Mists of Pandaria: PvP Recap
According to the recent blue posts, Mists of Pandaria information is finally on the way. While we are waiting for new announcements we can review the new PvP changes that are coming in Mists of Pandaria using a dedicated thread in our Mists of Pandaria forum.
New Character Models
It's absolutely not a "too bad" situation, Sutei. I know the concept of us having near unlimited resources to throw at whatever we want to is intriguing, but it's just not the case. We don't have an army of artists on layaway that we can transfer onto a project.
Just the same, we don't necessarily want to exponentially expand the head count of the art team to ensure a specific project gets done. There's a synergy we strive for on each of our development teams. In fact, we go to pretty great lengths to vet applicants whenever hiring for a new position. We need to know our iterative design philosophy and our core values are shared. So, if we were to hire several new artists to get this project finished, you certainly wouldn't see the results of that "right this moment."
Right now it's just difficult to give any sort of estimate on when new models might be available. Whenever a new expansion is in development there are many, many requests for new art assets. We're elbow deep in designing new gear sets, fleshing out the environments, finishing up several new creature models, etc.
If all of this makes you feel that much further away from ever seeing new character models, I can say the project is still a regular topic of discussion for us. We want to figure out the best way to introduce such a feature without shocking a huge chunk of the playerbase that doesn't really think about how their character's features could be improved every time they log into the game. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
New Character Models
Nothing about the forums being down and characters being stuck with silhouettes earlier has anything to do with some sort of preparation for an announcement.
We haven't teased anything on Twitter. Bashiok and I confirmed on our accounts this week that we'd have an update on the status of Diablo III from Jay Wilson going up today (which happened this morning).
I did mention on my feed yesterday that I had just gotten out of a meeting with Greg Street and Cory Stockton (same as every Wednesday), and that they've made a ton of progress on Mists of Pandaria since we last spoke -- the ball is rolling. Cory also echoed my statement on his feed by saying it's rolling very fast now. But... we're not quite ready to reveal our work just yet. Right now we're locking down the plan of action for releasing new information.
Dragon Soul Trash If I had to choose which trash I'd get rid of or change, the drake event before Ultraxion would be my first choice.
That would probably be ours as well. We're considering it. I doubt we'd remove it entirely [...](Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
Ask The Devs They switched to the live Q&A, but then stopped doing those too for some reason.
This is sort of correct. We feel that the CoverItLive platform we used for two developer Q&As post-BlizzCon is a better format. The methods for choosing questions are never perfect -- especially when there are so many -- but CoverItLive allows us to answer more questions much more quickly than we did with "Ask the Devs," not to mention it takes up way less time for our developers.
We haven't stopped doing the CoverItLive developer Q&As. There are a couple of reasons we haven't done this in a while. For one, there are only so many questions we can field regarding future content (in this case Mists of Pandaria) before we have to step back and say, "wait until we have these things more fleshed out so we can put the upcoming features in a contextual preview." Also, we really want to make sure there isn't an expectation that these Q&As will be done at regular intervals. We'll host them when we feel they'll appropriately compliment new information that's gone out.
We are in the initial planning stages of the next Q&A for World of Warcraft, but its timing is still contingent upon a lot of other things. It just doesn't make sense to host another one right now when we haven't really released further previews of the next expansion since BlizzCon.
That said, our goal is to try and cover as much ground with CoverItLive as possible. We want to expose you to different development teams at appropriate times (whether it be class designers, UI designers, the art team, etc.) so you really get a feel for all of the work that goes into everything we do. At the same time we want to make sure we get these kicked off for our other franchises as well. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
Diablo 3 System Changes
Some major changes have been made in Diablo 3, including changes to the core character attributes. For the full changes post and the follow-up by Bashiok, see the news post by our friends at Diablofans.
Scrolls of Identification are gone - players can now identify rares/legendary items without them.
Button '5' is now dedicated to potions.
The Mystic artisan has now been removed from the game.
The Cauldron of Jordan and Nephalem Cube have been removed.
The Stone of Recall is now a button at the bottom and has been renamed "Town Portal".
The Blacksmith is now responsible for salvaging players'
Common (white colored) items are no longer salvageable.
Character Attributes have been changed. We're changing core character attributes to Strength, Dexterity, Intellect, and Vitality...
Character stats are now placed in the same place as the inventory panel and the old dedicated stats panel has been removed.
