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bobblo

Why Naxx will be more fun than ICC... and how to properly increase the difficulty of an encounter

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This is the first part in my series, Truly Heroic, where i will look at how to make dungeons and raids challenging, but fun.  This first post will tackle overall design changes.  Later posts will look at individual dungeons and raids.  I understand this is not a priority, as spell hit needs to be fixed, and other issues, but i believe that a healthy challenge would also improve the server quite well.

Naxx and ICC are very similar to each other, both in layout, and lore.  However, they couldn't differ more in terms of boss design.  Naxx came from vanilla, and was made during the old philosophy.  ICC was made during wrath, and made with the new.  Where Naxx was varied, ICC was not.  Some fights required many tanks, others only one.  Some fights dealt a lot of damage to the raid, others just whacked tanks hard.  Some fights required resistance gear, others needed none.  Some fights were DPS races, other fights were all about strategy.  

Now let's look at ICC.  Every fight required 2 tanks.  Every fight did senseless damage upon the raid. Every boss whacked the tank as hard as possible.  No fight used resistance gear, at all.  Every fight, alas, was a race against the enrage timer.  

Now why do i bring this up?  Well, in order to properly increase difficulty, let's look at Naxxramas (the original) and not what happened in the Icecrown Citadel.  With an increase in gear drops, and the ability to change specs anywhere, the travesty of ICC should never have happened!  Each fight should feel different.  Done right, the fight should be much more manageable.  Done wrong (read: gross player error), the encounter should end in a wipe.      

1) Spike damage is a good thing, it keeps everyone on their toes when they take an unexpected amount of damage.  Being instagibbed is not a good thing.  Players do not want to feel powerless (for example, against the shadowstrike adds in the Violet Hold, a clothie cannot survive the hits).  Bosses will have a 15% chance  to gain a hidden buff that increases base damage of the next attack by X% (depending on the fight).  These special attacks have a 30% chance to proc the special attack again.  These special attacks function like Crushing Blows, however, you cannot increase your avoidance to 102.4% to write these special attacks off the table (i.e. Paladins will get crushed, too!).  

Every tank should also have a way of dealing with this spike damage.  Druids have their enormous health.  Paladins have their second lives.  DKs have their heals (at least Blood DKs).  And Warriors will need a talent--as i mentioned in a prior post--that reduces the damage of this special attack (as Warrior tanks, in theory, should be the lowest receivers of damage).  

You cannot have spike damage on a boss that already hits you for near maximum health.  Spike damage is meaningless when a healer can spam their largest heal.  In order to compromise the two, bosses should normally hit for lower amounts.  In addition, large heals should make you go oom (i don't know if healers went oom on 3.3.5 Naxx, but by ICC, healer mana was certainly not an issue).  Big heals (Greater Heal, Holy Light, Greater Healing Wave, Healing Touch) then are cast after a spike hit and small heals (Heal, Flash of Light, Lesser Healing Wave, Regrowth) should always be casted otherwise, with almost no chance of going oom.  

2) Pulling should require more thought; crowd control should be a must on most pulls.  Right now, all trash mobs in raids and in dungeons are just aoe tanked, with only a few groups requiring anything different to be done, whatsoever.  All trash feel the same.  What is the purpose of having this trash, then? In future posts, i will look at how to buff each mob, so that crowd controlling the pulls is preferred, if not necessary.

In addition, with even more tools than ever, LoS and Misdirection pulls can be brought back, as well.  

Dungeons and raids will take a considerable more time.  To compensate for the extra time required, i suggest increasing the reward gains.  Emblems can drop doubly.  And Herioc gear can be buffed slightly so that it is usable. Another option is to have resistance gear  (like a ring or a necklace or a trinket) drop from heroics.   

3) Threat should continue to be an issue.  It doesn't need to be impossible to maintain aggro, as it seems to be against certain pets, but a DPS should have a chance to pull aggro from the tank.  With all the tools available (if they work properly), there should be no need to place threating solely on the tank.      

