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Posts with tag encounter

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

25-man raids have harder challenges and better rewards on Asian realms

Difficulty level Asian

The European raiding team Method had a chance to interview Ion Hazzikostas, World of Warcraft's Lead Encounter Designer. Most of the discussion centered around the recently released item upgrade system that came in patch 5.1. One of the more interesting tidbits is how item rewards and raids are slightly different in Asia compared to the European and North American regions.

Ion Hazzikostas

How does the upgrading system work on the Asian servers? From what I have seen their items are upgradable not 2, but 4 times. Won't this result in a problem while tuning the bosses of the next content?

Ion: The way it works in Asia, we actually use the upgrade system to create the distinction between 10 player and 25 player that we previously announced for 5.1. So in Korea, Taiwan and China, when you kill a boss in 25 player mode, it drops an item that is already 2/4. So instead of 496, it drops as 504 but can be upgraded 2 more times, so effectively they are 8 ilvls higher but you are still only upgrading any item twice. The other thing that is changed in 5.1, is actually that all 25 player bosses have 8% more health and do 8% more damage, than they do in the US or Europe. It is a bit more like the Wrath of the Lich King system, where 25man is just harder and drops higher item level loot but in theory doing 25 player with 25 player loot in Asia should be the same as doing 25 with 25 loot in Europe/US.

Items that drop in 10-man raids have 0/2 upgrades. Items that drop in 25 man raids have 2/4 upgrades. This is similar to the Wrath of the Lich King model of rewards. Blizzard has already stressed that Asian realms aren't used as "experimental realms" for possible system changes in other regions around the world. In other words, it isn't likely that we'll see these types of reward systems in place anytime soon. But it's an interesting solution to the whole 10 man vs 25 man raiding issue and logistics incentives.

The interview dove into other topics such as:

  • Brawler's Guild
  • Dominance Offensive
  • Current raiding discussion

To those of you who play on Asian realms, we'd love to hear from you regarding your raiding experiences and this reward structure. 25-man raids seems to be the dominant raiding format compared to 10-man raids in that region.

Mists of Pandaria is here! The level cap has been raised to 90, many players have returned to Azeroth, and pet battles are taking the world by storm. Keep an eye out for all of the latest news, and check out our comprehensive guide to Mists of Pandaria for everything you'll ever need to know.

Filed under: News items

Breakfast Topic: Have you spotted your own game design ideas in game?

This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the AOL guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

Back around the time Wrath of the Lich King launched, a fan site ran a "Design a Raid Encounter" contest. Since I had gotten through a good portion of the first tier of raid content by then, I figured that I had all kinds of wonderful ideas and took my pen to paper. I conjured up an encounter with the Titan's personal blacksmith as a one-off raid like Sartharion or Malygos. I scribbled room layouts on scraps of paper I had at my desk and thought up some particularly nasty mechanics that involved managing stacking buffs and debuffs based around molten slag. To top things off, I gave the boss a few construct adds that would be activated at certain health percentages in order to try to prevent straight burns.

A few months later, I was in Ulduar and saw Ignis with his golem adds, and I was hit with a wave of déjà vu. A similar situation arose when I first saw how Karsh Steelbender's fight went down. Did I channel some sort of developer mojo, or was this some sort of crazy coincidence?

I'd like to think that after playing the game as long as I have, as well as an additional 10 or so years of pen-and-paper RPGs, I'm bound to come to some of the same conclusions as the developers. I'm certain that I'm not the only one who's had his flights of fancy materialize in game content and that it will happen again.

What have you seen pulled from your imagination end up in game?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Guest Posts

Cataclysm Beta: Handling Blackwing Descent's Omnotron defense system

Hey look, it's the Tron defense system! It is one of the initial roadblocks your raid will encounter in Blackwing Descent. These four golems will prevent you from advancing further until you neutralize all of them. This raid instance can be found on top of Blackrock Mountain. It's sandwiched between Burning Steppes and Searing Gorge.

Read on to find out more about what to expect!

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding

Breakfast Topic: Most tense encounter phase

My guild has been steadily working working on the Lich King encounter on 25-player mode for several weeks now. We've managed to gradually chip away and gain some meaningful progress on the Defile and Twin Val'kyr phase. If it were just Defile, it wouldn't be a problem. Likewise, if there were only Val'kyr to worry about, we'd ace it easily. But combined, they present quite the interesting challenge. It isn't exactly the most enjoyable part of the encounter for me as a healer. After taking him down in the 10s, I can say the phase where all the spirits are flying around and waiting to explode on some player is enough to keep me on my toes, as well. The last boss I remember really holding my breath on would be the final phase when tackling Yogg-Saron. I suppose my best theory on that would be the longer I've worked on a boss, the more tense and focused I would get.

