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. Strakha's Avatar
    Sounds like it's time for that nice long summer break til 5.4 comes out. Nothing that interesting in 5.3 imo. ToT is not that exciting to me, the trash is very boring and time consuming and some of the bosses are just tediously designed.

    Here's hoping 5.4 will be awesomeeeee, and that pierre the cooking pet will be in it.
  1. fneelis's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Glorious Leader View Post
    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?
    Seems more like that you are the m***n, they did 1 boss for the top 1%. The rest of the bosses are available to everyone through LFR and normals. Progression is something that drives a lot of people to keep playing. Even though maybe you want everything on a silver plate, doesn't mean that the rest wants that.
  1. Glorious Leader's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by fneelis View Post
    Seems more like that you are the m***n, they did 1 boss for the top 1%. The rest of the bosses are available to everyone through LFR and normals. Progression is something that drives a lot of people to keep playing. Even though maybe you want everything on a silver plate, doesn't mean that the rest wants that.
    All raid content (outside of lfr) is tuned and made for the 1%. The percentage of players that will see raden is a fraction of a fraction really. These developers have no clue
  1. Rorschachs's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Glorious Leader View Post
    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?
    He is not a moron and he actually adressed that issue about normal modes being harder than intended. He said several times that 10man in general and normal modes are supposed to be easier than they are right now and they have different people working on different things so they are not actually giving up on anything.

    Please read the whole thing. And ambition is important. The number of players to beat, the number of challenges in a game are important eventhough if you are not actually doing anything in the game.
  1. Glorious Leader's Avatar
    This game has serious organizational issues and the developers or their bosses need to do some in house cleaning. After reading the front page article and a couple of tweets from GC recently I've become convinced of that. First of all they design content (raids) that they know few few few players will do (at the expense of eliminating other content btw that had a far broader reach) and then they also purposely designed those raids so that 2/3 modes are inaccessible to a huge chunk of the player base that would potentially be interested in doing them. HOw the fuck do you run a business like this? Who the fuck designs a game like this? It's like game development run by the joker or something.

    ---------- Post added 2013-05-16 at 04:24 PM ----------

    He doesn't have a fucking CLUE. That's all their is to it. Challenge had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO with the mass appeal of wow and actually all Blizzard titles. The developers just think that it does.
  1. Syrus-JI's Avatar
    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.
    For some people, sure... and this is a good thing, not a bad thing. It would do a lot to encourage pug raids, and for smaller guilds to coordinate 25-man raids together.

    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.
    Then don't put rewards in LFR that normal raiders would want to have. I get wanting to allow non-raiding players the ability to get legendary quest items, tier pieces, reputation that valor items are locked behind, etc... but if you put this stuff in LFR, then normal raiders are going to feel obligated to do it. What they should have done was remove reputation requirements from all valor items, make the 502 tier pieces purchasable with valor, and cause bosses in Normal mode and Hard mode to have a significantly higher chance to drop legendary quest items than LFR. Make these legendary quest items able to drop from each boss once each week regardless of difficulty. Normal mode raiders will probably still run the bosses in LFR that they aren't downing yet, but at least the incentive is diminished.
  1. Xjev's Avatar
    I think they are moving towards making 10 man a bit easier dropping lesser gear, making 10 man normal more casual and less punishing
  1. Darkblazer's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Milkwolfgang View Post
    Maybe having LFR / Easy(10/25) / Normal(10/25) / Heroic modes(10/25), all sharing lockout?
    Yes yesss yesss so i wont play at all.
    How about 1 reset per month?

