Posts Tagged ‘blue post’

Notes from the Blizzard Developer Q&A, No. 6

The sixth round of the Ask the Devs Q&A chats have finally been posted over at the official blog, and the answers are pretty interesting. If you didn’t know already, this round focuses around the topic of guild advancement. As always, I’ll highlight some questions I think are particularly interesting from the roundup – not everything. For the full transcript, head over to the blog and check it out!

Without any further ado:

Q: The guild perks system makes it unnaturally hard to start a new guild, since a guild without all perks is at an obvious disadvantage in recruitment. In addition, it rewards just recruiting random people (who might only care about the perks) to get guild XP. What are your thoughts on this? Will it be addressed? – Lolisa [Europe, English], Mith [North America]

A: We knew when we decided to add guild features for Cataclysm that this was one of the risks. If the guild perks and rewards aren’t interesting, then there is no motivation to join a guild or work to improve your guild. On the other hand if they are too powerful, then you feel shackled to your old guild, even if it’s not a healthy relationship for you. We were careful to only choose perks that didn’t contribute to player power, and we let you keep any rewards you earn if you ever have to leave your guild. The perks are nice, no doubt, but you’re going to have less fun in an established guild of jerks than you would starting your own guild with fewer perks.

We don’t think recruiting random people is healthy for a guild. Rewards are never going to be a substitute for strong social ties. We really encourage as many people as possible to seek out guilds (and we hope the new Guild Finder will help with that), but joining a guild at random will likely end in tears.

On the other hand, there may be some benefit to having less churn on starting guilds. Before Cataclysm, some guilds would get started halfheartedly and then crumble again after a few weeks or months. Maintaining an active guild asks a lot of the guild master and leading officers. If you join an established guild in Cataclysm, hopefully it will continue to be around for awhile. But because of reputation, even brand new guilds may seem like a more serious option than they were before Cataclysm, since the founders of the guild know that anyone interested is likely looking for a long-term home and are not just hopping from guild to guild.

This is a good one, and something that’s been on my mind for a while now – makes sense it’s the first question. Honestly, the questioner does have a good point – some people just won’t join a guild without the perks, but I have to agree with the devs that in most cases, people won’t stick to a cruddy guild because they have the perks, and people won’t skip over a great guild without perks for a bad guild that has them. Still, I could see this being tweaked a bit over time.

Q: Are you planning to address the issue of Guild Leaders mass kicking members, once the guild reaches level 25? – Bloodbliss [North America], Юхани [Europe, Russian]

A: We don’t really have any interest in controlling who a guild leader chooses to kick, or when. Guilds are fairly transparent and simple player-run groups, and we have to be extremely careful about what systems we implement that impact how people can operate their guilds. We could absolutely make it more difficult for guild leaders to kick their members, and that might help very slightly with these situations, but the result would actually be that guild leaders would just be much less likely to invite new members. We want people to be in guilds, as opposed to making guild masters afraid that if they invite someone they may never be able to kick them if they don’t work out.

Allowing players to keep some level of guild reputation is an option we can look into to help with this situation, though.

Wow – I suppose it’s just an indicator of how little time I’ve had to really get arms deep into the game lately, but I didn’t even know this was an issue. That’s a pretty cruddy thing for a Guild Leader to do, honestly. I see why Blizzard doesn’t want to get involved, but I can see how it would be a problem. Don’t expect Blizz to do too much until it gets to fever pitch, though.

Q: Are we going to see guild houses someday so we could finally get a special gather place for the guild, to meet and interact easily? – Ellidryl[Europe, French], Греланд[Europe, Russian], Ledieri [Europe, Spanish], Bodywreckér [North America]

A: Guild housing is something we have discussed many times. It would be neat to have a place for people to hang out, but every time it has come up as a possibility we don’t think that is worth the amount of time and resources it would take to implement (and do it right). This is one of those features where if we ever decided to do it, the benefit would have to outweigh other content we could be working on. Also, we don’t feel that we need any new ways for players to hide themselves away. If possible we at least like people to be hanging around in the cities, if not out in the world. We know that many guilds, despite lack of official guild housing, have designated meeting locations throughout the world, which we think is really cool. If you don’t have one yet it might be something to explore.

