MMO-Champion - Dev Watercooler: Pruning the Garden of War
Dev Watercooler: Pruning the Garden of War
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
Development on World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor is progressing well, and we'll soon be ready to enter the first phases of public testing. To help prep you for battle, let’s break down some of the upcoming changes we’re making to stats, abilities, and crowd control for the expansion.

Stat Squish
Character progression is one of the hallmarks of any role-playing game, and naturally that means we're always adding more power for players to acquire. After multiple expansions and content updates, we've reached a point where the numbers for health, damage, and other stats are so big they’re no longer easy for players to grasp. What’s more, a lot of power granularity is tied up in tiers of older content, from Molten Core to Dragon Soul—and while it was once necessary for your character's power to spike up suddenly when you hit level 70, that’s not the case anymore.


In order to bring things down to a more understandable level, we'll be reducing the scale of stats throughout the game and smoothing out those obsolete spikes, so that power scales linearly through questing content from levels 1 to 85. This applies to creatures, spells, abilities, consumables, gear . . . everything. And while that means your numbers for stats and damage are being reduced by a huge amount, the same goes for creatures' health and damage output. For example, a Fireball that previously hit a creature for 450,000 out of his 3,000,000 health (15% of its health) may now hit that same creature for 30,000 out of its 200,000 health (still 15% of its health).


It's important to understand that this isn’t a nerf—in effect, you’ll still be just as powerful, but the numbers that you see will be easier to comprehend. This also won’t reduce your ability to solo old content. In fact, to provide some additional peace of mind, we're implementing further scaling of your power against lower-level targets so that earlier content will be even more accessible than it is now.

We’re also removing all base damage on player spells and abilities and adjusting attack power or spell power scaling as needed, making it so that all specializations will scale at the same rate.

Racial Traits
We want races to have fun and interesting perks, but if some of those traits are too powerful, players may feel compelled to play a specific race even if it’s not really the one they want to play. For example, Trolls' Berserking ability was extremely powerful, and their Beast Slaying passive was either completely irrelevant or tremendously powerful, based on the situation, compared to other racial traits. On the other end of the spectrum, many races had few or no performance-affecting perks. On top of that, a number of racials that currently grant Hit or Expertise will soon need replacing, since those stats are being removed in Warlords of Draenor.


To keep racials more in line with one another, we’ve decided to bring down the couple high outliers, then establish a fair baseline and bring everyone else up to that. We’re accomplishing this by improving old passives, replacing obsolete ones, and adding a few new ones where necessary. Ultimately, our goal is to achieve much better parity among races.

Ability Pruning
Over the years, we've added significantly more new spells and abilities than we've removed, and the game’s complexity has steadily increased. We’re to the point now where players are starting to get overwhelmed, sometimes feeling like they need dozens of keybinds (in a few extreme cases, over a hundred). While the game is loaded with niche abilities that could theoretically be useful in some rare scenario, in reality, many of these are barely used at all—and in some cases, the game would simply be better off without them.

For Warlords of Draenor, we decided that we needed to pare down the number of abilities available to each class and spec in order to remove some of that unnecessary complexity. That means restricting some abilities to certain specs that really need them instead of being class-wide, and outright removing some other abilities. It also includes removing some Spellbook clutter, such as passives that we can merged with other passives or base abilities.


This doesn’t mean that we want to reduce the depth of gameplay or dumb things down. We still want players to face interesting decisions during combat, and we still want skill to matter . . . but we can achieve that without the needless complexity in the game now, and we can remove some of the game’s more convoluted mechanics while maintaining depth and skill variety.

One type of ability that we focused on removing is temporary power buffs (aka "cooldowns"). Removing these also helps achieve one of our other goals, which is to reduce the amount of cooldown stacking in the game. In cases where a class or spec has multiple cooldowns that typically end up getting used together (often in a single macro), we merged them, or removed some of them entirely.

The process of determining which spells and abilities to cut or change is a very complex one—we know that every ability feels vital to someone, and we don't take this process lightly. Even if we ended up cutting your favorite ability, we hope you’ll understand why we did so in the context of our larger goals for the expansion. Ultimately, the point of these changes is to increase players' ability to understand the game, not to reduce gameplay depth.

Crowd Control and Diminishing Returns
One other big takeaway from Mists of Pandaria is that there is currently simply too much crowd control (CC) in the game, especially when it comes to PvP. To address that, we knew that we needed an across-the-board disarmament.


