Thursday, May 29, 2014

3.69. Blizzard's First Mistake (Revisited)

Visualization of The Public Goods Game
(Source: FieldOfScience.com)

The Public Goods Game

When I said Blizzard never repeated their first mistake...I lied.

An economics experiment that teaches about human nature and cooperation was all the proof Blizzard needed to cast doubt on their latest revelation. Whether their designers knew of the experiment's existence or not was moot, as the announcement of 10-Man and 25-Man being joined to a single lock in Cataclysm, producing the same rewards, was peppered with the colorful language of "good intentions". Sadly, good intentions are not enough to divert years of evolutionary adaptation away from the hard wired ways we fool ourselves. Spending only a few moments reviewing this simple textbook experiment should have convinced Blizzard that what they were about to embark on was going to have lasting, powerful repercussions, and 25-Man guilds would never be the same.

Imagine for a moment, that you are sitting around a table with nine strangers. Each stranger is given $100.00 and told that, in each round of this "game", you are free to contribute any amount of money from your holdings into a pot. At the end of the round, the pot is doubled, and all winnings are divided evenly back amongst the group. Depending on how fast you catch on, you come to realize that by withholding less and less of your own money from the pot, you begin to turn a much larger profit than the other players of the game. Over time, other players will pick up on this trend, and begin to do the same. Eventually, the economy of the game crashes, because all the players stop putting money into the pot. After all, why join the others and only come out $10.00 ahead...when you could put nothing in, and get $18.00 back? Why would anyone in their right mind be content with contributing, just to break even, when they could do nothing and turn a profit?

Things get more complicated when punishments and rewards are introduced to the Public Goods game. Punishing the stingy keeps the economy flowing through the pot, yet rewarding good behavior causes an economic crash again. It is a bizarre reflection of human nature that flies in the face of all logic, since on the surface, it makes sense that as long as everyone contributes, everyone will profit. But buried deep in the synapses of the highly evolved human brain, the rational often gets suppressed by the emotional. When you see other people gaming the system, you instinctively feel that they should be punished, as bad men/women should be. Just how that behavior manifests is subject to the type of game being played. In this experiment, it means that you withhold your funds from the pot, just as the others do, until no money remains.

In World of Warcraft, it manifests nearly the same...the only difference is that it isn't money you withhold from the pot, it's effort.

Contributions during the Public Goods game,
with and without punishments
(Source: AskWhy.co.uk)

Tragedy of the Casuals

Nobody wants to feel like they're being taken advantage of, yet this is exactly what happens when you look at two different levels of effort that both produce the same reward. Instead of tossing money into a pot each round, you're weighing all of the variables that help you decide which size of a raid you're wishing to run that week. And there are a lot of variables to consider. What kind of effort goes into dealing with that boss each week, trying to set aside a new schedule so that you are available for your raids each week? Maybe it means sitting down to a have a talk with your significant other, running the risk of it escalating into an argument over whose time is more valuable. And what of the risks involved in the actual raid itself? Any player worth his/her salt knew well that heading into a 25-Man raid was going to be a bigger challenge that a 10-Man; all the evidence in Wrath of the Lich King had proven 10s were the easier gamble by this point.

It all boils down to risk aversion.

Our free time is valuable to us; what we decide to put our off-hours into can mean more than money itself. With each decision we ponder regarding the allocation our free time, risks are constantly weighed against payoffs. We're more likely to avoid risk if a loss is possible, yet illogically we favor risk when only gains are on the table -- just ask any financial investment expert. As the blue post began to circulate the Internet, risk aversion chemicals had already begun their flow through the brains of raiders across the world. So, I can do a 10-Man, which I already know is easy-sauce, or take a chance at maybe getting my foot in the door of a 25-Man...for the exact same reward?

Cataclysm was still months away, but I already saw a crystal clear picture of what was to come.

Risk aversion is our default mechanism to fall back on when evaluating how we allocate our spare time. The situation is exacerbated by the fundamental need to want to punish "wrong doers"; its our mind wanting closure in a just world that otherwise doesn't exist. And when we see other players putting in less effort for the same rewards, our instincts aren't to "show them the right way", it's instead to come up with justifications on why we should do the same. We don't want to feel like we're being cheated out of money in the pot. We can't beat them, so we join them. We can't take a risk on the 25s...so we fall back on the 10s. It's safer, it's easier. Easier to roll with a small group of friends that aren't judgmental in watered-down mechanics, than deal with the possible criticism of a raid leader attempting to turn you from a mediocre player into a great one.

