- WotLK - Monster timers changes
Blizzard changed the name of the enrage/frenzy/etc ... timers, Daelo made a post to explain the new wording for these effects.
Creatures that used to "Frenzy" like Magmadar, Gluth, Princess Huhuran, Halazzi, etc. now "Enrage" instead. Tranquilizing Shot has been changed to dispel Enrage effects, and the wording on all those spells and associated emotes has been changed to reflect the name change to Enrage.
Creatures that used to "Enrage", now "Frenzy" instead. This is the type of effect that typically happened at low health or some other combat trigger. Examples of this would be all the Blackrock Orcs in Redridge, Jan'alai's low health/timed increase in damage, Maexxna at low health, etc. These effects are not dispellable, you are meant to deal with the increased damage as part of the fight.
Many of our boss encounters have timers where if you do not defeat the encounter within the allotted time, the boss will suddenly do RADICALLY more damage. Players are not intended to be able to deal with the damage dealt by a Berserk boss, and a wipe should be around the corner. We try not to use the "Berserk" term for nothing else but these kinds of timers.
Originally Posted by Blizzard EntertainmentBuffs / Debuffs and Raid Composition in WotLK
We don't know yet which buffs / debuffs will stay class specific. Class-specific buffs mean that if you're the player, you're happy and get invited to a lot of raids. If you're the raid leader, you may be less happy because you have to stack the raid with the perfect set of buffs.
Ideally around 2 of each class should be in a raid. It can't be 2.5 because most raids require 7-8 healers and not 5. Changing this would be pretty difficult as it would mean adding stiffer enrage timers and other penalties for bringing too many healers. Shamans, paladins and druids (and maybe priests) are probably going to be closer to 3 per raid because their specs are so different and one of them can heal. The question remains of who goes home if the DK comes in? Though a just as valid question is who goes home if the moonkin comes. (Source)
Casting interruption changes in WotLK (See this news)
If you avoid pushback from the first two hits there is still a chance pushback will occur. This change is simply a guarantee that you will not get pushback more than twice during any cast or channeled spell.
With this being said, the existing talents (such as fel concentration for Warlocks) that increase the chances a player will resist pushback are in the process of being reworked in light of this change. We'll provide more information on this as development progresses. (Source)
Blizzcon Ticket Sales
We have appreciated everyone’s patience as we've worked to address issues with the BlizzCon ticket sales today. To avoid having people stay up into the early hours attempting to make ticket purchases, we will take ticket sales down and continue implementing optimizations through tonight and tomorrow morning.
There are still plenty of tickets available, so if you weren't able to purchase tickets today, please check back tomorrow. We'll continue to provide updates on the World of Warcraft forums here. (Source)
Hunter (Skills List / Talent Calc. (8770))
Pet Abilities focus cost changes
I like the idea of removing more pet abilities from Focus. It's kind of a weird energy source since it fills so quickly in most cases. Growl and Cower might be trickier, but perhaps they could just be really cheap. Making the Focus dump abilities (Bite etc.) relatively expensive could do unpredictable things to threat or dps, especially very early in a fight. It's worth considering though since then they would typically only get used if the other autocast stuff was on cooldown. Leting some specials be free would help balance utility specials with pure dps specials (which could still have a Focus cost).
The next build will look something like this:
- Anything you want to prioritize, like Demoralizing Screech
- Any family ability with a short cooldown, like Fire Breath
- Claw, Bite, Smack
- Family abilities with a decent damage component and no cooldown, like Gore
- Family abilities that represent a decent dps increase, like Savage Rend
- Most abilities with cooldowns of 30 sec or more
- Most pet talents
Mage (Skills List / Talent Calc. (8770))
DPS / Utility balance in spells
Players are right that Mages are in some cases getting more utility now with new talents. We'll evaluate the strength of classes utility when we tweak DPS output numbers. If a Mage spell is giving more utility than a Warlock spec, obviously the Warlock should be doing more DPS. (Source)
Priest (Skills List / Talent Calc. (8770))
Raid-Wide Vampiric Touch
We're still in talks about how to consolidate buffs/debuffs between classes. Making VT raidwide is a possibility, but yes it would mean the value of multiple Shadow Priests in a raid is somewhat diminished. In a lot of ways we're okay with that (you shouldn't *have* to have multiple specs of one class in a raid), but there are a lot of other side effects we're not sure about right now. (Source)
Vampiric Touch nerf to 2.5%
To be honest, 2.5% still might be too high. In our tests, Shadow Priests were still providing around the same amount of mana to their party (if not more) than before because of their increased damage output. Not to mention the Priest wasn't going out of mana at all because of Spirit/Improved Spirit Tap. (Source)
Shaman (Skills List / Talent Calc. (8770))
I think the talent's design is fine. Whether it does enough damage or not, that can be tuned later. (Source)
Eye of the Storm not working
Data was pulled before we got this implemented, should be working in the next build... (Source)
Warlock (Skills List / Talent Calc. (8770))
DPS / Utility balance in spells
Players are right that Mages are in some cases getting more utility now with new talents. We'll evaluate the strength of classes utility when we tweak DPS output numbers. If a Mage spell is giving more utility than a Warlock spec, obviously the Warlock should be doing more DPS. (Source)
We had to do a hotfix for Haunt which will unfortunately probably break the spell again. It should be all fixed up soon.
