You know .. how gear is obtained never made much sense to me. Truly. Now granted I can imagine killing Nefarian or Onyxia and pillaging their horde for gems and gold and finding the odd piece of enchanted armour. Being dragons that makes an odd sort of sense. But what about other bosses we down. Arthas has Frostmourne, why in the world would he carry a small armouries worth of weapons on him, or keep them in a throne room where anyone could use them to take him out? or Illidan, he is a bare-chested glaive wielding Night Elf .. why would he just happen to be carrying the Bulwark of Azzinoth or a staff that has a demon attached to the end?
Now over the past few days Adam Holisky over at WoW Insider has been decrying the need for a change to gearing .. and after consideration, I would have to agree with him. I don’t enjoy character gearing, I do though enjoy character progression .. which for me, means seeing more, encountering more and doing more for my character, and in turn. My Guild. I am not advocating we get rid of gearing, I think that is still needed, but how we go about gearing needs to change, and how we benefit from raiding needs to change also.
Dalaran, Oh Dalaran.
You know one of the most incredible parts of early Wrath for me was exploring Dalaran. I mean here we have this tight nit little city that was unlike anything the Horde had seen, and while it might not have had as many shop keepers or ally ways as either Orgrimmar or Stormwind, there were people everywhere .. selling everything.
Apart from the varying shops that covered all your professions, you had your common bar and your banks, cheese sellers, barber shop, you had your street vendors, shoe shiners, lamp lighters. The city was alive. More importantly sprinkled around were a few very important vendors. These were not your usual blacksmiths, or leatherworkers. No these were Quality armour vendors. They specialised in selling Plate, Mail, Cloth and Leather goods. Goods imbued with properties that would enhance your preferred attributes.
Now admittedly, some of these goods were easily purchased for a few badges, and others required that you earn the right to acquire them by providing tokens proving that you had destroyed certain enemies. But the concept was there. Specialty armour and weapon providers. This is how I believe that gear should be acquired, and I think that there needs to be two options here, one so that people can get the gear to enter raiding and to continue to be able to see more. The second so that people are given a reason to raid, over and over again.
Total Gearing Through Badges.
Blizzard have said they are against this, and I have heard a lot of players gripe over this. As a player who for most of Cataclysm ran in a raid group comprise where 5 out of the 9 regular raiders were all after the same tier token and we kept seeing the warrior/shaman/hunter token drop whom only 2 people had a use for week after week .. it was frustrating, more so when you had the ‘irregular’ which was usually player 9 or 10 ask if they could have your token, because you’d brought in a druid, rogue , mage or dk .. because for some reason you could never find other dps classes online in guild during raid time. Our last Death Knight of the regular raid team, finally got his first pair of standard tier pants less than a month before Mists went live .. after having the Warlord on Farm for most of Cata. It was frustrating.
No I think being able to slowly gear every toon through badges is a very plausible and reasonable idea. Full armour, trinkets, weapons the works. The 1 thousand a week VP cap .. I can see that staying, though I would think they need to make it easier to get VP (a point I intend to rant about in another article).
What this means is that getting the gear becomes easier, and from a lore perspective makes more sense. You work for the gear, have it crafted and then use it to go kill a menacing bad guy, you don’t go after him in inferior gear and hope he drops something better for you that it makes no sense he would posses.
How to reward the player for raiding ..
Now Mr Holisky recommends rewarding the player for raiding by giving them spell incentives, aesthetic gear, trinkets, toys and such. For part I would agree with him, these are great ideas but could use some refining.
I do not agree with getting skill upgrades via raiding, I think they work fine as they are now. Plus then you would suffer from problems where casual players who don’t raid at all feel they are missing out on achieving their full class potential if they do not raid hard modes .. a lot of players are skilled and I do not think limiting their spells behind the amount of time they can dedicate is a good idea.
I do think having more fun items drop from bosses like toys and trinkets would be great .. though I believe my bags are already to full of these and would then need even more bag space or to be allowed to turn these toys/trinkets into spells.
Aesthetic gear is also a fantastic idea, though I do not think the gear itself would be a ‘boss drop’. maybe after defeating a boss you could find limited ‘plans’ in the next room or alcove that would allow you to go to a thaumaturge or something and have them fashion a single piece of aesthetic gear from the twisting nether .. im not sure, but I am sure there would be a way to make it work.
How to make raiding a repeatable exercise ..
In any event lets say you can get gear as easily as I have described above. Lets go one step further and say that you even manage after 10-15 weeks to get every toy/trinket/pet/mount you could want and that the Aesthetic gear is easy as pie to obtain. How do you keep raids alive. LFR is a no brainer, it’s still an easy way to achieve valour points. But how do you keep normal raids, and heroic raids going .. these group efforts that have been the staple of Warcraft. So how do you make raiding a viable group exercise … you make it so that normal and heroic raiding are not based around personal advancement, you make it so they are based around guild advancement.