The pool of 25-Man options dwindle as a result, a term coined by Garrett Hardin as the "tragedy of the commons". The only way to combat it is the punishment of those "free riders", those folks unwilling to contribute to the pool. Blizzard may not have realized it, but the punishment of those free riders had already long been in place: the separation of the 10 and 25 by their individual loot tables. Players who wanted to take the easy way out, dumping out of a 25 in favor of a 10, were punished implicitly -- they no longer had the option to reap the achievements and rewards of the 25. I liken this separation of rewards to the guardrails that come down over a bowling alley lane, protecting an easily manipulated ball from rolling into the gutter. When the 10s and the 25s were merged to a single lockout and a single set of rewards, the guardrails went away.

Blizzard's opinion expressed bewilderment at the proposition that "one group of players doing something you didn't want to do" would somehow take something away from you. And the bewilderment was understandable...provided you look at the issue from that same skewed perspective. Unfortunately, the situation was never about "10-Man players get the same rewards as us 25-Man raiders, and we're not having fun now!"...

...it was "10-Man players are going to get the same rewards as 25-Man, and they will...which means whatever pool of players existed to fuel 25-Man guilds will all but dry up."

When players can take the easy way out, they do. I saw it once before in The Burning Crusade, as players came/went from the 25-Man as if the front door to our raid was a steamboat propeller. Because they could. They didn't need a warlock's Malefic Raiment from Black Temple...they could slough off any accountability a raiding guild attempted hold over their heads, and pull Vengeful Gladiator's Dreadgear out of a few weeks of smashing heads together like coconuts. Once that pool runs dry, the economy of available raiders crashes as a result. It was a matter of perception. Blizzard simply refused to "perceive" the issue the way 25-Man raiding guilds did.


Klocker stands naked atop the bank next to Annihilation,
Haribo, Crazzyshade, and Demus (circa Vanilla),
Orgrimmar

Promoting the Perv

Even as Descendants of Draenor were preparing to dig their heels deeply into the first heroic encounters in 25-Man ICC, I feared that the 10/25 decision would spell the end of many 25-Man raiding guilds, including our own. Blizzard felt confident that 25-Man raiding guilds would live on and thrive, but not paying attention to the fundamentals of human behavior, blinded by their "best intentions", was without a doubt Blizzard's Third Mistake in World of Warcraft. Amusingly, this was a far worse version of their first mistake in The Burning Crusade, having both PvE and PvP sets share the same visuals, something many wagered they had already learned from. Of course, the damage done during TBC was minimal (if any), and amounted to inconvenienced guild/raid leaders losing occasional PvP players from their raiding roster. This time, the change had the potential to reach far deeper into the blood of each and every raiding guild that wasn't listed on the first few pages of WoW Progress. It didn't look like Blizzard was going to budge on this one, so I mentally prepared for the devastation it would levy on the roster, each night going to bed, lost in a cloud of ideas on how I could save Descendants of Draenor from something that it couldn't be saved from: human nature.

First on that to-do list was to find a replacement for Dalans; he'd been gone over a month now. I always felt comfortable with he and Neps in charge, in the off-chance I were to be hit by a bus. In the absence of Dalans, I grew concerned that serious issues wouldn't get the clarity they needed by just Neps and I. We tended to agree on most generic stuff -- there wasn't anyone to play devil's advocate. This lead me to return to an oft overlooked player. Sir Klocker was one of my few remaining core members from the days of Vanilla, his years of experience making him one of only a handful of players that knew the guild inside out. Newer members like Bullshark, Jemb, even Mangetsu didn't carry the baggage associated with our early days of struggling in SSC, withstanding the setbacks of losing guildies to competing hardcore guilds like Pretty Pink Pwnies, or being subject to months and months of work in Ahn'Qiraj and Naxxramas (40), only to turn away empty-handed.

Sir Klocker had been there for it all.

