Think of all the wacky things devs have said in public in front of gamers and journalists this year.
Now imagine what gets said behind closed doors!
For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I’ve asked our staff to select the best (and worst) developer quotes from the year and reflect on what we’ve learned from them. Let’s dig in – we’ve got some whoppers.
Right out of the gate in the recent World of Warcraft Q&A, Game Director Ion Hazzikostas said that WoW Classic wasn’t going to be the focal point of discussion, as the team is only “at the beginnings of this process.” However, he did confirm that Blizzard isn’t looking to monkey around with too many changes.
“We know Vanilla means Vanilla,” Hazzikostas said. “We know that it’s about community and that means some inconveniences, that means some of the rough edges. That’s not something we’re looking to move away from. It’s more which version of that experience… is it the 2005 version? The 2006 version?”
The rest of the Q&A session primarily focused on the upcoming Patch 7.3.5 and next year’s Battle for Azeroth expansion. If you’re curious what’s going to be in the next patch, the highlights include a preview of the Seething Shore battleground, zone level scaling, Legion epilogue quest content, and Ulduar Timewalking.
Icy Veins has a great roundup of the main points form the hour-long talk, although you could settle in to watch the whole thing yourself after the break.
If you’ve never played World of Warcraft, you may be unfamiliar with the concept if not the visuals of tier sets. Tiered armor is the ultimate class-specific reward from each given raid level, so the upcoming Antorus raid awards Tier 21 armor for those lucky enough to get the necessary drops. Wearing several pieces of tier armor also awards set bonuses. But it looks like the time has passed on all of that, as a recent interview stated that tier sets are not planned to return at all in Battle for Azeroth.
Designer Ion Hazzikostas explains that tier pieces tend to “lock down” certain gear slots and feel like more of a hindrance than anything, so the team is experimenting with different ways to award gear and appearances. How that will work remains to be seen, but the suggestion of no more tier sets alone is a major departure from how World of Warcraft has always structured its endgame raids. We’ll hopefully learn more about these changes as the expansion gets closer to testing and release.
Back in May, I wrote a whole article about why I was leaving World of Warcraft behind. All of the reasons I had back then? Still valid. Fact is, I’m still proud of that column (to the extent that I’m proud of anything I write; low self-esteem is a hell of a drug). So why am I here talking so much about Battle for Azeroth? How are you supposed to reconcile those conflicting facts? Do I hate this game or not?
The answer to those questions, in reverse order, is this: no; I highly doubt anyone actually wants to reconcile anything about my stated views; and because what we’ve seen so far actually addresses a lot of the problems I wrote about back in May. New information means new evaluation.
Obviously, this is not a blanket statement of “the next expansion will make everything better” because there are far too many question marks left to feel smug or confident about that. But, and this is an important “but,” we’ve got signs that several of the problems from Legion are actually being addressed. And considering that Legion was pretty good already, that brings us to a good spot.
There’s been another live community Q&A session with World of Warcraft director Ion Hazzikostas, and if you’re in the “highly frustrated” crowd of fans, the answers received are not going to mollify you. Flying in Argus? No. Randomness? Yes, that’s all good, there’s always been randomness in RPGs. Can we get world bosses more frequently? No.
On the other hand, if you’re pleased as punch with the current state of the game, you’ll probably be happy about minor quality-of-life bumps like the promise to continue using new Druid forms in future expansions or the plans for more realm connections. So take that as you will and adjust your expectations accordingly.
Meanwhile, there’s a strong hint that an Offline mode is coming to Battle.net, since an “appear offline” option has been added to the app in its most recent beta version. So if you’d like to avoid all notice from others, that’s going to be a good thing.
Let’s be fair, World of Warcraft’s recap of 2017 doesn’t outright say that the game’s next expansion will be revealed at BlizzCon. But if you don’t want to take a trip down memory lane, that’s the big takeaway from the very end of the video, that this year’s convention will discuss where the game can possibly go after facing off against the Burning Legion. So you can expect an expansion reveal.
Of course, if you would like to take a trip down memory lane, that’s what the whole video is all about. So go ahead and take a trip back from the opening of the Nighthold to the most recent patch depositing players on Argus and everything in-between, narrated by Ion Hazzikostas discussing each major milestone and what it meant for the game as a whole. And, obviously, keep your eyes peeled for that reveal next month.
Not to be cowed by the other news and announcements this week, Blizzard stepped up to the microphone to deliver a few doozies. Game Director Ion Hazzikostas sat down for another hour-long Q&A session, this one focused on players’ journeys through World of Warcraft’s Patch 7.3.
The good news is that unlocks earned by progressing through the new Argus storyline will be account-wide, which will be a great boon for alts. It’s also going to be a lot easier to catch up on artifact progression, with the game automatically advancing artifact knowledge on a weekly basis.
Outside of the World of Warcraft floor, Blizzard apparently has a lot more cooking in its secret chambers. Studio Co-Founder Allen Adham has been leading up a team working on special projects, including “incubation teams” that are developing new IPs. Of course, this being Blizzard, it’s a long shot whether any of these will see the light of day or a full release, but it’s interesting to know that the studio isn’t settling for its current successful roster.
