Lowbies don't do Molten Core enough

| Thursday, October 7, 2010
I've decided to accept Blizzard's offer as Lead Leveling Experience Designer and as my last act as an independent blogger, I'm giving you a sneak preview. Okay yes, there is such a job; they made it in response to my endless whining about the marginalization of the leveling experience and progressive trivialization of content.

So here we go: All raids will be unlocked by the raid before and all expansions are unlocked by the last raid of the previous box. In other words, progression starts with level 60 MC, goes up to AQ40, then moves on to leveling in Outland, before again going Kara...BT, then Northrend. You get the idea. The general concept is the title: Lowbies don't do Molten Core enough. This is something on which all teams have agreed: Molten Core was the pinnacle of raiding. If players hadn't liked it, why did they spend so much time in there, make songs about it, and even another game recreation?

I wish.

More seriously, lowbies don't do Molten Core, or any raid, enough. There's a whole lot of content that they will likely never see because it doesn't fit neatly into the "race to 80 and then race to get gear for whatever the top raid is" method. Iapetes and I were talking about this recently, batting around ideas from raiding to mini-heirlooms. We settled on the most logical solution: Molten Core.

Expecting 40 sub-80 players to get together for a raid isn't reasonable. Even if it gave 50x the XP of normal questing and grinding, it will be such a hassle and take so long to form that it wouldn't be worth it. So let's cut that down to 10. And then let's add our most favoritist bestest friends ever: Garrosh and Varian.

Picture this: You run BRD and along the way pick up some bits of lore. Or not. Maybe you get some loot, which will last a little bit in Outland since there's no more gear reset from Azeroth to Outland (there still is, I mean in this picture that I am typing; hang in there, I have a few hundred words to go). There's this big bad down there, in the Molten Core, and he is mean to puppies. So while questing in BRD and saving a princess, you discover this and so with your respective best friend and a few dozen random NPC soldiers, you go running down to MC. Varian and company do tons of damage against trash, but won't trivialize bosses, so you still get some challenge. Yes, you can actually wipe. No corpse run though, the NPC priests will cover for you. It is meant to be challenging but not irritating.

The goal is to give some of the good parts of the MC experience, while making fun of the bad ones. As you kill bosses the NPCs will gain the respective piece of tier 1, building up until they are fully geared for the fight with Majordomo Executus. Then they switch to FR-based clown suits for Rag. Meanwhile you get absolutely no gear off any boss. However core hounds drop hundreds of gold each, so loot them!

In the end you defeat Ragnaros and are awarded some awesome prize. Maybe a weapon that will last a few levels, perhaps a piece or two of gear (great time to fill itemization gaps in the early BC blues), and of course more than enough XP to make the raid worth it.

These would be phased events, somewhat like Battle for the Undercity, so completing them won't mean you can't come back and farm it normally (if you want to for some reason). There could be other raids, with similar mechanics. I think AQ40 would be a great candidate as well.

The goal is to make leveling seem more epic, as if it were a true struggle (for the characters, not for us), rather than just a long grind before the real game starts. It would give a small taste of raiding without too much pressure.


Maebius said...

I hate to use a far, FAR too overused intarweb cliche.. but: This! ^^
I was around in vanilla, but never a raider, and played on an RP server to chat with out of state friends "free" while randomly killing virtual critters afterwork. The whole raiding scene was waaay too hardcore for my playstyle.
Yet, even though I have the old "scout" titles to prove my "age" I have never seen inside Molten Core beyond the first few trash pulls, due to being far too "late to the party".

Nowadays, it feels too cheap to Roflpwn the place with ICC-geared guildies, so they don't run it either. I'd love for even one of my alts to find a game-supported mechanism and "reason" lore-wise or quest-line-wise, to allow me to see it even slightly "at level".
Make This Happen, even if it's a "DK starter", "Zalazane's Fall", or "Battle for Undercity" style event. As long as the character can get in there before lvl 75+. even if they are "invincible" :)

Anonymous said...

