Affenjungs INC vs. Halion 25 Heroic Affenjungs Inc released a video of one of their attempts against Halion in 25-Man Heroic mode on PTRs. The normal mode of the encounter was already fairly impressive but it really looks like the Heroic mode will hurt.
Zalazane's Fall and Operation Gnomeregan Videos
The first part of the Cataclysm Prologue is on PTRs and people who are much more useful than me released videos of both events on Youtube. Of course, you might want to avoid them if you don't like spoilers.
The videos are Youtube playlists, just click on the next video for the 2nd part, etc ...
The MMO Report
This is probably the last time you will see the MMO Report on MMO-Champion since they decided to make fun of me. I'll be waiting for a virtual hug from Casey in my mail to resume posting.
Also, small update on the "we got hacked" issue. After checking a few things it seems that it only affected something like 5% of the readers on the site, assuming that at least half of them had an up to date antivirus, I probably did a front page news just because 2.5% of my users got a spyware. And no, the virus didn't target WoW accounts, we just have 1M visits each day on the site and some people get randomly hacked for tons of reasons, when MMO-Champion becomes that reason you won't need me to hear about it everywhere on the forums.
I still apologize for the screwup, even if it's not as bad as it looked in the first place.
Lowering the GCD
Lowering the GCD is as close to anything on the never list. We will possibly do it for hunters, but that is because their resource system is going to prevent them from ever spamming multiple buttons at once (in the same way rogues have a lower GCD). Even with rage normalization there are going to be times when a warrior is at 100 rage and can unload with multiple attacks at once. The GCD is there for a reason, partially for game balance and partially to keep the server - client communication from getting gummed up. (Source)
If talents aren't mandatory (for PvE or PvP) then they are considered marginal. If your talent decisions don't actually matter, then that feature becomes a lot less compelling. You could advocate I suppose a design where each individual talent point is even with every other, but given the enormous diversity of situations that you can find yourself in, that's a pretty tall order. (Source)
It was before my time, but the talent trees were developed in response to beta feedback that all say warriors played the same and players weren't making any decisions about how to improve their character beyond a certain point. Maybe 3 wasn't the right number, or maybe the designers should have said that paladins and priests are healers and don't have a damage-dealing mode.
In any case, those decisions have been made. While we aren't afraid of making a really controversial change if it improves the game, I'm not sure sacrificing some talent trees really does improve the game. It might make PvP or even PvE balance easier to achieve, but it cuts down on the number of ways to play the game or even sheer depth. For every number-obsessed power gamer there are thousands of players who just like their BM hunter or Frost mage and don't care if they can't top meters or win Arena because they're never going to do that content anyway. Those guys could very well be devastated by just taking away the class that they love. I think it's the kind of thing that might cause a big loss of subscribers. It's really had to support as logical any change that might be "good for the game" but causes a lot of people to quit. What does that even mean? (Source)
I've been trying to stick more with how things should be and what the priority should be in getting there. We want all specs to have a place in PvP (and PvE for that matter). Some players just want to know which are the best PvP classes or specs so they can go play those. Others really like a particular class, say paladin, but really don't want to do some of those roles, say healing. Others like Lhivera really like the playstyle, spells or even just the idea of a particular tree within the class. Some players are fine if they can play their spec without feeling like a total idiot for doing so, while others won't be satisfied unless the dps tracking sites end in a 10-way tie and every tournament has about 30 specs represented.
All of those things are important to non-trivial slices of our player base so they all have to count for something. They aren't necessarily exclusive either, but a big part of game design, especially the runaway locomotive that is MMO design, is deciding what is the highest priority. (Source)
AVR + AVR Encounters removal in 3.3.5 (See this post)
We're breaking it because we didn't intend for addons to be able to use the 3D space to automate spacial relations for players. It comes a little closer to "do everything and go everywhere this mod tells you" than anything like it before. The decision wasn't made because there were complaints about it. The decision was made because we don't like that functionality.
With all of the complaints about the game being too easy, I'd expect endgame raiders like yourself to respect the fact that we don't want addon authors visually telling you exactly where to be and when at all times.
