(CAUTION: Before I link this interview with WoWarcraft’s Mr. Didier and Tigole (aka Mrs. Kaplan’s son) from the Games Convention in Leipzig, I’ll warn you that this site set off bells and whistles in my Firefox NoScript. So don’t click if you’re an extra cautious type. I’ve uploaded a screenshot of the page to Flickr and you can read the entire interview there.)
From an interview at the Leipzig Games Convention with WoWarcraft’s senior art director Sam Didier and lead designer Jeffrey Kaplan (Tigole) by ComputerandVideoGames.com’s Stuart Bishop — Tigole said:
The big lesson we learned from The Burning Crusade was that our ten-person instances are extremely popular. So for Wrath of the Lich King we wanted progression in the ten-person raid game for the players… who want to stick to that ten-person cap.
Well dammit boys, you learned the wrong lesson. You completely missed the most important lesson of The Burning Crusade, that is “The Karazhan Mistake”. And really, how could you miss it? I don’t know — I guess because you’re listening to the neo-uber guilds STILL, instead of the meat of the raiding bell curve.
Nevertheless. Since you all failed that portion of the final exam, let’s go over the material again (with some added explanations for the non-WoW people):
Karazhan is a 10-man instance with a reset timer of one week. It is firmly placed in the line of gear progression. Technically, you could skip Kara gear and step right into the first 25-man instances, I suppose, if you had a guild composed entirely of messiahs, prophets and gods. (Hint: none of us do.)
Therefore, since we all had to do Karazhan at some point, every guild either had to run multiple simultaneous weekly Karazhan raids with guildmembers tied to a single raid ID (no swapping of guildmates to the other guild Kara raids), OR, they ran a single Karazhan over and over and over and over many weeks to gear everyone up for the 25-man raids.
Was this fun? (Imagine I drew a huge question mark on the whiteboard at this point.) NO IT WAS NOT. I’ll pause while you take some notes. No pen or paper? Crimony. Never go into class or into the boss’s office without pens (plural) and paper. Write that down too.
We’re continuing. So here’s what happened with Karazhan. If the guild chose to run multiple simultaneous Karazhans, and if they required more than one night to clear Karazhan (typical), every once in a while some of the raiders had real life obligations and couldn’t show up that night and a replacement was needed. And so another guildmate was locked into a raid ID and was unavailable for the other Karazhans as replacements. Inevitably, one Karazhan raid would be the strongest and the others were weaker — either by way of gear or attendance or ability/knowledge of the zone.
While guilds would try to balance out the raids from week to week (to week to week to week), one set of guildmates were well prepared for the 25-mans and ready to go, and the others not so much. Mostly the geared/keyed guildmates would look for greener pastures and move on, or, maybe, wait around for what seemed like flippin-4-evah for the rest of the guild — either way, you’ve set up a pressure cooker for guild implosion.
This precarious period for guilds would last until they could step into the 25-mans (admittedly, that step was made much easier with the lifting of attunements), and continue until the guild could bid fucking adieu to the Kara trashfest.
Now write this part down: This was not lack of commitment or lack of ambition or lack of skeelz, this was poor game mechanics screwing over guilds. You can’t tell your players, ok have a raid force for 40-man gear farms, now slim down for 10-man gear farms, oops, now bulk up for 25-mans.
So here’s the deal. Either fix the fucking raid system for 10-man gear-required instances or stick to a 25-man progression model. Yes, we players love the ideal of 10-man instances, but not if we have to mess with guild numbers up, down, up again, now down … and finally back up again. (Imagine I drew alternating up and down arrows on the whiteboard.) Since, I dare say, you haven’t been active in guild recruitment and raid invites and /tells from the undergeared and the overgeared for quite some time, let me remind you, IT’S A ROYAL PAIN IN THE ASS.
Here’s an example: Poor guildmate has a hard time getting into guild raids for a while, we’re overstaffed with his class, he’s undergeared because he misses the 10-man clear, whatever. I /tell him sorry mate, maybe next run. For a few weeks I tell him this and he complains of course, I listen, but damn, I have a raid to attend. He’s fed up and moves on to another guild. I’m relieved, albeit temporarily because I can see the future. Now we’re firmly in the 25-mans FINALLY, and oops, we need more raiders.
I could ask former guildmates who moved on because they were slower than the rest of us in gearing up IF I liked being told to fuck off (which I don’t, btw), or I can look for a feeder guild, i.e. a guild behind mine in progression whose better geared people are looking for said greener pastures. And I can poach from guilds around the same progression as mine, which is poor form, I know, however, I’m already being told daily to “fuck off” by my former raiders, so being told to “fuck off” by other guild’s leaders isn’t that big of a deal.
Thank you, game mechanics.
Two ways I believe 10-man instances could still fit into a 25-man raid-gear progression model:
1. Raid IDs of 3 days for the 10-mans, similar to Zul’Grub. Dare I hope for 1-day raid IDs for 10-mans? No, I do not dare hope.
or 2. Guild-wide raid IDs. Probably the 3-day solution is much easier to implement.
(Imagine I wrote “Hope” on the whiteboard and drew a circle around it with a slash through it, cuz there’s a whole lot of shit I don’t dare hope.)
Be ignorant no more, consider yourself enlightened. Now go forth and develop.