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by Published on 2010-07-07 04:30 PM

Update - I moved the "To Recap" part at the top of the post for those of you who hate walls of text. I also added a couple of blue posts about these changes

Cataclysm Class & Mastery Systems Update
[blizzquote author=Zarhym source=http://blue.mmo-champion.com/t/25626290449/cataclysm-class-amp-mastery-systems-update/]When we first announced our design goals for class talent trees back at BlizzCon 2009, one of our major stated focuses was to remove some of the boring and "mandatory" passive talents. We mentioned that we wanted talent choices to feel more flavorful and fun, yet more meaningful at the same time. Recently, we had our fansites release information on work-in-progress talent tree previews for druids, priests, shaman, and rogues. From those previews and via alpha test feedback, a primary response we heard was that these trees didn’t incorporate the original design goals discussed at BlizzCon. This response echoes something we have been feeling internally for some time, namely that the talent tree system has not aged well since we first increased the level cap beyond level 60. In an upcoming beta build, we will unveil bold overhauls of all 30 talent trees.

To Recap
When players reach level 10, they are presented with basic information on the three specializations within their class and are asked to choose one. Then they spend their talent point. The other trees darken and are unavailable until 31 points are spent in the chosen tree. The character is awarded an active ability, and one or more passive bonuses unique to the tree they've chosen. As they gain levels, they'll alternate between receiving a talent point and gaining new skills. They'll have a 31-point tree to work down, with each talent being more integral and exciting than they have been in the past. Once they spend their 31'st point in the final talent (at level 70), the other trees open up and become available to allocate points into from then on. As characters move into the level 78+ areas in Cataclysm, they'll begin seeing items with a new stat, Mastery. Once they learn the Mastery skill from their class trainer they'll receive bonuses from the stat based on the tree they've specialized in.

We understand that these are significant changes and we still have details to solidify. We feel, however, that these changes better fulfill our original class design goals for Cataclysm, and we're confident that they will make for a better gameplay experience. Your constructive feedback is welcomed and appreciated.

Talent Tree Vision

One of the basic tenets of Blizzard game design is that of “concentrated coolness.” We’d rather have a simpler design with a lot of depth, than a complicated but shallow design. The goal for Cataclysm remains to remove a lot of the passive (or lame) talents, but we don’t think that’s possible with the current tree size. To resolve this, we're reducing each tree to 31-point talents. With this reduction in tree size we need to make sure they're being purchased along a similar leveling curve, and therefore will also be reducing the number of total talent points and the speed at which they're awarded during the leveling process.

As a result, we can keep the unique talents in each tree, particularly those which provide new spells, abilities or mechanics. We’ll still have room for extra flavorful talents and room for player customization, but we can trim a great deal of fat from each tree. The idea isn’t to give players fewer choices, but to make those choices feel more meaningful. Your rotations won’t change and you won’t lose any cool talents. What will change are all of the filler talents you had to pick up to get to the next fun talent, as well as most talents that required 5 of your hard-earned points.

We are also taking a hard look at many of the mandatory PvP talents, such as spell pushback or mechanic duration reductions. While there will always be PvP vs. PvE builds, we’d like for the difference to be less extreme, so that players don’t feel like they necessarily need to spend their second talent specialization on a PvP build.

The Rise of Specialization

We want to focus the talent trees towards your chosen style of gameplay right away. That first point you spend in a tree should be very meaningful. If you choose Enhancement, we want you to feel like an Enhancement shaman right away, not thirty talent points later. When talent trees are unlocked at level 10, you will be asked to choose your specialization (e.g. whether you want to be an Arms, Fury or Protection warrior) before spending that first point. Making this choice comes with certain benefits, including whatever passive bonuses you need to be effective in that role, and a signature ability that used to be buried deeper in the talent trees. These abilities and bonuses are only available by specializing in a specific tree. Each tree awards its own unique active ability and passives when chosen. The passive bonuses range from flat percentage increases, like a 20% increase to Fire damage for Fire mages or spell range increases for casters, to more interesting passives such as the passive rage regeneration of the former Anger Management talent for Arms warriors, Dual-Wield Specialization for Fury warriors and Combat rogues, or the ability to dual-wield itself for Enhancement shaman.

The initial talent tree selection unlocks active abilities that are core to the chosen role. Our goal is to choose abilities that let the specializations come into their own much earlier than was possible when a specialization-defining talent had to be buried deep enough that other talent trees couldn’t access them. For example, having Lava Lash and Dual-Wield right away lets an Enhancement shaman feel like an Enhancement shaman. Other role-defining examples of abilities players can now get for free at level 10 include Mortal Strike, Bloodthirst, Shield Slam, Mutilate, Shadow Step, Thunderstorm, Earth Shield, Water Elemental, and Penance.

Getting Down to the Grit

Talent trees will have around 20 unique talents instead of today's (roughly) 30 talents, and aesthetically will look a bit more like the original World of Warcraft talent trees. The 31-point talents will generally be the same as the 51-point talents we already had planned for Cataclysm. A lot of the boring or extremely specialized talents have been removed, but we don't want to remove anything that’s going to affect spell/ability rotations. We want to keep overall damage, healing, and survivability roughly the same while providing a lot of the passive bonuses for free based on your specialization choice.

While leveling, you will get 1 talent point about every 2 levels (41 points total at level 85). Our goal is to alternate between gaining a new class spell or ability and gaining a talent point with each level. As another significant change, you will not be able to put points into a different talent tree until you have dedicated 31 talent points to your primary specialization. While leveling, this will be possible at 70. Picking a talent specialization should feel important. To that end, we want to make sure new players understand the significance of reaching the bottom of their specialization tree before gaining the option of spending points in the other trees. We intend to make sure dual-specialization and re-talenting function exactly as they do today so players do not feel locked into their specialization choice.

A True Mastery

The original passive Mastery bonuses players were to receive according to how they spent points in each tree are being replaced by the automatic passive bonuses earned when a tree specialization is chosen. These passives are flat percentages and we no longer intend for them to scale with the number of talent points spent. The Mastery bonus that was unique to each tree will now be derived from the Mastery stat, found on high-level items, and Mastery will be a passive skill learned from class trainers around level 75. In most cases, the Mastery stats will be the same as the tree-unique bonuses we announced earlier this year. These stats can be improved by stacking Mastery Rating found on high-level items.
[/blizzquote]


Blue posts
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
"Old" masteries
I would not focus too much on the old masteries, except for the third one that scales with gear. That one is still around.

Vengeance for tanks is still around and dps get damage and healers get healing and that sort of thing but the system has changed quite a bit overall (and partially as a result of community feedback). (Source)

Next beta build will be interesting
We want to unveil the entire enchilada in the next beta build or so. Everyone here worked really hard to get the whole package to a relatively playable and polished state. In essence we're not announcing a future plan -- we're telling you how the game works today. It's all done.

It's hard to offer timelines for when we will do a new beta push, but we're talking days or a few weeks, not months. All of the passives will be visible then. (Source)

Talent Points gain rate
About one every other level, but there are some exceptions. We are trying to alternate new abilities and talent points where possible. You will have 41 talent points at 85. (Source)

Spec abilities scaling
Specialization-defining abilities that are unlocked (e.g. Mutilate, Penance, Water Elemental and Mortal Strike) will scale based on a character's level and reflect an appropriate amount of damage, healing, and mitigation, etc. With the proper balancing, having these abilities at level 10 won't trivialize the leveling experience, but instead enhance it by allowing players to incorporate unique spells and skills that highlight their specialization into their rotations at a much earlier level.

We'll be closely monitoring how these new talent changes affect gameplay in the beta and will make adjustments to the system if necessary to ensure that our original goals are met. (Source)

Dual Spec
Dual Spec won't change. If you choose Protection paladin at level 10, you can respec to Ret paladin at your class trainer. Once you unlock Dual Spec, you can have 2 Prot builds or a Prot and Ret build or whatever you'd like. It will work almost exactly the way it does now. (Source)

New Talent system is ZOMG AMAZING
It's ZOMG AMAZING. We wouldn't go through all the work it is taking if we weren't convinced it was 100% win.

On your first point, too many of the specs didn't really feel like their spec until they had spent a lot of talents in the tree. All mages pretty much played the same until level 30 to 40 or so. Even with the Cataclysm changes, a Holy, Prot and Ret paladin would pretty much be using Crusader Strike and Judgements until they had several more abilities unlocked.

