Soaring Skyterror Mount, Patch 6.2 - Vicious Mounts, Patch 6.2 PTR - Build 20141

Patch 6.2 Developer Q&A - Ion Hazzikostas
Lead Game Designer Ion Hazzikostas answered questions about Patch 6.2.


Flying
  • Flight was delayed from Patch 6.2 until Patch 6.2.x mostly for development reasons.
  • There are some quests and bugs that need to be fixed for the best gameplay experience before you can fly.
  • The decision to allow flying was too close to Patch 6.2's release to get it done in time, so Patch 6.2 would have had to been delayed to make it happen.
  • The reputation grinds required for flying will take around three weeks if you are doing the daily quest every day.
  • The way flying is unlocked in Draenor is a blueprint for how flying will be unlocked in the future. You can experience the game from the ground, explore it thoroughly, and then you will be able to fly. The exact way it is unlocked will vary on the content, but it is an idea that can be applied in a lot of contexts.
  • Flying was a hard decision for the team. Players believe that they the team was lying and the plan was to never add flying back to the game, but the reality is that it is a large design team and it was a decision made by the team as a whole. People on the team were on both sides of the issue and with Patch 6.2 being on the PTR it was a time to make a decision. It wasn't fair to players to keep the decision unresolved for so long.
  • The majority of the team was on the side of never allow flying, which is what was said in the initial interview.
  • After the initial interview, the player and team feedback made them reconsider flying. Never is a powerful word, so once it was out there, players who were fine with being on the ground started to think about the flying mounts they would never get to use again. It felt like something very valuable was being taken away from players.
  • The team is happy with the compromise that they came up with and how it is has been received.
  • The delay on communication about flying after the decision in the initial interview was because the discussion was ongoing and a decision hadn't been reached. Even saying that they were still debating the issue could have gotten hopes up and then disappointed many players if they decided to not allow flying.

Reputations
  • The Patch 6.0 reputations aren't defensible. They are complete mob grinds that were added late in the process. Originally there weren't going to be any reputations, because it didn't fit in the structure Draenor was designed around. They were mostly used as a bar to progress towards cosmetic rewards.
  • The Patch 6.2 reputations are better, there are weekly and daily quests you can do rather than endlessly killing mobs and killing rare mobs gives reputation.

Quests
  • The Apexis daily quests were a result of the classic overreaction to daily quests in Mists of Pandaria. In Warlords the team tried to go another direction and the idea behind the Apexis daily quests has promise, but the execution was flawed.
  • The Mists of Pandaria daily quests felt very structured and narrow, so the team went towards more flexibility and freedom in Warlords.
  • Instead of a quest telling you to destroy cannons like a Mists of Pandaria daily, you are sent to an area and can kill mobs, interact with objects, looting things to use elsewhere, killing rares, discovering secret phases with extra events. The idea was good, but by removing quests entirely story and context were removed, so there was no purpose behind the quests and it ended up feeling more grindy.
  • The rewards for Apexis Crystals were also bad. Most of the rewards weren't useful for players or cost far too much, so players didn't do them.
  • The Tanaan daily quests in 6.2 are better. They have more structure and better rewards for the Apexis Crystals.

