Raid Lockouts Should Be Removed

Graev and I were talking today and he said, “I hate being forced to play only once a week.”  Players like Graev log in once a week to raid then log out because the end-game in a themepark really is raiding once, getting locked out, and coming back next week to repeat the process.  Graev would love to be able to do the content a couple nights a week or at least have the freedom to choose how often.  I agree with him.

Why do raid lockouts exist?  To stop a majority of players from reaching the defined ‘end’ of the game where there is no more content (or gear to grind), or at least prolong the process.

It’s a flaw in the themepark gear-grind model, and I don’t know yet if a solution even exists or is even warranted.

Step  1: Remove lockouts.  Let players actually play the game instead of forcing them to wait to play.  That much seems right.

[Let’s come up with some solutions in the comments.  Brainstorm a little.  I’m certain there’s a solution and that we’re not forced to give up because this is purely a flaw of the themepark tiered progressions/gear-grind design.]

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Jim - January 9, 2012

I think raid lockouts are simply a public health measure.

sikk - January 10, 2012

Well to have raid lockouts you have to first have instanced raiding content. Which means your game already decided “hey let’s let players enter their own little world and fight big end content dragons”. That statement alone warrants raid lockouts for a few reasons.

1. The company who made this theme park wants to regulate the amount of tickets you can buy so you don’t get sick of their ride too quick before their next new ride is released.

2. Logically it doesn’t make sense to let players kill the same end game content over and over. It began with spawn timers and evolved to raid lockouts, pick your poison.

Overall it makes sense and I would rather have it the way it is now than to be able to farm end game content over and over and over……and over and over as fast as my fingers could mash buttons to kill it.

In other news, Bethesda won Fallout rights for an MMO, lets hope something happens with that!

Wormwood - January 10, 2012

The reason is monthly fees. The devs want you to pay monthly fees, but they don’t have enough content to entertain you every night. If you could raid every night, you’d do that and max your gear in a few weeks. Since the main reason raiders remain subscribed is getting better gear, subs would drop pretty quickly = less monthly fees played = less income for the company. Like you said, it’s a flaw in the themepark gear-grind model and I don’t think a solution exists within the confines of that model.

Zederok - January 10, 2012

Well as someone who hates raids in general as they are an anathema to old fashion MMO’s such as Asherons Call and Ultima Online but if you must have raiding in a game then you should not have lockouts, if your content cant stand on its own merits then its high time you release a game with longer leveling curves, other content to pass the time and 3 times as many raids as an MMO usually releases with. If a game like SWTOR got rid of lockouts I might be more inclined to do them, but getting saved to a raid because your shitty pug sucks is bad for casuals and people who normally detest raiding in the first place.

Lowtec - January 10, 2012

I take it, you’re talking about doing normal difficulty raids more often? Would Graev also love to do the raids more than once a week if he could get loot only once per week?

I myself am quite happy with the lockouts, because otherwise the pressure of being uptodate with equipment even in the middle class raiding scene (I’m not talking about high end raid guilds, we’re just starting on Dragon Soul hardmodes) would _demand_ that I do the raids every night. I experienced that in Wrath during T9 where we could do the same Instance 4 times a week. For me personally it’s no fun at all.

MMOkay - January 10, 2012

Wormwood summed it up. You can’t remove lockouts under the current theme-park model.

@sikk: I would hate for Bethesda to make an MMO. I love their games and they are probably my favorite devs, but they are notorious for releasing buggy, graphically intense and poorly balanced products. It’s such a leap to go from the open-world single player games to a MMO that I pray they don’t attempt it. I would rather get Fallout 4 and TES:6.

Logan - January 10, 2012

This would only work if you had a new game update every month that introduced at least 2 new raids to explore (or the equivalent to a month’s worth of new content)… if the content can’t keep up with the pace at which you go through it, then the game gets boring real fast and people leave.