Where are low-level characters going to find others to group with for these quests? There are a number of servers where one faction or the other is -very- small, to the point where putting together even an ICC 10 that can go 4/12 is a substantial challenge. Oftentimes there are fewer than ten players online in the 50-60 range, so those at 60 and needing raids would effectively be locked out of progression simply due to an accident of server choice.

Maebius said...

it could simply be a quest like any other dungeon, using the LFG mechanism currently in place. The problem with the current LFG system is that it queues for Outlands at 58 or 59, meaning that a levelling character (like once I have that just hit 61) goes right from BRD to Hellfire Ramparts, without even getting the Chance to explore the other dungeons like AQ or Molten Core randomly. Granted yes they are "raids". but with a little tweaking like the post describes and some NPC help, maybe it's possible.
I believe in the Brave New World... make it true, please!!?!

Tesh said...

I'd like an option box at the entrance to any dungeon to immediately alter my player's character to the appropriate level. Maybe only make that work as a downshifting mechanic if you're initiating the run, but let higher level players boost lower level players? XP and rewards would, of course, need to be scaled appropriately as well.

Whatever the case, I like that it could let players of any level actually play the content they want to, rather than grinding through the stuff they don't like to get to the good stuff.

TheGrumpyElf said...

I am a newer player but would have loved to experience that back "at level". Going back now for fun, which I do often, I can only imagine that MC was harder "at level" then anything in WotLK is now.

The way thing seem now however is that you level so fast that even if you could get a group together, in the time it takes to assemble it, you now out level it. My warlock did a random dungeon the other day and went from 34 to 36 in one run. Things move so fast at low levels.

I wish that they would have used that idea in WotLK however. So people needed to do Naxx, then Ulduar, then ToC before they were even allowed to step into ICC.

You hit 80 and run dungeons and are in ICC ready gear in no time. Seems to me that is loses something of the epicness that way. Being in ICC is now a right for every tom, dick and harry that has no raid experience what so ever. Would be nice if people needed to earn their way into it.

Klepsacovic said...

@Maebius: It is sad that we miss so much near-cap content, not just from vanilla, but BC too.

Try soloing it or going with an undergeared group. Switch out some ICC gear for the tier that drops. By Ragnaros you should be plenty nerfed.

A player can queue for the instances specifically until 65 and will get some hits, but it is a shame that the raids are excluded. The worst is probably UBRS which can be 5-manned at 60 and could be made to work with LFD.

@Lujanera: To that Id say the solution is a server merge or some other method to fix the population, rather than to dismiss content. This could also go further in the battle for undercity approach and effectively be run just by the NPCs with the players as little more than spectators, but I'd hope that players could see raiding for the perspective of a class other than hunters.

@Tesh: That could be great for friends trying to play together. Somehow players always end up spreading out more and more in levels.

@TheGrumpyElf: I don't think MC was harder, but BWL certainly was. Oh god... That place would chew up and spit out guilds constantly.

I can see why Blizzard removed the progression system, so that new players could always see the next raid, but I don't think they anticipated new players never seeing anything else. I'd have liked to see some sort of accelerated loot system as the expansion progresses, so maybe at first you need to clear Naxx more than a few times to be solidly prepared for Ulduar, but as new raids come more gear could drop so just a couple Naxx runs would have a character ready for Ulduar, then ToC, and so on.

Severin said...

Good idea, but not feasible financially.

Christian Clark said...

"I've decided to accept Blizzard's offer as Lead Leveling Experience Designer"

Ya know, Klep. Are you really being serious here? Because there are times when I cannot tell when you are being so or not. If so, congratulations. If not, then just put a pair of quotes around that.

Just be sure to let us know when your last independant post is so we can leave the usual gamut of farewells and what not.

Klepsacovic said...

I wish. I wish.

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