If anything, Klocker would bring his veteran experience to the table, keeping reason in the face of irrationality. If players in the roster were to ever express disinterest in pursuing the 25, I could place a safe bet that Klocker would be one of the few to argue my side -- because he had lived through it himself. He knew what sacrifice went into real raiding and would staunchly defend it if challenged. With Blizzard's hand played for the next expansion, I wagered that keeping similarly-minded folks in the officer core was going to be our best chance at survival.

Sir Klocker had been shortchanged in the officer department several times already. When I shifted to role officers at the start of Wrath of the Lich King, Klocker ended up on the unfortunate end of the stick, as I had no place for him in the core. I re-arranged guild ranks to finagle his way back into officer chat, but this move was simply a band-aid taped across a much larger wound. Now, Klocker could finally make the move into a role befitting of his knowledge of the game and experience of the guild's people. He obliged at my request, and took up the rank of 2nd-in-command, alongside Neps. Once promoted, he wasted no time at all at bringing up a long-standing concern:

Loot.

35 comments:

Charles said...

" At the end of the round, the pot is doubled, and all winnings are divided evenly back amongst the group. "

I'm a bit confused. If ten people put in ten dollars each (there is now $100 in the pot) and then it's doubled (there is now $200 in the pot) and then it gets divided evenly (ten people so they each get back $20), everyone doubled their money so why wouldn't everyone throw in their entire stash each time?

You seemed to argue maximum benefit is had by not throwing in but if I can math (And I probably can't) maximum benefit is by everyone throwing everything in.

Shawn Holmes said...

@Charles,

Good catch, typo is fixed. I'm firing my editor/mathematician.

To review:

10 people put in $10, the pot is $100. Double to $200, divide evenly amongst group, each person receives $20. End of round one: you are up +10 (-10+20=10)

Next round: 9 people put in $10, you abstain, the pot is now $90. Double to $180, divide back to group: each person receives $18.00. End of round two: you are up +18 (0+18=18)

Hope that helps.

Charles said...

@Shawn

That's incredibly short sighted of them. You may get a free round but if more people take that same approach eventually no one gets anything as no one contributes or you are not invited back to the table. WoW players are a bit short sighted, eh? :-D

Shawn Holmes said...

@Charles,

Blizzard's demonstrated a long history of ideological design decisions, eg. "We strongly feel", "We firmly believe", and it's totally OK/expected for their vision to differ from that of other companies or their community.

What's short-sighted is not paying attention to the facts about how human behave and interact with one another in designing their games -- where behavior and interaction are (or at least, *were*) core to the game play itself.

The good news is that they also have (in comparison to other game companies) a pretty good track record of identifying bad decisions, and taking responsibility for them. RealID v1.0, the D3 RMAH, and Battle.net instability are just a handful of examples where they've stepped up, admitted they were wrong, and made a concerted effort to make things right.

Unfortunately, this was one of those decisions they defended for far too long, well past a point that damaged the franchise and the game to the point that (a good number of us believe) it will never return to.

In Blizzard's defense, WoD looks to right many of those wrongs. But at this point in the memoir, sadly, it isn't WoD that's on the horizon...

...it's Cataclysm.

Virya said...

Just noodling here, but it also seems like the raider pool itself changed thru Wrath & into Cata with the increase in subs. I remember the Trade chat drama of gearscore - the complaints of elitism from those lacking the gear. Somehow the gear itself as status indicator, instead of gear (only obtained thru content) being a status indicator of progression & content completion.
With the collapse of 10 & 25 gear into one level - players could stand around rocking gear sets & high ilvls and telegraphing their 'status' as they had come to understand it.
Instead of perceiving status as being achieved via accomplishment they measured it through gear score.
I tend to think like Shawn - gear isnt the end goal. Gear makes you more powerful so you can achieve the end goal, which is progression & clearing content each tier.
To me, progression level is the status indicator. (Which makes me an elitist to some I guess.) My mental scale always weighted 25s as more prestigious because of the additional diificulty in managing them. Ive also always seen progression as s group endeavor - not an individual one. But look at how many players guild hop in order to get the gear, or the title/achieve - what have you.
The team play aspect is what keeps me coming back to WoW. But I know its become more & more of a solo oriented game over the years.
I think I kind of rambled on - smartphone posting is hard to review, si I'm gonna let it stand as it is.
/cheers

Balkoth said...

The funny thing is that at the beginning of Cataclysm 10 mans were HARDER than 25 mans, which means any guild that downsized in hopes of it being easier like WotLK somewhat shot themselves in the foot.