On your second point, we know some players liked the option of spending some points in the first tree and then some in the second tree. Often this was just a trap for new players though because it delays your getting the 21, 31 and other "gold medal" talents that really define your tree. Experienced players might learn to get a 5/5/5 build or whatever and then respec once they could reach the 31, but we could also just make better trees that didn't ask you to do that. (Source)

How big are the new trees?
They have 38-42 or so points in them. You could spend all 41 points in one tree, though often you'll want a 5/5/31 or a 0/7/34 build instead. Every talent is 1, 2 or 3 talent points. Earlier levels have about 8 points on them (typically a 2, 2, 3) and deeper levels have about 5 points on them (typically a 1, 2, 3). (Source)

New Talent trees overview
They look superficially like vanilla talent trees, but they are far more interesting.

Almost without exception, the talents we cut were the ones everyone took or the ones nobody took. There will still be very attractive talents that probably everyone takes, but there are also definitely choices where you can only take A or B and want both. Typically you might see a useful (but not necessarily dps-enhancing) ability in your own tree, but also a really attractive one in another tree.

This is a good thing. It won't surprise me to see a knee jerk reaction from some players that we're removing their favorite talents and "dumbing down the trees." However, I'd challenge them that there can't be that many players out there that play Arcane because of Mind Mastery or Arms warrior because of Strength of Arms. Yet, if you skip either of those talents, you're just making your character less effective.

A Cataclysm goal is to remove lame or boring talents. Yet we don't want to replace all of those with procs or game-changers. Really the only solution is to have smaller trees where nearly every remaining talent is a big deal. (Source)

Hybrid builds and active talents
You typically won't get active abilities from a second tree. The most you can get in a second tree is 10 points, and usually the active abilities are deeper than this. We think it makes the distinction between say a Frost and Unholy DK more pronounced when all of their talented active abilities are different rather than being able to cherry pick the best from each tree. It does end up killing any chance for a build that goes halfway down two trees, but usually we would consider such builds failures because it meant the bottom of "your" tree wasn't good enough. These were most popular in PvP when players felt compelled to get "must have" PvP survival talents in multiple trees, and those are the kind of talents we want dead anyway.

With these changes though, the talent trees are going to be even more rebuilt than we were already planning with Cataclysm. Talents are moving all over the trees and every tree has new talents as well. We'll give you a chance to see the trees soon (tm). (Source)

Current talents are too complicated
The new model theoretically buys us several more expansions of not having to mess with the overarching talent tree design. In a broader sense though, one of the challenges of working on World of Warcraft is adding new content without making the game totally inaccessible to new players.

I have used this example several times, but we have one very senior designer at Blizzard who isn't working on WoW but obviously knows the game very well and has been very active in PvP and raiding at various points in time. He took a short break from the game (I suspect to play Modern Warfare 2) and when he came back, we had messed around with his class's talent trees and reset his talent points, so he felt like he couldn't jump back into the game again without spending 45 minutes researching what the community thought a good build would be. We're hoping with simpler (but still deep!) talent trees, players like him will feel more comfortable picking their own talents. He might eventually go poke around in theorycrafting forums to min / max his build, but he won't have the moment of being completely overwhelmed when looking at a blank talent tree. (Source)

In previous expansions, more choices were given to the players in terms of how they built their characters. Players were freely given the choice to spend points however they want.
[...] While that is true, they were also given ample opportunities to make mistakes, what we call "traps." A forum-savy player may know which are the dumb talents nobody takes or which are the mandatory ones that might at first glance seem too bland to take. But why have "choices" that are just there for new players or people who just want to swim against the stream just to be different? We'd rather have actual legitimate choices, which we feel like we can offer by having a stable of fewer good talents.

To use one of the infamous GC analogies, the best restaurants are not necessarily those with a lot of entrees on the menu. The best restaurants probably have very few choices, but you know that anything you order will be great. They don't bother cooking it if they know it will suck. That's a real choice as opposed to the diner with fish on the menu that everyone, ever the waitress, whispers under their breath that you should never, ever order. (Source)

Dungeon Finder and new talent system
We expect a lot of players to use Dungeon Finder while leveling up. The feature works great for that, and we're spending some effort to update the older dungeons to not be so overspawned and in some cases to even fit into the zone quest content better.

Likewise, we're making an effort to let tank and healing specs be more effective when soloing. DPS specs will still probably be more efficient leveling, but if you just love the Resto shaman tree, you should be able to quest and run some dungeons without even having a dual-spec. It won't be spectacular, but it will be a huge improvement from today.

Tanks and healers will get basic abilities before level 15 (when Dungeon Finder is available) to do their jobs, but it's also true that the lower level content is more forgiving of your talent spec. (Source)

Vengeance
You get it at level 10 for choosing a tanking tree. It already scaled with your health and incoming damage, so there isn't really a need for it to scale with talent points spent (especially since nearly 100% of tanks spend the most points in a tanking tree). (Source)

Death Knight (Forums / 3.3.5 Talent Calculator)
When do DK get to pick a specialization?
When they get their first talent point for completing a quest. (Source)

Deleted talents
Looking at Unholy, talents like Impurity, Desolation, Wandering Plague, Crypt Fever (but not Ebon Plaguebringer) and Rage of Rivendare (sad about the lore hit there) are gone. (Source)

Druid (Forums / 3.3.5 Talent Calculator / Cataclysm Talent Calculator)
Feral builds with the new system
Feral is a challenge. We still want to have a cat-centric, bear-centric or hybrid build. It has always been one of the more challenging trees to work on. (Source)

Omen of Clarity
Likewise, we're not sure what we'll do with Omen yet. The obvious choices are leave it Resto only, put it high enough for everyone to subspec or make it a trained ability. (Source)

Paladin (Forums / 3.3.5 Talent Calculator)
Divine Storm @LVL10 for Retribution
Divine Storm is a big deal because Retribution paladins get it at level 10. You'll get a new bottom o' the tree talent. (Source)

Priest (Forums / 3.3.5 Talent Calculator / Cataclysm Talent Calculator)
Mind Flay and Shadowform @LVL1x for Shadow
We really wanted to do this, but the more we thought about it, what does a level 10 Shadowform do? Spam Shadow Word: Pain? We'll probably give Shadow priests Mind Flay at level 10 and let them get Shadowform shortly after that. (Source)

Holy signature ability
We think healers will expect to get an actual heal (or some kind of defensive ability) as their signature spell, but we also want something that's actually useful at level 10. Lightwell, Circle of Healing and even Spirit of Redemption are very signature Holy abilities, but none are very useful when soloing gnolls in Elwynn. (Source)

Rogue (Forums / 3.3.5 Talent Calculator / Cataclysm Talent Calculator)
Preparation
It's a design flaw that rogues and locks are so dependent on Prep and Soul Link respectively. Those talents are currently holding the classes back. Now we can't balance around the assumption that you have those talents so your classes need to function without them. Maybe it means lowering base cooldowns.... (Source)

Shadowstep
Naturally, the 31-point Shadow Dance is totally inaccessible to Rogues speccing other trees. But what about Shadowstep? Is that a tree-specific, unpointed talent that is totally inaccessible to all other specs?
Inaccessible. Shadowstep is essentially no longer a talent. There is nowhere to buy it. You don't get any passive bonuses for picking your second tree. Essentially you choose at level 10 whether to be an Assassination, Combat or Subtlety rogue, and while you can change your mind later, that determines what special ability and what passives you get. (Source)

Shaman (Forums / 3.3.5 Talent Calculator / Cataclysm Talent Calculator)
Dual Wield for Enhancement
So now my cagey comments about how Enhancement gets dual-wield right away and Elemental never gets it make more sense. (Source)

Warlock (Forums / 3.3.5 Talent Calculator)
Soul Link
It's a design flaw that rogues and locks are so dependent on Prep and Soul Link respectively. Those talents are currently holding the classes back. Now we can't balance around the assumption that you have those talents so your classes need to function without them. Maybe it means lowering base cooldowns.... (Source)

Probably no early Felguard for Demonology
It probably won't be Felguard. It's a little odd to spring that on a warlock that doesn't even have a Voidwalker yet. (Source)

Cool talents aren't going away
Warlocks are hard.