 

Edited by bobblo
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1) (Actually clothies can survive Shadowstrike but not really hard by themselves) There is no need for a different mechanic thats exactly Crushing Blows but without avoidance. Yes its great if for some bosses there are more viable tanks etc. Not everything has to be homogenized. Yeah balancing mana so it takes more skill is something good it's already work in progress from what i know of but bugs and difficulty make it take some time. 

2) NO! few more rare mobs or special packs or some other custom "thing" should neeed to be crowd controllable like heroic or a custom mythic version for dungeons if the difficulty needs it. Pulling big and aoe'ing stuff down is FUN and Skillfull and gives u a great sense of progression. u see and feel your character getting stronger compared to old times the better u are the more u pull the more effective u are and ofc the more u pull the more likely u are to die. Retail WoW has this problem that every trash mob has as many spells as a boss and its just an annoying nightmare expecially considering the almost 0 reward u get out of killing them. CC trash should NEVER be preffered because it reduces skill plays delays stuff unrewards progression and fun. Yes LoS definitly has a place as a skill mechanic would like to see it where it would fit. Extra compensation is not needed Resistance gear is a big yes definitly the gear system could be improved more BUT only on a custom Mythic difficulty or Heroic for naxx ETC 

3) Yes and it is (expecially when dealing with big aoe pulls) the pets doing alot of dmg is a bug gonna be fixed. The current state of threat is perfectly fine. 

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Posted (edited)

1) spike damage is only fun up to a certain point.  Most healing classes do have instant or short-cast heals(priest is worst off with a 1.5 sec flash heal) but has pain suppression as disc and I think a weak instant group heal as holy..  Paladins have holy shock and lay on hands, druids have the one that consumes rejuv? or some other HoT and nature's grasp and I think Shamans have a similar spell to druids.  

If the spikes are consistent, then you consume all these 2+ minute CDs and cannot fight a boss for a long period of time.  If the spikes are up to 40% then you cannot get instagibbed without using them before a cast goes off and eventually no cds are up.

Precasting isn't that awful as a gameplay mechanic, but it is less effective in the context of a 10 man raid than 25/40 man raid.  When you only have two healers you are pretty much on a coin toss that somebody precasted in sync with the spike.

2) Personally I think Crowd Control has almost no place in raids.  Trash is trash and it's meant to have its certain challenges but forcing CC in to a 10 man raid seems like it was not a core gameplay thing in wotlk and had good reception.  Obligatory crowd control limits the scope of how you can make groups as there is class-specific crowd control.  Priest has MC/shackle(undead), Mage can only sheep humanoid, druid can hurricane anyone, paladin can fear undead or use repentance on humanoids and undead....  It's all very specialized to certain scenarios and you limit group composition by making it necessary against certain pulls in certain raids.  For 5 mans, I'm all for it.

3) I don't think threat should be an issue barring people who do dumb stuff early on in the pull.  If you're hitting the wrong thing or at it too early then yes, you should get laid out for it.   It's still a collaborative team effort but I don't think introducing less threat for tanks in any way helps when 90% of dps will get one shot by a raid boss

Edited by Troggdor

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Sorry about the delay in response, this holiday season was busy!

On 1/4/2019 at 10:22 PM, Troggdor said:

1) spike damage is only fun up to a certain point.  Most healing classes do have instant or short-cast heals(priest is worst off with a 1.5 sec flash heal) but has pain suppression as disc and I think a weak instant group heal as holy..  Paladins have holy shock and lay on hands, druids have the one that consumes rejuv? or some other HoT and nature's grasp and I think Shamans have a similar spell to druids.  

If the spikes are consistent, then you consume all these 2+ minute CDs and cannot fight a boss for a long period of time.  If the spikes are up to 40% then you cannot get instagibbed without using them before a cast goes off and eventually no cds are up.

Precasting isn't that awful as a gameplay mechanic, but it is less effective in the context of a 10 man raid than 25/40 man raid.  When you only have two healers you are pretty much on a coin toss that somebody precasted in sync with the spike.