Surprised you didn't mention the Prisoner's Dilemma specifically.

I would also point out that 25 man got massively more loot -- something like 40-50% faster gearing rate due to more loot per person and less wasted loot. Whether it was enough to balance out the ease-of-use factor for 10 man is another story. Blizzard also did something similar again with the Thunderforged/Warforged system where 25 man gets better gear on average.

Shawn Holmes said...

@Balkoth,

Prisoner's Dilemma is another great example of how people don't work together, even when it is painfully clear it is in their best interests to do so. I felt the Public Goods Game better illustrated the 10/25 loot conundrum as TPD is typically played with two individuals.

There's plenty of story to go, and I guarantee we'll dig into what we expected...and what we ultimately received...when Cataclysm came about.

Saerath said...

I remember the backlash from Blizzard announcing that 10 & 25 man raids would receive the same loot...it cost me my raid spot when the guild I was in downsized their 25m team in favor of 2 10 mans. I was the newest name on the roster so I got benched.

With regards to Virya's comment about the gearscore drama, from what I recall it wasn't so much about people requiring gearscore for pug raids and the like, but it was the outrageous score they required for admittance. Essentially, if you had the gearscore that most people wanted, you didn't need anything from the content they were running in the first place. It is very similar to what you see in trade chat now, with people saying they only want ilvl 560+ for SoO flex raid.

Balkoth said...

"It is very similar to what you see in trade chat now, with people saying they only want ilvl 560+ for SoO flex raid."

This is fallacious.

Do some groups like this exist? Sure -- they're highly geared players who want to stomp the place for heirlooms or specific items like trinkets/set pieces.

Are most groups like this? Absolutely not. Easy examples...

Here is a list of upcoming Flex runs in the US region: http://tinyurl.com/occnfee

Let's just look at the first 5.

Event 1: http://openraid.us/events/view/197185 530 ilvl.

Relatively high for wings 1 and 2 but full LFR gear is 536 plus you have things like a 608 legendary cloak and 550+ world boss loot.

Event 2: http://openraid.us/events/view/198178 540 ilvl

Somewhat high for the wings 3 and 4 but entirely reason for a PUG type environment (Blizzard recommends 530 for wing 4).

Event 3: http://openraid.us/events/view/196570 530 ilvl

Looks like they're trying to go as far as they can in Flex so that's not unreasonable.

Event 4: http://openraid.us/events/view/198359 530 ilvl

Another wing 1-2 clear.

Event 5: http://openraid.us/events/view/198259 530 ilvl

A wing 1 clear. Ilvl is somewhat high for just wing 1 but still far short of being outrageous.

So literally just picking the first 5 shown at a random time demonstrates that most groups are pretty reasonable in their ilvl requirements -- the idea that only 560+ groups form or something is a complete myth.

Matt said...

I don't entirely agree with your reasoning for why Cataclysm saw so many 25 mans die or switch to being 10 mans. It's always seemed to me that it was pretty simply numbers. It is significantly easier to maintain a roster of 12-13 players to raid 10 mans, than it is to maintain 30+ to raid 25 mans.

The ease of creating and maintaining a 10 man raid roster led to its proliferation as a result. Maybe you and a group of friends in your current raid guild don't like the way your guild runs things any more. You could suddenly leave and easily create a 10 man.

Maybe you've always wanted to raid but your computer couldn't handle 25 mans, 10s are much easier on hardware in comparison.

Maybe you want to transition your friends and family guild into casual raiding for fun one or two nights a week. You're not big enough for a 25 man but a 10 man is plenty big enough.

Maybe you lost so many players in the year of ICC boredom that you just couldn't field a 25 man any more. Now you could raid 10s at no real disadvantage.

Finally, the one I saw the most in the more hardcore guilds was 'trimming the fat'. Half of your roster is basically 'carrying' the other half in terms of skill. You cut the bad half and suddenly you're a fantastic 10 man with no consequences.

I strongly believe it just boiled down to the ease of running a much smaller raid. Once Blizzard removed the biggest incentive to be a 25 man raid (the loot), there was little reason to try and be a 25 man any more. 10 mans are significantly easier to manage. I don't think it had anything to do with 10s having always been easier. In fact since this change a number of bosses have been much harder on 10 man than 25.