With a mage, you can keep Frost from throwing a lot of Fireballs just by making Frost do Frost damage. The warlocks don't have schools like that, and they have some shared spells, so it's tricky to get them to use the spells we want them to use sometimes. None of the cool talents, the ones that change up what you're doing, such as Molten Core or Backdraft, are going away. (Source)

Warrior (Forums / 3.3.5 Talent Calculator)
Mortal Strike
It depends. Improved Mortal Strike for example is gone and that's just the way Mortal Strike hits now (we added the damage and cooldown into MS). (Source)

Shield Slam @LVL10 for Protection
Protection warriors get Shield Slam (and Arms and Fury lose it). Devastate is still an attractive talent deep in the tree, but it doesn't say "Prot warrior" the way Shield Slam does. (Source)

Toughness stays, Vitality is a passive bonus
Protection has one passive talent, which is Toughness. They get Vitality as a passive for choosing Protection at level 10. The other talents are a mix of threat and defensive abilities, but none are as passive as Deflection. There are (hopefully) attractive talents in the first two tiers of Arms and Fury. The other tank trees will be similar but not identical (Feral as always will be the least similar). (Source)

Specialization Bonus - Anger Management and 2H Weapon Spec for Arms
The Arms one for the moment is Two-Handed Weapon Spec (+10% damage with two-Handed weapons) and Anger Management (free rage). (Source)

Arms - Mastery bonus in Cataclysm
Mastery still exists, but the design is a little cleaner.

Before:
Arms got some passive damage per talent point.
Arms got some passive armor pen per talent point.
Arms got a chance to proc a swing per talent point, which is enhanced by mastery rating on gear.

Now:
Arms gets whatever it needs as passives at level 10.
Arms gets a chance to proc a swing at level 78(ish), which is enhanced by mastery rating on gear.

Mastery now means "proc a swing" for Arms and that's all it means, which is easier to understand. (Source)
by Published on 2010-07-06 04:39 PM

Update - Added a clarification, your real name will not show up on old forum posts. It will only be displayed on the new forum system.

Oh and since a few people asked, now, I have absolutely no plan to do that on MMO-Champion forums. (And that's not sarcasm, I really don't like the idea of real names on a gaming forum)

Battle.net Update: Upcoming Changes to the Forums
Your real name will be displayed on the official forums now. You'd better think twice before you troll a bunch of angry ... trolls.
[blizzquote author=Nethaera source=http://blue.mmo-champion.com/t/25712374700/battle-net-update-upcoming-changes-to-forums/]Recently, we introduced our new Real ID feature - www.battle.net/realid/ , a new way to stay connected with your friends on the new Battle.net. Today, we wanted to give you a heads up about our plans for Real ID on our official forums, discuss the design philosophy behind the changes we’re making, and give you a first look at some of the new features we’re adding to the forums to help improve the quality of conversations and make the forums an even more enjoyable place for players to visit.

The first and most significant change is that in the near future, anyone posting or replying to a post on official Blizzard forums will be doing so using their Real ID -- that is, their real-life first and last name -- with the option to also display the name of their primary in-game character alongside it. These changes will go into effect on all StarCraft II forums with the launch of the new community site prior to the July 27 release of the game, with the World of Warcraft site and forums following suit near the launch of Cataclysm. Certain classic forums, including the classic Battle.net forums, will remain unchanged.

The official forums have always been a great place to discuss the latest info on our games, offer ideas and suggestions, and share experiences with other players -- however, the forums have also earned a reputation as a place where flame wars, trolling, and other unpleasantness run wild. Removing the veil of anonymity typical to online dialogue will contribute to a more positive forum environment, promote constructive conversations, and connect the Blizzard community in ways they haven’t been connected before. With this change, you’ll see blue posters (i.e. Blizzard employees) posting by their real first and last names on our forums as well.

We also plan to add a number of other features designed to make reading the forums more enjoyable and to empower players with tools to improve the quality of forum discussions. Players will have the ability to rate up or rate down posts so that great topics and replies stand out from the not-so-great; low-rated posts will appear dimmer to show that the community feels that they don’t contribute effectively to the conversation, and Blizzard’s community team will be able to quickly and easily locate highly rated posts to participate in or to highlight discussions that players find worthwhile.

In addition, individual topics will be threaded by context, meaning replies to specific posts will be grouped together, making it easier for players to keep track of multiple conversations within a thread. We’re also adding a way for Blizzard posters to “broadcast” important messages forums-wide , to help communicate breaking news to the community in a clear and timely fashion. Beyond that, we’re improving our forum search function to make locating interesting topics easier and help lower the number of redundant threads, and we have more planned as well.

With the launch of the new Battle.net, it’s important to us to create a new and different kind of online gaming environment -- one that’s highly social, and which provides an ideal place for gamers to form long-lasting, meaningful relationships. All of our design decisions surrounding Real ID -- including these forum changes -- have been made with this goal in mind.

We’ve given a great deal of consideration to the design of Real ID as a company, as gamers, and as enthusiastic users of the various online-gaming, communication, and social-networking services that have become available in recent years. As these services have become more and more popular, gamers have become part of an increasingly connected and intimate global community – friendships are much more easily forged across long distances, and at conventions like PAX or our own BlizzCon, we’ve seen first-hand how gamers who may have never actually met in person have formed meaningful real-life relationships across borders and oceans. As the way gamers interact with one another continues to evolve, our goal is to ensure Battle.net is equipped to handle the ever-changing social-gaming experience for years to come.

For more info on Real ID, check out our Real ID page and FAQ located at http://www.battle.net/realid/ . We look forward to answering your questions about these upcoming forum changes in the thread below. [/blizzquote]
[blizzquote author=Bashiok source=http://blue.mmo-champion.com/t/25712374700/battle-net-update-upcoming-changes-to-forums/]One important point which I don't believe has been relayed yet is that the switch to showing RealID on the forums will only happen with the new forum systems we're launching for StarCraft II shortly before its release, and a new forum system for World of Warcraft launching shortly before the release of Cataclysm.

All posts here on the current World of Warcraft forums, or any of our classic Battle.net forums, will remain as-is. They won't (and can't) automatically switch to showing a real first and last name.

All posts in the future on the new forum systems will be an opt-in choice and ample warning will be given that you're posting with your real first and last name. [/blizzquote]
by Published on 2010-07-06 04:09 AM

Cataclysm Videos - Starting Zones and Blackrock Caverns
Apparently most of you really liked yesterday's videos, let's continue with playthrough videos of the Goblins and Worgens starting zone, followed by a video of the Blackrock Caverns!

Obviously, don't watch that if you don't like spoilers.

Goblin Starting Zone



Worgen Starting Zone



Blackrock Caverns




Blue posts
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
PvP
Tanking/Protection specs in Arena
We want the Protection specs to have a place in Arena play, but to be frank, it's not our highest priority. Our sense is that most players who chose Protection chose it for tanking.

We don't want Protection dps to be trivial, but we also don't want it to rival that of say mages and rogues even in PvP. A Protection class in PvP should be more about survival and control, not about massive damage. With the added focus on BGs in Cataclysm, the tanking specs will be good at flag defense or flag-carrying, which suits their strengths.

The Vengeance mechanic is a way to help us balance tank damage. It can be as high as it needs to be in PvE, while much lower and most-importantly dispellable in PvP. (Source)

PvP Balance and counter abilities
We think class design in WoW has reached what I often call an arms race in PvP. That is a class gains a snare, then another class gains the ability to break snares, so the first class also gains a root, then the second class gets an ability to break roots, and so it goes. Players tend to ask for abilities or talents that reduce their weaknesses, but when we go there, then someone else's strength isn't a strength any longer.

On the one hand, having abilities and counter abilities adds depth to the fights. You need to be familiar with your defenses and everyone else's as well and need to decide, often in a split-second, when to use an ability or save it.

But on the other hand, it justs adds bulk to the game. Simple outcomes can have depth too.

I say all that as way of preamble, because we are taking a really hard look at a lot of the ubiquitous PvP-survival talents, such as those that reduce mechanic durations, provide pushback resistance, let you take less damage while stunned, etc. Our sense is that because so many of these have become ubiquitous, PvP is balanced around the assumption of those mechanics. Instead of them being some cool or clever power you have to mitigate their effects, they are just the norm. They become not a choice, but mandatory.

It's likely you'll start seeing a lot of these counter mechanics getting phased out. We may not be able to get rid of every one, but we can get rid of a lot of them. Warriors may freak out when they think they will be CC'd permanently, but then they will start to relax when they see everyone is losing those mechanics and we take a hard look at the CCs themselves knowing that the passive and active CC counters are no longer in play. (Source)

Healing and dispells in Cataclysm
For starters, dispels themselves are going to have higher mana and situational costs. I don't anticipate every hot is just going to be automatically removed.

