Developers from World of Warcraft, Guild Wars 2, and Final Fantasy XIV talk about raid design

    
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Raids. You either find them to be the apex of MMORPG content and challenge, or liken them as the source of community gatekeeping and design ills. Regardless of what side of the coin you fall, a rather intriguing set of interviews from the devs of Guild Wars 2, World of Warcraft, and Final Fantasy XIV have offered a little insight into the thinking and design process of this tier of MMORPG content.

The PCGamesN piece speaks with many high-ranking devs of the three games, including WoW’s Ion Hazzikostas, FFXIV’s Naoki Yoshida, and Guild Wars 2’s Crystal Reid and Jason Reynolds. Each person talks about his or her experiences and challenges in designing raid content, from ensuring raids aren’t boring for all roles of the holy trinity, to adapting difficulty, to the shifting landscape of how many players a raid group should consist of.

Ultimately, the devs all point to camaraderie, cooperation, and achievement as the glue that makes raids work and the reason why this content keeps getting developed. “It’s one of the most powerful social experiences you can have in online gaming […] the hours spent together in battle, arguing over strategy or whatever else – those form real friendships,” argues Hazzikostas.

“That is like asking a mountaineer ‘Why do you climb mountains?!’ They take on the challenge because there is a raid there waiting to be conquered! That is why I do it!” says Yoshida.

source: PCGamesN

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Anstalt

Reading the original article just made me cringe, those three seemed so narrow minded! Most of their focus seemed to be on simply designing the most challenging content possible for a group of players at endgame. That’s just one way to design a raid and one focus!

There was hardly any talk about SCALE – there was a brief reference to it being the only content where a large group of people get together to accomplish something, but to me that just highlighted how narrow minded these designers are, especially given the decreasing size of raid groups over the years.

There was hardly any talk about socialising and how raids could bring people together, rather, it was all about creating bonds between a very small portion of the community.

There was no talk about depth. In fact, the devs went so far as to say that their raid designs are so tightly controlled that there’s basically only one way to solve the bosses.

I do enjoy raids, because I enjoy challenging content and I enjoy playing with friends. But, raids could be so much more. First, lets up the scale. Massively multiplayer is the one unique selling point of the entire genre, but they’ve become minimally multiplayer. Lets give us larger scale content. For example, lets have a “raid” where 100 of us assault a fortress. Or 200 of us assault a town. Or 500 of us fight an actual battle.

Then, lets have more difficulty options. Raids don’t have to be difficult. In fact, the higher the difficulty, the less social they are. So, lets have some easier raids, partly just for fun, partly to use them as an “on ramp” for casual players that haven’t participated in difficult group content before.

Then, lets have raids spread throughout the game, not just at endgame. Granted, vertical progression makes this a difficult thing to do, but if you ditch that single player mechanic and embrace horizontal progression then you can have group content all through the game and not just at endgame. Let the playerbase get used to grouping up right from the start, set the mood and expectations from day 1, rather than being solo until endgame, then group content at the end. It’s too jarring for most players, hence the low proportion of the playerbase that enjoys endgame.

Finally, add some depth to your raids! If there is only one possible way to complete a raid encounter, it becomes boring quickly and makes groups too inflexible. An enrage timer, for example, is a clear clue that the raid is shallow. By adding depth, you allow your players more freedom, you allow for emergent gameplay, and you make your players feel better about themselves when they devise their own strategies.

MurderHobo
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MurderHobo

Great post. Thank you.

Back in the day I used to compare raiding to sports like baseball and football, and how it was a mistake to gate out the sandlot or touch-football kids just to focus on the statistics that fed the majors.

It didn’t have to be this way. The vision for raids was compromised from the beginning, and after two decades playing in the shadow of that environment I can’t think of a time when developers didn’t put the cart before the horse with regard to developing group content.

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Jeremy Barnes

Did they talk about how much resources go to raiding compared to the low percent of people who raid?

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Baemir

Leaving aside the mechanics, I find that the theme of a raid plays a major role in getting me engaged. My favorite kind of raid by far has always been the unapologetic, grandiose “assault on the fortress of evil”. I don’t want to fight murlocs underwater or whatever. I want to march into those massive dark halls with 80ft tall ceilings and spend 3 hours cleaning up that place until I can face goddamn Morgoth himself.

Mordyjuice
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Mordyjuice

Doesn’t look like they had much to say judging by the size of the article.

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Axetwin .

I imagine the GW2 dev needed to stop every 30 seconds going “wait, say that again! I don’t understand. You do WHAT?! You have bosses that don’t do 50k dps with an untelegraphed attack, YOU CAN DO THAT?!?! ect……” After 5 minutes the other devs got tired of the amateurism and left.

micedicetwice
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micedicetwice

The fuck are you talking about, GW2 raids are pretty fun. If your problem with them was “50k untelegraphed attack” (lol) then I doubt you ever went past Gorseval.

kalamari_
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kalamari_

hahahahaha. so funny. not.

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Bruno Brito

I’m all for shittalking GW2, but their raid design is not bad.