BlizzCon 2017 World of Warcraft Q&A Panel Transcript

Jenny: World of Warcraft Q&A. Alright, hey everyone, we are all having a good time? I’m ready. Well, welcome to the Battle for Azeroth Q&A panel live at BlizzCon 2017. My name is Jenny Bliton also known as WarcraftJen, and like many of you, I have been playing World of Warcraft for over a decade.

I think it is safe to say that World of Warcraft has changed many of our lives. It actually led me to meeting my husband. Some of you may know him as Bajheera. He has been hosting that PvP tournament over there.

But it has also allowed us to share our love, and passion for this game through content creation, and for that I could not be more thankful. To say that I am beyond thrilled to be this year’s moderator is a bit of an understatement. So as excited as I am, I know that you all are just as excited to get to the questions. We have had some amazing announcements about what to expect in this expansion, and I know I am excited to get into it.

So let’s meet our panelists who will be answering these questions. Let us have you introduce yourselves.

 

Alex: Alex Afrasiabi. Creative director.

Allen: I am J Allen Brack. I am the executive producer, and I am a WoW classic enthusiast.

Ion: Ion Hazzikostas. I am game director.

Chris: Chris Robinson. I am the senior art director.

Matt: I am Matt Goss, one of the lead game designers.

Jenny: Thank you, guys for being here. Are you prepared? Ready? So at the previous, years over the past couple of days, we have collected your questions from online as well as from those of you here in attendance from the Darkmoon Faire. I know I am really looking forward to these. So we are going to take our first questions from the audience. Let’s take it away.

 

Participant 1: Hi there. I play on Warlock on AIE on Earthen Ring. I go by Ro. I have a question regarding the Warfronts. It is a two part question the first thing I’m wondering is the availability of Warfronts. Is it going to be similar (to say) invasions, where they are only available for a period of time? Is it something that we can access whenever we want; and then along those lines, how will the reward system play into it? Will it be similar to rewards we see in the other end-game content? Will there be a reason to motivate us to always do Warfronts at least once a week? I would really like to know your philosophy on that.

Matt: So I think the easy thing to say is war is difficult, and it takes a lot of effort. It takes a lot of supplies. It takes a lot of resources to build up to– so I think there is going to be some downtime before the war breaks out. There might be some time on the other side when it is settling down a little bit.

So we are looking at a more of a… I hate to say “event” basis, because I think it is going to be up for longer than just a short amount of time. But it is going to be something you are going to build up to, you are going to have it, and it is going to go back down on the other side.

Now for rewards, we are looking at all the other systems we do that are similar to that.

So if you think about the way we reward Timewalking, the way we reward like Legion invasions that you mentioned, and that is kind of where we are going to go. We haven’t nailed down exactly what we are going to do. So we don’t have details yet for that, but I think it is in that kind of space where we will have something really good for you to do, at least once, and then we want you to keep doing it if you like it.

The challenge with everything we do with rewards is: if you like doing it, have reasons to do it. If you want to do something else, do the thing you really want to do; and so, finding that balance we might have a different way to do that goal, but that is the goal that we are going to have for it.

 

Jenny: Interesting. So does that mean we will see possibly like PvP and PvE rewards? Will we do those, or is that still being worked out?

Matt: It is still being worked out. So again, Warfronts are PvE at launch. I have seen a lot of buzz around “can we get PvP? it would be super cool” I mean, we love that too, but we are going to do PvE, and we will see where the rewards shake out.

We might share some of the armor, because PvP armor that we do usually has a very strong Alliance, and a very strong Horde theme. This might be a case for where we make a really cool armor set, we actually maybe showing it in the art panel. The Warfront sets that we have made.

 

Participant 2: Hi. I’m from the tribe guild in Magtheridon, and we would like to see if we could possibly have basic reputations become account wide. I realize exceptions like let’s say like “Admiral”… things like that… would not work; but all the old ones– we would love to have those big account wide. Those of us with lots of alts just don’t have the time to grind out the rep on everybody.

