“Ghostcrawler” Greg Street and Ion Hazzikostas Interview!

Today, Gary Gannon, Josh Allen and Olivia Grace interviewed Blizzard Lead Systems designer Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street and Ion Hazzikostas about the upcoming World of Warcraft patch 5.2: The Thunder King. This interview was broadcast live on Gamebreaker’s twitch.tv channel on March 1st at 1pm PST, and, of course, remains available above.

  • We started with the PvE side, talking about the lessons learned from the current bosses, and of course we wanted to know which of the current tier was Ion’s favorite boss!
  • Next up was the change in philosophy regarding daily quests, as there has been a substantial change in the methods of reputation gain with the new raid-based factions in patch 5.2. The Blizzard devs explained the philosophy behind the changes, and perhaps acknowledged that the requirements put on players’ time, and the amount of “mandatory” content for serious raiders was too high.
  • We talked about the potential return of item upgrades, as it seemed from the recent blog notes and tweets from both Ion and Greg that they might not be making a return to the game with patch 5.3 or later.
  • We talked about the structure of the new patch 5.2 raid, asking why the progression path was completely linear rather than using an approach with wings or similar, as has been seen in previous raids.
  • We spoke about the absence of the usual Patchwerk-style fight, and Ion explained that there was a focus on mechanics over pure DPS, a shift in philosophy for this patch, which would hopefully make DPS requirements less onerous for normal mode guilds.
  • We then discussed whether the increase in mechanic difficulty would itself prove too taxing for the more casual raid teams, but Ion was confident that any issues could be repaired with tuning.
  • Of course we had to ask about limited attempts — Ion clarified their approach on Ra-den, and expressed the dev teams’ confidence that running alt raids would not be a viable method for subverting the attempts limit. Ion dropped a  bomb here, confirming that the patch was slated for next week.
  • Scenarios were next up, asking if there had been a philosophy change from patch 5.1 to patch 5.2
  • Ion addressed the concerns about players deliberately wiping in LFR to build up determination stacks as well as the potential for abuse of the new tapping mechanics being introduced in patch 5.2
  • Greg was unfortunately rather taciturn about the unannounced new feature, that he’d teased on twitter back in January, and Ion confirmed that he was unsure about joining Greg on twitter.
  • We then rounded up with PvP, discussing the removal and reinsertion of blanket silences in patch 5.2, which Greg confirmed we might see return in the next expansion, but was too big a change for mid-expac.
  • We spoke briefly about balancing, asking if they thought they had done enough to repair the problem classes of patch 5.1, as well as discussing the philosophy behind the new gearing system, particularly the removal of the rating requirement, as well as the upgrade system, and the thining behind delaying the conquest catch-up to patch 5.3.
  • And lastly, Greg confirmed that they’d love to see Skirmishes return!
  • http://twitter.com/Deadalon Deadalon

    Good interview – but still the hard questions are not being asked.  

    For example…

    Why are BLizzard not fixing the real issues of LFR?  The 5% nerf does not solve the issues of ppl in the raid in enough ilvl gear… but are then playing another role where they have close to zero gear for that role.  

    The right solution for that issue has nothing to do with nerfing the fight by 5% when you wipe.  You kick that person and then a new one comes in that might be doing exactly the same.   So are players now forced to check each person role gear before they start LFR boss?  

    These are the questions that needed to be asked.  The reason for all of these issues is based on their loot distribution.  If you change the loot distribution and no longer base it on role but give players more freedom to pick an item if you win a roll… then all of this issue would dissapear within few days.  Cause then healers could just play healer and not be forced to Q up as DPS  and make the Qs even longer than they already are.

    Just one example of a question that was needed to be asked there and pushed for real answer.  

    Another good question would have been… how are Blizzard trying to lower the Q times on LFR ?

    How about some Weekly quests instead of dailies?

