MMO-Champion - Dev Watercooler -- Rude Interruptions
Dev Watercooler -- Rude Interruptions
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker)
‘Dev Watercooler’ is a blog series that provides an inside look into the thoughts and discussions happening within the World of Warcraft development team. In our first entry, Lead Systems Designer Greg "Ghostctrawler" Street laid down a few ground rules:


  • 1. No promises are being made in these Dev Watercooler blogs.

  • 2. Don’t read too much between the lines.

  • 3. No complaints about the topic not being what you want to see covered.

Are spellcast interrupt abilities, such as Kick, too good? It’s easy to make that argument. We think their ease of use and low cooldown has led to a whole cascade of events in PvP. Because interrupts are so good, casters without a lot of instant spells or mobility are weak. For that reason, we tend to give casters a lot of instant spells or movement abilities, and casters who excel at those (say, Frost mages) are very powerful, while those without (say, Elemental shaman) have more difficulty.

Because interrupts are good, classes without them feel uncompetitive, which has led to us giving interrupts to paladins and druids, which in turn has led to them being even more prevalent. Because casters tend to fire off lots of instant spells while jumping around, melee can be really easy to kite. Because melee can be easy to kite, melee classes without strong mobility can suffer, and we have to consider giving high mobility to all melee, which increases the amount of uptime melee have on casters, which means we have to give casters even more powerful escape mechanisms to survive... and the arms race continues.

See where I’m going with this? Because instant spells tend to be so powerful, we have to make cast time spells insanely powerful to compete or they’ll never see use in PvP. But we have to make those spells so powerful that when they do get off, we can have PvP burst issues. (Look at how much better Frostbolt has to be than Ice Lance for mages to even consider the “long” cast.)

Nerfing all of the interrupts across the board isn’t the kind of thing we can realistically do mid-expansion. Anyone working on the raid content can tell you how important interrupts are to today's encounter design. We’d have to redesign nearly all of the raid encounters and many of the dungeon encounters as well. Of course once you increase the cooldown on interrupts, then availability of stuns gains relative power, so you have that balance consideration as well.

Instant spells do have their place in the game. If you’re worried about being interrupted because someone is chasing you, or you are chasing them, that’s a great time to use an instant spell. But actual 2.5 sec cast time spells need to have their place too and, if anything, they should be the norm.

Here's one other way in which interrupts have wide-reaching effects on the game via the chain of consequences discussed above. One of the advantages melee used to have in PvE was on movement fights. If the boss has to be kited or stays in motion, the rogues and warriors can follow along and still deal damage. It will be less damage for sure, but they’ll still get a lot of auto attacks in. It used to be the case that asking the Balance druid or Fire mage to move was a huge dps loss for them, because they were always interrupting their spells. In today’s PvE environment, that role has almost flipped. Many casters can shoot on the run and take only a very minimal DPS hit to do so. For this reason (and a few others) melee classes can feel like a liability on certain encounters. We’d prefer for raids to want a fairly even distribution of ranged to melee classes and ideally groups would have a lot of flexibility in who they bring. It’s okay to have fights that are really good for casters, but there need to be at least a couple that feel great for melee as well.

Is there a design lesson to learn here? I guess it’s some variant of the butterfly effect -- apparently innocuous designs (in this case the short cooldown on interrupt abilities) can have wide-ranging effects on all aspects of the game. I’m not sure what the game would look like if Pummel and Kick and Wind Shear had 30 second cooldowns. Clearly we’d have to redesign a lot of other abilities, mechanics, and numbers to make it work. Again, this isn’t a change you’ll see anytime soon. But it might feel better in the long run if we could get to that point.

Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street is the lead systems designer on World of Warcraft. He knows how to get to R’lyeh.
This article was originally published in forum thread: Dev Watercooler -- Rude Interruptions started by Boubouille View original post
Comments 183 Comments
  1. 4KhazModan's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by link064 View Post
    Why not put like a 45 second - 1 minute immunity on interrupts too? That way, getting interrupted sucks but you aren't getting chain interrupted for days on end.
    And why not just make healers immortal.
  1. Seme's Avatar
    Interesting blog and pretty much sums up what most people feel about pvp now, the arms races between classes is out of control. Now that we're all on the same page about whats wrong, the big question is how do we fix it? I sense the next xpac will be back to the drawing board...

