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by Published on 2011-04-19 04:43 PM

Update - The online beta of Age of Empires Online is now available! Curse Premium members can get their beta keys now, non-premium members will have a chance to get one in 24 hours!

Dev Watercooler -- Critical Hits (And Misses)
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker)
‘Dev Watercooler’ is a blog series that provides an inside look into the thoughts and discussions happening within the World of Warcraft development team. In our first entry, Lead Systems Designer Greg "Ghostctrawler" Street laid down a few ground rules:


  • No promises.
  • Don’t read too much between the lines.
  • No whining about the choice of topics we cover.


Critical History Lesson

In the original combat rules of World of Warcraft, melee classes could get 200% crits while casters could only get 150% crits. This was back when all the designers presumably played rogues instead of mages, which according to the forums is what we all play now (which makes our dungeon testing interesting, I gotta tell you.)

Over time, we added talents to allow various casters to get 200% crits as well. Warlocks “could” spend 5 points on the Ruin talent, for example, which you pretty much had to do to be a good warlock. As part of the Cataclysm talent tree evolutions we decided all DPS specs should be able to get 200% crits without investing talent points. There are still some inconsistencies though. Death knights can get 200% crits with both their melee and spell effects, while Assassination rogues get 200% crits with their physical attacks but only 150% crits with their poisons. Healers have always gotten 150% crits, both with their damage-dealing spells and with heals.

The overall design could be described as one that is simple to learn but complex to master. Or put another way, you know most of what you need to know if you’re told that crits do more damage. How much extra damage they do is one of those nuances that more experienced players learn over time and one of the things that makes classes feel different.

Or does it?

You could argue that we’re just keeping old rules that don’t really benefit the game. Is it very interesting that rogue poisons or Enhancement Lightning Bolts don’t have big crits? Does it make you feel different when you pick those classes or specs? Does it feel rewarding when you learn those subtle distinctions? I’d posit perhaps not. Homogenization is something we fight against all the time and one of the primary reasons that we don’t make class A’s ability work just like class B’s ability.


Homogenization -- A Dirty Word

If I can be snarky for a moment, players tend to beat the “homogenization!” drum too emphatically when they are losing something that is overpowered, and like to mock it as “flavor!” when we refuse to give them a cool ability that another class has.

Too much homogenization is a bad thing, no question. But do weird crit rules really fall into that category? There is a difference between being complex (which adds depth) and being complicated (which might just add confusion). We’d rather spend our “complexity points” on things that are really meaningful differences. Pick Assassination because you like daggers or poisons or maybe Rupture, not because you like small crits.

There are balance issues to consider too. Assassination rogues are never going to value crit as much as other characters are as long as some of their crits are smaller. We ran into the same issue with the damage-over-time-based specs when their dots couldn’t crit.


Healers Love Big Numbers Too

It can be an issue for healing as well. In Lich King, critical heals were virtually wasted because much of the time they were going to be overhealing. In Cataclysm, where healer mana matters more and even big heals can’t trivially top someone off, crits are more valuable. But they aren’t valuable enough. Getting 10% haste allows you to get a heal to a target 10% faster. Getting 10% crit allows you to heal a target 5% more. Is it any wonder that crit tends to get devalued for most healers? Resto shaman like it, but look at how many talents they have that make crits better for them. We’re strongly considering just letting all heals crit for double, just like most attacks. We don’t think this would have huge PvE consequences. Healers will heal for a little more, but even if they choose to start stacking crit, they’re going to do that at the expense of Haste, Mastery or Spirit. It could have bigger PvP consequences. Most PvP healers don’t have crit chances beyond say 10% or so, so they aren’t going to crit often.

We’ve been considering whether healing is too strong in PvP anyway. You may have noticed that we made the tooltips for Mortal Strike and equivalent debuffs intentionally vague for 4.1. As I write this, those debuffs are still at 10% healing, but we’re concerned that healing is too hard to counter and we might change that number. Changing it back to 50% would probably lead to the Mortal Strike debuff being mandatory for Arena comps again, but we never got much of a chance to see its effects at say 20%. A 20% Mortal Strike debuff could easily counter any excessive healing caused by 200% crits.


