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Artifact Power and Patch 7.2
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
Artifact Power has been a hot topic lately, both around the community and within the development team. With Patch 7.2 on the horizon, introducing both new artifact traits and additional Knowledge levels, we have been reflecting on the way the system has unfolded during the first months of Legion, and evaluating changes based on the lessons we have learned thus far.

First off, a look back at where we started.

From the outset, Artifact Power was intended to serve two intertwined purposes: First, it offered max-level progression that was not entirely item-driven, along with choices and elements of character customization as players traversed their trait trees; second, it was meant to serve as a universally desired, consistent reward from all types of content.

In crafting the systems that delivered Artifact Power, we weighed the merits of hard caps versus a smoother system of diminishing returns. We had extensive experience with hard caps, through multiple past iterations of currencies like Valor Points and Conquest Points, and wanted to avoid several of the downsides of that approach. For example, a cap inherently feels like more of an expected quota, where missing a week or falling short of the cap puts you clearly, and potentially permanently, behind the curve.

Instead, as everyone knows, we settled on an open-ended system of diminishing returns. Without any hard caps on how quickly players could earn AP, it was essential to have some sort of limiting mechanism on the gap in power between players of different playstyles, and different levels of time investment. We accepted the admittedly complex design of Artifact Knowledge because it solved this problem, effectively reining in the size of this power gap. Players trying to progress past the expected artifact level for their Knowledge would run into those rapidly diminishing returns, while those who played less than that would have Knowledge as an accelerator to help them catch up to the cutting edge. When Emerald Nightmare was new content, while the average raider was at 20 or 21 points, the most dedicated might have been at 24 or 25 – a relatively modest gap.

Now, where things went wrong…

We feel that we made two major missteps with the Artifact Power system that increasingly manifested themselves as we got deeper into Patch 7.1 and 7.1.5. And both of them served to undermine that core goal of ensuring that the gap between players with different levels of time invested into the system could not grow too large.

First, the cost of ranks in the 20-point final trait remained relatively flat, as opposed to the rapid exponential scaling up to that point. This meant that someone who spent twice as much time gathering AP as I did would have roughly twice as many ranks as me. Instead of the 24 vs. 21 gaps we saw in Nightmare, a number of hardcore raiders entered Nighthold with 54 points, while others were just beginning that final progression and found themselves with nearly 10% less health and damage, equivalent to being almost a full tier of gear behind. Players who switched specs or characters along the way found themselves in a similar position. The power gap was larger than ever before, which created a sense of obligation and a number of negative social pressures that the system had previously tried to minimize. In short: We’re not at all happy with how this worked out.

A common suggestion is to simply reduce the amount of Artifact Power required to fully unlock the artifact in 7.2. This would not solve the underlying problem, but would rather reduce its duration while heightening its intensity, as competitive players sprinted to finish their Artifacts in order to be “ready.” But then we would inevitably tune around that completed power level, and other players would simply be playing catch-up the entire time. And in the long run, Artifact Power would not be serving its intended purpose of ongoing parallel progression. A capped-artifact player who goes a week without getting any item upgrades ends the week literally no stronger than before. Part of the value of the artifact, both for personal progression and guild progression, lies in ensuring that everyone is at least a bit stronger next week than they are right now, and a bit closer to overcoming whatever obstacle stands in their path. Our goal is for Artifact Power to always be of some interest as a reward, whether from a World Quest, or as a consolation prize when failing a bonus roll.

Instead, we are focusing on fixing the mistake of flat cost scaling at the end of the progression, and instead keeping the increases exponential throughout, while also strengthening Artifact Knowledge as a core pacing and catch-up mechanism. These changes should be visible in an upcoming PTR build.

This is done with the primary goal of reducing the power gap based on time investment, while preserving Artifact Power as an endgame reward that everyone values. If the leaders in Artifact Power were only a few points ahead of a more typical player, rather than crossing the finish line when most were just leaving the starting blocks, players with less time to commit would not be as disadvantaged in competitive activities. If a Warlock were choosing between having 48 points in a single spec or 44 points in all three specs if they’d split their efforts evenly, the barrier to playing multiple specs would be significantly reduced. We are still tuning the curve for 7.2 trait costs, but we’re currently targeting scaling such that someone who earns twice as much AP as me will have an artifact that’s only ~1.5% stronger; someone who earns four times as much AP as me should only be 3% stronger. On the whole, this should be a massive reduction in the power gaps we see in the live game today.

