Re-tooling raiding content; let the casuals play too.

Damion over at Zen of Design made a great post about why Blizzard continues to make raiding content. It’s a well though out article backed up by some good data about raider numbers and exactly why level 70s need content and not 30s.

While I agree with his premise, I think both he and Blizzard are missing one major feature they could implement to silence the ‘no more raiding content’ crowd; tweak former raiding zones for group content. When you roll out a new raid, also roll out the lowest raid as a group instance. So for instance when you rolled out AQ40, convert MC from 40 man to 5 or 10 man. Nax comes out, BWL becomes a 5-10 man instance, and so on. Same with the current raiding content in Outland, downgrade it once higher tier stuff is released.

Outside of a few encounters in each zone, the tweak should not be all that difficult. Most raid trash is difficult simply because they hit hard and have a huge amount of HP, both easily tuned down. For the few bosses that really require more people, perhaps one or two abilities would have to be removed, or altered, but again the basics would be similar. Adjust the items to be in line with the difficulty and the current state of itemization, which usually would mean actually increasing their power.

The benefits of such a program would be many. For one, casuals would know that if a new raid was announced, sometime down the line they would also have access to it. No more ‘I’ll never see Illidan, and that was the highlight of TBC for me’ posts on the forums. This would also keep those instances useful far beyond their original intent; the bleeding edge of content. All that time designing the encounters, the lore, the art, all of it would not go to waste once you raise the level cap or release the next top end raid. And unlike creating all those new assets, re-tooling former raids would require far fewer resources. Plus all the usual bugs with new content have already been ironed out by your test dummies… err I mean raiders.

Converting these former raids to smaller group stuff would also server another purpose; exposing casuals to raid-like conditions. Things like removing debuffs, agro management, mana efficiency, positioning, etc. Even on a smaller scale, these things would remain in the former raid zones. Just because you are attempting Onyxia with 10 people rather than 40 does not mean you can have your priest stand by her tail, or in front to eat fire. Yes she won’t hit as hard, or require as much fire resist gear, or release the same amount of whelps, but the basics of the encounter could remain the same. The tank would still need to hold agro, meaning the dps won’t be able to go all out. The healers would still need to be efficient, as the fight would still be a marathon and not a sprint. And everyone would need to mind their positioning to avoid running into the whelp eggs, getting tail swiped, or eating fire.

With these ‘intro to raid’ conditions, perhaps more players would realize they might enjoy raiding. Perhaps it would not be bleeding edge raiding scoring world firsts, but to join a more ‘casual’ raiding guild attempting 2-3 encounters a week. With their experience in the former raiding zones under their belt, it would be less frustrating for raiding guilds to bring these new players in, without having to teach them all the basics. Win win, for both the players and the raiding guilds looking to beef up their numbers.

But something tells me it’s not as easy as it sounds, or that I must be missing something major here. Otherwise, why would EQ1 not have done this with their endless amount of unused raiding content, let alone the empty instances in WoW now…?

4 Responses to Re-tooling raiding content; let the casuals play too.

  1. For starters, it would require a major redesign of established raid instances with a rebalancing of difficulty and new itemization in line with whatever the latest expansion is. That’s a lot of time spent to redo content a lot of your players have seen. Also, these small raid instances would directly compete with the new leveling content.

    However, this would be a step in the right direction. A lot of what I was complaining about in my own article involves the fact that old content gets invalidated by mudflation before casuals ever get to run it.

    Better yet, I’d like to see them design these instances in two tiers from the start (if we’re going to do it this way)– a raid and a 5 or 10 man tier with appropriate gear for both. Then the raiders have something to do while the casuals don’t feel robbed of content and still have something to aspire to.

  2. syncaine says:

    The problem with the two tier system would be that the raiders would run the easy version of the instance to learn it, then go to the harder version, which would not be easier for them. This would mean raiders would burn through the tough raid content faster than intended.

    As for the instances competing with new content, thats ok. More content is more content, right? Having the choice between leveling in two zones is always a good thing. And as I stated above, I wonder how much of a redesign would really be needed. Most of the old world raiding content I could see being easily tuned for a 10 man group to tackle, with only minor changes. Only something like Domo, Nef phase 1, Sartura; bosses with adds or the ability to control raid members, would need major changes.

  3. alcaras says:

    It’s harder to design and tune a 5 man instance than a 25 (or 10 man) raid instance, because a 5 man instance needs to work for a vastly more diverse subset of classes, whereas a 25 man raid instance generally can assume it’ll have at least one or two of every class, and thus can require needing a certain class. A 5 man, on the other hand, must be viable for a paladin tank, or a druid tank, or a warrior tank, or any of the four healing classes, and needs to be tuned to not require certain CC to be completable.

    Thus turning MC into a 5 man instance would be a lot of time and effort, and I’d rather see that put into new 5 mans rather than old content. And, with gear inflation, people who missed an instance the first time around are able to go back with 5 or 10 and do it after the next expansion.

    I think Blizzard’s current plan of implementing a 5 man with a 25 man raid, as they’re doing with Sunwell, is a step in the right direction.

  4. syncaine says:

    It’s only ‘old’ content if you have seen it. Anyone who did not raid and see Rag, Nef, C’thun, or Kel, it would be new content. And considering the detail put into those art assets, you could argue its better content than much of the newer zones in TBC.

    As for party balance, in a raid you NEED near-perfect balance, the difficulty level requires it. In a 5 man, you can have a sub-perfect setup and still make progress. You don’t HAVE to have a warrior tank, or a priest healer. It might take a few wipes, or the progress might be slower, but you will still finish the instance. Enter a raid with a sub-par setup, and you will wipe endlessly on the first boss.

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