The Ultimate Hardcore Game

I’m reading a lot about how WoW is becoming too easy, and the Hardcore folks are not happy. It is apparently now catering to casuals, school moms (not that they can’t be hardcore, but that is another url), and face-rollers. The dual spec in 3.1 is just the most recent item to illicit this response.

OK then Hardcore players… you tell me – What would be the broad design guidelines for the most Hardcore MMO?

Lets write a list that will scare the drooling face-rollers back under the house, and make the hardcore players salivate with delight.

The Serious list:

  • Max 1 character at a time.
  • Harsh death penalties. Gear loss/damage, xp loss, and a shameful aura.
  • Between character theft.
  • Always PvP, winner take all.
  • No consideration of class and role balance. It is far easier to kill than heal after all.

The Silly list:

  • Perm-a-Death for characters.
  • Each toon has 1 role. You heal, tank, dps, or control. Never more than 1. Ever.
  • Perhaps healing should not be allowed at all, unless its over a huge duration.
  • Boss fights that take 5 hours, and only start at midnight.
  • Only 1 of each type of magic item. eg. Even the +1 sword is unquie.

What else?

(Bonus points to you if you noticed that drooling face-rollers and salivating hardcores look very very similar; its all just perspective)

14 thoughts on “The Ultimate Hardcore Game

  1. Lulz. Add in, “Teir pieces are once again class specific items. None of this token stuff to make loot distribution equalize.” and “Bosses spawn randomly once a week outdoors. Let the camping begin!”

  2. Man, I don’t know what I’d do if they restricted the game to one character… my attention span is way too short to not have alts of all levels running around! 🙂

    I know your post is meant to be humorous, but I think that anyone who is looking for anything like what’s on your list would never have picked up this game in the first place.

    I think what people who do play this game and think it’s becoming too easy are really looking for is a challenge, not a complete reworking of the game. If you know your class and work well with a team, there is not really any challenge in this game right now.

    The fact that Naxx can easily be cleared by a group the first week they are in there is where I take issue. I like having to try a few times on each boss to learn the strategy, rather than clearing more bosses per hour in a raid than I would running Wailing Caverns. Back when I raided SSC or TK, it was rare we’d down a boss on the first try. The first time we ran Naxx, we blew through nearly 2 wings in one night… bosses feel like trash fights, they aren’t epic like I feel they should be!

  3. @Brajana – you’re right, the content was easy to blow through if you were co-ordinated, patience, had the right gear, and knew the roles/classes.

    But two things stand out as to why thats the case (a) Naxx is entry level, and was designed to be, (b) those set of values are rare.

    Naxx will be forever relegated to a stepping stone after 3.1, and then it will be the next hardest place that is getting hammered.

    Do some H-modes, do Naxx, then think about what badges to spend to get yourself wiping on the first boss in 3.1 Ulduar. That is a simple progression.

    I would argue that they took too long to release the 3.1 content, and that there was a huge range of content in the xpac, but not enough for the seasoned, highly regular players.

    Add to that the feeling that sometimes a raider will not do something because they out-gear it and can’t be bothered. Valid if you’ve spent ages doing Naxx for months.

    Then consider why on earth a casual (who is diametrically opposed to the Hardcore raider) would pay for content that is unobtainable. They’ll quit, which kills the game budget, then kills the game.

    WoW needs a churn in the player base to keep breathing. Like a shark if it is still too long, or does not feed – it dies. (3.1 seems to be close to that tipping point imho)

    Maybe the edge players at both ends of the scale are feeling marginalised?

    Also I think that at the high end the definition of what is a challenge is very different. That makes it hard for Blizzard to design fights to push the cutting edge players, but then also be presentable to the broad range of players.

    This is why the fight mechanics which let you choose the difficulty are an excellent idea. I’ve done Sarth10, Sarth10+1d, and Sarth25+d, but never more dragons than that. For me that is my current edge.

    Maybe the Sarth+3d fight is too easy and there is not enough challenge at the high end.

    Personally I don’t find timer based fights very inspiring, but I know that is often a mechanic that is used (Rage Timers). Other times the challenge is the degree of co-ordination needed amongst the players. And sometimes is a hybrid mix of a lot of factors.

  4. You’re right, not everyone has the ability, skill or time to blow through the content… I’m spoiled with my guild and close friends who play, we’re all lucky enough to have a group with what it takes. 🙂

    Personally, I’ve done (as of last night) everything in the game on hard mode. There is still some I haven’t done on 10-man, just because I only have time for one or the other.

    Naxx is supposed to be a stepping stone – but I feel that shouldn’t mean it takes 2 days to blow through. Karazhan was a stepping stone, but we spent months learning those fights and progressing through it, building ourselves into a coordinated team.

    I also think they made a mistake when they did not release enough raid content with Wrath. In BC, we had Kara, Gruul, Mag, TK and SSC all available from the beginning. Raiders had clear goals: “I want to kill Vashj and Kael someday!” I know they are planning to release Ulduar, but the fact that it isn’t actually ‘real’ yet makes it less of a realistic goal for me.

    I’m not 100% on what your definition of a casual player is (I consider myself pretty casual), but I am going to assume you mean people who are still leveling right now. I feel like there is plenty of amazing content for people who aren’t raiding. Wrath brought a whole new level of questing, with phasing and amazing story lines. If I didn’t have to dedicate my 3 nights of game time a week to raiding, I would spend it doing the quests I haven’t finished.

    One more thing, I disagree that making a hard and ‘easy’ mode is such a great idea. I feel like it was Blizzards way of cheating us out of new content. When I’ve killed a boss in a 10 man version, it doesn’t feel like I’m killing a new boss in the 25 version, it’s the same fight with more people. Being able to bring more people is great, but in many cases that makes the fights easier rather than harder, and it means Blizzard can develop half the content they should have developed in the first place!

