Liveblog: Raids and Dungeons Q&A With Lead Game Designer Ion “Watcher” Hazzikostas
We've liveblogged the Warlords Q&A with Lead Game Designer Ion “Watcher” Hazzikostas!
Q) Do you plan on adding any new Realm First titles like Conqueror of Naxxramas, etc?
A) Honestly no - not ideal if someone wasn't there, had to sit, etc. In reality it's a guild achievement. We still have prestigious raid titles currently available. These titles retain prestige in the moment i.e. Empire's Twilight.
Q) How much does Gear Itemization actually effect a group's ability to progress through content?
A) Gear effects it tremendously. You can see your power level rise as weeks go by and suddenly Beserk-counter kills are easier. Stats probably aren't effecting a group's abilities as a whole, but they do affect the relative balance of a spec. Looking to smooth this out per spec. For group as a whole, it averages out.
Q) When's the next troll dungeon? Zul'Farrak as next 100 Heroic?
A) Spoiler: NO troll dungeon next patch. No trolls in Draenor.
Q) Any thought on making raids require more tanks? It's hard to find a raid spot as a fresh level capped tank.
A) Sticking to 3 - want to avoid the opposite problem of not having enough tanks if 3-4 were always required. Keeping an eye on population representation but in general tanks have a lot of control in finding groups and making their own groups. Generally the oversupply is DPS. Having trouble finding your own group? Make your own, as a tank.
Q) Do you feel that BRF normal/heroic is overtuned for small raids?
A) No, but we're keeping an eye on it and we've fixed things so far (I.e. Gruul). It's important to us that it not get more difficult with changing numbers (i.e. Siege Flex Magic 14 Number). At the same time, it's important that encounters remain accessible.
Q) Any new plans for Inn quests?
A) Nothing specific but we are always looking to update new Garrison content in future patches.
Q) My alts are 630 without stepping into dungeons. What purpose do Heroics serve?
A) This is a struggle and has room for improvement, although this is probably not that different from past expansions. Timeless Isle, for example, removed any reason to step into dungeons. VP and JP wasn't a very satisfying use of dungeons either. Rather people focus on appropriately difficult content. Trying to carve out CMs as a niche for meaningful 5-person gear progression.
Q) How does the team feel about the tuning about the now-3 different difficulties? Anything easier or harder than intended?
A) Pretty smooth, actually. We're happy. Also happy with guilds have been moving on from one difficulty to the next. People were worried about TOC-like burn out, but people stopped doing Normal BRF (for example) if they had done lots of Mythic HM. Flexibility and Options are good, but it's also good they don't feel obligated to do all the difficulties each week.
Q) Why are there so many changes to challenge modes this season/expansion?
A) Everybloom and Skyreach were changed in 6.1. Those are bugs and we have a lot of bugs that get fixed every patch, with a large variance. They get fixed routinely. Normally, these things get caught and fixed and there wasn't enough visibility to let them know not to fix it. Yes, the landscape has changed and we are evaluating what to do. Another client patch would be needed for removing the new collisions and this change would be a bit awkward. Looking for solutions. One option is roll back change, one option is reduce threshold for gold, one is re-wipe the challenge mode leaderboards for those dungeons (More likely).
Q) Why no CM teleports this season?
A) Those still exist, and are still useful. Look for them in a different fly-out in your spellbook! "Warlords Path" if you've done golds.
Q) What tank performance and representation trends have you noticed in BRF? Opinions?
A) Stable at normal/heroic levels. Goal there is roughly ballpark balance with tanks. High end (which means rerolling/alts) with shield tanks (Pallies) high up in Highmaul because of DPS. Now, we're seeing Brewmasters popular in BRF. Not really about class mechanics but how they interact with BRF mechanics. Staggerable spike damage, for example tend to give monks an advantage. We are seeing representation and success from a wide variety of specs, though.
Q) Are you OK with the prevalence of 3 tanking some encounters in 20-man Mythic?
A) Not sure about "prevalent" maybe occasional? And yes we have 2-3 encounters that are strongly encouraged for Mythic. This is a reasonable expectation for Mythic guilds. Sometimes it's designed that way, sometimes we're just okay with that happening.
Q) What was your thought process with removing re-coloured tier in LFR and will it return?
