Are You Struggling To Raid in MoP?

Are you struggling with the demands on raiders in the new WoW expansion? If so, you’re not alone.

Whilst MoP’s leveling content has been rapturously received, as we began to see yesterday, raiding does not look like such smooth sailing – or rather, preparing for raiding does not.

Today we’re featuring four bloggers exploring the problems and solutions facing raiders in the early expansion – from the frankly terrifying amount of work needed to prepare for raiding, to the “should PvP items be usable in raids?” debate:

  • Anafiele gives us an insight into how much work hardcore progression raiders are doing right now – and it’s massive, apparently considerably more than previous expansions“I’m wondering if Blizzard realized precisely how expensive they’ve made it either in time or in gold to stock up on food for progression. They know raiders count boss difficulty in wipes. I think I’ll be counting mine in food consumed.”
  • The Grumpy Elf has been gearing up for raiding, and has found the very RNG dependent early gear grind extremely frustrating“I’ve said it before and I will say it again. The game needs something for people like me. This is why I always loved valor and justice gear. It is like mercy for the unlucky.”
  • Chris at Game By Night looks at the recent flap over raiders gearing up via PvP items, and asks why people are so upset at some raiders taking a different path“Aren’t we a little beyond getting bent out of shape because of someone else’s reward? Is it so terrible that there could be more raiders and more PvPers to fill out your teams?”

The consumables issue for MoP raiding looks particularly scary – I wonder if Blizzard will back down on it, or if raiders are just going to have to get used to an additional few hours’ grinding food a week?

How are you getting on with preparing to raid?

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Mods, Money, and the Value Of Nerfed Content

It’s been a great week in the MMOsphere – not always good news (City of Heroes), but good discussion and debate!

And we’re not done yet – here’s the last of the week’s awesomeness:

  • The Godmother’s been raiding through Heroic Dragon Soul – and strikes back against people who call nerfed content pointless“Getting 48 at the end of the evening makes me very enthusiastic for the ACTUAL HARD CONTENT that’s coming, and that everybody will be giving it their best shot when the time comes.”
  • Tobold is on an economics kick at the moment, and takes another look at the value of commerce in virtual worlds“Edward Castronova’s calculation came out at $3.42 per hour as the “income” of an Everquest player. Looking at games like Diablo III or Guild Wars that appears to be wrong by at least a factor of 10. “Gold farming” is only paying cents on the hour.”
  • Zubon looks at Guild Wars 2’s liberal attitude to XP, and celebrates the way it cheers everyone” I would much rather establish a norm of “everyone helps everyone,” whether you are nice or just greedy. It is pro-social design.”
  • And Windsoar reminds us to take a moment to thank the often-overlooked mod makers in World of Warcraft“Although my mod list has gone up and down as I’ve found some needs met and other needs to take precedent (the pretties folks!) I appreciate the time of anyone who takes a stab at finding a solution to something that they think could be done better. “

See you on Monday! (And remember – less than three weeks until the Pandaren descend…)

Have a great weekend!

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LoTRO Nearly, Pet Battles, and Body Language

And we round out today with a look to the past, and a few to the future. From what LoTRO nearly was, to what Guild Wars 2’s endgame will be…

  • Andang looks back at what LoTRO nearly was – a game called Middle-Earth Online, concieved well before the LoTR films, and very, very different to LoTRO…“All classes were locked to a single race. It looks like each race had two classes each and each class had two ways to progress. There was a good way and an evil way to progress, each with its own storyline, quests, objectives and even good only and evil only locations.”
  • Chris looks at the much-discussed question of what exactly Guild Wars 2’s endgame will be, and comes up with some fascinating quotes from the Googles“For my part, I enjoy the traditional raid-game but can’t often take part in it, so changing up the dynamic is appealing to me on a personal level. That said, I have serious concerns about the longevity of a non-progression endgame.”
  • Erinys lets us into a guilty secret – she loves WoW pets, but so far really isn’t loving the new Pet Battles subgame“Once you’ve captured the pets, the frustration doesn’t end. All critters aren’t created equal which means that quite often you find yourself having to let go of little Flopsy the cottontailed bunny because he’s a common bunny and you’re after his rare big brother.”
  • And Michael Grey rounds out the day with talk of a different part of the future – his tips for playing with a baby on your chest“Don’t go main tanking a 25-man heroic dungeon with 24 impatient raiders if you’ve got a baby on your chest. The best-case scenario will be a merry yellow stain on your chest. The worst case scenario will be lots of tears and recriminations, to say nothing of the baby’s reaction.”

