The class Q&A panel will go live in roughly 20 minutes, so get ready. We'll be liveblogging every minute of it past the cut! I'm afraid you guys are stuck with me again, but the other writers have already warned me that liveblogging any Ghostcrawler panel usually results in fingers falling off by the end, so I've taken the precaution of arranging some Motrin and heat packs off to the side of the computer.
I type at 127 words per minute. Bring it, Dr. Street.
BlizzCon 2010 is upon us! WoW Insider has all the latest news and information. We're bringing you liveblogging of the WoW panels, interviews with WoW celebrities and attendees and of course, lots of pictures of people in costumes. It's all here at WoW Insider!
11:48 am There was an unscheduled Ghostcrawler interview a few minutes ago with the hosts of the DirecTV broadcast, and we're working on getting that up for you guys.
11:54 am And now Tom Chilton as well! I wish they'd announce these in advance.
11:56 am Looks like Adam's grabbing it for an impromptu liveblog, although I don't know when it'll go up yet.
12:00 pm DirecTV is still with Tom Chilton, so it looks like we'll have to wait a minute or two for the panel.
12:01 pm Here we go!
12:01 pm Shouts from the crowd, "I want my moose!"
12:02 pm "Light turnout this morning," observes Ghostcrawler. He enjoys gin and nerfing paladins. Oh GC. Never change.
12:02 pm No PowerPoint today. They're shipping very soon and "you know everything about the game that we do."
12:03 pm It's going to be alllll q&a, no presentation.
12:03 pm Ghostcrawler introduces his fellow designers, although I'm going to need help on spelling for all of them I'm afraid.
12:04 pm "Aspect of the Cheetah/Pack have been in the game for a while now. Hunters don't feel it's necessary to be gimped (I assume with the Daze effect). And why does Glyph of Bestial Wrath not bring cooldown to a minute?" Question meanders, questioner is a little annoyed I think.
A: Reason they have a Daze effect is to keep hunter kiting from being overpowered.
Angry questioner says mobs can be leashed. Frankly, he's being rude.
A: You could technically kite and kill a boss solo if Daze weren't an effect.
The developers observe, "We're off with a bang."
12:06 pm "How do you avoid over-homogenization when you're trying to standardize quality across 10 classes but four roles?"
A: Resource systems. A rogue worries about combo points, mages worry about mana, everyone has different resources or, if they have the same resource, different mechanics.
12:07 pm "Mastery for shadow priests: Right now either they reforge or avoid if possible for PvE. For PvP, concerns that it's too bursty for PvP, theoretically possible to one- or two-shot people. How do you balance the stat between the two?"
A: Mastery is supposed to make a spec feel awesome, and shadow has become known for being a bursty caster. Mathematically, it may not be living up to expectations, but it's something they'll tinker with. But they're reluctant to change it "wildly" before people are really used to the stat.
A: Numbers will definitely be tweaked over time. More polish to be done with Shadow Orbs as well.
12:09 pm "I guess I have to be the one to start the paladin talk. Tanks -- moved away from 969 and into Grand Crusade, but it's even below Reckoning in DPS and TPS. Is there any plan to change Grand Crusade to be more useful?"
A: Mechanic is interesting and it's a hard-hitting spell, but they suspect the numbers are off at the moment. Blizzard thinks it's a valid point but nothing's stabilized in 4.0.1 now.
12:10 pm "Holy school of spells: Every other class has at least two schools of spells they can use but the paladin. Why is that?"
A: Over time they've changed a lot of retribution abilities to deal physical rather than Holy damage for just that reason. No other school of magic that really makes sense for the paladin.
Questioner: Cleansing Fire? No holy-based enemies out there, no resistance to holy effects, no decision over the use of one school over another.
A: They're a little more complex than just one button now though.
A: Advantage of holy over other schools isn't as large as it was in the past. Difference between someone dealing holy rather than fire is just bypassing 10% of Mark of the Wild or Kings-granted protection -- it's not while you'll lose to the paladin.
12:12 pm "Some classes seem to have to take pvp talents to reach 31 points in their trees. Why is that?"
Q: Shamans, e.g. talents giving protection against magic damage.
A: We want those to be useful, we want those to help you survive in dungeons. Most people WILL take a pure throughput talent over a survivability or situational talent, but we want to give players more choice and more freedom to pick up utility talents.
Q: But as a caster you shouldn't be getting hit apart from AoE damage.
A: In an ideal world, none of these things would be needed, even a combat res is theoretically not useful -- except it is. People die.
12:14 pm "Thank you for fixing Vanish!"
