So, last night while perusing MMO Champion as per usual after a patch, I read with fascination the changes to The Oculus.
Shall we recap the Oculus fun?
The Oculus was released with Wrath, and it was, well, a set instance. The end boss was a set challenge, didn’t matter how good your gear was, the fight was a vehicle fight requiring coordination amongst the team, knowledge of your Drake abilities, and an understanding of what the boss did.
And it was tuned tight.
Not so tight that a skilled group couldn’t do all the achievements, notably Bellwether at 4 Haelz who talked about how she loved doing all of the achievements with her group long before the first ‘nerf’.
So, doable, but tight. A stiff challenge.
Note, I’m talking about The Oculus here. I have no personal knowledge of whether or not Bell is… no, let’s not go there.
Did all of the players of this game that talk about how much they love a challenge leap to attack The Oculus?
Well, not so I noticed, no. I’m sure like any other group, there were those that did it until they mastered the nuances and then moved on, but let’s face facts. The majority of players tried it, and said “Uhm, no.”
Well, this disappointed the fine folks at Blizz. They spent some solid hours on making that place, and they wanted people to see their hard work.
They made The Oculus one of the instances that was a Daily Heroic.
The carrot approach. “You guys go do the ‘tough’ heroics, and you get extra Emblems.”
That worked to a certain extent, people who normally wouldn’t have gone to The Oculus suddenly had an extra incentive beyond drops. It worked. You’d see The Oculus as the daily, and people working up groups in LFG channel.
Still, a lot didn’t want to do it.
Vehicle fight where gear improvements didn’t matter.
So… Blizzard made a new change. The Drakes would scale to become more powerful based on gear iLevels, same as on Flame Leviathan.
There, now those with great gear could have an easier time in The Oculus, and could use brute force rather than finesse.
Screw Loki’s trickery, Thor’s Big Hammer wins.
Again… more people ventured forth, timidly, to tackle The Oculus, secure in the knowledge that gear once again was more important than skill.
This made for happy players.
In this way, it was partly a carrot. The nerf itself wasn’t directly a carrot, but it made it easier for people to get to the daily heroic Emblems and achievements.
But, no matter the changes or the Daily Heroic, you only went when you were intending to do it. You put together a group knowing what you were in for.
Add in random Looking for Dungeon in 3.3.
Suddenly, groups are getting dungeons, not quite randomly, but it’s a crap shoot.
Inevitably, some folks do a random, see The Oculus, and desert in terror. That’s why I mean, not quite random. Because if someone has been queuing up all day, and skipping Oculus but doing everything else, and then YOU log in with a blank slate… chances are high that, guess what? The LFD serves up Oculus because he hasn’t done it yet… and then he bails, and guess what you’re stuck with?
Have a nice day.
I don’t really see that anymore. Why? I think it’s because most of the hardcore lifeless people have run 5 billion instances since LFD debuted, bought everything they can imagine from Triumph, and those folks aren’t running all day long and avoiding Oculus anymore.
There are also always some people that, even if they are predisposed to think “I’ve had a horrible experience in The Oculus, I don’t want to do that with unknown strangers”, will, once in the situation, try to make the best of it and push on through. And once they do it and find out that it’s not that bad, will be happy with doing it again in the future.
Cassie and I are most definitely on the side of people that had horrible experiences in there.
When Wrath was first released, and after we dinged 80, Cassie and I were both very excited to tackle The Oculus.
There was a leather helm in there as a drop that was very, very good as a non-epic starter piece for both Bear tanks and Rogues, and it was dragonriding combat.
Am I the only person that grew up reading The Dragonriders of Pern series, and dreaming of flying to war on the back of a dragon?
Assuredly not. Let’s get ‘em!
I was even so excited about it being added that I hoped it would lead to eventual Dragonriding Arena PvP.
We went in there on Heroic cold (never saw it on normal, more idiots we), cleared to the final battle, mounted our Drakes, and headed out.
Then we wiped.
We wiped, and wiped, and wiped some more.
All told, I know that I was in The Oculus wiping for about four to five hours that night, with different people at different times, trying on that same Heroic instance ID. Just the last boss, over and over.
And we failed.
Granted, nobody had seen the instance yet, there was no data posted anywhere on what the boss did or what the strats were, none of us had done it on normal, we kept having different people come in and out, and we were spending most of the time saying, “Okay, that didn’t work… what if we tried this.”
