Monday, April 5, 2010

Blue Post: Mana regen in Cataclysm, Cataclysm Healing, Class Balance and FOTM Classes

Quote from Blizzard staff
Mana regen in Cataclysm (Bye Bye 5-Second rule)
Two changes we're considering are combining all food and drink into food+drink and getting rid of the five-second rule in exchange for an out of combat rule. We're going to start talking a lot more about Cataclysm changes soon.

The FSR provides some interesting gameplay (but at a pretty high complexity cost). We think we can engineer similar gameplay where choosing spell A over spell B is a mana-based decision rather than casting vs. standing still doing nothing is a (less fun) mana-based decision. (Source)

Cataclysm Healing and effects on PvP
Ideally you'd go into an Arena game and not know immediately whether it was going to be an outlast game or a fast game. We don't have a problem with either case, but we think the overall experience is less fun when it's always and predictably one or the other (and in LK too often it's the latter).

We're not really interested in over-emphasizing mana draining as a dominant strategy, but running someone out of mana by causing a lot of damage seems perfectly reasonable. If you can't run the healer OOM then really your only options are to blow someone up while the healer is controlled or blow someone up so fast the healer can't respond. Again, those need to be valid strategies. They just can't be the only strategy. (Source)

Hybrid Tax System
We'll continue to polish it, but we're not fundamentally changing the design. We think there is plenty of evidence to suggest that pure dps would die off if more flexible classes could do everything they could do and more. Again though, in most cases gear or skill will have a much bigger influence on your performance than the potential maximums we engineer into the classes. While the averages more or less follow our general design (with some exceptions that we need to address), you can find plenty of individual parses where a hybrid "wins" or a pure "loses." (Source)

Farming Frost Badges in Heroics is boring
Some players like having a reason to still visit older content and a reason to do something on nights other than raid night, while other players want to be able to log in, raid, and be done for the week. It's hard to provide an incentive structure compelling enough for the first guy without the second feeling like he has to grind. The emblem system has a natural tapering off period where you start to get everything you need and have less and less a reason to keep earning them. But it can feel pretty overwhelming when a new tier starts and you're counting up the hundreds of badges you're eventually going to need.

The problem, and something for which we have a solution, is that the costs are balanced around the maximum badge income per week, which means doing both raids, the weekly raid quest, the weekly Icecrown raid quest, and a heroic run every night. That's a bit much for most players, but since the option is there, some feel like they have to do it. On the other hand, if you have more than one character you care about, then you could burn yourself out quick.

There are alternatives though. As a simple example, if you could run all your Dungeon Finder groups in one or two nights for the week without having to log on every night, it might feel less grindy to you. (Again, for some players doing anything more than a few times is going to feel grindy, but it's impossible for us to develop content faster than players can consume it.) (Source)

Class Balance and FOTM Classes
Actually, the evidence suggests otherwise. Rogues for example have been in a pretty good spot for most of the expansion in PvE and PvP but are one of the least popular classes. If anything I suspect there aren't that many true FotM rerollers probably because they imagine after they've put in all that effort to reroll that we will have adjusted the status quo in the meantime. If players really swapped classes with reckless abandon, I further suspect you'd see a lot fewer "buff me plz" posts. I also suspect it's more likely that players play the classes they like and then get frustrated when they think we aren't holding up our end of the bargain (which is a pretty reasonable response when you think about it). If the motivation was just to go where the damage is, there would probably be fewer passionate pleas to get everything so close.

I don't know if shameful is the word I'd use. That's a pretty heavy one. DPS across the board is pretty close, certainly relative to where it has been in the past. We can still probably do even better, but let's keep things in perspective. Every class has multiple viable specs in PvE and in most cases if they have a spec that is lagging behind it's because it's dominant in PvP so we don't have a lot of room to just tweak up the damage. That's small consolation if you just love the Arms playstyle, but it's better than Arms being a completely dead tree (as Subtlety was close to being). In the meantime, if dps really matters to you, the Fury tree doesn't require massive regearing or relearning. It's not as bad I'd argue as a Shadow priest who has no option but to heal if he's not competitive, or a Balance druid who has to start over with gearing up in order to go kitty.

