Second Thoughts on Scaling

Following on the heels of yesterdays post, Blizzard can implement scaling but would we want to play that way?

The World of Warcraft game could be boiled down into one concept; bigger means better.

The goal of the game is to reach higher numbers. Higher character levels, higher stats, higher item levels, more gold, topping meters, and on and on. For a game with no end, the numbers are the way we keep score.

I’m not saying that is the way we have to play it. I’m saying that is the way we have ended up playing it. Roleplaying our characters and pet battling and other pursuits are perfectly viable and fun means of playing the game, but that stuff is our attempt to turn a level grind into a sandbox. It works, but it’s certainly not the message we get from the game. Level your character, equip upgraded gear, go look for more levels and better gear. Rinse and repeat.

Content in the game is set to a fixed difficulty level. If it’s the hardest content, it has the best gear rewards for developing the skill and coordination to beat it. By beating it, you get more powerful gear than can be found anywhere else, which enables you to attempt ever more powerful challenges. At some point, what you’re doing is relegated to old stuff, new content and ever better gear comes out, and the people who couldn’t kill it when it was current can get gear through other means to let them go back and give it another try.

Having problems in Mogushan Vaults normal? Go get yourself some iLevel 522 Valor Gear and come back to roflstomp it later.

The entire system is designed to reward you for improving your skill and coordination as a team by giving you the highest level of gear, and then making that gear necessary to take on the next leading edge content.

Blizzard has included other content meant to give non-progression raiders a strong challenge in the past. Like the timed bear mount runs in Zul’aman, the new Challenge modes in Pandaria. Um, maybe other stuff I’m spacing on?

They’ve tried, and it’s been well received. People like their bear mounts.

The name of the game, though, is progression, even in our character power. Starting off low, improving over time, and feeling that difference as your gear gets better.

Personally, I like the way our characters become more powerful in comparison to older content. If you played through content at it’s most challenging, then coming back years later brings both nostalgia for the good times and a renewed sense of being a badass now. In a game with no ‘I win’ ending, it is important to be able to feel badass after getting your lunch money stolen all day by Lei Shen.

With the majority of the game designed around coming back to a challenge after your gear improves, would there really be interest in playing scaling content?

Yes, I know it’s goofy to make up a system yesterday that doesn’t exist, and then spend time today asking if anyone would play it. I’m just getting in on the ground floor! First I suggest the system, and then I tell you why it would never work. Okay, I’m kidding. But seriously, if Blizzard did that, think of the time savings by cutting out the QQ middleman!

I’m interested in this idea, though. Scaling of content exists in other games. Guild Wars 2, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Neverwinter, etc. It’s out there, this is not a dream or an imaginary tale, it’s really real.

If the game you play is founded on the concept of improving your gear to become more powerful, then how does it feel to play scaling content that makes your gear irrelevant? The challenge will always be the same, the only way to improve is to practice and improve your own gameplay.

How does it feel? If your gear doesn’t matter in scaling content, doesn’t that mean your gear doesn’t matter? Without gear to improve your power, what is the shiny dangled in front of you as a reward?

For better or worse, powerful gear is the lure used to get most of us playing the next content to come out in World of Warcraft.

Whether you run a raid to get a drop, or you run content that can’t drop anything that would be an upgrade for you because you can earn points to spend on stuff that IS an upgrade, it’s still doing stuff to get better gear.

Achievements and vanity items like pets and mounts help to give us other goals to pursue, but for the most part it’s more powerful gear. Not everyone runs stuff for pets or mounts, but everyone I know in the game wants gear upgrades, and plays some form of content they don’t particularly like once in a while to get some.

I don’t know. I’m very curious about this whole thing.

What I would like that does not currently exist are twofold.

I would like an expanded selection of content to run while leveling, content that was reachable by the LFD tool.

I would also like a way for players new to World of Warcraft to be able to experience ALL of the content that has been released over the last eight years through a simple to find interface like the LFR/LFD tool.