Still should have been able to do it, geez. Felt like major league idiots.
As a casual group wanting to have some fun, learn something new, and willing to step up and give it a serious, no shit shot, that was horrible.
The feeling of failure. After more than four hours, some folks had to leave. We’re casual, we’re not supposed to be locking people in for a five hour instance clear, without forward planning. There are dinners to prepare, bedtime stories to read, dogs to walk. WTF?
Also, once people that you’ve been learning with leave, how do you entice new people in to start the learning process all over again, when you have to tell them straight up that they’re four hours behind the learning curve?
So yeah… a very memorable, stressful night accompanied by a very unfamiliar feeling of failure.
Cassie and I never went back. The subject of The Oculus would come up, and we’d just automatically agree… been there for long enough to know, it’s not worth spending an entire night in there again. If we’re going to block out four hours, we’re going to schedule a raid instead.
So, there just never seemed a time after when blocking out two or three hours with guildies to learn The Oculus was a fun idea for an evening.
When the announcement was made that The Oculus Drakes would now scale with gear, we did not do a little “Oh wow, us losers can finally do it too” celebration dance. We couldn’t care less.
When we first went, it was brand new, unknown, and we were trailblazing. We were learning as we went on our night of trials, and the feeling of blazing new ground was exciting.
By the time one actual month had passed after the release of Wrath, there were videos, walkthroughs, strategy and tactics guides, the whole thing. We knew people in the guild by then that had mastered it with their own raiding guilds, and were more than happy to share their knowledge.
In our guild, Suxtobundr had mastered the place with his Horde guild, and was happy to offer to teach others how to do it. He taught a few others in the guild that were seeking out the Heroic Instance achievements, and he’s a damn good teacher… they picked it up easily. I believe one quote I read was “The way Sux shows how to do it, it’s a piece of cake.”
We didn’t need a nerf to be encouraged to go back in there… we had plenty of opportunity once it had been around awhile.
But by that time… hey, let’s be honest. We didn’t give a shit anymore, the entire situation was irritating. It became MORE fun to simply ban the instance and hold a long term grudge against it, and talk smack about it. :)
It became, and I say this with pride, our nemesis.
“Hey, what’s the Daily Heroic?” “Oculus.” “Oh, screw that place, let’s go do HoL.”
Anyway, getting back on track, the nerf letting Drake power scale with gear worked. Still more people were willing to do the Daily Heroic.
But it still wasn’t most people’s favorite place to be.
With the new LFD release, quite a few people, when faced with the carrot of Emblems of Triumph, and the stick of the 15 minute deserter debuff, chose to move forward and try the dreaded Oculus instance out despite any reservations they may have had.
That first week of the patch, Cassie and I started to joke that the ‘random’ was skewed in favor of Oculus, if only to make people see the place Blizzard was proud of designing.
In that first week, Cassie, between her 80 Retribution Paladin and her Rogue, did The Oculus between 9 and 10 times.
Frequently, very very frequently, she had at least two of the initial group drop out as soon as they saw it was The Oculus. Cassie stayed each time, waited for more people to come in that stayed, and did The Oculus.
On the final boss, she always did a yellow Drake, because she liked the playstyle mechanics and was learning to do it well. On one run, however, she zoned in to find that the party had already cleared to the final boss, had a wipe, and someone left in a snit. She raced to catch up, and was directed to take a green Drake because there were already enough yellows and they needed a healer.
She did, and found that sure it was different, she was nervous because she hadn’t done that Drake before, and she didn’t want to suck (even in front of complete stragers, yes), but she did it, learning as she went, completed it, and had fun anyway.
Cassie tells me, in all seriousness, that The Oculus has become one of her favorite instances to get now. With a group that is halfway knowledgeable, knows where to go next, and makes any kind of an effort, it’s one of the fastest heroics around, PLUS it’s not something she’s done a million times before and is bored with.
And hell, it drops four Emblems plus the two bonus ones. Very nice carrot indeed.
So… all that being said, as people have been getting used to the random tool, we’ve seen deserters from Oculus, in our own direct experience anyway, slow way down. No worse than any other instance at least.
(Deserting Gundrak. WTF is up with that? What, you don’t like rhinos or something?)
