11/12/2016

Redefining Progression

My guild is facing an interesting dilemma: Just how are we going to deal with operations going forward?

The classic progression model goes like this: You go into a raid, kill some bosses, and get gear that makes you more powerful, which in turn allows you to get into the next raid and kill the bosses there, and so on and so forth.

4.0 already messed with this system by nominally elevating all the operations to the same level, even if in practice Eternity Vault and Karagga's Palace were still easier than any of the others. But at least there were still the three different difficulty levels to tackle: story, hard and nightmare.

What made things really confusing was the priority operations system, which meant that the easiest and most effective way to get the best gear wasn't actually to kill the hardest bosses but to tackle whichever "medium" difficulty was highlighted each week.

Once you had best in slot, why would you continue to slam your head against a wall for nothing? There were people who said that this was already the end of nightmare operations, and there certainly were those who dropped out as soon as the gear incentive was gone. But for the most part, my own guildies stuck with it, because we did enjoy coming together for our raid nights, and it's not like there was anything else to strive for once you had fully kitted out your character. Gear wasn't an incentive anymore, but it wasn't an issue either.

5.0 on the other hand has come with a system that has made sure that the interests of people focused on gearing up and people focused on beating the hardest bosses are now pretty much diametrically opposed to each other.

For the person wanting to gear up through Galactic Command and get those precious, precious set bonuses, the best way to go about it is to chain-run easy content, because that progresses you the fastest. Oh sure, the harder difficulty modes of operations might drop slightly bigger CXP tokens, but that benefit is easily negated by even a couple of wipes. Better to play it safe and stick to the content that will reward you quickly and more reliably.

For the person interested in progression on the other hand, this is the exact opposite of what they want. For them it's best to skip/ignore most of Galactic Command and gear up through crafting as quickly as possible, while maybe leaving their old armorings in for the set bonuses (if they have them). Then they can go right ahead and throw themselves against the biggest challenges in the game without expecting any reward except overcoming the challenge itself (eventually, hopefully).

You can't really be in the middle of this conflict, because any action you take is a choice to support one and not the other. It's left some of our raiders (myself included) divided and uncertain. We haven't found a solution yet; our saving grace for now is simply that at this early point, the "progression" types are still interested in running the story modes for the crew skill schematic drops at least, providing some common ground. But already some people are getting restless.

If you are in a guild that raids as well, how are you dealing with this complete separation of content progression and loot? I fear that the number of guilds doing large group content will only keep shrinking if the game pits guild members' interests against each other in such a fashion.

3 comments :

  1. I do have to applaud BioWare for attempting to lay out a defined path which they clearly intend people to follow. The execution is horrendous, however, because people are now far too used either to getting geared quickly or hitting Hard Mode in their then-current gear after doing Story Mode once just to see the mechanics.

    It is indeed a rock and a hard place. I myself was interested in seeing how the HM bosses were tuned to be in 5.0, but I'm not willing to waste countless hours doing something just because theoretically we should be able to do it.

    Does this mean the difficulty modes are "overtuned"? Yes and no, and both for the same reason. If BioWare have indeed tuned them to encourage people to get to the second and third tiers of GC first, then the difficulty increase is tuned so that it does make sense (or at least to me), but then to people who are used to the previous NiM tier of gear being worthwhile will contest that they are overtuned because they're more challenging than they should be.

    Xeno HM is an interesting example. It's much harder now, but then does that make it overtuned or 'exactly what a Hard Mode Raid instance should be like' at our gear level?

    There are few alternative correct answers anymore, which I think is what causing people a fair amount of discomfort in 5.0.

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    1. Yeah, I've been somewhat bemused by people's shocked reactions to hardmodes being hard. There seems to be this feeling that if we've cleared every story mode once, we should be fine to step up, but realistically many of us are still in 224 and that just doesn't cut it. It does feel like an unnatural roadblock though.

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  2. The way I see the whole thing is that, post 4.x SWTOR is, effectively, a sequel to SWTOR (vanilla through SoR), that happened to carry over characters and their progression. The negative side of this is that they are still shackled to design decisions made in 2010 (choice of engine, core game mechanics, etc), and they also have the accumulated expectations of the previous game.

    On top of that, they seem to not have a coherent vision of why they made some of these changes, and they definitely don't have a coherent vision of what their target market is. Or, rather, they want to keep their old market and add on the supercasual player. Which isn't going to end well.

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