WoW Discussion

A Breakdown of the 9/18 Blizzard Developer Q&A

Typically Blizzard will get its head developers together to perform some Q&A sessions in multiple formats before an expansion is released.  Before MoP we have seen a few, the most recent on Reddit.  On September 18, 2012 Blizzard Developers participated in another Q&A with players on Best Buy’s forums.  Many of the questions asked of course were the same questions that keep getting asked, why do you change shamans to do this, why can’t warriors do this, why do you hate the players, why do you cater to casuals; you know the usual sky is falling type items.  There were a few however that raised an eyebrow and made me want to dive into them a bit more.  So below is some of the questions that were asked, along with the responses by Blizzard and my commentary on their responses.

Were Orges ever thought of as a playalbe race, at one time?

GhostCrawler: Yep. We considered them for Cataclysm instead of goblins. Figuring out the females and the two-headed mages would be (fun!) challenges. Maybe someday.

Ogres would be a great race, but since goblins were used instead, the question now comes down to who else would we get, I know people would love to have Naga as a playable race.  I would think Naga would be more Horde at this point, pretty sure the Night Elves wouldn’t want anything to do with them, leaving the Ogres to be Alliance.

Is there any plans to allow players to have more then one Death Knight per server?

GhostCrawler: We agree that it feels like an antiquated rule at this point. We’ll see how hard it is to remove that restriction.

If this is the case, I wonder if we would also see perhaps allowing people to create “almost” max level characters?  they had this feature for testing purposes in MoP beta, so its not too far fetched to say, that if a person has say 3 chars at max level, maybe they can create a max level alt, where the max level for them is from the previous expansion, so if you are playing MoP, you create an alt Hunter, it can be level 85, assuming you already have 3 chars at max level.  Just a thought.

What  exactly (If you can answer without spoiling the story line!) has turned Garrosh Hellscream into the monster we all hate now?

Dave Kosak: Garrosh is not a monster. He has a very clear vision of the Horde, and the future of the orcs, and he gives very little thought to anyone who stands between him and that future. As he gets more powerful, and gets away with more, his vision becomes clearer. This has put him in conflict in the Alliance, and ultimately will cause problems within the Horde.

So Garrosh is just an ass, he isn’t being tainted by fel energy like others are saying he is just a warmonger.  Put away the tinfoil hats people, some orcs just want to watch the world burn.

Will there be an appearance of the Burning Legion in the end of MoP?

Dave Kosak: The threat of the Burning Legion is still out there, and it’s very much a threat to Azeroth. The mortal races are mostly focused on the current war, but not everyone has forgotten about what’s out there and the challenges to come… Wrathion, in particular, is already trying to look ahead.

OK now you can break out the tinfoil hats, so thats not a yes, but not a no.  So Wrathion is going to be looking ahead at the Burning Legion, so possible next expansion we see them, and Wrathion’s story helps to bring us up to that story of re-engaging with them?  Seems like a strong possibility.

Where is N’Zoth? He was mentioned at Blizzcon, then was talked about in Dragon Soul. What is going on with him?!

Dave Kosak: N’zoth is still lurking. The Titans couldn’t defeat it… maybe someday we’ll get our chance? Don’t expect to hear anything about him in Pandaria, though!

So possible, old god & burning legion expansion for after Mists.  OK I can get behind that.

When will we see Sargeras?

Dave Kosak: Sargeras would be one monstrous raid boss! He’s one of the most iconic, key villains of the franchise. Believe me, when he comes to Azeroth, you’re going to feel it LONG before he even gets there.

So Wrathion is looking ahead to the Burning Legion (possibly), sounds like we will see them in maybe a next expansion, so Sargeras coming to Azeroth would be right in line there.  I’ll buy it, Sargeras final bad guy in the expansion after Mists of Pandaria.

I am wondering about the incentives to 25 man raiding. This game is a social game so why does it seem that 25 man guilds are dying off and raids are going down to 10 mans. Paragon recently posted that they were going to 10 man. Is there any other way to fix it so that people are drawn to do 25 mans because they want to raid with friends and get the good gear?

IonHazzikostas: In Paragon’s specific case, I suspect they’d find no lack of capable people more than willing to raid with them, but maintaining a Finnish-speaking roster is a core part of their guild culture, and they’ve made what was no doubt a very difficult decision to scale down to 10-player raiding rather than compromise that culture. As I noted in the Reddit AMA, ultimately there are heavier logistical burdens, particularly placed on the officers and raid leaders, in sustaining a 25-player roster versus only needing 10 players. We’re actively discussing ways of ensuring that 25-player raiders feel properly incentivized and rewarded without necessarily elevating one raid size over the other. We definitely welcome ongoing community discussion and feedback on that topic.

