So, last night while perusing MMO Champion as per usual after a patch, I read with fascination the changes to The Oculus.

Simply fabulous.

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.

The reason?

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.

Satisfied?

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?

Thats GREAT.

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!

42 Responses to “There’s the carrot, but where’s the stick?”
  1. Flargan says:

    Good write up BBB! I myself am just getting into the realm of heroics and badges, ect. I have hit the Occ only twice since 3.3 and both non-heroic. Both times, we had tanks and heals and various other DPS leave the instance before we even got going. It does make for a frustrating night. I have yet to get it on Heroic (probably due to my poor gear-but I am working on it) but in our guild chat last night, even after more carrorts, people were still bailing on it as soon as they qued in.

  2. Kaethir says:

    I would actually argue that you CAN brute force your way through the Dispersion boss and the last boss of DTK.

    For the dispersion dude it’s really not hard to run away a little bit, and although I haven’t tried it I suppose if you had strong enough heals you could just stand still and take it.

    Last boss of dtk… yeah you have to be able to manage the transformation phase but as long as you can muck your way through staying alive during it (which isn’t that hard) you can shorten the fight immensely through your couple of second of not-transformation. Anymore groups I’m in barely get even that in between transformations because they do so much damage during that short time.
    .-= Kaethir´s last blog ..How to Make Friends…. or Something Like That =-.

  3. Copey says:

    The Oculus is ridiculously easy now. Unbelievably, mind-blowingly easy. But I still hate it, because just like you guys I spent some hard time in that place. Back before Ulduar when we were all trying to get our Champion of the Frozen Wastes title. I cleared it very early in a pug of all things with some dude that was a MASTER of it. I continually had to go back over and over again to help others clear it for the achievement title, and it was terrible. Because as you say it was tightly tuned, and we were not masters at it. I’m inclined to agree with others to say that much of the vehicle stuff in Wrath is pretty fail. A novelty at best, and many people didn’t enjoy it. They endured it.

    As far as carrots and what have you, if Blizzard gave the option to omit a single instance out of the random tool, much like they do on maps in War Craft III, I’d happily click Oculus on all my toons. It gives more badges per hour then most others and a chance at a mount and some gems, but I’m a JC with an alchemist alt, I don’t need gems. I’m a druid, I don’t use special flying mounts, I trained the best flying mount in the game back in BC. The carrot isn’t big enough for me to even want to run it. Since I’m a hard to find tank though, when I get it on randoms, I stay, wait for the group to stabilize (usually clearing the trash on the way to the first boss while we reque) and collect my frost badges. I don’t run more then one random a day on my main anyway, so I don’t get it very often.

    I’ve never gotten it on my hunter alt, but I’d stay if I did just because the que is so long already. I would use the mount if it dropped, but I don’t collect them so I don’t care much either way.

    As for why people would bail on any other instance other then HoR, I simply don’t understand that. Everything is so easy and you are very likely to get at least a few people in your group that will pretty much make it a face roll for badges.

  4. Joel says:

    My argument against Oculus is that it isn’t fun. I don’t care how easy it is. I don’t care what the rewards are. I find vehicular combat clunky and will avoid any instance / raid / quest that requires it if at all possible. I want to play the character I leveled and not a poorly-done mini-game. I won’t bail on Oculus if it pops, but I’m ticked that my half-hour of fun has been turned into a half-hour of annoyance.

  5. Great post.

    I agree with quite a bit of this. For the people who didn’t have a problem running Oculus in the first place, the extra pretties are just an extra unnecessary carrot that doesn’t even make sense. Why would you give one heroic, which is not even the most difficult heroic, more added benefit for a random pug than any other?

    The problem is with people ditching the pug, and screwing the other puggers. There will always be certain instances that people don’t like, and choose not to run. Throwing them in their least favorite run semi-randomly is bound to elicit some groans. But rudely bailing on the rest of the pug and putting them into an unfortunate position of replacing you is the real problem. I think you’re right that the only way to actually prevent this from happening is to increase the punishment for abandoning and deserting your pug-mates.

