Developer Q&A - Ion Hazzikostas
Game Director Ion Hazzikostas answered your World of Warcraft questions including those on the next content update—Tides of Vengeance.


Azerite Armor
  • An extra outer ring that has two spec specific traits per spec.
  • You'll have access to 3 traits of the 6-7 available.
  • In Season 2 and the new raid, all of the new gear will have a new outer ring that is spec specific traits only.
  • The goal is more customization, more access to traits you want, and more choices.
  • Set pieces in past expansions were an exception to the standard rules when it comes to items. It felt odd to need multiple of the exact same item to cover multiple specs with a set bonus.
  • If you look at how most items work, if you want to play another spec, you want another item for that slot.
  • Azerite armor is more flexible than normal items, as you can change the traits.
  • There is value to having a bit of friction when it comes to changing specs.
  • Someone that is dedicated to a spec should have a small advantage over someone who is constantly switching.
  • If you don't have the perfect gear and traits for another spec and you switch, you'll only be slightly less effective. This matters for the people racing to world first, but doesn't matter nearly as much for everyone else.
  • Spec switching is easier in most ways in Battle for Azeroth than it was in Legion.
  • When it comes to the cost of changing Azerite traits, if you need to change specs long term, that shouldn't feel punishing or overly restrictive.
  • The team didn't want players to have to swap Azerite traits between each fight during a raid.
  • Every time you respec, the cost of changing again doubles. Every 3 days, the cost will become half of what it was.
  • Unlike a lot of items, which are for a specific spec, you have the ability to change the item, just not endlessly without restriction.
  • The team will be able to reset the cost to change traits for Patch 8.1.
  • Mythic+ items will get new traits, you won't be stuck with the same ones forever.
  • Only getting Azerite armor from the Mythic+ chest isn't great. The team is trying to come up with a solution that is a middle ground.
  • There has to be some kind of restriction on how you can get Azerite armor, so it can't just have a chance to drop from every Mythic+.
  • Most people only do one or two Mythic+ dungeons each week.
  • The team wants to provide some way for you to target items from a specific dungeon, but they don't have a great solution yet.
  • If the endgame was just Mythic+ dungeons, the team would just allow drops from the end of run chests.
  • You shouldn't have to go and research what traits do, tooltips should explain them.
  • The team is adding a number of new traits and retiring/replacing some traits across various specs that haven't been popular or successful. Some of those traits can be fixed with tuning, but some of them just need to be retired.

Tanks
  • Tank balance is something that the team is looking at.
  • Brewmaster and Death Knight have too much survivability compared to other tanks.
  • Protection Warrior and Guardian Druid are lagging behind. Some of that is numerical tuning, some (with Prot Warrior) has to do with rotational flow. Changes coming to the PTR in the not so distant future.
  • It's important to remember that tanks bring different things to the fight.
  • When evaluating tanks, keep in mind what they are bringing to a fight as part of their toolkit.
  • A lot of the elements that make a tank skilled aren't quantifiable in terms of damage taken or mitigated.
  • Numerical stuff matters, but at the end of the day tanks shouldn't be in constant danger of death (outside of some exceptions). Feeling like you did everything right but your tank just fell over and died isn't great.
  • Bosses could literally two shot a tank in the past if they had a bad avoidance streak. That didn't feel great.
  • There are things such as Spirit Link that are desirable that aren't reflected in HPS logs.
  • Ancestral Vigor is another thing that just doesn't show up in HPS logs.

Restoration Shaman and Healers
  • Healer balance is on their radar.
  • It is a problem when a healer falls so short in a specific healing scenario that the raid is better off taking an under geared healer of a different class. This is something they want to fix.
  • For dungeons, Ascendance seems to always be the way to go and chain heal feels almost pointless to cast without High Tide. There are tuning changes that need to be done because of this.
  • Disc priests have a high skill ceiling but are over excelling at many of the high end content right now with the potential to outperform other healers while doing good damage. This is something the team is looking at fixing.
  • If one class has strengths and weaknesses and another is a jack of all trades, the latter should not beat the first class in the areas of their strength or this is a balance problem.
  • Tank and healer changes should be addressed in Tides of Vengeance. The team doesn't want to change too much right now as most raids are solidified and they want to provide notice before they shake things up.
  • Healing per second is important, but a little less important than damage per second as there are a lot of good cooldowns that aren't reflected in overall healing throughput, such as Spirit Link Totem.
  • The team wants to better convey to raid leaders the strengths of certain classes outside of raw throughput such as Ancestral Vigor with Shamans.

