Diablo 3: A Look Back

Ion Hazzikostas Interview
As Patch 5.2 comes to an end, developer interviews begin again! Today we are taking a look at an interview with Ion Hazzikostas (Lead Encounter Designer) by Convert to Raid.

Throne of Thunder
  • The team is happy with how Throne of Thunder turned out, as it really delivered on the varied and large environments, fun encounters, great art, and an interesting race for World First.
  • Lei Shen delivered on how great the final boss of a tier should be and is comparable to Heroic Ragnaros in terms of difficulty and structure.
  • The difficulty ramp up between bosses was not as smooth as it could have been, especially going from Jin'rokh to Horridon. This is something that can be improved upon in the next raid, and was addressed with hotfixes this time.
  • Throne of Thunder has a linear progression path, but many players missed the less linear progression that was seen in Ulduar and Icecrown. Giving players the option to work on another boss is helpful and there were areas in Throne of Thunder that could have been designed with this in mind.
  • Ra-Den didn't work out completely as envisioned. The sense of mystery associated with a boss that no one knows anything about is nice, making the content a bonus prize for defeating Lei Shen. It was hard to balance and test without the regular player testing, which resulted in clever use of game mechanics to defeat Ra-Den. Normally hotfixes would have been used to solve the problem, but limited attempts made it a more complicated situation.
  • There might have been slightly too much trash on Raid Finder difficulty, because there are no epic rewards that drop from the trash like Normal and Heroic difficulty. Trash is still an important pacing and environmental factor though, as you are progressing towards Lei Shen through his army.

  • During Sunwell progression, raiding 20 hours over several days to get a world first on M'uru was unprecedented. Blizzard tried attempt limits or time limits to reduce the need to raid constantly, but it has always been an arms race between the top guilds to raid longer hours.
  • Limited attempts in Icecrown resulted in using alts to practice encounters before doing them on main characters, increasing the amount of time top guilds spent raiding instead of decreasing it.
  • The devs would like to see more organized raiding, such as the organized PuGs that existed before Raid Finder.
  • There is a group of players that wants to do group raiding, but they aren't well served by the current difficulty choices. This would include the friends and family type guilds that don't remove players because they aren't performing at their best. In Wrath of the Lich King, 10 player normal difficulty raiding served these players well, but there is now a gap between Raid Finder and Normal difficulty.
  • When 10 and 25 player had separate lockouts and different loot, they were really different difficulty levels as well. Things were somewhat easier in 10 player difficulty, as it had the lower tier of loot and should be more accessible.
  • Now that both 10 and 25 player difficulty offer the same loot and have a shared lockout, there is a need to ensure the difficulty is similar for both raid sizes. This eliminated the lower difficulty 10 player raids, which left some players with no content to raid in a more casual organized group.
  • Removing shared lockouts would just make people feel that it was mandatory to do the raid on both sizes every week to get gear faster.

Raid Finder
  • Raid Finder is great for letting players see content and progress their character with a more flexible schedule, but one of the best things MMOs offer is the cooperative social experience that is group raiding.
  • The success rates on Spine of Deathwing and Madness of Deathwing upon release in Raid Finder were about the same as they are on Lei Shen today. The success rate quickly went up on Madness of Deathwing, going from 25% during the first few weeks to 60 or 70% towards the end of the expansion.
  • Garalon was initially too difficult in Raid Finder difficulty, but hotfixes solved that problem.
  • Before the Determination buff was added, if a group failed at an encounter a few times, there wasn't much hope that anything was going to get better. This resulted in some churn in the group and continued failure. The only way to solve this problem was making the encounter easier so that groups failed less.
  • Determination allows the group to slowly make more progress on a boss, as well as give people who were thinking about leaving a reason to stick around.
  • This worked as intended, as the number of people leaving after failed attempts is significantly lower now. This also helps to reduce the amount of partially completed raids that people enter after a long queue.
  • Raid finder is designed to not be attractive to players that are doing most of the raid on Normal or Heroic difficulty, but for players that don't have a fixed raid group to play with.
  • In the past, relatively few people were able to see Arthas, Illidan, and other end bosses in raids. Raid finder allows millions of people to see the entire story.

