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Repost: Blizzcon druid changes – day 1 recap

Greetings from Blizzcon 2011! I’m not putting pictures or any formatting in this post since my internet is broken at the hotel and it took me an hour and a half just to be able to post this. NOTE: have done some editing of the post over-time as I’ve had more time to sit down & writeYou should also see the more specific review of talent choices over at Sunfyre’s Nest.

There was so much information released that it may be hard to digest. I’m not going to pick apart individual talents at the moment, but I’ll talk about general themes, designs, and implications of the class-based changes.

First, everything you used to know about how talents worked got thrown out. Take the entire picture of talent trees and “specs” from your mind and throw them out the window. Done? Okay, lets talk about what it will look like.  (NOTE: I also want to let you know that from a design standpoint, the implications of what this will do for all the classes is really amazing and will fix a lot of problems that their old talent system just couldn’t design around. SO, the concept behind the changes to classes in Pandaria is actually really awesome and I support the concept behind the change.

You will pick what specialization you want to be (in this case, there are now 4 specializations for druids: Cat melee DPS, bear tank, moonkin ranged DPS and resto healing). Blizzard is still calling them “specs”, but I’m going to call them “specializations” for the purpose of this post because “spec” is a word too closely tied to the old talent system that you just temporarily erased from your memory.

When you pick your specialization, you get access to a bunch of abilities & passive bonuses (like the current specialization bonuses you get for picking which talent tree to focus on now, only there won’t be a special talent tree to access, just all the abilities, procs, & bonuses you get for picking that specialization). In this case, they would be things like swiftmend for resto druids, starsurge for moonkin, mangle for cat, bear would probably get mangle, too. However, instead of just 1 specialization ability, there would be multiples (so, at different levels, you would pick up different specialization abilities, likely the type of spells you currently have to buy with talent points).

I know that seems confusing, but it means that  resto will get a handful of resto things (wild growth, swiftmend, a shorter CD’d tranquility, efflorescence) as bonuses for choosing the spec. Bear would get a list of tanking abilities that the other specs wouldn’t have access to. Cat would get a bunch of cat-specific DPS abilities. Moonkin would get caster abilities, ETC.

However, there is a new “talent” system where all 4 of our specs are going to share one set of talent abilities.

What it will look like when Mists of Pandaria goes live is that you will choose one of three awesome viable alternatives for your spec every 15 levels. You will pick one from each screenshot on MMO-champion, and won’t have access to the other 2 of the abilities available at that level (ie. at 15, you can get feline swiftness OR displacer beast OR tireless pursuit – but not all 3). At level 30, you get nature’s swiftness, renewal, OR Cenarion ward. You pick one at each of the six levels. So, in theory, they are designed to give us interesting choices (though the extent to which they accomplished this goal varies a lot across classes & talent tiers).

This works great for some classes but hasn’t been worked out well for other classes, and druids look like they are still really in the early stages of talent design, since a lot of the tiers are really awesome-looking for PvP running around as a hybrid, but super awkward for PvE. The talents you get should still be able to add to the utility and effectiveness of your primary role that you will be performing in raids to make you desirable versus the other classes that are also getting new fun toys through their talents (so, some survivability talents & movement talents are fine because dead people can’t contribute to raids – but it has to be done in a way that makes you still balanced vs other classes, and as fun as it sounds to shift into cat/bear form all the time in raids as a healer, you won’t be as effective as other healing classes getting talents that augment their main spec when you won’t have access to your whole healing toolset in feral forms. Moonkin bouncing around between casting heals, doing melee-damage to the boss, and casting their actual balance spells wasn’t very desirable in raids in Burning Crusades and won’t be in Pandaria, either). They want every talent to be an interesting choice for every specialization at every tier, and it will take a lot of work to get there, but I really do applaud their efforts. For Tier 6, I would be fine with one hybrid talent if the other 2 allowed us to still focus on our main spec. For some of the feral utility stuff, I would be fine with it if we could stay in caster form to use that utility. Really small tweaks would actually be huge improvements in the talent system’s viability.

SO, what we know right now is that they threw out the old talent trees, you’ll get a bunch of specialization-specific abilities (in addition to some abilities baseline for the class as a whole to share similar to most of the current baseline abilities), and then all 4 specializations will share the exact same talents to augment your abilities. We will have to wait and see how these shape up for druids.

There is tons of other Blizzcon news, but this is something I felt that I needed to explain to druids, since just looking at the “blue post” version of the panels doesn’t explain very well how this would really work for druids. So, please do not panic. Don’t break out the pitch-forks. Please post constructive suggestions and keep in mind that they didn’t announce a lot of other things that effect whether or not certain abilities are useful. So, Blizzard gets an A+ for effort, and I can’t wait to see what this looks like when it’s finally polished enough to go live. They have a chance to redesign EVERYTHING about the druid class, and everything that you knew before may be wrong. It’s a new and exciting adventure we will embark upon together!

Posted in Blizzcon, Written By Lissanna

Blizzcon 2010: Class panel Q&A

At Blizzcon on Saturday, they had a Q&A with their class/systems designers. It’s pretty interesting. For the Q&A sessions today, I’m going to stick with druid questions to highlight what happened today in the Q&A’s.

