Themeparks: Raid or die

I’m on record here saying I have little interest in WildStar, but that from the outside looking in I think the game has a chance. One reason is the devs acknowledging that their game won’t be for ‘everyone’, and that they accept that. We’ll see if they keep to those words post-release, but I’d rather have a dev tell me that then talk about a 4th pillar or a manifesto of lies.

Reason two, and the topic for today, is the focus on raiding.

To me there are basically only two ways to keep MMO players entertained long-term; either you give them tools and make them create ‘content’ (usually via PvP in one form or another), or you produce content at a rate similar to what players can consume. I think sandboxes aim for the first, and themeparks aim for the second.

Currently, I believe raiding is the ONLY form of themepark content that developers can create at anything close to player consumption levels, and retaining players is the name of the game in this genre. WildStar is focused on raiding, and while that does limit its appeal on the mass market level, it also gives it a real chance to attract a niche and keep it (and a niche in the themepark space could easily mean 500k subs. If you can’t make $15x500k work for you financially, game design is not your main issue).

I also think there is more you can do with ‘raiding’ than what many of us remember it as (40 man, 3-5hr runs in WoW). There certainly is a place for large-scale, top-end raiding, where the upper tier throw themselves against highly tuned, very difficult encounters that, over time, become more accessible (not Blizzard ‘accessible’) to lower-tier guilds. I also think you can have a ‘lower level’ of raiding, where the encounters still take weeks/months to learn/complete, but can be done with 10 players, or with a guild that only raids two nights a week.

I don’t know enough about WildStar to know if they are aiming for some of the above, but if they are or eventually do, I think not only will that allow them to retain a certain crowd, but slowly expand to draw in ‘raiding lite’ players. Either way I’m interested to see what happens, and for that reason alone I hope all the other factors that could doom a game don’t happen to WildStar.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
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14 Responses to Themeparks: Raid or die

  1. qyte says:

    Raiding alone just won’t suffice.
    They need an airtight server economy that promotes farming AND trading. Be that reputation long grinds, plain old currency or various profession materials.
    Trading in the past was promoted by limiting access to professions per character (wow) but i kinda feel that other ways will be possible.

    My actual raiding time was in no way close to the time i spent farming all of the above.

    • SynCaine says:

      I’d call this stuff raid prep or pre-raid activities, and yes, they are important. Mostly, because you want people online outside of raiding time to give the game life and help draw others into guilds and raiding.

      • qyte says:

        Call them whatever you like, the thing is that every single game has failed to deliver at that exact thing, and was literally doomed. So you may think of those activities as standard issue but all devs up until now have failed to include them :)

        • So there are no successful MMOs? Color me surprised!

        • qyte says:

          Ok it won’t let me reply to wil :(
          Anyway i meant that they failed to deliver as a package deal of sorts. i.e. ffxiv has good raiding but crafting is meaningless at end-game (not to mention the extremely low world size that farm spots per useful items are 2 or 3 max).

          I mean really besides wow pre dailies (both vanilla and tbc) every other game has more or less failed at some aspect dramatically. I need to include combat “feel” and gameplay in the above which are not raid activities but nevertheless are vital for any successful game, even though they are not that important as the above regarding the MMO needed(imho) longevity/sustainability.
          I cannot go into more details per game because that would require me to make a massive post :)

  2. sid6.7 says:

    I’ve never understood why there weren’t more dynamic dungeons that varied in layout with each instance. A creative artist can figure out how patterns of things can be configured a multitude of ways to create thousands of combinations.

    Sometimes you might get a particularly easy or difficult draw, but that’s part of the attraction. Even boss fights right? I mean it’s already very rare to see a never before used mechanic. You could put the 50 different flavors in a box and random mob gets a couple of flavors and you have to figure out how to deal with that combination.

    Whereas, back when I raided, you just learned the fight and then it was EZ mode for another 100 runs until everyone got what they needed.

    • SynCaine says:

      BWL in MC had a little randomization with the different dragon colors for stage one of Nef, and yea, more of that would certainly be one way to extend the life/value of a raid.

    • KennyG says:

      “Sometimes you might get a particularly easy or difficult draw, but that’s part of the attraction. Even boss fights right?”

      no chance in a theme park, i can see it now..groups disbanding because they have entered more difficult dungeon config

      why go though something harder than your peers when the same goal is to get the same gear..there is where MMOs are dead for me its just a gear chase

      dark souls it aint

  3. zaphod6502 says:

    I have not been following Wildstar but are there any forms of meaningful PvP in the game? eg. world PvP / sandbox, etc.

    • Ravious says:

      There was/is supposed to be a GvG type game mode that I think really could also promote a heavy niche. It’s like guild base vs. guild base. War Plots

  4. Antivyris says:

    Honestly, one of the main reasons for wow’s success is raiding. Few other games have really pulled the MMO-Raiding community to them, and usually for only a short period of time.

    I hope it does well, but I haven’t heard a lot of buzz from the raiding guilds around the various places I frequent. The talk is either about expansion raid changes or if FF14 will end up decent with raiding.

    Not too much wildstar talk yet.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Hardcore raiding is what Rift tried to work for, but even that didn’t end well. And I am going to agree with qyte, that Raiding alone just won’t suffice. “Difficult” leveling (require 2+ months to reach max level) that also has replayability value(huge virtual world, different leveling paths, interesting/fun classes to try and many things you can do while leveling like lotro traits for example that you can build you “endgame” character even while leveling)

    I don’t think that hard/long raiding is what missing atm…I more think that we miss the “middle” game, the journey.

    • SynCaine says:

      I never looked at or expected Rift to be a raiding-focused game. Didn’t it only launch with 1 small raid, with the second added a month or more after? Or is the comment that it is now raid-focused?

      Rift in beta was expected to be a more player-vs-environment experience with the different elements attacking a zone. Then release happened and Trion basically nerfed that aspect into the ground.

  6. I will have to agree with qyte that Raiding alone just won’t suffice. Rift tried something similar. They put their bets on hardcore raiding. I think what is missing from MMOs lately is not the hard/long/niche raids but what is called the “middle” game, the Journey.

    A huge virtual world, where leveling takes more than 2 months and you also can start building your “endgame” character while leveling(I am not talking about the spells that you will learn eitherway, but things like valuable reputations, crafting skills, traits(like lotro for example which was/is a good idea), e.t.c.

    Of course you also need replayability value. Interesting/fun classes you want to play, different leveling paths, different playstyles(in contrast with the class homogenization we see lately, where every class plays similar or identical).

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