    Lets face 23k raiding guild now and decreasing ...It's unhealthy.
    Cata model proved 2 be wrong.
  1. ihyln's Avatar
    Blizzard's flip flopping with lockouts and their inability to understand what drives their players to raid is costing them subs. Maybe they will one day get it and realize what made Wrath so much fun.
  1. VanishO2's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Glorious Leader View Post
    This game has serious organizational issues and the developers or their bosses need to do some in house cleaning. After reading the front page article and a couple of tweets from GC recently I've become convinced of that. First of all they design content (raids) that they know few few few players will do (at the expense of eliminating other content btw that had a far broader reach) and then they also purposely designed those raids so that 2/3 modes are inaccessible to a huge chunk of the player base that would potentially be interested in doing them. HOw the fuck do you run a business like this? Who the fuck designs a game like this? It's like game development run by the joker or something.

    ---------- Post added 2013-05-16 at 04:24 PM ----------

    He doesn't have a fucking CLUE. That's all their is to it. Challenge had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO with the mass appeal of wow and actually all Blizzard titles. The developers just think that it does.
    Hahahaha, back when Blizzard tried to sell the idea that something like Firelands with their poor 7 bosses was like 14 awesome and totally diferent bosses because you had normal AND heroic, most players tried to show that it was stupid thing to say because dificult setting =/= content.

    Now ppl actually say that (and Blizzard try to say that they're not denying content because a boss in LFR = Normal = Heroic)?

    Funny.

    And 2/3 modes inaccessible to a huge chunk? Ok...
  1. fneelis's Avatar
    I'm pretty certain Blizzard is doing a good job, after 7 years it's still the most played MMO.

    And your theory about them doing 1 boss for just hardcore raiders being bad is wrong. WoW saw it's peaktime during TBC-WOTLK(correct me if I'm wrong), did they cater for casuals then? No, not really. There was no LFR and only a very few amount of people saw Sunwell while it was new. Only a few people killed Algalon, and the harder Ulduar hardmodes while it was new. Same goes for ICC.

    WoW has been losing subs ever since Cataclysm when LFR was introduced. I'm not saying that it's only because of LFR. But WoW going downhill is definitely not because they do 1 boss that is Heroic only. WoW had it's peaktime when they didnt cater for casuals. People need something to look up to, they need goals that they can strive for when playing the game. Killing something on LFR does exactly the opposite thing.

    You are just ignorant.
  1. Magemaer's Avatar
    If there's one team that is very often excelling in WoW is the encounter design team
  1. Glorious Leader's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Magemaer View Post
    If there's one team that is very often excelling in WoW is the encounter design team
    Excelling at driving players to lfr and potentially out of raiding in general.
  1. fneelis's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Glorious Leader View Post
    Excelling at driving players to lfr and potentially out of raiding in general.
    Again... did you even listen to the interview?

    He admited that normals was a bit harder than intended.

    You're just embarrassing yourself.
  1. Rorschachs's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Glorious Leader View Post
    This game has serious organizational issues and the developers or their bosses need to do some in house cleaning. After reading the front page article and a couple of tweets from GC recently I've become convinced of that. First of all they design content (raids) that they know few few few players will do (at the expense of eliminating other content btw that had a far broader reach) and then they also purposely designed those raids so that 2/3 modes are inaccessible to a huge chunk of the player base that would potentially be interested in doing them. HOw the fuck do you run a business like this? Who the fuck designs a game like this? It's like game development run by the joker or something.

    ---------- Post added 2013-05-16 at 04:24 PM ----------

    He doesn't have a fucking CLUE. That's all their is to it. Challenge had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO with the mass appeal of wow and actually all Blizzard titles. The developers just think that it does.
    I just told you that they don't design it like that. He has talked a lot about the difficulty of normal modes and 10 man in general and wasn't that what you were complaining about? He is aware of the issues and obviously he is not going to talk about those issues and then do nothing about them.

    You should listen to the whole 30min interview before complaining about stuff because what you are doing here right now is pointless.
  1. ganush's Avatar
    Blizzards design philosophy right now seems to based around making bad decisions and then piling the band aids on top of them until you can't even tell what was underneath. All the while they choose to ignore the most pressing issue in the game today which is the bloat of grossly underpopulated realms.
  1. Glorious Leader's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Rorschachs View Post
    I just told you that they don't design it like that. He has talked a lot about the difficulty of normal modes and 10 man in general and wasn't that what you were complaining about? He is aware of the issues and obviously he is not going to talk about those issues and then do nothing about them.

