Dragonflight Alpha - Developer Interviews
With the Alpha comes a new round of developer interviews!


Gameplay
  • Shadowlands taught the team that they need to help players avoid stuff that feels like a chore. No more daily/weekly routine or checklist, no stuff that you have to do, whether you like it or not, to stay relevant in your preferred content.
  • Play the game the way you want, do the content that you enjoy.

Dungeons and Timewalking
  • There will be four new Dragonflight dungeons and four old dungeons that make up the initial Mythic+ list. Temple of the Jade Serpent and Court of Stars are two of the ones the team is looking at right now.
  • Legion Mythic+ Timewalking was an experiment that helped to validate that changes that are being made for Dragonflight. That speicifc experiment is now over.
  • The team wants to continue to expand Timewalking, so we'll probably see BfA Timewalking at some point during Dragonflight.
  • Timewalking raids will also be added.
  • Outdoor Timewalking is something that the team talks about from time to time due to all of the scaling tech they have now.
  • The team wants to give players reasons to revisit the 18 years of content that is out there rather than spending all of your time in the newest content.

The Great Vault
  • The team is mostly happy with The Great Vault going forward. Resources are being focused on other areas that are in more dire need of tweaks, but they'll keep evolving the Great Vault going forward.

Cross-Faction and Region-Wide Gameplay
  • The Crafting Order system will likely start server wide, rather than region wide. Browsing a region wide listing would be messy and not a great experience.
  • The ability to go find someone directly in person to get something crafted will remain region wide.
  • The team is slowly moving to a more interconnected world, with the expansion of cross-realm play helping to move to a place where what realm you are on doesn't impact your ability to experience the game.
  • US and EU cross-play would be a very large technical undertaking.
  • Roughly 50% of groups formed recently that are doing instances have members of both factions in them. It hasn't eroded faction identity so far.
  • The team wants to continue to expand cross-faction play, but is cautious as it is a one way path. Once it is rolled out, they can never take it away from players.
  • Guilds are likely the next logical cross-faction step. It won't happen with the release of Dragonflight, but maybe during the expansion.

New Players
  • Updating the first few dungeons for new players to be a better experience is probably something that the team should do at some point.
  • The goal is to give Starter Edition players a taste of the content that World of Warcraft has to offer, without the need to purchase anything.
  • There's still a lot of work to do to make the game friendly for new players. New systems could use more explanations.

Misc
  • With modern Reputations, the team is looking at the rewards and determining if they can be made account wide, while still leaving room for some items that are part of your character's progression.
  • The surprise that comes from encrypted content being unlocked with the patch is nice.
  • Bringing in the team from Proletariat will help the team keep content flowing at a steady pace and to avoid long gaps between content.
  • Dragonflight is a return to Azeroth and a more grounded narrative. Cosmic themes have been part of WoW forever, with Burning Crusade or Legion having lots of it.
  • No planned changes for Allied Race unlocks in Dragonflight.
  • The team is looking into raising the 50 character slot limit.

Dragonflight Theme and Gameplay
  • Returning to a more inviting and exploration themed vibe will be nice, without an overwhelming existential threat in your face on Day 1. Those threats will appear over time but the early Mists of Pandaria feeling is what the team is going for here.
  • By the end of 10.0 you'll have a good sense of what the final boss of the expansion will be.



Talents
  • The new talent system will help to increase build diversity.
  • The current alpha talent trees are very rough numbers. Lots of tuning to be done.
  • The team wouldn't be surprised if there are some builds that don't go all the way to the bottom of the tree, but branch out in the sections more.
  • The team is talking about how to handle talents that modify an ability that they may not have taken from their class tree.
  • The team started the design process with one tree, but realized they could do a class and spec tree.
  • Allowing sharing of talent builds in game will be helpful.
  • Legion artifacts were cool because they all had different shapes and it actually worked out well.

