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Friday Night Gin: Your weekly Blue roundup


Good evening fine ladies and good gentlemen, I want to invite you to head over to your liquor cabinet, grab some of that fine gin and do with it what you will. I like mine without anything added, right at room temperature. Ghostcrawler prefers his with coffee. Once you're settled, come back to your computer and read up on the best of the blues and the ghostly-crab-crawler.

Welcome to a new weekly column here at WoW.com. Each week we'll take a look at what Ghostcrawler and his cohorts at Blizzard have said about the game, highlighting all the important announcements and discussions.

What Ghostcrawler says in particular is of great importance these days to WoW. A lot of the stuff he's talking about is reflective of the direction of the entire design team at WoW, and if you follow what he's saying you'll have a better understanding of where the game is headed.

So after the break we'll wrap up what Ghostcrawler and the other blues had to say this week. This week's topic include: Battleground Focus, 5 Second Rule, On Class Representation Versus Actual Power, Going to heckle at BlizzCon?, Water Dungeon, Affliction Changes, Console WoW, Truth In Developer "Promises" About Change & An Angry Community, Amount Of Leveling, Phasing Technology, and Flying In Old Azeroth.

Battleground Focus

Blizzard likes battlegrounds. They've gone through a lot of iterations over the years the game has been released, but it remains constant that Blizzard is at least somewhat committed to developing them into better PvP options. This commitment seems stronger these days, and the upcoming release of the Isle of Conquest exemplifies this. This week Ghostcrawler also reaffirmed the commitment, saying that Blizzard needs to focus more on BGs.

He also makes a point, and a correct one I might add, as to why PvP balance issues come out more in Arenas than in Battlegrounds.

I will agree that we need to focus more on BGs. And to be fair we are in this very next patch, and there will be more announcements at Blizzcon.

However, to play devil's advocate, PvP balance issues manifest themselves a lot more sharply in Arena than in BGs. I don't think it's appropriate to spend 75% of our PvP time on BGs because 75% of the players are there (I made those numbers up). Things like diminishing returns on crowd control or dispel protection are just a lot less of a big deal in most BG encounters because there are more breaks in the fighting, you're fighting different people, and the strategy has more going on than just killing the other guy. I love BGs - don't get me wrong. But they tend to be more sensitive to say map issues than class issues. (Though again, because I know it will be taken out of context if I don't caveat it, class issues can definitely affect BGs.) [source]

5 Second Rule

Players were QQing about how the raids are too easy, how DPS has it easier than healers, and how the 5 Second Rule should once again reign supreme. Ghostcrawler took the opportunity talk about the problem with the 5SR (which hopefully if you know what that is without the WoWWiki page you'll also remember there were problems with it), and how today those rather annoying problems are fixed. Plus he doesn't think doing good DPS is any harder than healing well.

I don't think dps have an easier job. Doing good dps is as hard as doing good healing. I think the legit difference is that if someone does bad dps, it doesn't often wipe the group (only if you are hitting the timer or letting adds get out of control or something). Healers don't have that luxury.

The problem with the 5SR wasn't so much the case of someone sitting aside for a bit so regen would kick in. It was that all of the clearcasting procs counted towards 5SR, which ultimately just felt like random free mana.

I healed a lot back in the MC, BWL days (and I do it now too) and I remember the healer rotations and canceling casts. It made you feel smart when you did it right, but I'm also not sure the best thing for the game is to reward players for standing around doing nothing.

Now getting more "depth" (for want of a better word) isn't a bad goal. I think there is a way to do it through mana. Downranking felt compelling in those situations where you are choosing between the cheap small heal and expensive big heal. (It fell apart when the big heals were never worth it because your spell power juiced up the low rank spells so much.) Flash Heal vs. Greater Heal or Flash of Light vs. Holy Light isn't that same kind of decision because of the cast speed and the way other class mechanics can elevate one or the other. But imagine there was literally a Medium Heal that was Greater Heal at 50% of the healing power for 50% of the mana. That kind of gets you downranking in a less clunky way.

A player retorts about good DPS being easier, in that all you have to do is "emulate somebody else doing good DPS." That all you need to do is read sites like WoW.com and EJ to understand the basic rotations, and just rinse and repeat, whereas healing takes some actual skill and practice. Ghostcrawler responded.

