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. Deleo's Avatar
    We have had few of these interviews recently. Now:

    1- Cata is arguably the worst expansion so far and the only one that has caused this game to loose considerable number of subs.
    2- Overall feeling I get from these interviews is that these guys are pretty happy and proud of what they did and how Cata turned out.

    Now there are only 2 conclusions:

    a- They are lying to us and this is just CR move. The lying part is bad and also it is doing more damage than good as it is making people angry by making them feel ignored.
    b- They are actually feeling proud and happy with what they did, which is even worse and tells me to move on to another game as this game is not going to get any better.

    I honestly am worried for wow.
  1. pyrostorm9001's Avatar
    I love Blizzard games and I love wow, but this would have to be the biggest pile of PR crap I have ever read.
  1. jayeffkay's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Magemaer View Post
    Cata initial dungeons were hard? ROFLThe wow community is really really bad. Lol having trouble clearing Deadmines Heroic, Grim Batol etc. I actually enjoyed these instances and i found them funny to do. But never hard.Go figure.It's a game for morons.

    ---------- Post added 2012-03-06 at 04:04 AM ----------

    The WOW community is the equivalent of future America in the movie Idiocracy.
  1. eschatological's Avatar
    5 hour deadmines? That's really bad. If I had an hour lunch break, I could have done two heroics in that time. Maybe if Halls of Origination popped we'd have to skip some bosses, but yeah. Speaking of which, I did really like the dungeons at launch. I thought they were hard, but not too hard. The rewards seemed commiserate with the effort put in.The three new heroics DO NOT strike the right balance. WoE and HoT would be 20 minute dungeons, if large parts of them weren't scripted, max. ET can be as short as 10 minutes if you get the right mini-bosses (Sylvanas and Cairne? GG, 10 minute instance). People get ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY VP for completing these, which is 1/7th of the points needed to reach your weekly cap. Technically, you can cap your weekly points with 6 heroics and one BH "raid" boss for 100 VP, which is even shorter (2 trash mobs and then a boss who just might as well fall over dead when you engage her). I've never been in a new heroic which lasted more than 30 minutes - that means I can cap my weekly points in 3 hours a week, plus BH. I know heroics should be for casuals...but 3 hours a week? I spend more time showering in a week.
  1. MrExcelion's Avatar
    My post from the discussion thread about it.

    There's some issues here I would have liked Daelo to have addressed, most notably:

    -Abyssal Maw being scrapped

    -How they feel the separate 10 and 25 man raiding formats have worked out in Cataclysm. It was a huge change, and a comment would have been nice. If they feel it's not working out, it might be a precursor to the fact we might be seeing a single 15-man raiding format in Mists.

    -From the feedback they gauged, what mechanics and fights they felt players liked and which ones they didn't. Spine wasn't a popular fight, but it seems there's a disconnect here because it was widely unpopular with the community.

    That's my two cents. Daelos a great guy and I've talked with him on the PTR before a lot, but I really think this interview could have been more informative than it was.
  1. eschatological's Avatar
    Speaking of which, Deadmines had a mob which had a buff which was immune to CC and raped tanks - but could be easily dealt with if you PURGED the buff and then CCed them. This one mob (3 iterations therein) has caused me more wipes in Cataclysm than some of the heroic bosses in DS. They say they want to introduce CC and interrupts and things into dungeons, but that's become progressively less true. Take one example: Hour of Twilight. Sure, you can interrupt the ice thing on the first boss in HoT so he does less damage, but it's inconsequential. Sure, you could break Thrall out of his tomb to ease up on the ice patches thrown down, but the ice patches do little damage AND THRALL BREAKS OUT AUTOMATICALLY AT 30%!?!1one! And then he BLOODLUSTS FOR YOU just in case you were in danger of getting overwhelmed by the massive AOE he was doing (hint, you weren't). Sure, the 2nd boss invokes a silence which ranged have to LoS the boss with melee/tanks/hunters. But the damage associated with the silence, the damage the boss does otherwise, and the fact that Thrall's throwing a massive thing that buffs you constantly makes the fight literally able to be done with 1 DPS, 1 tank, and 0 heals. Which I've done. The third boss is similarly a joke. Every mechanic is countered by Thrall in light phase, where you're supposed to "learn what's up". He even dispels the dispellable debuff for you. The giant wave which rolls across the platform (which screams "I am going to kill you!!!) does not, in fact, kill you. If you're unlucky, it'll take you to 50% health. Then shadow phase you have the exact same thing again except you have to dodge the pools on the ground, dispel the debuff, and avoid the wave, oh, but hey, we BLed light phase, and that bubble you can hide in on light phase gives a damage boost, so we only spend the last 15 seconds of the fight in shadow phase. Literally the RP leading up to the fight is often longer than the fight itself.
  1. wildemu's Avatar
    how to be in blizzard pr."everything we do is great and there aren't any regrets. We loved doing this and that and the game is better than ever."pretty pathetic to see the blatant lying they do just to cover face.
  1. asher1611's Avatar
    I am actually very dissatisfied with this post mortem. Why even call it that? Why not just call it "glowing PR where we don't admit missteps."

