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Posts with tag devs

How much transparency do you want?

It's come up time and again, and it's always an issue that's fascinated me -- how much information on how World of Warcraft is designed do we actually want? Some of us would be bored to tears by a technical discussion of the whys and wherefores of a design decision, while others would be absolutely fascinated by it. I'm sure no one's forgotten about the era of the 'Ghostcrawler experiment' and the sharp rise of communication from the game's developers. Today we have quite a bit of communication from people like Brian Holinka, Chadd Nervig, Ion Hazzikostas, Owen Landgren and others. I've always felt that it was a very good thing overall for the game to have that channel, with the devs taking time to explain design changes and what they mean. The question becomes, how useful is it to you, and how effective is it in getting players to understand the why behind changes?

Frankly, I think we all know that for every player who reads and absorbs dev interaction in the spirit in which it is meant, there's another who uses it simply as an excuse to blame said person for ruining the game. This goes back to before the time when devs were the ones delivering the news, mind you. I remember the days of Tseric, and the way the forums made him the villain in their self-generated narrative.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items

Gamescom Raid Q&A with the Devs: Nerfs, the raid finder and more

Gamescom Raid and Dungeons Q&A with the Devs
You may have spotted Monday's post on how to design a raid, which was the first half of the Gamescom 2012 Raids and Dungeons round table with Ion Hazzikostas and John Lagrave. The second half of the Round Table was a Q&A session in which many interesting questions were asked, shedding light on some hot issues as well as simply providing a little more insight into the Blizzard Encounter Design Team's creative processes.

Again, these aren't verbatim quotations from Ion and John, as I simply can't write that fast, but the overall statements are accurate representations of their responses.

Are there any encounters Blizzard have had to alter or leave out due to technical constraints?

There was a boss leading up to the Lich King who you had to heal (Valithria Dreamwalker), and that was a huge challenge for their existing technology. If you think about it, Ion explained, up to that point, every healing spell in the game was designed to be cast on a friendly target, that is to say, a player. So the devs were faced with the task of reworking every healing spell in the game. They didn't want players to only be able to use certain spells on her, as that would have been bad, so they redid every healing spell. The technical team changed the game's design so that the boss basically became a raid team member. Ion and John explained that it's all about working out creative ways to implement the designers' ideas.

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Filed under: Raiding, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria

Ask the Devs Round 11 answers your healing questions

Ask the Devs Round 11 focuses on healer and healer-related topics, as Blizzard wraps up this format of questions and answers. Blizzard gave some long and detailed answers for healers this time around, ranging from topics about the nature of the changed healing game in Cataclysm to the choices healers must make in terms of which heal to use in 5-man content versus raid content. The devs also made an interesting remark about a radical new type of healing class that could appear in a later expansion -- a radically different type of healer that might bring back players who have become burned out on the role.

As a raider, I think the best answer came for the question about raid healing being hard for healers and why it sometimes feels like damage is unhealable. The devs commented that raids are not meant to be unhealable, and in most circumstances when the fight seems unhealable, players might be taking the wrong approach to the mechanics. Translated: It might not always be the healer's fault.

Check out all of the questions and answers after the jump.

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Filed under: Blizzard, Cataclysm

Ask the Devs scrapped, new Q&A coming soon

Ask the Devs, Blizzard's question and answer series with the developers from topics ranging from tanking, raiding, guild advancement, and more, will be coming to an end after the final role-oriented feature on healing.

Criticism for Ask the Devs was occasionally harsh. Players submitted questions and then voted on which questions would be answered by the developers. Blizzard acknowledged that this system did not work as they had intended and will most likely be changing the format to meet the needs of the question and answer format.

Bashiok took to the forums to discuss why Ask the Devs hadn't panned out for Blizzard the way they would have liked. Much like many of the arguments against the format, Bashiok agreed that the popularity-based scheduled Q&A system was not something that provided the developers with the best questions, nor the best questions that had salient answers. In this tricky business of game design, sometimes asking the right question is more important then the answer you get. Bashiok assures the community that something new is in the works and up his sleeves, and I eagerly await the new and improved Q&A format.

Hit the jump for Bashiok's full post on the Ask the Devs feature.

