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. TobyKenobi's Avatar
    What if resilience also granted a resistance to interrupts? It seems like a good way to neutralize interrupts a bit in pvp while not hurting PvE.
  1. Brett Skullcrack's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Freedom View Post
    I agree with Shambulanced. While I do like reflex-testing cpabilities, having to interrupt a bos AND dps his adds at the same time (Halfus 10 heroic as melee anyone?) is too stressfull for something that's supposed to be fun.
    Halfus 10 heroic can be interrupted by the tank (especially after the nerf and next patch when interrupts can't miss). More to the point, Halfus hc style interrupting is fun. It's stressful, but when you get it done right it feels great - you actually had to pull off something other than just your brainless dps rotation. If you cannot manage things like focus macros and focus cast bars for interrupts then maybe heroic raiding isn't the right thing for you.
  1. Xentin's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Asatru View Post
    Strictly speaking in terms of PvP Healing, any healer now can easily make up for that 8 second loss now that there's no 50% MS De-Buff in a few casts once the 8 seconds are over. PvP Healing in it's current form is very VERY powerful.
    You must not play a lot of high level arenas or RBGs against higher rated teams. Healers are extremely powerful when they are left alone to heal and not CC'd or interrupted. It is never just an 8 second loss to healing. If you get interrupted, that usually means some form of CC + Silence + Smoke bomb is following which ends in a teammate death.

    Cataclysm PVP is all about control. CC chains are out of control, and interrupts on a ten second cooldown just add to that annoyance.
  1. Clethius'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.

    do BM hunters no longer have an interupt? im honestly asking... i know the old interupt was a little clunky (it being on the next swing of your pet) but i havent dusted off my hunter for this expac yet...
  1. catseye543's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Dacomp89 View Post
    Perhaps you should apply. Nevermind the inevitable side effect that healers would be even harder to kill or prevent from healing their teammates. When one considers implementing a change, one must consider every possible effect that change will have, or at least the extremely obvious ones. That's why some people are game developers and some people complain on forums about things they do not understand.
    Consider the consequences, eh?

    Like, for example, the explicit consequences of having bevies of interrupts that were *just laid out* in the article above?

    Yeah, healers would be harder to kill. I think Blizzard *knows that*, but they still don't like the current low CD of interrupts in PvP because of how it forces people to use instants.

    Blizzard's MAIN ISSUE with increasing the CD is that it would force them to redesign a lot of PvE stuff around a very PvP-centric change. I think they just need to bite the bullet and admit that they have to make spells function differently in PvP. I mean Hell, they're already doing it with Colossus Smash, and it's how ALL long-duration CCs work (mobs get a minute, players get 10 seconds).

    Maybe it doesn't need to be as extreme as a 6 second CD going to 30, maybe increase it to 15 or 20, but it still seems to be the "best" solution to the problem as they've outlined it.

    If they want to make interrupts less spammy *AND* keep healers at the same level of squishiness, that's going to take a much more significant redesign of healing throughput / incoming damage across the board, or they're going to have to up the effectiveness of Mortal Strike-like debuffs to compensate for healers being just that much more difficult to deal with.
  1. Severusss's Avatar
    It would be amazing to finally be able to cast a spell again and not fake cast 25 times before I think about finishing a cast.
  1. TheDesertDragon's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by sicness View Post
    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.
    I think this because it's true.

    You know what the first very thing they put into the game at all was? A goddamn arena. You know it today as Gurubashi Arena.
    Why do you think the game has two factions? If the focus was squarely arena and raiding, this is just a stupid obstacle. Hmm?
    Blizzard's track record... Hmm... let's see. Rock N' Roll Racing - Compotetive Multiplayer. Warcraft 1 - Competitive Multiplayer. Diablo - Not developed by the actual Blizzard but Blizzard North. Also had elements of PvP in it. Warcraft 2 - Competitive multiplayer. Starcraft - DEFINITELY competitive multiplayer. Diablo 2 - Coorporative multiplayer (like raiding) but again: Not actually developed by Blizzard Irvine. Also has elements of PvP. Warcraft 3 - Competitive multiplayer. WoW...
    Honest to God - what makes YOU think PvE was the original focus of the game and not just something that was shoehorned in because the project was hijacked by hardcore raiders during its development?
  1. Roguer's Avatar
    Dragon, that's a pretty good argument, but I think the "focus" of the game is still PvE. From launch, you've had your choice of servers, so the Horde vs. Alliance World PvP Awesome Gankfest-o-Rama! only affected players who chose those realms. Many, many players chose to never really be involved in PvP. For a game that was, from day one, "focused" on PvP, that seems an odd option to have for a huge portion of your player base.

