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The Daily Blues

Each day WoW.com will take you through all the blue posts and other Blizzard news from around the internet. From Ghostcrawler's latest posts to the lowdown on StarCraft II and Diablo III, we'll keep you informed.

Welcome to the "Ghostcrawler talks about dodge, parry, and block" edition of The Daily Blues.

Table of Contents


Ghostcrawler

Ghostcrawler -- Dodge, Parry, and Block Attractiveness
Because by the fourth Cacaclysm raid instance, you're going to run into the same problem that plagued Sunwell and ICC, and have to introduce Cataclysmic Radiance to balance out boss damage vs. avoidance.

You want interesting and exciting? Bring building threat back to an art form like it was in Black Temple. Make damage reduction a function of "mastery" (which, along with making it "impossible to have a bad spec" should make things nice and accessible for the Donalds of the raiding world), and force tanks to think about aggro generation while, at the same time, giving them some way to be vigilant towards their own health (via smart cooldown useage perhaps). Coupled with healer skills, this would be more "interesting and exciting" than introducing some "radiance" band aid in the high end raids.


I think the way you end up with conclusions like this is by following a chain of logic such as:

1) I am a tank. It is my job to survive (among other things).

2) It makes it easier to survive if I avoid spike damage and otherwise make it easier on my healers.

3) I can avoid spike damage by emphasizing health and armor over avoidance.

4) Therefore I should look for health and armor wherever possible.

5) Since I don't really want avoidance, Blizzard should stop putting it on my gear or even in the game.

That last step is where you go astray. You make a leap from thinking like a player ("How can I survive better?") to designing like a player ("I can survive better if Blizzard changes the game to make it easier for me to survive better").

You'd be bored if there was no avoidance mechanic in combat. Bosses would hit you like a metronome for say 30K every swing. You'd be bored if there was no avoidance on gear because you'd only be choosing among say hit and expertise and maybe armor pen.

Random numbers are an important component for keeping the game exciting. I get that they can be a thorn in your side. That's largely why they are exciting. Without them, you'd be a better tank, but you'd also be a bored tank.

What we can do, and what we plan on doing, are making dodge, parry and block more attractive than they are today. I doubt they will ever be as attractive as armor and Stamina, but that's okay because we're never going to make a full set of gear that is just armor and Stamina. (And even if you assembled such a set, your healers would run out of mana trying to keep you up.)


--

The same way they are planning on making dodge and parry more attractive, by making damage taken over time more meaningful than it is now.

That's a good way to sum it up.

-

As long as avoidance is artificially deflated, tanks will not find it fun to stack. Stacking a ton of avoidance to go from 20% to 25% isn't something to be proud of. Yes, over the course of a boss fight, from the wide angle lens, it'd be important and effective, but simply put: IT IS NOT FUN.

I just disagree with that. When I used Moroes' Lucky Pocket Watch and dodged a whole bunch of hits, I felt awesome. I don't think the same item would feel as cool today, but it was awesome in early BC. I can remember a few times when the healer was down but I managed to avoid several hits in a row and we beat the boss. Is that a great gearing strategy for beating a boss? Not really. But the nice thing about random numbers is how much fun it can be when they do roll in your favor (see Las Vegas).

--

I agree random numbers keep certain aspects fun and interesting, i.e. doing big crits and reactive procs a la Killing Machine/Sword and Board/etc. But none of those explicitly determine your survivability the way avoidance does. Moreover, you're now talking about tank RNG affecting healers too.

Of course. Part of the challenge to you as a player is to overcome bad luck (or maximize good luck). When RNG is minimized, then it's just a math problem. A savvy healer could step into a fight and pretty quickly know if they are going to have the throughput to keep you alive hit to hit and the staying power to keep doing it throughout the fight. Nothing that happens during the fight is going to change that, so all of the decisions are made in the preparation phase (gearing and choosing talents) and not when you're actually up in front of the boss. There is a reason (nearly) all role-playing games keep what is essentially that d20 roll as a key part of the combat mechanics.

The opposite extreme is problematic also. When the effects of RNG are so overwhelming that it feels like the decisions you make are irrelevant, then you're not really playing a game -- you're just spinning a roulette wheel. I'd point to things like small chances for random stuns as an example where RNG had too large an influence.

What I am cautioning up above is sometimes players slip into the meta-game mentality of "I would be a better tank if I didn't have to contend with RNG, therefore Blizzard should remove RNG." RNG serves an important purpose.

