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.


  1. I believe that one reason for such a gear difference is so that if you cannot out-skill content, you can at least out-gear it. In combination with progressive nerfing, it keeps people from hitting unpassable walls. It's all fine and wonderful for a single player game targeted at a specific market to have challenges that some people cannot beat, especially since there are mods and cheats for single-player games, so it's hard to reach a point in a modern game where you realize you cannot play half of it because you're not good enough. WoW gets around the wall with gear, allowing us to be stronger than the content is tuned for, even without needing alternate paths such as PvP or badges to overgear raids: the raid itself can do that.

    But as with most 'solutions' it brings with the problem of very rapid inflation.

    It's also worth noting that it would be much harder to design a boss to be 1% harder vs. 10% harder. Also your math is weird. 1% on every person is 1% on the raid, though 1% on an individual is much smaller on the raid.

  2. What I have in mind is something more like the gradient from BRD through Strat and Scholo to UBRS. The instances get harder but someone who is competent for BRD isn't a joke in UBRS, not even as a tank.

    Regarding the 1% you haven't quite understood the mathematical point I'm trying to make.

    Maybe 1% is too small for explanations.

    Let's suppose the tanks take 50% less damage as a result of upgrading gear and all damage is on the tanks. The raid takes 50% less damage.

    If you also give the healers 50% more spellpower they can heal less often (or use smaller heals). Healing improves by 50% but since the raid already got 50% better when the tanks improved the overall improvement is 1.5 * 1.5 = 2.25 which means the raid performs at 225% of baseline when two factors improve 50%.

    If you improve all the factors 50%: avoidance, mitigation, stamina, mana pool, mana regen, spellpower, crit, haste, ArP then your formula starts to look like this: 1.5 * 1.5 * 1.5 * 1.5 * 1.5.

    Improving the stats by 50% improves the raid by hundreds of percent.

    For an even simpler explanation suppose some dps hardly ever crits and does X damage. Double his base damage and give him huge crit chance he is not hitting for 4 times what he was before because the crits are doubling his bigger hits.

  3. I see what you mean now, how a 1% increase to all stats, through all the multipliers and effective this and that you end up with over 1% output.

    How are we going to figure out .1% stat upgrades? Damn. Poor devs.

  4. "How are we going to figure out .1% stat upgrades?"
    That's why we have "Rating increased by XX" instead of "increased by xx percent" on gear. I remember the day of pure percentages on gear... and it made things so much easier to read. :)