MMO-Champion - The Great Item Squish (or Not) of Pandaria
The Great Item Squish (or Not) of Pandaria
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
The lead designers were originally going to talk about this topic at BlizzCon, but it didn’t really match the content of the rest of our “Intro to Pandaria” presentation, and seeing as how we finished our 90-minute slot with 93 seconds remaining, there wouldn’t have been room for it anyway. But several of us did bring up the issue with players and media we talked to, and it even ended up in at least one FAQ, so we figured we’d go ahead and get the information out there. Note that unlike much of what we presented for the upcoming Mists of Pandaria expansion, this is not an announcement. It’s more of a problem we’d like to address, and a couple of ways we potentially might do so. Feedback is certainly appreciated.

Big Number Syndrome
Hey, our stats are growing exponentially. If you look at everything from the Strength on a weapon to the damage being done by a Fireball crit or the amount of health the Morchok boss has, they look downright absurd compared to the numbers for level 60 characters in the original shipping version of World of Warcraft. It’s not exactly a surprise that we were going to end up here, and we knew where we were going every step of the way, yet regardless, here we are.


Fig. 1. Item level vs. character level. Brown = vanilla. Green = BC. Blue = LK. Red = Cat.

The numbers grew so much primarily because we wanted rewards to be compelling. Upgrading from a chestpiece that has 50 Strength into one that has 51 Strength is undeniably a DPS increase for the appropriate user, but it’s not a very exciting reward. Such negligible increases can drive players to do some weird things, such as skipping over tiers of gear or entire levels of content. This is particularly relevant when we’re talking about a new expansion. We don’t want level-85 players to have a reasonable shot at level-90 dungeons and raids (or PvP opponents) just because that content is balanced for gear that isn’t much better than what the level-85 players have.

So we arrived at this point in a logical fashion, and we don’t really think we should have handled things any differently. However, it’s still a weird place to be, and it’s about to get weirder. These aren’t real items, in that we don’t know for sure what the item levels will be in patch 5.3 and patch 6.3 (if only we planned that far ahead!) but they are reasonable guesses, and you can see just how ridiculous the items look.


Fig. 2. A theoretical item from patch 5.3.


Fig. 3. A theoretical item from patch 6.3.

So what do we do about it? There are two general categories of solutions. The first is to make the numbers appear more manageable and the second is to actually change the numbers.

Mega Damage
The first solution could include changes like adding commas and the like to large numbers. We could also compress all of those 1000s to Ks and all of those 1,000,000s to Ms, much like we do with boss health today. Internally, we have been calling this the “Mega Damage solution” because instead of your Fireball hitting for 6,000,000 damage, it would hit for 6 MEGA DAMAGE (queue the Arcanite Ripper guitar solo).


Fig. 4. Mega Damage. Name/screenshot not to be taken seriously.

If we can make numbers such as floating combat text and boss health and item stats a little easier to read at a glance, then maybe we can endure numbers increasing exponentially for many digits to come. Now there are some very real computational limitations. PCs just can’t quickly perform math on very large numbers, so we’d have to solve all of those problems as well. Even today, tanks can hit the ten digit threat cap on some encounters.

Item Level Squish
The second solution actually involves compressing item levels, which is why we call it the “item level squish solution.” If we can lower stats on items, then we can lower every other number in the game as well, such as how much damage a Fireball does or how much health a gronn has. If you look at the item level curves, you can see that most of the growth occurs at the maximum character levels for the various expansions. This is because we keep rewarding more and more powerful gear to make the new raid tier and PvP season in an expansion reward significantly better gear than the previous one. However, those huge item level jumps don’t accomplish a lot once the character level has increased again. Very few players notice or care how much of an upgrade the Black Temple loot is over the Serpentshrine Cavern loot when their characters are level 80.

With that in mind, we could go back and compress the big item level increases that occur at level 60, 70, 80 and 85. The Mists of Pandaria gear would still grow exponentially from patch to patch, but the baselines would be a lot lower. Health could go from 150,000 back down to something like 20,000. The big risk of this approach is that players will log into the new expansion and feel nerfed… even if all the other numbers are compressed as well.

In other words, your Fireball will still do the same percentage damage to a player or a creature that it does today, but the number would be smaller. Logically, this seems like it would work, and it does. But it feels weird. When we tried this internally, everyone agreed that it just felt off throwing a spell for hundreds of damage when you are used to it doing thousands of damage.

I came up with an analogy -- even though I know logically that people drive on the left side of the street in the UK (we drive on the right side of the street in the US) and wouldn’t be surprised to see it, it would still feel really disorienting if I was driving in the UK and had to make a right-hand turn.