  5. I find the definition of a casual player as difficult to define as the definition of a hardcore player. The two terms are used like they are absolute states, rather than being totally subjective concepts.

    Its like comparing a positive and negative charge on a battery with the concept of good and evil – it does not work or make sense.

    It would be a small essay alone to work out new terms for players to cover the range of casual to hardcore. We could design something more like the personality tests my Myers Briggs to help find out what players were like. At least that would allow for 16 different types rather than 2.

    Even then the circumstances can change, and the way devotion is measured makes my brain hurt.

    I liked the hard mode because it gave me more to do, yup it was lazy, but I get the impression that fights are not easy to design and content is hard to write.

    I’d love the opportunity to write content for this game, but trust that Blizzard is not trying to starve us for content deliberately.

  6. Meh – A good player is a good player and a faceroller is always going to be a face roller.

    The changes implemented in 3.0 are what made everything ez-mode not the dungeon or encounter designs.
    Have alook at all the guilds that couldn’t even kill Hydross in SSC; along comes version 3.0 and all of a sudden the same guild is stomping through BT and even Sunwell.

    If you want it to get hard again bring back:
    40 man raids
    the need to use consumables (especially health/mana pots)
    and undo all the stupid changes wrought by v 3.0

  7. I disagree there. Having 40 people didn’t make it harder, any more than having 25 makes it any harder than having 10 unless the encounters are scaled further than the increase in number of people (In fact, I have heard an argument that Sarth10+3d is actually harder than the 25 man version, because generally in a 10 man you’ve only got 2 tanks). And having to use consumables doesn’t make the fight harder either. Anyone can click a potion every few minutes. The hard bit is learning how to play your class.

    All these things served to do was make the game completely inaccessible for all but the tip of the hardcore. I loved raiding back in vanilla WoW, but my times online were variable, I was in a guild of friends who were all good players but didn’t want to group with randoms and there weren’t 40 or even 25 of us, and I didn’t have the cash or time to buy or grind the huge number of pots and buffs i’d need to play the old raids. People who had the time and money were able to stack 10 or 15 elixirs on top of each other so Blizz had to design encounters around that, which meant if I couldn’t afford those 10 or 15 elixirs I was seriously underpowered for the encounter.

    The way it is now, I can get into the meat of the game much more easily. There are 10 of us at 80. We’ve done VoA, Sarth, and the Spider and Plague wings of Naxx. Admittedly we did power through Spider too easily, but 8 of us had got to 80 and spent considerable time gearing on crafted epics and heroic stuff while we waited for the last 2 to catch up, so we were probably overgeared. It took us 2 nights to get the hang of Plague wing, which also felt like a bit of a cop out, but Construct is giving us much more trouble. Patchwerk was easy, Grobbulus took us a night to work out, and Gluth we’re getting raped sideways on. We tried Sarth+1d as well, and got utterly boned 2 nights in a row, getting slightly better each time but still waaaay off, before deciding to try more of Naxx instead.

    If you’ve run through all this content really quickly, good for you. You probably raided back in BC and were doing quite well, so you already work as a good team and know what you’re doing. I was 1 of only 2 in my 10 man raid team who had *ever* raided before, so we’re learnging how to work together and how the classes mesh as we go. *That* is who the current raid encounters were aimed at. Blizz should have released Ulduar with Wrath, so the hardcore could pewpew through Naxx and then move on to something challenging for them, but that doesn’t mean Naxx was a waste of development time for them.

    I would also argue that the reason guilds suddenly started rolling through all the old BC content in 3.0 had little to do with the changes to how you play and raid, and far more to do with them nerfing the BC dungeons so that more people would get to see Blizz’s hard work before moving on to the level 80 stuff and never touching the CB content again.

  8. I agree, Andrew, about “hardcore” and “casual”… I try not to use the terms because they mean something different to everyone. I even think you can be both at the same time.

    I know Blizzard isn’t trying to starve for content, and I think if they would have waited til Ulduar was ready to release Wrath it would have been a lot worse than releasing with too little raid content.

    Rakarth: I think bringing back 40 man raids is the worst thing they could do. 40 man raids were just silly. It was too difficult to get 40 people coordinated and half the people could AFK and it didn’t really make a difference. I think 10 and 25 is a lot better than 20 and 40 because it makes individuals more important, every person’s effort matters. You build a better bond and you can move more swiftly.

    Back in the vanilla raiding days, I didn’t raid because I wasn’t in a guild large enough to get a 40 man together. I went with other guilds, but we’d spend an hour trying to get everyone out to the instance and buffed and ready. Too much waiting and not enough playing!

  9. I thought the thread was about what you would need for WoW to be hardcore.

    I agree 40 man would be silly especially since I joined my current guild specifically to raid 10 man content 😉
    Although I don’t think it’s any easier getting a 25 man raid guild together than it was a 40 man, it is significantly easier organising a pug 25 man (used to organise a lot of pug ZG/AQ 20 runs back in the day).

    That said my very best experiences have been in 40 man content back when it was all new and having a purple item actually meant something!

  10. The reason I don’t think 40 man makes it hardcore is because bigger numbers doesn’t necessarily mean hardcore, it just means more people, although it could possibly mean more epic (in terms of having 40 people running around is cooler than 25 people).

    I’ve got to agree with you for sure on one thing at least, Rakarth… I remember how crazy it was to see people wearing full tier sets and things like that. Lots of Ooo, Ahhh! 🙂 That certainly was epic!

  11. Greedy Goblin has a post that proposes the social drinking and fun of a card night, to the casuals and face-rollers of wow.

    An interesting angle, but one that I find stinks of a superior attitude. I could not help but comment, but think he’s not half wrong, or half right.

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