Lots of great questions today, I get to put on my designer hat as well, which I always like.
Let's dive in...
How much time do you spend in WoW? I'm playing about 30 hours a week and I want to know if thats too much or too little.
I'm not an advocate of playing as much as you do, if it's just time in-front of WoW. But I think you need to define just what your playtime is. Here's how it works with me:
For about 6 to 9 hours a week I'll be raiding, spending time infront of my desktop with my headphones on, lights off, just paying attention to the game and what's going on therein. My wife knows this is my gaming time, and that I generally don't like to be disturbed about stuff then -- she gets I'm concentrating on things, and understands that it's no different than if I were at a softball game. It's all good.
For about another 3 to 8 hours or so a week I'll play it on my laptop out in the living room when we're both messing around on your computers while watching TV, etc... I don't have my headphones on, and am much more engaged with her than the game. Am I playing the game then? Well, technically, but it's a very casual and non-demanding activity. I'll always put things down if I need to, and even if it results in me dying (who cares, it's just pixels). I don't do groups during this time since it's not fair to the other players that I have priorities above staying alive in-game.
Am I playing too much? I'm likely logged in for a total of around 20 hours each week. I don't think that's a lot though. Out of that 20 hours, I'm really only paying attention directly for six. Otherwise, WoW is no different than what my wife or anyone else does on Pinterest or Reddit. It's just something to casually mess around with while watching TV.
In your case, Jdax, if you're out there playing with your headphones on for 30 hours a week, then yes, I think that's too much. There's a lot more to life than just the game. But, if you're like me, and are only super dedicated during a fraction of that time, then sure -- not a problem.
I should note that I'm not including time I do things in-game for work, that can vary from an hour to several days worth of time throughout the week, depending on what's going on that I need to help cover.
I haven't seen anything in PTR notes about it, but are they going to convert Valor to JP in 5.2 and make current Valor gear available for JP like they did in Cata tiers? Trying to decide if I should hoard Valor for 5.2 gear, or dump it all into upgrades
They haven't said yet, and Ghostcrawler has even intentionally posted that they've not released the information yet. Stay tuned. I'd guess we should hear something about this in a few weeks time.
I remember reading before MoP came out that Blizzard was doing away with Wintergrasp and Tol Barad, but they're still going on. Did I misread something or did Blizz change their minds about that?
You misread. Blizzard is moving away from the design of WG and TB, but the actual places are still active. In fact, hit them up at 90. They've been upgraded and are kinda fun to do still.
If Blizzard decided to ditch the "holy trinity" of group/dungeon/raid design (tank/heals/dps), would that make future dungeons and raids easier to design or would it be harder? If easier, why haven't they done it yet?
I've been thinking about this myself lately, and in some ways they already have with scenarios. When you think about it a scenario is everyone doing DPS, and then using their 'secondary' abilities to keep themselves and their group-mates alive. That's essentially the new way of non-role specific game design.
Could this design be brought into a 10- or 25-man raiding design? What about a 15-man design, which is what we know they'd like to go with (but are not). It's possible, but probably isn't very likely. The mechanics of such a fight would be too chaotic and not feel more like a grand melee than anything else. Part of the reason tanking is still around is that it creates a predictable element -- most of the damage goes towards the tank. Without that you'd need to design a system where everyone can get damaged, but not enough at random to just kill them, unless they're doing something wrong with their playstyle. That can be possible to do with packs of 3 to 5 monsters, like are fought in scenarios, but it wouldn't scale up well at all when you hit the 10 or 25 monster level. Think about all those mobs running around, how would people tag them and deal with them?
One solution is to have monsters in groups which are then dealt with by a subset of players, and another is to have dedicated agro locked onto each player. But really, that's the only two solutions for multimobs that would work (I feel). If you were just having one mob against a araid of players, then you'd need some mechanic to switch the primary threat target so one player isn't taking all the damage, and there are only a handful of creative ways to deal with that -- which all essentially get down towards a rotation.
What you get in the end with the removal of the holy trinity is a small subset of possible encounter design that, while novel at first, would quickly become mundane. Now the tanking/healing model has this problem too, but there's not really a limit on the things you can do to force a tank to survive, thus creating uniqueness in the encounters (I'm not saying WoW does this perfectly, they don't, but not everything is tank and spank either these days).
This deserves a larger discussion, and is something I think I'll write up in another article. Great question, though!
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