Saturday, April 24, 2010

#BlizzChat Developer CHat on Twitter

Quote from: Zarhym (Source)
Cataclysm - General
Q: Do you intend to have all 280% flying mounts scale to 310% when a 310% mount is earned, or will only purchased mounts do so?
A: Our current plan, is that in Cataclysm, you can learn a new rank of flying that lets all flying mounts move at 310% (even current 280% mounts). That will probably be as fast as mounts will ever get. We don’t like it that when you get a 310% mount that you stop using your old ones.

Q: If 310% speed is becoming trainable, does that mean we'll be able to fly in Azeroth from the get-go?
A: We have considered the concept of “Old Weather Flying.” Just kidding. More than likely, you’ll just be able to fly from the beginning.

Q. You mentioned at BlizzCon that all races would be getting revamped racial abilities. Care to shed some light on any of them?
A. We’re going to do something similar to what we did in Wrath of the Lich King, where we just refresh them to make sure they’re balanced and feel cool. Something you could see is dwarves getting a bonus to Archeology, or undead getting a new activated racial ability that will be more useful in PvE.

Q: Can you give us some more information on how and what Path of the Titans will reward you with? Talent points? Unlock talents?
A: The Paths unlock a new kind of glyph called an Ancient Glyph. These don’t enhance class abilities, since they are designed to work with any class. They do grant bonuses that might be useful to a wide variety of characters as well as offer some actual new abilities as well. If you think your action bar is full, then you may want to head for the passive bonuses instead of the active abilities.

Q: Will the new guild perk system kill a lot of smaller guilds?
A: Our goal is not to encourage players to have to change their existing guild. We realize some players like smaller guilds and some like larger guilds and we don’t want to ask you to change that.

Q: What improvements to the UI are being considered (particularly for raid healing)?
A: We would like to update the default Blizzard UI. It has some fatal flaws, such as not being able to show buffs and debuffs simultaneously. We probably won’t ever go as crazy as some of the mods out there just because they provide a ton of customization, which is one of the things players like about them. We do think players deserve a raid UI that is fully functional for those players who just don’t like to install a lot of mods. We hope to get this change in for Cataclysm, but we’re changing the UI for the spell book, talent pane, professions window, character stats, guild, friends and probably a dozen things I’m forgetting, so it’s just a matter of how much time we have.

Q: What kinds of UI updates are planned for Cataclysm. Eclipse and Soul Shards are two, but any others?
A: We have already moved professions from the skill tab to an awesome new page on the spell book. In fact, in the absence of weapon skills, we got rid of the skill tab entirely. We have a new talent tree UI that shows all of the talent trees without scrolling and provides the passive bonuses as well. We’re changing the glyph UI to support Paths of the Titans. We’re changing the PvP queue UI to support rated Battlegrounds. We’d like to improve the V-nameplate feature. We’d like to provide more information when you level up about what new spells or features are now available to you. We’re experimenting with better ways to organize buffs and debuffs and communicate procs and cooldowns too.

Q: What change are you most excited about?
A: We are changing the old zones probably more than most players realize. A place like Stonetalon is virtually unrecognizable. It has all new quests and item rewards and dramatic changes to the landscape. A zone like Western Plaguelands has actually been updated to reflect the fact that the Scourge are in retreat (which is not to say that the zone is without its dangers). Everywhere you’re going to see something new and surprising. I think a lot of players are excited about the level 80-85 experience (as they should be!) and the goblin and worgen zones (which if anything are better than the death knight starter zone, if you can believe that), but I think a lot of players are going to want to reroll new character of existing races and classes just to see how much everything has changed.

Q: Can you go into more detail on Vengeance? As it stands it sounds like off tanks will be at a significant disadvantage.
A: We want Vengeance to have a long enough duration that off tanks won’t lose their damage bonus. In most situations, the off tank is doing some tanking along the way. The worst case scenario would be say a fight where the off tank needs to tank in phase 3 but not phase 1. Remember, even in that case though you have tools to generate high threat. Vengeance is there to keep DPS from pulling off you late in the fight.

