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. Lilfrier's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by KrazyK923 View Post
    Uhhh content is content.

    Make the argument that end-game content is lacking, to which I would agree, but claiming that there has been less content (implying overall) than any other expansion is just false from an objective point of view.
    Seeing as they are LOSING, not GAINING subscribers, I'd say that's not really a good thing. Yes, it makes alts easier to get to 85 and more accessible to some like myself who hate leveling, but when end-game is the thing pople play to achieve (questing is not the end goal), it's bad when you fix the questing at the expense of a good deal of end-game content.
  1. Durandro's Avatar
    It all sounds good, bar... Rogue only legendaries? Huh. Guess it was too hard to design a one handed axe that Rogues, Enhancement Shaman and Hunters could all use? Only two encounter phases for Deathwing? Boo. Was expecting more! :P Was pretty much what I imagined though. Ysera looks cool. Glad she's finally got her own model. Hopefully Noz gets the love too. 5 Mans seem cool. Would have liked a bigger final raid, but if the encounters are well designed I won't complain. And no T13 from Valour? Explains why we're getting Firelands nerfs. Hopefully some new currency will drop in Dragon's Soul so we don't have to rely solely on armour tokens.
  1. Spotnick's Avatar
    Rather disappointed by the very small amount of bosses... They better make the Looking for Raid loot worst than normal Firelands, I have no desire to queue for that in order to upgrade my gear for the new raid itself. I mean, why the f*** are we gearing up if some random raid thing will upgrade all our heroic loots in the first week.
  1. Bauwagast's Avatar
    Well I for one am excited about the patch. In a major way because my main is (still) a rogue, and it has been a while since the warglaives were new and awesome. It sounds like the legendary quest will be what I hoped was in the game from the start of vanilla, when I encountered the Ravenholdt faction, but was disappointed. Some quests where you get to sneak around and do rogueish stuff.
  1. CPHKA's Avatar
    This patch is going to be the best. I can hardly wait.
  1. MatteoG's Avatar
    More legendary daggers? Why not introduce something we HAVEN'T seen before? e.g. a shield... Doesn't make sense to me.
  1. yourpalsean's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Kzilla View Post
    Read Ghostcrawler's exact word: "It is rare enough to take all of 4.3 to replace all of your red rare quality gems with red epic gems."

    He said it'll take ~4 months to acquire 8-12 red epic gems (range of BiS' for DPS specs) through your own boss geodes. So unless you pool and trade amongst your guild/friends or purchase any, it will take you until 5.0 is almost live to finish gemming your gear. And that's also assuming you didn't spend ANY on non-BiS gear.

    So 20 weeks x 8 bosses (geodes) a week gives you 160 geodes. 6 epic gems + 6 blue were said to have a chance to come from a geode. That'd put red epic gems at about a 13% chance per geode.

    Yes I know GC was probably talking about middle-of-the-road guilds or maybe even just above that. And yes I know I shouldn't take his obvious generalization as canon. My overall point being that "it will take a little extra time for the auction house to be flooded with them" isn't something you thought about before posting.

    There are hundreds of people per faction per server that have thousands if not hundreds of thousands of pyrite, elementium and prisms stocked up. I'm glad they are doing this instead of putting epic gems in ore/prisms/etc even though I'm one of those people. There'd be an endless supply of epic gems from day 1 until Heroic Deathwing. How derp would that be?

    Grats Blizz on choosing to make something with the label "Epic" on it stop feeling common, just please don't stop there.
    You're going to bash me when you're overthinking something that hasn't even hit the PTR yet? Get real.
  1. Anderzon's Avatar
    This actually sounds really good. Only disappointment is that it's only 7 bosses in the Deathwing raid. Please stop the QQ around the legendary, next time it will most definitely be for tanks!
  1. Navitas's Avatar
    So if it's gonna take so long to grind epic gems ( they're will be no money to be made from JCing? Sounds like ~2/3 gem a month per person for an active 25 man raiding guild. Great.
  1. ripslyme's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Farabee View Post
    Amen, SWTOR can't come fast enough.

    Epic gems only through raiding. Tier only through raiding, so no reason to play alts anymore. On top of one-class legendary and taking a huge dump on the established lore, I'm pretty much fully disenfranchised with WoW.
    what the hell do your alts need gear if you dont raid with them ???