For a person brand new to World of Warcraft, the game is easy to get into, experience from kills and quests comes rolling in fast, and the journey from 1 to 90 doesn’t take long at all.

Here is my only criticism of it.

You can use the LFD tool to play existing dungeon as you level up, with new ones presented as you outlevel the old ones, but once you’re past that level range, the dungeon is gone forever, and the raids don’t exist at all.

I would like a way for new players to be able to know that the old raids exist, to see them, and to do them in groups without the only real option being facerolling them solo at level 90.

It is only my assumption that the best way to allow a new player to get into the old raids as a group is to scale the raids so you’re not limited to doing them within a narrow level band. The majority of active players are at or near level cap, so my thoughts turned to how to get the old raids viable for level 90s.

Perhaps, before I thought of scaling, I should have gone to the heart of the question;

What could we do to take all of the existing content, all of this awesome stuff Blizzard has spent the last eight years creating, and stick it in the face of players new and old to have fun with?

14 thoughts on “Second Thoughts on Scaling

  1. I’ve been running Kara on my priest for the rep, and I don’t see how it could have been terribly hard. Unless they modified it a lot, there are swaths of empty space and bit sized pulls. Heck, there are a ton of single pulls, that I assume were ignored by anyone not dead set on getting every ounce of Violet Eye rep, like I am.

    I’d be over joyed to actually play Kara on ‘hard mode’ – or Molten Core with the mechanics I’ve seen in YouTube videos. Or BWL – the closest I got to that was when Onyxia was upgraded – but we were overgeared for that, and it was pretty roflstompy.

    AQ 20 and 40 too… so many old raids just gathering dust or have a brief spark of life with pet raiding – then, nothing again…

    I’m an advocate for scaled content – as long as it’s optional. I didn’t enjoy GW2 and being forced back down to 5th level when running outside a capitol – but if I can choose to participate, or to roflstomp as I desire – then awesome.


    • Kara was difficult before people out-geared it. Classes/specs were a lot different then. There was not the homogenization and overlap of abilities. And, CC mattered. People didn’t have the same access to strategy/run-through sites. Hell, it actually took effort to get the gear and the key to even get in to Kara. You can’t look at Kara through the prism of WoW as it is now. It’s just not the same. It was a pretty well-tuned raid and was both a challenge and fun.


  2. This is definitely a coin with two faces. On one side, you have convenience and ease of play. On the other side, you have the social aspect of “getting there is half the fun”.

    LFD (and it’s later counterpart LFR) was both a boon, and the doom of the game. The game fundamentally changed after that. I remember writing a song that I posted about sitting in the Dalaran bar and queing up for heroics as a tank. You can play almost the whole game past level 10, by sitting in Org (or Ironforge if you are a dirty, dirty Ally…ahem) and just doing LFDs. By that I mean you can play all the way up to max level. And they even made many of them just hand the quests out at the beginning of the instance now, instead of getting the quest in the outside world.

    Some of the best times I had in game, were on non-raid nights where some guy that had been raiding since vanilla said “You’ve never been to Molten Core?!?! Lets go man!” And we went. On land mounts. We had to do some quests outside. I had to get a key or some such thing. Then we went in, and just ROFL-stomped around the place. It was awesome.

    Queing up for it certainly would have been more convenient, except under your idea we would have had to get an appropriate raid group together because of the scale thing. Thus, since I don’t really know 20 some people such as your self that would say “Hell Yeah!, Lets go wipe on a 5 year old raid!”, it would have never happened. Or I can go in with a bunch of strangers like the current LFR will let you do…and well personally I never enjoyed that. Too many terrible, terrible experiences.

    If you take out the scaling factor you talked about, and just add hundreds of dungeon options to the LFD, I don’t know how much it would get used. Factor in that new players play so fast through zones that the dungeons in those areas have zero importance or back story. So it’s just a place to go.