If that were true, you'd see very similar dps numbers from player to player with similar gear in similar scenarios. You don't though, which implies skill has a big effect. Again, given the choice I'd rather have a bad dps dude in my raid than a bad healer. I just think sometimes these "dps is faceroll" ideas are short-sighted. On some encounters, dps need to crowd control, interrupt, move to keep themselves alive (when they aren't blaming the healers) and worrying about threat and enrage timers. Yeah if the mage fails to notice that the pull occurred it's likely to be less messy than if the Resto shaman did. Raid leaders still yell at their dps'ers plenty though. :) [source]

On Class Representation Versus Actual Power

"Druids are OP!" screams Matt Rossi. "No, Warriors are OP!" yells back Allison. Alex and Adam sit back and look at Daniel saying "And you Death Knights can tank everything better, you're all we see in raids!" Meanwhile Zach is laughing to himself saying "Okay guys, you all are going to get nerfed because Paladins are underrepresented when tanking."

The truth of the matter is that how many tanks of an individual class there are rarely matters, and is only part of the overall equation when balancing classes. Just because you have a lot of apples in your house doesn't mean tomatoes aren't the best fruit (come on internet, I baited you...). Ghostcrawler explains:

If warrior MTs are standing aside because DK OTs can handle the fight much better, and this is happening for a lot of encounters, then that's a problem. If it happens for a few encounters it's probably not a problem and if the advantage the DK conveys is modest, it's not a problem. This isn't an issue of how many warrior MTs there are. It's an issue of whether one class has a much, much easier time on certain encounters. DKs probably had too easy a time on Sarth +3 and Vezax.

The second issue is: should we nerf warriors because there are so many warrior tanks and we want other tanks to be more common? I think most reasonable people, including us, would say that's a bad reason to nerf someone. However, players also infer a lot of design intent to our actions. We've finally gotten to a point where there are 4 classes that can serve as your raid's MT. If we turned around and buffed warriors a lot while nerfing the other classes, players might mistakenly assume that we want the warrior to be the "real" tank, which is certainly an understandable conclusion given that it was the design for the first 3-4 years of WoW.

Now, where I think I lost some players in the thought process was in a discussion combining those two issues (power and representation). If druid MTs are so much better than warrior tanks, then why don't we see more of them? Furthermore, why aren't warriors stepping aside for druids on those fights where they are currently (in 3.1 I mean) stepping aside for DKs? Maybe there are just a lot of DK tanks because the class is new (and has at times been overpowered). But why aren't there more druids if they are a superior tank on many encounters? Do we nerf druids anyway, knowing this will probably lead to there being fewer of them? What if they don't really convey as much of an advantage as players think? Now we've made an unpopular spec weaker.

Players sometimes (and often depending on the argument they are trying to make) argue that representation equals power. There is a correlation there, but it's not 1.0. These things are rarely black and white. I think sometimes some players try to distill everything down too much into rules like this. You can't feed variables into a computer and have it spit the right answer back out at you. That's not intended to be a criticism of player logic powers, more of an explanation of why we sometimes might view things differently. [source]

Going to heckle at BlizzCon?

...you're coming to Blizzcon to heckle, I kind of thing you're wasting a big opportunity. [source]

Water Dungeon

Everything's going to be just fine, we're going to start our new life... under the sea! Homer, that's your solution to everything. It's not going to happen! Not with that attitude.

Who doesn't want to run around in a water dungeon? Well, I don't want to do something crappy. But a great water dungeon at the quality of the water level in the SNES Donkey Kong Country would be a great addition to WoW. Zarhym talks about the possibility, and the thought process that goes into creating something like that.

We typically never throw anything completely off the drawing board when it comes to conceptualizing fun content. I think there would have to be a good opportunity for a water dungeon in the game first, but more importantly, we'd have to really make sure it would be done right and feel fun. Under water combat can be a little chaotic, especially when using any sort of ground-targeting spell. We wouldn't want to come out with such content were it to feel like the game play would suffer from the format of the setting.

In a way you could relate it to our decision to remove flying vehicles from Wintergrasp. It sounded awesome and was, in some cases, pretty fun. But it just didn't feel right or balanced with the way it was implemented, made the zone even more chaotic and really fell short of providing the player with the physical sensation of being in flight. [source]

"Don't forget to bring a towel," replies one reader. Zarhym scores some points with the Vorgon Department of Poetry:

And that leads to the core of the issue here. Have we the true capacity to develop and implement so functional a tool as the towel? [source]

Affliction Changes

The changes to Affliction are likely to stay, and if the tree needs a buff, don't expect a retraction of the changes:

We are unlikely to revert the SL or Immolate changes. If Affliction's damage ends up being too low, we would be more likely to address it in other ways. [source]

Console WoW

This topic has been beaten to death, but it keeps coming up... again... and again... and again... UUDDLRLRBA

This has been talked about in various interviews in the past and the answer continues to be that we have no plans to do this. The primary reason being that World of Warcraft was designed as a PC game, so the functionality, controls, and UI are all focused on what a PC can bring to the table.