Buffs
  • There can be too much complexity when building a group and trying to make sure you have all of the buffs.
  • It should be cool and exciting to be in a party with a Shaman and get their buffs.
  • The team is aware of the pitfalls that come with the current way party and raid buffs work.

Loot Rules
  • The team is talking about raid loot rules. Personal Loot is working well for the large majority of the game.
  • Having loot distribution being a social function makes sense and warrants further exploration and experimentation. We'll hear more about this during Dragonflight development.

Misc
  • The team wants professions to feel like pillar, just like PvP, Mythic+, and raids. There should be the same level of goals to pursue.
  • Mega dungeons are working out well, almost like a five player raid. Gives space to explore things that aren't the main plot.
  • There are some itemization tweaks to be made with mega dungeons to ensure that they are appealing.

Creation Catalyst
  • The team was overall happy with the Creation Catalyst. It allowed for alts and catch-up, but also bad luck protection.
  • The potential changes for Creation Catalyst might be timing related.
  • The team is looking at more deterministic ways to make progress towards your goals.

PvP Gear
  • Profession gear for PvP is something that was in previous expansions and worked fairly well.
  • PvP item level was added back in Shadowlands.
  • With Dragonflight each tier of gear might have the PvP item level pegged at the top of the band for that tier of gear. Upgrading will impact the PvE item level of the PvP gear. You'll still want to upgrade it so it's useful in the outdoor world, but when you go to PvP there will be a more even playing field.




Character Customization
  • No additional character customization for old races is coming with Dragonflight release. The focus is on the Dracthyr and raising the bar.
  • When the team first added the Pandaren, they were higher quality than other races. Not too long after the team looked to raise the bar on the other races to catch up.
  • You can choose body type and voice independently and that is something the team is working on expanding.
  • The game should be as inclusive as possible.

Professions
  • The very best crafted gear will be BoP.
  • You can use work orders to have another player make a powerful item for you.
  • Crafted gear will be subject to tuning if a unique bonus somehow makes it better than gear a tier above it. No Darkmoon Cards situation.
  • The best gear will come from raids, dungeons, PvP, or crafted with components from those activities.

World Content
  • There will be perks, conveniences, cosmetics, and reasonably powerful items from world content.
  • Nothing specific in the Mage Tower style is planned for launch. Future patches could bring other types of content.

Talents
  • The primary focus of the combat team is responding to feedback on the talent trees.
  • In the first talent pass, there will be a bunch of experiments and trying to add some cool hooks to different classes and specs.
  • The team doesn't want to go too far, like late BC when everyone had a buff and building a raid group was like tetris.
  • There should be at least 6-8 talent loadouts that you can save. People should feel like they have enough.
  • It isn't clear if the ability to import, export, and share builds will be ready at launch, but it's something the team would like to do.

Raids
  • The team is exploring the return of Personal Loot for raid bosses.
  • You might end up with a Hunter bow, even if your group has no Hunter.
  • The team wants to move away from borrowed power progression, but there is value in a raid group making progress every week even if there isn't any new loot for them.

Mythic+
  • Shado Pan Monastery won't be one of the launch dungeons, but could appear during the course of Dragonflight.
  • The team is super open to making changes to the flow of dungeons, pacing, and mechanics, especially for dungeons that never had Mythic+.
  • Tyrannical and Fortified will be sticking around.
  • There is a new seasonal affix coming.
  • The team is looking to simplify the seasonal affixes a bit.
  • When the dungeon pool was static, the seasonal affix helped change up your routing. Now that there are new dungeons, you don't need your routing changed.

Dragonriding
  • Most of the races will be Bronze, Silver and Gold, with some achievements to earn.
  • At max level there are a couple multiplayer races that people can start together. They start every so often and you can race against each other.
  • Internally the team is talking about more competitive structured races or events.

Leveling
  • Leveling time should be a little longer than Shadowlands, but not too much longer.
  • The team wants to offer more freedom as you level.
  • Shadowlands had a linear sequence in each zone.
  • Dragonflight should have a few key pillars in each zone and a lot more room to explore as you level.



