Darkmoon Faire Community Amphitheatre: Lore, Systems, Class Changes
Wowhead had a great time hanging out in the brand new Darkmoon Faire area here at BlizzCon 2015. The atmosphere is amazing, and really fostered some great discussion with the Blizzard folks chatting together and with the crows!
As these panels were not part of the Virtual Ticket, we've summarized the important points below. Friday's panel focused on fantasy, quests, and lore, while Saturday's panel delved into class changes.
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Day 1: World of Warcraft Fantasy, Quests, and Lore
Lead Narrative Designer Dave Kosak & Lead Quest Designer Craig Amai
Scott Johnson, The Instance Podcast Host
Designers Helen Cheng, Steven Danuser, Paul Kubit, Steve Burke, Jeremy Feasel, Juan Custer, & more
Lots of topics were covered in the panel on Day 1 including class hall tidbits, music score questions, and design information!
Rogues can pick pocket each other in class hall
Lorewalker Cho song was a particularly fun moment to design - it started as a gibberish song and tune and turned into something amazing.
Questing: how important is questing in Legion? The bigger stories are planned for earlier in the design process and we are stepping them up to telling multiple big stories instead of just one. The big stories are being pushed forward.
Artifact quest lines and origins: Some stories be recognizable, but not all at first glance. Every spec has a compelling story line that you will quest through so their weapon feels like it can change the world, too.
So we're all going to have the Doomhammer? Do we have to just accept that and suspend your disbelief? Yes but we already do that with current raid epics. Different models and colors are unlocked through choices and game play, and other players will be able to recognize what that means.
We have been prototyping max level questing experience through learning lessons from past patches! This has lead us to outdoor world questing, with quests all over the world.
In Legion, questing doesn't end at max level. Questing in Legion is not just "the thing to get to the next thing".
Extra questing content also unlocked through artifacts and their quest lines.
Do you take inspiration from other Blizzard games when balancing and creating? Yes, if we see a cool ability in another Blizzard game we are often inspired by seeing those cool abilities in action.
Artifacts are deeply entwined with classes. Class halls do take some inspiration from garrisons but we're being very cautious.
Garrisons were fun in the beginning and we want to retain that feeling somewhat.
Prophet Velen question: He's not dead, that was a different universe remember! He plays his role through the priest class hall. Most Priests are Alliance so we're making some Horde-centered priest game play for that.
Alleria and Turalyon? The Marksmanship hunter artifact questline is Alleria's story.
How often do you try a new thing that doesn't work and then you scrap it? How much is trial and error/stuff that might not be working? Stagger isn't going away but, for example, the gameplay doesn't deliver on their fantasy - guard is the thing that Monk tanks need to care about and that's just weird - you don't think of them as absorb tanks but rather swift agile dodge tanks, so that was something we tried and are going to change. But of course we don't try to do too much drastic change in patches.
Another example: Lorewalker Cho had a ton of models so when we had his ancestors behind him they were all his old models!
Class specific blogs will be starting this Sunday, one for each class will be released in the following weeks.
What about Grommash, etc and the legion promises? Since Draenor is alternate timeline, we wanted to limit how much is coming back in Azeroth (Gul'dan is the major one) .
What about Jaina? She is a pivotal character, but not a huge role in Legion itself, definitely more in the future, not right away
Since Sylvanas was so focused on in the cinematic, is she the focus of the expac? No spoilers! but she's very important - events at broken shore are devastating and it's gonna shake things up .
Your classes are scraping together a resistance to defeat the legion - everyone finds their own way to fight the legion
This cinematic is very Alliance focused "and it was awesome"
Set bonus strength: They used to be basic, and are now game changing: In Legion, they will be somewhere in between. Not as game-changing since you have artifacts but they are still very exciting to get, they do transform you. Since artifacts are changing with tiers, the game will be fresh so we don't need wildly strong set bonuses each tier.
Music of the Legion log in screen? No I can't tell you! That's a secret!
Talents have been pretty static - any changes? Yes, there will be no more rows that are just variations on one thing - i.e. 3 different sizes of AOE. Now, for example, could have one mana talent, one aoe heal talent, one cheat death talent on one row.
Warlords had 6 spec specific talents, Legion has around 30.
