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 299 Comments
  1. Daan's Avatar
    Brewmaster and Death Knight have too much survivability compared to other tanks.
    Blood DKs have also too strong utility, which make them the go-to tank again for Mythic+.
  1. Maglen's Avatar
    Just tanks and healers that are jacked up.

    Y'know, the most important part of any group.
  1. Walross's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Lightforged View Post
    Any system that lets you accrue currency from spammable content will make people feel like they are forced to run that content again and again and again to earn the currency in the fastest way possible. That is not fun or enjoyable. So if you introduced a currency to the game, it would likely have to be in the M+ chest and not a dungeon drop to be a limiter on the amount of repeatable content people would feel forced to play.



    Not really.

    What they are basically doing is telling you the inner rings don't really matter. They are basically normalizing the inner rings and then abandoning them as meaningful bits of the game. The outer ring is all that really matters.



    Legion was also the expansion where if you wanted to switch specs they told you to go farm millions of Artifact Power to level up your off spec's weapon.



    Pretty sure waiting 15 minutes would be a pretty bad/poor experience. Like how you can't skip all the dialog in old raids. You just si there, doing nothing for minutes at a time. Plus, he said they were contemplating making a raid friendly version of Warfronts, which would be awesome. So calm down, jeez.



    He was not patronizing or "mansplaning". He was just stating Blizzard's design goals and design intentions. If you don't want to listen to that, just read the MMO Champion synopsis.



    Like, he literally said they will fix the numbers and buff the low end tanks and, potentially, nerf the high end tanks. The stuff about utility is important as it helps clarify where Blizzard would like the tanks to eventually be - each possessing unique strengths and weaknesses.
    Wait a second. Are you trying to be REASONABLE?! IN MMO-CHAMPION?!! Get out of here, you fucking white knight!
  1. Titans's Avatar
    > The community values trinkets from non-raid content over raid trinkets.

    I strongly disagree - it is extremely frustrating when a bis piece for raiding is locked behind having to spam the same m+ dungeon continuously
  1. Marrilaife's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Dartz1979 View Post
    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. i do like the sounds of that.
    In b4 I still have to drag every alt of mine through Drustvar or suffer 4 perma locked behind questlines fps that don't show otherwise.

    I get it, Drustvar is cool, but not for the 5th time in a row.
  1. Barnabas's Avatar
    They need to show the azerite traits they plan for 8.1 already.
  1. Quaade's Avatar
    Having listened to the interview what is less important to me is what he says and instead what is more important is how he says it.

    Some background information:

    Words are something we interpret subconsciously and their meaning is derived from the subculural meaning attacked to it. Thinking of a table, no matter the kind you think of personally, it'll be ome kind of flat surface to put things on while supported by X legs.

    Conversely the words we use are also chosen subconsciously based on their meaning, what we say is based on what we subconsciously think.

    Thus the interesting part to me is that he never admits mistakes. At most he can say that it turned out differently than they intended. So they have no culpability it was just a thing that happened, despiute them having multiple threads in beta saying that those things would be a problem, have all the numbers and are responsable for the design choices since it's their game.

    So we have a team leader that never wants to take responsability for the things they did if they turned out bad, so people are right to call him arrogant because that's what he is.

    Psychologically he shows light narcissistic traits in that it's never their fault and thus it's never their responsability. In a US citizen light narcissistic traits are common as the concept "The American Dream," and by extension "American Exceptionality," are based on them, so it's in the US culture.
  1. spalernTJ's Avatar
    Everyone who is complaining, I hope you realize that the only way you're ever going to get any change in a positive way, is to right up cancel your subscription, and not writing about it in forums, yeh? Come join me in Final Fantasy XIV, usubbed a couple weeks ago, and have not looked back since. WoW was a huge deal for me for many years, played since vanilla beta, and were more or less addicted, until now. The promise of a fix next patch, the promise of "They'll do better next time" just doesn't cut it out for me anymore, so I unsubbed, and if you want change, then you'll do the same. I'm just here to suggest a game that offers much more freedom and enjoyment, albeit slower gameplay.
  1. mmocecb49fab45's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Gadzooks View Post
    There's a certain number of people who are sticking their fingers in their ears going "LALALALALA I can't hear you!" and, if that doesn't work, they personally attack you for having an opinion.
    You call the following a "personal opinion"?
    Quote Originally Posted by Greyvax View Post
    I've never been so demoralized by a Q&A. It's pretty clear this team has absolutely NO idea what they're doing, led by one of the most underqualified "game directors" in history.