    You should listen to the whole 30min interview before complaining about stuff because what you are doing here right now is pointless.
    It's not "a bit" harder than intended. It's actually much more than that. The gap between lfr and normal is HUGE. He's ignorant and willfully ignorant of his own game it seems. What I said remains true. They have no idea how to design content and build a game for their player base and they have no idea what made their game(s) successful in the first place.
  1. Rolly's Avatar
    "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."

    It's so comical when they say it like it's something they had absolutely no control over.
  1. Alayea's Avatar
    I don't look too fondly upon LFR. Yes, it's good for those who'd like to see it but have real life stuff going on. However, it also has down side as well and I'll tell you why: Because Blizzard used LFR as a reason for upping the difficulty of raiding normal. Anecdotal of course, but this is exactly what I and plenty of other players that I know had been warning about long before Mr. Hazzikostas now basically admitting as such. Unfortunately, it's too little and too late for quite a few guilds. The prior guild I was in had been formed on day 1 when my server came online, but Mists of Pandaria hurt us more than even Cataclysm had (shared lockout/loot). After all these years, it finally transferred off in mid-March because the raiding population is sparse on Malfurion. And just last night in my current guild (which is also quite old), it was announced that there'd be no more progression raiding for mostly the same reasons.

    If Blizzard is serious about keeping players whose skill level is higher than LFR but not quite there with the MoP incarnation of normal raiding, it needs to bring the difficulty back down.


    Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
    The tons of raid-geared alts didn't happen until Dragon Soul. Then players naturally expected to keep the into 5.0.
    I'm not saying there weren't alts before, but the average player having 4-5 happened in Dragon Soul.
    We talking about those with LFR gear as well, or just normal/heroic? Because I can tell you, big-time alt raiding first came up during Icecrown Citadel, where you could buy your T10 starter set with Emblem of Frost earned from doing your daily LFD. And LFD became a huge laugh for dungeons introduced prior to patch 3.3, with your powerful AoE and being able to straight-up ignore mechanics (Loken and Gal'darah come to mind). The fastest dungeon I ever completed was Gun'drak in nine(!) minutes.

    And goodness above, I miss those days. You talk about Cataclysm being alt-friendly? No, it wasn't all that alt-friendly when you use WotLK as the standard.
  1. ganush's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Rolly View Post
    "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."

    It's so comical when they say it like it's something they had absolutely no control over.
    This is what makes my head spin. They had a really successful formula with using dungeons as a catch up mechanism, and most people I know enjoyed the ability to use this path to gear up alts, but they decided not to have any extra 5 man content post initial release in MoP. So I ask myself why did they make this decision? All I can come up with is that they wanted to prove how successful LFR is by forcing people to use it if they want to gear up, then they can say "Look how many people are using LFR" and pat themselves on the back for coming up with a great idea. It's easy to say it would have been nice to have more dungeons while leveling and it would have been even nicer to have more dungeons in one of the patches.

    The result of these decisions for me was that I leveled my alts for professions and have them all sitting, basically unplayed in 463 gear. I raid on my main, I have no desire to burn myself out on that content by doing it on alts in LFR. It's not fun for me and the people in there aren't enjoyable. With 5-mans, I could go in to content with 5 friends anytime I wanted and do something. There's no content available right now that I can do with a few of my buddies....sorry Heroic Scenarios aren't what I'm looking for. So how do I play WoW now. I log on to raid and log off. I have no interest in doing more dailies or one of the original heroic dungeons yet again that I've seen 30 times already. There is NO reason for me to play other than my 2 nights of raiding.

    I'm fine with the existence of LFR, but did it really have to come at the expense of a catch up progression system of JP and dungeons that in my opinion worked very well for two expansion? I'm gonna argue no and I think sub numbers over the next year will support that argument.

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