Wowhead also summarized a group interview, with no video available. Be sure to read the full interview for additional context.


Talents
  • There are two games going on in a raid: Beating the boss and scoring high on the DPS meters. Blizzard didn't build the DPS meter game, so how much focus should they put on designing around it.
  • The question of how best to use Power Infusion in both of those games is a question that helps create an interesting group dynamic.
  • The community does some of the design for the DPS game. Log sites ignore padding the meters with AoE on useless adds because the community feels that it is unhealthy behavior.
  • Blizzard wants to design for the cooperative game of beating the boss and leave it to the community to figure out how to determine who is the best person is on an individual fight.

Dragonflight Timelines
  • The team is comfortable with the target of release by the end of the year. That's the appropriate amount of time between expansions.
  • Dragonflight has had a full development cycle and alpha testing will be more focused than previous expansions.
  • Previous expansions started alpha much earlier and content was slower to be released.
  • Dragonflight alpha will be more focused, as all the zones are ready for testing now and will be rolled out in the coming weeks.
  • The zones, talent trees, and dungeons will roll out in the next month and a half and then Beta will begin.
  • In an ideal world, the team would do no external testing and everyone would get to experience the expansion for the first time together.
  • The team is limiting what is open for testing more than in the past to focus testing and populate the world in a way that is closer to what players will experience on the live servers.
  • Forbidden Reach and the Dracthyr starting experience should be coming next week.

Evoker
  • When sitting down to add a new class, the team has to figure out what will make it feel fresh and different, rather than just a reskin of an existing class.
  • Adding a class is a huge and impactful change that requires a compelling fantasy and unique gameplay to be successful.
  • Early in Dragonflight development, the team wanted to give players the chance to feel like a Dragon with a class and race that fights like no one else in the game.
  • In Draconic form you'll only see shoulders and key pieces like belt buckles for most gear. Tier sets that are custom made will have more to see.
  • Evokers don't have a tank spec because it doesn't fit the fantasy of breath weapons, wings, and mobility.

Character Customization
  • Bringing the new level of character customization to existing races will be a huge undertaking, but something the team would like to do.
  • You should be able to feel connected to your character and able to express yourself in the world.

Tanks
  • The team would love to see more people tanking and talks about it often.
  • Tanks learn at the expense of the group, as they can't just hang back and follow along while learning.
  • Hopefully rotating the dungeon pool will help reduce the barrier to entry that comes with the knowledge required later in the season.
  • The team wants tanks to feel rewarded and appreciated for being responsible for the group's survival and leading.

Raid Loot
  • Dragonflight raid bosses will drop several pieces of loot and let you roll, pass, or trade those items.
  • Dungeon loot will remain on the current system.

Professions
  • Players get a new giant Reagents bag for profession items.
  • With all of the new profession changes, the team didn't want to clutter up inventory even more, so they just added a new bag for all the profession things.
  • The profession bag isn't limitless in size, but it'll be big. Bag space shouldn't be a meaningful constraint on picking stuff up, herbing, or gathering.

Dragonriding
  • Dragonriding unlocks will be account wide
  • Dragonriding was built as an expansion specific system, but if the feedback is great and people want it going forward, that is possible.
  • The Dragon Isles was built with Dragonriding in mind, adding more negative space between areas of interest and creating a more open world.
  • Azure Span is the largest single zone in WoW's history
  • There are more restrictions on Dragonriding than flying, but you can learn to master it to reduce the friction that exists at an early level.
  • By the middle of the expansion, Dragonriding should feel as convenient as flying. Players that are comfortable with the system may find it all around better once they are upgraded.

Story
  • The team wants to tell a more nuanced story with shades of grey, and not just create mindless monster races.
This article was originally published in forum thread: Dragonflight Alpha - Developer Interviews started by chaud View original post
Comments 116 Comments
  1. Trollhammer's Avatar
    "Raids
    The team is exploring the return of Personal Loot for raid bosses."

