After the break is the complete transcript of the developer Twitter chat with Lead Systems Designer Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street and J. Allen Brack. They talked a lot about Cataclysm and upcoming class changes, and reflect on some of the inner workings of patch 3.3. Unlike the last twitter developer chat, this chat was much more substantial and actually provided useful information for us all.
We've broken up all the answers into the following hyperlinked categories for your browsing pleasure.
Table of Contents
Q. Do you still have plans to implement guild housing?
A. Guild housing isn't a priority. Aside from the huge development involved it gets people out of cities and into these private areas other players can't see. We like cities to feel populated. But I'm not sure anyone expected WoW to be going as strong as it is after five years, so who knows in the future.
Q. Icecrown introduced new gameplay mechanics similar to that of platform games/consoles. Will you continue this trend in Cataclysm?
A. Many of you guys and many of us have been playing WoW for a long time. We think it's important to keep introducing new things to keep it feeling exciting and fresh. Some things work and we try and improve them over time. Some don't work as well and we move on. We try to never move too far away from the core experience of swinging your sword / tossing a spell though.
Q. Any plans to increase the size of the backpack?
A. Yeah, it's something we discuss a lot. On the other hand, the madness has to end somewhere. I'm not sure I want a 100 slot bag with that much stuff to manage. We'd need to make sure you could easily upgrade the existing backpack; we wouldn't want anyone to manage to just be without any bags.
Q. When we reach level 58 in Cataclysm on Azeroth do we need to go to Outlands or can we continue leveling in Azeroth?
A. You eventually need to do the Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King content. Azeroth will have a break in content between 60 and 80.
Q. Paladin armor has gone all dark and gothic. When will we see armor that better represents iconic holy warriors?
A. Northrend is a pretty dark and gloomy place. Cataclysm will have more of an emphasis on say elements and dragons.
Q. Wrath of the Lich King and Icecrown Citadel showed Blizzard using cut scenes more for dramatic purposes. Will you go back and add more for old world events?
A. We'd love to, but those things are not trivial to create so when we do more, I suspect they will be to tell new stories for Cataclysm rather than revisit old ones.
Q. With the new skins for druid forms, what is the chance that warlocks might see race/faction specific demon skins or maybe a new one?
A. When you look around, there are a lot of say imp or voidwalkers we could use. It's something we talk about quite a bit. As for new demons, I hear warlocks are going to be getting some new spells for the next expansion...
Q. Any plans to make early leveling dungeons (Maraudon, Wailing Caverns, etc.) more new-player-friendly (ie. take less time)?
A. Yes. We can't overhaul them all, but Cataclysm in a world with the Dungeon Finder means we should try and improve these.
Q. Will there be any more developments on enchanting as a profession? We would love to do fun things like daily quests.
A. Sounds like a great thing to add for Cataclysm. We'll have to wait and see though.
Q. Would you be willing to make personal bank storage look more like guild storage and available to all characters on a realm?
A. This is something we discuss a lot. It actually helps with keeping mail volume down as well as a player convenience.
Q. Will mages ever get to be the true masters of ports? By added more than just the main city's or maybe decide our own areas?
A. We've been growing the number of places they can go over time. We'll probably never get to the point where mages ignore ships, mounts or flight paths.
Q. Are there plans to improve the Dwarven Racials? At this point anything is better than Find Treasure.
A. Well, we are adding Archaeology to WoW...
Q. You mentioned pet scaling being added for patch 3.3 but due to time constraints, was delayed. Will this be in the next patch?
A. We'll try to do what we can. Technically it's just more challenging than you might think. For Cataclysm, we have on our list that 100% of stats scale. If they don't then certain stats just won't be as valuable for pet classes. At the very least, we can do stuff like convert your X into damage for the pet so every stat is valuable. Getting everyone to scale with every stat better is a major goal for the class team for Cataclysm.
Q. Does Blizzard have anything in the works to offer former players of WoW?
A. Maybe we can give you a good reason to come back!
Q. You added Armor->Strength talents to discourage Plate from wanting DPS leather. Are there any plans to stop non-clothies from wanting Cloth?