The reduction talents are something we are taking a look at. We don't want healers to have to spend talent points on them, which means either everyone will get the now standard reduction across the board, or we'll just remove them from everyone and balance interrupts around that. (Source)

Healing
Healing in Cataclysm
Prior to LK, healers could run out of mana, and for the most part it worked. They didn't just use their efficient heals, because sometimes their group would die if they did. They didn't just use their big heals though, because they'd run out of mana (and then the group would die).

I think of healing like a cross-continental road race. If you go too slow, you'll lose the race, but if you just floor it the whole itme, you'll run out of fuel a lot and waste time stopping to fill it up again. There is a happy medium somewhere in between. However the encounter specifics push you out of that medium, sometimes asking you to choose big numbers over efficiency and sometimes vice-versa.

I know it sounds like we are picking on healers all the time, but once you can run out of mana again, I think everything will just feel better, your choices about what spell to cast next become more compelling, and the healing game overall will be more engaging. (Source)

Overhealing
I'm not convinced healers will leave tanks at half health on purpose. That wasn't a popular strategy in say Black Temple or Sunwell when mana was more of an issue. You may not be pressured to immediately top off a tank constantly, but leaving a tank purposefully injured in order to prevent overhealing isn't going to be a sound strategy. (Source)

Coordination
I would put hots on people who need healing but aren't likely to die in the next few seconds. I understand there is still a lot of concern about "but he will ninja my heal!" but that is today's world where wasted mana doesn't matter. If you're on challenging content and your healers can't coordinate, then that's something your group will need to resolve. (Source)

Druid (Forums / 3.3.5 Talent Calculator / Cataclysm Talent Calculator)
Restoration in Cataclysm
I wouldn't use Healing Touch that much in a 5-player dungeon. It's slow and expensive and heals for a lot, and you really don't want to be overhealing a lot in Cataclysm. Maybe if the tank has been whittled down and you just can't catch up, you could throw it out there. For the most part, I would use Rejuv and Nourish to heal the group and Lifebloom and Nourish to heal the tank, throwing out Swiftmend or Regrowth for emergencies.

We want Wild Growth (and Circle of Healing) to be really good spells, but it's hard to keep them in that niche without them just being used every time they are off cooldown. High mana costs are supposed to make you ask yourself: Am I hitting Wild Growth to heal 2 people just because it's an easy / lazy thing to do?

The limit-one Lifebloom is our attempt to make the spell a really useful tank-healing tool again. It's just too easy to keep an instant spell up on lots of targets, yet this is one case where we don't want the mana cost to be excessive. We also have a mechanic to let a stack of Lifebloom be refreshed by Nourish -- without this mechanic, druids just don't have the GCDs to do much more than keep hots up on tank and avoid any spell with a cast time. But if you could keep stacks on multiple targets so easily, druid would be too powerful at healing.

We know making this change to Lifebloom will have PvP ramifications, but we're also okay with that. We need to shift PvP healing (for everyone) back towards cast time spells. When PvP healing is balanced around heals that can't be interrupted and can be cast on the move, then we have to do crazy things to give your opponents any chance to counter them. Resto druids have had a storied history of being overpowered or underpowered in PvP and we want to avoid these extremes. You'll still be casting hots, but you'll be casting non-hots as well.

It's all early in development though and we haven't done a lot of PvP balance testing yet, so this design will evolve over time. Resto druids have a lot of spells, some of which have very subtle niches. Our initial strategy is to try and find homes for them all, because we like the spells. But if we can't make it work, we'll start cutting some. (Source)

Healing with HoTs only
It's an apt comparison because we see Affliction locks all the time who say "I only want to cast dots. Any time I cast Shadow Bolt, that's an abomination." But we want Affliction casting Shadow Bolt. Casting Shadow Bolt doesn't mean casting nothing but Shadow Bolt. Likewise, we want druids to cast Nourish and Healing Touch and not just keeping Rejuvs on everyone.

Classes can feel different from each other without being so unique that they have nothing in common with each other. If you're going to invest many hours healing on a druid, it's more important to us that what you're doing is dynamic and engaging over the long haul. You'll notice that a lot more than you will how similar or dissimilar you are to the healer standing next to you. (Source)

lol-heals (I like the name!)
The vanilla druid used a single heal for the most part, Healing Touch, so I don't find your analogy apt. What we are trying to do is give druids more heals than ever rather than having the overpowered heals vs. the lol heals. Using more cast-time heals does not mean removing the "hot flavor" of druids, unless your definition is "I only hot." Referring to my previous post, we don't think the game design will work for *any* class that relies so much on a single category of spells. It barely works for mages because they have so many mechanics to support those few spells, but even in that example we are expanding their repertoire. (Source)

Priest (Forums / 3.3.5 Talent Calculator / Cataclysm Talent Calculator)
Spamming Power Word: Shield
Pre-shielding when you know big damage is on the way for select targets is fine. Trying to keep shields up on the entire raid is a strategy that we think A) is too good, and B) isn't fun. I think a lot of the players who think it is fun feel that way because it's overpowered, not because it's a really engaging activity. When your decision making consists of cycling through targets and casting PW:S on any target without Weakened Soul, then you aren't really responding to the encounter -- you're acting like a glorified macro. Now maybe some of you will argue that you take a lot more into consideration before executing a pre-heal, but the fact is that Disc priests can be unbelievably effective without doing so. (Source)

Power Word: Shield in Cataclysm
An Icecrown parse for a Disc priest might have PW: Shield (including its glyph) and Divine Aegis at 80% of healing done. Imagine that is more like 50 or 60% of healing done. That's still a lot of power for shields. The remainder would be filled in by spells like Penance, PoM, Heal and Greater Heal. (Source)

Improved Flash Heal
We have a talent, Improved Flash Heal, that does nothing else except buff flash heal. - a spell we won't likely use - Are you going to keep that talent?
I would suspect not. We tried to pump up Flash Heal for Disc before because it was the only cast-time heal that really mattered. In Cataclysm, it is basically an emergency heal, which is something PW:S and Penance already do well. (Source)

Shaman (Forums / 3.3.5 Talent Calculator / Cataclysm Talent Calculator)
Rockbiter taunt effect
Avoiding a wipe is the responsibility of everyone in the group. If you don't think you'll use the ability, don't use it. Simple as that. You don't even have to spend talent points to get it.

Hunters and demons have pets that are designed to tank. That doesn't mean they are a tanking class. Shaman will tank on rare occasions, just as warlocks and hunters are sometimes called upon to tank. That doesn't mean they will be able to choose the tank role in Dungeon Finder or will be very effective trying to be the MT for a group. As far as tanking classes go, there are four: warrior, paladin, druid and death knight. (Source)

Warrior (Forums / 3.3.5 Talent Calculator)
Titan's Grip ...
The budget of Titan's Grip or the fact that it's passive don't bother us at all. It's still an interesting talent in that it has a pretty big impact on how you play. If you doubt that, consider instead how it would feel if the talent gave you a damage bonus when using two one-handed axes rather than using two two-handed weapons. Everything from the swing speed to the stat budget is what makes the talent feel like it's breaking the rules. (Source)

... and Single-Minded Fury
I don't think Single-Minded Fury needs to be exactly as powerful as Titan's Grip at every gear level and in every situation. It needs to be balanced at very high or best-in-slot gear levels, or it will just get ignored. But at lower levels, I'm not convinced it will be a problem. Say it is proven that Titan's Grip wins hands-down at the pre-heroic dungeon level. Now a warrior runs a level 85 dungeon and a blue one-handed Strength weapon drops that is a big upgrade over his quest green two-handed weapon. Even though Titan's Grip is theoretically stronger with equal gear, he doesn't have equal gear. He has a one-handed upgrade.

We might have to keep tweaking one talent or the other to keep them in rough parity, but those are relatively easy knobs to adjust. (Source)

Comics
Dark Legacy Comic #245 and Teh Gladiators #146 + 147 are out!

by Published on 2010-07-04 10:16 PM

Cataclysm Videos - Stormwind, Orgrimmar and the Abyssal Maw
People started releasing pretty videos of Cataclysm and I don't think I can do much better than that. The first 3 videos are from TotalBiscuit (CynicalBrit.com) and I might include his videos to more articles depending on the reception of the first three!

