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Posts with tag watcher

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

Siege of Orgrimmar nerfs incoming

Watcher has announced that several bosses in Siege of Orgrimmar will be adjusted starting with next week's raid resets. The affected bosses include Galakras, Thok the Blood Thirsty, Siegecrafter Blackfuse, and Paragons of the Klaxxi on various difficulty levels. Watcher's post is a long one, so check it out behind the break.

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Filed under: News items, 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

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

Watcher explains Heroic Norushen changes

This week, we saw a bit of discussion on Heroic Norushen, and the means by which guilds were defeating him. This led to the decision to make some adjustments to the fight this week. As you might expect, those guilds that had already defeated the boss using the 'brute force' strategy (basically, paring down the healers brought to the fight to a bare minimum and overwhelming the boss with DPS) weren't happy at the prospect of having to go back in next week and relearn the fight, since their approach was made vastly more difficult by the changes.

Now we have Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas' explanation of the changes and why they were made, and it's a pretty interesting read if you're into encounter design and its implementation. Just some selected bits of information from the post:
  • Originally on the PTR Heroic Norushen had a 'draw' mechanic that would have prevented the brute-force method, but it was removed because it had bad effects once gear improved, forcing groups to throttle their DPS.
  • The intent isn't to increase encounter difficulty - the problem isn't that the fight is too easy, it's that people are just skipping the mechanics entirely.
  • Going back to reference the Encounter Design Dev Watercooler, Watcher mentions that "a major factor when it comes to deciding whether to make changes to address an unintended strategy is whether the approach actually involves interesting gameplay." - I think it's fair to say that just throwing DPS at it so you can avoid the mechanics isn't all that interesting.
  • The difference between the changes to Thok this week and Norushen in the upcoming reset are profoundly the difference between a bugfix (Thok was always intended to have Acceleration on all difficulties save Raid Finder, it was simply accidentally turned off on all other difficulties as well as Raid Finder) and a decision to change an encounter to close off an approach that was never intended. That's why Thok was hotfixed immediately, but Norushen is being changed with the server reset so it affects all guilds equally.
For more, you can read Watcher's post here on the forums, and we'll reproduce it in full behind the cut as well.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Bugs, Blizzard, News items, Raiding, 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

Developer Q&A transcript

Developer Q&A transcript
This evening's Developer Chat has concluded, and while there were no earth-shattering announcements hidden within, the chat certainly had its interesting moments. Among the topics of discussion were:
  • The Alliance's role after the siege of Orgimmar
  • Balancing classes in PvP
  • The continuation of reputation-based questlines
  • The possible return of world events
  • The state of Skyclaw and Pierre
  • Class quests
  • ... and more!
You can check out the transcript below the cut. Participating developers were Dave Kosak (Fargo), Ion Hazzikostas (Watcher), Brian Holinka (Desvin), Cory Stockton (Mumper), and Greg Street (Ghostcrawler).

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Filed under: News items, Mists of Pandaria

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

Transmogrifying a Maiev lookalike set

Transmogrifying a Maiev lookalike set THUR
One of the most frequently requested sets for transmogrification has to be the unique look of Maiev Shadowsong. Unfortunately, it's also one that is impossible to duplicate. Although Maiev's armor and weapons are utterly stunning, there are no player equivalents anywhere in game. The only place you can find the armor is on NPCs, and they aren't going to share their wardrobe.

That hasn't stopped players from trying to recreate it, however. And this week we got an email submission from reader Krainz, who managed to put together a surprisingly reminiscent version of Maiev's unique look, using in game armor with the same color palette. Although it's not an exact match by any means, it's close enough that it definitely looks like a Warden outfit. And it was honestly too cool not to share with you all.

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Filed under: Transmogrification

Challenge Mode for Stormstout Brewery enabled in beta

Challenge Mode for Stormstout Brewery enabled in beta
Blizzard Blue Watcher, a.k.a. Lead Encounter Designer Ion Hazzikostas has been back on the forums with his challenge-mode-master hat on. He's delivered the exciting news that the first of the leveling dungeons, Stormstout Brewery, has been enabled on the beta in challenge mode.

Now, you can't just walk into Mordor, and the same applies for challenge modes. You have to be level 90, and you have to have completed Stormstout Brewery at least once on heroic mode. Now, having run Stormstout Brewery a lot of times on normal mode, and a few times on heroic mode, as a healer, I haven't really noticed any big differences. Mostly, the heroic mode tuning seems to be that things which really hurt in normal mode really hurt in heroic mode.

Of course, since I last did the dungeon, it's entirely possible that things could have been changed or added. In the meantime, do check out our walkthrough, 5 things you need to know, and bosses in 5 seconds guides on the Stormstout Brewery if you're planning to check out the challenge mode.

