Cataclysm Post Mortem -- Dungeons and Raids

Dungeons, Raids and Scenarios
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I personally am thankful to read this Post Mortem. I have been a WOW addict since 2004. The enjoyment has been fading since the ICC tier extended more than a year. I recognized WOW for the grind that it was. Rather than reward the most committed/hardest playing/most researched players, Blizzard decided in that everyone is a winner.

I wanted to quit raiding at the end of T11 but I was committed to my online friends. Maintaining a 25 man raid as we had since BC had become incredibly difficult on our little server. Blizzard had removed any incentive in game to raid as a 25 but with a core of 20 or so old timers, we HAD to lower our standards to fill a 25 man every raid night. Of course, that inevitably led to slower progression followed by poorer recruitment and the vicious cycle took hold.

At the end of T12, we finally knew it was time to call our 25 man raid. This left a single 25 man guild on the entire server. (They have since stopped 25s as well.) With the switch to a 10 man raid, I stepped down as raid leader and took a much needed break. With LFR, I decided to see the raids as a "casual" player. It was the same mindless grind the Firelands dailies were. Yes, I saw some new graphics. Yes, I got gear with stats higher than stuff I was wearing. But I didn't raid. I stacked in a pile and I practiced my rotation like I would on a dummy in Org. Sometimes I'd switch targets if I felt like it, sometimes I wouldn't. Sometimes I'd DPS in my healing gear just to test the theory that the lowest DPS would win the rolls. Sometimes I just went and made lunch.

I ran LFR on 5-6 toons for a total of about 30 times. I stopped a few weeks back. I realized it was just a grind. LFR gave no sense of teamwork. If I didn't run Tuesday afternoon, my friends weren't there. It gave no sense of pride or achievement. It was just like standing in town and listening to the trolls in trade chat.

The "fun" in running 5 mans dozens and dozens of times is a fallacy. A significant population of player want to be recognized as good. They want the shiny things/title/mount/armor no one else has. Take the Insane title- is it really so Insane now? It's grinding rep via whack-a-mole and an entire rep has been removed. Not very difficult. Getting 50 reps in WOTLK was an achievement, but adding 10ish more reps in Cata makes it a piece of cake. Getting the Seeker achievement when there were less than 4000 quests in game WAS an achievement. When you add an expansion and thousands of quests, the achievement requirement should be upped to 4000. My most treasured item in WOW is now my BC Amani Bear mount. Why? It's actually rare since it isn't available. Insane? Salty? The Exalted? Kingslayer? Meh. Nerf things into the ground if you choose to, but create a system that permanently notes those who excelled pre-nerf. Give us a sense of lasting achievement. I already see the game for what it is- a mindless repetition. Allow us small lasting Feats of Strength that won't be erased the instant the next tier nerf them into oblivion.

The Post Mortem tells me Blizzard is happy with the way things are. They want everyone to be a winner. Clearing Heroic content is a goal for the masses rather than the experts. And LFR is successful because lots are doing it. If given a choice between solo dailies or relying on 24 malcontents in a LFR to grind the same gear, I'll take solo play every time. I can't fault Blizz. I understand UO and EQ aren't the competition anymore. Farmville and Words with Friends are. I just don't want to play those games. So thank you Blizzard for the insightful analysis. I know now I can beat my addiction on WOW and step away for good. I owe you 8 more months for D3, but I'm beginning to look at it as $80 for D3 and a WOW subscription gathering dust.
I vehemently disagree with this. I absolutely loved all the NPC interaction in Dragon Soul. It made it feel like a more epic experience; I felt like a true hero, fighting alongside the most important figures from lore, as opposed to just some mercenary fighting for lootz.Besides, what's the point of having lore figures if they don't do anything?

I also loved the NPC interaction and consider the cutscene of thrall's first shot at Deathwing and the smug look he gives, then pans to Deathwing who glares at Thrall and pwns the horde airship to be my favorite followed closely by the music and imagery of us jumping onto DW's back.

However, I would LOVE it if we could get back to more in game stuff rather than cutscenes. I realize they have more emotional impact when you can zoom in but they are very jarring and you wind up having to cancel them to get on with the fight since everyone else does too.

