Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Content Difficulty - Lets Ramp It Up

In their report to investors Activision announced that the loss of 5% of the customer base was do to people consuming content to quickly.

In the blog post by Ghostcrawler he said that the reason Firelands was delayed was because so few had completed the current content.

Someone is being lied to.  It can not be we are not completing things fast enough and we are completing things too fast at the same time.

I think it is both a development issue and an ease of play issue.  They can not make content easy enough to pug and make it hard enough to keep people going for a long time between patches at the same time.  So what is the solution?

If you are going to make us do the same raid every day for 6 months then let us have more then two difficulty levels.  That is the answer.

Lets start with tier 11 to explain my idea.

BoT, BWD and TotFWs are all released.  Easy enough to pug with average players.  This release is referred to as 11.0 and drops 359 items.

They offer up world firsts for 11.0 completion, for people that rush content.  Sure, three hours after release the world first will be done because this is easy content, very easy, maybe even laughable easy, but the next challenge is only two weeks away and you have several players in your guild that need gear I am sure.  Enough that even if you rush content you will need gear from doing it two weeks in a row.

Two weeks later.

BoT, BWD and TotFW are all released in the 11.1 form.  All damage and life totals increased by 20% and they drop level 360 items.

They offer up world first for 11.1 completion, for people that rush content.  All the people that did 11.0 now have something to move to.  Even average guilds will move up with everyone else.  This will still be puggable.

Two weeks later.

BoT, BWD and TotFW are all released in the 11.2 form.  All damage and life totals increased by 40% and they drop level 361 items.

They offer up world first for 11.2 completion, and you get where this is going now right?

Two weeks later... 11.3, 60% added, 362 items.

Two weeks later... 11.4, 80% added, 363 items.

Two weeks later... 11.5, 100% added, 364 items.

Two weeks later... 11.6, 120% added, 365 items.

Two weeks later... 11.7, 140% added, 366 items.

Two weeks later... 11.8, 160% added, 367 items.

Two weeks later... 11.9, 180% added, 369 items.

Two weeks later... 11.0 heroic final release with additional mechanics for those people that want the extreme challenge and a 200% added to everything. 372 items.

Now a six week break before 12.0 comes out.

That means 26 weeks between raid patches.  That is 6 months for those that might be slightly mathematically challenged.

Sure, will we still be doing the same content for 6 months, just like we are now but there will be a HUGE difference.

There will be puggable content, which if wrath showed us anything, people love that and despite what everyone likes to say, it worked fantastic for the game.

There will be chances for world firsts and realm firsts basically every two weeks giving people that like the challenge of being first more chances to get firsts.  This means, no breaks for the hardcore if they want to make sure they are always number one on their server.

There will be levels of content for everyone, from the most average of player to the most hardcore of player.  You can't make everyone happy but you can at least try, this tries.

The item level explosion would not be huge, as you notice it still has the same item levels we currently have in game at the end heroic level.

People will make the effort to get a 360, up from a 359, trust me, even one item level matters when it comes with even a minor stat boot.

This makes the trade market for consumable goods larger as people will be getting more upgrades and getting them more often.  Good for those people that work markets and make gold as their main point of fun in the game.

This will not require tons of coding as it is all already made content and just damage output, spell effect and life total tweaks based on level of the raid.

If achievements are made for completion of each level, people will do each level, or at least I know I would.

It gives mid level guild, like mine, a larger feel of progression, we might end up being 11.4 by the time tier 12 comes out.

It gives the sense of a constant flow of content, even if it is the same.  Which keeps people interested.  They will always be looking forward to two weeks when the next part comes out.

Even if it is the same fight you have done every week, each week it is harder.  Perhaps you could ignore that chain lightning in 11.0, but by the time 11.5 comes out it is wiping you.

Moving things up like this will also allow people to learn better how to play.  The percentage change is fast enough to make it more difficult but slow enough that it does not go from something that hurts to something that kills instantly in only one step up.

Two weeks means two lock outs.  Great guilds usually only spend that long on content anyway before they finish it.  Letting them race every two weeks keeps them interested longer.

Gearing up newer players becomes easier.  If your guild is up to 11.6 but with one lesser geared player you might only be able to do 11.4 you can step back and the gear from there will not only help them but might still be useful for your guild as the difference from 11.6 and 11.4 is not huge to begin with.

Alt runs become a reality again.  I can't tell you how many bored nights this filled for me.  The content was so easy at the end with people being over geared that even my freshly minted 80 was able to get into at least a 4/12 or 6/12 run and no one cared I was a fresh 80 because it did not hurt anyone.

Alt runs where usually how we helped to gear up new raiders that where a bit behind.  Everyone had an alt that could get deep into ICC, we would take a few people through with our alts and now had more capable raiders ready for progression if we got lucky with drops.

