The new boss: Gates

No, not Bill Gates.

Raid gates.

In case you weren’t paying attention, when ToCr was released, each boss was released at timed intervals.

So week one you would learn the Northrend Beasts fight.

Next release you would fight the beasts and move on to Lord Jaraxxus.

Then the Faction Chumps.

So on and so forth.

This is a forced gate, deliberately slowing progression – not to be confused with gear checks or skill checks that can be overcome by better gear or moving out of fire.

Come 3.3, Icecrown Citadel will be released in a gated manner.

From the blues (actually I copied it from MMO Champ, but they copied it form the official forums, but here it is for those of you that can’t get through the web filters at work):

As we’re now getting closer to the release of 3.3.0, we wanted to talk about our plans for access progression within Icecrown Citadel. Icecrown Citadel is going to be broken up into four distinct sections: The Lower Spire, Plagueworks, Crimson Hall, and Frostwing Halls. We plan on releasing these four sections of Icecrown Citadel over time and not all immediately when patch 3.3.0 goes live. At this point we can’t give precise dates for these release dates as they are determined by when patch 3.3.0 goes live. Once dates are known with more certainty, I’ll update the community so they can plan appropriately.

The first section that opens will include the Lord Marrowgar, Lady Deathwhisper, Icecrown Gunship Battle, and Deathbringer Saurfang encounters. Progress beyond that point will be prevented for several weeks. Then the Plagueworks will open with Rotface, Festergut, and Professor Putricide becoming available. After another period of time, the Crimson Hall will open and you can then fight the Blood Princes and Blood-Queen Lana’thel. The final Frostwing Halls unlock then occurs after that, making Valithria Dreamwalker, Sindragosa, and the Lich King available. We believe a staggered release of the content will allow players to experience Icecrown Citadel at a sustainable, measured, and ultimately more enjoyable pace.

There are other elements that gate access along the way. Players may not attempt any Heroic versions of 10 player encounters until they have defeated the Lich King in a 10 player raid. Similarly, players must defeat the Lich King in a 25 player raid before they can attempt a Heroic 25 player encounter. So players must master every normal difficulty encounter in Icecrown Citadel before attempting Heroic difficulty.

The Lich King may not be attempted until Professor Putricide, Blood-Queen Lana’thel, and Sindragosa are defeated. Furthermore, the Heroic difficulty of The Lich King encounter may not be attempted in any week unless the three aforementioned encounters have been defeated in Heroic difficulty that week.

The Ashen Verdict provides reinforcements and material for players to assault Icecrown Citadel, but this support is not endless. Raids will have a limited number of attempts total each week to defeat the four most difficult encounters in Icecrown Citadel: Professor Putricide, Blood-Queen Lana’thel, Sindragosa, and the Lich King. As these boss encounters are unlocked, the number of attempts available per week will increase. The initial number of attempts provided for defeating Professor Putricide is only five. When Blood-Queen Lana’thel unlocks, the amount of total attempts remaining will increase to 10. Then when Sindragosa and the Lich King unlock, 15 total attempts will be available to defeat all four bosses. After a raid has exhausted their attempts for the week, the Ashen Verdict must withdraw their support and the four most difficult bosses all despawn and become unavailable for the week. The limited attempt system is a feature of both Normal and Heroic difficulty.

There will be no explicit rewards for defeating the Lich King with a specific number of attempts remaining as there was with Trial of the Grand Crusader. There will also not be an achievement to complete Icecrown Citadel without being defeated by a boss encounter, or letting a raid member die. (i.e. A Tribute to Insanity).

In the weeks and months after all twelve encounters are unlocked, additional attempts against the final four boss encounters become available. This represents the Ashen Verdict growing more powerful and gaining a stronger foothold in Icecrown Citadel. To further help raids, Varian Wrynn and Garrosh Hellscream will begin to provide assistance by inspiring the armies attacking Icecrown Citadel. This is represented as an additional zone wide spell effect applied to all players that will increase their hit points, damage dealt, and healing done. This effect will also increase in effectiveness over time. Players may opt out of the spell’s effect if they so wish.