    YOU WANT GEAR ON YOUR ALT ???? Raid with it... NOTHING will change
  1. Wolfie of Medivh's Avatar
    I really got a "fuck you enhancement shamans" vibe. Not only do we finally get a dual wield, agility pair of legendaries.... but they're going to be for Rogues only... but now we get patted on the head and told "it's okay, you nice little melee get a free bonus DPS boost because you just can't keep up."I'm disappointed in that respect. I like the idea of Raid Finder for my non-raiding toons, I like the ideas of the 5 mans, and I like the Transmog things. But my main is getting shafted.
  1. merogue's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Spotnick View Post
    Rather disappointed by the very small amount of bosses... They better make the Looking for Raid loot worst than normal Firelands, I have no desire to queue for that in order to upgrade my gear for the new raid itself. I mean, why the f*** are we gearing up if some random raid thing will upgrade all our heroic loots in the first week.

    D'UH ! because there is going to be an ILEVEL requirments to get into that " Looking for raid " group.
  1. Ligier's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Notos View Post
    Those 5-man instances sound pretty cool, can't wait to try them.
    Ghostcrawler doesn't once mention 5-man instances.

    He does, however, mention 5-PLAYER instances.

    I love being picky
  1. Klahkeme's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Lilfrier View Post
    Seeing as they are LOSING, not GAINING subscribers, I'd say that's not really a good thing. Yes, it makes alts easier to get to 85 and more accessible to some like myself who hate leveling, but when end-game is the thing pople play to achieve (questing is not the end goal), it's bad when you fix the questing at the expense of a good deal of end-game content.
    It's something that had to be done though. They couldn't leave the old 1-60 quests in the horrible state that they were in forever. Those zones were such a barrier to entry into the game that in the long run, it would have held back rising subscription numbers. Now with the necessary upgrades to the seriously disjointed flow of the 1-60 range over with, the next expansion can return to bringing what players consider real content. If that expansion brings as much level 85-?? content as this expansion brought for 1-60 and 80-85, the community would be completely blown away.
  1. Nraktja's Avatar
    Sorry if it is posted already but Murozond is an anagram for Nozdormu.
  1. Navitas's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by wolfieone View Post
    I really got a "fuck you enhancement shamans" vibe. Not only do we finally get a dual wield, agility pair of legendaries.... but they're going to be for Rogues only... but now we get patted on the head and told "it's okay, you nice little melee get a free bonus DPS boost because you just can't keep up."I'm disappointed in that respect. I like the idea of Raid Finder for my non-raiding toons, I like the ideas of the 5 mans, and I like the Transmog things. But my main is getting shafted.
    Same. And I bet Rogue number massively outweight Enhance Shammys. "re-roll Resto!" - go put your head in the oven.
  1. Shinzai's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Kashii View Post
    Legendary for ONE class. GG. The capstone mistake in an expansion full of mistakes resulting in a big pile of poop.

    As a ranged DPS I can say that I'm pretty disappointed that this next legendary isn't a TANK legendary. It should be obvious to anyone that it's "their turn."

    And I love the cop out that you can't have a tanking weapon because of differnt class tanking styles. Get real. I mean, NEVER in the history of this game have they ever had an item obtained through a drop + quest chain that was finally crafted into differnet possible items depending on your class (and spec). Yeah right.

    Tough to balance? NO - if you know a warrior/paladin tank would be carrying a sheild then simply nerf the one hand version slightly to compensate from the stat values avaialbe on the avg T13 sheild.

    But what can you expect from a development team that has become devoid of all creativity.
    Pretty much this. Since they've told us the legendaries will be a main hand and off hand dagger, why couldn't they make a sword + shield combo that Blood Death Knights could combine together to make a single 2 handed weapon? - Right click item to convert to X style.

    On another note, is it just me, or does Ysera look corrupted as hell? Is Ysera going to turn out to be an enemy at some point? ¬.¬
  1. vaeevictiss's Avatar
    they are messing with the lore. Thrall nor nozdormu were directly involved in the war of the ancients. Noz sort of was part of the reason that got krasus and rhonin there, but he wasnt physically in it. The whole point of the caverns of time instances was to make sure things played out exactly the way they did in the past regardless if the outcome was good or bad. Now, if we are helping thrall recover the demon soul, thats a pretty significant change IMO.
  1. Uruzihc's Avatar
    Let me get this straight, they just did an entire expansion that was incredibly element based, but they couldn't (or wouldn't) find a way to make enhance shammys get some love and finally have a legendary? So much hate..
  1. Nirawen's Avatar
    Too many Night Elves.

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