One reason I love the HoT heroics is the in game action rather than seeing it through cutscenes. I loved Vashj's bridge too and that cutscene in Firelands can DIE IN A FIRE! The heroics are also amazing to look at and do a great job of telling the story. This last batch of heroics are the first ones this expansion that I don't groan when thinking of running them and I actually enjoy doing them. They are easy but I think it's too easy to outgear them. I did run into dps problems on a few bosses where they were impossible to get past, that's just very rare these days to run into. I don't really mind this and I love their length. I can actually go through all three in the length of time it took to do one older one.

I really want raids to tell a cohesive story and I love having NPCs in there helping out. Heck, I think it would be cool to be in charge of an army of NPCs like Hyjal (just not so many trash waves!)

I feel very sorry that spine took so much effort to create and was very meh to the raiders. While I appreciate the motion sickness concerns, I really would prefer to see some sense of rolling besides a text warning.

One note about Grim Batol - yes the dragon bombing run was cool except when you were in a group who couldn't bomb worth anything and then you had an hour of very hard trash to slog through. Totally not fun. I think in the future if this type of thing comes about again, it would be better to have the bombing run kill stuff, everything not dead flees to warn the master, and you get to loot whatever you killed. That way you aren't as punished if you are in a bad group.

I also would love to see long dungeons off the LFD system and optional supplements for those guild groups looking for something a bit meatier. There was nothing wrong with the original heroics except the length and time commitment required to finish them. That just doesn't work well in LFD like the new ones do.

Crowd control is so hard. We learned to do it in SFK at level 18 7 years ago...

Eh, but long-duration crowd control really isn't interesting game play anyway. Short-duration control is much more interesting and requiring skill and timing.

Yay, someone else feels like I do :)

I have impact stun which I love to use liberally on caster mobs. My entire arsenal is loaded for groups of mobs. When we CC everything and pull one thing at a time I fall asleep, literally. There is no way that's fun.
I liked the spine encounter - I thought it was easy without being "easy".... However, if you think that I felt like I was on the back of a dragon, well.... no. I didn't. At all. When I first heard that we'd have to fight on Deathwing's back I was excited. What did we get? A fight in a room that looks like the back of a dragon. Nothing more.

Overall, it was pretty disappointing.
Blizzard hasn't found the "sweet spot" for Heroic difficulty.

The Hour of Twilight heroics don't really feel... Heroic. If you can stay out of the fire, you'll be fine. Sure, the bosses and trash had a nice chunk of health, but it's pretty much just stay out of the fire.
I'm not generally one to complain, but Blizzard seems to have the wrong idea about this, and it would be bad for the game going forward if they continue to hold this mistaken belief.

Of the 160+ bosses in WoW's history, Heroic Spine of Deathwing is the single worst fight ever created Maybe not the most difficult or punishing, but more that the most difficult fight this expansion is fighting trash mobs, and the final battle with Deathwing is trivial by comparison. Add to that some extremely annoying mechanics (keep dispelling until Blood changes to Earth, then keep going until it lands on someone useful being an example), and everyone in my guild and others I've talked to who has killed Heroic Spine agrees: It's their least favorite fight. No exceptions. Most of these people have played since Vanilla, and are including bosses like Ouro.

On the heroic dungeons issue: What's wrong with heroics being hard, and normals being easy? Some of us had no problem farming heroics early on, and as other players got more gear, they had fewer issues as well.
The only thing wrong with the 5 man heroics when Cata launched was that people rolled into them in their quest greens expecting a quick romp through the place.

If you actually did them in 333 blues, they were fairly trivial. Unfortunately, Blizzard never really established the link between Normal > Heroic.

But then, Blizzard has effectively killed the entire notion of progression and overcoming content through gear accumulation for the sake of instant gratification and consumption. I guess their reaction to those early 5 mans should have told me everything I needed to know about what was eventually coming with DS...
Kinda going to have to go with old Colin Powell's 18 Lessons here - where the folks in the trenches are probably a little more aware than the guys behind the lines.

1) 10s and 25s did not balance well. In T11 content, 10-mans were far more unforgiving than 25 mans, and this persists. If you lose 3 people in 25 mans, you can still pull off the encounter, if you lose ONE in 10-man, you're generally screwed. Plus 10-mans have tighter margins and are less tolerant of peculiar team configurations.