Imp's Firebolt Coefficient
Coefficient wasn't changed for Fire Bolt. (Source)
Imp's Firebolt casting time nerf
Not sure if we're going to keep this or not. I was toying with it's cast time because there was a huge discrepancy in the Imp's regen/throughput when you a 2.0 cast time vs a 2.5. So much so that you'd you want to have a 2.5 cast time instead of the improved 2.0 because it would run OOM. (Source)
Affliction spec damage output
I think Haste and Crit benefit Affliction as is because Shadow Bolt is still a good % of your DPS output. I understand the scaling issue that Affliction had in BC where it was good in the beginning because of the lack of crit/haste on gear, then worsened as you got more crit/haste towards endgame. We'll do DPS parses and if we find it not scaling as well as other specs we'll address that. (Source)
Death Knight (Skills List / Talent Calc. (8770))
Attack Power ScalingI couldn't find the post that asked this question, but death knight abilities such as Pestilence still scale with attack power. Some of the tooltips were getting cluttered with the whole "depending on AP" spam. We don't put "scaled with spell power" on caster spells, so we figured maybe by this point players would know or quickly learn not to put a caster belt on your DK.
One of our longer term plans is to have smarter tooltips that could update dynamically based on things like improving your AP or even talents. (Source)
Agility / Intellect stacking
If the question was does stacking Int or Agi increase the crit chance of a spell like Death Coil, the answer is no. If that ends up being a problem though it's easy to fix (with Agi, not Int). Any gear with +crit, hit or haste on it will help weapons and spells. (Source)
We decided to untie them presences. If you get Blood Aura, it's just always on now and doesn't matter what presence you're in. Ditto for Frost and Unholy.
Blood Aura -- When you heal yourself though spells or abilities, your party / raid is also healed.
Frost Aura -- Increases spell resistance (or maybe spell damage reduction) of the party / raid.
Unholy Aura -- Increases movment speed of the party / raid a little, but stacks with other movement bonuses.
Note that since Blood Aura doesn't benefit the DK when she's in Blood Presence and Unholy Aura doesn't benefit the death knight in Unholy Presence (because you already have the effect), Frost Aura is slightly more useful when solo. The movement speed benefit in Unholy Presence was an intended change.
Note that since Blood Aura and Unholy Aura don't benefit the death knight **IN BLOOD PRESENCE OR UNHOLY PRESENCE RESPECTIVELY** at all (yes, the movement speed in Unholy Presence is an intended change), Frost Aura is slightly more useful when solo. (Source)
We're still working on Necrosis. If death knights did 100% of their damage with autoattacks, and Necrosis was a 25% bonus to that (and even more with the right other talents), then that is pretty generous for 5 talent points.
On the other hand, if autoattacks are 10% of death knight damage, then Necrosis only adds 2.5% dps for 5 talent points, which is pretty stingy.
We can make Necrosis 25% of the damage you do, unmodified by anything else, or we can make it scale from Black Ice, Impurity or even AP (though you're kind of double dipping here). We have a lot of knobs to turn. (Source)
Death Knight Tanking
If you read the death knight forums, many of them are convinced they'll never be able to tank anything because warrior mitigation is so much higher.
Frost Presence is designed to partially make up for having a shield, true. But death knights still lack any kind of block, and don't benefit from the often awesome defensive stats that shields have on them. They don't benefit from defense as much, and don't really want to use tanking weapons (unless they want to dual wield, which is risky vs. bosses). Their sigils will also more than likely not have the same kinds of stats as a Gyro-Balanced Khorium Destroyer.
