The years of discussion, argument, accusation and recriminations are over. As of Update 2, Radiance is no more. Casual players are likely heartened by this news, this will allow them to partake in end games raids without having to collect a stockpile of other gear. Even raiders are happy about this as the thought of taking a bevy of alts through the process was disheartening, and gaining new recruits from casual players will be easier. I myself cheered at news of its demise.
But the idea of Radiance was a good one. A stat that represents a characters unrelenting hope that our efforts are improving the Free Peoples chances of winning the war, that the shadow can be turned back and defeated, that our very acts make us into more heroic characters. As the dev diary said, it was the implementation which was lacking. How could Radiance have been implemented in a better fashion? I should mention that this article is adapted from my own post on the subject more than a year ago. I have been aware of this problem for some time, and am not just piling on. I truly think Radiance could, and should, have been salvaged.
Radiance should never have been tied to gear. It should have been conceived as an indivisible aspect of the character. Like Glorfindel or Elrond, as our characters grow in virtue and deeds they should innately emanate radiance and hope. The best system to incorporate radiance was then the Deed system. Each powerful enemy overcome should have had a deed attached to it which would reward the character with Radiance. This would then galvanize the character against further challenges from evil in the form of new raid bosses.
So defeating Igash in the Grand Stair would reward the player with a deed which provided 10 Radiance. No matter what armor you wear you would have this innate statistic. This would be rewarded for the first kill, maybe only in hard mode, or maybe any victory. This then frees players to decide if they want to continue to run the instance for the armor and jewelry drops. Those who just want to move on to prepare for raiding could simple go to the next instance having only run Grand Stair one time. If they greatly valued an armor piece or a jewelry item they could run it ad-infinitum.
By killing the other bosses in 16th Hall, Fil Gashan, Forges, Dark Delving, and Skumfil you would gain the other 50 radiance to have the same radiance as those armors provided. Killing the Turtle and the Watcher could have been worth 10 additional Radiance each. This would give you the same 80 radiance as the actual system did with the Moria armor.
Currently, you must run each instance 6 times, and the watcher 12 times, on average, to get the radiance for the next raid. With a Deed based system you would have all the radiance required by running each instance or raid, successfully, one time. No doubt, many would continue to run most, or all, of these instances many more times to get the armor or jewelry, but the burden that they were required to run it more than once would have been lifted.
This also provides more of a sense of character growth and story. Your character is defeating each great evil in turn and slowly rolling back the shadow. It is much more palatable as a narrative than killing the same beast a dozen times.
When new content is released it can be untenable for players to run through now obsolete instances. It is difficult to gather up a group for a special run when many others don’t need anything from the instance. An option for this would be to use the “catch up” or “on-ramp” instances to quickly ramp up a character’s radiance.
As an example, when Lothlorien was released the instances Hall of Crafting, Water Wheels, and Nala Dum were added along with the Dar Narbugud Raid. The instances allowed one to collect tokens to barter for radiance pieces so that you could build up to 75 radiance by gaining 3 25 radiance pieces. This would be enough to allow you to function in DN.
So a possibility would be to add a tech for either-or Deeds. You can complete this or that to complete the Deed. Using this new tech, players who had already gained the 80 radiance form Moria would gain no more from the new instances. But players who had not completed these instances would get 10 Radiance from the bosses in WW and ND, and 20 Radiance from each of the three bosses in HOC. This would allow them to catch up to the Moria players 80 radiance by running current instances instead of old content.
So now everyone has the 80 radiance needed for DN. In DN each boss would fulfill a deed which would provide additional radiance. The total radiance from killing all the bosses would be 40, bringing the total radiance up to 120, matching up with the old system.
For the new Dol Guldur cluster much the same thing would occur. Killing the bosses from Sword Halls, Warg Pens, and Sammath Gul would ramp you up to 120 Radiance if you had not completed the Moria or Lothlorien deeds. This 120 radiance allows you to function in the raid: Barad Guldur.
Once inside BG, each boss defeated would provide an additional 20 Radiance. So after killing Durchest everyone in the raid would then jump to 140 Radiance. After killing the twins you would be at 160, and after defeating the Lieutenant you would be at 180. Of course for the armor, you would have to run the raid many times, but the story part, your characters growth, would be complete after the first defeat.
I see the Annuminas and Helegrod clusters as another on ramp for Radiance. A newly minted level 65 character might chose to run level 65 versions of these instead of the DG instance cluster and some of BG. For Helegrod, keep the 150 radiance total, but break it up to give 30 radiance for each of the 3 sub bosses (assuming you have not already done the DG cluster) and 60 Radiance from Thorog. Or they could choose to do Annuminas and be rewarded with 50 Radiance from each of the three instances.
An alternate Deed tech might be more useful. It would track the Radiance as it is earned, but only allow the Radiance to be applied from the source which has been progressed the farthest. So if I have done the three sub bosses from Helegrod, I would have 90 Radiance. But then if I completed the DG cluster I would jump to 120. And then if I completed the Annuminas cluster I would move up to 150. I could then run BG and complete that raid for the 180 radiance. It would basically track my highest radiance cluster and apply that stat to my character.
Basically, this is an alternate schedule for accumulating radiance through deeds rather than through armor drops. It has the benefit of allowing characters to quickly progress through the plot so they can move on to the next raid if they desire, or linger to gain the gear if that is their fancy. The idea of Radiance as an integral part of the character, gained through exceptional deeds, is also very appealing.
Another perk of this idea is that players can then use any armor they see fit. It would drastically increase the armor available to a raider. Rather than being forced to wear whatever happened to have the most radiance, players could pick and choose what to wear based on desirable stats or set bonuses.
This has the additional advantage of forcing the Devs to put good loot in the instances to encourage players to run them more than once. But it could also be used to reduce the need for the Devs to create as many new armor sets in the attempt to keep a few available at end game radiance requirements. There are an awful lot of sets now available to the level 65 raider, probably more than would ever be needed if radiance were not a concern.
A final benefit is that alts and new players could more quickly get into the end game raid by running current end game instances one time through. These instances are generally being run anyway by end game raiders and pugs, even if earlier instances and raids are not. The Deed based system also removes the need to run a few weeks of those end game instances (like Helegrod) before you can gain the radiance armor and take part in the end game raid. Run the 4 Helegrod wings one time and you have 150 Radiance and could come to BG.
You will not be as effective without the nice stats from the armor and jewelry, but can at least come along. This is more like the situation from Shadows of Angmar where any level 50 could come on a Rift raid. This radiance deed system would provide more encouragement for people to at least try the raids, which is good for casual players and raiding kinships.
Of course the wholesale removal of Radiance will now also allow anyone to try raiding. But it is sad to see such a good idea thrown away. Maybe someday Turbine could attempt to re-introduce a radiance type mechanic which is better implemented. It certainly does sound like a Tolkienesque concept.