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Posts with tag ion-hazzikostas

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

Warlords of Draenor: Proving Grounds will be required for Heroic Dungeon random queues

Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas, the Lead Encounter Designer for World of Warcraft, has already told us that proving grounds will be updated for Warlords of Draenor. In a move that helps explain why, he dropped some late night news yesterday in the form of dungeon progression information.

In short, if you want to join the dungeon finder queue for level 100 heroic dungeons, you will need to get a silver medal in the proving grounds for the role you want to queue for. That means if you want to heal, your DPS silver medal isn't good enough. You'll need to go back and get it for healing as well. This applies only to the random queue. If you're going straight in with friends, no medal is required. Normal dungeons will not require any proving grounds experience at all, and normal dungeon and scenario gear should be enough to let you queue for the raid finder.

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Filed under: News items, Warlords of Draenor

Patch 5.4.7: Targeted nerfs to Garrosh on 10-man Heroic

Lead Encounter Designer Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas has made a characteristically excellent post on the US forums, detailing targeted nerfs to Garrosh on 10-man Heroic difficulty. Watcher's full post is, as ever, after the break, but the main details are as follows.

There were several encounter mechanics where the numbers scaling for 10-man meant that the difficulty was higher than in 25-man. Watcher particularly notes the interaction between Malice clumps and Iron Star triggering. In 25-man, the Malice groups, a total of six players, were never large enough to trigger the Iron Star, when they inevitably overlapped with Bombardment in the fourth Malice. On 10-player heroic, the Malice clump size of three in total would also trigger an Iron Star in the fourth Malice. Now, in 10 Heroic, the Iron Star trigger clump size is four, bringing it in line with 25 Heroic.

Additionally, Garrosh's health is reduced by around 5%, and Minion of Y'Sharrj health is reduced by 10%. DPS checks for 10 Heroic were causing guilds to try to single-heal the fight, and 25 Heroic players are able to kite the adds while 10 Heroic guilds don't have the spare manpower. These changes show the process Watcher has discussed in the past, specific targeted nerfs, and will bring the two sizes in line. Hit the break for his full post.

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Filed under: Raiding, Mists of Pandaria

Warlords of Draenor: Proving grounds will be updated

As we heard today that Mists challenge modes will be ending at the Warlords of Draenor pre-patch, I wondered what the fate of Proving Grounds might be, as they share the scaling methodology of Challenge Modes, as well as rewarding players with titles, although not mounts or the like. So I asked Lead Encounter Designer Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas:

To first address Watcher's point on Challenge Modes as analogous to Arena, it makes a lot of sense. The focus and structure of the reward and rank system is similar to that of arena, as Watcher points out in a subsequent tweet. Both arena and Challenge Modes reward high-end play on a specific class, and as a result the rewards, rankings and titles for Gladiator or Gold are similarly not account wide. Certainly, the number of rewards given out are markedly different, but the principles are comparable.

Proving Grounds, conversely, do not work the same. While there are titles available, there is no ranking, and they do not offer similar rewards. While Challenge Modes are designed to be challenging content that is for players at their best, Proving Grounds are for learning. This may well make them easier to update for the new systems, as well as the fact that they focus on one spec at a time.

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Filed under: Warlords of Draenor

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.

Read more →

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding

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