Professions and Garrisons
  • The team wanted to be sure garrisons were adequately rewarding for players, as it was a core feature of the expansion. They wanted players to care about their garrison, upgrading it, building the buildings, getting resources and followers, and doing missions. Many systems that used to be part of the outdoor world were tied into the garrison this way. Professions and gathering are clear examples of this, as miners and herbalists could roam the world, gathering things to sell. Now everyone has ore and herbs in their garrison.
  • There was content in the world, but it was easier and more accessible to get the same things from your garrison.
  • Outdoor world content is the core of an MMO and tremendously important, so the lack of world content was a failing that really needs to be fixed.
  • Alts have become increasingly popular over the history of the game as leveling became faster and easier.
  • The team recognizes that many people play multiple characters. They prefer to see alts exist to serve themselves. You should have a healer alt because you want to heal, or another class PvP alt because you want to PvP as that class. The progression for each character should be on that character. Multiple alts shouldn't exist to serve your main character.
  • In Patch 6.2, the team is looking into having diminishing returns on an account wide level for missions that reward gold. It is a nerf, but alleviates some of of the pressure to have many alts. It is a problem when it scales linearly and having six characters gives you six times the amount of gold, making you feel like you have to log into them all every night.
  • Garrisons are the path of least resistance to many rewards, which is a problem. The team likes that the garrison is something for you to do when you can only log on for a short time. They don't want players to log on for hours and be unable to think of anything rewarding enough compared to spending a few minutes in your garrison taking care of things. Rewards are shifted back to the outdoor world in Patch 6.2.
  • Garrisons giving you loot from the next highest raid tier didn't work out well. When some guilds finished Normal and went to clear Heroic, they already had a good number of Heroic items and didn't need much loot.
  • Naval missions require less micromanagement. You have fewer followers, less frequent missions, and more meaningful rewards. Having to log in every 30-45 minutes to send followers out on a mission detracts from gameplay.
  • The current version of garrisons is tied to Draenor. You won't bring your buildings to Azeroth. The core gameplay of building a base, having followers, and other ideas would be nice to bring forward, but it won't take the same form as the garrison we have now.
  • The garrison and daily cooldowns constrained professions, moving away from feeling like a crafter and more like a collector of daily cooldown materials. Patch 6.2 gives you more significantly materials from your daily cooldown and sends you out into the world to find Felblight.

Guilds and Raiding
  • Guilds have disbanded in every raid tier. The glue that keeps guilds together is the officers and leader and as they move on in their lives guild break up.
  • Changing the raid sizes and structure worked well.
  • Raid participation is up in Normal and Heroic.
  • Mythic raiders have a better experience after the move to a fixed size thanks to tuning for only one size and new mechanics that are possible with a fixed size. It also settles the 10 vs 25 debate.
  • Mythic is something for people to aspire to. It allows the best players to prove who is the best.
  • Mythic only takes around 5 - 10% of the time spent on developing the raid. Most of the time is spent creating the art, gear, bosses, and doing tuning. Adding a few extra mechanics, testing, and tuning Mythic doesn't take very long.

Timewalking and Dungeons
  • The Bonus Events aren't trying to force players to do all of the different content.
  • Having a Timewalking as an event makes it a more focused activity, allowing you to gear up alts or catch up.
  • If Timewalking dungeons gave better gear than the Draenor dungeons, there wouldn't be any reason to do them.
  • If Timewalking dungeons gave you the same or worse gear, no one would do them.
  • The limited availability makes it a bonus activity and gives players the best of both worlds.
  • The old dungeons are great to go back and visit, but they wouldn't hold up to repeated visits as well as the new content.
  • Warlords of Draenor dungeons were great, but they didn't have any rewards to keep bringing players back. This is something the team needs to solve better with future dungeon releases.
  • Mythic dungeons will give players better rewards and a reason to go back and do the dungeons.
  • Valor caused you to run the exact same dungeon for better rewards over the entire expansion. The dungeon also got easier as you geared up. It wasn't a great system.
  • In the future, the difficulty of the dungeon might scale so that they aren't super easy by the end of the expansion.
  • Timewalking wasn't added instead of new dungeons. It is a feature that the team has wanted to do for a long time and most of the work was fixing scaling and done by programmers.
  • Patch 6.2 didn't have art resources to make new dungeons in time, Hellfire Citadel was the priority.
  • You can chain run Timewalking dungeons to gear up alts. The gear is similar to Raid Finder gear, but you can chain run the dungeons, unlike Raid Finder. The quest for doing five also gives you an extra bonus roll for that week during the event.

Raids
  • Fight length is determined by the nature of the fight and mechanics. If the mechanics are the same over the entire fight, it shouldn't be longer than 5-6 minutes unless it is an endurance fight.
  • If there are multiple phases in a fight, it can go on a little longer.
  • End bosses with many phases and abilities should go on around 10 minutes or so.
  • The team is happy with fight lengths in Tier 17.
  • Brackenspore's endurance aspect was okay and didn't get boring.
  • Mythic Mar'gok was too long because of the extra phase. Fights that go over 15 minutes are too long, especially when you start the final phase 13 minutes into the fight.
  • The length of Maidens was about right, but the first half of the fight felt too slow. If you rushed and pushed them to 20% it wasn't a super long fight, but if you waited for a 3rd boat phase it felt longer.

