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WildStar Raids Won’t Be Vanilla WoW

WildStar 40 man raids

The topic of 40-man raids came up on our gaming community forums the other day when someone mentioned that WildStar might be trying to attract the ‘vanilla’ WoW crowd.  Everything I’ve seen from Wildstar screams accessibility, and everything I know about vanilla WoW the opposite.

I was the leader of two guilds on separate servers that got server first kills on all Molten Core, Black Wing Lair, Onyxia, and AQ 40 bosses.  I was an officer in a third.  Suffice it to say I have too much experience with 40-man raids.  The thought of doing any of that again nauseates me.  Raids would go on for 5-6 hours a night, 5+ nights a week and sometimes more if we felt pressed to get the server first.  Raiding in WoW was my full time job.  There wasn’t time to do much else, and eating happened at the keyboard every meal.  I am embarrassed by it, not proud.

The difficulty of the fights was nothing compared to the mechanics of raiding in WoW today.  The worst thing we had to worry about was cleansing quick enough, and moving out of fire in the right direction. Organizing 40 people was the problem.  How do you coordinate 40 people to log in on time and execute flawlessly? Heck, how do you even get 40 people? Once you have 40 people, you have to train their bladders so that you’re not constantly stopping.  You have to find people who are too afraid of losing their spot in one of two guilds on the server who can actually raid so that they don’t miss a night to go to their kid’s recital.

When someone tells me that WildStar is going to attract the vanilla WoW crowd with 40-man raids and tough bosses, I can’t help but chortle.  Vanilla WoW had its moments, but 40-man raids aren’t one of them.  I’m in no rush to revisit 40-man raids, and I think the WildStar devs aren’t stupid enough to think that type of gameplay will sell boxes. Creating content that less than 5% of your players will see doesn’t make sense anymore.

If WildStar makes 40-man raids the focus of their game, the raids will be accessible.  The content will be closer to something we see in WoW’s Looking For Raid or 10-mans, and nothing like the 40-man raids that required you to give up your life to participate.  And that makes sense to me.  Lots of people getting together to fight a boss sounds fun. Knowing I can do it in a way that allows me to come home from work, jump on and participate is precisely what I want in a themepark MMO.

  • Disclaimer!
    By accessible I understand that as many players of the game as possible get to raid and as such alsoo get the rewards for it so that they continue to raid. I also do not think (because I do not know) if Carbine is doing things the way I am outlining below. The outline only explains how a proposed design of “raids for the 5%” could work with none of the drawbacks that were explained in the blogpost.

    I guess it all depends on if there is something to do besides raiding in Wildstar when it comes to PVE. The reason I feel WoW had to make raiding accessible was that they bit by bit chipped away at the content that PVE players, that for what ever reason did not want/ couldn’t raid, could do and still feel like they were doing a “legitimate” long term in game activity(something I would do when I had not run out of other content; e.g. normal/ heroic dungeons or even alting and (sometimes) crafting). Yeah now we have pet battles and lots of other things but to me they seem to be designed so that you have something to do in between content patches and as such don’t seem to me personally a “legitimate” longterm activity.

    Because WoW has put themselves in this seat that the game essentially only revolves around the question of: “Do you PVP or PVE (or maybe both)?” and because raiding is the PVE option, raids have to be accessible. Because otherwise you’d force all non raiders to PVP in the longterm (or become raiders) and that would be bad (in the longterm).

    So if Wildstar can make raiding one out of many (or a few) options for your PVE inclined player to do as a “legitimate” longterm activity raids can (and should be) designed for the 5% (or the 1% if you ask Carbine):
    And the reason they should be designed like that is that (to quote a loved TV series of mine): “If everything is awesome all the time (read if everybody gets to raid and get the shinies from it), then awesome is by the definition normal (read raiding will be that much less fun because there is no real sense of achievment)!”.

    (Of course in WoW the 1% has their achievments in raiding the only problem is it’s only the o1% that have a feeling of achievment the rest are bundled into the big 99% that don’t feel any sense of achievment at all. And that’s not good. So what I’d hope to see out of any raiding in any game is to make raiding for the 1% of the populace but give everybody a sense of achevment when they cleared a hard boss or a raid not just the ones that are at the top of the progression curve).

