I think there are some very valid points in this thread. You’re touching on a very difficult issue. Many of the proposed solutions sound easy (and are easy in theory) but are very challenging in either implementation or execution. By implementation I mean, things such as a dungeon that dynamically scales in numbers and difficulty according to the number of people and level of those people (while certainly a very cool idea) is very complicated to do right (right being the key word here). Execution is another thing altogether. Execution refers to how and why we would do such things. Sometimes there are things that we can technically implement but make a concious design decision not to (for example, proxy bidding in the Auction House). So in terms of execution, I’m not confident at this point that some of the proposals are completely sound.
I’m a little disappointed that people criticize us as not doing things for the casual gamer. The whole basis of our design philosophy has been to create a game that appeals to players both casual and hardcore. The very fact that players who vehemently call themselves “casual” reach level 60 in our game (have max tradeskills, have epic mounts) seems like a testament to me that we achieved that goal (at least somewhat).
In fact, we often prioritized things in favor over the hardcore. For those of you who have been playing the game since release, you’ll remember that the game shipped with Onyxia and Molten Core as our only raid content. Rather than rushing to get Blackwing Lair, ZG or AQ done, we then focused our attention on Maraudon and Dire Maul. We prioritized those two dungeons OVER raid content even though we were lacking in the latter department, because we wanted to fully flesh out our casual experience first.
We need to strike a very challenging balance here. We want to provide for players who raid, players who solo, players who pvp, players who tradeskill, players who merchant, etc… and the list goes on. When we add content for a group that doesn’t include you, it shouldn’t be taken as an affront to your playstyle. We have a lot of people we need to keep happy, and we’re not going to forget about anyone.
Now the main thing we need to do is get The Burning Crusade out. Players at 60 who do not wish to raid want more of what they had in levels 1-59 which was Questing With a Purpose. When we can add a suite of new content and raise the level cap, we can give players the sense of progression they are looking for. They’ll get more of that WoW experience that they came to love. The Burning Crusade has a very balanced combination of solo/group/raid/pvp content. There will be brand new, non-max level dungeons. There will be max level 5 man dungeons. There will be a 10 man raid, something we’ve never done before (at least endorsed). We’re very aware of what people want and we’re going to deliver on those needs.
But it would simply be unfair to cut our current raid game short because people think it’s somehow hurting their play experience. It’s perfectly ok to NOT raid if that’s not your thing. But there are lots of WoW fans out there that thrive on getting together in large groups to conquer difficult content. And they want (and should be) to be rewarded for that effort.
When we put in a raid, we’re not making a decision to keep content from people. We’re trying to provide for an area of our game that we felt was previosly deficient.
We’re going to continue to patch this game and we’re going to try to make sure there’s something for everyone in each patch. Sometimes, however, there might be content that’s not your thing — i.e. solo/raid/group/pvp. But please remember, we haven’t forgotten about you. Making someone else’s idea of fun gameplay go away isn’t going to magically create more content for you. We need to provide for everyone. I can assure you, we’re working extremely hard to do that.
Why do you folks have to copy EQ so much? Why can’t you develop your own forms of end-game content?
I’d love to see Blackwing Lair and the bosses and things. I think that’s want most casuals want over items and things, just to do and see everything. One of my favorite moments in this game was fighting the Baron of Stratholme for the first time. Wow, a Death Knight! Here’s the “Warcraft” part of “World of Warcraft”
But you chose to make that extremely difficult to engage in due to an incredibly unimaginative gameplay design
Please stop copying other games, for the sake of innovation and allowing players to experience the world, not just “work” in it
I don’t think you’re being fair here. You yourself pointed out that we provide “epic” feeling content for non-raiding people in 5 man dungeons, citing Baron Rivendale. I’d go so far as to say the boss encoutners in Gnomeregan and Uldman are more epic than endgame content in other games. We provided an Honor System and Battlegrounds to provide other avenues of advancement for certain players. You can tradeskill Epic items without raiding…
You’re more likely to get your voice heard if you keep the posts more productive and less antagonistic. To be frank, part of the allure of Blackwing Lair to people is that it’s so difficult to even get to see the content in there. Could we make it a solo dungeon? Yes. It would take less than a day. Would it still have the same allure? The answer is no.