    Old hands at the game are nostalgic about old content for a reason. They played it when it was current. When it was hard, and challenging, and you had no other options. With every available option in the LFD, if they are scaled not very many people will use it, because not as many people as you think want to die doing something they happily got past years ago.

    With every available option in the LFD non-scaled, we have a bunch of people sitting in separate locations, possibly on separate servers, just queing up and rolling.

    What happened to meeting up, traveling half way across Azeroth, perhaps WTFpwning some Alliance on the way, and finding some hidden instance with your buddies?

    In my opinion adding old stuff to the LFD takes out some of the social aspect of the game.


    • Would it take away the social aspect of the game? Or would it just open up another avenue of socialization?

      Case in point:
      Through LFD, I found a person looking to server move off of their realm to another. Was running with 2 other guildies and we were chatting it up so much that the other dps was pissing and moaning about how long the dungeon run was taking. After we finished the dungeon and the moaner left, we hungout chit-chatting for another 15 to 20 minutes. He subsequently realm-changed a fair number of his toons to our realm and recruited several others from that realm as well. Without LFD, we’d have never found him, or his buddies.


    • It’s a great question, Copey, and I’m afraid I have an answer for you.

      What happened was, nobody liked to spend the time it took to travel across the world to meet at a dungeon, most folks didn’t like having to risk getting ganked and camped in world PvP just to reach an instance entrance, and most of the groups took longer to form by asking for more in trade channel than the actual run would take, and while you were doing that, you couldn’t leave the city zone to do anything else with your time like farm materials, quest or farm reputation.

      So, tools were added to allow you to multitask. Instead of having to stay in the capital city waiting for more to form in your group, you could allow an automated matchmaking service do the searching for more for you, and you could carry on with doing something else.

      I know people who have been playing the game for a long time are getting accused of having rose colored glasses about how great it used to be, but I’m saying the exact opposite. I played the game back then, I greatly appreciate the current system, and I want more ways of bringing the old content that people haven’t seen before into their field of view.

      I also feel that scaling means things can be adjusted so it’s not the wipefest where everyone spends hours dying that you assume it would be.

      As an example, let’s mention Karazhan. If you were here during that period, Karazhan started out as being intensely challenging and very long for a typical team of ten to handle. As the Burning Crusade iLevels increased, new raids were released, and especially once Justice Point or token items from the Sunwell island became available, Karazhan turned into a roflstomp. And that was all within one applicable range of iLevels to choose from for the Burning Crusade expansion. If the scaling were set to the top end of the Burning Crusade iLevel rather than the introductory range, I doubt that it would be an overly difficult raid to complete… but you still couldn’t just single tank pull the whole room your way through it. Close maybe, but not quite.

      It would give the essence of the original experience, without the panic and wipefest.

      It’s just something to think about.


      • That indeed is something to think about, as is Aestalas point. Very good points indeed.

        I counter with “I’m old, I’m grumpy, and I don’t like change.”

        The discussion at hand is a great one, and I’m probably on the outside looking in at popular opinion. I think adding so much ease and convenience to the game fundamentally changes the game. That’s not to say it made it worse, or better, because those are matters of opinion. I certainly have my own opinion. Obviously WoW is still here, cranking out updates and expansions. They must be doing something right, at least according to the masses.

        I was there for Kara, when it was current. I got attuned, I sat on the bench of a guild, waiting my turn. I did massive amounts of research to improve myself. I did unbelievably hard heroics to gear up. Then I finally got my shot at “Big Boy Raiding”. And it was totally worth it, and amazing, and it felt like a massive accomplishment. Because, it WAS a massive accomplishment.

        Now, you “lol” your way through content, hit a certain number on your average ilevel, and then click the button to raid. Consumables? Nope! Enchants/Gemming? Nope! Attunements? Nope! Knowing even the base requirements to play against the bosses, or hell, even play your own character? Nope!

        Just click the button, collect your loot.

