Difficulty and Challenge   64 comments

I think it was Larissa that once commented that she wondered how much Twitter has impacted the Blogosphere – how many posts went unwritten because the conversation occurred on Twitter, and how many voices missed out on being heard for the same reasons.  More and more I think that Larissa probably had a very valid point/concern.  The reason I’m bringing this up is because a comment made on Twitter yesterday really got the gears in my brain churning and I thought it was a shame that those who aren’t part of the Twitter community would miss out on something so thought provoking.

Now, anyone who was listening in on yesterday’s WoW Twitter community would have had about 12 hours of very vocal commentary on the news that Blizzard intends to “nerf” Firelands content starting next week.  In all honesty, after about hour 4 of the “great nerf of T12″ marathon debate, I was about ready to shut down my twitter feed to do something productive like, I don’t know, focus on work ;)  However, in all that madness, there was one comment that really made me stop and go “huh”.  And that is what I want to explore today.

The comment was made by Borsk, and went a little something like this:

Now, when I first read it my initial thought was “don’t be silly, of course it has to be harder”.  I mean, new challenges are what keep raiding interesting and fresh…right?  But the more that I thought about it, the more I realized that new challenges and exponentially increased difficulty levels don’t necessarily have to be synonymous.  As I chewed it over, I began to wonder how the whole trend of current tier raid design started.

I mean, I don’t think anyone would argue that we’ve come a very long way since Molten Core and that is a good thing.  If raiding over the past 10 tiers had been reminiscent to Molten Core, I daresay that many people would have found raiding to be rather droll.  I, personally, enjoy many of the more interesting raid mechanics that we see in encounters today.  But encounter diversity doesn’t really have anything to do with each tier trying to top the previous in terms of difficulty – or does it?

And this is where I stumble in my thoughts.  How do you make new and interesting encounters after 7 years without increasing the difficulties of each tier?  And the answer I came up with was “well, you can’t”.  But that’s really only half true.  I mean, in a sense as you improve your character you begin to find certain things easier.  Which means that by default the next tier has to be enough of a challenge to keep people engaged, which in turn means that it’s going to default to being “harder”.  At least in the most basic sense.  And a lot of times “harder” isn’t always just in encounter mechanics, but is straight up in the difficulty level presented in the encounter, and the level of play that must be present to deal with that increase in difficulty.  I think there comes a point in each tier where, in an attempt to keep things engaging, Blizzard pushes the difficulty envelope a little farther. 

And here is where I get stuck again.

If the goal is to have content that can be seen by a large number of subscribers, is pushing the envelope every tier healthy?  I think that it probably is, everyone should want to grow as a player and should have content that facilitates such growth.  But there is also a difference in mailing that envelope across town and mailing in half way around the world.  I mean, when you have the best of the best, who really thrive on the most difficult of challenges, say to you “it was exhausting”, has that envelope been pushed too far? 

I know that Blizzard has said that they feel that the playerbase as a whole has grown more skilled, but I question that assessment.  In truth, the players who have been playing the game for a healthy amount of time have likely gotten better at it – but when push comes to shove, there are fewer and fewer of those “old guard” left in the game.  And what is filling that gap is newer, less experienced, and by default less skilled players.  They aren’t necessarily bad players, they just don’t have 3+ years of WoW experience behind them.

But then who are we developing for?  The old guard of experienced players with 5+ years of raid experience or the new lifeblood of the game at less than 3 years of experience?  Now, I’m sure there is an argument that both of those players will play at the same level.  But I disagree.  One of the most common responses to people who comment that they have a challenge keeping up with me as a healer is “well, I’ve been healing as a druid for almost ___ years now!”.  And I’m not being snide.  There absolutely are benefits to having all that experience, be it just reading raid frames faster or having an easier time deciding what spell is the right spell for different situations, or maybe even having spent the past 7 years perfecting my UI so I can access information more smoothly.  Even if I can make those healing decisions a split second faster than you, odds are good that will make a difference.

As I continue to chew all of this over in my head, my prevailing thought is “why did Ragnaros have to be more difficult than Sinestra”?  (Or, whichever  boss you felt was the pinnacle of T11 raiding).  “Why did Lich King have to be harder than Kil’Jaeden”?  And you know, I can’t really come up with a good answer for that.  All of those fights were challenging, but why did they all have to be “the hardest thing ever” in their respective tiers.  What’s wrong with them being of a respective difficulty…and just different?  I dare say that they would still have posed engaging challenges.  After all, in that “I’M GOING TO DISNEYLAND” moment, who wants have “thank god that is over, I’m exhausted” be what was associated with the victory?

Agree or disagree, I find it an interesting question.  I’m curious enough that I brought it over from Twitter because I’d love to get everyone’s thoughts on the matter (and in more than 140 characters…).  As such, what do you think?  Do difficulty and challenge intertwine in such a way that everything must progressively become more difficult to keep it engaging?  Can Blizzard still make innovative encounters without pushing the envelope quite so far?

Posted September 14, 2011 by Beruthiel in Deep Thoughts, Raiding, Twitter Conversations

64 responses to “Difficulty and Challenge

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  1. I think there’s a significant difference between “more difficult” and simply “different.” I would die of boredom if every fight was simply a tank & spank + one unique mechanic, like most of the fights in ICC were. I think Cata has so far been an interesting experiment in mixing things up. Some fights are more creative than others, but I really like stepping up to a new boss and being very excited to experience something entirely new.

    I also think the ultimate boss of an expansion – say, the Lich King and Deathwing – should absolutely be equal in difficulty. Of course, they’ll be difficult to compare since difficulty is relative – maybe Deathwing will be more of a brute DPS check, while the LK was a GET OUT OF DEFILE OMG check. Hmm, actually, maybe a good numerical comparison would seeing if people spend more time wiping on the LK compared to DW, actually. Though this will also lead nowhere, I guess. More wipes on LK = people crying that WoW is nerfed and too easy. More wipes on Deathwing = people complaining about the ever-increasing difficulty scale.

    And has there been a harder fight than Heroic Mimiron? (I am actually asking, I don’t know.) It seems that people really dread the memories of that fight, more so than any of the Heroic ICC or t11 fights. But this is just the impression that I get.

    Quite the interesting topic, Beru! :)

    • Heroic Mimiron is probably the best designed heroic fight (in my opinion), but certainly not the most difficult (if we’re using average-number-of-wipes as a metric).

      • Pre nerf firefighter’s actually way up there in terms of difficulty, both in terms of wipes required for the first kill, and time it took to down it. Keep in mind that all of the other keepers were killed on hard mode the first day, and it took over two weeks for mimiron hard mode to go down. If I recall correctly, Ensidia went through 300+ pulls to down it, and there were some allegations of them exploiting Judgement of Light in order to get that kill. To put that in perpective, Pre Nerf Mu’ru took 4 days to get the first kill.

