MMO-Champion - Ion Hazzikostas Interview, Patch 5.3 PTR Build 16954, Blue Tweets, The Daily Blink
Diablo 3: A Look Back

Ion Hazzikostas Interview
As Patch 5.2 comes to an end, developer interviews begin again! Today we are taking a look at an interview with Ion Hazzikostas (Lead Encounter Designer) by Convert to Raid.



Throne of Thunder
  • The team is happy with how Throne of Thunder turned out, as it really delivered on the varied and large environments, fun encounters, great art, and an interesting race for World First.
  • Lei Shen delivered on how great the final boss of a tier should be and is comparable to Heroic Ragnaros in terms of difficulty and structure.
  • The difficulty ramp up between bosses was not as smooth as it could have been, especially going from Jin'rokh to Horridon. This is something that can be improved upon in the next raid, and was addressed with hotfixes this time.
  • Throne of Thunder has a linear progression path, but many players missed the less linear progression that was seen in Ulduar and Icecrown. Giving players the option to work on another boss is helpful and there were areas in Throne of Thunder that could have been designed with this in mind.
  • Ra-Den didn't work out completely as envisioned. The sense of mystery associated with a boss that no one knows anything about is nice, making the content a bonus prize for defeating Lei Shen. It was hard to balance and test without the regular player testing, which resulted in clever use of game mechanics to defeat Ra-Den. Normally hotfixes would have been used to solve the problem, but limited attempts made it a more complicated situation.
  • There might have been slightly too much trash on Raid Finder difficulty, because there are no epic rewards that drop from the trash like Normal and Heroic difficulty. Trash is still an important pacing and environmental factor though, as you are progressing towards Lei Shen through his army.


Raiding
  • During Sunwell progression, raiding 20 hours over several days to get a world first on M'uru was unprecedented. Blizzard tried attempt limits or time limits to reduce the need to raid constantly, but it has always been an arms race between the top guilds to raid longer hours.
  • Limited attempts in Icecrown resulted in using alts to practice encounters before doing them on main characters, increasing the amount of time top guilds spent raiding instead of decreasing it.
  • The devs would like to see more organized raiding, such as the organized PuGs that existed before Raid Finder.
  • There is a group of players that wants to do group raiding, but they aren't well served by the current difficulty choices. This would include the friends and family type guilds that don't remove players because they aren't performing at their best. In Wrath of the Lich King, 10 player normal difficulty raiding served these players well, but there is now a gap between Raid Finder and Normal difficulty.
  • When 10 and 25 player had separate lockouts and different loot, they were really different difficulty levels as well. Things were somewhat easier in 10 player difficulty, as it had the lower tier of loot and should be more accessible.
  • Now that both 10 and 25 player difficulty offer the same loot and have a shared lockout, there is a need to ensure the difficulty is similar for both raid sizes. This eliminated the lower difficulty 10 player raids, which left some players with no content to raid in a more casual organized group.
  • Removing shared lockouts would just make people feel that it was mandatory to do the raid on both sizes every week to get gear faster.


Raid Finder
  • Raid Finder is great for letting players see content and progress their character with a more flexible schedule, but one of the best things MMOs offer is the cooperative social experience that is group raiding.
  • The success rates on Spine of Deathwing and Madness of Deathwing upon release in Raid Finder were about the same as they are on Lei Shen today. The success rate quickly went up on Madness of Deathwing, going from 25% during the first few weeks to 60 or 70% towards the end of the expansion.
  • Garalon was initially too difficult in Raid Finder difficulty, but hotfixes solved that problem.
  • Before the Determination buff was added, if a group failed at an encounter a few times, there wasn't much hope that anything was going to get better. This resulted in some churn in the group and continued failure. The only way to solve this problem was making the encounter easier so that groups failed less.
  • Determination allows the group to slowly make more progress on a boss, as well as give people who were thinking about leaving a reason to stick around.
  • This worked as intended, as the number of people leaving after failed attempts is significantly lower now. This also helps to reduce the amount of partially completed raids that people enter after a long queue.
  • Raid finder is designed to not be attractive to players that are doing most of the raid on Normal or Heroic difficulty, but for players that don't have a fixed raid group to play with.
  • In the past, relatively few people were able to see Arthas, Illidan, and other end bosses in raids. Raid finder allows millions of people to see the entire story.