On 12/27/2018 at 5:35 PM, Pahare said:

1) (Actually clothies can survive Shadowstrike but not really hard by themselves) There is no need for a different mechanic thats exactly Crushing Blows but without avoidance. Yes its great if for some bosses there are more viable tanks etc. Not everything has to be homogenized. Yeah balancing mana so it takes more skill is something good it's already work in progress from what i know of but bugs and difficulty make it take some time.

Let's think of spike damage with numbers.  As a tank, i have roughly 35k raid buffed.  For all intents and purposes, i will assume that my 35k is the amount of health a tank who is properly gemmed and enchanted and etc... has (in actuality, i am neither of these!).  Now, if i take 29k each white hit from the boss (which was a very real proportion in later LK raids), then any spike damage must still either a) total less 35k still; or b) require a defensive cd onto the tank.  If a), the spike damage's ratio is very small:  34k = 1.17*29. Whereas a normal crushing blow would be 1.5*(normal white hit).  With all the spread damage onto the tank, even this 'spike' damage will be deadly.  Bosses in ICC never did type a spike damage.  They couldn't!

If b), then you must schedule this spike damage.  The tank and healer must already know when the boss will be doing a lot more damage.  Think Festergut.  When he gets max stacks, tanks will pop their defensive cooldowns, otherwise they will die.  This is known going into the fight.  Lesson learned:  a) and b) don't really work in adding challenge.  We must think of a different way to add challenge.

Let's do what Blizzard did.  In Cataclysm, they actually decreased white damage in proportion to the player's health in order to increase challenge.  .  Instead of a 29k hit let's have the boss hit for 14k.  With this number, i can re-introduce a crushing blow-type mechanic back into the game:  1.5*14k = 21k, which is a little more than half my health.  Using the mechanic demonstrated in my first post, you will have a 15% chance to get hit by any single 'crushing blow', a 4.5% chance to get hit by two 'crushing blows' in a row, a 1.35% chance to get hit by three in a row (totaling 64k over 6 s, which is liveable with even decent reaction) and less than half a percentage point of chance to get hit by 4 in a row (at this point of 85k over 8 s, you should pop a cd).  Math is provided upon request.  With this mechanic, it solves the need to pop a defensive cooldown upon first 'crushing blow' or the need to precast, that you mention @Troggdor.   

This mechanic can also solve the homogenization you mention of @Pahare, because you can change the multiplier per boss.  I don't delve into coding, but you can insert the following equation for each boss.  Base White Attack = 8000 + x*3000.  Boosted White Attack Modifier = 1.1 + y*0.2.  All you have to do is choose x and y values (which i will recommend in further posts in this series).  This actually heterogenizes raid encounters because you can have some fights with low x and y values, and have the challenge be in some other form (raid damage, for example).  You can have high x and y values and have the challenge be in the form of tank damage.  You can have high x, low y values, like in the case of Patchwerk, who just puts out really steady damage.  Or you can have low x, high y values which will cause the fight to have really high spike damage, but low consistent damage onto the tank.  (At this point, i must mention that if you keep the crushing blow mechanic as is, Paladins completely bypass the mechanic altogether, resulting in the other three tanks' values dropping significantly, whereas my mechanic gives each tank their own unique strength.)

The corollary to this is that healing mana must be more limited than it is now.  I know that healers can go oom in Naxx (which is largely untrue by ICC), but an increase to the costs of certain spells must be in order.  This will be worked out in a future post, because the healer spells are not standardized (and should not be), so limiting their mana will be a more difficult task.  The general idea behind this is that bigger or quicker spells should cost a lot of mana and oom a healer rather quickly, while efficient spells (used for when damage is steady) should be repletable. 

