon Finder for the easy content, but anything difficult requires you to build your own groups. Maybe difficult content needs to be reserved for extended forms of play, such as raiding, where you are involved with the same group over multiple days.

Or if the 5-mans are hard enough, it might would be better to leave them off the Dungeon Finder, signalling to the playerbase that you need to find your own groups, or that you should be doing them in-guild. But even long Dungeon Finder queues might be preferable to that alternative.

Again, a lot of qualifiers for this idea. It might be completely wrong, and we are still well below the "difficulty ceiling" for transient content. I think the real test of this proposition is coming in 4.1. By all accounts, the new troll instances are harder than the current heroics. So they will stress the automatic group creation system even more.


  1. "Perhaps Blizzard would be better off saying: here's easy content, and here's hard content. You get a Dungeon Finder for the easy content, but anything difficult requires you to build your own groups."

    I think this is exactly what they need to do. And also to build some largescale easy encounters for PUG raids.

    The only question remaining is whether it's really worth the effort to keep building the highly tuned content as well ...

  2. I think the idea of automatic group creation for heroics is still a good one... it is really well suited for people who are skilled and want a challenge, but don't want to go through the hassle of getting a raid together. (Or just want something to do between raids, without needing an extensive list of friends to do it well.)

    The item level restriction was a good step in making sure that people couldn't use the LFM system before they were ready... unfortunately people still got around that. :( The iLvl checker should ignore all pvp gear, (and perhaps all gear not matching with your current spec) which would help a lot in that respect. Perhaps also ignoring all gear that isn't gemmed/enchanted, at least for heroics?

    Another thing I'd like to see back is more attunements... at the absolute minimum making people run the normal before being able to queue for the heroic. At least then when you jump into a heroic you know that everyone in there with you knows the general gist of the fights, even if they got carried through them on normal.

  3. I think the difficulty you accept for transient content depends on the reward.

    The problem is that the current heroics offer no reward for doing them.
    1. There loot is crap, you can start raiding with quest rewards and crafted gear.
    2. There's not that much you can buy with JP which means JP don't matter.
    3. 70 VP is not enough for the hassle of the LFD.
    4. There is no fun to get out of a dungeon you have to run daily for gear progression.
    4a. You can't select a dungeon and you're forced to run dungeons you don't like.

    It looks like the current heroics are there as punishment to the player.

    Once upon a time dungeons were meant to be content that's there to be fun. Forcing people to do exactly one dungeon every day which they don't like can't really be healthy for the game in the long run.


    To get back to your question. I'm quite sure I wasn't the only one who wiped a lot on day one in heroic Halls of Reflection with a random LFD group. But that wasn't a problem because of point 4. The dungeon was new and fun.

    After that people just started to drop group immediately after zoning in because not getting the end event done after one hour wiping in HoR wasn't worth the trouble for the daily reward.

  4. I woulnd't mind "half tiers" like what they are doing with the new 5 mans. Have easier raids that are quite puggable that drop 353 gear, and "hard modes" as difficult as current raid encounters that drop 359 gear.

    I'm looking foreward to these new 5 mans, but I'm not sure how I feel about them giving more valor as a daily. Gonna suck all the geared tanks out of the lower heroic queues, especially after it becomes "transient" farm content.

  5. @Kring
    "1. There loot is crap, you can start raiding with quest rewards and crafted gear."

    If you are raiding with quest rewards and crafted gear, you are getting boosted.

  6. > If you are raiding with quest
    > rewards and crafted gear, you
    > are getting boosted.

    Which slot can't be filled with a 346 item from quest rewards, crafted, reputation and JP gear? I can't think of any.

    Reputation and JP is easy to get and you cap out on them fast while you're still "forced" to run the random daily.

  7. The big drawback to taking the harder 5-mans off the LFD is that it forces people who work the second or third shift into an uncomfortable position. Blizzard would be essentially saying to those folks "it sucks to be you", because they can't transfer between NA and EU servers to make their playing time align with other people's prime time. Their only option is to find a guild that caters to those odd hours, and given the crowds in Org and Stormwind at Eastern NA off hours, that might prove difficult to find.

  8. In vanilla wow you could do 10 man raids of most dungeons originally. The developers got upset that it was trivializing content so they removed it.

    It was one of the best features of the original wow. I learned raiding basics in Deadmines. We'd leave Molten Core raids after a few boss failures and Zerg Scholo with a 10 man to get a few gear upgrades and improve morale. People could choose hard or easy content.

  9. @ kring. I just posted on tobolds site that I remember in Vanilla wow when every level 60 dungeon had something worth running it for. Even if it was just Orbs to sell on the AH.

    @Redbeard. AMEN my new shift means I have no chance of ever doing anything with my friends in wow.

  10. Honestly, I don't know that I agree with your terminology. The current content isn't "difficult" per se, it just requires memorization and good rote execution skills. Many people don't really want to memorize (or look up and have a handy cheat sheet) the dungeon encounters, which leads to the impression of difficulty.

    The game was, I think, far more difficult in dungeons in vanilla. I don't think any of the current encounters come close to the difficulty of the 45-minute Baron run to get Dungeon Set 2, for example. But vanilla required a very different approach. Memorizing boss mechanics then entailed (as a high end example) "if you are ranged, stay away from the Baron, he radiates shadow damage". The core skills were things like: how do you pull? How do you focus fire? How do you control runners? Y'know, things that required actually evaluating individual encounters and making decisions and using teamwork (instead of online synchronized swimming).

    The real problem is that they've finally taken "boss mechanics" to their absurd end.