A. Yes, we do have some plans.
Q. Have you thought about doing AP scaling for Thorns?
A. There's no polite way to say this: Thorns needs some love. We just want to keep effects like this from excessively punishing fast-swinging attackers, because you know, we love rouges.
Q. Will rogues/hunters ever be able to dual wield hand-crossbows or pistols?
A. The pistol idea for hunters gets suggested a lot. It could either be an alternate to the gun / bow / crosssbow or something they use for short-range attacks. Rogues probably have plenty of weapons at this point. :)
Q. Are there any plans to fix the relative value of stats for certain specs? Eg.Strength being way better than Armor Penetration for Retribution Paladins or Armor Penetration being way better than Haste for Marksmanship Hunters.
A. For Cataclysm, absolutely. We'll do what we can in the meantime, but it's cruel to make players re-gear when they're halfway through a new raid tier.
Q. Are there more plans for unique weapon procs as the game goes forward? How do you see this affecting min/maxing?
A. We want to keep adding procs (and other interesting mechanics) to keep the items from feeling exactly like the item it's replacing with a few more stats. We know they are harder to balance, but that's part of the fun.
Q. For those of us who collect tabards and armor sets, do you see a way for us to store and not use our very limited inventory?
A. Yes. We'd like to store them the same way you do titles. In general, we don't want to punish the packrats out there who just like to collect stuff. We will have to wait and see what we can do about it though.
Q. Will we see any new world bosses in the near future?
A. I'd never say never given that we haven't designed patch 6.0 yet, but they do present some problems for large organized groups trying to make mutliple attempts without interference.
Q. Are heirloom items and RAF going to work at the start of Cataclysm, in particular for Worgens?
A. Most likely heirlooms. For recruit a friend, we'll have to see. We understand some players want to get to the end game as fast as possible. Maybe the realm first achievements should state "without XP bonuses." :)
Q. How will you handle beta testing if you want us to wait for Worgen/Goblin 1-5 starting area quest line not to be spoiled?
A. We didn't want to spoil them in Blizzcon. I imagine they will be in the beta. On the other hand, you can play the new higher-level zones if you don't want to spoil it. The goblin start zone will blow your mind!
Q. Will we ever see proper physics/animation for chain weapons? Will we ever GET chain weapons?
A. We'd love to. Whips too. It's just expensive (in terms of time) and we have to prioritize if it comes at the expense of something else (new dances maybe, or the animation for a new Cataclysm mob).
Q. Will you guys have Worgen/Goblin race change on lock until one person on the server gets Server first Worgen/Goblin?
A. We'll probably delay it for a few weeks or months. We haven't fully decided.
Q. What will Cataclysm have to offer for solo players?
A. Cataclysm has a ton of new quests both in the new zones and in old familiar areas. There will be just a ton to do. Also if you're a completionist casual type, one word: Archaeology.
Q. Why not give all the races the ability to be every class?
A. We're getting pretty close to that in Cataclysm. Some combos just don't make sense though. Goblin paladins strike me as bizzare.
Q. Will Cataclysm bring the return of gimmick items such as vanilla's The Unstoppable Force?
A. One of the fun aspects of looking at those old zones are the chances to try and hit up all the nostalgia for things like that. So, yes.
Q. What knowledge have you gained from WotLK/ICC in regards to your future design plans for Cataclysm?
A. That's a broad question for just 140 characters! I'll say one thing we learned in retrospect was that the progressive badge structure has ended up confusing. We have a simpler one in mind that accomplishes the same goals.
Q. Will you be emphasizing more Horde vs. Alliance hatred in the future?
A. It's a major focus for Cataclysm. Neither Garrosh nor Vyrian is a major fan of cross-faction cooperation.
Q. What's up with the pineapple wallpaper in Gadgetzan?
A. You will soon see in Cataclysm that goblins have a somewhat inscrutable sense of taste. They also like tropical drinks.
