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by Published on 2011-08-16 06:19 PM

Dev Watercooler -- Threat Level Midnight
Blizzard is going to make a couple of changes to threat, among other things:

  • Hotfix: The threat generated by classes in their tanking mode has been increased from three times damage done to five times damage done.
  • In an upcoming patch: Vengeance no longer ramps up slowly at the beginning of a fight. Instead, the first melee attack taken generates Vengeance equal to one third of the damage dealt by that attack. As Vengeance updates during the fight, it is always set to at least a third of the damage taken in the last two seconds. It still climbs from that point at the previous rate, still decays at the previous rate, and still cannot exceed the current maximum.

Read the entire blog post for more details and upcoming changes.
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
Threat revisited

One of the fun things about working on an MMO is that the game design will evolve over time, and you have the opportunity to make changes to reflect those design shifts. (And yes, we know that it can sometimes evolve too quickly).

Back in December, I wrote a blog post about our vision for how threat should work. Since then, the game and the community have continued to progress and the designers have found ourselves changing our minds about the role of threat. Enough that we’re planning to apply a hotfix this week to change how threat works.

Why have threat?

Threat’s role, just so we’re all on the same page, is to make fights more interesting. Tanks spend a lot of effort staying alive, but they aren’t under immediate threat of death one-hundred percent of the time. Plus, their staying alive is also dependent on their healers and other external cooldowns. We have always been concerned that if threat was not a big part of tanking gameplay that tanks might get bored just waiting around until it was time to use a cooldown. Likewise, if DPS and healers had no risk of being attacked themselves then the sense of danger facing a powerful creature could erode. Furthermore, every character’s toolbox includes some cool survival and utility abilities and the game feels more shallow if those are exclusively used for PvP. It’s fun for a mage to Frost Nova an attacker and Blink away. It’s fun for a hunter to Feign Death. Yes your life would be a lot easier without threat mechanics, but our goal isn’t to make fights as easy as possible. Our job is to make fights fun. Having too much to manage might not be fun, but it’s also not fun to be bored.

That’s been our traditional argument for threat needing to matter. Here is the case against it:

Why not have threat?

Throttling


  • As I said in the previous blog post, it’s not fun to feel throttled. It’s not fun for the Feral druid to stop using special attacks in order to avoid pulling aggro. It’s fun to use Feint at the right time to avoid dying, but it’s not fun for Feint to be part of your rotational cooldown. We want you to spend most of your effort trying to overcome the dragon or elemental, not struggling against your own tank.

Tanks are busy


  • I’d also argue that our encounters aren’t really boring these days. We ask tanks to do a lot -- everything from picking up adds, to moving bosses around, to staying out of fires, to providing interrupts, in addition to the classic tank roles of staying alive and generating threat.

Threat stats aren’t fun


  • We put threat stats (hit and expertise for the most part) on tanking gear, because without those, tanks would be limited to choosing from among mastery, dodge, and parry. (In the current state of itemization, you are rarely choosing more Strength, Agility, Stamina, or armor.) Druids can’t parry, and even for the plate users, there is a tight relationship between dodge and parry, and even mastery for the warrior and paladin. That gets us dangerously close to the old model of stacking a single uber stat (like Stamina or defense), which makes gearing choices too simplistic for tanks. Did something drop? Okay, put it on. (Contrast this to a DPS caster who might want more or less hit or might favor haste over crit, etc.)

    We want threat stats to be interesting, but the reality is that they aren’t. Any decent tank will usually choose survivability stats over threat stats. Back in the day when taunts and interrupts could miss, you could argue hit was marginally useful. But in a world where hit is really just for generating threat, it isn’t very exciting and tanks get understandably emo when we put too much on their gear. (DKs are somewhat of an exception in a good way -- more on that in a sec.) We do see some players try and get excited about threat stats or even proud of their ability to generate threat, but overall we feel like threat stats are a trap, and it’s usually the case that improving your survivability will have a better net impact on your group’s progression.