    It doesn’t matter that there is a pretty carrot, because I don’t need the extra triumph badges. I still hate Oculus. It gives me the heebie-jeebies, and when I’m in there and flopping about miserably because I really just *can’t fly*, and no one is willing to slow down enough to let me /follow them, the game stops being fun for me. It starts being something that I wish I hadn’t spent 15 dollars for that month. It makes me miserable, and my mere presence makes the other 4 folks miserable. It’s not because I’m lazy, or because I’m a jerk, or any of that… it’s because I don’t want to fail, and despite my best efforts, that seems to be exactly what I do in Oculus.

    While as of yet I have never bailed on an Oculus group before, I’m terrified of getting it in my random queue next time. I don’t want to be rude to my fellow players, but I also don’t want to do something that really does make me feel so miserable and frustrated. Isn’t the game supposed to be fun? I wish there were an easy fix to the problem, but I really don’t know of one.

  6. Phelps says:

    Actually, I’m a little more devious. Leave the debuff on until the rest of the group is done. Either all five drop, or the last boss does. Occ pops and four people drop? All four are locked out. That guy gets four more and they drop? Eight locked out. Takes four hours to do because all the leet peeps dropped? Tough. Don’t drop next time and you have control over your lockout.

  7. Kaethir says:

    @Phelps: I like that plan!
    .-= Kaethir´s last blog ..How to Make Friends…. or Something Like That =-.

  8. Chiraa says:

    I don’t mind the Oculus, but I really dislike tanking it as a feral druid. All the yummy rage I built up during fights, is immediately cleared because I have to mount something to move to the next portion. So I am constantly rage-starved in there. I will tree-heal it any day, I just hate having to sit there and wait for my enrage CD to go away before I can pull the next group. Without rage, you can only keep one mob on you for a short time with FFF. And good luck getting any of the DPS you get with the LFD tool to wait til you get some solid threat on the mobs… or even the mage boss. Two days ago, I had a hunter who kept pulling threat… obviously wasn’t MDing to me, I finally let him tank the Mage boss and die… didn’t see any reason to get the rest of the group killed by being slowed so much they couldn’t get behind a pillar… I had time to enrage and pick him up after and he was down in 15 sec.

    I always wondered why there WASN’T a hard to get mount in that instance. It always seemed more logical than one from UP.

  9. Erik says:

    My problem is I am not good at 3D spatial control and Oculus puts a premium on it. I’ve cleared it a few times now in Dungeon tool and it is way more painful than any other instance IMHO. My strategy is to clear to first boss and drop since it locks me to the instance so I won’t get it again AND clears most of the 15 minute buff. The new loot ~might~ make me run it, but I doubt it. The instance is confusing because there is no guidance on where to go and it is too easy to get separated all so there can be a silly fight on a dragon.

  10. bigbearbutt says:

    Okay Phelps, that’s funny. I love that idea. And I’d totally implement it, too, and damn the bitching.

    But after reading Miss Medicinas comment, I had two things to add.

    First, In all this I’m positing a tit for tat arrangement. You give Occ the bonus goodies, you give Occ the bigger stick (1 hour deserter). I absolutely acknowledge that Heroic Halls of Reflection is, currently, very difficult, and it’s been my experience that sometimes the random LFD system adds DPS that just don’t have the actual equipped gear necessary to blow up the trash on Arthas’ walk, through no fault of that player’s. Until such time as the system gets a little more robust about checking basic gear levels against the trash kill speed, it’s realistic to accept that people that zone into Heroic Halls of Reflection are sometimes going to not want to cause the failure of a group.

    I think it’s exacerbated by being able to unlock it on Heroic by doing the quests of Pit of Saron on regular. I know of guildies that are simply not competing the Pit of Saron quest chain to unlock Halls of Reflection on their newly 80 alts until they feel they’d be able to successfully support a heroic group.

    Anyway, I think that one possible happy solution would be to give folks a single mulligan on the random. To let folks check one, and no more than one, instance that they don’t want to see on Heroic in the queue, so that if you just get horribly stressed on one like The Oculus, or Halls of Reflection, then they can rest a little easier.

