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. dunhildas's Avatar
    "There aren't a ton of High Elves out there in WoW."


    Yet there are tons of Void Elves? What type of answer is this?

    "If you are Alliance any want to be an elf, the Horde is there for you."

    Oh it's the Microsoft answer, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_JVVUnCWnY
  1. silverdragon234's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by dunhildas View Post
    "There aren't a ton of High Elves out there in WoW."


    Yet there are tons of Void Elves? What type of answer is this?

    "If you are Alliance any want to be an elf, the Horde is there for you."

    Oh it's the Microsoft answer, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_JVVUnCWnY
    I kept accusing Anduin of inviting the void elves into the Alliance because he was supposed to be his father in personality and temperament and throw a fit about the void elves. IMO, warmongers make better leaders than pacifists. Do you agree?
  1. Strangewayes's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by RangerDaz View Post
    Well, that's Ion's style. I never liked his style. (honestly i don't like him at all...)

    Blizzard should replace him for another more friendly employee that would make these interviews much more interesting and engaging.
    He is such an uninteresting and rude guy... But anyway, this is my opinion.
    Ion sounds like either he doesn't know what the hell he is talking about, or he's arrogant enough to lie to peoples faces and expects them to smile and eat it.


    Every problem with High Elves being playable has virtually been debunked by Void Elves existence.

    They are a elf race with the same exact model and animations as Blood Elves, with the tone slider on their skin turned to purple. They initially started from a single quest chain a few months ago, and are written to be able to make enough to make an entire faction of them.

    Comparing that to the Silver Covenant, who has been allied with the Alliance since at least WOTLK, with appearances in quests, Alliance hubs and Sanctuaries, even in Dalaran today. With already established lore which could be expanded upon.

    I don't know what Ion has against the Alliance getting High Elves, but he seems to want to cut off his nose to spite his face.

    It's like the Horde asking for Mag'Har Orcs and getting Lightforged Orcs.
  1. oathy's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Strangewayes View Post
    Ion sounds like either he doesn't know what the hell he is talking about, or he's arrogant enough to lie to peoples faces and expects them to smile and eat it.


    Every problem with High Elves being playable has virtually been debunked by Void Elves existence.

    They are a elf race with the same exact model and animations as Blood Elves, with the tone slider on their skin turned to purple. They initially started from a single quest chain a few months ago, and are written to be able to make enough to make an entire faction of them.

    Comparing that to the Silver Covenant, who has been allied with the Alliance since at least WOTLK, with appearances in quests, Alliance hubs and Sanctuaries, even in Dalaran today. With already established lore which could be expanded upon.

    I don't know what Ion has against the Alliance getting High Elves, but he seems to want to cut off his nose to spite his face.

    It's like the Horde asking for Mag'Har Orcs and getting Lightforged Orcs.
    they do seem totally oblivious to the tide of negativity.
    trouble is a lot of this is self inflicted. New expansions are always going to get negative feedback
    even if they made the most perfect expansion ever.

    but they have managed to piss off Horde players with regards to the direction of the story.
    alliance with the HE situation and his "Go horde".
    Global Cd's
    add into the mix the insane price of Wow tokens via Gold (something they said they would monitor)

    I hate being this negative about an expansion. the last time I felt like this was WOD Beta
    it just doesn't feel right, Only time will tell but I suspect if it goes the way I think He and a few others
    will be moving on. His "go horde" comment sounded like someone who just doesn't care if that annoys people.
  1. BonesTheRabbit's Avatar
    "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)."

    This is such a lie, dude. Remember when most people were complaining that their classes felt incomplete and improperly balanced? And the community managers explicitly kept telling us "It'll feel better once you have your artifact." Pepperidge Farm remembers.

    It's exhausting how much Blizzard simply lies to the playerbase.
  1. oathy's Avatar
    the entire backstory on BFA just comes across as so weak.
    Take out all the other controversies. bones raises such a valid point but again they (the devs) just brush things aside
    as "ultra negative" community.

    what they are basically saying dont call them out on anything said in the past even though thats changed greatly.

    bellular new video again says the devs are saying there's more going on than appears. and fair enough some of the cut scenes are missing
    but the entire storyline/layout isnt strong enough to cover the events. the handling of the broken shore scenario was terrible.
    We had both Leaders all over each other compliments and flirting.. As horde we were trapped on the cliff top and she ordered a retreat.
    Yet all the interactions they had were totally forgotten.

    If the same thing is going to happen again a really important story be badly played out do they really have to ask why people are negative?
  1. AngelDSTU's Avatar
    I really like Ion for his frankness.

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