Should LFR form 10-man raids?

| Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Currently, LFR forms 25-man raids. This has benefits and costs. Let's look at those.

Speed of raid formation
We know from random heroics that there is a relative shortage of tanks and healers. In a perfectly balanced system everyone would see approximately the same queue times, slightly above zero and varying with time, due to random variation in the number of tanks, healers, and DPS online at a given time. The average wait time of any role would be the same as any other. Obviously this is not the case.

25-man raids shift the required ratio of tanks, healers, and DPS. While only one or two more tanks may be needed, as well as more healers, the majority of the increase in raid size is from DPS. The overall ratio swings away from tanks+healers toward DPS, which may more closely match the overall population ratio. In contrast, 10-man raiding can simply double the requirements, leaving the general balance approximately the same. This means that we can expect 25-man raids to form more quickly than 10-man raids.

Or can we?

Let's imagine that players queue in at random times, and also randomly fail to accept the created raid (the dreaded red check mark followed by another few minutes of waiting). If two tanks, two healers, and six DPS are queued up, that's a 10-man right there. If we add more DPS, they don't have a group until we've added so many that a 25-man forms. That means waiting, which means more time for people to get bored and drop out, meaning a longer wait to form the raid.

The critical factor here is the size of the queued population. If it is small, then the 10-man raid will form more quickly, while a large queued population will make 25-man raids quicker on average by bringing in more of the overflow of DPS. Note that this does not mean the population that wants to use LFR. Players already in a raid are not queued and are therefore not available to form additional raids.  I'll come back to the logic, or lack thereof, of this later.

 Quality of Experience
I think I might enjoy LFR more if it formed ten-man raids.  With the current 25 it becomes a giant mess of players, crammed into small spaces, lagging out anyone with a low-end computer, and feeling like a zerg-fest rather than a raid.  Switching to a ten-man format could alleviate this problem.  Individuals could feel slightly more accountable and important, but with heavy nerfing they would have to try just as hard to wipe the raid.

On the other hand, that was some terrible math that I didn't do
If the overall population trying to raid is out-of-proportion with the 10-man raid size, there are going to be longer queues, even if each group forms faster, because each group is smaller.  It would be faster movement through a narrower pipe, and a pipe that for some reason blocks half the DPS from entering.

For this, I suggest a hybrid model: Form 10-man raids by default, but if the DPS backlog grows too large, form 25-man raids until it has been reduced.  This would put the average raid size and composition somewhere between 10 and 25, allowing it to more closely match the overall ratio of players.  If there are a lot of DPS one night, it will skew toward 25 to let in more, while if the DPS are lower, it will create 10-man raids.  This wouldn't help much with any imbalance between tanks and healers.

The hybrid model should result in faster queue times for everyone, better matching the requirements of the raids to the available population.  As an added bonus, it could give Blizzard a way to measure how many people actually want to raid in each role.  If the queue times between roles are more similar, then players will be more likely to play the role which is most fun, with less distortion from queue times.  In the future  Blizzard could use that information to form better raid sizes and ratios of tanks, healers, and DPS.  Imagine that, having data on what people want to play based on what they do, rather than what they say they want to do, or what they do when we provide a distorted incentive system.  It's like science!  But sadly, with fewer lasers.

3 comments: said...

I think there is more chance to form more meaningful relationships with lfr'ers if it was 10 mans. More likely someone will through up a vent, more likely to exchange battle tags. If someone tried to afk/queue as wrong role, it would be picked up and corrected earlier, so yeah I like that idea

Anonymous said...

The experience of real raiding is working with other players to overcome a challenge. The experience of LFR is semi-anonymous group play. If the 10m content were nerfed enough to carry 2-3 slackers, the challenge wouldn't be in the boss mechanics but in getting lucky with team composition.

The randomness of LFR can't create the coordination that guild raiding has. That's not a question of raid size.

Hughes said...

Only problem I would have with the 10 mans is that people would have the same mentality as they would in a 25 man. "If my dps or healing is too low, others can cover for me and since so much is going on and as long as I am not the worst, I am fine". I can imagine that completely ruining the raid experience because there would be more wiping than downing bosses. From my experience in LFR, there are a lot of people out there who have this mentality.

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