Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Recycling mmo content

The first raid of World of Warcraft's Wrath of the Lich King expansion is Naxxramas. The same Naxxramas that was the toughest most challenging raid of vanilla WoW several years ago. What an interesting way to overcome two challenges of mmo development: the problem of obsolescence of older end game content and the high cost of new content development.

I haven't played WoW in quite some time so all my info is second hand but from reading a few WoW blogs it appears that the new Naxxramas is very similar to the old Naxxramas. Monster levels have been increased of course, loot tables have been revised and the location of the encounter has been moved but it seems that the old tactics still work. Clearly this is the new environmentally friendly face of mmorpging: content recycling.

Perhaps the most surprising thing is that there doesn't seem to be many complaints. Most people seem happy with the idea. The few complaints I have seen come from the very hardcore who managed to clear the encounter within days of the expansion being released (presumably because they already knew the strategy). Perhaps this is because the old Naxxramas was the uber hard final raid of vanilla Wow and many players never even got to see the place with fewer still managing to complete it. As the first raid of the latest expansion it seems that the difficulty level has been proportionately reduced. For many players this will be a chance to finally conquer a place they never could.

It even fits from a lore perspective. Naxxramas was always supposed to be situated in the new zone of Northrend, it was just that players were magically tele-ported there from vanilla WoW.

Is this a once off or could it be more generally applied? Should every old raid be buffed up to the new level cap whenever an expansion is released? How would you incentivise people to run old raids? Would you make them compulsory steps on the progression ladder? Would players eventually rebel at being forced to run the same old content yet again?

Here is another thought - rather than recycling raids to the new level cap what about leaving them at their level but lowering the difficulty to make them into standard group encounters. This would reflect the fact that it will always be very difficult to organise enough players to form a raid at any level below the current level cap. Such a move wouldn't upset end game progression but would give "tourists" an opportunity to see the place and allow people to plug gaps in their quest logs. I doubt there would be any need to adjust loot tables either as the raid drops will be rendered obsolete as players level up. In fairness to those who complete the ecounter while it is still an epic raid any fancy titles or achievements given for completing the raid should no longer be available once the difficulty level drops.

3 comments:

DM Osbon said...

Interesting observation - I think in a more story-driven MMO, it would be a harder thing to do without upsetting players but I think it could be done still.

While on the subject of raids in WoW & with my return to playing WoW, personally it will be interesting to see if I get drawn into raiding. My previous time in WoW has not lead me to this part of the game.

mbp said...

You have returned to WOW? The man who had forever abandoned PC gaming for consoles???? I must head quickly over to your blog to find out what is behind this change of heart.

DM Osbon said...

A freebie lead me there...