Account-Wide Achievements: Rewards For Multi-Classing

20 July, 2010

One of the greatest and simplest tools for learning more and growing is doing more — Washington Irving

Last night I read a great post by Larisa at the Pink Pigtail Inn concerning achievements at an account level instead of a character level. It goes against the grain which I always like to see. It’s what blogs are for, right? She summed up her post with the following quote:

In the end I think the danger of account-wide achievements doesn’t lie in the fraud that it actually is; the problem is that they would detach us from our characters. In combination with the increased use of our real life names as opposed to character names (brought to us by Real ID), it will bring us even further away from the RPG origins than we already are.

We’re [no] longer playing our characters; we’re John Smith, who has done this, this and this feature in WoW.

For me, that’s what it’s always been about. Our guild has a lot of players that function as virtual Swiss-Army Knives, switching up their main class or leveling an alt to assist on a certain fight. We’ve been doing it forever, so it feels like second nature or something that everyone is doing. In essence, we play our accounts, and our characters are just tools.

Though I go by Borsk (or Sov, as a reference to my former long-time main), all of my characters are ‘its’. As a carpenter opens his tool box and sees a hammer, a saw, and a drill, I see my Shaman, Rogue, and Warrior. At the end of a job, one doesn’t appraise the individual accomplishments of each tool (nails hammered, walls painted), but that the house was completed and looks fan-damn-tastic.

The same applies to guild achievements and those group screenshots you take after a first kill. There’s no DPS or healing meter shown (most of the time), it’s just 10/25 happy avatars looking out over the trophy they’ve just earned.

The case against account wide achievements is a solid one and hard to argue against. I took pride in completing Glory of the Raider (10 player) on both my Shaman and Warrior. It was a neat personal achievement to say that  I both healed and tanked it on separate toons. Riding the Plagued Proto-Drake on my warrior always reminds of it, even if nobody else cares (and I’m sure they don’t).

I think we can do better.

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Cataclysm raid refinements open doors, leave questions

26 April, 2010

Bibi’s quick take on [MMO-Champion]:

  • 10-Man and 25-Man raids will share the same lockout.
  • 10-Man and 25-Man raids difficulty will be as close as possible to each other.
  • 10-Man and 25-Man raids will drop the exact same loot, but 25-man will drop a higher quantity of items.
  • Normal versus Heroic mode will be chosen on a per-boss basis in Cataclysm raids, the same way it works in Icecrown Citadel
  • For the first few raid tiers, our plan is to provide multiple smaller raids. Instead of one raid with eleven bosses, you might have a five-boss raid as well as a six-boss raid.

The news came down this afternoon that these significant changes will be made to raiding when we get to Cataclysm. A little vague, a little bit left to be desired, but nonetheless thought provoking. From the perspective of a player that enjoys heroic raiding at the 25 man level, it certainly got me thinking.

Each tier so far this expansion has had a 25 man and 10 man raid. For hardcore raiders, it’s a simple concept, to gear your character faster, you do more content. Running both the 10 and 25 man each reset is an accepted practice. The only reason a person would kill the same bosses twice a week is for the gear. Also, with so much gear being placed on the badge vendor (tier starters in ICC), you also need that extra influx of badges to make sure you got the gear you need for progression right now and not 3 months from now (now being December ’09).

The biggest problem, aside from badge generation, was the fact that 10 man and 25 contained unique loot. But wait, isn’t that a good thing? Shouldn’t they have distinguishable gear to really denote a “10 man” and “25 man” raider? The idea is good, but the itemization always fell short of the goal in a few unique circumstances. The biggest offender here were trinkets (Mjolnir Runestone, anyone?), but there were still a few weapons and other pieces of gear that just happened to be itemized better in 10 man. This meant that in order to get the best gear for your toon, you needed to do 10 and 25 man.