    Assume this means Group/Masterloot
  1. supermany2's Avatar
    It is no surprise that BfA Timewalking will be a thing at one point. But why is there still not Classic Timewalking? Maybe even with the Original Dungeons like Scarlet Monastery, Dead Mines or even Zul Gurub? Would be awesome
  1. [Apok]'s Avatar
    . There are two games going on in a raid: Beating the boss and scoring high on the DPS meters. Blizzard didn't build the DPS meter game, so how much focus should they put on designing around
    Squarely laying the blame of poor balance at the feet of the players rather than themselves.

    Typical blizzard
  1. NineSpine's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by [Apok] View Post
    Squarely laying the blame of poor balance at the feet of the players rather than themselves.

    Typical blizzard
    It's amazing, because it is really, really simple: Stop designing fights to be so DPS dependent.
  1. Zardi's Avatar
    Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
    Tanks
    • The team would love to see more people tanking and talks about it often.
    Yet they intentionally miss on the opportunity to make "dragon tanks"
  1. Rageonit's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by [Apok] View Post
    Squarely laying the blame of poor balance at the feet of the players rather than themselves.
    Typical blizzard
    Blame for what? They are stating a fact: they did not invent DPS meters, they did not invent parses; those are all player creations, and the same players demand to be able to compete in a game that was not created by Blizzard. WoW itself doesn't reward you for beating a different class in DPS, so the question is valid: how much work should go into allowing people to compete in a competition that's not part of the actual game...?

    If anything, the problem is with tuning of the encounters: recently, the tuning was so harsh Blizzard indirectly forced people into that game, because if your numbers weren't high enough, you didn't progress. If a mythic encounter is beatable by any comp, cries for perfect balance are less valid. But if a mythic encounter is beatable in any comp, it will be trivialized by WF guilds with near perfect comps. Blizzard didn't want to accept that (and started the "arms race"), so they have to take part of the blame. Nevertheless, philosophically speaking they are correct: it was not them creating that game, it was the players. Their mistake lies in going along with it.
  1. MrLoque's Avatar
    Shadowlands taught the team that they need to help players avoid stuff that feels like a chore. No more daily/weekly routine or checklist, no stuff that you have to do, whether you like it or not, to stay relevant in your preferred content. Play the game the way you want, do the content that you enjoy.

    WoW is 18 years old already.

    And they needed Shadowlands to "learn" that?
  1. saixilein's Avatar
    I really hope when they upgrade old races you can finally choose some different body types! My grayhaired, old, human male Mage dont need to look like he is visiting the gym everyday. I just want some more skinny and obese bodytypes. My female human warrior should look like a warrior, and not like a barbie. My female Nightelf Brewmaster Monk shouldnt look that elfish, she should more look like a big, fat girl, who likes to drink to much.
  1. Delekii's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Rageonit View Post
    Blame for what? They are stating a fact: they did not invent DPS meters, they did not invent parses; those are all player creations, and the same players demand to be able to compete in a game that was not created by Blizzard. WoW itself doesn't reward you for beating a different class in DPS, so the question is valid: how much work should go into allowing people to compete in a competition that's not part of the actual game...?

    If anything, the problem is with tuning of the encounters: recently, the tuning was so harsh Blizzard indirectly forced people into that game, because if your numbers weren't high enough, you didn't progress. If a mythic encounter is beatable by any comp, cries for perfect balance are less valid. But if a mythic encounter is beatable in any comp, it will be trivialized by WF guilds with near perfect comps. Blizzard didn't want to accept that (and started the "arms race"), so they have to take the blame.
    It's a red herring argument that distracts from the facts.

    Raid fights are based around killing bosses, and killing bosses becomes easier with more damage, and with more appropriate damage paradigms. Both of these things are under the auspices of Blizzard's balance team. The fact that they are represented on a meter and interpreted in a fashion that makes people hypersensitive to them is neither here nor there; it is a fact that some classes are objectively stronger at beating the game (the actual game, as well as the "dps" game) and that that is a failure of Blizzard.