On 1/4/2019 at 10:22 PM, Troggdor said:

2) Personally I think Crowd Control has almost no place in raids.  Trash is trash and it's meant to have its certain challenges but forcing CC in to a 10 man raid seems like it was not a core gameplay thing in wotlk and had good reception.  Obligatory crowd control limits the scope of how you can make groups as there is class-specific crowd control.  Priest has MC/shackle(undead), Mage can only sheep humanoid, druid can hurricane anyone, paladin can fear undead or use repentance on humanoids and undead....  It's all very specialized to certain scenarios and you limit group composition by making it necessary against certain pulls in certain raids.  For 5 mans, I'm all for it. 

On 12/27/2018 at 5:35 PM, Pahare said:

2) NO! few more rare mobs or special packs or some other custom "thing" should neeed to be crowd controllable like heroic or a custom mythic version for dungeons if the difficulty needs it. Pulling big and aoe'ing stuff down is FUN and Skillfull and gives u a great sense of progression. u see and feel your character getting stronger compared to old times the better u are the more u pull the more effective u are and ofc the more u pull the more likely u are to die. Retail WoW has this problem that every trash mob has as many spells as a boss and its just an annoying nightmare expecially considering the almost 0 reward u get out of killing them. CC trash should NEVER be preffered because it reduces skill plays delays stuff unrewards progression and fun. Yes LoS definitly has a place as a skill mechanic would like to see it where it would fit. Extra compensation is not needed Resistance gear is a big yes definitly the gear system could be improved more BUT only on a custom Mythic difficulty or Heroic for naxx ETC

The problem i have with LK trash is i don't know the purpose of it.  They all have ignorable abilities, and they all feel the same.  Was chain pulling entire instances at a time fun?  Well, to some that may be true.  All instances feeling the same is the homogenziation that killed the game for others, though.  It most certainly was not skillful--that you could always pull less mobs demonstrates this fact.  Chain pulling has its place (ie the gauntlet in CoS), but it shouldn't be the only thing you do in an instance.  If we are to have a mythic version of instances, and keep the heroics faceroll as they are now, this is fine, but, either way, the maximum difficulty of these instances (and raids) should be increased. 

I do believe rewards should be increased if the time investment is also going to be increased (which a more challenging version this is to be the case).  This could be in better trash drops, or increased Justice/Valor points from the bosses (for both instances and raids).  Otherwise, if we are to have faceroll trash, what is the point of the trash?  ToGC got rid of the trash, as a response to the faceroll trash of LK, and it wasn't well received.  But similarly, trash mobs with abilities that did not matter in the least weren't well received, either!  If, @Troggdor, this is still not satisfactory to you, then at the minimum we must require CC during the encounters themselves.  

Onto a related topic, i want to talk about enrage timers.  Enrage timers have their positives and negatives.  The positive is clear: it forces the raid to maximize damage while simultaneously handling the mechanics of the encounter.  The negative, not so much.  It is a lazy form of encounter design.  I challenge anyone to name me a difficult encounter (required the best of guilds to wipe many times) post-TBC that did not have hard enrage.  You won't find one.  Blizzard fails to add challenge anymore besides the "I will kill you after 8 minutes!" mechanic.  At best, they will have something stack, and wipe you at a certain number of stacks.

But, you still need a way to time out the raid.  Naxxramas in LK was notorius also for having 3/4 of your raid die, and a healer and a tank slowly withering away at the boss.  This is bad.  The good news is that we now have a reason for this to not happen again (in our heroic versions of the raid).  And that is the limiting of healer mana. If done right, it will naturally put a timer onto all fights, and one that is in the players' control.  

In the next post in the series of Truly Heroic, i will look at specific raid encounters and instances.  Stay tuned!

 

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In summary, in order to properly increase the challenge of an encounter, while giving the power to the player, you want to:

a) decrease damage overall

b) significantly limit healer mana pools, especially on their stronger heals

c) ensure threat is relevant

d) give bosses spike damage, so long it is manageable by the players

e) remove enrage timers on most bosses (post Naxx)

f) have mechanics that should punish players when not handled correctly, but reward them for handling a mechanic correctly

Edited by bobblo1

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