A: You're welcome!
Questioner: Rogue offhand weapons -- with the removal of specialization we can use anything, but weapon speed still limits us to daggers. Any plans to fix weapon speed so we have more choice?
A: It feels odd to see rogues running around without daggers, but we do want you to have more freedom and choice with weapons. Considering more fast offhands, or even changing rogue mechanics so you don't need the fast offhand so much.
12:16 pm Bleeding Hollow player "Despite all the flak you guys get, I think we all appreciate the hard work you do - "
Big cheer from crowd.
"My question concerns warriors and rage normalization. You've changed Inner Rage from passive to usable ability. Any changes to come, what's the outlook?"
A: We came up with the Inner Rage change before we normalized rage -- problem was warriors got more rage than they could realistically spend. They want it to be a good decision for protection warriors to turn on and off. They haven't seen a lot of high-end playing yet, very few raids or high-end battlegrounds on the beta so far so it's still up in the air.
12:18 pm "Level 85 warlock ability Demon Soul: It feels too much like a trinket with a passive damage increase, which Blizzard seems to want to move away from. What's up with that?"
A: Design intent for a lot of new abilities was to give players a more niche-like thing to do. Warlocks really don't have much burst - they never had an Arcane Power-like ability. Numbers might not be there yet, but that's what they were thinking. Getting a little difficult -- "what do you give a warlock, they pretty much have everything these days? Same with warriors."
12:19 pm "What's the future of combat rogues? Damage right now is very very low, mutilate is higher. Premonition ran tests and mutilate is way ahead. Subtlety was bugged with Honor Among Thieves."
A: Combat could use some help right now. Their mastery stat is quite weak. That's being quadrupled in power, should make it a viable stat that compares favorably with haste and expertise. Just a matter of numbers. They want combat rogues to be about macro-level planning, somewhat akin to how an arcane mage plays in relation to its other specs. Resources are key.
12:21 pm Another Big Crits peep! "I was gonna ask about the moose, but you've told WoW Insider that we can't handle the moose so there goes that. I really love what you've done with the holy tree (priests), but question is about disc priests. Healing while smiting -- are you guys happy with how that's playing? Maybe I'm doing something wrong, but I'm doing about the damage of a tank with the healing of a shadow priest with that."
A: Like how it works on beta, but on live it's not that compelling. Every healer still has way too much mana regen. Healing through Smite is low throughput, but it seems to work much better on the beta where the situation is different. They're happy with how it's working there.
12:23 pm "Love what you've done with the hunter! When Deathfrost came out though, I died a bit inside watching the chances to proc on melee swings or spells. Are we ever going to get a cool proc like other classes?"
A: Bad news -- for a while, you're going to be stuck. But we're evaluating the scopes -- we think that's where a fun proc for hunters will come into the game. (Audience claps)
Q: Are we gonna get Mongoose?
A: No comment! (laughs)
12:24 pm "Another hunter question! We seem to be the only ranged class in the game with a minimum range -- "
A: (jokes) Must be a bug
Q: "Everybody in the raid, stack up on the boss' hit box -- except the hunters, stay 5 feet out and die."
A: If the raid liked you more, they'd save you. (Audience laughs)
Q: Other ranged classes don't deal with this, why have hunters been singled out, it makes no sense!
A: Part of the overall flavor of the hunter class, but they're very sympathetic on bosses where that is in fact a liability, e.g. Marrowgar. They've discussed addressing it with universally larger hit boxes for bosses, but they haven't arrived at a conclusive solution.
Q: Any answer for the balance problem? Our DPS is basically nothing in melee. (unhappy)
A: At the same time you can shoot while moving, whereas a mage, rogue, or cat can't do anything running around the room. It's situational. Sometimes you're up and sometimes you're down.
A: For any ranged class, you're screwed if melee's in range.
12:27 pm Another pally question (Jesus, I wish someone would ask a druid question). "Holy power bar? Where did that idea come from?"
A: We decided mana feels good when it lasts for a while but you can run out. It's dependable over short period of time but goes away. Paladin was designed around mana bar yo-yoing up and down. Previous design was just whack-a-mole, use it up. We decided they needed a real resource. We wanted them to have something that builds up and hits really hard. Not as big a deal as combo points are for the rogue; everyting to the rogue, but paladin CAN technically ignore it and do OK.
A: Without holy power, we felt the pally was still in danger of being a one-button class.
A: You could get a black Sharpie and line it over your mana bar for all the good it did, you never had to worry.
