Author: Byron "Messiah" Mudry
The second event that we attended was the Raids and Dungeons panel. This was the discussion panel that I really wanted to attend. As any who reads the site knows, Instances are my thing. No matter if it's 5 man, 10 man, or raid, it's my true love. So knowing that the discussion was going to look at how the team developed the existing dungeons and raids, how they balanced and tuned them, what makes a successful dungeon or raid and more, made it a must attend discussion. The icing on the cake is that they would also discuss the development of future dungeons and raids.
The members of the panel for this discussion were Jeff Kaplan (WoW Lead Designer) and various members of the WoW Dungeon and Raid Team. Jeff started the discussion off on exactly the right note for those in attendance with a statement that this discussion was for those players that wanted the best gear, knew how to earn their gear, that wanted real gear, and would not settle for the welfare PvP epics! The crowd went wild in agreement.
The discussion then settled in to discuss several key topics: Why and Where to put dungeons in, Attunement, Trash, and Encounters. The discussion then ended with a Q&A session. The key points all were discussed in a way to try to explain the logic and reasoning that Blizzard uses when creating and adding instances into the game. I'll look at the topics here and transcribe the Q&A session into a separate article.
The Basics According to Blizzard
The first thing that Blizzard looks at is why they need to put an instance in. The reasons include everything from simply giving you something to do at a level range, a lore requirement or geography requirement. Wailing Caverns for example was added to the Barrens so that Horde has an instance for them at that level. Instances can also be added to provide challenge or progression to other instances. Blizzard wants to provide that "One more mountain to climb" so we keep feeling progression.
As you can see the where is already tied in to the why in some cases, as it would make no sense to put an instance far from the requirement. In other cases it is the main factor such as Mauridon, which was added simply to draw traffic to the zone.
Burning Crusade Progression Chart
The next topic discussed was attunement for instances (both dungeons and raids) and why they do it, what works and what doesn't. Attunement was described as a gating system and while there has been some toning down of attunement, we were told to not expect it to be removed. They like using it as a method to pass on lore and explain why you are going into the instance, and to ensure you can handle it when you get there.
They felt that they had hit the right blend of challenge and time needed with attunement for Karazhan and the Heroic instances. Karazhan requires 3 instance runs that ensure you are at least geared to attempt the instance, and passes on information about the instance itself, what it is and why you need to go there. They feel it is easy enough and short enough that anyone should be able to accomplish it and should not get frustrated by it.
Heroic attunement is also felt to be a good balance. It is there to ensure that players have at least played the instance several times on normal difficulty before trying to do in on the harder difficulty. As they said though it still doesn't rule out that a player that is attuned doesn't suck, just that they have been through before.
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