Back to Azeroth?

With the upcoming addition of the Looking for Group tool, we’re also in the process of tuning our Expert Dungeons to be completable with one appropriately geared healer per group, instead of frequently requiring a second full healer on top of support heals. Additionally, the power of the items purchased from the Expert Dungeon stores has increased to assist gearing up for further challenges. With these changes we expect more dungeons to be completed more often; as a result, the cost for Expert Dungeon merchant items has increased. Overall, this should net a similar or improved gain rate of plaque-purchased items.
Reduced the damage dealt by general Expert Dungeon NPCs.
Dungeon Daily quests are now obtained via the Quest tab in the Looking for Group tool.

I thought we were NOT in Azeroth anymore?

While the above is not yet live, and hence I have not experienced it myself, it looks like Trion is nerfing expert dungeon difficulty. That’s pretty sad, because honestly right now they are a solid challenge while not being min/max/ubergear hard (some are too long thanks to trash, but that has nothing to do with difficulty). We have fully completed all but two of the expert dungeons with a pretty flexible group (warrior/rogue tanks, cleric/bard/chloro healers, uber-gimp dps), and we are far from overgeared or running the latest ‘best’ builds. Plus we had a guy without his skills trained…

If Rift goes the way WoW went post-BC, I’m guessing my time with the game will mimic my WoW account. And I doubt the casuals will really object to collecting shinies faster/easier, that’s not what they do. Oh, they ‘burn out’ once they faceroll everything, but it’ll be a cold day in hell before they admit the reason for that ‘burn out’ is because being handed everything on a silver platter is ultimately not as satisfying as, ooh nooz, ‘working’ for it.

Casuals: It’s why MMO players can’t have nice things.

Ragequit/slap-in-the-face/immersion-breaking/yes-I’m-mad-bro/etc if this is indeed the path Trion takes Rift down.

Edit: From a thread about this change, pretty accurate statement IMO.

MMOs need to strive to help create better players, not engineer the game to cater to the worst players

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in Patch Notes, Rant, Rift, World of Warcraft. Bookmark the permalink.

51 Responses to Back to Azeroth?

  1. Sean Boocock says:

    “Casuals: It’s why the AAA MMO you are playing can afford to exist.”

    There, fixed.

    • SynCaine says:

      Pretty sure AAA MMOs existed before 2004, and I’m pretty sure they made a ton of money. Also pretty sure the second most successful sub MMO has yet to cave into the farmville crowd.

      Just sad to see Rift taking one step towards becoming yet-another-faceroll ‘game’.

      But yea, the market totally needs more 2011-era WoW clones. That segment is REALLY under-served.

      • JoshTheStampede says:

        I’m sure the stunning market success of Eve and Darkfall is sending investors scrambling to find the Next Big PvP Sandbox, too.

        Almost everyone agreed that T2s were too hard. The average 5-man group needed 2 healers to do it. That’s too hard. I’m all for not giving everyone stuff for free or on a silver platter or whatever other cliche, but that doesn’t mean you can never adjust difficulty if you didn’t get it right the first time.

        I bet they’ll STILL be harder than WoW heroics, which is a good thing.

        • Remastered says:

          “Almost everyone agreed that T2s were too hard.”

          What do you have to substantiate this statement? Further, you make no attempt to explain why if a 5 man requires two healers it automatically makes the content too hard.

          I agree that a developer should never be afraid to adjust something if they didn’t get it right the first time around, but your arguments fall far short of supporting an idea that Trion hasn’t gotten it initially correct when it comes to dungeon difficulty.

        • Saucelah says:

          In a game where people can switch roles without changing their toon, I’d think requiring two healers wouldn’t be a big deal at all.

          I have no clue though. Carry on.

        • bonedead says:

          It isn’t a big deal imo. But, I’m a chloro, doing dps to heal.

        • SynCaine says:

          I most (all?) of our runs, we have one healer (cleric/mage) and one support (bard). Very, very rarely did we have two full healers, and when we did it was for bosses we were grossly under-geared for.

          Hell we have done a lot of encounters (with appropriate gear) with just one healer, one tank, 3 pure dps.

        • Genda says:

          “Hell we have done a lot of encounters (with appropriate gear) with just one healer, one tank, 3 pure dps.”

