Thursday, November 19, 2009

How limited attempts risk to make raiding more dull

"OMFG not again!!! Larísa is about to complain about something she's seen in WoW or in the community! She's obviously on the verge of a burnout, she' hates the game, she should leave any day soon now."

I can picture the comments as I'm writing this post. Just in order to show you that I'm basically still a merry gnome and that I'm not trying to mutate into a pigtailed version of TotalBiscuit, I'll start by mentioning some of the good or at least OK stuff about the mechanisms of Icecrown.

(If you don't know TotalBiscuit, he's the host of a brilliant podcast called Blue Plz! -, where he in an endless stream of consciousness is bitching about literally EVERYTHING connected to WoW in a spot-on and very entertaining manner. He's wonderful, but honestly there's only room for one of those cakes in the WoW community.)

Once I've established a positive blog climate I'll go on expressing a few doubts, without being too whiny. Right?

Gated encounters and world buff

So first the good stuff:
- Gated unlocking of bosses once again. Yeah, they're treating the gamers like children, only handling out a few of the candies at one time so the chocolate box will last longer. It's a bit patronizing, but I'm afraid it's a necessary measure to prolong the life of this patch. Otherwise we'll just rush through it and then instantly start complaining about the lack of new conetent.

In ToC the gated mechanism became a bit silly and quite annoying since there was no trash and just one boss a week released. We were starved! But in Icecrown they're releasing one wing at a time and that might enough to keep us entertained for a while each week. In my guild we're still working on ToC hc , and I don't mind that we're given a little bit more time to do clear it.

- A world wide raid buff to all raids, which will grow gradually after some months. This is an attempt to little by little nerf the encounters to make sure that the majority, even quite casual raiders, will be able to enjoy "all" the content, at least in a simple form. In stead of openly nerfing it they're doing the opposite now, providing this buff which will make all characters stronger. The benefit of this is that it's optional. After all you can just take away the buff if you want the encounter to be at the same difficulty level as it was when the instance was launched.

Even though I suspect that quite few raiders will have the motivation and self discipline to deactivate the buff, since taking away the buff doesn't seem to give any advantages such as better loot, I still think it's a good thing that there is an option. If you were a late starter in TBC you were forced to face bosses nerfed to the ground. This model provides much more freedom of choice.

Limited attempts
And now to my concerns. Or let's say "reflections", since it sounds more neutral. What bothers me is the idea to limit the attempts to try the hardest bosses so much. Five attempts for a whole week! Gosh. That's harsh to say the least, unless the bosses are ridiculously easy, God forbid.

I've heard the arguments for limited attempts many times. The most common one is that it somehow is "better" if you down an encounter after a complete analysis of every detail in the fight on beforehand, than if you do it by doing many consecutive attempts until you're finally successful. Doing many times is supposed to be "brutal force", which is considered a bad thing.

And I can't quite understand why. What I ask myself is: what's so bad about actually playing the game online on the game server? And what's so good about spending more time on this game offline, studying boss strategies and boss videos in detail so you know EXACTLY what to do in an encounter, all you need to do is to execute?

Now understand me right, I too look up new encounters in advance. As a minimum I want to see the Tankspot movie so I know the basics of the fight. But this isn't the one and only way to raid! I'm well aware that they're in a minority, but still - there are players out there who refuse to do like "everyone else". There are players who are in guilds where they have an agreement to try out new encounters blindly, not walking in the footprints of others, not having any clue about what to suspect when they first enter. There are players who think that figuring out a strategy on your own is a big part of what makes raiding interesting. And they prefer learning by doing, rather than by reading and looking at other people raiding.

I think those players deserve some respect and encouragement. And they definitely don't deserve to be unable to continue working on a boss after only five tries, just because the developers expect everyone to know all fights in Icecrown on beforehand.

I know there isn't much you can do to reward the players who figure out strategies of their own. There isn't any way to prove that "we did this without looking at any Tankspot video". But at least they could be considerate enough not to introduce mechanisms like this one, which will steer towards a form of raiding which they find pretty dull, but is absolutely necessary if they want to remain competitive on their server.