    Then, there's balance. Since Vanilla, balance has been geared toward PvE. PvP imbalances are frequent and, often, lasting. Look at how long Warlocks were OPd. Now, they can't get off the mat. DKs completely screwed PvP balance when they came in; in PvE, they were more or less fine (if not a little UPd, in fact). When Blizz finally decided to make Ret pallies a viable PvE spec, it destroyed the PvP balance for quite some time; how long did it take for them to finally nerf Rets down to a reasonable level?

    I know a lot of these examples (minus the DKs, of course) are old, but that's the point. PvP has never been balanced, and never will. The majority of "balancing" that Blizz has been involved with has traditionally been toward the PvE aspect.
  1. Luckylockk's Avatar
    Well.. Let's be real, arena is more or less destroyed after Cata arrived. Can't do anything against classes like rogues and warriors (++) with all their "stupid" abilities. And I who thougth rogues were annoying before everyone started to go shadow <.< SHADOWSTEP, kick kick, kindney, cloak, stealth, heal, same over again. Or like warriors.. Charge charge charge, interrupt, charg, interrupt, then ofcourse we got the spell reflection the millisecond before my spells goes off, ending up with me reflecting spells like chaos bolt and conflagrate, or frostbolt and a ice lance at the same shot, basically killing myself...

    Not to mention; 2v2 arena is completely messed up, can't play like this, Blizzard should go back to PvP like it was back in TbC, or atleast WotLK.

    ---------- Post added 2011-03-29 at 11:52 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Severusss View Post
    It would be amazing to finally be able to cast a spell again and not fake cast 25 times before I think about finishing a cast.
    Omg, got to comment. That's so true, lol Wasting half the battle trying to fake cast
  1. Landwhale'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.
    that's not even an interrupt, its a blanket silence
  1. Alayea's Avatar
    Six words: Hands off of my Wind Shear.
  1. Xpace's Avatar
    I like how certain players confuse the term "supposed to be fun" as "my job is so easy and I still get epics".
  1. Deadkipper's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Boubouille View Post
    Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker)
    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're not asking you to extend the cooldown, because that would ruined PvE. We're asking you to reduced the length of the player 'interrupt' so casters aren't gimped. Bosses aren't ever silenced for 8 seconds; they are interrupted for 1 spell only. So make player interrupts shorter. It's not rocket science!
  1. Xinhuan's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by TheDesertDragon View Post
    I think this because it's true.

    You know what the first very thing they put into the game at all was? A goddamn arena. You know it today as Gurubashi Arena.
    Why do you think the game has two factions? If the focus was squarely arena and raiding, this is just a stupid obstacle. Hmm?
    Blizzard's track record... Hmm... let's see. Rock N' Roll Racing - Compotetive Multiplayer. Warcraft 1 - Competitive Multiplayer. Diablo - Not developed by the actual Blizzard but Blizzard North. Also had elements of PvP in it. Warcraft 2 - Competitive multiplayer. Starcraft - DEFINITELY competitive multiplayer. Diablo 2 - Coorporative multiplayer (like raiding) but again: Not actually developed by Blizzard Irvine. Also has elements of PvP. Warcraft 3 - Competitive multiplayer. WoW...
    Honest to God - what makes YOU think PvE was the original focus of the game and not just something that was shoehorned in because the project was hijacked by hardcore raiders during its development?
    There was little PvP focus in the early vanilla days. Consider these facts:
    * Battlegrounds was added half a year later after launch, in part due to the Terran Mill/Southshore PvP which unstablized the servers (as does heavy population in any one area, like the AQ opening event)

    * Arenas were added one expansion later

    * The fact that there are 2 factions is to create tension in a game with a backstory of rivarly between the 2 factions - it creates an atmosphere of danger while you are questing. PvP then was intended to add atmosphere to the game. If you think PvP is meant to be balanced around 2 factions, you'll be wrong because 2 factions will never be balanced, some servers will always have one faction outnumbering the other one in World PvP. Paladin vs Shaman was another imbalance, although this one mainly affected PvE, not PvP. Why did so many video clips of "Frost Shock!" jokes keep appearing on the net in vanilla?

    * There was no need to balance PvP because there wasn't arenas, Battlegrounds focused more on group interaction and tactical movements with BG objectives, not a 2v2 or 3v3 straight up situation.

    * PvP was never balanced to begin with, the damage you deal is directly correlated to your gear. If you were decked in Tier3 Naxx40 gear, you can be the worst player in the world and still kill a person that only raided Molten Core and only had Tier1. Gear had too much of a factor in PvP in terms of player health and player damage late in vanilla, that's why PvP was born an expansion later when they introduced Resilience and Arenas, so that footing could be evened out. The fact that the PvP gear then has seasons, is intended for it to catch up to PvE gear as PvE gear grew in strength over each tier of content. PvP has always revolved around getting gear - If you have less resilience and health, you will get killed far easier.