    Quote Originally Posted by Baikalsan View Post
    For gods sake, just separate PvE and PvP talent trees and spells already, STOP CHANGING PVE FOR PVP!
    My guess is that is a path the dev's dont want to go down, but may end up being the only solution.

    Quote Originally Posted by justandulas View Post
    The solution is quite simple, although would surely ruffle afew feathers. Casters are at a disadvantage because their main weapon (spells) can be interupted/silenced by every melee class and leaves them basically defenseless. The solution would be to give at least one spec of each spell casters a disarm. Demo locks could have a disarm on their felguard, fire mages could heat the handle of a hilt and force it to be disarmed, ele shammies could shock the weapons free, and Spriests have one. If all melee can take the main weapon of casters (spells) away, then casters should be able to do the same and disarm the melee's weapons for a short period of time. Yin to the Yang, and balance to the force it would bring. Right now it's a one sides battle with melee having the advantage and most casters being unable to return the favor
    Interesting Idea, but that is just perpetuating the arms race.
  1. PlatedPriest's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by justandulas View Post
    The solution is quite simple, although would surely ruffle afew feathers. Casters are at a disadvantage because their main weapon (spells) can be interupted/silenced by every melee class and leaves them basically defenseless. The solution would be to give at least one spec of each spell casters a disarm. Demo locks could have a disarm on their felguard, fire mages could heat the handle of a hilt and force it to be disarmed, ele shammies could shock the weapons free, and Spriests have one. If all melee can take the main weapon of casters (spells) away, then casters should be able to do the same and disarm the melee's weapons for a short period of time. Yin to the Yang, and balance to the force it would bring. Right now it's a one sides battle with melee having the advantage and most casters being unable to return the favor
    idk i just think that would add more unneeded bloat to the game
  1. Prothall's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by kapowaz View Post
    Interesting stuff. What about a cast time on interrupts, say 0.5s? That way you're not punishing raiders for missing interrupts (so long as the boss casts they're interrupting are at least couple of seconds long), and melee in PvP has to sacrifice some mobility for a moment?
    But then you get hit with a lag spike, and miss the interrupt. At least now, you have a chance.

    This is just another sign that Blizzard doesn't know what they're doing. "Oh, noes!!!!! PVPers are getting interrupted too often, and are complaining about it!!!!! We must totally destroy PVE abilites, just to make those PVPers happy!!!!!" For God's sake, if they want WoW to be like Unreal Tournament, they should just make it so and be done with it. This shoehorning of two different styles of gameplay isn't working, and hasn't for a long time. We can see that, so why Blizzard can't is beyond me.
  1. justandulas's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by PlatedPriest View Post
    idk i just think that would add more unneeded bloat to the game
    And giving every melee an interupt or silence didn't? It's about balancing it out, and giving one tree for each caster able to disarm the melee on the same c/d as the interupt's/silences would balance it out for the casters but not tip the scale unfavorably. They gave every melee a way to take the caster's weapons (spells) away over the last two expansions but casters (short of frost mages) have been left out to dry and need a shift in the paradigm to balance things back out without tipping the scales too much in their favor.
  1. PlatedPriest's Avatar
    suggestion #2 increase the DR on lockout/silences. that way when ppl are looking for a cluch silence they will interrupt when they need to. instead of on CD.
  1. Weisskrieg's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by apintandafight View Post
    hmm you mean like hunters having 1 interupt on a 30 second cd...
    Actually, it's a 20 second cooldown (Silencing Shot). And this combined with with a moth's Serenity Dust or nether ray's Nether Shock gives hunters a few more options than you're giving them credit for, I think. To be honest, I don't think the lack of an interrupt by itself is what keeps hunter representation down in arena.
  1. Cirque's Avatar
    I agree with Shambulanced. Especially in 10man encounters, interrupts are too heavy on the raid. Halfus hc and Maloriak hc - fail an interrupt and it's, essentially, a wipe. Let's not even get me started about Nef phase 2 - our tanks weren't hitcapped when we started progress and the amount of regemming and reforging it took them, because one missed interrupt and it was a wipe. Not being hitcapped as a tank in 10mans for this very reason isn't very viable, unless you fancy regemming, forging, or having some secret trinket somewhere around for every other boss. Unfortunately, being forced in the Destro role for replenish, I feel 100% useless on such fights, as do the ~7 others of my raid - we just watch our raid wipe time and again on interrupt progress, missed interrupts, warrior not in range of halfus, mages accidentally interrupting adds instead of aoe, the list goes on and on. And for them it's frustrating too, because it's super stressful (talk to our warrior about the Malo interrupts and his sleepless nights over it, or to our shaman alt who had to log his shaman for proper Halfus hc interrupts pre nerf) and you get the feeling you're making everyone wait for this single aspect of the encounter. On certain fights I actually felt the need to bring the felpup out for some additional interrupting help (mage died!! 2 minute cooldown on CR - kind of situations).