Future / Misc
  • Patch 5.4 will have a raid that is similar in size to Throne of Thunder.
  • The team started working on Patch 5.4 as soon as they were done with work on the Patch 5.2 PTR content.
  • It would have been nice to have more dungeons while leveling in Pandaria, as there wasn't enough variety. This is something that can be improved upon in the future.
  • Requiring a group for Heroic Scenarios was done to ensure some level of communication between players, making it possible to make the content more difficult and interesting.


Patch 5.3 PTR - Build 16958
Build 16958 will be deployed to the PTR realms soon.

Spell Changes
Originally Posted by MMO-Champion
Hunter (Forums, Talent Calculator)
Pets
  • Sting now has a 1.5 min cooldown, up from 45 sec.



Patch 5.3 PTR - Build 16954
Build 16954 was not a release candidate.

Spell Changes
Originally Posted by MMO-Champion
Shaman (Forums)
Elemental & Restoration
  • Lava Burst now has a 2 sec cast time, up from 1.5 sec.



Blue Posts
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
RPPM and Item Upgrades
Definitely worth confirmation!

Yes. For these special trinkets like RoRO or UVLS the proc rate increases with ilvl.
And here it is. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Paladins in Throne of Thunder
This is what they've told us: Paladins are quite useful but they feel cases like solo tanking Heroic Megaera (which was mentioned on this thread) has more to do with how encounter mechanics work than the way the class is designed. It's something the developers will work on to be more careful in the future.

Also, with patch 5.3, there'll be some adjustments to certain Paladin abilities, including a nerf to Shield of the Righteous and Glyph of the Battle Healer (which was meant for Retribution Paladins to begin with). (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Blue Tweets
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Character
interesting tweet, what do you mean by this? Like old days where armor/stam values were different based on armor type?
Perhaps. Armor matters much less with so much non-physical damage. (Source)

had 10 85's 5 DS geared in Cata, have 4 90's and 1 ToT geared now. Stopped alt playing completely now. Better? Just curious.
You are comparing the final raid tier to the not-final raid tier.... (Source)
It is irrelevant that they are different tiers GC, you have made alt playing not fun in MoP.
The tons of raid-geared alts didn't happen until Dragon Soul. Then players naturally expected to keep the into 5.0. (Source)
I'm not saying there weren't alts before, but the average player having 4-5 happened in Dragon Soul. (Source)

Lots of discussion lately about gear and its place. Why not simplify? Do away with bracer, belt, boots and 1 trinket?
Would that make loot feel more fun? (Source)

You say you have the best programmers, any chance they can programme the lucky coins to not give you an item you already have?
Trivially. But should they? There are downsides to getting all the gear you want as fast as you want it. (Source)

Looking at the evolution of ilvl of gear in MOP in pvp/pve, do you think it should be done differently next expansion?
We're still trying to solve letting PvE have better upgrades in later tiers without making PvP have huge catchup mechanics. (Source)
In PvE, you can just avoid the harder instances until you have better gear. In PvP, you're going to run into everybody. (Source)

Feel like BoAs take fun away, never replacing gear is lame. Love the XP buff but not trivialized content #toolatetochange
I see where you're coming from, but they're more aimed at people who feel like they're done with the gear w/ leveling thing. (Source)

Working stiff, almost no time to play now, so I don't; dailies too time consuming/no catchup method for gear. Fix next xpac?
Is the issue that you can't get into dungeons or raids, or that you want to be able to do charms, valor and rep in addition? (Source)
I ask because a major problem with Cata (we were told) was that raiders had little to do when they weren't raiding. (Source)
We added other supplemental loot systems for players looking for more to do. But players with less time felt left out. (Source)
(And before anyone suggests it, alts suffer from the same problem. Alts used to be something you could do if you had free time.) (Source)
(But now we hear from folks that they don't have time for their alts. It's tough to solve.) (Source)
It's a Catch 22 being able to provide meaningful content for players with a lot and without a lot of time. (Source)

UI / Addons
Greg, srsly. What kind of answer is that? Nothing in the game itself uses a questhelper either. Still you added it.
The game has quests though and that info wasn't available. Nothing in the game points you to coordinates. They feel optional to me. (Source)

please fix lag on Lei Shen. seems to be tied with stampede
It is, but we can't reproduce it except for players with out of date Recount or Skada. (Source)

not fun having half our 25m get d/c on bosses when a hunter decides to stampede. and this is with recount off. please fix
Are you certain none of the 25 players have recount or skada enabled? We haven't been able to reproduce that case. (Source)
I never used a damage meter and lagged like crazy on Sha of Fear Heroic. Maybe something deeper... DBM? Ace?
It is definitely related to the stabled pets showing up as "unknown" and then flooding the log when the names are realized. (Source)
We're not giving up, but it's definitely one of those holycrapwhatisthisactualbug? moments. (Source)

