Warlords of Draenor: Wowhead interviews Blizzard developers
interviewed Lead Class Designer Kris Zierhut and Game Designer Steve Burke on Warlords of Draenor.
Topics discussed include:
Bad Luck Protection and the prevention of looting duplicate items
Engineering tinkers as sellable items and the impact on raidint
Garrisons and how they're tied to overall gameplay - your Garrison can be attacked by NPCs, and you get rewards for defending it
Followers—interesting ways to recruit them, specialize in different types of rewards.
Incentivizing Proving Grounds
Challenge Modes Strengths and weaknesses of Timeless Isle
You can listen to the audio below. Obviously, as it's a convention, there is some background noise for which we apologise.
Edit: transcript is now up too! We have tried to be as exact as possible, but due to the poor audio quality at points, there are a few summarized bits.
Hit the break for the Transcript!
Many thanks to user
for providing the initial transcript.
Wowhead has the Warlords of Draenor talent calculator. Everyone's been talking about the level 100 talents. Are you still working on any talents that are considered controversial, have any specific comments on talents that you think might likely get further revision from what we've seen in patch notes, or any other abilities that could get pruned out that we haven't heard about yet?
We're doing work on that every single day, so we spend a lot of time looking at forums, looking at tweets, at posts & responses from players. We'll get more as the beta and alpha unfold, and we're constantly making tweaks to the talents as there's changes. Just last week we switched what talent row some of the priest talents were in just to make the flow better for low-level players. We're ready to make changes based on the feedback we get. We're happy with where they are.
We'd be willing to essentially ship with anything we (currently) have on the talents, but when we get feedback we can use that to make them even better than they already are. You're unlikely to see a lot of changes in lower level talents - it's mostly the level 100 talent row there will be changes to. There are some pretty drastic changes to level 75 and 90 mage talents to fix problems.
Yeah, that had the biggest calculator changes.
But for the most part, if you see even more changes they're mostly level 100 talents, or if a talent has a particular problem it is causing, the design many need adjustments based on that.
I also saw that redirect was still an ability but as @Celestalon was saying on Twitter, it was going to be cut for rogues.
Yeah, we hadn't gotten around to removing it yet, so a lot of the time we'll get a bug in Inspector saying "hey, you didn't get rid of redirect!" and we'll take care of it. The intention is that redirect goes away and is replaced by this... Essentially your combo points are always on the rogue (persist through target swaps) so they get a big change I'm excited about. I’ve talked to a lot of rogue players who are really happy about that change.
My main is a rogue so...
My main is a feral druid so I'm very familiar with that as well.
I know that you guys are doing a blog on raid cooldowns soon, and much has been made about the state of raid cooldowns and how they are changing. Also in particular the problem of how DPS raid cooldowns diluted healer gameplay and how you guys want to fix that. Is the goal still for DPS players to feel like they have ways to contribute to the raid survivability at key moments? Is that still important?
Oh, definitely, definitely. So things like
for rogues remain important to us, or
on hunters, or being able to use talents like
on druids. These are important things so that everybody feels like they can do something to help the group survive, but the overall magnitude effect was often too big. For example a feral druid or balance druid's
with heart of the wild running was just too much, so we actually took
away from them. It is now a restoration only ability. But we still feel like they can contribute something overall.
One place it was very clear we could take back down some of the raid cooldowns was tanks didn't really need them. If you think about it, I could go on to say "I've got this cool reason why you want to bring me to the raid, I've got this tool you can bring." The (truth is) tanks are going to get brought, no matter what. They don't need to have that thing to get them their “in”.
By toning down all of these raid cooldowns, we make the healers feel better about their condition. They become more important. What it was doing (previously) was eroding their place in the raid, and in some cases, if the encounter wasn't very healing-dependent it was actually letting people drop healers from the raid altogether, which wasn't what we were looking for. So we brought those all down for very good reasons - for increasing the importance of the healer input.
You've also added a few raid cooldowns for DPS, like
, or the
, where DPS can enhance the healing.
Yes, because there were a few classes that didn't bring anything, so we thought "lets fix those deficits and bring them up", and in some cases they brought too much, like retribution paladins have too many things - we had to take Devotion Aura off of them.
So changing gears to garrisons; everything we have heard is very exciting. They seem to be the mini-game feature of Warlords, kind of like battle pets back in MoP, but even bigger! What methods will there be of tying them into normal gameplay, you know, if you enjoy playing other parts of the game, like questing, raiding or PvP. What's going to make you take a break from those activities to go do things in your garrison?
I think people compare them to battle pets because that was the new feature last time but I’d say they're not at all like battle pets. Unlike battle pets, they are integrated into EVERY aspect of Warlords of Draenor. Steve can actually give you a lot of info on this...
Its a -huge- focus of ours to make sure we fold those (garrisons) into everything. We're going to re-route you back to/from your garrison constantly as you're leveling up.