Wall of text crits for over 9000.

Simple story:

We get the first wing to chew on for “several weeks” in normal (non-heroic mode) 10 and 25 flavor. We will have 5 attempts to defeat the end boss of that wing. After 5 attempts, so sorry, GTFO.

Then we get the second wing. The boss attempt meter goes up to 10 and it sounds like those attempts can be split amongst the two available wing end bosses as your wipes see fit to use them.

“After a period of time” we get the third wing and 15 boss attempts.

Then we get to Arthas. It doesn’t sound like we get new attempts. Of course, if you’re this far along, you shouldn’t be using up all 15 wipes getting to Arthas.

Once Arthas has been defeated on normal, the heroic version opens up. But it should be completely open, from wing 1 all the way up to Arthas.

After the raid has been out for a while, the number of boss attempts each week will increase and we will start to get buffs from our leaders to make the going a little easier.

  • Question #1: Once upon a time, they mentioned only the raid leader would have had to have defeated Arthas to open up heroic. The verbiage here leads me to think otherwise: “So players must master every normal difficulty encounter in Icecrown Citadel before attempting Heroic difficulty.” So every player in the raid or just the leader?
  • Question #2: How does extending raid lock outs work? “The Lich King may not be attempted until Professor Putricide, Blood-Queen Lana’thel, and Sindragosa are defeated. Furthermore, the Heroic difficulty of The Lich King encounter may not be attempted in any week unless the three aforementioned encounters have been defeated in Heroic difficulty that week.” The Lich King not being available until you clear the wings is understandable. Just like in Naxx you cannot (currently) just waltz into the “frost” wing and bowl over Sapph and KT for your lootz, it doesn’t make sense to knock on the Lich King’s parlor door and ask for tea until you’ve wiped out his generals. But… the use of the word “week” instead of “raid lock out” makes me wonder if extending the raid would actually hurt you.
  • Question #3: Why no rewards for the elite overachievers? “There will be no explicit rewards for defeating the Lich King with a specific number of attempts remaining as there was with Trial of the Grand Crusader. There will also not be an achievement to complete Icecrown Citadel without being defeated by a boss encounter, or letting a raid member die. (i.e. A Tribute to Insanity).” I wonder if this sort of performance bar was leading to an increase in cheats and exploits. By removing the incentive (titles and achievements) they may be lessening the reason people go looking for ways around the encounters.

Questions aside, here are my thoughts.

First, the date spans are really fuzzy and I bet that is intentional. If Blizzard even attempted to affix a number to a statement it would be taken and quoted as Gospel truth all over the interwebz and the GC would have to listen to all the people crying that their pony didn’t get delivered when he said it would.

Remember, when you order something and they say it will take 4-6 weeks to ship, it usually shows up in 2-3. That 4-6 is just to cover their asses.

Second, this could be part of a larger plan and have nothing to do with stringing us along for months to keep us interested.

This is supposed to be a pretty epic raid encounter, it’s the mother-fucking Lich King for crying out loud!

What if, maybe, just maybe, there’s a world event planned? Something that they want to coincide with the opening of the last wing?

If they have the entire citadel open at the beginning, there isn’t a convenient time to insert something like that.

By gating the content, they give more people a chance to see the content leading up to whatever cool thing they want to share. (The whole thing Rhonin does in Dalaran when Algalon is downed doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to someone that’s just finishing Naxx sort of thing.)

This is, of course, most likely a pipe dream – but it still would be really fucking cool and be a viable, reasonable explanation for the gating.

And to answer the question of “well, why not just have Arthas gated off and open the rest?” because people would blow through the open areas and then twiddle their thumbs for even longer before getting the new area.

Anyway, assuming that my pipe dream is just that, why would Blizzard want to gate content?

I wasn’t around in the vanilla and TBC days, but I’ve heard that the raids were brutal, wiping to the same boss night after night, week after week. Serious raiders were busting their asses (as far as an ass can be busted while playing a video game) for 5-7 days a week.