We are trying to move all 4 tanks a little closer together so that, for example, warriors don't have to tank heorics without pants on in order to have enough rage, and to make maintaining threat on multiple mobs less frustrating.
We still would like all 4 tanks to have their own niche, and unless we change something down the road, the design is still for the warrior to be the best tank for single bosses that hit hard for physical damage (which to be honest, has tended to be most of them so far). (Source)
The damage should be a lot higher. As others have pointed out, Crypt Fever wasn't working at all and Frost Fever was doing 1 damage. Depending on the delivery mechanism of the disease, the damage could also be different, which feels odd.
Assume Blood Plague should tick for around 150 to 200 depending on gear and level, and Frost Fever should be about 70% of that. At L80 with blue or better gear, it is liable to be much higher. (Source)
Blizzcast - Episode 4
A few hours ago, the Blizzcast - Episode 4 has been released on the official site. The first part is mostly about music in WoW and we won't report it here, however the 2nd part is much more interesting and is focused on professions. Below is a summary of the profession interview for people who don't want to read everything.
- The discovery system might be added to all professions, but will be restricted to "fun" recipes (or will be predictable for more important recipes)
- Token Vendors might be added to let players buy recipes through professions daily quests.
- The "best in slot" 375 skills requirement was too high in TBC, you can expect them to be available earlier in WotLK (~350 in Burning Crusade terms)
- Blacksmiths will be able to add sockets to a weapon, Armorsmiths will be able to add a metasocket to armor.
- The plan is to try to balance Armorsmithing and Weaponsmithing to make both spec interesting.
- Fishing will be more interesting and interactive in WotLK.
- There will be fishing-specific food in WotLK just like what was introduced in TBC with recipes like [item=27667] or [item=27666].
- Some of the engineering items nerfed in TBC like the Mind Control Helmet will probably be un-nerfed and/or upgraded in WotLK.
- Items like Rocket Boots will be changed to an enchantment allowing useable on your boots to become Rocket Boots.
- WotLK now allows developpers to do "on-use enchantments" to items and they're going to use it a lot. (Parachute Cloak enchant, or something to let you shoot webs from your gloves, etc ...)
- This will replace your primary enchantment on the item.
- Enchanters will be able to sell their enchantments at the Auction House. (See this page)
- Discovery won't be used for "important" recipes anymore, it will be either predictable or just used on "fun" recipes.
- The amount of recipes obtained through world drop will be reduced greatly.
- Tailoring-only flying mount ... the Magnificient Flying Carpet !
- One inscription is worth like one to two talent points, and all the inscriptions aren't about increasing power, sometime they’re a big power increase but they’ll change something else about the spell. (eg. we might reduce the cast time of pyroblast down to 3sec but add a 25sec cooldown or decrease the effect of Last Stand from 30% to 20% of your max health, but give it like a 2min cooldown instead of an 8min cooldown.)
- Inscriptions will affect talents, but probably won't affect passive talents very often.
- 15-20 Inscriptions will be available for each class, sometimes with more than one inscription available for a specific skill.
With Burning Crusade we saw some fairly dramatic changes as opposed to the original game. Some new trade good synergies, some differences in how the professions were used for filling out your item slots. How is that design philosophy going as we move into Lich King, and what did we learn from that?
We’re definitely happy with how people are excited about tradeskills they weren’t before. They definitely had some big improvements, things like blacksmithing, and tailoring, and leatherworking, all of a sudden were really exciting. There are some issues with that, the whole best in slot, y’know “Oh, hey I have an awesome mace” but then you know, the guy goes raiding and replaces it. So, in addition to that we’re moving toward some perks, so to say… like, I’ll give you an example that we’re thinking about doing, is that Blacksmiths would be able to add sockets to a weapon, or Armorsmiths would be able to add a metasocket to armor. So, that kind of thing.
Ok, so it’s a new high end sort of “ring enchant” kind of a thing, where you have something specific to what you can do to your items?
Let’s go ahead and jump into specific points for every profession we can hit in the time we have. Let’s start with, Tailoring. So with Tailoring we had the Frozen Shadoweave set which was kind of a problem early on, maybe still a problem, it’s very powerful obviously. What did we learn, maybe from that slot, with the Frozen Shadoweave set, and how are we taking that into the Lich King expansion?
