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 297 Comments
  1. Thestuff1992's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Toppy View Post
    He's such a fucking cunt.

    And clearly does not play the game.
    Not sure if anyone responded yet or not but he certainly does. He raids on a resto shaman and it’s been linked here plenty of times. He mythic raids with a bunch of people from elitist jerks back in the day which he was also a part of.

    Unfortunately just because he plays the game and may even want the same changes we do, he can’t always do that. Plenty of other players to account for that aren’t here.

    However there’s clearly times where he’s stubborn like Legiondaries and Azerite Armor. Repeatedly told time and time again throughout beta that these systems are bad and feel terrible but they went live anyway. I get that there’s a larger pool of players and data once it hits live but if that’s the perspective than just get rid of beta or at least tell people it’s not for testing purposes. Hell legiondaries could’ve been excellent if the reward structure wasn’t horrible, they were definitely fun when we got the good ones but the journey to getting them was pretty bad unless you got em right away and this was said several hundred times before live.
  1. Sammonoske's Avatar
    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.
    I can imagine them just taking IP and Devastate off GCD which wouldn't help at all and nerfing Unstoppable Force to reduce TC spam and spent GCDs.
  1. Gadzooks's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Kyanion View Post
    No, you need to read what I said. If people are posting "I quit" and nothing else, then that is not useful and adds nothing to the discussion. Like I said "I quit" threads aren't allowed here because they don't do a fucking thing to help conversations. If people were posting with actual complaints then sure, there are talking points.

    You can say "X thing sucks" all you want, I mean it doesn't fix anything really but sure add your vote to the pile. But an "I quit" helps really nothing. But I don't have to worry about it, because those type of moronic threads get shut down here, so good riddance.
    Sniveling about other people doesn't move the conversation forward either, so you're just as guilty as the people you're sniveling about, by your own artificial rules.
  1. RangerDaz's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Balmong View Post
    Man for some reason, it really seems like Ion is out of touch with the player base.
    Yes He is so self centered, and it is getting worse by every patch.
  1. jaber2's Avatar
    Azerite armor, 3 less to design, basically poor design with less gear to design
  1. RobertoCarlos's Avatar
    they're just throwing shit at a wall with azerite gear at this point to see what sticks.

    What a shambles
  1. Kyux's Avatar
    I think there should be friction when changing specs. Otherwise what is a spec? If I can swap between feral and guardian between fights then I'm no longer a guardian druid I'm a feral druid with alternating toolkits. It goes back to the fantasy of WoW and it's the little things that need to stay. Also, some gold is a very minor price to pay, literally. I think people wanting an easier spec swap are a little bit entitled. Maintaining multiple specs is a privilege that you work for, not a right. I think we should not be jack-of-all-trades.

    As for the whole system, I think people are confusing issues. Traits per se are not bad as a system. Yes they are unbalanced and some suck. But the system of having extra effects on a piece of gear is good. The problem is obtaining them - that it is so irregular and random and difficult. One solution (credit to Taliesin and Evitel) is to make mythic+ drop the same slots but without azerite traits and for trait gear to only drop in raids. Alternatively, and what I prefer, is that mythic+ and raids and whatever else (warfronts? islands?) give a token which you can accumulate to buy the piece you want. You can adjust the acquisition rates to make raiding better for it or however. Problem solved imho.

    For everyone else complaining can we suggest some fixes please?
  1. Anastacy's Avatar
    Nothing about healer balance?

    Hmmm...okay, I guess.
  1. deenman's Avatar
    The problem with resto shamans is not just that we suck at spread healing and spot healing,we always sucked at that,the real issue shamans have is that EVEN in the situation they should exel,they simply dont,even when stacked healing is needed shaman is still performing under every other healer exept holy paladin,and its not even by a lot over paladins,that is a mind blowing place to be in as a shaman for the first time ever and it amazez me how the class got passed beta like this,even with the 15% healing rain buff it has not been enough.

    Also when it comes to m+ the level 100 talent row is literaly useless,not one of those talents really helps,rarely are there bosses or even trash packs where the entire party takes enough dmg to justify using ascendance,and chain heal isnt much needed either,its almost always tank dmg or spot healing,and having zero things to give a person for mitigation apart from link also feels bad,we are the only healer that cant do that.
  1. Lumineus's Avatar
    Players: This sucks, can you change it?
    Ion: {ten minute rambling mansplaination about the COMPLETELY OBVIOUS ramifications of implementing obnoxious restrictions}

    WE. DON'T. CARE. Stop treating these Q&As as an excuse to patronize us like we're your two year old son. If you're not going to improve the object of the complaint, then don't waste an eighth of the presentation "addressing" it.
  1. Marrilaife's Avatar
    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.
    Well wish Ion could see my death log from Vectis where I died after using all my stacks of active mitigation, guardian of ancient kings after I ran out of mitigation, then ardent defender, healthstone, self heal on cd, and another charge of active mitigation, and still died. But no worries, from next week I'm gonna be replaced with brewmaster alt of a guildie. My "ultility" comes down to joining as a 3rd tank for Zul so I can bubble / bop off the blood stacks. Except that, I bring nothing. At least DKs usually have some fight where grips are useful (Zek'voz, Zul, Mythrax). Every other tank can just be replaced by another brewmaster.

