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…?