MMO-Champion - Dev Watercooler -- Critical Hits (And Misses)
Update - The online beta of Age of Empires Online is now available! Curse Premium members can get their beta keys now, non-premium members will have a chance to get one in 24 hours!

Dev Watercooler -- Critical Hits (And Misses)
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:


  • No promises.
  • Don’t read too much between the lines.
  • No whining about the choice of topics we cover.


Critical History Lesson

In the original combat rules of World of Warcraft, melee classes could get 200% crits while casters could only get 150% crits. This was back when all the designers presumably played rogues instead of mages, which according to the forums is what we all play now (which makes our dungeon testing interesting, I gotta tell you.)

Over time, we added talents to allow various casters to get 200% crits as well. Warlocks “could” spend 5 points on the Ruin talent, for example, which you pretty much had to do to be a good warlock. As part of the Cataclysm talent tree evolutions we decided all DPS specs should be able to get 200% crits without investing talent points. There are still some inconsistencies though. Death knights can get 200% crits with both their melee and spell effects, while Assassination rogues get 200% crits with their physical attacks but only 150% crits with their poisons. Healers have always gotten 150% crits, both with their damage-dealing spells and with heals.

The overall design could be described as one that is simple to learn but complex to master. Or put another way, you know most of what you need to know if you’re told that crits do more damage. How much extra damage they do is one of those nuances that more experienced players learn over time and one of the things that makes classes feel different.

Or does it?

You could argue that we’re just keeping old rules that don’t really benefit the game. Is it very interesting that rogue poisons or Enhancement Lightning Bolts don’t have big crits? Does it make you feel different when you pick those classes or specs? Does it feel rewarding when you learn those subtle distinctions? I’d posit perhaps not. Homogenization is something we fight against all the time and one of the primary reasons that we don’t make class A’s ability work just like class B’s ability.


Homogenization -- A Dirty Word

If I can be snarky for a moment, players tend to beat the “homogenization!” drum too emphatically when they are losing something that is overpowered, and like to mock it as “flavor!” when we refuse to give them a cool ability that another class has.

Too much homogenization is a bad thing, no question. But do weird crit rules really fall into that category? There is a difference between being complex (which adds depth) and being complicated (which might just add confusion). We’d rather spend our “complexity points” on things that are really meaningful differences. Pick Assassination because you like daggers or poisons or maybe Rupture, not because you like small crits.

There are balance issues to consider too. Assassination rogues are never going to value crit as much as other characters are as long as some of their crits are smaller. We ran into the same issue with the damage-over-time-based specs when their dots couldn’t crit.


Healers Love Big Numbers Too

It can be an issue for healing as well. In Lich King, critical heals were virtually wasted because much of the time they were going to be overhealing. In Cataclysm, where healer mana matters more and even big heals can’t trivially top someone off, crits are more valuable. But they aren’t valuable enough. Getting 10% haste allows you to get a heal to a target 10% faster. Getting 10% crit allows you to heal a target 5% more. Is it any wonder that crit tends to get devalued for most healers? Resto shaman like it, but look at how many talents they have that make crits better for them. We’re strongly considering just letting all heals crit for double, just like most attacks. We don’t think this would have huge PvE consequences. Healers will heal for a little more, but even if they choose to start stacking crit, they’re going to do that at the expense of Haste, Mastery or Spirit. It could have bigger PvP consequences. Most PvP healers don’t have crit chances beyond say 10% or so, so they aren’t going to crit often.

We’ve been considering whether healing is too strong in PvP anyway. You may have noticed that we made the tooltips for Mortal Strike and equivalent debuffs intentionally vague for 4.1. As I write this, those debuffs are still at 10% healing, but we’re concerned that healing is too hard to counter and we might change that number. Changing it back to 50% would probably lead to the Mortal Strike debuff being mandatory for Arena comps again, but we never got much of a chance to see its effects at say 20%. A 20% Mortal Strike debuff could easily counter any excessive healing caused by 200% crits.


