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

  • 1. No promises are being made in these Dev Watercooler blogs.

  • 2. Don’t read too much between the lines.

  • 3. No complaints about the topic not being what you want to see covered.

Are spellcast interrupt abilities, such as Kick, too good? It’s easy to make that argument. We think their ease of use and low cooldown has led to a whole cascade of events in PvP. Because interrupts are so good, casters without a lot of instant spells or mobility are weak. For that reason, we tend to give casters a lot of instant spells or movement abilities, and casters who excel at those (say, Frost mages) are very powerful, while those without (say, Elemental shaman) have more difficulty.

Because interrupts are good, classes without them feel uncompetitive, which has led to us giving interrupts to paladins and druids, which in turn has led to them being even more prevalent. Because casters tend to fire off lots of instant spells while jumping around, melee can be really easy to kite. Because melee can be easy to kite, melee classes without strong mobility can suffer, and we have to consider giving high mobility to all melee, which increases the amount of uptime melee have on casters, which means we have to give casters even more powerful escape mechanisms to survive... and the arms race continues.

See where I’m going with this? Because instant spells tend to be so powerful, we have to make cast time spells insanely powerful to compete or they’ll never see use in PvP. But we have to make those spells so powerful that when they do get off, we can have PvP burst issues. (Look at how much better Frostbolt has to be than Ice Lance for mages to even consider the “long” cast.)

Nerfing all of the interrupts across the board isn’t the kind of thing we can realistically do mid-expansion. Anyone working on the raid content can tell you how important interrupts are to today's encounter design. We’d have to redesign nearly all of the raid encounters and many of the dungeon encounters as well. Of course once you increase the cooldown on interrupts, then availability of stuns gains relative power, so you have that balance consideration as well.

Instant spells do have their place in the game. If you’re worried about being interrupted because someone is chasing you, or you are chasing them, that’s a great time to use an instant spell. But actual 2.5 sec cast time spells need to have their place too and, if anything, they should be the norm.

Here's one other way in which interrupts have wide-reaching effects on the game via the chain of consequences discussed above. One of the advantages melee used to have in PvE was on movement fights. If the boss has to be kited or stays in motion, the rogues and warriors can follow along and still deal damage. It will be less damage for sure, but they’ll still get a lot of auto attacks in. It used to be the case that asking the Balance druid or Fire mage to move was a huge dps loss for them, because they were always interrupting their spells. In today’s PvE environment, that role has almost flipped. Many casters can shoot on the run and take only a very minimal DPS hit to do so. For this reason (and a few others) melee classes can feel like a liability on certain encounters. We’d prefer for raids to want a fairly even distribution of ranged to melee classes and ideally groups would have a lot of flexibility in who they bring. It’s okay to have fights that are really good for casters, but there need to be at least a couple that feel great for melee as well.

Is there a design lesson to learn here? I guess it’s some variant of the butterfly effect -- apparently innocuous designs (in this case the short cooldown on interrupt abilities) can have wide-ranging effects on all aspects of the game. I’m not sure what the game would look like if Pummel and Kick and Wind Shear had 30 second cooldowns. Clearly we’d have to redesign a lot of other abilities, mechanics, and numbers to make it work. Again, this isn’t a change you’ll see anytime soon. But it might feel better in the long run if we could get to that point.

Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street is the lead systems designer on World of Warcraft. He knows how to get to R’lyeh.
This article was originally published in forum thread: Dev Watercooler -- Rude Interruptions started by Boubouille View original post
Comments 183 Comments
  1. Kreo's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by kapowaz View Post
    Interesting stuff. What about a cast time on interrupts, say 0.5s? That way you're not punishing raiders for missing interrupts (so long as the boss casts they're interrupting are at least couple of seconds long), and melee in PvP has to sacrifice some mobility for a moment?
    It's not going to work for people with high latency (300 or more). Right now I'm playing on euro server only 'coz my friends and every time its my turn to interrupt on nefarion or other encounters, my back gets cold shivers . And its much harder in pvp, where screen show you players in front of you, but server think otherwise.
    And remember, when casters going to get a lot of haste with next tiers, its going to be much harder for melee to spell lock them.
  1. Ninurta's Avatar
    Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street is the lead systems designer on World of Warcraft. He knows how to get to R’lyeh.