Changes Ahead?a

Letting rogues and Enhancement shaman get 200% crits with non-physical damage would be a larger change, and not the kind of thing we would do mid-expansion. But it’s definitely something we’re considering for the future. That would only leave the damage spells cast by healers at the 150% crit range. We think we could make those full 200% crits as well. If we want to make sure the DPS specs still do a lot more damage, we have the knobs to do that. For example, we could buff passives such as Moonfury (the damage bonus for Balance druids) or Shadow Power (the damage bonus for Shadow priests) to make sure their spells still landed a lot harder than the healing specs did, even if the healers got big crits.

If we made all those changes, then any crit in the game would be at 200%. It would be a very simple rule, and I’d argue any loss of class distinction is more than made up for by the positive balance ramifications. As always with this blog series, this is just speculation. You’re more likely to see 200% healing crits sooner, but even that isn’t something we’ve fully embraced yet. It’s just the kind of thing we discuss when hanging out at the bar... er, I mean watercooler.


Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street is the lead systems designer for World of Warcraft. He crits on a 19 or 20.
by Published on 2011-04-17 07:33 PM

Patch 4.2 Models - Overfiend
Let's continue poking at Patch 4.2 models with what seems to be a new trash mob, the overfiend! It comes in multiple recolors but the only one you will see for the moment is probably the fire version.









Raegwyn - 1 Death Knight vs. 2 Cataclysm Heroic Bosses
Raegwyn was looking for a new way to spend time and decided it would be fun to try to solo an heroic boss, it probably wasn't hard enough because he eventually decided to solo two of them at the same time.



The MMO Report
Let's face it, the first news of the week would be sad without the MMO Report.



Comics - Roles
Nerfnow has an interesting point of view on tanks and healers ...

by Published on 2011-04-16 06:27 AM

Patch 4.2 Models - Lord Anthrycist
Another Patch 4.2 related model was added to the PTR files recently, if you remember the Firelands Raid Preview you probably saw the "Anthricyst Plateau" sub-zone on the minimap.

It seems that it will be the home of a new boss: Lord Anthricyst, who went into exile in the Firelands after seeing his name mispelled way too many times.





New Lore: Council of Three Hammers Story Available!
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker)
Already embroiled by its own internal strife, the fledgling Council of Three Hammers is put to its greatest test yet when mounting tensions between the rival Bronzebeard, Wildhammer, and Dark Iron dwarf clans threaten to ignite violence in Ironforge.

The city of Kurdran's ancestors was a simmering cauldron of old prejudice. It churned endlessly, its toxic fumes dissolving whatever logic and reason remained within the Bronzebeard, Wildhammer, and Dark Iron dwarves living together in Ironforge for the first time in over two centuries. And Kurdran was standing at the edge of it all, gazing into its fiery heart with confusion as it grew closer and closer to erupting.

In an unsettling way he felt as if he were still at war with the blood-cursed Horde and trapped on Outland. Yet there were no clear enemies in Ironforge. No crazed demons. No rampaging orcs bent on decimating all life on his world. There were only words.

Blizzard Entertainment is proud to present the latest entry in the "Leaders of Azeroth" short story series: Fire and Iron!

Trading Card Game Art Gallery Now Open
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker)
We’ve expanded our Media section to include an all-new Trading Card Game art gallery, and are kicking this off by featuring ten spectacular pieces of art that appear in the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game, licensed by Cryptozoic Entertainment. Additional collections will be added to the new gallery in the weeks ahead.



The Daily Blink - Selective Hearing
The Daily Blink's view on patch notes ...

by Published on 2011-04-15 03:20 AM

Male/Female Warlock Pets
Originally Posted by Zarhym (Blue Tracker)
I'm happy to share we actually do have plans for offering players a choice between male and female versions of all warlock demons. This is a task already in our system, though I don't have a time frame for you at the moment. Other art tasks could always take precedence, but we're committed to making this happen.

MovePad in a future content patch
Originally Posted by Nethaera (Blue Tracker)
I wanted to follow-up with a bit more input into this thread with some information that you may find helpful. Awhile back, UI developer Slouken had developed an addon called “MovePad” http://www.wowinterface.com/download...6-MovePad.html which would allow people to use the mouse to move around the world with. This is something we are planning to implement as an option in a future content patch. We would also like to encourage everyone to share any additional small script functions or changes that might help make better addons for disabled gamers so that we could look into the feasibility of adding these into the game as well.

