Thursday, December 15, 2011

Is it worth it to have something really hard?

Gevlon recently has been having a series of tantrums about the 'dance' element of WOW.  He talks about how Cataclysm overly emphasized the dance over performance and wants the game to get back to some vanilla ideal of requiring performance without dancing.  I think he is viewing the past with rose tinted glasses here but he may end up having a really good point about catering to the top 1%.

I recall raiding in vanilla and boy howdy was it easy compared to modern raiding.  I look at what my guild Hounds of War did back then and think that if my last ten man group copied ourselves 3 times and then walked into old dungeons like Molten Core or BWL for the first time that we would finish the entire dungeon in a couple hours.  They were so incredibly forgiving and easy that it is hard to say that they had a difficult dance or performance benchmark.  I recall watching thirty seven people die to Shazzrah one time and the only three folks alive were Wendy, myself and The Warrior.  The entire guild sighed and talked about how we would have to do it again but the three of us just played well and spent ten minutes beating Shazzrah down for the last four percent of his health on single warrior DPS.  No modern fight is that easy, not even Raid Finder facerolls - if you are down to 7% of your raid alive you LOSE.

The thing that made everything work was that the fights were easy and the players were terrible.  We could play with just about anyone (and we did!) and beat things.  Any group of people skilled enough to do modern hardmode fights when they first launch would find the entire raid scene a joke back in vanilla but I would be hard pressed to confirm that people are having more fun in general.  It is clear that there are people who want to be the best in the world and to challenge them you need ludicrously hard fights.  Should Blizzard care about what those people want since there are so few of them relatively speaking?

If WOW just had easy raids then I would be happy raiding with my buddies once or twice a week.  We wouldn't need to raid heavily and we wouldn't need to practice too hard because we could easily beat all the content before the next patch came out on an easy schedule.  There would be no pressure to get hardcore because there was nothing to get hardcore about.  I suspect that as long as WOW (or any other MMO for that matter) has hardmode fights myself and my friends would always be doing those fights as we wouldn't be particularly satisfied with not doing the hardest thing.  If the hardest thing was still pretty easy we could just invite people we liked playing with and beat stuff up at some reasonable pace; if only 9 people log in, we go with 9 and beat the fights a little bit slower.

Some people really enjoy being extremely hardcore though and they would have basically nothing to do once they beat all the fights in the first week of a patch.  Maybe that isn't such a big deal though as all the masses of mediocre players would be able to raid with a much greater variety of people and wouldn't be concerned about being behind the curve.  I suspect a lot of people like Gevlon tend to romanticize the period when they first started raiding.  They remember the excitement of first boss kills and new raids just like anyone does in their first few times doing a new activity and they forget about the terrible parts.  I remember being the raid leader, recruiter, banker and cheerleader for a forty person guild and it was *hell*.  Playing was fun though!

WOW has strongly diverged from its initial roots.  The levelling and questing game has gone from 'impossible to fail but moderately challenging to optimize' to 'trivial' and the raiding game has gone from 'laughably easy' to 'soul crushing difficulty'.  I think it is time for some convergence.  Get some hard back into levelling and some easy back into raiding.  Hell, Blizzard even sent me a free week promo email so I can wander back into the World of World of Warcraft and give it a spin for a short time.

1 comment:

  1. I think for MMOs it is not worth it to put in things that are intentionally extremely hard. There will always be played who want to do extremely hard things and they'll find extremely hard things to do, because there are always extremely hard things to do if you want to make them up for yourself.

    Redeploy the time spent tweaking numbers to get them perfect into creating more different things to do.