When patch 5.2 hit, I felt that the game went in the wrong direction, hence why I quit for a bit. One thing I noticed about the fights were the general increasing complexity. While making fights more interesting can be a good thing, I think the developers are wrong because they don’t really understand their audience that well.
The biggest issue involved in pugging in general is not knowing the other members of your group. This can be extremely detrimental since you have varying degrees of knowledge in a fight. With the various personalities in a pug, you have to cater to the lowest common denominator. I’ve stated this on numerous occasions and apparently the developers over at Blizzard just don’t have a clue. The fact that they have to include a ton of nerfs demonstrates that they cannot gauge the level of their audience and work on a responsive level as opposed to a proactive level.
With that in mind, the biggest issue is that LFR can be quite daunting to the uninitiated. People view it as a tool to get in and get out. As a result, you really need to have a baseline in terms of standards/guidelines in designing encounters to ensure that people don’t get easily frustrated and leave. Right now, I seriously doubt that they have any kind of guiding principles for the way LFR works and I feel that’s hurting game play quite a bit.
The first issue I think in the design is that there’s no introduction mode. Technically, LFR is now considered “easy” or the introduction mode to raiding. But for me, LFR still pretty much requires you to read up on fights or watch videos. This is a MONSTROUS issue when it comes to new players who do not spend the time reading every little tidbit or playing on the PTR to get ahead. And Blizzard needs to start assuming that the people entering LFR won’t be doing these activities.
Blizzard partly attempted to cure this problem through the creation of the Dungeon Journal. The Dungeon Journal is a perfect example of how awful World of Warcraft’s interface is. First of all, who really is going to sit in an instance reading a lengthy doctrine? No one really cares if a monster does 100k damage or if they receive a 20k DOT. If a person doesn’t bother reading WoWHead nor checking youtube videos, why would they even bother attempting to read a novel in the midst of an encounter?
The Dungeon Journal really is only useful for people who do normal raiding, but at the LFR level it’s honestly junk and a cheap, wasted effort by Blizzard. Something better would’ve been adding small video clips for each ability so that players can at least preview what a certain ability looks like. They already do this in Starcraft 2 where you can see small clips of upgradable abilities for your units, so it’s not like Blizzard does not have the technology nor technique to add this into the game.
Also, why not have a tutorial mode that people can toggle on/off for the first time? Some people will point to add-ons like Deadly Boss Mods for handling these situations. But Deadly Boss Mods only acts as an alert. It doesn’t really tell you what to do most of the time. Second, you can’t assume that people have Deadly Boss Mods installed.
People might complain “well if you offer a tutorial mode then that’ll dumb the game down even further!” That’s not the point. The point is that there isn’t anything that allows an individual to easily be slotted into an LFR situation. If the game was just tank and spank with a few “move the fuck out of the way” type of scenarios, I would agree with this assessment. But the problem is that the game is adding more mechanics that really are just confusing and don’t work in first time situations. The Durumu encounter is a perfect example as well as Lei Shen. While Lei Shen should have some level of challenge, the Durumu encounter when it first came out just was horribly thought out. Part of the problem again in those encounters is that they simply are really confusing for the first time or two (and honestly, if I were Blizzard I would fire the people who created those encounters and ensure that they never can return to the industry ever again).
Another aspect that I noticed is that the game is just becoming a huge clusterfuck. It’s like the developers over at Blizzard snorted a ton of coke just before coming up with these ideas (better start taking urine samples of your employees Blizzard!) I mean, there’s just too many effects going on. Sometimes the game gets so bad because of the ancient engine that’s attempting to keep up along with all the other shit going on that my game just boots me out. And I know I’m not the only one. Then when I heard about color blind people having issues with the Durumu encounter, I realized that Blizzard really has been inconsiderate towards their disabled audience. I think part of the problem with the game is that there’s just too much shit going on. It’s not really epic; it’s more like a stupid MTV video. Epic fights to me are like Minas Tirith in Return of the King. This is more like GI Joe the Movie or a Michael Bay movie where you had all types of explosions occurring all at once but never having the ability to digest anything. It’s not really enjoyable but just a big fucking mess.
But you see, I wouldn’t complain so much about the way these encounters are designed if they weren’t meant to be farmed. This is where the game loses a lot of the appeal. Tank and spank works nicely for farming because it’s intended to be mindless. But going through these encounters week after week and not getting the loot to progress further is where I feel the game really demotivates a lot of people. Add to the fact that the groups you’re with changes constantly and you’ll slowly find that there’s not a lot of positive to the game.
For me, the Sha of Fear and Grand Empress Shek’zeer were perfect for LFR. The mechanics weren’t bad, the fights were mostly reasonable and there wasn’t a lot to really assume for your group. They weren’t the most fun fights but they didn’t demand a lot for someone just joining. You could fuck up with one or two people and still finish without too much frustration.
Again the thing to me about creating encounters is understanding how to create a mix of fun, challenge, timing and understanding of how random groups of people deal with each other. I think most people just want to mindlessly zerg and pull DPS out of their pants.