    At least it would let new healers with good gear learning their way more time to prepare before hitting Halls of Reflection, and it would let experienced players like Miss Medicina block out Occ from her list if she just doesn’t want the stress.

    And hey, Blizzard could datamine who blocks what out, what classes or specs block what out, and see, truly see what everyone’s least liked instances are, to focus their attentions.

  11. Kaelynn says:

    Adding a stick on top of the deserter debuff is a difficult call to make. Some people (like Joel above) despise vehicle combat, and others have a lot of trouble with navigating the instance in a 3D space. If someone is miserable running the Oculus, are making their group miserable, and are only doing it to avoid a big penalty, is that good for the game? After all, people want to play a game to have fun. On the other hand, you can argue that they chose to take that risk of ending up in Oculus because they wanted shiny emblems, and they should have to deal with the consequences. If they value progression (getting frost emblems) over running only instances they enjoy, then they’ll just have to put up with possibly not having fun all the time.

    Also, you are definitely not the only one who read the The Dragonriders of Pern series – it’s still to this day one of my favorite fantasy worlds.
    .-= Kaelynn´s last blog ..A Shiny New Magazine Has Arrived =-.

  12. Cornfedhick says:

    I think the biggest problem with Occulus is that the abilties for the drakes are hard for some people understand. I think most of it is just a lack of understanding of how the mount abilities work together. I’ve only done the healer drake successfully because I still have problems with the other two.

    I’m not a huge fan of this place but so many people just want to outgear everything and don ‘t care about actually learning the proper way to do things. I enjoy the satisfaction that comes with knowing you outsmarted as opposed to outgeared an instance. With the extra carrots, this might be my motivation to go back and do it more often.

  13. Bleaktrotter says:

    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?
    There is no debuff for getting DC’d. That’s why if I want to dip from a group, I alt+f4, load the game back up, and queue away. The deserter debuff is broken in that respect.

  14. Maritime says:

    There is one less player tanking random heroics because of the Oculus. The instance is simply not fun, due to the clunky mount/dismount, people getting lost or simply unable to navigate in a 3D environment, and not being able to play my character. I don’t drop the instance as soon as I see it because its hard (it’s not), I drop because I DON”T LIKE IT. And because I don’t want to screw over the other four people queued, I only queue up as DPS so they don’t have to wait for another tank to fill my spot.

    Want to help alleviate the tank shortage Blizzard? Let us blacklist 1 or 2 dungeons from the random.

  15. Shayzani says:

    I don’t think the nerfs to the HoL boss or the Drak boss are at all similar to the Oculus nerfs. The motivations behind adjusting those bosses were entirely different from the motivations behind the continual downgrades to the Oculus.

  16. Rades says:

    You can’t really compare Oculus to heroic Halls of Reflection because of how Oculus forces you to ride vehicles for half the instance. Halls is HARD, yes, but fun. Oculus just isn’t any fun. You can definitely compare it to the boss in DTK, but that’s just a single, 2 minute boss where everyone yawns, presses every button except 2 (unless you’re the tank) and watches TV or something while the boss slowly perishes.

    I never drop group if Oculus ends up being the random heroic, but I DO always hate it, despite how easy it is now. So you can do it now without wiping, fine. In other words, it’s just like any other Northrend heroic…except annoying? Sounds like a winner.

    What I DO usually do is suggest to the group that we kill the first boss and get saved, then leaving and waiting out the remaining 10 minutes or so on the debuff. That way we at least get 1 emblem and, since we’re saved, a reduced chance at getting Oculus again for the rest of the day.

    Even if I was running it with a group of WoW prodigies who were absolute masters at drake riding, and it was a fast, wipe-free, perfect run…I’d still hate it. Because it’s simply annoying to have to do. It’s slow, it’s cumbersome, and it’s boring.

    Oculus is the mowing the lawn of the WoW universe.

  17. Elvgren says:

    I finally completed the Northrend Dungeon Acheesement. Occulus was the last. I loathed it pre LFG, pre-nerf, etc not because it was hard. It’s just a terrible design. The idea of a 3D environment is great … accept when it’s tossed randomly into a linear game. Add that the flight mechanics, vehicle mechanics in general, are horrid and you have a terrible instance that you simply do not need to put yourself through.