Originally Posted by Blizzard
(Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
During the scheduled server maintenance on the week of January 31, the Dragon Soul raid will become enveloped by the “Power of the Aspects” spell, reducing the health and damage dealt of all enemies in the raid by 5%. This spell will grow progressively stronger over time to reduce the difficulty and make the encounters more accessible. The spell will affect both normal and Heroic difficulties, but it will not affect the Looking for Raid difficulty.
The spell can also be disabled by talking to Lord Afrasastrasz at the beginning of Dragon Soul, if a raid wishes to attempt the encounters without the aid of the Dragon Aspects.
For those of you who raided in Firelands and/or Icecrown you’re no doubt aware that as time goes on we want to keep people progressing by adjusting the difficulty. For any number of reasons a group may be having difficulty on a specific encounter each week, and our intent in adjusting the content is to ensure the ability to keep progressing, enjoying the content, and gearing up. With Icecrown we progressively buffed the players, and while this slow progression (and ability to opt-out of the buff) were both beneficial, it led to an expectation of your characters power, and once you left the raid you could certainly feel less effective. For Firelands we attempted to fix that by nerfing the content instead of buffing players, but we nerfed the content difficulty all at one time, which was counterproductive for players who really didn’t need as severe a change as we made. With Dragon Soul we’re attempting to do the best of both by having a progressive nerf to the content, keeping player power constant while providing small increases in assistance over a long period of time, as well as allowing players to opt-out of the assistance by speaking to Lord Afrasastrasz.
We hope you continue to enjoy Dragon Soul, and that these changes encourage you to attempt a higher difficulty, or just keep pushing to down that next boss.
Dragon Soul Difficulty Changes Follow-up
Originally Posted by Blizzard
(Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
Believe it or not there are actually guilds and raiding groups that are attempting to progress through Normal and Heroic raids, but are hitting a wall, and have been hitting a wall. We have actually statistical date we base our changes on, we know exactly how many people are clearing these raids each week, we know exactly how many people are able to down just a few bosses, and how many were only able to down a few bosses every week for weeks on end and then stopped raiding altogether.
The issue we're constantly trying to combat is the one where people feel like they're just out of options. One way this is an issue is the content is too easy, they blasted through it, have everything they could possibly want, and have nothing else to do. Ideally that's a small subset of very hardcore players. For everyone else it's a feeling of just being stuck with no possible way to progress. Very few players are willing to suit up, buff up, do all the necessary requirements to raid, jump in, and then do no better than they did last week for hours and hours, only to return next week and do the same.
If a guild doesn't want the help, they're free to opt out of the buff. For those that do it's an approximate 5% change, which is pretty minor, and we expect it to be about a month before we raise it another 5%. This first change will absolutely help the guilds that are just barely scraping by, or just need a tiny bump to cross the next hurdle, but it's just not logical to exclaim that someone will roll into Raid Finder, grab a couple items, then be looting Heroic Deathwing's corpse the next night.
We feel the content has been out for quite a while now, that most people who have progressed and downed Deathwing on Heroic have done so, they've had sufficient time to celebrate in their accomplishments, and these very small progressive alterations will only help guilds that are already doing well in the raid get over some hurdles they may be facing.
If they don't have to be like us, why do they have to have nerfs to get to our position in HM Raiding?
Because they want to and they pay the same amount for the game? I don't know, man. How is it good for the game to have 1% of players parading around for months and months and a 99% sitting around with nothing to do because they're sick and tired of wiping?
Your solution is "Well then they should get better or quit." and that's just not reasonable for a video game comprised of millions of people looking to just have some fun. It's still a computer game.
If there's a easy, normal, and hard difficulty, why tweak normal until it becomes as easy as the easy mode?
Well the nerfs are going to be progressive enough, as I said, I don't see a 5% change being a big enough change for Raid Finder players to suddenly start clearing Normal. We also don't know where we'll end up. We plan to increase the spell by 5% about every month, but we're not sure if we'll need to. If we see a lot of people able to keep progressing and downing bosses, maybe 5% is all we need. It's going to be watching completion numbers and seeing where that gets us. We're not assuming we'll need to go as far as we did with ICC. It's not going to be automatic, our hand is on the dial.
The increase is not automatic or set in its frequency. We will be manually controlling when it increases, if at all. It will be completely based on how many people we see able to complete the raid, and our decision to increase it or not.
Curse Weekly Roundup
Pico is back to tell us about the things you might have missed recently in SWTOR, Minecraft, WoW, and more.
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!