Greg just said on twitter that the 25s versus 10s situation was handled in the AMA a lot, but nothing came from that apart from an understanding that 25s do have it harder now and could use some more compensation, Don’t you have concrete plans for that, more than the tiny bit of extra loot 25s will have? The issue will only get even more pronounced the next weeks during progression.

Ion Hazzikostas: It’s something we discuss frequently internally. We don’t have anything final to announce just yet, but we love 25-player raiding and intend to do what we can to preserve it.

Nobody I know is impressed with the promise of an extra piece of loot for normal 25 mans. What we would be impressed with is separate realm first achievements for each raid format. Any chance of seeing something like this?

Ion Hazzikostas: To Guest-261 Possibly. On several servers that have one top 25-player guild that’s far above the rest of the server in progression, that might turn into incentivizing them to split up the week after their 25-player Realm First to snag the 10-player one. Not sure that’s great gameplay for anyone. That said, we recognize that there’s interest in making it a bit easier to distinguish between 10-player and 25-player kills in statistics or achievements.

Ok, I am going to be the one to ask the dreaded question, mainly because my guild members know that I continue to fight for them and have asked me to still chase this question. 25 mans – GC you have said it would be a good topic for a Watercooler, which is good, and recent tweets say not enough is being done for them.The only change we know about is the loot change and that is onl 1 item different for Normals from the majority of Cata which, excuse the sentiment here, seems a little underwhelmin…

GhostCrawler: Sadly, we don’t have any details to announce yet, but we have a couple of ideas that should make the 25 players happy. We’ll talk about them when we’re confident that they are good ideas. Remember, the result can’t be that all the 10 players stampede back to 25.

OK so Blizzard knows incentivizing 25s needs to happen, maybe even distinguishing them a bit more from 10s, without killing off 10s.  These responses won’t make anyone in the 25 player raiding community happy I don’t think, as they have no answer.  Personally for me, I just like being able to scale up or down for my guild depending on the attendance without having to start from scratch each time we do so.

Any chance we will see the option to upgrade out current legendary to be maybe not the equal to the current ilvl but maybe raid finder ilvl or just a little below so that they are not just taking up space in out banks, or bags in the case of Dragonwrath.

GhostCrawler: Not sure we would let you upgrade a legendary, but we could potentially allow you to transmog them. Our reluctance has always been that Thunderfuy feels less special when you see 30 of them running around AV.

Legendary Transmogrification is still on the table, not there yet, but at least its still on the table for Blizzard.  This would make a lot of people with legendaries very  happy.

Will you guys decrease the experience needed from 88-89 and 89-90 or increase the experience gained in Townlong Steppes and Dread Wastes before release? At the moment you can NOT hit Level 89 if you start with Level 88 and 0% experience in Townlong Steppes (~10% experience missing) and also Level 90 is impossible with Dread Wastes quests only (~5% experience missing). These are datas with the 10% experience guild perk and yes, I’ve got both zone completed achievements.

Cory Stockton: We are still actively tuning the XP. We will look into it.

I sure hope they do, this seems a bit broken, especially less than a week before Mists of Pandaria hits, change those numbers Blizz, some of us have a race to 90 to get involved in!

It seems like PVP never gets much attention from the devlopers during these type of events. As a hardcore lover of PVP and the many people that are in my guild, we have really gotten frustrated, bored, etc with how PVP is handled. Will you guys ever be implanting anything like how LFR system works. Were there will be healers on each side, for a better chance of your team succeeding? I don’t know about anyone else but I really hate being on my side with 0 healers and the horde have 4 in E…

Greg Street: Our BG queueing system was built a long time ago. Since that time we’ve engineered the much more powerful system that we use for Dungeon Finder and Raid Finder. We’d now like to reengineer that system to work for BG queues as well, which would give us the ability to better balance healers, item levels, and perhaps even premade vs. PUG. No promises, but it’s something we’re working on.

Improved battleground queue system in the works, I may actually want to PUG into battlegrounds again.  Though one of the last times I was in there with my holy paladin, I was told healing was worthless in battlegrounds, which just caused a facepalm moment for me.  But I am looking forward to this change whenever it happens, I think it would be great to balance out some Battlegrounds to some extent.