Well, Frozen Shadoweave suffered from some interesting problems – and I say that with quotes even though you can’t see them – in that it was over optimized. It used school damage, which generally you get a lot more points out of that, and the sockets were extremely well done. So it ended up being so DPS oriented that people would compare just the DPS portion to all these other tiers, because that’s all they cared about. And it was just vastly superior, so … and that was partially in reaction to Tailoring not being very good before Burning Crusade, and just really wanting to make it awesome, but we definitely overstepped the boundaries a little bit there and we’ll just be more careful in the future. Also, that stuff didn’t require any Nethers, so a lot of people would just go “Oh, well, you know I can just kind of pay for my way up to get that one” which is cool, and I’m not sure that everything’s going to necessarily going to take a Nether for the bind up pickup in Lich King, we like some of the crafting skills to be different from one another, but that also contributed to the overall issue.
when you say Nether you’re referring to something Lich King specific, not necessarily...
Right, we’re not going to be using Primal Nethers in Lich King.
Ok just making sure. Moving along, and we have Engineering up next. I think one of the larger issues is that people have a lot of expectations about what Engineering should do for them. Some people want it for the PvP aspect, some people just want it for the cool fun toy aspect, some people want it to be able to help other people in their group, stuff like that. What did we learn, and how is that translating into Lich King, once again?
Well what we learned is that we probably nerfed it a little too hard in reaction to what it was like pre-Burning Crusade, where you felt like you had to have it to be competitive in a lot of situations. Especially before Arenas, where Battlegrounds were the thing.
Right, Rocket Boots and Parachute Cloaks...
Uh huh, all that stuff… well that stuff still works, but the stuff that we did break like the Mind Control Helmet and everything. We’ll probably end up un-nerfing some of that, or adding in upgrades. Another cool thing we’re doing for Engineering is instead of getting Rocket Boots you’re going to just enchant your boots to become Rocket Boots. So you don’t suffer from this whole “Well I have to use a blue item, to get this cool effect.” Basically we have the tech to add on-use enchantments to things now, so, we’re going to be really running with that. Things like a Parachute Cloak enchant, or maybe you could shoot webs from your gloves, but there’s a little bit of a tradeoff too because that’s still your primary enchant on that item. If you put Rocket Boots on your boots you won’t be able to get the move speed or anything.
So a lot of the higher end stuff we’re going probably more with, as you said with Blacksmithing and Tailoring, being able to… I guess “edit” your higher end items with an enchant specific to your profession.
Yes, definitely. And, I just want to say with Engineering you know; also we’re going to try do a bunch of silly stuff too. I mean that’s pretty much a primary objective on Engineering.
Yeah of course. So, next we have Blacksmithing. Which you kind of tied into Tailoring a little bit, but one of the obvious potential issues is balancing the specializations: Armorsmithing and Weaponsmithing. Is that an issue that you agree with, and is that the only issue, and how is that being looked at?
I think it’s one of our biggest challenges right now is trying to make people interested in Armorsmithing versus Weaponsmithing. Because the weapon is just so sexy… it’s just so much of your character. Even with the slots thing, I know I mentioned earlier “Oh, well you know if we’re going to add sockets to items like weapons we’ll probably get a regular socket, but the Armorsmith will be able to add a metasocket,” Which is, you know, substantially different. So, if you … don’t really want the weapon you might lean towards Armorsmith… but, again, that’s actually almost the opposite problem where everyone might end up being an Armorsmith, so it’s going to be a difficult balance. We’re still iterating on that one.
Moving on, we having Fishing. I think in theory it appeals to a lot of players, but do you have any thoughts on the profession and where it could be headed?
Yeah, we’ve definitely had a lot of brainstorming on Fishing lately. And I should also add that I love fishing. I have two 375 Fishing characters...
So you’re insane...
...and I’ve won the tournament multiple times. Yeah, I’m crazy, but I definitely have a lot of love for fishing and want to do a lot of cool things for it. I think the biggest thing right now is going to be the mechanic. It still isn’t… it’s just not that fun, and we really want the act of fishing to be fun. Because the fun part of fishing right now is the, kind of the exploratory part of “Oh, what fish can I here, what weird thing can I catch?”, and we definitely want to continue with that but we don’t want the mechanic to be quite as ... I don’t know, you’re just not very attentative while you’re doing it.