    I still loathe it, as I do every vehicle based encounter (I didn’t roll my hunter, druid, and rogue to be forced to drive a tank just to see Ulduar … grr!), but I still don’t abandon my guild mates when we get it. I wanted too … sorely tempted … but I didn’t. Tanking it is annoying in the extreme due to it’s layout, or lack there of. Just a bad decision design wise based on player mechanics.

    I seriously hope Bliz takes the lesson to heart on Cataclysm.

  18. Steevee says:

    BBB, I think you might have inadvertently answered your own question and it makes (some) sense to me… If everyone constantly bails on Occ, then Blizz’s shiny new Random Dungeon tool isn’t really random, as it is forever backfilling existing Occ instances.

    I think they (Blizz) are trying to bribe players into staying in Occ instances so that there really is more “randomness” to the Random LFD utility. I think we are seeing such HUGE rewards on this single instance so quickly after the tool was implemented in hopes that people will stay in Occ and others can get a wider variance in “random” dungeons when queued, before people become irritated with the new LFD and just quit using it altogether. That would suck for Blizz.

    My two cents…

  19. Shawndra says:

    I, too, looked forward to my first run of Occulus just because I would be flying on dragons. How cool is that? Anne McCaffrey’s books dominated my reading list from junior high on, and the thought of almost living out my daydreams was kinda thrilling. It was sooo hard! It took us a couple of days to get it, and I got that staff with the dragon on it :) I didn’t run it again until 3.3.

    I get lost around the corner from my house, so you can imagine how hard getting around the Occulus was for me. It gets worse when I am in a group and noone else knows where to go. Follow me? Ha Ha!
    .-= Shawndra´s last blog ..Twink From Scratch – An Alliance Experiment. =-.

  20. Other Cassie says:

    Oculus makes me sick.

    Not in some sort of theoretical I-don’t-like-it way. It makes me motion sick and completely ruins my day, as 4+ hours of trying not to puke tends to do for most people. So I can’t get behind a bigger stick until they address that problem — that some people are physically unable to do the instance without getting ill. If they want to let me blacklist it, that’s fine. If they want to get rid of the uncontrollable 180-degree turn every time I get on a friggin drake, that will help, but it won’t solve the problem completely. Trying to orient myself in 3d space on a 2d monitor is always going to wreak a little havoc on me, and probably will on a notable minority of players — and screwing us over for something that affects the rest of our lives too is unfun.

  21. Lheaf says:

    Well said. Carrots and sticks, never looked at it that way. I still believe that LFG was designed to try to balance out the %s of completed heroics by forcing people into them.

  22. Elvgren says:

    “And hey, Blizzard could datamine who blocks what out, what classes or specs block what out, and see, truly see what everyone’s least liked instances are, to focus their attentions.”

    THAT would be an interesting design tool.

  23. Copey says:

    Elvgren says:

    “And hey, Blizzard could datamine who blocks what out, what classes or specs block what out, and see, truly see what everyone’s least liked instances are, to focus their attentions.”

    THAT would be an interesting design tool.

    Yeah, just imagine if the found out that feral druids hated a certain instance, so to fix that they put some must have pre-raid gear in there…

  24. Rowtan says:

    Completely off-topic – Wow … didn’t think anyone else ever read the Dragonriders of Pern series :P I loved those books. Anne McCaffrey wrote some cool books. :-)

  25. Bellwether says:

    You’re right Bear, I loved Oculus.

    Not anymore.

    They took an instance I loved, wiped on, worked through and mastered and turned it into a pile of rubbish you can blindly smash your face against and win.

    They took a real challenge that required some patience and finesse and nerfed it so badly that the bosses before Eregos are little more then small children smacking you with pillows. I’ve had groups with people in blues and greens who, without heals, would stand on electrified floors, in dragon beams or in the mage’s nova without moving and survive with barely a scratch.

    I loved Oculus because you needed to slow down and reason it out. It gave you time to get used to your drakes and their skills (especially before gear scaled with them, as you had to put forth some effort into killing the drakes you pulled). Even before Eregos, there were whelp packs to test your brand-new final skill. And without any reliance on gear, you could ride your drake naked, allowing for no consequences from wipes.