There have been a lot of good points and counter-points in this thread. I wanted to chip in my 2cp in terms of design intent and philosophy, so I am going to refrain from comment on the “man-hour/epic#” equation.
What I was going to comment on has been touched on in many respects by Shirokaze, so I shall quote partially (I suggest you read the full post if you haven’t) and comment. Much of what I wanted to say and even the approach is contained in his/her response (beat me to it :P)
The number of players in a run sets a bar on how much you have possible before you just run out of potential. For example, in a five man group, you usually have one tank, one healer, at least two DPS (rogue, hunter, mage, warlock, some combination of these) and then a swing character of some sort (additional DPS or off tank or secondary healer). After a certain point, the damage concievably taken by a single tank caps. The amount of healing that a single or even two healers can do caps. The fact that fewer healers are healing what even in 40 man groups can be ONE maintank for some events means aggro is generated faster. Likewise for DPS, the more they dish out the more they risk capping it out.
More importantly, many of the things that are DONE to 40 man groups simply don’t scale down to five. If you look at every 5-mannable run in the game as is, even UBRS, none of them employ anything terribly complex in the way of their encounters. There may be a reasonably high damage mob or a damage tick, but nothing like Shazzrah where a mob’s teleporting into your casters and AEing them or like Vael where he’s randomly popping off people while giving EVERYONE a unique buff that’s simulataniously killing them. You can’t lose people or afford to lose people in the same way with fewer people.
*snip, edit for length…*
The potential for varied encounters does increase with the number of players you add to the group/raid. This is not to say that you can’t have nuanced and exciting challenges to a 5-person dungeon, but they are going to be decidedly different than what can occur in a 40-person dungeon. With 5-person dungeons, there is no opportunity for elements such as healer rotations, tank rotations (to a lesser extent) or even large(r) parties of elite mobs. Certain abilities of raid bosses do not translate to 5-person groups. How does a Major Domo encounter translate into a 5-person group? Is everyone supposed to tank a minion? How do you design such a thing?
What makes a raid boss truly epic? I can tell you it is not simply a matter of HP. If we buffed Darkmaster Gandling’s HP to that of Ragnaros, he would simply become unbeatable. You could do that with the simplest trash mob and achieve the same results. A 5-person group would not have the stamina to beat it(npi).
Take Nefarion, for example. An ability that targets a specific class for punishment would wreak havoc on a 5-person group. With effectively no way to counter within a reasonable time, one person removed or killed from the group is a significant shift of power. The same cannot be said for Gandling, where a player’s removal from the fight does not certify a group’s doom.
The designers have sought a truly epic feel and play to these 40-person encounters. They continue to elaborate on encounters of this type in a way that is fun for players, but, in all honesty, fun for the devs, too. They are, after all, trying to develop imaginative ways in which to kill you. The nature of some of these raid encounters should convey that clearly.
When it comes down to it, a boss can be considered epic by their ability to crush legions of mortals before them. That is one way of looking at it. These bosses have powers and stature that merit epic rewards, regardless of how players are currently “trivializing” said content. And I use quotes rather facetiously.
As a whole, the designers are currently exploring many facets of what 40 and 20-person raid content can be. They would like to have many dungeons set up for players to select from. However, they would also like to explore the possibilities of content for smaller groups as well. There is definite interest in providing situations in which individual accomplishment stands out that much more. It is simply a matter of what is being explored, designed and implemented now/soon, as opposed to later.
But, I digress…
To answer directly the question posed in the subject line: No, it mustn’t, but it is more available/likely now due to the epic nature of encounters.
P.S.- Sorry for the rambling…