Raid Itemization
  • The vast majority of players in the game aren't going to get 735 weapons, because they won't kill Mythic Archimonde.
  • With one flat item level for the entire zone and bosses that increase in difficulty as you get deeper into the zone, kills later in the zone become less and less rewarding.
  • A guild that finally kills Heroic Blast Furnace may DE almost everything from the boss, as they already have 685 gear in other slots.
  • Other guilds would go 6/7 Highmaul and then move to Heroic rather than killing the final boss, which doesn't feel great. Making items stronger as you get deeper into the zone helps to solve this problem.
  • Itemization would not be as interesting if every boss had complete coverage for every spec.
  • Most guilds that are going to kill Normal Archimonde will move on to Heroic and have access to the first few bosses that drop the same loot as normal Archimonde.
  • The Mythic player that doesn't have a best in slot Agility weapon on Archimonde will have a 730 during progression, while other players in the raid won't even have a 730.
  • The people "harmed" by this itemization are mostly the highest end Mythic raider with all of the content on farm. If you are just trying to rank higher, you are comparing to players of the same spec who have access to the same weapons.

Classes
  • There are some concerns with how Demonology plays right now. You need addons to play it well because of how complex it is. It also was the best all around spec, so warlocks that wanted to play other specs had to go Demonology. It is still viable in Patch 6.2, but won't be the best anymore. The best spec changes over time and it is Demonology's turn to be the worst warlock spec for now.
  • Demonology will be significantly overhauled in a future patch.
  • Ability pruning may not have gone far enough. Shamans may not need the Unleash spells. Some classes had abilities pruned that shouldn't have been and the class fantasy suffered.
  • Rotations aren't designed to be engaging when you are fighting a target dummy.
  • During a PvP or boss encounter you are getting out of fire, LoSing things, interrupting, worrying about adds, and other things while doing your rotation, so keeping your rotation from becoming very complex is necessary. There is a very high skill cap and there are very few players who are at the skill cap today.
  • Rotation changes in the future will improve the fantasy of playing your class. Visuals and animations are important. Rogues suffer from the lack of unique and distinct animations.
  • The game is less dominated by absorbs than it was in Mists of Pandaria. There is more healing where people are not just full or dead.
  • Disc priests and absorb-centric healing need to be scaled back in the future.
  • If you have almost any raid comp, you need a disc priest and some other healers.
  • Holy priests are in a great place in terms of versatility right now, but if you only have one Priest in your raid, they should be discipline.
  • Absorbs come at the expense of other heals, stopping bars from becoming empty, which makes the other healers that enjoy refilling bars sad.

Patch 6.1
  • Twitter integration wasn't a high priority feature and didn't take away from outdoor content. It was a feature that a few programmers worked on. It was only a convenience added for players that already use Twitter.
  • The S.E.L.F.I.E. camera was a side project for one designer and programmer who worked on it for a few weekends. There have been many features that started as side projects, such as hard to find Hunter pets, toys, or the Brawler's guild.
  • Patch 6.1 was extremely light on content and might have better been named Patch 6.0.5. It was a small set of updates, but using a major patch number may have been misleading. The team had just launched the expansion and was going on holiday vacations, but wanted to get some fixes and improvements in before the next major patch.