A) Visual representation for prestige and for encouraging doing rewarded content. This has always been a thing in WoW. We want people to look around town and know what the tiers come from - less confusion and which ones mean they have done the challenging content. We wanted to create some division there - and now we have LFR-specific sets. We will be continuing this art direction. Group finder makes doing normal easier than ever so take that step to get that look if you want it.
Q) All 2-handers are on Tier or End bosses? Why?
A) Weapons have to go somewhere. There are valid complaints about only 1 weapon on hardest bosses but weapons being on tier bosses doesn't indicate this - Flamebender, for example, is an accessible tier/weapon boss.
Q) Why is LFR easier than a heroic dungeon but gives better loot?
A) Crucial factor here is the weekly lockout, unlike heroics. LFR is experiencing content for someone without time or inclination for grouping. Let them see the story, but also want them to get meaningful rewards for doing it. Marry progression and story. If LFR gave worse loot, there would be lower participation than we'd like. Would harm the overall experience. Heroic is baseline gear quality, and things need to be better than that if LFR is going to be attractive at all.
Q) When designing raid bosses, do you start with Mythic and remove abilities or vice versa?
A) Generally start with Heroic, test internally, tune and polish. Then think about that base experience and add for Mythic, as well as pare down for Normal . We don't remove abilities but we may consider that in the future. Sometimes they design a Heroic fight and realize they accidentally designed a Mythic fight. Reality is, they always get tuned but too many mechanics means diluting those numbers. One of the worst situations in an encounter is "Mechanic Soup" where you only care about 1-2 of the mechanics that are actually punishing.
Q) How can you balance encounters in a world where specs have niches? Hard to actually balance things out.
A) The goal is diversity, not that everyone should be equal. This might be attainable but it's boring and would require lots of removing abilities. We'd rather get to a point where some specs do better on some fights, so some specs can shine. Combat rogues on Thogar, Balance Druids on Kromog. I think it DOES average out. 90% + of guilds have a roster, not funneled alts or massive benches or class stacking. Goal is on average in an entire raid zone, different specs are viable across the encounters. Does this mean Mythic guilds will take advantage of that spec niche success? Of course they are, but this may not be stoppable. Is the encounter possible with a reasonable comp? That's what designers ask themselves. If we do come across situations where you need "X" to win? That's where we step in and change mechanics or narrow the gap when it comes to spec niches. We want everyone to have situations where they feel awesome.
Q) How do you feel about Garrison missions giving out BRF Mythic loot when they haven't done it?
A) It's fine. That's the point. Gives you gear relevant to your playstyle. Never raid? You'll get normal. Do some normal? You'll get heroic. Once every 2 weeks. You can tell the "mere peons" from the "fully Mythic geared raider" - it's fine, really.
Q) Group Finder?
A) Compartmentalization may be bad, but large buckets with activity.
Q) Which encounter was most well received?
A) Thogar, everyone loves that. Trains make everything cooler.
Q) Can the "Kick Player" options be revisited?
A) Yes we're looking very closely at it. Rules were added in patch 3.3 in Wrath, 2009. Today is a different world - 25 vs 5, griefers ,how loot works etc. Now that loot is personal, there's less reason to give stringent protections. Things used to be bad with people griefing loot rules - no really reason to kick the person now that loot is personal. So we're looking at changing things. This is a key advantage of personal loot.
Q) Can you talk a bit about the design phase of Kromog? No melee dps?
A) Mythic mehcanic is an extra phase that grows stalagmites that create an LOS that you can hide behind. Originally, these were far from the boss so melee couldn't DPS. We should have caught this earlier but we hot fixed this early. Seen a lot of kills now with melee representation.
Q) Is there an approach we can take to encouraging pugs to use personal loot? Personal opt out of Masterloot?
A) There's no reason not to use personal loot right now, it's equally rewarding as regular loot. This may be hard to see. Looking at improving the way personal loot plays and feels in future patches. I.e. looking for greater certainty in group drops, i.e. group loot system but with personal distribution. Looking for less variance. Social issues may be harder to deal with - group leaders are the decision makers and tend to use masterloot. The current solution is don't join those groups, or make your own groups with personal loot.
Q) Have you ever considered a community-created raid?