PvP Balance
  • Unholy DKs and Affliction Lock survivability is on the team's radar.
  • The team is looking at the current pace of Arena matches.
  • There should be a place for burst comps and slower comps.
  • Some recent changes in BfA made Affliction more single target oriented, the team wants to pull them back towards multi-DoT.
  • There should be a balance between quick reactions to feedback vs letting the metagame evolve and new comps emerging to counter what is strong.
  • If this season is known for a faster pace and more burst, and future seasons shift, that is a valid approach to take rather than trying to change the meta right away.
  • Hybrid healing is something the team will continue to address via hotfixes.
  • The team is looking at Shadow Priests too.

Warfronts
  • Patch 8.1 will have Alliance doing the Warfront right away.
  • The two Warfronts will have their independent contribution cycles.
  • Technically both could be active at the same time, but players tend to contribute to whichever is more complete.
  • The team did internal tests with full raid groups queuing for Warfronts. The problem is that with a full raid group you would steamroll the map objectives and get far ahead of the base building and other pacing mechanism. If you get too far ahead of the pacing, it isn't as fun.
  • If you have done the entire map and have to wait 15 minutes for your siege engines to progress, that isn't very fun.
  • The team has been looking at adding another version of Warfronts that is tuned for a raid group.

Allied Races
  • There aren't any plans to update the Death Knight starting area for Allied Races.
  • In Patch 8.1, the team will roughly double the amount of reputation awarded by Legion world quests for the Allied Races.

Raids
  • As of now, the team is going to call the raid Battle of Dazar'alor.
  • The 9 bosses that exist may be in the same order for both factions. Alliance may play through the entire battle, then have the recap of what they missed. Horde players may get their flashback moment during the middle of the raid.
  • In practice, Boss 9 may be the same boss for both factions.
  • There will be mechanical differences and differences in the experience for each faction.
  • The community will figure out which World First matters.
  • It's always amazing watching the best raiders in the world play the game, but the team is building raids to tell a story and provide an epic experience for millions of players.
  • The team won't throw out a cool idea just because it might cause controversy over the World First.
  • The World First race isn't something that Blizzard created, that was all the community. It's up to the community to determine how the World First will work in the upcoming tier.
  • There are a few good trinkets in Uldir. In the Dazar'alor raid there will hopefully be better tuning and trinkets.
  • The community values trinkets from non-raid content over raid trinkets. This is due to how those trinkets are budgeted for. Raid trinkets are created to be more interesting, maybe themed after the boss that drops them.
  • A straight strength proc has more interactions with player skill and other actions than a debuff that a trinket applies.
  • Sims assume that you are playing perfectly, which makes the straight stat proc trinkets more powerful than they really are.
  • The team has moved away from raids being the only/best endgame PvE content. There are plenty of people that are enjoying Mythic+ dungeons.
  • Tier sets were a unique raid reward, but players could jump into a PuG and usually get that set within a few weeks of clearing the raid. Tier sets aren't like they used to be, with a year long journey to get your entire set.
  • The team could have smaller 2 piece sets, or items with flavorful effects added across the game.
  • Each system should have some flavorful and unique rewards that aren't available from other systems.

Island Expeditions
  • Killing creatures will always be part of Island Expeditions, but the team wants to add more events and objectives to the islands.
  • Extraction points will let you set up an extractor to defend, granting a steady stream of Azerite. You'll need to prevent the other faction from taking it, or recapture it if they do.
  • Islands change weekly, but players have seen the giant Azerite Golem more times than they wanted.

