Thursday, February 19, 2009

Like A Rock

I was perusing blogs yesterday, killing time at work between uploads of materials that shall remain nameless (press a button... wait 20 minutes... repeat). It's not really as bad as it sounds and I like the slow days, giving me time to catch up on my blog reading. In any case, the buzz seemed to be that a little niblet of a description has been release about Ulduar on WoW's website. The link I found (though I could not read at work), came from an European blogger apparently, but assure you, it's still valid. I know those EU servers can get quite boisterous, but it really is still the same game, verily.

In any case, here is the link for those that want to see for themselves. Otherwise, I will copy the important part of what I found in blue below:

Ulduar brilliantly illustrates the new design challenges and innovations that come with the bigger scope of the expansion’s raids. In order to make raid content more accessible, it has to offer a lot of variety, but it also needs to include a very granular means for players to adjust a raid’s difficulty. This concept was first realized in the Burning Crusade with the introduction of Heroic mode, and Wrath of the Lich King is developing the idea even further with new Hard Modes.Boss fights that have a Hard Mode are affected by certain variables which players can control and which change the encounter’s difficulty. For example, spread throughout Ulduar’s vehicle section are four defense towers you can destroy. The more towers you leave intact, the harder the encounter with the Flame Leviathan will be, but the loot will also be better.Ulduar isn’t the first dungeon to include Hard Mode, but it certainly makes the most use of it. Out of 14 bosses, 11 will have a Hard Mode that offers additional challenges and rewards. Ulduar will appeal to a wide range of play styles, but the dungeon also has great longevity and a high replay value.

The important part to notice up there is the addition of a "Hard Mode" to 11 of 14 bosses in Ulduar. I, for one, think this is an awesome direction. They sort of introduced it with the whole Sarth 3D thing (not the blue and red glasses, but the drakes), but it appears they're going to be taking it to a whole new level in the new raids.

Let us examine what this does for us for a moment. If you raid, you know that there is a requisite amount of learning required for every boss fight. Basically, you spend some time getting everyone used to the fight, then you start succeeding on a regular basis, and eventually progress to "farming" the content for rewards, getting the payoff from your struggles. The larger the raid you're doing (i.e. 25 man), the longer you're probably going to have to farm content to make sure everyone comes up to speed and gets thier just (or unjust, depending on your opinions) reward.

Somewhere in that cycle of raiding, you'll get a great many of your people geared up to the point where they become "overgeared" for the fights, but are not quite ready to move on. A lot of times this can result in disenchanted raiders who really want to "push on", sometimes at the expense of the people who have just been unlucky so far, or are not as fast as them.

Adding a hard mode greatly alleviates this issue. For those desiring to push on, a large part of the reason is probably that the fights no longer present a challenge. Enter, hard mode. All of a sudden, you can slowly ratchet up the difficulty of an already known fight to further hone your skills and not leave anyone behind. Talk about killing multiple birds with one stone!

I think what you'll see happening is that groups will be better prepared for future content, and more likely to replay the old content for the challenge. It's one thing to clear Sarth, it's another to clear Sarth 3D. For that one instance, its almost like having 4 dungeons in one, without having to go to the annoyance of completely learning a new fight. You're really just adding on a tricky mechanic here or there. What a good way to learn to raid, right? You see how clever and smooth that is?

With one simple mechanic, Blizz has added something that appeals to everyone. More difficult encounters for the hardcore crowd and a smoother learning curve for the more casual kids. Above it all, you get to choose. It's not like a fight is being forced on you to learn something, or you're being forced to re-run heroics to "get a hang" of things. You're just tacking things onto what you're already going to do anyways. Am I the only one that's really excited about the promise of "hard mode"?

I may never get to the "hardest mode", but I can still see content. I can use "hard mode" to train my raiders without having to learn a bazillion boss fights. I can satisfy the "phat lootz" crowd without jumping too far ahead in progression. A lot of times, Blizz bumbles around with ideas before they get them complete right (see my feelings on achievements), but this is one I think they might have nailed on the head. I guess we'll see when this stuff actually goes live.

Also, riding a motorcycle into battle = pure win.

(Lengthy non-wow related aside explaining the picture: If you don't know, Bob Seger is who sings the popular song "Like a Rock" that used to be heard on Chevy truck commercials. When I was about 12 years old, I really liked The Offspring. It was about this time that their CD "Smash" came out and I wanted it. It was also around this time that "Parental Warnings" were becoming the hip thing. (aside of the aside: yes, I'm a 90's kid)

Anyways, I begged my mom to get the CD, but she was sceptical because of the warning. As any good kid would do, I tried to convince her that I'd already heard all of the songs anyways at a friends house and that there really was only one or two swear words (Bad Habit has a few...). She was still sceptical (go figure), but made me a deal. If I would buy a CD with "good music" on it, I could also get the one I wanted with "crap" on it.

Adjacent to the Circuit City display of The Offspring's Smash was Bob Seger's Greatest Hits picturing a badass old dude holding a guitar on a countryside. Completely non-threatening to a parent probably, but also not horrible for an adolescent boy. I asked her if this would work after looking at the back. I think the Chevy commercials were airing around then too, since I remember recognizing some of the songs and thinking "eh, its not bad" (Night Moves anyone? still one of my favorites).

Long story short, I got both CDs and enjoyed both CDs. One got to be played on the car stereo on the ride home, the other stayed in my personal walkman for a stint. Both marked my first personal purchase of music and really set the tone for my future musical tastes. Hence, I'm a melding both of classic rock and newer alternative rock (if you can classify Offspring that way).

In any case, after coming up with a title of "Like a Rock", it was only too fitting to find a picture of the rock star on a motorcycle, even if it only vaguely went with the post.(/story time over))


  1. Oh Fulg... Night Moves... *heavy sigh* I love that song!

    "She was a black haired beauty with big dark eyes, with points of her setting way up high"

    I've been listening to that a lot lately actually haha, while working on my Rep Moves =/

  2. Mine's totally "Turn the Page" wow! How could you miss that?!

    Heck, even Metalica liked it.

  3. Sarth 3D thing (not the blue and red glasses, but the drakes)

    Now there's an idea... ;)

    And Bob Seger is awesome in his own right/time/genre. "Take those old records off the shelf..." instantly popped into my head.

  4. I think that would be too scary to be tanking that dragon with the flame waves coming at me .... IN 3D


    I would be cowering under the table while everyone gets one shotted by it..