    • What a great, great question. I wonder very much what the developers would make of it. What would happen to raiders, both of the old guard group you described and newer players, if you had entertainment exceed difficulty. I think Blizz is about schizo about it to be honest. One the one hand, they make content in ever increasing difficulty, presumably equating enjoyment with challenge. But to turn around and hit that same hard content with the nerf bat when the bulk of servers are barely into heroic content seems to be pandering to less skilled players, or those less interested in challenge. And again, as you say, do you have to have one to have the other?
      I think part of the answer to that question is to look at where people raid. How many guilds, how many players of the newer generation raid in BT? Raid in SCC? Raid in MC? How many new players even see those instances before moving on in level? They’re barren. But I see plenty of that “old guard” breed going back through that content either on alts or on their mains just to see it. To see the pretty, the different, the stuff maybe they never got to see all the way through because the difficulty was excessive when that content was new. I think that the “old guard” group as a whole has, if nothing else, an appreciation of a job well done, of a raid that catered to the experience as much as the challenge. I can’t say I ever enjoyed “seeing” or “experiencing” Firelands as a raid environment. Some mechanics were fun to learn, some were new, but once they had been learned and our seasoned group applied them, it was humdrum again. I never had that feeling when BT and SCC were the top tier raiding environments.
      I appreciate Blizzard’s dilemma of balancing the need to have content accessible to a majority rather than a minority, but at the same time, the sacrifice seems to be giving up diversity. Making a boss hit harder, and being harder to kill, is not diversity. It’s a carrot. Making Rag harder than Sinestra (insert pinnacle boss of your choice) is not diverse, it’s a carrot. Get the carrot, get your new toys. The carrot is harder to get than the last carrot, so you must be even more satisfied with your toys. But, for me anyway, I’m not. More stats do not make me a happy raider. Beating a boss with more HP and harder hits is, in terms of satisfaction, pretty much the same as doing it on regular with less good gear. Perhaps even less satisfying because novelty, the only really good thing going, it lost as well.
      This is what worries about the direction Tier progression and the nerf-batting are taking. Progressively more work for rewards that are less and less meaningful.
      I think another way to parse the question posed is: Can Blizz make content interesting and diverse, DIFFERENT, without using difficulty compared to the last tier to do so?
      ce between not standing in any fire vs not standing in that particular fire are noticeable.

      • I would disagree with the bit about blizzard releasing content with ever increasing difficulty. They haven’t, the last time they released a tier that was a clear jump in difficulty from the previous tier was jumping from T7 to T8. The opening bosses of the instance have always been quite easy, and the final boss on heroic has always been quite hard. Flame Leviathan, Beasts of Northrend, Lord Marrowgar, Halfus Wyrmbreaker, and Shannox. None of them stand out as being significantly more difficult than any other. They might be tuned to require more gear, but for an appropriately geared group, there isn’t a real difference in difficulty. As you go through the instance, the difficulty ramps up, until you reach the final boss. Alone in the Darkness, Heroic Anub, HLK, Sinestra, and Heroic Rag. While Anub and Sinestra are a slight step down from the other three, they were still very challenging encounters.

    • @Rades I definitely agree that there is a difference between interesting and engaging and just straight up “harder”. It’s probably tricky to find the right balance where players are engaged and challenged as opposed to players feeling like they are perpetually running into a brick wall :)

      As far as Mimiron/Firefighter goes, he was certainly tricky, but I think that there have been other bosses that were more challenging to line up as far as kills go. It really was a shame that Blizzard cut Ulduar short, it was one of their best raid instances. I’d really like to see more encounters like those that we saw in Ulduar.

  2. A lot of folks use “raid encounters are a puzzle, and I enjoy the challenge of putting it together” as their go-to raiding comparison. Well, if we keep that puzzle analogy going, if you buy a new 1000 piece puzzle you can expect it to be about the same difficulty to put together as another 1000 piece puzzle.

    Does it make it less fun to put together? That’s assuming putting 1000 piece puzzles together is just your speed. You use the general strategy (get the corners, make the border, fill in like colors, etc), and then work on it until it’s done. Instead of just changing the picture and keeping the same number of pieces, encounter design to this point has been “change the picture, but split it into an extra 250 pieces”.

    • I really like the puzzle analogy! I think it fits very well. In time you probably want to move up to a bigger puzzle, but it certainly doesn’t need to be every tier – and perhaps even with smaller jumps in difficulty rather than leaps.

  3. What’s interesting is that the video game industry has been moving in the opposite direction (getting easier) and getting larger and larger revenues and market penetration because of it. Games today expect user success at nearly the first try, a recent prince of persia took the step of making resurrection from failure nearly instantaneous and at pretty much the last step you took. Games today are nowhere near as difficult as Super Mario Bros. and pretty much no game is as hard as Donkey Kong was (go back and try the original Donkey Kong today, you’ll be shocked).

    Games today are about experiences and the accessibility of those experiences is extremely important. And I’m by no means saying that old school games are not fun, but I think we’ve come a long way from continuously wiping on barrels with no continues.

    Going back to old school D&D, new tiers should be like new modules (new experiences and something else to keep you entertained) and their difficulty should meet (and press a bit) the player skill, not necessarily keep on a road map of steady increase. That’s what these nerfs are all about, blizz saw that new boss kills were plateauing, so they’re moving in to adjust the difficulty to better match the current skill base in their game.

    • I would agree that a lot of video games have gotten easier over time. I wonder what drove that?

      I like the analogy of D&D modules. I 100% agree that you can probably have new (and engaging) experiences without losing entertainment value or constantly making large increases indifficulty. I think you do need to have increases, but I think they can come at a much more relaxed pace than we’ve seen so far.

  4. This is an excellent question. I wonder if the figures are available for the age of active accounts so that we could see graph of how many people have been playing for how long. It could easily take into consideration breaks, simply deducting that time from the over all. I imagine Blizz has this information, and I think it’d be an excellent data set to discuss for us out here. That’s neither here nor there, though, as we have no control over it.

    I like the thoughts you share here, and I tend to agree with your premise. I wonder if Blizz factors in that the length of time playing probably is inversely proportional to the amount of free time left to play (for most players). If you’ve been playing nearly seven years, you’re probably at least in your late twenties (or older, as I can attest), meaning that many new time-uses have appeared, like jobs, spouses, kids – you know, life.

    Making tiers harder and harder, then, might actually be nudging out their primary market, slowly but surely.

    Great post!

    • I’d love to see the data that tells us how many people have been playing for how long, and what their daily activities are. I think it would be interesting to see. I think that they could probably make encounters engaging without feeling that they have to “make the hardest encounter yet!”. There are more ways to challenge amd entertain people.