Have you thought about implementing zones or battlegrounds where players are normalized by level, similar to the gear level normalization in the upcoming challenge mode dungeons? This could allow players to quest or PVP with lower-level friends, and it could be fun to see a trio of level 20s take down a level 90.

Dave Kosak: This is a tremendous question, because it’s something we’ve been talking about and exploring. With Challenge Modes, we now have tech to scale your item level, so that we can guarantee the right level of difficulty. Having this tech opens lots of doors for us down the line. We don’t have anything to announce, but it’s a step toward a lot of the features you’re describing.

This is interesting, making things even more even and focus purely on skill for PVP.  This could be interesting, however you of course will have some folks say then what is the point in grinding out better gear.  Depending on how this is implemented it could be good or bad.  Limit it to tournaments or challenge brackets and I think it would go over pretty well.

The Theramore event was a little…underwhelming. Developers have previously stated they spent more time on the content in Pandaria than the Theramore event. Will we see more diversity and excitement in the scenarios in Pandaria?

Dave Kosak: There’s a LOT of diversity in the scenarios. For example. there’s a monkey pirate island where you’re running around fetching up brew and fighting randomized bosses, and other insanity. We really tried to experiement with some different mechanics, and we got bolder as development continued.

No, they are going to make them all boring as crap!  Who lets these people ask the questions, can we get a better filter next time.  Of course there is going to be diversity in scenarios, I mean Monkey Pirate Island, that sounds awesome!  Lets do it!  Monkey Pirates, thats about as diverse as you come.

The story of Tides of War is really interesting. I don’t think players can get engaged if they have no idea what’s happening though–the bomb dropping is really anticlimactic. I felt a bit disappointed that so little got included in the scenario. Was this because of lack of time of developers, or because you rather keep all that info in the novels.

DaveKosak: I’ve been watching the Theramore feedback closely, and this comment seems pretty universal. We tried to keep everything all in the scenario, to make it really self-contained, but not burden it with lots of story that you have to slog through every time you played the scenario. It’s pretty clear from the feedback that people wanted more story. We should’ve surrounded the scenarios with more quests or explanations to help round out the story for the people who wanted to know what exactly was happening. Lesson learned!

Are we going to get more story-telling in scenarios? The Theramore scenario was lackluster compared to the book and key story elements haven’t even been address in-game yet.(Kirin Tor leader)

Dave Kosak: I addressed this earlier, but keep in mind that we want scenarios to be replayable. We definitely didn’t want to burden them with tons of story that you have to wade through every time you play it. As I said for Theramore, people obviously wanted more context, which probably was best served by some one-time quests on either end of the scenario. That’s a lesson we’re pulling forward. 🙂

OK so Blizzard learned from the mistake with Theramore that they needed maybe some lead in quests, more story around why we are even doing this.  Going forward it sounds like they are taking care of that.  Of course I am sure that won’t stop the whining right now, but glad to see Blizzard owned up to the lack of story around the scenario itself and is addressing it for future scenario content, hopefully that also means existing scenarios that are launching with MoP on the 25th.

Are we going to have the ability to remove players who dc or log off from scenario groups and add in new players from the queue?

Cory Stockton: Not at launch but we hope to have it in for the 5.1 patch. We understand the concern.

Well this could be problematic, you queue up for a Scenario, I assume it will be somewhat challenging at first when you hit 90, someone disconnects and you can’t requeue?  Hopefully there is no deserter debuff.

Compared to designing dungeons, how difficult is it to design scenarios? Does it take more or less resources to make scenarios?

GhostCrawler: The biggest challenge for us was just figuring out what scenarios should be. How long should they last? Should they be hard? How much variability should they have from run to run? Now that we’ve gone through that process, they should take much less time to design than dungeons. The biggest time expenditure on dungeons is the amazing art that goes into them.

So what I am reading here, is there is a pretty good chance that Blizzard can churn out scenarios faster than dungeons.  This is potentially a huge deal considering we have gone 9 months without any new content in Cataclysm, so churning out a few scenarios between large patches could help satiate the community.

When will transmog rules be loosened up a little? Main hand/one hand weapons, for instance.

GhostCrawler: If I had to guess, we will loosen them at some point. We would probably wait until some time after the MoP launch when players will appreciate it more. It’s easy for smaller features to get lost when there is so much new content. The designers will discuss it soon ™.

