Jacemora wrote a piece on being tired of the term "casual", and on being tired of hearing hardcore raiders complain that the current content is too easy.
Personally, I am tired of people lumping all of the "hardcore raiders" into a group that is apparently a bunch of egotistical jerks who care only about themselves - and, according to commenter ARA - are uneducated cretins who speak only "pigswill". Sweeping generalisations work both ways.
When I state that I think the game is getting too easy, it is not because I am an egotistical hardcore raider rambling incoherently about big bad Blizzard taking away the hard stuff of the "good old days" and handing out boss kills like candy. It is because I genuinely believe that some changes are unwarranted and make the game feel less and less engaging.
I don't take it to the extreme of the beta players complaining that mounts at level 20 "cheapen" what they worked so hard for in vanilla WoW. I earned the gold for my first epic mount by selling a few crafted items per week for 2 or 3 gold. I worked for it. But I don't cry that giving mounts to level 20 players for 5 gold is a horrible change. I think it will help make the game a lot more enjoyable for many people, and it doesn't take away from my game experience.
But the current raiding content leaves a lot to be desired for the serious raider, and I'm sorry, but having that opinion that does not make me an egotistical, swill-spouting, burger-flipping retard.
New Naxx and entry level content
Naxx was far, far too easy. Anyone who says it wasn't is a fool. It was made easy because very few people got to experience it originally; so it was toned down (a little too much) and branded as "entry level raiding" so that everyone had a chance to experience raiding if they wanted.
The problem is that for the serious raiders, Naxx was ridiculously easy and horribly boring. It was cleared in the first night or two, and very quickly became a 3hr or less instance. My guild started doing 3 hour clears the second raid reset. In greens. lolwut? And this is not me blowing my guild's trumpet - before people start up with the egotistical crap - it is a fact that guilds could go in wearing Northrend greens and blues and leftover T6 and clear the entire raid in a single night. The alarm bells went off immediately. We were concerned for the future of competitive raiding.
BUT, remember, it was meant to be entry level raiding - and Blizzard assured us that Ulduar would be much harder. Phew.
But it isn't. It's harder than Naxx, but it's not hard. Sure you probably can't grab 24 random people and go clear it, but there are plenty of casual guilds progressing through quite quickly. I see guilds that would probably never have cleared BT clearing up to Vezax and working on Yogg. That's great for those guilds, but for the serious raiders, it really cheapens the game because there's no longer that true feeling of accomplishment if people can go in and zerg it.
And despite it being quite easy, they continue to nerf it because they want everyone to be able to "experience" the content. That's a noble cause, and I know that if I could only raid once a week (as I used to) I would want to be able to see all of those bosses (over time). I don't want to take that away from people who have tight schedules and can't raid 5 nights a week. But when you can walk into an instance and clear all but the last couple of bosses in one reset, something is wrong.
Of course, Blizzard's counter to this complaint is the various hard modes - set in place to keep the "hardcore" raiders happy. Normal modes allow everyone to experience the content, hard modes give more of a challenge to the "serious" raiders. This is another noble cause, and I really can't fault them on that. They're trying to keep both sides of the player base happy.
As a hardcore raider though, I have lost most of my interest in hard mode fights because I do see them as the same old content with an extra gimmick or two thrown in to keep us occupied for a little longer. Of course they're challenging (in before "but you haven't done hardmodes so you can't talk!"), but it's still the same boss, just made more annoying.
"This is too easy for us" is not the same as "Your casual 10 man guild sucks ass."
I know that sometimes it can sting when you see hardcore raiders whine that the content is too easy and that Blizzard is catering to casuals. I know this because I have gone from casual raider to hardcore raider and then back to casual again (well, I'm not hardcore at the moment). And you'd better believe it makes me feel like a second class citizen at times, when I see people knocking others down because their armory doesn't show any hard mode achievements. I hate it.
In terms of my blogging, it often makes me feel like some kind of imposter, trying to be some kind of authority on my class when I haven't even done any hard modes.. for shame. I know some people will know the feeling I am talking about.
I have the advantage of knowing how it feels to be casual AND hardcore. I have played in guilds where I knew the frustration of only being able to raid once a week, but still wanting to progress. And I've been in hardcore guilds raiding 20+ hours per week. It's difficult because I'm not one of the people who think raids should ONLYbe for serious raiders. I'm NOT saying that "casual" players shouldn't get to do these bosses. We all want to enjoy the game. But the fact is, for serious, vanilla-bred raiders, this stuff IS too easy, and hardmodes are just gimmicks. We want something that we can really sink our teeth into.
That's not "a load". It's a fact. The current content is too easy for hardcore raiders. The hard modes (from what I understand) are meant to fill the void, but for me, personally, I see them as a stop-gap measure to keep the serious raiders happy until the next content patch.
This is really driven home when Blizzard keeps nerfing the base content in ways that are totally unnecessary. Why nerf Hodir's flash freeze on Yogg? Cancelaura macros are NOT HARD. If you were standing that close to a cloud in the first place, then you fail. Hardcore or casual, organised or PUG, learn to not stand near Bad Stuff(TM). Blizzard shouldn't need to nerf something so fundamental. Make it more obvious (like the colour change to voids on Sartharion) but don't give everyone training wheels.
It is this type of nerf that makes the hardcore raiders angry - the unnecessary nerfs to fundamental aspects of fights that simply do not need to be changed. It trivialises the fight even further.
Trivial base content is disheartening for serious raiders.
This is the crux.
