Greedy Goblin

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Does dance have place in hard modes?

People keep commenting that there are output demands in hard modes, despite I have serious doubts that it's really that high. I still remember Maloriak HC that we did with 4 healers, 2 tanks and still pushed it to P2 too early. But let's accept their statement that hard modes need output and dance, while normals need only dance.

I doubt that anyone says it's a good design, considering that leveling needs absolutely no dance, while it needs a little but still non-zero output. You can't level up with zero DPS but you can level up not moving at all while in combat. So demanding high output in normals and introducing dance in hard modes would make more sense.

But it's not the question today. The question is: do hard modes need any dance? Can meaningful hard modes be created without dance? The problem to be addressed is that in the world top 1000 guilds people are above 99% of their theoretical output concerning rotation and specs. We can also assume that they gear up completely in the previous tier. So when a new tier opens with no dance to learn, all these guilds kill the first N bosses and no one can kill the N+1th boss. Next week with their gear from the first boss they all can kill him or none can. This would clearly be a bad design as being #1 would be meaningless, it would only mean your server came up first after patch. It would kill all top competition which is clearly bad.

To prove that a "hard working" game needs no dexterity element, I have to create a raiding design that allows the best people to meaningfully compete and win only by their "hard working" skill.

We know one answer for that, the one in Vanilla: you must get various consumables and Felwood stuff for raiding. However it is grindy, meaning easy and boring. Farming is limited by travel speed and not skill or even gear. This is a bad answer. It is also bad because every top guild would have them all, so the bosses would still die together.

My idea is class/spec balance. While the game must be balanced, it cannot be perfectly balanced anyway. There will always be a "spec of the month" that beats all other specs and classes. This natural imbalance offers itself as the perfect high-end challenge. If the buff/nerf criteria is that every damage dealer specs must be within 1% of their average, it means that there are specs that is 1% above the average and there are specs that are 1% below. The bosses therefore can be tuned up to 101% of perfect performance with BiS gear from last tier, and they are still doable on the first week by a guild that stacks the best specs.

This means that to be successful on the bleeding edge, you need alts with gear from last tier and good experience playing them. This has huge diminishing returns, as on average a randomly chosen spec is average. If you have the best spec of the patch, you get only 1% power increase, and the cost is leveling up and gearing up an alt to teeth. This therefore doesn't affect anyone below the bleeding edge, as until you play your class perfectly and have BiS from last tier, playing your main gives you more power than playing an alt. However to be in World top 10, you must have alts, geared to full current tier gear giving enough work for even the most obsessed no-lifer.


Cigaras said...

I'm in a 6/7 HC guild, none of heroic bosses (including Ragnaros) gave us hard time with enrage timers even on first kills when we had no heroic gear on us. I play demonology warlock despite I was affliction all my life, I'm only starting to learn my rotation and reforge my gear so it fits demonology needs, my dps is pathetic, and we still easily beat enrage timers if no-one dies. My dps is lover by 10-20%, thats not more than 5% raid dps loss, however if one fails to dance, our raid dps is down by 20-25%, so susualy enrage timer kills us. I don't mention what happens when tank, healer or dedicated interuptor dies, is usualy a guaranteed wipe.

Péter Zoltán said...

This would kill raiding for anyone who doesn't have a lot of time or doesn't want to play more (than 2... or 3) characters.

Let's just revert to the single difficulty mode raiding as in BC. Let's not reset the whole gearset on each new tier. Let players go from first raid tier of the expansion to the last, even if they start raiding halfway through the expansion.
BC was the best pve experience so far and it worked something like that.
Oh, and there wasn't a lot of dancing involved.

Anonymous said...

Normally I'm at least somewhat in agreement with your points, but this time you're wrong as a point of simple fact. The race to world first in vanilla was absolutely not about who could get the best consumables, since everyone could, and any progression raid did. The race was based on the same principles then as now, though in a different balance. Ragnaros, Nefarion, C'thun, Kel'Thuzad, they all had significant 'dance' elements that needed to be properly dealt with in much the same way that current bosses do. There were just less of them, with much higher output demands. Not even always that MANY less of them either, if you think about it, and they were largely still instant failure states if you didn't do them properly.

