MMO-Champion - Patch 4.3 Interview with Greg Street (Ghostcrawler)
Update - Oops, forgot screenshots. Added them, including an interesting screenshot of Ysera.


Update - Added some more information from other interviews.

Patch 4.3 Interview with Greg Street (Ghostcrawler)
Below is a quick summary and the full thanks to Simca. Be sure to read it so that you don't miss anything! (Extra info via Joystiq, Eurogamer, TenTonHammer, and Tankspot)

Deathwing Raid
  • The new raid is called The Dragon Soul. It contains eight bosses, and boss 7 and 8 are both Deathwing.
  • There will be a mount reward for killing Deathwing.
  • Deathwing will only drop weapons.
  • Heroic Deathwing will eventually be made easier after the top guilds kill it so that more people can experience it.
  • Tier 13 will not be available at all from valor points.
  • The new legendaries are two daggers (main hand and offhand) that are only usable by all three Rogue specs. Combat Rogues will be made to use these daggers as well without a DPS loss. The questline will revolve around the pure black dragon (from the egg in the Badlands) and features several Rogue-centric elements.
  • Melee classes will be getting a buff that is only active in the new raid to help them compete with ranged classes.

New Five Man Heroics
  • You will enter the new 5-mans and raid in Caverns of Time.
  • The first new 5-man is called "Endtime" where Nozdormu will show players the future if Deathwing wins.
  • The second new 5-man, "Well of Eternity" is a journey into the past, the War of the Ancients specifically, to help Thrall recover the Dragon Soul to use against Deathwing.
  • The third new 5-man, called "Hour of Twilight", has players escorting Thrall in present day to Wyrmrest Temple, where the final battle against Deathwing will take place.

Looking for Raid
  • Looking for Raid probably won't share a lockout with Normal and Heroic raids.
  • Looking for Raid gear will be stronger than the new five man heroics, but weaker than normal raids.

Other
  • There will be raid melee buff across the board. The attack power buff will apply more to melee attack power than ranged attack power.
  • Tank rotation changes that are related to survivability won't be in this expansion.
  • Epic gems will drop in the new raid in Normal and Heroic only. Each player gets a geode when a boss is killed which has a small chance to contain an epic gem, most will have rare gems. It is rare enough to take all of 4.3 to replace all of your red rare quality gems with red epic gems.
  • Firelands was nerfed so that players could see the content and continue progression instead of hitting a wall in heroic modes.
  • "Quite a few" new profession recipes will be added.
  • Northrend will require 2/3rd of the experience it does now, making leveling alts faster.
  • Corrupted Ashbringer won't be available for transmogrification from any vendor.
  • Old PvP armor will come back for transmogrification.


End Time - Crashed Horde Airship

End Time - Echo of Sylvanas

End Time - Murozond (Boss)

Well of Eternity - Illidan

Well of Eternity - Illidan & Malfurion

Well of Eternity - Nozdormu

Well of Eternity - Queen Azshara's Guards

Well of Eternity

Well of Eternity - Ysera

Well of Eternity - Alextrasza

Hour of Twilight - Thrall

Hour of Twilight

Hour of Twilight - Wyrmrest Temple

Deathwing Raid - Warlord Zonozz

Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Ghostcrawler: The focus of our 4.3 patch is the heroes’ final battle against Deathwing the dragon. There will be an epic raid where 10 and 25 player groups can try to defeat Deathwing. In addition, we have three 5 player dungeons to kind of set the stage; it will be kind of similar to the way the dungeons in the Icecrown patch lead up to the final conflict against the Lich King. We have a new legendary weapon that players will be able to get in the raid. We have a Raid Finder system that will work a lot like Dungeon Finder to allow more casual raiders to get into the content. And we have a couple of character customization features we’ve talked about already: Transmogrification which lets you change the look of your armor and Void Storage which gives you a place to store it all. And then finally we have an update to the Darkmoon Faire - an entire island full of fun carnival games.

Will the new Looking for Raid difficulty share a lockout with Normal and Heroic raids?
Ghostcrawler:
We’re not entirely sure yet because we’re still working out the details. Our goal is that it doesn’t. We want people to be able to do the raid with their group and then still do Looking for Raid, maybe on the weekends or when their guild isn’t available.