    I spent hours in there with a semi-PUG group, learning how to take down Eregos with five amber drakes. You had to line up your Time Stops correctly because of diminishing returns and boss mechanics. Everyone had to know what they were doing. It was like a mini raid boss.

    It was nice to have a Heroic where you had to put in some effort. Where you had to try something new, where you had to slow down and take your time. Where you stepped out of your comfort zone and just kicked it in the face, and maybe if you didn’t get it that night, you’d get it the next.

    Now people won’t take ten seconds to read the help I try to give them. I can now fly through Oculus virtually trash-drake-free, but no one will listen when I ask them to follow. I explain drake abilities and rotations, but generally we have no red drake shields up or the green drakes aren’t healing or the ambers are all time-stopping at the same time so it ends too quickly to be effective. And you know what? Almost every time, the instance goes down anyway. With randoms.

    I don’t love Oculus anymore. It’s just another heroic you can do in ten-to-fifteen minutes with little effort or thought. Forget the stick; I don’t even have a carrot.

  26. Criven says:

    As far as the HoL and DTK changes go, they weren’t changed because they were difficult, they were changed because the way Blizz coded those % health triggered abilities made them broken for high geared groups.

    In some cases you were spending more time in the transformation phases (or even just the locked out transform bit) than in the entire rest of those boss fights.

    There’s a third one which is still left scripted much the same way – Ymiron. He is kept the way he is for the moment because his boss fight requires four of those activations for his full ability set.

    As far as Oculus goes, Blizz is taking a very strange tactic here.

  27. My level 80 Priest, my main character and first level 80 has yet to do Oculus in either normal or Heroic. It has never come up on random and has never been a daily when I’ve found a group for it….
    .-= ZombiePirateXXX´s last blog ..My Embarrassing Story… =-.

  28. Elegantdeath says:

    Hey, I did Oculus a couple weeks ago with you guys. It was my first time there (ever). Kind of interesting place and glad you and Cassie knew what you were doing as we cleared it in a breeze.

  29. Gx1080 says:

    Pffft. Until The Occulus can be brute forced just like the rest of the non-ICC Heroics (that being, until Eregos just fall over dead just for pushing random 3 buttons with your nose and there’s arrows pointing in every single direction) people will hate it. Whatever trauma you got from there, get over it.

    Is a ridicously easy instance now. Buuut, I neeed to pay atteeention to DBM! A Cry me a fucking river.

  30. Gx1080 says:

    (comment got cut)

    And, really, 3 tooltips aren’t that hard to understand anyways. (Most wipes are caused for people that can’t do the simple instruction “Freeze time when he enrages”). Like the free stuff and all, but all the whining about that place is already ridiculous.

  31. bigbearbutt says:

    So, posted this yesterday.

    Last night, Went to do a heroic on my Horde Paladin with two friends, one as healer, other as another DPS.

    Our random was The Oculus.

    We got a bear tank and a hunter.

    The Bear was in insanely good tanking gear, a lot of raid stuff… and his skill was crap.

    Aside from the skill issue, he went afk a few times for a minute here or there, but we moved forward. He said nothing in the group, no direction, no marking, seemed a little dazed.

    At the 15 minute mark, he left the group. Not a word, nothing.

    What an asshole. And if you do that, you’re one too.

    What did he leave?

    He left a group that had done THEIR jobs in keeping everyone alive smoothly despite his not holding aggro on ranged mobs against healer threat, and who had successfully cleared the first two bosses.

    He actually left the party in mid fight against the second trash fight of the Mage-Lord, as the last mob died.

    One trash pull and the Mage-Lord were all we needed a tank for. The rest was vehicle. So I switched to my Pally gear and spec, and we pugged in a Death Knight DK as fill in.

    We were very welcoming and polite, “hey, just had someone leave, only have one trash pull and two bosses, no worries, grab yourself a yellow drake and come meet us up here.”

    We didn’t wait for him, by the way, we cleared the last trash fight ourselves as four people.

