Patch 6.2 Interview with Lead Game Designer Ion Hazzikostas
Wowhead site manager, Perculia, and host of Downtime Tuesday, Panser, sit down with World of Wacraft lead game designer, Ion Hazzikostas, better known as WatcherDev to talk about the patch, lessons learned in WoD and more!
Topics covered include Hellfire Citadel, Garrisons, the Shipyard, Pepe disguises, 6.2 bugfixes, Tanaan Jungle, and toys! You can also find a full written summary below.
Q: Hellfire Citadel has a new staggered ilvl system. How can players easily determine when an item is an upgrade?
A: Goal of the system was to calibrate the risk vs. reward. In Wow, generally harder bosses make you expect better rewards. This is a codification. In terms of evaluating items, ilvl should generally be your guide, although maybe in a 5 ilvl difference 2ndary stats should guide you. But, in that small a difference, it won't be that big a deal. Ilvl should be the main guidance.
Q: The HFC difficulty gap between Normal and Heroic too big?
A: This is especially noticeable at the start of the zone. We wanted people who only did a bit of normal in BRF to have some success and upgrades in HFC. The expectation with heroic is that you mostly have gear from the prior difficulty. This implies an ilvl from 690-705. Those with 685-690 ilvl may find Heroic more difficult. That said, we did adjust Hellfire Assault on Heroic.
Q: Hellfire Citadel trash being personal has caused controversy. Couldn't this be auto-set for groups put together through group finder?
A: Don't have the tech to make it for "guild groups only." If you are part of a social group that raids regularly, and you have a policy about gear, this shouldn't impact you. The small inconvenience does exist in having to make an extra trade. They can still be sold since they are BOE. But other groups now have a bit more player agency, where they were at the mercy of the pug leader and now they are personally looted.
Q: As a designer, what is your favourite HFC encounter?
A: Gorefiend for now, until I spend more time fighting other bosses personally. Throwbacks to BC with shadow of death, interplay of stomach/up top, etc.
Q: 6.2 Moved away from Garrison-centric professions. Why did it become Garrison-centric in the first place?
A: We wanted the Garrison to feel as part of your experience in Draenor - the center of your experience, building a based, etc. We see that this succeeded but we see the consequences of succeeding too much in that regard. Self-sufficiency erroded the interdependancy between crafters and gatherers. We wanted to refocus this in 6.2 to get you out in the world and reasons to be gatherers. Demand and cost for Felblight is good, people are making a profit for being gatherers. JC is similar, having to go out into the world to get recipes and the cost/benefit of getting those recipes.
Q: Are you happy with the current Garrison/World balance with professions?
A: Where we stand right now is a good place, it's still important but not the sole locus of crafting activity. If you want to be the best craftsperson, you have to go out into the world in order to craft all the items.
Q: Jewelcrafting got a major overhaul in 6.2, making it arguably the most challenging/time-consuming profession - any plans for other professions to get similar overhauls?
A:To some extent, JC is a bit of an experiment. We don't necessarily want professional to all follow the same formula. The stat of epic gems is that they are a pretty high end item for min maxing raiders who arew willing to spend the money and getting the recipes is commensurate to what is being spent on the gems.
Q: On the other end of the spectrum is Enchanting - no new things with enchanting with Felblight? Any future plans for enchanters with Felblight? Updates?
A: Yes, enchanting didn't get quite as much love in 6.2 - introducing higher level items means armor crafters have to make new stuff, and JC had to make better gems to keep sockets in line with warforged. Enchanting didn't have these external pressures - there's more to do with it in the future but there was no need to make it happen in 6.2.
Q: How do you envision the role of Garrisons in 6.2 vs. 6.1 and 6.0?
A: Still the place where most players will begin and end their play sessions - i.e. because of gold, apexis crystals, oil, etc. Ultimately, we felt we didn't need to expand the dependance or reliance on the garrison in later patch content so we turned our attention to the new Zone and Shipyard.
Q: How are you getting players out in the world in 6.2?
A: Rewards and content require you to get out in the world and engage with it. Also not upgrading the rewards from Missions in terms of ilvl of gear also prodded people back out into the world. The rewards now aren't as compelling.
Q: Gold missions - how do they work after 6.2 changes?
A: Lots of inner workings under the hood about this system and we don't necessarily want to have players trying to game that system. It's not that more characters means less gold or the order in which you do it - the system doesn't work that way. They just appear less frequently for the remainder of the given week if you've already done them on your account. Wanted to reduce the pressure of maintaining many garrisons and reduce the gold being put into the world by garrisons. I've seen conspiracy theories about how this is to fuel token prices but really it's just about inflation - double the gold in the world means things will cost more. Curbing inflation is in the interest of players who have earned gold in the past. We don't want to turn rich players into no longer rich players. More and more gold from the Garrison systems threatened to destabilize the economy as a whole. We wanted non-garrison gold making to still be viable. We know people won't be thrilled but we want people to see the big picture.
Q: Salvage yard nerf - fewer boxes and fewer items? Was the salvage yard about making gold? Is it in a good place?
A: We're looking at statistics how the salvage yard plays out. First, we wanted to reduce the sheer hassle of dealing with the salvage yard i.e. keeping 200 unopened salvage boxes in their bags. This is an awkward place to be - so we reduced the # of grey items, for example. At the same time, part of the intent was to nerf it. Previously, it was definitely required and it was too rewarding. Our goal isn't to destroy fun it is to provide some interesting choices.