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Where Do You Learn To Raid?

So, imagine you’re a new raider, and you’ve got a nice, friendly guild. Where on earth do they take you to learn the ropes?

That’s the interesting question Tzufit’s posing today. She’s looking back on her time in Wrath, using Naxxaramas as a training ground for new members of her guild, and asks “where would I go now?”

LFR? Blackwing Descent? None of them are exactly perfect for the task

“Where do new raiders learn how to raid now? Tier 11 was the exact opposite of Naxx in that it was the first tier of the expansion and also the hardest. Many of its mechanics were entirely unforgiving and it suffered from having several fights in which a single player’s mistake could wipe the rest of the raid. While this makes for interesting and challenging fights for seasoned raiders, it is not an environment where you want to train anyone.

Cataclysm’s Heroic 5 mans (the ones that shipped with Cata, not the Hour of Twilight heroics) do a lot of the work to prepare players to make the jump from dungeons to raiding. Cata’s heroic bosses are more challenging than any we’ve seen in prior expansions because they each have several complex mechanics to test players. Learning to juggle adds, and a debuff, and a boss who enrages all within the same fight gives us some opportunity to experience the sort of multi-tasking we’ll have to do when we fight a real raid boss. It’s one reason why I enjoyed the difficulty of Cata’s un-nerfed heroics at the beginning of the expansion. They were challenging, but they warned us about what was to come in the even greater challenge that was tier 11.

No 5 man dungeon, however, can ever prepare a tank or a healer for the experience of having to work as a part of a tanking or healing team. This is something that happens exclusively in the raid environment or, now, in LFR. A lot has already been written about whether or not LFR is a tool that properly initiates people into the raiding world. I believe that LFR is an important tool for a new raider because it exposes them to the scale and complexity of a raid – but let’s not kid ourselves into believing that any new raider would come out of an LFR experience with the slightest notion as to why anything happened the way it did. On the rare occasions when anyone bothers to explain any aspect of a fight in LFR, no context is given because there isn’t enough time to do so before someone gets antsy and pulls. The most information that is given is what to kill, where to stand, and (maybe) when to hit that illusive button on Ultraxion.”

Tzufit gives us a good rundown of the history of “training raids” (although I’d add Zul’Gurub in Vanilla to Kara and Naxx), and she effectively highlights a real issue here. Assuming we have some hopes of recruiting new players into WoW, rather than merely running out the meter with an ever-decreasing number of veterans, where are we going to teach them the basics?

Does Mists have a raid that’s shaping up to be a training ground? I’d love to know.

What do you think?

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IAMA RIFT Exec Producer, Awesome WoW Toys and more

Let’s change things up a bit today! The blogosphere’s still resounding with the news of SWTOR going F2P, but that’s not all that’s going on – so here’s our pick of the thinking and discussion from elsewhere in the blogosphere today:

  • Beruthiel discusses going beyond “heal the tank” healing in WoW into really dynamic and adaptive healing” I’ve watched players who smash the meters completely fall apart on a fight like Yor’shaj. I’ve watched a healers who sailed through as top healers in Dragon Soul find that they are uncertain of how to heal a more interactive encounter – simply because they don’t know how to be dynamic and react to changing circumstances.”
  • Big Bear Butt waxes lyrical about an unexpected delight – the surprising quality of the WoW-licensed Mega Blox toys“The craftsmanship on the Lich King is just absurd, and the Dragon? Seriously, I am extremely happy with Sindragosa. If there was any one set I would recommend buying, it would be the Sindragosa/Lich King set. It is a masterpiece. It is “pose on my desk and make my geek friends exclaim in delight” levels of awesome.”
  • Zellviren looks at the news of staggered raids for Mists of Pandaria, and asks how this will impact future patch release cycles“There are now “Cutting Edge” feats of strength that are awarded to players who kill these bosses within their patch cycle and without nerfs of any kind. That means the nerfs themselves are now going to be a staple of future raiding, which shouldn’t surprise anyone.”
  • In a particularly cool move, the Executive Producer on RIFT, Scott Hartsman, has been giving long and interesting answers in a Reddit Ask Me Anything interview” The thing with ultra-complex games is that you will have one of those moments, where you log into the game to see how the patch went, and find yourself with your hand on your forehead saying, “What the f….” pretty much every week. “
  • And The Ancient Gaming Noob looks at Cryptic’s PR statements about Star Trek Online – and compares them to Nixon’s “I’m not a crook” speech“Nobody buys a paper when the headline is “Nothing Bad Happened.” Likewise, a headline like “STO Worth $50 Million” or “STO is Perfect World’s Top Performer” do not grab attention… at least not like that “dying” quote does.”