Well this is good news, I have some awesome models of axes or maces I would love to use but have to use a sword for a sword is kind of disappointing.  Loosening the rules would allow players to customize their look even further, if hunters can do it, we should be allowed to.

With the creation of the farms at Halfhill, the base structure for player and guild housing has subsequently been created as well. Is this the direction you have chosen to go with for player housing or was this even considered as an option? One very good point about this option is that multiple locations for housing can be placed throughout the game world, preventing the issue of removing players from the world.

Cory Stockton: It’s certainly a baby step in that direction. We are really excited to see how players react to it in Mists. We already have lots of ideas on how we can expand this kind of content in the future too!

Dave Kosak: Regarding DeathFish’s question (Love the name, Deathfish!) when we think about things like player-housing, we really want to look at how this can contribute to gameplay. The farm is awesome because it ties into a lot of systems, it creates some fun crafting opportunities, it impacts the economy, etc. It’s a great experiment for us because if it’s popular, it gives us a lot of data into how to create this type of content in the future.

Before everyone freaks out over player housing.  Lets focus on the word Cory used, “baby step”.  This isn’t a move in the direction housing for players, its simply a piece of technology they can use to maybe one day, if they feel like it, and the stars align, and they can afford to not create dungeons, scenarios and raids to work on it.  Don’t expect player housing anytime soon, but if you are gung ho about player housing you better use this new tech, else they will see it as players’ disinterest and they won’t pursue it at all, and by pursue I mean they won’t have high level discussions about it.

Would say that the new challenge mode dungeon gold times are going to be the “Gladiator” equivalent of PVE?

Ion Hazzikostas: That would be our hope. Seeing someone sporting a set of challenge mode armor in town should be akin to seeing someone on a Gladiator mount — you know they did something extremely skillful to earn it, and it’s not the sort of reward you can outgear and obtain later on.

Cory Stockton: That’s probably a pretty close comparison. Beyond gold times we will have server and guild leaderboards too. That’s probably where the highest level of competition will be.

Server leaderboards are awesome, Guild leaderboards are tremendous!  Being able to size up folks in your guild, love the competition aspect of it.  I am really digging it.  My guild in particular will look at achievement point ladder in our guild, and it gets competitive at times.  This will continue to promote that amongst my guildies.

In Pandaria, will we see another 9 month period without new content?

Cory Stockton: We are doing everything within our power to avoid this. We all feel that 9 months without content is pretty much unacceptable to our players. A glimmer of hope: we are already knee deep into both patch 5.1 and 5.2. Our plan is to deliver these much faster than anyone is expecting.

I am not so much worried about the time between patch 5.0.5, 5.1 and 5.2 its really the time between 5.2 and 6.0.  Thats where the time always drags out, it was like that from Wrath to Cataclysm, then from Cataclysm to MoP.  I honestly do not see a concern around wait times for content patches during the expansion its when those are done and we are waiting for the next expansion is the real issue.

Question from Munich, Germany. As the Octoberfest here and Brewfest in WoW are coming up, I wondered whether anyone at Blizzard did “field research” for designing Brewfest at the real Octoberfest ? The costumes and music are done really well.

Cory Stockton: We do field research on Brewfest every Friday. 🙂

Well its official we drive the Blizzard developers to drink, I hope you are all proud of yourselves.

I assume I ask this question on behalf of thousands of vanilla WoW fans: Do you ever plan on bringing back “Server-wide” Events? An example would be the Opening of AQ, which allowed the entire server to collaborate their efforts. An event of the same theory would be an incredible experience for all players to witness. It was incredibly rewarding when the whole server gathered enough materials for the opening ceremony!

Dave Kosak: From the standpoint of, “Everyone gather at the same place at the same time to see a big event and if you miss it its gone forever assuming you all don’t crash the server,” then no, no more events like that. 🙂 BUT, we love the feeling of server progression, similar to the Isle of Quel’denas. Is there a way to build that progression into the game such that players who come in a couple months later don’t miss out on all the fun? We think there is. And we’re planning something that we’d like to try in the 5.0 patch cycle… so stay tuned! [No guarantees here, but we’re actively tinkering with something.]

Interesting, a potential server-wide event, that won’t require everyone to be in the same place like the gates of AQ.  Obviously they have said no guarantees, but I personally loved seeing how my server stacked up with others, and seeing the whole community work together.  Very much looking forward to whatever Blizzard has planned for us.

So there you have it, thats what I think on some of the most interesting items that were brought up in the recent Blizzard DEV Q&A, what are your thoughts on these?

Full Q&A located here


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