Friday, February 12, 2010

Are the hard mode bosses going down too easily?

So the match is still going on. Or at least it was as I wrote this post in the middle of the night, before going to sleep. I'm talking about the battle of the first world kill of the Lich King in heroic mode. The hardest boss in the final instance. The crown of this expansion. A handful of guilds are currently playing day and night, because they know that the one who snatches the first kill will be regarded as the kings of the game in the next few months.

Admittedly, most WoW players probably have no idea that this race is going on. According to the news today, 70 percent of the players who try WoW will stop before they turn level 10. People are just WAY more casual than I think any of us realize. They've never heard of Ensidia, Paragon or Vodka. As a matter of fact I wouldn't be surprised if a majority of the players only have a vague idea about what ICC is. It's easy to forget this. We keep taking for granted other people share our interests in the game. Actually most of them probably don't.

Complaints have started
I don't know if I'll wake up tomorrow morning to the news that the king is dead and the race is over. Maybe. Maybe not.

What I do know though is that the complaints have already started. At this moment all bosses but Putricide and Lich King have been killed in hard modes. And people are already writing about it in the forums. This is a typical example, coming from the MMO-champion forum:

"It's pathetic that hard modes are getting crushed this easily. I was expecting a few weeks minimum before limited attempt bosses would start going down".

In one way I guess the posters are feeling a bit disappointed. They would have liked to see the Top of the Top among players struggling for a while more. It's kind of exciting to follow after all. And when they kill everything so fast and seemingly easy, isn't that a bit humiliating to the developers who "failed" to give them some proper resistance?

But in all honesty I don't agree with those concerns. I can't help thinking they're a bit silly, even embarrassing, since I don't believe for a second that most of those people whining would be capable of doing those quick heroic kills themselves. They want to believe that they're somehow in the same class of those elite guilds, when in fact they're not. They will be quite likely to wipe with the rest of us for yet a couple of months.

The whole idea that you should tune the encounters so that they should be worthy opponents to the best handful of players in the world is just ridiculous. They ARE challenged already - by the limited attempts and by the pressure to play day and night, on mains, on alts, in 10 mans, in 25 mans, just to become number 1. Sure, they're doing it within a short time span, but they're definitely challenged and have to make up a good strategy on whether to practice with their alts or switch over to their main attempts.

A cross country race
I come to think of when I ran the women class of Lidingöloppet, one of the largest cross country races in the world a few years ago. It was a 10 km run and it wasn't like anything I had ever encountered before. Where I live the terrain is flat, but Lidingöloppet constantly went either up or down, and in the very end there was a hill that resembled to a slope where you're going downhill racer skiing that you were supposed to climb.

I conquered that hill and I finished the race out of pure will, high on adrenaline, carried by the cheering masses and my own insanity. I did it on 58 minutes, blood taste in my mouth, more exhausted than I had ever been in my life, stumbling around, completely lost, on the verge of unconsciousness. But happy. My goal had been to beat 1 hour and I did it!

Sure, there were people in the race that ran it on 34 minutes. But did that matter to me? Did that in anyway decrease my own achievement? Did I think: "oh, this race was really too easy for the elite runners, they should have made them run up that hill another 10 times so they would have had some proper resistance? " Of course I didn't! They had their challenge to beat each other. I had my challenge to reach my own goals.

The nature of the challenge will always depend on the circumstances, from where you are coming.

I'm not entirely certain that our guild will be able to beat the Lich king in heroic mode before the expansion. I'm pretty sure we'll manage it in normal, but heroic? This remains to see.

Ensidia and Paragon may have beaten some of those bosses very quickly, but they're in a completely different class, just like the 34 minute runners are different from me.

To sum it up: I don't worry. I really don't. I think we'll be occupied in ICC for quite a while before we nail all those fights that are awaiting us. We will still be out in the trail, running, while the top guilds are gone, doing something else while they're waiting for Cataclysm. I'm actually not even sorry for them. Sure, they're running out of content. The trail ends there for them. But that was exactly what they were aiming for.

