Update - We just received the following message from Blizzard - "Soon we fly together again…"

Cataclysm Post Mortem - Dungeons and Raids with Scott “Daelo” Mercer
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
As a part of our post mortem series on Cataclysm, we sat down with World of Warcraft Lead Encounter Designer Scott “Daelo” Mercer to hear his thoughts on Cataclysm dungeons and raids.

Q. What were your main goals going into Cataclysm?
We really wanted to make sure we were creating new challenges, strong mechanics, and cool creatures while staying true to the expansion and the themes we wanted to carry out. The three raid dungeons came out well and we had a lot of fun bringing the story of Nefarian and the Twilight’s Hammer to life. We were also able to add some dynamic mechanics in Throne of the Four Winds, which featured players moving across multiple platforms.

Q. How did this evolve over the various content patches?
Zul’Gurub and Zul’Aman were entertaining raids with diverse mechanics, and they translated well when we converted them into Heroic dungeons for patch 4.1. Interesting mechanics and features that once were restricted to raids are now finding their way into our five-player dungeons.

Adding the Dungeon Journal in patch 4.2 was also a major step forward. We wanted to be able to share more information in the game so that players wouldn’t feel the need to go look everything up on external websites. While those sites are great at what they do, we felt like we needed to try to alleviate the need to go out of the game to find the information players wanted to see.

The addition of Raid Finder in patch 4.3 also opened up more opportunities for players to be able to experience our raid content. The feature has proven to be extremely popular, and not just with people who had given up on raiding. Many players use Raid Finder to gear up their secondary characters, gain Valor for the week, or just because it’s fun.

Q. What do you think worked best?
We’ve been reasonably successful with our tuning across all four raid difficulty modes. There were a few warts here and there, but we delivered on the idea that 10-player and 25-player raids could exist at a similar difficulty. We also had some memorable dungeons and cinematic moments in Cataclysm. I’m particularly fond of the interactive bombing run in Grim Batol involving the red drakes. Players really got a sense of the epic scale of Grim Batol, and how well they performed in the event could make clearing the rest of the dungeon much easier.

With our improved tools and the experience we’ve gained over the years, we’ve become better at finding ways to explain the mechanics of our encounters. Our bosses do a better job of warning players of incoming threats. In Dragon Soul we also began to better inform players of mechanics that caused them to die. Providing a better understanding of the encounters to players is an important goal. We feel that losing to a boss and not understanding why is frustrating, just as beating a boss and not understanding why you won is not as satisfying.

Q. What didn’t work out as planned or expected?
Initially, we started off the Heroic dungeons at too high of a difficulty. The difficulty level rather abruptly changed when compared to the Heroics players experienced at the end of Wrath of the Lich King. This major change caught many players off guard, and frustrated some of them. The difficulty also increased the effective amount of time required to complete a dungeon to a longer experience than we wanted. With the release of patch 4.3 we’re now in a much better place. We’ve always talked about being able to complete a dungeon over lunch, and the Hour of Twilight dungeons get us back to that goal. End Time, Well of Eternity, and Hour of Twilight all provide epic play experiences to our players, but at the real sweet spot of difficulty, complexity, and time commitment.

Q. Was there anything that surprised you about how players reacted to a particular encounter?

Not particularly. Something we’ve learned over the years is to expect the unexpected. The community is very creative and intelligent. The most important thing for us is that players are having fun. They often find interesting ways of approaching things that maybe we didn’t expect, but as long the creative solution is still fun for everyone, we usually don’t have a problem with it.

Q. What have you learned from Cataclysm and what are some of your top goals for Mists of Pandaria?
We learned we could create a crazy encounter like the Spine of Deathwing. It took a lot of hard work from the whole team and it was a difficult design challenge to tackle. How do you orchestrate a fight on the back of a gigantic flying dragon without inducing nausea? How do we make sure you feel like you’re on Deathwing? Delivering that experience was really important and everyone wanted the opportunity to work on it. What was really great was that we launched the story of Cataclysm with the cinematic that showed Deathwing having his elementium plates being put on, then we end the expansion with those very same plates being torn off. It gives some real closure to storyline.