Here's a summary of the player-cast CC changes:

  • Removed Silence effects from interrupts. Silence effects still exist, but are never attached to an interrupt.
  • Removed all Disarms.
  • Reduced the number of Diminishing Returns (DR) categories.
  • All Roots now share the same DR category.
    • Exception: Roots on Charge-type abilities have no DR category, but have a very short duration instead.
  • All Stuns now share the same DR category.
  • All Incapacitate (sometimes called "mesmerize") effects now share the same DR category and have been merged with the Horror DR category.
  • Removed the ability to make cast-time CC spells instant with a cooldown.
  • Removed many CC spells entirely, and increased the cooldowns and restrictions on others.
    • Pet-cast CC is more limited, and in many cases has been removed.
    • Cyclone can now be dispelled by immunities and Mass Dispel.
    • PvP trinkets now grant immunity to reapplication of an effect from the same spell cast when they break abilities with persistent effects, like Solar Beam.
    • Long fears are now shorter in PvP due to the added benefit of a fear changing the players position.

Additionally, we've significantly reduced the number of throughput-increasing cooldowns and procs in order to further reduce burst damage.

Whether your favorite class is losing an ability or taking a hit to its CC potential, we hope this discussion helped you better understand why we’re making these changes. It’s important to remember that other classes will be getting some of their CC removed too. We think this entire package will make exploring Azeroth and PvPing a more enjoyable experience for everyone, and we’re looking forward to having you try them out when we open up the expansion for testing.

In the next Dev Watercooler, we'll explore the changes coming to health and healing in Warlords of Draenor.
This article was originally published in forum thread: Dev Watercooler: Pruning the Garden of War started by chaud View original post
Comments 256 Comments
  1. Lilscrappy's Avatar
    In a way WoW is like a double edged sword, its a great successful MMO and will always be thought of as one of the best MMO's of all time,

    BUT,

    the longer it is out & the more expansions/content is released, they need to "scale-down" and re-think abilities/talents and how the game works or it will just get convoluted overtime (like it has). So on 1 side, we have the people (mostly casuals - which is a HUGE part of the player base now) that are happy about these changes, also new players just now joining the game, and on the other side we get the long-term players and hardcore players/pvp'ers that hate the changes and swear that the game is getting more & more casual every expansion.

    Let's point out the obvious here, WoW IS getting more casual every expansion, but it gets harder for Blizzard to interest people to come play their game every new expansion so this is the only way they can make money or gain more players because they lose some long-term players who are just bored of playing the game for years and years. For me, I usually come back for a couple months to play the new expansion, then quit right after. I mostly play for nostalgia reasons of being a 40man raider in vanilla WoW.

    Also on a side note, WoD doesn't look amazing to me, I won't bash it until I buy it - but my hopes for this new expansion have gone down a ton since I've seen beta videos. It just doesn't LOOK fun or interesting like it used to be.
  1. chrisfover87's Avatar
    on lord I miss GC now
  1. Panthreau's Avatar
    Well they have to remove Abilities in order to make it playable on the PS4 and XBONE! Duh.
  1. darkthunder's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by darkwarrior42 View Post
    "It's important to understand that this isn’t a nerf—in effect, you’ll still be just as powerful, but the numbers that you see will be easier to comprehend."

    Translation: The majority of our playerbase is too stupid to understand big numbers, so we're making life less scary for them.

    (I have seen some very good reasons for an item squish. This is not one of them.)
    Translation of your translation: Item Squish is NECESSARY due to programming limitations.
  1. Nairosia's Avatar
    oh praise to blizz god for the cc changes
  1. Prokne's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Azrile View Post
    WOTLK only looks like it ´got out of control´ because that is when they introduced heroics and added another set of gear on top of what they already had. Do you think heroic mode raids are a mistake? No. Do you think Heroic modes should reward the same ilvl as normal modes? No. They made the game better by adding a lot of cool things, ilvl increases are just the result, but not a mistake.
    They should have never added a higher ilvl gear from heroic raids. The point of heroic raids is that they are more challenging than normal raids which doesnt mean you need better gear from them. In fact the better gear makes them easier which defeats the purpose. All they needed to do was put a heroic tag on the gear and/or different colors so that it had some heroic prestige. That along with the extra titles/achs/mounts should be enough for people who should be running heroic raids for the challenge, not for the gear.

    And then the other problem is bumping character power up like 40% each tier which is totally not necessary. Something like 5-10% should be enough to make new encounters challenging. And then heroic raids should only be possible with a large amount of current raid normal gear, not a separate gear progression of heroic gear.

