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Posts with tag ion-hazzikostas

Warlords of Draenor: Raids will be non-linear wherever possible

Lead Encounter Designer Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas has taken to Twitter to discuss the developers' plans for raid linearity in Warlords of Draenor:

We can see the map for Blackrock Foundry above, and understand what Watcher means with regard to the ICC-esque layout. The circular room at the top is likely to be the room you're looking to unlock by completing wings. And a Firelands-ish layout has much the same effect on raiders. While the world first progression guilds will dislike it, as they thrive on assessing who's behind and who's ahead in the race, they're a tiny percentage of the total raiding playerbase. For the rest of us, it's incredibly frustrating to get stuck on a boss, for whatever reason, and feel like there's nothing you can do but repeatedly throw yourselves at that same encounter.

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Filed under: Raiding, Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor: New Challenge Modes coming, with new rewards

Challenge Mode Entrance
Lovers of Challenge Mode dungeons may have been feeling a little uneasy with all the talk of how 5-mans are going to be a bigger part of WoW again in Warlords of Draenor. Simply because the popular opinion seems to be that Challenge Modes weren't a great replacement for difficult heroic mode dungeons. But fear not, Lead Encounter Designer Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas' tweet will put your fears to bed:


Along with the greater frequency of 5-mans, we'll be seeing new Challenge Modes appear too, and they'll feature new rewards. I'm wondering what the rewards will be -- were the transmog sets and a little Valor enough for players to feel motivated to do Challenge Modes? Or should there be additional rewards for the most tricky of difficulties? Too much good stuff and they become "mandatory", too little and the proposed harder heroics will replace them.

We will have to wait and see what happens to the Mists Challenge Modes. Personally I hope they're scaled up to max level, or altered to reward big chunks of XP, or they will be abandoned forever. Bumped up to level 100, with new gear scaling added, they could continue to be enduring content for Warlords.

Filed under: News items, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Siege of Orgrimmar updating to Warlords-mode raiding in 6.0

Mythic mode raiding will be coming into play a little sooner than previously thought. A tweet by Lead Encounter Designer Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas yesterday confirmed that we will be seeing Warlords-style raiding implemented into the Siege of Orgrimmar raid with patch 6.0. The raid structure in Warlords includes Raid Finder, Normal, and Heroic difficulty all available in Flex-scaling formats. Raid Finder mode as it stands today will still be called Raid Finder mode, however Flexible difficulty will now be called Normal, our version of Normal raiding will be Heroic, and Mythic raiding, a 20-man only format, replaces our Heroic mode as it stands today.


While we knew these changes would be coming in 6.0 via screens shown at BlizzCon 2013, what we didn't know is that this format will be applied to Siege of Orgrimmar, as well as all raids going forward into the new expansion. A later tweet by Hazzikostas pointed out that there will be plenty of advance notice before the change goes live, and there will also be more information on the topic at a later date. Considering we're just now seeing patch 5.4.7 on the PTR, we shouldn't expect Mythic modes to be dropped on us immediately.

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

Ready Check interviews Brian Holinka and Ion Hazzikostas

Eye of C'Thun
This past week the hosts of EU-based podcast Ready Check were lucky enough to go visit Blizzard's offices in Versailles, where they met up with Brian Holinka and Ion Hazzikostas for a lively round of Q&A. The podcast--with attendant full transcript, don't you worry, folks who can't play the podcast--covers a very broad range of topics, and PvPers should be particularly interested in the broad discussion about arenas. Gothiques and Athene bring up some wonderful points about arena queuing, and matching, and the little ways in which the system often results in unexpectedly wasted time, as well as the ways in which not-entirely-honest players can manipulate that system in their favor. Both Holinka and Hazzikostas have insights to offer on these problems, and there's some good back-and-forth about potential solutions and improvements to the existing arena systems.

In addition to the excellent PvP discussions, the interview features some talk of Warlords of Draenor and the future--some of which we've already heard about, but I am so excited for garrisons and a toys tab that I could listen to this stuff all day long. Do you know how many bag spaces I'm going to get back once that toys tab goes live? In the words of the Diablo Templar companion, it will be glorious! There's also some really fun discussion on the philosophy and practice of encounter and mechanics design, and how the WoW team goes about building raids and bosses. This was perhaps my favorite part of the interview, because I am a hopeless PvPer and am much more at home among WoW's raid bosses. In any case, no matter what part of the game you enjoy, there's something in this interview for you. You can check out the full transcript and podcast episode at Ready Check's own website, so make sure to click on over to the whole thing!