    Why are valor rewards based on 1 run per day – cause their answer does not stick when they say they are trying to lower the need for long sessions. Im sorry Blizzard but thats a blatant lie when you look at the entire raid content that is built on very long sessions – that are far more unhealthy than allowing a casual players to get his valor rewards by playing 2 dungeons 1 day and then taking day off.

    • http://twitter.com/dularr Dularr

      Nice post. Good questions. 

      Personally, I think a good solution for LFR performance is some type of roll modifier based on individual contribution.  You start with a 10 percent base roll for gear and you get a percentage bonus on how well you performed according to your spec.  This would also reduce the bitching about the gold bags.  You want more than a bag of gold, play better.

      • Kevyne_Shandris

        Only problem with that approach (it is a good idea though) is that if you’re starting LFR and the other guy playing the same role has heroic raid gear…you won’t match him in performance (and those raiders will still be in LFR, either helping a buddy or running guildies through). WoW is very gear based in how you’ll perform.

        Then it also won’t address the classes that are playing and got nerfed hard.

        I believe a better solution is how well a player performs to the ilevel, as that shows not only participation, the player is trying. Not cutting up.

        This at least won’t reward the bots entering public queues, which is becoming more and more problematic now.

        • http://twitter.com/dularr Dularr

          I never said you would be competing with other players.  Most likely it would be based on some theorycrafted simulation of your character.

          I consider the challenge is some classes may be easier to play than other and easier to reach the max bonus roll. Or figure a ideal combination that gives the best bonus roll.

          Botting might be a problem, especially if the botters could figure out how to maximize the bonus roll. 

          • Kevyne_Shandris

            Defining performance in a game that’s geared based will be difficult, unless it’s ilevel based. That player in heroic dungeon grade gear being #2 on the healing chart really exceeded him/herself, especially if the other healers are in LFR+ gear. When that happens, that player needs the role bonus, as it’ll encourage players to do more than cut up and bring bots in public queues, too.

            Rewarding good playing should be encouraged, not this anything goes (like a Shadow Priest trying to pass as a healer to get rolls on healing gear junk).

            Raids are getting so stupid now (Sha runs for example) that people are dragging level 23s into the raid to gear out. The carry factor has gotten to a all new extreme. Can’t even escape this junk in normal raids — no enchants; no gems; least gear possible; not willing to make an effort to pull his/her own weight, but there to roll on your gear. I’m tired of it, burned out that junk, too. Haven’t stepped into a current raid instance since Cata, and don’t plan to because of it. Come 5.2 if it’s the same loot roll junk, I careless. It’s not worth the time, the effort or the money.

          • http://twitter.com/dularr Dularr

            Okay, the second half of your post lost me. 

            You haven’t run normal raids since Cata, is that right?

            Sounds more like a problem with the raid teams and raid leader.  More about personal responsibility.

            Guess Blizzard could fix that by removing all types of upgrades, but that still wouldn’t solve the problem of the “bad” player. 

            Or, are you talking about current pre-Mists raids?

          • Kevyne_Shandris

            I came from EQII and the raiding environment there was strict. EQII you’re treated as an adult and expected to behave as one. If you can’t, you didn’t raid, it was that simple. Can’t do that in WoW, as most of the players behave like 12 year-olds who found dad’s alcohol cabinet (and they make sure to be drunk and drugged while raiding, and their performance reflects it). Jackasses who think it’s funny pulling before the tank; tanks who think they’re melee-DPS first, hells bells on survival gearing; healers so prissy they moan and bitch about whoever can outheal them (if they would stop trying to compare with others they could find the time to heal, instead); people giving out patently false info and claiming they know stats better than Elitist Jerks and more; people who have zero shame of being carried in trash geared toons; troll raids full of all of the above as sport.

            It’s much more than bad raid leaders, it’s a game with an environment of the inmates running the asylum. I simply don’t believe it’s worth the time+effort+money to deal with that chaos.

            Too many egos, too little to show for it.