Q. Will Trolls ever get either their own capitol, or a district in Orgrimmar like the Gnome district in Ironforge?
A. Personally, I think it adds a little to the troll story that they have such an amazing cultural legacy and have fallen so far from that in recent history. That said, we have a little bit of love for trolls in Cataclysm (beyond the ability to be just about every class in the game).
Patch 3.3Q. All specs get a proc weapon from ICC25, except Frost Death Knights and Feral Druids. Any plans to give these specs ICC25 proc weapons?
A. It's tough when you get into the design mode of "everyone must be able to get something from every boss." We try to cover a reasonable spread of players, but as with the Ashen Verdict rings and the Quel'delar, there are going to be some specs skipped over. We still love you.
Q. Siege weapons were a unique game mechanic for Ulduar. What was the reasoning for not adding some form of Siege engine encounter in ICC?
A. We didn't want to overdo it. In some ways the Ulduar vehicles was our chance to show that yes we can make vehicles a lot of fun (after say the experience of Malygos). Flame Leviathan was unique. The boat battle in Icecrown is unique. Not every raid needs siege tanks.
Q. Why were party leader rewards for the random heroic daily removed?
A. We didn't want to encourage players who had no business leading groups to do so.
Q. When will we be able to fight the Lich King?
A. After you can conquer the Blood, Frost and Plague wings. :)
Q. Why were no new daily quests (or something along those lines) added in 3.3?
A. We just have a limited amout of content we can do for a patch, even a big one. We try to offer something for everyone, but sometimes it's better to deliver something awesome in one area (in this case, the raid and 3 dungeon wings) than try and add a little bit everywhere.
Q. How much will the incremental buff over time in Icecrown increase health, damage, and healing?
A. We haven't completely decided, but something like 5%, similar to the Luck of the Draw buff.
Q. Were there any boss concepts you had for Icecrown Citadel that got cut? Any examples you can give?
A. There was early talk of different famous NPCs that could have been corrupted instead of Saurfang Jr.
Q. Arthas has been present everywhere in the expansion. Why haven't we seen Blood Queen Lana'thel, Professor Putricide or any of the other bosses in low level zones?
A. Because we hadn't created them yet. :) You saw plenty of a certain undead dragon however.
Q. Will Mal'ganis have any involvement in patch 3.3?
A. He will continue to menace you in Culling of Stratholme. :)
Q. Will the various faction leaders such as Tyrande and Cairne play a part in 3.3 or will they be marginalized?
A. We have a lot of NPCs active in the Northrend finale already. I'm not sure those two specifically need to play a big part. At some point your cast of characters is just too big to manage. The finale is a pretty major lore moment though. You'll dig it.
Q. Have you considered making the Battered Hilt BoP?
A. Because better items would be available so quickly in the Icecrown raid, we thought we'd get more dynamic gameplay by letting players trade it. It also mirrored the first Quel as well.
Q. Will Ner'zhul appear at any point in 3.3 or the near future?
A. Well, he is a chunk of the Lich King now. But if you mean will he appear as an orc, we're not ready to tell his story just yet. We have a lot of stories left to tell, but his is a good one.
Q. Are there any plans to change the Ashen Verdict tank ring to proc more often? The current uptime vs bosses is almost nonexistent.
A. We have been adjusting a lot of procs so far and this one is on our radar. Tanks still manage to avoid hits a lot, which makes the proc less useful.
Q. With all the mention of saronite, and old gods blood in the various 3.3 quest chains, will Yogg-Saron factor into Icecrown Citadel?
A. You mean your guild didn't kill him? :)
Q. What are your opinions on Shadowmourne as Death Knight tanking weapon? Was it made with intention on that as well or mainly for dps?
A. Shadowmourne was designed as a dps weapon. If you can score one and want to socket Stam in it, I suggest parading around Dalaran just to rub it in.
PvPQ. If damage and healing is too much per health ratio, then why don't you have battlegrounds/arenas give a -30% damage/healing debuff?
A. We have been talking about solutions like that. It might feel a bit awkward, but it might also solve the problem and maybe it's okay in the last season before an expansion to experiment a little bit.
