Notes from the Blizzard Developer Q&A, No. 4

The fourth round of questions and answers with the Blizzard developers on the official forums just wrapped up: this time the theme was centered around topics including weapons, armor, and overall gear and goodies. As with the last three, you can find the full thread here.

Weapons and armor tend to be pretty controversial topics, so the questions this time around are…uniquely interesting, although the devs picked some good ones to answer. Some of the ones I thought were specifically interesting:

Q: Is there any chance we could have caster weapons involved in casting animations? It would look cool to be holding a staff and casting a spell through it, at least as a customization option. – Dromanthis (NA/ANZ)

A: This is something we would dearly love to do. We agree that melee specs get to see their weapons a lot more often in combat while it’s easy for casters to forget about them. It’s definitely on the list, but understand that we have so many races now (and two sexes for all existing races) that the animations take more time to do right/well.

Okay, I know this one was the first question, but it’s one that I absolutely adore. Clearly one of the things that a lot of people love about other MMOs like Guild Wars, Rift, and even one of the things that less notable free-to-play games like to tout is their beautifully animated casting graphics. In some of those other games, you’ll see runes and symbols appear around the caster while they cast a spell, you’ll see their wand actually glow based on the spec they have or the spell they’re casting, you’ll see different looking spells emerge from their weapons – it can be pretty amazing and jealous-making.

Even so, in almost all cases, it’s one of those things that you love seeing but doesn’t really bring you anything new and interesting to the game. Still, it would be nice to have, and clearly the devs have it on their “want to do” list.

Q: Would it be possible for city quartermasters to sell the same equipment that guards wear? Stats wouldn’t matter. – Pokemonmasta (EU|English), Tajit (NA/ANZ)

A: Cool idea. We’ll talk about it.

Methinks someone just wanted a Night Elf wearing sentinel gear. Seriously – the sentinels were all over the marketing for Vanilla WoW, but that three-bladed weapon they’re seen with just doesn’t exist in the game!

Q: Will enchanters be getting back the ability to make wands? – Trustybee (Taiwan)

A: We have been discussing what role in the game wands are supposed to fill. We generally consider it a failure these days if a caster ever wants to wand for dps instead of using their spells. Working the wand into the cast animation (as in the question above) is one idea. In any event, we want to figure out what we want wands to do before we give them any more prominence.

Now THIS is interesting. While they stopped short of just saying that wands were failure, they did point out that it’s a failure if a caster has to resort to using a wand. That implies that there’s a “wrong way to play” a caster class, and that generally involves running out of mana to the point where you’re out of options to regenerate enough to remain effective. Yeah, that sounds like a pretty solid failure, but not necessarily on the dev side.

Even so, it’s almost like they’re saying wands are pretty much stat sticks that you use early in the game when they’re still effective per level and then afterward you’re so busy using your actual spells and abilities that they’re worthless for anything but a stat boost. I agree – that’s not a good place to be. Let’s see what they choose to do though: it looks like they want to rework how wands factor into the game before doing too much else with them.

Q: Do you have plans to make is so that the tabards don’t suddenly cut off whenever we wear long vestments? – Hôwl (Latin America)

A: This is a technical issue that’s fairly nasty to fix and ultimately trimming the tabard ended up looking better, at least as a short-term solution.

Hah! I used to explain to guildies that I was very sure this was technical and not a design decision – a tabard just moves and waves differently than robes and kilts do – if they tried to layer them on top of one another right now, you’d see – depending on the race, gender, and stance of the character, a tabard sticking out from under robes, or a corner of a kilt sticking out over a tabard while you run. It could be pretty nasty.

Q: Can we see gear won via need rolls become soulbound? – Lorinall (NA/ANZ)

A: Yes. We plan on implementing a system where winning an item via Need (when using the Dungeon Finder Need Before Greed loot system) will make a BoE item soulbound. We hope to have this working for the 4.2 patch.

To expand on that idea in case it’s not obvious, we don’t think players should be able to claim certain loot drops based on their class if their only intent is to sell the item. If you want to use the item yourself, awesome, go ahead and roll Need on it and you’ll get preference over players who can’t use that armor type. But if all you want to do is run to the Auction House, then everyone should have equal dibs.

Finally, finally, finally – a fix for people who roll on epic BoE items just to be able to sell them at inflated AH prices. It’s clear that Blizzard has heard the players loud and clear on this one, now let’s see how well its implemented. At the same time, this will put a dent in some of the high-end profits that some AH fans adore (go raiding with friends who are overgeared, pick up all of the BoE epics, auction them all, deposit profits into guild bank) and some lazy raiders (I have more gold than time, let’s see what purples are on the AH) but overall it’ll be a good change.

And there we have it! This one was a long one, and there were a number of other questions addressed in other Q&As or that yielded very “we want to do this someday” kinds of answers, but it’s clear that the Blizzard devs also play the game the same way we do, and want to see the game improve the same way we do. It’s really refreshing to see.

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