Official LFGuild forums unusable mess. Like finding a job on craigslist with not categories, just by post date. Discouraging.
We agree with that, and the Guild Finder tool doesn't solve the problem either. (Source)
WE need a good, robust guild finding system, but you can't just throw good, robust systems together. (Source)

You 'could' does not mean you 'should'. Why would you even design abilities for bosses, if they were to be ignored?
An example is a tank swap mechanic relevant to tanks and perhaps healers that doesn't need to be shouted out to the raid. (Source)
Another is when a boss mod yells out a countdown for a minor boss debuff that adds to the healing requirements but isn't urgent. (Source)
Bossmods focus your awareness when used/configured well, but they're never judicious about what's on by default.
They are better about not stealing your raid markers as much as they used to. (Source)

If you could remove 1 addon and all like it from the game, ie: Recount/skada, DBM which would you remove and why?
I'm not sure I'd want to remove any of those. Mods are generally good for the game and players like them. (Source)
Maybe a mod that is cheating (which we tend to block anyway) or something so unstable that it causes players a lot of grief. (Source)

The Daily Blink - Ready Level One
The Daily Blink takes a look at the future of WoW...

This article was originally published in forum thread: Ion Hazzikostas Interview, Patch 5.3 PTR Build 16954, Blue Tweets, The Daily Blink started by chaud View original post
Comments 89 Comments
  1. Jin84's Avatar
    I don't mind trash in LFR actually. Just don't let people use trash + boss to kill LFR groups like they do with Tortos + trash. Everyone leaves the group every time.
  1. Nungamunch's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Arothand View Post
    What I think they should do is make 25 man drop higher iLevel gear (not a lot, about the difference between normal and Thunderforged gear), but keep the drops the same; the problem before was that most of the 25M gear was awesome, and a lot of 10M gear was shit, so you felt like you had to raid 25M for the good drops. If the gear drops were the same but 25M was a bit higher, yeah you still might be enticed to run 25M for the slightly better stats, but you don't feel like you HAVE to.
    I think their argument before would have been that ilevel leaps between tiers were getting crazy as a result of the staggered ilevel between 10s 25s and then heroics of both. If this is still the case I'm not sure they'd want to implement this again. Of course they could narrow how much of an improvement they were from what they had been previously.
  1. ExtremeActionTess's Avatar
    The devs would like to see more organized raiding, such as the organized PuGs that existed before Raid Finder.

    What's this I don't even......
  1. kos1085's Avatar
    I wish this Fernando Berriel guy would just stop tweeting and GC would stop answering him.
  1. Duerma's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Brokeguy View Post
    Cata was a more alt friendly xpac thanks to it being out for such a long time. Would have been nice to have some new dungeons to plow through for fun.
    Cataclysm wasn't out any longer than any of the other xpacs - in fact, it was a good 2-3 months shorter than the other two. :P
  1. brok3nh3lix's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by ExtremeActionTess View Post
    The devs would like to see more organized raiding, such as the organized PuGs that existed before Raid Finder.

    What's this I don't even......
    I think LFR is over all a good thing, the problem is its taking from another niche that needs to be filled, but doing so in a way that doesn't fully satisfy the niche. LFR is great for people who don't want to be too serious, just go play, que up and see some raids, maby with some friends in chat or voice coms. And that's fine. Its ilvls are balanced such that for a normal mode raider, there is not much point to running it (still needs some tweaking due to trinkets and set bonuses, but not sure how they over come this fully), at this point i think its much more a perception thing for people that feel they need to run it (valor is another issue, valor gain is too slow this expansion).