Just my (long-winded) two cents. Keep up the great work, looking forward to more next week.

Matt said...

I don't entirely agree with your reasoning for why Cataclysm saw so many 25 mans die or switch to being 10 mans. It's always seemed to me that it was pretty simply numbers. It is significantly easier to maintain a roster of 12-13 players to raid 10 mans, than it is to maintain 30+ to raid 25 mans.

The ease of creating and maintaining a 10 man raid roster led to its proliferation as a result. Maybe you and a group of friends in your current raid guild don't like the way your guild runs things any more. You could suddenly leave and easily create a 10 man.

Maybe you've always wanted to raid but your computer couldn't handle 25 mans, 10s are much easier on hardware in comparison.

Maybe you want to transition your friends and family guild into casual raiding for fun one or two nights a week. You're not big enough for a 25 man but a 10 man is plenty big enough.

Maybe you lost so many players in the year of ICC boredom that you just couldn't field a 25 man any more. Now you could raid 10s at no real disadvantage.

Finally, the one I saw the most in the more hardcore guilds was 'trimming the fat'. Half of your roster is basically 'carrying' the other half in terms of skill. You cut the bad half and suddenly you're a fantastic 10 man with no consequences.

I strongly believe it just boiled down to the ease of running a much smaller raid. Once Blizzard removed the biggest incentive to be a 25 man raid (the loot), there was little reason to try and be a 25 man any more. 10 mans are significantly easier to manage. I don't think it had anything to do with 10s having always been easier. In fact since this change a number of bosses have been much harder on 10 man than 25.

Just my (long-winded) two cents. Keep up the great work, looking forward to more next week.

Matt said...

Managed to double-post somehow. Sorry about that.

Virya said...

At this point, Blizzard is on record saying that they attempted to balance 10s & 25s in difficulty, but when they couldnt meet that goal they always made the decision of making 10 man easier. It was in their iteration of WoW raiding posts a month or so ago.
Once I read that statement, I gave up the ghost. As a 10 man raider I used to argue about relative difficulty, less room for error - no dead weight, etc etc. I always acknowleged the inherent difficulties in *fielding* a 25 man - but argued the relative difficulty of content. I dont argue that anymore. The developers said if balance could not be achieved, 10s would be designed to break 'easy' vs the 25 encounter. Pretty much provided an end to the debate imo.

Virya - again XD said...

just to provide a cite for my claims (cuz I'm OCD like that)

"The 25-player version was tuned to be more challenging, and offered separate loot tables with more powerful rewards."

"When in doubt, we never hesitated to err on the side of making the 10-player version easier, due to the difference in rewards. "

http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/13929586/dev-watercooler-raiding-azeroth-part-1-a-look-back-4-28-2014

/cheers

Balkoth said...

That quote is referencing WotLK 10 mans. Their philosophy changed completely in Cataclysm in terms of 10 vs 25 man balancing.

No one has ever denied that WotLK 10 mans were intentionally easier than 25 mans. The question was Cata and beyond.

Anonymous said...

My guild was mostly 10 man, because we found that after an entire BC of having our members poached, we only had between 8-12 people we could trust to not take the loot and skip out of the guild to skip progression and having to put in effort.

Trying to work with another guild to do combined teams for a 25 man usually resulted in the two guilds merging, and generally that would eventually liquidate down to just the same 8-12 again. And we got tired of that after just a few liquidations.

So, we kept doing 10's, all through the game.

And, we made friends, actual friends in other guilds. That way certain guild members could tag along for 25's.

Worked out well for us, those who wanted to stay in our guild, but also do 25's, did 10's with us, and 25's with our friends. We'd periodically lose them, but they usually came back, the bonds of friendship and just having fun being stronger than the Hardcore Raider mentality they thought they'd been seeking, but didn't actually want.

Through Wrath, worked well. I myself hated Raiding after the pushing I'd received in BC, every time I was able to get on, I was forced to raid, being one of the few Raiders who wouldn't leave, and actually had some degree of skill and gear. The beginning of Wrath was the same, with Naxx, but towards the end of Naxx, I switched mains for a bit, and fell away, and never really caught up. Until ICC.