In a few hours I may wake up to the news that the heroic Lich King is dead. And it doesn't worry me at all. So my answer to the question I put initially will be: No. The bosses don't go down too easily. At least I don't assume it before I've tried them myself.


Anonymous said...

I say good luck to those guilds who do it....will just mean that they will get bored faster as HM gets routine. Still another 9 (or so) months until cataclysm what will they do then ?

Cacknoob (Switcher)

Anonymous said...

*what will they do until then*

opss remind me to read my post before publishing....

Cacknoob (the dumbass)

Codi said...

The problem is that progression guilds have been complaining about how easy the fights are on regular and get told "that's what hardmodes are for." But the -hardmodes- are too easy to challenge the audience they are targeted towards.

This is not a matter of making sure a wide base of players see the content; that is the purpose of normal modes. Hardmodes not being difficult enough is a failure.

Crucifer said...

As a player who is still trying his luck in normal mode, I have no problems with better players beating the game, so long as I get the chance to experience the game too.

Am I a worse player than someone who has downed TLK on Heroic mode? Not really, I just have less interest in competing against others.

I might be the last person to complete the marathon, but, heck, at least I tried my best.

Klepsacovic said...

Normal mode is supposed to be the accessible one: tuned for the average raider and if the hardcore crown burns it down really fast, that's fine. Expected even. But hardmode I see no problem with it taking weeks. Or at least... when did Arthas die, a week ago?

I still have plenty to do, but I almost feel sorry for the highest guilds, beating him so soon. What's left for them?

Brian Inman said...

Of course the elite guilds are going to do it pretty easy. It is what is expected from them.

Players who say stuff is to easy are probably the same ones who read step by step strats on the Ensidia guild website, download all their videos, copy all their macros, and spell rotations, and than post on the official forums "Boss fights these days are EZmode."

I wonder how long content would last if you didn't have access to everything like you do these days?

Ngita said...

Yes and No.

At the high end, if they understand the mechanics and its winnable at all ie it does not require farming 277 then they are going to kill them quickly.

But as I understood it ICC was supposed to become easier over time, Should it have been quite that easy at the hardest setting. Still the lich king still lives so its not over yet.

We are at 8/12 in and I have my doubts that we will finish on normal without massive buffs to us or nerfs to the instance.

Anonymous said...

It strikes me that the hard modes are evidently taken to be aimed for the "hardcore" raiding crowd, but they're still being taken down so quickly, so what if the group of guilds that are taking ICC hard mode bosses down right now are just that much better than the rest of us?

Instead of imagining two different groups of people, what if it were actually more like:

There are "casual" raiders, for whom the normal modes are enough of a challenge,

there are the "elite" raiders, for whom the hard modes are a challenge,

and then there are the "elite of the elite," like Paragon and Ensidia, who are literally just THAT MUCH BETTER.

Perdissa said...

My guild is still struggling through normal mode, wiping on Rotface or the belf whatsisname princes, depending on where we feel like wiping more that night. We raid one night a week and find it really fun.

Ensidia or Vodka killing Sindragosa in H mode isn't going to make it any easier for us, but it IS fun to talk about it the way some of us discuss sports. I do find it baffling why people complain about guilds downing these bosses too quickly. I mean, you might as well complain basketball is too easy because this Kobe Bryant guy is so good at it.

Nice blog, btw. Just came by from Greedy Goblin :)

The Renaissance Man said...

People complaining about the top guilds in the world downing bosses this quickly have very little sense of historical perspective.

Barring bugged bosses like C'thun, Kael'thas, Vashj, Deconstructor Hard-mode, or Ragnaros, the encounters that didn't get knocked down within a couple of days of being available is few and far between.

Every boss in Sunwell was killed the week that it was available. Every last one of them. And many people claim that SWP was the most difficult instance blizz ever made.

Kel'Thuzad, the zenith of pre BC raiding, lasted less than a week, and only lasted that long because a glitched raid ID caused him to despawn for the rest of the lockout when D&T first got to him.