Future / Misc
  • Patch 5.4 will have a raid that is similar in size to Throne of Thunder.
  • The team started working on Patch 5.4 as soon as they were done with work on the Patch 5.2 PTR content.
  • It would have been nice to have more dungeons while leveling in Pandaria, as there wasn't enough variety. This is something that can be improved upon in the future.
  • Requiring a group for Heroic Scenarios was done to ensure some level of communication between players, making it possible to make the content more difficult and interesting.

Patch 5.3 PTR - Build 16958
Build 16958 will be deployed to the PTR realms soon.

Spell Changes
Originally Posted by MMO-Champion
Hunter (Forums, Talent Calculator)
  • Sting now has a 1.5 min cooldown, up from 45 sec.

Patch 5.3 PTR - Build 16954
Build 16954 was not a release candidate.

Spell Changes
Originally Posted by MMO-Champion
Shaman (Forums)
Elemental & Restoration
  • Lava Burst now has a 2 sec cast time, up from 1.5 sec.

Blue Posts
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
RPPM and Item Upgrades
Definitely worth confirmation!

Yes. For these special trinkets like RoRO or UVLS the proc rate increases with ilvl.
And here it is. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Paladins in Throne of Thunder
This is what they've told us: Paladins are quite useful but they feel cases like solo tanking Heroic Megaera (which was mentioned on this thread) has more to do with how encounter mechanics work than the way the class is designed. It's something the developers will work on to be more careful in the future.

Also, with patch 5.3, there'll be some adjustments to certain Paladin abilities, including a nerf to Shield of the Righteous and Glyph of the Battle Healer (which was meant for Retribution Paladins to begin with). (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Blue Tweets
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
interesting tweet, what do you mean by this? Like old days where armor/stam values were different based on armor type?
Perhaps. Armor matters much less with so much non-physical damage. (Source)

had 10 85's 5 DS geared in Cata, have 4 90's and 1 ToT geared now. Stopped alt playing completely now. Better? Just curious.
You are comparing the final raid tier to the not-final raid tier.... (Source)
It is irrelevant that they are different tiers GC, you have made alt playing not fun in MoP.
The tons of raid-geared alts didn't happen until Dragon Soul. Then players naturally expected to keep the into 5.0. (Source)
I'm not saying there weren't alts before, but the average player having 4-5 happened in Dragon Soul. (Source)

Lots of discussion lately about gear and its place. Why not simplify? Do away with bracer, belt, boots and 1 trinket?
Would that make loot feel more fun? (Source)

You say you have the best programmers, any chance they can programme the lucky coins to not give you an item you already have?
Trivially. But should they? There are downsides to getting all the gear you want as fast as you want it. (Source)

Looking at the evolution of ilvl of gear in MOP in pvp/pve, do you think it should be done differently next expansion?
We're still trying to solve letting PvE have better upgrades in later tiers without making PvP have huge catchup mechanics. (Source)
In PvE, you can just avoid the harder instances until you have better gear. In PvP, you're going to run into everybody. (Source)

Feel like BoAs take fun away, never replacing gear is lame. Love the XP buff but not trivialized content #toolatetochange
I see where you're coming from, but they're more aimed at people who feel like they're done with the gear w/ leveling thing. (Source)

Working stiff, almost no time to play now, so I don't; dailies too time consuming/no catchup method for gear. Fix next xpac?
Is the issue that you can't get into dungeons or raids, or that you want to be able to do charms, valor and rep in addition? (Source)
I ask because a major problem with Cata (we were told) was that raiders had little to do when they weren't raiding. (Source)
We added other supplemental loot systems for players looking for more to do. But players with less time felt left out. (Source)
(And before anyone suggests it, alts suffer from the same problem. Alts used to be something you could do if you had free time.) (Source)
(But now we hear from folks that they don't have time for their alts. It's tough to solve.) (Source)
It's a Catch 22 being able to provide meaningful content for players with a lot and without a lot of time. (Source)