    Some of the dungeons were good. Some of them were not. No mention of Firelands and no mention of the severe lack of content between 4.0 and 4.2 are the most troubling. And to make it sound like they met all of their design goals? Umm...that doesn't really seem to be the case when there's so much content announced then cancelled (Vashj'ir raid) or scaled back to a heroic (Well of Eternity raid).

    I know I'm preaching to the choir here. What I hope is that there is a lot more internal honesty within Blizzard because it sure seems like they're playing softball to the presses.
  1. Firebert's Avatar
    Next step: put Normal difficulty on the LFR queueing system.

    Because the last time you had a community problem you had to nerf the instance by 30% and release an accessibility feature in 4.3, but it's still not fixed the problem. Even though it seems like a bad thing to do, please keep working against players that seek to divide the community.

    The brand new heroics were epic. Please keep on using CoT to show us what has happened in lore such that we don't need to go all the way back to an ancient PC game to find out.
    This is what I posted on the thread on the EU site. Heroics were more or less a success (early Cata heroics aside), they just need to work on getting more people to see the rest of the game. LFR for raiding is a start, and Valor for questing in MoP keeps us going.

    The game really turned for the worse when the community decided that a raid needed to be cleared with your guild in order for it to be PuGged. Along with the change to the guild system that has left many in dead guilds not wishing to leave because of the rep grind, the community was split in two because of it. They've tried working against it in Firelands and with LFR, but it's still not working. Even with the 10% nerf to the raid people still want 5/8N in order to join a run: a role that the LFR achievement was supposed to fill, but was made incredibly easy (to overcompensate for the fact that a tiny percentage of players actually saw Firelands).

    I can easily see Normal difficulty being put on the LFR queueing system. Those wanting to keep raiding to raiders only have themselves to blame when it happens.
  1. Vineya's Avatar
    I will never accept that the switch in philosophy regarding 10 and 25 person raiding helped the game or community. In fact, it hurt both a lot. Larger groups demand more commitment to the game and other players and created realm cohesion. This is gone now. Look at the number of formerly successful long term (from vanilla through wotlk) end game guilds who have disbanded, shrunk in size, or are shadows of their former selves.

    This above any other game change has caused serious structural issues within the player base, and no amount of pandas or pokemon or cosmetic tweaks will alter that.
  1. keLston's Avatar
    I find it interesting that from a raid designer standpoint, one of his favorites was Conclave of Wind but having run with two veteran raid groups, it was the least favorite from a raider perspective.
  1. CaptainArlong's Avatar
    I tried the Cataclysm Heroics at launch, they were easy to me, but obviously not to others, which meant wiping, which meant it took longer to finish (if they were finished at all...). That was when I canned my account. I came back for the Hour of Twilight and BAM, it was back to the superior WoTLK style Heroics, quick and easy for random groups. And I'm sorry, the Spine of Deathwing doesn't make me feel like I'm fighting on the back of a Dragon, it makes me feel like I'm fighting on a platform. The fight they copied, the Dracolich in Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, that felt like I was fighting on a flying Dragon. But of course, that was a single player game which allowed for way more things.
  1. aaniscilla's Avatar
    I enjoyed the tuning of 5 mans at launch, but anyway that says they weren't difficult is being intentionally misleading. I was running with groups of progression raiders, in vent, and it was mostly smooth sailing, but challenging. Pugs banged their heads against the walls.But it is also a joke to suggest the new five mans are in a sweet spot. They are absurdly too easy.
  1. Bladesyphon's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Skroesec View Post
    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.
    Not to sound like an ass, but unless you can give concrete evidence that the majority of the people dislike the LFR, you're pretty much talking out of your behind. The only people that I've ever seen whining about LFR are:

    1) The people that want loot, but can't win loot, and only go there for loot, thus continue to whine about loot.
    2) The Pseudo-elitists that are STILL angry about not being a special snowflake.

