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All Raids Should Be Flexible

wow flexible raids

Three days ago Blizzard announced a new raiding difficulty: Flexible Raids.  Flexible falls between Looking for Raid and Normal difficulty, and scales depending on the number of players you bring along. You can bring 11, 12, 13, etc., and the content will scale in difficulty.  I think flexible raiding is a wonderful idea, and I wish it would replace the entire themepark raiding system.

I know I’m probably alone where I stand on themepark MMOs and their end-game content. I think that if I can bring 12 people to a raid, and you can bring 20, that doesn’t entitle you to better loot.  Blizzard obviously agreed when they equalized all loot drops between 10 and 25 man modes.

I would love if every raid was equal difficulty: Challenging.  Why should anyone feel forced to take more people for better loot?  Why should anyone feel forced to only have 10 people they want to raid with?  No matter the size of your group of friends, I think the difficulty should scale and be flexible, but the loot should all be the same — after all, if the difficulty is equal regardless of numbers, the loot should equal the challenge and be equal for everyone.  I think the only exception is a looking for raid environment where you throw a bunch of people together who don’t know each other; this one I’m okay with being significantly easier with a lower grade of loot.  Let that be a learning tier or an ultra casual tier.

Hard modes can and should still exist.  Hard modes should provide better loot.  They are hard and should provide a challenge for groups to aspire toward.  These shouldn’t be 40-man raids, or designed to be inaccessible.  If one group can bring 14 people to a hard mode then that 14 people should be challenged just as hard as a group who with 25, and if a group of 100 wants to do a hard mode together then they should be challenged at the same level as the hard mode 10.  That is the beauty of flexible raiding.

  • My feeling is raids should be one difficulty – hard. No “hard modes” and no “LFR.”

    And they should be hand-crafted and hand-tuned for a specific number of players. You cannot get the same quality of encounter with dynamic scaling. There should only be one size of a given raid.

    My biggest issue with it though? Flexible raiding is a solution to solve a retention problem, not a design solution that makes the raid better.

  • @Lethality: I’m writing a post that will go up in a day or two which speaks to the whole difficulty setting in themeparks. My opinion is very different about non-themeparks. I think they should be all about difficulty and achieving.

    Flexible raiding in WoW is a solution to solve a retention problem. Flexible raiding designed from the beginning, however, could be quite different.

  • That was the one 100% great thing about Everquest raiding: bring as many as you want, but you don’t get any extra loot for the extra people.

  • @Polynices: Yeah, I’m pretty sure we took close to 60 people to Plane of Fear once. Dark Age of Camelot was the exact same way.

    I think I’ll write this into my upcoming post. The content was hard. So hard in fact, and the risk so high, that bringing tons and tons of people was preferred to reduce the risk.

    Themeparks are quite a bit different, though.

  • Keen i remember myself during the TBC era,
    I was a member of a guild that managed to just get a glimpse of T6 content, but i really cannot remember anyone complaining.
    I was always at a handful back then even though i played more than 6 hours on a daily basis.
    I farmed arrakoa feathers for days on, i farmed skettis for skyguard rep by kills (Not dailies) along with some norwegian guys that i met there we were doing the elite summons over and over for days, i farmed zaxxis insignias, i farmed defense on bracers enchant for 2 days straight, spellpower on gloves for 4 days straight, not to mention primals, herbs, sunfury signets and all that apart from raiding which was a truly compelling experience.
    Besides that levelling up an alt took at least a month IRL ( i levelled a shaman just for having her farm primal air with engineering in nagrand clouds, plus the overwhelming experience of having her dual wield two blacksmithing BoP maces, oh my what a killing machine that was).
    Plus finishing all the quests that were left after hitting 70 just for Gold was really not an easy task since the elite quests were awesome but painful, back then gold was a serious issue and doing those quests was not exactly mandatory, i am referring to the period before the Isle of Quel’Danas since that practically solved anyone’s gold problems, even though it make everyone stop grinding/farming after that.