Abyssal Maw



Stormwind



Orgrimmar




Zones & Instance Pages Update - Official Previews
I updated some of the Cataclysm pages to include the official previews to add some lore background. I also fixed a couple of layout bugs and tried to improve the readability.

The other good news is, I added Lightbox back to the new instances and new zones pages (the fancy screenshot viewer thing). You should be able to check everything without too much problem now, I will add it to the other pages tomorrow.

New Zones






PvP Zones




Instances - 5-man




Blue posts
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Mage (Forums / 3.3.5 Talent Calculator)
Spell haste and Fireball / Frostbolt cast time
I think the problem is actually with Early Frost. We just think that e.g. a 3.5 sec Fireball isn't really playable. You probably noticed that the low ranks of Fireball are even much faster, because the spell really isn't usable until the cast time is reduced.

We are going to be much more vigilant about haste getting out of control (from talents and gear) to where GCD issues get to be a problem. Simply making non-haste stats more attractive will help as well. (Source)

Priest (Forums / 3.3.5 Talent Calculator / Cataclysm Talent Calculator)
Discipline
Discipline will still use PW:Shield a lot, but you will probably see less "pre-healing" across the board, because it won't be mana efficient. PW:Shield will probably go back to being more of an emergency button and less of the survivability buff it gets treated as today.

In addition to shielding, Disc will continue to cast Penance a lot, and will probably use Heal and Greater Heal. Flash Heal overlaps in niche a lot with both PW:Shield and Penance, so it may be the least used. (Source)

Rogue (Forums / 3.3.5 Talent Calculator / Cataclysm Talent Calculator)
Combat Tree
Improved Sprint I will grant you doesn't have a lot of use in PvE.

But Improved Kick and Improved Recuperate do. Improved Kick will be of situational use on bosses that can't be silenced, but Improved Recuperate will keep you alive. In a world where healer mana will be much more precious, minimizing wasted mana is going to be a bigger deal.

We're not going to make trees where every point in a dps tree is a dps upgrade. Those are the kinds of talent builds we're trying to get away from, because they remove player choice. We are trying to engineer points in all trees where you have to choose between non-dps talent A and non-dps talent B, because as soon as A or B leads to dps, then the choice goes away. (Source)

Shaman (Forums / 3.3.5 Talent Calculator / Cataclysm Talent Calculator)
Weapon Enchants
Enchants are technically really complicated spells in WoW, so what we want to do and what we can do aren't always aligned without investing sometimes weeks of programmer time. I say that by way of heavy caveats, because none of this may actually come to pass.

However, what we'd like to do is: A) Restrict DW to Enhancement only, B) Restrict shaman weapon enchants to being unique (meaning no WF / WF or FT / FT), and C) Remove the internal cooldown on Windfury, since once you can only have one, the proc rate won't be a balance problem. (Source)

Warrior (Forums / 3.3.5 Talent Calculator)
Passive survivability talents
We just think at the end of the day that a warrior needs to look at their his talents and feel like they are making his survivability better. As an example, it's all well and good to have some fun or utility talents in the Disc priest tree, but if there also weren't some bread and butter talents to make you a better healer, Disc priests would feel cheated. Sword and Board is a fun Prot talent, but it doesn't improve your survivability directly in a very noticeable way.

Imagine a new talent that was a 30% chance to lower the cooldown of your Last Stand, or a 30% chance to proc an armor buff on you. It might be an exciting talent, but it could also be really frustrating every time it didn't proc. For the same reason tanks tend to gear for mitigation over random avoidance, they'd probably be really skeptical of a talent that had a chance of lowering their damage taken. There's room for some talents like that, and Critical Block is an example, but a whole tree of them might get frustrating. You might feel like your survivability was out of your control and really at the mercy of encounter specifics or even a random chance for a proc.

Put another way, we want players to have some choices in how they talent, but we don't want the whole tree to feel optional. A Prot warrior who chose to spend no talent points should feel like a really terrible tank, instead of just losing some utility or threat, in the same way an untalented healer should feel like they are sacrificing a lot of healing. Thus we think there is room for a few passive talents, especially for tanks, where having too many non-passive talents risks hurting consistency. (Source)

The MMO Report
This week's MMO Report is the 2nd and last part of their E3 2010 Special.

by Published on 2010-07-03 05:03 AM

The recent forum posts / latest news posts box will be missing during the week-end. There was no easy way to fix it (= without killing our servers) and I didn't want my sysadmins to hate me even more because I killed their week-end on the 4th of July. I apologize for the inconvenience.

The good news is, the menu is finally here.

Class Pages Update
The class pages have been updated slightly. There are still plenty of bugs that we need to remove but the layout has been slightly improved (bugged blue posts, etc) and broken links have been fixed. Also, everything has been updated to build 12319, click your class icon for more information!




Cataclysm Models Update
I missed a few models in my original post, below you will find:

  • Undead Nefarian
  • Lady Sinestra (WoWWiki)
  • A cute spider

Lady Sinestra's model is only a half body, just like Kil'jaeden's in the Sunwell. It could explain the hole in the floor in the last room of the Bastion of Twilight. (The one leading to the secret room)




Zones Update
A couple of Zones pages have been updated today.

Tol Barad (Article)
A loading screen and 16 screenshots from the latest build has been added. The zone is still in developement but it's starting to look better and it's interesting to see how a zone evolves through the development process.



Twilight Highlands (Article)
The mass of tentacles has been updated into ... a tentacle thing (I really need to find a proper name for this one), you can see it in action in the video below. I also added a cavern I didn't spot earlier, it seems to lead to Deepholm.



Ironforge (Article)
Ironforge didn't change that much (for the moment?) but I figured you would be happy to see how the Ironforge Airfield looks now! I also included a picture of the new throne room.



Uldum (Article)
New sphynx-like statues have been added to the zone.



Deepholm (Article)
The current set of screenshot was stealth-updated with a new picture of Therazane's Throne.




Fairly obvious spoilers in the videos after the blue posts. Don't scroll down if you want to avoid them

Blue Posts
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Beta Testing
No Addons in Beta
The current plan is to allow for them eventually, but that's contingent upon many factors. We're still doing a lot of work on the default user interface and want to make sure that can be tested with as few variables as possible. Trying to allow for third-party addons when it's quite likely some fairly major changes will be coming with each patch just makes testing and reviewing bug reports that much more difficult.

Once we feel there's much more polish on the core features of the UI, we'll consider allowing addons to be used again. (Source)

Dev Notes in Talent Trees
Yeah, we probably should have removed those notes. What was happening is that developers would want to do a dungeon or BG test or something and occasionally picked classes that at the moments had their guts ripped out. For example, there might not be enough talents in the tree to get down to the bottom talent. We tried annotating the talent trees so people would have an idea of what they were getting into. A "60% complete" talent tree would suggest that they might still see a lot of broken stuff. I wouldn't give those numbers a second thought as an alpha / beta participant.

Warlock talent trees still have a long way to go. (Source)

Cataclysm Beta Scam Mails
There are indeed phishing emails in circulation right now that mimic World of Warcraft: Cataclysm closed beta invites, and players should always remain cautious when responding to or clicking on links contained within emails that appear to be sent from Blizzard Entertainment.

That said, players who are selected to participate in the beta will receive a notification email. While the email itself isn't necessary for beta access, it does contain more detailed instructions for installation, common troubleshooting steps and helpful reminders, and customer support contact information—useful bits of data to have. So, be sure to double-check that you're not reading real email from Blizzard Entertainment before clicking that "delete" button. (If you're unsure how to tell a legitimate email from a phishing email, here's a good guide to reference: http://us.blizzard.com/support/article/25133).

You are definitely correct, though, Elbeghast. Players who are invited to the World of Warcraft: Cataclysm closed beta will be able to tell by visiting their Battle.net Account Management page and checking the available licenses under the "Manage My Games" section. (Source)

Closed Beta and Random Invitations
The fact is we can't invite every paying customer into the beta test process. It wouldn't make for a good environment to collect feedback or get focused testing, not to mention the number of test realms we'd need to run.

Yes, some people are granted access to the beta through promotional opportunities, because they're a part of our fansite program, etc. These invites still make up an incredibly small percentage of the total number of people invited this week. Also, it's been a couple of days since beta started. We will be inviting thousands of people just about every week -- provided we have the room for more testers -- to join the Cataclysm beta.

It simply isn't reasonable to expect that, because one individual pays to play the game, they should be given immediate access to test the upcoming expansion. That is not the purpose of a beta test. Aside from the few promotional opportunities we have had where people could score beta keys, we do not invite the player base at-large as though it's included with everyone's subscription fees. We make it fair and randomly invite as many people as possible as often as possible.