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Filed under: Blizzard

Ask the Devs Round 9 mitigates your tanking questions

Ask the Devs is back for Round 9, which deals with the most awesome role in WoW ever -- tanking. Of course, coming from a tank, that might be a bit biased -- but deal with it, healers and DPSers. I've got creatures to keep from punching you in your squishy little faces.

Of note this time around is Blizzard's tough time dealing with tanks wanting threat stats (hit and expertise) and the current struggle with making it work. Currently, in cutting-edge content, threat stats are pretty good for initial aggro, but over time, Vengeance does its job admirably and keeps bosses on tanks with relative ease. I think that design decision is hitting the sweet spot, but it begs the question of why even have the threat stats in the first place?

Blizzard also discussed the mastery bonuses for each tank. The devs feel that death knights and druids are doing pretty well, all things considered, and that paladins and warriors have a similar problem in "capping" mastery, but that paladins are more susceptible to problems. There is still the sentiment in the community that Blizzard needs to add its own visual threat meters or some type of aggro status, but there is a reluctance on Blizzard's part to clutter up its own default UI -- understandable, but this may potentially be a part of Blizzard's forthcoming (but not discussed) "how to tank" solution.

Buried in this discussion, however, was a little tidbit about patch 4.3. Blizzard states that the design for the patch 4.2 legendary, Dragonwrath, has wide appeal to a number of staff-wielding ranged DPS classes. However, it then mentions the "patch 4.3 legendary" and its more narrow appeal. Will we be seeing a tanking legendary in the near future, or potentially another healer item? We do know for sure that it will not be as widespread, class-wise, as Dragonwrath, so we can only sit back and assume. What is interesting, though, is that patch 4.3 also looks to be a raid tier and not a patch 4.1-style dungeon content update. Could patch 4.3 be bringing us the War of the Ancients raid that we have been eagerly anticipating, especially with the return of Nozdormu and his crazy time antics? Only time (heh) will tell.

Also, don't expect a new tanking class any time soon. Hit the jump for the full question and answer session.

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Filed under: Blizzard, Cataclysm

Blizzard to focus on battlegrounds more

Ghostcrawler has posted a little paragraph on the forums, reaffirming something we've already heard from Blizzard: that in the past, they've spent more time on Arenas to the detriment of battlegrounds, and that battlegrounds are going to be gaining a little more focus in the future. They've already started, actually, with the Isle of Conquest in 3.2, but GC says there's even more on the table, and that future plans will be revealed at BlizzCon.

He also brings up another good point, however: in terms of class balance, Arenas are a much more striking example of imbalances than battlegrounds are. Battlegrounds have all sorts of things going on, and so you don't get as good a picture of just how the different classes work with and against each other as you do in Arenas. And so, if you're a dev trying to figure out class balances, of course you'll spend more time looking at the Arena gameplay than the BGs. GC also says that the majority of issues in BGs tend to be map-based rather than class imbalances, which is really a whole other science. Not that BGs aren't relevant to how the classes work, just that there are many more variables in there than the relative vacuum chamber of Arenas.

All good points. I'm a fan of battlegrounds much more than Arenas, but I don't particularly feel that Blizzard has ignored them necessarily. The real problem, to my mind, with BGs is simply how faction imbalanced they are: it seems like on every realm in every given BG, one side always seems to have the upper hand, for whatever reason. Sometimes it's a population problem, sometimes it's a map issue. But GC is right: those problems are more pressing than class balance in the BGs.

Filed under: Horde, Alliance, Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Blizzard, PvP, Classes, Battlegrounds, Arena

World first of "Alone in the Darkness" a possible exploit

We reported last week that a guild named Exodus on the US realm of Ysondre had come out of nowhere to topple the world first of the Heroic: Alone in the Darkness achievement, which requires that you bring down the biggest bad currently in the game, Yogg-Saron, with no help from any of the Keepers in Ulduar. But not so fast, says Serennia over at WoWRiot -- over on their forums Ensidia is claiming that Exodus used an exploit, and that their kill doesn't count at all. Apparently, having Thorim help on the fight keeps the "Immortal Guardians" in the last phase of the fight from being a problem, and without Thorim, you have to not only do the fight without his extra 10% damage bonus (each Keeper ups your DPS that much), but you have to deal with the Guardians messing up your melee classes, and oh yeah: they both heal and get healed by Yogg. Not that it's impossible to do it, but it's definitely not easy, and Ensidia claims that Exodus found a known exploit that allows you to evade the Guardians out completely, thus turning the last phase into a straight tank-and-spank, obviously much easier.