Rumor has it that wasn’t terribly fun.

But in the current content, it’s done and over with before some of us have even logged on.

What happens then?

The people that have cleared it get bored. And they whine. A lot.

  • The content was too easy. (Would you rather spend 3 weeks of 6 nights a week 4 hours a night on the same boss?).
  • There’s nothing left to do. (Well of course not. You went through content like a dog left alone for a week with a 50 pound bag of dog food.)

The people that haven’t cleared the content yet react to the whining in different ways.

  • The time-crunched players: That wasn’t fair, we didn’t have the time to bang our heads against the wall for 20 hours on the first night of release.
  • The entitleds: Whatever the elitists said because I want people to think I’m elite too. Never mind I haven’t cleared the content yet myself.
  • The average player: Would you all STFU? The vast majority of the players are still working on it.

Regardless of how the content is released, Blizzard is going to have to listen to its player base tearing them a new one.

They know that. And I’m sure by now they’ve got a pretty thick skin when it comes to all the whinging and crying.

They know that regardless of who the vocal crowd is, they have to appeal to the average player.

The average player isn’t in it for the world or server first. They don’t want to feel rushed through the content. And they don’t want to be bored when they get to the end.

There’s a reason that parents take away the trick or treat bag from kids on Halloween night and parcel out the sweets for the next few weeks.

And just like the parents don’t want to deal with a kid puking all night, Blizzard shouldn’t have to listen to people demanding the next thing.

Releases are big and take months (if not years) of planning and development. New content is not created with the wave of a magic wand.

If it was easy, there would be other wildly successful MMORPGs.

Count how many there are now.

How many of them are releasing quality content on a regular basis?

If they’re so much better at releasing quality content than WoW, why aren’t the whiners off playing that game?

Blizzard could rush the content to meet the demand of the bored.

And then those same people whining about the lack of content would be complaining about the excess of poor quality content.

And the people just starting the game (they’re out there!) would be completely lost and overwhelmed by all the content, especially the poor quality crap.

While gating has a very artificial feel to it, it’s being done for a reason.

Mom and Dad are holding back some of the candy so all the kids get to have an approximately equal share and no one gets sick.

If you choose to wolf yours down without chewing, that’s your call. You will be done first. Congrats. Now go read a book until the next wing is available. Or PvP. Or corner the wool market and destroy the server economy. Or fish. There’s a lot to do.

If you choose to take your time and enjoy it, the gates will hopefully open at the right speed.

If you’re slow or late coming into the content, there won’t be a mad rush to get caught up.

I don’t have numbers available and I’m too lazy to make them up, but I imagine that the people testing on the PTRs are a small group compared to the 11+ million people playing. I also imagine that every time content is released, one of those 11 million people finds something that a PTR tester did not. This gives them time to tweak the next area before pissing off the people that have already attempted it.

The limited attempts feature has a more organic feel to it as the Ashen Verdict will supposedly be offering some assistance. The increase in attempts has even been planned for and has a reasonable explanation. Although 5 for the first end boss does seem kind of harsh.

This rewards the better-skilled players and will put a lot of pressure on guilds like mine to step it up to be competitive. We have the gear, but we have too many losses that can be attributed to people not paying attention or just slacking off.

(Euripedes over at Critical QQ did bring up a valid point so I’m editing this in: the limited attempts DOES screw over people in situations where there is a bad internet connection or other circumstances. But for guilds like mine, we just need a swift kick to the ass.)

Requiring that it be completed on normal before entering on heroic makes sense. Learn to walk before you run.

The eventual buff auras are an awesome idea. Instead of forcing all players to take a nerf to the encounter, buff the players that want/need the additional assistance – after everyone has had a shot at it.

I don’t see any of this being a “catering to the casuals” sort of thing.

Gating the content means that Blizzard isn’t releasing content too quickly.

I see this as a good thing.

The elite few that can muscle their way through the encounters on day one do not comprise the largest portion of the player base. Everyone else (be they time-crunched, entitleds, or average) does.

This is a business decision that caters to the largest portion of the population AND allows them to focus on quality instead of quantity.