Other encounters?

There was one specific phase during the Illidan fight that kept me on my toes. The veterans of the game might remember the second phase where Illidan took to the air and impaled his war glaives on the ground, which summoned two fire elementals. They had to be tanked at a certain distance and a certain angle; otherwise, the elementals would completely fry the raid.

Archimonde had the same effect on me. Can you guess which part? It was when players were thrown in the air and had to rely on Tears of the Goddess to safely land. I cheated and Levitated.

A more recent encounter would have been Sindragosa. Every time she pulls players towards her and lights up an explosion, I get a little uptight. Someone seems to get hit.

What about you? Which parts of a fight cause your back to straighten and your fingers to hold that mouse with a firmer grip?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Raiding

The Daily Quest: Guild switching

We here at are on a Daily Quest to bring you interesting, informative and entertaining WoW-related links from around the blogosphere.

Filed under: Hunter, Items, Virtual selves, Guilds, Raiding, The Daily Quest

Updated PTR Crusader's Coliseum testing schedule

Lead Encounter Designer Scott Mercer, a.k.a. Daelo, posted an updated testing schedule for the Crusader's Coliseum on the Patch 3.2 PTR today. The good news is that EU players get to try another set of bosses -- this time the Faction Champions. The bad news is that the US PTR instance servers are still broken following last night's aborted testing attempt. Not good.

The updated schedule is as follows, with Daelo's full post after the jump:

Here's the current schedule for Trial of the Crusader PTR testing:

On the European test realms:

Faction Champions - Saturday Night, July 11, starting at 19:00 CEST.

The issues that were preventing raid testing on the North American PTRs are still not fully resolved. We're looking into alternative means of enabling testing on these realms. I'll update this thread when I have more information.

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Patch 3.2: Argent Coliseum raid story and encounters (SPOILERS)

There's been a lot of speculation as to what Patch 3.2's new raid instance, the Argent Coliseum, will contain. We got a taste of what bosses we might fight a little while back when the 3.2 PTR launched and some Achievement information was datamined, but I've taken it all one step further.

As with my previous post on the 5-man content in the Coliseum, I've datamined a ton of information from the PTR game files, including NPC and spell data (another massive thanks to Boubouille of MMO-Champion for his help), to determine not only who we're facing up against (for sure), but how exactly the encounters will go down once we've gotten our epicly-clad heinies into the octagon Coliseum.

The same disclaimer as last time applies. The encounters could change at any time, datamining isn't an exact science, I could be misinterpreting files, etc, etc. But I'm pretty solid on what I've written down, and anything I'm speculating on will be noted as such.

Any spell or ability listed in this guide will likely be a random rank, given the spell database's knack for throwing me 10-man and 25-man spells in the same area! Don't assume that the damage values are accurate until you get killed by them!


Ready? Let's go!

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Patch 3.2: Argent Coliseum 5-man story and encounters (SPOILERS)

Okay, gonna say this right now.

This article is so full of spoilers you'll think you're in a movie with Paul Walker and Vin Diesel. The Argent Coliseum will be so spoiled that its parents bought it a car before it could drive. There will be less mystery to the Argent Coliseum than in M. Night Shyamalan's "The Village."

There. So. Thanks to Boubouille of MMO-Champion's help, I've spent the past few days digging through the spell and NPC data in patch 3.2's current PTR game files, slogging through thousands of new entries to find out how exactly the new encounters in the Argent Coliseum will be like (and who they'll be!). Well, I've been mostly successful in that regard, and I'm prepared to spoil about 90% of the Coliseum's encounters for you. But that's not all! This latest PTR patch was also kind enough to provide me with a ton of sound files related to the Coliseum and its set of instances, which has given me a very firm insight into what happens around the encounters. This particular article will focus on the 5-man instance.

Basic caveats apply: The encounters could change at any time, datamining isn't an exact science, I could be misinterpreting files, etc, etc. But I'm pretty solid on what I've written down, and anything I'm speculating on will be noted as such.

Any spell or ability listed in this guide will likely be a random rank, given the spell database's knack for throwing me 10-man and 25-man spells in the same area! Don't assume that the damage values are accurate for your favored raid size!

Remember, BIG SPOILERS AFTER THE JUMP. But if you can't contain yourself, then go right ahead, dear readers. Let's go down the rabbit hole.