    But let's keep musing over tank "utility" or how much "skill" you need to manage your active mitigation while brewmaster doesn't need anything of those and survives everything much better.

    Oh, and btw monk also brings physical debuff that is mandatory, and ring of peace that is really strong on several bosses. They also have great mobility, for example transcendence helps a lot to nullify the knockback from fetid devourer. Absolutely ridiculous a class with best survivability has also so much utility.

    Look at guardian druid and see how their population dropped off when their utility was gutted (stampeding roar cooldown increased by removing the talent, rage of the sleeper as an anti-cc ability gone etc.)
  1. Zyrosis's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Pobutati View Post
    Ion, for the love of all that is holy on Earth, please just STOP judging about what is fun or not for the players. You, along with the rest of the dev team are NOT players, you might (for some of you), play the game, but you don't have the player POV. People want to queue to do Warfronts with their entire guild ? Leave them, who the heck are you to say that it's not fun for them ? What does it change anyway ? Warfronts are not dynamic and there is no impact to literally rolling on them appart the fact that it makes them shorted (what is, to be honest, a liberation, because they suck). Being an asshole like you are now is what has driven the game in this current state in the first place, holy christ I'm so fed up with that prick.
    I'm all down for the Ion hate, but you intentionally left out this part: "If you have done the entire map and have to wait 15 minutes for your siege engines to progress, that isn't very fun." that's the part he was referring to with the whole steamrolling the warfront. That resource collecting and base building will lag far behind battlefield progress.
  1. zlygork's Avatar
    This talk about "having an advantage when you devote yourself to the one spec" angers me. The soul of challenging content is supposed to be learning tricks, getting good through practice. Not beating the challenge through grind alone. I get that gearing is a part of the RPG experience, but to focus on the gear acquisition as the advantage of dedication feels like a lack of comprehension about what it is exactly that makes the game... well, a game.
  1. oathy's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Melius View Post
    i miss my artifact weapon more and more as days go by.
    feel exactly the same.
    wasn't perfect by any means but the system that replaced it just isnt worth being there
  1. Animaneth's Avatar
    And not a word addressing the fact that tanks that depend on shields, get screwed with master loot? Paladins and Warriors got the short end of the stick, you need more paladins and warriors in your group to increase your chance of receiving an item vital to your role...
  1. mmoc1b83a39230's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Zyrosis View Post
    I'm all down for the Ion hate, but you intentionally left out this part: "If you have done the entire map and have to wait 15 minutes for your siege engines to progress, that isn't very fun." that's the part he was referring to with the whole steamrolling the warfront. That resource collecting and base building will lag far behind battlefield progress.
    I mean, Warfronts are not fun, period. There will not be a great difference, at least if you have to wait 15 minutes you can do something aside of dying of boredom.
  1. Gadzooks's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by zlygork View Post
    This talk about "having an advantage when you devote yourself to the one spec" angers me. The soul of challenging content is supposed to be learning tricks, getting good through practice. Not beating the challenge through grind alone. I get that gearing is a part of the RPG experience, but to focus on the gear acquisition as the advantage of dedication feels like a lack of comprehension about what it is exactly that makes the game... well, a game.
    'Bring the player, not the class' is officially dead. Now it's "bring the /timeplayed".

    FUN™, right?
  1. oathy's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by jaber2 View Post
    Azerite armor, 3 less to design, basically poor design with less gear to design
    Yep.
    and its so piss poor its dragging everything down.
    honestly cant see how its going to last the life of this expansion
    unless we are in for the quickest even reveal of the next one, (all planned of course) ^^
  1. Marrilaife's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by zlygork View Post
    This talk about "having an advantage when you devote yourself to the one spec" angers me.
    It only works if you devote yourself to a "correct" spec.

    My raid team had people "dedicated" to specs that are unwanted in mythic Uldir so their "advantage" was to go warm the bench, or reroll to a different class.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Gadzooks View Post
    'Bring the player, not the class' is officially dead. Now it's "bring the /timeplayed".

    FUN™, right?
    Only if you put that timeplayed is put into a fotm class / spec though.
  1. mmoc1b83a39230's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Marrilaife View Post
    It only works if you devote yourself to a "correct" spec.

    My raid team had people "dedicated" to specs that are unwanted in mythic Uldir so their "advantage" was to go warm the bench, or reroll to a different class.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Only if you put that timeplayed is put into a fotm class / spec though.
    In a game where you can change specs, such restrictions are bullshit. It's unbelievable that we went in one expansion we went from "Yeah if you want to switch spec your gear is adapting" to "You want to switch specs ? Fuck you and farm another set of Azerite armor or pay gold to change traits".

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