Personally I kind of watch a movie while I’m fishing, and I turn the sound up and listen for the little bobber sound, and right click ... it’s not necessarily “fun” but also kind of… I can auto-pilot it a little bit.
Yeah, relaxing but I think more interactive is going to be the way to go. Also something that happened and worked out really well in Burning Crusade is the unique fish that cook into the types of food you can’t get anywhere else. The Golden Darters and the Spicy Crawdads, those really helped keep fishing relevant. We’ll do some more of those, although maybe not to that extreme of a swing.
Moving on to Enchanting, it’s a useful profession obviously, especially for… I guess it’s considered a sort of “hardcore” profession, more so than the other ones. But I guess similar questions from the previous ones, what have we learned for Enchanting and how are we changing it for Wrath of the Lich King?
Well it is a hardcore tradeskill and it will remain that to some degree. It’s always been one of the more difficult ones, and we kind of like that about it. But going in to Lich King… I think the biggest the biggest problem with Enchanting right now is trying to make money with it, because you can’t make money when you’re offline - with Enchanting. I guess you can through the Enchanting mats, but that’s not very… I mean anybody can really do that, it doesn’t really feel like you’re making use of the skill. So one thing that we’re talking about, and I think I mentioned this at BlizzCon, but we kind of want to make this Enchanting “sponge” type thing. So whereas you would normally enchant your weapon you would enchant this “sponge” and it would kind of absorb the enchant and then the next person could just use that to enchant their weapon. So you could throw that up on the auction house...
Let’s move on to Alchemy. So we have the discovery system with Alchemy, which was I think – extremely – popular with Alchemists? If I can say that.
How did that work out, and how are we changing that or taking that sort of discovery approach into Wrath of the Lich King, if at all?
Well let me start by saying that the discovery system was intended to help differentiate one alchemist from another, so that they’re able to sell that particular item, because they’re one of the few people that can make it. Which is something we’ve always tried to do with every tradeskill. Unfortunately, it ended up being very frustrating because people didn’t feel like they had any control, and instead of just accepting that they were like “Ok fine, I’m going to just go make 10,000 potions” or whatever, and still wouldn’t get a discovery or didn’t get the discovery they wanted, and that just felt bad. Ok, recipe distribution aside, the discovery system I still think has potential - for fun stuff. You know “Oh hey, I discovered the Elixir of the Searching Eye” rather than that being on a rep vendor or whatever, you know just the cool stuff. Also it worked out pretty well for the Cauldrons, you know you would make probably like five of those resist potions and then all of a sudden you’d discover the cauldron and you’d kind of be done with the last one. So for fairly deterministic upgrades they’re ok, or for the fun stuff, and there might even be some other uses that we haven’t really thought of that are going to fit well with that unpredictability.
And do you see that maybe branching out to other professions somewhat? The discovery type systems?
Yeah, definitely. I think we’re going to try that with a few of the other ones, but in the format that I just talked about, where it’s either predictable or just fun stuff.
Sounds cool. Jewelcrafting, new in Burning Crusade. Very useful. I think there were some issues with recipe acquisition from reputation vendors, stuff like that, pretty minor I believe. But how did that work out in your eyes, and again what are Jewelcrafters going to be looking forward to?
Well I think to some degree it worked out pretty well, because if you go and look on the Auction House the price of cut gems are more valuable than raw gems. Which is not the case in a lot of the other parts of professions. Where you’ll see the materials are actually the most expensive part, especially when they’re used by multiple professions. We like how that worked out but it still has that level of frustration where you can’t go farm for any of these drops. The reputations are actually really good, it gives you a goal. You have a way to get it, but a world drop you don’t have any control over. So we’re going to be easing off the world drops, I’m not sure about getting rid of them entirely but moving on to other systems. One of the system we’re considering as well is – so you have profession dailies for all of your professions, and what those end up being I’m not sure, but then when you do that daily you get a token. Then on this vendor there’s maybe 20 recipes, and they cost [maybe] 25 tokens each. So you’ll start making decisions on how you want to spend those tokens and that will help differentiate you from everyone else just by your decisions rather than what you happened to have found or bought off the Auction House.
Ok, so I took a month and a half to do all my dailies more or less every day, turn in my tokens, possibly get a recipe that the other person in my guild doesn’t have that same recipe, we can of “min/max” our recipe acquisitions that way.