We don’t need a more complex UI


  • We have threatened for years (see what I did there?) to build in some kind of threat tracking tool into WoW. But is that really good for the game? Do we really need yet another UI element for players to look at instead of looking at the actual game world? We know many raiders in particular use third-party threat mods today, but that has really been borne out of necessity rather than a sense that watching threat is super compelling gameplay. (When we say “super compelling gameplay” you can mentally replace that with “fun.”)

Dungeon Finder


  • I know this bullet will be a point made by players critical of this change, but I would feel remiss in not bringing it up. We want it to be a positive experience when Dungeon Finder matches experienced players with newer players. The skill and gear of the former can help make up for that of the latter. Who better to teach you boss mechanics than players who have done the fights before? Even better, the gear of a veteran tank can make up for the less powerful gear of a beginning healer (which doesn’t necessarily mean a noob -- it could be the alt of a very experienced raider).

    However, this system fails and often spectacularly so when it’s the tank who is the undergeared player. Even if a competent healer can keep the undergeared tank alive, the fully raid-geared DPS spec is going to constantly be on the verge of pulling threat. That’s not an issue of skill. It’s just numbers. It’s also not a problem that is easy to overcome for either the overgeared DPS or the undergeared tank -- it’s just not a lot of fun for anyone.


So now what?

Given all of that, and watching how tanking has unfolded in Cataclysm, we’ve gotten over the concept that threat needs to be a major part of PvE gameplay. We have therefore decided to buff tank threat generation in a hotfix this week to where it’s generally not a major consideration. We expect the community to gradually stop using threat-tracking mods as players realize they don’t need them.

It’s an important distinction that the concept of “aggro” will still exist. If a DPS spec attacks an add the second it shows up, then the creature is going to come at her. However, if a tank gets an attack or two on a target, then the target should stick to the tank. Worrying about who has the creature’s attention should generally only be a concern at the start of a fight or when additional creatures join the battle. Worrying about a warrior or DK (the classes with nearly non-existent threat dumps) creeping up on tank threat after several minutes will almost certainly not be an issue any longer. (And if it is, we’ll have to make further adjustments.)

We like abilities like Misdirect. It’s fun as a hunter to help the tank control targets. We are less enamored of Cower, which is just an ability used often to suppress threat. We like that the mage might have to use Ice Block, Frost Nova, or even Mirror Image to avoid danger. We don’t like the mage having to worry about constantly creeping up on the tank’s threat levels. The notion of aggro (who the target is attacking) is a keeper. The notion of threat races (who is about to pull aggro) is going to be downplayed from here on out.

Upcoming changes

Here are the specific changes you’re likely to see:


  • Hotfix: The threat generated by classes in their tanking mode has been increased from three times damage done to five times damage done.
  • In an upcoming patch: Vengeance no longer ramps up slowly at the beginning of a fight. Instead, the first melee attack taken generates Vengeance equal to one third of the damage dealt by that attack. As Vengeance updates during the fight, it is always set to at least a third of the damage taken in the last two seconds. It still climbs from that point at the previous rate, still decays at the previous rate, and still cannot exceed the current maximum.

Long-term changes

You could argue that once threat is very easy to manage that a warrior tank could just go AFK. In reality, given today’s boss encounters, an AFK warrior would end up standing in the wrong place, missing a tank transition, or otherwise do something or fail to do something that wipes the party or raid.

That said, we ultimately don’t want tanking to be just standing there soaking boss hits and we would like to have more stats on gear that tanks care about. To solve those challenges, we want to shift more tank mitigation to require active management. We’ll still give all the tanks emergency cooldowns like Shield Wall and Survival Instincts. However, we want to move the shorter cooldowns like Shield Block, Holy Shield and Savage Defense so that they work more like Death Strike. Blood DKs have a lot of control over the survivability they get from Death Strike, but as part of that gameplay, they have to actually hit their target. The other three tanks will get similar active defense mechanics. This doesn’t mean everyone needs to use the DK model of self-healing, but they can use the DK model of managing resources to maximize survivability.