Do you feel like you are alienating any part of the player base when you make easier content or do you think the new three difficulty system might solve that?
Ghostcrawler:
We’re hoping it solves it. I mean, generally this is an experiment for us. We’re not sure how it is going to work out. We have a hugely diverse player base, and we want to be able to let lots of different players see the content. We felt in the past we were struggling too much to decide “Okay, heroic mode is for 5% of the population… that means normal mode has to be for 95% of the raiding population” and we were stretching ourselves really thin. So our hope is that by offering up an additional difficulty, it will free up normal mode to be targeted towards the kind of traditional guild it has been, where players who don’t have a lot of time to raid or find the commitment too much can do Raid Finder to be able to experience the fights.

While the game may continue to go strongly for a long time, do you think WoW may have hit its peak subscription number at all?
Ghostcrawler:
I mean, gosh, that is so hard to know. It’s really hard to tell what is… you know it’s a seven-year-old game at this point. We don’t have really any examples of games that have remained so popular for so long to really know what the future might bring. We certainly understand that some players have just gotten their fill of World of Warcraft, and the kind of things we would have to do to provide really interesting new features for them risks changing World of Warcraft into something else. We have to be really careful not to overhaul the game so dramatically that people who love the game fall out of love with it. At the same time, it is a rough economy going on, summers are always a little light, and periods between expansions are always a little light, so we’ll see how things look after another expansion or two.

So when Cataclysm came about, there were a lot of changes to the healing model. Do you think that it has been successful and will you insure its stability in the next raid set?
Ghostcrawler:
Yes, we’ve really liked the way the healing model has worked out. It had some hiccups along the way where I think players just starting out going into dungeons, particularly the heroic dungeons, felt like they just didn’t have the mana to do anything. That was probably a little too extreme. We’ve gotten to the point now where most raid geared healers feel like they have the mana to do what they want, but they still can’t completely waste it. A Discipline Priest that does nothing but Power Word: Shield is going to find they’re going to have to do something quickly to get their mana back or they’ll have to risk not having enough for the end of the fight.

So another thing that came with Cataclysm, well even in other expansions, was that some fights favored some types of DPS that led to some classes being kind of sat out on certain encounters. Do you think that in the Deathwing fight this might happen as well or are you trying to balance that?
Ghostcrawler:
We try to keep in mind, I mean on one hand we really want to encourage all available players to play. It’s tough not to go in and try to change things when you find that someone is too weak on a fight and a more competitive guild risks sitting that player out. We really don’t like that, but at the same time if we aren’t careful then the fights will all kind of feel the same because we’ll have to say “Okay, where’s the AE moment so that my Demonology Warlock can shine and where is the movement component of this fight because that is really good for my Fire Mage” or whatever. So we kind of give… it’s hard enough coming up with new encounters where players don’t immediately say “Oh, you’ve done that already; we’ve seen it all before”. We make so many hundreds of bosses that we like to give our encounter designers a lot of room to maneuver.

It becomes a problem when it feels like consistently the same types of characters aren’t competing. We’ve seen a lot of concern about the melee classes just can’t compete with the ranged classes. Part of that is class mechanics; part of it is that we just have a lot of encounters that really favor ranged. So for the Deathwing tier, what we’re going to do is just a straight up buff to the melee classes that hopefully helps them a little bit. We’re going to do that in such a way that the raid buffs will just end up buffing melee a little more than they’ll buff ranged. So hopefully you won’t have a lot of widespread effects in PvP or things like that, but melee characters who are just stabbing away on a boss in optimal situations will feel like their DPS is very competitive.

Can you talk a little bit about the new legendary for this patch?
Ghostcrawler:
Sure. It is a pair of daggers – a main-hand and an off-hand dagger. We are designing them such that all three Rogue specs will be able to use it. We have a little tweak in there so that Combat Rogues will be able to Sinister Strike with the daggers without it being a big DPS loss.