    Some kind of hint to titan?
  1. Daelos's Avatar
    Well one thing they could do about the interrupts is give them like a longer CD if you miss the cast.
  1. Baikalsan's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by TheDesertDragon View Post
    There is seperation enough to begin with. Seperating the two games completely would kill the game.
    It's high time that PvE takes its rightful place: Where it is in every other game. You design the game to be fun competitively, and then you design encounters using the mechanics of the different classes to create fun and exciting content. I promise you, you wouldn't complain. Heck, you might not even realize it happened.
    Every time I see seperation of SP and MP I tend to vomit. It can be fun in some instances, but in others its just shameful. Example where it was fun: SC2. Example where it's terrible: Crysis 2.
    PvP was a complete afterthought during the development and some time after, the PvP that did exsist was world PvP where balance wasn't as much of an issue. Then of course BGs came and then later with TBC came arenas, and to balance BGs and arenas, PvE keeps getting changed or even nerfed.

    And why would a second version of every talent tree that is only active during BGs and Arenas kill the game? They are only tweaked for fair PvP, same talents only tuned. There are a few games that have separated PvE and PvP trees.
  1. AetherMcLoud's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Ninurta View Post
    Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street is the lead systems designer on World of Warcraft. He knows how to get to R’lyeh.

    Some kind of hint to titan?
    Google is your friend. Use the google.
  1. deathonabun's Avatar
    If you follow the circle of logic, the reason players need so many interrupts in pvp is to stop heals. The side effect is that those same interrupts are used to interrupt a casters' damage spells. From there, they buff instant casts, add mobility, and so on, back and forth ad nauseum.

    So, what if players' damaging spell casts became non-interrupt-able? You'd still be able to use any of the myriad of other CCs that effectively stop casters from casting, just not regular off-the-gcd interrupts. Then you could nerf the instants, and hard cast spells would be more reliable.

  1. Divinelolz's Avatar
    I hope this is an early april fools
  1. Swizzle's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Rioo View Post
    Feral druids, the ones using the interrupt, are very prevalent indeed JK! What a spit in the face from Blizzard.
    Interrupts being more prevalent, not the two classes he noted that got them. really does make the difference.

    Also, I'm glad they actually GET the problem with PvP and aren't listening to inane and random QQ on the forums.
  1. tru's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Leggomyeggo View Post
    Interrupts are just another mechanic of raiding. Your argument is the same as me saying "Having to avoid standing in fire isn't fun. I should be able to stand in it if I want to. If I feel like avoiding it I could but it shouldn't kill me if I stand in it."

    Also, a boss that has a mechanic that is designed to be interrupted that kills you when you fail at that mechanic has nothing to do with Blizzard's design goals of tanks not getting two shot. On this boss, if your tank dies, it's because you fail at executing the fight properly.
    Thats not always the case the tank plus myself are the only interrupters in our 10mans on a 10 second cd. Fights like halufus be4 that required heavy interrupting (be4 the change) on top of tank swaping were hectic. We shouldn't be punished for not bringing a rogue/shammy/war. Its poor design to be forced to bring X class to counter X encounter.
    Now of course they did dumb down 10mans where 1 10sec cd interrupter can handle 90% of the gimmicks besides malorick an tank handles adds interrupt i do storms.
    I like some of the changes because it makes it easier on our group makeups but watering down abilities even more than they have and in this case increasing the cds for our interrupts just goes to show they still fail at class balancing.

    PvPers ruin the game for PvEers its as simple as that
  1. Ikarr0s's Avatar
    they are gonna nerf kanye west!!!
  1. paloalto's Avatar
    I don't tend to listen to GC a lot or put a lot of stock into what he says (because he generally just says nothing of value), but this is a telling post.

    He said everything short of "Our combat design and balance in both PvP and PvE is horrible," then went on to say to not expect any changes to their base design anytime soon.

    He even singles out the problems classes (how pathetic ele shamans are, how frost mages are SOL without their big bag of CC which leads to them being overpowered with it).

    What did he want to accomplish with this? "We know our design is shitty, but we're not going to do anything about it. Just wanted to let you know that we feel ya!"

    The interrupt thing is completely true. As a rogue, I need every kick to kill a decent healer. I need blind. I need gouge. I need kidney shot. So healers can't cast normal spells and rely on instants, so they make instants more powerful etc etc.

    I'm sure it sucks to be interrupted and CC'd a lot (I know it is. I have to get within melee range of a frost mage, so I feel ya). You can have complex and deep combat without all that.
  1. Morsetlis's Avatar
    Some of you have pretty knee-jerk reactions to things. The whole point of game development is to take both the long-term outlook and the short-term assessment and reconcile a path between them.

