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.
In a new interview with Glixel, World of Warcraft Game Director Ion Hazzikostas opened up about the creation and use of WoW Tokens in the Blizzard ecosystem, especially in light of last week’s expansion of the tokens’ functionality. Hazzikostas said that the demise of Diablo III’s RMT auction house paved the path for WoW Tokens.
“One of the original purposes for the token, and something that it’s served very well, is undercutting the illegal gold selling market that exists within the game,” he noted. “The way that gold is acquired is by compromising the accounts and using various methods that are harmful to players. Anything we can do to make those things harder is a net gain for us.”
Hazzikostas said that only a small segment of World of Warcraft players actually buy or sell tokens: “We were very satisfied with the fact that it was harmless, that it was not having any negative external effects on the economy or the game, and was just making people happier.”
Are you happy with your World of Warcraft class? Oh, there’s always something to complain about, although some players have more legitimate grievances than others in this regard. It’s with great hope then that the WoW community is hoping that Blizzard will adjust the odds in their favor when Patch 7.1.5 arrives.
Today’s live developer Q&A with Ion Hazzikostas mostly centered around specific questions about class issues and Blizzard’s sometimes non-committal answers on those. There was also a lot of discussion about legendary items and reducing the artifact knowledge grind for alts. While the community doesn’t seem overly satisfied with all of the answers given in this video, Hazzikostas assured players that the studio wants players to be happy with their characters and not avoid certain specs.
Wowhead has a point-by-point summary of the hour-long Q&A session. If you’d like to watch the whole stream and catch all of the nuances of the conversation, we’ve got it for you after the jump.
It’s safe to say that Ion Hazzikostas has emerged as the face of World of Warcraft’s development team, particularly following his rundown of all of the MMO’s upcoming content at BlizzCon. Well, now Hazzikostas is back with even more info, thanks to a dev livestream in which he tackles many follow-up questions and concerns sent in from the community following the convention.
The hour-long Q and A covered many topics, but some of the highlights included the news that Patch 7.1.5 should go on the public test realm early this week, legendaries are getting a 15-level bump this Tuesday to feel more powerful, more legendaries are coming soon, Trial of Valor’s rewards are getting an item level boost, and Nighthold is coming sometime in January.
Hazzikostas did spend some time talking about the huge surprise which was the announcement that players will be going to Argus in Patch 7.3. Apparently this will contain several zones and instances, wrapping up the Legion storyline in an epic fashion.
But don’t just settle for the summary points; watch the whole developer interview after the break to pull out every nuance and detail!
At this weekend’s BlizzCon, Blizzard reps reiterated to fans and journalists alike that while the company is already working on the next World of Warcraft expansion, it’s also aiming to deliver patches at a high rate of frequency — including the 7.1.5 patch, the massive 7.2 patch, and even the 7.3 patch to Argus.
“[W]e’re setting ourselves up to be much more flexible in the amount of patch content we create,” Game Director Ion Hazzikostas told Kotaku, as just one example. “We’re making sure that we’re always gonna be working on the next step, the next link in the chain. To keep our players engaged, to make sure there’s always something new to do in Azeroth. The expansion will be done when it’s done. […] It’s more about making sure we have a contingency plan in place so that when it’s done, there hasn’t been a gap.”
Long-time MMORPG players and WoW fans and particular have heard all this before, over and over. We’ve had a lot of time to reflect on words like these in the multiple content gaps that have come before. So what do you really think? Will this time be different? Can Blizzard really keep up a rapid cadence of content all the way up to the next expansion? Will we ever see a WoW content gap again?
World of Warcraft’s “What’s Next” panel this evening more than made up for the game’s lackluster mention during the BlizzCon opening ceremonies earlier in the day. Newly minted Game Director Ion Hazzikostas took the stage to talk about not just the last patch and the next patch but 7.2 and even a tease for 7.3.
In patch 7.1.5, Blizzard has promised a return to older expansion content (specifically, Mists of Pandaria) via Timewalking, the return of the Brawer’s Guild, micro-holidays (most of them pretty funny, like Ahn’Qiraj Remembrance Day), and a ton of class updates — yeah, they’re adding back some of the stuff they took out.
7.2, dubbed The Tomb of Sargeras, sends players back to the Broken shore to work on their class order campaigns, fend off legion assaults via invasion world quests, dungeon through the Cathedral of Eternal Night and raid the Tomb itself, take part in PvP brawls (Southshore vs. Tarren Mill is back!), and upgrade their artifacts. Soloers, that last one is for you, no kidding. Flying is also finally on the way; expect account-wide unlocks there… and class mounts for everyone.
Blizzard announced this afternoon that World of Warcraft’s first major post-Legion patch, 7.1: Return to Karazhan, will launch on October 25th.
During this afternoon’s livestream, newly minted Game Director Ion Hazzikostas told players to expect the Falcosaurs Swarm world quest, the Return to Alcaz Isle world events, improvements to lowbie and Broken Isles advancement, the wrap-up for Suramar’s plotline, and of course, the return of Karazhan as a mythic dungeon. As Blizzard Watch noted, the Trial of Valor raid will launch not with 7.1 but rather two weeks later.
There’s a trailer because of course there is!
Blizzard is losing yet another veteran developer from the World of Warcraft team today: Tom “Kalgan” Chilton, who says he’s staying on with the company and “focusing on another project” but turning over the game director reins to Ion Hazzikostas.
“It’s with a mix of excitement, sadness, and gratitude that I’m saying farewell to the WoW team and moving on to a new adventure within Blizzard,” he told players on the forums today. “I know that WoW will be in great hands with Ion at the helm. He’s been an integral part of the team for more than eight years and has contributed to so many aspects of the game’s development—from class design to encounter design and nearly everything in between. He also has an amazing team at his side—the same epic crew that brought you all the content you’re enjoying in Legion. […] I can assure you that the future for World of Warcraft continues to be bright—and as a player, I’m excited to discover what’s in store next alongside all of you.”
The Nostalrius team isn’t the only one heading to Irvine to meet with Blizzard: The ex-WoW, ex-Firefall developer Mark Kern says he’s locked in a meeting as well.
“I’ll be having my legacy server meeting with Blizzard CEO, Mike Morhaime, next week on Thursday,” he posted yesterday. “Blizzard has also agreed to accept delivery of the printed petition. […] While we are not guaranteed a vanilla or legacy server by Blizzard, it’s a very good sign that they have agreed to meet and at least talk about it.”
Nostalrius was an illegal classic-ruleset World of Warcraft emulator with an active playerbase of a self-reported 150,000 players; it was taken offline by its own administrators in April following a legal threat from copyright holder Blizzard. A concomitant petition asking Blizzard to cooperate with Nostalrius and support vanilla servers has swelled now to over 250,000 signatures.