Monday, March 12, 2012

Cataclysm Post Mortem 2 Dungeons and Raids

Whew I didnt expect the questing post to have quite that much bile I obviously have some lingering dislike (Liniar quests suck!) with some fo the choices they made (Harrison Ford must Die!  more Kitties!).  So lets see if this one has a little less..bile.

I got Carrot cake, it should help.  Mmmm...

This is a response to "Cataclysm Post Mortem -- Dungeons and Raids with Scott “Daelo” Mercer" found here.

Now they did carry out (to start) the idea of cool mechanics and challenges but the creatures part Ill only give them a C grade on.  The new creatures in the expansion were pretty much religated to trash mobs for such delights as 'oh look more cultists to kill'.  This isn't a BAD thing.  but he is listing it as a goal and one he doesn't say they really met..because they didn't.  I'd argue that a lot of it was rehashed mechanics but Im more inclined to be generous here their limited by the game engine and the fact they have tried almost every flight of fancy they had already.

"Q. How did this evolve over the various content patches?
Zul’Gurub and Zul’Aman were entertaining raids with diverse mechanics, and they translated well when we converted them into Heroic dungeons for patch 4.1. Interesting mechanics and features that once were restricted to raids are now finding their way into our five-player dungeons."

*Chokes down reaction*  Calm Zen thoughts...

The 'Troll Dungeons' didnt translate well.  They were HARD even compared to the 'regular' Heroic dungeons.  Making people face mini raids is somethign I fully support but you made it too easy to PvP gear your way in and clueless make the experience a horrid one.  Each boss with harsh penalties for not knowing what your doing sometimes resulting in a 'game over' for the other poor sods saddled with this yahoo.

"Adding the Dungeon Journal in patch 4.2 was also a major step forward.  We wanted to be able to share more information in the game so that players wouldn’t feel the need to go look everything up on external websites. While those sites are great at what they do, we felt like we needed to try to alleviate the need to go out of the game to find the information players wanted to see."

Oh for... ok here is what that did.  It stuck dots on the map so people cant see where party members are that are MAJORLY annoying.  Its ignored by virtually everyone except for the people who wouldnt mind looking up the info on Wowhead or other sites.  It is infact a complete failure.  Oh and better yet sine you cant actually give out boss strats at best they glance at it and then check the web sites anyway because YOU DONT' HAVE THE INFO THEY NEED!  Its just useless fluff like the raidfinder in Wrath.  Stop trying to be everything to everyone its a waste of time!  Make a game not a fansite!

Speaking of Raidfinder...

"The addition of Raid Finder in patch 4.3 also opened up more opportunities for players to be able to experience our raid content. The feature has proven to be extremely popular, and not just with people who had given up on raiding. Many players use Raid Finder to gear up their secondary characters, gain Valor for the week, or just because it’s fun."

Yes actually being able to SEE content when its current is popular.  You cant be actually surprised about that?  Having content nerfed down to where its easier than 5 man heroics and you get better loot?  hell yea!  But its not fun.  Its filled with griefing and the other problems of PuGs x5.  It can end up a good thing in time but it has deep flaws that need to be looked at that I fear Scott doesn't see.  First time was neat to see.  Four weeks later your grinding the greed trying to steal an upgrade.

"Q. What do you think worked best?
We’ve been reasonably successful with our tuning across all four raid difficulty modes. There were a few warts here and there, but we delivered on the idea that 10-player and 25-player raids could exist at a similar difficulty. We also had some memorable dungeons and cinematic moments in Cataclysm. I’m particularly fond of the interactive bombing run in Grim Batol involving the red drakes. Players really got a sense of the epic scale of Grim Batol, and how well they performed in the event could make clearing the rest of the dungeon much easier."

Now I will cheat.  Anafielle at Sacred Duty breaks down 10 vs 25 with a skill it would take me too long to match (if I even could) so go look at the post '10 Man Raids, Equality, and Tuning'.  Its marvelous.

And gives me a moment to drink cause this fluffy guy is driving me to it.
OK so Ana punctured his hot air about 10 and 25 being balanced.  What amazes me is every player I know has massive lag issues with the bombing run making it an awful horrid experience fighting the latency boss to do it right.  Then there's the people screaming cause they don't get the reps for the kills you do with the bombs and it wasn't a great idea.  Not bad, but needs work.  Should of been Beta tested.

"With our improved tools and the experience we’ve gained over the years, we’ve become better at finding ways to explain the mechanics of our encounters. Our bosses do a better job of warning players of incoming threats."

Having a global emote of INTERRUPT THIS that people ignore isn't good or interesting.  The cauldron mini bosses leading up to the sneak boss in ZG was so almost what your talking about.

"In Dragon Soul we also began to better inform players of mechanics that caused them to die. Providing a better understanding of the encounters to players is an important goal. We feel that losing to a boss and not understanding why is frustrating, just as beating a boss and not understanding why you won is not as satisfying."

Was there some kind of craby pop up I missed where he said 'You died cause you stood in the fire'?  No..cause they didn't improve anything of the like.  That's all marketing fluff talk about rainbows coming from clouds.

"Q. What didn’t work out as planned or expected?"

Buckle yourselves in we're in for a bumpy ride.

"Initially, we started off the Heroic dungeons at too high of a difficulty. The difficulty level rather abruptly changed when compared to the Heroics players experienced at the end of Wrath of the Lich King. This major change caught many players off guard, and frustrated some of them. The difficulty also increased the effective amount of time required to complete a dungeon to a longer experience than we wanted. With the release of patch 4.3 we’re now in a much better place. We’ve always talked about being able to complete a dungeon over lunch, and the Hour of Twilight dungeons get us back to that goal. End Time, Well of Eternity, and Hour of Twilight all provide epic play experiences to our players, but at the real sweet spot of difficulty, complexity, and time commitment."

