4.3: Looking for Raid (LFR)

November 13, 2011 at 6:00 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Blizzard has recently announced that they intend to implement a Looking for Raid (LFR) system that parallels the current Looking for Dungeon (LFD) system for 5 man groups.  As much as I am excited — and I am — about the chance to do more raids without waiting for a trade pug, I can’t imagine this being anything other than a train wreck.  I explain below.

Overall, the LFD system has been successful in what it set out to do.  Even for dps, groups are formed rapidly and placed into the appropriate dungeon.  This has been a real boon for players in terms of time saved.  For players on low population servers it’s especially helpful because there can be times when there simply isn’t tolerable fifth player available to fill your dungeon group.  This doesn’t mean, though, that LFD isn’t without a downside.  Both here and elsewhere players have written about how rude and unpleasant other players can be in LFD and how this behavior seems to have spread to the community in general.  It’s an unfortunate side effect of grouping together players with different goals who will never have to see each other again.

It seems that LFR is set to repeat the mistakes of LFD and include a few new ones, too.  Not only will a collection of players with different interests, goals and abilities be grouped together, but there will be more of them pulling the group in different directions.  Maintaining control of and directing a raid can be a difficult job in the best of situations; it will be substantially harder in LFR.  From what I understand, the vote kick system will function similar to what we are familiar with in LFD.  It’s pointless to try kick underperforming players because the cooldown is so long that you’ll inevitably get somebody worse and be unable to remove them.

Judging from what I have seen in LFD lately, where nearly half of all ZA-geared dps struggle to stay ahead of the tank in boss damage, a typical group of 25 LFR players can be expected to contain 4-8 very bad players.  This will be the situation unless the fights are very very simple, like the Baradin Hold bosses.

The difference between BH and LFR, though, is that kicking is difficult.  A BH raidleader can remove anybody for any reason; an LFR group can’t.  Imagine you are put in an LFR group with another 24 players.  Seven of them are underperforming to a degree that you will be unable to complete the encounter.  The group may be able to kick a couple of them, but removing all seven is probably out of the question.  Even if they were all removed, at least two of the replacements will be very weak.

At some point, you run out of kicks.  How do you beat the encounter?  For myself, I can occasionally improve my own performance by a mild amount through great effort and concentration but large gains are generally not possible once I’ve seen a fight a few times.  By contrast, substantial gains can be made by replacing a bad player with a good or even average player.  To put this more starkly: the group improves less from good players playing with more effort than from badgering bad players until they leave.  The incentives, then, favor bullying bad players to leave the raid and then kicking the few that can’t take a hint.

It’s going to be screwy in LFR, especially if the fights aren’t incredibly easy.  Despite having over a year to think this over, I don’t believe Blizzard will release a system that works particularly well given what we know about player behavior.

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  1. Kicking a third of your group is not the solution. The LFR is designed to give content to a wider group of player.

    The challenge for Blizzard is not to make existing fights easier until those 7 player can be dragged along, the challenge is to design the fights so that these 7 player can contribute.

    The difference between two player of different skill must be that the better player does more DPS and not that the other player is dead 5 seconds into the fight. This requires different fight mechanics then what we have today. Blizzard needs to create “large group heroics” and not “easy mode raids”. It already worked with UBRS back in vanilla and it can work.

    But yes, I think the first real working LFR will be with MoP because the time till 4.3 was probably not enough to redesign all fights.


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