Some people prefer to learn a raid encounter by reading and looking. Others like learning by doing. As simple as that. There's more than one way to raid. Please remember that.


drug said...

In TotGC, I honestly hate limited attempts. Why? I don't like PvP. Nearly no one in my guild is heavily interested in PvP or Arena. In short: We absolutely suck at Faction Champions Heroic. It's a drag every week and I just don't like being punished for not caring about PvP. And I like it even less, if every failed attempt reduces the time I could learn the next encounter I actually like working on, the Twins.

That's what I don't like about limited attempts, so much can go wrong. People disliking PvP, raiders having disconnects, cats walking over keyboards, angry girlfriends/boyfriends interrupting the peace of raiding. Or even worse: Your guild has a not so ideal lineup on a raid night. Then it is likely, that you will farm some old content instead of having fun on trashing our head against new content, because guilds can't waste their precious attempts on a sub-optimal raid lienup.

On the other hand, somehow I understand blizzard. What other way is there, to make content last? Making bosses ridiculously hard and then nerving it a month later? Actually, I'd prefer it that way. But hey, I'd also prefer getting rid of heroic modes altogether, because beating a boss a second time with my hands tied behind my back, just not fun and epic.

Klepsacovic said...

I don't mind the limited attempts. It helps even out the playing field between those who can spend 48 straight hours fighting and those who can only get a few hours over those two days.

@drug: Don't think of it as PvP, think of it as dynamic PvE. Or worst case scenario, try this suggestion from Euripedes.

Jormundgard said...

I agree, Larísa. I think steps like this are designed to restrain the very high-end guilds, who in all honesty aren't playing the game as it was designed (as if any game could). A good system would restrain such guilds, or would just ignore their efforts, without consequence to the more typical players. I don't have the solution, but I would rather there be no solution than one that punishes the wrong people.

BTW this is classic "B-Team" behaviour - monkeying around with the system to fix problems that were only perceived by a minority.

Ngita said...

Its a issue, I am not sure if its a big issue. On the other hand we didnt start beating Heroic beasts 25 in less then 5 attempts until we had gear from Heroic 25.

Cooldowns become super important, I know they have shortened many but zoneing out after Lord J to die just to remove exhausted debuff is not fun.

One big issue with toc,is the massive gap between heroic and normal. Normal is meant to be seen by everybody and in fact in the last couple of weeks we have been having fun seeing just how badly geared you can be as long as you have a decent tank and one decent healer and everybody knows the instance.

Heroic, even heroic 10 is a big jump and even when you can clear the place bringing in new people can cause problems. We had 4 people who had not killed anub on heroic 10 last week and wiped 25 odd times. This week we kept the old team and cleared with 50 attempts left.

Kleps in actual use its more like. Nobody wants to be the guy that makes one mistake and blows your cloak/mount for the week and nobody wants to bring the new guy because he is the mostly likely candidate to do so.

Elnia said...

I don't raid and that influences my perspective heavily. I don't think the problem is really hard-core raiders so much as it is that they then splash that information all over the internet. As strange as it may sound, I actually think they are trying to get people to do what Larisa wants: learn by doing rather than by reading up on the web. The problem is, how do you penalize the hard core group without penalizing the casuals. Limited attempts just strikes me as penalizing everyone.

Having said all of that, my biggest beef with stretching out the content is that it means just that much longer until Cataclysm gets here. :0

drug said...

Of course we know how the threat works and we all drag our PvP abilities in our action bar. We send people to get new specs just for this encounter.

BUT, on 25 heroic you will get destroyed if your fellow raiders aren't great at controlling their assigned targets. You can still easily wipe after successfully killing two champions. The factor of luck and RNG is very high. We have a DK who controls the rogue extremely well. He doesn't raid -> 4-5 wipes until the next person learns to control the rogue half as good as he does. A rogue who is excellent at interrupting, stunlock etc helps so much more than your average pve rogue.