To clarify, Bobby Kotick is not a developer or producer for World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, or any other Blizzard game. He is the CEO of Activision Blizzard, our video games publisher. (Source)

Classes
Threat Decay
If you tanked pre-LK, maintaining threat as a tank was a pretty big deal. The best tanks were the ones who could generate threat quickly and keep it high, allowing the raid to go to 100% quickly. We lost that a little in LK, and part of the reason was Tricks and Misdirect. Those abilities can keep a tank's threat high enough to where the risk of pulling off of the tank is very low.

But is that fun for the tank? If threat never matters, then the tank is left with trying to stay alive (which comes down to managing cooldowns) and perhaps moving the boss or other encounter-specific mechanics (which to be fair, we do a lot more of these days). The problem with staying alive as a goal is that it's pretty binary. The tank can't really work to "stay alive better than last time" in the same way dps can try to maximize their dps or healers can try to keep everyone up without running OOM. Threat gives tanks something to work on. It gives you a reason to hit that Shield Slam at the right moment rather than being lazy and mostly autoattacking.

Having said all that, we don't want threat to constantly feel like a throttle and we don't want tanking to feel horribly frustrating. We want you to be able to manage your own threat as a tank and we'll give you the tools to do that, but then you actually need to do that. Having a slow threat decay makes sure that your job is never done -- that you can't get so far ahead of everyone that hitting Shield Slam at the right time becomes irrelevant for the rest of the fight. If you are already an awesome tank you probably won't notice a difference.

[...] You won't suddenly notice a massive drop because "decay kicked in." But you'll never be able to get so far ahead of everyone else that there is no possibility of them catching up even if you do nothing. As I said, if you hit all your buttons now, you won't notice a difference, but there might be a more noticeable difference between good tanks and bad tanks. (Source)

Vengeance
Vengeance isn't to make threat irrelevant. Vengeance is to solve a very specific problem, which is that if threat is balanced in the first tier, it won't be balanced in the last tier because dps specs gain a lot more dps stats from their dps gear than tanks gain dps stats from their tank gear. As an alternative, we considered just not making tanking gear, but we didn't like how that would feel. (Source)

Hunter
Hunter Pets in Cataclysm
We're in the middle of converting the stables over to the new model.

New model:

You have 5 active pets and 20 (or more) stable slots. You can summon an active pet whenever you want, out of combat. This replaces the remote stable spell. In other words, if you have a crab, a bear and a wolf, you can swap from wolf to bear in between encounters.

You must visit a stable master to change which are the active pets though. There are a lot of stable slots, so you can catch Spirit Beasts or rare spawns or whatever you want, even if you don't think you will use them often. (Source)

Cataclysm Video Update
I didn't have time to upload big videos yet but here are 2 small videos that you will most likely enjoy.

The first one is a video of ... the Maelstrom! Yup. It definitely doesn't look like a playable zone but I wouldn't be surprised to see it in a cutscene at some point.



The 2nd video is an aerial view of ... that tentacle thing, in the Twilight Highlands.

by Published on 2010-07-02 04:48 AM

Cataclysm - MMO-Champion Updates
Things have been crazy in the past 24 hours for me (the world came to an end a couple of times) and it's time for a mini site update.

At this point, I'll assume you all had the time to go through the intial wave of Cataclysm content. A lot more updates are coming but pushing the first wave of content and staying online was really something important, working on content before the NDA lift was very pointless since I had no way that my work would even have a chance to reach the public before it has to be updated again. Things have changed, and we're entering a wonderful world of non-boring news for the next few months.

The recent forum posts box at the top of the front page will be back during the day, the Cataclysm menu should be available during the day as well and I will most likely restore the Patch 3.3 menu. All the others menu will be gone (seriously, who checks Ulduar loot lists these days?)

One last thing, when we went live yesterday WoWTal.com wasn't updated to the last version of the Beta patch. This is now fixed.


Cataclysm Beta Invitations
[blizzquote author=Lylirra source=http://blue.mmo-champion.com/t/25626285604/world-of-warcraft-cataclysm-beta-now-live/]It's important to keep in mind that we're distributing World of Warcraft: Cataclysm beta invites the same way we distributed StarCraft II beta invites. Instead of sending out a beta code via email and requiring the user to flag their own account, we're doing all of that for you. The invitation process is running, but it takes time to flag each account that's eligible.

Players who opted in and were selected as recipients for this first round of beta invites will likely be informed through Battle.net Account Management sometime today, though, potentially before the invitation email arrives. [/blizzquote]


Twin Peaks should be active on Closed Beta
[blizzquote author=Mumper source=http://blue.mmo-champion.com/t/25626456411/twin-peaks-should-be-active-on-closed-beta/]Open up the PVP interface and queue up for it! Please post any feedback you have in these forums.

Thanks! [/Blizzquote]



Wise Words from Zarhym
Reminder: It's a BETA. Stuff changes.
[blizzquote author=Zarhym source=http://blue.mmo-champion.com/t/25626046467/lol-so-much-for-troll-druid/]As we are in beta though, all things are subject to change and not necessarily finalized. I'm only suggesting that player feedback remains constructive and people do not focus too much attention on what has been data-mined, as if it's absolutely the content you'll see implemented when the expansion is released. [/blizzquote]

It's probably worth pointing out that posts about datamined contents will be deleted on the official forums.
[blizzquote author=Zarhym source=http://blue.mmo-champion.com/t/25626576296/blues-are-suggestions-not-allowed-here/]If the post was linking to data-mined images, it was deleted. These forums are for discussing beta content and gameplay, as well as reporting bugs, making suggestions, and providing feedback. It is still a violation of the EULA and forum Code of Conduct to post or link to reverse-engineered or data-mined content, as much of the yet-to-be-implemented Cataclysm content remains a work in-progress. We want your feedback on what is available now, not what someone pulled out of the dark trenches of the game files and posted for all to see.[/blizzquote]

For the moment I strongly suggest that you avoid discussing datamined content on the official forums, we have our own Cataclysm forums, use them.



Cataclysm Beta Blue Posts
The Alpha/Beta forums are now public and the blue posts from the past few months are now available. I did my best to not miss anything important, don't hesitate to point out anything missing.

As a reminder, the Blue Tracker also tracks the beta forums now. When we're all up to date, it will be time to work on new stuff!
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Items
Cataclysm Gear much more powerful than WotLK's
Since we're only raising the level cap to 85 in Cataclysm, one of the goals is to pack as much content and gameplay as possible into the new 78-85 zones and dungeons. We don't want the leveling experience from 80-85 to feel as if it's only half of the content we've provided in the last two expansions. So, with that comes more substantial scaling of items and character power with each level gained. A level-82 character should feel significantly more powerful than a level-80 character, for example. There are some epic and legendary items from Wrath of the Lich King raid content which may take a while to replace, but chances are most of your gear will be replaced by the time you start running level-85 normal 5-player dungeons.

The first rule of thumb, as usual, is that you'll probably be focused on the stats most important to your class. If you're, say, an Unholy death knight, you probably won't be replacing items until the strength on the new gear outweighs the strength on what is currently equipped, even with gems and enchants considered. By the time this occurs you'll also likely be incorporating the benefits of Mastery rating.

[...] The concept is very much the same as the previous two expansions. We expect players leveling new characters in BoA gear, questing greens and maybe even some dungeon blues to be able to head into either of the first two Cataclysm zones at level 78 and do just fine. If you're wearing mostly quest-reward items, you can expect to replace them very quickly in Vashj'ir or Mount Hyjal. (Source)

WotLK to Cataclysm Spellpower Conversion
We're trying to keep everyone at about the same power level at 80. We want your Fireballs and Flash Heals to show about the same numbers before and after the conversion.

Now as soon as you gain a level from 80 to 81 all bets are off and numbers are going to start changing dramatically. (Source)

Beta Testing
Guild Achievements / Guild Leveling
Guild Achievements are planned for Cataclysm as well as the Guild Leveling feature (more on that to come). These systems are not yet implemented in the beta. (Source)

Deepholm / Beta Level Cap
This build of beta does not have Deepholm available for testing. It has the same zones you've been testing with a lot of bug fixes, polish and new bugs.