Q: With armor class bringing mastery bonuses, will players never want to "downrank" from, say, leather to cloth?
A: That’s the idea, really. They still can wear the older armor, but they’ll lose some stats from doing so.

Q: Can you allow points spent in your off tree give a diminished amount of mastery bonus toward your main tree so as to not nerf hybrid specs?
A: Does the Elemental shaman really want more melee damage though? Does the Shadow priest really want to heal better? If anything it feels like it would be a nerf to hybrids, since a warlock would get more damage from any tree, while a DPS hybrid might only get more damage from their tree.

If hybrids end up coming out a little short, we’ll compensate in other ways (such as more oomph in talents) instead of doing hacky things with the mastery system.

Q: Compared to some third mastery bonuses (radiance etc) others are a little boring (+crit damage etc) Intended? Comments?
A: The mastery bonuses are obviously a really new concept. The risk on the one hand is that they’re too boring and don’t affect gameplay and on the other extreme they take specs which already have a lot going on and just make them overcomplicated. For now we wanted to implement a range and see what feels the best in beta. We expect to iterate on these a lot.

Class Mechanics
Q: How will haste affect channeled spells. Will it be similar to DoTs and HoTs?
A: They will channel faster but their duration will remain unchanged. You will get more ticks on the same cast.

Q: When does the homogenization of classes stop? Paladins are starting to look like priests. Where is the diversity?
A: We want the challenge of beating PvE encounters or enemy teams in PvP to be how awesome you are at strategizing, not how often you are at recruiting the right classes. While it is very, very important to us for classes to feel different, it’s also very important to us that friends get to play together.

Q. Is every healer supposed to be able to tank-heal efficiently, or will we still see specs excel in it more than others?
A. Each healer is intended to have a different niche, and different strengths. Such as Restoration druids with HoTs, or paladins at direct healing, Discipline priests at absorption/prevention, etc. That said, each healer should be able to keep up a tank and have some deeper “tank healing gameplay” as they do now.

Q: How will "active spell is more powerful" be handled with no more dot clipping?
A: How about we get rid of “a more powerful spell is active” altogether? If you have some bonehead overwriting your more powerful buff or debuff, we’d rather you handle that issue socially.

Cataclysm - Raids & Dungeons
Q: Can you make crowd control in raids and 5-mans an important aspect of the PvE game again?
A: An emphatic yes.

Q: With more players raiding in Wrath of the Lich King than ever before, do you plan to raise the difficulty to accommodate our new skill/experience?
A: The heroic difficulty is designed for the players looking for more of a challenge. One of the things we learned from Icecrown is that we unlocked the heroic modes so late that players had tons of practice on the encounters on normal mode, so the step up was smaller than it was in say Ulduar when players on hard mode were still learning some of the encounter basics. (In our defense though, because of the time of year we released Icecrown we made a conscious decision to not ask players to choose between holiday events and hard-mode raiding.)

Q: Will Ragnaros have a new weapon in Cataclysm, considering that we stole and reforged his? I'm sure he's not happy about that either.
A: Oh come on, it never actually dropped for you. Then again, is there really much demand for a Strength, Stamina, Fire resist, cosmetic Fireball proc weapon? Smiley

Cataclysm - Items
Q: Will relics and wands be getting any new attention in Cataclysm?
A: With relics, the plan is to make them class agnostic. In other words, there might be a +strength relic that a death knight or paladin might want to equip. We think that will let us add more of them to the game without them being so specialized. They will feel more like wands.

How to make wands and relics a bigger part of gameplay is something we’ve had many, many discussions on. Ultimately though we’d rather see warlocks, mages and priests casting their spells, not zapping someone with a wand. In Cataclysm we don’t expect to see much wanding, even at lower level.

Q: What will happen to our gems and enchants on gear that give us stats that are being removed in Cataclysm ?
A: We are going to change most gems and enchants that have obsolete stats like armor pen and defense..