Anonymous said...

Somebody posted a analysis of how the Faction Champions do threat, take a look:

Incidentally, the limited attempts are there for the same reason as the gated unlocking: because then the top 1% of all WoW raiding guilds won't go in and spend like three days straight trying to down all the bosses before everyone else. Not only is it bad for those raiders' health [and if any of them collapsed or died it'd be terrible for Blizzard as well], but if they do succeed, you'd see a LOT more claims of "WoW is too easy now, it only took Ensidia three days to clear Icecrown QQ!"

Anonymous said...

@ Elnia

They have to stretch out the content as Cataclysm isnt out until Sept 2010. At least thats the release date some websites are talking about.

Klepsacovic said...

@Ngita: I realize it's not ideal, but challenges and limits inevitably cause people to put more emphasis on ensuring that they are running with skilled players. It does promote the "need to have run it to get into the raid" mentality, but we see that anyway. At least this helps with the problem of server firsts going to whoever had the most caffeine and vacation time.

@drug: PvP abilities? I can think of no ability that could be accurately called a PvP ability with the implication that it's not also a PvE ability. It's not PvP, it's an extremely difficult PvE fight. As you said, wipes happen when people aren't performing optimally; and that includes failing to make full use of available abilities. PvE used to be filled with CC and interrupts and kiting and all sorts of dynamic, adaptive tactics; those didn't start in PvP.

: 'Some websites' almost never know anything. Half make stuff up, the other half spread the rumors from the first half.

Dw-redux said...

larisa, get out of my head young lady!

Here I was writing pretty much the same thing.
Only... you know.. angrier :)

One point I love is the fact that they have tied all of these, erhm, C**kblocks into the lore. There is a reason for them now. That is just so great.

Pangoria Fallstar said...

Ever thought that limited attempts is a way to get people out of the raid, so that more instances can be launched?

Ixobelle said...

omg how horrible.

I had no idea about the five attempts thing, and yes, this is going to go EXACTLY how you mention:


rescue me. This can only get worse. Oh! I have an idea... have linkable acheivements for watching vodeos on tankspot.


sorry for caps. this is awful.

Dw-redux said...

Oh yes.
Word for word, that will happen in chats as soon as IC hits. (maybe even before... "you havent seen all 50 ptr vids of this encounter? Go naxx you scrub")

Tessy said...

"OMFG not again!!! Larísa is about to complain about something she's seen in WoW or in the community! She's obviously on the verge of a burnout, she' hates the game, she should leave any day soon now."

This made me giggle :P

jeffo said...

I don't have a real issue with the limited lockouts in principal -- I agree with others, it's primarily a way for Blizz to stretch the content out a bit more -- I do think that they should either:
a) increase the number of attempts before lockout for the early bosses (i.e., start with 10, or 15, and add fewer with each new boss) or
b) change the lockout so that it's 24 or 36 hours. This will allow you to actually work on the raid multiple days of one lockout period, while preventing the three-day marathon session.

Sadly, this system means my guild will wipe five times in an hour and then it's back to ToC since there's nothing else to do -- I can't wait to get out of ToC for ever!

jeffo said...

lol, good one. 'LFM ICC - link gear score and tankspot vid'

Ephemeron said...

We can't outlast the frozen legions of undeath, since time itself is on their side.

Our only hope is to strike swiftly and decisively.

drug said...

@Kleps: Have you beaten the encounter on 25 Heroic? 10 Man doesn't count because the damage is significantly smaller. Also normal mode 25 man doesn't count, because it requires Zero CC and has an extremely high tolerance for error.

I don't mind bosses, that require a raid to think outside the box. I don't mind gimmick finds. I don't mind vehicle fights. I don't mind to hex stuff from time to time or purge.

But I absolutely dislike fights, where PvP veterans have a big advantage and many PvP talents will make your life easier.