The second problem with our initial implementation was that repeatable sources of Artifact Power (Mythic Keystone dungeons in particular) dominated time-limited sources such as Emissary caches and raid bosses. The fact that a large portion of the community evaluates their Artifact Power needs using “Maw runs” as the unit of measurement is ample evidence of this failure. We very recently deployed a hotfix to increase AP earned from Nighthold in order to make raiding, with a weekly-lockout, better compare in efficiency to repeated Mythic Keystone runs. And in 7.2, we’re more thoroughly addressing this issue by adding a significant amount of AP to the weekly Mythic Keystone cache, while somewhat reducing (and normalizing based on instance length) the AP awarded by repeated runs. These changes are being made to narrow the gap in AP earning, and thus power, based on time investment.

All of the above changes are aimed at allowing players the freedom and flexibility to decide how they want to spend their time, and which goals they wish to pursue, while limiting the difference in power between players who arrive at different answers to those questions.
This article was originally published in forum thread: Artifact Power and Patch 7.2 started by chaud View original post
Comments 125 Comments
  1. Mhyroth's Avatar
    A good read. Not that I like their stance but I see where they're coming from.
  1. Aenwyrm's Avatar
    I can hear the complaints now from the players that have their artifacts maxed out. I read this and see what they're doing. They want everyone to be on the same line instead of where it currently is, where it looks more like a bell curve.
  1. Onikaroshi's Avatar
    They're effectively shooting for a soft cap, eventually the return on time investment becomes too small so you stop putting into that weapon because you're not getting much back, you wait a few days, get a new AK and you can get more AP for that weapon, etc etc. Hard cap would blow, this is much more elegant, kind of like when we were collecting AP before the 35th trait, eventually it made more sense to wait for the next AK then to keep plowing minimal AP into the weapon.
  1. Richardbro's Avatar
    They should just make it so artifact levels unlock time based. For example, Artifact level 58 opens for everyone this week, 59 next week. BUT, you can still freely farm artifact power endlessly and get to level 60+, but the power and traits won't unlock until the week for level 60+ comes, so everyone is on a fair playing field and people dont have to burn out - which also still allows massive grinding.
  1. Ithildine's Avatar
    This does not address the issue you still cannot rerrol without harming your main character.
    AP has to be account wide in a way or another, rerroling should no more be punished to have more tanks and healers in the queue.
  1. MakeMeLaugh's Avatar
    Yea sure, but I still don't look forward to "farming" AP again. I was so glad when I finally got 54 on my main weapon and now just the thought of going back to doing AP WQs and stuff again, ugh man...
  1. fangless's Avatar
    Honestly, if they would of noticed that M+ dungeons gave crazy amounts of AP compared to WQ/Raids/misc content, we wouldn't have people hitting these Trait caps so fast, and likely not have that much of an issue at hand.

    Repeatable M+ dungeons for AP is one of the bigger issues here.
  1. enzi's Avatar
    AK lvl 25 cap is the biggest problem imo and they will fix it in the next patch.

    I'm not sure what else they have planned, maybe mythic+ AP nerf? Either way, the problem as they have described it, especially with HP is a huge problem and it's good to know that they are working on it.
  1. Onikaroshi's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by enzi View Post
    AK lvl 25 cap is the biggest problem imo and they will fix it in the next patch.

    I'm not sure what else they have planned, maybe mythic+ AP nerf? Either way, the problem as they have described it, especially with HP is a huge problem and it's good to know that they are working on it.
    He mentions a nerf on repeated runs, I'm hoping that's related to repeating a dungeon at the same or lower + then you have already completed.
  1. erinthea's Avatar
    I ran very few Mythic+ quests getting my ap to 54 i did mostly world quests daily quests both pve and pvp emissary and lfr and normal raiding I only started doing mythic and mythic + dungeons maybe the last 8 ap levels and even then it wasn't multiple m+ grinds. I think they are fixing a problem that does not exist.

    Also if someone is willing to put in the time and effort into getting their weapon ap lvl higher they should be rewarded for it.
  1. Kanj's Avatar
    Diminishing returns will be a lot worse than a hard cap. Guild leaders will still be able to set the requirement for some trait, it'll just be a much tougher grind, increasing the risk of players comitting Sudoku and go outside their room.

    The hard cap solution is much more comfortable.
  1. Granyala's Avatar
    It's kinda hilarious, that Blizzard gets their panties into a twist about a 10% power difference.
    Meanwhile, a raider has an effective output that is DOUBLE or more compared to a non raider.

    WoWs gear reward system is just broken.
  1. Xenyatta's Avatar
    Well someone was saying that on the PTR's right now people are seeing something like 500,000k AP as a reward for things that we would be seeing 100k for now and that the "cap" to max out the weapon went from 60 million to like 4 or 5 billion AP.
  1. pizakaka's Avatar
    I don't understand how they can feel raiding awards equal reward per time invested as mythic dungeons.

