Taking up a subject that can be a point of contention among World of Warcraft raiders, Ghostcrawler (aka lead systems designer Greg Street) posted an interesting commentary on raiding progression, difficulty, and the nerf bat.
Obviously, one’s own raiding point of view will help determine whether they approve of or disapprove of a nerf. But there’s some common sense mechanics behind it that, no matter your stance, are pretty much unavoidable.
Greg “Chostcrawler” Street on dungeon and raid nerfs
Raid encounters, to some extent, nerf themselves. This is because every week, the raid members acquire more and more gear. Secondarily, the community acquires more and more knowledge and experience, which translates into better videos, strategy guides, or even UI mods, as well as just more players who have experienced the encounters firsthand.
But it seems that this form of a natural nerf isn’t what players disapprove of. Instead, it’s the ones that take an actual hand from devs. I’m thinking of the ICC raid and gradual increase of a player’s buff for the instance. Yes, it was completely optional, but those players who wanted to stay on top of the competitive game, or those who wanted to quickly get through the content that they had already conquered without said buff, felt justified in accepting the offer. Hell, I did, too. If that’s what it took to see the content, I was all for it.
It seems the the developers have a similar stance, according to GC.
On some bosses, though, better armor and weapons may not be enough because some mechanics just can’t easily be outgeared. To mitigate that problem, our tendency is to nerf content over time just to make sure a wide variety of players see it. The trailblazers get to see the fights before anyone else, but we don’t lock the dungeon door behind them.
Overall, we are pretty happy with our current raid balance. Most guilds that are trying seem to be making some progress. On some realms, we’re seeing pickup groups for at least the earlier bosses, which seems appropriate for where we are in the content cycle. The Heroic versions are particularly challenging, though even in that case, there is a gradient with easier and very difficult bosses.
Although he didn’t spell it out, it seems that Blizzard will continue with this approach to raid content in the hopes that it allows more players to experience what they’ve put out. Personally, I like this approach, too. What do you guys think of it? Anyone ready for Bastion of Twilight to take some nerfs? They’re coming.