    Likely going to let my sub run out finally, because there's clearly nothing exciting to look forward to on the horizon. Just more of the same (all talk, no action)
    This is nothing more than a giant flame on Blizzard and on top it is just not true.
  1. Clozer's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Titanbane View Post
    > The community values trinkets from non-raid content over raid trinkets.

    I strongly disagree - it is extremely frustrating when a bis piece for raiding is locked behind having to spam the same m+ dungeon continuously
    This is exactly what he said..
  1. Mayia's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Gadzooks View Post
    Fixing? Ion is flat out saying he doesn't think it's broken, that it's a balancing and tweaking issue. Azerite isn't going anywhere, stop expecting it.

    The only way Blizzard has ever reversed themselves is when they lose a big chunk of playerbase. It got you flying in WoD. It got you Legion. And now, it's the only thing that's going to change the course of HMS Ionsgame.

    Your game, for the next two years, is azerite, azerite gear, warfronts, and islands. Shut up, pay your sub, have Fun™.

    - - - Updated - - -



    There's a certain number of people who are sticking their fingers in their ears going "LALALALALA I can't hear you!" and, if that doesn't work, they personally attack you for having an opinion.
    why can't we express how we feel AND play the game? why is it you are too close minded to realize your opinion isn't the only one that exists?
    And if we didn't speak up blizzard wouldn't change jack, so if you like wow right now stop reading comments telling you how much it sucks and get on with it, or you can go on denying that you honestly do loathe some of the systems ingame but your fanboy personality wont allow you to express it openly so all you can do is be hostile yelling at everyone to unsub and shutup.

    The Azerite system needs to be re-directed to a better version of their plan the one they had didn't work and it needs to be changed so the expansion isn't remembered more for the bad than the good, even if that means moving up their plans for the system sooner, but pretending nothing is wrong and losing millions of subs isn't the way they should handle it.
  1. mmocde770815f8's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Quaade View Post
    Having listened to the interview what is less important to me is what he says and instead what is more important is how he says it.

    Some background information:

    Words are something we interpret subconsciously and their meaning is derived from the subculural meaning attacked to it. Thinking of a table, no matter the kind you think of personally, it'll be ome kind of flat surface to put things on while supported by X legs.

    Conversely the words we use are also chosen subconsciously based on their meaning, what we say is based on what we subconsciously think.

    Thus the interesting part to me is that he never admits mistakes. At most he can say that it turned out differently than they intended. So they have no culpability it was just a thing that happened, despiute them having multiple threads in beta saying that those things would be a problem, have all the numbers and are responsable for the design choices since it's their game.

    So we have a team leader that never wants to take responsability for the things they did if they turned out bad, so people are right to call him arrogant because that's what he is.

    Psychologically he shows light narcissistic traits in that it's never their fault and thus it's never their responsability. In a US citizen light narcissistic traits are common as the concept "The American Dream," and by extension "American Exceptionality," are based on them, so it's in the US culture.
    Just an alternative interpretation of your premise here: you absolutely do not want a team leader who comes out and straight-up says "Yeah, we fucked up on this one guys, I'm sorry." The second you admit culpability for a thing, it becomes canonically The Thing That Got Fucked Up and no amount of PR or spin will ever make that not TTTGFU. As long as they frame it as things that turned out differently than intended, you won't have a massive flood of people at the gates going SEE I TOLD YOU I WAS RIGHT THEY SCREWED IT UP ION SAID SO. I can't even imagine the size of the gallows the guy would be hanged from if he actually said they'd done something wrong. What would that look like for investors?
  1. Lightforged's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Quaade View Post
    Thus the interesting part to me is that he never admits mistakes. At most he can say that it turned out differently than they intended. So they have no culpability it was just a thing that happened, despiute them having multiple threads in beta saying that those things would be a problem, have all the numbers and are responsable for the design choices since it's their game.

    So we have a team leader that never wants to take responsability for the things they did if they turned out bad, so people are right to call him arrogant because that's what he is.
    Companies rarely admit fault because that leads to PR disasters. You spin it so that it you are admitting things did not work out as you intended and now you are fixing it so that it will work as intended.
  1. Emeralddragoness's Avatar
    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.
    Uh, what? Tier sets haven't taken A YEAR to get since VANILLA, ION. What the fuck.
  1. mmoc031f50adb0's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by scarecrowz View Post
    Look at his iLevel and then look at his Necklace level.


    The irony is fucking HILARIOUS.