The bleeding edge guilds, the top 20 in the world, the Paragon, Stars, Ensidia, Exodus, Vodka, and Premos of the game, will destroy pretty much all available content within a single raid lockout. They're simply that much better than the rest of us. They're the top .01% of the players in this game, and are such outliers as to not be statistically relevant.

People are complaining about bosses that have been killed in single digit quantities so far. 2 guilds have downed Sindragosa heroic so far, 6 have downed BQL. They aren't exactly being facerolled by pugs right now.

Larísa said...

@Cacknoob: But do they really suffer some much about running out of content? I’m not so sure. They just play wow differently, with huge spikes of insane game time, and between that very low or non-existent playing. I play it constantly, much more evenly. It’s a matter of taste – and above all life circumstances – what way you want it. I don’t pity them. I don’t really envy them either. They have their ways, by a free choice, and I have my ways. No harm in that. If they would like to have access to content more evenly they could slow down on the spike playing, but they don’t. Because they prefer it that way.

@Codi: But who are they targeting? An audience of 200 players? My impression is that hardmodes are tergetting a very small player population as it is already. They really give challenges even to the top percentage of the player base. Firefighter wasn’t – and still isn’t any joke for instance. I bet the ICC hardmodes will be challenging as well.

@Crucifer: Yeah, I’ve made no secret of that I like the hard mode solution to the problem of the huge diversity in skill, dedication and preferences within the playerbase. There’s something for everyone.

@Klepsacovic: No, I don’t see it as such a big problem that a handful of guilds beat the hardmode bosses quickly. Mind you, they’re not playing any ordinary gaming hours like the rest of us while they’re chasing for world firsts. They play constantly. I don’t feel sorry for them. They’ve chosen this and they get their thrills out of the competition.

@Brian Inman: Exactly. I’ve written about this before, my distaste for people claiming that the game has become too easy, while they still haven’t tried to go for “A tribute to insanity”. And also about the disturbing question from Tobold, if it’s really trustworthy to claim that the game is too easy when you’re raiding with addons… The easiness is very much self inflicted.

@Ngita: Yeah.. the incoming nerf. We’re racing against it. I really wish we can complete it without it. It remains to see if we’ll use that buff or not. It will be quite hard for guilds to resist it I think.

@Anonymous: Yes! That’s the thing. They are really that much better than us! And it wouldn’t make sense to create something that those handful of guilds couldn’t beat.

@Perdissa: /sign ot that basketball analogy! And cheers for Gevlon, he’s one of my first readers and has a special seat reserved here where he secretly can socialize in his spare time.

@The Renaissance Man: Thanks for bringing some historical fact into this. And yeah, I suscpected it was a bit like this. I guess some bosses very long back might have taken a little longer, but wasn’t that because you needed resist gear and such in those days, a concept that has been deserted?

Fear said...

We, meaning who will be tied up in ICC for months?

Us casuals can't even get in there, and might not any time soon.

I'm just saying...

Rem said...

Very nice post. Did I just comment only to say that it's a very nice post? Yep. In fact, I'll go even further. I'll say that I was not of your opinion before I read it (in fact, I was undecided on my stance on the issue), but your argumentation convinced me. How often does that happen on the internet? ;)

Gronthe said...

And then the day will come when ICC is the current Naxx, a baren tomb filled with enemies so irrelevent that we'll completely forget we had this conversation.

However, my two cents, I think The Renaissance Man had it right, imo, that the top .01% are statistical outliers. They aren't normal, it's the rest of us who are normal, we're statistically relevant.

By the time Cataclysm comes out I will have been lucky to see Arthas on normal mode one time. And you know what? That's a-ok with me.

Holly said...

Warning this is one of my ranting topics, it will be wordy, maybe even filling up a couple of comment places. *Takes a deep breathe.*

The issue isn't that the hard modes aren't challenging, it's that the methods blizzard has of challenging every encounter is being nerfed by the community. With strategies getting posted online often times before the content is even released, there are only two big methods blizzard has of challenging a player, reaction times to the environment, and gear checks.