The story of these legendary daggers has to do with the last remaining pure black dragon egg. So kind of how we got here is the black dragons are a really cool enemy in our universe, they have been for a while, but we’re kind of killing them off a lot. Onyxia has been killed and brought back so many times that we’re starting to feel bad for the old girl. Nefarian is dead, again, and Deathwing is going down. So we thought we were running out of black dragons, and we really didn’t want to do that because they’re a really great enemy and we really want to use them again in the future.

So players who play through the Cataclysm quests in the Badlands will remember a questline around this uncorrupted black dragon egg. It was free of the taint of the Old Gods. So what is going to happen is that black dragon egg eventually hatches and there is a black dragon prince who is pure – he’s not a minion of Deathwing; he’s not corrupted by the Old Gods. But that doesn’t mean he is necessarily a good guy. He’s kind of out for himself, he’s kind of got his own agenda, and to bring his plans to fruition he contacts the Rogue because Rogues are a little shady, always working in the shadows, always playing a number of games and has other things going on. The black dragon prince reaches out to the Rogue character and says “If you help me out, I’ll reward you with these increasingly more powerful daggers”.

How did the team decide to make a Rogue weapon rather than a tanking weapon for this legendary?
Ghostcrawler:
It’s really funny because every player out there wants and almost expects the next legendary is going to be for them. We try not to let it fall into too much of a pattern. We want legendaries to be something exciting, something that is earned, not something that you “deserve” because it is “your time to get one”. We thought that we liked part of the Rogue story. We thought that Rogues had maybe felt a little bit not special in this expansion with all the high damage numbers that were being done by classes like Mages. We thought it was just the right opportunity to make them shine and feel kind of special. Unless you count the bow, we haven’t done any class specific legendaries to this extent before, so we thought it would be fun to make the legendary quest VERY Rogue-themed. There will be stealthing and pickpocketing, things we know that a Rogue can handle. Then, the weapons themselves, their proc, we’re still building, but the idea is that their proc will tie in something very Rogue specific as well.

One of the problems with tanking weapons is that our tanks use very different weapons so we could say “Well this legendary weapon is going to be for the Warrior and Paladin and hopefully we’ll get to the Death Knight and Druid someday in the future”. With all the talk about a legendary weapon that transforms “you could have a 2-handed version or a 1-handed version”, too much of that I think starts to suck away what is really special about the legendary when it can turn into all these different things.

I guess the message to the players is don’t despair and don’t assume that you’ll never get a legendary for your guy. Hopefully we’ll eventually get them all, but we don’t want to keep it on such a timetable that players are able to predict “Okay, the Elemental Shaman legendary is coming in Patch 6.2 followed by the Hunter crossbow”.

How do you feel the Dungeon Journal worked out and how will you be releasing the information in it this time around?
Ghostcrawler:
We’re really happy with the feature overall. I know that it is a lot to ask the players to go research a fight completely before the first time they see it, but we really like the way you can link spells in your raid chat or something and say “Okay, I want you to handle this” and maybe when somebody doesn’t understand a mechanic very well you can explain it a little better that way. Like all of our features it will evolve over time but we’re pretty happy with how it turned out.

I know there was some concern amongst the most hardcore raiders that they didn’t want the surprise spoiled for them and they kind of wanted to do discover things on their own. Maybe in the future we won’t reveal all the mechanics on heroic, but that is something we’ll have to evaluate.

What achievements will be granted in the new Looking for Raid system and are they similar to existing ones or any new rewards?
Ghostcrawler:
We are very concerned about preserving the sense of accomplishment for the Normal and Heroic tier. We don’t want to over reward Looking for Raid. It is really there for people who want to see the content and want to feel like they’re raiding, but we don’t want it to be more attractive than traditional organized raiding.

We will offer some achievements; they’ll be very simple, nothing like you’ll be able to get in a Normal or Heroic. For example, it might just be “Kill the first four bosses” as one achievement and “Kill the second four bosses” as another achievement, something like that. We won’t, for example, put the legendary in the Looking for Raid tier. We are doing epic gems this time around as a drop in the raid and we may not have those drop in the Looking for Raid tier.

