Developer Q&A with Ion Hazzikostas - Battle for Azeroth
Ion Hazzikostas is back to talk about Battle for Azeroth!



GCD Changes
  • Why would we ever make a change that people don't like or doesn't feel good? The team knows the initial reaction would be negative. At the end of the day, they want everyone to enjoy the game and it to feel good.
  • This change was made for the long term health of the game.
  • In Cataclysm you could take a portal to all of the zones and your guild could use a summon, so players could log in, teleport to the raid, and log off. Taking guild summon away was met with negative feedback, but the ease of transportation was bad for the game.
  • The team needed to pull back some quality of life improvements for the long term health of the game.
  • The team is making a few changes, such as Heroic Leap, Infernal Strike, Disengage off the GCD. Bloodbath has an upfront damage component.
  • The first part of the change was about offensive cooldowns. The team is trying to pull back the power of multiple stacked cooldowns. The team had to tune around the worst case all cooldowns active potential, but then you felt weak during the time when your cooldowns weren't up.
  • This isn't a change the team is going to make and then walk away from. There is further modification that has to be done to classes after this.
  • Feedback about what feels bad about your spec after the GCD changes is helpful. Asking to revert the change because it is bad isn't helpful.
  • Fury Warriors had too many cooldowns that empowered future actions. Changes to Avatar are coming.
  • All specs still have rotational adjustments that are on the table.
  • The team isn't looking to slow down the game, WoW is a fast paced game, especially for some specs.
  • WoW is a game with a series of rapid fire decisions. Evaluate the circumstances around you and then decide what you are going to do.
  • The GCD sets the pace for the game. The more things are off the GCD, the more they remove potential decision making. You aren't choosing between A and B if you can just do both. It also makes the game more about your latency.
  • WoW is a fast paced game, but not a twitch reaction arcade game.
  • If you are a Resto druid healing a dungeon and your tank is almost dead, and you are almost dead, and you have fire under your feet, you need to heal your tank, you need to move out of the fire, Swiftmend is on cooldown. You either use Regrowth on the tank while you stand in fire, or move out of the fire and throw a Rejuv on the tank. Maybe you Wild Charge out of the fire and then heal the tank. If everything is on the GCD, that is a decision you have to make. A skilled player can make the right call based on the situation and encounter. If Wild Charge isn't on the GCD, you can just get out of the fire and heal the tank. This makes the difference between two player's skill more about their reaction time. Should WoW be about reaction time or making the right decision.
  • There probably aren't any other abilities that will be put on the GCD and some will be coming back off the GCD.

Artifact Traits and Class Design
  • Most classes and specs weren't designed to only be complete in Legion with the Artifact. The specs and classes were mostly designed to be self sufficient and then had the Artifact on top (other than Demon Hunters).
  • Players have grown accustomed to these Artifact abilities, they've had them for a long time now.
  • Losing things never feels good. Lessons were learned about how systems like this will work in the future.
  • Many of the active Artifact abilities or abilities that made gameplay interesting were moved into talents.
  • Smaller benefits have been rolled into the baseline functionality of spells and talents and the team isn't done with this part yet.
  • If you are happy with the pacing and rotation of your class in Legion, the team isn't looking to significantly change that in Battle for Azeroth.
  • The team is trying to get classes to a good base state where each expansion can add interesting abilities that will be left behind each expansion.
  • It would be unsustainable to keep adding new abilities and rolling them into your base abilities each expansion.
  • This is another good area for feedback, if something was great and made your spec work in Legion, let the developers know. Just saying "stop all the pruning" isn't helpful.
  • Azerite armor has hundreds of new traits that will let you customize your playstyle. These will let you customize your playstyle in a deeper way than you could in Legion. After the first few months in Legion, you didn't have much customization beyond Relics.