GC talked some about their full-time systems design team, highlighting that he’s not the only developer that has an impact on class design. Like the other one, I’m putting the developer quotes in Blue, and my commentary is in italics.

  • Lots of hunters, paladins, & priests asking questions at the early part of the panel.
  • Wild mushroom question: I don’t think players have really grasped the usefulness o the spell yet…. A feral tank They put a mushroom at all of the spawn points. When the adds spawn, you can detonate and they all run to you”…. “When they are stacked all at one place and they can do a lot of damage…. You should stack them if you want to do really burst damage” Note: The response about shrooms is interesting because they were talking about shrooms in tanking (which makes some sense, except that I don’t think we can detonate shrooms in bear form, so I’m not sure how it would work, other than detonating and then shifting into bear real fast on a pull?).
  • Racial abilities – “Diffrent races have those different abilities, and some are better than PvE or PvP, but they’ll shine in different fights.” Are “Mindful of the overall balance of them to keep them in line. Want to make sure you don’t feel like if you aren’t X race, you are doing it wrong… It’s part of the flavor
  • We made a new minor glyph that lets you have the old tree form glyph. If you want to look like old granny treeThis is the one already in Beta, but it does NOT give you perma-tree, as far as I know. So, I think he’s referring to the one that gives you the current form in the cooldown, instead of using the new form in the cooldown.
  • Nom nom nom – “Its an internet joke that will be less funny a year from now, and was going to get dated in a hurry. We don’t usually name them over pop-culture things. In alpha, we name things silly thingsPersonally, seeing as how it was something Cookie Monster said when I was a kid and it’s still funny, I think it wouldn’t have the same pop-culture effect as other things.
  • Feral tank jewelry & sub-optimal stats“One of the nice things with how we changed stats is that the amount of stamina on DPS & tank gear is the same…. We can always assume you will have the rogue-stat items. You shouldn’t want the “tank” stuff anymore…. You still will have to compete with DPS classes…
  • Warstomp – No for bears.
  • Vengeance tanking question“gearing for surival versus threat has always been a trade-off for some extent…. Having to make that decision is something interesting. That being said, when vengeance is falling off too much, it can feel crappy.” … “It isn’t designed to be mandatory… allows tanks to scale with DPS.” The problem with vengeance in some ways is that it doesn’t generate enough in easier content, which makes it hard to do “farming” runs versus DPS that is doing more damage. As we have this longer, I think it will change somewhat over time once they’ve seen level 85 on the Live servers.

WoW General Q&A panel had only a couple things really relevant to druids. Here are the highlights from that:

  • Female druid forms? – “I’ve seen some concept art for it. It’s a difficult one to make it balance out, but it’s tricky and we’ll do what we can“.
  • General class question – “ramp up is something we want everyone to do. We inserted it in where it didn’t exist before.
  • General class question – Mortal strike-type effects are going to become a 10% healing debuff.
  • Raiding healing – “Have spur of the moment & predictable damage where you would want to plan your cooldowns. We have a variety“.
Posted in Blizzcon, Cataclysm, Druid - General, Feral Bear tanking, Feral DPS Cat, Moonkin Balance DPS, Restoration Healing Trees

Blizzcon 2010: WOW Raid & Dungeon panel

So, the highlights of Blizzcon so far (for me) has been the announcement of the Moonkin Hatchling pet as a charity pet we’ll be able to buy in November. Contains spoilers for Cataclysm & 4.1

The Class & Dungeons Panel highlights (Itallics are my commentary on the panel):

5-man Dungeons

  • “Classic Heroics (Deadmines & shadowfang Keep) have new quests and encountersI haven’t played with these on beta, but I hear that they’re really fun.
  • With quests you pick up from inside the dungeon. I did test some of the other beta dungeons, and was pleasantly surprised to see the quest givers greeting me when I first entered a dungeon portal. Being able to pick up the quests right inside the dungeon is so much better than running around everywhere to find the quests before you get in there.
  • Normal difficulty also updated!
  • They also worked on other classic dungeons to make them “less confusing & shorter”.
  • Both Sunken Temple & Wailing Caverns will actually just be shorter dungeons, and Mara & Uldaman will have wings. This is a really awesome set of changes, which will be a HUGE bonus for people leveling who just can’t stand those 4 dungeons. Also, Sunken Eternity’s design was something I was REALLY hoping they would revamp. I wrote a post about their need to fix Sunken Eternity back in 2009.

New Cataclysm raids:

  • “Bite sized chunks” They have raids on the Beta server for testing where there are 3 or 4 dungeons with just a few bosses in them. It actually still feels epic, and you can bounce back and forth between them if needed.
  • They explained the flexible raid lockouts, that we already have on the Live server.