That, coupled with how mind-numbing painful LFG Cata Heroics was, was enough for me to go on hiatus for a LONG while. I didn't come back to stay till Dragon Soul was in LFR, and my guild had almost died.

So, I get why 25 man raiding was almost destroyed, now. Makes sense. But at the time, I was largely unaware of this.

I didn't know that they had the same lock-outs, the same loot.

That was a remarkably poor decision to make.

I was a player who was forced to be a Raider by my friends, who wanted to be casual. Not due to laziness, but, due to the fact that when I played WoW, I wanted to relax, not stress, worry, and plan MORE things. I had IRL to do that for me.

Blizzard actually fixed that for me.

With LFR and Flex raids, my Guildies could do their raiding their way, and they can raid with me in mine. All those friends we made who were poached from us, never forgot us, the friends we made along the way, remembered us, and we get invites for raids from other guilds all the time.

We're the nice friends from out of guild, safe people to fill slots with, competent, know the fights, geared, and unlikely to poach people from them, but generally unpoachable at this point.

Hired mercenaries you could say, to some degree. XD

Our guildies actually get to see content the guild itself can't achieve, and they stay with us, because they LIKE us. :)

We had a nice golden age there the first half of Mists, best of all worlds.

But, I've been gone for nearly 11 months. Computer can't handle WoW anymore, and I'm still not in a place to be able to buy a new one.

The two guild leaders have been having serious family issues (Heart attack, child has kids, gets them taken away due to addiction, jail time, etc), and from what I've heard when I call periodically, not much is/was happening in WoW.

So, the age could have ended.

But, it doesn't matter.

Even if it did, we'll rebuild eventually.

The older players know us, know what we are, we have a good reputation amongst them, and our members generally make new ties for us too.

We can just play, and have fun, and that's what I like about WoW now.

Yeah, we won't get into Heroic Raids much anymore, and our romps through End Game will happen 6 months after the cutting edge guilds do it.

But, we don't care. We're there to have fun, and play with friends, and that's it. :)

And, because of our arrangements and friendship between guilds, specific guild members DO still get to do those things. XD

-Catelina, KT Alliance Holy Priest

Anonymous said...

Additional comment: Matt) You're right, what you're illustrating is an aspect of Shawn's argument. By removing the differences between the two in terms of loot, they made it so that there was really no reason to bother with 25 mans, so, why bother with trying to get 25, if you could just get 10?

The loot and the "Prestige" were what set 25's apart from 10's (From the 10's perspective), removing either of those, rendered 25's pointless.

Blizzard removed both.

-Catelina, again

(Oh hey, there's a character limit for comments... huh...)

Shawn Holmes said...

@Catelina,

Sorry about the comment limit -- everyone that's contributed so far has been great (and civil!) I hope to tie the comments of the blog to our forums very soon, which will facilitate much better discussion.

Keep the comments coming, readers!

Anonymous said...

I always saw 10s as being something made available for those of us that the 25s didn't even consider to be in their pool of prospective raiders, and the shared lockout as being a built in mechanism to prevent the burnout of people who felt they 'had to' run both the 10 and 25 version each week.

Gear out to have been kept differentiated though. Larger challenges require better tools, and larger investments deserve better rewards.

Still, when I read or reread some of the vitriol spewed about the Cata raiding arrangement and the introduction of LFR, what I see is a bunch of people who never wanted me in their raid to begin with, complaining that I had or have some avenue of seeing the inside of a raid.

Eccentrica - Silver Hand (US)

Aedilhild said...

Didn't fail to deliver! (I was the "Anonymous" to whom you recommended this post.)


What's short-sighted is not paying attention to the facts about how human behave and interact with one another in designing their games.

I always figured that Blizzard's dev team lacked guys who could stand back and play sociologist when it matters, and until recently didn't listen to outsiders who could see the game from a different angle.

When I look back, Tier 11 is surreal. It almost killed my guild; before Tier 12 almost did it, too. I can't believe that we, a 25-man normal raiding guild, have survived.

I'm curious, if trepidatious, about how DoD fell.

Ela said...

Oh, all the things!