For Mists of Pandaria, we will continue to provide new dungeons and raids while also presenting interesting new types of content in the form of challenge modes and scenarios. Players will also be introduced to new enemies in the Sha, Mogu, and Mantids. Making those creatures come to life will be a lot of fun.

Q. Do you have a favorite dungeon or encounter from Cataclysm?
There are so many. The Conclave of Wind was a great one. Working out interesting mechanics that allowed players to go from platform to platform was a lot of fun and the environment felt really epic. A fight like that was a goal of the encounter team for a very long time.

Blackwing Descent was another favorite and working out the mechanics for the Atramedes fight gave us a lot to think about. How do you create an encounter with a blind dragon that fights? So we gave him sonar and showed the interaction with a sound meter on the player’s UI.

In Bastion of Twilight, we really got to sell the corruption angle on Cho’gall which made for another really interesting fight.

Q. Is there a certain mechanic that you always wanted to do but couldn’t do prior to Cataclysm?
Not really. There are so many cool ideas to work with that I never feel held back. It’s easy to be creatively inspired by the people around you and their energy. It’s never a problem of coming up with ideas. It’s usually deciding which ones we want to go with next, but the possibilities are endless.

Q. Do you have a “dream” dungeon or encounter that you’d like to create if you had the opportunity?
I’ve never felt that I haven’t been able to do the things I want to do. Everyone on the team is completely dedicated to giving us unlimited opportunities to make epic and awesome experiences. But, if I have to mention something, it would be huge giant death robots. We had Mimiron in Ulduar, but you just can’t have too many death robots.

Thank you for your time, Scott.
You’re welcome.

Discuss the latest Cataclysm Post Mortem here.

Darkmoon Faire Issues
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker)
February’s Darkmoon Faire achievement progress status was cleared prior to the launch of March's faire. Any achievements that were started but not completed have had their criteria reset. Completed achievements are unaffected. We previously announced that this was resolved for this month and going forward, unfortunately, that did not happen and this is still being investigated for a resolution.

The following achievements are most likely impacted:

Darkmoon Defender
Darkmoon Dungeoneer
Darkmoon Despoiler

Regrettably, we are not able to restore any progress you may have made during February's faire. We understand the impact this may have had and sincerely apologize for any inconvenience caused.

Curse March Gaming Bracket Challenge - Round 2!
The March Gaming Bracket Challenge presented by Curse and Alienware is a tournament that pits video game characters against one another for multiple rounds of voting!

Each week in March we will be matching up characters from all ends of the gaming universe; from Skyrim to Starcraft, WoW to Minecraft. Selection of the characters that make it through to the next round is up to you since your votes decide who rises up and who falls in this arena! You can see the full bracket here.

Each week we are giving away one Alienware X51 (US residents only), so don't forget to enter to win and vote for your favorite characters.

The MMO Report has a special episode about RIFT this week!

This article was originally published in forum thread: Cataclysm Post Mortem - Dungeons and Raids, Darkmoon Faire Issues, MMO Report started by chaud View original post
Comments 370 Comments
  1. Biggiej's Avatar
    God I hope they never design another fight like spine of deathwing, all that fight involved was waiting on something to happen instead of being able to just make it happen, I've done heroic and normal, as the blood tank and as a dps and I can say that fight, is lame and I think they put way too much time and energy into developing it. And I also think they could have done something simpler in design/better.
  1. Aveyax's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by skycaptain View Post
    IMO Grim Batol was a failure in comparison to Wintergrasp