RP Realms and Sharding
  • Except for the new content zones, there is no Cross realm zone tech enabled.
  • In the newest zones, sharding is necessary. A zone doesn't support 1500 people in it trying to do World Quests.
  • Normally sharding tries to keep players from the same sever together. War Mode discards that and tries to maintain faction balance over everything else.
  • People from other realms also join groups and will appear on your RP realm.
  • The team can look at the numbers and try to understand if specific servers could support a healthy gameplay experience on their own.
  • Realms with a high faction imbalance can't stand on their own, as it wouldn't be a great experience.

Group Finder and Mythic+
  • The team is still working through design questions, but they want group finder to allow you to list keystone level, search range, bringing your keystone, looking for a keystone, etc.

War Campaign
  • Alt friendliness is important in Patch 8.1.
  • When you finish story chapters, you hardly get any reputation. The team is adding significant amounts of reputation to each chapter, so you'll be able to play through them without a lot of extra farming.
  • Horde and Alliance assaults will provide additional ways to level alts, as well as Island Expeditions. Characters leveled this way may lack flight paths and gear.
  • The team is working on making a BoA book so you can learn flight paths on alts that you already know on your main character.
This article was originally published in forum thread: Developer Q&A - Ion Hazzikostas started by chaud View original post
Comments 301 Comments
  1. Nathiest's Avatar
    So did anyone ask Lore how his transitioning was going?
  1. probert's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Lexia View Post
    Welcome to the World of IonCraft. Grit your teeth, the next year and a half is going to suck.
    They're spending more and more time trying to design fixes for Azerite abilities, which tells me they're in too deep to abort the design altogether.

    As for the next 18 months, its more like 21 months as it'll be 2 years until the next expansion. Good news is that I won't be gritting my teeth...i'll be playing Black Ops 4 and (most likely) Red Dead Redemption 2.

    As far as I'm concerned, Blizzard owes us money for giving us half an expansion that was a bug ridden mess.

    i'm willing to call it now: BFA is the worst expansion in WoW history. Warlords of Draenor had a lack of end game content and garrisons were a mistake, but class balance and progression was at least predictable and relatively balanced. Nothing is working in BFA right now except for dungeons and raiding, and thanks to mythic+ the class deficiencies are amplified.
  1. Doomchicken's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Eleccybubb View Post
    Sorry but Valor completely outdoes the system we have today. Tying it to rep was meh but still Valor and Justice were the two perfect systems which were literally what bad luck protection is.

    Valor guarantees me a reward after a set time. Even if it takes 2 weeks.

    The current system of "bad luck protection" is... YOU MIGHT GET A REWARD AFTER TIME.

    They really should take a look at how FF14 handles it's bad luck protection because quite frankly.... WoW doesn't have any.

    An example from FF14. EX Primals drop a decent weapon. Current one is 385. But it's one weapon per kill. HOWEVER it also drops an item and when you get 10 of that item you can go buy a weapon from a vendor.

    That is GOOD bad luck protection. WoWs is the complete opposite and pretty much "hey you might get an item that is better or not or you might get an item after time has passed".
    I think you guys are missing a key point here. I am not DEFENDING the current system, I'm more pointing out how flawed the VP system truly was, ergo going back to a flawed system is NOT the answer. The current system isn't good, I get that, but if they're going to fix this they need to try new ideas, or the main reason I've quoted eleccybubb here for how FF14 does it, to steal better ideas from someone else.
  1. hyphnos's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Doomchicken View Post
    Cool, that way instead of 100 threads about the same two vanilla questions we'll get 100 threads bitching about how having to do certain content to get badges like what happened during MoP. Awesome, can't wait.
    you know, it doesn't HAVE to be the fucked up mists system or any other past system for earning currency. they caused the problem by making it hard to cap valor unless you did a dungeon and a scenario daily because the first one had a big bonus and you got zip for later ones.

    in cataclysm, they had a good system - 150 valor per heroic dungeon and you could do 7 of them at any time during the week, not having to do it once a day.

    basically a currency system that allows people to cap on a weekly basis doing things they like rather than trying to force daily play due to once a day bonuses on certain content essentially would remove almost all the problems people had with "having to things".