Certainly vanilla bosses were different, less complex, but they definitely DID require the same sort of work as modern bosses do. What was different in vanilla was largely the leveling game. It took massively longer to get a character raid-ready, since the leveling itself was more difficult (In multiple ways) and there was a much more gradual shift into raiding, with difficult five and ten man dungeons, keying or attuning requirements, and more necessary consumables.

Anonymous said...

Cigaras, you are more than likely 6/7 heroic AFTER the nerf to fireland. Prior to nerf there is absolutely no way you would have passed Baleroc or domo heroic with subpar dps, no way. I am not even counting the spider...

The answer is not not have content that only guilds and people with multiple alts can clear.

Hard content can be done with extremely tight dps requirement, healing output and tanking skill. Granted some "dances" are boring, but I cannot see blizzard replacing that with other difficult things like "run get a buff or die", "hide behind pillar now or die"...

Anonymous said...

Cigaras, was that before or after the 15% HP nerf?

Maloriak Heroic is a terrible example, though, since the only DPS checks of sort are the black ooze and the final 25%. His HP outside of that is extremely low because he's a control fight.

A prime example of a dance with high DPS requirements is H Ragnaros phase 3. Have to dodge the World in Flames, Sulfuras Smash, deal with Meteors, and put out very high DPS.

chewy said...

This series of posts has made me aware that team work is more valuable now than it ever was due to the dance. Like one of your contributors yesterday, I'm in a guild that has always valued team work above individual performance which might explain why I don't have an issue with the dance.

The opposite is also true. If one raids with a group of individuals then the dance will seem very difficult.

You're trying to redesign the raiding experience such that it returns to suiting a group of individuals. As always, you can't please all of the people all of the time but perhaps the balance is too far in one direction with the current set of encounters.

Riptor said...

It would indeed be interesting to have every boss on hc tuned to 101%. However, you seem to have a misconception about BIS Gear. Sure, Lists are fine but there is also drop luck. In wrath, we killed Syndragosa somewhere around 50 times. On Firstkill, the Castertrinket dropped and then it took 32 Kills for the next one. When we moved into RS, only three Casters had their BiS Trinket. As this item, aside from the LK HC weapons (the caster sword dropped once from Feb 2010 till Cataclysm) was the most significant DPS increase, our Raid would not have been able to clear RS hc as out of 8 Core Ranged, only one would have been BiS Geared. None of our Tanks ever got the BQL hc Shield. Also, your idea of Class stacking and twink running is ridiculous, sorry.
You can get yourself a fully geared twink within 5-6 Days. It’s very simple. You get yourself a new Classic account. With this, you enter the Recruit a Friend System and recruit your Guildmate with his new Account (also Classic Trial). Then off you go. With the 300%xp Bonus it takes a good Saturday to bomb to 60 (also, as the Recruiter, you get Bonus Levels you can assign to another Alt already). Then you transfer the lvl 60 Char from your trail Account to your Main (you can then freeze the new Account as it became useless), get every possible Account bound item for it and continue on. The last time I bombed, BC took somewhere around 4 hours, Wrath a good 7. Cata (judging from the launch day leveling) will probably also be around 7 so it is doable if you do all Sunday and Monday night. This gives you enough time to get yourself carried through Dungeons Tuesday night (best if you have some crafted items ready to raise your I level high enough right when you ding 85). After the Farmraid on Wednesday you then assemble a 10 man for the old Content (5 fully geared mains and 5 fresh Alt usually work quite well) and get yourself geared in the 4.0 Content. Along with the troll Instances you will have a FL normal ready Alt by Friday, 6 Days after you started. This timeline is taking into consideration that you have a job occupying you during daytime and Progress Raids (4-5 during one id). Doing it while the Content is clear or during a Vacation will of course greatly reduce the time needed. You also have to put aside 10-20k of Gold (if raid viable, you’ll get it from the bank) to AH-skill your Professions. That also takes 2-3 Hours depending on AH size.
Anyway, having 3-4 Alts on max is not really an issue if you have the support of a raiding guild. This was a real Point if Discussion when ToC was announced. With the Try limitation implemented for the first time, many hc Guilds thought about issuing an Alt order so every member of the Raid must have a Char of the same Class, ready for TOC. That way the effective Try Amount of the Guild could be uped to 100 as first, the Raid would go in with the Alts, and afterwards with the Mains (or vice versa)
Some actually did that but as ToC was a true rollover Instance it was not needed

Anonymous said...