    So all there was left were TWO BOSSES and the CHEST.

    He never said a word, we faced off on the Mage-Lord, killed him in a smooth as silk one shot… and the brand new DK left the party.

    That’s right. He came in, got an Emblem for a two minute fight, and then left.

    So we went to pug a third replacement DPS.

    We get someone come in, and I had the pleasure of saying, “Hey, we had two morons leave a perfectly smooth run, all that’s left is the last boss fight, feel like getting on a Drake and getting five Emblems for 5 minutes effort?”

    He seemed quite excited.

    So let’s recap the moron tank, shall we?

    At 15 minutes, he left group with two Emblems, having made sure he was now saved to an Oculus run.

    8 minutes later, despite the morons and the delays they both caused, the rest of the group got 6 more Emblems, and gems.

    I want to go on record that if you start the Oculus as a tank, and you run it for 15 minutes and then bail without a word just so you can be saved and not have to deal with a deserter timer, then I think you’re an asshat.

    I’m not trying to be funny. I really do.

    I don’t want you for a reader, and I hope to hell I never meet your ass in game.

    If you see Oculus, and you don’t want to do it (because you personally hate it, or you’re terrible at the vehicles, or the graphics make you sick, which is no joke for anyone with issues with vertigo) and you know you have no intention of carrying through, then just leave at the start. It’s cool. Be up front, “Hey, sorry guys, don’t want to do this one, hope you find someone else” and blip; gone.

    People leaving at the start is, while sad, perfectly acceptible. Let everyone else get a group that WILL stick together and do it, and go on about your business.

    Don’t be a dick and put the responsiblity of kicking you on the rest of the group, don’t be a dick and bail in mid fight, don’t be a selfish little prick in general by being passive-aggressive and making everyone else coddle your ass.

    Just leave. Take your deserter debuff that you have incurred for acting on your decision of your own free will, and stop screwing the rest of the people who are just there to do what they came for.

    Accept some personal responsibility and some consequences in your life for your decisions, don’t blame other people for what you choose to do, and don’t even pretend to think I’m on your side. You’re not a master of gaming the system by screwing four other people; you’re an asshat.

    Thankfully… I carry a tank spec, and while I don’t like pally tanking, I can do it. Otherwise, a lame collapsed run because of one asshat.

  32. Elegantdeath says:

    Thanks again for the post. Not to say Oculus was difficult… on the contrary (especially with you guys pointing out things for me as a new comer). I generally dislike anything that requires flying or being in a vehicle (except oddly WG). Jausting… egads… and that’s only 4 or 5 tooltips. But, I could never say I would run because I’m uncomfortable doing it.

  33. Kaethir says:

    Oddly enough, as an instance I LOVE Oculus. I like all the work Blizzard put into designing it, I love the vehicle fight, I liked the fact that you used to have to clear trash. True, I’m not upset that they removed *some* of the trash, and it’s a little annoying with all the “hop on, fly 5 secs, land.” But I love the design.

    The thing that always made me dislike running it was the fact that you really did have to get a group of people that were good at that particular thing – the vehicle/flying on dragons/coordinating thing – or it became a long drawn out affair with a lot of wipes… UNTIL everybody figured it out.

    I really do agree with Bear. More carrot is nice… but where’s the bigger stick?
    .-= Kaethir´s last blog ..The Guns of Icecrown Citadel =-.

  34. Nim (Ankh) says:

    Hmm, The Oculus truly seems to be a hot topic nowadays.

    The Oculus is a very techincal fight, and pugs don’t do well with technicality. I think Bliz decided to nerf the hell out of it in an attempt to make it as ‘easy’ as the other heroics (ICC content notwithstanding). For the majority of the players, heroics at this point are nothing more than badge farming. Something you can grab a pug for and down in 15-20 minutes. The Oculus simply did not allow this for most pugs. They made Eregos a pinata for an extra incentive. They already nerfed the place to the extent that, if they were to nerf it once more, Eregos would be replaced with a gigantic dragon stuffed with cotton candy holding a big neon sign over his head saying “FREE LOOT, INQUIRE WITHIN”.