          Sounds like you ARE in Azeroth. :D

        • SynCaine says:

          Our rogue tanks, our mage heals :)

        • Eudaimonic says:

          I would say the average 5-man group needed 1.5 healers to do T2s, though 2 is of course great (or 2 poorly geared healers, or one great healer and one crappy healer, etc). And even then the extra healing was often only necessary on the boss, one of the healers can stay in DPS spec for the rest of the instance. This was fine with me, because otherwise why have “Off-heal” specs at all? And again, this is not WOW. 3/4 callings can spec to heal or off-heal, with only one calling (cleric) needing different gear from DPS to do that. And even then the gear overlaps well with DPS. Conservatively speaking 75% of the relevant player base can contribute healing. In this context it is not a problem that 5-mans need 1.5 healers.

    • Dave says:

      “Casuals: It’s why the AAA MMO you used to enjoy should no longer exist.”

      Casuals in WoW are the result of the endless pandering by Blizzard to players who can’t be bothered to put any effort into the game.

  2. Sean Boocock says:

    AAA implies big budget, big teams and a big infrastructure to support the game.

    Casual broadly defines the majority of the potential MMO market.

    Niche or hardcore is the mutually exclusive subset of the potential MMO market that as a union with “Casual” comprise the whole market.

    Lets be really conservative and say that “Casual” only comprises 80% of the pie.

    -I want to make a AAA MMO and sell it to the hardcore crowd.

    -You failed economics 101. Please get out and let the door hit you on the ass as you leave.

    Prior to 2004 there wasn’t a market for AAA MMOs. You had games like Runescape and even more casual online worlds for children that were and are bigger than anything of WoW’s ilk but WoW was the first AAA MMO.

    If you want a AAA experience with all of the content, glitz and polish that implies, you should expect that the game at the very least is accessible to most of its potential audience. To do otherwise is bad business if not bad game design.

    • SynCaine says:

      Odd, EQ1 had more players than ‘AAA’ MMOs not called WoW, yet you just told me the AAA market did not exist. UO and AC retained larger pools of players as well, over a much longer timeframe.

      As for quality of content, I’m pretty sure UO/EQ1/AC were higher in MMO quality than AoC/WAR/Aion. But that’s just my opinion. Well, mine and the rest of the markets, considering the ultimate results of all 6 games.

      And maybe, just maybe, the average farmville-playing casual is not the audience any MMO not called WoW should be aiming for? Since, you know, it’s not exactly worked out for anyone but WoW? Just a thought, but last I checked the guys at CCP/AV still have their jobs (and are hiring). Hows Mythic doing?

      • Warsyde says:

        EQ1 was absolutely successful, but it doesn’t really fit the concept of a “AAA” title. No MMOs in the early years were AAA titles, they were almost all created by small independent studios with small budgets, and then often published by big companies (EA, Sony) because that’s what you had to do.

        I think the issue here is one of semantics. The people you’re referring to as “casuals” I’d probably call “ultra-casual”. Farmville isn’t really a game, and people who play it aren’t gamers. They’re not even casual gamers, they’re ultra-casual.

        At this point I consider myself a casual gamer, and I’ve been doing the MMO thing since 1999. I hope they DON’T nerf the Rift heroics in general, only in specific cases if the dungeon really is too hard. I don’t care about “easy epix” because, well, I’m playing casually. People hunting epics aren’t casual players.

        The players who want to run heroics for loot but don’t want to have to work at it aren’t casuals. I’m not sure what they are, because they’re obviously not hardcore either. Casuals don’t care, and the hardcore want the challenge. People who want hardcore rewards with casual difficulty need a new name.

      • Yeebo says:

        EQ was the only option with decent (3D) graphics in it’s time. AC also had 3D graphics, but peaked at around 100K players and dropped off quickly from all estimates I can find. Until DAoC came out EQ was the only serious option for many players. And even launch DAoC was quite grueling to level in by today’s standards. The market environment in which EQ was able to thrive no longer exists. “Had” more players is key.