  5. Other than the very top heroic fights, are raids really getting harder?

    I mean, if you look at Normal mode fights, I think that most Normal Firelands is comparable to Normal T11. Shannox, Beth, Ryho aren’t a lot harder than Magmaw, Halfus, and Omnotron Council (at least pre-nerf) at equivalent gear levels.

    And both tiers are comparable to the wings of Icecrown and up. I think Normal Nefarion was harder than Normal Ragnaros, and Normal Lich King harder than both of them. If you could clear T11 content on Normal, or at least 1 of the three end bosses, I think you’re capable of clearing all of Firelands. It’s not like Vanilla/TBC where each new raid tier is a clear step up.

    To me, it feels that since ICC all raids have been placed in same difficulty zone, save one or two signature fights on Heroic.

    • I don’t know that I agree. I do think that there are jumps in difficulty – but then again, maybe I am colored by seeing the heroic encounters. But, in every tier I’ve done the fights on both heroic and normal (10s) on my main and my alt. And I do think that there are certainly difficulty jumps. It took our alt run a lot longer to go past the first 4 or 5 bosses in T12 than it did in T11, which I think is a fair representation of normal mode content. In fact, I think it might even be argued that we had an easier time of it because we all had experiences with the fights.

      I disagree that Nef was harder than Rag. When push came to shove, the hardest part about Nef (like a lot of T11) was making sure that you could interrupt and that you had a tank that could sufficiently deal with kiting the adds in phase 3. I absolutely think that Rag has a lot more moving pieces to it, and to an extent, requires a significantly higher amount of overall raid coordination to execute.

      I honestly don’t know how I feel about LK in comparison to the current content. LK had a good number of idiot checks in both versions of the fight. As well as a pretty strict DPS check. As for it being harder? I don’t know. For me, it was far easier than HM Council (which I think is probably one of the most brutal encounters in the game, and the epitome of punishing for the sake of just being punishing).d

      • Keep in mind that the difficulty gaps in Firelands are inherently greater than those in any previous comtemporary tier, save T9. It took longer to get through the first five bosses in Firelands because that’s 70% of the tier. That’s the equivilent of being 9/12 N in T11.

        Nef is a different style of fight than Rag. Nef is less of a throughput check, and more of a coordination check. Rag is a pretty tightly tuned gear check. If they hadn’t of emasculated the encounter, Nefarian normal would be wiping groups in T13 gear that couldn’t figure out how to coordinate the interrupts, or have an add tank that isn’t capable of kiting properly. Time will not be so kind to rag. On normal, there’s many mechanics that you have to respect on rag because of the damage output. But the only real Pass/Fail mechanic is the meteors, and as DPS rises, people spend less time in phase three, fewer meteors spawn, and groups can DPS their way to freedom. Skilled groups in the next teir, or even this tier if the nerfs resemble the T11 nerfs, will be able to completely ignore the meteors because they’ll push to 10% before the first meteor even spawns.

        I believe that the difference between the perspective of yourself and myself and Rohan is the quality of the groups. You’re in a serious progression group that clears all content while current. Rohan and Myself are in guilds that reach heroic content, put in work, but rarely clear a tier while it’s still current. As Rohan once put it, you’re in the Royalty, we’re in the aristocracy. In groups like yours, coordination on things like interrupts, and kiting adds is second nature, so your only major concern on Nefarian is throughput. Whereas groups like ours take a little while to figure out who’s interrupting what, what’s the timing on the shadowflame barrage. Further complicating the matter is that groups like ours took longer to get there, so we’ve farmed up more gear, and with gear throughput issues naturally correct themselves. So for us, the hard part of Rag nerfs itself.

  6. It really doesn’t have to be more difficult, except in the throughput requirements. Is heroic rag harder than heroic lich king with 0% buff? Or Alone in the Dark 25 at ulduar gear levels? I don’t believe so. Is shannox more difficult than halfus from a technical perspective? No. Just requires more gear. The problem lies in skill gaps, and blanket nerfs create garish skill gaps. A group that cleared T11 normal mode before 4.2 could roll into firelands and progress. Perhaps not quickly, but they could progress, and get rag normal down before 4.3. A group that struggles to clear T11 normal content after the blanket nerfs will find Firelands to be an insurmountable hurdle. A gap is created between their perception of themselves, and reality. The biggest jump was going from 30% ICC to T11 content. Guilds that were 11/12 HM in ICC suddenly find themselves struggling to clear normal raids. After a few months of having that mirror held up to them, they get sick of what it shows them, and quit. We saw that firsthand with raider burnout and a massive amount of people leaving the game.

    What the game needs is consistancy and proper tuning. Some bosses need to be nerfed. T11 10 man heroic content was a good example of content that was poorly tuned. To an extent, so is heroic Rag. Rag isn’t a fight that has many inherent pass fail mechanics like Yogg or Lich King, gear will overpower rag, but he was tuned such that groups that were 12/12 in ICC and 13/13 in T11 didn’t have a reasonable shot at him in equivilent gear levels. So he got the justified health nerf. By throwing blanket nerfs all they do is give people an elevated sense of self worth within the game, and when it reverts to reality, it makes the fall all the more cruel.

    • The 4.3 nerf will not be a blanket nerf. They’ll be applying hotfixes over the next few weeks to bring it to the T11 normal levels by the time 4.3 hits. At least, that’s how I read it. People locked on to the second sentence.

      • That’s a problem. Instances shouldn’t be brought below their intended difficulty level, and certainly not before the release of the next level of raiding. That was the problem with the ICC buff. Even though it was introduced incrementally, there was still no where else to go, So it gave false gauges as to what people should expect in the next tier of content. Raiding difficulty should remain stable, with a smooth curve. The intent shouldn’t be for everyone to clear everything, it should be for people to reach a degree of progression commessurate with their skill and commitment and never to feel like the next step is completely out of reach. The final encounter on heroic should be extremely difficult, especially if it’s going to be left out of the meta, like Alone in the Dark, HLK, Sinestra, or H Rag, and all other encounters should build up to it.

      • “The intent shouldn’t be for everyone to clear everything, it should be for people to reach a degree of progression commessurate with their skill and commitment and never to feel like the next step is completely out of reach. ”

        I’m not sure how to reconcile the last two statements. If people get to their point in progression that is commensurate with their skill/commitment then the next is by definition out of reach if nothing else changes. Certainly skill/commitment can change over time, but rarely does it make a significant change within the time frame that a tier is current. Blizzard keeps track of everyone’s new boss kills, and when new boss kills aren’t happening past a certain threshold in the aggregate then blizz comes in to make a change. Its not like these raids stuck at certain levels have stopped trying, they’ve just stalled.

