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Posts with tag ion-hazzikostas

Raid design evolution from Cataclysm to now

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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

Blizzard on raid design evolution

Lead Game Designer Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas has written a very extensive blog on the evolution of raid design, the first installment of which went live this morning. In this first part, Watcher covers the history of raiding, from the launch of the game in 2004 all the way through to the end of Icecrown Citadel in 2010.

For many, these were the glory days of raiding and World of Warcraft alike, well, if you believe the forums at least. Watcher talks about the developers' aims to make raiding more accessible, and to improve the gameplay of groups by reducing them in size -- one healer in a group of fifteen healers can't have as big an impact as one healer in a group of five or two. He also discusses the introduction of varying difficulties in raiding, and looks back over all the patches of some of the game's greatest raids.

Hit the break for the full post.

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Filed under: Raiding, The Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria

New WoW Source: PvP and Class Changes

WoW Source has made a return, with Senior PvP Designer Brian Holinka Lead Encounter Designer Ion Hazzikostas, and Lead Class Designer Kris Zierhut. They're talking PvP and Class Design.
  • Diminishing Returns categories have been cut from thirteen to five.
  • Fear's PvP duration has been reduced from eight seconds to five.
  • CC needs reduction, but without it the game would be boring.
  • In WoD every PvP item will have two item levels, e.g. 550 for PvE and 590 for PvP. This will be effective in the world too.
  • We saw an early map and description of Ashran -- looks like a League of Legends style ARAM-esque back-and-forth with other activities around the main central run.
  • There was some more information on Skirmishes, they may drop Conquest gear, and will drop bags containing Honor, Honor gear, or gold.
  • Tanking will not go back to being about Threat
  • Button Bloat has focused on redundant or duplicative abilities
  • Sometimes cutting or simplifying buttons has made class flavor/fantasy better.
  • They do want to give players new things where appropriate, but they need to free up some space to do so.
  • The devs do their best to avoid different spell behaviors in PvP.
  • The devs endeavor to make classes fun to play without affecting their numbers.
  • The devs are listening to feedback and nothing is final.
You can view the video above or on Battle.net.

Filed under: Warlords of Draenor

World Bosses no longer tap to faction

Lead Encounter Designer Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas has posted on Twitter confirming what some players thought was a bug. Several players have noticed that, when an opposing faction group is attacking a world boss, like the Celestials, they are able to hit it and still get loot and credit. Watcher confirmed via Twitter that this was not a bug, and actually a hotfix that went in recently. That hotfix, he also notes, caused the boss health scaling with larger groups to break. This, in turn, has been fixed.

He also later added that this was not just applicable to Timeless Isle bosses, but to all of them. So presumably, that's every boss from Galleon and the Sha of Anger, through Nalak and Oondasta, right to the Celestials, and Ordos.

What this means is just as explained above -- if the opposite faction pulls a boss, you can punch it and still get credit and loot. You'd have to be a little brave or foolhardy to do so alone on a PvP server, unless you're a stealth class, but the opportunity remains. It'll be interesting to see whether this change has an impact on the use of the Raid Finder and oQueue for Celestials groups, or not. Given the convenience of those methods for finding a composed group, I suspect they'll prevail.

Filed under: News items, Raiding, Mists of Pandaria

Dragon Soul LFR changes possible in 6.0

Transmog addicts may have some good news for patch 6.0. When LFR was introduced with Dragon Soul, the last raid in Cataclysm, players flocked to the content and gathered armor and items that had their own unique color schemes. After Mists of Pandaria was introduced, players leveled to 90 -- and the ability to run Dragon Soul on LFR difficulty disappeared. While players can still farm the raid on Normal and Heroic difficulties, the unique color sets released specifically for LFR were no longer available to those max level characters.

This was in part due to the nature of LFR. The only way to raid LFR level content is to queue for it through the raid finder interface -- you can't simply change the dropdown difficulty on a per-character basis, as you can with Normal and Heroic difficulties. Once you've passed the level threshold for Cataclysm content, the option to raid Dragon Soul LFR simply disappears from the raid finder interface. Ordinarily this wouldn't be a problem -- but transmogrification addicts everywhere have been looking for a solution to obtaining those older, uniquely colored items, and Lead Game Designer Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas just tweeted that a solution may be on the way in patch 6.0.

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Filed under: Raiding, Cataclysm, Transmogrification, Warlords of Draenor

Is it time for a dungeon blacklist?


An interesting question was posed recently on Twitter to Ion Hazzikostas: is there going to be a dungeon blacklist option, like there is with PvP battlegrounds?

For those unaware -- when you queue up for a random PvP battleground you can pick two battlegrounds that you don't want to do. The system honors those blacklist selections and you won't be placed in those matches. This is very useful for days when you constantly get Arathi Basin (like I do all the time).