UI / Addons
Greg, srsly. What kind of answer is that? Nothing in the game itself uses a questhelper either. Still you added it.
The game has quests though and that info wasn't available. Nothing in the game points you to coordinates. They feel optional to me. (Source)

please fix lag on Lei Shen. seems to be tied with stampede
It is, but we can't reproduce it except for players with out of date Recount or Skada. (Source)

not fun having half our 25m get d/c on bosses when a hunter decides to stampede. and this is with recount off. please fix
Are you certain none of the 25 players have recount or skada enabled? We haven't been able to reproduce that case. (Source)
I never used a damage meter and lagged like crazy on Sha of Fear Heroic. Maybe something deeper... DBM? Ace?
It is definitely related to the stabled pets showing up as "unknown" and then flooding the log when the names are realized. (Source)
We're not giving up, but it's definitely one of those holycrapwhatisthisactualbug? moments. (Source)

Official LFGuild forums unusable mess. Like finding a job on craigslist with not categories, just by post date. Discouraging.
We agree with that, and the Guild Finder tool doesn't solve the problem either. (Source)
WE need a good, robust guild finding system, but you can't just throw good, robust systems together. (Source)

You 'could' does not mean you 'should'. Why would you even design abilities for bosses, if they were to be ignored?
An example is a tank swap mechanic relevant to tanks and perhaps healers that doesn't need to be shouted out to the raid. (Source)
Another is when a boss mod yells out a countdown for a minor boss debuff that adds to the healing requirements but isn't urgent. (Source)
Bossmods focus your awareness when used/configured well, but they're never judicious about what's on by default.
They are better about not stealing your raid markers as much as they used to. (Source)

If you could remove 1 addon and all like it from the game, ie: Recount/skada, DBM which would you remove and why?
I'm not sure I'd want to remove any of those. Mods are generally good for the game and players like them. (Source)
Maybe a mod that is cheating (which we tend to block anyway) or something so unstable that it causes players a lot of grief. (Source)

The Daily Blink - Ready Level One
The Daily Blink takes a look at the future of WoW...

This article was originally published in forum thread: Ion Hazzikostas Interview, Patch 5.3 PTR Build 16954, Blue Tweets, The Daily Blink started by chaud View original post
Comments 89 Comments
  1. risingforce's Avatar
    Hilarious Daily Blink, best in a long while -though a bit morbid lol.

    Enjoyed the Convert To Raid interview, too!
  1. Destructus's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Raone View Post
    Honestly the the best solution for them is to add a 3rd raid difficulty and make it harder (and make mechanics matter) then LFR, but easier then Normal. Then they won't have to nerf normal by 10-15% anymore because there is already a nerfed mode. Also pugs/alt runs would be happen more, and guilds who hit brick walls can turn the difficulty down to clear ... kinda like you do when trying to kill heroic bosses and time is running out for the week.

    The only flaw is people will be able to clear content faster, but you already can in LFR, so gate this "easier" difficulty the same way you gate LFR. Tons of positives and no negatives.

    Going back to the Wrath models (10's being easier) will piss off a lot of 10 man radiers and make a lot of people quit (including me), but adding a 3rd difficulty harder then LFR will make people happy without upsetting anyone. Plus I would probably log on more and run that with my alts/friends.
    You kinda solved the reverting of current 10 man to wotlk 10 problem with your own post.
    Add another 10 man difficulty at wotlk difficulty level for the family/casual guilds and people who hate lfr. Now you can pug again.
    They could also make it so this difficulty shares boss saves with lfr, so if you didn't finish a raid in this new difficulty you could do the rest in lfr, but you wouldn't feel forced to run this new difficulty in addition to lfr with the boss saves being shared.
  1. F-Minus's Avatar
    Imho, having 25 drop higher ilvl througout is no-go anymore, 90% of raiders raid 10 and they wouldn't like that change.