12:29 pm Finally, a druid question! "Wild Mushroom: It does a lot of damage if you stack 'em up, but very narrow range and the targeting circle makes it hugely imprecise. Any plans to make it more usable?"
A: We don't think players have really grasped the usefulness of it. We've seen feral druid tanks use it to pull in dungeons, detonate them when adds are in range with great threat.
(aside: I've done this in beta dungeons, he's right and it does work great)
For spreading them out, they won't do optimal damage unless they're stacked and that's the design.
12:30 pm "I have a warrior, close to 390 days /played. I think it would be cool to have a quest to change a warrior into a death knight or a paladin or something else. Thought about it?"
Audience boos, they're not happy.
A: The risk is, we don't want players to have that burden -- "OH, rogue damage isn't good, I'm going to switch it into a hunter or something." Leveling's not that tough these days. They don't feel it's an issue to level a class if you really want one.
A: They understand the achievement issue. They'd like to beable to show achievements on other characters, all characters on an account, they know it's an issue for people with alts.
Q: "Druid healing at 85, run out of mana really fast, paladins don't seem to."
A: We've tweaked both of those a lot lately, holy paladin healing is very powerful at 85.
12:32 pm "Bandit's Guile: One finishing move on one, and do another later, but it looks like damage is low. You only really Eviscerate stil. It seems to take away from combat's target-swapping. What's the intent?"
A: Intent is for -- if you're on a target for a long eperiod of time, they encourage and reward players for using most powerful damage abilities when their damage is at its peak. Holding off on the other end. For multi-target, combat's in a strong place, and Redirect will make a big difference.
12:34 pm "Racials are a train wreck right now. Haste versus underwater breathing -- how can the latter compete. Will we ever have a consistent activated DPS ability, a passive that's useful for each, and whatever else? All over the board now."
Audience likes this question.
A:To be honest, probably not. The reason I say that is, if you have troll mage with activated haste into an arena and get feared, you'll sit there wishing you were undead again. Some racials are better for PvE, others are better for PvP, and they're all meant to be situational.
A:They do want basic balance, though. They don't want to create the sense where, if you're not a particular race, you're doing it wrong.
Q: Thanks for the new tree druid form!
A: Yikes (to boos).
12:36 pm "I can't wait for Cataclysm to come out so I can see all the new places. I play Horde; can we give the Alliance goblins and worgen and we get murlocs?" Audience claps and cheers.
A: Murlocs are special to all of us!
12:36 pm An unhappy paladin. "Thanks, GC, for nerfing paladins over and over and over again."
Paladin threat slightly gimped now. Will Judgment get a guaranteed Holy Power charge, or anything for HP generation? With ret spec, they have more options for generating HP, always a reason to look for that, but prot seems left out in the cold.
A: One big trap we want to avoid with the paladin is keeping Inquisition and (not sure) up at the same time. Too much Holy Power is actually bad for the paladin, too much pressure to play perfectly. Threat should now be comparable to warriors after a fix last week.
A: We also recognize that tanks feel frustrated when they don't have the resources to do their jobs. To that end, one of the things we did was give them a three second Crusader Strike, overall HP generation should actually exceed rets' with that. Talent with Divine Plea, up to three Holy Power with that as well, comparable to warriors' Bloodrage.
Q: Consecration, both a DPS and TPS ability. What was the intention taking that to a one minute cooldown?
A: We wanted Consecration to be more situational -- streaming adds, you want it for that. Once it has a short cooldown, there's no decision there; you just cast it again and cast it again. We want the paladin to decide when to use it.
A: Conscious decision for ret, nerfing passive AoE damage.
12:40 pm Christ, paladin questions! "Zealotry talent: Clashes with both mastery and the Divine Purpose talent. Effectively reduces our Crusader Strikes, and holy power can be wasted. Any plans to evaluate this?"
A: Still looking at it, it is a problem. They don't accept that Zealotry itself is a problem, but if it doesn't feel like it's working correctly they'll fix.
(feed shorts out, sorry guys)
12:42 pm "Been playing a druid since day one and I love it, play all four roles and seen everything, played resto when Innervate as the final talent. Two groups of druids on forums, complaining about the tree change. Not gonna ask about that, can't please everyone. What about Nom Nom Nom?"
A: We actually just made a new minor glyph that'll let you have the old tree form back if you want to be Old Grandma Tree.
We love Nom Nom Nom too, but they told us they had to change it.
Q: Everybody liked Nom Nom Nom!
A: It's an internet trope that's funny now but will get dated and embarrass us in a hurry.
A: Just a temporary fun deal for the alpha, we name stuff silly things temporarily.
