Dev Q&A

Ian and Lore had a Q&A session.  I always find these interesting.  In my real life job, I’m trying to get the team to operate under “open principles”, which means transparency and disclosure along the way.  Clients may not always agree with the why, but it does end up building trust.

Anyhow, the Q&A is the WoW attempt at transparency and honestly, I think that works pretty well.  MMO-Champ does have a good summary, or you can watch the video.  The points I’d like to cover are:

Class Tuning

The last Q&A they mentioned that a few classes were essentially broken.  Arms and Feral had a massive temporary buff to numbers, which honestly seems a bit odd after launch.  But there’s a difference between tuning and class overhaul.  There are classes that need that do be done – Druid and Shaman are top of that pile.

My experience with development delays is a lack of internal expertise to take on the challenge.  It is not a small task to overhaul a class, and it’s good that they are taking their time.  It’s less good that the issues that were in Legion for 2 years didn’t meet the criteria for a fix.

Auction House Lag

I laugh a bit at this since the service I manage is in the middle of something similar.  It’s been 18 hour days to try and resolve it.  Stormrage’s AH is almost useless, but it’s not so much critical now as it will be the week before raid launch.  I’ve had issues with the AH interface and structure for a very long time.  The mobile app was an improvement and with that gone, things are just worse.

There are two issues at play here.  First is the actual mechanics of the AH and the database transaction load must be insane.  Single items instead of stacks should be outright banned (or the deposit fee increased 100 fold), and there should be a cap on the number of active auctions per player.  That would provide time to get a larger fix in… which honestly will likely require rebuilding the AH from scratch.  I do not envy that team.

The second issue is Blizzard’s lack of internal market expertise.  I am sure they have internal metrics on the income of gold, the average per player, and new ways to add sinks (like a 5m gold mount).  Way back in WotLK I mentioned that daily quests were flooding the game with “easy gold” and we’re so far along now that there’s no way to put that genie back in the bottle.  We’re at a point now where design decisions are based on the fact that everyone can make X gold per day with minimal effort, and that everything past that is for customization.  The exception here is Azerite gear respec costs, which frankly make no sense to me.  But that’s for another post.  Best of a bad hand in this.

(Another example of poor game planning due to economic is pretty much any gathering WQ – though particularly herbs.  40 herbs is something like 1500g.  Who in their right mind would do that?  Or a champion mission that rewards 70g.  The daily heroic dungeon bag gives more than 1000g.)

Group Auto-accept

The reasoning here is that it breaks the social aspect of the game.  So, shenanigans?  Are they actively playing the same game as me?  Have they tried using the horrible interface to find a group?  Even the world-boss group finder was atrocious due to tons of spelling mistakes – and the leader getting spammed with invites even during the battle.  Anyone playing now is looking at either the quest ID in group finder (piles of numbers) or getting whispers.  Lunacy.

I’ll give a better example – Legion assaults, in that I mean the sub zones with 3-4 stages on Argus.  Those should AUTO-group everyone that enters.  It’s crazy that it doesn’t.  You end up clicking/inviting everyone manually because the group finder is likely to port you to another instance altogether.

Every single UI mod is based on someone’s critique of Blizzard’s UI.  The most popular ones are clearly massively popular critiques.

Scaling

“It’s been that way since 7.2 and we’re not going to change it”.

Let’s cover this off shall we?

  • The leveling curve was not applied to Legion zones in 7.2.
  • The curve was applied to all other leveling zones, and took over a month to tweak the numbers.
  • The 8.0 stat squish made this oh so much worse, enough that they had to boost EXP gains to offset some of it
  • It therefore only impacted a small portion of the playerbase until the launch of BfA

It now impacts every single character, as everyone is leveling.  It clearly has less optimized pieces during the journey from 110 to 120.  PvP scaling is also impacted.  See video below at the 2:26 mark where a 120 loses 50% of their HP in 1 GCD, with a defensive cooldown activated – against a level 116 player.

The question is, does it matter?  The problem goes away once everyone is at 120 and >ilvl 300.  We all know that in 2 months when 120s are running in full epics, anyone leveling in BfA with War Mode is going to be eating dirt all the time.  Will anyone care then?