Q: When you say you're going to make relics class agnostic, does it include druids' idols as well?
A: Druid, shaman, paladin and death knight. It’s possible we will still keep some that are very specific to certain classes and specs. Overall though we’re not happy with the current design where an ability procs a buff on you. If it’s an ability you don’t use often, then the item is terrible, so they end up feeling really passive already. At the same time, the fact that we have to offer so many prevents us from ever giving you the choice of which one to use. So we make the Resto druid or Enhance shaman version every new tier. It would be a more interesting decision if there was a crit + Intellect relic and a haste + Intellect relic, and you can choose which one to use.

Player vs. Player
Q. Thanks for having this chat! I have to say that I feel many changes are PvP-oriented. Is the game shifting more toward PvP?
A. What we’re trying to do at this point in the game is make abilities more niche and interesting, rather than adding Sinister Strike with a different name. A lot of talents and abilities we add initially only seem to have a PvP role at first glance, but eventually also prove useful in PvE situations too (examples are Dispersion, Body & Soul, or Typhoon).

Q. Will there be as much effort put into making tanking specs viable in PvP? Will Vengeance be useful in PvP?
A. Our goal is to make all specs as viable as we can in as many aspects of the game as possible. Currently some tank specs are not so much viable as they are overpowered (because their damage is competitive and survivability is off the charts), so that issue will have to be addressed when we start to flesh them out as more attractive and mainstream PvP spec options.

Death Knight (Forums / Talent Calculator)
Q: With the change to death knight tanking, Blood being the tank spec, what AoE aggro moves (besides Death and Decay and Pestilence) will we have to use?
A: We think Death and Decay and Pestilence are pretty good. We’ll add another ability if we think it’s needed, but remember, the “round things up and AE them down” strategy isn’t going to be as effective in Cataclysm until you out-gear instances.

Q: Will Dark Simulacrum work on bosses? or at least be useful in PvE?
A: It will work on any spell you can Spell Reflect, which is actually quite a few bosses. Remember, Dark Simulacrum doesn’t cancel the incoming damage so in that sense it is easier for us to balance letting death knights use it in PvE. Also be careful considering new spells for old encounters. The encounter designers will make the new encounters with the new spells in mind.

Q: I still don't get the motivation to redo the death knight rune system. It's been a couple years and now that it seems close, why do it all over?
A: Many death knights felt like they didn’t have enough global cooldowns (GCDs) to use their abilities. In some cases, the rune system started to matter less than the GCDs to hit the right button. We want death knights to have to make choices about what abilities come next. When you see DKs play today, it looks like they’re playing the piano – hitting buttons so fast. We need to buy them some room in their rotation to be able to take advantage of say procs or runes coming back sooner than expected.

Q: Did the developers learn anything from the death knight release that they plan to keep in mind for any possible future classes?
A: Um, maybe we won’t listen to community feedback about how classes need more abilities, damage and survivability? (Just kidding.) Smiley Adding a new class is very challenging, which is one reason we don’t want to do it every expansion. It’s a really good question though, and we’d like to give a little more thought to how to answer it (when we aren’t fielding so many Twitter questions).

Druid (Forums / Talent Calculator)
Q. Why are Restoration druids the only spec in the game not receiving a new spell?
A. Restoration druids are actually getting a fair bit. For one, Tree of Life is getting a whole new model (think Ancients of War) and will also “morph” some of your spells to do crazy things while in the form, such as cause Regrowth to be instant, or Lifebloom to apply two applications at once. Tranquility will be raid-wide. We’re also touching nearly every Restoration druid spell to make sure each has a niche and feels good. In general, playing a Restoration druid should feel a lot different (better!) in Cataclysm than it does today.

Q. What change are you most excited about?
A. Some of the new Balance talents for druids, like Solar Beam, which works like Freya’s spell where it instantly silences a target and they have to move out of the beam to get rid of the debuff.