Things over the last few weeks seem to have balanced out to where, if you load into The Oculus, the carrot of 6 Emblems in 20 minutes, plus the stick of a 15 minute Deserter debuff locking them out of another random, were enough to keep a lot from leaving.
That is why I never, never in my wildest dreams would have thought that Blizzard would respond as they did.
Sorry, getting ahead of myself here.
I would have thought that people choosing to abandon a group because they didn’t like an instance would merit a balanced response, if any response was called for in the first place.
A balanced response. Part carrot… and part stick.
Like I said, I thought things had been evening out a lot recently. So was it necessary to change anything? I didn’t think so, except for measures to stop ninja idiots.
Well, Blizzard clearly had other data. Or impressions. Or was impressed by impassioned arguments and whining on the forums. Or something.
They clearly felt some major changes were required to The Oculus for random LFD. And they made them.
They gave us a carrot all right. Individual loot bags with rare gems, two bonus Emblems, and a partridge in a pear tree.
I mean, a chance at a Drake mount drop.
And they also nerfed the final encounter, reduced damage and the number of flares during the “run away, run away” phase, presumably to counteract those folks that are in too much of a rush to follow the normal mechanic of trying to skillfully avoid getting hit by the flares.
Heck, they even reduced the number of trash Drakes flying around over the second boss platform, so that people don’t have to whine about clearing trash so much anymore, a sentiment I had originally started out sharing until I actually, you know… learned the instance well enough to know what you had to clear, and what you didn’t, and found out that, hey, things are fine as it is, it’s just ME that had to learn my way around. Go figure.
Pretty much all carrot.
So, where was the stick?
That’s an insane amount of carrot to single one instance out for. Especially since it’s not like The Oculus is the only instance that people bail out of.
But it is one of the few remaining Heroic instances you can’t brute force your way through 100%.
What other instances can’t you brute force through without being stopped by mechanics?
Why, Heroic Halls of Reflection requires more than brute force, and then there was Dispersion in Halls of Lightning, and that last boss in Drak’theron Keep…
Well, technically, you totally can, but the mechanics on the last two force a pause.
Oh why look, that kind of matches the list of other things that have been nerfed recently.
So… where’s the stick?
Where is the extra loot bag for Heroic Halls of Reflection? Now that we know that if you bitch, piss and moan loud enough that Blizzard will give you pretty shinies to shut you up, which one is next?
Hey, if Blizzard wants to add more incentives to keep people from screwing others by bailing, hey, that’s obviously their call. I’m never silly enough to complain that I got handed free stuff for showing up.
But by the same token, if we’re acknowledging that 4 people are being inconvenienced by the fifth bailing out on them, shouldn’t we do more than reward the people that remain IF they can get a group?
Shouldn’t we punish the dick that left?
Like, maybe by acknowledging that 15 minutes isn’t cutting it, and go for a 30 minute deserter debuff, or even an hour?
If you try to make it only if someone leaves on their own, then people will be dicks to make the others vote them out. If you make it so it’s only on an active decision to leave, people will probably turn around and yank their internet cable out just to force a Disconnect.
I hate, hate, hate the idea of screwing someone with a 1 hour deserter debuff just because Comcast or some other ISP dumped their signal for a minute, but… then again, it only stops you from doing a random, not from choosing to do one the old fashioned way with friends, right?
No matter how you slice it, I’d like to see a little more stick here.
Hey, fella me lad, you want the benefits of doing a random? You have the power to intentionally choose the instances you get so you only are presented with the ones you are up for, but if you do that, no extra Emblems, so you WANT to do a random to get the carrots? You like those extra Emblems that much?
But, if you choose of your own free will to queue for a random to get those carrots, and then you try to game the system by bailing out on any instance you don’t intend to do, then screw you. Guess what, you can’t join another random for an hour. Suck it up, buttercup, and either stay and win, or go the fuck home, bitch.
Does that seem harsh to you?
To me it seems balanced against the amazing largesse of no less than EIGHT Emblems for doing one random 20 minute Heroic, plus gems and a potential mount.
Like I said… I find this whole thing simply fabulous.
But what the hell… I love me some Emblems, I like The Oculus nowadays simply because it IS new and fresh, and who knows. Maybe this is a sign of more monty haul action to come.
I can’t wait to see what other nerfs or carrots are coming next!