Talents will be more themed down the columns - pretty loosely-themed but, for example, all the left-handed talents for Warriors are something to do with rage, or far right is all weapon enhancements (just an example, theme only, which adds fantasy in the talent system)
Are all the locations of the class halls finalized? Yes but we won't be revealing that immediately. Some will be revealed at the systems panel. Possibly we will tell you before beta but can't promise anything
Class halls: We don't want you to be stuck there, we need to strike a balance between there and Dalaran. Probably you will hang out there once or twice a day, although they do have cool features (like a warrior arena in the warrior hall!)
Artifacts will also be able to do things like helping you understand the language of demons, or it will speak to you as if it was sentient.
How about if I have 2 specs, how will artifacts be for me? It will be a bit tougher to keep 2 up at the equal strength at all times, one might be a tiny bit behind. But catching up a 2nd weapon on another class will be easier.
Day 2: Expanded Systems Dicussion
: Lead Class Designer Kris Zierhut
Designers Jonathan LeCraft, Russell Petersen, Jay Gill, Zachariah Owens, & more
Lots of topics covered on Day 2 as well - class specific updates, general talent changes, and the new transmog system!
Are the classes we know and love going to be as awesome as Demon Hunters?
We are improving the fantasy for sure, for every class. Subtle visual and aural improvements that help classes feel more like
Survival, shadow, demonology, subtlety, outlaw rogues getting biggest changes.
Is this the most changes classes have gone under for an expansion?
We meant to leave it alone but yeah, there's a ton of class change, although that depends on who you are - some changed more than others.
Balancing those changes - how do you make enough changes but not gutting the class or making it OP
When you see the beta, there's tons all over the place as far as tuning balance - it is so early in the process and we want tons of feedback.
Balance is not done yet, numbers aren't done
Once encounters finishes fights, we often look at balance after that.
After release changes, why does a class get nerfed vs. everyone else getting buffed?
Well, we could meet in the middle. We can't buff everyone because then the content gets easier.
Nerfs always get more attention than buffs.
Favourite class you're working on right now outside of Demon Hunters?
Death Knight initially had lots of unique mechanics, dot extending, etc. But most of that stuff is gone now, we don't do dot extensions and snapshotting etc, so Death Knights are less special - but in Legion we're trying to get them feeling unique again.
Festering wounds, for example, Death Knight hits targets, debuffs it, when they use different ability, the wound pops, and you can pop multiple ones at once.
Frost isn't changed much, Blood is in the middle.
Possibly pet changes for Death Knights like more/stronger pets. There's a fantasy of Death Knights pulling corpses from the ground and that's not present in game atm.
How can we all be the big hero?
Yes we are all special and heroic but it doesn't take away from your buddies.
Specs being unique means that there's room for multiple distinct heroes.
Elemental Shaman updates:
Shamans had weird thing - mana - it doesn't do anything for them. Mana is gone for shamans unless you're Restoration
They have Maelstrom power instead as resource - builder/spender system. Themed around Shaman, riffing off of current
Are there going to be offhands for some artifacts?
Yes, there's a visual but it may not be an actual item.
Demonology warlock update? Legendary demon like a Dreadlord?
Right now it's in an odd place, really off track. We restarted from scratch - for all intents and purposes it's a completely different class. Requires a lot of iteration and feedback!
No way to permanently enslave Dreadlords but we have talked about talents that may make your enslave last longer or be permanent. This is being considered but not currently on the list due to balance concerns.
Demonology in Legion is all about summoning waves and waves of demons, and buffing them.
now summons imps. One imp for every Soul Shard, up to 5.
All locks are back to Soul Shards as a resource.
New demon - Dreadstalkers, introduced in Friday's panel.
New rotational ability that summons a pair of Dreadstalkers - sometimes being ridden by imps!
Demonic Empowerment - new ability, buff up demons out, mini bloodlust for demons
Summoning demons happens constantly in combat
Talents play off this too. Curse of Doom could summon an imp. When you summon Dreadstalkers, they can come with imps riding Dreadstalkers.
Mage Class Order Hall?
There are clear opportunities with going to Dalaran but Mages needed something a little bit more special.
The are reforming a group from the past, secret sanctum in Dalaran.