        Knowing that the appetite to spend time on past tiers when there’s new content out there is quite low Blizzard choses to act so that their player base experiences the content in a somewhat fresh state. I much rather have the subdued accomplishment of nerfed content but actually enjoy it, than the “sorry you’re not allowed to play this part of the game because you’re not in an elite guild” that we used to get from Blizzard.

        Don’t forget, its not enough to be a good player, you have to be a good player and have 9/24 (more to have a healthy bench) other good player friends that can play at the same time and dedicate the same time to the game as you. For a titanic swath of the wow population that’s not a reality.

      • That’s not to say that it shouldn’t be out of reach, it shouldn’t feel out of reach. A guild in ulduar that could get to Yogg would feel like Yogg was doable, even if they weren’t going to have enough time before the next tier. If you downed mimiron, Yogg didn’t feel that much harder. It felt like it was within reach. On the other hand, normal anub was an easy kill for every guild out there. You weren’t struggling to down him. Heroic beasts, on the other hand, was a fairly difficult encounter, with major tank damage,and raid awarenes check throughout the fight. It was extremely easy to be bored of Anub, yet feel completely unable to even make meaningful progress on Heroic Beasts, much less be able to down it. That’s the skill gap. That’s what needs to be avoided. People gauge their skill by their progression. A guild that was clearing instances in the previous tier expect to be clearing the instance this tier. Guilds that were raiding heroic expect to do so again. Because of this, it’s important to design instances with a smooth difficulty curve that’s commesurate with the difficulty of the previous tier. The problem with the blanket nerfs before the next tier is even released is that it will cause people to assume that the nerfed difficulty is the norm, and the normal difficulty is the outlier.

        This will cause one of two results with regards for the next raid tier. Either the difficulty snaps back to the pre nerf curve, leaving these marginal players once again running into encounters that crush them hopelessly, or the difficulty curve doesn’t snap back, and blizzard releases a stillborn raid tier that comes into existence already nerfed. Either of those options will be extremely damaging to the game. What blizzard needs to do is run with a coherant plan for the difficulty of raiding, and stick with it. Within a tier and a half, the raiding community will stabilize, establish realistic expectations, and adhere to those expectations. This much more enjoyable for most people because they won’t constantly get cruelly reminded of their own inadequacy every time a new tier is released. While these nerfs might help some raiders in the short term, it really doesn’t help anyone long term.

      • I don’t know, I see blizz doing the former (difficulty snapping back to pre nerf curve) with no ill effects. If we take a simple y=x slope for difficulty (or skill required) vs progression (first encounter in tier being lowest difficulty and last encounter being highest) a guild reaches a point in progression allowable by their skill as you said with “to reach a degree of progression commessurate with their skill and commitment”. Now with the new tier approaching blizz with nerfs changes that curve to y=x-10 and now guilds gain a new “surplus” of skill that allows them to progress further, and maybe another round of nerfs changes the curve to y=x-20 and that allows guilds to move further across the progression axis.

        When the new tier is released and bliz snaps back to an y=x curve, guilds won’t be duped into oh my this game is way too hard now, no this was the exact same progression they encountered in the previous tier, and would only expect to progress as far as they did in the previous tier in a similar timeframe unless they do something to change their skill level. This allows guilds to reach further down the progression axis while the content is still current and there’s a high desire to spend time on it as opposed to being stopped dead in their tracks when a guild’s ability to make significant changes to their skill level has slowed down (for whatever reasons).

      • Sadly, you assume too much of people. Past history shows that when there’s a whiplash skill gap introduced, people get frustrated and quit. Guilds that went from the 30% ICC to unnerfed T11 lasted about two months into the content cycle before they started quiting in droves. the majority of the playerbase has a very short term memory with regards to what it really takes to progress. They want content that can be downed quickly. People who killed Nefarian 5 months after T11 went live were complaining about T12 being too hard within a month. They want instant progress, because that’s what they believe they’re capable of, and if it’s not happening, it’s because the content is overtuned. There’s been 12,000 Ragnaros normal kills, less than 3 months into the tier. The 12,000th Nefarian kill occured 4 months into T11. The 12,000th Lich King 10 normal kill occured a little over 3 months after he was available. T12 is already easier than the tiers precceeding it. Yet people still feel it’s overtuned. The problem lies with people’s expectations, not the difficulty of the content.

    • @The Renaissance Man

      “A gap is created between their perception of themselves, and reality. The biggest jump was going from 30% ICC to T11 content. Guilds that were 11/12 HM in ICC suddenly find themselves struggling to clear normal raids. After a few months of having that mirror held up to them, they get sick of what it shows them, and quit.”

      I’m going to have to respectfully disagree with this.

      We’ve successfully cleared all content and we still had high levels of raider burnout that had absolutely nothing to do with our raiders feeling “disillusioned”. I also pretty strongly disagree that that anyone who cleared 11/12 HM in ICC found normal T11 to be an insurmountable challege, provided that they were in a strong guild with good foundations and goals. However, I have seen players of all skill levels, and at all levels of content grow frustrated with the ways in which Blizzard decides to construct challenges, which are not always “fun”. Ask anyone that had to interrupt during T11 if they found those fights enjoyable. Ask anyone who had to kite frost orbs if they thought that was a “fun” mechanic to get your entire raid to master. As anyone who attempted to dodge lightning chains and wind bursts if there weren’t times they just wanted to scream when you were hit with the perfect storm.

      And this isn’t unique to this expansion. I certainly remember frustrations with Sarth 3D, with Freya +3, with HM Anub. With Brutallus. I could continue on further, but I don’t know that it’s needed.

      • You’ve just listed a number of the major skill gaps that exist in the game. Going from Malygos to Sarth 3D was jarring, Freya was a significant step up from Thorim or Hodir, Heroic Anub was leagues more difficult than everything else on the tier combined. Brutallus was a sunwell boss, Kelc’gos felt like he should have been in SSC. But you’re in a high quality group. Your group isn’t just there to collect loot, it’s there to raid, it’s there to win. You’re competing for server firsts. You’re pushing for a world ranking in the triple digits in a race with 30,000 guild’s competing. When you hit a gap like that, sure, it’s annoying, but it doesn’t seem insurmountable. You’re in the top 1% of people who play this game, and you’ve been there for a long time. That’s fantastic, but it doesn’t give you an accurate view of how things are going for the majority of raiders.

        On my server alone, I can name for you a half dozen guilds that were deep into heroic ICC, and exploded when they staggered in T11. Fates Hand, Full Circle, Semi Serious, Midnight Vanguard, Great Men in History, Crypt Friends, Wrough from Ruin, Entropic, Reading is Fundamental, and I think I’ve gone past the half dozen. Some had to drop down to 10 mans as they bled raiders operating as a shell of their former selves, more often though, they just faded away.