Ah, the old guild housing question. And, of course, the answer that Blizzard has given us many many times: they like the idea, they really really do like the idea, but they just don’t think it’s high enough on the priority list at this point to take development time away from other tasks. Interesting. I wonder if it’ll ever be high enough on the priority list – it’s been something people have wanted since Vanilla.

Q: Are there any plans to allow for easier alt access to the same guild rewards as someone’s main character? Perhaps some kind of +rep item that is BoA and can only be bought by an exalted character? – Serule [North America], Xheevas [Europe, French]

A: This is one of the main reasons 4.1 has new guild tabards with 50/100% bonus to rep. We made sure to place these at friendly and honored so they would be easy to obtain by alts. We are considering adding an even larger bonus to an exalted, BOA version as well. Great minds think alike!

Hah! Awesome – I was wondering when this was going to happen, and sure enough, we have it already. Well done!

And that does it for another round – we skipped a lot of questions this time, but they’re all pretty interesting. Make sure to read the full thread for the whole scoop!

Today’s the Day: Patch 4.1 is Available!

Well, today’s it folks – if you’ve been waiting for Patch 4.1 and all of the goodness inside, the realms are slowly coming back online and you’re about to get what you’ve been waiting for. Whether it’s a newly redesigned and revamped Zul’Gurub or Zul’Aman, or you’re just looking forward to the Guild Finder, it’s all landing today.

Above is the beautiful trailer that sets the stage for the events in 4.1 – including a little insight into what we’ve been waiting for for a long time: the trolls are antsy and eager to regain their place at the top of the food chain, instead of be forced to be scattered and disorganized as a people.

That said though, you can find the patch notes – and trust me, there are a LOT of changes, over at the Official Blog.

Guild Finder Coming in Patch 4.1

In patch 4.1, Blizzard is planning to unveil the Guild Finder – a new tool that will allow players to find a guild that works for them. Seriously, just check off your primary interests, the class roles that you’re willing to fill, and a little information about yourself, and you can browse guilds that match those interests. Here’s the scoop from the official blog:

In patch 4.1 we’ll be introducing the Guild Finder, a new system designed to enable easier and faster guild recruitment. Guild leaders and players who are looking for a guild to call home will use the Guild Finder to meet one another and begin communications that can lead to a prosperous membership.

The Guild Finder is intended to act as an in-game bulletin board for guilds that are actively recruiting. Previously in World of Warcraft, your options were limited. You would have to publicly post on your realm forum message board, or speak to other players directly via private messages or the chat channels. That can be a time consuming process. Guild Finder will allow your “looking for new members” message to work 24 hours a day, accessible to all of the characters in your faction, from anywhere in the game.

Wow. Talk about a great way to find guilds if you’re a player looking for a suitable – or more suitable – home for your main or your alts. Guild leaders have control over how their guild is listed, and they can see players who have applied to join their guilds as well.

Naturally, a lot of people have asked the question of whether or not this will eliminate the traditional guild application process – where most players have to go to a guild’s Web site, review the rules, and submit an application that way – but I don’t think it will. Guild leaders won’t have the flexibility to contact players who have applied and then put them in a hold list pending an application or anything, but they will get to see who’s submitted a request through the tool. From there, they can reach out directly, accept their application right out of the gate, deny it, or enter a comment. Still, it might be helpful to have a more robust utility.

There’s also the question of whether or not only guild leaders will have access to the tool or whether guild officers will as well: many guilds have a GM, but another person responsible for recruitment and bringing on new members. It’ll be a while before we get answers to all of that, and a better look at exactly what the tool will look like, but Blizzard has a screenshots of what the tool will eventually look like.

What do you think? Will you use the guild finder when it’s available, or are you happy with the way players find guilds now? Let us know what you think!

Warlocks Getting Male and Female Demons

A lot of warlock players have been waiting a long time for this one – soon any warlock will be able to choose to summon a male or female version of their demon, regardless of what summonable demon it is.