Death Strike consumes resources to help the tank survive. We toyed at one point with the paladin Holy Shield being a Holy Power consumer and we think we could do so again. Heck we could make Word of Glory the thing you’re supposed to do with Holy Power, so long as we balanced all tanks around that idea and didn’t feel it infringed too much on the DK mechanic. We could make Shield Block cost rage, and change Protection warrior rage income such that they had to manage rage, the way Fury and Arms warriors now must do. If tanks generated more rage from doing damage and less from taking damage, then hitting a target becomes very important, but for mitigation, not threat management reasons. This is a bigger change than it seems though. We don’t want a model where the Prot warrior ignores Shield Slam, Devastate and Revenge (since threat isn’t a big deal) in order to bank all rage for Shield Block (because survival is). Imagine a rage model where you always had enough rage for your core rotational abilities (they could be cheap or even generate rage), so that you could funnel most of your rage into Shield Block when survival mattered and Heroic Strike when it did not. Redesigning Savage Defense to make it a rage sink is an even bigger change, but we think there is an opportunity there to make the rotation more interesting for druids (and all tanks really). Their rotation would help them achieve the goal that usually matters the most to tanks: living.

This is the kind of design for which we’re really going to need a lot of feedback once it hits. We can implement and verify empirically how much threat a tank generates, but it’s hard for us to replicate the experience of all of the various raiding groups and dungeon parties out there. We invite you to try out the immediate and eventually the long-term changes when they are available and let us know how they feel. Do you miss the threat game? Are you bored when tanking now? Conversely, with the changes, is tanking more fun for you? Does this new implementation of Vengeance feel better? Some systems design calls we can make just by processing numbers, and some are more squishy and involve a lot gut checks and wishy-washy “but how does it FEEL?” language. Messing with this kind of thing is definitely somewhere in the middle.


Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street is the lead systems designer for World of Warcraft, and lead eater at the dinner table.
by Published on 2011-08-16 02:22 PM

New Real ID Party Feature Now Live, Remains Free
The Real ID Party feature is now officially live and remains free, hurray!
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
We’re happy to announce that the testing period for World of Warcraft's new Real ID Party system is now complete, and the feature is now officially live! We received a lot of great feedback from the community throughout the course of our testing, and we appreciate everyone taking the time to share their thoughts and experiences with us.

For those who haven't yet had a chance to try it out, the Real ID Party system allows players to invite Real ID friends of the same faction to a 5-player normal or Heroic dungeon, regardless of what realm their friends are on. This new feature makes it easier than ever for real-life friends to play together, and it's available to all World of Warcraft players at no additional charge -- all you need to do is have Real ID enabled.

To learn more about Real ID, visit the Real ID web page and read the FAQ.

For more information about how the Real ID Party system works, check out the FAQ below, updated with a couple new questions that came up during the testing period.

Q: How do I invite Real ID friends to a Real ID Party?
A: Inviting a Real ID friend to a Real ID Party is simple. Just open up your friends list to see which Real ID friends are online. Click on the “Plus” button to send an invitation to a Real ID friend to join your group. You can continue to add Real ID friends to your party until the group is complete. If you cannot complete the group with Real ID friends, you are free to join the Dungeon Finder to fill in the missing roles.

Q: Does a player need to have Real ID enabled to accept a Real ID group invite?
A: Yes, a player must have Real ID enabled, and both players must be Real ID friends to accept or initiate Real ID party invitations.

Q: Can a party leader invite a mix of Real ID friends, character-level friends, guildmates, or random players to the same party?
A: A party leader can invite any combination of Real ID friends from any realm, guildmates from the same realm, or other characters from the same realm to the same party. If the party leader isn’t able to fill up the entire party, the Dungeon Finder can fill in the missing roles.

Q: Can I invite someone who is not a Real ID friend?
A: You can only invite members to a party if they are on your Real ID friends list or if they are on the same realm as you are.

Q: Can I invite a friend of a Real ID friend?
A: No, you can only invite your own Real ID friends the party.

Q. Are you considering expanding the system to work with raids, Battlegrounds, Arenas, or to allow cross-faction play?
A: We're always looking into ways to improve features like this to make it more convenient for real-life friends to play together. However, we don't have any further announcements to share at this time.

Q: Will any future aspects of the Real ID Party system be premium-based?
A: It's always possible that we'll add features and functionality that could have a premium component, but we don't have any specific details to share at this time.
by Published on 2011-08-16 08:43 AM

Blue posters are still awfully calm and depending on what happens this week, you might see a few other-games related news on the front page during Gamescom this week.