I'd say it's close, but we can do better. (Source)

Healing and Mana Efficiency in Cataclysm
You should be able to use your efficient spell virtually forever (or at least much longer than the average encounter length). That efficient heal may be fine for earlier dungeons or raids. Eventually though you're going to hit points where someone is going to die in between casts of the efficient heal. In those cases you should switch to an inefficient but fast or big heal. Yet, if you focus on the inefficient heals too much, you will run out of mana.

As players gain more and more regen in later tiers of content, they'll need to rely on their inefficient heals more, but will also have the stats to be able to do so.

Not every healer has enough spells to currently make the decisions between efficiency and other choices. In fact, we'll probably have to adjust the toolbox of everyone to some extent. (Source)

[...] Most healers spam one heal now. Druids for all of their spells can do very well with just Rejuv and Wild Growth. Disc priests spam PW:S and Holy priests spam CoH on cooldown. We want to carve off niches for other spells. Flash Heal can be awesome if it runs you out of mana to hit nothing but Flash Heal. (Source)

[...] Casting a couple of fast / expensive heals to save someone's life is exactly what you should be doing. Casting nothing but the fast / expensive heal because, hey why not, leads to pretty repetitive gameplay. (Source)

[...] We will have to change numbers for Cataclysm. It's probably a safe assumption that we'll adjust every number in the game in order to account for changes such as larger health pools, lower mana regen and all of the talent tree changes. (Source)

[...] I was talking in the context of raiding, but the entire discussion of infinite mana is generally within the context of raiding. The fights are generally shorter in the 5-player content to where mana likely won't be much of a problem. It might be on some of the more challenging heroic bosses, in the same way that Loken was pretty punishing to heal when LK first shipped. If you go to your Flash Heal too often you might run out of mana, but with a Divine Plea, Mana Tide, Shadow Fiend or Innervate you should be good to go and the fight will likely be over (one way or another) before you need them again. (Source)

[...] We want to shoot for a BC style model, except the choice will come from spell A vs. spell B instead of rank 3 of spell A vs. rank 9 of spell A. Downranking had some serious gameplay problems, most notably being an unintutive mechanic for new players and letting players in general cheese coefficients of lower ranked spells. The actual decision that downranking offered of efficient vs. big vs. fast is an interesting one though, and one we think is missing for too much of LK.

To get there, many healers will need a new spell B or A, except potentially druids, who just need the numbers tweaked on some existing spells so that they have more defined niches.

As someone who has spent a lot of time healing, I *think* it's going to be a pretty fun time for healers, though I'm sure it will take some tweaking before it feels exactly right. (Source)

Paladin (Forums / Talent Calculator)
Yeah, while Ret and Enhancement generally work out okay as cooldown-limited specs, we think we need to juice up the gameplay of both just a little bit so there are more opportunities to screw up, so that when you don't, you feel really awesome. Removing the chance of failure doesn't really make for compelling gameplay. (Source)

Shaman (Forums / Talent Calculator)
Enh Shamans useless because of 3.3.3 Icy Talons?
My raid sat me, not because I didn't bring a useful chunk of raid synergy, but because some other guy brought it in a more convenient package. I'm sticking with the guild though. I love those guys, even though they don't let me play much, and I think they're going places with their penchant for min / maxxing.

Seriously though, we'd like to iron out some of the disparities where one buff requires more maintenance or RNG or talent points than another, but I have a hard time imagining that many players are really being negative impacted by the relative convenience of identical buffs.

Pushing for more awesome buffs isn't going to lead to more awesome buffs. It's going to lead to more homogenization and less group synergy overall. We'd be in a land where every raid buff or debuff just passively radiates a 1% bonus or whatever so that your group composition had an almost trivial contribution to your success. I'm not sure that would be as much fun though. We don't think the buffs have to be identical. They just have to be close enough that it isn't a major consideration for most reasonable guilds or pugs. (Source)

Yeah, while Ret and Enhancement generally work out okay as cooldown-limited specs, we think we need to juice up the gameplay of both just a little bit so there are more opportunities to screw up, so that when you don't, you feel really awesome. Removing the chance of failure doesn't really make for compelling gameplay. (Source)

Warrior (Forums / Talent Calculator)
Heroic Strike / Next Swing Attacks

We're not getting rid of Heroic Strike et al. We're just making them instant attacks instead of on next swings. The nice thing about on next swings is that they could consume rage without sacrificing a GCD. In reality though, I don't think that benefit is worth their downsides. A new player for instance hits Heroic Strike and doesn't really notice anything different happening. Not a great introduction to the warrior class. (Source)

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