Fig. 5. Item level vs. character level before and after ‘squish’. Brown = vanilla. Green = BC. Blue = LK. Red = Cat

So Now What?
As I type this today, we haven’t decided on which if either solution we want to try. Maybe we’ll come up with yet another solution. Maybe it’s the kind of thing we can put off for another expansion so that players don’t have to adjust to the new talent system and a drastic item level compression at the same time. Or maybe it’s better just to pull the Band-Aid off fast and fix everything at once. Time will tell. I did, however, want to outline the problem lest any of you believe we don’t think there is a problem. There is. We’re just not sure of the best solution yet. If your answer is that stat budgets don’t have to grow so much in order for players to still want the gear, our experience says otherwise, and thus these proposed solutions exist. Your thoughts on the matter are valuable.

Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street is the lead systems designer for World of Warcraft. The last time he used “Fig. 5” in an article, it related fish predation to estuarine hydrocarbon contamination.
This article was originally published in forum thread: The Great Item Squish (or Not) of Pandaria started by Boubouille View original post
Comments 851 Comments
  1. MoFalcon's Avatar
    Squish away...im not sure how many expansions we have left, but its getting crazy!My only suggestion, dont squish it any more than you need to. Lvl 80 felt pretty good. Why not make the new lvl cap feel like lvl 80, if possible. Squish it over the next couple expansions gradually. might be less of a shock to the system(ours).
  1. Zell the Stormbreaker's Avatar
    I support the item squish and, to be fair, reckon it should have happened a while ago. The greater problem is if they intend to keep doing it every expansion, or simply see the numbers grow less throughout their current lifetime. Personally, I think TBC got it about right and that's the sort of growth I'd prefer to see throughout each tier.
  1. Puntar's Avatar
    Every expansion is gear reset so why would "expansion squish" would be so bad?

    Healers already got a "healing squish" in Cata anyway.

    To get "the squish" at least somewhat right they will need to fiddle even with sub 60 lvl anyway. No one want to have their hp and mana somewhere in classic and BC range!

    By the look on the picture Cata blues in next expansion will be somewhere in ilevel of 85 - 90.

    No matter that squish in needed and I approved it, I really do not want to have my health and mana in 4.4/4.5 patch dropped by a factor of 15! They will need to just slight increase growth somewhere in 30 - 60 range. I am more inclined to make (BC) ilevel of 85 to become a new Level 60 standard and build upon this formula. And WITHOUT A GAP in stats between content!
  1. Duah's Avatar
    Not really in support of the item squish. One reason I play this game is because over time your character gets stronger, more hp/mana, and such. I would understand a slight increase with the MoP expansion rather than a "Item squish". Going from 170k hp on my tank back to 19kish which was my hp back in BC will kind of be discouraging... As again our characters are supposed to be progressing not going backwards.
  1. DadRaider's Avatar
    does it really matter? are they just worried that some numb nuts wouldnt be able to tell numbers that far in advance? so what if their getting big, why change it? it works as it is else their going to have to go do a massive rehaul of everything from vanilla up, either that or keep it the same and just drastically lower the numbers from mop start like 400-404 in 1st area but then their going to seriously have to balance new bosses to only do like 20-30 extra damage from one difficulty to the next to compensate for the 80hp rise from the gear

    ---------- Post added 2011-11-06 at 02:39 PM ----------

    or another way would be that lvling from 85-90 in the greens/blues you get just from questing in cata is a straight on progression like in tbc when you could go to atleast zangarmarsh without replacing some aq40 gear for instance was good i loved fightin around with my paladin conquerer gear or what ever it was called and the 2 handed sword of the twins that had a nature on hit chance thing
  1. Nurhlag's Avatar
    Ok could someone help clear somthing up? From the screen shots you can see that the numbers will get bigger and bigger etc but each class and role will still need to meet the same caps, CTC, exp, hit etc so my question is..With bigger numbers and seeing as we can reforge etc would we be able to fine tune and slightly improve our characters for say end game raiding more so than with the current stats or if they did squish down the numbers would we have less margin as to which we could 'perfect' our goal numbers?
  1. Dejohn's Avatar
    The biggest problem I see is that they waste too much ilvl on the leveling and pre raiding gear available. ICC heroic gear was 277 gear, the first Tier of Raiding in Cata was 359. Did they really need to jump 82ilvl on quest greens and pre raid garbage gear? I dont think so. If they just tempered the amount of jumps they made for 5 levels and we were sitting at maybe 333 for Firelands now it wouldnt be as bad. The examples they gave were exactly the reason they are in this mess. 5.3 gear is going to be ilvl 600. Why is that? Why are they jumping from say 397-403ilvl in the Dragon Soul raid to 200 ilvl higher in the 3rd patch of MOP. Should do the standard 6 ilvl jump.

