Mists of Pandaria: Monk Class Recap
There haven't been a lot of blue posts or other news this week, but we will hear more about Mists of Pandaria in a few weeks. While we are waiting for new announcements we can review the new Monk class that is coming in Mists of Pandaria using a dedicated thread in our Mists of Pandaria forum.
Talent Tree Homogenization
There is homogenization that is good for the game, and homogenization that is bad for the game.
Consider Blood Lust/Heroism and Rebirth (battle rez). Those are very powerful abilities and probably mandatory for raiding. If shaman and druids were the only classes that brought them still, then every 10-player raid group would need a shaman and druid to be successful. In a game with 10-player raids and 11 classes, that means someone is excluded. Even worse, if yours is the guild with 2 really good rogues or hunters, you are going to have to make the choice to sit one of those players out in order to be optimal. Even if that hunter is a really nice guy or a good player, he can't come because you need Blood Lust. We don't think that's fun, and we know a lot of players agree. There are several abilities in this mandatory or near-mandatory category: interrupts, raid buffs, dispels and so on. We have no problems spreading those around, or homogenizing the abilities that mean groups can bring the player they want to.
The other category though is making each class feel a bit different when you play them. These are abilities or mechanics that tend to make your class or spec feel unique, but aren't mandatory. There are a lot of these in the game: Chakra, Cauterize, Bladestorm, Demonic Circle, etc. There are of course still going to be healing, survival, damage and movement abilities in the game that are equivalent in their effect as another classes' ability, but they all work a little differently, and hopefully make you feel different when you group with other characters or play different alts. It's important to us to protect those differences in the game. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
Character and Creature Model Quality
We've acknowledged that the old character models could do with a revamp, and we're planning to get this done. But the point several of you raised about system requirements holds true; we want WoW to be accessible to those with older machines as well as those of you with top-end gaming rigs. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
MMO-Report The MMO Report is back after the holidays, and we definitely did not forget about Casey, mostly. He is back this week to tell you about DC Universe Online, the Firefly MMO, and his ever popular Mail Bag!
Statistics: Rated Battleground Class Balance
Continuing our ongoing statistics posts, today we look at class balance in rated battlegrounds at different levels of gear. The item level is taken from the gear the character is wearing on armory, not their maximum item level. Keep in mind that there are some characters that may not do rated battlegrounds as well as some characters that do not log out in their higher item level PvP gear.
The graphs used here are not scaled starting at 0 to allow you to visualize the difference in win percentages more easily. Keep in mind the actual differences are much smaller than they appear.
Item Level 370+: 2.6 million sample size
Item Level 385+: 600k sample size
Item Level 395+: 25k sample size
Item Level 370+: 17% of the eligible characters participated in Rated Battlegrounds
Item Level 385+: 28% of the eligible characters participated in Rated Battlegrounds
Item Level 395+: 39% of the eligible characters participated in Rated Battlegrounds
Poll: Have you participated in Rated Battlegrounds?
Mists of Pandaria: Challenge Mode Dungeons
We will hear more about Mists of Pandaria in the upcoming weeks, but while we are waiting for new announcements we can review the new Challenge Mode dungeons that are coming in Mists of Pandaria.
Heroic mode dungeons will not be as difficult as they were in Cataclysm, instead they will be similar to the Wrath of the Lich King level difficulty.
Challenge Mode dungeons will require you to complete a dungeon in a certain amount of time to win a medal and other rewards, similar to the Zul'Aman timed run for the bear mount.
There are Bronze, Silver, Gold medals that will be earned based on the amount of time taken to complete the dungeon.
You gear levels are normalized by reducing your overall item level to a set level so that everyone is on equal gear footing.
There will be no way to get better gear and just overpower the challenge.
Completing the Challenge on gold will incur a stacking debuff on future attempts: it’ll start with a 5% debuff, but if you manage to finish with a gold medal time on that run you’ll receive a 10% debuff on your next run, and so on.
The challenges will reward unique gear for transmogrification and valor points.
Other possible rewards include pets, mounts, titles, and achievements depending on your score.
A new challenge dungeons UI will be added, allowing you to check your medals, ranking, show what rewards you can unlock, and more.
There will be realm wide leaderboards that allow you to compete with your friends, guild, or everyone!
Challenge Mode will work only on Pandaria dungeons at the beginning.
Challenge Mode dungeons will use the Dungeon Finder tool.
It is possible that the system could be expanded to raids in the future.
Class Transmogrification List
With the popularity of our previous weapon transmogrification list, we have expanded the list to more slots for each class. Because these lists are so long and take some time to prepare, the lists will be split into groups of a few classes at a time. Today we finish with Shaman and Hunters. If you would like to see other transmogrification data, let us know in the comments.
This time around items that share the same model and color are counted together in the rankings as often as possible, but not items that have different color variations of the same model.
All of the items in the list have screenshots on the database page if you are looking for some transmogrification ideas!