I also had people contact me to ask why I "ignored" the US Battle.net Invitational WoW tournament, the answer is simple, Blizzard didn't release any information for it yet, only the Starcraft 2 tournament was streamed and there is no match results or VoDs on the official site for the WoW tournament. Hopefully it will be updated soon.

Blue Posts
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Legendary Questline Difficulty
To be fair, we've heard complaints that this is too hard for X, where X = just about every class/spec. It's supposed to be extremely challenging, harkening back to the feel of the Molten Core item quests, which were also not easy. On the other hand, you have unlimited attempts and time to try to figure it out.

Warlocks have a good dispel in Devour Magic (Felhunter), though it's understandable that sometimes more PvE-oriented locks don't have as much experience using their pet in this manner.

It may be really hard, but the feedback we've heard from those who have completed it (including warlocks), is that it ultimately brings a major sense of accomplishment. If you want a legendary item, this questline isn't for the faint of heart. But we do wish you luck. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

2011 Blizzard Global Writing Contest!
Blizzard Entertainment is proud to present the 2011 Blizzard® Global Writing Contest!

You sit at your typewriter, hands frozen in fear by the sound of crumpling paper from the darkness behind you. Shadows of broken quills encroach on your sight's periphery but slither out of view when you turn toward them. Summoning your courage, you lash out at the apparitions before they fade, only to awaken in a cold sweat with pencils and pens gripped tight in your clenched fists. You know what this dream foretells: the 2011 Global Writing Contest is upon us!

The Prophecy of the Unblinking Eye portends of a time when writing contest judges, mad with ocular fortitude from judging the 2009 and 2010 Global Writing Contests, would brazenly unleash the powers of the Ocunomicon. Seeking rituals to infuse themselves with the twisted souls of fel ocularians, they look to wield powers not meant for this or any other contest. But the sacrifices of semicolon keys and left-handed quills have only just begun, their Inkwells of Despair not yet depleted—there is time yet to save this contest!

Is your prose pulchritudinous enough to save this contest from eldritch powers that no eye should possess? If so, submit a 2,500- to 7,500-word short story written in English and set in the Warcraft®, StarCraft®, or Diablo® universe by September 28th, 2011, and earn your chance to visit the Blizzard headquarters and meet the writers and staff behind the lore of Blizzard's games and books. (And probably save the world, too!*)

Grand Prize - The grand prize winner will receive a trip to Blizzard's headquarters in Southern California, where you'll meet and eat with the Blizzard writing staff. In addition, you'll receive a Doomhammer™ hammer by Epic Weapons and copies of the StarCraft Archive, the Diablo Archive, the Warcraft Archive, the Warcraft: War of the Ancients Archive, and World of Warcraft: Chronicles of War. All books will be signed by Chris Metzen, their respective cover artists, and the Creative Development Publishing team.

Runners-up - Seven runners-up will each receive copies of the StarCraft Archive, the Diablo Archive, the Warcraft Archive, the Warcraft: War of the Ancients Archive, and World of Warcraft: Chronicles of War. All books will be signed by Chris Metzen, their respective cover artists, and the Creative Development Publishing team. (Blue Tracker / Official Blog)

Recent Quest Tracker Update
This is a known bug for which we have a fix lined up in patch 4.2.2. This bug also affects other UI elements, such as your saved role and collapsed headers for quests, reputations, etc. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Trading Card Game Art Gallery Update
The Trading Card game art gallery has been updated with ten new pieces.





The Daily Blink - At Least the Cardboard Box Went ‘Boink’
Another excellent comic from The Daily Blink!



DotA 2 Trailer
In unrelated news, a DotA 2 trailer for Gamescom was released today. More information will likely be released later this week. For more discussion, see the topics in our Video Games forum.

