Cambios is a game dev who may just have started his blog recently, yet posts interesting stuff from day one. Taking on some of the more visible flaws in raiding in current MMOs, he writes:
So 10, 25, 40, 50, or 100 people work together to mindlessly clear trash, follow their little script of brain disconnected button pushes to beat the boss, and now he drops 2 or 3 pieces of loot. This loot will often be useful/needed by multiple players present, so someone loses out. The same item might drop many times in a row, resulting in certain classes feasting while others enjoy famine. Or sometimes loot will drop that nobody can use, and it just gets blown up or sold to an NPC Vendor. NEVER is the entire group happy with the loot that drops or the way the loot gets distributed.
Indeed. One of the major issues at heart of the old Welfare Epics feud of 2007 lies with the difference in loot distribution between PvE and PvP. I think Blizzard recognized the issue when they started expanding the badge system, but I also think they need to make it really pervasive. All instance drops should be token-based in some form, and there has to be in-game rewards for participation for every raid member (as opposed to out-of-game only systems like DKP).
So may elements of boss encounter design are absurdly arbitrary. I have fought bosses who did incredibly ridiculous things that were clearly designed solely with the idea of nullifying a specific class, tactic, or ability for no logical reason other than the devs thought it would be funny. I have fought raid bosses that were immune to all sorts of standard abilities for no apparent reason other than to make you feel impotent. I have participated in raid encounters where mages had to tank a boss… just because. People don’t make mages because they like tanking, folks. They make mages because they like to make things go boom. I have fought bosses where they you have to interrupt some of their spells, but not all of them, because being too good at interrupting their spells triggers some kind of Uber Spell. If the boss possessed the ability to perform this Uber Spell, why isn’t he just doing it all the time? Why punish people for being GOOD at a core mechanic (interrupting spell casting) with this arbitrary result?
In their currently stated best intentions, Blizzard claims to be trying to design designing new encounters more for roles and less for specific classes:
We are adding a new class to Lich King, as well as improving the raid viability of specs such as Arcane mage, Survival hunter and Balance druid. That means you have 30 available specs for 25 slots. There are two ways to design around this problem. One is that there are 25 mandatory specs and 5 that shouldn’t be raiding. Boo. A more fun, interesting and ultimately fair direction is that you actually have some choices in who to bring. Imagine running a raid with no warrior tanks at all.
These are good intentions, though. Designing encounters in a way that any combination of these 30 specs can successfully fill the roster in broad categories like tanking, healing, dps, CC and decursing will probably require quite a lot more overlap between classes than we see in TBC. And the first raid to put that theory to the test will be the new Naxxramas. Because unless memory fails me, frost and shadow-heavy builds for mages and warlocks respectively didn’t exactly fare well in there.