12:44 pm "Endgame raids in Cataclysm, doesn't matter what your class can do, skill matters most. But for death knights, I've experienced a lot of prejudice as a tank. People kick me out without knowing how I play. Are you planning anything to make them more viable?"
A: My guild used a death knight tank. Problem with DK's is that people who don't know what they're doing can get to the endgame in a hurry.
A: Consolidating the primary tanking talents into one tree (blood) ensures the tank has a diverse skill set, we think they'll do very well in high-end raiding.
12:45 pm "Feedback loop mechanics: Runic Empowerment, how do you keep that from getting overpowered and then nerfed?"
A: RE has a feedback element to an extent, but they don't think it's going to reach the OPness that warrior abilities did. It's designed the way it is to charge a fully-depleted rune - just helps along the way.
12:47 pm "feral tank jewelery - we're competing against tanks for sub-optimal stats, or DPS for sub-optimal stats."
A: We changed stats on items in Cataclysm to help with this -- you won't be penalized for grabbing a "DPS" ring because there's the same amount of stamina on it. Much less variation, and we assume you will be wearing rogue-style items. Ideally, you don't want "tank stuff" at all anymore, you're tuned around agility.
A lot of people found it hard to gear up a cat and bear spec because they competed against rogues for both.
A: Difficult to have both at a time, yes.
Q: War Stomp in bear form?
A: (looks like no)
12:49 pm Arms warriors! "Were you surprised at how little TPS was for warrior tanking at first on the beta. Tanking in ICC I still have issues with AoE, Rend, Thunder Clap, Rend, Thunder Clap spam to hold against DPS. Any AoE threat mechanic coming beside that?"
A: Numerical bonus on threat modifiers should be the same between beta and live now. Got rid of a lot of passive threat modifiers in DPS talent trees because they weren't interesting. Moved the threat bonus to tanks instead.
Q: What was the thought behind taking Heroic Strike spam away?
A: We got a lot of feedback on HS being boring and being a ticket to carpal tunnel. On next swing didn't work. 3-second cooldown works well, solved all issues.
12:51 pm "Thank you for fixing shadow priests in time for 3.3! I feel like the discipline priest's Power Word: Shield is too powerful right now, too good not to use all the time. Prevents us from using PoM and playing with diverse tools of the priest class. Pw:S too single-minded. Plans?"
A: On live, I think? In beta, it's not sustainable to chain Power Word: Shield everything, but its' not reflected on live currently.
A: A reflection of the spam healing style of Wrath and how we don't want that to show up in Cataclysm. The proactive ability of absorb shields is fantastic. But if entire raid is 2/3 health, you want to heal and not shield. Pw:S won't be as attractive.
3:53 pm "Thank you for killing Heroic Strike spam, I macrod it to everything. As a fury warrior, my DPS rotation got more complex and I love it. What else do you guys have in mind to break up other 2-button rotations?"
A: Raging Blow for high rage situations only. We want to make sure you can use it a lot, and then the rest of time wondering how to get Enraged again for it. Makes it interesting.
12:54 pm Righteous Defense writer "Happy with current implementation of Vengeance? Avoidance streaks are really bad for it."
A: Gearing for survival versus threat has always been a tradeoff. Having that is interesting, but when Vengeance does fall off it feels pretty crappy, so if it gets to the point where tanks are building it then losing it all the time, we'll reexamine.
A: Having a bunch of dodges or parries should not impact you too much, it doesn't fall off quickly, but it also shouldn't be considered necessary. It was really designed to address the cosntant Wrath problem where DPS always got close to tank threat over the course of a fight even if tank was great.
12:56 pm One more question! "Unholy death knights are awesom, frost more fun than it used to be, but feel hamstrung while tanking as blood. I've tanked heroic LK and right now past the patch it feels too clunky. All the runes I can get to do a Rune Strike, it's the only truly high-threat ability I've got."
A: 4.0.3 changes coming for blood dk's and threat generation tools. RS will always be usable in blood presence. Improved Blood Presence will cause all your runes to regenerate 15% faster. Initially designed to allow you to grow into it with haste gear, but ... tanks don't get haste gear.
Q: Rune Strike looks like it was changed to 30 runic power, which worries me a lot, too much to generate straight off. Anything we can get for insta-runic power to RS right off?
A: Keeping an eye on it, if it's too much or you need the resources for it, we'll reevaluate.
GC: You guys will love Cataclysm, it's really fun.
And that's it, folks! I'll go through the blog to make sure it's cleaned up and we'll see you back here again for the general Q&A.