    Long story short, when our warrior called this expansion "World of Interrupts" he wasn't mistaken at all. Whenever we start progress on a new boss, the first thing we joke about is "so, what do we interrupt". People wouldn't believe me at first when I said, yes, even Atra hc needs interrupts.

    It's fun for a bit, sure. But the point remains that interrupts are too important an aspect in this game right now and it takes a heavy toll on 10man raids (I'm unsure how it is in 25, as our guild is 10man exclusive). Nerf? Maybe not, but a lesson from it? Would be great for upcoming raids.

    That said, I can't say I get the feelings most encounters were designed with 10mans in mind, at all (To4W hc 10man progress first boss alone, it just sucks to feel like every few players are playing in a different instance on a different platform. We had jokes like "SO, how is Team Wind doing?" "Team Wind is Doing ----- BAD WIND BLAST, BAD, WATCH IT ---- FINE --, and how is Team Frost? Falling asleep yet?" frost: "~~ murmle").
  1. Leggomyeggo's Avatar
    Ranged don't need the ability to disarm melee classes. This is why they have the ability to kite. When you are kiting, the melee classes are about as effective as a caster is when silenced or interrupted.

    Now, if Blizzard wanted to give disarms to classes that can't kite very well now as a means to mix things up, that could be interesting. The issue is, most interrupters can still interrupt/silence when disarmed. I guess it's better than nothing, but still, giving the ranged classes that can't kite well better tools to kite would likely be better than giving them disarms.
  1. Brett Skullcrack's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Shambulanced View Post
    See, there was something the Devs said pre-Cata about development. They said they wanted to end the whole "tank takes massive damage spike" design style and normalize PvE damage.

    Then we got to Cata, and what happened? On one of the first bossfights of the xpac in the dungeons (naga priestess in Throne) she has a one-hit killer that *has* to be interrupted.
    These are two completely unrelated things. The spiky damage on tanks was due to extremely high avoidance rates which meant that Blizzard had to rely on very high damage attacks or the healers would've been twiddling their thumbs the whole fight. On the other hand, one-shot spells that have to be interrupted have always existed in WoW as a game mechanic.

    Long story short--Interrupt mechanics on bossfights really aren't that fun, especially when they require a rotation (Nefarian 25, looking back at General Vex in Ulduar, sometimes Halfus Wyrmbreaker 10&25) or when the survival of the entire raid hinges on them.
    I've been doing these interrupt fights for years, it's very stressful when one mistake will wipe the raid, but it's also very rewarding when you succeed at it. It's a perfectly valid mechanic and there's no reason to remove it.

    When interrupt mechanics ARE fun in PvE is when they're a sort of "bonus" thing--like interrupting caster adds in Stonecore that stops them from xforming, or stopping a boss from casting a shadowbolt (which wouldn't kill anybody, but it's fun to do!).
    Yeah, so you want a game where you cannot fail. Personally I find such "bonus" mechanics completely meaningless.
  1. Zlatica's Avatar
    interupt that lock school for 2 sec could be an option. Most of the spells that are casted are like 2 sec so interupting in the middle will lead to 3 sec lost instead 5 like it is now. Considering that u dont loose global CD etc it will be still woth interupt but it will not have such huge effect.
  1. gherkin's Avatar
    If interrupts are toned down, and instant casts are toned down, then we will be relying on long casts to make our damage work.