After that, it gets into some guild back and forth (Ensidia apparently did something that might have been an exploit on Hodir, and when people call them out on that, they say that the exploits were different -- Ensidia's tactic was just an interesting use of game mechanics, while the exploit Exodus is suspected of using is more of a cheat), but the fact remains that Exodus is clearly not a guild that anyone expected to clear what might be the toughest raiding achievement in the game before anyone else, and yet that's exactly what they did. Ensidia says they won't be killing Yogg for the achievement using the exploit, and that they've reported the Exodus kill to the devs, so we'll have to see if the devs decide that Exodus did cheat, or if they let Exodus keep their achievements and mounts. We're not sure how much it all matters, with world first kills not being all that important any more (and that's exactly what the devs might say as well), but Ensidia is claiming that an exploit took place -- we'll have to see if that turns out to be true.

Thanks, Nimrod!

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Guilds, Blizzard, Raiding, Bosses, Forums

Class Q&A: Shaman questions answered


The first answer post from the class Q&A series is up! 6:30 PM on a Tuesday night is not exactly when I expected this to drop, but I'm not complaining, and neither are most shamans, I expect. 4,400 words from the devs answering the community's questions is always nice. I've summarized the major points below; my summary may seem long, but it is only 20% of the original post.

As of Wrath, the goal is for all three Shaman trees to be viable in end-game raiding, and for Shaman DPS to be not necessarily quite as high as pure classes, but close; the goal is that "no raid worth its salt would turn down" any shaman out of concerns that the class is underpowered.

They do think Shamans are a bit underpowered in PvP, especially smaller Arenas, and view that as a problem. They mention particularly wanting to improve Shaman performance on 2v2s.

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Filed under: Shaman, News items

Face the developers on the PTR tonight


Tonight from 4:00 p.m. PDT / 7:00 p.m. EDT until 6:30 p.m. PDT / 9:30 p.m. EDT the Blizzard developers will be on the PTR facing off against players in Battlegrounds and in Arenas.

The developer's home will be Alliance on Broxigar (PvE), however the Patch 3.1.2 PTR servers are all linked together for PvP Arenas and Battlegrounds, so you'll be able to face them no matter where you are.

We've previously covered some of these events, and you can see results in our gallery below. There is no word if the infamous Ghostcrawler will be making an appearance. But I suggest all you disgruntled <insert your class here> show up and hope for the best. After all, he promised you a pony and you didn't get it.

Filed under: News items, PvP

The pros and cons of raid IDs

Freya recently posted a plea on the forums: Please, Blizzard, get rid of raid IDs. Raid IDs were put in the game as a way to make sure the best loot in the game didn't flow freely: rather than just running endgame raids over and over (and over), Blizzard put a hold on just how much one player can run them. If you get saved to a raid ID, you're usually out of that raid until things reset on Tuesdays.

But there are lots of issues -- at this point, agrees Zarhym, it's too easy to get saved to a raid. It's lame to jump in on a PuG where you do one boss and then the group breaks up for the rest of the week, and it's even lamer to have your raid ID ninja'ed by a few folks who decide they want to disband the group early. The mechanic is important to keep around, though -- if you think it's too easy to get endgame gear now, just think what things would be like if people could run Naxx or OS daily or even hourly.

But the actual saving is an issue, and one that the developers are working on -- they're planning on making it so that you would only be saved to an instanced when it's partially or even completely cleared (though that too would likely spread a little more loot around than wanted -- people would run the instance until the last boss and reset it to do it all over again). We'll have to see how this pans out.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Blizzard, Instances, Raiding, NPCs

Kaplan to speak at the Game Developers Conference

Jeffrey Kaplan (also known as Tigole) is scheduled to speak at this years Game Developers Conference, which should prove to be really, really interesting for us WoW players. The conference is aimed at sharing knowledge among game developers, and Kaplan's panel is aimed at discussing World of Warcraft's questing system, as well as how gameplay has an effect on lore and story.