The answer here is no.  Blizzard has zero motivation to address any of this.  There are not enough people who care about PvP balance at different character levels to move a finger.  Blizzard will focus on two specific areas instead – level 120 PvP at similar ilvls, and level 120 PvE content so that time to kill is 2 GCD or more.

Overall

The rest of the items are all in line with previous discussions, and it’s good to see that the thinking behind them is stable.  Some items it was just good to see the logic behind it – like island expedition rewards, or artifact power.

I manage a development team, I know there’s a lot required manage these types of events, and even more required to ensure that the message transmitted is as clear as possible to the largest audience.  I may not agree with the design (group finder!) but I certainly appreciate their openess on it.

10 thoughts on “Dev Q&A

  1. I use the AH daily and the change ruined it for transmog (high value items that sell infrequently). I just spent 800 gold listing 100 auctions – all using the biggest stack I had possible of everything. That’s crazy.

    End result will be less items for sale, which will mean that the price of everything goes up. Unless, of course, you are already gold rich and can be the guy that doesn’t mind dropping 10k+ every 24 hours just to list!

    Blizzard is happier with a bigger gold sink in the game, which means more token sales!

    Liked by 2 people

    • If it’s transmog, then it wouldn’t stack right? Or would that include weapon effect scrolls?

      Anyhoot, considering this didn’t even hit the PTR, it says a lot about what a deal this is for overall system stability. Looks like they overtuned it, which certainly stinks right now, but if it means the AH is actually useable, it’s easier to fine tune down the road. Bound to be a way to scope it to any material that stacks in groups larger than 20. Who needs to see single stacks of linen?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m still annoyed about shipping the product to meet a date when they still have class balancing. My Shadowpriest “might” see adjustments by patch 8.1. May as well say it is what it is, unless top raiders are doing too much damage in the spec.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’d be curious at what point in the dev cycle they reach a point of ‘oh crap, how are we going to do this’. The loss of legion artifact weapons – and specifically the skills they provided – was known before Legion launched. So if 2 years isn’t enough time to ensure the mechanics for each class, let alone spec, are ‘fun’ then there are some larger issues at hand.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I think it’s the testing pool. They have painted themselves into a corner with who they want involved in early design testing. You get top players involved in deciding what is challenging and new in direction, you get the big changes we see. By the time even friends and family gets a go at it, the impression is it’s a done deal and no amount of feedback will amount to anything. They are the ones that have to decide. Are we making a game to challenge the most competitive and best players in the world, the rest will get a watered down version starting after the best have beaten the game, or do we change course and start designing for the higher percentage of players that are no where near that level.

        I like to think of the analogy of comparing it to golf. You have your PGA level Tiger Woods Arnold Palmer level, the average golfers that golf once a week in good weather, and those that enjoy the driving range and miniature golf. They all golf. But who is the big draw for network tv money.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That is an extremely valid point. It is fair to say that a heavily invested player had a better understanding of core mechanics, but a skewed perception on challenge/complexity. The concept of high skill floors and ceilings.

        I do think it lacks the integration of overall “fun” of a given class that only really comes from mass testing.

        Truthfully, they have heat maps and reports and analysis out the wing-wang. It isn’t hard to see that a class is being played less, or shows up on the wrong end of DPS charts, or that every single spec picks the exact same talents. The problems are all over the place. Finding the appropriate solution… that’s a long journey.

        Liked by 2 people

      • It’s funny how they said in the past, we did away with talent trees because it made for cookie cutter builds, yet they point us at guides telling us to take specific talent choices and to farm for specific gear.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Great summary, I am on board with it all.
    Part of me takes joy in having so little time to play; I’m 115, haven’t been near an AH since I went to BfA, and I’m no where near all these annoying things at end game.

    I might be way off, I probably am, but that group finder accept auto thing, I can see return to the game eventually. I just think, while we are in the levelling phase, Blizzard decided to stop it, so we “take out time”. (I always hear the Pandaren “slow down!” when I think of this, hah)

    Then again, Blizzard do seem eager overall to have us take our time, with everything, so yeah, I’m probably way off.

    Like

    • There are some fundamental issues with the way leveling works in WoW. Legion lived through some of them, but BfA is a shining
      a spotlight on it. As much as Blizz wants us to take our time, they also want us to take a specific path in terms of activities/rewards.

      I’ll have a post on that next week.

      Liked by 1 person

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