If you think some sort of spacial recognition feature should be incorporated into the default user interface, it's worth noting on our Suggestions forum.
[...] Just to be clear, there's a difference between a mod telling you what needs to happen versus showing you. AVR takes the pitch, yaw and roll (if you will) of your character to visually represent where you need to be and when. That's very distinct compared to a tool like DBM playing a "run away little girl" sound file when you're in a danger spot. It's not visually showing you in the 3D game space where to run to get out of danger. (Source)
Fixing bugs and dev priority Yet somehow that is more important than fixing the bugs that people experience numerous times each day. Well I got my answer, they are two separate teams. So yeah, it doesn't matter. I just hope that maybe with the new expansion blizz can devote some of it's ui people to fixing bugs. They seem to be much more efficient.
It's a lot more than two separate teams. There are content teams which include everything from encounter design to quest design. There are systems teams which include things like UI, class and items design. There are several development leads with several employees reporting to each of them. Each of these teams of employees are very busy working on their specialty. It's not as easy as pulling the UI lead and his team over to focus on gameplay bugs. That's not their specialty and they're not going to be able to address those bugs appropriately, not to mention the fact that it means UI features and fixes would fall behind.
In addition to the many developers we have sectioned off into specific specialties for creating, fixing and improving content, we have teams of producers managing projects for each of the development teams to ensure appropriate priorities are placed on every task that comes through the pipeline. Believe me, a lot of tasks come through the pipeline and all of these guys are working very long hours these days.
The functionality of AVR is much more impacting on gameplay than some of the bugs you mentioned as examples earlier. Sure, some of the bugs you listed can be very frustrating when encountered, but the majority of players tend not to encounter those bugs on a regular basis. For instance, getting stuck in a wall when feared really sucks, however, it's extremely rare. It's also extremely difficult to implement an absolute fix so that it never happens again. That one specific example of a bug might actually be hundreds of smaller bugs which fit into the category of a larger bug you happen to notice. Random fear pathing maybe the cause, but the bug might actually exist solely within extremely specific portions of terrain in numerous places throughout the world. Sometimes it's difficult to even reproduce a good number of the bugs reported. Our quality assurance teams work tirelessly to try and verify every bug which gets documented, but some are so quirky we might not be able to replicate the specific situation which caused it to happen.
A bug that affects maybe 100 people a month, even if it's a bug which causes the game to crash under very specific conditions, will be considered a lower priority than fixing something which allows third-party addons to trivialize raid encounters way more than we would like for tens of thousands of players a week. (Source)
Priest (Forums / Talent Calculator) Cataclysm Utility of a Shadow Priest
At the moment, Shadow has the 5% spell haste buff, similar to Improved Moonkin Form. That could change as we iterate further on the buff and debuff design.
This is in addition to Shadow's existing healing debuff and general priest buffs such as Fortitude.
As posters above have pointed out, we aren't going to give any spec a buff so powerful that they automatically earn a raid spot. (Source)
Warrior (Forums / Talent Calculator) Passive Fury Talents
You are reading that goal too literally. We want to get rid of passive talents that don't affect your gameplay much. Both Titan's Grip and Single-Minded Fury are passive damage increases but each of them changes your game enormously since they dictate which weapons you'll use. Cruelty, on the other hand, does not. You don't do anything different from before after talenting Cruelty. (Source)
Operation Gnomeregan and Echo Isles
The events themselves are not currently scheduled to go live with patch 3.3.5. We're simply taking the opportunity on the PTRs to test these events while they're up and running in case we do not have another opportunity to do so before marking these events live.
[...] The release of the events will be contingent upon the development of other features leading up to Cataclysm, but their release will likely not coincide directly with a patch. They're events that simply need to be "turned on" when we're ready. (Source)
Put the shared diminishing returns cooldowns on tooltips in Cataclysm
Yeah, we would like to do this. (Source)
Class Balance in PvP (Source)
This is probably going to be one of those controversial posts, but I think if you really sit down and think about it and don't post a knee-jerk reaction, you might agree that it makes a lot of sense.