--

To add to this. Random stuff isn't necessarily fun OR boring. Random stuff just kind of happening is pretty meh, to me. REACTING to random stuff is more fun. Two hits and you are dead = no reaction => not fun. Random spikes that lower your health temporarily so the healers have to pump out a bit more, that should be more fun than the current system in Cat...for the healers, largely. Anyhow, I wouldn't mind seem more chaos and randomness with our abilities and tanking. I don't mind some chaos and randomness stay. What I want to change though, is that I'd like more of an ability to react to crazy and random things...to think quick in response to stuff. There's waaaaaay too little of that for tanks in the current environment, and I don't think what I've heard about Cat sounds that great from a tanking perspective (though it is better, don't get me wrong).

Yeah, I agree with that first part. As to what tanks are supposed to do in those episodes, the intent is that's what the longer cooldowns are for. Some cooldowns happen so frequently that you might as well use them whenever they're up since they'll be available again soon. Others need to be saved for those known moments of intense damage (the Fusion Punches). But there should still be enough room to use a cooldown when things start to go bad. The healing equivalent would be something like Swiftmend. You use Tranquility for true emergencies and Rejuv as much as you can. Swiftmend though is generally used for oh snap moments. All the tanks need enough cooldowns that they can keep something in reserve for an oh snap moment. (Then again, deciding when you can afford to use say Shield Wall for an oh snap moment versus needing to save it for three inhales or frenzy is important too and will vary from fight to fight.)

--

What you call exciting i call laziness. I could type all kinds of examples of why you shouldnt be using random numbers, but the simplest is that your devs are what?....lazy. Your logic that the randomness numbers thing is what makes this game exciting is lame at best, a game based totally on gear, that has set dungeons, set encounters, and outcomes based on "randomness" with the kicker on the party side being gear tips the random number generator is simple laziness on your devs part. With the amount of cash you people bring in each month you figure you could make improvements to encounters, or at least the game engine that apparently has you people so restricted.

It's not based on gear though. Gear is a great reward mechanic and sometimes allows you to handle encounters you couldn't do before. But when gear is the sole consideration that allows you to handle content, then I'd argue the content becomes pretty boring. Go back and run normal Utgarde Keep in your 232 or 251 item level gear. Nothing scary or remotely exciting is going to happen. You don't have to use your skill as a player or your knowledge of game mechanics or encounters to handle problems. Your gear just solves every problem for you without your input.

Fights where the outcome is a foregone conclusion (you cream the content or it creams you) aren't interesting from a game design perspective. The outcome isn't unknown. Those fights have their place, rarely, just to break things up a bit. But they don't compel players to keep coming back for more the way the tried and true method of having a random element to combat works for nearly all role-playing games. If you want to dismiss all RPGs (and even the wargames that came before them) as lazy, well that's your prerogative, but since you're challenging such a widely-used and accepted mechanic, you're going to have to defend your position more than you've done.

--

That's not what he's saying GC. He's saying that due to overgearing, Blizzard always needs to nerf gear by the fourth raid.

As players above pointed out, the ratings would have worked fine had we not introduced extra item levels of gear to support the heroic modes of the last three tiers. Now we could have nerfed your ratings then, and maybe we should have, but that would have felt pretty harsh. Maybe Icecrown Radiance felt harsh enough that we should have done that. You can also argue that we should have guessed or at least planned in the possible addition of extra tiers. Maybe we'll do that in the future. Our model though is that player stats stop advancing from level and start advancing solely from gear at the level cap. We need some target for our combat ratings because they are expressly for the purpose of preventing players from maxxing out every stat with enough gear. Having creatures in later tiers scale along with your gear is one way that we're exploring.

--

The difference is that the numbers always went up. That's what progression is. Yes, each boss is harder, but your character is also stronger. Your mitigation isn't going backwards.Are you familiar with the story of Sisyphus? He was cursed to constantly roll a boulder up a hill only to have it roll back to the bottom every time he got to the top. That's what GC's tank design is for Cata.

Ni, I think you're just talking about a different kind of experience. The way RPGs traditionally work is that you defeat the monsters to get better gear to challenge more powerful monsters. The goal, typically, isn't to get so powerful that the monsters are no longer a challenge. Now I understand that seeing your dodge number actually go down might be a bummer, but that's because you're looking at a percentage and not the rating (which only goes up). If we expressed health as a percentage relative to the damage done by a boss, it would behave the same way -- go down with every new tier, then start to go back up again.

Currently, your health and armor go up, but the more powerful monsters in later dungeons hit harder. It's not that they are less of a threat to you than earlier monsters, and in many case the opposite true. It's more that you couldn't even have a hope of facing them without having amassed all of the armor you have. We're just talking about doing the same thing with other stats. It doesn't make sense that you avoid Saphiron 30% of the time, but avoid Sindragosa (who is supposed to be a much more powerful opponent and has the stats to prove it) 60% of the time. In the same way, the mage shouldn't be critting the more powerful opponent more than the weaker opponent. It just does strange things to the game, where the later bosses have to hit so much harder to make up for the fact that you're avoiding them more, which ironically (but mathematically) means that your avoidance is less valuable since it doesn't actually keep you alive.