Hunter (Forums / Talent Calculator)
Q. Will there be any new pet families added, or will we simply see more additions to existing ones?
A. We're not sure yet whether we’re adding new pet families or not. It’s possible. Expect to see some monkeys, foxes and other new pet possibilities though!

Q: Does the Marksman mastery (Double Shot) work like the Wild Quiver talent (provide a free autoshot) or like the Lightning Overload talent (a free whatever spell you just cast)? In other words, can Double Shot fire a second Chimera Shot?
A: Double Shot is a half-strength autoshot. Wild Quiver will increase the damage of the autoshot to 60-70% (or something similar). Lightning Overload (the talent) will likewise increase the magnitude of the Elemental Overload mechanic.

Mage (Forums / Talent Calculator)
Q: Why are you giving Mages more Crowd Control?
A: We like for classes and specs to have themes. Part of the mage kit is control. Part of the warrior kit is mobility. We like to reinforce those designs rather than give classes new abilities that remove their weaknesses. Weaknesses are supposed to be something you keep in mind while you’re playing. I’m sure Ret paladins would love Heroic Leap and warriors would love Polymorph, but that plugs a hole really, really well where you risk being a one person army who doesn’t need to be supported by other players in PvP or PvE. Obviously it risk homogenizing all the classes as well.

Paladin (Forums / Talent Calculator)
Q: Will healing hands be a paladin-centered tranquility, or something we have to run around to keep people in range of?
A: The idea is that it matters where the paladin is, so it won’t be raid-wide like Tranquility will be in Cataclysm. We will make sure the magnitude of the heal is sufficient that it’s a button the paladin wants to use. The cooldown and duration aren’t set in stone either.

Q: Now that paladin's Holy Shock is baseline is there any plans to change the Art of War talent?
A: We like Art of War, so we don’t expect it will go away. We understand the concern that Holy Shock might compete with Art of War a little bit in terms of role (an instant damage spell) and that’s something we’re going to have to address.

Q. What information/ideas can you share on PvP utility in the Retribution tree? Mandatory gap closer/interrupt question. Not having a cleanse will hurt. :\
A. Retribution paladins will be getting an interrupt. Smiley

Priest (Forums / Talent Calculator)
Q. Could the Shadow priest's Mastery bonus instead be something more distinctive from shaman shield orbs (like shadow ravens)?
A. The original “fantasy”; behind the Mastery bonus is that you’re storing shadows through combat with you, that you can unleash out using Mind Blast or Mind Spike for more burst damage. We're not sure about ravens or how that relates to a Shadow priest, but we’re definitely going to do some unique art for them.

Rogue (Forums / Talent Calculator)
Q: Is Smoke Bomb going to be usable in boss fights? Because it looks like it could cheat a lot of mechanics.
A: Potentially, yes. It essentially follows the same room of line-of-sight. If standing around a pillar lets you avoid a boss ability, then Smoke Bomb would too. Lady Deathwhisper’s adds for example, would run up to melee you if you were in a Smoke Bomb.

Q. With the emphasis moving to Battlegrounds, have you looked into rogue cooldown dependency issues?
A. We definitely want to give rogues a considerable boost in the passive damage reduction department, and then tone down some of their active cooldowns in the process. We still want the rogue to feel twitchy and exciting to play, but not to the extent that you can’t deal with another class toe-to-toe without any cooldowns up. Oh, and Cloak of Shadows now provides 100% resistance. Smiley

Shaman (Forums / Talent Calculator)
Q: Are there any plans to separate the mana regeneration mechanic and the damage reduction mechanic that is in Shamanistic Rage?
A: It’s a drawback we’re aware of and one we’re looking at. We don’t have a change that we’re ready to announce.

Warlock (Forums / Talent Calculator)
Q. With all the new changes to Demonology warlocks, do you plan to implement any threat reduction talent unique for Demonology?
A. Threat is something that we want to be binary. You should only really ever worry about pulling threat from a tank during the first thirty seconds or so, when the tank is still establishing threat, not two minutes in because your DPS was too high. In a nutshell, we’ll make sure you don’t have to stop DPS during a fight because of your threat level (ala Hodir).