            Easiest fix to all this is clamping down on the environment and bringing back consequences for inaction and trying to waste players’ time+dime. Take out the trash, the experience for others will rise, and raids would function as they need to function properly. I love raiding, but not in the environment that exists now. It feels like trying to babysit 12 year-olds, and you’re the stepmom. I didn’t buy WoW to be that a Den mom, bought it to play with others in an environment conductive to play a game.

          • http://twitter.com/dularr Dularr

            Sounds like you have seen some horrible raid teams. 

            For what I’ve run, Mists normal raids address those issues.  If your raid team expects to clear normal raids and expect to progress to heroic raiding, the behavior you mention does not get you very far.  EVERYONE has to do their jobs, tanks have much more interactive responsibilities, dps must bring their game and healer have to keep it all together. 

            My raid teams have been together for years. While players come and go, I rarely bring someone new who wasn’t personally recommended by another raid member. 

            I hope you find a mature raid team and clear some bosses. 

    • Kevyne_Shandris

      Need role rolls, as the mess with class+bonus roll was a farce in Cata. I’ll never forget that Ret rolling need on the shield and winning it. If he wanted that shield so badly he needed to be healing, not taking it from the actual healers.

      If Blizzard implimented the system DDO uses (you can pick from a list of static and random items) that’ll help, because it’ll give the players a choice to gear up in another spec…but not taking specific gear needed by primary specs for off-specs.

      Gear is very limited in it’s drops, and 3 months or longer and critical pieces are snatched by off-specs over and over and over, is not an incentive for players to queue. When they don’t, the queue times get steadily higher (carrot is meaningless if after the 50th run and the Ret wins the shield for the nth time again). Haven’t stepped into LFR since, zero incentive for me to queue, even if Blizzard made LFR a real cakewalk to finish.

      • http://twitter.com/Deadalon Deadalon

        Ye I agree that the DDO way would probably the best one to go for.  We do no longer have ppl rolling on gear between them so need/greed is no longer a problem.  I do understand those that were pissed at Cata formula – but it was still better than what we have now.  Cause current system is being exploited to a degree of causing wipes – players leaving – others coming in and having to do 2 ques instead of 1 …  

        What I can not accept is that a game developer is pushing this obviously expoitable lootsystem that is causing huge annoyance factor for 20+ other players when raids are wiping cause of it.  If Blizzard can not do a role check based on ilvl – then they should not put up a loot system that is based on role you play.  Its that simple.

        Secondly – I can see no harm in allowing players to pick an item not based on their role since they are no longer competing with anyone else in the raid.  If you win a roll then you are not taking anything away from others if you take a healer gear if you already have the dps gear.  The result would actually leed to a dps player have some healing gear to later try out healing in more forgiving way with a bit better gear than if he was pushed doing it in much lower ilvl.  

        The core of this all is that Blizzard need to find real ways to increase the enjoyment of players playing LFR content.  How can they shorten the Q times as much as possible ?  How can they reduce the annoyance factors that players can cause other players in the raid?  Those are the basics and sadly Blizzard has so far done a very bad job of finding good solutions for it.  The absolute worst way is to see a player that wants to play a healer being pushed to play DPS to get much needed gear to lower the pain of dailies – making the Qs even longer for everyone.  Blizzard solution ….  Scenarios…  You can play them while waiting…  Just sad.  It does NOT solve the Q problem.

        What Blizzard should be looking for is to offer those roles that are needed in LFR some sort of system that reward them for helping others out.  This is done in 5 mans already to some degree.  Blizzard could even take it abit further and give needed role a valor bonus simulare to that of doing a dungeon run or finishing a round of dailies.  That would give needed roles in LFR some rewards for coming in and helping out.  

        • Kevyne_Shandris

          The new system isn’t victimless: there’s few drops per boss encounter. Someone not in their role could get gear that could’ve dropped for that role, if the loot system didn’t allow whole class roles.

