MMO-Champion - Dev Watercooler -- Critical Hits (And Misses)
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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. myrddinde's Avatar
    I bet when I lie in bed with that cute 20 year old hot brunette and am about to die peacefully my thoughts will be about this article - can I have those 3 min of my life back? The guy must have written political speeches - so much text so little info.
  1. TurdChef's Avatar
    Homoziation is a dirty a word.

    Age of Empires was an awesome game, until v3 ruined it a bit. I hope the online version is as good.

    ...and guess who was the game designer for it? Mr Blue crab himself, Ghostcrawler
  1. perera'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!
    While what you said about his posts is true, I'm not sure which one is the worse... his 'milquetoast blog' does get casual people thinking about things they normally wouldn't, whereas when he replied to threads he usually just provided a short answer to simple questions, and avoided questions which required "I don't know" or "it wouldn't work" answers. So I'd argue that what he wrote before served no purpose but to show he was on the forums, but what he's doing now benefits at least the casuals.
  1. iidesu's Avatar
    this joke wasnt bad
  1. Banzhe's Avatar
    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%.

    Yes, cause that won't make it "mandatory" to have an arms in the comp (Above 2s)
    Blizz is just full of shrewd people.. (NOT), when will you face the fact that you can't balance it out EVER until you start working on that 4th tree for all classes that's purely for pvp..
  1. Digibytes's Avatar
    GC took the long boat to China to announce the prelude to a PvP healing nerf.

    Amusing as it is to watch that message go right over most of their heads, I suppose you can't blame people for not seeing it when he's going off about homogenization and other side-winding nonsense aimed purposely at not just spitting it out. Some of them got it, but most of them are in la-la land.

    He's got to aim at crit to nerf healing because that's the only thing that won't touch PvE and right now, they can't afford to piss them all off. They can't even afford to piss off PvP healers either, but it looks like that's what he's up to next. Not that this should even be an issue, but they're going to make it one whether healers like it or not.

    ---------- Post added 2011-04-21 at 02:37 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by TurdChef View Post
    Homoziation is a dirty a word.

    Age of Empires was an awesome game, until v3 ruined it a bit. I hope the online version is as good.

    ...and guess who was the game designer for it? Mr Blue crab himself, Ghostcrawler
    Yep. Back when he was Greg "DeathShrimp" Street.

    Today he's a crabby dev at Blizzard who listens to nonsense that healers are OP in PvP and must be nerfed. Talk about losing sight of what the word NEW idea means. All I see is changing stuff around and nothing NEW in the way of ideas that challenge people but don't screw with character identity.

    I think GC is capable based on the work done thus far with Vashj'ir, Throne of Tides, etc. But I think he surrounds himself with people who are too caught up in being OP themselves that work within that company.
  1. Macross74's Avatar
    Ghost crawler is an Idiot who has lost the plot.

    The designs of the class's are horrible, the extreme grinding of the game is reason i have stopped playing.
    Their is no originality in the game.

    Raiding sucked as a healer as most of the 1st lot of raids require so much timing to make it fun.
    Any lag or misshape cause a wipe and i keep up on reading the forums and see no change to this design.
    The only way cata will become fun is if GC and his idiot crews is.

    1. split pvp and pve (this is a must)

    2. bring back casual into the game (i never see this happening)

    3. GC and is idiots are removed and bring new people who understand what are the major failings of the game and try and repair them

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