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Blizzard makes sweeping changes to WoW raiding in Cataclysm

World of WarcraftA friend of mine sent me a rather interesting email today. She basically stated that Blizzard was going to be making insane changes to raiding with their Cataclysm expansion. I looked into the link she provided and thought that yes, this is a major step towards completely changing the raiding landscape of World of Warcraft. She wasn’t overly thrilled but I can see some virtue here.

To quote the MMO Champion article Cataclysm is going to do a few things for raiding. Ten man and 25 man raids are going to be next to the same difficulty, share a lock out timer, and drop the same loot. On the surface that seems like the death of the 25 man raid as the only bonus for doing so us getting a greater quantity of loot per kill. I fully expect that any 25 man raider will be upset but I am actually going to take the other stance and say these changes are extremely positive.

Having two separate raid progressions is both confusing and frustrating to players. MMORPGs that offer multiple scales of raiding haven’t done the best job with this in the past. Sometimes to do ten man raids you need 25 man gear. Sometimes to get into 25 man raids you need ten man gear. Very rarely were the two paths mutually exclusive and this could really wear on someone’s nerves who wanted to do only one or the other. By making the raids the exact same but just varying the number of participants Blizzard has eliminated this. Raiding will have one progression path. The players simply dictate how many bodies they want to take on that journey.

Keeping a consistent difficulty is also a step in the right direction. Trying to balance how hard a tier two ten man raid is verse a tier two 25 is no easy challenge. Creating loot for both is equally difficult. By removing the link between number of bodies and difficulty (something very hard to do) you should, in theory, have an easier time handling everything else in relation. I will still stick to my stance that the more bodies involved the more complex an encounter can be but in the terms of sheer difficulty based on formulas (dps,hps,etc) you can make them very equal and that will better everyone’s life.

Sharing a lock out timer between the ten man and 25 man is a bit of a bold move but a necessary one. If the two raids are going to essentially be the same and share loot tables you can’t allow players to double dip. This actually gives a lot of flexibility to guild leaders. If you plan a 25 man and you’re short people you now have the chance to progress regardless! For me that is a huge win in guild management. It might also encourage your 25 raiders to show up more often since they can no longer effectively shut you down with their absences. If you can’t build a 25 man raid one night you can probably put a ten man together and leave the slackers in the dust.

When it comes to loot I actually applaud this decision. Giving the same drops in the ten man and 25 man raids just makes sense. Having several similar loot sets out there and trying to pretend they’re different just doesn’t make sense. Simply having more items available doesn’t actually mean players benefit. By knocking out all of the complications and standardizing the progression Blizzard has made the job of guild leaders easier and put players on the path to better loot decisions. I have to support that.

In the end I can see why a 25 man raider would hate these changes. They benefit from them in no way. It seems like a direct attack on their method of play and I can empathize. The only possible saving grace is that the 25 man raids will drop more items. If they drop 2.5x more loot than the ten man raids that will be acceptable but pointless. If they drop more than that you can use the 25 man raids as an accelerated path. Until we find out what that delta is though we’ll just have to assume this is another attempt to make World of Warcraft accessible for more people. As a microcore raider, I say awesome!

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8 Responses to Blizzard makes sweeping changes to WoW raiding in Cataclysm

  1. Kendricke says:

    One of the advantages that World of Warcraft has always held over games such as Everquest II was the redundancy buffer in raid size.

    World of Warcraft has 10 classes and 25 slots on raids. This meant that every single class could be comfortably represented on a raid without unduly removing options from raid leaders. No class was immediately left out based on this model.

    Everquest II has 24 classes and 24 raid spots. This means that in order to ensure that every single class is present on a raid, a raid leader is mathematically restricted to bringing only one of each class to a raid. The moment that a raid leader looks at bringing two or three dirges or illusionists, some class gets left out. This leads to entire classes of players effectively being locked out of raid guilds as players learn which path is the one of least resistance.

    Now, World of Warcraft is essentially shifting toward this design. This means that “microcore” raiders such as yourself would automatically leave certain classes behind. It means that players who may enjoy class X may be forced to play class Y just to join in on the fun in a guild which is interested in making the most of its limited resources.

    • Ferrel says:

      That is an excellent point. I’ve always thought WoW had an advantage by having less classes, even if it makes up for that with talent trees. This does set up a situation of exclusion but, for the most part, that has been a fairly normal process in MMOs. It is terrible to force a player to stick to a given class just to raid but honestly that is a design flaw. I remember back in Kingdom of Sky when both of the “monk” classes were so terrible that they literally offered nothing that another class couldn’t do better. That was a terrible time for those players.

      At least in the case of WoW ten mans you will only exclude less classes. In theory anyway.

    • Gerry says:

      “10 classes and 10 man raids mean that some classes will tend to get left out of raids” (paraphrasing a couple of posters).

      I think this isn’t going to be an issue in WoW. Blizzard have moved more and more towards making classes interchangeable in raids. Basically all four tank classes and all four healing classes will be at least okay in any raid situation, and dual spec means most raiders apart from pure dps have two options available.

      There may be some minmaxing at the hard core, but I suspect that it will be less than in 25-man raids during the Sunwell era. For the vast majority of raiders, it won’t really matter at all. Any good player will be able to find a raiding spot for his preferred class. (Probably the ones suffering most will be – as now – those pressed into healing when they would prefer to DPS.)

  2. It will be very interesting to see whether they can pull off having both paths be equally balanced. In the past, there have been places where the 10-man versions of encounters were harder simply because fewer warm bodies in the raid means no room for error. If they repeat that kind of mistake with the new system, you could see guilds jumping back and forth between “optimal” sizes from tier to tier, which would be very disruptive.

  3. If the two raids are going to essentially be the same and share loot tables you can’t allow players to double dip.

    Why not? Why do you hate the players? ;)

    Okay, seriously, I think the benefits outweigh the problems. Someone mentioned that they do 10-mans with friends, and 25-mans with the guild. This limitation seems to be working against that type of social interaction with different groups.

    Some thoughts.

    • Ferrel says:

      Players are the devil! I actually was just speaking as a Blizzard developer. I’m sure that is there though. No double dipping! You make a great point though! It also leaves players with less “to do” technically.

      • Stabs says:

        I’m sure part of the design is to promote alting. Much of the new content in Cataclysm will be for characters below 85 (for instance the redesigned STV). People will level through it in a flash so I think to encourage players to experience it they’re slowing the raiding down.

        Also people burn through raids then whine about being bored. I think it’s an attempt to make the troughs between content releases shorter.

  4. Good point, wonderful blog. Listen, did you all read about Blizzard intending to utilize Real ID on their forum? I guess they became aware that that is no way to win at wow, since they reversed the decision. Now we can all resume enjoying WoW without having to worry about compromised privacy. And they can go back to focusing on Cataclysm. BooYAH!

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