Resistance Gear as an Alternative to Badges

| Monday, May 16, 2011
It's pretty clear that one of the reasons for badges slowly giving the top tier of loot* is to encourage raiders to go back to heroics. The fear is that without them there won't be enough people to fill groups and queue times will be even worse. I suspect cross-server grouping has fixed that problem, but let's say it hasn't.

Is it a good idea to have heroics handing out top-tier loot? I don't think so. The problem is causes is that if/when the people in heroics get to raids, the loot is that much less impressive. It's a smaller step up. Or possibly none at all. Raids can end up looking like a whole lot of trouble for more badges. Somehow I doubt non-raiders will cease running heroics just because they aren't being given a slow drip of abnormally powerful gear.

But back to the "let's have raiders run heroics" concept. Why not bring back resistance gear? I know raiders ran many of the later instances a lot during vanilla, for the resistance items. Due to the oddities of the implementa of resistance, this got them all the way back into level 40 content in Maraudon. They were often running in guild groups for the really low stuff, but it wasn't so unusual for them to join a PUG to get to it.

Then there was the crafted gear. That was a big part of the economy at some times. Crafters could be in high demand. Materials as well. Farmed materials. Which brings up another potential benefit: more farming. Some mindless grinding can be good. It can get people out of cities and seeing the world. It can diversify the economy, adding materials rather than more and more inflationary daily gold.

But didn't we all hate resistance sets?
There sure were a lot of problems.

Bag space was a big part of it. Even if a resist set wasn't filling every slot, it still added up to a lot. Fire and nature resist sets were big, BC saw shadow, and LK had a tiny tiny tiny bit of frost (frozen blows?). This isn't a problem for non-collectors, but if you're already saving all your tiers, plus some neat trinkets, and the sapta from your totem quests (guilty), adding even more to that is a lot to ask. I think adding a resistance slot to the bank would fix that. It wouldn't take away any existing capacity, only add to it, but only for this one specific type of gear: items with a resistance stat.

In terms of getting raiders into heroics, it is also imperfect. If the gear drops from anything but the last boss you run the risk of them dropping right after that boss or forming guild runs to do that boss only and reset after. Putting all resistance items on the last bosses of instances would work, but I have an irrational feeling that loot sources should be diverse, meaning not all the good stuff drops off the last boss.

It's an arbitrary gate. There you are going along killing and oh, next boss needs resistance gear. Guess we should take a week off from progression to farm that. In theory this could be done ahead of time, in anticipation of the fight, so the gear never actually blocks progress. But I think it's a bit much to expect most players to be preparing for a fight they might not see for weeks. That could lead to guild drama when some people are prepared, some aren't, and progress generally slows or stops as people race around to catch up.

I guess they were right
Adding it all up, I don't think resistance gear is a good alternative to badges. Still, I think it's worth looking for alternative ways to encourage raiders to run heroics (assuming we think this is a good idea). My early point out top-tier loot from heroics still stands and should be addressed. Or should have been anticipated and fixed long before Cataclysm came out. It's just another carryover mechanic from Lich King that Cataclysm is cursed with.

As usual, Green Armadillo has an interesting perspective on whatever is wrong this week (or always).
Developers are in a tough spot here. The majority of the co needs to be aimed at the majority of the customers - which means solo and maybe easy group content - because those customers have plenty of options to take their money elsewhere. However, taking the very top end of customers and letting them skip the 95% of content that is below their expertise is a good recipe for having those players run out of things to do exceptionally quickly. The result is what we have now - players forced to do things that they do not enjoy as a pre-requisite for things they would like to do, because that's the way the developers are getting paid.

With this in mind, it seems as if resistance gear might not actually be any worse than badges, but could at least serve to provide a different unwanted grind, stringing along raiders to buy time. The alternative would be for them to quit and go spend their time on something fun, which obviously is unacceptable.

* I mean loot from the latest raid, not necessarily the highest possible quality, since yes, heroic raid loot will be better.


Kring said...

There is another huge advantage of resistance sets. They burn item value on a defensive stat which would flattens the insane power gain every tier has. And because it's a very specific defensive stat it wouldn't add any additional protection against world or 5 man dungeon mobs.

They did that with PvP gear. They've added resilience which is important in PvP but useless in PvE and can only be obtained in PvP.

I think adding something like resistance (aka raid-resilience) to raiding gear and make it only useful in raids but not in PvP or 5 man or world content would solve a lot of problems.

Tesh said...

Maybe "that's the way the developers are getting paid" in a subscription model where time=money, but if we can get past charging for time and charge for content, it changes a lot of the underlying design assumptions. The same applies to resistance gear; it's not just a time sink, it's a money pit.

As for not having enough players in dungeons, I still say that GW henchmen are the best solution. Make the DF preferentially select players, but you can make the queue times go away or set them arbitrarily at, say, 3 minutes, by just plopping henchmen into the system.

I'm not convinced that bribing elitist endgame players interested in speed runs only for the loot is a better solution.

Klepsacovic said...

@Kring: I'd not even considered the gear inflation aspect. I wonder if that could be done in such a way that expansions barely even need a gear reset. Raid 1 is FR and gives FR/SR gear, Raid 2 is SR and gives SR/NR, and so on. This would allow for five tiers with essentially zero gear inflation while still requiring raid->raid progression. Unfortunately that goes back to my earlier post about the problems of linear progression.

@Tesh: When it is charged/given in one month blocks, the "charge for time" part seems harder to do. Certainly we'd see the incentive for excessive grinds in an hourly system, but I feel like with a month at a time, there might not be enough content to prove a "grinds to keep people playing" charge. Maybe I just contradicted myself.

My worry with any bot/henchmen system is that it makes other players meaningless. If we're not socializing (thanks to lfd) and we're not even playing together (thanks to bots), what's left except gear-based flame wars?

Tesh said...

In GW, at least, players aren't irrelevant. They are almost always better than 'bots, and usually a lot more fun. See, that's the point; you'd play with people because you want to, not because you have to. in my experience, that makes for *better* socializing simply because of the motivation.

Klepsacovic said...

I'd love to see statistics on how often people use bots vs. players. Not that I'm arguing about it, just curious.

But I don't know if this would work in WoW. We've been trained differently. Then there is the problem of training (different training): if we solo level and solo gear, are we all going to be used to soloing and bots until we hit raids and suddenly we're not used to it? There's already a bad enough shift from leveling to heroics to raiding, but this could make that even worse.

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