When are you predicting WoW patches? Do you think STO is going down? And have you (or your kids) played with the WoW Mega Blox?

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Vanity, Trinity, and Dodges

And finally, amidst the dust from the milliards of SWTOR posts, here are some other really interesting pieces from the blogosphere over the last day or so…

  • The Mighty Viking Hamster asks how an MMO could really break out of the Holy Trinity model“Some would argue that in Guild Wars 2 you can change your spec on the fly and that is definitely true. However that is beyond the point being made here. Making the HT more accessible is one thing. Claiming that you don’t need to rely on it is something else entirely. “
  • Anne Stickney at WoW Insider wonders if Blizzard could incentivise raiders using nothing but pure vanity“The first time I saw Benediction, I wanted it more than anything else in the world — not because of the stats, not because of the set bonuses, not because it would make me super-powerful, but because it would make my character look really neat.”
  • And Melmoth at Killed In A Smiling Accident writes a really fascinating piece on dodge mechanics in MMORPGs like TERA and Guild Wars 2“‘Dodge! Dodge!’ cry the developers; thus I fling my character around the screen like a freshly landed sea bass flopping its way across the deck of a boat, trying—in utmost futility—to escape its tormentors. In the meantime, my enemy stands on the spot and spins around slowly, punching me all the while.”

What do you think of those ideas?

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Looking Ahead: Gating in MoP, 50 Reasons for GW2, and balancing the two

It’s all about the future right now in the MMOsphere – at least for Guild Wars or WoW enthusiasts.

So here’s the latest discussion and debate on That Which Is Coming Up, from the news that Mists of Pandaria’s raids will be released one at a time, to the question that a lot of us are facing – how the hell we’re going to manage to play both games…

  • Beruthiel at Falling Leaves And Wings considers the news that MoP’s raids will be released in stages, and doesn’t see this as a bad thing at all“I’d ask “What’s the rush?”. If you are worried about rankings, aren’t you in the same boat as everyone else? I’m curious what is so wrong with getting through the first zone before the next is released?”
  • Sunnier at the Art Of War answers the question “How the hell will we fit MoP and Guild Wars 2 in at the same time?”“So what’s a GW2 and WoW lover supposed to do? I can’t be a progression raider in WoW if I’m (shudder) casual, but I can’t become a PvP superstar in GW2 if I spend all my time dying to the disconnect boss in Mogu’shan Vaults.”
  • And Syl at Raging Monkeys looks back on her “50 reasons to look forward to Guild Wars 2″ and considers which of them have been borne out by the beta tests“For direct comparison, I will go with the list of 50 reasons I presented this April 2012 with no first-hand gameplay experience whatsoever. I expect to see few changes but not to get ahead of myself, let’s rather examine each point once more.”

Are you annoyed by MoP raid gating? Shuddering at the thought of fitting both games in? Or do you have 99 reasons to play GW2 (but a raid ain’t one)?

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MoPping Up: Improving on DS, Brewfest Danger and the Original Challenge Mode

So, want to know how Vanilla’s original “challenge mode” went? Want to know what fixes are coming in for Dragon Soul’s raiding problems, or what popular seasonal boss might derail the Pandas?