    What i really want to say is that there were an enormous amount of activities besides raiding even though i was a raider by heart all of those provided a tremendous experience overall. The gimped down raiding that came afterwards really made everyone less happy. I have to agree with a recent massively article on wildstar raiding. Take a look at what they have to say:

    “Over the past several years we’ve seen the idea introduced that everyone should get to raid, especially in World of Warcraft. It’s a well-meaning sentiment that also completely misses the point. By making the whole endgame raid content more approachable, you make everyone less happy.

    People who genuinely enjoy raiding are less happy because content gets easier and easier. The challenge of it is part of what you enjoyed. You wanted having a boss on farm status to really be an accomplishment, something you worked hard to achieve; now it’s just a rote thing. You didn’t mind complicated processes to get into raids, requirements for certain players and classes, all of the parts that non-raiders found tedious. That was stuff you enjoyed.

    Meanwhile, people who don’t naturally like raiding are less happy because you’re being told to like something. The inaccessibility and all that was just a part of the puzzle; at the end of the day, you just aren’t fond of that particular style of play. Except now you’re more and more expected to raid, and not doing so means you’re stuck in the cold with nothing more to do. This is the endgame, and it’s so easy, why aren’t you doing it?”

    I really thing that have given so much focus on raiding that they stopped providing of meaningful and fun alternatives ( dailies was the most stupid idea ever on the history of our favorite genre imho, with achievements being a close second ).

  • I wonder if this will lead to less PuGing. Why take the time to fill those extra spots when you don’ t have to? I wonder if an unintended side effect will make the smaller communities even more insular.

  • I think this is a fantastic idea. If you have someone in the group that has to leave it won’t wreck the entire evening, or force you to put up with some Jackass just because you need him.

    I bet if you added up all my time spend raiding 80% of it was waiting for someone. It’s that sitting around waiting that makes shivers go up my spine when I hear the word “raid”.

    The only negative I could possible see is if some folks are excluded because their low gear score won’t be worth the increased difficulty bump. But that’s part of gearing up and that’s pretty minor IMO.

    Good work Blizz. Sounds good on paper!

  • “after all, if the difficulty is equal regardless of numbers”

    Greater numbers increase the difficulty by default. It’s far easier herding 9 people than it is 39.

    It would be an impossible task (and an impossible sell), but the only way to make it ‘fair’ would be to have the individual difficulty scale up as you reduce numbers; if you bring 50 the average player is only expected to be decent, if you bring 5 it better be an all-star team.

    Of course, the far easier approach is to keep difficulty the same regardless of numbers, and just keep the amount of loot the same. Want to gear up faster? Don’t bring 40. Can’t beat something? Bring more, but it’s going to mean the same 3 drops spread across more people.

    The core problem is that in a themepark, the devs regulate how you play, resulting in someone always being screwed (too easy, too hard, almost never just right). In a sandbox like EVE, CCP lets you bring however many people you want to PvE, and lets the players decide what the right level is for challenge/reward.

  • When Blizzard announced the flexible raiding system I wondered if they are working towards something like D3 has with the monster power. Basically you can get a group of whoever you have available to raid then choose a difficulty. MP0 would be easy difficutly, MP1 normal, MP2 heroic, MP3+ increasing the difficulties.

    Of course the problem as Blizzard has stated is some encounter designs fall apart at different player count levels so it makes it harder to design and fine tune the content so they might still have hard capped raids where they know the amount of dps/heals/mitigation to expect so they can fine tune the encounter accordingly. But I think adding a monster power system into flex raids might be a direction they eventually go to provide even more options.

  • Bearing in mind the… err… umm… many “interesting” ways Blizzard have managed to mis-tune a raid between 10s and 25s, I’d be impressed, nay, surprised! if they get the 10-25 flexible tuning to above “total disaster”.

    Not that many people bothered with the 25s, for precisely the “why give out x2.5 the loot to a x.25 people?” reason, As you might notice, I disagree with that.

  • Probably works very similar to GW2’s “flexible” dynamic events. They started doing their own experiment with “flexible” systems a few months ago just before I took a break from the game. It definitely made some of the content more accessible.

  • And you enjoy WoW more now with flexible raiding than you enjoyed WoW in vanilla?