The Karazhan Mistake

(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’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.

Continue reading

BlizzCon: Raids & Dungeons

While I like costumed gamers as much as the next guy, I’m mostly interested in the 2007 BlizzCon news about the expansion’s raid and dungeons changes and additions.

The best writeup I’ve found of the Raids & Dungeons panel was WarCry’s. Skipping the PowerPoint crap, the meat of the panel was:

* Possibly one new 5 man before next expansion.
* KTM and Deadly Boss Mods built into game.
* Ideas for an Item Rack functionality that has extra storage space for alternate sets of gear.
* New 25 man before expansion that is higher level/better gear than Black Temple. It was hinted, but not confirmed that this could be related to Sunwell and Northrend.
* Naxxramas could be redone as an introductory raid dungeon for Northrend to allow those who didn’t get to see the fight a chance to see the fight.
* Horde will be getting fear ward.
* Healing Priest raid vitality is being looked at.
* Possible guild based attunement or account based attunements.

Wow. See how long that development timeline is? Here’s how long ago these were ID’d as serious problems by players:

New 5-man – somewhat recently, i.e. mid Burning Crusade
KTM and DBM – late 2005/early 2006
Extra storage for resist gear – mid 2005
New 25-man – this was the “applause point” for the panel. Did the crowd erupt? Good.
Naxxramas – pre-BC. We’ll be having the same discussion when Expansion #3 is announced about the Black Temple.
Horde’s fear ward – early 2005
Healing raid priests – early BC
Guild-based attunements, aka Karazhan relief – early BC

Also of interest to me was The MMO Gamer’s audience with Tigole. Mr. Kaplan to you/Tigole wants to retune Naxxramas, which will probably take five years, but anyways:

So what I want to do in Northrend is to take Naxxramas in all of its glory, scale it down to the 25 man raid size, and then take the difficulty and retune it — obviously we’d tune for level 80, it would no longer be tuned for level 60, since that would be a little silly and it wouldn’t be a lot of fun for people at that point — but I want to put rewards in there that are very exciting to level 80 players, but make it the entry-level raid, very accessible, tune the encounters so that there’s something for everybody to do, and let the majority get a chance to see that content that they hadn’t seen before.

Much credit to Steven Crews, the interviewer — he stated up front that he was choosing topics and questions midway between softballs and 90 mph fastball screamers, which he did admirably — and then came the “oh snap!”.

The interview was thus concluded. As we stood up to shake hands and say our farewells, he asked me, “Were you a guild leader in EverQuest, too? I assumed that’s what you meant when you said you could relate.”

“No, actually,” I said, “I was the leader of the top guild on my server in WoW.”

“Ah. So, do you still play WoW?”

“No,” I admitted sheepishly. “I quit about a year and a half ago. I took one look at the patch notes with the requirements to open AQ and said to myself, ‘I’m getting the hell out of here.'”

That’s pretty damn funny.

The fastball screamer would have been, “Ya, Legacy of Steel steamrolled us on Avatar of War.” and walk off the mound.

The Wrath of the King

Lookee here, the internet detectives were right: World of Warcraft – Wrath of the Lich King. And most of the predictions about the expansion were right also — additional proof that either A. Blizzard cannot keep a secret, or, more likely B. We know them like the proverbial back of our hands.

Sure would be nice if more guilds and players could see most of the content from The Burning Crusade before the Wrath expansion arrives.