    Say you clear heroic NH in 3 hours every week that is 10*125k AP =1.25M
    Say you spend those 3 hours farming MoS 7-9 at 18 mins per run (including finding keys) that means 10*250k AP = 2.5M AP

    You get double the amount of AP from mythic+ than you get from raidin. On top of that mythic+ is endlesly repeatable.
    What a shit system.
  1. Onikaroshi's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by erinthea View Post
    I ran very few Mythic+ quests getting my ap to 54 i did mostly world quests daily quests both pve and pvp emissary and lfr and normal raiding I only started doing mythic and mythic + dungeons maybe the last 8 ap levels and even then it wasn't multiple m+ grinds. I think they are fixing a problem that does not exist.

    Also if someone is willing to put in the time and effort into getting their weapon ap lvl higher they should be rewarded for it.
    The problem comes down to though, if they allow people to get too far ahead cause they can play all the time, they have to tune around those people, and then EVERYONE else needs to reach that cap. Its partly what caused EN to be a pushover (not figuring people would have so many traits), Helya to be overtuned (tuned around a good portion of the raid having 54 traits) etc. (Though you can totally have 54 traits by the time you reach 54 trait bosses in NH in a "normal" mythic guild, the WF guilds are an outlier)
  1. Rorcanna's Avatar
    Hopefully they'll also come to the conclusion eventually that the RNG slapped on top of RNG with warforging and titanforging is ridiculous...
  1. Onikaroshi's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by pizakaka View Post
    I don't understand how they can feel raiding awards equal reward per time invested as mythic dungeons.

    Say you clear heroic NH in 3 hours every week that is 10*125k AP =1.25M
    Say you spend those 3 hours farming MoS 7-9 at 18 mins per run (including finding keys) that means 10*250k AP = 2.5M AP

    You get double the amount of AP from mythic+ than you get from raidin. On top of that mythic+ is endlesly repeatable.
    What a shit system.
    Supposedly they're looking at nerfing the AP from repeating the same M+ over and over.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Rorcanna View Post
    Hopefully they'll also come to the conclusion eventually that the RNG slapped on top of RNG with warforging and titanforging is ridiculous...
    God no, i hope that stays, that has made me be able to run every raid every week, 900 gear from EN, yes please
  1. Kallisto's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Kanj View Post
    Diminishing returns will be a lot worse than a hard cap. Guild leaders will still be able to set the requirement for some trait, it'll just be a much tougher grind, increasing the risk of players comitting Sudoku and go outside their room.

    The hard cap solution is much more comfortable.
    Problem is a hard cap will be most people getting everything done on reset day, then those who are busy for whatever reason that week and can only come on for the weekend/Monday (or Tuesday in Europe) will be out of luck. Weekly capped currency has shown this time and again where people just can not be fucked to help out others if there is nothing in return for them.

    So essentially someone comes in and goes "Hey guys, I got a mythic + stone for x." will be basically met by crickets if it isn't first couple days after reset. That's a worse game design than we have now.
  1. Onikaroshi's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Kallisto View Post
    Problem is a hard cap will be most people getting everything done on reset day, then those who are busy for whatever reason that week and can only come on for the weekend/Monday (or Tuesday in Europe) will be out of luck. Weekly capped currency has shown this time and again where people just can not be fucked to help out others if there is nothing in return for them.

    So essentially someone comes in and goes "Hey guys, I got a mythic + stone for x." will be basically met by crickets if it isn't first couple days after reset. That's a worse game design than we have now.
    Not to mention you cap day one and don't even log in besides raid like.... oh yea... like wod...

    I pay monthly for this game, I like things to do on a daily basis.
  1. Xenyatta's Avatar
    But I also agree that AP needs to be account based not character. I get they want to make characters unique and choices to be made but I, Christina, farmed all the AP I have for currently 3 toons. I'm a more competitive player (not quite cut throat hard core) and I am playing on a team that is 3/10 heroic because the main monk toon I had got 2 legendaries of opposing specs and that was it. Meanwhile in less time than the first, my 2nd monk got a BIS legendary and 2 others that were useful to wear. I had to reroll her as my main but now I'm terribly far behind and no one more competitive needs me right now. One step in the right direction is fixing the AP issue. Having to start all over again really hurt. But the legendary issue was also a problem because what IF you got the wrong specced legendary like I did and countless others did? You got screwed. I have some friends who play every single day doing everything they can and only have 2 legendaries on their mains. They're not bitter or anything. Meanwhile there are people who level to 110 and within 3 weeks had 4 legendaries. It was insane.

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