Q. Any plans for an untalented spell to help warlocks deal with stuns?
A. Possibly. It’s also possible we may take a look at stuns in general. But overall stuns will feel less impacting in an environment where players have significantly more health than they do today.

Warrior (Forums / Talent Calculator)
Q: Any plans to give Fury Warriors more hit from precision or another talent due to the removal of Heroic Strike as"next weapon" hit?
A: Part of the problem is that Fury warriors undervalue hit as it is because of the way Heroic Strike works today. We’ll make sure they do appropriate damage with the new model, but that probably won’t be with a talent that says “I don’t have to worry about getting hit for my gear.”

Q: Will Protection Warriors have improved AoE tanking in Cataclysm?
A: We will make sure they don’t feel gimp compared to the other 3 tanks. We’re not going to give them an ability that they can just spam endlessly to maintain AE threat. We think Thunder Clap and Shockwave already work well for that. We want you to have to manage threat, but we don’t want it to be insanely hard to manage. (You also might be doing less AE tanking in Cataclysm overall.)

Q: Where is my moose?
A: Well, we’re looking for a zone where moose would really fit. Unfortunately we did the perfect zone for them, Grizzly Hills, already. On the other hand, let’s just say we have a large, Egyptian-themed desert zone in Cataclysm.

Q: What are your plans to eliminate the pollution problem in Azeroth? Motorcycles, planes, methane from Kodo gas, venture company?Huh
A: Well on the one hand, there will be more druids with trolls and worgen joining the ranks. On the other hand, there will be more goblins, and you know, goblins just don’t care. They have this section in Orgrimmar where they have their little beach chairs set up to look out on a view of oil drums floating in the lake. On the third (?) hand, you’ll be cleaning up the toxic waste in Gnomeregan if you can retake it!

Q: I've been playing since vanilla. The consciousness you've applied to make this game grow is praiseworthy. Thank you.
A: You’re welcome! One of the challenges of Cataclysm is to change enough to be exciting but not so much that the game feels unrecognizable to long-term fans. A lot is changing, but it’s still World of Warcraft.

Blue Post: Celestial Steed, Mastery & Multiple Trees, Combatlog and raids

Quote from Blizzard staff
Celestial Steed (not) limited quantity
The store itself does not act as a generator for loot codes, so a set number of codes had to be added to the store. That number is very high. If it's ever reached, we can add more. The item offer isn't intended to be of a limited quantity. (Source)

Mastery and multiple trees
If you are a 5/20/51 Ret paladin, you get mastery bonuses for spending 51 points in Retribution, and nothing else.

If a rogue is 55/21/0, they get mastery bonuses for spending 51-55 points in Assassination and nothing else.
We went back and forth on this for a bit, but Emogenheap's examples are correct. Basically it came down to two things:

We could do cooler bonuses (like Balance and Shadow) if we knew it would be restricted to those guys only and not all members of that class.

Several hybrids would have trouble finding enough attractive in other trees. Why does the Elemental shaman want better melee damage or healing? Meanwhile the Fury warrior happily dips into Arms to pick up their bonuses too. (It's fine to sub-spec into other trees is there are sexy talents there, even if they are different roles. We just didn't want someone to potentially get 9 different passive bonuses from doing so.) (Source)

Passive Mastery Benefits
On the broader topic of whether more creative or more passive mastery benefits are more fun, we just need to get players in there in beta and trying them out. The risk of more passive bonuses (like the current Enhancement one) is that it's just a little dry. Since your spell damage tends to scale roughly (roughly) with your gear, it risks just feeling like more damage. On the other hand, bonuses like Shadow and Balance affect gameplay an awful lot and may end up being just one too many things to monitor. We wanted to split the difference for now and see what feels the best. It could be that we spice up some of the passive ones or it could be we tone down some of the crazier ones, or we continue to offer a mix and let players gravitate towards what they like. I can see how the more creative ones might just sound more exciting, but then again getting 12 new abilities might sound exciting too until you're struggling with how to learn the nuance of when to use each one (if that lousy analogy makes sense). (Source)

