Blizzard developers Ghostcrawler, Brian Holinka, Ion Hazzikostas, Cory Stockton and Dave Kosak sat down for a live text Q&A.
There were all sorts of questions covered, everything from PvP point earning in battlegrounds to RPPM trinkets and proc weapons, to low population servers, and a ton of lore related questions! We’ve pulled out some highlights below, but you can see the full transcript read and discussed in the video above, with our commentary, and linked on Wowhead.
Let’s get into the highlights! The devs are all using their forum names, so of course, Ghostcrawler is, well, Ghostcrawler, Brian Holinka is Desvin, Ion Hazzikostas is Watcher, Cory Stockton is Mumper, and Dave Kosak is Fargo.
Do you plan on addressing the server population issues soon or you just planing on keeping exploiting it to make further revenue off of server transfers?
//Ghostcrawler: We do have plans and we are actively (as in I was in a meeting on it yesterday) working on a plan. We don’t want to share that plan until we are reasonably confident that it is going to work. We want to be clear that we don’t think the experience for players on very low pop realms (which includes very imbalanced factions on otherwise active realms) is a good one. We want to solve it.
Eric Heidelberger@eheidel30Is there any talk of moving to a division system for arena rankings? (e.g. CoD, LoL) #WoWCiL
//Desvin: We certainly think there are some benefits to those division systems, like providing intermediate milestones for all players. Ultimately, you still get to a situation where you feel like it’s hard to improve.
The advent of phasing in the game in Wrath and increased use in Cata and MoP has been good. It’s allowed to show some permanent results for quests and such. Will phasing be used more in the upcoming patches and expansions to show the results of questing in a more permanent manner that doesn’t affect lower level characters leveling?
//Mumper: There are a lot of things about phasing that we like. Also a number of things we would like to solve. We are hoping to introduce some tech to help groups of friends be able to play together even if they are in differnet phases. Stay tuned!
Should we expect the Siege of Orgrimmar to be moved back to prolong the expansion?
//Mumper: Nope, we are feeling really happy with the pace of our patches and all signs indicate we will keep moving at that pace for the forseeable future.
One of the major complaints about the final Cataclysm raid was the lack of new environments. How do you plan to avoid this problem in the Siege of Orgrimmar?
Mumper: Lesson learned. You can plan on seeing new environments in the 5.4 raid for sure. (along with Orgrimmar)
Will there be any spectator mode added to arena/rbgs?
//Desvin: We don’t have any plans for a spectator mode in arena/rbgs.
How many bosses will 5.4 have?
//Watcher: We’re pretty happy with the overall size and epic feel of the Throne of Thunder raid. In that ballpark.
Battlegrounds such as Warsong Gulch and Twins peaks, players are focused more on “Farming Middle” or getting as many Killing Blows as possible rather then completing objectives. Any thoughts on trying to make Battlegrounds objectives or tasks more appealing? E.g.: You gain 5 Conquest Points for killing flag carrier/return flag
//Desvin: We’ve talked about revising how we reward honor in a way that promotes players focusing on objectives. We have to be careful of how we do this since more passive things, like guarding an objective in Arathi Basin, are important and help your team win.
//Fargo: I think the Alliance has had some strong moments this expansion: Jaina’s arc is interesting, it’s nice to see her engaged in world events again. The Dalaran sequence was a pretty awesome Alliance win. We’ve spent more time with Varian and Anduin than in any other expansion. (Though if your complaint is that we’ve been human-heavy with the lore, we’re pretty guilty! An informal survey of our team reveals that that most of us are human.)
When we tried to figure out the story arc for this expansion, we wanted to focus on war. And we thought, after Cataclysm, we really needed an Alliance win. We’re getting to raid a capital city and overthrow its Warchief – something that’s never happened before! POW! Obviously we needed to spend some time developing the major expansion villain, so we’re seeing a lot of Garrosh.
The overall story depicts the Alliance drawing together while the horde is splintering apart. By 5.4 the Alliance war machine is hitting the beaches of Durotar, having softened them up with wetworks in advance. Fun stuff.
We really focused on Varian, Jaina, and Anduin this time around. We’ll be able to spotlight other characters in the future.
Is there going to continue to be more story development involving more of the female world leaders, quest NPCs and such? Pandaria gave us people like Suna and Taoshi, but we also have Alleria, Tyrande, Moira, etc?