    The niche that i refer to that still needs proper filling is the person who wants to run organized raids, but doesn't want to or cant commit to a full time guild with set raid times. These are the people who just run lfr because its better than not raiding or being tied down to a guild they don't have time for. We know there is a decent chunk of people who have gone this route, and is part of the reason allot of guilds are struggling right now. The interesting part here is that the tools for this are already in place. Allow cross realm raiding of the current teir, done. Combine with communities like open raid (or build an in game system like open raid), and people have tools for easily organizing pug raids. Hell, even if they just opened up cross realm raiding for the current teir after x months, patches like 5.3 would be the perfect time for this. The biggest risk here is arguably the reason they don't do it, and that is the potential damage to guilds when you don't "need" a guild to do the most current content. How ever, tools and opportunities like this could potentially be good for guilds as they can utilize the same tools to fill in gaps when some one is a no show, and to help find potential recruits.
  1. Razamith's Avatar
    Its nice they're finally realizing the difference between LFR (not real raiding) and Normal (of which 3% of the non-asian pop is past 6/12 10 weeks in) is too large and causing unsubbs everywhere. Anecdotally, over half my friends list and dozens of guildies have given up with some of them being subbed since 2004. I suspect the LFR (50%, 502) Easy (75%, 514) Normal (100%, 522) Heroic (150%, 535) E/N/H shared lockout model will come, but a few too many patches or expansion late.
  1. Faithshield's Avatar
    Daily Blink poking fun at why people who read websites like this one shouldn't really complain about things not being hidden or mysterious :P
  1. ItachiZaku's Avatar
    I think Alts are just as easy to gear up, I don't know why people complain about it or why it is even worth a blue reaction. It's just a little different. That's considering you actually did the content on your main (comm rep bonus coins).
  1. Faithshield's Avatar
    Some of these tweets are a week old. I assume MMO-Champ is staggering their placement on the news so as to not overwhelm people?
  1. Ferrouswheel's Avatar
    "The devs would like to see more organized raiding, such as the organized PuGs that existed before Raid Finder."

    Then get rid of it.
  1. Baine's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Ferrouswheel View Post
    "The devs would like to see more organized raiding, such as the organized PuGs that existed before Raid Finder."

    Then get rid of it.
    Well it would not serve all those players who did not raid before LFR.
  1. hobbsey's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Duerma View Post
    Cataclysm wasn't out any longer than any of the other xpacs - in fact, it was a good 2-3 months shorter than the other two. :P

    He was probably referring to the last patch of Cataclysm, which was super long (9 months?). Going that long without new content made a very alt-friendly environment.
  1. Royalite's Avatar
    The success rates on Spine of Deathwing and Madness of Deathwing upon release in Raid Finder were about the same as they are on Lei Shen today. The success rate quickly went up on Madness of Deathwing, going from 25% during the first few weeks to 60 or 70% towards the end of the expansion
    I wonder about the change before the 30% buff and after DS was xrealmable.

    The devs would like to see more organized raiding, such as the organized PuGs that existed before Raid Finder
    Making current tier xrealmable will certainly help.
  1. Evory's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Duster505 View Post
    Soooo.... Sounds like BLizzard is ready to throw the bomb and push 10 mans back down to lower quality gear and easier encounters. Gonna be fun to see the second class citizens react to that .
    Doubtful, sounds more likely they gonna introduce another difficulty level in-between LFR->Normal.
  1. Tripper's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Ferrouswheel View Post
    "The devs would like to see more organized raiding, such as the organized PuGs that existed before Raid Finder."

    Then get rid of it.


    And try to pug and organize on deserted servers ??
    They need to prioritize what problems to fix...

    Merge servers and bring back 10/25 lock-outs so that there are actually people on the server and are more willing to pug if they raid more serious in the other lock-out with their own guild.
  1. good diu bro's Avatar
    One word:
    TELEPORTER!

    Why you no bring teleporter back in raids?
  1. Dax75's Avatar
    Honestly I never saw it as a problem that the world top guilds cleared content incredibly fast. It is just how it is.
    But that blizz choose to follow that arms race was probably not a good idea.
    Trying to have an arms race with 500 people while alienating 500.000 people ain't that smart.

    and yea 500 and 500.000 are made up numbers but it is about the bringing over the point.
  1. Ferrouswheel's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Baine View Post
    Well it would not serve all those players who did not raid before LFR.
    They aren't raiding now either, LFR isn't raiding. It's afking to get loot. And then they storm twitter and the forums whining that they're not getting enough afk loot even though they gave bonus rolls to help that. It's ridiculous.
  1. Glorious Leader's Avatar
    This Ion cannon dev is a moron. He should be fired and replaced with somebody sane. Catering the raiding content (that you spend more time creating and more resources creating than ANYTHING ELSE IN THE GAME) to the top 1% is fucking stupid. If so few people raid why spend all that time/effort/money on raids? and why make it so difficult it excludes players from that content?

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