Showing absorbs in combat log
We're still working on showing absorbs. It's technically very challenging. It's not information we currently pass down to the client, and while passing that information down isn't too tricky itself, making sure we can share it without affecting your performance is less trivial. (Source)

Vengeance Mastery Bonus
If you've spent much time on this forum in the last several months, you'd have noticed a common theme is that tanks start to have threat problems again at extreme levels of gear. The problem really isn't that surprising. Say that tanks start out doing half the damage of DPS specs. All is well. But the DPS specs continue to improve their DPS stats while tanks continue to improve their survival stats. Even if tanks spend a little effort on threat stats (some of which they get naturally on their gear), they still can't keep up with the DPS specs. It's a gear scaling problem.

We considered, and rejected, many other solutions to the problem, such as increasing threat modifier or choosing to no longer make tanking gear. Ultimately we decided that there were good things about the way rage works on warriors and bears (translating incoming damage into threat) and the way the mage talent, Incanter's Absorption turned damage taken into damage done. It just provides the damage increase in a way that's controllable.

Vengeance is NOT there so that you no longer have to ever worry about threat. It's fine with us if you have to consider threat a little bit at the start of a fight. Again, if we wanted to make threat not a factor in WoW, we'd just remove it and have mobs always stick to you rather than just cranking the threat numbers up so high that you don't have to take it very seriously.

Vengeance is also not designed to keep tank dps high no matter what in any circumstances. It's designed so that when you're being hit, your damage stays elevated. The damage done scales with your health, essentially allowing tank DPS to increase as DPS specs DPS increases. It scales a little bit with damage being taken too so that you don't turn into a juggernaut if a rogue sticks you with a dagger in PvP. (Source)

Encounter design and raid composition
Encounter design will always favor someone over someone else. It's probably impossible to make things absolutely even across every class (or even every tank class) on encounters that are tuned this tightly. And really, we wouldn't put that kind of constraint on the encounter designers. It's tough enough coming up with mechanics that you guys aren't totally sick of seeing while still giving you enough flexibility to bring whoever you want.

If we thought it was impossible or even really, really difficulty for some classes to tank some encounters, then that would cross the line for us. Death knights coming off of Sarth and going into Ulduar crossed the line because the advantages they had seemed like they were giving them an advantage on every fight. Blocking made too much of a difference on Anub, and we probably won't use that mechanic again. The Lich King hits so freaking hard on 25 heroic mode that a giant health pool is pretty useful. But the three guilds that have killed him now have used pretty different comps and even different tanks, so that seems pretty successful. So few guilds have anything approaching a reasonable shot of being able to handle that fight until the buff stack gets much higher that it seems a little silly to worry about it too much. (Props if you guys think you're close.) Meanwhile, you can do every other encounter in the game with the tank of your choice without being at a major disadvantage. Doesn't sound that bad overall. (Source)

Yes. Actual downranking had two problems though. One, it was a pretty obtuse concept for new players. If you're super elite you might dismiss that concern, but it was something players had to figure out (typically be reading forums or something) and worked nothing else like anything in the game.

Even more of a concern, a lot of players downranked not only to conserve mana when they didn't need to heal much but because at some point in gear the coefficient starts to matter a lot more than the base points. They could essentially get a fairly powerful heal off at a lower cost.