That’s right ladies, it means you’ll eventually get to summon an incubus instead of a succubus. Here’s what Zarhym had to say on the official forums:

I’m happy to share we actually do have plans for offering players a choice between male and female versions of all warlock demons. This is a task already in our system, though I don’t have a time frame for you at the moment. Other art tasks could always take precedence, but we’re committed to making this happen. :)

Now I have no idea how they’ll make imps and infernals and doomguards female, but we’ll just have to wait and see, won’t we?

Notes from the Blizzard Developer Q&A, No. 5

And we’re back to another Blizzard Developer Q&A – this time the questions and answers focused around achievements! As usual, you can find the full thread here, and we’ll take a look at some of the questions and answers that I found most interesting. Ready? Let’s go.

Q: Will we ever be able to spend our achievement points on something? Or will there be a feature where it will be required to have x amount of points? – Nordicberry (Europe [English]), Hogosha & Wulkuhr (Europe [German]), Neroth (Europe [French]), Kularia (Northa America/ANZ), Trafalgarlaw (Latin America)

A: We want Achievements to remain as an optional thing you can do as bragging rights, or to challenge yourself. As soon as we add any kind of player power, or use them to gate anything, then they feel mandatory for a lot of players. In fact, we think one of the reason achievements are fun is that the drive to complete them is totally up to you, which keeps them (hopefully!) from feeling like a chore. If you want to go after some achievements that’s a choice, and choosing not to care about achievements doesn’t mean you’re making your character less powerful.

We do offer pets, mounts and titles for specific achievements, and we’re unlikely to ever do anything much more “mandatory” than those.

So essentially, this translates to “Don’t hold your breath.” Which I don’t entirely mind, honestly. I think that there are enough must do things in the game without making achievements one of them – enough point systems and enough things that you do to earn other things to spend on more things. Achievements? I’m fine with achievement hunting being something you do to get titles, or something you do a lot of and get a special award. Sure that means achievement points aren’t terribly useful right now aside from being a status symbol, but you know – I’m okay with that.

Q: Currently, the achievement rewards are more focused to common tasks, such as raids, events, PvP. Have you considered creating achievements with rewards that ask to do crazy things around the world, like for example, soloing bosses or mobs, or more achievements like the “Jenkins” one, that are meant to do crazy things. – Thodyr (Europe [Spanish]), Khaelthas (Europe [French]), Assmira (Europe [German])

A: We like for achievements to be fun, but we don’t want for players working on achievements to have a huge negative impact on other players. At first glance, soloing a boss mob might sound like a decent achievement. But consider that if the achievement is very easy to do then hitting all those dungeons may just feel like a chore. On the other hand, if it’s challenging to do then we suddenly have to go back and worry about class balance in a way we never had to before. Blood DKs for example excel at soloing older bosses because of their self-healing mechanic, but the same isn’t true of most other classes and specs. We try not to have achievements that require you to ask your group to do something really bizarre or not fun. “Run a dungeon without picking up any loot,” would just be frustrating every time you had to debate with your group whether you were going for the achievement or not. “Jenkins” is fun for a silly achievement, considering its history, but too much of that sort of thing would get tedious pretty quickly.

Wow – that’s actually a really interesting answer to a question that a lot of players have had. It’s difficult to walk the line between giving people really fun and interesting achievements based on fun and interesting things to do, and then giving someone something to do that winds up being a bore or a pain in the neck for other people you may be playing with.

I think there’s more of a dividing line though – Blizzard could very easily make some solo achievements that reward really amazing feats – like many of the ones that already exist – without upsetting gameplay for other players, so there’s room to maneuver. I like to think they’ll take it, but we’ll see.

Q: There are still no Achievements beyond “Collect 75 unique companion pets”. Can I expect a reward for 100 companion pets in the future? – Whitewnd (Korea)

A: Patch 4.1 has achievements for 100 and 125 companions. Those particular achievements don’t reward pets, but we’ll probably do another reward at some tier in the future, perhaps 150 or 200 pets.

Oh crap. I know some pet collectors that are going to freak right out with this news.