  7. When I think of how skill and difficulty change over time, it ends up looking like this: http://img685.imageshack.us/img685/4572/difficulty.gif

    What’s important there is the distances between lines and how they vary over time. I think it’s valid for somebody clearing end bosses on heroic to worry about a lack of challenge. For many other people on the red line, myself included, it’s just not. That grey line might be fuzzy and it might move up or down but in the long run, the average skill level of the playerbase is some distance away from normal and HM difficulty. Even if Blizzard is trying to be consistent in how hard raiding is from tier to tier, individual experience won’t track that average nicely and the average itself may be a moving target. As the lines grow further apart, fewer players see the content; as they grown closer together, raiding becomes more “accessible”. There’s no right answer there.

    • I think that’s a very interesting way to look at it! I’m sure that it’s very hard to balance encounters to provide adequate challenge without going overboard. I don’t perport to have a solution, I just thought it was something interesting to consider :)

  8. Makes sense to me that the difficulty should start at a consistent point, and get harder within the same patch. After that content is made stale by a new patch, the next set should be interesting and start from the same consistent point, but do not have to be directly harder again than the end boss of the previous tier. To me it is about the content being new, rather than playing tetris until the game is just going at silly speed.

    • I think that the tetris example is perfect! At some point you are just going to plateau where you cannot go any further (or faster), and at that point the game will become less fun, and you will lose interest in it. The converse is also true, where if there is no challenge, it will be boring and people will lose interest. I do think that it’s inevitable that the game will become increasingly more difficult, but at some point you pass from “hard mode” to “god mode” and if that happens every tier, eventually “god mode” becomes unbeatable to anyone but the computer.

  9. I think there’s an important distinction here that people Re hedging around and that is; complexity and accountability do not always directly correlate to difficulty. I don’t disagree that complexity increases difficulty, but is a fight like Shannox really more complex than say the prophet Skeram? I would argue that the general mechanics are not really more complex, but what has significantly increased is the personal accountability factor (I’m going to come back to this point)

    As I’m sure many of us remember, in Classic, you could raid MC or BWL with maybe 10+% of your raid basically AFK. Once you hit AQ40, and then Classic Naxx, the personal accountability level began to ramp up to the point where that simply wasn’t tolerable, and guilds adjusted to the changes in raiding design. I would personally argue that C’thun at level (following the patches that fixed the encounter so it could actually be beaten) was incredibly difficult, and that while fights like Nef and Rag are challenging, they’re not this geometric leap upwards that everyone seems to think.

    The other thing to consider is that the overall sophistication of the average WoW player today is higher than it was when WoW was released. Consider Donkey Kong (since it was mentioned), and while the game is actually very difficult, the premise is very simple. Then think about the game triggers in a complex encounter like Rag (for contrast) and how much more information you as the player have to intellectually digest and react to in literally factions of a second. If the developers didn’t come up with new ways to challenge us, wouldn’t we be bored? I would be, but then to a number of the points raised, am I in the minority? Doesn’t Blizzard have a business imperative both to get the most bang for their development dollar by ensuring that as many players as possible see the content they spent all that time and energy on, and to continue to build customer relations by allowing less skilled players to see really interesting content?

    Another piece of food for thought is that Blizzard continues to use the 5-man content to introduce tactics, concepts and “teach” players to play in a way that is successful in the 5-man context. Once the player learns those skills I think you can reasonably argue that if they have the desire to push themselves further as a player, they are at least armed with the basics and can step into a raid and not make a complete fool of themselves. If this is Blizzard’s teaching/learning model for content, does the “old guard vs new pups” argument stand up to scrutiny? I agree that from a “reaction time”, situational awareness, information processing, etc standpoint, the 5+ year raider is probably the better player just based on their practice time, but having said that, I had to re-learn how to heal in Cata when they completely reworked druid healing, just as I had to relearn it when we moved from Classic to BC and BC to Wrath. There are enough ongoing changes to the classes on a year over year basis that I think you can reasonably argue that it’s the “intangibles” like situational awareness that help the more experienced WoW player really shine as opposed to the actual difficulty of the mechanics in a particular encounter or class mechanics.

    All of these points combined are factors I believe should be considered as a part of the discussion. Personally, I really like that Blizzard pushes me to get better/faster/smarter, and while I realize there will always be a portion of the gaming population who really just wants to troll trade with their epics, I really can’t identify with them so for now, I will continue to be very happy that I got to experience Firelands before they nerfed it, and I’ll enjoy the next raid instance before it too gets the nerf bat.

    • But in a lot of today’s raids, situational awareness is one of the most important keys to success. Someone with more experince in multitasking and moving into and out of the right things is going to be more prepared to deal with these things. I strongly disagree that today’s 5 mans “teach” players much of anything, especially if they are running them through the LFD tool. In this wham, bam, thank you ma’am environment where moving as fast as you can through everything, you aren’t learning. I can’t tell you how many PuGs I’ve been in where most people didn’t know the basic mechanics of the encounter, ignored most of them, and even after explanation still had little to no regard for them. Do some people learn? Sure. But I doubt that it’s the “majority” of the players.

      As far as challenges go, I certainly want them and enjoy them. But I think there is a very fine line between something that is truly a “challenge” that you must work to overcome and something that is just difficult for no other purpose than to be difficult. I think that HM Council is a good example of this. That fight almost broke me as a leader, and there was nothing to be done but to say “please take every last, single situation into account in the 3 second window that you have to move from your orb so that you can successful get the fuck out and find your fire patch”. While I know there are a minority of people that found that “fun”, I can tell you that no one in my guild enjoyed the fight or found it “a good challenge”.

      I want to become a better player, but not at the risk of having to be a robot to succeed.

  10. ‘The intent shouldn’t be for everyone to clear everything’.

    Well why not? (I’m talking level 85 reasonably regular raiders here, not level 10 RPers.)

    I don’t expect to clear it EARLY, I don’t expect to clear it on HEROIC, I don’t expect to clear it EASILY and I don’t expect to clear it in the patchy gear I finished the last raid tier wearing.

    I expect to have to run a lot of 5 mans to get gear tokens. I expect to never see an heroic raid boss dead, at least not while it’s current. But the same portion of my monthly sub goes to devs building raids that yours does. And I do expect to see the content, and while it’s current content.

    And I’m casual, not inadequate.

    • “But the same portion of my monthly sub goes to devs building raids that yours does. And I do expect to see the content, and while it’s current content.”

      This is the key, the game should not be barring you from content because you’re casual or can not field or find a raid of similarly skilled players through no fault of your own. And trust me its no badge of honor for a developer who has busted his butt to create content and see single diget percentages of customers actually seeing it when a large percentage of them were trying to get to experience it.