Personally, I would say that Blizzard proved you CANNOT balance 10 and 25 man content. To be honest, much as I truly miss 25 mans, I think Cata started a downward spiral on that size. My suggestion would be for ONE raid size - 15 man. Most 10-mans can lay their hands on 11-13 raiders on a give night, so 15 isn't a huge reach, and a 25-man team only needs to find five more people to make 2 15-mans.

2) Raid difficulty was bassways ackwards. T11 content was far too unforgiving for entry level and set expectations that raids were only going to get more challenging from that point (which is what the first tier of raiding is supposed to do, IMO). For the most part, raid encounters got more forgiving over the next two tiers - giving the appearance that Dragon Soul was easier than BWD.

I specifically said "unforgiving" and not "harder" because there's a difference. The encounters were not necessarily "hard" or unlearnable (though Firelands takes the award for the encounters with the most moving parts in a given fight), it's just that in T11, one hiccup, one lag-spike, one "fumble" wiped the raid. It was all or nothing. By DS, you had recovery opportunities.

My suggestion going forward is that you flip things - have the earlier raids be a little more forgiving and have the end raids be more demanding and less forgiving. I would also suggest multiple raids at the END, not the beginning. Why? Because at the end, there isn't much else to do, so having multiple raid venues at least gives you a bit of variety. Early in Xpac, you have a lot of dungeon work. So the ideal, IMO, more dungeons up front, fewer raids and more raids at the back end with fewer dungeons. And put special bosses at the back end. Most of your raid bells and whistles should be at the point where there is little content left to deliver and those special bosses should be there for the server best to compete for as feathers in the caps of their competitive performances.
"There were a few warts here and there, but we delivered on the idea that 10-player and 25-player raids could exist at a similar difficulty."


No. No you didn't. Nobody, literally nobody thinks this. You failed spectacularly at this, to the extent that a failure to see it is beyond baffling.
Wow, I'm surprised to see how happy the developers are with the length and difficulty of the Hour of Twilight dungeons.

I recently did a regular heroic dungeon, and I was pleased to see that no matter how well geared the group is, there is still a danger of wiping if you ignore the mechanics of the fight.

The Hour of Twilight dungeons have a very low chance of failure, and that chance is only reduced as players get better gear. I honestly think they are way too easy and too short. I sincerely hope this isn't the dungeon model moving forward.

I used to really enjoy doing dungeons, even after I out-geared them. For the challenge, for the cloth, for the enchanting mats, and for fun. I have had very little interest in doing the Hour of Twilight dungeons for fun. There was a brief window where I was getting upgrades out of them, but after that, I only reluctantly do them for Valor, if I even decide to go for Valor.

I'm not sure why they think being able to do a dungeon on a lunch break is a good idea. To me, dungeons should be as epic an experience as anything else in the game. Racing through them on a lunch break with little to no danger of failure is not my idea of an epic adventure.
03/05/2012 07:02 PMPosted by Dainir
The hard content is a good thing for the game... Hard dungeons mean you spend time working hard with other to get through it. In addition the dungeon is a challenge for longer.

I agree with this. But people got spoiled with lfd. Wrath dungeons were hard when we didn't outgear them. I remember doing Skadi, in one of my first heroics, and it was hard to me. At the end of wrath of course we all face rolled the dungeons. I loved the final lich king dungeons. They came at the right time, and set the tone perfectly for the ICC raid.
I know the cata dungeons at first were hard for people. I remember my guild doing Dead mines, and how hard the fights were. But we simply ran as a guild group, and didn't rely on lfd for getting our heroics done.
People complained because they couldn't do them in a pug, and it sucked, so they got nerfed. The only dungeon I didn't care so much for was Grim Batol. The fights themselves were great. The endless trash, and having to constantly cc the endless trash was mindnumbing.

I didn't raid much in cata, so I can't really comment. Except one poster brought up this, and it's so true. I felt like a kid watching mommy and daddy fight while I hit at the boss with my wooden sword.