Where does the gear fit in terms of the new 5-mans? Will they be like ZA and ZG were or will they be a bit lower… where will they fit?
Ghostcrawler:
A little bit higher… we’re still debating the exact numbers but I think they’re probably slotting it maybe between Normal Firelands and Heroic Firelands. It will be slightly weaker than the Looking for Raid tier and obviously weaker than the remaining Deathwing raid tier.

And what about Looking for Raid gear… how powerful will it be?
Ghostcrawler:
Yeah, like I said, it should be slightly above the 5-player dungeon gear but not as powerful as the normal raid. The Deathwing raid is called The Dragon Soul; it should be weaker than The Dragon Soul tier.

Will the new Darkmoon Faire update change anything to Insane in the Membrane?
Ghostcrawler:
No, I don’t believe so. I think our plans for Insane in the Membrane in the future are to try in the future sometime to offer a brutally difficult achievement or Feat of Strength for players who are looking for it. But it makes us nervous to go mess with that one too much because some players were able to do it when it was really hard and we don’t want to risk making it easier or making it even harder or that sort of thing.

What kind of abilities does Deathwing have in his encounter and why doesn’t he just breathe fire on us?
Ghostcrawler:
Oh, the encounter is really, really cool. First of all, it is split into two fights, so boss seven is Deathwing and then boss eight is also Deathwing.

In fight seven, you parachute off of a gunship onto Deathwing’s back as he’s flying from Dragonblight towards the Maelstrom. You have pry these armor plates off of his back and fight off the corrupted blood that comes out. All the while, Deathwing himself is trying to shake you off his back and he’s going to do barrel rolls and things like that to try to dislodge you like the little parasite you are because he is so big.

The final Deathwing fight is really amazing. He crashes into the Maelstrom and then he kind of emerges out of it again. And he’s so big; he’s taking up this whole area. The players hop around from the little islands in the Maelstrom. So on the first little island they might be fighting one of his tentacles, and then they have to fly to the next island and now they’re fighting a leg and then they fly to the next island and they’re fighting another big tentacle. All the while the dragon aspects, Alexstrasza and Ysera and Nozdormu, are flying around and they’re also helping the raid in this fight. So Alexstrasza might breathe fire at an important moment or Nozdormu might stop time. They’re not helping you at random. There is a little bit of strategy as to how you use their abilities too, so they’re not just background, it’s actually a pretty critical mechanic of beating the fight.

Transmogrification question, when you transfer the appearance of something that is enchanted with say, Mongoose, will that effect go over?
Ghostcrawler:
No, the enchants won’t go over. You’ll have to enchant the weapon the same way you would a non-transmogrified weapon.

Right now leveling and gearing up alts takes a significant amount of time and investment. Are there any improvements coming in this area?
Ghostcrawler:
In 4.3, we’re actually increasing the leveling rate of Northrend pretty dramatically. We’re dropping the time it takes by a third. The players should notice that. Long-term we recognize that we definitely are going to have a problem at some point. If World of Warcraft’s character level is like 120 someday, it is asking an awful lot of players to hurry through all of that to get to the endgame if that is what they are interested in. We’re taking about various mechanics we might eventually do to help out with that, but in the short-term, just increase leveling rate in Northrend.

Okay, great. Thank you so much for your time!
This article was originally published in forum thread: Patch 4.3 Interview with Greg Street (Ghostcrawler) started by chaud View original post
Comments 607 Comments
  1. ryanman_87's Avatar
    cant wait for swotor
  1. Ukerric's Avatar
    Curious. Ghostcrawler talks about how player participation is typically low during summer, but the known 1 million player loss happened before (550k over Q1, 450k over Q2 2011). So, does this means WoW hemorrhaged even more during july?
  1. Oztiks's Avatar
    Yea im totally one of those that this patch will effect alot....I try to play when I can but with work i just dont have a consistant playing time so therefore raiding has now passed me up. I liked in LK how they had GDKPs but that's a thing of the past now. So LF Raid that mode is definitely keeping me into the game....im not about being hardcore anymore or being elite geared and so forth.....just wanna see raid content besides heroic dungeons to mix it up a bit.

