Sunday, September 5, 2010

Today in WoW

OP by Blizzard Entertainment:

Leveling makes you "weaker" in Cataclysm
Your primary stats go up, but your combat ratings go down. The reason for this is that those ratings convert to percentages. If you started with say 50% crit chance, and then gained a level and your new gear had say +4% crit chance instead of +2% crit chance, then you'd quickly get to 100% crit and stay there. This was the reason we implemented combat ratings in the first place. (You can blame Blackhand's Breadth.)

This particularly gets to be a problem when you reach max level. The reason is because you are going to go through several tiers of gear without increasing your character level, so we need to have enough space in the numbers for them to increase. We figure out what the highest say crit and haste chance the game can handle and then work backwards giving each tier a meaningful upgrade (or getting new gear won't be fun) and that determines the combat ratings on the starting gear.

We definitely understand the confusion / weird perception issues this causes and we've talked about some ways to completely revamp the game's combat equations so that we didn't need to use percentage-based stats influenced by ratings with diminishing returns. That is too large a change for Cataclysm, but something we might do in the future (when we aren't also tackling talent and glyph revamps).

Also remember that if you are leveling to 85, you are skipping over a lot of potential quest rewards that you can't get yet. The item leaps among levels are pretty large at level 80-85, which we had to do to make the upgrades feel meaningful. (Imagine the alternatives where you could go to Twilight Highlands directly from Icecrown and do okay.) Once those quest items are in, you'll be more powerful as you level.

Tuning abilities numbers
A lot of you are focusing on numbers, which are just such easy things to tweak at this stage that we haven't turned our attention to them yet. If a "fun" ability for you is synonymous with "one that hits hard" then what you find fun is liable to be random and switch from build to build.

We have adjusted mob health and damage quite a bit in the beta and we're going to continue to do so. In LK, quest mobs got to be a bit of a joke, such that everyone was used to killing clouds of them with ease. We're trying to return to a world where you can generally handle one, but might want to think about using some of your crowd control or emergency buttons when you get an extra one or two. (Again, that's the intent. We're still adjusting things to get there.)

Uldum and Twilight Highlands are hard!
Unfortunately, this is the most salient point in the original post. Everything from mana cost to tank damage are designed around having the correct gear. Doing an 85 zone in 83 gear is much, much harder than doing a 75 zone in 73 gear. Why? Because with only 5 levels, we made the level to level jump in item stats really high. That also means mobs also jump up a lot in power from level 73 to 75.

Almost every "Wow, things are hard" thread I have read on this and other forums are a direct result of not having Uldum and Twilight gear yet. We thought long and hard about whether it was a good idea to bump the level cap without that gear in place. In the end, we thought it was worth getting feedback on the quest design and some of the encounter design. But encounter balance is enormously dependent on having the right gear. Just keep that in mind. Things will feel better when you have ugrades available.

Healing throughput
Throughput won't go up enormously, but it will go up. Regen will go up. Most importantly, tank health and total dps will go up a lot. You won't be able to top anyone off in a GCD, but nobody will die so quickly that you'll need to. In all of our dungeon tests, tanks don't die in 2 or 3 hits unless they are doing something very wrong in the encounter.

Death Knight
Dark Simulacrum
There' still some polish needed on Dark Simulacrum. We are going to try and let it affect everything we possibly can, but there have to be some limitations. Copying pets and the like is just something we can't handle really well. We also need to make sure that some effects have a duration. It's probably okay to copy Shadowform, but Shadowform itself has no duration and the DK version needs to.

Hammer of the Righteous
I think if Hammer of the Righteous went back to its old design of hitting 3 targets, you'd see the forums swarming with paladins in a few weeks demanding some way to AE, such as... removing the cooldown on Consecrate again. There is no way to change the Prot paladin rotation up without changing some core abilities, and we are committed to changing the Prot rotation up.

We have some room to experiment with the proc rates for Grand Crusader, but remember that the more often it procs, the weaker it has to hit.

Tanking in Cataclysm
Generally, you should use Inquisition when AE tanking, since it will boost the Holy portion of Hammer of the Righteous as well as Consecrate. You should use Shield of the Righteous when fighting single (or perhaps 2-3) targets, because it's going to hit a lot harder.

Beyond that, you have a few options. You can glyph Avenger's Shield to focus on one target if you'd like. You can switch to Shield of the Righteous even on group targets when you get Sacred Duty procs. You can use Grand Crusader procs to focus on the targets you are already in melee with, or use Avenger's Shield on additional targets to help hold threat. Consecrate isn't the "threat glue" is used to be, nor does it have 100% up time, so you're going to have some choices about when and where you use it.

Words of Glory
The main strength of Word of Glory is its cost. No matter how strained mana might get, you're always going to have ample usage of an instant, free heal.

Healing Mods Talents
It's difficult to offer talents that mod the other heals. If you have a talent that makes Flash of Light more cost effective or Divine Light faster, then those aren't really filling those niches anymore. We had a lot of problems like this in the past where a combination of talents, glyphs or set bonuses made Flash of Light or Holy Light the obvious heal for paladins, and the other one just died. We want to use all 3 of the cast-time healing spells in Cataclysm, but we're offering the most gameplay around Holy Shock and Word of Glory, because those are what make Holy paladins feel the most different from other healers.