    Anyway bottom line as long as there is enough for people to do on the PVE front that feels like a legitimate long term activity raids can and should be made for the 1% and it will not hurt the game (imo). The only thing that could hurt the game in that regard is this sentiment that (and I am not accusing anybody in specific merely players in general): “I bought the box (or maybe digital download would be more appropriate?) I should be ALLOWED to raid no mattter what! In game X, Y and Z I can raid just by being a player of those games you should do it like that here too! It’s the zeitgeist! Move on! etc. (you get my point)”

    But then the question is really do we want a good game that is a good game in the big picture or do we want a mediocre game that is just like everything else on the market and that will be gathering dust within 3 months? I’d choose the former (even if it meant that I would not be raiding which I am kind of fine with and kiind of looking forward to (if that day ever arrives)).

    Sorry for the essay anyway my thoughts on the issue and thanks for the read =)

  • Raiding? never again.

    It is madness to to have a schedule for a game several times a week for 4 or more hours on end.
    Just because the developers thought that was a good idea.

    Then peer pressure, because you do not want to let your friends and guildies down and you end up playing more then you even want. That is a problem.

    Why are those so called raids so long anyway? duration does not equal quality, fun or difficulty in any way.
    So yeah I had my share of raiding… Raiding? not for me. Pass.

    Btw The only thing I do not like about wildstar is that the artstyle is to similar to world of warcraft.
    I looked at a screenshot in a magazine and instantly thought great a WoW ripoff.
    That and I just do not like the WoW artstyle. That makes building my own place and collecting things less appealing to me.
    Why did they not just go for their own artstyle? Stand out from the rest.

  • From what I’ve read the 40 man raids are suppose to be for the hardcore. They will have other content for casuals.


    Keen read this interview. They want to bring back super hardcore competitive PvE with massive dungeons. Guy says one raid boss is as big as a whole dungeon. And they will have leader boards in game tracking world firsts and such.

    They plan to have 20 man raids also. 20 and 40. No 10 mans.

  • The 40 man raids in WildStar will not be accessible. They are building them for “the 1%” and the reason they can get away with this is because they are also building end-game for solo, group and PvP as well. Something most other games have not addressed.

    Have a read from the man himself over on WildStar Central (though it doesn’t appear I can post a link here): “We do believe in catering to the 1% (actually a few different 1%’s). We spend more than 1% of our time on them. Why?” – Jeremy Gaffnet

    I believe to an extent they are even one-upping Blizzard in that Blizzard didn’t necessarily design the vanilla raids to be “inaccessible” to all but hardcore, but Carbine is.

  • I know they’re saying they want to make this really difficult “hardcore” 40-man raid stuff. I just don’t believe it.

    It’s going to end up going one of three ways:

    (1) Not as hardcore as they’re leading on
    (2) The 40-man content won’t be the emphasis, or the only form of end-game like it was in WoW, and it won’t matter that it’s super hardcore.
    (3) I am completely wrong and this will be the direction WildStar takes. I will be sincerely shocked.

  • If you listen to all the comments made by the Wildstar team, they have said they are hardcore gamers who enjoy hard content. They are making the game for themselves and only selling it to us so they can be rich. We will see if what they say is true in the very near future. I almost think Wildstar was made for adults then a younger crowd. After all, the adults have the money.

    If the game is hard many of the younger gamers will resort to killing mobs and miss out on much of the harder content. Not being able to search the net for the answers to difficult gaming situations will cause many gamers to miss content as well. When I figure out a puzzle by doing A, B, C. You will have to do B, F, T to solve the exact same puzzle. I like the direction the team is headed.

    I believe the 40 man raids will be insanely hard and will randomly change to make the content even harder. Think about it. You just gathered your 40 man raid. You place healers, tanks etc… into various groups. Everyone went to the restroom, babies are sleeping soundly and everyone who smokes just returned to the keyboard. You then explain the fight for those who were not here yesterday. As soon as you enter, the map has changed and so has the first, second and third bosses. I am sooooooo looking forward to those raids.

  • So long as there is other stuff to do at end-game (I really hope the PvP pans out), I’m OK with the 40-man raids being inaccessible.

    Ever since LFR came out people have been in the mindset that all content in a game should be accessible to everyone and I’m not sure that makes for great, lasting game design. People need something to look up to, something to strive for.

    Despite all the effort it took, killing Ragnaros felt like a great accomplishment. Killing Nefarion felt like an accomplishment. Hell, killing the Lich King in 10m with the 30% buff was an accomplishment. These days with LFR I just expect the bosses to fall over dead and to get my epics. There’s nothing special about that. Nothing epic.