    What they could do however, is that normal 25 drops normal thunderforged equivalent gear, where normal 10 drops normal gear, few leves lower as normal 25. But both drop the exact same heroic gear, to compensate for the slower & lower gearing on normal 10, maybe let bosses in drop 3 instead of 2 items, but only on normal.

    Something like that:

    Normal 25 - ilvl 630
    Normal 10 - ilvl 620
    Heroic 25 - ilvl 645
    Heroic 10 - ilvl 645
    Heroic 25TF - ilvl 655
    Heroic 10TF - ilvl 655

    ---------- Post added 2013-05-17 at 05:13 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Glorious Leader View Post
    The majority of the player base doesn't raid and yet the developers insist on making content that they don't do, effectively robbing peter to pay paul. In addition to this they make 2/3 modes of that content unavailable for people who would potentially be interested in it. It's a massive fuck you.
    Where did you get that 5% figure, there's way more people raiding than 5%, maybe only 5% reach the final boss, but that's beyond the point. If there would be no raids, every raiding guild could just quit as this is the only thing they really do in the game. Same for me, if there would be no raids, I would just quit... and at that point I tell you the subs they would lose would be not 1.8 million, but a lot a lot more.

    Raiding is part of MMOs you can't just change that.
  1. Quilzar's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by F-Minus View Post
    ISomething like that:

    Normal 25 - ilvl 630
    Normal 10 - ilvl 620
    Heroic 25 - ilvl 645
    Heroic 10 - ilvl 645
    Heroic 25TF - ilvl 655
    Heroic 10TF - ilvl 655
    This seems like a good plan my only question is would people in iLvl 620 normal gear be able to make the jump to heroic 10s (as heroic 10 and 25s would have to be tuned as they are today).

    It is better than dropping 10s in difficultly completely though as heroic 10s would still fell they had the challenge if they wanted it.

    And I much prefer it to a 4th difficulty level.

    I was thinking of maybe some way of reducing a bosses difficulty "to get past it" but reducing the loot.

    So activating a 10% nerf reduces the ilvl by 10 ilvls and activating a 20% nerf reduces it by 20 or something.
  1. chaud's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Faithshield View Post
    Some of these tweets are a week old. I assume MMO-Champ is staggering their placement on the news so as to not overwhelm people?
    Yup. We used to post them as they came out, but that ended up being a mess. Instead, they are now put into categories and used as we have space, unless they are time sensitive or important. If you really want to keep track of tweets you can read them all yourself, but otherwise this has been the best solution so far.
  1. Roudene's Avatar
    Autopromotion is always good! xD
  1. XingoJenkins's Avatar
    "In the past, relatively few people were able to see Arthas, Illidan, and other end bosses in raids. Raid finder allows millions of people to see the entire story."

    This killed the excitement of being in a raid group.

    Want to see the final content? Try harder
  1. Ronin47xx's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Tripper View Post
    And try to pug and organize on deserted servers ??
    They need to prioritize what problems to fix...

    Merge servers and bring back 10/25 lock-outs so that there are actually people on the server and are more willing to pug if they raid more serious in the other lock-out with their own guild.
    I had recently switched to Stormrage US. A high pop server, because my server was dead. It is extremely difficult to pug something that you haven't already did, even with higher populations. Gone are the days of getting a group of random players and figuring out a way to down a boss. Everyone wants achievements. So your left with finding a guild, hoping that guild will let you in a raid spot, or sub for someone. Then hoping they just don't flat out suck and leave you looking for another guild.

    Putting the lock-outs back might be the solution. That way more experienced players can join in with more casuals to fight current tier.
  1. nehunter's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Ronin47xx View Post
    Gone are the days of getting a group of random players and figuring out a way to down a boss. Everyone wants achievements.
    I'm sorry I play since mid-Wotlk. When was this time where trade wasn't spammed with "To enter this raid you have to prove you already entered it."
    That above is the real reason Dungeon finder was invented. Because the community was already bad, at least with dungeon finders you're not blocked by other people.

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