Time to bring back the 40 man raids? Or what makes a good public raid anyway?

I had a chance to join a random pick up raid in STO recently. The window came up, I clicked yes to zone in and …

It was … duh duh DUH … the crystalline entity!  There were ships all over the place, no one had a clue what to do, local chat was buzzing, adds zoomed around, lots of people died. And then somehow order was slowly pulled out of chaos. People started to give useful instructions, working out how to avoid healing the entity by mistake. There were more deaths, more waves of adds, more swearing. And then finally, the crystalline entity was vanquished by the combined forces of the Federation. Hurrah! Loot for all.

Even my little low level cruiser helped a bit, or at least failed to hinder. And you know what? It was fun. Really good fun.

The conclusions I draw from this are:

  1. STO is actually a pretty fun game at its core. (I gave up for a week or two in solidarity with my husband who couldn’t play until his new computer arrived, but now it is here and settled, it’s back to the Klingon bashing.)
  2. Raiding in pick up groups can be insanely good fun. There is some genuine fun gameplay to be had.
  3. Holy shit, WoW raids would not work as cross-server PUGs the way they are currently designed.

I have seen a few people express the wish for a cross-server random raid tool in Warcraft. For this to work, cross-server raids really need to be designed differently from the current 10/25 man raid instances. The only current raids that even come close to viable for cross-server groups are VoA and Onyxia. And I want to discuss why that might be.

Firstly, current 10/25 mans are way too dependent on the tank/s and their gear. Anyone who has used the LFD tool will be familiar with the way tanks get heavily scrutinised even in random 5 man instances.

Now imagine a cross-server PUG ICC raid. What would happen is that people would drop group instantly if the tanks weren’t highly (over)geared. They would drop group if the group makeup wasn’t optimal, for whatever they considered to be optimal. They would drop group as soon any anything went wrong. They would drop group as soon as anything went right and they’d gotten their loot. They would drop group as soon as anyone told them to do anything they didn’t want to do. They wouldn’t all be using the same addons. Half of them would refuse to use flasks or other consumables.

Or in short, as soon as the raid gets remotely hard, it’s vanishingly unlikely that a cross-server PUG will have the patience to do it. Especially for people from lively servers where they have the options to organise their own PUGs where they can also inspect and vet the other players first.

But there is an answer to this.

Fun pick up raids need to be epic, they need to be large scale, they need to not be overly dependent on one or two people, and they need to have simple tactics that are easy to communicate.

So for example, in DaoC, one of the  master level raids involves players invading an enemy keep full of elite minotaur-type mobs and clearing them all out. The keep was huge. Players could use siege equipment if they wanted. There were a lot of mobs. We often zerged the place, telling people the rough kill order and which objectives they needed to capture first. It was chaos, and madness, and constant fighting. And players loved it.

The crystalline entity that I mentioned above was another fun large scale raid. It was chaos, and madness, and constant fighting. And I loved it (can’t speak for the other players!)

I suspect that key to the random raids being fun is that they’re not so heavily skill based that you need to care whether anyone else in the raid knows the tactics or is a hardcore raider. As long as you have a good mix of people, and people can obey simple instructions, the stronger players will make up for the weaker ones. And everyone will get the reward.

If WoW does choose to go this route, and make some  public raids for the cross-server random groups, maybe it is time to go back to the big 40 man raids. Make them big. Make them epic. Make them fun. Make them chaotic. Allow people to let their hair down a bit.

But absolutely do not make them hard, because that does nasty things to random group members.

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18 thoughts on “Time to bring back the 40 man raids? Or what makes a good public raid anyway?

  1. I think you’re hitting on something I’ve felt for a while now. Raids have been getting less fun in general because they’ve become so tight over the years.

    I really miss a time where 100% of the players in the raid didn’t have to play at 110% skill to succeed. I’m a big can of the 12/10/2 theory.

    You have a solid core of 12 who can easily play above the 100% mark (impossible right?). You then have 10 people who play right at 90-100% and then two people who barely know what they’re doing.

    Raiding is a lot more fun when everything doesn’t have to be perfect and you have room for shenannigans. At least in my opinion.

  2. I think the Fleet Actions are a great example about some new kind of raid for other MMOs.

    1. They are public – Syp from Bio Break joined our team after we already started fighting for instance and came several minutes later.

    2. They are random – everyone can show up and help or mess up things.

    3. Even if some players suck and fail, one person does not drag down the entire raid. If you are playing well, you can compensate, the raid is not doomed through one person’s failure. It still burns to remember how I wiped raids after failing to tank Capernian in Tempest Keep. :(

    4. Skill setup / class / etc. does not matter much. Everyone is a welcome help.

    5. Hearing the success or failure, the cheers and cursing of many players in zone chat also gave the fight a special quality. Yep, I liked that.

    It is also great that everyone feels he contributed – even the lieutenant in his starter ship who was not even shown on the scoreboard. It is also great that some max level players in extremely pimped ships does not mean that everyone can lean back and watch them do it all.

    Not all Fleet Actions are designed this way, that max level Admirals use the early Starbase 24 Fleet Action for weapon setup practice and so unfortunately sometimes humiliate the low level players intentionally or not is not that positive.