Filed under: Podcasting, Interviews, Warlords of Draenor

Tanking mechanics that aren't taunt on X stacks

Lead Encounter Designer Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas has been putting his new Twitter account to good use, keeping players informed of design intent, limits, ideas and more. One recent tweet particularly caught my eye, related as it is to my now-ex main, and a role I miss terribly.

The story behind this is that the taunt at X stacks model, that was so prevalent in Dragon Soul, in Normal Mode difficulty and some heroics, was the thing that made me switch from tank to healer. I even wrote about it, to express my frustration. Commenters at the time thought it was an attempt by Blizzard to make tanking more accessible, and to increase the tanking population. But, for me at least, easy-mode tanking drove me away.

And the "taunt on X stacks" model has far from disappeared as we've moved through Mists. While there have been fights like Will of the Emperor that really demanded a lot from tanks, many others didn't. Stone Guard, while it was another taunt-swap, at least required some more engagement. But there's still far too much of the taunting on X stacks. Writing the Bosses in 5 Seconds guides, I just have to figure out which debuff, and how many stacks for many of the bosses.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding

Lead Encounter Designer Ion Hazzikostas joins Twitter

The latest among the developer team to join Twitter is Lead Encounter Designer Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas, Twitter name @WatcherDev. Ion's principal role on World of Warcraft is, as his title would suggest, overseeing the design of raid and dungeon bosses and encounters. He and his team put together and test all the fights we face, from the most simple dungeon bosses to the hardest heroic encounters.

Ion's been with Blizzard since 2008, prior to which he worked in law as an associate in a Washington, DC-based firm. Since joining Blizzard he's worked not only on raid boss and encounter design, but also on class design and balance, the achievement system, and more. If you want to see more information on what Ion's been up to lately, and in the past, you can rifle through all WoW Insider's articles relating to his famously wordy forum posts! In the meantime, head over and follow him on Twitter.

You can also check out Zarhym's official list of Blizzard employees, fansites and other useful resources on Twitter and other social media.

Filed under: News items

More reassurance on post-squish soloing

Lead Encounter Designer Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas has taken to the forums to reassure players on post-squish soloing. Despite Blizzard's repeated assertions that the squish will do nothing to affect soloing, the message is going unheard by many, so Ion has provided some clarity on just how the downscaling will work for old raids and the like.
Watcher
Quote:
That's great! But I could have sworn solo raiding was frowned upon by Blizzard. Not sure they'll be too worried about keeping it a possibility. Hopefully though.

There's nothing at all wrong with going back and doing legacy raids and other content. The achievement system, cosmetic rewards and titles, and most recently transmogrification all serve to reward that playstyle. There's also a lot to be said for just being able to revisit old locations, for the sake of nostalgia or getting to experience them for the first time, without needing to find a like-minded group. As Rygarius noted, we're committed to making sure that we don't disrupt players' ability to engage in that gameplay.

Without getting into the math, our goal is to make sure that if Kael'thas's Pyroblast does damage equal to 10% of your maximum health today, it will take off no more than 10% of your health post-squish. And if you kill Onyxia in 30 seconds today, you'll be able to kill Onyxia in 30 seconds post-squish.

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Filed under: Raid Guides, Transmogrification, Warlords of Draenor

Siege of Orgrimmar: 14 is not the magic number

WoW Insider posted previously about the changes coming in to reinforce the point that 14 is not some magic number for Siege of Orgrimmar Flex raiding. Lead Encounter Designer Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas has posted on the official forums once again to clarify that the recent hotfixes reinforce that position.

Watcher
You can read the latest hotfix notes here: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/11944164/542_Hotfixes_December_16-12_16_2013

Fun fact: The hotfix has actually been active since just before the weekend, but it didn't get caught in the prior round of hotfix notes. It's no surprise that it went largely unnoticed, since most all of the abilities with actual breakpoints going from 14->15 are things with very minor impact (Protectors' Shadow Word: Bane, Nazgrim's Bonecracker, Hisek's Multi-Shot, etc.). There are indeed a couple of more impactful breakpoints on Garrosh's Touch of Y'Shaarj and Sha of Pride's Imprison, but those both occur at raid sizes well above 14, and randomization isn't the correct solution to either.