    It's the urgency of having to do it in a certain time frame that there are numerous solutions to and is totally solved by an escalating cap and making any activity's currency rewards equal whether you do 1 in a day or 15 in a day or wait 3 weeks and earn your entire cap over a weekend.

    currency systems are not inherently flawed - blizzard's last iteration of it was and that's no reason to say any and all currency systems would be hated by the playerbase.
  1. NatePsy's Avatar
    These devs are so damn stubborn when it comes to the reforge system, it was all well and dandy that you could freely switch between specs with our artifacts but Azerite? Nah, we're gonna charge you out the rear because we frown upon having more than one role this expansion for some reason! It just reeks of them wanting us to farm multiple sets, more time invested looks good on their numbers I guess.
  1. Zeusrules's Avatar
    "Allied Races
    There aren't any plans to update the Death Knight starting area for Allied Races."

    God damn it.
  1. tylenol's Avatar
    The mystery is gone now because everyone knows how the game works when your developer is a former player/guild leader

    All the years of people saying players could do a better job...shenanigans
  1. Arvandor's Avatar
    thats is it for 8.1??

    no word for working on broken specs?

    no word for pathfinder 2?

    i expect that 8.1 is ions last chance, after that he would be fired.
  1. kokenhalliwell's Avatar
    Tips to improve Unholy DK:

    Short version / issues: UH DK has too many damage buttons to press, pet needs a buff and the spec has movility issues.

    Expanded version / fixes:

    - Death coil should be renamed to Spiral Plague and include death strike healing effect (maybe reduce the healing effect a little bit, not sure about it). Death strike removed with this (better selfhealing and one less button)

    - Epidemic must replace death coil and be stronger (too many buttons for the UH spec)

    - The permanent pet needs lots of fixes:

    · Way more resistance
    · Reduce its casting animation or increase its speed since it lasts too much time to spawn
    · Must has a taunt
    · Pet's name choice is a must (same for talent 2nd pet and same for Warlocks pets)
    · Basic stun should be 2s and buffed version should be 3s
    · "All will serve" 2nd pet attacks need a visual improvement (at least green plague arrows or something)

    - Wraith walk should replace the baseline sprint (still being able to attack while it lasts), its CD should go down to 30 seconds and could has a gliding effect like mage/moonkin/priests have

    - Antimagic shield must last 10 seconds by default and have a slight passive effect

    - Army of the dead CD should be 4min by default (if you think that's too OP reduce its damage a little bit)

    - Death Grip should be able to be used on allies (maybe to reach them so you can quite better, or to drag them to where you are)

    - Necrotic strike should be a passive effect and not another button to press


    With this the spec should be way smoother to play I think.
  1. tangers58's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by tylenol View Post
    The mystery is gone now because everyone knows how the game works when your developer is a former player/guild leader

