First of all, let's establish what we're discussing. Gear in this context indicates items that increase character power in some fashion that are non-consumable. A mount is not gear in this sense, neither is a flask. It's also important that this increase in character power is relevant. A trinket that decreases damage done by 5% to gain 10% survivability is not something a DPS player will consider worthwhile. In the current expansion of MoP, a DPS player would also not be very interested in a trinket that increases damage dealt to undead in raids by 10% -- because there are no relevant undead enemies in raids (specifying "in raids" to avoid people from pointing out something like Scholomance or Scarlet Monastery).
Note: I'm sure some people can think of some creative exceptions to the above. We're speaking in general principles here, though.
The Gearing Cycle
WoW's had a pretty consistent gearing cycle for a while. You kill bosses in a raid tier each week and receive items each week. Then a new tier comes out with better gear and harder bosses and you repeat the same process except in the new tier. And so on.
What this ultimately means is that gear is extremely temporary -- it is unlikely you'll use any given piece for more than one raid tier (about 6-7 months). It is intended you replace your leveling greens with dungeons blues. Which you then replace with t14 epics. Which you then replace with ToT epics. Which you then replace with SoO epics. You can change the name of the expansion and the name of the raids but it stays pretty much the same.
Clearly, then, gear is not some kind of long term reward. No one sits there and says "Yeah, look at this ring I won from Black Temple in BC, I'm still using it today!" We only care about past gear for looks (for transmog) and sometimes for things like challenge mode scaling. Gear is only relevant within its own tier and part of the next tier.
Caring about last tier's gear is like being a reverse hipster:
The Nerfing Cycle
So what's the point of all this gear? We're just going to replace it a few months down the line, right? Absolutely. Therefore, whether the gear is 3 ilvls higher versus 30 ilvls higher doesn't matter all that much, right? As long as people view it as an upgrade it's fine, right? Wrong.
The main point of gear within a raid tier is to allow progression without increasing skill. It means that if you kill farm bosses each week, your raid gets items that increases the power of the group and makes it easier to kill future bosses. Hitting enrage on Malkorok at 5%? Get a few more ilvls during the next few weeks and you'll be able to beat him.
Now, could your raid group improve in small ways without getting better gear and thus beat the boss with the same ilvl? Sure. But that's harder to do for some than others and the skill range of WoW players is vast. Making bosses easier over time by giving gear for killing other bosses means people who can beat bosses with a lower ilvl will do so and less skilled groups will need to invest the time into weekly clears to get the necessary gear.
This is why the ilvl difference from t14 to t15 was 26 instead of 19 and why the difference from t15 to t16 is 31. Blizzard is trying to put even more emphasis on this "nerfing cycle:" if your group is struggling on a boss, keep working at it and keep reclearing each week and eventually you should get it. Going from full 522 to full 553 (or 530 to 561 with upgrades) is likely roughly a 45-60% increase in character strength.
You may also note that Blizzard has been increasing this power difference for normals (19 ilvl gap to 31 ilvl gap) while keeping it the same for heroic content (13 ilvls) -- because Blizzard is primarily concerned with making sure groups can progress through normal modes. Heroics are a select audience and thus we get less help from Blizzard (and we tend to want less help too).
Of course, this breaks down in LFR since there's no progress week to week and the determination buff means you're guaranteed to win eventually anyway.
Stubborn made a point in his post that I want to highlight:
Stubborn wrote...Or, in other words, the increased item power in Siege compared to Throne means you don't get an advantage by farming Heroic Throne while working on Heroic Siege. Doing Gruul's every week for that stupid DST was not fun.
From a design standpoint, it’s necessary to obsolete content for two reasons, both of which mostly relate to hardcore players....Secondly, it allows those same hardcore raiders the chance to not play every hour of every day. If even a full expansion pack of content is “relevant,” it’s going to encourage hardcore players to do all of it all the time, which will undoubtedly burn them out more quickly.
So gear obsoletes content both as a marker – “this gear is beneath what you now need, so stop raiding here” – and as an decrease of difficulty – “This content is no longer challenging due to your gear, so it’s time to move on.”
So gear both acts as a way to nerf content within a tier as well as signal when a tier is no longer supposed to be relevant for your progression.
As a warning, I'll be quoting larger chunks of text here to give some context from Rowan's post that I linked earlier so people understand the context.