A rogue with PvP experience will perform perfect stunlocks, while many pve rogues will struggle. Why? Because raid mobs are immune in 99% of the cases to the abilities they have to use now. And years of perfecting your PvP CC isn't just something you'll learn in two days. Good PvP players have all their CC abilities keybound and burnt into their brain muscle memory. PVE players often don't have those abilities keybound, if they use them only very very rarely.

Thats practice with PvP abilities. The next thing is talents. Tons of talents will make your life incredibly easier, those talents are commonly known as pvp talents and avoided in PVE specs. This leads to people having to respec, raid delays etc.

Now let's say you master those points above more or less. Then there is still a huge RNG factor involved.

To top of the annoyance of this encounter, it has limited attempts, where disinterest in PvP punishes you in your path of progression.

@larisa. Sorry for being a little bit too much on the off topic side, but hey, the encounter has limited attempts after all. Oh, and did I mention, the faction champions are really annoying me?

Larísa said...

@Drug: Well, I’m not a huge fan of the limit in TotGC either, but at least you have a decent amount of attempts there. I think rather than giving a definite limit, they could change the loot depending on how many attempts you need. That’s incentive enough to aim for perfection. But this 5-attempt limit is just ridiculous and will force players into a certain kind of raiding, following guides and videos rigorously.

About the champions: actually I’m not that much against them as such, even though I’m not a PvP:er. I think they give a bit of variety, not being an ordinary tank-and-spank fight. But on the other hand I haven’t done them in hc mode yet, so I should probably just shut up.

: But limiting it to FIVE attempts? Do you really think that’s fair?

: I think the other holding-back mechanisms they’ve put up – such as gated bosses and that you have to make them on normal first – are enough to keep down the pace a little. The restricted number of attempts is an overkill, which certainly damages a lot more than the group they were aiming for.

@Ngita: I think you’re right about the effect this will have on raid composition. It will be harder for new, not so experienced players to get a spot when there’s only 5 attempts. It’s extremely unforgiving.

@Elnia: I can imagine that it’s worrying news for non-raiders. There will come some other new content than raids, but I’m not clear at how much it is.

: yeah, I can understand they try to slow down the players a bit, but the 5 attempt limit is the wrong method imo.

@Dw-redux: no way, I’ll stay there, spying, so I can get some great ideas for future blogposts.

Fallstar: I don’t think that will work tbh. The result will be that they’ll continue farming ToC and Ony until they fall down dead of boredom. Still occupying spots in an instance.

: Yeah, I can imagine something like that. Lol@ watch video achievement!

@Tessy: It seems that you disagree on me being burned out. Just give me a heads-up if you start to think there’s any foundation for those worries!

@Jeffo: Shorter lockouts? No thanks! Imagine the pressure this would put on raiding guilds to use every lockout at a maximum so you can gear up asap. I think THAT if anything would support an “unhealthy” play style.

tufva said...

I still haven't made my mind up what I think about both the gating and the limited attempts.

It will depend on how hard the bosses are in my mind. If it is feasible for a good group with decent gear and skill to take the boss down in 5 attempts then fair enough. But if the boss is hard enough that you would need say 15 attempts on him to learn the fight enough to do it - then it sucks to have to wait 3 weeks to do it, not to mention that it will actually take longer since you will get slightly rusty from week to week.

Same thing about the gating. Depends on how hard the content is. I do not ever want to have to see TotC again. If the section is easy enough that you can clear it in less than 3 nights per week, I will have to go back to TotC and that will make me a very sad panda.

I can see possible good things and possible bad things about these mechanics, but until I actually see the fights and their difficulty level - who knows?

Kromus said...

I doesnt bother me too mcuh, but the pros and cons I can draw from it is this;

It rewards more tactical planning going into a fight, rather then rewarding the guild that spends the most time raiding, which some can- because you'll only have the same amount of attempts that supercasual3000 guild has.

it does, however, add to guild frustration when attempting a boss for the first time. Every time you screw up it feels horrible already, but knowing that its a wasted attempt because of you, or you contributed will really guilt our minds! :D

I don't really mind, but- it also makes sense as it would be rubbish if the Lich King went down straight away, although hopefully that won't happen regardless.