And if you're planning to head straight into the beta with four of your friends after you've read this article, you should know that the barrels are currently bugged. Blizzard are working on a hotfix.

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Filed under: Mists of Pandaria

No nerfs, no lockouts, no consumable restrictions for Challenge Mode dungeons

No nerfs for Challenge Mode dungeons

Blizzard's Lead Encounter Designer Ion Hazzikostas, a.k.a. Watcher, has taken to the forums a few times lately, along with Community Manager Zarhym, to provide clarification on Challenge Modes.

With all the bad air swirling around Blizzard from certain minority groups within the WoW community about catering to casuals, challenge modes are something they seem very keen to stand firm on. When asked if challenge modes would ever be nerfed, Ion replied as follows:


Watcher
If at all feasible, we're not going to be adjusting the content itself. Persistent leaderboards are the backbone of the system, and if we make the dungeon easier, then your 14:13 time last week might actually be more impressive than my 14:05 clear today, but there would be no way of knowing that. It's conceivable that we might adjust the actual Gold/Silver/Bronze cutoff times slightly if it turns out we were badly off the mark with the tuning, but we're pretty confident in our numbers.


Zarhym also weighed in with his own input on the nerf question.

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Challenge mode testing now open on the Mists of Pandaria beta

Challenge mode testing now open on the Mists of Pandaria beta
Game Designer Watcher, gadabout eye of wealth and taste, announced that the Scholomance and Gate of the Setting Sun challenge modes are now available for testing. He also provided some more details about how challenge modes are going to work.

Watcher - Challenge Mode Testing
Yes, just those two dungeons for now.

A few relevant testing notes:
  • You must have completed the Heroic version of the dungeon once in order to attempt the challenge mode.
  • Item level will be normalized to 463.
  • There is no queue system for challenge modes; groups must be formed manually and you must zone in from the outside world.
  • While the challenge is active, the group leader may Reset the dungeon at any time via a drop-down accessible by right-clicking your unit frame.

He then clarified in two additional posts that item level on live will only be normalized down to 463, and not up to 463 from a lower ilevel. Also, challenge modes grant no loot at all, only valor points for completion, and using the challenge mode reset feature does not count against the dungeon reset lockout limit currently in place. So if you're planning on spending a lot of time running challenge modes, these are all details of interest to you.

It's open warfare between Alliance and Horde in Mists of Pandaria, World of Warcraft's next expansion. Jump into five new levels with new talents and class mechanics, try the new monk class, and create a pandaren character to ally with either Horde or Alliance. Look for expansion basics in our Mists FAQ, or dig into our spring press event coverage for more details!

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Mists of Pandaria

Watcher explains gold normalization for Mists of Pandaria dungeon bosses

Gold
Have you ever noticed that the bosses in the oldest dungeons drop much less gold now that they can be soloed? Blizzard Game Designer Watcher says the developers felt the gold drops were too high for the difficulty of the battles, so they nerfed the amount of gold you can loot in dungeons like Magtheridon.

In Mists of Pandaria, rather than retroactively nerfing legacy content, dungeon bosses will drop the same amount of gold per player, regardless of how many players defeat them. So if a boss drops 100g for 25 players, it will drop 20g for 5 players. This change is retroactive for all dungeons from previous content.

The full text of Watcher's clarifications as follows.

Watcher
In general, enemies in raids and dungeons drop significantly more gold than outdoor foes, specifically because we are assuming that the gold is going to be split 5, 10, or 25 ways. As player power rises over time, it obviously becomes possible to complete old content with significantly fewer players, such that the gold rewards become disproportionately high.

In the past, our only solution was to drastically reduce the gold dropped by legacy content across the board (e.g., Magtheridon, much of Karazhan, etc.). In Mists, we have a new system in place that normalizes gold yield based on the number of players involved in the kill. If a Black Temple enemy drops 100 gold today on live, and you kill it with a 25-player raid group in Mists, it'll also drop 100 gold and each player will get 4 gold. If you solo Black Temple, that enemy will also give you 4 gold. If you do it with 4 friends, it'll drop 20 gold and each of you will get 4.

In other words, the gold obtained from killing raid or dungeon creatures no longer depends upon how many people you bring, or do not bring, with you. This system does not apply to anything in the outdoor world.



Watcher
Quote:

If this is the case, will the original gold values of the bosses in Gruul's Lair, Magtheridon's Lair and Karazhan be restored so groups will once again get more gold from the boss than from a single trash mob?

Yes.



It's open warfare between Alliance and Horde in Mists of Pandaria, World of Warcraft's next expansion. Jump into five new levels with new talents and class mechanics, try the new monk class, and create a pandaren character to ally with either Horde or Alliance. Look for expansion basics in our Mists FAQ, or dig into our spring press event coverage for more details!

Filed under: News items, Mists of Pandaria

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