Why do you keep trying to solve something that is not even a problem? Raiding has always been about moving out of stuff and handling encounter mechanics. Discounting Rhyolith, there were no new mechanics in recent tiers, either.

To the 6/7HC raider: everyone and their mother is 6/7HC now. Hell, I've pugged 6/7 HC in less than 3 hours. The nerfs were insane, and I assure you, you couldn't have done Baleroc 10HC prior to farming gear for weeks without replacing one healer and one tank with a dps, and even then you'd still hit the enrage.

Back on topic: For current 10man raiding, being able to adjust your line up with the right classes for the different fights is already a huge advantage. Just to name 2 examples: 2 Mages on Beth'tilac means you do not have to heal devastation at all. A shadow priest on Baleroc lets your healers stack to 100 from the get go.

Anonymous said...

@Cigaras, sadly 6/7 doesn't mean much. Is that in 10 or 25man? 10mans are *much* more lenient with dps requirements. Is that pre or post-nerf? The nerf was *huge* especially for DPS-check bosses like Majordomo.

Anonymous said...

That's design so bad it surprises me you're even thinking that.
Dance is needed to keep it interesting.
Hard working is learning the dance - it's not dexterity. Dexterity is in PVP - when you actually need to kite/variate.
Learning to do the same specific task to perfection is hard-working.

Anonymous said...

How many comments did you recieve, that you are so wrong with your dance idea?

If you want it simple. You cant just say: Put 10 Patchworks and the raid is interesting. You could ve done it in Classic. But even in classic if most boss fights had 1-2 Special abilities.
To make fights more interesting, the bosses got more and more special abilities.

BUT! But special abilities arent difficult. Its the fact that you have to handle the special abilities while you have to deliver high output.

The problems are to handle 5 different things.

And if you really think that every hc player is at 100% Output, you are SOOOO wrong.

We were rank 160 6/7 pre nerf. But i wouldnt even say, that 1 player maybe 100% correct decisions in any fight. Meaning maximum dps and no error in dance execusion...

If you wanna write about something, plz dont do it arround assumptions.

Péter Zoltán said...

The only tight DPS checks in this expansion:
- Maloriak normal before first very early nerf
- Maloriak 10 heroic black phase (aoe adds)
- Twilight Council burn phase on heroic
- Baleroc on heroic
- All 3 endbosses ON HEROIC

Right now after the nerfs, there are no really tight dps checks. All other throughput checks are soft enrages.
We need more meaningful hard enrages, less dance and less gear resets. That would provide a better raiding experience.

Anonymous said...

"The problem to be addressed is that in the world top 1000 guilds people are above 99% of their theoretical output concerning rotation and specs."

This is a completely false assumption. I played in a world top 150 guild and can say that there is significant inequity in terms of damage output among the same classes/specs with identical gear. Maybe your claim is true about the world top 10 or top 20, but certainly not top 1000.

Nils said...

I like your attempt of finding an alternative way to differentiate between different (ly skilled) raid groups at the utmost top.

But what I don't get is why Blizzard does have an interest in that in the first place? The top guilds add only marginal revenue. And it's not like in Eve where top players are necessary for the 'bottom' players to have fun. WoW separates the two completely.

So why does Blizzard even want to spend so many resources on figuring out and and implementing some alternative way to differantiate differently skilled raid groups at the upmost top?

Anonymous said...

Let me start by saying I like the way you've chosen another subject to write about, 'M&S' was getting a bit stale.

That being said, while I understand that Raiding is of the utmost importance to those that do it, the question remains why so much of WoW's resources should be spent on content that most of the player base won't see when it's current, becomes obsolete the moment it isn't current anymore, and has deterimental effects on the rest of the game (ie PvP balance, levelling/world experience down the drain, rampant inflation etc.).

Anonymous said...

@Péter Zoltán: In 25man Majordomo heroic is pretty thigh too.