    Both people are seen most vocally on the WoW Dungeon and Raid Forums, and that's pretty much it. For the people in game, the response has been very positive about LFR, and from the people that aren't in those two categories (Which is quite a few, to be sure) are also enjoying it quite a bit as well. It's just that, alas, the people that are enjoying it are a lot less vocal than the people who want to rage about it constantly.

    I'd also like to point out that I'm sure Blizzard does a lot more census gathering about responses to their content and changes to the UI than you or I or MMO Champion are aware of. They don't need to tell the player base everything about everything. They gather their information through their own means, and use it for their own purposes, with no reason or need to share it with others. Again, I didn't want to sound like an ass, but it seems your view on the LFR is slightly biased in comparison to how the majority feel. Blizzard wouldn't have considered it a success unless they knew something we don't.
  1. errosync's Avatar
    Problem is people are sheep and will stick to one thing.
    I like to PvE and PvP, though not at the top end. I don't care if Rift's PvE is phenomenal because when I get burned out from doing only raiding, there will be nothing else for me and people in the same boat as me. If I get burned out on raiding in WoW, I can go PvP and have a much better experience than in Rift. Since I know that last bit will catch flak from people who PvP'd when it was relatively balanced/not at all, the PvP in Cataclysm is miles ahead of Wrath's and infinitely superior to BC PvP. It isn't perfect, but it's not going to be in a game that gets as many changes as World of Warcraft does.
    There was no talk about Abyssal Maw being scrapped
    They already explained the reasoning for this. All they would've been doing is shoe-horning a dungeon-turned-raid into an expansion where it didn't make sense for it to be in (because the Neptulon quest chain is, for all intents and purposes, resolved) because they said they'd patch it in at Blizzcon. The last thing Blizzard should've done was shoe-horn in content for the sake of pleasing people, especially after the ZG/ZA fiasco (despite the revamps being quite nice).
    b- They are actually feeling proud and happy with what they did, which is even worse and tells me to move on to another game as this game is not going to get any better.
    I'll never understand why people can't possibly fathom that Cataclysm actually had some really great things about it. The fact they made every single zone meaningful in terms of story and questing is absolutely huge, regardless if you actually took part in it or not. Being able to finally interact with your friends on separate servers without having to put money into server transfers is a massive boon, and not being forced into logging on daily just to make sure you didn't fall behind even the bottom-of-the-barrel quality players while being able to switch between PvE and PvP much easier (thanks to the point exchanges) is absolutely fantastic. Cataclysm had it's share of downsides (arguably more than the other expansions), but so did the other expansions; Wrath was far too easy, had far more issues relating to general PvP than Cataclysm that largely went unfixed and necessitated you be married to the game just to ensure you didn't miss anything (housing the poorest designed raid doesn't help, either). BC content design was bad, class mechanics were lopsided at best and was filled with tons of pointless grinds on top of pointless grinds that just prevented people from actually seeing the content for really shitty reasons (like not being able to have 25+ people at constant beck and call). Cataclysm wasn't a grand slam, but it wasn't a strike-out, either.
    Old is old, Blizzard.
    Old isn't old when the models are completely new, as well as the mechanics of the fight and the scenario the fight is in. I'm really not getting how/why this is still being used as an argument when it holds absolutely zero water.
    I think I can speak for many players when I say "NEVER AGAIN!"
    Because group-speak is totally an effective way to 'prove' an argument and not a cop-out for self-validation despite having none.
    So the death of many 25 guilds due to the equalizing of loot item level doesn't even appear on your radar?
    I've said this before and I'll say it again: if your twenty-five man guild died, chances are likely that it should not have been a twenty-five man guild to begin with. I can only base this off of twenty-five man guilds that I know of personally, and the ones that became ten-man guilds were not equipped to deal with managing everything needed to keep a twenty-five man guild active and effective. It's not a large enough sample size to be relevant to the player-base at large, but it's enough since you aren't actually quoting any statistics yourself.
    No one finds LFR fun.
    I do, so 'point' voided. Next time come up with points that are truly arguable, not sentiments that you personally harbor and are trying to look for validation elsewhere.