    The Oculus was a great bit of fun when run with a group of people who knew what to do or were willing to learn (because let’s be honest, it’s really not that hard once you know what to do).It was different, a breath of fresh air (get it?) from any of the other dungeons because it was so different. It was a terrible instance, though, when you had people who didn’t care to know how to do it and would subsequently keep you in there for far longer than you wanted. This was unfortunately the case most of the time.

    It’s always a disappointment when something that is conquerable is nerfed anyway. In the case of the Oculus, I feel it was disappointing, but also needed for the sake of the random dungeon finder. The mechanics are pretty much the same and it’s still original from the other instances of Northrend. Whereas it’s less of a challenge to do with an experienced group, it can still be fun. Whereas you can (and likely will) still get Brute Force Billy in your groups, it won’t be as mind-numbingly difficult to work around his ‘creative’ ways to defeating the king of Candy Mountain.
    .-= Nim (Ankh)´s last blog ..Kris Kringle: Quicklinks =-.

  35. MyName says:

    I don’t know if I agree with all the stuff they added to oculus. But getting rid of some of those annoying drakes is something I approve of. And yeah, I remember what a pain that instance was at early 80, and as much as I needed the dang staff from there on my priest, I knew there was no way I could farm the place for that.

  36. Theo says:

    Personally I don’t mind Oculus too much (and I look forward to it with the newest “carrot”). I’ve just learned a bit of “defensive grouping” for when I’m invariably put in with group members who are wet behind the ears with regards to Oculus. For example, I don’t dismount off my drake when flying between platforms until everyone has arrived – quite a few times I’ve seen group members get “lost” or stumble around for a while, bringing an aggro train of drake trash with them that is much more difficult to kill when dismounted.

    I can still get in a sticky bind when I have an itchy-triggered group member that tries to “help” by starting the pulls. Partly because of the Blizzard bug that if you dismount from combat, a lot of times the action bars get glitched and you have some sort of frankenstein half-vehicle half-normal UI.

    Nonetheless, I feel totally different about Heroic Halls of Reflection. They either need to raise the reward level (while keeping the difficulty), and raise the gear requirement… or lower the difficulty of the dungeon. I get placed to tank it way too often with groups that are just incapable of performing at the level that H HoR demands – simply because it has sweet upgrades on it, and they are explicitly requesting it as soon as Dungeon Finder allows them to, in hopes of getting “carried” through it.

    Super-geared raiders don’t request H HoR as much because they don’t really have slots that get upgraded there, and they don’t need the triumph badges. So most likely if you get someone super-geared in H HoR it’s because it was their random heroic.

    I find myself quitting H HoR more often than Oculus nowadays, because it’s just often the case that no matter what you do, you can’t raise a player’s competencies/gear level throughout the night. Competency gets raised over time, I’ve seldom see any players go from “total noob” to “total pro” within 2 hours. You can patiently work your way around someone being new to Oculus mechanics, but telling someone to raise their DPS from 1500 to 3000 for H HoR is a lot harder to do.

  37. Elvgren says:

    “Yeah, just imagine if the found out that feral druids hated a certain instance, so to fix that they put some must have pre-raid gear in there…”

    I like to think, supplied with sufficient information, designers would take the “well, that didn’t work” approach and NOT make the same design mistakes twice. Players voting with their participation as opposed to just the loud mouthed ravings in the forums makes for a much more eloquent statement, one the devs showed listen to. Idoubt they’d consider tossing gear

    Occulus is just one flaw after another. It was never “hard” it was annoying. Give me a hard encounter with coordination, awareness, and timing requirements and I’ll beat my tankish head against it all day long and not curse the designers one time. Give me an encounter with forced disruptive breaks, lame mechanics that don’t leverage the game engine in a way that is fluid … like combat in 3D space … and I’ll just not go. As did MOST players with Occulus. I run it now because, as Bear said, bailing is lamer (more lame?)

    The best solution to all this remains an “opt out” option.