    This dickhead needs to go.
    Who even cares about the ilvl. The guy hasn't done a single 10+ dungeon on time nor has he worked to actually get a key up to that level. Just depleting other people's stuff.

    He's not really playing, he's participating...
  1. Quaade's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Trihan View Post
    Just an alternative interpretation of your premise here: you absolutely do not want a team leader who comes out and straight-up says "Yeah, we fucked up on this one guys, I'm sorry." The second you admit culpability for a thing, it becomes canonically The Thing That Got Fucked Up and no amount of PR or spin will ever make that not TTTGFU. As long as they frame it as things that turned out differently than intended, you won't have a massive flood of people at the gates going SEE I TOLD YOU I WAS RIGHT THEY SCREWED IT UP ION SAID SO. I can't even imagine the size of the gallows the guy would be hanged from if he actually said they'd done something wrong. What would that look like for investors?
    Yes you do. a person who does that is honest and sincere and thus worth listening further to. If you come cocksure and better knowing people will just assume you're arrogant and shut whatever you say off even if it's correct information.

    I have an education within healthcare and something I've had great succes with, is admitting my own lack of knowledge. I' no longer on the pedistal as all knowing. I'm human, I have flaws and thus my words carry weight.

    Ion just comes across and arrogant since his "strenght" is a weakness in refusiong to admit they made a mistake.

    People with no relation training or experience will say your method is correct, it's about as wrong as it can possibly be if you want to build a raport with the person(s) on the other end.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Lightforged View Post
    Companies rarely admit fault because that leads to PR disasters. You spin it so that it you are admitting things did not work out as you intended and now you are fixing it so that it will work as intended.
    And thus you appear weak and worthless to listen to. In essence you're the "it's fine" dog in the burning house.

    By admitting your mistake, by admitting your weakness you show strength. Asking for help, by anyone, is never a sign of weakness, it's a sign of strength. You dare admit you made a mistake. Ion is weak and a US citizen. The American Dream is inherintly narcissistic and for something that's narcissistic admitting mistakes, wrong decissions, flaws, etc. is the same as admitting weakness.

    That's the cultural narrative. Asking for help is the same as admitting you're weak and unworthy.
  1. mmocde770815f8's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Quaade View Post
    Yes you do. a person who does that is honest and sincere and thus worth listening further to. If you come cocksure and better knowing people will just assume you're arrogant and shut whatever you say off even if it's correct information.

    I have an education within healthcare and something I've had great succes with, is admitting my own lack of knowledge. I' no longer on the pedistal as all knowing. I'm human, I have flaws and thus my words carry weight.

    Ion just comes across and arrogant since his "strenght" is a weakness in refusiong to admit they made a mistake.

    People with no relation training or experience will say your method is correct, it's about as wrong as it can possibly be if you want to build a raport with the person(s) on the other end.

    - - - Updated - - -



    And thus you appear weak and worthless to listen to. In essence you're the "it's fine" dog in the burning house.

    By admitting your mistake, by admitting your weakness you show strength. Asking for help, by anyone, is never a sign of weakness, it's a sign of strength. You dare admit you made a mistake. Ion is weak and a US citizen. The American Dream is inherintly narcissistic and for something that's narcissistic admitting mistakes, wrong decissions, flaws, etc. is the same as admitting weakness.

    That's the cultural narrative. Asking for help is the same as admitting you're weak and unworthy.
    I should clarify, when I say "you" I mean from the perspective of shareholders, not consumers. As much as they make the game for us, we're not the ones investing in the company. At least not in the same way the shareholders are. Ion admitting culpability for mistakes might make us happy, but it sure as hell is going to land him in hot water in internal meetings.
  1. Quaade's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Trihan View Post
    I should clarify, when I say "you" I mean from the perspective of shareholders, not consumers. As much as they make the game for us, we're not the ones investing in the company. At least not in the same way the shareholders are. Ion admitting culpability for mistakes might make us happy, but it sure as hell is going to land him in hot water in internal meetings.
    In my opinion shareholders can suck it as long as they get a divident over long term instead of chasing short term profits. With 1 million shareholders and 1 customer you've no business.
  1. mmocde770815f8's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Quaade View Post
    In my opinion shareholders can suck it as long as they get a divident over long term instead of chasing short term profits. With 1 million shareholders and 1 customer you've no business.
    Oh trust me, I'm not disagreeing with you there, just positing a possible motivation for Ion not coming out and saying "Yeah we fucked up, soz."

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