      • Just to play Devil’s Advocate, there was an article from CNN last month that stated only 10% of gamers finish the games they purchase:

        http://articles.cnn.com/2011-08-17/tech/finishing.videogames.snow_1_red-dead-redemption-entertainment-software-association-avid-gamers?_s=PM:TECH

        I don’t WoW is exempt from that, and this progressive nerfing is a way for Blizzard to help combat this. (though it may not be the best or most elegant way)

      • Any team activity is just that, a team activity. They don’t want it to be easy to down without a good team. Hell they don’t want people to be able to down trash in the instance without a decent team. The inability to find a team of commesurately skilled players is the fault of the individual. If you were in a bowling league, nothing special, just a basic bowling league, and you’re clearly the best player in the league, 290+ average. If you’re on a team with a friend who averages sub 60, and you loose because you insist on playing with that friend, should the bowling league allow your buddy to play with gutter blocks in place so your team can post a more respectable score?

      • No a more correct analogy would be if you valued playing with your friends who weren’t at your level or if the better teams that had openings only played on thursdays and you already have a more important commitment on thursday and because of the collective skill of your current bowling team the hall only allowed you to play 6 frames per game even though you paid for the whole 10 because full frame games are only for “serious” bowlers…

        Your analogy also implies competition against other teams, but there’s no competition in this raid environment because if you’ve not cleared content by the time nerfs have come out, you’re not a competitive raid so why should the game force you to continue to play in that competitive arena with the penalty for failure being not being able to enjoy the content you paid for?

        I think a serious reality check that a lot of people who are complaining about the nerf need to realize is that if the nerfs are affecting your sense of competition, then you need to realize that you’re not in a competitive raid. If you were in a competitive raid you’d have finished the content by the time these end of tier nerfs were put in place. They’re put in by Blizzard as a direct result of the developers seeing that you’ve not completed the content yet.

      • Time is hardly a significant barrier to entry in raiding anymore. As long as you have sufficient skill and detirmination you can down rag despite only raiding an hour a week, thanks to extended lockouts. You won’t be getting world or server firsts, but I know many guilds that are progressing into heroic raids on less than 6 hours of raiding a week.

        My concern isn’t for my own guild. We raid because we’re friends and we enjoy it. My concern is for the long term health of the game. You think that people will accept going from clearing the previous tier to waiting for 3 months before making serious progress in the next tier becomes viable? They won’t. They didn’t in ToC, they didn’t in the jump from T10 to T11, and there’s no reason to believe that they will in T13. If you make people think they’re something they aren’t, they’ll expect to be what they aren’t.

    • Deppi, were you 12/12 normal T11 in February? Did you down Lich King normal before the 5% buff became active? Did you down Yogg-Saron before patch 3.2 was released? Did you clear black temple before 3.0.2? That’s the average raider that blizzard expects to clear all normal mode content within the first few months of it being available. The difficulty level has been constant across those tiers.

      If you cleared T11 normal before the 4.2 nerf, then you have a reasonable expectation to clear T12 in a commesurate amount of time. When did you get your defender title? If it was post 4.1, you’ll probably only be 4 or 5 bosses into firelands now. That’s fine. That’s where you should be. The key to realistic expectations is a hard look at past performance. Why don’t you link me your armory, I’ll take a look at the dates on your previous progression kills, and I’ll give you an objective evaluation of where you should expect to be at this point in a raid cycle?

      • (Just a note – please try to be respectful and constructive in your commentary here. I don’t know if it’s your intention, but this particular comment reads fairly harshly).

      • The intent isn’t to be harsh. It’s simply to be honest. Everything on the armory is time stamped and tracked, and using that you can extrapolate future progression from past progression. If deppi wasn’t on a top 12k pace in previous tiers, then it’s unreasonable to expect to be on that pace in future tiers.On the other hand, if she was on a faster progression track in previous tiers, and has fallen behind that pace, then there’s something else impacting the group’s progression, raid comp, reliance on a spec that took a heavy nerf, loosing a key member of the group for an extended period of time, are all things that can affect the progression of a raid group. My own raid group has fallen behind our usual pace because our GM, raid leader, and main tank had to take three weeks away from WoW due to his commitments with the national guard. These sort of things happen, but it’s important to figure out the real reasons why they happen.

        You don’t want to say that you expect to clear the instance because you’re an average group, because you really don’t have any real way to figure out what an average group really is. You want to say that you expect to clear the instance because you’re group cleared the instance last tier, because the difficulty is comperable.

    • @Deppi

      I’ve never understood the mentality of people who get upset that someone else was going to have content open to them. I really don’t have a problem with making it available to everyone, as long as it still leaves me with a reasonable challenge and goals that keep me interested in the game. One doesn’t have to effect the other, and I struggle to find the viewpoint of people who feel that it should.

      I’ve never looked down on anyone because they don’t have my achievements and honestly it infuriates me when others feel that is acceptable (“lol that’s so two months ago” makes me see red). I pretty strongly believe that everyone’s accomplishments mean something, regardless of when they occur. I cheer on those who exceed me in my goals, and those who are still working on goals that I’ve passed – because those people don’t have any effect on my goals and I’m happy for them when they reach their respective benchmarks.

  11. “And I’m casual, not inadequate.”

    Well said.

    • I still can’t beleive that there are people out there who confuse “casual” with “lacks skill”. Some of the best players I’ve ever played with aren’t at my “progression level”, but certainly not because they lack the skill to be there.

  12. Pingback: Musings from Nerfs Do Come — MMO Melting Pot

  13. There are a lot of ways to increase the difficulty of a fight.

    The hop to a new tier with last tier’s gear
    New mechanics
    Pressure on the tanks
    Pressure on the dps
    Pressure on the healers
    Limits to a resource – mana regen, time to react, time available to dps, health regen
    Personal accountability

    The last one is my most favorite and least favorite. Last night we only had time for one try on Domo 25 because we spent our night working on a heroic mode. One of the dps moving out was slow and clipped a third of the raid with his exploding seed. We wiped. In MC days the encounters were planned for carrying people. In Firelands, the Domo encounter is planned around every single person performing an action correctly. I like that kind of harder. More, please.

    The kind of harder where anyone playing at Oceanic latency can’t make an interrupt… not so fun.

    I think how Blizz chooses to increase difficulty is as important as whether they increase the difficulty. Hard is fun. Exhausting is fun in its own peculiar way. Can’t due to technical difficulties isn’t fun at all.

    In the end, the question is where you get your jollies. Team interaction, doing the fight, winning the fight, gear, beating the end level of the game after 500 tries – some of those things are increased by difficulty, some are not.

    Overall, I do like that each tier increases in difficulty. Blizz’s new mentality of overtune and then nerf it back is fine with me. I’ve played with a range from extremely social to vaguely progression oriented, and I’m more than happy with the idea that my very social friends will get to kill more than the first boss or two in a raid. It doesn’t nerf what I’ve done to have them be able to do it too.