To use a quote that is not mine, it's a square peg and a round hole for this game. [source]

Truth In Developer "Promises" About Change & An Angry Community

The only truth in WoW is that everything is (a) fair game. Everything can be changed to make the game more fair and balanced. Ghostcrawler and company take a lot of flak for talking about changes that never materialize, or discussing topics that anger certain parts of the community. Ghostcrawler philosophizes (in a larger thread about Ret QQ):

I'm never going to refuse to do something we think is good for the game because it might upset the community. Sorry. My goal is to make a good game, not placate the community. Those two goals overlap, but not by 100%. Sometimes we say things that are right at the time but on which we later change our minds. It happens. Calling that breaking promises or whatever is typically the response of angry players maybe hoping that catching us in a gotcha will get us to undo the changes. It won't. If you're looking for immutable truths and laws that are constant, I suspect you're not going to find them in a succesful, evolving MMO. [source]

And what is a promise that might upset the community? Well, it's not really a promise, it's just a hint of some future change. In another thread Ghostcrawler hits the nail on the head with regards to why such things are a big deal, and how they're doing the best job they can to communicate with millions of players:

I think we communicate pretty well, though I am certain there are always ways to improve. Understand that a few dozen people communicating to a few million people is not going to feel like a normal water-cooler-style conversation though. The fact that some of these forum discussions at all even approach one on one -- that I recognize the names of people who keep posting smart things -- I think is a triumph.

We are very, very careful not to make promises. But because we don't, the community tends to then define any remote hint of something as a promise. :(

We listen to our customers. I think we even deal with complaints a lot. Now, it's not my job to deal individually with every player who has a concern. We do have customer service avenues, but this forum is not one of them. Instead, it is for players to have a place to provide feedback on class mechanics and balance. It is not a venue for airing of greivances (though some players very clearly wish it was).

I try to be pretty courteous, certainly in comparison to players who feel as if they have the right to say anything they want. But again, I'm not a customer service rep. These role forums aren't the kiddie pool and we expect a little more of players who choose to post here. There are going to be debates, sometimes heated ones. That's not an invitation to insult people with whom you disagree. But the water's deep and you need to know how to swim. [source]

Amount Of Leveling

People are still leveling alts, even though the end game is really popular right now:

We haven't seen a stop come to leveling or "rerolling". Players continue to reroll often, but it does seem that the endgame content is holding more attention now than it has in the past, which has resulted in some fairly stagnant areas through out the Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor alike. We understand that a lack of players to group with in certain locations can make questing and leveling difficult. Fortunately, we are aware of these issues and we are working on solutions to them. [source]

And are there any solutions to this we can hear about now?

Not just yet. Give me a few weeks though and I'll make sure I get something to share on this subject. [source]

That sounds like another thing to watch out for at BlizzCon.

Phasing Technology

Phasing technology is fun and Blizzard wants to be careful about where they use it:

We love this technology and only want to continue to create ways in which to use it to maximize the experiences that players will have in the game with it. We are being careful to put it to its best use, but that also means knowing the right time and places to use it. If we use it too much and incorrectly, it will become cliche and lose its magic. [source]

Flying In Old Azeroth

Who doesn't want to fly around Stormwind? It's too much to address right now, but "may be addressed further down the line." I read that as a possibility for the a future expansion.

The vanilla flavour lands were never designed with free flight in mind. That, coupled with the introduction of character flight at higher levels gave us a chance to stagger when and how players see content. With changes to mounts and their systems in the past, and those coming our way in the not too distant future with 3.2, this may be addressed further down the line.

It's been discussed at great length of course. I mean, who would not talk about this? :) There are so many plans for changes and updates to the experiences we all have within the world and so many ideas we would simply love to put in place. Ideas like this keep us going, driving us to continue to make cool improvements. [source]

So there you have it. The first installment of Friday Night Gin. And for the record, the column will look at all posts from Saturday the previous week until Friday the day the post is made. Have a good weekend!

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, Friday Night Gin

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