    * PvP Balance only comes in when both parties fighting have similar levels of gear, this is made possible by arena points, but if you couldn't reach 2200 rating, you couldn't have similar levels of gear to begin with. A good number of PvP players felt that trying to "catch up mid season" is too difficult for this reason.


    All these facts are clear indications that PvP was never a focus of the game, PvE is. Prior MMOs to WoW never needed PvP balance either, because they didn't have arenas. Balancing Faction vs Faction PvP is quite a different thing from balancing game classes.

    To some of the people who left WoW for Rift, you will be in for a real shock - Rift has 32 subclasses and since you can pick and choose 3 any subclasses together to form your spec, certain combinations are overpowered - Rift's PvP is way more unbalanced than WoW was in vanilla.
  1. Asatru's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by thediceman View Post
    i love rule number 2 <everyone will ignore it becuase some of the clueless garbage GC, kalgan and co. spew out.Ill be awaiting pure comedy gold in the future.

    ps:mod on mmo champ need to cool their jets a bit lately, im seeing folks getting infractions for petty shit, last thing the community needs is another shithole like the EJ forums.
    ^^ I've gotten banned roughly 6 times since Curse bought out MMO-Champ. This place is slowly becoming a Police-State/WAY Overly Moderated.


    Fake Edit: See you all in a month. /wave
  1. Spammeister's Avatar
    WoW won't be balanced until PvP is seperate from PvE.

    WoW won't work right for anyone until PvP and PvE stops interfereing with each other.

    Blizzard (or Bobby Kotick) (or Vivendi stockholders?) won't start to give a crap about anyone until their goose stops laying golden eggs.

    Vote with your wallet...it's all we can do against Blizzaro/Activision/Vivendi/Universal/NBC/Comcast (whoever ows who) . Unfortunately it takes millions to do so.
  1. Krugen's Avatar
    I play a warrior, I disagree with more CC, I suggest less:

    The problem with interrupts is that if a player screws up once using their main arsenal of hard cast spells, they are locked out of alot if not all of their survivability abilities (nature being their heals, barkskin, instant ghost wolf, root, cyclone.) The huge problem with interrupts is they simply lock out way too many spells, defensive or offensive. a disarmed warrior can still pop a shield or fear or leap away, a interrupted elemental shaman can...frost shock the melee to be as slow as they are? I think the best solution would be to unlink the "schools" of damaging spells from defensive ones.

    edit: clarity
  1. Luckylockk's Avatar
    Tbh.. I think Blizzard should make double dps for 2s more possible.. Very few combos working with double dps, usually there's one op dps and a healer. Matches lasting for 30 minutes and not really fun.. Double dps for 2s should be possible to play with without getting pwnd by some, warrior/rogue/mage/dk/druid, or whatever with a healer running back and forth from the pillar spaming shields, hots and heals that takes less then a second to cast


    Could be fun if Blizzard made a own talent tree for PvP, seperate from the PvE ones? Sounds awesome, could get really nice
  1. Nurvus's Avatar
    What they need to do is soften the nature of interrupts alltogether.
    Do not mind the numbers below too much. They could be tweaked.

    Silences would function like Spell Lock:
    - Silence for X sec, and if it affects a casting target it also locks that school for twice the silence's duration.
    Interrupts would no longer lock schools, instead would do 2 things:
    - Cause a 1 (ws), 2 (kick) or 3 (cs) sec pushback on the affected spell.
    - Apply an undispellable debuff slowing the cast speed of spells from that school by 20% for 4 times the pushback.

    Note: The ongoing spell would just be delayed a bit, but not be slowed.
    Note#2: Those who decide to cancel the delayed spell to cast a new one would probably feel it is only worth it to cast instant spells, albeit with longer GCD.

    Hardcasting in front of a rogue would no longer be a dreaded concept, but still carry a decent risk.
  1. Azrile's Avatar
    Shocking news. Someone finally understands that the game is complicated, and when you are talking about 5v5 arena, everything is magnified.

    I like the PVE changes they made to interrupts, especially the dps ones because it forces DPS to actually participate in the mechanisms of the encounter a lot more, and makes the responsible for wipes if they are mouth breathers. For most of wows existence, wipes were always the fault of the tank or healers. I like that the difficulty of encounters has progressed to this point.. raids are much more fun now.

    Honestly, Blizzard needs to just get rid of Arena. In large scale battles, interrupts are not as magnified. This game is just too complex to ever hope to balance 5 man pvp. GC keeps using the term Arms Race.. and really, no matter what they do it will be an arms contest.. that is the whole point. it is called balancing the game. The problem is, you will never be able to balance a rogue vs a mage... or a DK vs Rogue.. They need to stop trying, it just creates a mess. Stick to 10 v 10

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