Archive for September, 2007

Will Wrath of the Lich King bring social raiding back?

This in a nutshell is one of the core questions I have for the second WoW expansion: “Will social raiding return?”. There are really two parts to this question. One is “Will the game design allow social raiding comparable to WoW 1.0 or even more so?”. This is a game design question and one of decision making and learning for Blizzard’s designers. The second is “Will people who have left because raiding wasn’t designed to be accessible to them anymore in TBC return?” This really is a question of how much damage was done with the current design and tuning.

Rather than talking again about past content, lets give examples of content that would not have the kinds of symptoms we have now:

  • 10 man content is optional for 25-man raid groups.
  • 10 man content is on half-week or shorter lockouts.
  • 10 man content is split into size blocks that can be cleared in less than 3 hours after all is learned.
  •  All content is tuned to allow for minor mistakes by individuals.
  • Tune content not on peak gear but on average gear, possibly without pots.
  • An entry level 25-man instance exists that is easy for veterans and is a good learning ground for newcomers.
  • Attunements are designed having typical raid group churn and rerecruiting/regearing needs in mind. I.e. Attunements should not stop an existing and progressing group from reentering content if they lose a small number of members and have new hirees to bring.
  • Design content to allow for fluctuations in raid composition.
  • Optional content is good.
  • Well designed strategies for early bosses should be explainable in raid chat or web posts in brevity.

What’s interesting about this list of course is that in some cases original WoW had this right already and somehow it got ditched for TBC. However these are just the bare basics of social raiding. Social raiding is characterized by heterogeneous groups (needing accessiblity time-wise, flexibility in raid composition and tolerance in encounter sensitivity to individual error). It’s also characterized by low attendance and fluctuation in individuals attending and it’s optimized around happiness of the participants (fair raid slot distribution (no benching if specific classes if at all possible) and flat loot distribution (no favored players to optimize performance) and not speed of progression.

Luckily if one hears the recent numerous appearances of devs, one can be hopeful that at least the design side will improve. Naxxramas sounds like the entry 25-man instance (without prerequisites) that TBC raiding so badly needed. They talk about attunement and how it was too harsh. But for the tuning and design of everything else, we’ll have to see. And then we will see if people come back to raiding who realized that TBC raiding wasn’t designed form them anymore.