The idea of applying this to dungeons is interesting, and one that I think has some merit to it. When running dungeons there's always a few that no one likes to do, or at least that's the perceived opinion. I'm thinking of things like Heroic Deadmines. There were points in there that were a virtually guaranteed wipe in a PuG. And this expansion I'm not a fan of the Stormstout Brewery... it can just be so long at points, with someone always getting stuck behind the doors for the big bad rabbit of carrot death.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Watcher on changes to raid soloing in patch 6.0

If you're like me, you do a lot of older instances for transmog gear, and as such fights like Thorim are exceedingly irksome because they can only be soloed with certain classes or professions (a death knight or hunter using a pet, an engineer with a target dummy, and some good luck on getting through the gauntlet fast) due to mechanics that you can't really outgear. Now Watcher comes with news about not just the annoying Thorim fight, but this tweet about Valithria Dreamwalker as well.

As a warrior who put together my Shadowmourne via running ICC 25 this past year, I hated Dreamwalker, the fight I had no chance of soloing and no way to get around. Making it skippable would at least allow me to kill Arthas for transmog loot and not force me to stop after clearing two wings. It's an excellent change and one I hope they get in.


Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items

Watcher on health and healing changes in Warlords of Draenor

If you remember after the last Dev Watercooler, there was a flurry of activity on Twitter as Celestalon and Holinka answered questions. This time Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas has taken to social media to answer questions and explain what's up. We're collecting his tweets here, to give folks a chance to see what he's got to say about the big changes coming to health and healing mechanics in Warlords. There's more after the jump.

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Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Priest, Shaman, News items, Monk, Warlords of Draenor

Gear requirements for leveling dungeons to be removed

It's one of the weird artifacts of content being moved from current to a legacy role - players queue for dungeons in the dungeon finder as they're leveling up, only to find that the dungeons have a gear requirement that they don't meet. With the speed that heirlooms and guild bonuses can bring, it's easy to find yourself level 83 and unable to enter any Cataclysm five mans because you don't meet the gear requirements (something because of those heirlooms) and it can be very annoying. But now, there's good news - Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas recently responded to the idea that those gear requirements could be removed with the stat squish with an affirmative.


This would be a very positive change in my opinion - it was easier for me to just level via quests than it was to try and queue for Cata dungeons when leveling up my tauren. Not that I miss all the dungeons we had back then, but it would have been nice to see a few places.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor: Flex scaling to 30 "still on the table"

I'm one of those people who hates leaving people on the bench. I hate it when I have to step out myself, hut I hate it even more when someone else sits for me - it just irritates me. So I'm very interested in this tweet from Ion "Watcher" Hazzkostas. When asked if the idea of flexible raiding going up to 30 people, he responded:

This makes me very excited, especially with the change to Mythic raiding (20 man total cap) meaning that some current 25 man groups are going to have to bench players once they make the step into Mythic - I do, however, hope a little downward flexibility is also introduced at some point to allow 10 player raids to progress when that one key player is unavailable.

I'd like to see this change actually get implemented - here's hoping we get it by Warlords of Draenor release.


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

Things we know about the level 90 character boost

There's a lot of confusion about the upcoming level 90 character boost and how it's going to work. While we won't know the final form of the service until it's been rolled out, it's been active on the PTR for a while now, so we can draw some conclusions based on how it's working there. Of course, the usual caveats apply - none of this is set in stone, it's the PTR, things can change.
  1. You cannot apply the 90 boost to a level 90 (and presumably above) character. So don't worry about that happening.
  2. You can apply the boost to an existing character on your account, or you can create a new level 1 character at the time you apply the boost.
  3. If you boost an existing character who is at or above level 60, you get a Veteran's Bonus that boosts your professions to 600. You won't have to go back to level them, which is nice.
  4. You pick a specialization during the process, which informs the starter gear you get.
  5. You do not have to apply the boost immediately upon purchase. If it is not applied, there's an icon on your selection screen that tells you it's ready to be applied.
  6. Until the boost process is completed, you cannot log in that character. This seems common sense to me, but it's still worth mentioning.
  7. We still don't know how much it's going to cost, but recent statements during last week's press event make it seem likely that it will be at the $60 we saw briefly.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Warlords of Draenor

Blizzard "planning on simplifying our currency structure" in Warlords

I've talked before about the need to simplify currency going forward, and I'm far from the only one. Now it appears Blizzard agrees - Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas' made that very clear on twitter recently.