We think the decision of when to use a big heal and when to use a small heal is a fun one -- it was fun for players for vanilla and BC. Healing might be too bland if you literally only had those spells, but nobody will. (Source)

Paladin (Forums / Talent Calculator)
Paladin Healing model
We talked a lot about keeping the paladin model inverted, where the small heal is super efficient. There is probably a way it could still work. In the end we were just concerned that it would end up biting us in the rear. Somewhere along the way we'd have to make special rules to handle the paladin, who would risk being too mana efficient or too incapable of healing when forced to heal outside of their mana-efficient comfort zone. Could we have designed it? Probably. But frankly I'd rather spend our time on more interesting mechanics and spells. I'd rather the new AE heal really make paladins feel like they can AE heal rather than really making sure FoL felt small, cheap and fast. I agree it erodes a little bit of distinction among the classes, but only a little bit. There are far more interesting ways to make healers feel unique than in the relative mana efficiency of their small spell. (Source)

Divine Storm
Divine Storm will get the Whirlwind treatment (less damage per target but unlimited targets).

The difference is that paladins fit their rotations around cooldowns while warriors do so around a limited resource. So it's entirely possible a paladin will still use DS when other attacks are on cooldown. (It will depend on what exactly the Ret rotation looks like, which we're still developing.) Divine Storm also provides a little healing too, so it's not exactly the same as Whirlwind. We probably wouldn't want to get to the point where Rets feel the need to have their single target spec without DS and the cleave spec with DS. (And without knowing the numbers, it's going to be difficult for any of you to insist that this will or will not happen.)

In general, we don't want buttons that are good against single targets to just be better against groups of targets. It makes rotations too static and makes numbers hard to balance since "cleavey" specs can do so much more damage against tight packs of enemies. Some higher damage is fine. It just too extreme right now.

These are previews, not patch notes. Just because we didn't mention anything doesn't mean there is no chance of it changing. (Source)

Blessings / Blessing of Sanctuary
Kings and Might can just be raid wide. There should be no need to target individuals. We're trying to make sure there isn't a circumstance where one dude would prefer the opposite buff to everyone else.

Bo Sanc could just be Kings with an extra mana component (for the paladin). We're also considering making it a passive that gives the paladin mana and provides the 3% damage reduction buff raid-wide which is currently brought by Renewed Hope (the Disc talent). (Source)

Scaling back AoE Tanking Capabilities of Paladins
That's still the goal. I guess I'm unclear of what part of the paladin preview you took to mean that we're keeping the same or even enhancing the ability for paladins to AE tank.

We tried to stay away from numbers as much as possible in the previews, except to give you a vague sense of the intent for some of the new abilities in terms of whether something has a short cooldown or a long cooldown.

[...] No, it's not really that. We just have a couple of different avenues we're exploring and we didn't want to have say models A, B and C in different large paragraphs. The ideas just need a little more time to bake.

And I'm not entirely sure how you're using "niches" but I am talking about wanting Prot paladins to use slightly different rotations against single targets than against groups. The addition of Crusader Strike (and maybe Holy Shock?) alone start to provide that. (Source)

Critical Healing Effect
There also seems to be some confusion about Critical Healing Effect which simply means a critical heal can do more than 150%. (Think of talents like Ruin for warlocks.) We wanted to keep some of the feel of Holy paladins getting big critical heals and caring about crit in general. This mechanic wouldn’t really have worked in Wrath of the Lich King because big crits just translated into overhealing. In Cataclysm that shouldn’t be the case. (Source)

Shaman (Forums / Talent Calculator)
Enhancement Concerns
The previews have only been out a short while, and we're not ready to go from there yet to going into a lot of detail on every talent tree. There are some Enhancement mechanics you haven't seen yet.

To deal with two specific concerns....

We agree that Enhancement benefits too much from just auto attacking. This isn't a "nerf shaman" issue. We just think having more yellow damage makes the spec more interesting, a little harder to master (in the sense of letting really good players eek out a little more dps) and ultimately easier to balance.

On the mastery talent tree bonus, it might very well end up as all Elemental damage. We're not really trying to get Enhance to shift from Fire damage to more Lightning Bolts or anything at higher tiers of gear. We didn't go that way initially because it looked odd for Enhancement's bonus to be "Elemental damage" and also because Survival's bonus was also Elemental damage, and we want all 30 to be unique. But there are ways around that, including doing a different one for Survival. (Source)