    There have been cases in the past where DPS has been secondary to utility; many of them. Especially at the cutting edge, but all the way down the chain too. When such utility is not necessary or beneficial enough to overcome unbalanced dps, it is ignored. This is on Blizzard. It is even worse in M+.
  1. Osmeric's Avatar
    I see nothing there about raid tuning. Hard pass.
  1. Rageonit's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Delekii View Post
    It's a red herring argument that distracts from the facts.

    Raid fights are based around killing bosses, and killing bosses becomes easier with more damage, and with more appropriate damage paradigms. Both of these things are under the auspices of Blizzard's balance team. The fact that they are represented on a meter and interpreted in a fashion that makes people hypersensitive to them is neither here nor there; it is a fact that some classes are objectively stronger at beating the game (the actual game, as well as the "dps" game) and that that is a failure of Blizzard.
    If a boss requires X DPS per player, and every class is doing at least X DPS, it doesn't matter that you can do X+100. Having more you's will trivialize the encounter (or help make up for people who do less than X due to whatever issues), but that's about it. If a class can't meet the threshold, now that's a problem - and recently, it was a valid problem because of the tuning. Tune less harshly and suddenly it's not an issue anymore. But if everyone is able to meet the treshold while playing somewhat correctly, and the boss dies, having issues with balance is a personal problem.

    (And M+ shouldn't be even discussed without context. Given the nature of infinite scaling, it is 100% undavoidable of having perfect comp, depending on DPS, utility, survivability and dungeon characteristics.)
  1. Veluren's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by MrLoque View Post
    WoW is 18 years old already.

    And they needed Shadowlands to "learn" that?
    They needed to see number-go-down and realize they were alienating even their whales and Microsoft was brandishing the headman's axe over their job titles when the buyout wraps up.
  1. [Apok]'s Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Rageonit View Post
    If a boss requires X DPS per player, and every class is doing at least X DPS, it doesn't matter that you can do X+100. Having more you's will trivialize the encounter (or help make up for people who do less than X due to whatever issues), but that's about it. If a class can't meet the threshold, now that's a problem - and recently, it was a valid problem because of the tuning. Tune less harshly and suddenly it's not an issue anymore. But if everyone is able to meet the treshold while playing somewhat correctly, and the boss dies, having issues with balance is a personal problem.

    (And M+ shouldn't be even discussed without context. Given the nature of infinite scaling, it is 100% undavoidable of having perfect comp, depending on DPS, utility, survivability and dungeon characteristics.)
    Thing is if you have a number of specs thst are behind on dps due to scaling or design issues, it causes issues where groups are unable to reach these thresholds, and it has been a problem for many years.

    It is simply swept aside as part of the meta is bad argument, in almost every tier there are a number of specs/classes that are upto 30%behind others whilst having dps check fights in raids. This causes issues because people can feel forced to spec into a spec they don't enjoy or are shit at In order to progress., simply because of bad design.

    Whilst the tuning this tier has been hilariously out of whack in many aspects, it has often been just as bad with class tuning. The way they deal with feedback is one of their issues instead of steady levels of iterations on tuning they opt for stop gap changes in the larger content patches or put off reworks to next expansion
    When simply listening to feedback and then acting on it it a proactive they can solve many of the issues..
  1. Delekii's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Rageonit View Post
    If a boss requires X DPS per player, and every class is doing at least X DPS, it doesn't matter that you can do X+100. Having more you's will trivialize the encounter (or help make up for people who do less than X due to whatever issues), but that's about it. If a class can't meet the threshold, now that's a problem - and recently, it was a valid problem because of the tuning. Tune less harshly and suddenly it's not an issue anymore. But if everyone is able to meet the treshold while playing somewhat correctly, and the boss dies, having issues with balance is a personal problem.
    This implies that every player is equally productive on every class, which simply isn't the case.

