Wowhead Wrath of the Lich King Classic Interview with Kris Zierhut
23/9/2022 em 08:39
Wowhead had the opportunity to interview Kris Zierhut, Principal Game Designer on World of Warcraft Classic. In the interview, we cover topics regarding Wrath of the Lich King Classic ranging from the new increased difficulty in Heroic Dungeons with Ulduar's release, how loot will change alongside that, and additional clarity around these new mechanics.
Here's a brief summary of some of the key takeaways from this interview with Kris Zierhut --
There will be an object at the beginning of dungeons for players to interact with, if they want to turn on Heroic Plus difficulty.
When the loot adjustment takes place in Phase 2 for Heroic Dungeons, Naxx-25 will drop additional pieces of loot from each boss.
If the reception is positive around the Loot adjustment in Phase 2 for Heroic Dungeons, Blizzard might do the same loot shift in Trial of the Crusader, as well.
Blizzard is okay with some class balancing getting a little crazy because of powerful items in the final phases of Wrath Classic, changing direction on the idea of nerfing item levels.
There is no time table on when Season of Mastery Transfers will be enabled to Wrath Classic.
Blizzard is interested in hearing from the Classic community on what they will want next, after Wrath Classic.
Heroic Plus Dungeons and Loot Changes in Wrath of the Lich King Classic
On the conversation for increasing difficulty to Heroic Dungeons, what does that look like? Will it be increased scaling to damage and health or will there be entirely new mechanics, in the vein of Season of Mastery's changes?
: The plan is that there will be a Ritual Object at the front of the dungeon, if all five players channel it, like you would a summoning portal, then all of the monsters in the dungeon will get a buff. The buff will increase their damage, their health, and gives them a little bit of an extra combat effect. Something you'll have to be concerned about while fighting them, but not super complicated, fairly straightforward.
Additionally, once that Ritual Object has been activated, they will have increased drops that will be coming out of Naxxramas 10, Malygos 10, or Sartharion 10. And this entire system will not become available until Ulduar launches, alongside Phase 2 of Wrath Classic.
Since we're changing the 10-player raids to have the 25-player raid loot, where does the 10-player items go? They'll go to the dungeons on this increased difficulty. Which we think will give the Dungeons longer legs, more reasons to go back, more reasons to gear up more characters, more people interested in doing dungeons, there is more challenge if you want it, and gives players more options for obtaining emblems.
And if players still want to go back to 25-player raids, it will be the exact same loot tables?
: Actually, they will drop a little bit more items. In order to accommodate the large loot table of 25-player Naxxramas, the 10-player zone will have to drop more items and we don't want the 10-player Naxxramas raid to feel like its better than the 25-player raid. So, we'll be increasing the loot tables about 1 extra item per boss in 25-player Naxxramas when Ulduar launches, alongside Phase 2 of Wrath Classic.
Another follow-up about loot clarifications, when the Naxx-10 loot is added to Heroic Plus Dungeons, that new loot is
to the regular Heroic Dungeon loot or does it replace it entirely?
: It is additional loot, everything will still be available, nothing is being replaced. Some people do want to collect items, just for the look, and we didn't want to make any items stop dropping.
If the plan is to shift loot down in Phase 2 with Ulduar, moving Naxx-10 loot to Heroic Dungeons, what will happen in Phase 3 with Trial of the Crusader? Will the loot shift down again?
: That is the current idea, depending on the reception with Phase 2's loot adjustments. We want to see how this plays out, it could be fantastic, it could be something players don't really like, and maybe we decide not to do it again. But it feels like the right thing to try, to see how well it works, and if it works well I think it will be something we'll try to do again.
I think the big question, what about Hardmode Ulduar items? How would they fit into this, and that's the piece I'm still trying to figure out. So I can't tell you yet, I have some ideas, I'm still bouncing ideas around with the team, and we might share some of those ideas with the community on how to do this right. But figuring out how to fit in Hardmode items is the tricky part. Because putting them in dungeons might be too good.
What about Heroic Plus Dungeon... Hardmode encounters?
: That sounds like a lot of work! Haha!
One of the things I'm most excited about with Heroic Plus Dungeons is the possibility of the Classic community doing some type of Speedrunning Heroic Plus. Do you think there is a potential for something like that to pop up?
