Blizzard seems intent on making it so that everyone in the game can raid and they are doing various things to make sure it happens. Lets forget for a moment that everything that have done has been horrible and try to focus on how it can be better. While the fact remains that I completely disagree with the concept that everyone can be a raider I do believe that there is a way to effectively implement that as a possibility and still keep things fun for everyone.
Instead of the game having three levels of difficulty they can use the ulduar activated modes to create difficulty. It doesn't even need to be anything really elaborate even. It could be something as simple as the concepts they used to create levels of difficulty in uldaur on a few fights. A simple design, done to perfection.
Lets take a fight like flame leviathan as an example and I do not mean a vehicle fight, I mean building a fight based on activating something, or deactivating something for various levels of difficulty.
For sake of this argument I am going to make a brand new fight and describe how it would work in all levels of raiding. Gone will be the days of looking for raid difficulty, normal difficulty and heroic difficulty. Everything would need to be activated.
The fight will take place in a brewery, we will be fighting a panda that has been infused with the corrupting sha forces.
The basic version of the fight would be a tank and span basically. If nothing is activated it will be super easy, the one that is meant for everyone.
If you break the window out before the fight, you will have to deal with weather while fighting. His HP will go up +50% and his damage done will go up +25%.
If you shatter the beer barrels before the fight, you will have to deal with beer spills on the ground that need to be avoided. His HP will go up +50% and his damage done will go up +25%.
If you talk to the NPC outside of the fight, they will not stop the flow of adds from entering the battle. Add will now continue to come throughout the fight, for each add active he, and the adds active, would gain +2% attack speed and a stacking buff that reduces damage he, and the adds, take by +2% for each add active.
If you insult his mother when you activate him, one person will be strangulated for 20 seconds at all times. While it can not target the current tank, it could very well target a healer and that could make for an extremely interesting 20 seconds or the second tank that was supposed to taunt in 2 seconds meaning you could very well need to make some interesting strategies on the fly.
Being difficulty is personally adjusted there will no longer be any need for toggling heroic on and off. Heck, for that matter there would be no such thing as heroic any more either. For arguments sake, having all things active would be hard mode and designing them to stack the way they did would make for an amazingly hard hard mode even when starting off with a basic tank and spank boss.
At the base level, with no added options, it would be designed around looking for raid type of difficulty with one major advantage, you can walk into it. This means that lesser guilds can actually experience progression at their own pace, even in 10 man mode if they wanted to. It also gives them the advantage of having real loot instead of system assigned loot. It would also mean that even on the worst servers it can be pugged because now you can walk into a looking for raid difficulty version with 10 people or 25 people. The 10 man option you can walk into with a looking for raid difficulty would be a huge, beyond huge, advantage to the raiding community and even more so those people that want to start raiding.
The looking for raid difficulty version will be basically mechanic free. It will only have the most basic of basic things. None of the activation things will be capable of being activated if you get it as a random, so no one can grief a group of new and unskilled players by talking to someone or activating something but if you walk into it they can be activated.
The fights would be as basic as can be. Taunt at three rotations for tanks. Tanks being the only ones that take any major damage if people do what they need to which will make the healers lives easier. Maybe just a small AoE once in a while to keep things interesting for healers some. There will be one standard mechanic that new players could use to learn like fire on the ground or stack up for one thing and spread out for another, but that is about it. It will be kept basic and simple.
When walking into the raid you can do it on that difficulty or add some difficulty to it, depending on how you want to do it.
Add some weather so you need to avoid the tornado and get out of the hurricanes.
Add some flowing beer on the ground that likes to change direction so you have something else to avoid.
Add some adds to handle.
Or basically make it that you will be 9 manning it because someone will always be out of commission for the entire fight.
How about 9 manning it with weather, or having adds and beer spills, or having to 9 man it with beer and adds, or doing the beer spills, weather and adds but not 9 manning it, or maybe even all at once for a seriously hard core fight that it going to take near excellence of execution.
Now that is good raid design.
We could also move back into one of the reasons I know I love ulduar, so many achievements to get. If anything, there always seems like there is a reason to do it. More achievements to get. If anything, this is one of the reasons I am against account wide achievements. All my characters would have all the achievements and the replayability would drastically fall. As it is, I always have a new character I am willing to run it with to get achievements. I am going to miss that feeling come mists.
There could be an achievement for doing it on normal. One each for with only weather, only adds, only beer or only 1 person less. One each for any combo of two. One each for any combo of three. One for using all four.
One for no one getting hit by weather while it is active, one for no one getting hit by beer while active, one for no one getting hit by either while both are active. One for never having more than 5 adds up at the same time, or one for letting 20 adds come out before killing any of them.
How about one of those annoying random number generator achievements where you have to beat the boss after everyone has been gripped at least once. There would also be a return to the days of wrath when there were 10 man and 25 man achievements. No longer would one achievement cover both, you could now go for the achievement on 10 and on 25 again making one raid have more options of more things to do.
A raid design like this would include more people in the raiding world. It would give people more achievements to get and more reason to run it on both 10 and 25 to hunt them all down. It would mean that all guilds of all skill levels could have some sort of progression. It would make the raid last longer as there would be so much more to do in it and most of all it would revive the pug society on many of the small servers that don't see pugs any more at all.
There is no downside to developing raids like this. It is better for the game and it gives everyone more to do and more to experience and enjoy.
Having activated modes like that means it would be easier to develop for looking for raid too.
Think of something like the blood boss with activated modes. Nothing activated would be like a looking for raid difficulty, one blood released, can't be killed, no matter what it hits the boss and the blood would never be purple. This would solve the two main issues I've ever seen in LFR with this boss. Purple and healers that do not know how to handle it and the problem that no one ever switches to bloods anyway, which if you have bad healers could mean a wipe even in looking for raid.
Now lets play with some activated modes. We made the base mode easier. One thing activated would mean +20% health and two bloods released, one can be killed. Two things activated would mean another +20% health and three bloods released, one can be killed. Three things activated would mean another +20% health and four bloods released, one can be killed and last but not least, four things activated would mean another +20% health and five bloods released, but you can kill two of them, or can you?
I just made the base version easier and the heroic version harder without changing the fight in any real way. It also means it can be super easily pugged even by the lesser skilled players and without even the need for voice communication for people that have never done the fight before. The hard core players get a chance to go even more hard core and the new and inexperienced get to play along as well. Plus think of all the achievements we could piggy back on to them. So much more could be done with the game if there was an activated mode for difficulty and we could all adjust it ourselves.
I don't see why blizzard would not design everything like this. It is just better design. Give people options on how they raid instead of just trying to throw everyone together. We are not all the same and things should not be designed to deal with everyone being thrown together as if they were. Any system that lets the people decide their own difficulty is a good design and one blizzard should incorporate into raiding.
As always, in my opinion at least.