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. Zetapuppy's Avatar
    Nice to see the blues admitting to how significantly melee got shafted this tier, intentional or otherwise. Of course, that doesn't lessen the sting when I'm being consistently sat for Heroic Nefarian because running with a more RDPS-heavy composition allows us to push a crackle in P2 we'd otherwise have to wait for and compensate for with higher raid DPS to meet the berserk (which, with a higher number of melee, becomes that much harder to do. Thanks again, Blizzard.)
  1. Kingoomieiii's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by apintandafight View Post
    hmm you mean like hunters having 1 interupt on a 30 second cd, That they have to spec deep into the MM tree just to be able to use?
    gosh, it is a wonder why hunters have been the least represented class in arenas since season 1.
    Scatter Shot is baseline for all hunters, 30s, interrupts players (but not bosses). You're thinking of Silencing Shot, which is MM only, 20 second cooldown.
  1. IPWNFGZRS's Avatar
    So glad I quit this game to play Rift. At least the devs there have a clue about how stuff works, and doesnt have a 'lets try this idea, oh shit it didnt work, lets try another' attitude.
    Tardcrawlers post can be summed up by Bosses hit too hard in Wrath, but instead of nerfing there damage, lets make it need interupts. Now that shit doesnt work either what they gonna do?
    I know what I did...
  1. link064's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Darsithis View Post
    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!
    Okay, maybe I was a bit over-zealous in my initial approach, but the idea is the same. If basically every other player-affecting ability in the game has a cooldown or DR, then why not interrupts? But then again, I would love to see stuns break (and cause the affected player to be DR capped on stuns) after a certain amount of damage. Every other type of CC breaks on damage (besides cyclone, which takes no damage), so why are stuns different?

    As for PVE, I have no idea why mobs with CC's can get away with 0 DR's, especially when those types of CC are long ones with guaranteed durations. I have fond memories of running a friend through ZF and being chain-hexxed for 3 minutes straight. I ended up having to bubble to prevent being hexed longer. Also on the list of worst offenders, are the shoveltusks in Howling Fjord. If you pull more than a couple at a time, you're bound to be "confused" (aka, stunned + walking in circles) for an unknown length of time.
  1. Grimbold21's Avatar
    What is the problem with interrupts (atleast melee interrupts anyway)? You interrupt one cast and he's casting one right after, its not like you cant cast anything for the next 8 seconds.
  1. TheDesertDragon's Avatar
    PvP was a complete afterthought during the development and some time after, the PvP that did exsist was world PvP where balance wasn't as much of an issue. Then of course BGs came and then later with TBC came arenas, and to balance BGs and arenas, PvE keeps getting changed or even nerfed.

    And why would a second version of every talent tree that is only active during BGs and Arenas kill the game? They are only tweaked for fair PvP, same talents only tuned. There are a few games that have separated PvE and PvP trees.
    PvP was the original focus of the game. Warcraft 3 had the Horde and the Alliance actually allying, but Blizzard decided to split them again so they could make World of Warcraft what it is. A game with TWO WARRING FACTIONS.

    The problem is that the entire original development team left and was replaced by a bunch of raiding buffoons that completely altered the focus of the game.
    Also, the game shipped with Molten Bore and Onyxia. Oh, the amount of effort they must've put into that! Hahaha. PvP basically took a backseat in favor of a design that Blizzard had originally said they didn't want anywhere near the game: Tanking and threat. Funny, huh?
    Original WoW was about levelling up and growing your character in the world. PvP was optional, but definitely encouraged even if just for the sport. Battlegrounds made their way into the game after just 2 months, and were in EU at release. So yeah.
    The original team designed Guild Wars. A game with more builds than you can comprehend and 10 very unique classes. Its competitive PvP scene stayed alive for 4 years despite no improvements to the game for the latter 3. It is poised to take the world by storm all over again with Guild Wars 2, just you wait.

    The reason why a second version of every talent would ruin the game is because it would leave you confused if you couldn't preview it. It adds another layer of complication - and not depth - to the game. There's enough of that shit going around already because you guys feel that CC'ing shouldn't be something you had to focus on so you can have 1 minute polymorphs. No, God forbid, you need to top that Recount meter, right? It forces Blizzard to homogenize every class because God forbid that you chose your class for its unique style. No, you must all be able to top the meters, and thus all be able to CC equally well, all have similarly infinite resources etc. etc.
    Either you'd have to add massive talent tree panes for PvP, which would be completely silly and kill World PvP in Tol Barad as well, or you'd have to just make every ability work completely different depending on who you use it on - ruining the game's persistancy, feel and potentually balance.