    EDIT: I was thinking of that prison
    lol You mean Tol barad? Not the same thing.
  1. tusker's Avatar
    I don't normally comment on these post mortems, but when I do.... Lol, okay you get the idea. But really, this one was pretty terrible, though. He basically said, "Yeah, we did a good job," but in many words.
  1. Malthurius's Avatar
    This is exactly why I don't play WoW anymore. I don't like where the game is going, therefore I don't play. What they call "Too hard" I call "Just right", what they call "Just right" I call "catering to bads". In my honest opinion. The MMO-Report made me want to renew my Rift account, it's amazing how much they've added to the game in 1 year and I wish it was more popular than it is.
  1. Scarzi's Avatar
    That guy in the grey shirt with glasses on the MMO report has to be fucking high, I lol'd.
  1. Idletime's Avatar
    Q. What do you think worked best? I think the fact we were able to drive away many hardcore raiding guilds within a few months of release and also eliminate approximately 2.5 million other accounts proved to work exactly as planned. Since these were mostly players that took the game too seriously and made it difficult for us, no big deal. For MoP we intend to drive away at least 50%, if not more, within the first two months. Eventually you will be mailed current tier items with each patch, something we never could have gotten away with as long as "those people" were around.

    I keep saying this. The problem with the developers at this very moment is that they are casual gamers, not actual raiders or PvPers, if they even play the game at all. The old guard were serious gamers. Tigole and Furor ... holy crap. These were people that fed on the tears of the general public. They had to throttle their own guild back just to allow others to get world first kills. Game's too hard? HA! Go farm 250,000 Stranglekelp. Don't have your attunements? Tough. Compare these two legends to where we are today. Mercer was allowed the encounter lead in Wrath, so I ask you... how's that working out?
  1. gracfuldeath's Avatar
    Spine was considered one of their best? Sure, it was an awesome idea. Flying on the back of a dragon, being able to roll it which lead to making sure you didn't roll it by accident. As for the actual fight? Worst fight ever. The most class stacking designed fight ever.
  1. Kaleredar's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Zatheyll View Post
    Five hour Deadmines at Cata launch?
    I always took that as the price for having better gear. A matter of "You want to progress in the game? put in some extra time and effort." Even then, I rarely had any terrible experiences in Heroic cataclysm dungeons. Ever.

    I don't really find the three new heroics ANY kind of fun. At all. I actually had a better time of it running ZA/ZG for months. End time is the only one of the new dungeons I can tolerate, as it's the only one that actually requires anything requiring effort to complete. Well of Eternity would have been better if it weren't so repetitive, and Hour of Twilight... I see very few saving graces about it. At all. If I wanted to run around Dragonblight, I would.

    In my opinion, if Blizzard feels heroics need to be "easier," they should make end level normal dungeons that are of that "easier" difficulty, and maintain heroics as being more difficult. I honestly don't see anything wrong with this model. Heroics taking too long or are too challenging? Continue gearing up in normal dungeons until you're good enough. The "entry barrier" present in raiding is a non-issue for normal to heroic dungeons, as you don't need a "heroic dungeon guild" to do heroics. You get a nice queue mechanic that sticks you right in a group. And like I said, if someone wants the better gear, they need to stick it out. It's more a question of commitment than skill as it is.

    As for raids in general, a lot of their effort seems to go into designing actual boss mechanics, which is fine... it just seems that raid "depth" tends to suffer in turn...
  1. Comis's Avatar
    The one problem with Cataclysm he was able to cite was that heroics were too hard? Really? Early heroics were one of the very few good things about this expansion.
  1. Maruka's Avatar
    they tuned the FOUR raiding difficulties well?
  1. david0925's Avatar
    I'm amazed that they still pride in their Spine design. 95%+ players only see a 6 by 8 rectangle space that gradually increase. You can't see anything else unless you glitch or jump off
  1. Metta World Peace's Avatar
    End Time, Well of Eternity, and Hour of Twilight all provide epic play experiences to our players, but at the real sweet spot of difficulty, complexity, and time commitment.
    You know come to think of it, I don't think I've ever wiped once in the new dungeons with super pugs. To be quite honest, I think I wiped more on that 2nd boss in Blackwing Caverns with super pugs than any of the newer dungeons.