Anonymous said...

It's only 5 attempts for the first wing. You get 5 ADDITIONAL attempts when the next wing is released. God, you all act like you will only have 5 attempts every week until Icecrown is cleared. It's 5 at first then 10, then 15 etc...
So yes, most guilds will likely want you too be prepared for the first 5 attempts during week one so as not to waste them. Is that too much to ask for? It'll cut down on PUG attempts that's for sure.

Bell said...

@drug - the Champions encounter actually works off of a different, somewhat complicated yet perfectly understandable threat table. By manipulating this you can manipulate the encounter and make it much less of a "PvP" type situation.

I think lock outs are an attempt to give the "hardcore raiders" something they've been asking for: another challenge. They've missed the point, though; we don't want a challenge of time, we want a challenging encounter (like Firefighter or 1/0 Light Yogg).

lonomonkey said...

I was actually thinking it wasn't such a bad idea before reading this. I mean I've been in a few raids where we would just keep hitting our head on a wall until we pushed through. Being forced to quit at some point would have made for some nicer raid nights.

But 5 attempts do seems incredibly low... and I pray to go we don't get the video fest Ixo predicted...

Anonymous said...

As much as it tries to limit the hardcore guilds, this doesn't affect the guilds that are on the PTR now. In the long run it's a boost to them. They have already done almost all the fights so what more is there to learn.

Klepsacovic said...

@Larisa: Well... yea 5 is way way too few. I'd have gone with 10 minimum, maybe 15-20 overall.

fallingleavesandwings said...

I, too, am not a fan of the "limited attempts". It frustrates me, because while it's ment as a choke point for the best of the best, if you will, what it really does is punishes those that aren't the best and need a bit more time to work things out.

The only redeeming factor with so few attempts is that as the encounters become available longer, the number of attempts increase. Which is good. But still irritating.

Tyra said...

I have homework, so just posting a quick thought to see how people react.

Personally i hate the idea of # of attempts. But what if they made it dynamic? Say, there is no limit set originally. Guilds can go in, try for server firsts as hard as they want. As soon as they get it down, the number of tries is "locked in". Now it stays that number until someone comes around and beats it. Eventually someone will do it with no wipes and get (insert title of leet skillz), and maybe a purple flying elephant. That way, you can spend as much time as you need, so your pushing for server/world first, but also pushing to keep wipes to a minimum.

You might enjoy this picture:

-Yes, it's fake ;P

Tyra said...

proper link. Damn my copy/paste skills.

Anonymous said...

add jpg

to the end of the URL to fix it.

and i smiled ;)

What's my main Again? said...

I zone out and play peggle while the raid leader explains all new fights. I tend to go in fresh which honestly helps a lot because I pick up things quickly. Instead of doing it the way they did on the video I'll take a look at the mechanics and what actually happened and help form a strategy. 75% of the time we end up going with my idea's and tweeks.

I have mixed feelings on the 5 try lock out. For the most part I think I like it because I don't want to spend 4 hours wiping on the same boss because a select few just don't get it.

On the other hand I spent 2 hours of solid attempts at OS 10 no drakes and enjoyed every second of it. We had one infuriating attempt that saw the raid wipe with sarth at 16k hps.

Atleast the limit only applies to the last boss of each wing as opposed to the entire raid like ToC.

kaozz said...

Larísa, very well said. Sometimes it really starts to get over complicated.

Rhii said...

Larisa -

I would be unsurprised if they began to increase the number of attempts allowed as the content ages... much like they're planning to increase the efficacy of the raidwide buff.

They're wanting to slow down the raid first kills and server first kills, not put an impossible block in front of you and me (you in the middle-to-upper level, and me at the entry level). I would think that as soon as the world first kill occurs the amount of attempts will jump to higher than 5, and then possibly jump again after most servers have cleared the content.