Ahtchu - January 10, 2012

Raid lockouts aren’t the issue. It’s merely a more obvious symptom of the true design flaw: tiered progression (raid A before raid B before raid C…), released in packets (controlled content progression), and just the general level to cap (endgame) then raid design. I see no flaw in a lockout system, it’s just being applied to a flawed meta-game.
Slapping paint on a crumbling wall, per se. Nothing wrong with the paint (perhaps one doesn’t like the color), really need to fix the wall though.

Anjin - January 10, 2012

I suspect that someone doesn’t remember the debacle that was Trial of the Champions. Four lockouts available and raiders killed themselves to run it over and over again for the gear.

Keen - January 10, 2012

Like I said, it’s a flaw with the themepark gear-grind model.

I’m not buying the idea that the elite few, the 1% or less, should dictate policy to the rest. Those who raid and burn the content — the same who would “kill themselves” by playing too much — are the minority. Any developer listening or designing to the vocal minority are failing at their job, and there are plenty of examples to show how that goes. It’s silly that a few guilds per server would burn through and be done, so the devs say “Sorry everyone, Joe and his crew would finish too fast. You can only do it once per week.”

Others like myself would like to run a raid more than once per week. I would have liked to run BWD in WoW at least twice a week because I liked those bosses.

Perhaps it’s an issue of self-control? And I’m not implying that those who would run it 24/7 and burn out in a week don’t have self-control, they’re just choosing to do it all right away.

It looks like we have two key issues being brought up.
(1) Your raid groups would FORCE you to play more often. Can anyone tell me why? What’s the drive behind your group making you raid more, and why do you want to be around people that would make you play that way?
(2) It’s all about gear. What if the reward for completing them the first time was more rewarding than the second? Would this change anything?

What are some solutions?

Vundal - January 10, 2012

I’m okay with lockouts. if we didnt, too many people would farm the first couple bosses, making the end boss easy. Why should that happen ? I’m in a progression guild in SWTOR and im loving it.

Rohan - January 10, 2012

Well, if you remove lockouts, you also remove the ability to work on content over a longer period of time.

You can’t go in on Tues and clear the first few bosses, and then spend Wednesday and Thursday working on a new boss. That means that all raiding content must become easier and doable within a single session of play.

With a no-lockout model, on Wednesday and Thursday you’d have to clear the first few bosses again just to get to the boss you are currently working on.

Keen - January 10, 2012

@Vundal: But why would that matter? If a particular raid group wanted to put in time to kill the first couple bosses over and over to make the later bosses easier, who is to say that’s wrong?

And isn’t that, technically, how it’s done already? My guild would kill the first couple of bosses for weeks before moving on because we needed the practice and the gear.

The average player, which I consider myself to be these days (no longer the hardcore raider), may need to repeat the first few bosses a lot. With lockouts, that means the average player is stuck working on the first bosses for easily a month or more. I believe strongly that people lose interest that way far more than they do from constantly being at the bleeding edge of content.

@Rohan: Don’t confuse lockout with reset. I see no reason why progress could not be saved. A simple interface button “reset raid instance” could be used at any time.

Anjin - January 10, 2012

I wonder if something like the LFR lockout might be something that can be applied to all difficulties. If you can only roll on a boss’s gear once a week, but you can kill that boss any number of times, it keeps the gear throttle on while letting you kill bosses as often as you like.

Damage Inc - January 10, 2012

In order for MMO’s to not have raid lockouts they need to have much longer leveling curves, more content and content added at a much greater pace than we currently get with modern MMO’s.

Just look at two of the last MMO’s released, Rift and SWTOR. In both games people easily reached max level within just a few days played. Compare that to the older games like UO, AC and EQ. The older games were much more about leveling, building your skills and exploring. I believe it took almost two years for the first person in AC to hit max level.

Also look at how much more content was provided for these games. EQ was releasing an expansion every 6 months. AC was releasing new content EVERY month with their monthly patch.