So on a scale of 1-10 Id rate Dungeons in BC as a 6.  The hardness people remember is in part due to tanks having limited agro controls, DPS needed to control their ago, and healers generating massive agro.  Heroics ramped it up to an 8.  In Wrath normal dungeons were about a 4, heroics a 6.  But the mechanics weren't designed to scale with gear level like BC heroics.  So while BC heroics stayed at 8, maybie dropping to 7, in Wrath they dropped about a level per gear level so 5 at Nax gear, 4 Ulduar, 3 at Icrcrown gear.  This is not a good level of gearing up/grinding.

In Cata we started around 6, which was soooo much harder than the 3 they were used to.
Heroics were actually a little tougher than BC but because of the tank/dps/healer mechanics changes were about the same starting at around 8.  However again mechanics in most dungeons fights aren't designed to scale with level so you quickly reach a point where it drops.  So at Dragonsoul its around 5.  Here is the kicker they introduces the Dragonsoul 5 mans at about 6 and it quickly drops to about 5 or 4.  Their easier than the heroic 5 mans that started the expansions.

So we have difficulty wildly all over the place this expansion with the crybabies feeling they were rewarded for crying by the easier gear up instances they added in.

So no.. no  .. no..

"Q. Was there anything that surprised you about how players reacted to a particular encounter?
Not particularly. Something we’ve learned over the years is to expect the unexpected. The community is very creative and intelligent. The most important thing for us is that players are having fun. They often find interesting ways of approaching things that maybe we didn’t expect, but as long the creative solution is still fun for everyone, we usually don’t have a problem with it."

we werent surprised because we expect to be surprised.  Ah doubletalk.  I think He is running for office. needing to stack tons of a class for burst.  Or be gimped cause the ledgendary wielder is sick that raid.  he just doesn't get it.  But then the rumor is they design raids and spitball numbers then program them.  He wouldn't need to understand anything about how raids work to do that.

"Q. What have you learned from Cataclysm and what are some of your top goals for Mists of Pandaria?
We learned we could create a crazy encounter like the Spine of Deathwing. It took a lot of hard work from the whole team and it was a difficult design challenge to tackle. How do you orchestrate a fight on the back of a gigantic flying dragon without inducing nausea?"

How do you design a quest that your on the back of a dragon without making it feel like your on the back of a dragon is how I read that.  It just feels like another room to me.

"How do we make sure you feel like you’re on Deathwing?  Delivering that experience was really important and everyone wanted the opportunity to work on it."

Making Deathwing's model in the game actually scaled so he is big enough to have a raid encounter on his back?  When you see him by the temple he is about half the size he balloons up to or the fight.  Guess he swelled up cause he was stung by a bee.

"What was really great was that we launched the story of Cataclysm with the cinematic that showed Deathwing having his elementium plates being put on, then we end the expansion with those very same plates being torn off. It gives some real closure to storyline."

So..the plates are the storyline?  The plates added back...jeeze forever ago in the time of the Well of Eternity?  NOT put on at the start of Cataclysm?  Somehow I missed the quests explaining how the plates were so important.  It was more of a Smauug knock off from the Hobbit.

"For Mists of Pandaria, we will continue to provide new dungeons and raids while also presenting interesting new types of content in the form of challenge modes and scenarios. Players will also be introduced to new enemies in the Sha, Mogu, and Mantids. Making those creatures come to life will be a lot of fun."

More doubletalk fluff.

"Q. Do you have a favorite dungeon or encounter from Cataclysm?
There are so many. The Conclave of Wind was a great one. Working out interesting mechanics that allowed players to go from platform to platform was a lot of fun and the environment felt really epic. A fight like that was a goal of the encounter team for a very long time."
Yet its hated by the players.  Lets think on this for a moment.  He loves an encounter people dont want to do.  Madness in Dragonsoul was a good way to impliment it but the Conclave was not.

"Blackwing Descent was another favorite and working out the mechanics for the Atramedes fight gave us a lot to think about. How do you create an encounter with a blind dragon that fights? So we gave him sonar and showed the interaction with a sound meter on the player’s UI."

Irritating, buggy, BUT, an interesting mechanic and fight.  A shame they didn't playtest it to find out the exploits.

"In Bastion of Twilight, we really got to sell the corruption angle on Cho’gall which made for another really interesting fight."

Cause that hasn't been done before in Blackwing Lair.

"Q. Is there a certain mechanic that you always wanted to do but couldn’t do prior to Cataclysm?
Not really. There are so many cool ideas to work with that I never feel held back. It’s easy to be creatively inspired by the people around you and their energy. It’s never a problem of coming up with ideas. It’s usually deciding which ones we want to go with next, but the possibilities are endless."

Again their probably running up against the game engine limitations.  So its not something they can do now its that they cant do it ever.

"Q. Do you have a “dream” dungeon or encounter that you’d like to create if you had the opportunity?
I’ve never felt that I haven’t been able to do the things I want to do. Everyone on the team is completely dedicated to giving us unlimited opportunities to make epic and awesome experiences. But, if I have to mention something, it would be huge giant death robots. We had Mimiron in Ulduar, but you just can’t have too many death robots."

More fluff but almost a real answer.  Tech is a part of Azeroth and can be incorporated into encounters.  Engineers abound.


Footnote:  I don't consider letting raiding guilds in to find exploits to use to try and achieve world firsts to be really playtesting of anything.

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