    All the years of people saying players could do a better job...shenanigans
    No, that means one developer is terrible at his job.
  1. Meow's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Katsutomai View Post
    Don't expect a Worgen or Goblin update before next Expansion. They've literally lied through their teeth about the Worgen/Goblin model update coming since WoD.
    The main reason I temporarily leave World of Warcraft is their arrogant attitude to worgen/goblin models, as my main character is also a worgen. Every time Blizzard announces a new allied race or some new tweaks of elvish faces, I feel that worgen and goblin players are ignored again and again.
  1. Darkguyver2020's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Kyanion View Post
    Quitting is not the answer but providing feedback is.
    When these whining fucktards idea of "feedback" is throwing tantrums on the forums and insulting/making threats towards the developers. They might as well quit. We don't want toxic little cunts like them playing the game anyway.
  1. Kyanion's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Darkguyver2020 View Post
    When these whining fucktards idea of "feedback" is throwing tantrums on the forums and insulting/making threats towards the developers. They might as well quit. We don't want toxic little cunts like them playing the game anyway.
    At least they are a vocal minority. Other people who just quit, you know. Just quit. They don't say a fucking thing. They're gone.
  1. Darkguyver2020's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Kyanion View Post
    At least they are a vocal minority. Other people who just quit, you know. Just quit. They don't say a fucking thing. They're gone.
    They certainly don't feel like a vocal minority at times. The forums are just an endless cacophony of autistic screeching. It's maddening.
  1. Ganksinatra's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Darkguyver2020 View Post
    They certainly don't feel like a vocal minority at times. The forums are just an endless cacophony of autistic screeching. It's maddening.
    This is why I hardly ever read these forums or the official WoW forums. Back in the day, it was filled with substantive advice and recommendations for game play and lore improvements. Now it's "YOU CHANGED SOMETHING I LIKED SO I THINK SOMEONE SHOULD FUCKING KILL YOUR CHILDREN!!!" I AM QUITTING!!"......the funniest part? That same mongoloid is back screaming about something else 2 weeks later. Sometimes, after a bit, they claim they "stopped subbing months ago". I stopped subbing to EverQuest 15ish years ago. I don't keep appraised of what changes they are making there. I call bullshit.
  1. Katamere's Avatar
    Brewmaster and Death Knight have too much survivability compared to other tanks.
    im curious to see if they - for once - manage to nerf brewmaster in raids (where it is OP) without hurting it in mythic+ (where it is mid-tier).
    The real problem at hand isn't "too much survivability", it is - stagger too good against twoshotting enemies with multiple healers in your back.

    So they would need to alter stagger in a way it does less damage smoothing but more actual mitigation
  1. Al Gorefiend's Avatar
    People are blowing Azerite armor way out of proportion.

    Yeah, the system sucks. Legion Legendaries was a bad system too at Legion launch. Did it ruin the expansion? No.

    I hate Azerite as much as anyone else, but it's hardly the worst idea Blizzard ever had.

    It's the prune that happened that is still doing so much damage to the game IMO. They really need to stop giving us things then ripping them away from us next expac. I feel like I am LOSING power every expac and it sucks!
  1. Th3Scourge's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Katamere View Post
    im curious to see if they - for once - manage to nerf brewmaster in raids (where it is OP) without hurting it in mythic+ (where it is mid-tier).
    The real problem at hand isn't "too much survivability", it is - stagger too good against twoshotting enemies with multiple healers in your back.

    So they would need to alter stagger in a way it does less damage smoothing but more actual mitigation
    I would prefer to see buffs to the other tanking specs rather than nerfs to top tier tanks. I'm biased speaking as a Blood DK but that would result in better representation across all tanking specs.
  1. Nathasil's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Al Gorefiend View Post
    People are blowing Azerite armor way out of proportion.

    Yeah, the system sucks. Legion Legendaries was a bad system too at Legion launch. Did it ruin the expansion? No.

    I hate Azerite as much as anyone else, but it's hardly the worst idea Blizzard ever had.

    It's the prune that happened that is still doing so much damage to the game IMO. They really need to stop giving us things then ripping them away from us next expac. I feel like I am LOSING power every expac and it sucks!
    Legendaries were the smallest of the 3 pillars which gearing in Legion was based on:
    1. Artifact Weapon
    2. Tier sets
    3. Legendaries

    Azerite gear on the other hand is the ONLY gearing system of this expansion. And it sucks. There is no way to blow it out of proportion. WoW is a reward driven game. The primary reward is gear. If your expansion just has ONE gearing system and this one system is shit.....the whole game has a problem. How can one blow this out of proportion? Sit back and watch the cinematics (the only part of BFA that is truely above average!!) while accepting that actually playing the game for gear is just not that great right now?
  1. Lumineus's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Spotnick View Post
    I have no clue how people in California can wear a tuque designed to keep your head warm when it's freezing outside in the winter cold.
    By wasting power turning the A/C down to 60. While irrigating their almond fields with Nevada's water. And commuting to work in their H2s. But telling the rest of us we need to sacrifice creature comforts to save the environment.

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