Jeromai had brought up ArenaNet's personal reward system wherein each individual player gets a private reward for killing a boss. This works out generally well in Guild Wars, where "grouping" is often no more formal than standing next to someone and shooting at the same thing they are. We won't go into here how the lack of competition for resources and kills creates a friendlier player atmosphere in the game, in my opinion.
Needless to say, I agree with Jeromai's assessment. However, Balkoth begs to differ, because it "eliminates part of the raiding meta-game."
While it's true that "There is only a certain subset of player who care enough about the gear of others to bother to inspect them," that subset in WoW consists of most normal and heroic raiders -- and we're talking about normal and heroic raiding in WoW! This is doubly true for something like a rare trinket or weapon that tends to be coveted.Except we're talking about a social group, right? Where you know what gear others have? And can see that some of their gear has changed? . . . You will remember what your guildmates have, though (especially if you notice that they recently obtained an item you want).There is only a certain subset of player who care enough about the gear of others to bother to inspect them. Even in my closest Guild groups, I think I can count on my fingers and toes the total number of times I have inspected someone's gear with more than mild interest in a given piece of gear. In seven years of MMO gaming. And to know whether it's changed since the last time I looked? Not a chance.
People like to compare their gear to others and see who has what items and how those items are gemmed/enchanted/reforged/etc -- especially those of the same class and/or similar gear.
Balkoth had asked whether I disliked the pace of gearing or the randomness to which I responded, "The Randomness."Why would you ignore it? That seems to indicate there's a problem with making them different and there absolutely is not. To see why, you need to realize that in the first example only 50% of people would have their ideal set within 50 boss kills. Guaranteeing that everyone will have their ideal loot in 50 kills is in fact speeding up the process for 50% of the population. This is why something that is guaranteed will always be set up to take longer than something that is random -- precisely because it is guaranteed and you can't ever be in the situation of chasing the last few elusive drops.
So let's say the current averages you at 0.5 items per boss killed and you will, on average, get your ideal set in 50 boss kills. Would you prefer a system where each time you kill a boss you get 0.1 items and you're guaranteed to get your ideal set in 250 kills? You'd always make progress toward your goal...but you'd make it more slowly.I'll ignore the fact that Balkoth changes the rate of progress between his two scenarios and go with the faulty reasoning of the "average."
This isn't even getting into the lack of excitement in a non-random system or the fact it creates a clearly optimal way to pick up pieces of gear or any other issues.
The assumption here is that by the end of the killing the ten zhevras, the player will have the hoof. The problem is that each kill resets the dice roll. The player's chances of getting the hoof are no better on the tenth zhevra than they were on the first. A certain percentage of players will get the hoof on their first kill and a certain percentage of players will not get a hoof within ten kills, therefore having to wait for the respawn. In fact, it's within the realm of possibility (though highly unlikely) that a player will never get that hoof. (Just for journalistic integrity: the actual drop rate for Zhevra hooves is about 31%, overall). The article proposed a way of increasing the drop rate based on the number of kills already done, but it hasn't been implemented in any game that I aware of.I know a game that implemented it -- not very well known game, called World of Warcraft.
Blizzard has in fact fiddled with the numbers behind the scene to make a drop more and more likely the longer you go without one -- whether it's collecting one Zhevra hoof or ten bear claws or fifty tiger teeth. They've done something similar with LFR/Flex/Coin loot where you have an increased chance to win something each time you don't win something from a boss.
It's entirely possible that some players would never complete the set in any number of boss-kills, certainly not within a reasonable number like 150. And the Game devs, with every new raid tier and every expansion, slide the goalposts further back, meaning this patch's ideal set will be next patch's vendor trash, at least for those hard-core souls on the bleeding edge of content.I think what you're missing here is that having people complete the set is not the goal of the loot system. The goal of the loot system is to nerf the content over its lifespan in an interesting fashion -- which it why it gets "reset" each new tier. Viewing your "ideal" gearset as a goalpost is a problem because it ultimately doesn't matter that you complete the set in the first place! Even if you did, it would stop being the ideal set a few weeks later with the release of a new tier. Take the gear as it comes and use it to help beat new bosses -- don't collect gear for gear's sake.