    If they followed 277 + 6 = 283 LVL81
    289 82
    295 83
    301 84
    307 85
    313 Pre Raid gear
    319 1st Tier of Raiding
    325 1st Tier Heroic
    331 2nd Tier of Raiding
    337 2nd Tier Heroic
    343 3rd Tier of Raiding
    349 3rd Tier Heroic
    355 Lvl 86

    So even if we swallow the screw up that they made this xpac

    403 3rd Tier Heroic
    409 Lvl 86
    415 Lvl 87
    421 Lvl 88
    427 Lvl 89
    433 Lvl 90
    439 Pre Raiding Gear
    445 1st Tier
    451 1st Tier Heroic
    457 2nd Tier
    463 2nd Tier Heroic
    469 3rd Tier
    475 3rd Tier Heroic

    So that is 125-131 ilvl lower than the ridiculous 600ilvl they are proposing for 5.3 because it has a proper and non wasteful ilvl progression.
  1. Sarevokcz's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by anyaka21 View Post
    A linear path has been needed for a while because of the inflated stats as they are going. Something has to be done, and has needed to be done even when TBC came out. Heck, most people when TBC came out replaced half their gear in the 1st 20mins of questing.
    This is wrong (I was wearing like 10 pieces form vanilla at 70) and actually the whole reason why cata went batshit with inflated gear. People were clearing Kara in Naxx60 (or even lower) gear, people were clearing Naxx80 in t6 gear. They didnt want gear to not matter that much at the start of the expansion, so they did the easier things. nerfed the healers over the 5 new levels, while at the same time, inflated gear to no end, just so people wouldnt wear the LK epics too long. try doing Bastion in ICC25HM gear.

    The sudden ilevel jump in Cata and the so called "gear reset" was one thing I never agreed with. it was just not needed. So what, if people would be using DBW or Shadowmourne in Bastion?

    One good thing out of all this mess is the whole issue with inflated gear is going to be solved sooner. Im definitely for ilev squish, but it has to be done properly and they will have to retune everything from MC to Deathwing.
  1. TheDane97's Avatar
    hey guys so id like to hear what you think about this idea. the idea is to make an option to toggle squish of items on and off so that all people kinda get what they want il copy paste my post on the official eu wow forum on to here:

    so if you turn squish on youd have lets say 80k hp on 90 or something and with bignumbers lets say 800k hp so if a mob has 3k hp atm and you turn squish on it will have like 300??
    and the 3k mob hits for how much 100? or so cant remem how much they deal atm, but then they should hit for 10.
    if you at 90 crit 100k lets say thats a standart crit right you can crit like 10k with squish and normal hit would be like 5k and non squish 50k crits. (this is ofcourse auto attacks of lets say a warr or dk so spells would hit more ofc). this idea is very good i think cus its based on easy numbers non squish is 10times squished numbers easy so blizz plz do this i think it will save us all from qq threads people who wants the squish gets it and people who doesnt want it wont get it and have their game as it ha always bin. now this was dmg and hp based havent done the math for how the stats should be but i guess you can figure that out your self cus i dont think 10 times difference will fit it cus looking on the item idea for MoP it is already 10 times more then right now so mabye 15 or 20 times diffrences on stats or so but you can prob figure that out.
    plz tell me what you think about it
  1. F1n's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Dejohn View Post
    The biggest problem I see is that they waste too much ilvl on the leveling and pre raiding gear available. ICC heroic gear was 277 gear, the first Tier of Raiding in Cata was 359. Did they really need to jump 82ilvl on quest greens and pre raid garbage gear? I dont think so. If they just tempered the amount of jumps they made for 5 levels and we were sitting at maybe 333 for Firelands now it wouldnt be as bad. The examples they gave were exactly the reason they are in this mess. 5.3 gear is going to be ilvl 600. Why is that? Why are they jumping from say 397-403ilvl in the Dragon Soul raid to 200 ilvl higher in the 3rd patch of MOP. Should do the standard 6 ilvl jump.

    If they followed 277 + 6 = 283 LVL81
    289 82
    295 83
    301 84
    307 85
    313 Pre Raid gear
    319 1st Tier of Raiding
    325 1st Tier Heroic
    331 2nd Tier of Raiding
    337 2nd Tier Heroic
    343 3rd Tier of Raiding
    349 3rd Tier Heroic
    355 Lvl 86

    So even if we swallow the screw up that they made this xpac

    403 3rd Tier Heroic
    409 Lvl 86
    415 Lvl 87
    421 Lvl 88
    427 Lvl 89
    433 Lvl 90
    439 Pre Raiding Gear
    445 1st Tier
    451 1st Tier Heroic
    457 2nd Tier
    463 2nd Tier Heroic
    469 3rd Tier
    475 3rd Tier Heroic