    This has a facing issue. One of the reasons I like instants and dots is because I don't need to be facing my target to hit them, especially when they jump all over my body. Casting a 2.5s spell only to have the melee be 3 pixels behind you at the end of the cast feels BRUTAL. You basically were interrupted in this case, without a lock out. 2.5s spent doing nothing.
  1. Leggomyeggo's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Cirque View Post
    I agree with Shambulanced. Especially in 10man encounters, interrupts are too heavy on the raid. Halfus hc and Maloriak hc - fail an interrupt and it's, essentially, a wipe. Let's not even get me started about Nef phase 2 - our tanks weren't hitcapped when we started progress and the amount of regemming and reforging it took them, because one missed interrupt and it was a wipe. Not being hitcapped as a tank in 10mans for this very reason isn't very viable, unless you fancy regemming, forging, or having some secret trinket somewhere around for every other boss. Unfortunately, being forced in the Destro role for replenish, I feel 100% useless on such fights, as do the ~7 others of my raid - we just watch our raid wipe time and again on interrupt progress, missed interrupts, warrior not in range of halfus, mages accidentally interrupting adds instead of aoe, the list goes on and on. And for them it's frustrating too, because it's super stressful (talk to our warrior about the Malo interrupts and his sleepless nights over it, or to our shaman alt who had to log his shaman for proper Halfus hc interrupts pre nerf) and you get the feeling you're making everyone wait for this single aspect of the encounter. On certain fights I actually felt the need to bring the felpup out for some additional interrupting help (mage died!! 2 minute cooldown on CR - kind of situations).

    Long story short, when our warrior called this expansion "World of Interrupts" he wasn't mistaken at all. Whenever we start progress on a new boss, the first thing we joke about is "so, what do we interrupt". People wouldn't believe me at first when I said, yes, even Atra hc needs interrupts.

    It's fun for a bit, sure. But the point remains that interrupts are too important an aspect in this game right now and it takes a heavy toll on 10man raids (I'm unsure how it is in 25, as our guild is 10man exclusive). Nerf? Maybe not, but a lesson from it? Would be great for upcoming raids.

    That said, I can't say I get the feelings most encounters were designed with 10mans in mind, at all (To4W hc 10man progress first boss alone, it just sucks to feel like every few players are playing in a different instance on a different platform. We had jokes like "SO, how is Team Wind doing?" "Team Wind is Doing ----- BAD WIND BLAST, BAD, WATCH IT ---- FINE --, and how is Team Frost? Falling asleep yet?" frost: "~~ murmle").
    Again, interrupts are just one of the mechanics that Blizzard has to make encounters challenging. Don't complain about wiping on heroic encounters because your raiders aren't able to do what the encounter is asking them to do. That is the fail on the part of your raiders, not Blizzard.
  1. chrisxnickel's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Findus707 View Post
    First! page atleast!
    <Mod edit: Infracted>


    do mod's seriously have NOTHING better to do?
  1. link064's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by gherkin View Post
    If interrupts are toned down, and instant casts are toned down, then we will be relying on long casts to make our damage work.

    This has a facing issue. One of the reasons I like instants and dots is because I don't need to be facing my target to hit them, especially when they jump all over my body. Casting a 2.5s spell only to have the melee be 3 pixels behind you at the end of the cast feels BRUTAL. You basically were interrupted in this case, without a lock out. 2.5s spent doing nothing.
    This is my biggest beef with the system. I've never understood why it has been so fundamentally broken since the beginning. I'm fine with having to face my target at the start of the spell since it makes sense to face who I'm shooting this ball of fire at, but it makes no sense to check again at the completion of the spell. Just remove the final check and be done with it. No more caster dancing.
  1. paloalto's Avatar
    Ghostcrawler perpetuating his own myth here.

    "We're pretty unsatisfied with the basic fundamentals combat is balanced around right now, both in PvE and PvP. But we're not going to do anything about it."

  1. Ashareth's Avatar
    Ah yet another proof that those devs have :
    - No idea of what the game they are supposedly developping is, or how it works
    - Have no clue
    - Have absolutly no bearing on what is done or how things are
    - Only "realise" things months after it has been put live when pretty much every one with a brain told them what would happen when it was on PTR (or before).

