Credit where credit is due

A remarkable post from Watcher appeared in a recent MMO Champion blue post. Even if you are not interested in Blizzard’s development theory on raids for this expansion, you should look at this. Basically, he set the terms of reference for the concept of “tuning”  — specifically in the current raid tier, but also for general content. After reading it, you may agree or disagree with the ideas, but you will have no doubts about where Blizzard was coming from as they developed the current tier boss fights.

It is a textbook example of how to relate to customers.

It was remarkable because Watcher assumed players have brains, that not everyone is a synapse-challenged troll. It was remarkable because it showed respect for player concerns. It was remarkable because it was not what has sadly become too common — a shallow, dismissive comment short on content and long on snark.

Rather than attempt to badly paraphrase Watcher’s comments, I’ll do some extensive quoting, if you’ll bear with me a bit.

In several ways, we intended Foundry to complement, rather than supplant, Highmaul. If  we had wanted Foundry to be a fresh start and a clean slate, we would have had it completely obsolete all Highmaul gear, the way Normal Jin’rokh dropped items that were 13 item levels better than loot from Heroic Sha of Fear. But Highmaul remains relevant, and Foundry exists as a direct continuation of that progression. While Normal Highmaul was designed with the expectation that players would arrive with dungeon items, Normal Foundry expects players who are mostly Highmaul geared. Thus the numerical targets, in terms of healing and damage throughput, for even an early boss like Gruul or Beastlord Darmac, are comparable to what Ko’ragh demands in Highmaul. So just because you now find Kargath to be simple, does not mean that Oregorger will be equally easy prey. But players who had success in Highmaul should all be able to continue into Foundry, stake a foothold there, and continue to progress in their difficulty of choice. And those who are still working their way through Highmaul will continue to find invaluable items there, which will help them eventually delve deeper into the Foundry.

As for the structure of the zone, Foundry is a winged instance, in the style of Naxxramas or Icecrown Citadel in the past, and we intend for bosses to become more challenging the deeper into a given wing you go, but for the different wings to be largely equal in overall difficulty. Groups who jumped right into the Blast Furnace encounter after downing Gruul and Oregorger likely found themselves in over their heads, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the Furnace encounter is “overtuned” — rather, in essence, you were skipping from bosses 1-3 all the way to bosses 7-9. The early bosses of other wings will offer a more suitable challenge, and will offer valuable item upgrades to help prepare you for the end bosses of each wing, and of course for Blackhand himself.

Aha! I am sure most raiders pretty much knew this at some level, but for me this explanation made the current structure much clearer, and as a result I am a lot happier with the way both my guilds are approaching it.

The whole idea is “Do the bosses you are ready for, at the raid level you can manage.” I can deal with this. After the strict progression pattern of Mists, it is difficult to get out of the “trudge forward” mindset. But to realize that it is not necessary to down the most recent bosses in order to get current gear is immensely informative and freeing for me. One of my guilds, especially, is quite slow at downing bosses, and in the past raids with this guild quickly became just raiding for raiding’s sake, as any gear we might get had long ago become obsolete. But now, knowing the intended pattern for this raid structure, it appears we can pretty much down the ones at our level, get a bit of gear, and move around to some other downable boss, or move to Heroic on the ones we already know. And there is a good chance that we can get reasonable gear from such an approach. I like it. The Chinese restaurant approach — one from column A, one from column B, fried rice instead of white rice, plus egg rolls.

(Yes, I know everyone had pretty much figured this out awhile ago, but it was extremely gratifying to actually see it in print, from Blizz.)

At any rate, I have been quick to criticize Blizz’s customer responses in the past — and likely will continue to do so — but in this instance I really must give credit where it is due, and thank Watcher for the most thoughtful, positive, respectful, informative blue post I have seen in months.

Now about this whole no-flying thing, can we have a similar explanation?

About Fiannor
I have a day job but escape by playing WoW. I love playing a hunter, and my Lake Wobegonian goal is to become "above average" at it.

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