    So that is 125-131 ilvl lower than the ridiculous 600ilvl they are proposing for 5.3 because it has a proper and non wasteful ilvl progression.
    This is a very good post on the topic of why we are where we are right now in terms of itemstats.
    Even lowering all the stats in the game is only postponing the current problem to occur again at a later point in time if they don't change the way item evolve.
    So I think it's easier to leave the current and past they way it is currently and worry about the future a little more.
  1. Ceirus's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by TheDane97 View Post
    hey guys so id like to hear what you think about this idea. the idea is to make an option to toggle squish of items on and off so that all people kinda get what they want il copy paste my post on the official eu wow forum on to here:

    so if you turn squish on youd have lets say 80k hp on 90 or something and with bignumbers lets say 800k hp so if a mob has 3k hp atm and you turn squish on it will have like 300??
    and the 3k mob hits for how much 100? or so cant remem how much they deal atm, but then they should hit for 10.
    if you at 90 crit 100k lets say thats a standart crit right you can crit like 10k with squish and normal hit would be like 5k and non squish 50k crits. (this is ofcourse auto attacks of lets say a warr or dk so spells would hit more ofc). this idea is very good i think cus its based on easy numbers non squish is 10times squished numbers easy so blizz plz do this i think it will save us all from qq threads people who wants the squish gets it and people who doesnt want it wont get it and have their game as it ha always bin. now this was dmg and hp based havent done the math for how the stats should be but i guess you can figure that out your self cus i dont think 10 times difference will fit it cus looking on the item idea for MoP it is already 10 times more then right now so mabye 15 or 20 times diffrences on stats or so but you can prob figure that out.
    plz tell me what you think about it
    Think about how confusing and unnecessary this would get. The solution is to squish the item levels, i'm getting 50k crits at level 81, its retarded.
  1. Mekatron's Avatar
    Squish on! It's all relative.
  1. Kaeleena's Avatar
    I think the thing everyone is failing to see is that it's not all relative. Based on the new item level chart, fresh 90s will have an average ilvl of around 100, at which point you're going to need to get a minimum of 10 people together to run Molten Core, and at least 20 players for Lich King. It's already hard enough to get 5 people together that want to run the old content that's not soloable. Now picture that for every old raid you want to run.
  1. Alayea's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Kaeleena View Post
    I think the thing everyone is failing to see is that it's not all relative. Based on the new item level chart, fresh 90s will have an average ilvl of around 100, at which point you're going to need to get a minimum of 10 people together to run Molten Core, and at least 20 players for Lich King. It's already hard enough to get 5 people together that want to run the old content that's not soloable. Now picture that for every old raid you want to run.
    TBC, WotLK, and Cataclysm content will get nerfed along with the item level squish should Blizzard choose to go that route. Your concern in regards to lvl 60 raids is legitimate, though.
  1. Grumm's Avatar
    I would very much like the see the Squish implemented
  1. chioArc's Avatar
    I never read all 41 pages of posts and maybe im silly but whats happens if blizzard change numbers to percents? means i remember when guild said we want you to make 19k damage to play that raid instance....or we need 11k healing, etc. whats happens if numbers are now converted to percentage, so the goal is to reach 80% dmg or 72% healing power in tier xx and next tier give 2% more agility or -1% resilence, etc, and we have differents flags areas to compare? means that instance is stage 3 so your gear will do 55% dmg, next instance is level 4 so you need to have 85% Strength to play successfully that boss or arena, etc One step after blizz can change percents with icons (stars, bullets, asterics or wathever) to represent values. Now we can do maths again without problem, and blizz can change the scale of world whenever he want and could be transparent for players cause we play with percentage of a given value.
  1. ssviolett's Avatar
    I like to see Item Squish, because this is really weird withh all those big numbers. I like "big crits" too, but as it was mentioned above - big crits compared to other crits. If I crit with 100k with my Arcane Blast, while undergeared mage can crit with only 50k, I have no problem to crit for 10k, as long as that mage crits for 5k. I see few problems here, but all of them are solvable.1) Old content. To do old content will be definitely harder. Probably you wont be able to solo MC, probably you will, but that will be harder. Hovewer, Blizzard can reduce powers of bosses, but this will lead to another problem. Since 60th level gear will stay the same if bosses are about to be nerfed you wont need 40 60th people to do MC run. MC will become 5 man instance for 60th level people. That means you can run Stratholme or MC with same 5 man party, but get different gear ... well ... weird ... this is weird.2) Balance. Blizzard will need to fix everything - every item, every mob. I know Blizzard quite well to say this will lead to shitload of bugs and terribly ruined balance. They will need entire expansion to fix that out.
  1. Karmian's Avatar
    Congratulations! You have killed WoW.
  1. cliodk's Avatar
    this is just stupid i dont wonna run around with 20k hp at lvl 90. would be better if they did put it down to 130k hp unbuffed in full dragon soul gear
  1. m4dfan's Avatar
    just give items % of Crit, Hit, Haste as we got in vanilla

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