: I think there is definitely the potential for people to do something like that. Any time you create a new challenge in the game, it creates new opportunities for the players to prove themselves. To have something to show off, to have something to stream about, I really look forward to seeing what players do with it, when they have a chance to do these harder versions of the dungeons. And just so you know, those will not be available until Ulduar comes out, so you have until Phase 2 before it is implemented.
Ulduar in Wrath of the Lich King Classic
Item Level Adjustments for Ulduar Loot in Wrath of the Lich King Classic
discussion around nerfing Item Levels in the second half of Wrath Classic
, the Classic team mentioned that one of the driving factors around this idea was that class balance gets a bit broken by the end of the game. In the decision to
buff Ulduar gear instead
, is this Blizzard saying they are okay with some classes getting a bit crazy?
: I think that is exactly what we are saying. It was my idea to nerf the item levels, but when we got feedback from the community, this is a good example of when we listen to the community to find out how do they feel and make adjustments based on their thoughts. In fact, many people loved how overpowered their characters were by the end of the game and it was one of the best parts of the experience of Wrath of the Lich King.
In thinking about it more, we decided we really don't want to take that away from people and wanted them to have that full experience. We think the class balance was
at the end of Icecrown Citadel, some classes get a little bit crazy their at the end, in general you have so much haste, so much crit, that the whole combat engine starts going nuts. And that's part of the reason there are debuffs on tanks in Icecrown Citadel, to make up for it.
A little bit of the idea of nerfing item levels was wishful thinking on my part, I was the designer first responsible, I was the one that worked on all the numbers and the math for how powerful things would be at different item levels and how much rating you would need for a certain percent of crit or haste. And when I laid it all out, I had hoped we wouldn't need to nerf tanks in the final raid (like we had to do in Sunwell with
Radiação da Nascente do Sol
) and I thought I had it figured out. Then we ended up adding additional Raid tiers in Wrath of the Lich King, we added Hard modes which weren't planned when Wrath first launched, and we ended up with way more item levels than I ever planned for. The idea was a bit selfish, I did want to fix it... but in the end, the right answer is to make it a bonus. Instead of lowering the item levels on Trial of the Crusader, the right answer is to raise the item levels on Ulduar.
As we looked at that more, it even feels better. Here's a bit of an explanation as to why... If you think back to the first time we went into Ulduar, you had just been fighting Kel'Thuzad, Malygos, and Sartharion. You were getting these item levels that were 226 and then when you went into Ulduar, you notice the loot dropping is also 226. Yes, eventually you will start getting into Hardmode loot, and Weapons are worth a bit higher item level. But it does make sense to raise Ulduar's items a bit to match its difficulty and make it a better transition going into that raid tier, making it feel more meaningful.
The regular items from Ulduar will go up 6 item levels and the Hardmodes will go up 13 item levels, which will make them really prized and amazing items, that will compete with Trial of the Crusader items. The key on that is, only two thirds of the bosses even have a hard mode, and when you beat a Hardmode you only get 1 item, so we're talking only 8 items a week. Thus, it's not so many items that it would grossly overpower your group, but they are worth going back to get.
Can you explain to me what it will look like comparing an item that goes up 13 item levels? Will that end up being 2 Stamina, 2 Agility, 10 Attack Power, will the stats increase evenly across the item?
: It's approximately a 13% increase to all stats on the item. If an item had 100 Stamina, now it'll have 113 Stamina, for example. So yes, it will increase the items stats based on a formula.
How will this effect an item like
Val'anyr, o Martelo dos Reis Antigos
, all the stats will go up and the Proc effect will stay the same?
: The current plan is to raise the item level on Val'anyr, leaving the proc exactly as it is. I think this will actually help Val'anyr, because when I recall Icecrown Citadel, a few of our healers were saying they might replace it with some of the Hardmode items, as they are a bit better. So, raising the item level of Val'anyr a bit will hopefully make it last longer, and maybe it won't get replaced by a Heroic mode difficulty item from Icecrown Citadel, and maybe they'll keep it the whole expansion.