The limited number of attempts for boss fights actually caters to the elites.

Guilds that do not coordinate well or random pugs will probably fare very poorly for several weeks. (And the people with bad internet will be screwed, terribly sorry.)

I for one am glad that we’ll have a few weeks to get our shit together in the first wing before we can even think about moving on. It also means saying goodbye to those nights where officer chat is going something like, “so how many more times are we going to fail before we can just give up for the night?”

ToCr came out (to me) too soon after Ulduar. I still haven’t killed Yogg, dammit! But my guild is bored with Uld because the next thing is here with better lootz. If we clear out the first wing, and the next isn’t open yet, it gives me an excuse to get them to go back and finish up in Uld or even Naxx achievements. Sarth 3D? Hello?

After the mass of unskilled people that flooded heroics and raids in Wrath, there was a cry for the return of some sort of attunement. Well, we’ve got it now. Even if entering the raid on heroic requires only the raid leader to have completed it on normal, at least one person there will have a clue. (In theory.)

No one liked the nerfs to Ulduar. Well, I’m sure there are some people that did. But the vocal portion of the community seemed to be very much against the nerfs.

(No one likes nerfs unless it’s to DKs or ret pallies.)

There will probably be some tweaks to encounters to make them more stable or to remove exploit opportunities, but there should be no all-encompassing nerfs that basically say, “well, now that the Ensidias are done with it, the rest of you can have it.”

Those of us that went into Ulduar a little late and missed the opportunity to even try the encounters pre-nerf will not have the same disappointment. Even after the player buff has been implemented, we can opt out of it. This means that my priest may get to see ICC in all its glory and all its aggravations at full strength instead of rushing to get there before it gets nerfed.

Gated content is a sad reality of 3.3, a necessary evil perhaps?

We wouldn’t need it if the top guilds/players could finish the content and then be content to explore something else. But no, there is a small (albeit loud) portion of the community clamoring for attention. (Although I would be fine with Blizzard removing the gates and just letting the kiddies gorge. I’m not the one that has to entertain them when the candy dish is empty. But I’m still holding out for the candy dish to have a world event at the bottom of it.)

The game encompasses too wide a player base in terms of skill and time commitment to make everyone happy all the time.

The content will be there when it’s there.

Maybe my guild will be ahead of it, maybe we won’t.

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9 comments on “The new boss: Gates

  1. Fricassee says:

    If they’re gating it for a world event, then I can get behind it.

    However, this only really affects top end guilds with no real benefit to casuals. Yeah, we can explore the content at the same speed as the top tier, but what do we care?

    As I said on my blog, this is just going to take top tier guilds off of doing ToC for gear, since they’ll have all new gear by the time Arthas is out. Instead, they’re going to make alts so they can get more attempts at the boss.

    In the end, world firsts are going to be decided by who has the most attempts to throw away and who’s server is most stable when Arthas is released. It’s not going to have to do with a gear check coming from the next patch, because you should be fully vetted in 10 and 25 man ICC gear come the time Arthas is released.

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  2. Tyræl says:

    Posting my comment on my own blog, so as not to take up a whole page for one comment

    Like

  3. Raven says:

    I actually like this. This keeps me from being in a guild that gets 3/4’s of the way through 10 man then switches out for ungodly wipes on 25 man which is then quickly switched out for being assraped on heroic 25man. Ah, gotta love progression.

    Re: 4-6 weeks comment. This *is* Bliz you are referring to. How long did we hear about dual spec’ing before we actually got it? I think they need to be schooled in CYA…of course with most of us being freaking addicts (there are WoW addicts support groups…insane people) I guess they really don’t have to worry about it.

    I hope I’m not to far behind when 3.3 comes out but real life has precidence. I guess I can stand proudly and say ‘hello, my name is Raven and I am not a WoW addict’.

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  4. rustbeard says:

    I see this as a balancing act. Gate the content to prevent folks from moving too quickly, guilds from playing 30 hours at a stretch, and depopulating the rest of Northrend. Then, limit the attempts so that only the best will succeed. It will (for those of us not on the PTR) force you to learn quickly, coordinate well, and know the abilities you must master to defeat each boss. You’re correct, it does cater to the elite guilds.

