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Posts with tag dev-watercooler

Raid design evolution from Cataclysm to now

Horridon header
Yesterday Lead Game Designer Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas published a fascinating Dev Watercooler blog that discussed the history and evolution of raid design in World of Warcraft. That article was part one of a three-part series, and looked into the way that raiding developed from WoW's original release through to Wrath of the Lich King. In part two, published today, Watcher discusses the ways raid design has changed, and stayed the same, through Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria.

The article focuses primarily on difficulty levels and raiding. Watcher discusses in detail the problems inherent in the "10-man is easier, 25-man is harder" approach, as well as the ways that making 10- and 25-man raiding more equivalent in difficulty led to new problems that hadn't existed before. From there we learn about the origin of both the LFR and Flex raiding options from the perspective of how different raiding difficulties serve different portions of the WoW player population. If you've ever wondered about the thought processes that went into developing the different types of raid systems we see in the game today, this is an excellent article on exactly that.

Check out the full blue post after the break.

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Filed under: Raiding, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

What the Dev Watercooler says about the future of PvE

This week's Dev Watercooler post served up a lot of changes for healers. But just because the article -- and the follow up conversations on Twitter -- is dense with healing talk doesn't mean that the tanks and DPSers out there can just ignore it, because these healing notes offer some tantalizing hints at what PvE group content in Warlords might be like. Of course we're missing a lot of details with Blizzard's bit-by-bit announcements, but we can make some leaps based on what we've been told so far.

We already knew that the game would be changing significantly in Warlords. Stats are being reduced (squished) across the board, but Blizzard has already said that while stats will be going down, your relative power won't -- back in September Ghostcrawler assured us that mobs will still take the same time to kill, even though the numbers involved will be different. And in this update, Blizzard let us know that they're still on track for that relative power idea... that is, unless you're a healer, specifically saying, "we're buffing heals less than we're increasing creature damage."

So just what does this mean for future PvE encounters? Let's take a look.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Warlords of Draenor

Dev Watercooler: Pruning the Gardens of War

We've been waiting for it forever and it's finally here -- Blizzard released the first in a series of Dev Watercoolers discussing Warlords of Draenor. This particular post is about systems changes and the reasons behind them. So what did they reveal this time?
  • The upcoming item squish is detailed, both in terms of the reasoning behind it and the effects it will have. In order to ensure old content will still be soloable, you'll even see a buff implemented when higher level characters clear older content to make them even more powerful by comparison.
  • Base damage on player spells and abilities is being removed - all abilities and damage will scale with spell or attack power.
  • Racial traits are being adjusted - high outliers (like, perhaps, Every Man For Himself) will be reduced in power, while obsolete abilities will be removed entirely.
  • In terms of the ability purge (called 'pruning' here), one big target is Cooldowns. Various classes with multiple cooldowns will see them removed or combined.
  • Crowd Control is seeing a significant overhaul and reduction, with a complete list on the blog post - examples include interrupts no longer having added silences, certain CC's like Cyclone now being dispellable, and all stuns now sharing the same DR.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, Warlords of Draenor

Dev Watercooler: On patch 5.4 class changes

dev watercooler
It's been a little while since we've last seen any Dev Watercoolers, but boy, was this one ever worth the wait. Lead Systems Designer Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street lays out, in reasonable detail, the general thoughts and ideas behind many of the class changes coming in the next WoW patch, starting with Death Knights and going the whole way down the list. Paladins and Hunters especially have a lot of meat to their discussion sections, as Ghostcrawler explains, because many of the changes coming to those classes are relatively complex and require greater explanation to fully understand. Overall, classes and specs facing significant changes are blood DKs, resto druids, all hunter specs, frost mages, mistweaver monks, all paladin specs, combat rogues, affliction warlocks, and protection warriors. In addition, there are many changes to talents and glyphs for all classes and specs.