    For the druids, i would LOVE for them to point out the "prevalence of druids" (ie : ferals, they are the only ones with an interupt) in pvp.
    The only time they were numerous was early in Cata when people weren't used to fight them and when the lack of resilience made their bleeds quite op. Now, they are nowhere to be seen due to the huge series of nerfs.

    For the fights with prevalence to melee, we are still waiting for one or two, when anyone can count over 15 heavily favoring ranged, JUST taking into account raid content from Wrath and Cata.... The only fight favoring "melee" (sorry it didn't favor melee but physical dps, which made those with roughly half their damage as holy/magical not that good, and hunters nearly as good as melee) was XT.

    Saurfang you had the exact same result putting ranged on him and having no melee (put them focusing the boss and it has the same result, except they won't take damage or make Saurfang generate more rp if they aggro the beast with "cleaves"/aoe, since those will be dead before reaching them).

    The only other one close to favor "melee" was Festergut and really it didn't favor melee, it just required a number of people in range to suffer from the stun/silence. You could put as many ranged you wanted in melee range without problem.

    Pretty much all the fights in Wrath and Cata can be made without much problem without a melee. There is maybe one or two that can be made without any ranged.
    And Cata is even worse than Wrath which was already ranged-centric as hell.
    Once again, they have no clue, talk a lot but never do anything (or do the exact opposite of what they pretend their goal is).
    The only way right now to put back melee as "wanted" in raids is strip the interupts from all ranged (including healers), and put mechanisms that punish ranged and have them forced to move, and not only melee.

    It's funny how when everyone has to move away, melee have it far harder (they don't dps while moving away, they don't dps while away, they don't dps while moving back.... while ranged can do all of this and usually aren't out of range while away), specially since roughly anything forcing to move out of a zone hits all melee in range, while ranged can easily spread.

    The design is retarded to a point where you can roughly remove all melee without too much problem if you bring their buff to ranged. The game would be impossible the other way around.

    (The most funny example of that are the whole tier of Cata instances, where 70+% of the "unavoidable damage" and 90+% of the "interupt or die" damage ONLY affect melee, and having only ranged means you stay out of range and ignore it. There is dozens of example in the instances througout Cata, it was brought up BEFORE Cata hit the PTR and yet they didn't change a thing, and the first peak on the 2 new troll instances show they didn't change a thing and it's still World of Rangedcrat : Casterclysm all over again... ).

    It's pretty obvious nowadays that most devs that do PVE content are playing only ranged (a few are playing Protadins tank too, a couple a DK but they probably stopped recently seing the nerfs), rest don't play melee or there is a problem with their mental abilities...
  1. TheDesertDragon's Avatar
    This is actually a surprisingly insightful post. Very good job to Blizzard and GC there! This is from a PvP PoV.

    Interrupts are causing a slew of problems for this game. In general, people talk about "too much stuff" flying about your ears, and interrupts are definitely the biggest offender. Like in order to cast against an RLS you need to avoid fear, kick, spell lock, wind shear, grounding, and the rogue using stuns or silences. It's completely unrealistic and it just makes sure you JUST DON'T CAST, period.

    When you can't cast, your instant needs to be improved, turning everybody into instantspammers. This immediately gives ranged an advantage over melee because being instant is the "melee game" - it's what you trade for being melee and not ranged. It can put you, as a melee, into positions where you are infinitely kited. The game starts to feel overwhelmingly simple. "lol he's just spamming instants I can't do shit" Massive bursts happen when people actually do cast, and it feels like the tide just _CAN'T_ turn.
    Simiarly, either melee needs a bajillion gap closers and when they finally catch up, they need to do tons of damage. The end result is that instant casts, training one target and massively overpowered instant casts heals become the metagame. People call this the "WotLK syndrome". Cataclysm set out to fix it. It hasn't, but it's closer than WotLK was. Sadly it also added more interrupts. Without those, we might've been there.

    2,5 seks cast should be the norm. I dont remember a time where they actually were pvp wise.
    tBC. That's what made it great. I played Frost Mage and every time I got a shatter, it made me PvPgasm.