How many players like me have decided the loot is just not worth the time and effort? The grind through the first four or five bosses to get to the next one, to bash our collective heads against it until it's down, to get it eventually "on farm" and move on to the next because we're finally all geared up enough is simply not interesting enough, in and of itself, and then the rate of extrinsic reward is pathetic as well. In the case of WoW, the gold sinks of repairs and such were so onerous they had to create dailies, just so people could make the gold they needed to be able to continue raiding.The loot certainly isn't worth the time and effort -- beating the bosses is worth the time and effort. The underlined bit is my own doing and I'm pointing it out simply because it's incorrect. If you kill a boss in a raid, I promise you that outside of world first guilds you have plenty of gear to beat the next boss. You should be *immediately* moving on to the next boss (since the raids reset weekly, anyway, and this is precisely WHY raids reset weekly) and working on that. If you're struggling on the new boss and don't get it down (which will be due to execution/strategy/skill issues and not gear), next week you'll be able to get some more gear to help and then keep working on it (or even just extend the lockout and keep working on it without any new gear in some cases).
I'll also point out that even if you somehow did hit a legitimate gear check that your raid failed (extraordinarily unlikely), you'd have the gear in a week or two of farming -- it doesn't take months or something.
Finally, they didn't invent dailies because of repair costs -- they easily could have reduced repair costs. Ditto for potion/flask/enchant/etc costs -- could have made the materials more freely available and/or require less of them. Dailies honestly mostly came into being for people getting mount training, which was considered to be major gold sink in BC. It gave people who were bad at farming items and then selling them on the AH an alternative way to make gold.
Yes, people will argue that the RNG of loot drops is what makes killing a boss exciting, but after killing a boss for the 20th time and still not seeing that sword you want, I don't think it's really excitement that you're describing.Yet somehow being told that "You can't get a sword until you kill this boss 15 times" is more exciting? I mean, Dan Sz. is complaining about outliers of RNG, not RNG itself. This is especially true in multiplayer games -- otherwise you get the situation in a token system where NO ONE gets an item for like 5 raids or something (if we assume the tokens are boss specific) or you get a situation (if tokens are universal to the tier) where everyone has a weapon after the first week, everyone has a trinket after the second week, and so on with everyone picking the best items first. Isn't that rather boring to see everyone getting the same types of item at the same time?
~Dan Sz, Altoholism, "The Problem with Boss Loot"
Execution is a different story, and folks going in blind will have to the learn the fights "the hard way." In all honesty, I prefer this method, because there is an element of surprise and excitement to the dungeon. But hard-charging loot hounds would rather get it done as quickly and efficiently as possible. Make no mistake, I love experiencing new dungeon mechanics, and mastering them. But then I want to move on. I want the challenges to be skill-based, not gear-based.Except in WoW raiding, "the hard way" (going in blind) is often pretty simple. I mean, we talked about the specific example of Jin'rohk's lightning orbs. You'll see that they happen on the first pull. Great. Now you actually have to practice executing it. Advantage of person reading a guide: 1 pull.
This gap obvious widens for a longer and more complex fight but it is still heavily slanted toward the execution side, probably at least a 80-90% on the execution side. Paragon didn't wipe 600+ times on 10H Garrosh because they were confused about what was going on (especially with the hidden heroic-only phase 4), they wiped because it was incredibly difficult to execute.
I also don't understand why you're using the phrase "hard-charging loot hounds" -- people want to kill the fights faster because they're in competition with other guilds for rankings, prestige, and recruits. Not reading a guide is like not using a flask -- you're intentionally handicapping yourself compared to your competition. The race is to beat the bosses first -- gear only matters to the degree that it assists in that competition.
Which, incidentally, is why I find your last comment extremely amusing. Unless you do something like walk into heroic Siege of Orgrimmar with a fresh 90 or literally do nothing but extend lockouts, every challenge you face is going to be skill-based. You'll get enough gear naturally by reclearing to beat every boss you come across without having to specifically farm gear. Gear is simply a way to make the content easier should you choose to accept the help from Blizzard.
Paragon killed 10H Garrosh in basically 25% heroic SoO gear. Most guilds killing him will do so with 90% heroic SoO gear -- because they're not as good as Paragon (and/or don't want to wipe the same number of times perfecting the execution).
Think about this the next time you see some player character in truly Epic Pixels strutting their stuff in Orgrimmar, Destiny's Reach, or Meridian: despite what may be months or even years of raiding, learning strategies and tactics for epic battles against nigh invincible foes, everything they're wearing boils down to good luck on some random dice rolls.I will strongly disagree with this -- especially since Cataclysm where WoW has been throwing gear at players. If they've spent months of raiding and beaten nigh invincible foes in epic battles, it would in fact be absolutely horrible and terrible luck on random dice rolls for them NOT to have a good chunk of truly Epic Pixels.