        • SynCaine says:

          Your estimates are pretty far off. All three games were over 200-300k at their peak, EQ1 over 500k. (Back in that day hitting 300k was a major milestone) They also remained near those peak populations for years, rather than months like current MMOs do. DAoC at its peak had more subs than EQ1 at that time.

          All this at a time when dialup was still rampant, gaming PCs were rare ($1000 back then bought you a toaster), and it was very questionable whether someone had a 3D card or not.

          The design decisions behind the original 3 (and DAoC) explain a lot more about their success than 3D graphics. Years of WoW have, sadly, conditioned the current crop of ‘casuals’ (or whatever we want to call them) to demand cheap thrills and loot pinatas over well-designed virtual worlds.

        • Yeebo says:

          MMOchart and MMOdata both put AC at peaking at 120K users, but since the MMOchart data was likely the starting point for MMOdata, it’s not surprising they list the same value. Wikipedia also list 120K, but the source again is MMOchart. If you can find a source putting in North of 200K subs (subs, not box sales) I’d be happy to admit I’m wrong :-)

          To clarify why I mention DAoC, I think DAoC was so successful in part because it was more forgiving than EQ. It doesn’t surprise me that it eventually took the top spot from EQ when it was released.

          The point I was trying to make is that EQ pretty much had the market to itself until DAoC came out. I doubt a game with a design as punishing as launch EQ would peak anywhere near 500K subs today. But until someone dumps a ton of cash developing one I guess we’ll never know.

          Anyone would at least have to agree that it’s success was remarkable for the time, a point I’m not disagreeing with you on.

          More on topic though, having not hit the endgame, I have no idea if Trion is really on the verge of nerfing things down to the level of WoW. If that’s true, I’d tend to agree with the main point of your post. Certainly, it seems odd that they are focused on lessening the need for healers. Isn’t one of Rift’s selling points that we are all running around with dual specs?

        • SynCaine says:

          MMOChart was pretty inaccurate for some games, but yea, maybe AC did peak around 120k. I was on AC-DT so I never really cared :)

          Overall though, the total numbers and the retention length to me suggest that those games did SOMETHING right, something that games not called WoW today are having a hard time with.

          I thought Trion was on to something with a more 2004-era WoW, but 1.2 seems to be moving things rapidly toward 2011 WoW. I guess we will see how that works out for them overall, but for me personally it’s disappointing, and it’s my opinion that they would have hit a more stable crowd sticking to the 2004-era formula.

  3. Derrick says:

    Color me completely unsurprised. You *had* to expect this.

    • SynCaine says:

      Honestly? No, I did not.

      Maybe that’s just me being foolish about any themepark MMO dev, but I actually thought Trion was aiming for something better than a series of loot pinatas.

      • Paul says:

        They are a business. They have investors that have plunked down somewhere around $100 M. They are interested in keeping those investors happy. That means bringing in as much $$$ as they can. You delude yourself if you think any other goal even approaches that one.

        Now, you might try to argue that making a hard MMO is the way to bring in lots of dollars. I won’t believe you if you do that, though.

        IMO, this is part of an anti-hardcore wave that will be sweeping the MMO industry in the aftermath of the Cataclysm debacle. I can understand the denial this notion will provoke, since the implications aren’t going to make those who like hardcore games happy. You guys are going to be relegated to niche status in the future.

        • SynCaine says:

          Better business model: AoC/WAR or EVE?

          Again, only one candyland themepark holds millions of subs, so this notion that easy=success is not exactly universal. If I’m an investor spending $100m, certainly I’m not looking to create Darkfall, but I’m not exactly rushing to pump out the next WAR either.

          Now Rift in its current state is a long ways off from Darkfall, and I don’t view it as a ‘hardcore’ MMO. It’s still a themepark. It’s just not insultingly easy/cheesy like WoW, but 1.2 seems to be taking it in that direction.

        • Dril says:

          Correction: the endgame isn’t insulting easy/cheesy.

          The levelling game is insultingly easy and generic.

          Also: LOTRO’s doing well. There has only been one big, successful sandbox post-WoW, and it’s EVE. For every WAR and AoC there’s a Perpetuum and Ryzom, and while I accept that the industry is over-loving of themeparks, to just bring up EVE is ludicrous.

          Using the previous example: imagine saying to an investor “WoW or Perpetuum?”


