The lead designers were originally going to talk about this topic at BlizzCon, but it didn’t really match the content of the rest of our “Intro to Pandaria” presentation, and seeing as how we finished our 90-minute slot with 93 seconds remaining, there wouldn’t have been room for it anyway. But several of us did bring up the issue with players and media we talked to, and it even ended up in at least one FAQ, so we figured we’d go ahead and get the information out there. Note that unlike much of what we presented for the upcoming Mists of Pandaria expansion, this is not an announcement. It’s more of a problem we’d like to address, and a couple of ways we potentially might do so. Feedback is certainly appreciated.
Big Number Syndrome
Hey, our stats are growing exponentially. If you look at everything from the Strength on a weapon to the damage being done by a Fireball crit or the amount of health the Morchok boss has, they look downright absurd compared to the numbers for level 60 characters in the original shipping version of World of Warcraft. It’s not exactly a surprise that we were going to end up here, and we knew where we were going every step of the way, yet regardless, here we are.
Fig. 1. Item level vs. character level. Brown = vanilla. Green = BC. Blue = LK. Red = Cat.
The numbers grew so much primarily because we wanted rewards to be compelling. Upgrading from a chestpiece that has 50 Strength into one that has 51 Strength is undeniably a DPS increase for the appropriate user, but it’s not a very exciting reward. Such negligible increases can drive players to do some weird things, such as skipping over tiers of gear or entire levels of content. This is particularly relevant when we’re talking about a new expansion. We don’t want level-85 players to have a reasonable shot at level-90 dungeons and raids (or PvP opponents) just because that content is balanced for gear that isn’t much better than what the level-85 players have.
So we arrived at this point in a logical fashion, and we don’t really think we should have handled things any differently. However, it’s still a weird place to be, and it’s about to get weirder. These aren’t real items, in that we don’t know for sure what the item levels will be in patch 5.3 and patch 6.3 (if only we planned that far ahead!) but they are reasonable guesses, and you can see just how ridiculous the items look.
Fig. 2. A theoretical item from patch 5.3.
Fig. 3. A theoretical item from patch 6.3.
So what do we do about it? There are two general categories of solutions. The first is to make the numbers appear more manageable and the second is to actually change the numbers.
The first solution could include changes like adding commas and the like to large numbers. We could also compress all of those 1000s to Ks and all of those 1,000,000s to Ms, much like we do with boss health today. Internally, we have been calling this the “Mega Damage solution” because instead of your Fireball hitting for 6,000,000 damage, it would hit for 6 MEGA DAMAGE (queue the Arcanite Ripper guitar solo).
Fig. 4. Mega Damage. Name/screenshot not to be taken seriously.
If we can make numbers such as floating combat text and boss health and item stats a little easier to read at a glance, then maybe we can endure numbers increasing exponentially for many digits to come. Now there are some very real computational limitations. PCs just can’t quickly perform math on very large numbers, so we’d have to solve all of those problems as well. Even today, tanks can hit the ten digit threat cap on some encounters.
Item Level Squish
The second solution actually involves compressing item levels, which is why we call it the “item level squish solution.” If we can lower stats on items, then we can lower every other number in the game as well, such as how much damage a Fireball does or how much health a gronn has. If you look at the item level curves, you can see that most of the growth occurs at the maximum character levels for the various expansions. This is because we keep rewarding more and more powerful gear to make the new raid tier and PvP season in an expansion reward significantly better gear than the previous one. However, those huge item level jumps don’t accomplish a lot once the character level has increased again. Very few players notice or care how much of an upgrade the Black Temple loot is over the Serpentshrine Cavern loot when their characters are level 80.
With that in mind, we could go back and compress the big item level increases that occur at level 60, 70, 80 and 85. The Mists of Pandaria gear would still grow exponentially from patch to patch, but the baselines would be a lot lower. Health could go from 150,000 back down to something like 20,000. The big risk of this approach is that players will log into the new expansion and feel nerfed… even if all the other numbers are compressed as well.
In other words, your Fireball will still do the same percentage damage to a player or a creature that it does today, but the number would be smaller. Logically, this seems like it would work, and it does. But it feels weird. When we tried this internally, everyone agreed that it just felt off throwing a spell for hundreds of damage when you are used to it doing thousands of damage.
I came up with an analogy -- even though I know logically that people drive on the left side of the street in the UK (we drive on the right side of the street in the US) and wouldn’t be surprised to see it, it would still feel really disorienting if I was driving in the UK and had to make a right-hand turn.