Ye Olde 10 vs 25 man debate, you just won't die. In Wrath, I was on a 10 man raid team and either we ran a 25 man for giggles one night a week, or I pugged into one. I guess back then, I didn't read forums or blogs much, because I didn't *know* I was supposed to be a lessor player because my main raid was a 10 man. I was too busy having fun. My cohorts and myself went out to slay dragons, and slay them we did. Although, admittedly, we did come away with singed eyebrows at times. I suppose if I'd been a pure 25 man raider who went in with other 25 man raiders to kill bosses who dropped gear below my current ilvl, it would have all seemed dreadfully simple.

I will say that, as a 10 man raider, I didn't mind that 25 man dropped better gear. That was the fun and point of pugging a 25 man run. To have a chance at that purty bling. And to slay moar dragoons. One can never slay enough dragoons.

But once Cata came, you could not run your 10 man and pug into a 25 man for grins. So the 25 man teams who depended on a few pugs did not have a chance. Much easier to just drop to 10 man than try to fill those spots with an increasingly smaller pool of available players each week.

Sad thing is, on my server at least, it is now difficult to consistently fill a 10 man team if you lose people to r/l, other teams or general disinterest. Crossrealm raiding has eased this somewhat, but it is not the same as having one particular person there who knows the strats, team strengths/weaknesses, etc.

I hope the coming of WoD revives raiding, but on some level, I fear the glory days of raiding died with the Lich King.

Saerath said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Saerath said...

@Balkoth
For the record, I never said, nor implied that all you ever see is groups asking for 560+ ilvl for flex runs. I was simply stating that those groups exist. I also did not speculate on the intentions of said groups, but to the casual observer, it comes off as very elitist to require an ilvl that essentially makes the content trivial. That's just my opinion on the matter, though. Make of it what you will...

Balkoth said...

You definitely implied that it was extremely typical, if not the majority or even all of the groups.

You're also mistaking the intentions of the group -- the group that wants 560+ ilvl is wanting to clear all 14 bosses with zero wipes in 2-2.5 hours because they only need a few specific items for *higher* difficulties.

That is a completely different mindset from a group that needs to progress through the bosses with an appropriate ilvl.

It's essentially no different than refusing to take a level 80 along to an ICC clear because he'll slow you down due to higher aggro radius and not being able to contribute effectively. Given your group there's no benefit to bringing him.

Saerath said...

@Balkoth
No, I didn't. YOU took one line of a statement, extracted the implied meaning that YOU wanted and then proceeded on your grand crusade to disprove a point I wasn't even trying to make.

Congratulations, sir. I concede. You win the argument that you made up in your head.

This is why I generally don't comment on things...lesson learned.

Balkoth said...

I took an entire paragraph that you wrote:

"With regards to Virya's comment about the gearscore drama, from what I recall it wasn't so much about people requiring gearscore for pug raids and the like, but it was the outrageous score they required for admittance. Essentially, if you had the gearscore that most people wanted, you didn't need anything from the content they were running in the first place. It is very similar to what you see in trade chat now, with people saying they only want ilvl 560+ for SoO flex raid."

Dalans said...

Just because I like playing devil's advocate:

Saerath said: "Essentially, if you had the gearscore that most people wanted, you didn't need anything from the content they were running in the first place. It is very similar to what you see in trade chat now, with people saying they only want ilvl 560+ for SoO flex raid."

This was less a statement that all groups were doing this and more about...if there was a group saying you needed a ridiculously high gearscore you weren't going to gain much from the run because you already had the items that dropped.

Virya said...

re: groups w high gear score req.
In many cases it may be a farm run for that one item someone still needs. We've all experienced the trickery of the lewt gods. I cleared ICC weekly from the time it opened till Cata released. My shammy never got her int shield. Didnt see that shield till years later when I cleared it w a friend at lvl 90 for funsies. Requirement for a farm (or fishing lol) run are going to be diff that progression.
And yes - some groups do have unrealistic criteria for non-farm runs. It happens & Ive seen it. But its not the default.

Virya said...

Youre right & I missed that.
The dev watercooler does reference that Cata change & states their intention to matain equa difficulty between the two - but then says they had problems doing this especially in the beginning of the expansion. They dont elaborate on the problems though. The most detail they give is mechanics requiring a spreading stat being easier to manage in 10s compared to 25s - but no more detail than that.
I spent the first half of Cata bedridden & most of the later half convalescing so have zero personal experience with Cata raids. Didnt get back to raiding till MoP so cant comment on anything than others words & perceptions.
So yeah - I'll be shutting the pie-hole now. ;)

Anonymous said...

