We are re-balancing Datascape to be a 20-player raid instance instead of its current 40-player size.
This is, obviously, a big change and will frustrate and excite players to varying degrees. I would like to take the time to explain some of the reasoning behind this decision.
We spoke to a number of raiding guilds--including all of the ones at that time who had experience within Datascape. The feedback across the board listed the extreme pressure that the 'roster boss' put upon those guilds, and the (in our opinion) excessive amount of additional stress it required simply to maintain a stable 40-player raid roster.
Our analytics shows that the player buy-in (number of players attempting the raid) is too low and that the player turnover (players who entered, then left and did not return) is much too high.
This change should greatly help in addressing 'roster boss,' player buy-in, and player turnover rate without losing the epic experience of defeating some of the most challenging encounters in the market. Making this change will also allow us to improve the experience in several additional ways:
- Combat - Our combat system functions much more cleanly in a smaller 20-player raid environment. We feel that it has been extremely successful in Genetic Archives. Reducing the number of players in Datascape to match Genetic Archives allows the encounters and rooms and mechanics to be much cleaner, clearer, and enjoyable for players.
- FPS - More people means more load, and a 40-player raid further restricted the pool of players with machines that were capable of running the content as smoothly as we’d like. Reducing the player count will greatly reduce the load on players' connections and computers, helping out quite a bit for a number of rooms and encounters within Datascape.
- Future Content - With a consistent raid size, it allows us to streamline our future content and no longer split it among varying raid sizes. This will allow future zones to have more clearly defined places in the progression, and avoid the disconnect that can arise when attempting to compare raids of different sizes.
- Guild Management - Running a guild is a lot of work. Having two separate raid sizes forced many guilds to attempt to rapidly expand from 20 to 40 players after finishing Genetic Archives, additionally causing the work required to manage that many people to increase exponentially. Having our raid sizes be consistent across all zones will create a clear expectation and balance for players and guilds that they can plan and build around.
- Testing - It is very difficult not just for players, but also for us to assemble 40 people to test these encounters. This has made it very difficult for us to adequately test many of these encounters internally. Reducing the size will allow us to balance, tune, and bug-fix our encounters much more effectively.
Finally, I'd like to make a couple more points that deserve clarification and answer a few questions that are surely incoming:
When is this happening?
Currently we are planning to convert Datascape to its 20-player version with our 1.2.0 patch.
It will be available on PTR in its 20-player iteration as soon as the next drop arrives there, and we would greatly appreciate all help players are willing to offer in testing it!
Additionally, we created a PTR-only version of the raid's teleporter to allow groups to jump to any room in the instance and test it without having to progress naturally through the zone.
Are the encounters being nerfed?
No, they are not.
Some aspects may feel easier to handle because of the reduced player count, but none of the encounters are being reduced in difficulty.
Will the 40 still be available?
No, it will not. Existing achievements earned in the 40-player will be converted to Galactic Hotshot achievements.
The 40-player version will remain available until Datascape-20 goes live.
Will the gear be changing?
UPDATE: I'm actually going to edit this section. J-Tal's team is doing a huge amount of work on the item-progression within the game that will go live with 1.2.0 along with this change. In that light, yes, the itemization will be changing. However, Datascape will continue to drop the best PvE items in the game.
The number of items that drop per kill will be reduced to match the new raid size--you can expect it to drop about the same number of items per boss/miniboss as Genetic Archives.
Any questions that weren't answered?
Please post in this thread and I will answer as many as I can. I will also update this post with the questions and answers as I go.
Thank you all for playing and for giving us so much feedback, so many amazing wipes, and some amazing boss kills!
Edited by Timetravel, 14 November 2014 - 10:26 AM.