          It’s like the Sha runs. Raid sees what XYZ looted, that Ret gets the Ornamental PvP gloves. He’s Prot/Ret, though. He’s upset because he didn’t get Prot/Ret gear, I’m upset he got Holy gear. Meanwhile, those limited drops that Blizzard seems to think as victimless, victimizes more than 2 players, as now a limited loot drop was wasted (as more than he or I could’ve benefited from it).

          Blizzard keeps thinking loot drops have a “wow” factor to them, when folks are in those raids to get their gear. Fine to have a raid to pass the time, but the reason people even enter them is for the rewards. That’s the payment for the time. Frankly, I don’t care if GC drops the loot himself, I just like to have gear for the time+effort before it becomes worthless. Who wants to put the time+effort in when the time+effort doesn’t offer any benefits? It’s pointless.

          I don’t expect to be all geared out in 1 month. But would like to have most pieces within 3 months for a primary spec. Three months is half-way through a patch cycle. Three months is a visible carrot to chase…never getting to the carrot for 3 years isn’t an incentive (yep, since WotLK, only 1 level raid shield I won).

          It’s reasonable expectations for the time+effort+money. Not looking for handouts; not looking to be carried…but a reward for putting the time in, and not 29g for 50 runs.

          • http://twitter.com/Deadalon Deadalon

            I agree on the time+effort+money.  Then ofc add fun cause thats after all the goal for playing games (for most players).    LFR might have some rewards – but looking at all the other factors.. its just not worth it at this point.   And then Im not looking at it from a 15 bucks a month perspective.  Just from the perspective of investing time.  And just the Q times turn that investment into boredom rather than fun for me.

          • http://www.facebook.com/colton.brown.395 Colton Brown

            1. They are fixing the drop rates for LFR in 5.2 for both 5.0 AND 5.2 LFRs

            2. They are adding a chance to win loot from the gold bags that come from it’s own seperate Loot table. 
            3. LFR queues on average is around 3-5 minutes for heals, 10-15 minutes for Tanks and 20-30 minutes for DPS. Dungeon queues are, 1-3 minutes for Tanks, 5-10 minutes for heals, and you guessed it 20-30 minutes for dps.
            They can’t just “fix” queue times. What are they going to do? Force people to play heals and tanks?

          • http://twitter.com/Deadalon Deadalon

            No – they reward player that play healers and tanks.  That way they get healers and tanks to do extra run in LFR to help out.  

            At least they should NOT be forcing ppl that want to play healers to then play DPS to get dps gear in LFR… Thats what I had to do.. and making the LFR Qs even longer.  And its not 20-30 mins.  I waited over 70 mins primetime sunday and ended up on last boss and had to do another full Q to get the raid done.  Thats just unacceptable system.  

  • http://twitter.com/Clajo3 Clajo

         Hey Gary.  Consider asking them next time what they think of utilizing weekly quests more than dailies in the future.  That would definately allow players to free up some time to pay attention to thier alternate characters and other fun activities that are also in the game.

  • Kevyne_Shandris

    PvP skirmishes like in AV? Where players can do more than wait for towers to be captured, or waiting for a wave to recapture the flag? Where folks can literally fight face-to-face 40v40? Like RvR world PvP? Now that would be kewl! Love that type of combat, as it’s more about playing roles: tanks can tank a couple DPS; DPS getting an endless supply of contenders to fight; and healers now have a meatshield to protect them so they can actually heal (good riddance HHTD!).

    • http://twitter.com/dularr Dularr

      Skirmishes were unrated arena matches.  While a great idea in theory, in practice they were a mess and gave limited opportunity to work on your PvP skills. 

      • Kevyne_Shandris

        Defeats the purpose of having arena, too. Already gutted 2v2 as non-rated as it is. And wasting time in a arena match for nothing is no better than dueling outside a faction city.

        If Blizzard wants people to learn PvP before 5.3, encourage them to hit the BGs, since but bots exist there now (still can’t get over camping nearly a whole team of bots at the spawn point. Auto-attacking; direct pathing fodder).