The game will be previewed through The International, a tournament held during the Gamescom this week with a $1M Cash prize! Shortly after, League of Legends announced a $5M Prize Pool for the Season 2 of their championship.



by Published on 2011-08-14 07:39 PM

Stats: Characters that reached LVL 85 in Cataclysm
More interesting stats for you this week! With all the talk about the death of WoW, we decided to take a look at the percentage of characters that made it from being level 80 during Wrath of the Lich King to level 85 today. These stats compare a sample of 1M+ characters from early 2010 and checks which players reached level 85. Keep in mind a few things before interpreting these stats:


  • Death Knight is the least leveled class because everyone leveled one to 80 during WotLK to be one of the cool kids. Including a fair amount of people who ended up not liking it.
  • People didn't hit the "Nothing left to do on my main character, better reroll!" wall that they encountered in WotLK, raids were properly balanced and people didn't spend their first months steamrolling Naxxramas.

Don't see a chart? Enable javascript!

Class Playing Cataclysm
Mage 37.82%
Druid 36.84%
Hunter 36.47%
Priest 36.30%
Warrior 35.83%
Shaman 34.77%
Warlock 34.17%
Paladin 33.45%
Rogue 29.56%
Death Knight 25.58%


Poll: Are you still playing WoW?
We've been working on the stats above for a few days and we're wondering, are you still playing WoW, or just reading MMO-Champion to know when to come back?



Curse Premium Members: Win a Trip to Blizzcon!
If you are a Curse Premium Member you can enter to win an all expenses paid trip for two to Blizzcon! While we can't send everyone to Blizzcon, we can give away some SSDs, Headsets, Mounts, and Pets as well! The contest is also open to non Premium Members as well; see the Rules for more information on how to enter. You must be a US Resident to enter.

Prizes
  • Grand Prize: All Expenses Paid Trip for Two to Blizzcon!
  • 4 x Samsung Solid State Hard Drive
  • 8 x Logitech Gaming Headset
  • 20 x Winged Guardian Mount
  • 40 x Lil Ragnaros In-Game Pet

Check out the contest page for more information, and good luck!



The MMO Report
What better way to start off your week than with another episode of The MMO Report!

by Published on 2011-08-13 02:53 AM

Dragonwrath, Tarecgosa's Rest by Siiz (US-Senjin / Premonition)
Siiz from Premonition recently acquired Dragonwrath, Tarecgosa's Rest and answered some more questions about it on the Official forums. The short version version being that the proc acts just like you are casting a copy of the spell again. You can see a quick World of Logs test here.


  • When a direct damage spell causes a proc, the same spell is cast again instantly with no travel time.
  • The direct damage proc can crit, hit, or miss, just like casting a normal spell.
  • When a DoT spell causes a proc, the Wrath of Tarecgosa spell is cast instantly, matching the DoT spell's damage.
  • The proc consumes buffs like Fingers of Frost, just like manually casting the same spell again would.
  • The proc also causes buffs, such as when a proc occurs from Arcane Blast.
  • Spells that are not direct damage or DoT will not cause a proc. (e.g. Frostfire Orb)
  • A proc from a proc hasn't occurred yet.

Siiz explained how he got the staff so quickly on his guild's forum.

From the Premonition Forums:
To anyone who said I exploited, I didn't and never would. Let me explain how it went down.

I finished my eternal embers part the week we got 6/7 HM (the reset of July 5th) so I started my branch quest the next week (the week of July 12). People didn't realize you could get the portal quest items from normal mode and not have to kill the bosses so in the end we got all the quest items from normal mode bosses and killed the legendary boss. After we killed the legendary boss we cleared 6/7 hardmodes on the week of July 12th (the same reset we did portal quest). Each 25M heroic boss drops 50?-64? cinders with normal rag at the time dropping~55ish?

I collected all my cinders and got the runestaff about halfway through the raid week of the 26th, leaving about 2-3? bosses up that week for me to collect souls from. Heroic 25M bosses give 17-19 souls per boss. So even if I got the worst luck in the world at 17 a boss I still would have made it in 2 1/2 weeks.

I collected souls from those 2-3 bosses + the next two full weeks to get it.



Blue Posts
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
T11 JP shoulders and helm - some clarity
We've offered players who don't raid a reasonable way to gear up, and achieve high levels of power. The JP/VP system makes a lot of sense to us, and gives everyone a pretty good personal progression track in addition to loot drops, and we feel pretty good about the system as it stands. That doesn't necessarily mean that we think that full sets are a necessary part of that picture, though.