Azerite Armor
  • You will be able to respec Azerite Traits, it is NYI in Beta, but coming soon.
  • The goal here is for you to be able to change them if you made a mistake or are changing your role for a few weeks.
  • The team wants to avoid these traits feeling like another set of talents, allowing you to swap them between fights in a raid.
  • You can reset all of the choices on a piece of armor for a small gold cost (5-10 gold) that ramps up rapidly the most often you do it. The cost will decay quickly.
  • This expansion will be much friendlier than Legion was to players that want to maintain multiple specs competitively, especially compared to early Legion.
  • The Heart of Azeroth counts towards all of your specs, many of the armor pieces have traits that are useful to multiple specs, and you may just want to have multiple pieces of armor in the longer term.
  • There will be new traits in raids and future patches. The core spec modifiying traits are universal and will be on raid gear. Trait strength is proportional to the item level of the item.
  • The goal with most traits, especially the spec specific one, are to modify gameplay. They should be similar in power to the 2 set bonus or powerful Artifact traits.
  • The power level of a given legendary is higher than the power level of a single Azerite trait. The goal here is similar to set bonuses.

Island Expeditions
  • Island expeditions will reward Artifact Power (not Azerite Power, the Heart of Azeroth is an Artifact)
  • Every week you will go to the boards, see what the scouts have found, and head to the islands. You will complete some each week, get a bonus, and then can keep doing them (but they will be less rewarding).
  • Island expeditions will be the best way to get Artifact Power.

PvP Gear
  • There will still be random rewards, such as a weekly chest of end of match rewards.
  • There is a lot of value to more deterministic gearing, this feedback was clear.
  • Throughout each season, there will be a weekly Conquest progression. As you earn Conquest points, you will earn another piece of gear in that series.
  • This is similar to the old Conquest system, where you needed to earn so many CP before you could purchase a Conquest gear item.
  • The goal is to guarantee everyone will get a full set of gear after some time and dedication.
  • There is a weekly Conquest cap, so if you miss a few weeks you can earn all of the weeks of Conquest you missed with some acceleration along the way.

Large Battlegrounds
  • There is a large difference between the gameplay in the larger battlegrounds and the rest. People used the blacklist to avoid some in the past.
  • There will no longer be blacklisting, you either queue for the smaller battlegrounds or the larger ones.
  • In the future the larger outdoor PvP zones could fit in the larger battleground queue, such as Wintergrasp!
  • Ashran is temporarily being retired in Battle for Azeroth. It feels like it would fit in the larger battleground queue in the future.

Racials and Rated PvP
  • Racials exist for flavor and depth.
  • When you are playing PvP, you are still playing World of Warcraft. The team wants to keep the gameplay rules similar. They may have gone too far in Legion with stat templates and disabling trinkets.
  • The team has been looking at the outlier racials, such as Every Man for Himself or Arcane Torrent. Let the developers know if there are still outliers.

Power Progression and PvP
  • The team feels like that for Raid and Dungeon progression, there are certain levels of power increases that are necessary. You need gear to become more powerful so players can be more powerful and defeat things over time.
  • Around 10-15% power increase is necessary for players to really be able to feel the power increase.
  • This matters more in PvP, the boss doesn't complain when you are overgeared, but players in PvP do.
  • The tech used for outdoor scaling of mob levels and power for players that are different levels can be applied to PvP as well.
  • There could be a world where you are 50 or 60 item levels higher than your opponent, but you are only doing 10% more damage than your opponent, rather than 50%. Gear should still matter somewhat.
  • This is more important with the new World PvP system. Stat templates in the outside world would be bad.
  • There aren't any plans to add something to push players towards PvP in cities.

High Elves
  • Blood Elves are basically High Elves. Slightly different eye color and backstory, but if you want to be a light skinned elf, that is basically a Blood Elf. Giving that to the Alliance would blur the line between factions.
  • There aren't a ton of High Elves out there in WoW.
  • If you are Alliance any want to be an elf, the Horde is there for you.