Deepholm + level cap + new dungeons soon... (Source)

Worgens - Customizing the Human Form
You might not be able to customize your human separately from your worgen, but you will at least be able to see both at the same time so you won't be surprised when you zone in. We don't want anyone to have to keep creating and deleting worgen to get the look they want. (Source)

Raids & Dungeons
Cataclysm Raid Buffs and Debuffs
Check the original post for more details.

Dungeon Keys
Yep, we're removing the dungeon keys and the need for them. Thanks for finding a couple places I missed. We're not in a rush to remove the keyring, quest team still occasionally uses it and the Burning Crusade Heroic unlock items are there as well for now. (Source)

Classes
Talent Trees Changes
We are making some more dramatic changes to the existing talent trees (even the ones we have released publicly already) so you'll unfortunately need to wait a little longer to get a feel for the mage and other trees. (Source)

Hit % in Character Panel
We will at least show "hit needed for a target of your level AND hit needed for a target of your level +3." If we get fancy, we'll let you pick the target level through UI and examine all of your stats in that context. (Source)

Tanking Talents
We are keeping Toughness, because tanks like to improve their survivability and very consistent damage reduction is more desirable than procs. Anticipation and Deflection aren't going to survive the Cataclysm. /sniff

Threat in Cataclysm
On threat, one of the changes we're considering trying out is to have threat decay pretty rapidly. The idea is that a tank should never be able to get so far ahead on threat that they can AFK for the rest of the fight. It might sound like a nerf, but really the intent is to make sure that the tank's job is never done -- that what you do will remain important.

The tuning wouldn't be such that if you missed a couple of swings that the warlocks would pull aggro. The feeling would be more that you have to still make decisions with regard to threat generation throughout the fight.

Furthermore, we are exploring the threat generation of Misdirect and Tricks of the Trade being temporary. That way it would still be useful for initial pulls or when adds join the fray, but wouldn't be a crutch to keep tank threat consistently high throughout a fight. Tanks are already dependent on other classes for their survival -- we want threat generation to be primarily the tank's responsibility. (Don't take that to mean that dps classes won't have to watch their threat or use threat dumps -- it just means we don't want to have tanks relying on other classes to generate threat for the tank.) (Source)

Parry
We're also not happy with the new implementation of parry, where you take 50% damage from two swings. It sounded good on paper, but after testing it out we thought the second swing just feels goofy and confusing. Our plan is to revert parry back to 100% avoidance and remove the concept of swing speed increase for any creature (players could still do it). We would change the budget on parry to be exactly the same as dodge. We'd also like to add some more talent hooks that favor say parry over dodge for some classes -- stuff like "After a successful parry...." (Source)

Healing Model in Cataclysm
We've had many threads on this topic already, some with blue posts, so I feel like I'm starting to sound like the proverbial broken record here, but I'll give it a go one more time:

-- We want to add talents that are more than just +healing. You've got plenty of those.
-- There are opportunities for *every* healer to dps.
-- Opportunity 1. Leveling or soloing. Not every healer wants to use their dual spec on say Elemental or Shadow.
-- Opportunity 2. PvP. Good healers, especially priests in today's game, can contribute a lot of damage.
-- Opportunity 3. Dungeons. This is particularly true when the content is easy and you want to get through it quickly. Healing more doesn't make things go any faster. Dealing damage does.
-- Opportunity 4. Raids. No matter how challenging the content, there are moments when nobody is taking damage and you can spare the mana. Your choices are do nothing, tab out to YouTube, or maybe do a little damage.
-- If you are the kind of healer that never, ever, ever wants to do damage under any circumstances, then don't. You'll have choices to avoid anything dps-related.
-- I also don't think you'll be expected to dps. Your 2-3 dps talents aren't going to let you compete with a mage. There are very few fights balanced along such a razor's edge that your dps will contribute more than say what the rogue and lock could add if they just stepped it up a bit. Besides, in those really challenging fights, you probably are going to have to devote all of your GCDs and mana towards actual healing.

Death Knight (Forums / 3.3.5 Talent Calculator / Cataclysm Talent Calculator)
DK Rotations with the new Rune System
Rotation-wise, imagine that say a Frost DK has a rotation similar to what you have today: Plague Strike, Icy Touch, Blood Strike, Blood Strike, Obliterate with Frost Strike using runic power. The difference will be the procs and other things to fill in the rune uses. For example, Frost will be generating a lot more runic power, so you might be able to work several Frost Strikes or Death Coils in among those Blood Strikes. You might also get runes to recharge for free, allowing you to get another Blood Strike, Icy Touch or perhaps even Howling Blast in there. At high level, abilities like Outbreak will let you skip the disease application abilities and go right to the big guns. (Source)

AE Tanking and Howling Blast
As far as tanking goes, with DnD, Blood Boil and Pestilence, we think DKs will be fine, particularly given that we expect to see less AE tanking in general. Remember, part of the reason we're going to a single DK tanking tree is so we can give tanks everything they need without having to make multiple versions of spells for every mechanic or niche.

We think Howling Blast has been a little marginalized for Frost of late and we're taking a look at giving in a larger presence. (Source)

Druid (Forums / 3.3.5 Talent Calculator / Cataclysm Talent Calculator)
Eclipse and Balance
Here are a few clarifications on Eclipse and Balance intent is general. As you probably guessed, part of what you're seeing is a work in progress.

On Eclipse -- Currently Eclipse has a 30 sec cooldown on its proc, so it may be beneficial sometimes to say proc Lunar, go almost halfway to Solar but then just go back and proc Lunar again depending on the situation. In an upcoming build you cannot proc Lunar unless you proc Solar, and visa versa.

Eclipse’s “predictability” -- A new talent is being added that if taken will make lunar/solar energy gain a little more random, so as to make Eclipse less predictable.

Haste caps and Nature’s Grace -- We’re addressing the haste situation in a few ways. We’re going to up the cast time of Wrath to 2.5, up from 2 sec base (so 2 sec after you get Starlight Wrath). This should help the clipping issues. In general, your haste and crit stats won’t be as inflated as they were in Wrath of the Lich King so it will be more unlikely for you to reach caps for those stats. However, we are also considering short term haste power gains to scale off of your existing haste values. What that means is that instead of just increasing your haste by 20%, it instead will increase the haste value on your paper doll (or rather, the sum of how much haste you have itemized) by a percentage. So the more haste you have, the stronger the effect of Nature’s Grace is.

Movement -- DPS issues with movement are addressed in Wrath of Cenarius. The gameplay is you spam Moonfire while moving, similar to how a Frost Mage may spam Ice Lance or a new Warlock may spam Fel Flame. If you proc Lunar eclipse while moving, this does amplify your damage done by WoC/Moonfire but of course isn’t easy or practical. Moonkins can also maintain their DoTs while moving.

Talent choices -- The new talent design philosophy is to reduce a lot of passive, “no brainer” talents in the tree. Most of these are “PvE” talents which are mostly passive damage modifiers. “Gameplay” talents (aka talents that have a visceral change of how you play your class) are always dubbed “PvP talents” at first, but often have emerging gameplay once players learn to use them. We think there will be plenty of situations where a persistent AE silence or a line of mushrooms creating a 75% snare have PvE usage. In LK beta, some Moonkins were upset that Typhoon had no PvE usage. Not all of these abilities increase dps against a solo, Patchwerk-style stationary boss, but we try not to have too many of those encounters.

A side effect of the new talent philosophy is that there will be less math decisions over “PvE bloat,” which will be disappointing for some high-end players who like crunching math. We’re sorry. (Source)

Hunter (Forums / 3.3.5 Talent Calculator / Cataclysm Talent Calculator)
Aimed Shot Cast Time / Dead Zone in Cataclysm
It's not a "dead zone." It's a minimum range. I say that because many hunters use "dead zone" to refer to an old design quirk where there was a range at which neither range nor melee attacks would work. We haven't had a dead zone for some time.

If a melee is up in your stuff, you have a couple of choices. Choice one is to use your melee abilities. Choice two, which will probably work out better, is to get away from them and resume using ranged attacks. You have several defensive cooldowns you can use to gain distance or survive long enough to gain distance. Your third choice is to keep shooting even with someone attacking you in melee. By design that is supposed to be quite ineffectual.

In Cataclysm, hunters have some capacity to do damage while moving, but again that's not going to be a super effective way of dealing damage. It's a last resort.