    As for spine and madness. I think majority were expecting to fight deathwing in his dragon form. Not the tendons and the corruptions.
  1. Skroe's Avatar
    Blizzard is so completely disconnected from reality it's appaling.No one finds LFR fun. No one. You know this by the fact that it's carried by a handful of people, its flooded with bots, and people bring as many friends as they can to help roll on gear, even if they don't need it, to use it to trade later in the run. It's not some opportunity golden land. It's a shark tank of pack hunting sharks swipping food from solo sharks.The reaction to spine of deathwing has been so overwhelmingly negative, I honestly thought that Daelo here was trolling. From a technical , the fight is an interesting concept. From an execution standpoint, it's a mess. Entire classes rendedered useless by mechanics. Fighting mobs, not deathwing himself. Closure? Closure fighting what... tentacles, elementals and slimes? This quote is as delusional Corey Stockton's love letter to WoW's outdated quest design last week. Grim Batol is epic? The "epic" scale of it? Please... Hilarious post from a talentless game designer trying to protect his job. Cataclysm was a clusterfuck no matter if you were a casual, a hardcore raider or something in between. The Baghdad Bob act never actually works.
  1. mklovin's Avatar
    I constantly hope this game finds its magic again, but then I read a comment saying they think Spine of Deathwing worked...
  1. Depravitty's Avatar
    O.......They still think spine was a good idea, must be trollin.
  1. Idletime's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Malthurius View Post
    This is exactly why I don't play WoW anymore. I don't like where the game is going, therefore I don't play. What they call "Too hard" I call "Just right", what they call "Just right" I call "catering to bads". In my honest opinion. The MMO-Report made me want to renew my Rift account, it's amazing how much they've added to the game in 1 year and I wish it was more popular than it is.
    This is the No BS comment so far. Loved Rift, renewing that account. The thing I loved most about Rift was the failure penalty - this is unfortunately why it's not as popular however. You run the wrong way in a raid and you get 2 shot. It's a know wtf to do or get clobbered thing. Hey! Like Classic! Although PvP in that game is pretty fair. A level 50 beating up on lowbies can get hammered if enough lowbies get together. That would be a concept lost on Warcraft players who would scream if a bunch of level 50's wrecked their 85 Blood DK.
  1. nekobaka's Avatar
    Maybe the developers meant the zone for the spine fight was fun? As far as the fight went it was bland IMO.

    I note that T11 raids was noted as favorites and well as far as this expansion goes they are mine as well. Sadly though I thought there was room for improvement in overall zone designs and yet things went downhill.

    To me making that shift from a year of face roll two year old dungeons being tanked by dps and ignoring fight mechanics to requiring CC and punishing players for ignoring fight mechanics was definitely a shock for players and even more so when the RDF system is involved. What I find issue with is how they feel the current dungeons are at the right level, especially for the last set of dungeons of an expansion, couldnt they at least be as difficult as the ICC five mans?

    Oh and to those who say "casuals" couldnt raid during t11 because it wasnt too hard, I call BS. I PuGed T11 raids pre nerf and PuGs got as far as 9/12 to 10/12 dependant on gear, skill and willingness of players to bother to work together as a team. "Casual" does not mean selfish player who expects team mates to carry them. It took almost a year for PuGs on my realm to get that far in ICC and that was with a nerf. In my years of PuGing the biggest reason I have seen PuGs stop short is because of the selfish players who are looking for a carry and have no intentions of puling their weight.
  1. Ryme's Avatar
    I thought the last Post Mortem was somewhat fair, if a little off centre. But this is just shocking and makes me wonder how in touch the developers really are with their subscribers, plus the fact they feel they have never been held back and can make any dream dungeon they want and then ship out Firelands followed by Dragon Soul?

    Jesus. This is really scary, I'm actually for the first time concerned for the end game content in Mists.
  1. nyc81991's Avatar
    I think that he answered thoes questions with a script. How can they possibly think that the Spine of Deathwing is an epic fight? You are just standing around waiting to kill mobs... This guy is ether in denial or is just saying BS.
  1. Ryme's Avatar
    Just to reiterate: This interview implies that both Dragon Soul and Firelands were dream level raids for this team - That should really scare you for future content.

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