Death Knights and Allied Races
  • There are no plans to let the Hero classes be an Allied Race in Battle for Azeroth, but it possible in future expansions.
  • There is value in defining that Allied Races start at Level 20.

Loot Methods
  • Personal Loot has been the default in WoW for some time now. All of dungeons, PvP, the outdoor world are all personal loot.
  • The only place other loot methods are used are in guild raids.
  • This change wasn't made to stop high end split raids. That's something the team wants to do, but that wasn't the point of this change.
  • There is more personal agency and control as an individual of your fate.
  • There are some guilds that have awarded loot well for many years.
  • Group and Master Loot puts players at the mercy of others, often in ways that aren't fair.
  • Trial players in a new guild may not get anything for weeks because that is the guild policy.
  • When you kill a boss, it isn't about if there is something on the corpse that you want, but if someone is going to give you that loot. It disconnects the reward from killing the boss.
  • You deserve the loot for killing the boss.
  • It's not called Personal Loot anymore, it's just Loot. This is how loot works in the entire game.
  • Trading restrictions for loot will work the same as they do now for the most part. If it is lower than the highest item level piece you have ever looted and had soulbound for that slot, you can trade it.

Armor Sets
  • There will be one appearance per armor type in raids, but they will be able to make many more sets for the game.
  • The goal is to make gear that is themed for the place you are adventuring through to earn it. Uldir has unique armor sets, as will the next raid, warfronts, and other types of content.
  • The team has done 21 different takes on mage class fantasy, so now we can see what is Titan cloth, or what is Troll cloth.
  • There are no lack of appearances to transmog to if you want a more classic Warlock look.

Horde
  • The Horde being evil is a matter of perspective.
  • The Horde has many facets to it, with the Forsaken representing different things than the Tauren. There has been an uneasy partnership between these groups for some time. The Horde isn't monolithic.
  • There are groups are fighting for survival and some resort to desperate measures.
  • Both sides should be worried about becoming evil.
  • All the way back to Orcs vs Humans, you may have assumed Humans were the good guys and Orcs were evil, but there was more nuance than that.
This article was originally published in forum thread: Developer Q&A with Ion Hazzikostas - Battle for Azeroth started by chaud View original post
Comments 467 Comments
  1. Rukario's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Angosia View Post
    Eh, I've heard a rephrase of that mentality before and after every single expansion. 14 years on, the game continues to endure despite the sidewalk doomsayers.
    The end is coming!
    The end is coming! Again!

    Would you like a pamphlet?
  1. Angosia's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by sillag View Post
    you havent. you are simply willfully misremembering because you have an emotional reliance on wow and by imagining that this reaction is normal you can avoid facing what ion is doing to the game you love

    well you're gonna figure it out now or you're gonna figure it out when they make a blog post about how they can only commit to expansions half the size now because no one plays wow after bfa.
    Are you qualified to tell me what I can and cannot remember? I know you're not as it is a rhetorical question. Suffice to say, one of my qualities (to the chagrin of an ex) is that I do remember all too well. Especially the inconvenient things folks would rather (and often do) forget. Please don't presume to speak for me, you don't do very well.
  1. sillag's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Angosia View Post
    Are you qualified to tell me what I can and cannot remember? I know you're not as it is a rhetorical question. Suffice to say, one of my qualities (to the chagrin of an ex) is that I do remember all too well. Especially the inconvenient things folks would rather (and often do) forget. Please don't presume to speak for me, you don't do very well.
    i know you dont remember what never happened friend.
  1. Al Gorefiend's Avatar
    Why would we ever make a change that people don't like or doesn't feel good?

    I'm so THRILLED to have lost so many abilities since MoP. So THRILLED to feel a sense of dread, rather than excitement, when I scroll through the changes to my class in the Alpha to see removed, removed, removed...
  1. Angosia's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Rukario View Post
    The end is coming!
    The end is coming! Again!

    Would you like a pamphlet?
    Here lies Buffy Summers. She saved the world. A lot.