There are several things that are going to drive you back there. For example when you first get your garrison we're going to give you a mine. We're going to give you a farm, and a barn for free, basically. You're going to be able to build these structures right away. Those are going to give you the resource gathering. You're going to get every resource, whether you're spec'd for it or not, and ...
leather, and ore, and herbs...
Exactly, whether you're offline or online it will keep generating those. And you're going to want to keep going back to your garrison to make sure that you remove those (resources) from those facilities and transfer them over to whatever crafting buildings you might have built, whether it's a blacksmith, or leatherworking, or whatever.
Garrisons are tied to every aspect of max-level tradeskills so if you want to advance your tradeskills, you have to build that up in your garrison. It's going to be part of what's going on.
Right, right. Another thing - as you're adventuring through, doing quests, and just devouring the content throughout Draenor, you're going to come across a lot of NPCs. Maybe they are quest givers and you do a few quests for them, and at the end of that they are going to be grateful and want to work for you, and you recruit them and send them to your garrison. You can (for example) rescue an orc from a group of ogres, or find somebody imprisoned in the bottom of a dungeon and release them, and talk them into working for you.
So, as you keep going back to your garrison - kind of your tapestry, your story of Draenor - you're going to see (your story) right before your eyes with all these characters you have got a little history with. You're going to be able to make choices. You're not going to be able to bring everybody in. So, you might adopt a 'no-gnome policy' or whatever it might be - there's a lot of depth there too.
I don't know how much you're familiar with the actual followers, but they are going to have item slots, they are going to have weapons, they are going to have armor. Each of those (armor pieces) is going to have ilvl stats, so you can constantly upgrade them. There are going to be missions you can send them out on.
We're going to telegraph to you those missions - exactly what the challenges are that you're followers are going to face, and so you're going to want to make more interesting decisions. (such as) Which of your followers are best suited to this specific challenge? You're not going to just have an A-Team and send them out on every mission. Those missions are going to unlock as you play and they are going to get more and more challenging, and your garrison followers are going to level up.
So, as you level up, as your ilvl raises, and based on your matching up against the adversaries abilities, you're going to have (varying) levels of success. You get bronze, silver, gold and treasure that are attainable from those missions. We're going to just spell it right out for you (such as) you've got a 5% chance of getting gold with this line-up. You swap out a character for another one and maybe that goes up to 78% and so on...
There's also been some interesting buildings, tweets about fishing, or unique pet battle teams. I've heard something with mounts or the way that you can show off achievement trophies at your garrison.
There's going to be a pond there for you to fish in. There's going to be a training ground for your battle pets. It's going to be part of the garrison..
It's organic; all really integrated, so hopefully it'll encourage you to explore every facet of the game and build that part up. Your buildings in the garrison are going to level up.
Yep. The three levels.
And there's lots of hard choices - you can't have every building, you can't have every follower, and they all have different capabilities and different things that may work well with your character, or -not- well with your character, depending on your class, your play-style, your specialization, etc...
So everyone's going to end up with a different garrison, different followers and you have to make hard decisions about it, (such as) "Do I want them to go get loot for themselves to make them better, or do I want them to go and get loot for me? Or do I want them working my blacksmith so I can make stuff to sell on the auction house. So it depends on what your goals are in the game, what you're going to do with them.
And on top of that, every once in a while these guys - who you've been poking in the eye - they're not happy with that and they're going to send forces to go and assault your garrison - and you're going to have to organize a defense of it. You gotta' make sure you have guys that are capable of defending it. You may also bring in your real-life friends to help you do the garrison defense. All those different features of garrisons are going on all the time, all the way through leveling up
at max level.
Yeah, those assaults are going to be... (Steve seems at a loss for words) ...I'm really excited about them. They're coming on really nicely. We're selling them very well. Big battles that just come and huge threats, and some actual rewards tied to those events as well.
Cool, so you guys were talking about tradeskills and professions, and I had a question specifically on those. We learned in the patch notes that the combat benefits are removed from professions and that should make them feel less mandatory and more enjoyable to the people that like them. What benefits are players looking forward to from the professions now in Warlords and what are the incentives for leveling them now?
So, part of the philosophy was to put the trade back in tradeskills instead of it being about character power. "What’s the most optimal way to make my character stronger." - We weren't happy with that. It (the change) has its origins in engineering because engineering was the best tradeskill without those perks - We kind of made everybody else catch up with it.
Going in the other direction, I think what we're going to do instead is engineers will actually be able to sell the gizmos they make to other players - they won't be engineer-only. And then we don't have to have these perks propping up the whole system, so each tradeskill is a legitimate choice in max-level gameplay. You don't have to say that being a miner and skinner is dumb, which is what it is in the game right now. It can be okay.