//Fargo: We got to spend more time with Jaina lately, and Moira gets a great moment in 5.3. (I really like Moira.) I’m also a fan of Zaela of the Dragonmaw – do you guys think she should survive the war?
Feedback from 5.1 shows that not everyone was happy with Tyrande being so hotheaded. We were trying to get her a little back to her impulsive War3 roots, but it doesn’t seem to have played well with fans. So I’d like to revisit Tyrande at some point.
Now, Sylvanas? UP TO SOMETHING, I guarantee.
//Admiral Rogers seems to strike a chord with people, she’s pretty badass. We also spent a little time with Vereesa Windrunner, who’s coping with the loss of her husband… all interesting story hooks. We can only follow up on so much story, but we like to spend time with interesting characters whenever gameplay allows.
Can we move away from the “Alliance is the good guys” phase? WoW lore is usually about grey areas, usually no one being the clear ‘good guy’ (though perhaps not in the manner of Warhammer, in which everyone’s insane). MoP, however, has painted a lovely (awful) picture of most of the Horde – Orcs in specific. Sure, there’s Garrosh, but can we please see the Alliance do something despicable so that I can see less “HORDE R EVAL” Scrolls of Lore threads?
//Fargo: Good question! Alliance seems awfully good … when compared to Garrosh, who’s started using his own people as cannon fodder and is weaponizing everything he can get his hands on. But there are still grey areas. Do you think Jaina did the right thing in Dalaran? What about Admiral Rogers gunning down drowning soldiers in Pandaria? There’s an edge there.
Will there be a final legendary weapon in mop? Or will we just get legendary power through many different items?
//Fargo: Oh hellz yeah. You’re getting a glorious orange item. Wrathion is true to his word.
Question for Ion and the encounter designers: Now that Ra-den has been defeated by a number of guilds around the world, what are your thoughts about the success of this encounter with its limited attempts and accessibility? Can we expect to see more such encounters in the future?
//Watcher: Mixed thoughts about Ra-den. The sense of mystery surrounding him was pretty cool. The first guilds that took down Heroic Lei Shen had no idea what to expect when that grate in Primordius’s room opened. And after the grueling pace that some guilds set in blazing a path through the main Throne of Thunder progression, it gave them a chance to relax a bit, while still retaining a competitive mindset. The encounter itself had some bugs and tuning issues that were regrettable, and that’s ultimately our failing. Clever raiders often work out unforeseen solutions to the problems presented by encounters, and unfortunately the “right” way to do Ra-den ends up being one that bypasses half the mechanics on the encounter. But with an environment of limited attempts and competition between guilds, re-tuning the encounter on the fly in order to correct that would have been problematic.
So, overall, a mixed bag. I wouldn’t expect to see Heroic-only and/or limited-attempt bosses become a regular fixture, but it’s something we may revisit in the future, applying lessons learned from past experience as always.
About item upgrades coming back next patch-with the Thunderforge “thing” in ToT its realy annoying to have to upgrade items that you MIGHT replace.Everyone in a top raiding guild feels obligated to upgrade all of his items but that feeling that you dont have TF version of something will rankles alot.Can you maybe implement a limit of how many items you can upgrade (limit on how many upgraded items you can have equiped)? It will bring some sort of strategising and make item upgrading much less annoying.Also something that bothers me-Heroic 25 man Lei Shen awards the same amount of VPs as clearing Temple of the Jade Serpent.Like srsly?Dont you think that if you can clear ToT 25 HC (or normal atleast) is worth a valor cap so you dont have to do random HCs or LFR for those extra points?Thats from me cheers.
//Watcher: The major change we’re making to item upgrades in 5.3 is drastically reducing their cost. We agree that it felt pretty bad to upgrade a non-best-in-slot item in 5.1 and then end up replacing it. 1500 Valor was a pretty hefty investment. But at 250 VP per upgrade, you can realistically upgrade all your gear over the course of a tier, which should change things a bit. As for sources of Valor, part of the intent of the system is to encourage players to experience a wide variety of content. Heroic Lei Shen drops slightly better loot than Sha of Doubt, so it’s not like killing him is strictly underrewarded. That said, we are significantly buffing the amount of Valor rewarded by activities like Challenge Modes (and the new Heroic Scenarios) in 5.3, so you should be able to do more challenging content with your guildmates to get the remainder of your VP for the week, if you feel that LFR or random heroics aren’t of interest.