Clearly this topic came up during this interview with PC Games N, which emphasized a bit more the idea of the complexity of current currency systems. The bonus roll system currently in play in Mists of Pandaria was mentioned as an alternative to valor. "We think we can take the bonus rolls system and make it a little bit more intelligent, so that it tries to avoid giving you duplicate loots - and allow that to be the way players counteract bad RNG. It removes a little bit of the grind and a little bit of the awkwardness of the current valor system."

While no announcement has been made yet about how Blizzard will streamline its currency, it's good to know they're aware of and focused on the issue.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Interviews, Warlords of Draenor

Ion Hazzikostas explains level 90 boost pricing

WoW Insider posted last week about the level 90 boost that appeared momentarily on live servers during maintenance, and now Eurogamer has had the chance to discuss it with Lead Encounter Designer Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas. Ion had this to say:
We realised as soon as we came out with Warlords of Draenor boost to 90, we knew that there was going to be demand for more than 1. It's tremendously awkward to tell someone that you should buy two copies of the expansion just to get a second 90. That's odd. So we knew at that point we were going to have to offer it as a separate service.
When pressed on the price, he responded as follows:
In terms of the pricing, honestly a big part of that is not wanting to devalue the accomplishment of levelling. If our goal here was to sell as many boosts as possible, we could halve the price or more than that - make it $10 or something. And then hardly anyone would ever level a character again.

But levelling is something that takes dozens if not over 100 hours in many cases and people have put serious time and effort into that, and we don't want to diminish that.I am not an economist, I'm not the one setting the dollar value myself, but it's not the profit maximising price. That was not our aim here.
Ion's explanations make sense, but it does not alter the fact that $60 is a huge amount of money, more than almost anyone ever thought the service would cost. Ion's interview with Eurogamer certainly implies although doesn't confirm that the $60 price point is correct, or at least was intentional at the time.

[Thanks for the tip, silvertongue0!]

Filed under: Blizzard, Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor: Ion Hazzikostas video interview

We already posted one interview with Watcher (Ion Hazzikostas) this weekend, but he also did this video interview with the German language website Buffed.de, and he covers a lot of details not found in the previous interview. So what does Watcher have to say?
  • Level 100 talents are being designed around the idea that one talent can/should be different things to different specs, and this philosophy is being used in redesigning other talent tiers as well. He uses the example of the mage level 75 tier and says they've discussed taking all three of the current talents and making it one talent, which gives you one of the three spells (Nether Tempest, Living Bomb or Frost Bomb) based on spec.
  • The difficulty of Mists of Pandaria heroics was hampered by the decision to not have max level normal mode dungeons, but Warlords will have level 100 normal and heroic dungeons, and LFR in Warlords will not require gear from heroics, just normals. If players want an involved, cooperative challenge, heroic five mans will be more of this.
  • Challenge modes will see one change -- doing the random daily challenge mode quest will automatically give you one epic for completing the quest -- this gear will be as good as or perhaps better than LFR, even before LFR opens, so you can gear up via challenge modes.
  • Highmaul is 'very similar to Firelands' in layout - an open area with several nonlinear bosses that you can clear or skip, and two final bosses that must be completed, while Blackrock Foundry is a three wing dungeon that you can clear in any order you wish.
  • "Gul'dan is not the threat... and he might even be an ally against the Iron Horde."
  • Sha of Anger was the most successful world boss of Mists of Pandaria in terms of the difficulty and experience, and other world bosses didn't quite work out as planned.
There's actually a lot more, so head on over to Buffed.de and check out the video for yourself.

(Thanks to Adam, Julian and Mintie for tips and Susanne Braun for correction)

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

Ion Hazzikostas press tour interview with Battlenet.pl

As part of this week's press junkets, Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas (who I may or may not have a shrine to in my office) conducted this interview with Polish fansite Battlenet.pl. There's quite a few interesting details to pour over here. Some standouts I noticed:
  • We're going to see world bosses again, including one described as a giant ancestor of the gronn named a Fomor, with powers over earth and stone. I'm surprised it's named Fomor and not Grom, but the name's mythologically sound enough. I find myself wondering if they're big enough to build a town in, like that dude up there.
  • The first raid open (about a week after Warlords launch) is Highmaul, an ogre raid open in Nagrand. Blackrock Foundry will open a few weeks after that, and LFR will be gated as it was in Mists of Pandaria.
  • We're not fighting Garrosh in Warlords. "Garrosh will be around but I don't think... we have really no plans to fight Garrosh again. That's the fight the players have already had and they have won. I don't think there's really much appetite for Garrosh to be a boss you face off again."
  • Ion mentioned the linear aspect of raiding as the biggest down side of raid design in Mists of Pandaria and that they're hoping to make raids less linear in Warlords.
It's a very informative interview, so head over to Battlenet.pl and take a long read for yourself.

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

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