The end result heroic would be much harder then the present end result heroic that we have now.  So much so that even with the six week wait while most are trying to move up from 11.5 to 11.6 or something like that the race for finishing the heroic content will keep the high enders grinding their teeth against battles that seem impossible to beat.

All it would require to go in is a slight change to the drop down menu, and all older raids could be updated to this format super easy as well.

The six months between, with already designed content being released in intervals, means less of a rush to release another raid, they know ahead of time that they have 6 months of content in game.

In the end there would be more accessibility in game for those that want to play for fun but are not really that good and there will be more challenge in game for those that are really good and want to push the limits along with giving the feel like there is always something new coming up.

We played the same content over and over now, and before, and while we complained we still did it.  At least this gives us something extra.  Okay, so killing that 30M boss and then two weeks later at 36M is not so bad being we already did it, but it is still a bit more of a challenge and by the time it gets to 42M or 48M we will really need to start to step up our game.  So doing it back when it was 30M was not only an easy win for us, but we should have been perfecting our movements back then or we will never get the 48M one down when things are really starting to get less forgiving.

Heck, how many guilds do you think can down a boss that currently has 30M health if it had 84M right now in game on the same enrage timer?  I would guess none.  Of course the starting raid would be much easier then what is out now, but as the raids get progressively harder the high end versions will become extreme gaming if people want to down it.  So no one would even make it past 11.9, never the less, get the chance at heroic version.  They would really need to squeeze out every ounce of ability they could get to make it.  Now that is a world first worth talking about.

People that want easy pugs get what they want and hardcore raiders get what they want.  How awesome is that?

This solves Activisions concern that people are consuming content to fast.

This solves Ghostcrawlers concerns that we are not ready.

This allows everyone in game to play on their own level of skill.


Does Blizzard ever try to think outside the box?

If so, I've never seen it.

This idea might be something they should look into.  It solves all their problems as far as raiding is concerned in my mind at least.

Thanks for letting me waste a few minutes of your time with another one of my crazy ideas.


  1. Someone is being lied to. It can not be we are not completing things fast enough and we are completing things too fast at the same time.

    I think you're seeing a contradiction where there isn't one. Ghostcrawler's comment was only about raids. A huge chunk of the playerbase doesn't raid, and the new solo content was indeed very fast to burn through. In fact I think it's funny how the official Blizzard statement sounds like they are confused by the fact that their new and highly streamlined content is getting completed faster than people used to complete the old content that wasn't as streamlined. What a shocking turn of events; nobody could have possibly predicted this!

    Also, I'm afraid I have to say that I hope Blizzard never implements anything like what you suggested. Different difficulty levels aren't really new content. I already didn't like them much in Wrath, though at least some of the fights actually had different mechanics on hard mode then. I love Cataclysm raids because I'm actually being challenged on normal mode and still have bosses to work towards. Once I've seen them all, replaying on another difficulty is just something to waste time, not new content. In your system, I would basically be out of content really quickly, because the easiest mode is just that easy and once you've done that you've seen it all. I doubt many people bother to replay their single player games on all difficulties either.

  2. Good point there but I do believe that even if we downed everything in the first day we would still be willing to keep doing it for better gear as they kept stepping it up.

    Hell, we did ICC for a year and there was not even a step up in gear. If we can stick with the same old same old for an entire year, we can surely deal with slight step ups in difficultly over 6 months with increasingly, even if small, better gear.

    The non raid content in the game is what made me lose my interest. I am in a slow progressing guild, we extend our boss kill rate at about 1 every three weeks, we move slow because we do not raid much. So I know how fast non raid content goes.

    I was done with every quest in the game 2 days after release, all reps 2 days later, all professions not long after that. What was left for me? Nothing, except waiting for my guild to catch up to raid with me. That is why the game got boring for so many people.

    Oddly enough, I still do argent dailies from time to time. Wrath stuff is still better then anything in cata and it is outdated now. That is kind of telling isn't it?

    One good thing about my tiered raid idea however, it makes that not everyone raids idea and throws it out the door. It makes it so everyone can raid.

    Can't make decent content to keep non raiders interested? Let them raid. It worked in wrath. Pugs going all day every day and getting at least some content done.

    People seem to forget that outside of the argent dailies there really wasn't anything to do in wrath either except for the fact that everyone could raid. That is what everyone did to pass the time.

  3. I actually do the ToC dailies too (fun and I like the pets), and I might do the Oracles again so I can maybe get lucky on the egg!

    So yep I completely agree that the non-raid content is too limited, and the raid content too gated / unforgiving for many, I think. Quick Zul runs could fill the gap, except that the average PUG will leave you with a 30 min DPS queue, 2 hours in there, and no guarantee of any fun or success....

    Personally, I still like the WotLK paradigm. But that's just me :)