With 10 man’s removed from the docket of a main raider, it will relieve a lot of intra-guild stress generated from finding a 10 man group.  In a small roster situation, a 25 man guild barely has enough raiders to field 2 10 mans with a backup here or there. It’s a strange predicament and something, as a raid leader, you want to facilitate, but you end up going insane trying to do so. The new lockouts will now give you a hard number on the amount of gear coming into your raid.

So in Cataclysm the choice to be a 25 man guild will really mean something…

…or will it.

There was another practice that came about this expansion with the advent of gated content: running 2 25 mans. The amount of gear coming into your raid could be increased by running half of your guild’s mains  in 2 different 25 mans, filling each half with alts. This was easy to do in normal mode ICC since the content was easy and was released in small chunks. Once it went out to a full fledged 12 boss instance (and you had hard modes), trying to attempt this became harder to do so while actually having days in the week where you don’t raid.

The Cataclysm raids, according to the Blues, will be smaller (5 or 6 bosses each).  The temptation will be there (to split your raid), but I don’t think that the time in a raid week will be there. At the moment, you can already see signs that a lot of guilds are dialing back their raid time per week (and being incredibly successful doing so). Very successful, low hour per week raids are very attractive as they minimize time spent in game,  but maximize character progression.

The only difference between the two raiding types now is the fact that you will get more (badges, gear, money) from the 25 man. “More” is so subjective that it’s hard to comment, but this is something that I get a little worried about when I think down the line in Cataclysm.

End of the line for 25 mans?

Blizzard has now decided to support 25 man raiding only because there is a segment of the population that enjoys “large scale raiding.” Count me among that group. I love going in with 25 and battling a boss that needs the synergy and coordination of a lot of people. I hated the logistical nightmare of 40 man raiding, but liked the fact that it took so many people to kill one boss.

I don’t like worrying or speculating, or going doom and gloom, but this is something that I think is a good issue to bring up. The lure of 10 man raiding is how controllable the environment is. You are dealing with 10 people. Getting 10 schedules aligned and working is relatively easy. It’s possible to fit a 10 man into almost any day of the week and even change it week to week to suit the needs of the group. The group is also small enough that no loot system is really needed, and every decision can be made by the group.

Raiders were attracted to the 25 man setting because it had better gear and the encounters were (generally) more challenging. The only difference now will be the amount of gear. This begs the question: If I’m only raiding with 9 other people, why do I need more gear and badges? What are the chances I’ll be competing for gear if I’m the only Rogue or only Shaman?

Again, expansion talk is always precarious.

The difference in the drops (including badges and gold) could be incredibly significant. Twenty five man raiders may end up getting twice the badge/gold input as the 10 man raiders. However, this is an aspect that I think Blizzard needs to get just right, or it will mark the slow downfall (and eventual demise) of 25 man raiding. It is impossible to know at this point how big this will be. The price of badge gear, the exact amount of loot or gold, and the number of bosses will all factor in.

Turnover

There are a lot of established 25 man raiding guilds (Blood Red Moon being one of them). Our guild won’t die because of this lockout change, but it might be hard to maintain a roster as more “starting with Cataclysm” players enter the game and “older/veteran” players leave.

Over the life of an expansion, a guild loses players. Some of those players move on to other guilds, some just quit the game. During Wrath of the Lich King I probably saw no less than 20 players (if not more) join and then eventually leave the ranks of Blood Red Moon.  These players ranged from one week wonders to three year guild veterans and everything in between. It’s normal and something that is easy to handle with consistent, proactive recruitment. With the new system, what will be the motivation for a “new player” (Cataclysm borne) to seek out a 25 man raiding group?

My answer to that question is reputation. The rep of a server’s guilds will keep funneling players into them, but will that hold up once those players get a sense of what 25 man raiding and 10 man raiding are all about?

There’s still the question of current players. Maybe it’s easier for a group of in game friends to leave their guilds. Leave the dkp systems, the recruitment, and the logistics of 25 man raiding behind and start something for themselves and close friends. It might not be a new guild, but a new raiding group (you only get one lockout per character).