      • Dril says:

        “actually thought Trion was aiming for something better than a series of loot pinatas.”

        Why? Trion promised a classic experience before launch; the moment you logged into Rift it was apparent they were, ironically, copying other studio’s idea of copying WoW, it;s just Trion decided to do it with a little more polish.

        Although at least you called them out on this. Watch as all the WoW-haters somehow justify this as nothing like WoW, how Trion is doing great etc etc.

        I will giggle. Merrily.

        • Paul says:

          Rift is just like WoW, only without the spurious entitlement of WoW’s developers. I suspect the WoW devs were genuinely shocked when large chunks of their customer base had the temerity to stop sending them money.

  4. Paul says:

    Looks like Trion isn’t looking to repeat Cataclysm’s subscription-erasing mistakes. And you think this is a bad idea?

    • Saucelah says:

      I’m confused. How is this in any way related to Cata?

    • Kyir says:

      I really doubt that people unsubbed from WoW in great numbers because Cata was too hard.

      Because it wasn’t.

    • Beerbrain says:

      Yeah, this isn’t why Cata failed. Not in the least. I too was disappointed by Trion’s decision to change the T2’s. Enough so that I cancelled my account. I’m not even waiting for the changes to go live.

      I’m purely a casual player. Super, dirty casual actually BUT I STILL want to work for my gear and items. Maybe it’s time to pick up MO again…idk

  5. Barrista says:

    I never think of this as catering to casuals. It’s the opposite in my mind.

    So I like to take my time leveling. My main is 36 and one alt is 32. By the time I get to expert dungeons, almost everyone else will be decked out or leveling an alt. They don’t want to be bothered with the new person who might not know what they are doing. I think they make dungeons easier so the people who rush to max won’t kick people like me from groups if we make a minor mistake. Before nerf, the minor mistake may screw up a lot of crap, after nerf it won’t make as big a difference.

    If the people who rush to endgame had a bit more patience with the people who don’t, then they might not need to do this either. It’s not just one or the other.

  6. SM says:

    This sucks. I left wow because of the end-game grind. Now it looks like I will have to find yet another MMO. (No, I will not level more alts in Rift).

  7. Mojeaux says:

    The beginning of the inevitable. I’m with Derrick on this one: I’m shocked that *you* didn’t see this coming a mile away. In fact, a lot of folks predicted it before the game even launched.

  8. bhagpuss says:

    I consider myself to be a true casual MMO player. I do what I want, when I want, as often as I want, for as long as I want. Anything that doesn’t fit that frame, I ignore.

    I play a lot of hours, every week, and have for years.

    I don’t know what you call people who want to do heroic dungeons, complain they’re too hard and get them changed until they’re easy enough to do. I don’t call them casual MMO players, though. Pains in the neck might be a polite description.

  9. “MMOs need to strive to help create better players, not engineer the game to cater to the worst players”

    Did the poster of this comment have any suggestions?

    It strikes me as one of those things that sounds like a great idea, but which runs into trouble when actually applying it to reality.

    • SynCaine says:

      At a high level, I don’t think it’s really that difficult; design content so either someone improves, or they don’t progress. The current model is basically “if you play well, you progress 2% faster. If you drool on your keyboard, it will take you a extra day to become a god-slayer”. That’s pretty terrible for long-term player education.

      This notion that everyone has to be a winner and showing up is ‘good enough’ is an awful trend in parts of society, be it little league baseball or MMOs.

      • Holding back those who don’t get it, for what ever reason, isn’t the same as creating better players. That is simply segregating out the bad players. Not the same thing at all.

        (Though I admit that some days that doesn’t seem like a bad idea… if only you could also keep them off of general chat. I swear, you have a paragraph long quest description, a blinking marker on the map, a directional arrow on your mini-map, and a bright shiny glowing/pulsing object to guide you in when you get anywhere close to your objective, stop asking on chat where to go for every damn quest!)

        • Saucelah says:

          Not to mention most games have a few dozen sites you can pop in to for an answer.

          And of course, some good samaritan will answer, making these players all the more likely to ask the same kind of questions in the future and never learn how to read quest text.