The main goal of tradeskills is to make cool things and sell them to other people, which means you engage in it if you enjoy that (style of) gameplay. If you don't, you do some other part of the game.
Have you guys thought about the implications of engineer perks being available to everyone - like everyone in the raid having rocket boots in light of the ability pruning?
There are some pretty good answers to that. We were talking about changing the engineer boots to just use the potion cooldown, so you can use the boots to go super fast but then you can't use that bonus agility potion that you want to use right when heroism's going. So you have hard choices to make and whether or not to use these things.
Before we started the video, we were talking about the Timeless Isle a little - the exploration and all the objectives on the maps. The Timeless Isle introduced a new way of doing content and is very different to the (typical) daily quests at the start (of the expansion). What do you consider to be the strengths and weaknesses of the current Timeless Isle and what angles can we expect to see in Warlords?
We've been working gradually ever since Firelands and maybe even before. We've been trying to work towards a more sand-boxy open feel for some in-game content. With Pandaria, we've been doing plenty of daily quests. What we've got planned here for Draenor in some patch content is similar to that.
We're going to rely on some other tech, (in particular) some of the bonus objective tech which is basically calling out where there's content on the map - content that's just intuitive and already has the context built in so you don’t a need a whole pane of quest text and somebody to go talk to. You just roll right in and have objectives light up on your taskbar.
Here's an example - in Ashran there could be a bonus objective: to go collect cannonballs for the fortress to fire off cannons. I'm just giving an example. So as you approach those cannonballs, a bonus objective shows up on your screen: "go get 12 cannonballs and bring them back to the base" and that helps advance your (existing) objectives and gives you a reward that helps you fight better in Ashran and then helps you win that fight.
So you're constantly discovering these objectives as you adventure around instead of being guided around the nose by a bunch of exclamation points.
I know a lot of people like exploring and finding new gear on the timeless isle, but some other angles (aspects of the content) like the rare spawns, and how their health pools scaled or didn't scale, or the low vanity rates, were less enjoyable for some players.
I think the big problem in those respects was - as awesome as Timeless Isle was – and as big as it was - it was actually too small, There was too much player collision. So imagine all over the continent, having an area like that! So we have (in WoD) a lot more space to work with, Ashran (new world PvP zone) being a much bigger space to work with. And if people are spread-out more, there's less of that player collision over specific spawns.
We're also blowing out - on the leveling up path at least - the treasures. You found a few of them in Pandaria.
Yeah, riches of Pandaria. Nice gold boost!
Right. One of the things that we're trying to do is kind of get back to the old World of Warcraft feel where it's fun to explore every nook and cranny, and kind of discover everything that was all brand new. With recent expansions we've looked back at our content and felt that we were keeping you on rails a little bit more than we'd like to.
If you're in a race to get to max-level and get into those raids, you can play just as you always have. It's not going to impede your progress at all. But if you're kind of player that wants to roam around and smell the roses a little bit, were going to make it worthwhile. We're going to reward you for going into the back of the different caves or exploring the little nooks and crannies, and the vignettes, the little boss icons, those things are going to be present as well along with the bonus objective rewards (you get) for roaming around and exploring.
That's actually a big part of why - you've probably heard but we're not letting you fly - in 6.0. It's because we want to protect that exploration gameplay. If you can fly around, what it becomes is you go to a website that says "go to these co-ordinates in order to get these items" and you kind
of lose that chance to explore and discover for yourself. We want to protect that by not letting you fly at the start.
I know a lot of people are concerned that "I got this amazing epic flying mount in Warlords of Draenor (like the serpent mounts you get) and they're not allowed on the ground, you can't use them in battlegrounds, you can't use them in arenas, etc.” So we're changing the rules on that. Every single flying mount is going to be usable on the ground, including battlegrounds and arenas!
I know a thing we're doing to streamline things a little bit. We're really sensitive about bag space. I don't know if you've noticed but sometimes your bags get a little bit too full and heavy...
Yes, mine are very full...
In Pandaria, especially the quest team, we have gotten a habit of awarding you with a lot of different gadgets. The problem...
yeah, Timeless Isle especially; there's so many awesome things but you don't have any room! (in your bags for all the items)
Even in 5.0 you started getting punt-able marmots and costumes and things like that...
Right, so one of the things we've done to alleviate all that bag bloat is take all of those items and give them their own tab like mounts and pets get.
We're calling it the “toy box”. So you can cast those spells directly from the toy box.
Right, in addition to that, as you're just going around questing and we ask you to go get pelts and teeth and whatever we might send you after, those items are no longer going to go in your bags. You're going to get credit for them, they're going to track just as they always have but they aren't going to take up any bag space.
On top of that, tradeskill materials are going to be able to stack to 100 in most cases. We're giving you another page of void storage so all the new transmog gear you're collecting will have space and we're going to give you a little bit more bank space. You're going to find that bags open up a lot more - there's a lot more space to hold stuff.