Could we see the rise of “raiding teams” along the lines of how people view “arena teams”?

Is an official format like this coming with the new guild leveling system (players being grouped by both guild and/or raid)? In game rankings, perhaps?

10-Man and 25-Man raids difficulty will be as close as possible to each other

I’m anxiously awaiting what becomes of this statement. To me, the simple act of coordinating 25 people is harder, and Blizzard acknowledges that. I only hope that they align the difference in difficulty with their “more loot” policy for 25 man raiders. If 25 mans are more difficult, but drop the same loot as a 10 man, do fringe 25 man raiders continue to stick with 25 man raiding or instead opt for the 10 mans?

Does 25 man raiding end up being there only to serve guilds that have been around? Why would a player starting up a guild want to tackle building up a 25 man raiding force? Would it even be possible given the above changes?

Keeping the difficulty close will be, in a word, difficult. There was evidence of this during this expansion (10 man Sarth 3D was harder, comparatively, than 25 man), but most of it was the exact opposite. Icecrown Citadel Heroic, in its entirety, is simple on 10 man when compared to 25. The differences between things such as one Val’kyr vs. three on Lich King, or the minimized dangers of Lady Deathwhisper 10 (1 ghost, 1 add) are huge.

I would say the encounter designers really have their work cut out for them, but that is an understatement.

Toward the Future

I ask a lot of questions in this post because that’s what Blizzard has opened themselves up to at this point. I’m predicting a lot of forum rage and possibly a few rebuttals and clarification by the design team.

The direction they are heading: one lockout, same gear, same difficulty, gives players a black and white choice: 10 or 25 man., heroic or normal. For established 25 man guilds, this is a good thing. No more pressure to run 10 mans. Further, 10 mans can be reserved purely for alt advancement as a fun side activity. Smaller raid sizes encourage pickup raids. They also encourage raids at odd hours when you might have the people but not the time complete a full (12+ boss) instance without missing out on some of the encounters.

A unified loot pool will keep the quantity of epics down and hopefully control the itemization to a degree. There will always be bad pieces of gear, but now there should be less bad ones compared to ones that are actually desired.

Blizzard’s desire to focus game play and remove “grindy” elements is crossing them into a weird territory that other MMOs have not been. Formerly, the way to show how good you are in an MMO was how much time you put into the game. Blizzard’s divergence from this long established practice is an interesting one that pulls them closer to what people like from their console games. They want people to be able to show their stuff and achieve things in a small frame of time (and with the people they enjoy playing beside).

If anyone can pull that off, it’s Blizzard. I just hope that by doing this they don’t remove the challenge of the game that many of us have to come to enjoy in the format we’ve come to enjoy it.

  • 10-Man and 25-Man raids will share the same lockout.
  • 10-Man and 25-Man raids difficulty will be as close as possible to each other.
  • 10-Man and 25-Man raids will drop the exact same loot, but 25-man will drop a higher quantity of items.
  • Normal versus Heroic mode will be chosen on a per-boss basis in Cataclysm raids, the same way it works in Icecrown Citadel
  • For the first few raid tiers, our plan is to provide multiple smaller raids. Instead of one raid with eleven bosses, you might have a five-boss raid as well as a six-boss raid.

HHM: Lord Moralegar – Turning Raiding Momentum In Your Favor

15 April, 2010

Confidence is contagious. So is lack of confidence.–Vince Lombardi

Hidden Hard Modes (HHM) is a series dedicated to those bosses you see outside of the game. The bosses you need to kill just to make it into an instance and before you even kill one boss. This feature will be archived in its own page for easy access after it runs its course. Previous entries: Attendancegut, Recruitmentface

It’s been some time since my last entry on this topic due to a lot of progress, other interesting topics to write on, and the one first of two events this year that make this post actually possible to carve out. Also, this post is likely going to cover much of what I intended for Stratagosa, so we’ll count this as a “council boss” for Hidden Hard Modes ;).