    I mean, yes, your ideas intrigue me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by sillag View Post
    i know you dont remember what never happened friend.
    So, your answer is indirectly no, you're not qualified to tell me what I can and cannot remember. Thank you for your assistance in confirming my statement.
  1. sillag's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Angosia View Post
    Here lies Buffy Summers. She saved the world. A lot.

    I mean, yes, your ideas intrigue me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

    - - - Updated - - -



    So, your answer is indirectly no, you're not qualified to tell me what I can and cannot remember. Thank you for your assistance in confirming my statement.
    idk man i feel 100% confident. you may be remembering wrong because you are desperately clinging to the idea that wow is always good and worth your sub fee but im afraid youre wrong.
  1. baseballfan's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Netherius View Post
    If all the crying is any indication on how good an expansion is, then this expansion will better than Legion! I can't wait!
    It's not. BFA looks trash. Legion/Wod hybrid 2.0
  1. relaxok's Avatar
    "If you are Alliance and want to be an elf, the Horde is there for you."

    Uh, Night Elf?
  1. shaunika123's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Angosia View Post
    How do you interpret that as zero? Not 100%? That's not the same thing. That is, by definition, exaggeration. Your argument is silly and absurd. But, it isn't fact.

    Edit: Love that you added this after I commented, but I'll reply anyway:
    how do you have any agency over something that's 100% random? care to tell me?
    Quote Originally Posted by Angosia View Post


    So, because you haven't seen something in your narrow corner means it reflects what others have experienced? Really? Are you going to go with that logic?
    yes I am, if you're in a guild where ML is being abused

    you type in those magic 5 letters and you're free from it.

    whereas I cant do anything to get back master loot.
  1. Angosia's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by sillag View Post
    idk man i feel 100% confident. you may be remembering wrong because you are desperately clinging to the idea that wow is always good and worth your sub fee but im afraid youre wrong.
    You are making so many assumptions, all wrong, despite your 100% confidence. When you stop doing that and objectively analyze what I've said and what you have, I suspect, though cannot guarantee, you will arrive at a completely different conclusion. But, until you stop assuming, you will never reach that point.
  1. Mirn's Avatar
    The problem for me, with how the Horde is portrayed, is that they are -heavily- loaded with ethically and morally questionable actions. I don't believe the Horde is evil, but there is so much more in the Horde's history that can back-up the idea that they are evil for someone who wants to view them that way. The Alliance simply just doesn't have this at the moment.

    Yes the Alliance have questionable actions in their past. Yes the Alliance can sometimes go a little too far, but everything is padded with 'They didn't know this' or 'The Horde did this, so it was just a reaction'. It's far more easy to excuse the actions of the Alliance than the Horde, especially with Horde leaders swinging between radically evil actions and extremely altruistic actions (Their character, history and personality be damned).

    The problem, right now, that most Horde players who aren't crying about winning or losing, but simply about the Horde YET AGAIN being the aggressor, the unethical, the genocidal, the cruel, the destructive is that it's us YET AGAIN. The Alliance could stand to benefit, story wise, from actually taking an aggressive step and adding some grey into their character and having some internal conflict that leaves their leadership questionable and their ultimate goal hazy.

    But Blizzard doesn't seem capable of doing this. The only thing we have, telling us the factions are morally grey and that they are equally good or bad, is you Ion and other devs saying so in interviews. Put it in the game. Not in a book, not in an anecdotal piece in Chronicles.

    Put it in the game. Put the Alliances crimes in the game. And make them bigger than 'That one time one twat killed four people in a kind of shitty way.'
  1. Oakshana's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Sails View Post
    Without trying to champion that shite excuse. The fact they've not done another netrual race may suggest they regret pandaren set up and hence not done it since.
    They admitted that very thing several months ago. So, you're effectively quite right.
  1. -aiko-'s Avatar
    I have...many concerns. Need to gather my thoughts.