Fig. 5. Item level vs. character level before and after ‘squish’. Brown = vanilla. Green = BC. Blue = LK. Red = Cat
So Now What?
As I type this today, we haven’t decided on which if either solution we want to try. Maybe we’ll come up with yet another solution. Maybe it’s the kind of thing we can put off for another expansion so that players don’t have to adjust to the new talent system and a drastic item level compression at the same time. Or maybe it’s better just to pull the Band-Aid off fast and fix everything at once. Time will tell. I did, however, want to outline the problem lest any of you believe we don’t think there is a problem. There is. We’re just not sure of the best solution yet. If your answer is that stat budgets don’t have to grow so much in order for players to still want the gear, our experience says otherwise, and thus these proposed solutions exist. Your thoughts on the matter are valuable.
Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street is the lead systems designer for World of Warcraft. The last time he used “Fig. 5” in an article, it related fish predation to estuarine hydrocarbon contamination.
Updates to the patch notes below can be found in red. Last updated Nov. 4, 10:00 AM PDT.
The time for testing out many of the upcoming patch 4.3 features is upon us. In this article you’ll find frequent updates to the official patch 4.3 notes as development continues. You can find a list of the major features we’ve discussed thus far on our official forums.
If you’ll be testing this major content patch, be sure to visit the PTR Discussion forum often to share your thoughts with the community. We also recommend visiting the PTR Bug Report forum to document any issues you come across.
World of Warcraft PTR Patch 4.3.0
Notes for all World of Warcraft patches can be found here.
These notes will be updated through the course of the testing process. Please be aware some changes may not go live until a new PTR build is released."
Table of Contents
Click a link to be taken directly to the corresponding section of the patch notes.
The achievement Tol Barad Veteran now requires 25 victories in Tol Barad, down from 100.
Death Knight pets now properly inherit their master’s crit and spell penetration stats.
Dungeons & Raids
General Bug Fixes
The concept of squishing all the numbers to be smaller makes complete sense - But for some reason I just don't like the idea of it. I'm used to seeing my Arcane Blast hit in the hundred thousands (On a 4-Arcane Charge-stack.) It would be weird to go back to Pre-TBC times and see it hitting for a couple hundred, even though it damages the boss just as much as it would hitting a hundred thousand.I agree that something needs to be done though. The amount of health even a Mage or Priest have at 85 is astounding. I think I have something like 120,000 HP. On my Blood Death Knight at 70 I don't even have 1/6 that much!
The way I understand it, you still could. The squish would affect numbers across the board. So, you might be losing, say, 100k health, or 70% of your total health as it is at the moment, but then so would all the mobs. So you'd still be very powerful in relation to all the vanilla raid bosses you want to smite.
I like the idea of the squish, I actually can't wait for it to happen if it is the chosen course of action. The way I'm reading how it will happen seems to differ from what people are reading into it. Instead of thinking of it as a (random % here) 2p% reduction in all armor/boss stats. I am taking from this that they look at an encounter with an example ilevel reward of ilevel 100 currently. Then they scale it down to a ilevel 80 encounter. Redistribute item and boss stats on that budget. So its not just reducing stats but relevant character level equal to the boss encounter ilevel. So you will still outscale the encounter and be able to go into that encounter later with ilevel 200 gear and level the place. So basically reducing the overall ilevel of everything and then keeping the progression more linear. Ill edit and fix once I get off my cell, sorry for any spelling errors.
I think they are on the right path with just lowering the numbers. It really isnt that bad to see a 10k crit drop to 1k as long as you know that it is still doing the same percent of damage. But they are going to have to find a middle ground of not lowering the number so far that it seems like you are a cata player with vanilla stats.
This is the post I left as a comment on the forum post. I'll leave it here to see if it collects comments.My thought: SQUISH IT!I remember reading in the guide book that came with my battle chest that there is a philosophy that a player will be equal in power to two players ten levels below them. The practice of putting 13 iLevels between tiers of gear because "players feel it works right" makes it seem that a level 85 player is 5 or 9 times as powerful as a level 80 character, depending on how well geared they are. Let me see if I've got it right.These numbers are speculation based on what I think will work well. These have no source other than my imagination.
I can haz battleplate of ludicrous numerical superiority? :D
Figure #4 needs to happen, even if it's joke item like the dance & mohawk grenades.