A) That would be interesting. It could go a million ways - i.e. mobs with 1 hp but all drop amazing epics! Maybe lots of terrifying memes. We take pride in handcrafting our encounters with Blizzard values but we do listen to community voice and that guides us. We try to avoid things that were frustrating and use things that were embraced in the past.
Q) Are there only 2 raid tiers this expansion?
A) Our focus is on reducing the gap in content between final tier and next expac. We know that Siege was too long - unacceptably long . We are commuted to reducing that. Whatever the right # of raid tiers is to avoid that is best. 6-7 months is good for a large raid tier, 13 months is too long.
Q) What's the point of warforged gear now that there's a set Mythic #? No 10/25 makes it obsolete?
A) Extra chance at WF in Mists was there to prop up a system we knew was untenable - keeping raids to 10 was easier so there had to be a reason to do 25. Incentive made that logistics worth while. We got rid of the extra chance but now the bonus-properties values in general make bosses still worth killing and exciting to kill. Not having a moment where you don't care what drops. WF makes it more personally exciting but also as a guild it gives you continued progression in that particular tier.
Q) How has the new loot system worked out in Dungeons/Heroics?
A) Initial concern about celebratory moment of killing a boss turns out, the benefits of personal loot making dungeon running collaborative vs. competitive massively outweigh those moments. We are trying to tackle the moment of ceremony i.e. in patch 6.1 we added a visual, dark-souls-flavour image popping up for killing a boss.
Q) Why do so many instances have elevators, where are the slides and roller coasters??
A) Elevators are convenient and well-established. We didn't have the movement force stuff in the past, the original idea in Throne of the Tides was supposed to be a water stream pushing you up to the top but we didn't have the tech at the time.
Q) More balanced loot drops for LFR in the next tier?
A) Yes, there are a lot of different needs without making the loot tables too deep. We can do better. Should feel like you have meaningful set of items in LFR.
Q) Timewalker feature?
A) Working on, maybe have something to talk about soon. Jist of this was scaling down your character to lower dungeons, instances at that level.
Q) Why was the Black Iron Microcrucible removed from healer loot table?
A) Non-Spirit issue for healers. The issue with the personal loot/caches is that this felt like a bug when tanks/healers got items without spirit/bonus armor. We'd rather make spirit better for Holy Pally/Mistweaver than make them want dps trinkets. The problem is we've made you not want a spirit trinket ,that's a real problem. We don't want to create items that are BIS for 12-15 different specs. Something drops and half the raid rolls? That's a bad feeling.
Q) Do you feel like raid CDs are still too strong? Fights still feel like which CDs do we use when?
A) No, I don't think they are, especially the non-healer cooldowns. Answer in MOP to burst damage was more OS cooldowns. They aren't make or break now. Tranq and Healing Tide do feel more impactful than say holy radiance and we need to do better at that. Sometimes cooldowns are planned, sometimes they are emergency cooldowns and in those roles they are useful and important. Planning cooldowns is cool team work and means organized group has an advantage.
Q) Climbing raid difficulty strata in BRF feels difficult. Any changes inc?
A) Keeping an eye on success rates in various types of groups. We've made some tweaks to earlier encounters for accessible entry points but bear in mind it's one large tier and is a continuation of Highmaul. Entry bosses in Normal BRF are tuned to the expectation that you have normal mode HM gear or BRF LFR gear, which hasn't been open long enough. ~650 ilvl should be accessible for BRF and if you're not at that level, do more Highmaul.
Q) Will Blizzard have a sanctioned world first race or leave it as is?
A) Leave it, we like the community driven race as is. Only formalized thing is achievements. Ensuring perfect fairness would create impossible expectations. We create the hardest content in the world and we want players to rise to the challenge and meet it and we're always eager to see who is able to meet it. It's a great experience for those striving to achieve that goal and spectators. Only regret is that a lot happens clandestinely - only spectator interaction is refreshing forum threads. Takes a lot out of it but secrecy is part of the nature and experience of the game.
Q) Can we please have something like a Mythic 5-man Dungeon? 650 required, unique drops?
A) Interesting suggestion and we're kicking around things internally. Trying to keep continued 5-man longevity. Would increased ilvls/increased rewards be enough? New mechanics vs. Heroic plus?
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