    As to the world event, I’m hoping along with you. The gated events allow time for the scourge to become increasingly desperate – they’re getting closer and closer to Arthas. Just as the LK called out all the shots (and merged with Arthas) 5 years ago, we’ve been building to this moment since then. It took a world event to “get us” to Northrend, why wouldn’t we expect something less at the end.

    That said, I don’t know if it will be a truly “World Event”. The zombie invasion was fun for some, maddning for others. I suspect Bliz has learned from this on some scale, and will limit the event to certain key areas. Perhaps an outright assault on the Tournament? We’ve seen some hints at that as well, and if this is where the heroes are training, it makes sense to wipe them out before they become proficient. Just my hopeful $.02

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  5. The whole think just stinks of laziness. Does it matter to me? No, I’ll be lucky to have 10 raiders log in on a raid night, but it doesn’t change the fact that this smells of prolonging content without actual content.

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  6. Tyræl says:

    Totally off topic here but this is hilarious. Go look at my post on about us in Kara, Ari…look at what the Wanton Hostess said. For you lazy people:

    Wanton Hostes says: “They fall asleep afetr. Me, I fall asleep during…”

    TWSS!!!

    Like

  7. Kaziel says:

    “Question #3: Why no rewards for the elite overachievers? “There will be no explicit rewards for defeating the Lich King with a specific number of attempts remaining as there was with Trial of the Grand Crusader. There will also not be an achievement to complete Icecrown Citadel without being defeated by a boss encounter, or letting a raid member die. (i.e. A Tribute to Insanity).” I wonder if this sort of performance bar was leading to an increase in cheats and exploits. By removing the incentive (titles and achievements) they may be lessening the reason people go looking for ways around the encounters.”

    This one was probably because a single disconnect would screw everything up and that was agonizing. Sure, the limited overall tries will mean that a disconnect can still screw up your plans, but if you’re at the point where you are trying for A Tribute to Insanity or some such, you probably are very very well geared already so you’re (mostly) doing it for the challenge.

    It’s one thing to lose because of something that’s in your control. You can correct that either via better gear, being better prepared or in an extreme situation just replacing them. It’s something else entirely to lose because someone was the victim of a blackout or some such. There’s nothing you can do about that other than say “Well, let’s grind our way through everything else for some more loot and come back next week and hope for better luck.” That’s just soul crushing because you’re helpless to prevent it.

    Also minor note… you said:
    “We get the first wing to chew on for “several weeks” in normal (non-heroic mode) 10 and 25 flavor. We will have 5 attempts to defeat the end boss of that wing. After 5 attempts, so sorry, GTFO.”

    Incorrect. The first portion that will be available for “several weeks” will be the bosses leading up to and including Deathbringer Saurfang. He’s the guard to the three “wings”, so you’ll be able to beat him independent of limited tries.

    Once the “several weeks” period is up (I’m guessing it’ll be a month after 3.3 goes live), you again clear through to Saurfang, only afterwards you will be able to continue on to the first wing (the one with Putricide at the end). At that point, the limited tries come into play.

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  8. Dark/Soth says:

    For us in Shadow Rising. This fits our style and raiding capability perfectly. We won’t fall too far behind the Uber Elite guilds. We may not get each wing cleared in the first week, but I’m confident we will have enough time and chances over thr 4-6 week period to clear and be ready for the next week. With ToTC, we killed Anub about 3-4 weeks after release. It will be nice to be able to keep up with the Joneses for one patch worth of content, at least if only until Arthas is released and people begin to clear Heroic mode.

    Regarding the absence of rewards for the crazy Insane Immortality achievements, I think this was done intentionally to reduce a tier of gear off the top. Blizzard has said a bunch of times that heroic modes advanced the gear faster than they wanted to advance it, and the tribute system in ToGCr added another tier on top of it all. I think this will slow it down a bit.

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