  • @Keen

    I think personally #2 will be what is being strived for considering the articles I’ve seen. Varios PvP options, Hardcore raiding in 40 mans, whatever you want to call the 20 mans (semi or casual) and I seem to remember one video interview were Jeremy mentioned epic personal “storyline” as well.. We’ll see though.


    I’m trying!!!

  • Are the 20 and 40 man raids 2 different things completely, or is it the same zone with an amped up difficulty? If that’s the case, I’m not interested. If the 40 man raids are just that, I might actually have to look into this game.

    “I was the leader of two guilds on separate servers that got server first kills on all Molten Core, Black Wing Lair, Onyxia, and AQ 40 bosses. I was an officer in a third. Suffice it to say I have too much experience with 40-man raids.”

    It sounds like you were having a much better time back then. No one plays a game 60 hours a week because it’s miserable. Actions speak louder than words.

  • “Creating content that less than 5% of your players will see doesn’t make sense anymore”

    Scariest, most disappointing thing I’ve ever seen you write. . .

  • Why don’t they just go back to the days of “no player # requirement”.

    In the old days you grabbed as many people as you could and did the raid. If you were really geared or really good, you did it with a much smaller set group.

    I remember beating raid bosses in DAOC with as few as 4-10 people, but if we WANTED to bring more, we could.

    I quite enjoyed their scaling defense, more people you have on it, the lower its defense got, so it died faster, which made these bosses unsoloable, yet still doable for small creative groups.

    DESIGN the boss for 20, but allow people to bring more or less, depending on how often you expect people to kill it. People will challenge themselves to do it with fewer people because that way they get more loot.

  • The more Carbine rev the hype machine, the less interesting WildStar sounds. The interview linked from Allakhazam is terrifying. Raiding was never my thing but even if it had been I’d like to think we’d moved on a bit in the best part of a decade.

    I wonder what demographic Carbine imagine they are catering for with these 20/40s? Young players new to MMOs with unlimited time? Older gamers who remember the good old days and want them back? If it’s the former, do teenagers even still play PC-based MMOs? If the latter, where are these young and getting to be not-so-young adults going to find the time?

    Maybe they imagine it’ll appeal to a really old demographic, who both hanker for the good old days and have the house to themselves now the kids are all grown up. Hmm, no, that’d be me and I’m not feeling it…

  • the impression I get from them is that they really believe they can create a mmorpg with lots of options for max level activities and that people will intelligently choose to play the options that appeal to them and avoid the ones that don’t. Theoretically that means they can make super hard, large scale raids because it’s just one of many options, and certainly one some people miss and/or enjoy.

    of course that plan sounds both incredibly ambitious in terms of content and admirably idealistic in terms of who they’re dealing with. but I suppose it’s possible!

  • @iLkRehp: Please elaborate. Why should a game make content that less than 5% of their players can see? Content should be difficult. There should be a sense of achievement. But if someone pays for a game I don’t for a second believe they should ever run the risk of never seeing any of it.

    @Filch: It’s the incredibly ambitious and idealistic part that makes me think it’s not really as “pick the path you want to play”.

    There’s a reason we’ve seen the homogenization of WoW content. It’s simply realistic.

  • I would argue that a game should make content less than 5% of their players can see, provided that this content will be accessible to all players within a reasonable timeframe.

    I recall Blizzard buffing non-progression raid instances upon release of a new major patch (e.g., didn’t players receive a buff when they raided Naxx once Ulduar was released?). Make the latest content releases hard for those 5% at the top and promote exclusivity of these instances during the period in which the raids are the latest progression. Let them earn their gear, and show it off to the general public during this period. Once this content is cleared and there is enough incentive to release a new patch with a new raid zone, then let the carebears have their personal buffs to make the content trivial.

  • @Dar: Those two statements are completely contradictory. Content that less than 5% of players will see can not be content that will be accessible to all players within a reasonable time frame.

    If you buff raids, that makes them accesible. That’s not like Vanilla WoW. In Vanilla WoW, if you didn’t have a raid guild you didn’t see Ragnaros or Nefarian period. They didn’t make it easier over time. They didn’t release a 10 or 25 man version. You simply never got to do them.

    I would also argue that making content approachable by only the elite few to show off makes the 95% of your other customers feel like they are missing out. I know that’s how I feel. That’s why I really hate inaccessible PvE content. I think it’s a cop-out way to design PvE content.