Garrosh Hellscream: Then and Now
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker)
Fortified citadels lie in ruins. Once-verdant forests burn brightly in the twilight of the setting sun. And arid stretches of desert, known to have claimed even the hardiest of travelers, now house fertile oases.

The breaking of Azeroth changed a great many things. While the altered landscapes of the Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor may be the most noticeable evidence of Deathwing's violent return, many of Azeroth's heroes have also undergone drastic physical and mental transformations of their own.

Some have questioned Thrall's decision to set Garrosh Hellscream into the fiery crucible of Horde leadership, but none can doubt that this Mag'har orc from Outland has charted a course for his people that will change the very face of Azeroth.


As the son of the orc credited with his people's redemption, Garrosh Hellscream has always carried a bitter mantle of duty to his kind. Before learning of his father's ultimate actions against the Burning Legion, Garrosh had borne the shame of Grom Hellscream's corruption and feared that such weakness might be found within himself. When Thrall arrived in Nagrand and showed Garrosh the truth of his father's martyrdom, the Mag'har was transformed. Filled with a renewed sense of strength and confidence, he returned with the warchief to Azeroth to be his advisor. Soon named overlord of the Warsong offensive, Garrosh displayed a courage, tenacity, and hot-bloodedness that both impressed and worried other members of the Horde. These concerns were only heightened after his appointment as warchief, as Garrosh has paid little heed to opinions originating outside of his race.

Hellscream's ascension has been applauded by most orcs, who feel that his brash warrior instincts and unwillingness to negotiate for needed resources are more in tune with the true orc way. While Garrosh appreciates public recognition, even relishes the acceptance amongst these green-skinned orcs, he has little time or patience for ostentatious displays of leadership. His attention is now focused on strengthening the walls of Orgrimmar and providing supplies vital to his people: food, lumber, and the other essentials for living, which are growing scarcer in the recent drought. If these can only be gained through the blood of selfish Alliance dogs, so be it.

Already distrustful of the other branches of the Horde, Garrosh has learned that the various leaders of these factions are more powerful than he had originally estimated. The duel with (and eventual slaying of) High Chieftain Cairne Bloodhoof was costly, as it resulted in a civil war amongst the tauren. The exodus of the Darkspear trolls from Orgrimmar, led by a dissatisfied Vol'jin, has spread the Horde's once-concentrated military mighty thin. And Sylvanas Windrunner, the Dark Lady of the Forsaken, has not been reserved in sharing her low opinion of the new warchief. Garrosh is not one for diplomacy—with the Alliance or even among the members of the Horde—and he is only now realizing the price for this mindset. Whether he sets that at a higher value than his vision for an invigorated, purified Horde is yet to be seen. In the end, some feel that Garrosh Hellscream's ideals will bring about the salvation of the Horde, while others feel he will usher in its downfall.


We'll be examining other key characters' transformations—including those of Anduin Wrynn and Magni Bronzebeard—in the months ahead, so come back soon.

Blizzard Art Gallery Update
The World of Warcraft: Cataclysm and Leaders Art galleries have been updated with three pieces representing the Warcraft universe.



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



by Published on 2011-04-14 08:33 PM

Patch 4.1 - PTR Build 13875
A new build is being deployed on PTRs and they will apparently be brought back online. The downtime was most likely the result of a ... small problem with one of the latest Mac build and doesn't mean the patch will hit live servers sooner than we thought.

Spell Changes
Originally Posted by MMO-Champion
Death Knight (Forums / Cataclysm Talent Calculator / Beta Skills/Talents)
Blood
  • Death Strike now heals for 20% of the damage sustained, up from 15%.

Druid (Forums / Cataclysm Talent Calculator / Beta Skills/Talents)
Feral
  • Swipe now deals 670% weapon damage, up from 335%.

Warrior (Forums / Cataclysm Talent Calculator / Beta Skills/Talents)
Arms
  • Improved Hamstring now reduces the global cooldown of Hamstring by 0.3/0.5 sec, down from 0.5/1 sec.

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