[...] I meant trying to shoot while someone is in melee with you isn't going to work out well. We don't want a model where the hunter goes about his merry way while melee dudes are trying to melee him. (Source)

Looking for Dungeon "Unlock"
The vast majority of our dungeons must now be visited and their entrances explored before you can LFG for that dungeon. A few classic dungeons will always be available that are extremely hard to visit or are low level. Ragefire Chasm, Stormwind Stockade, Deadmines, and Wailing Caverns are automatically unlocked. (Source)

Hunter Changes
We wanted to share some our intent with some of the hunter changes, which will in turn help you give feedback.

Focus -- We'll be messing with ability costs for some time. Depending on your weapon, autoshot costs can be higher than "focus dump" abilities, which clearly won't work. We're working on a DPCT priority list that makes more sense. As far as regen goes though, we think the current rate is about right. We don't want the rotation to become erratic and we like the gameplay of building focus through shots. In situations where you just can't stand still, such as kiting, you can use the new Aspect of the Fox. We've tied the focus regen for using cast-time shots during Aspect of the Hawk, otherwise there would be no reason to be in anything but Fox. Focus is more of a combo between rage and energy, since you build it and use it up. The skill of playing a hunter involves keeping your focus high enough -- as it is somewhat random due to procs -- but use it before you overflow.

Shots -- Each hunter talent tree has a "signature" focus dump: Survival has Explosive Shot, Marks has Chimera Shot, and Beastmaster has Raccoon Shot... I mean Kill Command. These all have cooldowns, so if you are at 100 focus, use Kill Command and still have focus left over, you can use Arcane Shot next. This is why Explosive and Arcane no longer share cooldowns. Once you figure out which abilities to use for each spec, the number of abilities you need to manage should feel less daunting. For example, Marks would use Serpent Sting, Steady Shot, Arimed Shot, Chimera Shot and Arcane Shot on a boss fight, and Serpent Sting gets refreshed automatically. Think less in terms of shot rotations and more in terms of prioritizations.

Pets -- We haven't done our design pass on them yet. The design is for them to no longer receive raid buff since they get complete scaling from the master (and we don't want them to double dip). Their abilities will be divided into 3 categories: basic focus dumps (e.g. Claw), specials (e.g. web), and exotic abilities for the BM exotic pets. Specials never cost focus and basics have short cooldowns but meaningful damage. All pets will do the same dps. We don't want "wolf or die" in Cataclysm (and before that it was cat). Each pet family will bring a unique raid buff, allowing hunters to be wildcards for when you are lacking something. The ease of swapping pets will facilitate this further.

Cobra Shot -- We're not happy with the damage yet. We want BM to basically not use Steady ever again. Marks may use Cobra in PvP situations where spell damage trumps physical damage.

Kill Command -- We like the Frenzy / Focus Fire mechanic, but are likely to make it it's own clicky and not tied to Kill Command. Kill Command itself will be the signature focus dump for BM. For other specs, it will be more situational, such as dealing damage to a target out of your (but not your pet) LoS. Marks also has the Resistance is Futile talent to give it some more use.

Aimed Shot -- We are returning this ability to be an opener once again, like Ravage or Ambush. In longer fights, Master Marskman can proc instant Aimed Shots, to keep the ability relevant.

AE damage -- The design is that you use Multi-Shot on 2+ targets, and Explosive Trap and Volley on 4+ targets.

Venoms -- The focus cost may be too high. However, don't expect to have to use these on every target. Part of separating Serpent Sting from the Venoms so that they could be more situational. Even Serpent Sting isn't necessary on every target, especially those that will die quickly. Instead 2-3 Steadies with an Arcane or Kill Shot should do the job. Hunters are used to using every ability on every target because there is no real resource cost with mana. Now priority and efficiency become important.

Ultimately, we think these changes will solve some of the problems the hunter class has had as well as making them more fun to play, or we wouldn't be going through so much re-design. (Source)

Mage (Forums / 3.3.5 Talent Calculator / Cataclysm Talent Calculator)
Shatter
Shatter has been a lot of things. At the moment it is double crit chance vs. frozen targets for 1 point and triple crit chance vs. frozen for 2 points. I'll try to update some of the other concerns and make corrections when I get some time. (Source)

Paladin (Forums / 3.3.5 Talent Calculator / Cataclysm Talent Calculator)
Critical Immunity on Holy Shield
The crit immunity is a permanent passive for spec'ing that deep into the tree. (Source)

Shaman (Forums / 3.3.5 Talent Calculator / Cataclysm Talent Calculator)
Rockbiter taunt effect
Shaman won't be a tanking class. The Rockbiter effect is for very situational uses, such as say an Enhancement shaman who wants to try and rescue a healer in a 5-player dungeon who has aggro. (Source)

Warlock (Forums / 3.3.5 Talent Calculator / Cataclysm Talent Calculator)
Trolls and Dwarves Warlock
Trolls and dwarves can be warlocks. It's official. (Source)

Soul Burn
• PvE applications
Many of Soulburn’s effects are gameplay oriented, so they’re less desirable in situations where all you care about is your passive damage (like say a solo boss encounter). For those situations you will use Demon Soul (which may not be in your current build), which is more or less a short term damage percent power gain, depending on what pet you have. So often in boss encounter you may use your three shards on Demon Soul, and during dungeons, soloing, or PvP skirmishes you might use the different soul shard effects depending upon the situation (since you can replenish them easily through adds on trash etc via Drain Soul).

• UA Soulburn effect
This most likely won’t be implemented, because it conflicts too much with Fel Flame’s mechanic. Why burn a shard for amplifying the damage done from re-casting UA when you could just refresh it with the upfront damage from Fel Flame?

• Tooltips and education
Ideally, we'd like to educate players on Soulburn effects through quests. Listing the spells it effects in the main tooltip is also an option, our only concern is it just becoming a short novel. When you cast Soulburn, it should change the tooltip of spells it effects. In a future build it will also “highlight” the icon of your spells which it affects. (Source)

Warrior (Forums / 3.3.5 Talent Calculator / Cataclysm Talent Calculator)
Titan's Grip and Single-Minded Fury
Titan's Grip and Single-Minded Fury are mutually exclusive. There is no need to have both talents in one build (I guess unless you just want to be prepared for any potential weapon drop).

Single-Minded Fury only applies when you are dual-wielding one-handed weapons. We will clean up the tooltip.

Fury and Enrage mechanics
We want enrage mechanics to be a bigger deal for Fury in general, so we think that covers Enrage. Blood Craze we changed to be triggered on taking damage rather than taking a crit to make it a more useful leveling talent. Not all of the talents are going to be of the variety "You hit harder" -- that's really the kind of thing we are trying to back off of. (Source)

Crit Immunity
The warrior crit immunity is on Imp Defensive Stance in the newest versions of the talent trees. (Source)

Intimidating Shout
We're also changing (probably) Intimidating Shout into a single-target, longish duration CC (basically taking off the fear from the secondary targets and increasing the duration to the Repentance level). (Source)

Thunder Clap
Thunder Clap is something we are experimenting with. It might be that it works with no cooldown if Shockwave hits hard enough for the emergency or burst threat. We also might end up changing it back. (Source)

Heroic Strike
Heroic Strike is something we're still not entirely happy with. The new design works technically, but it is still a little confusing (one of the things we wanted to avoid) and we are worried that warriors of all three trees will lose some of the visceral feel that warrior players liked about the class. Don't get me wrong -- replacing every white attack with a Heroic Strike was terrible gameplay, but being able to sneak more than one attack into a GCD could be fun too.

The new mechanic that we are trying now is Heroic Strike is still instant, but is off the GCD and with a short cooldown. The rage cost doesn't scale, but we can make it more expensive if it needs to be in order to adequately burn off rage. We are hoping the rage normalization and Inner Rare mechanics do a sufficient job on their own of keeping rage from ever getting infinite. We're still not fans of the next swing mechanic, so that isn't likely to return. It delays gratification, and ends up being really confusing because you lose the rage and damage that white swing would have caused etc. (It also causes a bug allowing dual-wield warriors to cheat their hit chance, but that's fixable in other ways.)

All of this makes us think that Heroic Strike isn't a good starting ability for warriors since teaching them to spam it is a bad thing. (Source)

Cleave
Cleave wouldn't necessarily need to match the Heroic Strike design. You could just replace say Devastate with Cleave when needed. Maul also doesn't need to use the exact same implementation. (Source)

Vigilance
One idea we like for Vigilance is for it to keep the protective aspect it has now, but instead of transferring threat to the tank, it gives them a chunk of Vengeance if the target takes damage. The nice thing about that is it turns into a great tool for an OT to use on the MT. (Source)

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