Greedy Goblin

Thursday, September 25, 2014

PuG raiding possibilities

Some of you, who followed me back in my WoW days remember the PuG-project, a raiding guild back in Cataclysm with the goal of raiding without a fixed group and overall socialization. It was moderately successful as it climbed around the 25000th position (means about 500K players out of 8M) but its "not fixed group" was severely impaired by not having enough members. It was a kind of chimera project, as players must have joined a guild to act like they are not in a guild.

While I abandoned WoW, my girlfriend didn't and kept raiding with various casual (but still hard-mode doing) guilds. They are currently at 8/14 HC in 10-man, which is West 10-11K position (200K out of 5M).

In the meantime Blizzard allowed cross-realm raiding and finding "friends" without giving out your real name. She found, a site that is practically providing a chat using these features for finding raid partners. Perfectly a-social raiding as you never met your raid partners before and probably won't after. She had a max level alt that did no raiding before, Amaanda the resto shaman, who is in a not really raiding guild.

Despite starting the project in May, she managed to kill 3 heroic bosses. Guilds with 3 HC kills are around West 16K position, so about 7% (320K out of 5M) of the total players reached this far. Please remember that the lvl 90 content was out for 2 years and the Siege of Orgrimmar raid was released a year ago, so she was really behind schedule. Her main had 3 heroic kills before she even started this project! Raiding in general is also winding down as the content is over, the new expansion is announced, she couldn't raid this week due to no groups to be found. Considering these, she got pretty far. Obviously the project will be repeated in the next expansion with great expectations.

This result (and the overall popularity of openraid) shows that raiding without knowing your raid partners is possible in the highest difficulty. You don't need a guild, full of socializing "friends" to get way ahead of others.

Of course it's not perfect. Due to the lack of credible performance metrics, finding competent raid members must rely on gear level, which is a pretty bad predictor of performance. It was especially a curse at the start of the project when older - but totally incompetent - players had higher ilvl due to grinding lots of trivial content to get good gear. Ordos and the Celestials, two literally AFK-able bosses give ilvl 553 gear, equal to Normal difficulty rewards. A long but not at all hard questline gives the best item of the content, an ilvl 600 legendary cloak. Also, you can upgrade every item by 16 levels by using 1000 valor points. You earn 1000 valor a week and there are 12 slots, so you need to do trivial things for 12 weeks to be able to fully upgrade your gear.

Compare these "welfare epics" to the ilvl 540 rewards of the second difficulty level "Flexible". Usual Flex groups demanded 550+ gear, better than the rewards of the aimed content. Combined with bad luck with Ordos/Celestial groups Amaanda could gather enough gear to enter a Normal (third difficulty) raid only 10 weeks ago. In retrospect, it would have been easier to raid in a mediocre guild until ilvl 555 before starting raiding on her own. This won't be a problem in the next expansion where she'll go with the first wave.

I'm not sure if this result, and the support Blizzard gives to random raiding by the cross-server raids are a new hope for WoW and similar MMOs or the last nail in their coffin. On the one hand it fixes the main problem of players with limited time: if you don't have 3-5x4 uninterrupted hours a week to raid, you can't get into a serious guild. In mediocre guilds you are surrounded by bad players, so you can't progress. If you can raid 1x4 hours a week, you won't progress 1/4 as fast. You won't progress at all, you'll be stuck with morons and slackers who do half your DPS in equal gear. With random raiding, whenever you want to raid, you can find a group at similar (gear) level and you can raid. Obviously if you raid less, you progress slower, but you won't be locked out of the company of good players. So random raiding can keep good players without hardcore schedule in raiding.

On the other hand the key success feature of WoW is boosting. Morons and slackers complete non-trivial content carried by the mentioned competent casuals. If you allow a way out for them, they will take it. Without these competent casuals, the lolguilds will not be able to do anything besides the most trivial content and will experience a setback from their previous progression. Unless Blizzard can pull some rabbit out of the hat, they will either quit or demand so big nerfs that will make the content completable in days by competent players.


Torpid said...

I don't really see a problem with it. Everyone who wants to SEE a fight can just see it with LFR.