  • Honestly 40 man raiding wasn’t all that hardcore. People played it in a hard core way but in EQ we had a cap of 72 and for some of the fights that ended up still being pretty challenging. Personally I think the hard caps on raids is all kind of silly. Who cares if you can faceroll a boss with 120 people that a group of 40 would struggle with. The simple answer is to make the boss drop the same loot regardless of how many players participated, or heck even boost the rewards for lower participation. You just have to design fights to discourage the kind of play you don’t want. What made raiding difficult in 40 man WoW was idiots that couldn’t follow directions and straight up gear check fights, particularly the implementation of enrage timers.

  • Raids take a lot of resources to design and balance. Making them so that only 1-5% of your playerbase will ever see them is a really really bad idea in this day and age. It’s wasted resources for something that almost no one cares about.

    I may be wrong but judging from the raiding scenes in games like WoW, Rift, etc it seems that MMO players are less and less enamored with raiding. It’s a relic from the past. Those people who did it are mostly burnt out (I know I am) and new players just don’t have the patience.

    I really wish people would start pushing the boundaries of what an MMO is. We’ve seen over and over that an updated WoW will not bring in a large playerbase. From what I’ve seen Wildstar will not break this trend.

  • @Keen

    Depending on the game, people miss out on content all the time and they still buy the game. Unless you create and play every type of character possible you are missing out on content. If you do not craft, your missing out on content. If you do not PvP because your a PvE gamer, you are missing out on content. The same goes for raiding.

    I had members in guilds who just hated raiding. They had 5 max level characters, participated in PvP but I could not get them to join a raid. One guy would be listening to us in the raid on vent but would be doing quests.

    Back to E3.

  • @Thomas: That’s tangential to the point at hand. I’m talking about end-game themepark Raid content. Fergor makes a good point in the comment above.

    I think the only scenario in which a true vanilla wow level of hardcore 40-man raids will be acceptable is if it’s not the focus of the end-game, and only there to entertain players who can and want to do it. I expect to be able to get gear just as good by playing my way, though.

  • “I expect to be able to get gear just as good by playing my way, though.”

    No offense or anything, but I believe this is exactly the mentality that is ruining the MMORPG genre. Everyone has an expectation that they deserve to see all content and earn loot just as much as the rest of the players playing the game.

    But to design to this paradigm means you must design a game that caters to all players. You have to make all content accessible; no end-game can be too hard for the average player to overcome. Everyone deserves to be equal because guess what? They are the client, and the client is always right. And worse off, the client that pays the most money therefore assumes they should be rewarded the most as well.

    This is not right, and needs to change. I believe that MMORPGs need to be designed to cater to a wide range of skillsets and availability. However, MMORPGs should be fundamental in design to promote interaction with other people. While players should have the ability to play solo, there should be greater incentives and/or benefits to grouping and interacting (think – SWG and taverns, WoW and the Black Temple key quest, EQ and dungeon zone experience modifiers).

    And when it comes to end game, I would argue that content should be released in a manner that the latest progression zones/raids are the most difficult, with the penultimate progression zones/raids nerfed ever so slightly to promote greater accessibility for more players.

  • No offense taken.

    I’ll preface everything by saying these are my opinions on THEMEPARK MMOs.

    Everyone deserves equal access to content. It can still be challenging. I want an equal opportunity, though.

    Difficulty of content is only a portion of the accessibility equation. Forcing a requirement of 40 people is another. Vanilla WoW was so much more inaccessible on top of the difficulty, but like I said in the original post it’s not mechanically difficult compared to content today.

    Raiding to get gear, to raid to get more gear, is a model that Blizzard is perfecting. They changed it from the inaccessible job-like experience to the accessible yet difficult (with options of difficulty). Mind you I still hate this model entirely, but if I’m going to play it then I want it to be accessible.

  • “I think the only scenario in which a true vanilla wow level of hardcore 40-man raids will be acceptable is if it’s not the focus of the end-game, and only there to entertain players who can and want to do it. I expect to be able to get gear just as good by playing my way, though.”

    Well, you’re wrong about this one when you imply that’s how vanilla WoW was, that raiding was the only end game.

    I was in a raiding/PVP guild, and who were the two constant top dps on raids? The two of us in full HWL gear. PVE’rs of course flipped out and “PVP stats” were tragically born in TBC.