    Raiding is completely and utterly braindead in its current incarnation. It's a miracle that Blizzard has managed to make it as fun as it is and really shows off how good they are at simply polishing till it shines.
    Underneath it all - and never forget this - you have:
    - monsters that attack the guy in plate armor because he's yelling profanity at them,
    - monsters that are large enough to simply stomp over and kill you instantly but for some obscure reason chooses not to,
    - monsters that don't use any kind of AI to determine what is more dangerous in your group,
    - monsters that result in stationary, grinding, repetitive fights you must complete every week (if not for a little gem allowing you to skip them by Blizzard)

    I will never fathom why people found that crap fun in any other MMO, and the only reason I can think of in this one is that Blizzard simply polished it to perfection.
  1. paloalto's Avatar
    @Giving all casters disarm

    Why would we want it go this way instead of heading toward less cc/interrupts/disarms? (btw, interrupts themselves aren't equivalent to disarm. Silence is equivalent to disarm). If they continue this merry-go-round, we're going to get to the point where nobody does anything. Melee sit there disarmed. Casters sit there interrupted or silenced. How is that fun? We don't need more abilities. If anything we need less with a more coherent design behind them.

    As a rogue that can CC the crap out of anybody in PvP, I think we need less of all of this.
  1. Asatru's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by link064 View Post
    Okay, maybe I was a bit over-zealous in my initial approach, but the idea is the same. If basically every other player-affecting ability in the game has a cooldown or DR, then why not interrupts? But then again, I would love to see stuns break (and cause the affected player to be DR capped on stuns) after a certain amount of damage. Every other type of CC breaks on damage (besides cyclone, which takes no damage), so why are stuns different?

    As for PVE, I have no idea why mobs with CC's can get away with 0 DR's, especially when those types of CC are long ones with guaranteed durations. I have fond memories of running a friend through ZF and being chain-hexxed for 3 minutes straight. I ended up having to bubble to prevent being hexed longer. Also on the list of worst offenders, are the shoveltusks in Howling Fjord. If you pull more than a couple at a time, you're bound to be "confused" (aka, stunned + walking in circles) for an unknown length of time.
    Vortex Pinnacle IS the new Zul'Furrak. Chain Cycloned for the duration of the first 1/5th of the instance. Yay!!
  1. RokFenris's Avatar
    Basic problem with requiring some ability for 5-mans: it becomes almost mandatory for, at least, every last spec of at least one role. Which is what happened with interrupts: a few 5-man fights required constant interrupts , some times with as little as 5s between them (mend rotting flesh just after one of the other two abilities which needed to be interrupted, before that fight was nerfed).

    One idea to solve the PvP problem with interrupts would be to some times make them the wrong choice. It could be done by adding to every caster some kind of "interrupt bait" channeling skill; something that had smaller DPS than just casting instant spells, but would cause either quite a bit of damage, or else some CC, to any player that tried to interrupt it.
  1. Sarevokcz's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by ez100 View Post
    They should just make them 10sec CD on NPC and 20-30 Sec CD on a Player. Just like CC effects. You arn't changing the core mechanic just how long the CD is. That way new plays can pick up on it easy.
    Its not that easy.

    Some meleers would be sort of balanced with longer CD on kicks. However some meleers are underrepresented already and nerfing their interrupt NOW without giving them anything in return would crush them PvP wise. Just look at poor ferals, who had to give up root breaking for interrupt. And there are classes, that are sharing interrupts between different specs also, how do you balance that?

    Its funny, even GC admitted Eleshaman is rather weak, but then, he mentions interrupts (and dispells few weeks ago) as a pvp problem, while Eleshaman has basically only 2 exceptional abilities in pvp - Wind Shear and Purge and nerfing them without massively reworking how pvp Ele works would make that spec a bigger joke than it is now.
  1. link064's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Asatru View Post
    Vortex Pinnacle IS the new Zul'Furrak. Chain Cycloned for the duration of the first 1/5th of the instance. Yay!!
    Oh no, I forgot. Thanks for reminding me (why I hate that place)
  1. Lord Swizzlington's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Rioo View Post
    So because more classes got interrupts, the mechanic somehow became better? Lol.
    Prevalent, adj.- widespread; of wide extent or occurrence; in general use or acceptance.

    So, yes, with more classes having interrupts, interrupts have become more prevalent. The problem is, teams used to only have 1 reliable interrupt and one long CD one (RMP for example had Kick and CS). Now with all Paladins having an interrupt and Druids having it thrown in, along with Wind Shear and Grounding Totem you can run into a team with 3+ interrupts rolling on short CDs. What has that done? Made instant cast spells and CC the only viable means of CC (or in the case of a Mage, the only possible way to get CC off) and made classes that lack said instants weak by comparison.