Well then – that does it for this round! There were tons of great questions this time, although many of them seemed to expound on one another and essentially come down to limitations of how the game was designed. We’ll see how Blizzard adapts or changes those features in the future.

What about you? Any questions about achievements you would have asked the devs that weren’t included? Let me hear them in the comments!

Blizzard Wieghs in on WoW’s Difficulty

A lot of people have a bone to pick when it comes to the overall difficulty of World of Warcraft – many of them go right out and say that they think the game has become easier over time, that Wrath of the Lich King was probably a low-point in the simplicity of the game and the changes made during that period made the game so simple that you could play without paying attention. Those same people are generally grateful that Cataclysm has seen the pendulum swing back in favor of a more difficult game overall.

At the same time, there are plenty of people who think that the game was fine early on in Vanilla WoW, and hit a pretty broken and difficult period in The Burning Crusade. They’ll say that the balance and difficulty were adjusted in Wrath of the Lich King, and the game found its sweet spot during that expansion, and that the changes in Cataclysm to make the game more challenging were unwarranted and the game now has just too steep a learning curve to really be accessible to anyone but people who play all of the time.

I’m curious what you think, but before we get to that point, Bashiok – one of the blue posters at the official forums – had a few things to say on the matter, and they’re worth reading:

I understand and respect gaming masochism. But, I think that changing mechanics to be more reasonable and less punishing is an improvement, not a detriment, to games in general. Many of us Original Gamers pine for the days of D&D-based yore when games were seemingly intended to break us down into sobbing masses created by an uncaring necromancer of pain and suffering, or at least didn’t try to avoid it. Overcoming all of the obstacles (I CHOOSE NOT TO SHOOT HER WITH THE SILVER ARROW… NOOOOO) was a big part of what gaming (I HAVE 1 LIFE!?), and especially PC gaming (HOW DO I LOAD MOUSE DRIVERS?), were about. But, I feel we’re lucky to now be in an age where those ideals (intended or not) are giving way to actual fun, actual challenge, and not fabricating it through high-reach requirements (I NEED A FAIRY MONK WITH A MAGIC LOCKPICK?).

What we’ve always been trying to do, what WoW has always been about (and to which much of its success is due) is to make an accessible MMO. Anyone that looks back at the game at launch and wishes it was as challenging now as it was then is not aware of the painstaking effort put into making this game accessible as compared to its predecessors. Since release we’ve refined that intent, eventually evolving the very few masochistic designs WoW actually ever started with, but ideally still offering those same prestige goals that give that feeling of achieving something great if you’re able to pull it off. We’ve made a lot of progress toward striking that balance and continuing to evolve the game, but it’s not something we’re ever likely to perfect, and we’ll be constantly working to hit that elusive goal. Hopefully it’s to the benefit of everyone playing and enjoying the game, and they’ll continue to enjoy the journey that a living, breathing, persistent universe will take us on.

I have to hand it to Bashiok partially for slamming so many old school gaming references into such a tiny addition to the thread, but he has some good points too: there’s a sense of nostalgia among people who have been playing video games – especially PC games – for a long time and remember the days when games were still fun and exciting, but far more punishing and difficult. But he does pose the question: does difficulty and punishment for making the wrong decisions make a bad game? Does a strict game with rigid gameplay styles automatically equate a GOOD game, or does it just make it a game that some of the most dedicated and determined gamers will love but no one else will ever play?

It’s a difficult line to walk, I have to admit, and while I have no real complaints about the difficulty level in Cataclysm (while I will be one of the people to say things in Wrath of the Lich King were a little on the easy side, and I thought Burning Crusade was a good place, especially with some of the changes Blizzard made at the tail end) I can see how difficult it is for them to walk it. At the same time, I think it’s clear that Blizzard isn’t fooling themselves: they know they can’t make everyone happy, and they shouldn’t try to – stick to their principles and their guns, and the game will continue to be successful.

What do you think? Is Cataclysm just too damned hard, or are people complaining about nothing? Sound off in the comments!