Morale and confidence within a raid are strange animals. In one moment you can effortlessly defeat anything placed in front of you, and with one wipe at a low percent you’re struggling wipe after wipe, for seemingly no reason. There’s a reason that I’m constantly comparing what we do in game to those that skate and hoop in front of thousands: the mentality is similar

Seasons

In PvP there are defined arena seasons, but those are relatively abstract compared to an actual sports season. Raiding actually follows a more stringent schedule and time frame when compared to the typical NHL or NBA season. In a typical week, they’ll play 3 to 4 games. For Raiders, we’re getting up and heading into an instance the same amount.

Now, let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. The mental and physical toughness that it takes to be a professional athlete is so far above what a raider in WoW exerts it might as well be on Jupiter. That being said, in a typical raiding cycle (approximately 7 months) you’re suiting up to play 112 times with probably 70 of those nights being actual progression.

Handling that kind of grind is not easy. There will be off nights and weeks, times when you don’t really get anything done. Is the sky falling every time you wipe 10 times on a boss you’ve killed a half dozen times? Is it time to kick people or disband the guild if a bad raid night turns into a streak of bad nights? Of course not.

Bouncing Back

In hockey this phenomenon is referred to as “tilting the ice.” During a game or a season it might seem like one team is completely outmatched. No matter what they do or how many penalties the other team gets, they just can’t get anything going. It actually looks like someone picked up one end of the rink so that one team is playing downhill. When a game is in the balance, the tilt can go either way at any time. A quick streak of goals can send a team into a downward spiral, bleeding momentum.

Momentum when fighting through a raid instance is just as important. An easy one shot on a boss carries over to the next boss (and so far). Wipes happen just like goals agsinst happen. Expecting to go an entire season without being scored on is ridiculous. Especially on harder content, you need to expect that some bad things will happen or someone will make a mistake and you won’t be able to recover. That’s fine. You just recover, re-buff and pull again.

The wipes that really throw you off kilter are the “back breakers.” You just had a couple solid attempts where a tank DC’d or some dice rolls lined up the wrong way. Everyone is still pretty confident, but this time a melee loses his head and gets his group killed early in the fight. Ugh, killer. We played perfectly and wiped, we played poorly and wiped, how the hell are we going to beat this?

It’s time to bounce back.

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Strength of Win

5 April, 2010

Temper gets you into trouble. Pride keeps you there.–Unknown

Nearly 5 weeks into the era of the zone-wide Icecrown buff, I’ve taken some time to reflect on how it has truly affected the way that raids are run and the affect it has on progression.

Assistance

Icecrown Citadel is a series of glass ceilings. There are many guilds bumping their heads trying to break through each of them right now:

  • Sindragosa
  • Lich King
  • (H) Gunship/Marrowgar/Rotface/Council/Dreamwalker/Festergut/Blood Queen
  • (H) Deathwhisper/Saurfang
  • (H) Sindragosa
  • (H) Putricide
  • (H) Lich King

The timeline currently allows guilds 4 weeks to break through each ceiling on their own. After that, the buff will increase and nudge them through. This was evident on our server this week as several guilds broke through barrier 2 and 3 above to step up. Across all servers, everyone moved up together. Our US and world ranks changed very little, which is another indicator of just how granular the skill level is among guilds.

If you’re killing it, chances are everyone else at your level is also killing it.

We like to think that our accomplishments occur in a vacuum, but they don’t. Our accomplishments are grand, and often times astounding for the server that we play on. This is why many of us focus on intra-server progression more so than World or even US rankings. It’s a way for us to get good, fair comparison.

The guilds on your server are using the same forums, same pool of recruits, and have the same server culture. It’s also nice to actually pass your competition on the way to the instance and not have them be some mystical number and fancy name on a website.