"Balance" means two different things to Arena players. For some players, the most important thing is for their favorite spec to be viable. Balance for them is all 30 specs being about equally powerful or perhaps even in about equal proportions. For other players, and I'd categorize more of the very high-end in this camp, the most important thing is for the fights themselves to feel balanced, even if that means not every spec is truly competitive. Some players might even be happy with only RMP as a viable 3s comp, so long as the matches felt like they were won by skill and not by cheesy maneuvers or dumb luck.
In a perfect world, you could accomplish both goals, and we do work towards both. But at the end of the day, it is also realistic to choose one as the higher priority goal. We made a lot of effort to get more specs into PvP in Wrath, and overall we've had a lot of success there relative to past seasons. The LK seasons have been pretty diverse, though Fire and a couple of other specs still aren't there. But that also came at the expense of actual player vs. player balance, particularly in the earlier LK seasons.
One of the reasons we are focusing on rated Battlegrounds for Cataclysm is they put less emphasis on the class composition of the teams and more on the coordination of the team. The fewer number of players involved, and the more the goal is centered around killing someone then accomplishing objectives, then the more important the number and power of individual tools belonging to a single spec become. Once you go to even a 10-player team, then there is a lot more flexibility and historically under-represented Arena specs can come into their own. It's easier to have synergy the larger the team size and even double up on some classes and specs rather than have so much power determined by whose crowd controls don't diminish with each other.
As far as Arena balance goes, it's an interesting debate on whether it's more important that things feel really, really good for a small number of classes or more important to have a large number of classes / specs participating.
Also it is just bad design to say you want to balance all 30 Specs. and not do it. Pick a philosophy, are you balancing all 30 or are you balancing based on classes, many people would rather not play a hybrid (i.e ret) and get pushed around trying to be balanced while blizzard makes up their mind on whether they are going to balance only holy or ret and holy.
I wouldn't call it "bad design." Just challenging. Maybe it would have been easier if WoW had been developed with 10 classes instead of the virtual 30 we have now, but that ship has sailed.
We try and balance around specs first, but if we can't quite hit that, we fall back on class. It would be awesome if Fire mages were competitive with Frost mages in Arena, but failing that, at least a mage can have a Fire build for PvE and a Frost build for PvP. If on the other hand mages themselves had no viable spec, then your only choice it to roll an alt. As easy as leveling is these days, it's still not trivial.
For classes with roles that essentially do the same thing, won't the one that performs better, even only if slightly always be chosen? You can buff fire PvP but if frost is only better by a slim margin it will still be the spec of choice.
"Performs better" in a PvP context is really hard to define. It has little to do with who is highest on the damage meters. You can look at who wins the most matches, but even then I don't think you are looking at actual power as much as popularity. As soon as someone comes up with a new strategy, that popularity can shift, even if the abilities don't change at all. Skill still has a much bigger effect than class or spec in most cases. While a good player might not be able to choose any of the 30 talent trees and be as succesful, they are rarely faced with just one choice either.
Can you please elaborate on where the sane controversy is over whether or not your whole player base -or- only 50% of your player base should be allowed to participate in arenas at a relatively competitive level of play? Are you proposing that half of your player base just shouldn't be able to succeed by default simply because they picked the wrong picture at the starting screen, as "interesting" design?
To be clear, this isn't our design, but you could design the game where 5 specs are PvP specs in the same way 4 specs are PvE tanking specs. If you rolled a shaman and really, really love to tank and perhaps even rolled your shaman back when they were tanks, then you are just out of luck. If we went that route (and again we're not) then we could provide a really balanced PvP experience for those 5 specs because we could focus all of our attention on those few. There is a reason RTS games who go for massive differentiation (like StarCraft II) have only a few races, while RTS games with many sides (like the Age of Empires games I used to work on) don't go for massive differentiation.