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    Quote Originally Posted by darkthunder View Post
    Translation of your translation: Item Squish is NECESSARY due to programming limitations.
    Actually its not. It never was and never will be necessary. Its just more convenient for them than fixing their limited programming which is using integer values for everything. Even a basic calculator can calculate numbers greater than 2 billion.
  1. Nerraw's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Prokne View Post
    Actually its not. It never was and never will be necessary. Its just more convenient for them than fixing their limited programming which is using integer values for everything. Even a basic calculator can calculate numbers greater than 2 billion.
    You're talking about "fixing" software that is 15 years old if not more. Hidden Path did it recently with AoE2HD. How? They rebuilt the game from the ground up because it was easier. If Blizzard was to do the same thing you'd lose a lot more than a raid tier.
  1. Azrile's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by cbeefman View Post
    I think I need to step back and take a break from these and other wow sites for a while

    NONE of this feel like news to me, except maybe some of the CC changes so i'm feeling very underwhelmed by this so called "info dump"

    I think I set my expectations too high

    haha, I am with you. I think that is some of the angst on these forums regarding what information was released. Many of us hang on every dev interview or tweet from a dev, so not much was new. But from the perspective of ´average´ players, many of them are probably learning of this for the first time. I know most of my guild does not even know item squish is coming.

    For me, the only thing I read in the blog that was ´new´ for me was about disarm getting removed. The followup stuff regarding the exact racials was new too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by valliant13 View Post
    Adding ilvls wasn't a mistake what was is simply too many per expansion. Yes you need to feel more powerful but not extremely more powerful every tier. For instance the difference between perditions blade(bis dagger for lvl 60 rogue at the end of MC) and the next bis dagger in BWL is much smaller than weapons now. Endgame ilvl started at 463(probably less, but im basing this off heroics). Final tier ilvl is 580. That is the problem and since wrath the gap between the initial endgame ilvl and final tier ilvl keeps growing.

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    I used naxx40 gear into the first raids of TBC. I used some TBC gear until max level in wotlk. In cata I was replacing SOME epics in the first or second zone. That's wrong imo. Final tier gear should last until mid-max level of the next expansion.

    so I am agreeing with you.
    If we are sitting here talking about item squish, it is easy to go back and say in a certain expansion, they increased it too much. But like with MoP.. there are all kinda little things that play into it that we aren´t remembering. For instance, they didn´t want raiders to feel like they had to do LFR. They didn´t want heroic raiders to not replace gear in the next tier´s normal mode.. etc etc.

    They had to make a lot of judgement calls along the way that affected tier-to-tier progression.. especially back in Wotlk when they started with heroic gear and stuff like that. At the time, most of those decisions were correct and we didn´t really experience anything funky ( like killing a new tier boss and not getting upgrades). It is easy to look back and say what caused item squish to be needed, but if you go back to when those things happened, it would be hard to find fault with how they did things.

    Also, and this is of course opinion... I personally don´t want to level through an entire expansions zones and not get gear upgrades. It is debatable how far into a new expansion your old gear should get you... but if you start raiding WoD raids using MoP gear.. to me, that is bad. I don´t think heroic SoO gear needs to be replaced in the first zone or two, but it definitely needs to be replaced before lvl 100 dungeon blues.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ZeroWashu View Post
    Yet your completely wrong. The mistake was made with the revamp of health pools and healing with Cata. They moved health pools to ridiculous levels in a wrong headed attempt to mute the effects burst had in PVP which was turning it into a game of who goes first. Healing was then made incredibly expensive, spell efficiency going from 8 per 1 mana to 2 to 1 for some spells, to make sure that arena play and similar didn't just come down to a heal fest.

    Players do need to get more powerful between tiers but not to the stupid extent that Blizzard has been following. The highest blue level weapons are what? 463 in current expansion and yet top tier raid weapons are three times the effect? Really was that called for? Don't even get me started on that bullshit that is the Legendary cloak. OMGWTFBBQ

    Its because they have no restraint. Its like watching ten year old kids play D&D and constantly using the Treasure Guide as their personal vault, or Deities and Demigods for what they should have. To make matters worse, if they cannot get the stat bump past the laugh test they make set bonuses that might as well be "I win" buttons.

    No, this isn't natural progression, its the mistake rank amateurs make. They just aim to one up and then wonder where in the hell balance went.

    Yet they did show they had a solution, they can iLevel cap instances/bgs and the like. They need to do so going forward so that 5 man which was challenging on day one is still gear challenging on the last day of the expansion. So that a boss from Tier X is still a fight for those who wear Tier X+5. Stats should never allow you to ignore mechanics.
    There were a lot of reasons for the healthpool changes in Cata, you are just focusing on the one you want- pvp. One of the other major reasons is because they wanted to make dungeons and raids more interesting on healers. Before Cata, dps and healers had such low health, that everything was a one-shot mechanism if it didn´t hit the tank. The change to healthpools in Cata allowed them to make raid and dungeon encounters more interesting by preventing 1-shot deaths.
  1. BonesTheRabbit's Avatar
    Yeah. Nerf Fear. It's not like the moving aspect is a double-edged sword or it's the easiest CC in the game to cleanse or anything. I'll keep my judgement until I see the health and healing aspect, but if they nerf CC and burst into the ground like this, healers are going to be downright impossible to kill.
  1. Solidusbr's Avatar
    Cleaning GC wreckage, I see.
  1. themightysven's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Prokne View Post
    They should have never added a higher ilvl gear from heroic raids. The point of heroic raids is that they are more challenging than normal raids which doesnt mean you need better gear from them. In fact the better gear makes them easier which defeats the purpose. All they needed to do was put a heroic tag on the gear and/or different colors so that it had some heroic prestige. That along with the extra titles/achs/mounts should be enough for people who should be running heroic raids for the challenge, not for the gear.