It has only been since the era of WoW that MMO’s gameplay has changed going from experiencing the world and feeling like you are part of it to one of you are playing a game who’s goal is to reach max level ASAP so you can start raiding because the gear grind is now what the long term goal of MMO’s has become.

Keen - January 10, 2012

@Anjin: I think that would work perfectly. Let people get loot from a boss once a week. People can still do the content, practice the bosses, and get loot but not farm. Probably the best solution yet.

@Damage Inc: Yeah, I miss the progression in the older games. That’s what it was all about. The end was almost… well there really wasn’t a true end for most people since leveling up might be all players ever see. When players did reach the end, everything was open-world and community driven.

Nom - January 10, 2012

It might also be possible to give each boss two loot tables. Give them a table for the first time they die in a week that has the slightly-better gear (read: gear that, in the current loot tables for a given game, have lower drop percentages) and then give each boss a secondary loot table that dictates what drops each time after the first, then reset boss/raid at the end of the week.

Or it might be as simple as, “The first time it dies it drops 2-3 pieces of gear, each subsequent time it drops 1 piece of gear,” and if you like, you could also remove one or two of the rarer pieces from the table after the first kill. Then reset it weekly.

Lodau - January 11, 2012

Make your character lootlocked?
You raid, you get an item from it, you cant get another one from that dungeon that week. Sure you can run the raid as many times as you like, with friends, helping them get items, but only 1 item per character per dungeon per week.
Or something like that.

Lodau - January 11, 2012

Oh, Anjin already suggested something like that lol, sorry 🙂

Balthazar - January 11, 2012

@ Damage

I agree with you 100%. I was shaking my head in disbelief the first time I saw a level 50 in SWTOR less than a week after getting in to early access. I don’t know why I was surprised, but it seemed odd that the developers had only made a few days worth of content to keep this guy busy and I was amazed that this guy had raced through it all like a starving rat trying to get to the cheese at the end of the maze. I probably would have seen one much sooner too, if I had been playing more.

I’m not saying I want to go back to the unnecessary time-sinks of yesteryear, but I’d like to play a game again where getting to max level feels like an achievement again instead of just a bump in the road. This is in spite of the fact that I have FAR less time to be playing MMOs than I did 5 or 10 years ago (or even further back when I played EQ).

As far as the topic goes, I’ve never taken issue with raid lockouts. I was raiding heavily during Lich King while I was in law school (because I was in a small town with not much else to do). For years prior to that and now, I just don’t have time, nor the inclination at this point, to go back and run the same instances over and over again MORE than once per week. I was already getting fatigued running the same content week in and week in. More often than that? No thanks.

The other part of it is, like others have mentioned, I’m pretty sure there would be folks in our guild pushing us to do more each week and I probably would have just quit raiding altogether if those were my choices.

Howdy Doody - January 11, 2012

Sticking with the theme park analogy.

You could give every eligible (max level) character a “ticket” for every week. Each ticket then allows you to reset the raid.

And maybe it’s not a one to one. Maybe it costs 2 tickets to reset…etc.

In theory folks that want to be first can still do it, but those that don’t then could accumulate “tickets” that could then be cashed in to reset the raid and play when they have more time/interest.

Howdy Doody - January 11, 2012

Oh, I also really like the loot idea. But that again could cause burnout. And I think burnout causes folks to unsub…and unsub == bad.

Pyrrhuloxia - January 11, 2012

Game dev here. The reason raid lockouts are necessary is for subscriber maximization. If you don’t do lockouts, guilds will up their time requirements – there will be more and more of a “duty” for players to raid more and more. This increase in the perceived time demand of the game eventually scares off more players than it attracts – the week-long timer seems to be a sweet spot, it has worked for several religions for thousands of years.

The theme park analogy is rather useless in that theme parks have no progression system and do not block you from going directly to the most epic ride in the park.