Patch 4.3.2 PTR - Build 15201 (Release)
A new patch is being deployed on test realms with a few minor changes and two new achievements. Both versions of the client are flagged as a Release Candidate now.
Other MMORPGs Unfortunately Blizzard decided that endgame was king when they made the leveling process take no time at all.
That wasn't arbitrary decision, nor did we arrive at it lightly. There are more than a few factors which played into it, but I'll cover one of the really big ones:
People often play MMOs to play alongside their friends and share adventures. That social experience is important, and it can feel a bit lonely when your friends and most of the rest of the playing population is cavorting around at the level cap while you're just starting out.
It's true that some players will create new characters to level up alongside their pals (or invite a new player using the Recruit A Friend service), but all too often a new player will end up on a realm and be expected to level up with relatively little assistance before they can join their friends on their 'end game' adventures. There are now also three expansions worth of new leveling content to experience in addition to the classic quest line which takes players from 1-60. We wanted to make it easier for players to come into the game and enjoy the leveling process, but also join their friends who are already playing on a more reasonable time frame. Another reason that questing seems faster is that we've learned a lot of lessons about quest and zone design flow since the old days - you might notice this when transitioning from Azeroth to Outland now, for example.
The leveling experience is important to us, which is part of the reason we revamped Azeroth for Cataclysm. It can be fun, rich and engaging without taking as much time as it used to. Still, at the end of the day, end game gets so much attention because that's where players spend the majority of their time. We do understand that not everyone enjoys the same types of game play, and we're always looking for ways to expand and improve the end-game experience to make it more engaging for different players.
There is almost no reason what so ever to venture out into the world.
That was an error we made with the design of Cataclysm, but getting players invested in the world again is something we're interested in addressing with Mists. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
Rated Battlegrounds VS. The Blues [1/17/12]
We're going to be pushing a new build today so we're going to be postponing this epic battle till next Tuesday. Should hopefully give more of you time to get the build and get set up.
A common type of feedback we get from players about Cataclysm is the observation that after they hit max level, they start to run out of things to do. Of course, this isn't a new problem or an uncommon one in MMOs, but it's definitely something that we think we can improve on. When the game was relatively new to most players, activities like leveling an alt or completing achievements could be all that were needed to entertain and satisfy. But there is a finite amount of entertainment to be gotten from leveling alts. So some players get a lot of joy from running dungeons, or raiding, or participating in organized PvP. Those activities aren't for everyone, but we will continue to add new dungeon/raid/PvP content to the game. We love playing that content ourselves.
Nonetheless, we have big plans to keep introducing completely new things for players to do. Pet battles, Scenarios, and dungeon Challenge Modes are all coming to World of Warcraft. And we want to rekindle the fires of existing features that haven't gotten much love for a while, such as reputation systems, daily quests, world bosses, and yes -- world PvP.
For those who see Pet Battles as a feature that holds little interest, no worries! Like many systems in the game, it's being designed to be optional. Our ultimate goal still remains: When you finish what you do every day or every week, be it raiding or battlegrounds or crafting and playing the auction house, if you want more WoW, there will be a lot of activities for you. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
There are advantages and disadvantages to linear questlines.
The advantages tend to flow from the effort to build epic stories for players to be a part of. When you put the player into a linear questline, you can more easily incorporate dramatic elements like foreshadowing, plot twists, and a satisfying climax that you know the player is going to be there for.
The disadvantages have been well-covered: If you're isolated into a personal story too much, you lose the sense of being in an open world that is filled with alternative potential adventures. It's more difficult to hop around and partake of the glories of several different zones at the same time, and harder to join up with friends whenever you like. Group quests become less-desirable.
As Dave Kosak and others have said before, we think we may have gone a bit too linear with Cataclysm. That informs one of our big philosophies for Mists of Pandaria: Give players more flexibility to play how they want to. We think that the solution may be to have linear story arcs, but have more of them in each zone, rather than making the whole zone one big story with a beginning, middle, and end. In addition to multiple linear quest lines, there will be smaller (and in some cases, one-off) quest hubs, and some of those hubs may be well off the beaten path.
To make that work, we've got to tweak the orientation of quest achievements. Rather than "vacuum up every single quest in the zone", we're aiming for achievements that reward completing the main story arcs. All in all, players should feel less like their time spent playing in a zone is exactly the same as every other player. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
The system is not perfect, and we definitely seek to improve it when we can. We are always looking for feedback and ways to improve our features, and feedback from players always helps.
In patch 4.3.2., if multiple identical items drop from the same boss, and a player rolls on all those items, the subsequent rolls from that player will be forfeit if said player wins one of the items. A player will still be able to win the same loot more than once per dungeon though, but only if it drops from two different bosses. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
The Daily Blink - Creative Usage of Game Mechanics The Daily Blink gives us the real story behind the Fangs of the Father daggers from yesterday.