As a raiding restoration druid, I personally am very happy about a lot of the changes coming our way. Making Nature's Swiftness a base resto ability in particular is a nice return to some Good Ol' Days, and now I'll have to decide whether I want the new Ysera's Gift talent, or Cenarion Ward (for now I'm leaning Cenarion Ward). I also--from the perspective of a resto druid--find the discussion on the state of holy paladins, and the changes coming their way, to be interesting as well. Ghostcrawler talks a bit about the way the developers at Blizzard believe paladin healing should feel, and specifically contrast it against druid healing. Many players have long pointed out how druid healing and paladin healing were basically opposites on a spectrum--the former being primarily pre-emptive, healing over time focused, and the other being primarily reactive, direct healing focused--and it's fascinating to read about the official thoughts on just those differences.

The full blue post is after the break.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items, Mists of Pandaria

Dev Watercooler: Watcher on encounter tuning

Dev Watercooler Watcher on encounter tuning
While it isn't quite the PvP watercooler post that some of you have been looking for, Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas, the Lead Encounter Designer for the World of Warcraft team, published a blog post earlier today regarding encounter mechanics. It offers excellent insight behind various decisions to nerf or buff bosses. He went on to deliver the reasoning behind hotfixes to Heroic Gara'jal earlier in the expansion and how the Ring of Frost talent for mages made Heroic Will of the Emperor easy.

In addition, Ion covered:
  • Creative use of ingame mechanics vs exploits
  • Adjusting the difficulty of encounters
  • Unintended strategies
  • How mages make life difficult for encounter designers
Read on after the cut to see the full post!

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Filed under: Raiding, Mists of Pandaria

Dissecting the Dev Watercooler on PvP

Dissecting the Dev Watercooler on PvP
A few days ago, Blizzard Lead Systems Designer Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street released a very lengthy Dev Watercooler on Mists of Pandaria PvP. Now that the dust has had a chance to settle, we're going to take a look at the blog and its implications for PvP right now. Next time we might look at some of their zany ideas for future PvP!

MMR

MMR, or Match-Making Rating is how teams are matched in rated PvP. MMR is separate from rating, but both are altered when you win or lose against other rated teams. Explaining the difference between the two is a little tricky, but essentially, MMR is how your matches are found. MMR is linked to players and teams, so a player forming a new team will carry some of their MMR with them from previous PvP escapades, in order for them not to face far lower-rated players. Rating is also linked to both players and teams, but doesn't dictate who you face.

Rating is won and lost via winning and losing against teams with better and worse MMRs. Say you're at 1500 MMR and 1500 rating, and you face a team at 1600 MMR and 1600 rating, and you lose. You will only lose a small amount of rating, let's say 5, and they will only gain a small amount, again let's say 5. Both your MMRs will adjust similarly. Now say you beat them. They will lose a big chunk of rating, but likely not such a big chunk of MMR. You, equally, will gain a big chunk of rating, and depending on how many matches you've played, likely gain a reasonable amount of MMR. The MMR is saying "hey these guys beat a 1600 team. They're better than a 1500 MMR".

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Filed under: PvP, Blood Sport (Arena PvP)

Dev Watercooler: Mists of Pandaria PvP

Dev Watercooler Mists of Pandaria PvP
After announcing their intention to do so on Twitter a week or so ago, the developers, headed in this instance by Lead Systems Designer Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street, have posted a Dev Watercooler on Mists of Pandaria PvP.

Ghostcrawler comments on MMR or Matchmaking Rating, as well as class balance, even addressing specific concerns about certain specs. He also provides a sneak peek into new features which are coming up for PvP in the future of Mists of Pandaria.

Hit the break for the full post.

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Filed under: Mists of Pandaria

Dev Watercooler: Mists of Pandaria looting explained

Ghostcrawler is back on the blog with a comprehensive look at how the new loot systems are going to work in Mists of Pandaria. This newest blog post reads like a lesson in loot design and is valuable if you are interested in the development process of these systems. One of the most interesting things to come from the new design is that there will be no rolling on loot in the Raid Finder, eliminating the "callous jerk" problem. The game chooses who gets the loot, not any of the potentially trollish players (not to offend any actual trolls in the raid, taz'dingo, etc.).