Blizzard Unveils Dungeon Finder: Call to Arms

If you needed a reason to queue up and join the dungeon finder, well…now you have one. Alternatively, if you’ve bemoaned the lack of people in queues and the time required to get a decent group, get ready for some relief. In patch 4.1 Blizzard is poised to unveil the Dungeon Finder: A Call to Arms.

Here’s the lowdown from Blizzard:

In patch 4.1 we’ll be introducing Dungeon Finder: Call to Arms, a new system intended to lower queue times. Call to Arms will automatically detect which class role is currently the least represented in the queue, and offer them additional rewards for entering the Dungeon Finder queue and completing a random level-85 Heroic dungeon.

Any time the Dungeon Finder queue is longer than a few minutes for level-85 Heroics, the Call to Arms system kicks in and determines which role is the least represented. In the case of tanking being the least represented role, the “Call to Arms: Tanks” icon will display in the Dungeon Finder UI menu where class roles are selected, and will also display on the UI when the queue pops and you are selected to enter a dungeon. Regardless of your role, you’ll always be able to see which role currently has been Called to Arms, if any.

Call to Arms is meant to lower wait times by offering additional rewards for queuing as the currently least represented role. To be eligible for the additional rewards you must solo queue for a random level-85 Heroic in the role that is currently being Called to Arms, and complete the dungeon by killing the final boss. Every time you hit these requirements (there is no daily limit) you’ll receive a goodie bag that will contain some gold, a chance at a rare gem, a chance at a flask/elixir (determined by spec), a good chance of receiving a non-combat pet (including cross faction pets), and a very rare chance at receiving a mount. The pets offered come from a wide variety of sources, and include companions like the Razzashi Hatchling, Cockatiel, and Tiny Sporebat, but the mounts are those specifically only available through dungeons (not raids), like the Reins of the Raven Lord from Sethekk Halls, Swift White Hawkstrider from Magister’s Terrace, and Deathcharger’s Reins from Stratholme.

Allow me to use this YouTube video to express my reaction:

Moving on:

This system is meant to address the unacceptable queue times currently being experienced by those that queue for the DPS role at max level. The long queue times are, of course, caused by a very simple lack of representation in the Dungeon Finder by tanks, and to some extent healers. We don’t feel the tanking and healing roles have any inherent issues that are causing the representation disparity, except that fulfilling them carries more responsibility. Understandably, players prefer to take on that responsibility in more organized situations than what the Dungeon Finder offers, but perhaps we can bribe them a little. While this system gives tanks and healers something extra, the incentive is being provided so that we can help players in the DPS role get into more dungeons, get better gear, and continue progressing.

While the gold, gems, flasks, and elixirs are OK incentives, we knew we needed something more substantial. We had briefly considered Valor Points and epics, but decided that wouldn’t be working toward the goal of helping DPS players progress, and ultimately wouldn’t keep tanks and healers in the Dungeon Finder system for very long. We settled on pets and dungeon-found mounts as they’re cosmetic/achievement items that players tend to try to get on their own, so why not change that up and offer them a chance to get some of those elusive pets and mounts in a way that also helps other players? Even if they don’t get a pet or mount, or get one they already have, the gold and other goodies still feel rewarding enough that it won’t feel like a waste of effort.

We think it’s a pretty solid incentive to get tanks and healers queuing, give max-level players another way to collect the pets and mounts they so desire, and above all, to improve wait times for DPS players sitting in queues. In the case of lower level dungeons, it’s actually not uncommon for DPS to be the least represented role, and so if this new system works out and we’re pleased with the results, we may consider applying this same mechanic to lower level dungeons as well.

Wow. Color me impressed. That’s really something, and personally I think the lure of loot just may work. After all, it worked during Wrath to get people to actually stay and finish The Oculus, why won’t it work here?

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.

Notes from the Blizzard Developer Q&A, No.3

The third round of Blizzard’s developer Q&A just finished, and most of the questions and answers this round focused on UI elements and usability changes. The questions and answers this time were really good for those folks who are passionate about the look and feel of World of Warcraft, and how players play and interact with the game. The full thread is here.