I dont have much of a problem with them doing those adjustments, as long as the following stuff also happen.A: If they nerf all the pre MoP gear, they better nerf the pre MoP everything (instances, raids, normal world mobs, ect) or else leveling will be a PAIN IN THE ASS. Imagine getting from 79 to 80, huzzah, onwards to hyjal/vashjir, but..... ohhh ohhh.. mobs hit like a mac truck, with over triple your health and damage, but all that sweet gear you got from quest rewards got halved......... That's bad.B: that this is a one-time only thing.Its not that I wanna see huge ludicrous numbers, after all one of the earliest computer RPG's I've played was Neverwinter Nights, where at best the highest crits I could do at lvl 2 was of........ 5 damage (LOL) and 2 expansions later, at max level, with super pimped out gear, max HP for my barbarian/Weapon Master was...... 700 :P max damage on a crit........ 300 (and that was godly at the time xD)so no, smaller numbers are not a problem for me, my problem is that I like to see my character getting progressively stronger each expansion. If on this expansion I do an obliterate and it crits for X, on the next one I want it to crit for more than just X.IF the squishing happens every time, we're gonna look a bit like this:On Cata = Obli crits for 40k, on MoP= Obli crits for 40k, on 6.0 = Obli crits for 40k, on 7.0 = Obli crits for 40k......... see the problem?If they do the squish once, we get this: On cata = Obli crits for 10k, on MoP = Obli crits for 20k, on 6.0 = Obli crits for 30k, on 7.0 = Obli crits for 40k......as long as I get to be STRONGER each expac, I dont have a problem with them squeezing the numbers to make them more manageable.
Well, assume there are two more expansions after MoP. Based on their graphs, item level would probably end up just over 400 on 6.0 gear. That's probably close enough to tolerable they could leave it like that, so this would just be a one time thing.
This is something that's always bugged me. Why not number item levels like the patches, or like hotels' number their rooms? Everything from vanilla would be a "100-series", BC would be 200, Wrath would be 300, Cata would be 400, MoP would be 500, and continue the scheme for future expansion packs. If you needed more variability in item levels, simply add an extra digit, so instead of 100's, they would be 1000's. If scheme like this was used, a player could easily tell just how a good an item is, without having to know the ever-changing item range for each patch A level ?99 item ("?" stands for the expansion pack) would always be the best weapon for the it's expansion pack.Whad'ya think?
Thank you Perculia for creating this thread. A official recognition for stats and a good overview of how things are going to be if no stats reducing are taking place and also with stats reducing or stats squishing. Alas I have no real contribution to this thread, most posters have covered all elements I could think of tbh.I hope that solo old content will be doable as it is today or if not then with 2 instead of solo, but I don't like the idea of MDC or SDC (from other game) or effecting old content in such a manor that high ilvl has no effect or reduced effect on old content. I mean part of world of warcraft that I like is the fact you can go anywhere at any level. To me this should be and stay this way in WoW. I had never seen the steamvault in zangarmarsh for example, I thought well lets go see with my 85 dk. I wasn't in there to get easy achievements or whatever. I just wanted to really admire the whole instance and has a high level you can really relax and wander of without fear of being killed. Or you can help lower lvls with their dungeons (of course they get reduced xp for the kills, and that is fair ofc, no argument here)I mean I levelled four 85's and I did it not too fast and I have spend much time and effort in getting those at that level (i am not a player who lvls one char within a week or so). I don't want to QQ, that is not my intention, but if old content is also going to be hard then that would be a bit unfortunate. I do see that stats need to be reduced in order to make the overall differences between max lvl players and the lower lvls less separated. Anyway, I do see however that change is needed and I will see how it turns out. Sorry if I was a bit over excited when it comes to old content. If it is not ment to be then I abide with that and find something else to do in WoW ofc. Maybe I'm just a bit overconcerned and nothing really changes. But reducing anything.. be it stats or you're salary or your gold income in wow always has a bit of negative impact. its a psychological effect that anything reduced makes you feel weird.Some people adjust very quickly and don't notice anything and other might say hey.. i used to have 100K+ hp and 30k+ crits and now I just have 50% of that ! Regardless of the amount of hits to kill anything remains the same, you still have an odd feeling like something is not right. you feel less powerful. OMG! I don't have the stats of an old god anymore ! :P Ofc eventually people will adjust and everything will turn to normal, for some its fast and for others it takes a bit longer to get there.