  38. Grumpy says:

    I still hate Occulus. It’s not bosses, the trash, or the final event (well maybe it’s the final event a little). It’s the constant flying back and forth after every trash pull in a seemingly haphazard direction . I don’t care that it’s fast, and I don’t care that it’s easier. I finished it half a dozen times well before the nerf and I’m comfortable on the Amber and somewhat on the Red drake. The plain fact is that it’s a game and I choose not to participate in that instance. I also choose to not participate much in PVP either. So I do leave if Occ shows up in random. I leave right away, often before others even zone in. I gladly take the 15 min penalty and simply do dailies or farm or just watch tv. For what it’s worth, I would probably bail on a much longer penalty as well. While the frost badges are nice, and I raid so I need them; it’s not worth the 30+ minutes of bitching at my monitor and not enjoying the game AT ALL while I’m in there.

    I’m sure the designers don’t like the fact that people don’t like some of their work, especially since most of the dissatisfaction comes from the much anticipated riding interface. I design software for a living so I know that a bad feature is painful and a direct shot at your pride. I also don’t like EoE much and apparently I wasn’t alone. Once people got the gear they wanted they stopped going (kind of like Occulus). So I’m happy that you and your wife are enjoying H-Occ. Maybe I’ll see you there (oh wait H-Occ?, no I won’t).

  39. Eric says:

    I very much like this article, but I don’t feel any guilt or remorse for dropping a random pug when I get Occ. I hate the place, not because it was ever hard, but because it’s simply not fun. Hop on your lame dragon, hop off…kill 4 guys…hop back on…ugh. It’s ‘clunky’ as a prior poster accurately observed. The last boss fight is beyond stupid. The only carrot that Blizz could offer that would give me incentive to run that place would be ilevel 264 gear and up.

    I would, and do, happily drop group…take my debuff…log onto another character and Q up for a random. A 5 hour debuff wouldn’t stop me from dropping group. Put a functionality in the LFD that allows you to “blacklist” certain dungeons. Problem solved. If it means I have to wait a little longer, so be it.

    I play this game for fun. Secondarily I play this game to enjoy coordinating w/ people I know and can talk to on vent. I generally don’t go out of my way to screw people I don’t know, but I will not sacrifice my fun because Blizz wants to show off “their masterpiece.” Sometimes companies make products that they think are going to be sure-fire hits, and they flop. Get over it and accept that your customers don’t like it.

  40. Ngita says:

    Actually I have dropped from far more heroic OK then Heroic Occulus, The only time I dropped occulus was because I had lost the 15 min debuff and we hadnt yet reached the first boss due to people leaving/joining. Btw if the other 4 leave at the same time you can queue for another random from inside occulus.

    But heroic OK?. It semes to be part of the lowest teir like vh/nexus. So you get the sub 2500 gs tanks and dps. It has 5 bosses and a tremendous amout of caster trash and the newer players will want their 5 triumph/quests completed. It has skirmishers that should be killed first and interupted, but are not. Even the first boss. Ok we have a boss that immune to attacks, we have litle adds that are immune to attack, we have a elite add that needs tanking but the tank has not noticed it. Who is tanking it? I am as the healer. I adopted a policy if they want all bosses and I died before the first boss was dead, I would leave. Guess what that lead to me leaving 60% of the time.

  41. Timberton says:

    “But heroic OK?. … It has skirmishers that should be killed first and interupted”

    Those are Spellfingers

    Never had problems in OK myself. I up up a skull on the Spellfingers (since everybody can mark now) and it’s gravy.
    And i’d say that place requires patience above all, as in not to rush forward and aggro 3 packs+the patrol. Patience is sadly a rare commodity nowadays, but a friendly warning of “you pull before the tank…you tank it and you get no heals” works wonders.

    There are the impatient and undergeared tanks that overpull, but i find that given my healing gear level i can almost always power through it if i don’t get heal aggro.

  42. Luiniel says:

    I don’t like how much they’ve nerfed and stickified Oculus; it’s now a piece of piss and a walkover. But despite that I still groan when I see the loading screen. Because it’s still not the fastet pug in the best situation (that’s Gundrak, at 5+2 badges in 12 minutes) and it’s remarkably easy for someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing (not their fault) or is an idiot (is their fault) to turn it into a 60 minute grind fest.

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