Misc
  • The team is proud of the leveling content in Draenor.
  • The Adventure Journal was added to give newer and returning players an idea of what content to do. The need for it was especially clear at the end of Mists of Pandaria, when you would hit 90 and see all of the daily quests, but nothing telling you that they were a waste of time and it was better to go and get epics from Timeless Isle.
  • The team doesn't want inconvenience to stop you from doing content, but they also have to be mindful of the downsides of making everything too convenient.
  • Portals in Cataclysm made the world feel smaller because of how quick travel to each zone was.
  • The Group Finder added in Warlords is an improvement over random matchmaking, adding some of the social aspect back while avoiding spending an hour looking for a group in town.
  • Artistic integrity is important to the team.
  • The only thing that differentiated skill or accomplishment in Mists of Pandaria was color. There was one set of armor for PvP and one for PvE and then color variation in each.
  • In Patch 6.2, there is one set of armor for average accomplishments and a modified version of that set for bigger accomplishments, then color variation in those sets. The same system was in place during Burning Crusade. There are still two sets of gear, just tiers of skill rather than PvE and PvP.
This article was originally published in forum thread: Patch 6.2 Developer Q&A - Ion Hazzikostas started by chaud View original post
Comments 291 Comments
  1. Edx's Avatar
    Everyone get your bingo cards ready.
    http://imgur.com/a/g1o3e
  1. chaud's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Edx View Post
    Everyone get your bingo cards ready.
    http://imgur.com/a/g1o3e
    Card 6, down the center column seems most likely. IIRC he doesn't talk about immersion that often though.
  1. mmoc3745942798's Avatar
    Lore got fat and Ion has pig eyes.
  1. Gloriandus's Avatar
    The worst part of these Q&As? Lore's robotic "Cool. Moving on..." after just about every question.
  1. Zephre's Avatar
    So bloody stupid so far nothing but flying questions.... I'm not sure this counts as " tough " questions, guess we'll see >_>
  1. starlite's Avatar
    I can't focus on the answers with that Weird Al hair bouncing over half the screen
  1. Wishblade's Avatar
    Loving the preview of the 6.2 wallpaper in the back.

    Gonna assume that's it at least. :P
  1. Serissa's Avatar
    Flying being added in Patch 6.2.x is mostly for development reasons.
    yes yes of course

    it's not related to subs cancellation in any way /nod /nod
  1. Ranaka's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Serissa View Post
    yes yes of course

    it's not related to subs cancellation in any way /nod /nod
    I get the cynicsm and all (even if I don't agree), but would you prefer that 6.2 is delayed another week instead to add whatever is needed?
  1. mmocbab59bb97c's Avatar
    Dailies???? Dailies are back???

    ...

    Yaaay!!!!
  1. Thyranne's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Serissa View Post
    yes yes of course

    it's not related to subs cancellation in any way /nod /nod
    I think he means that it's the reason that it's in 6.2.x and not in 6.2.
  1. Stormspellz's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Serissa View Post
    yes yes of course

    it's not related to subs cancellation in any way /nod /nod
    Missed the point of the question.
  1. xact4's Avatar
    Lore looks... so ridiculous. Doing better just listening than watching, can't take anything seriously while looking at that insane curly fro perm thing on his head.
  1. Caolela's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by chaud View Post
    Patch 6.2 Developer Q&A - Ion Hazzikostas


    Lead Game Designer Ion Hazzikostas will be here at 5 PM EDT / 2 PM PDT to answer questions about Patch 6.2. ...

  1. Gaebryel Quintyne's Avatar
    Having many alts to use the Garrison to farm gold may be nerfed in the future.
    Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo =_(
  1. nenwavriana's Avatar
    Pretty sure Watcher just said people stacking treasure hunters on multiple characters are gonna receive a nerf soon.
  1. Ranaka's Avatar
    So far, I'm liking the answers. It's not about whether I agree with them (because I don't), however, they all make sense if you think about it from a root cause analysis point of view.

    Of course, someone will take this post and quote it by saying Blizzard is just lying and I'll pre-quote that reply by saying that none of us do. If you can't just take ones answers at face value, then you should probably just shut off the Q&A now.
  1. xact4's Avatar
    Woah woah, did he just say they were reducing the mission gold rewards? The solution to "garrison overrewarding" is to cut them back drastically? That's going to end well.
  1. TheRickyB's Avatar
    Nerfing Gold from Garrisons because people spend more time playing Alts. Amazing Logic. like Please give me EVEN MORE reasons not to log into your game.
  1. Zoldor's Avatar
    I love that Lore rocks the bangs.

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