    The solution isn't simply give everyone instants, the best solution was listed in this thread: give interrupts a 10 second CD when used against PvE targets and 20-24 second CDs when used in PvP, in line with the Colossus Smash change.
  1. Asatru's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by paloalto View Post
    @Giving all casters disarm

    Why would we want it go this way instead of heading toward less cc/interrupts/disarms? (btw, interrupts themselves aren't equivalent to disarm. Silence is equivalent to disarm). If they continue this merry-go-round, we're going to get to the point where nobody does anything. Melee sit there disarmed. Casters sit there interrupted or silenced. How is that fun? We don't need more abilities. If anything we need less with a more coherent design behind them.

    As a rogue that can CC the crap out of anybody in PvP, I think we need less of all of this.
    As an Arms war and Hunter I still get pissed when a Priest disarms me from 30 yards away with "Psychic Horror" even though I've popped BERSERKER RAGE and Beastial Wrath/Within where the tooltip even reads (Immune to Fear/Does not fear death) while it's under the guise of a "Horrify Effect" and not a "Fear Effect". It's an extremely cheap cop out.
  1. vinnyboombat's Avatar
    Stop trying to balance a game designed to be PvE around PvP. Problem solved.
  1. Drow's Avatar
    I agree with Baikalsan. Just offer a pvp tree and be done with all this "trying to balance pve with pvp" nonsense. There is too much difference in them to ever get the balance right. PVE and PVP would become much more interesting with seperate trees for each class. Who wouldnt give up one of their talent trees on a toon for pve or pvp when we get 10 characters to play?
  1. Northy's Avatar
    In summary....we know interrupts are a big problem, but it won't be addressed for a very long time. Thanks for the update Blizz. About as useless as the Q&A answers. (at least they acknowledged Ele Shams!!!)
  1. sicness's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by link064 View Post
    Okay, maybe I was a bit over-zealous in my initial approach, but the idea is the same. If basically every other player-affecting ability in the game has a cooldown or DR, then why not interrupts? But then again, I would love to see stuns break (and cause the affected player to be DR capped on stuns) after a certain amount of damage. Every other type of CC breaks on damage (besides cyclone, which takes no damage), so why are stuns different?

    As for PVE, I have no idea why mobs with CC's can get away with 0 DR's, especially when those types of CC are long ones with guaranteed durations. I have fond memories of running a friend through ZF and being chain-hexxed for 3 minutes straight. I ended up having to bubble to prevent being hexed longer. Also on the list of worst offenders, are the shoveltusks in Howling Fjord. If you pull more than a couple at a time, you're bound to be "confused" (aka, stunned + walking in circles) for an unknown length of time.
    It's really not all the difficult to comprehend why stuns have their place. Melee have the disadvantage of needing to be on their target to do damage, giving them a stun to assist with it makes them more viable. Interrupts as well shouldn't necessarily have a DR because they require the player to as well be on the target and expend their power to use it. A better overall change would be to make all CC that causes a loss of control for the character to be on DR with itself, just as all stuns share a DR.

    To add, what in any way makes no diminishing return CC in PvE fun? Just because you enjoyed that aspect doesn't mean it should be in the game to annoy you every time you do your daily dungeon.
  1. Bombinshaman's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Grimbold21 View Post
    What is the problem with interrupts (atleast melee interrupts anyway)? You interrupt one cast and he's casting one right after, its not like you cant cast anything for the next 8 seconds.
    No, you can't cast anything for 4 seconds. You must not play a warrior, rogue, or paladin, all of which have multiple stuns/disorient/repentance to keep you busy for the other 8 seconds while they kill you/your buddy while you stand there.

    Also the new game is: How many times can we say Elemental Shamans are getting the short end of the stick while not doing anything about it?
  1. Asatru's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by vinnyboombat View Post
    Stop trying to balance a game designed to be PvE around PvP. Problem solved.
    That WAS the initial design of WoW, to be a PvE game. However, the second they started coming out with Battlegrounds, Arenas and now Rated Battlegrounds they absolutely have to keep on top of both now. They can't just come out with all this content and then just let it die off/neglect it. I'd be seriously pissed and quit the game, as would millions of players who actively enjoy PvP in WoW if they started giving up on the PvP Balance entirely and focused all of their attention on PvE instead.
  1. sicness's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by TheDesertDragon View Post
    PvP was the original focus of the game. Warcraft 3 had the Horde and the Alliance actually allying, but Blizzard decided to split them again so they could make World of Warcraft what it is. A game with TWO WARRING FACTIONS.
    I'm not sure why you think this, but PvP was not at all the original focus of the game in any way. They didn't magically change their mind to focus on PvE all of a sudden, it was always their primary focus.

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