    Sure, having 24-sec cooldown on interrupts, like those of a mage's, would make Nefarian phase 2 extremely hard (if not impossible?). However, the encounter designers would then redesign those spells. The adds would likely have a much longer cast time and cast spells that are NOT Blast Nova. Perhaps a low-damage Fireball that's a bonus to interrupt (since it would prevent the damage) but isn't catastrophic (wouldn't AoE the entire raid)... with a 30-sec cooldown on their Blast Nova that DOES AoE the entire raid.

    As for the healing / interrupting mechanics, many healers are already extremely hard to interrupt. For example, Disc Priests and Resto Druids use almost exclusively instant-cast heals. Their actual cast-time spells have very high rewards: either a Clearcasted Regrowth (which refreshes Lifebloom, heals for a fair amount, puts a Swiftmendable HoT, and triggers Nature's Grace) or a Cyclone (which will CC an enemy for 2-6 sec) or a Mana Burn (which is catastrophic versus another healer). With a 30-second cooldown or 1-min cooldown on interrupts, interrupting the high-risk high-reward spells becomes relatively more rewarding, as does timing it just before or after a burst/stun/silence chain of attacks. However, this would make interrupting the healers with mundane heals (Resto Shamans, and to a lesser extent, Holy Paladins) much harder. To counter this, melee classes could all get mechanics similar to Mortal Strike / Curse of Tongues / Necrotic Plague. These all allow actual healing, but they penalize healing somewhat (not to the extent that makes healing unviable most of the time, as is the case with dispelling+Unstable Affliction).

    For example, Warriors could get that old Improved Overpower Talent: Hitting a casting healer with Overpower would reduce the strength of that healing (or even damaging!) spell by ~50%, or something. Shamans who used to Wind Shear every other spell could now get an anti-healing on Earth Shock: Earth Shock would add 2 seconds to the cast/channel timer on a spell, or something. Rogues could be special: Consuming combo points with a finisher would give a 20% chance per combo point to instantly interrupt any spellcasting... this way they retain their niche as the extremely annoying anti-healer, anti-clothy but they wouldn't automatically disrupt every single cast-time spell you'd cast (like they do now, unless you're 10 yards away and they're stuck in a Frost Nova).

    The opposite side of the interruption argument is lowering the power of instants. It is NOT fair that Warlocks and Priests and Mages have instant-cast AoE hard CC's. While a Warrior or DK or Shaman may AoE slow many people, and a Rogue might apply AoE Curse of Tongues, the cloth classes can AoE stun, fear, and root people in place. These powers come at around 20-40 sec cooldown, which is necessary since melee classes get about 4-6 interrupts/stuns/silences in the same amount of time, and these hard AoE CC's are needed in order to get space to cast/survive. Similarly, while a hard-casted Frostbolt merely deals a respectable amount of damage and snare, a hard-casted Cyclone or Fear or Polymorph lasts long enough to be so powerful that a free-casting caster getting a chain of these CC's off is sure to kill a target without survival cooldowns. Increasing cooldowns on interrupts will increase the frequency of these extremely dangerous long-duration CC's by about 2-3x.

    The solution to that, I suppose, is to further lower the duration of these CC's to Cyclone's level. While Cyclone is arguably the most powerful CC in the game next to Fear, it has approximately half the duration of Fear or Polymorph. It is uncleansable and unbreakable, and to compensate for that, it only lasts 5-6 seconds (less with diminishing returns). It is harder than the other CC's to reapply. If Fear and Polymorph and such casted hard CC's all lasted about 5-6 seconds, similar to Cyclone, then not being able to timely interrupt them (saving the long CD on interrupt for a heal, for example) would balance them out.