We still want to preserve some of the most prestigious PvE loot for players who face down raid content (even if it's a tier behind), and we feel that completing a tier set means that a raid needs to fit in there somewhere. That design makes sense to us, and we want to preserve some of the reward for facing down those bad guys. We re-adjusted those instances specifically to encourage players to go experience them, and we want to leave some incentives in there for players who check those raids out.

[...] We want rewards to retain at least some meaning, because when they don't, all the aspects of play start to blend together. Greater challenges should offer greater rewards, but how do you accomplish that if you also allow lesser challenges to provide all the same rewards, across the board? That's been a long-standing challenge, I think, and the JP/VP system is the compromise answer to it. Please recall that at one time if you wanted purps then you went into a raid, period. We've come a long, long way since then. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

15 Man Raids!
I'd actually agree that 15 players make for a pretty optimal number of raiders, in terms of the logistics of forming a raid and class representation. The task of tuning raids for three separate sizes is one you probably won't see on our radar any time soon though. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

45 Minute Dungeon Queue Times (MMO-Champion Note: Hinting to Scenarios?)
We'd like to keep the traditional setting of 5-player dungeons as 1 tank, 1 healer, and 3 DPS. The idea of just adding in NPCs to fill lacking roles is truly not a simple one, nor a route we'd want to take. Not only would this take a lot of design time for a less-than-desirable fix, it'd stand at odds with our philosophy on dungeons for small groups.

That said, you do raise some good points about offering challenging, rewarding content to players which doesn't rely solely on players waiting for a specific class role which is in high demand across the boards. In our minds, there's potentially something missing between daily quests and dungeons, from a content/progression perspective. To that end, we're exploring some options for the future. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Limited Number of Characters
It has always been a matter of efficiency in data service. Much like the fabrication of a commercial airplane, the design of the server side of a service like World of Warcraft affects what can be provided to the players for as long as that service is being used.

With an airplane, you can conceivably add more seats inside. You can squeeze more people in there, to a point. But you can't (easily) expand the hull to make room for more seats. Over the long run, if the airline wants to accommodate more people, they add more planes to the route, or replace an existing plane with a larger plane that has room for more seats.

This request - which is heard loud and clear, by the way - is like asking the airline to simultaneously increase the number of passengers that can be carried on every plane in their fleet. Can it be done? Absolutely. It may be something that we are able to do, and soon. It may not be, because providing reliable data service is extremely important to us. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Lower level PvP Concerns
We are not deaf to the concerns raised about low-level PvP. We feel it needs some attention too. We don't necessarily feel that it's all just "a heirloom issue," but more to do with time investments reaping rewards that give too great an advantage. While we do agree that low-level PvP isn't in an ideal state and has needed further consideration, our focus has remained where the players are: max-level PvP.

We don't intend to throw oil on the flame by such a comment and this doesn't mean we're completely ignorant of niche playstyles, just that we focus our efforts on where it'll have the greatest effect. What's the answer? We do hear the feedback. When we have looked at the issue, it has simply just seemed too difficult – too tricky – to resolve in a way that we're happy with.

We currently believe resolving it will require much time and effort. But we acknowledge things aren't as great for low-level PvP as they could be and we do have a desire to pay attention to it. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

New Warcraft Fan Art
The Blizzard Fan Art Section has been updated with five new pieces of fan artwork set within the Warcraft universe.


by Published on 2011-08-11 05:56 PM

Void Storage and Transmogrifier - Patch 4.3 Teasing?
A teaser on the official Warcraft Facebook Page hints at two new types of NPCs coming in a future patch, most likely Patch 4.3: the Transmogrifier and Void Storage NPCs.

"Transmogrifier" seems to hint at a way to change the appearance of something, the first thing coming to my mind is either a way to change the look of your items (it was experimented in the past with things such as Darkspear Overcloak but dropped later). I guess it could also be a way to change facial/body features on characters.

The "Void Storage" is probably ... well, another kind of storage? Or a high-tech magic trash can.


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