Of course, I don't raid to see fights, sure, executing a fight perfectly is fun in a way, but if I only want to do perfect my execution, I'd be spending more times in proving grounds. (As it is, I've only spent an hour or so getting gold, didn't even bother touching endless.)

Like many people, if I raided seriously, I'd be raiding for the PHAT LOOT. Sure, there's guilds out there who raid for progression, that is, the world/country/server first or whatever, but that takes a certain amount of dedication. Sure, it's nice to have REALM FIRST : BLAH BLAH BLAH Killed Hellscream or whatever, but how many people do you see running around checking out everyone's achievements?

Gear, on the other hand, takes mainly long a diligent effort. It differs from progression in that rather than racing against everyone else in the world/country/realm or whatever for the first kill, you're taking it at your own pace. As long as you down a boss before the next set of raids pop up, you'll have that heroic thunderforged Axe of +50 to awesomeness or whatever. Achievements aren't obvious, but having an weapon 20 ilvls higher than everyone else would be instantly apparent to anyone who inspects you.

Hell, if you have enough ilvls spread through your gear, they can tell just by looking at your hit points. Since better gear = more hit points.

It's like driving a Ferrari, you don't drive it because it's a good car, you drive it because other people know that it's a good car, and that it's expensive, so you must have put in the effort to buy it.

Of course, the kind of people you're talking about want to drive Ferrari without paying for it. What they don't realize is that if everyone drove a Ferrari, it wouldn't be a status symbol anymore, so there's no point in buying one.

If they don't want to work for a status symbol, and they're too stupid that status symbols only matter if they're difficult to obtain, than there's no point pandering to them.

It would certainly cost blizzard if they stopped paying for game time, but would that be any different from a mass exodus of the 'purple pixel hunters' like me? If you make gear meaningless, then all WoW would be is a bunch of dungeons you run once and never again.

If blizzard ever truly made gear available to everyone, everyone having the best ilvl or whatever, that's when the skill difference becomes obvious. Gear is something that can let you pretend that other guy in all heroic gear isn't better than you, that he only does ten times your DPS or HPS or whatever because he has better gear than you do. If you take that away, even the idiots would leave.

tl;dr, a gear difference between good players and bad players doesn't serve to INCREASE the perceived disparity, rather, it DECREASES it. That is to say, WoW is fine as it is. Maybe it would be more fun if gear was a little harder to get, like in BC where it was all progression, and you HAD to have a certain level of gear AND skill to progress, but all in all, I think the WOTLK/Cata/MoP system is pretty much alright. The difference is there so the cutting edge feel like they're awesome, which, admittedly, they are. And the casuals don't feel left behind either. After all, they're killing Garrosh too, even if it's just LFR or FLEX or whatever.

Iiene of Kul tiras said...

This is a good development.

Raiding at the top tier is difficult not because of the content, it's hard because of the people. You need access to a huge pool of people, then be able to dump people that don't fit without drama and add more easily.

Wow's problem is that there is no mechanic to do that. You can't do what you need to do... join multiple guilds at once. YOu should be able to be in your "family friendly" guild that can't progress because of the slackers, as well as in the "Raiding farm guild" where you build raid creds working on, for example, "Normal" difficulty raid bosses with like minded people. That guild needs a ranking system. Then you move to a heroic guild when they recruit you from the farm guild.

Don't want to raid 5 days a week for 4 hours a day? Refuse the invite to that particular heroic guild. Of course, you won't do "World firsts.." but that's your choice.

By opening the pool, and allowing the market to sort it out, you improve raiding in general.

Anonymous said...

maybe proving grounds endless mode will sort the M&S out. just accept people with high enough endless rank. with that it shouldn't matter if you have rank 50 with ilvl 600 vs rank 50 with ilvl 660 .. both should tank/heal/dps fine.

Skypirate said...

I haven't played wow for years but I always thought multiple guilds would be good. You could group casual raiders together without forcing them to leave their social guilds and have ability to manage some level of competency.

Helvene Flenn said...

This is Mirth, I played with The PuG for a while in Cataclysm before you decided to leave the game.

I was wondering if there was a way to contact Livia to join that project of hers.

Gevlon said...

No one can join it, as its goal is to raid without premade group.