There are plenty of players out there who could care less if Balance druids or Fire mages are ever viable in PvP so long as there are some classes / specs that they can choose which will provide a really balanced, compelling, dynamic game for them. There aren't many posting in this thread, which frankly doesn't surprise me, but they are out there and their opinions count too. You can argue they are a very small minority of our player base, but they are also the ones for whom class balance discrepancies are most meaningful because their skill at the game is so refined. In the same way, we spend a lot of effort on heroic LK 25, even though very few players have the ability to experience let alone beat that encounter. That's also not to say we spend 90% of our encounter time on the Lich King and ignore the 5-player dungeons. Make sense?
Raid Healing in Cataclysm (Source)
Specs won't single target heal the same way. They will have enough basic tools that nobody will have a massive hole in what they can cover. We don't want the Disc priest to throw up her hands when asked to tank heal, or the paladin asked to sit out when on a fight with a lot of AE healing. You need to be able to run a 10-player raid with any 2 healers (ideally 2 different healers) and be okay. You need to be able to do any 5-player content with any healer (before you over-gear it as many of you do these days).
I don't think anyone here believes that Blizzard hates healers. I believe Earthmaster said it best when he said "Healers want everyone to live." This is in direct conflict with Blizzard's desire to make content challenging. The easier it is for healers to keep everyone alive, the harder it is for Blizzard to develop challenging content.
Yep. The rub is that some healers are only going to enjoy encounters when they can keep everyone alive pretty easily and some are only going to enjoy encounters when they really have to work at it. Those two are hard to reconcile because you're essentially trying to bring together "easy" vs. "harder."
If you are already well rounded then you have no reason to worry. I would bet that some druids have actually macro'd a castsequence for 5xrejuv + wg. Those are the ones who will have to change. That said, I am reasonably sure that we will end up favoring certain spells over others. Regardless of what GC envisions, that's almost unavoidable. What those will be remains to be seen.
Yes, the players who already use all their spells will see the least change. As for the second part of your quote, sure some spells will dominate in some cases. That's okay as long as others dominate in other places. The problem now is that many druids shrug and say "I'm not a tank healer," so they don't ever use their tank-healing spells.
Some of the changes that we are getting that we are getting I can agree with, but minimizing proactive healing is something I don't agree with at all, and something that I think is a very bad move on their part.
There is nothing wrong with proactive healing. It's challenging to use spells like Prayer of Mending for anything but. It only becomes a problem when you aren't making decisions. If you are pre-hotting or shielding folks you expect to take damage, that's great. You're actually forecasting and otherwise paying attention to what is going around you. If you are doing it to everyone just because you can or doing it at random because it doesn't matter, then that's a problem. You may not play that way today, but a lot of players do. I have done it myself on a lot of fights just to try it out and it's way too successful a strategy given the low amount of skill or even basic decision making involved.
Warrior (Forums / Talent Calculator) Fury in Cataclysm
First off, I would avoid any discussion of glyphs at all. We haven't finalized our glyph changes, but it's safe to say that many will change and many will go away. I cautioned the folks participating in the alpha that feedback isn't terribly useful that says something like "We'll never use that talent because of the glyph" or "We always prioritize X because of the glyph." Treat glyphs like current set bonuses. Relevant now, but perhaps not later.
For Fury, we expect Whirlwind to only get used when there are multiple targets around. We run into balancing problems when warriors (and DKs and Ret paladins and anyone else) do their normal rotation on one target and just get free damage if they can manage to get a second target into the same area. Melee need to work more like (most) casters in this regard: the Shadow priest shifts to Mind Sear when there are groups rather than just getting splash damage from Mind Blast.
That leaves Fury with Bloodthirst and Slam and Heroic Strike. Heroic Strike will play more of a role since it will require a GCD, but you also may not want to push it every time in low rage scenarios. So we do think Fury will need one more rotational button. The one we are messing with right now is Victory Rush. It feels pretty cool so far, but a lot of things will change with classes over the next several weeks. Not sure yet whether it works better as a proc (like Sudden Death) or something available all the time. (Source)
[blizzquote author=Nethaera source=http://blue.mmo-champion.com/t/25134813698/ptr-operation-gnomeregan-and-zalazane-s-fall]Starting today on the PTR, testers will have the opportunity to rise up to the challenge of the Operation Gnomeregan and Zalazane's Fall events. We're looking for your feedback and participation on the PTR to make these both memorable events in Azeroth's history.