    There were/are world raids, maybe they can be tuned to be more of a public experience. I think if everyone would get some random crap just for showing up and hitting the boss a few times, this would encourage people to participate.

    Right now interfering might only cause problems for the raid and does not yield any benefit, the boss is grey and all that. Aion has public world bosses (for small groups), but those drop loot/xp solely for the party/person who did the most damage. Still, most people came to help if they saw a party fighting a rare boss mob, even if they did not get anything besides (low) XP for it.

    Public Raids, Public Battlegrounds – I think Wintergrasp should have been something like that, instead of just a somewhat different battleground.

  3. Question about the crystaline entity. Did you actually down it or did an Admiral appear, pop ramming speed and 1 shot it?

    My first experience of that one is much the same as you described, frantic, frustrating and confusing. What happened was something similar to this:
    1) You arrive, you start doing what you do best (healing, DPSing whatever)
    2) You get shouted at by people giving conflicting orders, normally “Don’t use mines” or “don’t kill the shards they heal him” (which evidently are wrong, or at best, incomplete)
    3) Your team start lowering the entity’s HP slowly.
    4) You hit ~50% and you heal it by accident
    5) Someone who’s been there for 30 minutes ragequits
    6) A new person arrives and is clueless. Inadvertently heals the entity
    7) Frustrated, you start yelling orders hoping the newbie will pick up on it
    8) You start to get the entity’s HP down
    9) Someone accidently heals it
    10) You’ve been there over half an hour and you rage quit.

    rinse, repeat.

    The second time I did it I was with the fleet, and it was much more organised. The only problem was that some random admiral managed to sneak in during one of our attempts and ramming-speeded it to death. STO needs the ability to open Group/Fleet only Fleet Actions – at the very least.

    It also needs some endgame.

    • What actually happened is that I encountered the crystalline entity very early on in game. I was a teeny rank 4 Lieutenant and even the higher level guys were mostly tier 2.

      So we were a bunch of low levels buzzing around this thing. It did take at least half an hour because people were inadvertently healing it. But …. we did get it in the end and it felt very rewarding.

  4. Hmm, it makes me think of leveling in Duskwood when some poor sap (maybe even me) set Stitches loose upon Darkshire. There was all kinds of fun as anyone in the area got involved trying to keep him out of town, and nobody seemed to mind dying multiple times.

  5. This is something I’ve been pondering for a while now, since I started playing STO. My character is still only LC2 or so, but I’m having great fun, and the conclusion I’m coming to is that it’s because of how EASY the game is.

    I’m going through my solo quests, and no matter what I do, I keep my power at 100% on Weapons and 25% on Shields, because the enemies don’t hit me hard enough to do anything. I just fly around, gleefully hitting them with photon torpedoes and watching them explode and moving on to the next mob. No downtime, ever.

    I went into a ground-based fleet mission over the weekend, there were dozens and dozens of people there, I didn’t actually join the group and I tend to keep zone chat turned off anyway, so it was utterly silent but for the people /saying “thx” when they were rezzed, just an enormous group of players swarming from one Klingon to the next, such that even the big guys with shields went down in a matter of seconds. It was constantly run forward, target, shoot, run forward some more.

    I was in that mission for something like 30-45 minutes, and I had a great deal of fun the whole time, though it left me rather exhausted. I can only think back to when I used to raid in WoW, when it was all about bosses that could one-shot you if they so much as looked in your direction, where the tank could die if you healed him a half-second too late or too early. That sort of thing mostly ended in frustration for me, but the swarm mentality of STO is quite fun so far.

  6. Great post and TOTALLY agree. I love Wintergrasp for the same reasons. It’s chaotic, rarely does anyone scream at you and can be a blast (for a limited number of times a week). You can even be totally solo and sneak around doing whatever, or RP.

    Why couldn’t you zone in to a massive PvE raid just like that? It should still be hard, but failure would mean that it takes longer, or the rewards would be slightly less, etc.

    An epic, non-linear raid instance would also feel somewhat different every time, and be less grindy with repetition.

    Hell, combine some of the aspects of Wintergrasp and add some limited PvP to the mix. Maybe the final fight could be which faction could burn down the other faction’s boss fastest. I’ve always wanted to defend a big boss. It could spawn a whole new area of strategy; how to disrupt a boss fight, or how protect a core group during a boss fight.

  7. And no, Alterac Valley is not that. There is often very little interaction between factions and the boss fight, and the boss fight is not epic in any way. AV starts with PvP (or the avoidance of it) and ends with a very dull PvE.

    I want gates to open and the legions flood out on either side to battle each other and take down a boss general.

  8. Great points there!!

    It would be great fun to have big, epic raids where not everyone have to be absolutely perfect every second. Like it! :-)

  9. Great post. For some reason in Allods on both sides there are these very low level open raid bosses, who are tied to pretty central quest chains and quests. Being quest objectives, a nice amount of people are directed to these open raids and the actual raids form very fast and fluidly. No need to call for one in general, either.

    I agree with you completely that there should be something like this and combining this concept with the one you discuss in the more recent post (social ice-breakers) should be a hit in itself.

    C out

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  12. good lord…90% of the bosses 90% of people see are remarkably easy to kill so if theyre too hard for you … go get keyboard cat to play for you or something…

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