  11. How about tiered subscription model? Basic subscription pays for easy content. Advanced (more expensive) subscription opens hard content. There can be multiple tiers. With special service like LFD for extra charge. Sort of like F2P system but content tiers tied to difficulty/convenience.

  12. @ Kring I think the confusion arose becaue you said quests and crafted ie implied not heroics and jp.

    I liked 5 mans and heroics for themselves, I might run 7-8 in a week or I might not run any. The only hiccup to that was Shattered halls and attunements where you ended up being forced to run very hard(at the time) content over and over to attune the entire guild.

    So you might run say heroic shadow labs to help a guildie or for a meaningful quest or the epic at the end. It was a challenge and that was ok because you did not run it every week.

    Now we have heroics and they are not hard, I probably wiped more on your average Heroic shadow labs in full t4 then I did on my first Heroic 3 days after dinging 85 and everybody in 329 or close to it.

    But they reward vp, and we need vp for upgrades, we need vp to progress faster in raids even we will eventually replace with a raid drop, we need vp for our alts to get them up to scratch for alt raids and easier entry into pug BH. We can even convert vp into gold via Boe's.

    So we run heroics over and over and over, heroics nerfed to be easy for pug groups,designed to be fast because they will be run so often, heroics where the only challenge is how bad a player/group can be and still be carried to the finish.

  13. The combination of difficult content, a daily quest and an anonymous LFD just doesn't work.

  14. It occurs to me that part of the problem with the 5-mans being "overly difficult" is the hidden fight mechanics that require you to know certain things and do certain things in order to pass the fight, otherwise you wipe. You can't simply "burn it down" all the time.

    The thing is, unless you do out-of-game research (which many casual players aren't interested in/don't have time for) or learn by painful experience, how are you supposed to know this?

    Take the fight with Scourgelord Tyrannis in Pit of Saron for example. He has a sneaky little debuff that can wipe your party if you don't stop dpsing when it's on you, but how are you supposed to know that? You can say, "Pay attention to your debuffs!" but really, when things are exploding around you and there's a crazy fight going on, it's hard to be reading the tiny tooltip attached to the tiny icon on the upper right of your screen.

    Since I tank, I take the time to try and learn these things, but I can understand why many people don't.

    Maybe it would help to try and build in some kind of context or ingame hints into dungeons that would give players a clue that there's a mechanic on a fight before they wipe because of it and wonder what the heck happened. Maybe if there was an npc in the dungeon somewhere that said something like, "Beware the scourgelord's brand, it can turn you against each other" or something, that might help.

    I'm not saying mechanics are bad, in fact I enjoy them, but often there's nothing at all in the game itself which would lead you to figure out the mechanic.

  15. Also, I wanted to add, to Kring,

    People dropped Halls of Reflection?! that dungeon is stupid easy and actually one of the most fun/ interesting of all the wrath dungeons! Who wipes on that instance?! On what part?!

    I'm not trying to sound like a jerk, but honestly that dungeon is so straightforward, and it's really not that hard! The fights don't have any special mechanics, everything about the dungeon is self explanatory, and it's so cool and exciting/scary to be running away from the lich king and fighting against the clock to escape. The whole Forge of Souls/Pit of Saron/Halls of Reflection are by far my favourite dungeons since vanilla because they feel so epic and cool, like you're really involved in something greater.

  16. People dropped Halls of Reflection?! that dungeon is stupid easy and actually one of the most fun/ interesting of all the wrath dungeons! Who wipes on that instance?! On what part?!

    Did you never actually run the dungeon in LFD?

    People wiped on the 4/5 and 9/10 waves all the damn time. Everything was undead, so unless you had a priest/paladin/hunter, you could not CC any of the 3-caster waves, getting aggro on everything as a tank was a huge pain in the ass, and most everyone used the "superior" corner method which essentially bunched everyone up to take a ton of unnecessary AoE damage + healer being in range of the Footman's auto-kick ability. If you wiped on the 4/5 or 9/10 wave, you had to do the entire mini-gauntlet all over again. The best part was how the bosses after the waves were total jokes, but you could still wipe miserably because someone died on the 4/5 or 9/10 waves and you didn't have enough time to rez them or for the healer to drink before combat started.

    Halls of Reflection was the worst-designed instance in the game. Worse than even the 5m ToC heroic.

  17. Sieghardt as new 85's we deliberately did not look up the fights unless we had died twice and still had no clue, fight mechanics are normally pretty obvious.

    Halls of Reflection was hard because of 2 things, First people REFUSED TO CC, sorry I cant do that, its to hard, or they did it badly and relying on a cc and then having the mob running around is worse then just Aoe tanking. Second even if your tank and healer carried them through to the gauntlet, if you didnt have enough dps, you where not going to complete the gauntlet. As a tank you can only pick up every mob, as a healer you can only heal until LK was in melee range and his aura was doing unhealable damage. If the dps was not good enough it did not matter how good a tank or healer you where.

  18. In addition to everythign that's been said, if somebody DID die you didn't have enough time between waves to rez, and you couldn't corpse run becuase the door closed and you'd be locked out. It required perfect performance every time.

    Add in the fact that even a smooth run took 30 minutes when the average time to run most heroics was around 15 to 20, and many many many tanks and healers dropped right as they zoned in.

  19. Interesting responses.

    So far my experience has been quite different. Now perhaps the reason is due to changes in the game; I've only played Halls since the advent of Cata, although I haven't bought Cata yet. Any number of factors could contribute to it being easier now. I've run it probably ten to 15 times, and only once did I wipe due to a really goofball group that had no clue how to play, apparently.

    All my groups have been pugs in LK Heroics.

    The fact that I'm a Paladin tank with quite good gear may also have something to do with it.