Posted by Dajakisubo
I also saw no mention of how much NPCs factored into the Dragon Soul progression. As with many of the new old world quests, seeing so much interaction from the NPCs really kills the mood... it stops feeling like we're doing something, and starts to feel like we're just there to watch the NPCs be awesome. Thrall can scream about us being the only hope all he likes, it still feels like we're little kids helping our parents in the kitchen, not really doing anything significant while our parents assure us that we're being very helpful. At best, it's patronizing and unenjoyable, and at worst it's insulting.
03/06/2012 12:42 AMPosted by Thorntree
So thank you Blizzard for the insightful analysis. I know now I can beat my addiction on WOW and step away for good. I owe you 8 more months for D3, but I'm beginning to look at it as $80 for D3 and a WOW subscription gathering dust.

Took the words out of my mouth. I will wait to see what MoP beta has and I'm going to be quite frank: if it isn't good then good bye. When that time comes, I'm willing to let a 8 year old account go at the way side. Love my guildies, love my friends; but, this article just rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe it is the 7 year itch and I'm looking for a new MMO love partner. WoW is starting to get bad wrinkles and sagging in the wrong places, IDK... it is a good game, just getting boring.
I think people seem to forget the 40-60 minute queues for LFD back in the day. Then only to join a group and have it break up after 10 minutes because of who knows what. Yeah, those were fun times for everyone. There was a reason people stopped running heroics.

Two of the best fights in Catacylsm were Atremedes and Conclave of Wind? Seriously?

I'd argue those were the two worst fights of the expansion.

I'm kind of upset that the only thing Blizzard could say in regards to "what went wrong" was "Dungeons were tuned too high."

Nothing about the shorter raid tiers?
Nothing about the underwhelming feeling of having BiS for all of Cataclysm coming from vendors (looking at you, cloaks).
Trying to spew BS like "We believe we proved 10s and 25s can co-exist" we all know the truth is they can't, and it'll eventually come to a head.

If SwToR wasn't in an even worse place then WoW I'd of given it serious consideration. Blizzard needs to stop coasting through expansions or when a real competitor comes along we'll ditch this game like we did Everquest.
Thanks Scott,

I love T11 and Cataclysm original heroics. It was really great. Tot4W was one of the most beautiful instance, and BWD was really enjoyable raid. Thanks for the hard work for T11.

However, All the other tier raid and dungeons are mediocre at best. Dragon Soul could be the second worst tier next to ToC. Rehash structure, recolored bosses, cheesy cinematic. I can't think any good of it.

Especially, poor stage management of spine and madness are almost unacceptable. I could never felt I was fighting with Deathwing. I felt I was standing on rocky surface of something, and practicing my rotation on giant wall with health bar, with occasional minion target change. Where was Deathwing? How could I feel I was fighting with Deathwing?

Well, actually, I know you spent great time to make agonizing Deathwing detailed animation according to fight progress. But you know what? Most of us can't directly see it unless we died on strange position.

On spine, we can't see his face at all from his back. In Madness, his body is in Maelstrom, totally far away from us, and the view is almost always blocked by his giant tentacles, jaw, or platform itself. How could we feel we're fighting with him unless we see his face?

I have been noticed dev's definition of epic fight is "making bosses bigger = epic". It's simply stupid. What we experienced on Spine and Madness (in some sense, Tot4W too) was, we tickled someone's belly then he somehow died. That's what we experienced. It was silly encounter, not epic at all.

Show us our antagonist face, his ignorant attitude, cunning tricks, angry face, and his agonizing, painful death at the end. IMHO, That make us feel fights epic, not some dev's technical challenge we don't really care.

Anyway, T12 and T13 was great disappointment, but T11 was really fantastic. I hope you'll make MoP raid that level again.

When you say that 10 and 25 man raiding are "similar" yet not the same, but yet they share the same achievements/loot/lockouts...that makes no sense. Also I don't ever see them being balanced so why not just admit you dropped the ball on this one and fix it for MoP? Why not admit that you dropped the ball on the final encounter of the expansion? (Spine in particular, madness was decent)

If you are worried about 5 mans being too difficult/time consuming for a portion of the community, why not add another difficulty to them for people who actually want a challenge and a sense of accomlishment when actually doing something in this game rather than being spoon fed? You catered to a portion of the community with LFR, why can't you cater to the other portion?

Having more raid bosses in a raid would be nice. Having a choice in which boss you would like to tackle next is also nice. The design of ICC was perfect. 12 bosses with choices, so if you hit a roadblock you could go another direction and gear up to push pass that block.

Common. Sense. I really want to emphasize the last paragraph.

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