Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Blue post: Mastery balancing, Bloodlust/Heroism and Healing Philosophy

Quote from Blizzard staff
Balancing masteries
Adjusting the third bonus is dangerous, because that is the one tied to mastery rating on gear. If we make that stat too good, then you might want mastery at the expense of crit or haste and get offended if there isn't tons of mastery on your tier sets.

Adjusting the first two passives, especially the first one, which is just damage for Elemental, is a lot safer. It's not a huge deal if Elemental gets 0.25 % damage per talent point spend and Enhancement gets 0.21 % damage per talent point spent as long as the end result of dps is pretty close.*

* - "pretty close" will be defined by players as "nobody should ever beat me, irrespective of encounter, gear or my own personal button mashing routine." Smiley (Source)

Bloodlust/Heroism on more classes
We do want to make sure that 10 player raids can get all of the major buffs a little easier. You should feel like most reasonable comps (3 warriors and 7 rogues is not what we'd consider reasonable) give you all of the major buffs and several of the more minor ones. There will be a little more consolidation than what we've described so far.

We are scaling back the magnitude of some of the buffs, as we did with Sunder Armor. We want you to feel awesome when you have strong good synergy, but we don't want the buffs to overwhelm say your gear or skill. We're also planning on getting rid of any talent that buffs a buff. Any buff that is earned solely by talent needs to have a selfish component thrown in so that you don't feel like you should respec if someone else with that buff comes along.

Obviously things like Rebirth can't just be handed to out to more classes unless we did something like a second exhaustion mechanic for battle rez or whatever. For now we're going to try the cooldown at 30 min again. In Icecrown's world of limited attempts, a 30 min cooldown likely meant you just cooled your heels until the cooldown was available again. In Cataclysm the hope is sometimes you'll have the benefit available but not every time, which scales back on how much of a game-changer it is. (Source)

Healing Philosophy
I have found this philosophy to be a tough one to communicate. Painted broadly, we have some players who chose healing because they like to be challenged and we have some players who chose healing because they like to be the hero. In LK, raid healing can definitely be stressful at times, but we're not actually convinced the challenge is there. After a tough fight, whether it was succesful or not, ask yourself what you should have done differently. Did you use the wrong heal in the wrong situation? I'd suspect not since most healers have pretty stringent rotations these days where you use your strongest heals on cooldown and fill in the time left with your next strongest heals and so on. Did you heal the wrong person at the wrong time? Probably not because anyone you failed to heal was probably about to die. You probably overhealed a lot because there is little consequence for overhealing.

Go back and look at a few videos of BC raid encounters. A couple of points may be strking. One, several characters may be at various stages of injury -- the healers could not keep them all topped off. Second, the healers may be at various stages of mana -- in other words, it's not just a matter of having more GCDs before everyone is fine again. It's a matter of triage.

Triage is one of the things missing from today's healing game (even though you likely learned First Aid through a triage quest). Loosely defined, triage is deciding who needs immediate attention (vs. who is stable vs. who is a lost cause). We want healers to be able to make decisions like "The tank is wounded, but she is unlikely to die in the next few hits, and hots are ticking on her, so she's probably okay for a moment and I can heal this Ret paladin over here," vs. "The rogue is wounded, but my big heal would overheal for a ton and I need the mana, so I can use a small heal." We want the dps to likewise be thinking about ways to minimize damage on themselves, not because they'll die in a global (i.e. before they could respond anyway) but because the healers are going to risk running out of mana.

Today, in LK, healing risks feeling even more like whack-a-mole. Injury? Heal. Injury? Heal. You're testing your reflexes more than your decision-making ability. Whack-a-mole can be challenging, but it doesn't have much depth. It's easy to add depth though. Let's start with the notion that there are two hammers. The little hammer can dispatch most of those moles, but sometimes you can use your big hammer too. The big hammer has limited charges or whatever. Now let's have some of the moles pop out a little slower so that you have time to consider which hammer to use. See where I'm going with this?

Running out of mana doesn't have to be, and won't be, the only reason you fail an encounter. But it is a point of failure that we don't have today. Adding it back in will make the encounters feel more distinct from each other and will actually, we believe, make healing more interesting and ultimately more fun. I agree it's going to be a tough sell though. In one of our playtests recently, the healer came back frazzled. "I couldn't keep everyone topped off," she said. "It took me half the dungeon to realize that I didn't have to." Once that clicked, she said she started having fun. Hopefully it will click with other players quickly too. (Source)

We're not killing off Arenas, nor do we regret introducing them. (Rob said in an interview once that we regretted *how* we introduced them. Big difference.)

Part of the problem with how we introduced Arena was we offered extremely powerful rewards that were available relatively easily. Everyone I know participated in Arena at the start of BC. Were they having fun? Several of them weren't. But they figured the had to do it to stay competitive. In fact, in BC the PvP rewards were so easy and required such little time per week to get that they threatened to divert a lot of players from raiding to get epics.

Flash forward to Lich King. We made it harder, in that it took more actual wins, to earn great PvP rewards. At the same time, we made raiding much more accessible. This got a lot of the players who didn't want to participate in Arenas out of there. But it wasn't enough. We still had a lot of players who liked PvP and / or didn't enjoy raiding who still felt like Arenas were there only avenue to great gear. Unfortunately, if they weren't that good, or if they picked a spec that wasn't that good, or they picked a comp that wasn't that good, then they were just spinning their wheels since we no longer offered them great rewards for just losing matches each week.

The idea behind rated BGs is to be able to offer the best PvP rewards through both Arenas or BGs. If you love BGs but don't like Arenas, you can still get great rewards. If you love Arenas, hopefully the experience will be even better for you because the guys who don't like Arenas will be off doing something else. If you like both Arenas and BGs, great, you have more choices in what you do that week. If you like PvP but still lose a lot, yes you're still going to be a season behind the guys who win a lot. We'll reward you gear just for participating, but if you want th best gear, you still need to win. (Source)

Paladin (Forums / Talent Calculator)
Late Cataclysm class preview for Paladins
We figured no matter who was last they were going to feel victimized. You shouldn't try and interpret too much by the order of the previews though. The fact is we're just not as far along on paladins as we are the other classes. We find it easier to work on a few classes at a time rather than say work on one class on Monday then a different class on Tuesday and keep rotating through them. We didn't pick paladin last because we hate them or because they need the most work or the least work or anything. It's pretty much totally random.

We haven't torn up the paladin talent trees in earnest yet, so the preview will likely be heavy on design intent and light on details. One of the changes we'll continue to emphasize with Retribution is trading more defenses for offense. A defensive dps spec just doesn't work really well in WoW. (Source)

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