While rolling for transmog stuff is definitely an issue when the game decides who gets what, Ghostcrawler flat-out states that Raid Finder is not the place for vying for transmog loot. There are other places for that. This new personal loot system will be used for world bosses as well.

Ghostcrawler also revealed the bonus roll system, where players will be able to earn tokens from various factions in Pandaria to spend on (among other things) a bonus roll when attempting to get loot off of a boss. This system will award tokens through tasks and dailies, giving people who prepare for Raid Finder a bit of an advantage if they choose to spend a token earned. Faction rewards, enchantments, epic items, and factional gear can also be purchased with these tokens.

The valor points system is also undergoing a revamp, with points taking on a new role of upgrading existing gear, but the final system is not really ready for much discussion. And, yes, the explanation for AoE looting is priceless. Hit the jump for the full post.

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Filed under: Blizzard, Mists of Pandaria

Ghostcrawler talks game systems in final Cataclysm post-mortem

Blizzard's Cataclysm post-mortem blog series has seen Dave "Fargo" Kosak discuss quest design and Scott "Daelo" Mercer discuss dungeons and raids; today, Blizzard wraps up the series with a look at Cataclysm's game systems. As with Fargo and Daelo, Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street, WoW's lead systems designer, talks about what worked (the 1-to-60 revamp, choosing a spec at level 10) and what didn't (a long list of other things). GC is surprisingly candid in this particular blog entry, and it's definitely worth a read to get a bead on what Blizzard learned from World of Warcraft's third expansion.

The full interview is after the break.

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Filed under: Blizzard, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria

Ghostcrawler explains stat changes in Mists of Pandaria

As promised, Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street, the Lead Systems Designer for World of Warcraft, has returned to the official WoW blog with an explanation of stat changes in Mists of Pandaria. Here's a quick rundown of some important changes, with the full blue post after the break.

  • Spell resistance is gone, and so is spell penetration.
  • The chance to block will be handled by a separate combat roll for each attack that is not avoided.
  • Resilience will be renamed "Defense (PvP)" or possibly "PvP Defense." All players will have 30% base Defense, the same way all characters have some base Stamina.
  • All spells and abilities will crit for double damage, baseline.
Lots more after the break.

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Dev Watercooler: Ghostcrawler on class roles

With the Mists of Pandaria press event still a month down the road, Lead Systems Designer Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street has posted a new Dev Watercooler to keep us busy. This time, he philosophizes on the role of class roles. He cautions up front that this is not meant to be any sort of announcement or even hint at what's to come in Mists of Pandaria.

But at the same time, the struggle of what to do with class roles is one that's always relevant and ongoing within the game, and that includes Mists of Pandaria. Ghostcrawler gets right into the meat of it with this blog, asking questions and discussing various methods of balance. Do we strive for perfect balance among all DPS specs? Is it fine to leave certain specs with specialties? Should we return to the days of the solid divide between PvP and PvE specs, as it was in the vanilla era? Should each class just have one DPS talent tree? Read on for all of Ghostcrawler's comments.

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Filed under: Blizzard, News items

Dev Watercooler: Faction favoritism

Fargo
Lead Quest Designer Dave "Fargo" Kosak has just posted the latest Dev Watercooler. This time, the topic is faction balance. In the wake of BlizzCon, this perennial topic has flared up pretty brightly. While the devs did indicate they wanted to give the Alliance a bit more good stuff during some panels, some other incidents during and after BlizzCon (including the news that Theramore, one of the most iconic Alliance cities, will be razed to the ground) has left some doubtful, leading to intense debates and 100+ page forum threads on the subject.

The way Kosak explains it, the devs definitely want to make sure that there is faction pride for both sides, and, he argues, while the Alliance may be getting beat up, the Horde has taken its share of lumps too. But in the long run, heroes are not born out of easy times. The Alliance will go through tough times, but it will give heroes the opportunity to arise. The Alliance's time is coming.

