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WoW, Guild Wars 2, and Final Fantasy XIV devs Discuss Raid Design

Poorna Shankar Posted:
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Several developers who worked on WoW, Guild Wars 2, and Final Fantasy XIV spoke to PCGamesN about how to make a quality raid.

Jason Reynolds, Senior Designer for Guild Wars 2, first discusses the inherent features of raids,

“Raid-style content is one of the many different tools developers can utilise to conjure up an endgame. One of the innate features of [raids] is the fostering of socialisation and camaraderie, which is doubly critical to the MMO genre. Being the first of your peers on a server of thousands of people to complete a particularly difficult encounter brings notoriety, proof of your skill with the game’s most challenging concepts, and oftentimes the end result is solidified, friendly bonds. That’s what MMOs are all about.”

WoW Game Director, Ion Hazzikostas, cites Everquest as clear inspiration for their earlier raids, specifically with regards to conveying the massive sense of scale,

“There was definitely a realisation around that time that raids were a unique vehicle for the MMO genre. It’s one of the most powerful social experiences you can have in online gaming. It’s that sense of cooperation, doing the same thing with a dozen or more people again and again, that generally keeps people with the same group for years and years.”

The article continues and discusses core elements that make up a raid, specifically that a good raid must adhere to the Holy Trinity of MMO roles including tank, healer, and DPS. Making sure each of these roles is equally challenged and engaged makes for a good raid,

“Pretty much the worst thing you can do in a raid situation is make it rote for one role, and very complex for another. It can be very frustrating if the challenge falls entirely on your tanks mastering something that’s very complex and intricate, and meanwhile everybody else has already mastered it, so they’re just getting mad at their friends. That sense of balance is absolutely necessary.”

One of the primary difficulties is accounting for variation in player skill, something that they contend with today. FFXIV Director, Naoki Yoshida, spoke on the increase in player skill over the years,

“The increase in player skill is astounding, and thus a dramatic gap has opened up, so when we make raids, we try to minimise that gap by tuning the job actions and the battle system overall. I feel that what makes a raid good or bad is not the difficulty level, but whether the gimmicks and mechanics are convincing enough to the player. If the way they solve the raid is convincing and players can accept the logic behind it then they will continue to try it, even if the difficulty level is high.”

It’s a very insightful article, should you be interested. Be sure to check it out here.


Poorna Shankar

A highly opinionated avid PC gamer, Poorna blindly panics with his friends in various multiplayer games, much to the detriment of his team. Constantly questioning industry practices and a passion for technological progress drive his love for the video game industry. He pulls no punches and tells it like he sees it. He runs a podcast, Gaming The Industry, with fellow writer, Joseph Bradford, discussing industry practices and their effects on consumers.