The Evolution of Raiding

May 18, 2010

As time passes on in the MMO-genre we see companies moving in the direction of “Raids for all.” Companies keep making raids easier, less strategy and as blogger Tobold said

“The real difficulty of a WotLK raid encounter is “learning the dance”, practicing a fixed set of moves requiring sub-second reaction times.”

Has this what raiding has turned into? Let’s take a look at the past and see how we ended up this way. Note : I can only account for the experiences I’ve had.

Ultima Online

“Raids”.. if you can call them that in this game, or the early days were simply a guild, or group of players gathering up to dungeon crawl, or PvP. No big monsters, not much phat lewts. The real rush here was it was open PvP with no instancing, so not only did you have to watch for monsters, but PKs, enemy guilds, and so on.


I would say this game is where raiding as we know it today came from. Raids in EQ1 were a maximum of 72 people. Normally raids could be done by skilled guilds with 50 or less players. So it left alot open for customization. Scripting in MMO’s was unheard of at this point. Most fights were your basic dragon setup. Breath, tail, and huge AE knockbacks. Alot of the raiding in EQ1 were mostly tank and spank. They didn’t start to get complicated until a few expansions in.

Even after those expansions, Raiding was still something not many had the time to do. Seeing as how an EQ raid took a few hours, usually most of the time spent clearing trash, and 1-4 bosses. Each boss only dropped a few peices of loot. With a full raid, you can do the math yourself on how hard it was to get gear.

EQ1 Raiding wasn’t so much about action though. The entire time I spent in EQ1 I had never once used Ventrilo. Some guilds did, but it wasn’t a requirement much like it is today. EQ1 raiding was more about strategy. Planning before the fight, and if everyone does there jobs right, we win. Jobs given to people were not twitchy jobs like “Spellsteal now or we all die”, it was more of a strategic position. EQ1 raiding made use of multiple healers dedicated to specific groups. Those healers also had to use team work through various macros to make a “Complete Heal Bridge”

DPS’ers had to hold at the line, foaming at the mouth while the main and secondary tanks established aggro. You didn’t touch the boss until the raid leader called for assist. There was more room for tanks, as there was more jobs for them.

World of Warcraft

Flash forward. I admit, I never raided in Vanilla. So I don’t know much about what 40 mans were actually like. From what I’ve been told it was alot of AFK’ing. Onto Burning Crusade. We had that Fiasco of the entry progression raid being a 10 man which really screwed up the progression into the next tier. 25 man raiding was king in BC, and the raids were very good. I thought it was a good balance of Trash vs. Bosses, Skill vs. Gear and highly well scripted. But then Sunwell came out and the cries began.

Enter Wrath of the Lich King. A new, fresh raiding concept. 10’s and 25’s running parallel to each other. Of course the 25 mans were more difficult most of the time, so that’s where the better rewards were to be had. WotLK raiding was terrible overall. Naxx was a good throw back, but boring. Ulduar had awesome scenery, and it’s fair share of awesome boss fights. TotC was an abomination. And that’s when I stopped. From what I’ve heard though I’m not missing all that much in ICC.

Onto Cataclysm. 10’s and 25’s still exist. But now they are even more parallel. In fact. Even. It’s been discussed to death whether or not this spells doom for 25m raiders. I personally think it doesn’t. It gives people the option.

The future of Raiding

Where are we heading? It seems to me that raids just keep getting smaller and smaller, and less skill is required to do them. Rarely does a game now offer raiding with more than 25 people. The excuse that’s typically given is system requirements. I call BS on that one. It’s dev time and laziness. I’m not a doomsayer though. I don’t think raiding is dead. I just think it needs to be more interesting again. More intense scripting. I.e. why do all the mobs just stand there while we invade their lair?

MMO’s in development rarely talk about raiding. SW:ToR hasn’t said anything except that bringing a bunch of players to bring down one boss isn’t very heroic. Umm.. they do realize they are making a massive multiplayer game right? Doing things WITH people is what gives that heroic feeling.

We need to evolve from the current incarnation of raiding, just as other aspects of these games we love need to evolve as well. Crafting, PvP, even Social aspects. I would just hate to see raiding get so watered down that there are no more epic scale battles. I personally like the Cataclysm changes, and do plan on going back to WoW in a few months. I really hope the raiding is something more than we got with WotLK.

I’d like to hear what you think about Raiding in MMORPG’s. Past, present, and future. If you got anything, please leave me a comment.




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