        This idea expands on that even more, which from what I’ve seen will mean it will be massively embraced and accepted by the people who now play the game.

        I’m not saying it’s a bad idea, and it certainly has upside, even to me. The game is a different game than it used to be when I fell in love with it, and it’s hard for me to see it change even more. And it would be a large change.


      • I sum this up as “convenience trumps immersion.” I understand why people like it, and I understand why Blizz uses that approach, but that is what it is.

        Ps. I am speaking in generalities here, not aiming it at you specifically, or meaning anything negative.


  3. I wonder if a suitable reward for doing a scaled version of Molten Core could be a “Majordomo’s blacksmithing secrets” item that teaches your character the patterns to make the plate and melee weapons that drop in that raid. Requiring dusts and mats that drop in that raid to actually make the items would encourage players to play them and gate the rate at which the items are created / set a value of the items. Completionists would want to do all the old raids to get all the patterns. People not interested in scaled MC could commission crafters to make them a set of MC gear with which to go into scaled BWD.

    The items could require:
    – Some BoP mats that only drop in scaled mode, to set a minimum time investment per item crafted (and therefore price).
    – Some auctionable mats that only drop in scaled mode, to help progressing players pay for the cost of raiding and allow guilds to pool resources.
    – An item that costs some gold from a vendor, to function as a gold sink.

    Maybe they could also make it so that any character that clears all level-scaled raid content at level 60 gets an item that instantly boosts them to 70. That would make leveling via raiding a valid leveling option.


  4. Following your posts on scaling, updated 5.3 notes show that they are implementing scaling for PVP…
    …scroll down to the section PvP In Patch 5.3.

    They’ve got the technology in place to scale. Now you just need to the notion of scaled dungeons/raids/etc in their minds.

    I had a slightly different approach to the scaling from you. I wouldn’t make everything available to everyone from the get-go. Make EVERYTHING have a max-level scaled version. That way new players leveling won’t be overwhelmed from the sheer number of dungeons/raid/scenarios/battlegrounds/arenas/etc. Plus max-level players that just want to roflstomp out the old raids solo, can. Yet folks can relive the glory days of all content as level appropriate.


  5. Scaling. . . that’s what it would take. I’m a lvl 90 druid and I queue for Molten core. I’m stuck together with 20 ppl in their 60’s, 10 ppl in their 70’s, a few in their 80’s and some that are 90. My gear lvl scales back and the stats scale along with it. I have more tools in my toolbox than a lvl 63 druid that is running in the group with me, but I’m not carrying anybody. I pick up the pieces that I need for my weekly quest to get my valor/transmog piece/mount/pet/tabard/whatever and I go about my business.

    If I want to go solo MC @ 90, I fly over to Blackrock and walk in.

    The problem with low lvl instances and raids now is that you can NEVER find enough people at lvl to run the lvl 60, 70, 80 raids. Scaling would fix that issue. by opening it up to everyone that is at lvl or above without being too OP. If I’m 90 with iLVL 502, then my gear scales back to an upper echelon of stats. maybe I’m at Tier lvl stats while the lvl 60 that is with me in the group is actually getting xp AND gear that he can use. Maybe he’s in quest blues and greens. He still has to pull his weight or we don’t make it.

    I like the idea, myself. but I’m crazy, so . . .


  6. I, for one, love the idea of scaling precisely because it would foster exploration of the content that isn’t at the bleeding edge. I was always a bit saddened when I saw a dungeon go dark in my LFG list because I’d been out noodling around with quests and “outleveled” it. I’d still want the option to peg the setting at something I can try to solo because I’m wired that way, and sometimes it’s good to roflstomp something, but yes, I think scaling is a great way to keep past content relevant. (It’s also a cheap way to get more use out of existing assets from a business perspective.)


    • Imagine a fresh max-level appropriate molten core run.

      In fact, the ability to put all the old content into max-level LFD or LFR would be a blast.


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