Taking Feedback from the Community for Wrath of the Lich King Classic
Sometimes the Classic community will ask for something and end up regretting it after it was implemented, a good example being World Buffs in Classic. Many players complained about World Buffs during the original Classic, but then when they were removed in Season of Mastery, players realized how great they actually were for the game. Recognizing this, how do you look at community feedback for Wrath Classic?
: I think when looking at the community's feedback, you have to be careful not to look just at the raw feedback and what the player's are asking for. You have to look a little bit deeper, and ask
are they asking for that thing. Looking at that, if you can find a way to address the core issue instead of just looking at what the players asked for. They don't always know the right thing to ask for, but if we can help them and say to ourselves, if we give them that, then this will happen, and we have to go a little bit deeper.
But sometimes, we do need to give the players the thing they ask for. And then we can get the feedback, and maybe they realize it was a bad idea. A really good example of this is when Burning Crusade Classic was coming out, players were asking for the original Arena Team Charters. But then players played with arena teams and said, 'This is a real drag, we're changing teams constantly, it's causing confusion about my real rating, who's going to get rewards at the end of the season, please get rid of arena teams!' So yes, players needed to experience it before we could take it away from them, if that makes sense.
And you can't always do that, sometimes when you give the community something, it just can't be taken back so we have to be very, very careful about changes like that. In the case of the item level changes, its actually a very conservative change, because if we raise the item levels on Ulduar, in the end Ulduar gear will still get replaced by Trial of the Crusader Hardmodes and by Icecrown Citadel normal modes. So, it's going to be okay in regards to long term balance of the expansion.
Ulduar in Wrath of the Lich King Classic
Cooldowns Resetting after Raid Encounters in Wrath of the Lich King Classic
One of the most significant changes is how cooldowns reset after a raid encounter in Wrath Classic, has the Classic team noticed anything peculiar with player behavior and from your perspective do you think this change will be healthy for Classic?
: I can tell you a little story about how it came to be, Josh Greenfield and I were sitting in a raid together, and we're working on pulls on
when our guild was first learning the encounter, and each time we wiped, someone made a mistake, or something just went wrong, now we're waiting around for
to come back. Over and over again, all night long, waiting for Heroism. It was just a real drag.
It is good to have a little bit of down time in raids after a wipe, it gives people a chance to talk to each other, but when you are trying to have repetition on an encounter and you're constantly waiting for these cooldowns, so then people go AFK, then you have a hard time getting everyone back to the keyboard, it just messes up the experience of raiding and that's honestly where the motivation came from with the change.
When we thought about it, actually, that was the reason this change was implemented in the first place, and we decided yeah, why don't we go ahead and just put that change in now, because it was a good change. It didn't do damage to the social community, it just made something that was annoying, less annoying.
In terms of what I've seen in raids, the first problem is, 'Please remember, do NOT release until the Boss resets!' So people are learning that, and that was a problem the first time too, and there's not really a good fix for that unfortunately. But I personally haven't seen a lot of degenerate behavior, it has been really good, and if we do start seeing degenerate behavior, we'll take another look at it. A simple solution if there are a bunch of degenerate things going on, we might just drastically reduce the list of cooldowns that get reset, and possibly restrict to only really long cooldowns such as Heroism. That might be a way to fix it, but right now it seems to be okay. We are watching closely and are concerned about the potential for exploits.
Just one of my observations, I've also noticed that Pets don't lose the
Debuff after the boss resets, is that something the team is looking at?
: That is something we can look into and it might be possible to find a way to fix it.
Deathbringer's Will and Graphical Adjustments from original Wrath
One of the most coveted trinkets in Wrath is
Determinação do Mortífero
, which has a proc effect to transform your character into different races from Northrend. One of the things I've noticed is originally there were 6 race transformations, but eventually it was changed to only 3. Is this something you're looking at maybe restoring to its original state, for fun?
Campeão Forjado em Tempestade
: So I'm the designer who built it, it's my baby. The reason it has six different buffs, was so it could have six different models. Each of the chosen models represent each of the denizens of Northrend that are allied with the players, in different ways. Unfortunately, some of those models didn't have all the animations they needed. They looked good in most situations, but I was shown some examples where having that transformation and it could look really bad. I was asked to change it to the best looking models, that we could rely on having every animation for.
