Raid Sizes and Design Inertia

When I was raid lead in vanilla wow, I arranged and lead many many runs on Molten Core, a few on Blackwing Lair, and many in Zul'Gurub and AQ20. When news of The Burning Crusade's reduction in raid size came out, that the new raids would be 25 and 10, I cheered. My guild thought I was being sarcastic (a reasonable guess), but honestly I was thrilled. I still am. Larger raids are for masochists.

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SPHOs

So let's say you have a guild. Some of the people are good friends, you've known them for a long time. You know what they do in their lives, you know a little of their family life. You know about their pets! They raid with you, quest with you, arena with you.

Then there are other people who have been in the guild for a long time, but never make the list of people you think of when you want to explore new stuff. They don't particularly care about knocking over challenges, but are glad to come along to raid or pvp as long as their real-life connection is going to be there. These people are the other half of a "package deal". They have played enough to get to the max level, and they do like the sight of zomg epics. Who doesn't? So they volunteer to come with you, whether it's for your new arena team, or your raid. Some of these people evolve into actual gamers, people who get good at their role in a group, who understand the game and what they can do in it, and who socialize with the others. The others become SPHOs: sub-performing hangers-on. (Pronounced how it looks, rhymes with show.)
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One week with patch 2.4

I'll start by saying that Magister's Terrace (MrT) is wonderful from start to finish. It's beautiful to look at, the music is great, the bosses are fun, and the gear potential makes me want to bring all my characters there. If it were none of those, it'd still be a new place to go with my guildmates. But it's great, so kudos to Blizzard.

(Also, the in-game cinematic should be something that they do ALL THE TIME. Not just in instances, but quests. ALL THE TIME. When you create a soulwell, or a ritual of refreshment. You should get an in-game cinematic when you click your hearthstone. Just get that world of warcraft narrator talking, and you feel epic.)

The game mechanic corrections and tweaks are all welcome, as always. New crafting rewards are welcome, new faction, new zone. New combat log, new portals coming. New zomg epics. I was glad to see the excitement of my guildmates as they purchased Nether Vortexes (Vortices?) and upgraded their crafted gear.

All good fun.

Maybe I've been following the game's development too much, but I'm still underwhelmed. Not by what's been given, but by the long barren months between here and the next expansion, which is presumably six or more months away. The new 25-man raid instance is going to keep the high-end guilds happy for a while, but it means absolutely nothing to me and my wife, as well as our guild. I'm guessing that it took Blizzard a while to make.

The dailies? Well, they're mostly kill X quests. Yes, the quests eventually open up new parts of town, and it's fun to progress as a server and feel actual community with all these people I've been bumping shoulders with for a couple of years. But the Ogrila quests themselves were more fun: you have a roping quest, a bombing quest, a portal quest. Here, you have a bunch of kill quests and one bombing quest. I'm just saying, we could have some story quests mixed in with the unlocking of phases.

Oh, a note on the Sunwell bombing run: get a partner. Otherwise I don't see how you could do it in one pass (it's taken me three tries every time when I've tried it solo). With my wife, we did it in one pass.

I'm really looking forward to Wrath of the Lich King. It's a long way away. In the meantime, I'll be doing the dailies and enjoying Magister's Terrace.