Death Knight Rune Changes:
Death Knight Runes are all going to be Death runes.
Because you were completely controlled by runes, you couldn't hit what you wanted when you wanted. Felt faceroll.
Now you can hit almost everything, so you have to make the better decisions to max your damage. You have control over which abilities you use when.
What will zone scaling at max level be like?
You're going to be max level content doing in all zones, we don't really want you to go back to your first zone and do easy stuff.
The trade off is rewards from outdoor content at max level are something you'll care about. You'll want to go there and do it.
Discipline priest update:
Now it's 70% heal, 30% damage. Hybrid between damage and healing.
spam had to go - Atonement has grown into something cool. Not the 5.0 Smite spam Atonement.
Now there's a mix of using damage and healing abilities that mark allies with a buff, and then you heal those allies by doing damage with your spells. You have to weave both together at all times.
This will maybe be a more complex healing spec now
It's ok for classes to have strengths and weaknesses - Windwalkers are meant to be good at 3 target, not-grouped up DPS.
Still good but we went a little too low on single target damage during Warlords- we just buffed that but it's not one of the stars
There will be a new
- right now it's cumbersome and unintuitive, you cant really know what it's about by looking at the button
New: its a toggle like
, when it's on you split, when it's off you are one
They have semi AI, they know to attack different target than you
Downside is less control/customization but upside is it will always be doing something useful
Can you tell us about the Talent Changes?
No more row themes - now those talents are spread across different rows so for example, you could be a CC master and take all the CC talents in different rows!
We expect you will want to change them from encounter to encounter. Customize character and push them to distinct direction.
We were looking to make more impactful talents - on rogues, 5 of the rows are now straight throughput, every spec has at least 4-5 rows that are pure throughput
Fewer generic class talents and more strong themes. Lots of spec-specific talents to fit into class fantasy. Number of spec-specific talents is quite low in Warlords, in Legion, it's around two thirds of the talents.
For example, Combat Rogues sounded generic - everything is combat. Now it's Outlaw: so - how do you "be an outlaw" - sometimes you're a pirate, sometimes you're a thief
The more 'pirate' themed talents include things like Cannonball Barrage and Grappling Hook.
There will be new ability vs proc vs passive in each talent row to choose from, as opposed to three new abilities
Fury is good example. Core rotation is simple but lots of engagement through talents. You can add 5 active abilities through talents that change your rotation - or opt not to.
Now you can increase your active abilities if you want or you could take more passives. This lets players control the complexity of their spec/playstyle
What about hunters and their pets? Pets have been a part of Hunter fantasy.
With Marksmanship hunters, we saw most take
talent so we said hey let's go all the way there and remove the pet. Marksmanship no longer has pet.
Beast Mastery hunters are now the pet spec.
Survival: all the cool mechanics like Black Arrow have now become Marksmanship talents.
Healing and keeping it fresh?
The change you'll notice in group PvE content is that you will be doing a lot more damage when you chose to spend resources on it.
Your damage will be a useful contribution to the raid now.
We want you to feel like you can level up as a healer. Significant effort put into ensuring healers can play in outdoor world.
i.e. Druids have thorns again
Can we keep Demonic Leap? Lots of fun for jumping games.
Not sure, not as of right now.
Disc and Shadow Priest questions:
You say you always want to change Disc absorbs - how are you going to address absorbs?
The answer is we're nerfing absorbs. Fewer absorbs, far less powerful. It's still unique tool.
You will have a longer Power Word Shield CD, and Discipline and Holy Priest masteries are also changed.
Shadow priests often enjoy off healing - is this staying or going?
They are more focused on a shadow direction (losing Flash Heal/Heal) but they have a new spell called Shadow Mend.
It's twice as good as flash heal but over the next 10 secs, the heal fades unless you take damage, then the Shadow Mend takes the damage first.
Disc Priests will have this ability as well.
Artifacts: easy to level for 2 specs? What about min-maxers?
The further you are behind, the easier it is to catch up most of the way
Maintaining off specs is more difficult but not impossible - you'll be very slightly behind on the 2nd spec
But for those very far behind, the traits are cheaper to get although you'll be doing the same activities
Hopefully you won't want to change specs with the new class fantasy fulfillment!
We don't want players to change specs - we want players to stay loyal to a spec.