    Now before you jump on for 'defending Blizzard', Daelo's interview was terrible. The answers he gave are the same length as answers you'd give on for the short answer portion on a high school midterm exam. Interviewers don't conduct interviews to get three-to-five sentence answers that ultimately give out nothing; they're looking for you to give a relatively deep, thoughtful and honest answer. I don't think Daelo was being dishonest, mind you, but he sure as shit wasn't giving answers that Fargo did which allowed us to understand what actually goes on behind the scenes at Blizzard along with the low/high points. Good interviewees answer the questions objectively; they don't use 'I liked what I did' as the answer for every fuckin' question being asked.
  1. nekobaka's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Bladesyphon View Post
    2) The Pseudo-elitists that are STILL angry about not being a special snowflake.
    There are normal modes and hard modes, what is there to be special snowflake about? Any change to the game will have its good sides and its bad sides. Its not fun seeing that if you want to be the best you can be, that you feel like you have to run content that you have surpassed and dont want to run in order to progress in the content your in now. Players have there various reasons to like and dislike LFR. Are you going to call me a "pseudo-elitist" and "special snowflake" because I enjoy teamwork in group based content and dont like how a players who intentionally afk or other forms of leeching which forces team mates to work harder in order to succeed and get rewarded for such selfish behavior?
  1. Firebert's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Bladesyphon View Post
    Blizzard wouldn't have considered it a success unless they knew something we don't.
    Having gone from Firelands where a tiny amount of players saw the content to Dragon Soul (with LFR) where a massive amount of players saw the content is an easy view on the success LFR has had.
  1. Idletime's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by asher1611 View Post
    I am actually very dissatisfied with this post mortem. Why even call it that? Why not just call it "glowing PR where we don't admit missteps."

    Some of the dungeons were good. Some of them were not. No mention of Firelands and no mention of the severe lack of content between 4.0 and 4.2 are the most troubling. And to make it sound like they met all of their design goals? Umm...that doesn't really seem to be the case when there's so much content announced then cancelled (Vashj'ir raid) or scaled back to a heroic (Well of Eternity raid).

    I know I'm preaching to the choir here. What I hope is that there is a lot more internal honesty within Blizzard because it sure seems like they're playing softball to the presses.
    Do you honestly believe they would ever admit a damned thing went wrong? "Hi, we fucked this up, fire me". That's what it would translate to. They see the rosy side of anything because it's their work being judged. Here, answer this question - Do you have any weaknesses? Now pretend you are talking to a future employer. That's the worst and stupidest question because you will always smell roses when there's clearly a shitty ass in front of you.

    4.2 was a redux. We got: reformatted ZA, ZG, and a boss 70% of people claim to have killed in Vanilla but never did. WoW Classic heroes are like those kids that were nerds at one school, get relocated to another and try to reinvent themselves so all the girls like them. I know who you are. I've busted so many people wanting to raid that can't answer the simple questions about the place but claim they were there. It would pay to read some Wowpedia or Wowwiki, because I won't be asking those questions.

    Where was I? OH yeah. Don't worry. I won't buy Mists unless it's stamped on the box: Play on Legacy Servers with your WoW Subscription! Experience the content the way it was intended!

    They lost me this last time around when I was #1 in line in December 2010. I even bargained for 2 CEs that night when there were people behind me. And then come home with a feeling like they bent me over.
  1. Sendai's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Idletime View Post
    Where was I? OH yeah. Don't worry. I won't buy Mists unless it's stamped on the box: Play on Legacy Servers with your WoW Subscription! Experience the content the way it was intended!
    How is that exactly? Classes with totally underpowered talent trees being forced into healing or tanking roles? Crafting professions that give very little of interest? Big caves of fights with tank and spank? Horde having lots of void areas without questing available until the Hinterlands hub was added? Manual flying with just a few flight paths? Ridiculous features like 5 minutes blessings, 30 seconds seals and caster set gear without spell damage?

    If that's how it was intended. And before you try to bust me, I started playing in beta when the level cap was 40 and Mortal Strike was like 300% damage and generated its own rage.
  1. Madelein's Avatar
    Wait.. Did he just say he thought they had managed to deliver both 25m and 10m raids at "similar difficulties"? Is he serious? Yes, 25m guilds dropping to 10m because it's easier.. well, we'll just forget about that.. Because according to Blizzard, 10man and 25man are of equal difficulty. And pigs can also fly!

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