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Filed under: Patches, Instances, Lore

Ulduar on the 3.1 PTR: Kologarn

Intrepid 3.1 PTR reporter Michael Sacco here, reporting for duty and giving you the skinny on all that Ulduar has to offer you. The developers have allowed players into Ulduar to test some encounters, usually one at a time, and they've been steadily gathering feedback each night. Prior to this engagement, the boss that was up was Flame Leviathan, but we've seen him a few times already. I was ready for something new.

Flame Leviathan may give me guns, but I want to go to the gun show. What do you say, Blizzard? How about you give me a boss who exercises his right to bear arms?

Kologarn? Why yes. This will do. This will do nicely. Let me grab Matt "Matticus" Low and my other, less important coworker Alex Ziebart.

This writeup will be spoiler-heavy. If you don't wish to know anything about this or any Ulduar boss, don't click the link below. You've been warned.

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Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Wrath of the Lich King

Ulduar on the 3.1 PTR: Ignis the Furnace Master

Coming back to my post as official 3.1 PTR raid reporter after an offensive usurping by my dubiously sentient coworker Alex Ziebart, it's time for a new roundup of tonight's PTR Ulduar testing events. Last night we got a taste of the Flame Leviathan fight, which brought us motorcycles and tanks and floating pyrite containers, but tonight ... tonight we got a taste of a good, old-fashion player vs. comically gigantic dude raid encounter with Ignis, the Furnace Master.

Matt "Matticus" Low, the aforementioned plantlike Mr. Ziebart, and I formed a 10-man raid. As usual, Lead Encounter Designer Scott Mercer, a.k.a. Daelo, was around for the fun. Making travel considerably easier was last night's addition of a teleporter to different areas of the dungeon. Our trip past the large gate guarding the end of the Iron Concourse to the Colossal Forge was instant and uneventful. Then we waited for our barrel-chested braid-bearded friend to spawn.

This writeup will be spoiler-heavy. If you don't wish to know anything about this fight, don't click below. You've been warned.

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Ulduar on the 3.1 PTR: The Iron Council

Last night was round 2 of the Ulduar encounter testing on the 3.1 PTR, and after last night's attempts at Hodir, my guildies and waste-of-a-raid-spot coworker were excited to get back into the beautiful Titan dinner party and sink our teeth into another new encounter.

And if we wanted a snack, we got ourselves a three-course meal: The Iron Council, a veritable Three's Company of dudes made of metal. Except Three's Company really had one dude in it regularly, and the other two were women. And none of the Iron Councilmen are Councilwomen. Clearly Iron society is not as progressive as ours.

As expected, the server couldn't be convinced to just let us get in and do what we needed to do, so we spent an inordinately long time logging in, stalling at the loading screen, getting in, crashing out, getting stuck in queue, swearing loudly in Ventrilo, and getting alcohol to ease the pain.

But we did manage to try the fight a few times.

This writeup is spoiler-heavy! If you don't wish to know anything about the strategy for this or any Ulduar boss, don't click below. You've been warned.

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Datamined Ulduar boss information, with analysis

Yes, yes, we know you're curious about what the Ulduar boss encounters will be like, loyal readers. With 14 bosses, 11 hard modes, and an optional heroic boss, we wonder, too! We'll be able to test some of these encounters on the 3.1 PTR soon, but there are, of course, those of us who just can't wait to know anything about what's going on in Ulduar.

Luckily, ever-resourceful players and dataminers have acquired information about spells and abilities related to bosses in Ulduar from the 3.1 PTR files. There's a lot of of stuff in here -- some of it may make it into the live game, some may not, and some may be related to vehicles or other sundries involved with encounters. I'm going to go into detailed analysis of those encounters for which detailed spells exist.

It goes without saying that these will be huge spoilers to anyone who doesn't want their Ulduar experience to be anything but pure, so don't read past the jump if you don't want to know!

Read more →

Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Wrath of the Lich King

Breakfast Topic: Favorite Fight

Hakkar from Zul'GurubThere are a lot of interesting encounters throughout Azeroth, but some seem to be more memorable than others.  Certain raid bosses will always inspire players to gather around the corpse to take screenshots and display their accomplishment, but sometimes smaller encounters are more intense and exciting.  One of my favorites must be the fight on the top of the temple in Zul'Ferak, where you look down to see a mass of trolls grouping up at the bottom of the stairs - and knowing you're going to need to fight through all of them to escape.  What's the one fight you most remember?  An instance or a wandering elite?  Or maybe even a PvP kill - let's hear about them!

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

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