Procrastination Amplification: Punditry on MMOs and games in general.

You Can Leave Your Cap On

Sven over at Fail PUG and Tobold (inspired by Sven) introduce the idea of removing the caps on the maximum number of players allowed into raid encounters. Nefarian is too hard for your group to manage? Just bring some additional randoms in and flatten that bad boy. As an achiever as well as a player who has lived through games with open-world boss encounters, way-too-large raids, and ten men Scholomance I absolutely hate the idea.

The number of raid groups that will choose to work harder on their tactics and execution, gather consumables and optimize their builds instead of simply bringing a couple more warm bodies along will be minimal. Just as nobody willingly removed that Icecrown Citadel buff, people will absolutely go for the path of least resistance here and then complain about the fact that there is no new content and that they have to farm the same instances over and over again. (Because, you know, there are so many players in the group that you hardly ever get loot.)

The experience of Scholomance (a classic World of Warcraft instance at the original level cap of 60) was drastically improved when they stopped allowing raids in there and made players go with four others only. Suddenly, individual contribution mattered and you had to pay attention to what was going on instead of simply following a bunch of likewise uninterested nobodies.

And then there was Molten Core. 40 Players were allowed into the raid instance when all that was really needed was maybe 25. Warm bodies would be included in the raid simply to fill up slots and provide some marginal support for the efforts of the group. Simply bringing warm bodies is not part of my definition of fun.

What about those open-world rifts then that Sven mentions? They are incredibly boring. When I see a major rift event going on in RIFT, I simply run in and start hitting the closest bad guy I can find without any consideration whatsoever for tactics or my teammates. The anonymity of the Zerg makes it unlikely both for me to die and for my actions to matter at all. Nor will anyone notice whether I’m doing well or not.

There are some very good reasons that we don’t have the huge raid sizes of way back when around anymore and games are far better because of it.


  • I don’t think the advantages of fixed-group sizes out-weight the disadvantages.

    I think a MMORPG should always reward bringing along a friend. And I think fixed group sizes break immersion. But I reccognize that perfectly balanced and challenging PvE content is (almost) impossible without fixed group sizes. Question would be: Do we really need perfectly balanced and challenging PvE content?
    Nils´s last blog post ..The Elder Scrolls V

  • Playing in a team to overcome challenges is THE draw to MMOs that is still left for me. Everything else has somewhat faded over time. (That’s not to say that there can’t be other things in an MMO to grab my interest. Currently there aren’t though.)

    Take that away and I will not be interested in your MMO, at least not for a longer period of time. For me (and I know others, but clearly this isn’t the same for everyone) raids got a hell of a lot better with the reduction from 40 (which might as well be unlimited really) to 25 people. Outdoor boss fights are just a huge clustf+ck and incredibly boring from my point of view.

    The one real advantage I see mentioned for unlimited raid sizes is the fact that it is more natural (or immersive). I’ll take gameplay value over realism any day and I highly doubt that there is a noticeable change in immersion. (Except for maybe once when you get the message that you can’t enter an encounter because the instance is full. Immersion breakers like that are way common in pretty much all games though.)

  • I think no cap on people would be ok but only with something like player collision. then there is a softcap when the room where you fight is filled or the space is not enough anymore to dodge the “add random threat” on the ground. it might even be a nice decision if you want more ppl for zerg damage vs less people for better overview. (in a pro raid guilds that means that 50 guildmembers have to w8 in front of the instance ofc and only come in for that one zerg fight ;))
    missing player collision is to my mind the most annoying and immersion breaking “feature” in most modern mmo’s.