Vanguard is targeting the 'core' gamer. It will have three types of content: casual, group, and raid. Casual and raid will be the minority, with most content group oriented.
I know some people accuse EQ of being too raid oriented. I would say Vanguard will be less so. But we also think raiding is very important and fun. Our goal from the beginning was to create a world that would support core gamers, as well as more casual or people with less time, as well as those crazy raiders you refer to
Aside from that, well, Vanguard is a new game with a lot of new features and a whole new world to explore. I don't think we'll have any problem enticing hard core raiders to migrate over.
The current plan for raid sizes is indeed mostly around the number 25 or so, as mentioned, but the paln also is to have raid areas vary as to how many people are needed. So solo/casual content is for 1-3 players, group content 3-6, and raid content 6-X, where X is a variable. We hope to control X to some extent (to stop people from bringing, say, 40 people to an encounter desinged for 25) using TLC, dynamic threat assessment, and a few other mechanics I can't talk about yet. We're focusing first on group content, then solo/casual, and will implement raid content towards the end of beta, so a lot of this remains theory until tested in a beta environment.
Source: Aradune Mithara 03/29/2006 on the FOH boards
Do not expect to see content at release that is geared around 70+ people.
Certain raid targets will be designed for different group sizes (And level ranges!)
We will not /commonly/ scale the difficulty of an encounter due to the number of people that show up. We are making certain content designed around certain maximums, we don't intend to have ultimate scalability with each encounter. That's not to say we may not use this in a few cases.
In some cases if you bring to many for an encounter you may find yourselves out of luck -- possibly no raid target, possibly no loot due to the encounter being trivialized. We will attempt to make you aware of this in game before it happens .
In a nutshell, we want raid sizes to vary. We want to be able to create an encounter and specify the approximate group/raid size that should be taking on that encounter. We also hope to curb zerging and overpowering encounters with a dynamic threat assessment system that could involve the group receiving no loot if they are too overpowered, etc.
We also realize that no matter how fast our engine is, or how fast computers get, that there is a raid size that will eventually get ridiculous. Sure, I'd love to see armies battle armies in an MMOG, but I don't think we're there yet. So while the game should adjust itself, turn options off, etc. when there are a lot of people on the screen, there still has to be a limit. It's too early to say what that limit is, though. Plus, that limit may change post-launch as machines get more powerful.
I think it's also important to stress that our focus will be on reasonable sized raids. Now, reasonable is certainly subjective, and I also don't currently have a number to give you. Ideally, there will be group and raid encounters requiring a variety of sizes. I think this would be very cool. Also, as you guys well know, the more people in a raid, the more difficult it is to keep it organized and effective. This is good and bad. The good is that I think there should be some encounters that require a lot of people so that we can reward those leaders who are able to effectively manage and lead large groups. The bad is that this is typically the exception, not the rule. Were we to make too many encounters like that we would definitely be catering too much to the uber guilds, and we don't want to do this. So we need nice variety of encounters that are targeted for a variety of group/raid sizes.
On a side note, dynamic threat assessment will also hopefully allow us to create raid encounters in lower end dungeons. I personally don't think they should be restricted to only the end game (just as I don't think then end game should only be about raiding). Of course, this is easier said than done, and we'll find out how well our plans pan out in beta.
Obviously there is no 'official' definition of zerging, but to me it can mean two different things (though they can be combined):
1. Bringing more people to an encounter than the encounter was designer for, making the encounter therefore trivial, bypassing or minimizing the risk that was supposed to be present to justify the reward of beating that encounter. We hope to minimize this through dynamic threat assessment systems and some other ideas, where if too many people are brought to an encounter either the encounter changes in difficulty, or the reward doesn't drop, etc.
2. Defeating an encounter by just throwing people at it instead of employing other tactics. As long as this doesn't also involve #1 above, I don't have a problem with it. If the encounter can be beat using some tricky tactics involving certain classes or a unique or clever approach, that's cool emergent behavior. If it can also be beat by a more simple approach, sheer DPS, I'm cool with this too. Ideally the former would mitigate more risk and while the same loot dropped, because less risk was involved by use of better planning and tactics, the group is additionally rewarded.
Hrm... the primary goal of a raid or any other task that takes a lot of time, contiguous or not, should usually be an item. But as I've mentioned elsewhere, we can reward players with exp, knowledge (waypoints), flags, faction, titles, in-game recognition, etc. Nor do I have any problem mixing up the rewards.
Source: Aradune Mithara
Without digging deeper there is one simple definition of a high end Vanguard raid: Long contiguous period of time that requires a large organized group.
I wouldn't assume that's the only type of raid. In context I was referring to the assertion that splitting up a raid or some such into smaller segments, still requiring as much time in total, but not requiring one to do it all in one sitting, should yield the same rewards.
I don't think they necessarily should, but I want to stress that long contiguous raids are not going to be the only, nor preferred, way of earning high end rewards. I think splitting sojourns like this into segments is a great idea. Nothing's mutually exclusive.
What I'm getting at is that there should be multiple routes to accomplishing goals in these games, including the acquisition of powerful items. The more variety the better in a general sense, but specifically if we can find multiple routes that appeal to players with different play styles or contiguous amounts of time to devote to playing, the more appealing the game will be to more people. And the more variety that will exist even for the same people who are simply in a different mood and want to try out different parts of the gameworld. -
Source: Aradune Mithara
Some powerful items will only be obtained by raiding, and by raiding I mean a contiguous amount of time spent involving significant risk and reward.
But please don't stop reading there. I think there are many other ways to create challenge and therefore reward than just a long contiguous raid. You can have a very long quest, but one that you can complete in short segments. In that case, you're able to spread the 20 hours out over days as opposed to having to commit to it in one session. You can involve extreme skill in an area, or extreme luck (just a super rare drop). You can do thinks like reward the player with an item, but then require that item in order to complete another series of quests, etc. So you can stop at anytime with an item that is X good, or keep going, eventually giving up that item, but hopefully earning an item that is Y (even better) good.
Anyway, lots of ways to keep things rare, exotic, intriguing, sought after without using only one or a few ways to obtain rare items. This allows players with different play styles, skills, etc. to obtain powerful items, although the extra effort to make the items distinct is worth it.
All that said, and here's where I risk some wrath, the most powerful items will likely require skill, challenge, risk, and contiguous time commitments involving a lot of people. The reason is that by putting all of those challenges together, you get a bigger challenge. The additional commitment to stay on those extra hours, the organizational skills necessary to lead and organize a large group of people, etc. There's still something to be said about all of that, even though it will be the minority of content, as per what I've commented on in the past.
I probably should have been more clear and detailed. If one assumes a death penalty like Vanguard's, the deeper into a dungeon you go, the more risk you are taking on. If there are no safe places to break, or really log off, or pick up later the next day and continue on, you are risking a CR probably just as long and potentially more difficult. Likewise, you are involved in what is hopefully challenging combat involving a relatively large group of individuals who each have their own roles and responsibilities. People have jobs to do. There are leaders, sub leaders. Communication is key. There should be lots of opportunity to screw up, and the farther the group goes, the more painful screwing up ought to be.
So that's why I think, if accomplished, it should be thusly rewarded.