Here are a couple of the highlights, especially some of the questions and answers that I’m particularly enamored with, starting off with the “is it possible to raid without add-ons/are add-ons making the game too easy” question we hear all too often:

Q: Some Addons are so powerful they simplified the game content to a degree (e.g., boss fights). Do you think that when the majority are using these Addons, the original reasoning behind the game design is violated? And isn’t it unfair for players who don’t use Addons? – 冷影幽光 (Taiwan)

A: This really deserves a long answer. It sounds like a good topic for a future developer blog. To tide you over until then, we can say that some addons do a great job of providing information we really should be providing (and have long-term plans to provide).This includes information like threat, the distance you are from other players , when you have a killer debuff on you and things like that. On the other hand, when addons are too helpful, they are playing the game for you and you’re just doing what the addon tells you to do. When the mod tells you so much information about the fight that you don’t even really need to pay attention to what is happening in the world at all, then we feel that crosses the line. I don’t know that we could put the djinn back in the bottle at this point though. It would feel really harsh to prevent addons from tracking some of that information, and in some cases we’re not even sure how we would prevent it.

We continue to try and come up with new mechanics that ask players to pay attention to the fight itself instead of just pushing whatever button the addon tells them to push. You might be alerted to when Atramedes emits a Sonar Pulse, but you don’t know where it is going to be. Sinestra’s Twilight Slicer requires you to look at the battle field and not just your UI. To be fair, we are also trying to do a better job of telegraphing to players when bosses will use predictable abilities. The Conclave of Wind and Nefarian for example do their special abilities at predictable intervals along their resource or health bar.

It is a fine line to decide when an addon becomes mandatory. Ideally you could raid without any addons, and some players do. Information is often power in complex raid encounters though, and we agree that in some cases we don’t provide enough information yet. Does that mean Blizzard needs to replicate some of the screenshots produced by players who install thirty mods and completely overhaul their UI? Probably not. Our raid UI is a good example of what we are going for. It provides enough information for many players (and we have plans to add more to it overtime). It’s not going to incorporate the favorite feature of every raider out there, and for them, a very customizable third-party addon is a perfectly reasonable solution.

That’s fabulous – although unlike the devs, I don’t know anyone who raids without add-ons. In fact, I know more guilds who require them than that don’t, and the only people I know who raid without add-ons are the kind who are too stubborn to install them, simply don’t know how, or are perfectly okay skating along and letting other guild members carry them through raids and dungeons instead of contributing, but I’m sure there are some people out there who are more naturalist and prefer to simply play the game the way it was designed.

Q: Would you please implement a feature that allows players to change the order of their characters on the Character select screen? – 흑풍육손 (Korea), Fanahlia (North America/ANZ), Perle (Latin America)

A: Sure. Does 4.2 work for you? :)

And boom goes the dynamite!

That was the bulk of it – there are a couple of questions that I seriously can’t believe people asked, much less wanted: like the topic of being able to buy things directly from chat (an attempt to circumvent the limitations of mail/auction house location/player location in order to quickly buy things) and the whole “I’m tired of paging through mail to get items one at a time,” point.

I can identify a little more with the latter though, I understand how frustrating it can be, especially if you’re sending yourself items, to have to load up your bags and then mail items to yourself one at a time. At the same time though, there are add-ons (like Postal, for example) that allow you to streamline the process – and the people who know about those add-ons and use them are likely the ones who will get the most benefit: eg, the people who use the AH the most, or mail themselves lots of things frequently. Everyone else probably doesn’t care so much.

So what do you think? What would you ask the devs if you had an opportunity to ask them about user interface and gameplay questions?

Notes from the Blizzard Developer Q&A, No. 2

Blizzard held another Q&A session with its developers recently, taking forum questions from interested parties, just like last time. Same as last time, you can read the whole set of questions and answers on the official forums, but we’ll take a look at some of the new and interesting ones:

Q: Why can’t we have a pure, straight up, unadulterated Death Match style Battleground? – ???? ???? (Taiwan), Gulantor (North America/ANZ)

A: We think Battlegrounds work better when there is a goal that the team can work towards. Huge melees with lots of players tend to be chaotic by nature so there is less room for skill to influence the outcome. It feels more random, and the more random the system is, the more arbitrary the rewards will feel. It might be something we try someday.