Changes Ahead?a

Letting rogues and Enhancement shaman get 200% crits with non-physical damage would be a larger change, and not the kind of thing we would do mid-expansion. But it’s definitely something we’re considering for the future. That would only leave the damage spells cast by healers at the 150% crit range. We think we could make those full 200% crits as well. If we want to make sure the DPS specs still do a lot more damage, we have the knobs to do that. For example, we could buff passives such as Moonfury (the damage bonus for Balance druids) or Shadow Power (the damage bonus for Shadow priests) to make sure their spells still landed a lot harder than the healing specs did, even if the healers got big crits.

If we made all those changes, then any crit in the game would be at 200%. It would be a very simple rule, and I’d argue any loss of class distinction is more than made up for by the positive balance ramifications. As always with this blog series, this is just speculation. You’re more likely to see 200% healing crits sooner, but even that isn’t something we’ve fully embraced yet. It’s just the kind of thing we discuss when hanging out at the bar... er, I mean watercooler.


Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street is the lead systems designer for World of Warcraft. He crits on a 19 or 20.
This article was originally published in forum thread: Dev Watercooler -- Critical Hits (And Misses) started by Boubouille View original post
Comments 147 Comments
  1. Azrile's Avatar
    who cares.. you balance the game around the rules... they decide to change the rules, and people may change their gear stats a bit.. but in the end, all we care about is our spec being viable. Congrats.. they figure out to let poisons crit... then they spend 2 months trying to figure out how much they need to nerf Mutilate to rebalance rogues... or how much they need to nerf stormstrike because LB now crits for enhancement.

    Honestly, this is one of the reasons there are so many complaints about the game being boring. Because instead of actually adding interesting systems and features, the devs apparently spend all their time chasing their own tails on small rule changes while adding very boring new features. Think about this? How much better do you think guild leveling or archeology would be if the devs had spent this much time talking about minor minor details.

    At the end of the day, classes will have to be balanced. For every paragraph talking about what they want to give a spec, they should spend another paragraph talking about how they will have to nerf something else. It is just a waste of dev time to focus on these trivial issues which in the end, don´t make the game more fun.
  1. taymatt's Avatar
    Wow, how pathetic is it that the lead developer believes Resto Shammies value crit? Hopefully the mods around here will keep this in mind next time they try to pretend Blizz knows what they are doing with us.
  1. PlatedPriest's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by paloalto View Post
    re: Rogue and Enhancement

    Essentially saying:

    "We're probably not too happy with their 150 percent crits, but we're not going to do anything about it any time soon."

    Very similar to a few weeks ago:

    "We're not too happy why how out entire combat is based on interrupts, but we're not going to do anything about it any time soon."
    you must not understand the points of these water coolers.

    THEY ARE NOT PROMISES.


    all it is at best. is how they currently view these aspects of the game. and there thought process on some of these topics. just because GC discuss they fact that they are not happly with interrupts, hit/expertise for tanks, and critical hits doesn't mean they are going to role out a game changing patch tomorrow.
  1. underdogba's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by taymatt View Post
    Wow, how pathetic is it that the lead developer believes Resto Shammies value crit? Hopefully the mods around here will keep this in mind next time they try to pretend Blizz knows what they are doing with us.
    I felt the same way when I heard GC suggest that prot pallies might take the haste on judgment talent at the top of the holy tree!

    ---------- Post added 2011-04-19 at 01:08 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Nekokami View Post
    I like it, it's a reference to Dungeons&Dragons
    It's just pandering, in order to appropriate some kind of nerd legitimacy.
  1. Buu's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by subanark View Post
    Nooo... having heals be 200% just makes things even more unpredictable than it already is. Healers can't make up a run of bad streak of non-crits in a fight like a dps can. If you get unlucky with crits and the tank dies, then you get to do the encounter over again. If this happens to the dps, then there is still a good chance they can make up lost ground.
    Reverse Psychology?
    Because Healers don't make decisions on criticals. They do on normal Heals, and if they Crit... Hey extra second for breath.
    If you "plan" your criticals, then I believe you're a poor healer.
  1. Lord Swizzlington's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by taymatt View Post
    Wow, how pathetic is it that the lead developer believes Resto Shammies value crit? Hopefully the mods around here will keep this in mind next time they try to pretend Blizz knows what they are doing with us.
    Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
    Resto shaman like it, but look at how many talents they have that make crits better for them.
    Like can mean it's a bonus to have it, but it doesn't mean it's your number one stat.
  1. paloalto's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by PlatedPriest View Post
    you must not understand the points of these water coolers.