    • This was one of my biggest gripes with HM Council in T11 – the lack of being able to make a single error. Had they adjusted the frost orb mechanic just slightly to make it a touch more forgiving, I think the fight could have been fun and still maintained its integrity as an encounter. But there was nothing fun about getting to phase two to have one person lag and blow up the raid, or have someone juke left instead of right at the wrong time and wipe the raid. I think that mistakes should be punished, but in a manner that isn’t so devestating to the raid.

      I think there can still be content developed to challenge everyone that is looking for it without making it feel like you are climbing Mt. Everest everytime to get to the most difficult encounters. I’d settle with saying that I can get to the top of Mt. Ranier ^.^

  14. I think maybe I wasn’t clear. I was posting in support of the nerf, and in (a perhaps somewhat emotive response) to Borsk’s assertion that I shouldn’t expect to clear content.

    The nerf will (hopefully) allow my somewhat motley guild to kill Rag, before the next raid instance is released. FL will still be current content, post nerf. Once the new instance is released, FL will no longer be current.

    As I did say, I don’t expect to see content early. But I do want to see it while it’s current.

    There is no reason why the temporal gap between raid instance releases should be the same every time. (I feel as though I spent a year of my life in ICC, and it was too long.) Blizz apparently has a plan to release the next tier sooner rather than later. And so they are giving us the FL nerf now, so that a huge section of the player base who otherwise would not get within coo-ee of seeing the last few encounters of FL before the next raid is released, who PAID for those encounters, and who will ENJOY them immensely as current content, and perhaps will continue to stay subbed because they got to do them, WILL get to go do them, before they are irrelevant.

    Even the ‘D’ grade casual bowling team gets a turn of an alley, before the management turns out the lights and shuts up shop for the night. Otherwise, we take our bowling balls, go home and don’t come back, the Bowling alley goes broke and closes down, and the ‘A’ team have nowhere to bowl.

    I am very admiring of serious raiders with amazing skills who get early kills and achievements. But what you get for your efforts are gear, kills, kudos and achievements. You don’t get massive amounts of current raid content all for your talented, special, minority selves.

    Xeppe got LK at 15%, had two late attempts on Y-S (never saw Algalon), and never went to Black Temple. I am a very ordinary, casual, raider. And so are a large subgroup of the paying player base. And we want to see Rag before the new raid is released.

    • Ok, I was hoping for a date on your nefarian kill, as it’s the most recent tier, it would give you the most realistic projections. We’ll throw BT and Yogg out. BT because I’ll assume you weren’t raiding in BC, and Yogg because I’ll assume that your raid group has changed heavily in the last three years. The only character with that name on either EU or US servers killed the Lich King on May 24th, one day before the 20% buff went active. That was a roughly the 17,500th kill, and it occured over 4 and a half months after the Lich King was made available. Rag has only been available for less than 3 months, and only 12,000 kills have occured thus far. So assuming that your current raid group is about on par with your ICC raid group, you should be sitting at either 4/7 or 5/7 normal firelands, and with persistance you should be able to down Rag in about a month. Does that match up with your current progression? Once again, your progress in T11 would help for a more accurate forecast. But at least from what you told me there, you don’t need a nerf to down rag while it’s current. You just need persistance.

      • What a great, great question. I wonder very much what the developers would make of it. What would happen to raiders, both of the old guard group you described and newer players, if you had entertainment exceed difficulty. I think Blizz is about schizo about it to be honest. One the one hand, they make content in ever increasing difficulty, presumably equating enjoyment with challenge. But to turn around and hit that same hard content with the nerf bat when the bulk of servers are barely into heroic content seems to be pandering to less skilled players, or those less interested in challenge. And again, as you say, do you have to have one to have the other?
        I think part of the answer to that question is to look at where people raid. How many guilds, how many players of the newer generation raid in BT? Raid in SCC? Raid in MC? How many new players even see those instances before moving on in level? They’re barren. But I see plenty of that “old guard” breed going back through that content either on alts or on their mains just to see it. To see the pretty, the different, the stuff maybe they never got to see all the way through because the difficulty was excessive when that content was new. I think that the “old guard” group as a whole has, if nothing else, an appreciation of a job well done, of a raid that catered to the experience as much as the challenge. I can’t say I ever enjoyed “seeing” or “experiencing” Firelands as a raid environment. Some mechanics were fun to learn, some were new, but once they had been learned and our seasoned group applied them, it was humdrum again. I never had that feeling when BT and SCC were the top tier raiding environments.
        I appreciate Blizzard’s dilemma of balancing the need to have content accessible to a majority rather than a minority, but at the same time, the sacrifice seems to be giving up diversity. Making a boss hit harder, and being harder to kill, is not diversity. It’s a carrot. Making Rag harder than Sinestra (insert pinnacle boss of your choice) is not diverse, it’s a carrot. Get the carrot, get your new toys. The carrot is harder to get than the last carrot, so you must be even more satisfied with your toys. But, for me anyway, I’m not. More stats do not make me a happy raider. Beating a boss with more HP and harder hits is, in terms of satisfaction, pretty much the same as doing it on regular with less good gear. Perhaps even less satisfying because novelty, the only really good thing going, it lost as well.
        This is what worries about the direction Tier progression and the nerf-batting are taking. Progressively more work for rewards that are less and less meaningful.
        I think another way to parse the question posed is: Can Blizz make content interesting and diverse, DIFFERENT, without using difficulty compared to the last tier to do so?

      • @Thursday -

        “Can Blizz make content interesting and diverse, DIFFERENT, without using difficulty compared to the last tier to do so?”

        I think you hit the nail on the head here. I absolutely feel that it is inevitable that content will increase in difficulty with time, I don’t think it can be avoided. But I’m not sure that it has to be tier to tier, per se. I think that someone who walked into T11 and found success, should be comfortable and confident that they could walk into T12 and find equal amounts of success for the relatively same amount of work. And I think that should be true of normals and heroic modes. If you had success in the previous tiers HMs, I think it fair to say you should have the same amount of success in this tier’s. And I think that can be achieved without necessarily making every tier take a step up in the level of difficulty and maintaining the integrity of providing challenges.

    • Scrolled back through and I never said that, I think you attributed someone else’s comments to me :P

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  16. Why bother even making content though that limits who can access it then? If as a dev your intent is to make content that people can find interesting and still have the majority of its playerbase see it, wouldn’t the answer be to avoid using raids? Raids take alot of time and money to create and implement- if the Blizz devs truly sat down and thought about it the majority of their “content” is not designed for the majority of the playerbase- assuming any level of difficulty at all.

    If your focus was on making entertaining content that people could do regardless of the skill level they would start working on more Wrathgate styled situations. Heck if you just want to “see” content, wouldn’t it be just better to make new and interesting questlines that require one or two more people (assuming people TRULY play to play with their friends)?