Earthfury Epaulets (T1 Shaman) in Molten Core
Unfortunately you will have to wait for the fix to the Baron's loot table to get a pair of those Earthfury Epaulets. The good news is the Eye of Sulfuras is still on Ragnaros' loot table, so it is possible to receive this item.
[...] It'll get fixed in a future patch. Unfortunately I can't really say when =(. The fix should be in the patch notes and if it isn't, I'll update this thread. Sorry for the inconvenience. (Source)
Death Knight (Forums / Talent Calculator) Psychic Horror / Anti Magic Shield
We looked into this is and it is intended. Psychic Horror was changed so that the disarm effect still occurs regardless of whether the target is immune to the fear portion. (Source)
Paladin (Forums / Talent Calculator) Retribution in Cataclysm (Source)
There are a few basic way classes choose what attack to use next. Some classes are limited by resources. If a rogue has 60 energy, she can choose to spend it on attack A or attack B. If attack A hits harder and attack B doesn't have situational utility, then she'll use A every time.
A warlock generally isn't limited by mana within short time scales. A lock's decisions are more rotational. You want to cast A before you cast B. It's not that B is bad, just that it becomes more powerful if you do A first. For example, there is little point in casting your first Corruption seconds before the target is about to die.
Paladins have a third model, one more based on prioritization. You aren't generally limited by mana, and you don't generally need to do things in a certain order for the mechanics to work, but you do have attacks that you'd rather use when they are available (generally because they hit harder). The decision point comes in because you have a lot of cooldowns, so you can't just spam your hardest hitting attack over and over again. When your Judgements and Hammer and Crusader Strike are on cooldown, then your choice is probably Divine Storm. (Depending on your gear, DS might even trump CS.) If Divine Storm's damage went down, then you might prioritize Consecration or Exorcism higher, but you can't spam those either, so then you're back to Divine Storm or autoattack. That was my point.
There are things we can do as well to make Divine Storm better at single targets without making it overpowered against groups of targets. Off the top of my head, there are mechanics like the meteor where the damage is divided among the targets. What we are trying to chill out on the warrior, paladin and DK particularly is the "free AE" component. When your AE attacks are balanced against single targets (in the absence of some mechanic like I was suggesting above) then you just get free damage when you can AE as well. This means those classes leap dramatically ahead on meters whenever they are in a situation where they can "cleave." It also means they aren't doing anything very differently when faced with groups of mobs over single targets. By contrast the mage might switch to Blizzard or Living Bomb and the rogue has to start using Fan of Knives.
One of the ways we can support more individual abilities on classes is by making them situational. If you use all of your attacks no matter what the situation, then your gameplay tends to get very formulaic and eventually boring. It is also likely to get really complicated if your whole action bar is part of your standard rotation. A better design, we think, is that some abilities get used in AE situations and some get used in single-target situations. There can be overlap, but we'd at least like players to assess the upcoming battle and make some decisions about how to approach it before just going into a tunnel vision button-hitting mode.
Solution: Make CS baseline, put a 1 point 10% dmg to CS buff in its place in the talent tree to replace it.
That is not an announced change. I can understand the frustration of being in a gray area at the moment where you know some information that we have released but much of the details are still under NDA. Unfortunately, if you focus on little tidbits that someone leaked or speculated, then you aren't going to get the full story. In cases like this we had to put something in the talent tree as temporary filler when we pulled CS. Many of the talent trees have talents that say NYI or just plain don't do anything. That's just where we are in the alpha process. If we push data at a stage when someone can't even talent down a tree then the spec becomes unplayable. As such, we have to make talent tree changes in large chunks at once.
GC - "We are nerfing Divine Storm against single targets because we don't want AoE abilities to be used against single targets, but we fully expect Divine Storm to continue to be used against single targets."