The flood of information concerning World of Warcraft’s Patch 7.3 and Argus continues to wash over the community as testing proceeds, starting with a new Ion Hazzikostas interview that revealed many interesting facts about the MMO’s future direction.
As a decimated “husk” of a world, Argus was better suited to the end of the Legion than its own expansion, Hazzikostas explained. He did note that players won’t just be going around a dead landscape, as invasion points will offer adventurers the opportunity to leap around the galaxy to other planets to help counter Legion incursions (and yes, some of these places already have been datamined).
“It is our most ambitious expansion in a lot of ways,” Hazzikostas said. “We’re taking you to a whole new world and trying to tell a story on a grander scale than we have in the past.”
In a livestream Q&A session, World of Warcraft’s Ion Hazzikostas admitted that the studio probably shouldn’t have slapped the label of “biggest patch ever” on Patch 7.2. The game director said that this was an objective measurement of all of the content that was included, but not every player would experience all of it due to the variety.
Hazzikostas fielded several questions about the gradual unlocking of Patch 7.2’s content, including the still-to-come raid. He said that the unlock schedule for Tomb of Sargeras will come in May, with the raid opening up sometime in mid-to-late June. Another raid is reportedly in the works for Patch 7.3 on Argus.
Other topics discussed were the cross-realm zone lag, why Blizzard isn’t scaling players for the artifact challenge, paragon emissary chest rewards, the Legion assault schedule, and why the studio isn’t awarding Legionfall rep for the assaults (spoiler: It’s a dumb reason). You can watch the full Q&A below!
Hey, it turns out that designing long-term MMORPGs that aren’t pump-and-dump schemes is hard!
That’s the takeaway from a new PC Gamer interview with Blizzard’s Ion Hazzikostas, during which the World of Warcraft game director admits to what the developers of the dozens of MMOs that came before WoW could’ve told Blizz had it, y’know, ever considered asking.
“We are becoming increasingly aware of the cost of any change we make that has ongoing maintenance and the risk of design bloat,” Hazzikostas says. “If we keep adding and adding with every expansion, eventually what we end up with becomes very unwieldy. It’s an issue that we weren’t cognizant enough of early on because we were in uncharted territory, but we are now.” Yeah, he said uncharted territory.
The reward scaling in World of Warcraft has always been pretty straightforward. At the start of the expansion, everything at max level is a pretty close match for you; by the end of the expansion, all of that work you put into acquiring better items pays off because every enemy lies dead at your feet. It’s how things work. Sure, there are a larger number of things at your level in Legion due to scaling, but the way gear works remains constant. After all, if you made enemies scale with gear, you’d have no reason to actually get better gear, so you would… oh, wait, they actually did that with patch 7.2. Huh.
Yes, this is something players noticed, and according to Ion Hazzikostas on the forums it is completely intentional. The developer rationale is that it allows for creatures to scale more organically to various gear levels so that open-world enemies never became trivial or easy for players. The intent is for enemies to scale up slower than gear level (so gear still feels like a reward) but still scale with your power in terms of items.
So, get excited about the next set of world events! They promise to reward you with gear that makes everything else around you stronger as well, making the effort put into acquiring that gear a complete waste of time.
If you missed it, yesterday World of Warcraft Game Director Ion Hazzikostas sat down for another one of his lengthy community question-and-answer sessions.
While no groundbreaking revelations came out over the stream, Hazzikostas did spend a good amount of time answering queries about the constantly hot topic of Legion legendaries. He said that players who swap specs should find that the game will give them an increased chance of getting a legendary for that spec when there is none present. The team wants to reduce the power gap between strong and weak legendaries, although the four craftable legendaries in Patch 7.2 will be “middle of the road.”
Other topics included how Patch 7.2 will deal with catching up on artifact power and expanding relics to include two traits instead of the current one. The patch will contain artifact knowledge tomes to boost players’ alts to 30 and 35, as the team doesn’t want players to feel as though they’re doing nothing other than grinding AP for the expansion.
There has been some back-and-forth about World of Warcraft’s Artifact Power system. The problem that people have run into, essentially, is that the game’s initial exponential power curve for artifact power starts to flatten after a certain point. So instead of players entering raids with a difference of a few artifact levels, there are people who have just started to put levels into the final artifact trait in 7.1.5 and others who have maxed their artifact or nearly finished it. Designer Ion Hazzikostas discussed this issue and the game plan moving forward on the forums recently, as well as the reasons behind the system and its open-ended nature.
The plan was to avoid a weekly cap that left players feeling as if they couldn’t catch up, but the net result has been that focused players on a single spec can advance far beyond players with less dedication or time. Moving forward, the 7.2 patch and beyond will have a more exponential curve; Hazzikostas puts it as a matter of someone gaining twice the AP per week only making a small additional game over a more casual player. Check out the full rundown if you’ve found yourself hitting the AP wall in the recent patches.