Zederok recommends to up the level curves, but this grind increase will deter subs. Other fun stuff and more content is the proper solution… this of course takes work.

@Keen: I would highly caution you against considering yourself the average player; the games writer is never the average player. There is no average player, actually, and trying to cater to such a mythical player is the downfall of many a game design. Maybe you just mean playtime, but get the metrics to say so. It seems you are out of proper perspective because you think lockouts are for the 1% when really the problem is that the 1% would grind through everything so fast that other people could not “keep up with the Joneses” and feel discouraged by the growing inequality of the game population.

Episodic content, whether in a TV show or an MMO, has to be designed around a target amount of time for people to spend with it per week. If you had a TV show that was 10 hours per day, very few people could keep up with it. The lockout is meant to broaden the audience that is able to experience the game as intended, so that new content is able to be reached by a larger audience.

Raid groups would demand more playtime because such groups tend to be ran by people like the author of this blog, who have a surfeit of leisure time such that they want to raid more than once a week AND have the ability to organize it too.

Diminishing returns on raiding is like intentionally making your game less and less fun. The devs can’t control that some guilds are still going to demand more, and that will generate burnout. At least with a lockout, people get the hint that it is time to chill ’til the next episode.

The biggest obstacle to another AC / UO / DAOC is production values… I don’t know that you are going to get fully professional (ie non-indie) employees working on an MMO with that amount of content at current production values. I’d pray that Blizzard’s secret MMO is something that we’ll like. Frankly, I’m worried that it will just be some social networking lamesauce. Other than that, I’m only hopeful about Guild Wars 2, but I have no expectation that it will be anything like DAOC… just that it will be like Guild Wars.

Lodau - January 12, 2012

I got bummed out by raids because of lockouts, not because other players were getting alot better geared then I was.

With WoW, my guild would set a raid day on Monday. So (wednesday?) till Monday I cant accept any pickup Raid invitation because that would lock me. Sunday comes and somehow the guildraid doesn’t happen. After that I have no time (RL stuff) to grab a pickup raid. Losing my Raid time that week. This happens a few times.
Now… Do I stick with my friends and do nothing, missing out on the hyped up content or start joining pickup raids to see what the fuss is about, but feeling bad that I didnt stick with them?
The Loot thing would be a solution for my situation. (I am a lootwhore, I’ll admit)

Joe - January 12, 2012

It’s ultimately about money for the game developer. In order to keep people playing until new content is reached, there has to be a way to slow down player’s progress in hitting the cap and losing interest in the game. If there weren’t any raid lockouts, people would have the best gear long before the developers can model, implement, and test new content & gear. Though many people would like to raid more, it could ultimately lead to an ealier than planned death of the game.

Frensel - January 12, 2012

Well the answer to me would be if you get locked out of a raid for a week, you should have 6 alternate raids. The thing is that all of the raids would have to be viable at your level of play. So perhaps instead of do raid A till you gear up and go to raid B till you gear up and then go to the next. Instead you should do the first boss in any of these 7 raids, then the 2nd boss in any of the 7 and so on. You can raid as much or as little as you want. Without the burnout of doing the same raid day after day. It’s a matter of content. So if the average expansion these days is 3 raids with 7 bosses that you need gear from Raid A before you can do B. Instead make 7 raids with three bosses that you can do the first boss in any order.

Saucelah - January 17, 2012

I would say that Pyrrhuloxia’s comment pretty much proves Ahtchu’s comment right.

It’s not that there needs to be some alternate solution that allows players into that raid more often, because most of the solutions here would actually work against the players taking advantage, burn them out, and make them move on to another game.

Instead, concepts like “max-level, “endgame,” and to some extent “best in slot” just need to cease being major guiding principles of MMO design.

Why? Because they give the game a clear end, and once upon a time these games were intended to be “everquests” quite literally, and instead they have become finite quests that use arbitrary limitations to space out content.

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