4.1.0 preview

  • “Firelands Raid – First patch raid…. It’s a part of Hyjal”… “Home of Ragnaros. Gives you a glimpse of what the full power of Ragnaros is… fits in well with the questlines in Hyjal”
  • “Firelands raid contains 7 bosses”, with the hopes that you’ll do more than 1 raid dungeon per week. So, it will feel longer than ToC’s 5 bosses, but won’t be so bulky like Ulduar or ICC. If they have more than one dungeon at that tier, it may actually be a lot of fun.
  • “Abyssal Maw 5-man dungeon will be released with 4.1”. Will have 4 bosses. It’s a water-based dungeon, and they changed a lot of the water-fighting mechanics to feel better.
  • Enhanced Maps “We tried desperately to get in for cataclysm”. “Want to get detailed boss info on your map, with Lore, loot, abilities”. Giving us boss abilities in the dungeon map will be really awesome, because it will give you the basic info that you need without having to rely on websites to tell you that the boss will breathe a fire effect. I’ve spent so much time tabbing out of the dungeon to see specifics on a boss ability, so it will be super awesome to have the basic abilities listed inside the game.
  • They showed the elevator boss in blackwing Descent. This elevator boss is going to PWN you all, lol. They previewed the other bosses from the raid dungeons they’re shipping with Cata.

Q & A session:

  • 10 & 25-man balance: “there will be some bumps and bruises along the way“… “It will be something we work extremely hard on to make sure they are balanced as close as we can
  • “You’re going to see a better PUG experience”… “You’re not going to be hosed for the entire week… It’s easier to break up, but it’s easier to get new people”
  • BRD: “Trimming a lot of the suck”. “Breaking apart BRD is actually really hard, so what I did do is put in some teleporters”. “we added deleporters to other dungeons, too”. “The graveyards are super close now.” Mike says he’s been bitching about how far we’ve had to run back to dungeons for years. This is nice to see, as well. I guess people who love BRD will get to keep that feel, because it doesn’t look like they are changing it quite as much as some of the other dungeons.

People asked other good questions with answers, but nothing else really super big. I’ll be posting more about the Quest & Lore panel coming up soon! (EDIT: the quest & lore panel is just Q&A without much going on for now, so I might not do a full post for it.

Blizzard has some highlights on the dungeon & raids panel that they released here.

Posted in Blizzcon, Cataclysm

Blizzcon post 8 – Second class panel & Wrap-up

I’m planning to have this be my last Blizzcon post (I do have a raid that starts at 8pm EST tonight…). The first part of the class panel should be a recap of what they said yesterday, so only the Q&A part would have interesting things going on.

WoW Class Panel 2

  • Presentation pretty much the same as yesterday.
  • Racial profession bonuses getting buffed for all classes
  • No new classes for Draenei
  • Soul Shards will have an in-combat regen mechanic (maybe drain soul?).
  • Repeated that new druids will have new forms
  • Want DPS classes to not have to worry so much about resource management
  • Don’t want hunters to be ranged rogues.
  • Working on big fishing changes to actually make it more fun.
  • Druid Art: Redoing moonkin, especially for Worgen & Trolls. Probably redoing treants & tree forms. Artists eager to do aquatic form.
  • Shaman AOE – want totems to play an important role
  • Offtanks shouldn’t have to worry about being “resource starved”
  • Ghost Wolf & travel form speed? “Druids already don’t see their gear very much, and we think that’s a problem. So I would be hesisitant to say ‘you can’t even see your mounts.’ We’ve talked about is it time for epic travel form. Maybe that’s something to break out in Cataclysm.”
  • More questions about gear and how stats will work for classes like paladins.
  • Will still probably be a block mechanic even if we aren’t using defense to get “hit capped”
  • Race changes will come later after faction changes.
  • May introduce scrolls with lesser versions of class specific buffs (ie. priest fort, bloodlust).
  • Will be more weapons with fun procs, instead of just stats.
  • More improvements to alchemy
  • Working on Shadow priest raid desirability
  • Can’t have rare glyphs for scribes because they are so tied to class gameplay
  • Possibly more lower level (pre-40) class-specific quests

Starcraft 2 lore

  • Introducing voice actors
  • Jim Raynor – Robert Clotworthy et cetra
  • Kerrigan – From Battlestar Galactica –  Tricia Helfer
  • They have 8 people on stage talking about what it’s like to be voice actors for SC2
  • Talking about visualizing & “inhabiting the character’s soul”. Want to know the back story, what the character wants, what the obstacles are… How do they get around obstacles? Not just doing a voice, it’s acting. “How do I serve the story my best?” Need to visualize more what is going on because you aren’t able to move around the same way as other types of acting.
  • The great questions of the SC universe will be unveiled.
  • Want to have continuity in voice actors for future additions to the SC2 game.
  • Chris Metzen did the voice acting for Thrall

Both panels now done.

Tom Chilton Interview on DTV

  • Thrall – lots of new things going on in Cataclysm
  • Current Heirloom items won’t necessarily scale to 85.
  • Don’t want 1v1 arenas, don’t like 2v2 arena balancing issues quite so much – reserving high end rewards for where it is more balanced.
  • Gnomeregan –  Have some stuff brewing for the gnomes. Something will happen for them in Cataclysm.
  • Item changes probably patched in before major content expansion pack hits. Want to make sure things are stable.

Blizzcon 2009 is officially over!

Posted in Blizzcon



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