Q. City raiding seems like a great way to promote Horde vs. Alliance PVP, will you bring incentives for this?
A. We like the idea of fighting in cities. We don't like the idea of massive lag from having so many people in one area or players who are just wanting to play the AH or whatever getting nuked. We have some ideas for Cataclysm though.
ClassesQ. Is there talk of a fire shield spell for Elemental Shaman to use like water shield for Restoration Shaman?
A. Not at this time.
Q. Can you please explain why Feign Death is still on the Spell Hit metric, especially in raids?
A. It's a known issue, but just has to do with the way the spell is set up. Melee and ranged attacks mean a very specific thing to the game engine. We're hoping to be able to clean up some of this with the Cataclysm overhaul.
Q. What is your stance on fire mage single target dps in comparison to Arcane?
A. Fire mage is a little low. It's also somewhat self-selecting because the most dps-obsessed players know Arcane is higher and will gravitate accordingly. Fire will do better on multi-target fights, but there just haven't been a lot of those so far. (We have adds, but they come in slowly.) Ideally Fire would be closer to Arcane.
Q. Any plans on looking at Balance Druids, in particular to Eclipse procs? RNG sometimes is detrimental to our dps.
A. We don't mind the RNG aspect that much per se, but losing an important proc because it happened at the wrong time (say just before you moved) is a problem. We have a pretty cool solution for Cataclysm if we can make it work. It makes Eclipse cooler but also gives Balance more of a kit in general.
Q. Why is it tanking or healing that makes an encounter hard or easy? There isn't much other than high dps to consider for damage dealers.
A. There are berserk timers that usually rest on the shoulders of the dps to beat. There are adds that need to be burned down, etc. Tanking and healing aren't that hard on Deathbringer IMO (for example). Managing the adds is the key.
Q. Both balance druids (moonkin) and elemental shaman feel like their DPS is falling behind in Icecrown Citadel. Any damage boosts for these hybrid casters currently planned?
A. We have small buffs coming in the next patch. We'll see where they are after that when more encounters are open (including the hard modes) and once more players have tier sets and higher gear in general. We have no problem buffing them more if we need to.
Q. Following the upcoming Protection Warrior PvP nerf, do you plan to make our abilities focus on doing threat instead of damage?
A. We are applying threat modifiers where we nerfed damage. We'd also like to boost sustained Prot damage (for PvE) without adding too much burst (for PvP).
OtherQ. Why is there hardly anything in Crystalsong Forest? It is a shame to see such a beautiful zone go to waste!
A. Yeah, it makes us sad. Part of the problem is that it sits beneath Dalaran, which ended up being more of a resource hog than we had anticipated. We didn't want to draw too many more players to that zone. Initially the Crusader's Coliseum was going to be there, which is why some of the quests send you there. We just worried too much about the performance hit. Anub'arak ended up working out well though in Northrend.
Q. I don't have a question but just a thanks. Thank you for making the Looking For Group tool. It's sooooo useful.
A. Yeah, we love it around the office too. There was a lot of pressure to get it right after the first couple of attempts were lackluster. I try not to say stuff like this too often, but I think we really got it right. (Though there are a few kinks to unkink and polish we still plan to add.)
Q. Can we expect a Canadian style pet for the Olympics this year?
A. I will put in a request today for an epic moose mount, not sure if it will make it in though.
Q. If there is one thing that you wanted to have added to ICC/WOTLK in general, what would that have been?
A. More Azjol-Nerub. Threre's a lot of things we could have done with the underground empire, from a raid zone to a world zone. I hope we get to someday. Personally, I'm a big fan of the whole underdark vibe.
Q. Did Ghostcrawler ever give out those ponies he promised?
A. First, are you a paladin? If so, then no ponies for you. Everyone else can have a very small pony. In the DK case, a very, very small hero pony.
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm will destroy Azeroth as we know it. Nothing will be the same. In WoW.com's Guide to Cataclysm you can find out everything you need to know about WoW's third expansion. From Goblins and Worgens to Mastery and Guild changes, it's all there for your cataclysmic enjoyment.