  • @Jenks: For a very, very long time raiding was the only end-game. It still is the only PvE end-game. They added PvP, but PvP is so far removed from PvE in WoW that you essentially choose two different games to play. It’s not like DAoC where you PvP to get to the PvE (Darkness Falls).

    I think WildStar won’t emphasize these 40-man raids. I think they’ll be a challenge, but I don’t think they’ll be the direction Carbine funnels everyone towards like vanilla WoW did.

  • You chose to play 1 endgame (on 3 different characters). I chose to play both endgames, and they were highly compatible with each other. The massive crying of exclusive PVE’ers and PVP’ers caused the two endgames to become exclusive to one another (much later). This was by far the most enjoyable era of WoW, for complete players.

    As for insinuating that they added PVP (rewards) later, they added it in 1.4, when there was 1 raid in the game + onyxia. That’s 6 months after the release of the game. If you had Molten Core on farm status 3 months after release (possible but doubtful), that’s 3 months where PVE was the only endgame. “Very, very long time” that is not. Couldn’t be more wrong.

  • I agree that largely it is a waste of development resources spending time developing zones and fights that only a very small percentage of the gaming base will see.

  • Keen, I 100% agree with you.

    I love team based progressive content in a virtual persistant world, but RL is too full and rewarding for me to sacrifice that for a monitor and headset 40-60 hours a week.

    The next game that can provide me that with a minimum time commitment (<10 hrs/week) will have my full attention. Wildstar just lost me.

  • Just to add 1 more point: I’d happily pay $10 bucks for a solid raid dlc in addition to the sub if dev’s are worried about making money off me playing all the time 🙂

  • I like author’s logic about the matter. “I did a lot of raiding again, again and again, for months, maybe years, and you know what? It’s awful. Well… should I point out the logic bomb here, or you’ll figure it out by yourselves?

  • @Alex: I’m sorry Alex but Keen’s point seemed clear to me: Raiding is great but the time required to be a progression raider is simply not sustainable.

  • You didn’t spend 30 hours a week raiding, because the instances were designed for 40 people. You were a hardcore raider. You took on that role yourself, and that is what is expected of you. There were lots of other guilds that cleared content without spending anywhere near that much time in the raids.

    The mechanics for the most part were more simple, but that doesn’t make them easier. There were lots of other hidden factors that made the content just as challenging as today’s raids. The percentage of players clearing the end game content can attest to that fact.

    “If WildStar makes 40-man raids the focus of their game, the raids will be accessible. The content will be closer to something we see in WoW’s Looking For Raid or 10-mans, and nothing like the 40-man raids that required you to give up your life to participate.”

    Ahh.. What?
    They have said countless times the content is designed for the 1%. However, others can progress as well, just at a slower pace. Some might have to wait for the next tier of content to launch before they can clear the previous nerfed tier.

    “We agree with the tweets that there are pros and cons for every raid size, which is why we are approaching dungeon and raid design to accommodate as many styles as possible.

    For Raids, we’re going to have the big ones that some players out there are nostalgic for, and players participating in this tier of raids are expected to be the best of the best. These tough challenges will require significant coordination to overcome, but the rewards will be worth it. That’s not to say we won’t have smaller raids as well, because we understand that the logistics of the big raids can be tough. Therefore, we have every intention of accommodating smaller guilds & groups.

    Dungeon instances will be much smaller than our raids, but will be no less interesting. There will be leveling dungeons, elder game dungeons, and veteran versions of the leveling dungeons, so that even at level cap, players can fight through their favorite content and earn desirable rewards for their level.”

  • Honestly if you buy a game and expect to see everything from it just because you dropped money then you are entitled and show little maturity. I just bought Dark Souls, but do I expect to get EVERYTHING out of it? No. If you buy a game, knowing full well it has difficult things in it, then dont cry when things prove difficult. There is clearly an audience for people who want things to be difficult again. Its not even about me HAVING to see it, its about there being something epic out there for me to possibly see.

    I want there to be a Sauron that requires only the bravest of warriors, I dont care if im the hobbit doing my own epic thing in another part of the shire. The fact that their is those brave warriors out their is just cool. Seeing them come back from a big hunt is just cool. Having everything in a game completely accessible to the point that no one notices anything and Sauron is beaten by every hobbit in the shire 1000 times an hour by just going afk in LFR isnt cool. Never will be. Its for kids and adults who are now failed gamers.