    However, I do encourage everyone to watch the Q&A instead of just reading the summary notes. It's difficult to get the full context from the notes alone.
  1. sillag's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Mirn View Post
    The problem for me, with how the Horde is portrayed, is that they are -heavily- loaded with ethically and morally questionable actions. I don't believe the Horde is evil, but there is so much more in the Horde's history that can back-up the idea that they are evil for someone who wants to view them that way. The Alliance simply just doesn't have this at the moment.

    Yes the Alliance have questionable actions in their past. Yes the Alliance can sometimes go a little too far, but everything is padded with 'They didn't know this' or 'The Horde did this, so it was just a reaction'. It's far more easy to excuse the actions of the Alliance than the Horde, especially with Horde leaders swinging between radically evil actions and extremely altruistic actions (Their character, history and personality be damned).

    The problem, right now, that most Horde players who aren't crying about winning or losing, but simply about the Horde YET AGAIN being the aggressor, the unethical, the genocidal, the cruel, the destructive is that it's us YET AGAIN. The Alliance could stand to benefit, story wise, from actually taking an aggressive step and adding some grey into their character and having some internal conflict that leaves their leadership questionable and their ultimate goal hazy.

    But Blizzard doesn't seem capable of doing this. The only thing we have, telling us the factions are morally grey and that they are equally good or bad, is you Ion and other devs saying so in interviews. Put in the game. Not in a book, not in an anecdotal piece in Chronicles.

    Put it in the game. Put the Alliances crimes in the game. And make them bigger than 'That one time one twat killed four people in a kind of shitty way.'
    bro the horde is pure evil in bfa. i dont like it i play horde but it isnt as simple as ion telling me that genocide is "actually kind of a gray area if you think about it". the lore is dead. ion has killed it with his two bald hands.

    idk if the answer is even to make the alliance do bad stuff. then we just drag both factions down. what bfa needs is to be completely rewritten by someone who actually cares even slightly about wow.
  1. shaunika123's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Jervaise View Post
    Less rewarding for those who distribute it.

    This, in mid to long term, will move the focus away from loot towards performance in mythic raiding.

    The only thing that's gonna be missed is the loot drama. Contrary to common belief, drama in guilds helped with immersion and alternate reality feeling.
    what are you talking about?
    perfomance doesnt matter, since no matter how well you perform you have the same chance as anyone for loot.
    this is basically discourages you from giving 110% because no matter how good you are, you're only as valuable as the worst performing member, who may have literally just joined the guild, and will leave right after he gets a random loot.

    I've never in my life been a master looter, and yet this change makes me feel utterly punished for playing the game right.
    this isnt less rewarding for those "who distribute it" this is less rewarding for anyone who was carrying their guilds.

    this stands against literally everyting a guild should be about.
  1. Al Gorefiend's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Mirn View Post
    The problem for me, with how the Horde is portrayed, is that they are -heavily- loaded with ethically and morally questionable actions. I don't believe the Horde is evil, but there is so much more in the Horde's history that can back-up the idea that they are evil for someone who wants to view them that way. The Alliance simply just doesn't have this at the moment.

    Yes the Alliance have questionable actions in their past. Yes the Alliance can sometimes go a little too far, but everything is padded with 'They didn't know this' or 'The Horde did this, so it was just a reaction'. It's far more easy to excuse the actions of the Alliance than the Horde, especially with Horde leaders swinging between radically evil actions and extremely altruistic actions (Their character, history and personality be damned).

    The problem, right now, that most Horde players who aren't crying about winning or losing, but simply about the Horde YET AGAIN being the aggressor, the unethical, the genocidal, the cruel, the destructive is that it's us YET AGAIN. The Alliance could stand to benefit, story wise, from actually taking an aggressive step and adding some grey into their character and having some internal conflict that leaves their leadership questionable and their ultimate goal hazy.