    Finally, on the PvE side of things, even on heroic mode Halfus or normal mode Nefarians, letting one interrupt get off will NOT always wipe the raid. It just has a high probability of doing so. I do think that the "supernuke interrupt now" Blast-Nova-esque interruption requirements have gotten out of hand. This annoying interruption theme should be on 1 boss per raid tier at a maximum. A more fun interruption mechanic is on normal Omnotron Defense System / Arcanotron and, to a lesser extent, Feludius in the Ascendant Council. At least only 1 person would be incapacitated if a spell gets off... and if that person is smart and the healers are quick, that person won't die to the raid-wide AoE afterward. If Blast Nova were a 1-mob thing, it wouldn't be so annoying (similar to Halfus). Having THREE platforms with three adds Blast-Novaing is overkill. Having them cast a single-target Fear that makes people run off the platform would be way more fun.
  1. Cryoh's Avatar
    Interrupting on pre-nerf Baron Ashbury sucked real bad if you were in a group with no non-GCD interrupts. Having two must-interrupt spells made that fight real crappy, since you couldn't feasibly let Mend Rotting Flesh or Stay of Execution go, and your healer would hate life if you let Pain and Suffering tick through.
  1. chrisxnickel's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Baikalsan View Post
    "First!" posts are the most annoying posts ever and are pretty much everywhere a bannable offense (except here).
    people really need to take anger managment classes if they are letting " first" posts annoy them
  1. Eiffeltower's Avatar
    well that was a useless read.

    I guess we are moving away from Designers exchanging with players on forums to them feeding us Bullshit we can't reply to. Like this, or the dev Q&A.
  1. Sahjar's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by justandulas View Post
    The solution is quite simple... give... casters a disarm.
    It's always been confusing to me why there are so many Interrupt/Silence effects, and Disarms are a relatively undeveloped area. There are all of three classes with disarms, each lasting 10 seconds; all have at least a minute cooldown. There seems to be a big discrepancy here; granted no Silences last 10 seconds, but when their cooldowns are measured in seconds, with the worst being half of the lowest Disarm effect's cooldown.

    Let's say for the sake of comparison that the silence and disarm last the same amount of time, something like 4-5 seconds; which is worse? Not being able to cast from a particular spell school? Or losing your main hand? Getting your weapon taken as a Warrior or Rogue sucks, but not as much as having Holy kicked as a Priest, or Nature kicked as a Shaman. Your damage potential might drop when your weapon gets taken, but you aren't incapable of escape or defense (in most cases). Holy gets kicked as a Holy/Disc Priest, you're dead. Nature kicked as a Shaman, you're done.

    The duration for disarms doesn't have to be 10 seconds like the current examples, even 4 or 5 (more comparable to most Silences), would be sufficient to provide the opportunity for escape. It would add strategy. Do you lead with your Silence/Disarm when focused? Or do you hold it in reserve to allow time to recover afterward?

    "Ignite Handle" is a great idea for Fire Mages. I'm sure there's plenty of inspiration for other classes. "Entangle Weapon" (vines snare your target's weapon, rendering it useless for 4 seconds) would be great for Ele Shaman.
  1. ez100's Avatar
    They should just make them 10sec CD on NPC and 20-30 Sec CD on a Player. Just like CC effects. You arn't changing the core mechanic just how long the CD is. That way new plays can pick up on it easy.
  1. Asatru's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Seme View Post
    Interesting blog and pretty much sums up what most people feel about pvp now, the arms races between classes is out of control. Now that we're all on the same page about whats wrong, the big question is how do we fix it? I sense the next xpac will be back to the drawing board...

    My guess is that is a path the dev's dont want to go down, but may end up being the only solution.

    Interesting Idea, but that is just perpetuating the arms race.

    They've already opened that pandora's box when they made Colossus Smash a separate ability for PVE and PVP. They have it within them to distinguish it. The only reason why they WOULDN'T is because it would mean a complete spell overhaul which would "require too much work mid expansion" and would more likely translate into their next expansion.
  1. Hothgor's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by justandulas View Post
    The solution is quite simple, although would surely ruffle afew feathers. Casters are at a disadvantage because their main weapon (spells) can be interupted/silenced by every melee class and leaves them basically defenseless. The solution would be to give at least one spec of each spell casters a disarm. Demo locks could have a disarm on their felguard, fire mages could heat the handle of a hilt and force it to be disarmed, ele shammies could shock the weapons free, and Spriests have one. If all melee can take the main weapon of casters (spells) away, then casters should be able to do the same and disarm the melee's weapons for a short period of time. Yin to the Yang, and balance to the force it would bring. Right now it's a one sides battle with melee having the advantage and most casters being unable to return the favor
    Or, you know, give casters a cast time spell that is better than instants but cant be interrupted. Many boss abilities work this way after all....
  1. Rioo's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Swizzle View Post
    Interrupts being more prevalent, not the two classes he noted that got them. really does make the difference.
    So because more classes got interrupts, the mechanic somehow became better? Lol.

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