    THEY ARE NOT PROMISES.


    all it is at best. is how they currently view these aspects of the game. and there thought process on some of these topics. just because GC discuss they fact that they are not happly with interrupts, hit/expertise for tanks, and critical hits doesn't mean they are going to role out a game changing patch tomorrow.
    Not be rude, but what in my post indicates I believe the opposite?

    In fact, the content of my post is acknowledging that they recognize what they feel are problems within combat but aren't:

    Quote Originally Posted by PlatedPriest View Post
    going to role out a game changing patch tomorrow.
    It's odd that you didn't understand that.
  1. Schizoide's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by underdogba View Post
    Another completely milquetoast blog from GC, this time spending way too much space talking about a non-issue nobody actually cares about, as opposed to his usual fare of spending way too much space taking absolutely no concrete position and spouting platitudes about an issue people actually do care about!
    This is the dev watercooler. It's supposed to give players a window on what the devs are talking about this week, not <<nerfs/buffs to your class>>.

    I've been enjoying these watercoolers and blog posts a great deal. They're a huge improvement over the total lack of communication we had before.
  1. Notos's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by taymatt View Post
    Wow, how pathetic is it that the lead developer believes Resto Shammies value crit? Hopefully the mods around here will keep this in mind next time they try to pretend Blizz knows what they are doing with us.
    Even after the mastery buff they gave resto, crit is still a very good stat because it offers both good throughput and an increase in mana regen because there are several talents that improve it. So basically, what GC said.
  1. underdogba's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Schizoide View Post
    This is the dev watercooler. It's supposed to give players a window on what the devs are talking about this week, not <<nerfs/buffs to your class>>..
    You're misunderstanding the nature of my criticism. I am not saying that GC's blogs are bad because they are not a litany of specific class changes a la class notes. It's because everything he writes is completely predictable, devoid of any controversy whatsoever, and essentially meaningless as far as advancing our understanding of where they want the game to go. The whole thing reeks of consulting a publicist, under the auspices of a blog.
  1. taymatt's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Swizzle View Post
    Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
    Resto shaman like it, but look at how many talents they have that make crits better for them.
    Like can mean it's a bonus to have it, but it doesn't mean it's your number one stat.
    Uh yeah. We "like" it so much, we reforge all of it to spirit, haste, and mastery. It is literally the bottom stat, so it is more than embarrassing that Blizz's lead developer would say we "like" it.
  1. underdogba's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by taymatt View Post
    Uh yeah. We "like" it so much, we reforge all of it to spirit, haste, and mastery. It is literally the bottom stat, so it is more than embarrassing that Blizz's lead developer would say we "like" it.
    I wouldn't recommend starting this whole thing up, the particular poster you are responding to has made a cottage industry out of arguing the semantics of this point for no particularly good reason, seemingly just for the sake of having something to argue about.
  1. taymatt's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Notos View Post
    Even after the mastery buff they gave resto, crit is still a very good stat because it offers both good throughput and an increase in mana regen because there are several talents that improve it. So basically, what GC said.
    Incorrect. It is literally our worst throughput stat. The confusion likely stems from the fact that when people just hit 85 back in december, and were in greens and blues, mana regen was terrible and pre-buffed mastery was semi-useless. As such, several posters here and at EJ recommended crit as a way of dealing with mana issue.