For example, emergency buttons are balanced around the assumption that only a few players are ganged up against you. Even in the 5v5 Arena bracket, it’s very difficult to survive being focused by so many players at once, so you feel like you don’t have many options. There is a reason that most of our Arena attention is on 3v3 – it just feels the best.

You know, I had been wondering about this one too back when I was spending more time in battlegrounds – some people would love the “in and out” nature of having a battleground they could hop into and hop out of just to grab some honor in a short period, and in a game that’s perpetually ongoing that they could play for as much free time as they have without worrying their departure will negatively impact a team.

At the same time, the sheer number of empty multiplayer game servers in the world kind of tell the tale that when there’s no one interested in playing that all-out deathmatch style game, the few people who do want to play would have a horrible time doing it – or worse, they’ll just give up because it’s not the epic experience they’d actually want. After all – I’m sure the people asking the question are thinking of massive 25 v. 25 battle arenas with fast re-spawning, not a 3 v. 3 match.

Q: CC used to be the big thing for arena, but now it’s all about damage. Is it the direction you are taking at the moment? – Thatis (Taiwan)

A: If crowd control really was as weak in Arenas as you’re claiming, then Holy paladins would be the healer of choice and Resto druids wouldn’t have much of a role. But the Entangling Roots and Cyclone of the druid make a huge difference in Arena, and we see a lot of healing druids.

Ultimately, we think there has to be a place for both crowd control and damage. It can be just as frustrating to be chained from a fear to a poly to a stun without having an answer as it can be to die to two dudes killing you in a few GCDs without an answer. We don’t want Arena in particular to be all about which comp has the best layering of crowd controls that don’t share diminishing returns, because that greatly lowers the number of viable comps out there (and why rogue-mage-priest dominated in earlier seasons). We have taken steps this season already to nerf both out of control damage and excessive crowd control for some classes.

The best thing you can do is just keep providing feedback when you think something is broken. Many other players will disagree with you, and at times so will we. The signal to noise ratio for PvP balance is frankly always going to be bad, and the design calls are extremely subjective. We are constantly amazed that some players playing very powerful specs perceive themselves as weak or interpret very gentle nerfs as soul-crushing. That doesn’t mean that we’re never going to listen, but it does mean the burden of convincing us something is broken is going to be high, probably higher than it is for PvE.

Ouch – holy blowoff, batman! Although I can’t say I disagree here. I think Blizzard is acquising the point that they’re paying more attention to damage, but they’re trying to strike the balance between damage and crowd control. I disagree that seeing a lot of resto druids somehow means that holy paladins aren’t the healers of choice in battlegrounds (that’s like saying “hey, the fact that a exists means there must be less of b,”) but I see their point. Balance is what’s important, and they’re always open to your feedback.

I hope the person asking the question got that same message, because I could see how the tone at the beginning is kind of a diss. A loving one, but a diss nonetheless!

Q: Can I hear your thoughts of the survival abilities of the Warlock on PvP? – Mccoll (Korea)

A: Overall, we think they’re fine. Warlocks in PvP often compare themselves to Shadow priest, and to be fair, Shadow priests have some very potent emergency buttons, particularly Dispersion. Warlocks have good self-healing (which also to be fair, was nerfed recently), abilities like Demonic Circle and fears that are good for both offense and defense. Once Shadow priests lose their defensive dispel capabilities, we think they will be less versatile and their entire package will be more comparable to warlocks.

I love this question only because it was asked. I remember the days when warlocks were unstoppable damage and destruction machines in arenas. If you had a lock on your team, you were pretty much guaranteed to win, and if you had one on your team and another on the other team, it came down to who had the most resilience. Thankfully, no more.

So – this set of Q&A questions were pretty heavy on the PVP side of things. If you’re a heavy PVP’er, what do you think of Blizzard’s responses and the questions they selected to respond to? What would you have asked if you had the opportunity? Leave us a comment and let us know.

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