Raid Thrash

Some of the blogs I read regularly have been arguing about endgame raiding and the massive amounts of time it can take to gear up from those encounters. Anyone who’s mucked around with PVE endgames in WoW, EQ or EQ2 can certainly relate to the highly skewed ratio of time spent vs. loot rewards.

Darren over at Common Sense Gamer shares my frustration with endgame raiding. I personally don’t enjoy spending endless hours in dungeons with 25 to 40 other people working on the precision necessary to execute a successful raid. And even if I did enjoy it, I don’t have that much time to dedicate to that type of playing. Plenty of other people do apparently enjoy it and have time for it, though. Darren isn’t one of those people, however. He admits to some bitterness because he’s “never getting those hours back”. I sympathize, but his solutions for that feeling of wasted time doesn’t work for me.

“There must exist more than a possibility that you’ll receive something out of raid…and I mean every player, not just those who happened to have the most DKP”.

I don’t agree with Darren on this. It’s addressed by Kendricke and others in the comments, and the problem with raids dropping loot for everyone has to do with scarcity, or rather the lack of scarcity if raid-level stuff starts dropping more often. It’s the old mudflation issue, and it’s a serious design issue. You just absolutely cannot drop more high-level loot into the game at a rapid rate without ruining it. Raph Koster has a nice summary of mudflation on his website, both the symptoms of it and traditional ways of trying to address it.

So, what do you do? Do you abandon the endgame and raiding to the percentage of the population who have the time and inclination to pursue the treadmills? In the case of WoW, yeah, that’s exactly what I’ve done. And that’s ok with me. WoW was perhaps my favorite PvE environment, and I actually enjoy leveling up more than I enjoy the endgame in WoW. There’s just no place for me in the endgame, and it’s time to move on.

I don’t want to end without offering an alternative, but before I even start I have to admit that my alternative caters to my personal taste. I haven’t seen a game yet that offers a solution for everyone…raiders, solo players, casual players, PvP/PvE players, crafters, explorers…so part of my solution to the problem is picking and playing the right game for your tastes. Is it possible that there may be changes to raiding that would suddenly make it more rewarding for Darren? Not if it means equal loot for everyone, no. I don’ t think that can happen without ruining the game.

To be fair, I don’t want this to sound like I’m bashing Darren. He offered up some ideas, and then he asked for reader ideas. I want to grab one more Darren quote from the Raid Be Gone blog post and then offer my suggestions for endgames in mmorpg’s.

“Most MMO offerings today have very predictable character progressions through their worlds. You quest, craft, pvp up to max level and after that, you raid. After you raid, well, you raid some more.”

See, I think that’s out of order. I’d rather see something like “quest, craft, raid (or dungeon crawl with smaller groups), and after that, you PvP”.

To avoid an endgame that ends up like EQ, EQ2 or WoW means eliminating raiding as the only last step on the pyramid. PvP doesn’t have to be the only other option, but it’s the only other one that I can think of that has been successfully implemented in a modern mmorpg. I’m thinking specifically of Eve Online and Dark Age of Camelot. DAOC also had endgame raiding, and great gear clearly helps in PvP situations, but you certainly didn’t have to raid every dungeon and have elite gear to be helpful in RvR. Now, we could get way off track by talking about the Trials of Atlantis and Master Levels, and how that affected the endgame and the need to compete gear-wise, and whether that was a design mistake or not, but I don’t want to lose the point of Darren’s posts.

I’m no Eve Online veteran, but one thing I have realized is that you can have an important role in PvP situations literally just weeks into the game. Fly frigates, train tackling skills and follow your Fleet Commander’s orders, and you can make a contribution to a corporation that’s been flying for years. Both DAOC and Eve allow players fairly new to PvP to make casual yet significant contributions, which isn’t as possible in PvE endgame raiding.

There’s something about the unpredictability of competing against human opponents that’s more satisfying to me than raiding PvE endgame dungeons. Yeah, but WoW had PvP, some of you might be thinking? It wasn’t persistent. Shoving PvP into instances, or having no controllable territory in world PvP, made WoW PvP a mini-game, not a part of the endgame. In my opinion, of course. I’ve got no problems with people who love the fun of WoW PvP, it just didn’t seem…important to me.

So, I think I’m left with massive endgame raiding as one of the options that should be available to players at the endgame of a successful mmorpg. Meaningful PvP is another. I’d like to see gear that perhaps levels up with solo or casual players that could someday equal raid-level gear. Like, your gear earns XP when you’re soloing, or a percentage of that XP if you’re grouped with another player, a smaller percentage if you’re grouped with two players, etc. DAOC had something like this in the Trials of Atlantis, where certain gear would gain stats if you killed enough snakes, bugs, critters and so on. We’re just not going to see that kind of stuff in WoW.

Face it, WoW is basically the Diablo of mmorpg’s, with just endless dungeon running and gear upgrading at the endgame. It’s beautiful and slick and scalable and polished, but the endgame options are just limited. If you don’t enjoy raiding, it’s time to move on. Hopefully other developers will notice this and give us more options at the level caps.

I’m really hoping Mythic manages to make WAR as compelling at the endgame as DAOC was…and also makes leveling more fun then it was in in DAOC. I think a lot of people missed the beauty and balance of DAOC RvR because the level grind was kind of rough. Not EQ rough, but certainly not as easy as WoW. Anyone at Mythic want to process my beta app so I can get in and offer advice? Please? Pretty please? With orc bits on top?

See, this is why I started a blog. Can you imagine me punishing everyone who reads Darren’s blog with a reply this long in the comments? Jesus.

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2 Responses

  1. heres hoping for WAR. Nice write up

  2. [...] you read my post yesterday, you can probably guess my answer. At the end of the day, WoW seemed primarily a selfish [...]

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