So many great player comments around your link to Blizzard's blue "expressed bewilderment" post. Just mind-boggling how far off the mark Blizzard was. And how the company toed the line so fiercely, denying the clear and fundamental gameplay changes.

Given their track record of excellence, I have to wonder if there were ulterior motives Blizzard has never confessed to. I honestly can't really fathom what that reason could be though. Looking to retain maximum subscribers by doling out quick and easy 'fixes'? Misguided attempts to attract new players? Intentional disruption of large social structures in the player-base?

Whenever I consider resubbing I just remember the evolution you are writing about and I quickly squash the idea. Bittersweet reading about it. (But don't stop! Love the blog.) I still keep tabs on things from time to time, and maybe WoD will see me back in-game, but it feels like the magic died.

Shawn Holmes said...

@Anonymous,

We may never know their true motives, as they don't typically speak about business-related decisions.

One of my theories is that they wanted to stretch out the life of the game as much as possible (which is where the "burnout" defense came from) in the hopes that those continuing subscribers would allow Blizzard to position themselves to separate from their then-parent company Vivendi.

It isn't entirely inconceivable that Vivendi pressured Blizzard to find ways to become "even more profitable" which would've rolled downhill in the form of "make the game easier, prevent burnout, cater to casuals, etc."

I've also considered the "Bobby Kotick" theory. After the Activision/Blizzard merger, they made a statement that "nothing would change, Mike Morhaime is still fully in charge of Blizzard and continues to oversee its direction"...but that doesn't mean they weren't having business lunches together, discussing strategy in general. It's also entirely conceivable that Bobby got Mike thinking about new ways to stretch that dollar out a bit further.

Of course, these are only theories and 100% speculation on my part. I do know Ghostcrawler has stated multiple times that these were "team decisions", but you can't tell me that everyone was always on board *all* the time. The ragequit of the Lead Warlock Designer (Xelnath) into Cataclysm is at least one example of that.

Anonymous said...

Same "Anonymous" again.

Agreed on all counts. Including your leading theory.

Like I said, I'm not sure I will ever re-sub, but the direction Blizzard is going in WoD looks somewhat promising.

I know I'm jumping ahead here, but I'm curious: Do you think Mythic will "save" real raiding? Will DoD be revived as a raiding guild?

Shawn Holmes said...

@Anonymous,

As it stands, WoD has the best (only?) chance of putting right what went wrong. I have more faith in WoD than I did in either Cata or MoP.

As for DoD, hard to say in what capacity we'll return to raiding (if any). Time will tell.

klocker2003 said...

I know that for me the 10/25 man lockout killed half my week of "fun" raiding. 10 mans during the week for sitting back and having fun killing shit, listening to a certain bear and one of our lovely female raiders get into bickering matches all night made WoW fun again. It was also nice to have so much more choices in gearing, some items may have been a lower ilvl than the 25 man drops but due to various procs or better stat layouts they were still an upgrade. Made it so those chill nights raiding would still provide a slight upgrade.

Once the lockouts got shared, my time spent in game got cut in half, no need to even log in if there's nothing to really do on my toon.

The changes in WoD look promising, but I don't think its enough to get me back into the game, I spent most of Cata being extremely unhappy with the game, so I've moved on and don't really want to look back.

Mark Wilkins said...

I think that player preference for 10 person raiding came from a few places other than 10 person raids being actually easier to complete (which as some others here have pointed out was not uniformly the case.) First, going from 25->10 made both excellent players and players who overestimated their own value to the raid feel like they could "cut the fat" and run with a leaner group of people who all met their own standards. Second, of course, the organizational ease of much smaller groups was attractive too. And, while 10 person raid fights weren't always easier than their 25-person equivalents, they tended to be for those "linchpin" fights where success is correlated with the lowest skill level in the raid.

At the launch of Cataclysm, I was an officer in a 25-person raiding guild that had started in vanilla and been fairly successful in heroic WOTLK raiding, but we were pretty much forced into running two 10s by the lessened appeal of 25-person raids affecting our recruiting, leaving us only able to field two 10s, and having difficulty navigating how to do so without great guild members who had been with us for years feeling they were being relegated to the "B" team. The dissatisfaction with that situation caused the guild to break up shortly after.