Wait? What? How is that possible you ask? Well since dungeon finder came out the one complaint that has been growing and growing is that there is less and less realm and community socializing. Its true, even in some guilds you have those who just pop on do a random dungeon or two, lfr and log out without actually talking or interacting much in a social way. Raiding is still one of the ways that guilds come together and should remain a staple guild activity well into the future, and by rewarding guilds for raiding you in effect encourage people to keep raiding, and after putting in work you help encourage guild loyalty.
So how do you encourage this, you make a reward to improve your guild. So far we already have tabard, pages, cloaks .. wouldn’t it be nice if there was more. lets say when you “create” a guild and get a guild to say level 25, you then have the option to purchase a writ or lease that will allow you to open a guild hall, guild village … whatever you get the drift. general guild challenges like dungeons, scenarios etc would help you deck it out with the basic vendors and furniture, rbgs would allow you to get perhaps a “battlemaster” that would supply pvp centric potions and allow access to create and prepare guild vs guild battles, and then you would have your rewards from raiding.
How would the rewards from raiding work? In basics I think you would have to move forward not back .. revamping past content is not the major concern, but it is still a basition of enjoyment so there should be something from it. People already get their glory achieves by going back and doing old content so there might be something useable here (see reward suggestion point 1 below). What you would need to do is to create guild rewards based on bosses, raids and tiers. Right now we are up to what Tier 15? and likely to see a Tier 16 this expansion? So lets say they bring in this system not for this expansion but for the next .. how do you reward?
First off let’s get us some Trophy Skulls. Kill a boss so many times you get to mount his head on the walls of your Guild Hall. Do it on heroic and the holding frame goes from polished wood, to polished stone with a golden plaque. this would work for past, present and future bosses. No downside, but you can always tell a top-tier guild because they will always have the latest wall fashion available.
Guild Armour Tier Uniforms. Thats right lets introduce a transmog armour that does not apply to any classes. You complete a tier .. say Tier 17, and you unlock the ability to open that Tiers “uniform”, that colours to match Guild Tabard colours. ie Black with Gold trim and white inlay and patterns would match ours. This would then allow people to look like individuals through their own special gear, or they could gear up to look like the unified mercenary troops that guilds are, with the shape of each tier giuld armour showing whether the wearer is Horde or Alliance. As with any epeen stroking the best of the best would always show current tiers while those behind the curve would always be able to go back and achieve past ters armour.
Heroic Auras. I do not believe in Epeen stroking. But those who raid heroics like to show it, they like to see that they have achieved something from it. So lets let them. Lets say the first raiding tier in the new expansion is about water or ice, or shadow or fire. If you complete it in heroic mode you get an aura added to your spell books that allows you to then turn that aura off or on. If its on your character may leave burning footsteps or add a marginal fire debuff to non raid enemies they are killing if say that tier that the aura comes from was fire based.
Hidden Chambers of ? Ok so lets say that you have done the raid enough with the guild to get all your trophy skulls, you’ve unlocked and your armour what keeps you returning. What if after you have cleared whatever current tier is available that week a hidden crypt or chamber is opened under your guild hall for a limited duration, say 24 hours after you kill the last boss of the tier. Something like the Tomb Of Immortal Darkness that blizzard joked about, something filled with zombies who spread the plague as well as giant chests of loot, gems, precious metals and rare scrolls pertaining to lore that may not be easily viewable in-game. You go in, fight your way through zombies and fiends in the dark, hoping to find riches .. no one doesn’t want more gold, the solo scenario on Isle of Thunder has proved this.
Guild Materials and Currency. Maybe raids would be the only way to gether materials to build airships with which you can attack the oppositions capitals, maybe raids are the way to earn “guild currency” to expand your guild halls .. get it a moat, extra crennalations or something. Allow raids to be the engine that fuels other non-raiding guild activities
Now these are just a few throw away ideas, but I am sure there are a number of other ways that you could keep guilds running raids. So to recap I agree, get rid of gearing as the desire to raid. if people want gear let them continue to work at it but let gearing for gearing sake move away from the main group activity. Let coordinated raiding focus more on the groups reward then the individuals, encourage community building and player investment in something outside themselves. You will have layers who don’t care about themselves, and will try and just guild hop to the best guilds for the perks, but you will have those that will take up the challenge to strive, build and succeed on their own terms returning this mmorpg to something its roots have always been about .. socializing and community interaction.