The 14-player "magic number" is actually a fairly interesting social dynamic, since there never was anything particularly special about the number, and now there really is objectively no advantage. As we've said in the past, there's certainly nothing wrong with wanting to form a 14-player raid, but if you're turning away strong players or friends because you're convinced that your raid as a whole will have a harder time, you're making a mistake.

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Filed under: News items, Raiding

Flex difficulty smoothing coming soon

Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas has posted today on Flexible raids, and the scaling thereof. As ever, you can read Ion's whole post after the break, but the key points relate to what was discussed at BlizzCon regarding raid scaling. Essentially, the new system will, in most cases, introduce a chance at getting an extra instance of whatever ability. Ion explains this in full after the break, so I'll spare you the repetition, but the exciting news is that, to combat the current issues, it's coming in sooner than the expansion.

There are some misconceptions floating around, particularly in PuG Flex groups, that there are certain break points which make a raid drastically harder. While it is the case that, as Ion notes, certain abilities scale up with hard breaks at certain numbers, the scaling of Flex favors larger groups. The new scaling will do so even more, essentially removing hard breakpoints for raid size.

Hit the break for Ion's full post.

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Filed under: Raiding

Patch 5.4.2: Blizzard's answer to oQueue enters testing [Updated]

It was announced at BlizzCon that Blizzard would be launching a revamped raid finding system, potentially in response to oQueue's huge popularity in finding groups for Flex and for things like the Celestial bosses required for the Legendary cloak. Lead Encounter Designer Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas has posted today about the first tentative steps towards realizing this goal launch of said group finder, namely a rework of the existing Raid Finding tool. The one you haven't ever used. His full posts are, as ever, after the break.

At first, it will just work for Flex raids and World Bosses, meaning that it won't oust oQueue from the game, but it seems likely that Blizzard will expand this technology to the new raids and perhaps even to PvP in 6.0. Right now, on the PTR, there have not been a lot of changes to the existing system. It's still really hard to find -- open up your social pane, then go over to raid, then go to Other Raids, then select the raids you want to do. Celestials, Ordos and Flex are all cross-realm, but the others are not.

Hit the break for Ion's full posts.

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Filed under: Raiding

WoW Source talks Warlords of Draenor, new female Forsaken models

In the latest episode of WoW Source, Morgan Webb sits down with Lead Encounter Designer Ion Hazzikostas, Senior Art Director Chris Robinson, and Game Director Tom Chilton to talk BlizzCon 2013 and the next expansion, Warlords of Draenor. Along with an overview of the various features of Warlords, there's an exclusive look at the new female Forsaken models. Although these are just stills of the character model in progress, they're gorgeous -- and I can't wait to see them in action and live.

Check out the full video for insights and news about BlizzCon 2013, the development of Warlords of Draenor, and more. Those amazing new character models pop up at about thirteen minutes into the video, along with more footage of the other new character models already revealed at BlizzCon 2013.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, BlizzCon

Patch 5.4.2 PTR: Cross-realm Account-Bound mail being tested

Cross-realm zones have been in place for quite some time now, but players have been consistently requesting that the ability to mail cross-realm heirlooms and account-bound items be added as well. While Warlords of Draenor's feature list includes an heirloom tab that should negate the need for mailing heirlooms between servers, that does little to address the feature as it stands right now -- and with many players leveling alts, it's still something players would like to see.

Today Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas announced that the patch 5.4.2 PTR is beginning testing for exactly that feature. This process should allow players to move heirlooms between servers, in advance of the changes already planned for Warlords. The feature should work like any other cross-server communication, in that instead of simply mailing to a character name, you would be mailing to "Charactername-Servername." Note that this feature is only for account-bound items like heirlooms -- mailing gold or other items won't work. Players wanting to test this feature should hop on the patch 5.4.2 PTR and mail account-bound items across servers, reporting any hiccups by bug reports or feedback. For more information, check out the official thread on the forums -- and look forward to being able to chuck your heirlooms to your alts in patch 5.4.2.