    But Blizzard doesn't seem capable of doing this. The only thing we have, telling us the factions are morally grey and that they are equally good or bad, is you Ion and other devs saying so in interviews. Put it in the game. Not in a book, not in an anecdotal piece in Chronicles.

    Put it in the game. Put the Alliances crimes in the game. And make them bigger than 'That one time one twat killed four people in a kind of shitty way.'

    "Sir, who are they?"

    "It doesn't matter. Our orders are to eliminate the Horde target at all cost. No witnesses"

    - proceeds to fire cannons at an unidentified vessel in the open seas, not caring who, what or how many are on it
  1. Angosia's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by shaunika123 View Post
    how do you have any agency over something that's 100% random? care to tell me?
    Loot drops, whether master loot OR personal loot, are by definition random. What is not random is the additional component on top of that with master loot: Arbitrary human generated rules on who does or does not deserve loot after that RNG is determined.

    RNG is a factor in both loot systems. Your question is predicated on a false assumption. Re-evaluate your assumptions and you will be able to ask a more valuable question.


    yes I am, if you're in a guild where ML is being abused

    you type in those magic 5 letters and you're free from it.

    whereas I cant do anything to get back master loot.
    So, your argument is that the minority of players (anywhere from 1-5%{depending on whose numbers you use}) should dictate what the other 95-99% use? Fascinating. I haven't seen a mythic guild as yet that has said "O.M.G. I can't adapt to this". I've seen individuals who blast on the forums, but never see that in game. I'm curious why that is. Hypothetical harm vs actual? Where and what circumstance does this cause actual harm? No convincing arguments are made in range of the developers as yet (even those relayed by community managers). Eh, what use does it do to blast folks on a forum where your arguments carry little to no value to the folks making the decision? *shrug*
  1. Casomir's Avatar
    "In the future the larger outdoor PvP zones could fit in the larger battleground queue, such as Wintergrasp!"
    SWEET! I have fond memories of Wintergrasp during WotLK, would be great to play it again with lots of players. Wintergrasp atm is dead and almost impossible to do its achievements.
  1. BlueRemedy's Avatar
    I'd rather Horde just be evil outright. Grey is a fine place to be but it becomes pretty tedious when thats all everyone is, it's also next to impossible to make things a balanced grey. I mean, be real, the Alliance is the faction with the Draenei on it, they aren't evil.
  1. MasterHamster's Avatar
    A huge part of designing a game, especially (if not the most affected genre) MMORPGs, is that you cannot simply let designs that can on the short-term be seen as a benefit to playerpower is the way to design the game. Or be even dumber and design it like a democracy, letting the loudest, most shortsighted options that manage to garner more support than the alternative become the chosen path. Abilities off the GCD is beneficial to players, that does not necessarily mean it's the best design. You being able to instantly heal yourself for half your health when moving is beneficial, but it does not necessarily mean it's the best way to design your class' survivability.


    Like many other areas of the game, GCDs had snowballed, and not a moment too soon is it time to roll back to sane levels. WoW isn't an Action RPG 3rd person version of Diablo 3. At least I miss the anticipation of popping CDs, trinkets and potions and getting ready to unload sick damage on the boss. The slight delay was part of why it made my character feel powerful in those moments. Getting hit by an oh-shit level of damage as you can not 0.05 seconds later pop a 50% heal is part of why falling to low health used to feel like you were risking death, not because you happened to blink in that exact moment and lagged 0.1 second on your reaction time.


    Blizzard has made many mistakes, like letting leveling get completely broken, letting non-premade content become insultingly easy in bare minimum gear (still a huge issue), but letting combat lose all it's impact is a big one. Sometimes it feels like I have to look for a screen-shake addon to remind myself my character is actually obliterating everything in his path. Ya'll shouting about Blizzard ignoring feedback, or how awful this change is, have surely spent more time bitching about this change parroting what other people has said about it, than it'll take before you're used to it once BFA is released.

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