    Once your gear isn't terrible (i.e., you didn't just hit 85; aren't wearing a bunch of greens; and are instead wearing mostly 346 gear and above), crit is of very low value. It really is no longer disputed that ALL of the other stats rank above crit in priority.
  1. Dacomp89's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by underdogba View Post
    You're misunderstanding the nature of my criticism. I am not saying that GC's blogs are bad because they are not a litany of specific class changes a la class notes. It's because everything he writes is completely predictable, devoid of any controversy whatsoever, and essentially meaningless as far as advancing our understanding of where they want the game to go. The whole thing reeks of consulting a publicist, under the auspices of a blog.
    You find what he talks about meaningless because you do not think about the game as deeply as he does. You are concerned with superficial changes, he is concerned with how the whole game interacts in itself. If you do not think his watercooler blog is useful then ignore it, he doesn't do it for you, he does it to provide some insight into how a game is run and developed.
  1. Phaidrae's Avatar
    Good fucking GRRRRIIIIEEFFFFF...I know they say not to read too much into these stupid Devs thing - but honestly. So lame.

    I'm so damn sick of hearing the same motherfucking excuse for healers EVERY time they release any sort of talk/info about them. 95% of the time it boils down to this hot steaming pile of shit: "We don't want to change too much for healers because it'll be too OP for PvP..."

    Will they never EVER give us raiders a fucking break here? Would it be too much to ask for a little love for these MASSIVE works of art called raids as far as class-tuning and spec'ing love?

    I realize that there's a big following for PvP in this game (although I really cannot for the life of me figure out why)...but there's also a nice chunk of ppl that would REALLY enjoy seeing some stuff implemented/done/changed/fixed for PvE and that alone. A course of action that's NOT a swift set of debuffs/nerfs/setbacks and then buffing for classes that don't really need it.

    This is simply asking too much. I've crossed a line.
  1. Orcheon's Avatar
    Healers do not like randomness. Crits are random. I would rather every heal heal for 25% more than 25% of heals heal for 100% more.

    This is the same reason procs that don't regenerate mana aren't fun for healers. They add a level to the game that healers don't want, that we don't have any control over--the thing healers want is control.

    This is the exact opposite of what good healers want. We want MORE control, not less.
  1. vizzle's Avatar
    These Dev Watercoolers and "Ask the Devs!" stuff are so open-ended and vague that it's obvious they are just doing it to keep the interest of those who don't really already know this in the first place. They don't say anything ground breaking and they don't share anything new that a decent player could think of himself. They try to show their knowledge of the game by mentioning that they know where Boomkins and SPriests get their passive damage from, but aside from that, there was nothing worthwhile reading in this post. Waste of time, just trying to make it seem like the developers haven't abandoned this game, which, the A team has.
  1. Clampy's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by paloalto View Post
    re: Rogue and Enhancement

    Essentially saying:

    "We're probably not too happy with their 150 percent crits, but we're not going to do anything about it any time soon."

    Very similar to a few weeks ago:

    "We're not too happy why how out entire combat is based on interrupts, but we're not going to do anything about it any time soon."
    Do you have any idea how long it takes for simple napkin ideas to turn into an idea that is put into the game?
  1. underdogba's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Dacomp89 View Post
    You find what he talks about meaningless because you do not think about the game as deeply as he does. You are concerned with superficial changes, he is concerned with how the whole game interacts in itself. If you do not think his watercooler blog is useful then ignore it, he doesn't do it for you, he does it to provide some insight into how a game is run and developed.
    Three quick points --

    1. You don't know anything about how I think about anything, so as far as I'm concerned, this is just troll bait.

    2. The fact that you keep insisting that I'm "concerned with superficial changes" means that you have essentially zero comprehension of the criticism I'm making.

    3. "If you don't like it, ignore it" is a patently-misused conversation-destroyer in the context in which you're offering it. This is a valid argument when it comes to censorship by an institution of political power. But to claim as you are that readers/watchers of a piece of media have no right to criticize it is patently absurd.
  1. paloalto's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by clampy View Post
    Do you have any idea how long it takes for simple napkin ideas to turn into an idea that is put into the game?
    Poor guy

Site Navigation