Beacon of Light
As others have pointed out, Beacon just can't stay as "I heal at 200% effectiveness" in the Cataclysm healing model. It will still give you extra healing, particularly with the Tower of Radiance component.

AE Healing
We're not worried about the AE healing situation. In Lich King there were situations, especially in raids, where healers were called upon to instantly heal multiple targets at once or someone was going to die. With the larger health pools in Cataclysm, those situations are just going to be very rare. AE damage, and sometimes raid-wide AE auras, will still exist, but your tools are more than adequate to handle them. No, Light of Dawn may not take 5+ targets from 50% damage to 0% damage, but it also doesn't need to. You'll have time to top them off with single target heals, or just wait until the next AE heal is available. We just don't think spammable AE heals are that fun. If we wanted them to be a big part of the game, we'd need to make actual AE healing rotations that did more. The LK scenarios of hitting Wild Growth and Circle of Healing on cooldown are not something we want to go back to (plus, we've increased those cooldowns).

Healing and Mana management
Right. Another way to think of it is Heal, Holy Light and Healing Wave are essentially your heal autoattacks. They won't do anything too impressive, but you can essentially do them forever.

Holy Mastery Shield
The paladin mastery should definitely replace a lower shield with a larger one. We're a bit hesitant to just let you continually stack the shield up to its max size. That feels more annoying if anything because then paladins would feel compelled to spam heals on a tank before the pull so they could start with a max strength shield and then drink to restore the mana investment.

Guardian of Ancient Kings
The Guardian of Ancient Kings shouldn't take damage or die.

As far as where things are supposed to be, we don't want Exorcism to be the largest source of your damage. There were a couple of bugs with the spell implementation (double dipping on AP for instance) and we also recently decided to change Ret's mastery to no longer affect Holy damage, since it was just propping up Exorcism too much.

Templar's Verdict/Divine Storm without 3 Holy Power
We think situationally you will want to use TV or Divine Storm with less than 3 stacks. However, if it's very efficient to do so, then players will never wait for 3 stacks because having 3 smaller hits is more valuable than having 1 large hit of the same total damage.

Priest )
Griefing friendly players with Leap of Faith
Leap of Faith needs to be constrained to your group only.

In my experience, every time I read one of these "lack of focus" or "we don't have a role" threads, it's nearly always because the players are looking for something very different in the class than what it offers and are trying to steer things in a different direction. As such, we generally don't get much useful feedback out of these "existential crisis" kinds of discussions.

Think really hard about what it is you're asking for. Are you trying to turn Enhancement into a Fury warrior? Are you trying to make a true hybrid that fills many roles at once? Do you just want to be the superhero that always saves your party? Or are you just busting with spell ideas that you'd like to see get implemented? Try and stick with the details and not the big picture from 10,000 feet high. What is the problem you're trying to solve? The intent of the spec design isn't something you need to solve. Figuring out the rough edge that don't feel right is where you can be more helpful.

Enhancement is a spec designed around combining melee weapons strikes with spells. They also have totems and weapon enchants. Almost all of the talents in the tree support that direction. If half of your talents were trying to turn you into a healer and half of them were trying to turn you into a tank or something, then I'd understand the "no consistent direction" feedback. But that's not what the tree does at all. Stormstrike boosts weapon and spell damage. That is the tree in a nutshell. Other talents boost melee damage or spell damage or both. There are a few survival-oriented talents that should have even more use in PvE in the Cataclysm environment, but are still optional.

Feedback on which abilities you like or dislike or talents you find useful or not useful is totally appropriate and appreciated. The whole "we're adrift at sea without a direction" nearly always comes across as QQ at best or "here is my pet list of talents" at worst (whether it was intended to or not) so my advice is just to avoid it.

I'm not trying to shoot down the feedback. I'm trying to steer it into a format that is more likely to produce the kind of results that I sense you're really looking for.

Icon Highlights
The icon highlights for things like Overpower and Revenge need a little more polish so that they don't stay lit all the time or light up during a cooldown.

Colossus Smash
Colossus Smash is indeed still bugged and will make targets harder to kill. It required new tech to get this effect working at all, and it's going to take some time before it is working correctly.

Heroic Leap
The Thunder Clap portion of Heroic Leap was the subject of much derision on this very forum. If you liked it, you should have stuck up for it then. It's gone now.

That sounds harsh, which isn't my intention, but it is really, really common on these forums to see a concerted effort among some players to say "Change X" and then when we do, other players come out of the woodwork to say "But we liked X!" I can't suggest a great solution to that except to pay attention to the kinds of discussions that are happening, and chime in if you disagree with something strongly.

Damage Tuning
We aren't focused on numbers tuning yet, so comments like "RB doesn't hit very hard" or "SMF doesn't compete with TG" just aren't going to be terribly useful posts at this stage. If your measurement of "fun" is "hits for big numbers" then you aren't going to be able to provide beta feedback that helps the developers much.

Tooltips not showing "true" damage
We'll make sure the tooltips reflect the actual damage being done. It's hard to know without looking at each spell individually whether the damage is wrong or the description.