The latter is fairly easily countered by running ICC, doing your dailies, doing the weekly raid, going to vault every week in 10/25 man and basically keeping yourself as geared as you can.

What's left is the former, once you take strategy out of the mix it comes down to player reaction times. This is generally nerfed greatly by something like deadly boss mods or big wigs telling each player running them when they need to move, or stand still, or jump, or pick their nose, etc. . . on timers, it's also auto marking things so you don't have to know that the tempest minion growing really big and red and angry is the one you have to kill, just kill the skull. After a certain point, there's not a lot they can fairly do to try to make players reaction times quicker because of one thing; Inherent latency on the internet. Unless they decide it's alright to assume any guild/raid wanting to do a hardmode is local, connected to a backbone of the internet close to their realm, and is running at 15ms ping, reaction times are limited by latency, period.

I think that if players are truly complaining encounters are too easy, maybe make hard modes disable add-ons. n_n

If you can truly come up with a way to challenge players these days where it's not a gear check or reaction times, tell me, I'd be interested, but with players abilities to look at the spells the mobs do, strategy guides, macros, dot timers, automarking, etc. . . if you can truly tell me a strategy that can't be easily figured out, I'm all ears.

The point is to make it truly challenging blizzard would have to knock the community a couple of pegs down, and they're just not going to do that because it's bad financially.

Are hard modes too easy? No, the community as a whole is just good at simplifying 'hard' modes.

In other news, true hard mode is raiding in this holiday lag, without add-ons, and while having pneumonia. Try that on for a bit and tell me raiding is too easy.

Svenn said...

Hardmodes, shmardmodes....the real highlight of this post is that Larisa is a fellow runner /cheer!

Toes said...

Amen, on so many levels. There are counterarguments, and the spectator sport angle is one such in and by itself; If the runners aren't challenged, where's the fun?

Me, I've plenty of challenge left in WotlK for me. Normal LK is a challenge for us, still, and we haven't started heroic modes yet.

That, and the announcement that they play additional PvE/PvP content pre-Cata. I'm content and see no reason not to be because others aren't.

Rem said...

From mmo-champion:
[...] the Lich King's heroic mode brings the difficulty to a whole new level and we might have to wait a few weeks before we see a kill ... except if top guilds manage to surprise us once again.

Seems he's no pushover, after all ;)

Jb said...

Not to ezy, maby to hard. Wow is not and never will be an elitist game as some seems to want it to be. Doesent really matter. With scripted encounters its not so exciting to do hard modes annyways. Same encounter just need better timing and better gear. Strategy is laid out by bleeding edge guild`s so you just have to learn the drill. Even my very softcore guild is closing in on LK (normal mode), was the same thing in Ulduar. Hard modes is gonna be a real bitch i expect, takes alot more dedication. But imo - its not nessecary at all. Having seen the LK on normal is more than sufficient. And btw, running 10km in less than an hour is a good pace for a healthy jogger. Keep it up.

Carra said...

The alternative is to radically reduce the difficulty after the top guilds finish it. Only then is it viable for us, mortals.

Or to take your comparison the run would first have to be done in under 40 minutes to get a medal. A month later they allow everyone to finish in under an hour to get a medal. And finally, three months after release everyone who finishes gets a medal.

Of course some who run it in 40 minutes will find it repulsive to give rewards to those no good slackers.

Warrior Guide said...

That's one controverse topic imho...

How "hard" bosses are depends heavily on the skill of the whole raid group, their teamwork, experience and if they are "try-hards".

What should Blizzard do? If they make the bosses difficult for those elitist guilds, I promise most normal guilds will never beat even one boss.

One could say "Bosses don't have to be beaten by every guild" but Blizzards gets the money from the gross of "normal" players. If 80% of all paying customers were try-hards, a new boss would be much more challenging in no time ;)

Anonymous said...

thanks for the post