Filed under: News items, Mists of Pandaria

Lead Encounter Designer Ion Hazzikostas on Flex Raiding's magic numbers

Lead Encounter Designer Ion Hazzikostas on Flex Raiding's magic numbers
WoW Insider posted yesterday about Flexible Raiding's magic numbers. This was based on a blue-tagged forum post discussing certain breakpoints in Flex encounter scaling, so when your group increases in size, boss health and damage increases. This is just fine, but there are also things that have hard points -- it's not possible for 4.3 adds to be summoned. Lead Encounter Designer Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas has weighed in on the issue (his post continues after the break):
Watcher
Thanks for some excellent feedback so far. Boss mechanics inevitably involve some breakpoints (alas, there's no way for Malkorok to create precisely 3.7 Implosions), and they do need to scale in some form, or abilities only targeting maybe 2 players out of a 25-player Flex raid would make some of those mechanics feel completely trivial and detract from the intended experience and tuning. In general, we try to err on the side of rounding down, and making sure that the ratios are never worse for any group size than they would be for a normal 10- or 25-player raid. Norushen orbs are a great example of a place where that logic doesn't quite work, though, since you actually want more orbs, and not fewer. That's something we can adjust.

[Continued after the break.......]

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Filed under: News items, Raiding

How do we define 'melee friendly'?

How do we define 'melee friendly' nowadays
This week, we got a special treat - Blizzard released a video with Encounter Developer Ion Hazzikostas (who is seriously my secret crush over at Blizz - my trapper keeper is full of little hearts drawn around his name), Production Director J. Allen Brack and Game Director Tom Chilton (they're dreamy too, but Ion's my fave) and it's got a cornucopia of interesting information in it for you all. However, one line of the interview, summed up by our Adam Koebel, caught my eye immediately.

They realize raids need to be more melee friendly in the future and they are working on it, but they feel that Siege of Orgrimmar is one of the most melee friendly raids in recent memory.

When I first saw this line, I chuckled bitterly to myself. Siege is melee friendly? This got me to wondering how we define melee friendly. Is it just the ability for melee players to contribute solid DPS? Because by that standard, Siege has some good fights for melee - the Fallen Protectors, Sha of Pride, Galakras and even Spoils of Pandaria are certainly fights where melee DPS can contribute a good deal of positive damage to an encounter. Phase 1 Garrosh is a place where melee with good cleave potential absolutely shines. So by that standard, a case could absolutely be made that Siege is melee friendly.

Now, in terms of melee staying alive without making the healers hate every single one of them that the raid brings to the party? Siege of Orgrimmar continues in a grand tradition of blowing up the melee. By that standard, SoO is absolutely not melee friendly.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Raiding, Interviews, Mists of Pandaria

Blizzard presents Siege of Orgrimmar raid preview with Ion Hazzikostas


If you've managed to avoid spoilers, then don't read this post over at Blizzard's official site, because it goes into great detail on what the big patch 5.4 raid is all about, complete with commentary with Lead Encounter Designer Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas. If, however, you're like me and you just can't get enough detail on this kind of thing, then here are a few details from the long overview I found particularly interesting. Each and every one of them is a spoiler, so be warned.
  • The first encounter, Immerseus, is one that us old players "may find the fight structure somewhat reminiscent of Viscidus in the Temple of Ahn'Qiraj."
  • The Galakras encounter is rooted in the lore of the Twilight Highlands quests Horde side, and also has that storming the beaches feel to it, with multiple waves of enemies to deal with before the boss himself.
  • When talking about the Dark Shaman encounter, Ion says "The attire for these two wolfriders was inspired by the traditional Warcraft III Shaman unit, and we're excited to be able to give lucky Shaman players a chance to earn that look for themselves by defeating this encounter." He's specifically talking about these.
  • The Spoils of Pandaria encounter isn't a fight with a traditional 'boss' as such, but rather your raid trying to shut down a 'security system' before it overwhelms you.
  • The Garrosh Hellscream encounter is definitely going to hearken back to Pandaria itself - "As Garrosh wields the power of Y'Shaarj-origin of all the sha-players must battle through some of the most memorable locations where the sha manifested in Pandaria"
There's a lot of detail to sift through, so again, if you're the curious type definitely take a look at the post. I'll be scouring it over and over again over the next few days.

Filed under: Blizzard, Raiding, Mists of Pandaria

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