Sound very cool. Ok, let’s move on to Leatherworking. We added some cool stuff in 2.3, obviously, drums and such. But same question as all the previous, how did it go in Burning Crusade and where’s it going for Lich King.
Leatherworking was off to a rough start, because the drums were in a place where we were probably too conservative. You know, they were on very difficult reps, they had Primals in the reagents, and you know didn’t really match up with the power that you got from them. And once we brought them to where we wanted to in 2.3, I think it helped a lot. It helped with the leveling definitely, where you’re making something that you can consume and that you’re using a lot rather than these just esoteric items that somebody may or may not want. So I think that worked out pretty well. Another thing that was a little weird about Leatherworking, and this is the same thing with Tailoring, is that they required you to max out the skill to get your bind on pickup item. Like the Primalstrike and whatnot. And that just felt a little too punishing. We’ll probably… like 350 is around, you know to give it in terms of Burning Crusade, is where we’re more comfortable with that. Kind of like we did with the Engineering goggles and things like that.
Right, making your best in slot not quite so “I have to get to 375 before I can do anything cool.”
Yeah cause 375 is really, the best use of that is “Oh ok well, I hit 375 so I have recipes I can make money off of.” And that’s the cleaner design there I think.
And we’re on to, what could be considered the new profession in Lich King, which would be Inscription, which I know - still under heavy design - but is there anything you can share with us about Inscriptions? And maybe how that’s changed since our announcement at BlizzCon, since I know a lot of people heard about it from the… probably watched it on YouTube, or they were actually there, watched you up on stage talking about Inscriptions. So, how’s that going?
It’s actually going really well. We’re getting happier and happier with the design every day, I mean to the point where I can certainly talk about it. So the whole “enchanting your spells” or whatever, we’re still going forward with that. We want it to feel different than Enchanting, so a lot of the effects are pretty epic. We’re not adding knockback to Fireball, like the example we gave. But not only do they have a lot more punch to them, one inscription is probably worth like one to two talent points, and they’re not all just increasing power, sometime they’re a big power increase but they’ll change something else about the spell. Like, going back to Pyroblast because it’s so easy, is we might reduce the cast time down to 3sec but add a 25sec cooldown. You know, the guy that uses that is like “Oh, well I use Pyroblast a lot for soloing, so it’s really handy there” or you know, that’s just a good example of the whole, either increase the power or decrease the cooldown, or even the opposite. Like Last Stand, we might decrease the effect from 30% to 20% of your max health, but give it like a 2min cooldown instead of an 8min cooldown. So those are some of the swings, and it’ll change how you use a spell effectively. And we will be affecting… obviously I gave the Pyroblast example but we’re going to be doing talents, you know it’ll affect talents and stuff. Probably not effecting passive talents very often.
How many spells do you see the profession actually affecting? Would it be, every ability for every class, or you know 25% of their abilities?
You know that’s a good question. Definitely not every *laughs* you know I don’t even have time to do every ability in every class, but some of them just don’t end up being very interesting. Like I don’t know what type of inscription I would give to Teleport: Shattrath. Sorry about all the Mage examples, I’ve been working on that one recently so they’re fresh in my mind. But yeah, I’ve been hand picking the ones that are most interesting to affect. It’s probably going to be 15-20 per class, and some of them will have more than one.
So about 15-20?
Yeah, around there.
Our first question is from Aztoreth on the realm Kel'thuzad - How long does it take, the whole process, from concept to completion, to create a content patch? This can include testing time as well, and what kind of work goes into bug-fixes while the PTR's are up?
It takes a really long time. So, the question sort of asks from concept, if the question is from concept it takes years. To put it in perspective the Black Temple, the Sunwell Plateau, and Zul’Aman were all conceived as part of The Burning Crusade. We knew that we were going to have to do content patches for The Burning Crusade and we came up with a list of places that we thought would be acceptable to be patches to The Burning Crusade. So even in the initial concept of The Burning Crusade zone list we had Sunwell on there as you know, Patch 2.4 we’re going to do Sunwell and we’ll get to it eventually. So the idea is around for a long time, that doesn’t mean that the zone is in production for all that time though. Usually for a zone to get in production it takes multiple months of art time simply to construct the art around the asset in the case of the Sunwell, but it also takes anywhere from one to three months to actually do a lot of the design work as well and that ranges from placing the creatures, scripting the abilities, designing the boss fights, itemizing the dungeon, tuning the abilities.
