Technical Game Designer Chadd "Celestalon" Nervig Talks Warlords of Draenor
Update! 3:30 EST, the
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I was fortunate enough to be invited to Blizzard Campus to interview Technical Game Designer Chadd "Celestalon" Nervig on Warlords of Draenor. You can
read the full interview over at WoW Insider
, but I've created a summary for Wowhead which you can read below. Please note that while the WoW Insider transcript is just that, I have used my own phrasing here.
Timeline and the "Alpha" term
Celestalon wanted to be very clear that this was not the final set of patch notes. There's already another 5,000+ word set being created by Rygarius, as well as blogs. It's definitely not the case that these are set in stone.
Players shouldn't take the "Alpha" as meaning that Blizzard is not that far along in content, and not assume that there's a certain time period of Beta to follow.
"Alpha" more relates to how many people are being invited. Mists had a lot of people, thanks to the Annual Pass, and it wasn't necessarily the best for testing. In this Alpha, invitations are going to go a little more slowly, and ramp up steadily.
It also has to do with the new CASC file system and wanting to test certain aspects of that.
As we suspected,
will be learned randomly between 91 and 100. The reason for their randomness is to provide variety, and also to remove the problem of choice, and the pressure of making the wrong choice.
Draenor Perks also serve as a way for players to adapt to their new rotation in Warlords in manageable steps rather than trying to completely re-learn their class at level 100. These small changes alter the rotation as they come in, meaning players can learn as they level.
They should be considered a fun perk rather than a complete reworking of an ability, it's fun to see your character grow stronger with every level.
Battleground Balance and Ability Pruning
There is a single Battleground bracket from 90-99 and a new one starts at 100, so there shouldn't be any issues with balance from the perks.
It's not detailed in the patch notes at this point, but thanks to the ability pruning they're going to re-examine when specs get abilities and look to balance at the same time.
It will result in a much better experience, especially at low levels.
They're also adjusting the damage and healing of certain abilities, removing base damage and healing, which will massively improve scaling at low levels.
Raid Cooldown Removal from Tanks and DPS
Several of the raid cooldowns being removed from tanks are also being removed from DPS - such as Devotion Aura
The next version of the patch notes will include a section on "Stackable Raid Utility". It covers survival cooldowns for the raid.
The general philosophy is that the healers signed up for keeping the raid alive so should do most of that.
It's good for other specs to contribute to it, but some were doing too much and infringing on healers' jobs
They're lowering these raid-wide defensive cooldowns for all tanks, as it's not going to lose them their spot, but they have to be more careful for DPS
They want to balance stackable raid utility at a lower level than it is now, so everyone brings a little
Windwalkers' Stance of the Fierce Tiger's 10% movement increase will become a 10-yard radius aura for all melee to move faster
Mages will bring Amplify Magic as a raid cooldown, which increases all healing received by the raid by 20% for a short duration
Ret Paladins lose Devotion Aura, but keep all their hands apart from Salvation
Smoke Bomb's damage mitigation is reduced
Gateway is being nerfed, and Healthstones are basically just replacement health potions
Potions and Pre-Potting
Health Potions and Healthstones now heal for the same amount and share a cooldown
Health Potions and Healthstones do not put mana potions, nor agility potions, crit potions, any other potions on cooldown
Blizzard was considering removing pre-potting, but decided that players would all just use potions at the start of a fight unless there were very specific mechanics that demanded them later, so pre-potting will remain as it adds gameplay
Tanking, Vengeance and Resolve
There were various issues with Vengeance and how it altered tank behavior and damage. Tank damage varied wildly depending on the fight, with tanks either doing a lot or very little. Tanks would do counter-intuitive things like take a lot of damage to get more Vengeance.
The defensive aspect of Vengeance worked well, though, so that has been renamed Resolve and will affect only active mitigation
Tank damage is being increased, so tanks will do good damage regardless of whether they're being hit. They can expect to be a little behind a similarly skilled DPS
Different tanks will rank higher on healing meters depending on whether their active mitigation counts as healing. DKs will rank very high, Warriors won't appear, just thanks to their different ways to prevent damage. This isn't something Blizzard is concerned about.
Profession Changes in Raiding
Profession bonuses that provide a direct combat benefit are largely removed, so Blacksmithing's extra sockets, Enchanting's extra enchants and so on.
For items such as Engineering's Rocket Boots, where they provide a considerable benefit despite not being a direct throughput buff, the current plan is to let Rocket Boots and other things like Invisibility belts be something engineers can make and sell so everyone can have them.
Things like Life Spirits and Water Spirits are currently staying in, but they are something the devs are monitoring
There is a blog coming up on how professions are being made appealing following the removal of combat bonuses
Combo Points, poisons and Agility versus other stats
The change is coming thanks to the big rework
The devs are looking to create a more dynamic gameplay experience with fewer inherent downsides to target swapping
Rogues and Ferals shouldn't expect a complete rework with this change, but it is something that requires a lot of tweaking
The impact is likely to be on their target-swapping and ramp-up, so the devs are watching this closely
Agility classes are getting a crit bonus over other classes like Strength ones because of thematic reasons, and also because that's how it always was
There is no longer an increase in crit from agility itself, just the flat 10% bonus to crit
Blizzard wanted to bring the preference for primary and secondary stats to a more level standing -- Agility always loved agility, Strength always loved secondary stats, Intellect was somewhere in between. They are looking to balance that.
More poisons are coming for rogues!
The low throughput low cost heals were removed as, in most cases, they're something you want to gear out of ever using
The devs do recognize that this has lowered certain healers' toolbox and are monitoring it
They want mana to matter, but they don't want that to mean you're OOM all the tome.
The equivalent of Greater Heal or Greater Healing Wave will be castable at very low mana levels as your mana regen will be far higher
Base mana regen will be like starting Mists in Throne of Thunder gear. There will be less spirit on gear, so the change from the start to the end of the expansion will be less
It will become worth the mana to cast a multi-target heal when around 2.5 players are injured, as a general rule
They want to get back to overhealing being something that players care about
Melee vs. Ranged, Casting While Moving
Melee vs. Ranged balance is an ongoing task. While it wasn't perfect, if you ignore some outliers melee vs ranged balance was pretty good in Siege of Orgrimmar.
They recognize the need to tune both encounters and classes to ensure that you need to do less DPS while moving, and also do less DPS while moving!
when you're casting-while-moving less, you care about movement more and it becomes a gameplay element you want to consider, and it also means different spells become more valuable.
Elemental Shaman were the hardest hit and are being closely monitored
If someone has an ability that obsoletes the need to worry about something they stop remembering their other abilities that they have to deal with that thing. That's the case with casting while moving for a lot of characters.
More spell- and class-specific details are available in the
WoW Insider transcript
Crowd Control and CC breaks
It's OK if some classes have more CC than others. They just want to reduce the difference between the classes with the most and the classes with the least.
They want to have less CC, so if they remove too many CC breaks they'll end up where we were, so they still need most of those CC breaks. A couple will go but the majority will stay.
Ability Removal and the Problem of Iconic Abilties
There will not likely be many more abilties removed, but some may be swapped.
They're currently discussing Army of the Dead, as it's something DKs feel is iconic
Abilties which have been in the game longer or have more "Affordance" - visual impact - are less likely to be cut
A good example is the merge of Skull Banner into Recklessness as opposed to the reverse - more information over at
Paladin wings are another great example of an iconic visual that the devs see the merit of and are working to retain
If people have feedback on how they love this ability and it felt awesome, that is very valuable feedback to the devs, let them know. There is still flexibility in what they're pruning and they might change it.
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