    Now if they added something new for Tol Barad life would be perfect!
  1. Chri478n's Avatar
    "Melee classes will be getting a buff that is only active in the new raid to help them compete with ranged classes." eh wtf blizz? melee classes do fine already?
  1. Nosferato's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by psyxe View Post
    Let's see now...
    here's a list of legendary items that were designed for use by certain classes at that period of current content, There will be some QQ about paladins and thunderfury but it was normal to see paladins running around with brutality blade... they DID have a spec for it, even if it wasn't great, Hunters were also on the list for thunderfury but only as a stat stick... we didn't have the spec or any real reason to hold it..

    Paladin - Hammer of Rag, Thunderfury, Val'anyr, Shadowmourne
    Death Knight - Shadowmourne (they can get past ones, but they're only an expansion old... saying they deserve another one already would be silly)
    Mage - Atiesh, Dragonwrath
    Warlock - Atiesh, Dragonwrath
    Druid - Atiesh, Dragonwrath, Hammer of Rag, Val'anyr
    Shaman - Hammer of Rag, Val'anyr, Dragonwrath
    Warriors - Hammer of Rag, Thunderfury, 2x Warblades, Shadowmourne, Thori'dal
    Rogue - Thunderfury, 2x Warglaives, Thori'dal (Yes, it was very common to see a rogue or warrior with it, as it was a rare drop and hunters weren't always brought in)
    Hunter - Thori'dal, Thunderfury (as above, only because we were on the list to be able to equip it)

    Hunters had a bow that was a rare drop, off a boss unkillable by 90% of raiders at the time, with an ability to generate it's own ammo, which was amazing until that whole 'feature' was removed a few pathes later

    Rogues have had access to legendaries that made them gods, feared by fellow raiders or enemies in a bg, and yes, Warglaives were a rare drop, but you can't really put much of a quest line to them... they were held by illidan and dropped by illidan, they had enough lore behind them as well... Thori'dal was just a spur of the moment item to keep people happy in a last ditch effort raid to keep people playing before an expansion

    also to feral druids, YES, poor you... you don't have a legendary for your specific spec... you play a class that can do all 4 roles effectively, and have 4 legendaries DESIGNED for your class, You had the option to hit the respec button and be useful, you could even use your cat gear in bear or healing gear as a boomkin until you fixed bits and pieces of gear, Hunters have 3 ranged DPS specs.. rerolling an entire class isn't as easy as that

    and watch all of the children here argue "OMG EVERYTHING HUNTARD ITEM"... that was a joke... a meme...

    It's bad enough hunters are still not at the top of the needs list for a fight that requires some special element like an interrupt... or fights that require stacking (you seem to have fixed the hit box on some fights, at the cost of my pet running off into lava or standing there doing nothing.

    sincerely,
    VeryJelly hunter
    well feral is a spec, that had a staff from naxx 40, sub and assa had nothing, as for counts druid had 4 legendaries 2 in since wotlk, rogues havnt had anything since tbc and only had 3(warglaives was a set, alone they where nothing more than epic, tho as a rogue i would liked if the quest would reward players with wep sets not just daggers but some axes for enhance aswell, and daggers for combat to use ss, ss will prob just become either like a mut or hemo attack. also would be nice to give hunters something since they are in the same category as rogues when it comes to waiting, something tells me that tanks get the next, then a hunter one as feral will get their with the tanks, and they will be the only one who has a tank legendarie and a dps at the same time, but thats druids for you, all in 1.
  1. Airwaves's Avatar
    Not impressed with the rogue dagger at all, i am a tank and this just makes me wanta.. wanta. FUCK YOU BLIZZ! /cry
  1. jinreeko's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by hornfreak View Post
    worst of the worst hmm i did a tour in afganistan and iraq what did you do i think i can type what i want
    i think the new heroic 5 mans sound cool i wish there were more bosses in the raid but if the deathwing encounter is as good as im hopeing
    it will be ill be happy
    Vietnam/Korea were worse but LULYOU'REXC

    anyways. lookin forward to new heroics..cot shit which a lotta people been wantin for awhile, dw raid prob gonna be at least good, maybe as they claim, "epic"
  1. Puro's Avatar
    Q: "do you think wow is dead?"

    A: "ofc, we made cataclysm so all the good players would leave, now all that is left is to make the game so easy even animals can play it, and then we just send the bill to the owner, we like money, just ask Bobby Kotick."