And as far as PTR goes it sort of depends on the level of content. The more hardcore the content is, like if it’s a 25 person raid dungeon, we like to have somewhere in the range of four to six weeks on the PTR. And that gives us enough time to iterate and tune around the most hardcore raiding guilds who show up on the PTR. We watch them, we follow them, we watch everybody on the PTR and go through iteration cycles. On something that’s smaller like a 10 person dungeon or a five person dungeon, we can iterate more quickly internally and have to rely on the PTR much less. So we don’t really demand four to six weeks for a 10 person dungeon although if we need that time on the PTR for other reasons we are more than happy to take it. It’s usually a multi-month project but from concept it’s actually years.
To give an example for Wrath of the Lich King, we already know what the patches are going to be, we’ve already come up with them, and have complete plans for how all the patches are going to play out. Really Wrath of the Lich King ends with the final patch that’s where the final culmination, interaction with Arthas, that’s when Icecrown comes in, it’s not the day that Wrath of the Lich King ships, it’s part of that subscription cycle and getting people new content over time.
The next question is from Fehlsharpeye of the BrotherHood guild on Turalyon - The Burning Crusade introduced a number of changes through the patch cycle, some examples are Badges of Justice being included in more dungeons, attunements being removed, and heroic keys becoming easier to get. To what extent is the experience of these changes in The Burning Crusade influencing the development and design of Wrath of the Lich King?
Well that’s a great question because there’s a huge influence that’s going on there. What you’re seeing are a lot of lessons that we learned. I don’t think a lot of those attunements or the early badge implementation were necessarily wrong. WoW is an evolving game and the players are evolving and the way we make content is evolving and I think we made a lot of decisions right. I think heroics keys being available at revered reputation when The Burning Crusade shipped worked really well, everybody was doing the dungeons together, getting into a pick-up-group to get your own reputation up to revered was a trivial task if you caught the leveling wave when Burning Crusade shipped. The problem happened months later when sort of the population curve had evened out and all that you had were either twinks or new players who didn’t have as much experience and suddenly those players couldn’t get the groups that they needed to progress whether it be heroics or getting attuned to dungeons to catch up to whatever raid guilds they were at.
We’d really like to, rather than be in the situation of retroactively patching adjustments to things like adding badges to guys, removing attunements, or changing the requirements on something like the heroic keys, we’d rather take those lessons into Lich King and go, “Why did those things happen?”, “Could we construct a system where things sort of naturally ease themselves out over time?” And we think we can. We have some ideas how we’d like to handle content in the future, we’d like to do more dynamic events where things open up over time or open up based on the server contribution. We’d also like to make sure that we’re putting players through epic cool story lines to teach them about dungeons with their first character but maybe not forcing them when it comes to their alts or that sort of thing from doing that sort of content. So we have a lot of ideas and we’ve definitely learned a lot of lessons from Burning Crusade and I can’t say that we won’t perhaps make new mistakes but I hope that the patch cycle in Burning Crusade proved that we listened to what players ask for and try to adjust and make the game better with each patch.
Some players felt that The Burning Crusade seemed to create something of a discontinuity in game progression. Is there a goal for the next expansion to be a little less jarring to raiding guilds and players?
Yeah definitely, my analysis of that question would be that first of all there was a change from 40 to 25 and we’re not doing a drastic change like that going from The Burning Crusade to Wrath of the Lich King, there will still be 25 person content. It’s not like we’re adding a new number in there like 15 or 35 or something like that to mess with players. So I think that’s sort of the first part of the question, there’s nothing like that happening so that shouldn’t be jarring to guilds.
The second part of the question in my interpretation of it could refer to what guilds had to do to get into 25 person content which was go through the Karazhan dungeon to get attuned to eventually do the 25 person content. I think we definitely learned from that one and we’re going to make it so that if you’re a 25 person raiding guild right now in Burning Crusade and you go into Wrath of the Lich King, short of leveling up and doing whatever 5 person content you do with your group to level up and get geared up, we’re going to let you go right away into the 25 person content - we’re not forcing you through the 10 person content. Now with that said I think it’s a player misconception that there is this thing that exists only a 25 person raider and that person has no interest in 10 person raiding. I have a feeling many of the 25 person raiders will be engaging in the 10 person content and they’ll actually really enjoy it but they’ll be relieved to know we’re not going to force them through it by no means.