Really all we're talking about here is the distinction between absolute and relative differences. Bosses in higher tiers shouldn't be relatively easier to avoid. In fact, the opposite is arguably true.

--

I am skeptical that you'll be able to do this. nerfing mana regen enough to make this feasible is unlikely, since healers hate going oom. What I imagine will happen is that most healers will gem/enchant regen until they can spam again, as this has been the case at every point in WoW's history. That their output will be lower won't matter as much, since tanks will continue to stack EH.

We actually had a weak moment in the LK beta where we made spells cheaper because the mana costs felt so high. We shouldn't have done that. We'll be more vigilant this time around.

If healers gem for regen, that's awesome. They'll be trading regen for crit (mostly throughput) or haste (the ability to cast more heals per unit time). You could have a healer than can go indefinitely without gassing out of mana, but wouldn't be able to land heals fast enough to keep the tank alive through a burst phase. Or maybe you have the healer who can land big heals indefinitely, but can't keep two people up at the same time because you cast slowly. Ideally there isn't a perfect way to gear because all of the stats are useful, or at least if there is a perfect way to gear then the perfect-1 gear set isn't garbage by comparison.

--

Btw, these are the discussions where your comments are the strongest, GC. When you talk about philosophy for future events and past events honestly and with strong statements.

They are the discussions that are the most interest to me too. We're always looking forward, trying to decide philosophically when we're on the right track or the wrong track with something.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of players out there, who aren't interested in the big picture. They want to know *now* how we're going to fix their problem. The smaller the pie slice of players that I'm speaking to, I figure the less the impact my communication is going to have. That's not to say those players aren't valid customers or don't have a right to feel the way they do. It's tricky. Shrug.

--

Again, you're thinking from the spreadsheet. For the player, seeing higher HP and taking bigger hits is more fun. Even if the TTL numbers are the same, the feeling of progression is there. What you're proposing through boss expertise is going to remove that. The player's actual experience is what really counts.

The problem is many players disagree with you when the discussion turns to avoidance. For them, seeing higher avoidance and taking bigger hits (to compensate for the higher avoidance) is less fun.

--

You've developed yourself into this corner.. because in the pursuit of balance you've taken all of the interesting effects off of gear. The only pieces you allow to do anything other than "add X to y stat" are trinkets, and an occasional weapon(bryntoll..). You want to see gear that is not sharded? Add an on use, or static effects. It really should be OKAY if a specific piece of gear from the previous tier of items was still in our inventory!

Heh. I see your point, but you're also going to have a lot of players who strongly disagree with you. They get offended when the new tier isn't an unambiguous upgrade from their current gear. It's possible we can turn that perception around, but it won't be trivial.

In the olden days, we didn't drop much gear and it was fairly expensive to get. If there was Spirit on your tanking plate, well, it was still an upgrade over the dungeon blues you were wearing. If the Drillborer Disc dropped in Molten Core, you took it because what were the alternatives? (I kept the Draconian Deflector forever with its awesome 7 Stamina, but you get the idea.) Now days gear is easier to come by (a direction we like overall) so it's more possible and realistic to shoot for the best piece instead of just the obtainable piece.


Ghostcrawler -- Infamous armor pen tank gloves
Since we're on this topic, may I inquire as to whose idea THESE were?

http://www.wowhead.com/?item=45310


The item in question is the infamous armor pen tank gloves. At the time, players were like "Um, is this an error?" Since then, a few tanks have asked us why there weren't some dps stats to choose from in Icecrown on tank gear.

Really though it's part of the same issue I mentioned above. We don't want every piece of gear to look the same. We don't want everything that isn't "best in slot" to be dismissed or sharded. I don't know that we can get to a world where we put crit and haste on tanking plate, but man, it would be nice for the variety, and dps stats are more useful on tanking gear than they are on healing gear.

When I tanked in BC, I used a dps tanking weapon for the threat. I can't imagine that is widely done these days (I at least never see it) because single-target threat isn't much of an issue, and even if it was, the risk of dying to burst damage is of greater concern. Maybe we have to make all tanking gear (save druid leather obviously) only focus on survival stats and the threat and dps just come for free (except for druids who would then be OP) but that's a little unfortunate.


Ghostcrawler -- Death Knights and dispells
We left the ghoul as an Unholy focus because not every player wants to have a pet. We already have two mandatory pet classes in the game.