As someone who regularly geeks out about the lore of Warcraft, it disappoints me that I can't be there to listen to it in person. Gameplay always has a really large effect on how the lore of a video game world is allowed to play out (especially in MMOs) but a lot of those constraints have been overcome with the advances made in Wrath of the Lich King. The things they've done to overcome those issues largely come from Tigole's team of developers.

I very much hope that transcripts of GDC's panels find their way to the web shortly after the conference. One of my favorite parts of BlizzCon and BlizzCast is the somewhat behind the scenes look into the process, and the philosophy that goes into how and why Blizzard does what they do. This pretty much sounds right up my alley, and I know a lot of you have expressed the same sentiment each time a new BlizzCast has gone live. I'll definitely be watching for any transcripts that pop up.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Events, Blizzard

Guild Achievements may be incoming to WoW in the future

For those of you who group, raid, and otherwise hang out with your guild, here's some pretty cool news for you. Tigole has said over on the Beta Suggestion Forms that the dev team is very interested in the idea of guild achievements, and does plan to visit them in the future.

It's a small tidbit, but it's enough to get the old wheels turning. The most obvious achievements will probably revolve around dungeons and raids. Get X% of your guild through a certain dungeon, perhaps, or finish the dungeon in an all-guild group. We might also see accomplishments for getting a certain amount of guild members their tier sets or legendary weapons.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, News items, Expansions, Raiding, Achievements

Do the developers' personal preferences affect class balance issues?


Reader Paul wrote in this afternoon because he was curious about the WoW community's views regarding class balance issues and how they are handled by developers.

He feels that people become very emotional about the topic, and points out that developers are people too, and proposes that their feelings play a major role in how the classes are balanced.

Considering how many developers there are, I highly doubt that changes are implemented that don't support the vision of the entire group. Of course people have preferences and feelings, and that can never be fully separated from anything we do, but it is important to keep in mind that the developers are paid professionals working together, not alone.

Their jobs depend on balancing the classes as much as possible, and I doubt any one of them is going to risk their (awesome) job just to try to give their class a boost. In addition, even if one or two developers favor Boomkin, the rest have other favorites and are not about to let any one class get out of hand.

Personally, I think it is the players who become too sensitive or worked up about class balance issues in testing phases. Changes are made just so the developers can see the effects on a broader scale to give them a better idea of where and how things need to be tweaked.

How do you feel about this issue? Do you think that a developer's personal preferences and feelings have a strong impact on class balance issues? If so, how? I'm interested to hear the opinions of the community, and I know Paul is too.

Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Expansions, Classes, Wrath of the Lich King, Forums

Forum Post of the Day: How do you like DEM clams?


I love it when an amusing blue response to a forum post crops up, and this one made my day.

Earlier in the week, Ghostcrawler made a light-hearted and funny little post mimicking a Beta tester testing a talent tree that includes such gems as "Clever Banter" and "Sarcastic Yet Suspiciously Unfunny."

At the end of it, she announced that clams are becoming stackable items in order to cheer us all up.

As good-natured as all forum-goers are, the jokes surfaced about how amazing this change is, how it's going to crash the clam market, and how Blizzard is clearly pandering to casuals again.

In response, Ghostcrawler wrote up the product of a fictitious emergency developers meeting, held with the goal of bringing clam-related things to do for the hardcore.

I actually laughed out loud: this one is not to be missed.

Filed under: Humor, Wrath of the Lich King, Forums, Forum Post of the Day

Rob Pardo to keynote at the Paris Game Developers Conference

Blizzard's Rob Pardo, Senior Vice President of Game Design, has been recruited to keynote the Paris GDC this summer, which will take place on June 23rd and 24th at the at the Coeur Défense Convention Centre in Paris. He'll participate in a Q&A session in which he will discuss his inspirations and challenges, as well as Blizzard's future plans.

The official press release should appear soon on the Paris GDC site.

The Paris GDC will be taking place a few days before Blizzard's World Wide Invitational in the same city. We're expecting a lot of choice WoTLK news to drop there, but certainly, Pardo may say something juicy ahead of time at the Paris GDC, and we'll be sure to find out if he does.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Worldwide Invitational

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