    Me, I like to raid. I like progressive difficulty. I like not getting anything for free. I like working at something until I get it right. I do NOT like having things handed to me. That is the reason I recently left WoW- I simply didn’t like the style of game that it was moving to.

    • “Me, I like to raid. I like progressive difficulty. I like not getting anything for free. I like working at something until I get it right. I do NOT like having things handed to me”

      How would you then explain that at the end of every tier the top guilds in the world declare that tier “the most challenging Blizzard has ever created.” They didn’t say they want to make the game doable with no effort. Does having to wipe 200 times instead of 400 mean that you weren’t challenged? Despite all the gripes about Blizzard making the game really easy, it only gets harder.

      • When you’re talking about the top 50 world wide comments on the relative difficulty of the recent tiers, I think it’s important to take a look at the context of the comments. I assume you’re refering to Paragon’s end of tier retrospectives on the last three tiers. The T12 commentary listed Rag as the hardest boss thus far, but said nothing about the rest of the tier being tuned out of the ordinary. The T11 commentary stated that the tier was brutal in that it wasn’t gated but had 13 bosses, so they spent almost two months straight with their nose to the grindstone. Further complicating matters is the order at which they pushed heroic content. They did Conclave of Wind second, and Omnotron third, when those are generally saved for 7th and 8th. they did Acendant Council before any of the end wing bosses, when in hindsight, most people regard that as the most difficult encounter in the tier. In T12 they did heroic Beth’tilac second, which no guild in their right mind would target as their second heroic kill. A noticable amount of difficulty for the pathfinder guilds is that they wind up slamming against fights in a suboptimal order because they don’t know any better.

      • You didn’t disprove my point at all.

        By pointing out that some fights were “brutally hard”, regardless of their position, means that the content is getting harder and harder. If it wasn’t, those blocks wouldn’t exist.

    • @Donovitch

      “That is the reason I recently left WoW- I simply didn’t like the style of game that it was moving to.”

      While I would agree that Blizzard did make some aspects of the game easier and more “user friendly”, I will have to respectfully disagree that Blizzard has made the raid game easier. I don’t feel that I was handed any of my heroic kills. In fact, I feel that I worked my ass on for many of them. I spent hours outside of raids researching encounters, looking for tips, maximizing my personal healing strategies. In fact, I don’t know that I’ve worked harder at the raid game than in this expansion. From both a player stand point and a guild leadership standpoint (which is a whole different rant).

      If you weren’t feeling challenged, I might humbly suggest that perhaps you weren’t looking in the right places for the challenges :)

  17. Let’s play a little mind game here. Let’s say that each raid boss let the raid set a difficulty level. You can set it from a low of 25% through 100% (normal) and say 150% for heroic. Now a raid goes in and wipes 10 times at 100%. They decide that it’s too hard for them and tries 75%. And maybe this raid defeats the boss at 75%. But another guild has to go all the way down to 25% before they defeat it. And of course you have some guild at 100% and even Paragon at 150%.

    And each time they get the same gear regardless if they defeated it at 25% or 100%. The heroic 150 does offer better gear. Are you for or against this? And why would you be for or against it. You can set the achievement to the difficulty and it does offer the possibility of beating it at 25% getting the gear and then getting the 100% kill for the achievement. But would you care? Would this upset you?

  18. There has been much debate about raid difficulty, the new nerf, raid mechanics etc. So I was wondering about something. What if on day one a raid or guild could set their own difficulty for each raid boss. For arguments sake it can be set at 70%, 80%, 90% or 100% of normal. Now if you do kill a boss at any difficulty level you get the same gear rewards. However, any mounts, titles or achievements would require the 100% difficulty level.

    And yes I know that this allows you to get gear first and then get the 100% kill achievement. But with all the other ways to get gear does this still matter? I was wondering what your thoughts and opinions are? Are you for or against and why would you be for or against this?

    • The game is already sort of doing that – you don’t get the raid mounts until you’ve cleared the content on it’s heroic levels and done the meta achievements. I think the big debate with gear is that pre-LK gear was a character definer. You could look around Org or Shatt and see what each person had accomplished. And it might be vain, but I do miss that a little bit. I suspect that I’m not the only player that holds on to this bit of nostolgia, and I’ve often wondered if the people who were most against the gear homogonization weren’t upset about losing something unique. And I don’t know that I fault them for it, even if it is a petty reason :)

      As for the difficulty problem, Rohan actually did a very interseting couple of posts that addressed that issue wonderfully and are a great read if you’ve not seen them yet!

  19. 100% of the customers seeing 100% of content is not possible. But I am confused when posters object to people seeing almost all content, but perhaps in non-heroic mode. Are they saying they want a much smaller game with much smaller content? I.e., if you want 20,000 customers one can create quite a sophisticated niche game. But saying that 12 million people should subscribe so Blizzard has lots of resources to produce content that 1 million people use makes no sense and is not viable. In a world of Rift, TOR, GW2, SW, … it is less viable than it has been in a while.

    If you are in a serious, 25-man progression guild, then it seems to me you should be passionately supporting changes that get more people into “raiding.” (Obviously, Blizzard should have different difficulty levels so nerfing their content is not nerfing your content.) This is especially true of Cata where changes in classes, heroics, guild perks/progressions have lost a number of raiders. If 90% of the 7/7 HM raiders left the game and idk 5%? 10%? 1%? of the never defeated Magmaw players decided to stay subscribed, then it would be increased revenue for Blizzard. ATM, serious progression content is being funded by people not doing it.

    I suggest that referring to bosses as ‘hard” or “easy” is not relevant and just provokes some epeen posturing. The issue is that if x% of people did Noth or LordM in the first month and x-20% did a Cata boss; it does not matter whether you think the boss is hard or whether you think it should be hard for others. It is what it is.

    This is not a F2P game where some hardcore players spend thousands of dollars and casuals spend 0. The person wiping on Magmaw pays the same as the person in Vodka.

  20. Pingback: Episode 34 – Brewfest Babbling « Blessing of Frost

  21. I’d agree with your basic notion, if I didn’t actually disagree with tiers having become increasingly more difficult. different sure, maybe more interesting mechanics, less prep-time etc. and you can like that or not. :)
    But, more difficult? I’m not sure I agree. we can argue that raids are a lot more accessible today and sure, a lot of that is because pre-requisites (such as linear progression, attunements etc.) were wiped from the table. But I can’t say that Black Temple was harder than SSC or Grand Crusader harder than Ulduar. That doesn’t ring true. Every tier level assumes progressed players in both gear/stats and experience; so you could say each tier is of relatively same difficulty for the raider as the last. at least that’s how it should be (if raiders will for example skip a tier today, that’s complicated matters).

  22. Pingback: Episode 35 – Nerf News and Reactions « Blessing of Frost

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