Q: Is it intended that the mission completion orders from the Mage tower instantly complete the Naval missions?
A: It certainly makes the mage tower more powerful - and this is intended. You'll find that instantly copleting orders will be constrained by garrison resources/oil.
Q: NPC Placement in Shipyard is sort of inconvenient - reason for this?
A: The exact placement was spreading them out in the place that was available i.e. dry dock won't be near where the ships are built. We would hope that it's not that big a deal in the context that you won't have to be doing ship missions dozens of times a day. Once you have it up and running and you have most of your ships built, you'll mostly be checking the table and buying equipment and that's it for the next 4/12/24 hours. We'll keep an eye on it.
Q: Any plans to make the shipyard or garrisons more alt friendly?
A: Definitely see the argument on the blueprint front for alts. But we have resisted making anything Garrison related account-wide - we wanted that to be individualized to characters. 6.2 did add follower upgrades as purchaseable because of account-wide follower levelling. With the shipyard, we do want there to be gameplay on other characters.
Q: 6.2 character model changes? And where are the Pepe costumes!
A: Costumes: You'll have to wait and see! Pepe is top secret. Chracter models: This isn't the end, they are being refined and improving the look and feel. 6.0 wasn't the end point, a new round of bringing models up to a new fidelity. We new this would generate a lot of feedback.
Q: Transmog/PvE/PvP T18 and Wild sets are the same models but different colours? Why the change from T17?
A: In all honesty, it came down to time and production. I know that's not a satisfying answer. In T17 we had more time to do differences - patches were a little more time constrained so we didn't have enough time to do different sets. We didn't want to delay the patch to have diversity in the armor models. We appreciate that people want gear that looks different from people around them. We had to draw the lines here.
Q: Diablo-esque transmog system? Is this in the works?
A: It's being worked on and hopefully more details in the future. This is NOT a simple system and would be a huge change to the idea of items themselves. We want to do it right. This is actively being worked on.
Q: Comparisons to the Timeless Isle - how does Tanaan improve on the Timeless Isle and what concepts did the team like/reuse and what was improved on?
A: More content, more story, less of a sandbox playground. More structured versus TI. Tanaan exists to advance the core story of Warlords of Draenor. As you explore, you do encounter story but we kept the rare/items/currency part.
Q:Tanaan has a lot of cool vanity items but not all of them are toys. How do you determine what is a toy?
A: In general, our philosophy here is that items with actual utility or player power i.e. speed, slowfall, or flying, should not go in the toybox. No question we don't apply this philosophy consistently.
Q: Any thoughts on improvements for bagspace?
A: Yes, we are always mindful for this. The teased transmog system would free up SO much bad space. We aren't sure that the answer is ever larger bags. If 118 inventory slots isn't enough to live day to day with, we think there would be a problem with that. The alternating gear items is a step in the right direction, along with the quest items not being in your bags.
Q: Any plans to allow us to swap out the back pack? Also any thoughts of expanding the quest log?
A: Nope - back pack is staying. Boils down to the question of how many bag slots is enough and if you need more than 120 bag slots, this might be a problem with the game. Losing things in your own bags. Quest log - to some extent, limits are there and mesh with the elegance of a game - the question is why do you have 25 quests in your log? At some point we end up at 40 quests or 60 quests? No limit just means you wouldn't be able to keep track of the things you had anyways.
Q: Reputations - reps didn't really seem to fit in Draenor and we were shocked to hear they were added at the last minute. Wanted to hear more about this.
A: We structured the content in a more freeform manner which didn't mesh with Dailies that are usually tied to reps. These systems ended up being less rewarding than we intended. In that structure we originally envisioned, there wasn't much need for reps. We added some towards the end and they just ended up being about grinding in a specific spot. We aren't proud of the non-awesome gameplay this ended up being. Tanaan is a step in the right direction - more variation - more structure. But we can do more. We recoiled a bit too strongly from Mists reputations which had progression and storytelling. We threw the baby out with the bath water when we saw the reaction to rep-gating. We overreacted. We are stepping back away from that to better game play.
Q: Unintended change with the Mailbox - perma deleted gear via mail? Any fixes? Etc.? How do you deal with big bugs like this?
A: That is one of our highest priorities right now i.e. it's the first thing I did when I came into work this morning. Reviewing scope of the impact, etc. #1 issue because we recognize there's tons at stake here for players. We dont want things lost in limbo. Also just inconvenient. People don't send mail a lot on the PTR and this just slipped through the cracks. It's likely things will be restored but not sure of the CS policy on this.
Q: Any plans for fixing phasing issues i.e. Horde Shipyard, Varyx, etc?
A: As far as Taanan, yes the issues are awkward and will be fixed in the next few days. We split servers into multiple phases to avoid server issues. A few days away from patch launch means people are more spread out and into regular play cycles so we can back off the phases significanly. Fewer or no split shards.
Q: What is the reasoning that players cannot queue for Mythic dungeons?
A: Getting you back out into the world cause you have to actually physically have to go to the instance entrances. Also, there is some value to inconvenience when it promotes social cohesion. We add encouragement to work together this way. No way to quickly replace people makes you have to work together harder together. This is what dungeons are about. It encourages cooperation and interaction. Hotfix is incoming to triple the Mythic change for dungeon loot to be warforged (705)! Coming next tuesday!
Q: Any ETA on the flying mini-patch?
A: It will be weeks, not months. Near future that patch will be on the PTR, although there is some work to do still.
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