Tigole on Raid Pacing and More

My last entry was on a thread on the Elitist Jerks forum discussing raid pacing and I felt it was interesting and worth following so I put it up here. Behold, Jeff Kaplan, raid game designer of WoW running under the handle Tigole popped in and gave a rather elaborate view on this topic.

To be perfectly honest I was surprised. Jeff is more verbal than other content designers but still, very often one gets nothing but the content itself to judge what the designers had in mind or look forward to.

Well read post #130 by Tigole for all of it.

Here just a few bits that I found interesting for myself:

Tigole on raiding options:

You *could* skip some of AQ 40 in your progression if you wanted to. This was viewed as an interesting debate (having options is a good thing, yes?). Not a design flaw. We’re always looking to give players options — from PvP (multiple arenas, battlegrounds), to 5 mans to raiding. My biggest criticism of our 10 person raiding game right now (I have a few) is that there are no options beyond KZ. We’re fixing that. But you get my point. Players need options.

Of course he is right and many people have said that the early raiding game and actually the whole raid design lacks options. What I found so stunning about this passage is the level of open self-criticism and awareness of the situation.

I was always disturbed by all the comments that early raiding is fine, and some board lingua “QQ more”. I’m glad that Tigole does see through the noise floor that makes the MMO discussion and sees the actual needs.

Tigole on raid stacking, social impact, and target groups:

I’ll go ahead and make a controversial statement to illustrate a point. Let’s pretend for a moment that Burning Crusade never came out and we were still in vanilla WoW land. The community, as a whole, would have eventually screamed bloody muder over the difficulty of the Four Hoursemen. The Four Hoursemen were considered one of our best tuned encounters in the game. But I’ll argue that’s because so few people actually progressed to the point of needing to beat them. And the ones who did beat them, were ok with going to extreme measures to do so (consumables, world buffs, server transfers for tanks in 4 peice dreadnaught). A fight that requires 8 tanks is *not* acceptable to the raiding community as a whole. A fight that requires 8 tanks was acceptable to the bleeding edge only (and their fans) and only because it seperated them from the rest — not because that’s what made a *fun* raiding experience. How fun was it for the hunter who got benched for Warrior #8? How fun was it for the guild who lost their main tank when he server transfered to be a part of one of the World Firsts?

For the place and time, Four Horsemen were great. They were beatable and mostly bug free.

This is an incredibly rich paragraph. And it makes the point on exactly the first encounter that I have ever extensively criticised in WoW 1.0 raiding: 4 horsemen. This encounter required 8 tanks, where a balanced raid makeup would consist of 5. Hunters and locks were benched to make this fight possible, but it was praised by the hardcore guilds as one of the, if not the best encounter ever.

My main criticism was exactly the social dynamics and the accessibility of the design. Benching your hunter friend was totally unacceptable for a guild that is organised around friends not around success. Most guilds wouldn’t even have realistic options to get a hand on 8 properly geared tanks to begin with. Basically the whole encounter was, as Tigole correctly states, inaccessible for most raiders, even if they were skilled and rocksolid overall.

I have to say this passage surprised me because it gives a glimpse at Tigoles view on accessibility. WoW TBC raiding has in many ways initially come out as being much less accessible than WoW 1.0, 2.1 addressed some of this, but not all. So to hear the raid content designer show deep appreciation for the intricacy in the accessibility of encounters is truly refreshing.

But more so, the social impact: What about that guild that lost their main tank to a transfer to a world-first guild? What about the hunter who got benched? These are deep and important questions, that all too often get drowned in the noise of boards or in the opinion of those who don’t have to contend with these questions personally.

Tigole on difficulty and fun:

Properly tuned and accessible raid content will die. It’s ok. We’ll make more. That’s what we do for a living. What’s really important is for the content to be enjoyable to do for more than just one clearing.

This is interesting because in many places during the pre 2.1 times when people were stuck and social dynamics ran haywire, a lot of folks did ask the question: What is fun? Tobold asked a related question: What is good?. Tigole basically says: Good is what is fun and keeps fun when going there again if possible. Unbeatability isn’t fun for him and I think most folks agree.

Kaplan repeats that point for emphasis:

But I’ll reiterate, a well tuned raid boss — even a very hard and complex one — will die quickly if it’s tuned properly and bug free.

This is very interesting also because I just wrote about the appearance of key bosses as unbeatable or too difficult to beat in the case of the lore setup of Illidan. I think Tigole just gave the conceptual answer and the intend: Illidan, even as a very hard and complex boss should die quickly if properly tuned.

I think there is a lot of wisdom in what Kaplan says here though a lot of people in on the EJ board disagree. Should be interesting to see how this develops further.

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