Still figuring this out but it will be easier to switch between specs right now - your bars will swap!
Much easier to switch between specs than it is now.
Talents will be on the fly swap (still out of combat) with no cost, etc.
Holy Priest Updates:
Moving holy priests back to big huge heals
Chakras are gone
New Holy WSord serenity is the biggest single target heal in the game - half a health bar as a non-crit! - but has a long cooldown.
Disc is losing POH, makes holy more specifically strong at AOE
Serendipity is now a cooldown reduction mechanic, not haste
New Transmog System:
Yes it will include Vanilla/old deleted quests including class quests.
Maybe one or two slipped through and we'll deal with that on a quest by quest basis
Rogues and 2 spec burnout:
We would prefer now if people swapped talents for each encounter rather than two whole specs.
Bringing more melee is usually bad, how are you addressing that?
We are trying to improve that, but there are trade offs.
We are steadily getting better at this, looking at data breakdowns for raid composition.
People show that it swaps specs to ranged because of this bad perception
We are trying to push against that
Will there be timewalking raids?
Not there yet, but we're thinking about revisitng old raids like we did with ZG and ZA.
There have been multiple failures - so we said let's revamp it entirely
Core problem with Moonkin is the whole spec is a bar cycle on your UI. Move it back and forth, playing the UI, not playing the game.
You are playing the UI game - that's done
Now there are builders and spenders with different strengths and weaknesses and reasons to use them.
Moonkin still have fantasy of being a Druid that calls down stars. Heavy on dots,
Can you talk about mob movement and tank active mitigation?
Boss mob movement is being fixed in 6.2.3. Thanks engineers!
Active Mitigation is still a big part of what you do, but it was too strong. If you messed up, you just exploded and you're dead. Mattered a little too much.
The expert get more out of it, the neophyte isn't terrible.
Active Mitigation is less about managing resources and more about using right button at right time. Little friendlier to new tanks learning how to play.
One little wrinkle - all of long cooldowns like Shield Wall count when Active Mitigation is up.
"I miss Innervate!"
Innervate is returning but NOT to Restoration Druids. If a Resto Druid had it, they'd just use it on cooldown on themselves.
It is going back to Balance Druids - Innervate is their specific utility
No more Stampeding Roar for Resto or Moonkin
Stampeding Roar is just for Guardians and Feral Druids.
Resto will get a variation of Mark of the Wild, a very powerful version, for their unique cooldown.
Ferals had a lot of healing abilities in Warlords, what's the scoop on cat hybridity?
Healing talents are being toned down here. No more
in Cat Form. Predatory Swiftness is cool and staying.
Lots of new talents, although Feral Druids are in good place.
Base abilities for Druids are pruned - less core abilities from other three rows. Nobody used these buttons.
New talents - Affinity Talent Row. Choose talent, get sweep of abilities that make you good at another Druid role.
Example: Guardian druid with Balance Affinity has Moonkin Form.
What do the changes mean for druid tanks?
Bear cat might be coming back - switch when you're not the active tank! Your damage could matter, fun gameplay. Or you could moonbear!
We want good tank dps to mean you're a good tank even if you're not the active tank at that moment.
Resolve is gone!
Resolve was there because it served a need due to the way certain abilities were designed. Example: Shield Block vs Shield Barrier - absorb shield vs % damage reduction by doing more blocks. Resolve made Shield Block a competitive button. In Legion, abilities redesigned that relied on them. These abilities use different resources or mechanics now. For example, Brewmasters have two Active Mitigation buttons - one is gigantic Stagger buff, another cleanses Stagger. You want to use them in tandem. No more need for Resolve so no more Resolve.
Can we talk about Killing Spree?
We thought of getting rid of it and a coworker got kicked from a raid as an experiment, when he used Killing Spree on cooldown. However since "sometimes rough edges are cool," Killing Spree was not removed - it's now a talent, and there are other AoE talent options.
Since major glyphs are gone, you will always be ported to where you started - that is baked in now. Important Major Glyphs are incorporated into abilities.
Can we have a female Felguard?
She is out - model making is expensive! Same with male succubus.
Is the Felguard glyph staying with cosmetic weapons?
Should be staying as it's a minor/cosmetic glyph.
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