Thursday, 25 June 2009

Mudflation and the 3.2 badge changes

Escape Hatch, always a great read got me thinking tonight and I'm putting one of the posts up here as I think it is of general interest.

I think Blizzard has dug itself into a pit with its policies on mudflation.

Mudflation is used in these games as a way of keeping people interested. If the gear had never got better after Lucifron then by now everyone would have every sidegrade they could possibly want and there would be no reason to run raids for loot for 99% of players.

That's all well and good and fair enough.

However the way gear works in a raid is that each different attribute multiplies all the others. For instance if your tanks' armour goes up 1% then your raid is about 1% better. However if every stat goes up 1% then the tanks are avoiding more, mitigating more, defending a larger health pool and being healed by a healer team with faster casting, more mana, bigger heals and more crit heals. And of course they don't need to keep the tanks alive as long since the dps finishes off the boss faster.

Because of this 1% would have been a reasonable step up from tier to tier. At most 2%. Because 1% on all your stats for each raider is about 10% on the raid as a whole.

Because this isn't intuitive to non-mathematical players Blizzard implemented its mudflation by giving large boosts to the quality of gear. Each Tier is about 10% better than the last tier in every stat.

This means that a raid going up a Tier becomes much more powerful. The same player with the same rotation goes from 1k dps to 5k dps. Purely as a function of gear upgrades.

This means they couldn't possibly bring in a new tier of content without making a large swathe of top raid loot available to fresh dinged 80s. Because otherwise they would be so far behind there would be no point taking them or people would be angry about "boosting" "slackers".

I can see why Blizzard likes bug solid upgrades that make people says "wow". But the price of them is that they escalate mudflation.

I recently gave up raiding seriously but have started pootling about on a shaman alt on Kazzak EU server. It's one of the more conpetitive servers around. There is a wierd gap opened up between fresh-dinged 80s and raiders. The raiders run Ulduar with their guilds. They pug Naxx. There are no Naxx guilds. There are guilds that have level 70-fresh 80 players which are about to start naxx. But as soon as people get the achievement they leave their guilds and pug. Since the pugs are all people with the achievement (and sometimes with the Epic achievement required too) the pug can clear Naxx in 3 hours.

If new raid content was brought in without opening things up then all the players who are stuck in the can't get a raid without achievement, can't get achievement without raid trap are locked out of the entire pve end-game.

It's very much an unforeseen consequence that making Naxx so face-rollable allows people to be so selective. It's also an unforeseen consequence that making gear progression so steep means people without the gear really are useless. No one will want my 1k spellpower shammy on a Naxx raid, even if they are short of healers.

I think the solution is a shorter gear curve but I hope that explains why they have had to take drastic action to stop fresh 80s being locked out of raiding.

My other response to Hatch was more specific and of less general interest. It's here if you want to read it.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Reports of my demise...

I think I'm interested enough in WOW to play it very casually and occasionally post here.

So reports of the demise of Death Knight Spree may have been exaggerated. However it's more of a Level 1 Zombie Snotling than a Death Knight just now.

"We could pug raids without linking achievements before"


You didn't

Stop making stuff up

I've raided since Onyxia was the top raid instance and the history of pug raiding is something like this:

Mar 2005 - Jan 2006 No one pugged raids. Very few people raided at all.

Feb 2006 - Jun 2006 semi pugs of MC and ZG started. Almost invariably people from more progressed guilds who had either left or didn't need their lockout would organise a raid by inviting as many people from notably successful raid guilds as possible adding a few hardcore pvpers (who were great raid dps) and rounding out with a few complete strangers.

Jul 2006-Dec 2006 widespread pugging of MC and ZG. Very little pugging of anything higher because those instances were considered too hard for people who didn't know what a rotation was and didn't know tactics (standard pug back then).

Jan 2007-May 2007 raids were the hardest ever. Karazhan was brutal. Attumen trash respawned every 15 minutes meaning if you were slow clearing it spawned on your casters and wiped you. Moroes extremely hard with the mortal striking add able to two shot a clothy and the garotte lasting 5 minutes. Even if you killed him garrotted people would bleed to death. No one pugged raids. Hell, no one even pugged heroics. The top guilds in the world were unable to finish TK- The Eye.

Jun 2007-Mar 2008 Karazhan successively nerfed to the point where people started to try pugs there. Usually depended on over-geared people with T5 or T6 loot leading. All higher content still too hard to pug.

Apr 2008 - Aug 2008 Kara pugs become common. Pugs becoming available for ZA and SSC but gear is carefully checked by the raid leader. Basically you have to have killed the content to get into the pug.

Sep 2008-Nov 2008. Sunwell Radiance removed. All raid bosses hit points lowered by 30%. Most content up to and including early SW25 is pugged. Kara through BT raids simply zerg down the bosses with a raid full of people not listening or knowing tactics, gameplay is more like Diablo 2 than traditional WOW raiding.

Dec 2008 to Feb 2008. Naxx is discovered and found to be easy. People still generally go with guilds though.

Mar 2008 to present. Widespread raid pugging usually with requests to Link Achievement.

Conclusion. Please do not spread the LIE that everyone pugged raids happily until achievements were introduced. Before achievements were introduced you would not be asked to link one because YOU WOULD NOT BE ASKED TO RAID.

Got it?

(Reposted from the WoW EU R&D forums)

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Signing off for now

I'm taking a break from WoW. Real life combines badly with raid leading if you become unexpectedly busy so I'm going to play a game where it matters less if I don't show up.

Thank you for reading I'll be making a new blog about Eve Online soon.