        • SynCaine says:

          Well holding them back until they get better is the idea, and lets face it, most MMOs are not exactly ‘hard’ to the point that the average person WON’T be able to get it.

          What WoW did was remove even the need to try, because even if you watch TV, iPhone with one hand, and feed your dog with the other, you still get epics in 30 minutes or less! 99% of those players, if forced, would stop and actually L2P well enough to play at, say, an EQ1 level. I’m cool with those who can’t even do that being nicely forced to leave.

        • But that is hardly “striving to create better players.” That is just a big middle finger to some percentage of your player base, the same old elitist L2P crap we’ve heard a million times, and history has shown that no game company is going to leave something in place that makes a percentage of their players quit. The game company will not be cool with that.

          I want to see a leveling experience that actually prepares players for end game, as an example. Or empire missions in EVE that actually help you learn how to survive in 0.0.

          You could make much more challenging and successful games if you could drive content that develops player skills appropriate to the next challenges they will face.

        • SynCaine says:

          Not exactly true. Game companies often remove certain players to make the experience as a whole better. Keeping one bad apple might cost you 10 people who’s gaming experience has been negatively effected. I’d put someone who is watching TV and trying to raid with a nonsense spec on the same level as someone spewing racism in chat; both result in a lesser gaming experience.

          Again, most MMOs are so easy that with a minimal level of effort, the vast majority would be fine. Sadly today minimal level of effort is asking too much for many, and I think catering to this trend has overall hurt the genre.

        • Again, what you say is contrary to what you quoted.

          The quote says “create better players.” What you are clearly suggesting is “eliminate the annoying.”

          They may both be laudable goals, but they are clearly different.

        • SynCaine says:

          Eliminating the annoying is just one side-effect, not the main goal. The main goal is to create better players by creating a better environment. Herd mentality and all that.

        • Okay. Then I am simply waiting for ideas on making a better environment and how it will create better players.

          I have focused on the elimination part of your plan because that is the only part that seems tangible to me.

          And have I mentioned recently that I hate WordPress threaded comments? I know I can be narrow minded, but this is silly.

        • Saucelah says:

          I think the idea of missions that teach you, step-by-step, endgame survivability. If there’s some skill the player should have, guide them into using it before it’s do it right or full group wipe time.

          Also, semi-idiot proofing builds isn’t a terrible idea. Or at least making it so respec’ing isn’t a nightmare or a rare privilege to help those that gimp their build fix it would be nice.

        • Saucelah says:

          I *like the idea.

    • Paul says:

      It strikes me as one of those things that sounds like a great idea, but which runs into trouble when actually applying it to reality.

      My response is: when a game company discovers the Cure for Stupid, they should be sure to notify the Nobel Prize committee.

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    • Saucelah says:

      tried to post this as a reply on your blog, but it keeps calling it a duplicate and won’t let me. Jerks.

      Hmm, I was once a competitive swimmer. They rated our times, and certain meets had minimum ratings for entry. Even though I struggled just to get rated some years, I still practices among some of the best swimmers in the state and with one of the best swimmers in the nation. In fact, that one particular guy would have set the bar for Phelps if he hadn’t got caught smoking pot outside the Olympic training center in Atlanta while still in college and been banned from NCAA and Olympic sports (lesson: smoke pot publicly only after winning gold).

      I never saw anything unfair about having to hit certain targets to be admitted to more important tournaments. But the more I think of it, the more those target times remind me of gear scores. Almost seems as if Syncaine is calling for performance scores.

      Interested to see what he posts on this today. I keep refreshing his page. Mostly because I’m not working today and have nowhere to be for 3 hours, but also because I’m interested.

      • SynCaine says:

        The true evil of gearscores is not that they are used as a factor for inviting a player for a PUG, it’s that they exclude someone who is perfectly capable of completing a run because the PUG leader is only looking for someone who is grossly overgeared in order to ensure an easy speed run. Same deal for a damage meter, it’s a useful measuring tool, but if you require 5k DPS for something that can be done with 2k, are you really going to blame the meter?

        That, however, has more to do with community expectations/culture than gearscore or damage meters. (In DarkFall, clan leaders would expect you to wear your top gear for a siege, but you would never see something like “must have full infernal to join us for a PvP run”.)

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