Monday, December 7, 2009
Green's most recent Onyxia raid, December 5th, 2009
I've apparently been away from WoW for long enough to be offered seven days of free retrial time in honor of the anniversary. I cashed in this trial on Saturday so that I would beat the deadline for the minipet and still have an active retrial going for the rest of this week in case patch 3.3 goes live.
WoW's endgame is basically how I left it - lots of daily quests, most of which I have finished, and players looking for more companions (almost always including a healer) to try and burn through some dungeon I've completed half a dozen times. As it happened, my guild decided to organize an impromptu Onyxia-10 raid at the exact time I poked my head into Azeroth with an hour or two to kill. After warning them that I hadn't killed her since 2006, Greenwiz came along for the ride.
The more things change
Green's first Onyxia raid, November 21st, 2005
From crawling through my screenshots folder, I determined that Greenwiz went on his first Onyxia raid over four years ago. In my limited experience with the new version, the fight seems to be much polished and improved.
Then and now, DPS players have an odd balance of importance in raiding. If the tanks and healers don't have their respective activities down, the presence and/or competence of the DPS is often irrelevant. Meanwhile, in a 40-man raid with two dozen DPS, the odds are that success or failure will be determined by a greater margin than any one player's contribution.
By scaling the Onyxia fight down to the 10-man format, Blizzard has actually managed to make DPS matter. If I fire off AOE too early and get eaten by whelps (as is traditional), that represents a huge amount of the raid's DPS lost. There are also decisions to be made - what portion of my time is to be spent on whelps versus the new Warders who spawn in the middle of the fight versus actually killing Onyxia in a timely fashion.
Even with the added polish, though, raiding is still largely like I remember it. It's still a question of farming up upkeep costs (I'd guesstimate that I spent 50G on a flask plus repair bills on the brief raid) for largely repetitive content. The eventual victory, if it happens, is supposed to make the tedious learning process worthwhile.
Tobold critiques solo players for diminished willingness to run the same content over and over again, but I'd read the same critique as an admission that the content isn't worth repeating that many times on its own merits. In an era where players have many other options for their gaming time, that's a problem. If the increasing use of NPC henchmen calls attention to the problem, and forces developers to address it with their revenue stream on the line, that sounds like a good thing to me.