    Interrupts do have DR afaik.
    They do not. Silences do. Interrupts also cannot be trinketed.

    Rather than nerfing the actual cooldown time of interrupts, why not just decrease the lockout time?
    They would become meaningless.
    I do think removing some of the interrupts would be the best solution. And adding significant cooldowns to the others. In most cases doubling the CD. 45-1 minute, however, is overkill. Utterly overkill.

    Feral druids, the ones using the interrupt, are very prevalent indeed JK! What a spit in the face from Blizzard.
    They certainly have become more popular. Whether they are actually popular is debateable, but you'd be a fool to deny that Skull Bash did nothing for Feral Druids.

    Interesting stuff. What about a cast time on interrupts, say 0.5s? That way you're not punishing raiders for missing interrupts (so long as the boss casts they're interrupting are at least couple of seconds long), and melee in PvP has to sacrifice some mobility for a moment?
    It's an interesting idea. It would be pretty cool on warriors, paladins and boomkins I'd wager. Possibly feral as well.

    Here's to hoping that a nerf to interrupts gives us back the rootbreaking of shapeshifting.
    Cannot be emphasized enough.

    For gods sake, just separate PvE and PvP talent trees and spells already, STOP CHANGING PVE FOR PVP!
    There is seperation enough to begin with. Seperating the two games completely would kill the game.
    It's high time that PvE takes its rightful place: Where it is in every other game. You design the game to be fun competitively, and then you design encounters using the mechanics of the different classes to create fun and exciting content. I promise you, you wouldn't complain. Heck, you might not even realize it happened.
    Every time I see seperation of SP and MP I tend to vomit. It can be fun in some instances, but in others its just shameful. Example where it was fun: SC2. Example where it's terrible: Crysis 2.

    Well, Greg. No kidding.

    See, there was something the Devs said pre-Cata about development. They said they wanted to end the whole "tank takes massive damage spike" design style and normalize PvE damage.

    Then we got to Cata, and what happened? On one of the first bossfights of the xpac in the dungeons (naga priestess in Throne) she has a one-hit killer that *has* to be interrupted. (I am aware, before you smart-arses reply saying "Oh I can soak that hit now it's no big" that gear has since trivialized it, for a large part. BUT, at the time, when the content was relevant, it was a death sentence.)

    Long story short--Interrupt mechanics on bossfights really aren't that fun, especially when they require a rotation (Nefarian 25, looking back at General Vex in Ulduar, sometimes Halfus Wyrmbreaker 10&25) or when the survival of the entire raid hinges on them. When interrupt mechanics ARE fun in PvE is when they're a sort of "bonus" thing--like interrupting caster adds in Stonecore that stops them from xforming, or stopping a boss from casting a shadowbolt (which wouldn't kill anybody, but it's fun to do!).

    TL;DR: Interrupting in PvE is fun when it's something skilled players can do as a bonus, NOT when all dpsers MUST do as a requirement. I don't give a rip about PvP "balance," I've long since given up on that.
    Good post. Fires don't kill you instantly. They set you back. Not interrupting a spell kills you instantly. I fail to see how it's a fun mechanic.
  1. Baikalsan's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by chrisxnickel View Post
    do mod's seriously have NOTHING better to do?
    "First!" posts are the most annoying posts ever and are pretty much everywhere a bannable offense (except here).
  1. Darsithis's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by link064 View Post
    Why not put like a 45 second - 1 minute immunity on interrupts too? That way, getting interrupted sucks but you aren't getting chain interrupted for days on end.
    I wouldn't make it that high, but sounds like a good partial solution. On raid fights/heroics, interrupts work the same as they do now. But in PvP, an interrupt puts a momentary buff of 15 or 20 seconds on the person interrupted which prevents a second close interrupt and lets that person at least get some kind of spell off.

    There actually are PvE issues with interrupts. I remember, long long ago, I had a mage and was in...I think it was in the Barrens, east of Crossroads, and south of Ratchet. There was a human stronghold (Northwatch?), and the mobs there could chain interrupt, with no cooldown. I was killed in moments, unable to ever cast a single spell. That was annoying!

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