We want to see how the Unholy Blight change plays out. We realize it offers more PvP viability for Unholy than the other two specs, though to be fair, Unholy was already a lot more common in PvP. We didn't want to implement three distinct mechanics of disease resistance just to see what stuck, because then it felt like we'd have to support them all forever instead of iterating on a single one that we like. If the Unholy Blight model works, then it's something we'd consider giving to all DKs in the long-term.

Really though, we don't think the answer is to have a continuing arms race of dispels and dispel protection. This is why we've been so reluctant to implement a DK change in the first place, especially one that we ideally won't need in the future. The way things are headed, one could easily imagine the 4.0 glyph or talent that says "Your dispels now dispel stuff that normally can't be dispelled" and the 5.0 version that says "No, really, nothing can dispel your debuffs now," and the 6.0 one that said "Just kidding. You can dispel everything again."

We like the general concept of dispels as a counter. Making a good decision to spend resources (including GCDs) based on what another player is doing is what allows players to win because of their skill and not just because of their gear. The problem is that dispels were designed around (antiquated) PvE content such as Molten Core, where spamming dispels was something we asked you to do frequently. A better world would be one in which a dispel was a meaningful choice, meaning they would have a real mana cost and require you to actually push a button. There needs to be a cost for dispelling at the wrong time, just as there's a cost for using your trinket or Ice Block at the wrong time. If we make this change, we'd balance the PvE encounters accordingly, such as asking you to occasionally dispel big curses (or whatever) instead of constantly remove spammy, aggravating ones.



Ghostcrawler -- Procs
We actually don't like procs that are up 100% of the time and in 3.3.3 we changed several of the group buffs to just be passives.

Sometimes the mechanic is necessary so that a damage rotation requires some ramp-up instead of just being at 100% from the first swing. So we can't get rid of every single case.

The idols (and all similar pieces) are in a weird spot. Once upon a time they used to change your rotation ad little bit in order to maximize the bonus, but these days they are really balanced around being up 100% of the time and if we end up putting the proc on a spell or ability that isn't used often, well then the idol just sucks for that tier.

We're not sure yet what we're going to do with these items. The current implementation doesn't feel that successful. They could just be stat sticks not tied to a particular ability, though that's not super exciting either.



Other


Drysc -- Blizzard at PAX East
Members of the Blizzard community team will be at PAX East in Boston, March 26-28, hanging out at the NVIDIA booth, talking about our games, and helping to demo StarCraft II. Also at the booth, NVIDIA will be showing off World of Warcraft using their 3D Vision technology. Stop by for the stage presentation Friday at 6pm for a world's first 3D Theatre presentation on an 80 foot screen.

If you're at the show stop by the NVIDIA booth and say hi!

http://www.paxsite.com/paxeast/
http://www.nvidia.com/object/paxeast.html



Drysc -- Drysc > D3 Demo
For the sake of my friend, I have to ask this: Will D3 be playable there?

Negatory, but I'll be there and able to chat about it. Which is way better.


Drysc (Bashiok) -- Having fun with leveling
I have something like four level 80's that I've hit 80 with and that same day stopped playing...

I have my night set tonight to actually pick up my enhancement shaman again though. Which is always daunting to try to remember how to play it, especially if there have been major class changes since. At one point I dropped a rogue I had been leveling right after the game launched, and I went back to it years later to find him wearing spirit and int gear... so embarrassing. At the time my only conclusion was that I must have thought it was ok to do so because it had more armor than another piece? ... !? ... I still don't know. I'm not proud of it. Or to find the insane action bar setups, or weird valueless items being kept in the bank.

Anyway! I think I enjoy leveling because it's something I can do on my own terms. But it's different, because I could just go do dailies or whatever if that was the only factor. I think the achievement of leveling and getting new spells and abilities and discovering the class is where the difference and real attraction lay for me.

But I do have a character or two that's seen current end game content.

My street cred just dropped to 0, huh? Did I have any before?



Zarhym -- Community Interviews: The Arena Master
We've added yet another in-depth interview with one of World of Warcraft's millions of players for our five-year anniversary site. Luek from U.S. realm The Underbog shares his views on his last five years of dynamic and fluctuating gameplay focuses, particularly with regard to PvP, and provides some insight on where he sees himself once Cataclysm arrives. Check out the anniversary page for our full discussion.

http://www.worldofwarcraft.com/wowanniversary/interview/



Eyonix -- On Raid IDs
It's not meant as a punishment, but rather to limit players from running the raid dungeon more than once per week. Pugging a raid is always going to be a gamble, as you really don't know what you're getting into before you join.

Blizzard

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