Cool. So I've got a question on Challenge Modes and Proving Grounds. I really enjoyed this content in Mists, but it seemed that it was a bit under-appreciated and could reach a larger audience. I really liked how you could do it without a large group or amazing gear, and now we have that silver Proving Grounds requirement for Looking-for-Dungeon. Are you guys planning any more rewards or incentives to get people to try this content out, because I think it's really good to have people learn their class in a nice environment.
I think it's a really important part of our boost-to-90 strategy, that we're requiring people to get a silver for dungeons and doing LFR requiring getting proving grounds.
We're planning on doing more proving grounds in the future. We'd actually like to make it so that it diagnoses your mistakes a little bit more, (for example) says "maybe there's a spell that you aren't casting and should be casting, or casting more often".
This probably won't make it into 6.0, but with something long-term, proving grounds could do more to diagnose what you're doing wrong. I think making that requirement to get into content by doing proving grounds is going to send a lot more players there.
We were actually even talking about, maybe in the UI, instead of just saying "you're not allowed to do this (content) yet" there's a button that says "queue for proving grounds" to take you straight there. We want to promote that; use that as a way for improving and making your character better. I mentioned how it connects to the boost-to-90 experience. I think boost-to-90 is a HUGE part of what we're doing in Warlords of Draenor to make the game more accessible.
Different people have stopped playing at different times. You may (for example) have found the last time they played was when they were level 83 somewhere in Cataclysm. They don't remember what they were doing. Their inventory is totally full of stuff they don't recognize. Spells they don't remember how to use, quests that... who knows what those were! They're taking their character, they're boosting it to 90, clearing out the quest log. Clearing their inventory. Mailing it back to them so they can get to it eventually.
The other thing we're doing is we're going to clear off their action bar. We're going to give you just 3 or 4 abilities on a boosted character at first, and then gradually unlock more abilities as you quest though it, so essentially giving people a chance to re-learn how their character works, and identify what the important abilities are. We'll put them on their action bar for them so they can get led into the game with a little bit of help for that first hour experience we're talking about. And they'd be ready to play the game and engage and play side-by-side with people who are raiding Siege of Orgrimmar after that.
So you'll be able to play with your friends immediately instead of saying "I'll see you in a couple of weeks, after you get to lvl 90!" which isn't very fun for anyone.
I have a question on currency. So, recent interviews have stated valor points are going away. Are there any big changes for the other big types of currency that we're familiar with in Mists, and will anything fill the role of Valor, which was to provide a reliable way of getting new gear and upgrades on a weekly basis?
We spent a lot of time thinking about valor, and valor has gone through a few different phases in what it was. If you think back to Wrath of the Lich King, or even Burning Crusade, it was essentially used as a "I can go buy this gear because I got unlucky and never get what actually drops" It was sort of a fall-back mechanism for when you weren't lucky.
The much better solution, instead of giving you this currency to solve that, is to help deal better with being unlucky. So, we're going to do more to track progressive loot so that when you use you bonus rolls to get items and don't win something, we're going to make it more and more likely for you to actually win something, and we're also going to keep track of which items you got with your bonus rolls - so if you get something with your bonus roll we're going to try and not give you that item again. In effect, a massively reduced chance to get duplicate items.
I think by making loot a little bit less random - a little more dependable - especially bonus rolls - there's no need for this fall-back currency to make up for being unlucky, because you weren't unlucky in the first place. That's just going to feel better to everybody. We're still going to keep justice around for buying old gear from previous expansions. I think armor is going to be serving in a similar way, and conquest will be the main currency in this expansion. Simplifying the currency is again re-examining why we have valor and trying to serve that in a different way, a way that's less complex and more fun.
I think we only have time for one more question, so a general one. If you're someone whose friends have played WoW but you haven't played before, what would you tell your friend why they should pick up Warlords of Draenor; what makes it special?
It's the best time to jump back in the game. The boost to 90 is going to make everybody able to play side-by-side with their friends. As you're going through that intro experience, the guy who's raiding right now can play side-by-side with a completely new friend, but the new friend's getting helping hands.
There's only 3 or 4 buttons on their action bar. As they quest through that first hour's experience, we gradually unlock a few more abilities, a few more abilities at a time, and gradually increase the complexity as well as identifying what the important buttons are and what they mean. A new player is going to have a sort of tutorial to help them get into the action. And they're not going to have to wait to play with the person they are playing with all that long.
As soon as that hour is done, they can go do a dungeon together, they can keep questing together - Frostfire or Shadowmoon – or they can go off and do a battleground. All of those things are open to them, so it's a great time for them to jump right back into the game. And then additional emphasis on Proving Grounds to help and more ways to teach them how to play.
Awesome, thank you very much!
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