With MoP now two months away, the Mists of Pandaria blogging is coming thick and fast, and I suspect “MoPping up” will become a regular feature! There are some great posts on Pandaria today – enjoy:

  • Scott Andrews at WoW Insider looks at the strengths and weaknesses of the WoW Vanilla Baron 45-minute run, which he (correctly, I think) calls WoW’s first Challenge Mode“What newer players may not know is that vanilla WoW also had a timed dungeon run. It was known as the 45-minute Baron, Strat 45, or sometimes simply Baron run. This “challenge mode” was actually just a quest (called Dead Man’s Plea) to engage Baron Rivendare within 45 minutes and then kill him, or he would execute his prisoner and you’d fail. “
  • Vixsin at Life In Group 5 goes over the ways MoP promises to fix the problems of Tier 13 raiding, including LfR abuse, class stacking and more“, I see the same problem with the Legendary Questline as I do with Dragonwrath farming—it encourages guilds who want a legendary edge to continue operating multiple alt raids to ensure more chances at the drop. “
  • And The Godmother at ALT:ernative has spotted a small problem that could nonetheless badly derail Mists’ levelling speed“I’m not sure its a good idea to start telling people they need to level in X days so they can access content that, for the vast majority of those who will be experiencing it, will be inappropriately high.”

I remember the Baron run of old – great fun, although I never got anywhere close to completing it…

**Anything about Mists that has gotten your goat?

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What’s The Matter With WoW Raiding?

The big news of today is MoP – but we’ll get to that. There’s another pressing matter occupying the bloggers of the world today – and that’s WoW raiding.

Yes, in one of those wierd synchronity events that sometimes hits the blogosphere, everyone seems to be writing about the problems with raiding in WoW today. And this isn’t a “quick thoughts” moment, either – we’ve got a lot of deep, interesting thinking going on:

  • Stubborn at Sheep The Diamond is comparing raiding with his day job, teaching, and asking why WoW doesn’t teach the skills necessary for raiding” I’m not a developer or programmer, so I have no idea how hard it would be, and I’m sure it would be, but there’s no reason that leveling, particularly higher-end leveling, should be so incredibly different from the end game. “
  • Binkenstein at Totemspot suggests that despite their best efforts, Blizzard may never manage to equalise the difficulty between 10-and 25-man raids“While that’s a nice goal, it’s going to be very very hard to achieve in practice, as there are a large number of variables to consider. It’s not just a matter of multiplying everything by 2.5 and calling it a day. You have to consider the available space, possible class balance, possible buff/debuff availability, how likely you are to have the current Flavour of the Month Tank/DPS/Healer present, recruitment & reserves and even loot distribution.”
  • The Grumpy Elf looks back at the hard questions he asked about LFR before it launched last year, and considers how the reality turned out“I was worried about how loot will be handled and it looks like I had a good reason to be worried. The first time I ran it two bows dropped and two rogues won them. I then needed to run it for well over 20 weeks before I ever saw a bow drop again. “
  • Zellviren of Unwavering Sentinel is well-known to dislike LFR, but today he’s asking whether LFR is even benefiting the players it’s supposed to help“Is LFR seeing involvement because people want to raid but otherwise can’t, or is it seeing involvement because players are out of other activities to get involved in?”
  • Tzufit is asking a really interesting question – do the progressive nerfs to end-of-expansion content actually harm the casual raiders they’re meant to help?“Why do we think that a casual raid team that struggled through many of the more challenging fights at the end of BC and the beginning of Wrath should be pushing Heroic content in the final tier of an expansion? Because we established that expectation when we were successful in Heroic ICC.”

**As we start eyeing up a new WoW expansion, what are your thoughts on the State of The Raid?

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Quiet, achievements and release

And finally, to close out the week, here are some fun links that didn’t fit anywhere else, but that still deserve your attention:

  • Fannon has a really good suggestion for legacy raiding achievements that I’d particularly recommend Blizzard developers to read“There is, however, one singular achievement (technically a Feat of Strength) that a sightseeing raider can’t get: Herald of the Titans. This little gem of an achievement requires a player to be the appropriate level as well as have the appropriate gear for the encounter. No overpowered tourists allowed.”
  • The Godmother is gazing once again into her crystal ball, and believes she’s got a new likely Mists of Pandaria release date – _“

    Corey Stockton’s quite a player in the MoP scheme of things. #crunchtime sounds quite significant. What if this weekend is the last weekend before the release date is set? “_

  • And Randolph Carter at This Roaring Silence talks about the siren song for a busy player to playing games gently, softly and slowly“Unfortunately, the speed of life that bleeds into every facet of my existence dictates my play style. As there is very little down time in my daily routine, I’m constantly aware of the time, where I need to be in the next half hour, what needs to get done before I move on to the next task”

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