    I heard about the new storage system, I lol'd and then I was like.. oh wait, that's not even bad compared to faction transfer and other pathetic attempts by blizz to milk their game just a tiny wee bit before it dies off completely, hopefully sooner than later.

    I miss WoW, it's not what it used to be, aka good.
  1. Jimmyx's Avatar
    One class legendary is such a bad idea. For example : In our guild we have just got third staff, it's cool since we have a lot of people who can use it so i believe that we are going to clear firelands even in 4.3 to get thse staves. How about legendary daggers? We have 2 rogues in guild, and it's enough cause we don't need more. Ok. both of them get legendaries, what do do with third set? I'm rly disappointed since it's first only-one-class legendary since they introduced legendaries-quests instead of random-drop-legendaries. It's long time to 4.3 so I hope they won't do such a stupid move and maybe make this shiny daggers viable for more classes in ANY WAY. I know that after healers, plate dps and caster dps it's agi-users turn. But how about ferals, enhancement, hunters? Look in the future : which legendary weapon would be next in 5.X It can't be agi weapon since rogues have just had their daggers . So it means that ferals and enhancement have to wait another 3 years for MAYBE their turn ?
  1. Farora's Avatar
    I'm done with alts, wish the Northrend nerf came earlier. Hate that place.
  1. Gavan's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Ukerric View Post
    Curious. Ghostcrawler talks about how player participation is typically low during summer, but the known 1 million player loss happened before (550k over Q1, 450k over Q2 2011). So, does this means WoW hemorrhaged even more during july?
    I don't think that this is generally a good comment for them. And it prob explains the knee jerk reaction to nerf instances without actually thinking about it.
  1. Leean's Avatar
    People saying rogues got the most legendaries so far.. Do you really count a bow as a rogue's weapon? They could wield it, yes, but no serious raid gave it to a rogue unless there was no hunter present and it didn't increase a rogues DPS nearly as much as it did for a hunter. So what?Warriors got the most legendaries: mace (Rag/MC), 1h sword (MC), 2x1h sword (Ili), 2h axe (ICC), which could all be used for good. So why give them another one? I'm sorry for feral / pala / dk tanks though..
  1. Ishamaeli's Avatar
    The new legendaries are two daggers (main hand and offhand) that are only usable by all three Rogue specs. Combat Rogues will be made to use these daggers as well without a DPS loss. The questline will revolve around the pure black dragon (from the egg in the Badlands) and features several Rogue-centric elements

    THATS SO KOOL! rouges get 2 legendarys at onetime!!! thats just sooo koool!
  1. AtaraxyDarkmoonFaire's Avatar
    One class legendary wouldn't be such a bad idea if the class wasn't a rogue, those poors ferals and enchantments should have get their first (yes, FIRST, if you can't realize it then you either haven't played long enough or you are just a rogue.) legendary.
    A tanking weapon would have been nice aswell. I know Blizzard already excluded it, but meh, better than this pathetic decision.

    And mine is a neutral PoV, since I own and play any level 85 class, but warlocks.
  1. Difuid's Avatar
    Oh great we are back to World of Meleecraft because some people playing those classes were unable to move and press the hotkeys at the same time, and thus deserve a buff.
  1. Bigsteak's Avatar
    Do you guys think that the gems will only come from the raid or also from Prospecting Pyrium ?
  1. Xingu's Avatar
    I really hope LFR works out!
  1. Collected's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Chri478n View Post
    "Melee classes will be getting a buff that is only active in the new raid to help them compete with ranged classes." eh wtf blizz? melee classes do fine already?
    Total guess here but it may be because the fight has a lot of flight involved where ranged can burn him down but melee can't do anything. So they want melee to be able to pump out more damage when they get him grounded.
  1. Firebane's Avatar
    What a load of horse shit. Nothing more to add really, I think it's been discussed enough.
  1. Xrxes's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by coranial View Post
    Ouch! was looking forward to coming back to WoW and trying the new looking for raid but this put me right off.
    No you where not, your just trolling like so many others. You don't like the game? Why sit around bickering about any detail?

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