One thing he did admit to is that Blizzard needs to do a better job of making sure people can interact with their heroes. He acknowledges that the Alliance may not think of Thrall as theirs or part of their story, and he promises that once Cataclysm as over, we will catch up with other characters.

Whether you agree with all of his reasonings and conclusions or not, it's a good read, and it does prove that Blizzard is hearing us and is at least planning to try to address some of the complaints of faction parity and Thrall overload. Check after the break for the complete text of Kosak's post.

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Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Lore

Ol' Grumpy and the grimoire of gear inflation

Hello again, everybody. I'm Ol' Grumpy. You might remember me from such posts as Ol' Grumpy and the Goblet of Firelands adjustments or Ol' Grumpy's guide to outdated content and you. This time, we're going to be talking about what gear inflation is, how it happens, and why something eventually has to be done about it.

Gear inflation has actually been a concern of mine since about halfway through Wrath of the Lich King's expansion cycle. Back then, it was armor penetration that really set off my gear inflation warning bells, a stat that's since gone the way of the dodo. If you remember ArP, you remember that it start acting extremely weird at higher gear levels and often had to be adjusted and capped to keep it from doing things like reducing target armor into the negative.

In essence, for a brief period after Ulduar dropped, ArP could actually cause your target to have negative armor values so that their damage taken was increased by a percentage instead of just reduced by a percentage. This was very wonky. It was quickly capped and the stat adjusted. But by ICC levels of gear, it was possible again to reach 100% ArP, and doing so was absolutely your best bet as a melee DPS.

Now, let's be honest: Gear inflation is the inevitable by-product of a game where one increases in power via leveling and gaining new gear. It must happen. If you simply look at gear from original World of Warcraft's 1 to 60 game, you'll see that gear steadily increases in power and that raid gear from MC to BWL/AQ and to the now-vanished Naxxramas-40 steadily increases in power. Indeed, Naxx-40 gear was such an upgrade in power that it was roughly as strong as blue drops from level 70 instances. You could raid Karazhan in Naxx-40 gear. The Burning Crusade dealt with gear inflation differently than its successors did because it could.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items, The Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria

Dev Watercooler: Ghostcrawler on balance in patch 4.3

Lead Systems Designer Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street has posted his latest Dev Watercooler, this one explaining the reasoning behind various changes in Patch 4.3. If (like me) you play melee DPS, you may be excited, unless (like me) you play a fury warrior, in which case you'll see those often-repeated words that make your gut clench up yet again. The patch 4.3 PTR notes are up, and here we have a discussion of trends you might be noticing.

The changes made are being done to balance out melee and ranged DPS going forward, to get enhancement shaman to stop using caster weapons and mail (the huge changes to Mental Quickness, for instance) and to use Lava Lash to spread the Flame Shock debuff around in order to simplify enhancement's AOE. Resto shaman also get a bit of a buff, which should be nice for them, while DKs see some quality of life simplifcation.

Overall, the post is worthwhile reading (and the first of more posts to come) to get an idea of where Blizzard is going with design in 4.3.

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Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Priest, Shaman, Death Knight

Dev Watercooler: Rate of change

Lead Systems Designer Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street's newest Dev Watercooler just went live today, discussing all manner of timing and the design process behind updating the game. This Dev Watercooler is perhaps my favorite Ghostcrawler has ever written because it eschews the wrappings of a news post and instead focuses on the actual mechanics and thought processes behind the trials and tribulations of updating and changing such a massive game.

The post starts off with some general technical information about how WoW works based on its client-server relationships and why the game works the way it does. From there, Ghostcrawler begins to discuss different time frames that Blizzard looks to when deciding when and how to update the game. Time frames run the gamut from patches to exploits, which get little to no attention in terms of announcements, and class balance, which mixes parts of expansion announcements and brand new changes that fundamentally alter a class.

If you've ever had an inkling of interest in how game design works and the thought processes that go into keeping a game like WoW running as smoothly as it does, this is the post to read.

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Filed under: Blizzard, Cataclysm

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