But I would love to revisit this item, it's definitely on my list of things to look at, when we get there, to see if there is a way we could bring that back. A good example of a place where we did make a change like that, is with Death Knights. The original
animation would have little zombie arms that reached out of the ground, unfortunately it was eventually removed for performance reasons and we had to take it out. And with Classic, we said you know what we have the hardware and its safe to put these zombie arms back in. Its been super cool to see that original visual again in Classic, and I would love to do something similar with Deathbringer's Will, but I can't promise anything. It's just something I personally would love to do.
Icecrown Citadel in Wrath of the Lich King Classic
Season of Mastery Transfers to Wrath Classic Realms
There was a Blue Post that was somewhat vague about when Season of Mastery transfers to Wrath Classic would open up, is there any specific timetable on when that will go into effect?
: I'm sorry, but unfortunately I don't have a timetable on when that will go into effect, it really comes down to the engineering. We wanted to have it ready for Wrath of the Lich King launch, but it just didn't make it. It is something we are working on to get as soon as we can, but I don't have a date for you.
What Happens After Wrath of the Lich King Classic?
Blue Post explaining the issues regarding the Pre-Patch event
, there was a section about "potentially doing seasons of the various different flavors of WoW Classic." Is this something the team is considering, Seasons of TBC or Seasons of Wrath?
: Right now our primary focus is all Wrath of the Lich King Classic, getting it out the door, getting that solid experience next week, and then getting the first raid tier open. We still need to do all the work to get Ulduar ready, to get Trial of the Crusade ready, to get Icecrown Citadel ready, and so on. There's a lot of work we still have to do so we are really focused on Wrath. But we are starting to think about, if we were to do another Season, what should that Season be?
We're really interested in all the ideas the community has, any ideas the community thinks, share those ideas on social media, and so on. We'll definitely be looking, what does the community want to see next?
What are your thoughts on leaving a Wrath Classic Realm up forever, locked in on the last phase of Wrath indefinitely?
: That is something we've already seen players starting to ask for, so we are aware there are players out there that would want a Wrath Forever type of realm, and of course we do have the Classic Era realm. It's something we're looking at, it's something we're not sure we can deliver on just yet. We honestly have to examine it and see how many players actually want it, and if players really do want it, the best way is for players to go out there on social media and let us know. If there is enough demand for it that we can see, it will have a big impact on our decision.
What are your thoughts on creating an entirely new timeline after Wrath? Separate from Cataclysm, going into a different direction, creating entirely new content, a new expansion, a real Classic Plus?
: This is an idea we hear frequently, an idea we've heard over and over again. It is one of the ideas we're looking at when we're brainstorming what it is we should do next... But right now, our entire focus is on getting Wrath of the Lich King Classic in the best shape possible, we haven't really had time to consider where we're going to go next.
There was a
survey that went out regarding Cataclysm Classic
, where Cata introduces numerous changes that some would consider "anti-Classic" such as Looking For Raid, Transmogrification, Flying in Azeroth, or even the new Race/Class combinations. If you were to continue into Cata Classic, how many of these things get peeled back, and do you keep going expansion after expansion, stripping away features and changes?
: I think there are many different eras in World of Warcraft, its not just a simple there is Classic and there is Modern. It was a continuously changing game, and I worked on many of those expansions, and saw that evolution. Even Wrath of the Lich King is very, very different from the 1-60 game in a lot of ways. Every specialization is fully raid viable, full itemization, we've added systems like Jewelcrafting, Inscirption, so many more talent points, and more things to craft, do, achievements, and so on. There's already so much we've changed... It's just a different era.
If we were to move into the next era after Wrath of the Lich King, its a little bit different and we'd probably have some different objectives about what is most important to it as compared to the early expansions, where we really focused in on that "Classic" feel. I don't even think you can make a Cataclysm feel completely how Classic did, because there are just so many things that have changed, and you are in a different era. And that era is just as good, it has its own things that are great about it, and we would look hard at what are some of the places we could improve upon, as well as the things we might need to protect or change.
But again, we're not really working on any of that right now, just looking at the whole scope of WoW, how its gone, it would just be a new era, with probably some different decisions.
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