More accurate to say that we don't want single target abilities to get free bonus damage when in groups. That's not balance-able. For the warrior the solution is to make Whirlwind not cost-effective against single-targets. For the DK, it's about getting Pestilence back towards a utility role (getting diseases up on groups) and not a massive AE attack. For the paladin, we still want them to use Divine Storm (and you can't cost-effect a Ret paladin anyway) so the solution will have to be something different.
How about something like having Crusader Strike apply some kind of debuff to the target . Then have Divine Storm hit anyone with that debuff harder. I think that would get its damage up on single targets but keep it lower on groups.
Yep, both this and the tie-in to Judgements are good ideas. We also like the T102P bonus.
Heroic Ruby Sanctum Testing Schedule
[blizzquote author=Daelo source=http://blue.mmo-champion.com/t/25026566489/heroic-ruby-sanctum-testing-schedule/]Testing so far on the Ruby Sanctum has gone well. For the next phase of the testing, we're going to allow raids to switch difficulty to Heroic.
Heroic mode testing will only be available for a limited time, but we hope to allow Normal mode testing for a longer period.
US Testing Schedule:
Thursday, May 27 at 19:00 EDT.
EU Testing Schedule:
Friday, May 28 starting at 19:30 CEST.
This schedule could change without much warning due to PTR downtime, new builds being deployed, etc. [/blizzquote]
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Homogenization and healing
Homogenization is a risk. Totally. It's something we try and fight against. In the case of healing, we don't want to erode the unique aspects of the 5 talent specs. We just want to move the non-unique parts closer together. If you need an analogy, we're not going to mess with the flowers or the fruit or the shape of the leaves. We just want everyone to have similar roots. Spells like Circle, Chain Heal and Beacon will continue to be an important and unique part of your repertoire. We just want to make sure everyone has the basic tools so that they aren't in a situation where they're trying to tighten screws with a hammer.
Now having said that, there are a couple of exceptions. If you are a Disc priest who loved to use PW:S and nothing else or a Resto druid who loved to use Rejuv and nothing else, then you will probably need to use more of your buttons again. We don't want to promote the strategy of trying to pre-heal as many people as possible without really worrying about who is actually taking damage. There's not a lot of decision-making or coordination or reactive gameplay there. Disc priests will need to actually cast heals (and Penance can certainly be one of them) and druids will have to mix in some direct heals along with their hots. (Source)
Healing in Cataclysm
I take a different view on a couple of your points here. Healers won't be forced to spam their most efficient heal because the encounters will be less threatening early on. Later on when your mana regen as at its highest you will need to use your highest throughput spell because the damage is higher. You'll also need to use your fast heal sometimes for the same reason. Fortunately fully raid buffed and in good gear, you'll have more mana regen. I don't think any of these changes encourage players to blame healers more. Bad players are always going to deflect their failures onto someone else. That is why they are bad players. The alternative is to make healing so simplistic that there is almost no chance of failure (i.e. nobody would ever die). You'd never get blamed for anything but you'd probably also be pretty bored.
Minus gaming coefficients, we pretty much had this model with downranking and it largely worked. (Source)
Druid (Forums / Talent Calculator) "Widening the spell selection"
The definition of "widening spell selection" has to be real choices. Just putting more heals in your spellbook doesn't accomplish much. They have to be spells you'd realistically consider casting, and not just once an evening. That is most challenging with the druid because we decided not to cut any current heals. (Source)
Paladin (Forums / Talent Calculator) Retribution in Cataclysm
The current plan is for Crusader Strike to be baseline, but for Ret to have talents that add to it, and for Divine Storm to be the 51-point talent.
[...] Keep in mind that the way Retribution works, you aren't often choosing to exclude one attack in exchange for another. A Fury warrior can just not use Whirlwind and spend the rage on Heroic Strike again. But Rets are not limited by mana as much as cooldowns. You can choose to not do anything when Crusader Strike et al. are on cooldown, or you can use Divine Storm.
I agree it would, and perhaps does, feel crappy to get the same ability that another class gets as a base ability for your 51-point talent. That's not the design goal. (Source)