Also some "soft" enrages are actually pretty strict. On Beth'ilac 25H after 35 stacks there is little which can keep you alive much longer. If you cannot get Ryholith in last phase before 3-4 Superheated you'll have little chance to make it.

We now farm them easily because most of us have many heroic pieces. With FL normal gear (the gear they should be tuned for) they are significantly harder (rightly so).

Kimmo said...

I assume that's from normal raiding situations (movement, RNG, relatively short fights, small differences in gear) rather than Patchwerk/target dummy? Minimising movement with perfect usage of demonic portal and things like that can affect DPS a lot, and even the top players (especially when perfect tactics haven't been nailed down yet) most certainly have varying performance in those situations. Just look at world first kill damage meters: everyone is not the same.

If they were to just DPS a target dummy for an hour with the exact same gear and latency, however, I don't think you'd be seeing larger differences than a percent.

Rigor said...

"The problem to be addressed is that in the world top 1000 guilds people are above 99% of their theoretical output concerning rotation and specs."

You're joking, right? Most players outside the top world #50-100 are garbage.

You cannot question the output requirements of hard modes until you had to kite Baleroc 40+ seconds past his enrage with everyone in your guild doing pretty much top dps.

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a bad idea.
A better one?
1. No full gear resets during an expansion
2. Mix gear-check and dance bosses so that better gear means something
3. Dance bosses should be outgearable. Either their fire should be tuned to barely kill someone who doesn't stack stamina or the DPS/output requirements should be doable with about half the raid dead... (Heigan)
4. More story and attunement quests - I really missed them. Killing faceless boss 'blah' who jumped out of nowhere is dull.

Manxome said...

You bring up a very interesting point about how the game doesn't train you to dance. I'd go further and say the game doesn't train you to do anything anymore. This is, I believe, a big problem with the current model as well.

Prior to raiding, the game doesn't challenge you to excel in either healing, dps or tanking, nor in "the dance". Sadly, there are ample opportunities to do so in the occasional zone quest (the group quest bosses were good for this), 5 mans and even the possibility of making heroic 5 man encounters accessible during leveling.

The reward from hard work person finds very little along the way - until they come up with the very changed game at "end game". The Wrath/Cataclysm models have headed away from preparing players for what the end game is and that is reinforced by the fact that personal excellence (rotation, knowledge) as well as preparation (gear) is no longer required.

The result is less of a sense of accomplishment - the real payoff that comes from overcoming a challenge.

Anonymous said...

DPS meters can be difficult to analyze and more often than not are almost useless at a glance.

Take a fight like Beth'ilac. "Raw" DPS numbers tell you almost nothing. Was the player assigned to go upstair and damage the boss the whole 3 phases? Was it assigned to taunt the spinners? Was the player a "stopper" for the exploding spiders?

Many fights require damage dealer assignments to different tasks. When players do significantly different things you cannot compare their dps directly anymore.

This doesn't even consider differences due to the classes mecahnics, ala "Unholy DK did low damage" without considering how much he lost in using Unholy Frenzy on the Fury Warrior to get the most out of it for the whole raid.

Anonymous said...

I'm in a 6/7 HC guild, none of heroic bosses (including Ragnaros) gave us hard time with enrage timers

How would you know about Ragnaros HC you haven't killed him (6/7 !) ?

Anonymous said...

This is a bad approach. Don't worry too much about what happens to the outliers that are getting world first kills; they're a miniscule portion of the player base and they're difficult to design around because they're so adaptive. Instead consider how your 'hard working' game would affect players in the mid-range. What does it take for them to move up a little? If it's too grindy/boring/arbitrary, something is wrong. But if legitimate effort, particularly learning to play one's class better, is what is needed, then I think the progression system is well-aligned.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with the premise of recent posts and that is that Cata raids are - dance raids. While each fight has some movement I hardly think, for most fights, the amount of movement is onerous.

In tier 11 BWD: Atramedes had a decent amount of movement, but the rest of the fight had very little - well Nefarian phase 3 had a decent amount.

in tier 12: Shannox has some not a ton at least for me as a healer, Ryolith again has some. All the most of the fights have some movement but nothing particularly terrible (Alyrazor has a lot but that is really all there is to the fight without that, there might as well not even be a boss.