    As a result of imbalance, certain classes and combinations are MORE LIKELY to produce a case where the given amalgamation of skill, comp, and all other factors involved in a group passing a goal.

    You say "but that's about it" as if it is a matter of small significance, but it isn't. It is the ONLY case in which performance actually matters. There is a long scale stretching from the set of variables at which a group succeeds at one end, and a group fails at the other end, an an extremely small subset in the very center where the actual kill occurs. The more balanced all classes are, the wider that central subset becomes. Put in simpler terms, better class balance allows more players to complete the content playing the class they actually enjoy, rather than the one that is overperforming.

    (And M+ shouldn't be even discussed without context. Given the nature of infinite scaling, it is 100% undavoidable of having perfect comp, depending on DPS, utility, survivability and dungeon characteristics.)
    The context is reasonably self-evident, but even there it is foolish to assume that "as long as every class can do a +15, its fine". That's an asinine position to take, that ignores the massive range of variables that feed into that function to output a single variable "pass or fail" outcome.

    In all cases, at all levels of play, better class balance improves player agency. DPS meters have no bearing on this, besides the degree to which they inform the meta. It is reality that while some degree of padding or interpretation happens with dps meters, they represent with atleast some degree of accuracy the actual state of performance of classes over a large spectrum of players.
  1. Kharli's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Zardi View Post
    Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
    Tanks
    • The team would love to see more people tanking and talks about it often.
    Yet they intentionally miss on the opportunity to make "dragon tanks"
    WE DO NOT NEED MORE TANKS.
    ---Classic/burning crusade---
    1.Warrior
    2.Druid
    3.Paladin
    ---Wrath---
    4.Death knight
    ---Mists---
    5.Monk
    --Legion--
    6.Demon hunter

    its not a we don't have enough tanking classes, its a case of People don't want to tank because people incredible rude to tanks bordering to abusive behaviour.

    As someone whos been tanking for nearly 15 years in raids and dungeons. we do not need more tanking classes.

    Death knights did increase tanks because it was the 4th class which could provide tanking ability and they were really good at the point they got released and continue to be really good.

    Monks sort of increased the tanking pool, but not much, mainly because Brewmaster was a really harsh tank to learn to play(balancing stagger)

    Demon hunter did increase tanking pool, slightly but many turned to the DPS version because big deeps.

    please do give me a good reason why, there should be another tank added when we already have six very viable tanks.
  1. Onikaroshi's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Kharli View Post
    please do give me a good reason why, there should be another tank added when we already have six very viable tanks.
    Same reason as adding any role, it's fun to get new things.

    We didn't NEED another dps, we didn't NEED another healer.
  1. rrayy's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Trollhammer View Post
    "Raids
    The team is exploring the return of Personal Loot for raid bosses."

    Assume this means Group/Masterloot
    Group Loot. Master Loot still isn't coming back.
  1. nvaelz's Avatar
    Personal loot is a complete failure. Deletes all form of world value and forces players into huge raids to aoe clear any world content for faster profits, which forces design to have less interesting droptables to prevent exploitation.
    -Buffs
    There can be too much complexity when building a group and trying to make sure you have all of the buffs.
    Yeah just make every class generic and then force mythic raiders to stack locks for the huge absorb shields, very good game design.

    It's nice to hear they are stepping away from forcing players into their narrow gearing narrative, it's too hard to believe it but we'll see and Dragonflight seems interesting so far, I hope they make the non competitive content actually rewarding so it brings back som JOY into normal minded players lives so we can be social and enjoy and gear at same time.
  1. rrayy's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by nvaelz View Post
    Personal loot is a complete failure..
    Most guilds have adapted just fine, so this is false.
  1. nvaelz's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by rrayy View Post
    Most guilds have adapted just fine, so this is false.
    Tbh in raids/dungeons I don't think it's an issue, I guess I edited my post a bit too slow, bad habit of post edits hah. Tbh I think it's good in raids cuz I never liked the hierarchy of funneling gear. Only issue i have with personal loot is how it affects world content.

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