Adrenaline Rush no longer triggers a global cooldown.
Dungeons & Raids Baradin Hold
The roaming Eyes of Occu'thar have been replaced by hateful creatures who serve Alizabal.
The visual warning for Twilight Elites' Blade Rush should be easier to see.
Vial of Shadows damage (Lightning Strike) has been reduced to approximately one-third of previous damage. However, it will now trigger approximately 3 times as often. This is intended to keep overall DPS the same while reducing burst damage, especially in PvP.
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Other MMORPG Games “The real game doesn’t start until you’re max level”.
Before I begin, I should clarify that the following post is composed entirely of my own, personal opinions. I think that games in the MMO genre tend to transform at the level cap, mostly because leveling has ended, which heralds a slight change in basic gameplay.
In World of Warcraft, many of the same experiences that are available when leveling up remain available at the level cap (questing, exploring new areas), and you also gain access to new experiences and challenges. The motivations and goals tend to be a bit different and less single minded. Rather than pursuing a new level, and the new abilities and talents that can come with it, instead you might be seeking a powerful item, trying to defeat a more powerful enemy in PvE, or achieving a milestone in the PvP game, among many other goals including completing achievements, finishing collections, capping professions, etc. Gameplay broadens, from the relatively simple road of questing and leveling, into a broad plain of possibilities.
The leveling experience awaits once again with a new character though, and playing a game with a new character class can offer an entirely new gameplay experience, especially if you select a different class role than the one you're already used to. Of course, expansions also offer the opportunity to experience leveling again for end-game characters. Some would say that there's an unfortunate tendency for players to plow through expansions as quickly as possible to pursue end-game again, because they have a pre-conception that "it's the only thing that matters".
Honestly, that is what tabletop gaming is for. Players and their game masters (GMs) spend hours creating characters that are unique to the player. And then the GM creates a story that the players follow. But while a (good) GM might have an overall plan for his/her players the path they take is determined by the players not the GM.
I absolutely adore table top gaming, and it's a popular pass time here at Blizzard.
I believe that a good game master, with the help of a group of players who are willing to invest themselves in the story and their characters, together can create an experience that is truly thrilling, engaging, cathartic and satisfying. Even a not so serious game can be outright hilarious, and I don't think I've ever spent as much time laughing as I have around the gaming table. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
Mists of Pandaria: More of a Patch than an Expansion? Challenge Modes - A progression of achievements, hardly revolutionary.
It’s quite an awesome feature as I see it; after not too long a dungeon becomes too easy or simple because of out-gearing it or a number of other reasons. These challenge modes will allow you to compete on par with other players who have better gear as everyone will have a fixed Ilvl when inside challenge dungeons.
This means you are all competing for the prestige of being the fastest to complete these dungeons compared to others.
Pet Battles - No comment
This particular mini-game may not be for everyone, and it’s not designed to be. We want to be sure that there is something in the game that each player can enjoy doing, be it PvP, PvE or even pet battles; pet battles are being implemented to create a fun, new type of activity that all players have access to and offering an alternative to increasing the power and strength of your character specifically.
New Zones - I always love a new zone, but think it's all a bit stale now. Same models, same textures, same trees, it's just not exciting anymore
Just as it was in BC, WotLK and Cataclysm, the setting is changing. I don’t think that the look and feel of any expansion to date has been like the previous, they have all had a very unique feel, this is true for Mists of Pandaria as well.
Mists of Pandaria will be on a continent which is largely based around Asian culture, this differs greatly from any previous expansions. BC was a very demonic setting, WotLK was in a cold and frigid Northland, and Cataclysm was set where the world was beginning to literally falling apart as can be seen in the landscapes. So we assure you that it will be different
I think the only thing that will make me buy the expac would be no flying in the new zone. It's the only way to bring back PVP, I purposely rolled on a PVP realm for 1 reason, I want to skirmish WHEREVER and WHENEVER I want, not when I queue for a BG, that's what PVE realms are for.
Well, we are taking several initiatives to try and bolster world PvP and bring it back to everyone! For one, we are not allowing flying in Pandaria until level 90. This means that there will be no people suddenly taking off into the skies when you approach them, unless they have reached the max level. We are re-introducing optional world bosses which players will fight each other for. There are also many more initiatives that are being taken so we hope that world PvP will once again be bustling with activity. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
Rated Battlegrounds VS. The Blues [1/13/12]
Greetings Combatants of the Glorious Alliance and the Merciless Horde!
It is my great honor to invite you all to test your skills, steel, and sorcery against Blizzard employees such as myself (watch the face though, I got an image to maintain).
So if a bit of You vs. Blue action sounds like your idea of a good time come on down to the 4.3.2 PTRs this Friday, January 13th. We'll be queuing for Rated Battlegrounds from 3pm-6pm PST, you'll know it's us from our [Blizzard Horde] & [Blizzard Alliance] guild names.