If they continue to nerf the encounters such that every man and his dog can clear Ulduar, especially with silly, wholly unnecessary nerfs that even the puggiest pug should not have issues with, then more and more raiders will continue to bleed from the game because they see the content as trivial. Many casual raiders will probably say "good riddance", but the fact is that hardcore raiders enjoy this game too, and are disheartened by what they see as "dumbing down" of the raiding that they have enjoyed over time.
For a lot of people, this is not about whining, or a holier-than-thou attitude. It's about perceived loss of a challenge that they have enjoyed over the course of years. I think that many hardcore raiders have extrapolated what they've seen so far in WotLK and it's not looking good. To them, their game - raiding - is becoming trivial and disappointing. That's not whining. It's not insulting casuals. That's how it feels. The challenge is no longer there if everyone can do the instances and there's no longer any exclusivity, no longer any feelings of awe when you look up to the guilds clearing the top content.
When Ensidia cleared Naxx in the first night, I wasn't impressed. I was disappointed. In fact, I kinda pitied them. They had finished the game with months to wait for new content. Yuck.
And that's pretty much how I feel now. Guilds that I used to really look up to.. they don't impress me anymore. They're still skilled players - that hasn't changed - but there's nothing to set them apart.
I have to be honest, not even the Algalon kills impressed me :/ No, I haven't seen him, obviously - and I'm positive he would kick my butt - but after a mostly underwhelming boss experience in Ulduar, there's just no sense of achievement. Not because I think I'm amazing or my guild was amazing, but that it just wasn't that hard. No Kael, no Archimonde.
Hard modes to the rescue, rite? Although I haven't experienced them myself, I can see how quickly the raiding guilds are clearing the hard modes and that in itself is quite disappointing. It won't keep them busy for long.
Giving everyone a chance to see the content is great. I don't want to take that away from casual players, because I have personal experience with the frustration of not being able to raid "hardcore". But making the encounters more like expanded 5 mans is a real drag. Sunwell was something to aspire to. Ulduar, while a gorgeous instance that I do love, seems like another round of Naxx - just going through the motions with everyone else, and no real sense of achievement when you come out the other side - because everyone else is there with you.
Hardcore raiders want something they can't really have.
Well, they could have it, but it would be very unfair to a lot of people, so it probably won't happen.
The hard modes are great in theory. 3 drakes, time trials, Ulduar hard modes. But aside from Algalon, all of these are the same bosses, just with extra things to deal with. Zzz. I am going to go out on a limb and say that most hardcore raiders don't want hard modes of existing content - they want content that only they will get to see, being truly skilled and dedicated players - a la old Naxx and Sunwell. Unfortunately:
A) way too many people missed out on experiencing Naxx and Sunwell so that will probably never happen again; and
B) oftentimes skill is not the barrier - rather, time available to raid.
The problem for casual players in TBC was that you had to spend months farming BT in order to get anywhere in Sunwell. Casual players simply didn't have the time to be able to clear BT for gear, AND get any time in Sunwell. They might have been the most skilled players on the planet, but working nights or having 3 kids meant never getting to set foot inside Sunwell.
Sunwell (and old Naxx etc) definitely gave hardcore raiders a trophy instance. We could brag about being "a Naxx guild" or "a Sunwell guild". I remember going into BGs and having random people comment on my gear. It really gave you that sense of achieving something above and beyond what everyone else could do.
But giving the minority a special instance (which is in essence what happened with Naxx and Sunwell because so few guilds were able to experience them) makes a LOT of people unhappy, and that makes very obvious bad business sense.
If there's a solution, I ain't got it.
Frankly, I don't think you can give the hardcore raiders a trophy AND keep the casual raiders happy. I simply don't think it can be done. If you gave the serious raiders an instance with all hardmode fights (much like Sunwell was), the people who raid more casually will be upset because they aren't getting a fair chance to do the content. And hard modes, while good in theory, are really just the same old stuff but made to have you bash your head against the wall for an extra week or two.
I feel that they were on the right track with hardmodes.. but didn't quite hit the mark.
Maybe more Algalon type bosses that open up once you've achieved certain things? I'm not sure. I'm just not a big fan (you may have noticed) of tacking on extra "challenges" onto the same boss fights. It might be challenging, but to me.. not terribly interesting in the long term.
I don't know what can be done to keep both sides happy.
TLDR: Not all "hardcore" raiders think "casual" raiders are scrubs.
I am not raiding hardcore at the moment. I may return to it; I'm not sure. But for the time being I won't be on the pointy end of progression, where I like to be.
I know how it feels when you're not a hardcore raider, when you feel like everyone is looking down their noses at you. Especially with the advent of the Armory, so people can bring up your page and then scoff at you for trying to comment on hard mode encounters that you don't have experience in, like you don't have the right to comment on matters that you have no place speaking about.
There are definitely people out there who think their raiding achievements make them a better person than you. But a lot of us just want more of a challenge (and not rehashed content!). Saying that the current content is easy and asking for something more challenging is not an insult directed at you because you haven't been able to kill Boss X yet, for whatever reason. Progressing at a different rate does not make you bad. When I say current content is too easy, I'm not saying "anyone who can't clear Boss X r bads lol". I'm simply stating a fact - that the current raid content is easily cleared by the hardcore (read: usually people with more raiding hours per week) players, and we would like something more challenging to sustain us.
But it is wholly unfair and insulting to lump all hardcore raiders into a giant bucket of no-life, self-righteous morons who think casual players are unskilled peasants and don't deserve to share the same content as they do.
We just want to enjoy the game as you do - at our own pace.