Srength of Wrynn has ferried along everyone very nicely, allowing us to progress at a steady pace without doing the work for us. The final goals of Icecrown Progression are very clear:

  1. Glory of the Icecrown Raider (25 Player)
  2. Realm First! Light of Dawn
  3. Leveling Gear

Everyone where we are (in the 8/12, 9/12 heroic mode range) has a high enough raid-gear level to complete the instance. Blizzard only made 4 277 tier tokens available per week (and only 2 of those being realistically accessible). Expecting your entire raid to be decked out in best in slot gear to complete the instance would be folly.

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ICC10 Hard Modes: Round 47

29 March, 2010

When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.–Franklin D. Roosevelt

I label this Round 47 because it really feels like it’s been that long since I’ve been able write about our 10 man raid. Due to 10 mans occurring on our off-raid nights, you never know if something is going to perk up and pull one (or two, or three) raiders away at the last-minute.

Been waiting a long time for this could refer to The Lich King’s achievement, or what it’s like waiting to get your entire group back together and ready to tackle the rest of the hard mode encounters.

Standards

My goal starting this week was not to flip-flop hard mode and normal mode. There is some sort of psychological switch connected to the dudes in my 10 man that turns off their ability to play whenever hard mode is no longer active. Trying to flip it back on for the next boss has never worked.

So we turned on hard mode and started slow on Marrowgar (Some dumb shaman kept disconnecting), but got our game ramped up pretty quickly in time to Storm the Citadel heroic style. Our first target was the Crimson Halls, and our long-delayed date with the Blood Prince Council.

As I detailed in my last entry (sometime around the great depression), we had problems with the Council and they were many. To address these, we went in with some basic guidelines:

  1. Cover every inch of the floor. We placed a Shadow Priest on the stage to cover that area and then one ranged DPS west, and one east. If the Priest was targeted for an Empowered Flame Orb, he could disperse if it wasn’t drained enough. Two pet classes on the orbs made handling them easy once the areas of responsibility were covered.
  2. Disregard the Shadow Prison during Taldaram. As long as your stacks are low or gone when Taldaram is active, soaking/draning the Empowered Flames is easy.
  3. Keep the melee clean. Glittering Sparks = 40% Slow = Lots of problems with both kinds of Vortex. Mass dispel them if necessary.

Our composition was identical to our previous failed attempts(Holy Paladins are great for a 2 tank setup). The fight ended in a brisk 4:27 and gave us our Heroic: The Crimson halls(10 Man) achievement.

World of Logs

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Shotgun Friday: Random thoughts on healing and WoW news

26 March, 2010

It’s true that every time you hear a bell, an angel gets its wings. But what they don’t tell you is that every time you hear a mouse trap snap, an Angel gets set on fire.–Jack Handy

It’s Friday, it’s time for a nice long weekend of hockey, 10 mans, and bar-b-que. So I thought I would do just a random run down of various things jingling around in my head this week. Some thoughts on DPSing as a Healer, why you should go for the Tier 10 Gloves and Crafted Legs for your healing kit (Shamans), and why Festergut Hard Mode is a gas, gas gas.

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Digging Up Treasure: Sigs and Banners

25 March, 2010

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes.  Art is knowing which ones to keep–Scott Adams

For a long time when I started raiding in school, my big hobby was messing with Photoshop and the WoW Model viewer. It was a neat creative outlet to really mess with my characters and put them in interesting gear that I hoped to have some day (or didn’t exist!).

That eventually morphed into creating some fancy forum signatures for myself and guild members, and eventually, the random (very outdated) banner-set over at bloodredmoon.org. Recently I opened my photobucket account back up and dug out some of my all time favorites (Sovelis, Borsk, and Viktur are my characters):

Banners

Borsk

Aireoth

Haela 1

Talirrine

Darae

Keiran

Sovelis

Lady Vashj

Ragnaro-O’s

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