It seems like another change on the same level as the scaling buff and the gated boss releases.

Dw-redux said...

Haha, Nice one Tyra.

That put a smile on my lips.
Shame about linking - but adding that .jpg worked ;)

Hatch said...

Larisa is spot-on again. Blizzard is confusing a challenging encounter with min/maxing your strat beforehand in forums and such before you even make an attempt.

They are endorsing a playstyle that memorizes tankspot videos beforehand rather than going in with a basic strategy and learning it from experience or, *god forbid* trying to learn the fight from scratch without looking it up beforehand.

If Blizzard really wants to require outside strategy guides for raiding, then they should integrate strategy explanations of the fights into the game interface. That way the fights are truly "accessible" instead of relying so heavily on outside research beforehand. Instead of the game plopping you in front of a boss cold, it should put up a series of raid warnings saying: "ranged dps stand back at max range and kill Blood Beasts when they spawn. Melee dps Saurfang and aoe the Blood Beasts when they spawn. Ranged gather in small clumps to absorb the blood explosion buff. [etc, etc]" Why not just explain the strategy in-game rather than pretending these fights are anything but tests of whether you memorized the guide?

It seems like Blizzard is dropping in this mechanic purely as a mechanism to slow raiders down and stretch out this patch and aren't thinking about what the natural result is: that people wont' attempt the fight unless they've gotten the outside strategy perfect beforehand.

It's a sucky decision and I hope they revert it.

Stupid Mage said...

Once you realize that Faction Champs is NOT PvP life becomes easier.

Anonymous said...

The problem is that most people that walk into encounters blindly do not do that with the purpose of discovering encounter mechanics, but because there is usually someone to carry them or explain it to them ad nauseam. And even then, you can actually count on them not really grasping what is happening, but just kinda, yes, brute force the encounter by sheer repeating it enough times.

Repeating suits best the worst players: if they do it enough times, even while totally unfocused, they somehow manage to not stay in that burning patch on the ground.

Also do not forget that for most average and bad players, *knowing* what to do and *actually doing* it -- are two completely different things.

Five attempts might be rigid, but it punishes poor understanding of game mechanics and, more importantly, bad execution.

I look at it as an experiment: if it fails, it wont happen again :)

wickedgirl@arathor (EU)

William said...

The way I see it, going into an encounter without knowing any of the boss mechanics is the same as playing your character without knowing any of your class mechanics. Sure, you can do fine and probably do decent dps without researching any of your class mechanics online (e.g. EJ), but you are simply gimping yourself by not doing as well as you could be. It's the exact same by going into an encounter blind.

Anonymous said...

"5 attempts per lockout omfg thats not enough!!" they cry, well do I have a solution for you!!

Get your butts on PTR and try the encounter before it goes live. You can have all the wipes you like, you can go in blind if thats how you prefer to learn encounters and then feel well prepared to make the most of your 5 attempts when the patch goes live. Why wait for tankspot, etc to release a ptr kill vid when you can go experience it for yourself?

Seriously, thats what PTR is for. After getting most frustrated wasting several days trying out patch changes to see if they worked as described and trying to work out how much the buff/nerf required me to adjust my play style while the "elite" players on the server plowed through the new content before I even finished testing the changes in the patch notes, I decided to investigate the whole PTR situation.

I found it is very easy to copy my favourite raiding toon across and get a first hand look at how the changes will affect me. This in itself is invaluable, but add to that the opportunity to get a look at the new instances and do my face planting and 30 second wiping "holy crap what was that?" moments out of the way in a test environment and not waste valuable raid attempts is gravy, plus the more people that try it and provide feedback on their experience help ensure they can provide a better tuned -and less buggy- instance from day one.

I'm far from hard core, I only raid 2-3 nights a week, my guild only has 20 members and I've been playing for 18 months. I've spent maybe 5 hours tops on ptr this cycle over the past few months doing sanity checks on class changes and trying out the new instances. It's not a huge amount of time to invest and it's absolutely worth it.

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