    And then the other problem is bumping character power up like 40% each tier which is totally not necessary. Something like 5-10% should be enough to make new encounters challenging. And then heroic raids should only be possible with a large amount of current raid normal gear, not a separate gear progression of heroic gear.
    True, Heroics shouldn't give better gear, but they should give more drops as an incentive. (for example, a 25man boss normally gives 5 drops, on heroic gives 8)
    Also, having every boss have a heroic mode makes the heroic victories less valuable, (and also, due to them sharing Dungeon and Raid teams, makes Dungeons awful because they have to spend more time on heroic modes)
  1. Kededia's Avatar
    About time Blizz made those changes to DR. Its rly screwed to get chainstunned to death in arena and cant do shit about it. Not to mention the burst atm. My warrior dies in 2 secs with best pvp gear atm with all CDs popped in arena. Its no fun anymore.
  1. Alternategray's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Remsaa View Post
    Good stuff! Getting rid of the bloat (bloat doesn't mean complexity btw), and over-the-top CC and numbers that are so high they are hard to comprehend (I'm looking at you Chaos Bolts for 2 million).

    PvP will be awesome, racials will be better (I wouldn't be surprised if Humans get their pvp trink slot removed), and raiding will be much the same because the tuning and encounters will be based on all the changes as well.

    So many Chicken Little's running around here though, as is always the case in MMO-Champion's forums.
    Nah, it's because gameplay does not equal game balance. You're looking at balance. Which will probably be fine. Better than ever, in fact. Many of us are looking at gameplay. We started playing because we liked the gameplay. We don't like the new gameplay. Pretty fucking simple.

    The thing is, Blizzard also seems to have gotten the two confused. And forgotten some pretty basic shit when it comes to games. I rolled a warrior 8 years ago because it looked interesting. I kept and then leveled the warrior because I liked the way it played. 8 years later I'm looking at him thinking "what the fuck is this shit? This isn't the class I rolled." I've put up with all the changes so far, but they never stop fucking tinkering with the actual gameplay. I have zero reason to keep playing him. It is an entirely, completely different class than when I rolled it. Blizz doesn't seem to fucking get that. Neither do you.
  1. elitegamer's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Magmaros View Post
    Explain please. How does doing 15% of a mobs health before, and 15% of a mobs health after change anything.
    well, first off instead of calculating numbers within the 450,000 and 3,000,000 range as posted we will be seeing numbers such as 30,000 and 200,000. now thats a huge drop making it much easier to read and understand (dumbing down). also magmaros, i believe that infernix was probably reffering to the bit about removing cd's, removing stats, removing cc's such as disarm. you know, taking the "tuning" out of a character and giving us less abilities to work with. hope this helps you understand a little better
  1. pandaman's Avatar
    I remember when critting for over 1000 was a big deal.
  1. palladiamors's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Alternategray View Post
    Nah, it's because gameplay does not equal game balance. You're looking at balance. Which will probably be fine. Better than ever, in fact. Many of us are looking at gameplay. We started playing because we liked the gameplay. We don't like the new gameplay. Pretty fucking simple.

    The thing is, Blizzard also seems to have gotten the two confused. And forgotten some pretty basic shit when it comes to games. I rolled a warrior 8 years ago because it looked interesting. I kept and then leveled the warrior because I liked the way it played. 8 years later I'm looking at him thinking "what the fuck is this shit? This isn't the class I rolled." I've put up with all the changes so far, but they never stop fucking tinkering with the actual gameplay. I have zero reason to keep playing him. It is an entirely, completely different class than when I rolled it. Blizz doesn't seem to fucking get that. Neither do you.
    This. This this this this this. This isn't the game I started playing eight years ago. NONE of my characters feel the same, and they have been constantly changing since Wrath. It wasn't so bad at first, they were still recognizable at least. But now they have morphed into some strange creature that I do not enjoy. Not all change is good, and coming back for two, soon to be three expansions in a row just to see that your class has totally changed AGAIN is not my idea of fun, and it isn't good game design. There is something to be said for stability.

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