Think World of Warcraft: Cataclysm's Heroic dungeons are too hard? You're not the only one. But Blizzard isn't changing them.
"We don't want you to stumble your way to victory. We don't want you to be able to overwhelm bosses without noticing or caring what they're doing. We don't want healers to be able to make up for all of the mistakes on the part of the other players," explained Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street, lead systems designer, on the Battle.net website.
"While, at the end of the day, dungeons may just be gussied up loot vending machines, we want you to do more than push a button to get the loot.
"We don't want to give under-geared or unorganised groups a near guaranteed chance of success," he added. "Because then the content will feel absolutely trivial for players in appropriate gear who communicate, cooperate, and strategise."
Street said how Blizzard "didn't like" the Heroic dungeons of Lich King and early Naxxramas, for they had become "zerg-fests". Equipment was replaced and forgotten too quickly; character capability was downplayed; and boss mechanics "ignored" - "The fights all felt the same".
"In Cataclysm," Street declared, "the Heroic dungeons and raids are intended to be challenging - and they are, at least until you over-gear them."
He added: "We've seen a few threads that suggest that we're [Blizzard] too proud to admit mistakes. I find that logic strange, because we do it all the time," Street continued, using the Tol Barad honour roll-back, Warrior's Heroic Strike tweak and Lich King dungeons as examples.
But, he said, "We don't at all view the Cataclysm dungeon and raid balance as a mistake."
Nevertheless, Heroic dungeons could be better. The item-level requirement (333) for characters to tackle Heroic dungeons was "not sufficient". Players should also have been required to beat the dungeon on Normal mode first. "Maybe we should have made the item level requirements pretty relaxed if you're going with a pre-made group and much stricter if you're going with a pick-up group," he mused.
"Perhaps another way to handle it would have been to have introductory Heroics and harder Heroics," thought Street. "We've also flirted with having three difficulty levels before, but that does add an extra level of content to develop and complexity to explain."
Street admitted that his team can also do a better job of explaining why groups failed, which would alleviate the stress directed at healers when things go wrong.
"We do understand that some healers are frustrated and giving up. That is sad and unfortunate," said Street. "But the degree to which it's happening, at least at this point in time, is vastly overstated on the forums.
"As always, we're keeping an eye on things. There are a few bosses that seem responsible for more wipes than the others: Commander Springvale, Beauty, Altairus, and Admiral Ripsnarl perhaps.
"By the time you read this, you might have seen us implement Restoration druid buffs intended to keep them competitive in raids. We also just tend to nerf content over time because the original players hitting that content have moved on, so we want to open it up to a wider audience."
"In any case," he added, "we want to ensure that everyone is having fun and enjoying their time with the game, and I hope that this post may serve to some as the 'tare' button that helps you zero in on the intended dungeon difficulty scale."
Street complimented his post with a few dungeoneering tips, most of which veteran players will consider rudimentary.
He also offered a glimmer of hope regarding patch 4.1, which will offer more powerful gear to the masses through Justice Points.