 

Jenny: Oh you got some excited people about that.

Ion: I think we have to balance a strike between character based and account based progression. I think– and obviously I’m just saying this as sort of devil’s advocate here, we would’nt actually do this; but if all rewards, if everything was account wide you could have alts, but what would your goals be on those alts? What would you be striving for? What would your awards be? Obviously, reputation is different from items and power; but the question I would ask when those situations arise is what is it about those reps that makes you feel like you need them on multiple alts, or on all your alts?

I think with content based on alts, for example, that is something we have definitely gone towards making account wide. If You are getting access to content, if you get access to a dungeon, like in Suramar, or You are getting the improved flight whistle on Argus those are things we don’t want you to have to re-learn. That kind of defeats the purpose.

But if it is… You are working your way towards Revered so that you can buy a pattern that you want as a leatherworker, or you want a helmet from there. Well that is meant to be more of a power progression. It is a separate set of goals. The same way you have to level up your trade skills, you have to get your gear. So I’d rather dig into what those things are, and maybe uncouple things from reputations that feel too burdensome, or drive you towards repetitive behaviour you aren’t enjoying.

 

Participant 2: Ours was mostly getting the gears, the specific things for the various classes.

Ion: That makes sense.

 

Participant 3: Hi, I’m Nick from Illidan. My question is, is there any plans for a stat squish? If so, what’s it going to look like? Also, is Anduin a paladin officially?

Alex: Stats squish, Ion can talk about. Anduin is 100% not a Paladin. He is a priest. He is just a hero character, and hero characters can do things that normal priests cannot.

Ion: As for stats squish, obviously, any of you who checked out our playable demo here today, you probably noticed you saw some of the screenshots from our panels numbers are a lot smaller. Yes, we are doing other squish like we did in Warlords. For all the same reasons, it is not changing your player power relative to the content that you are accustomed to do.

The point isn’t to nerf you. The point is to bring numbers back to a sane space. The one thing different this time around is that we are also squishing item levels. It is something we probably should have done the first time around in Warlords. Because we didn’t, you might have noticed if you level a character on live going from Wrath to Cataclysm– you might jump a 100 item levels in what is on your item, but only get two or three points of Stamina, or something. It kind of undermines the meaning of what item levels is supposed to be. We are bringing that down too.

 

Participant 4: Hi there. With the new communities coming out, we will essentially have cross guild chat. What does that mean if you are cross faction chat, and will there be options for communication in Battle for Azeroth?

Matt: So communities are still character based, which means they are still faction based. So yeah, you can have your two communities in your guild and you can talk between guilds now. But there is no cross faction chatter. We don’t have plans to do that. I think we are at war, right, and I think Alliance and Horde are fighting.

Ion: And if you do want that, of course, you can do that at the Battle.net Tag level. If you make a Battle Tag group; and that will be integrated into the client, and you’ll have the same access to it as you would in your community chat.

But the key thing there is that is player to player — like human being to human being, not orc warrior to human priest. Those two don’t get along. It is part of what a community is, also a structure built around shared gameplay. You have these around running dungeons, or battlegrounds, or raids. Whatever else You are doing together, and by definition Horde/Alliance players cannot do those things together.

 

Participant 5: Hi I am Zillions. I am from Alpha on Whisperwind. We are still recruiting. Getting to my question: is there anything in the works that may help with guild recruitment?

Matt: The number of times we have talked about guild recruitment increases. It is nonstop each expansion, and we do not have anything right now. What we really hope like when we look at communities and when we are building the community system, we were hoping we could find social structures that swere a little less hard to get into, a little less friction to get into.

So if you like playing with specific people, you can make a community. Try it out, and if you like those people maybe that becomes a new guild that you join. That is kind of the approach we are taking now. I think in the future– again it comes up every time. I’m sure we’ll look at it in the future too.

 

Participant 6: So my question is about the new leveling and scaling. These days a level 30 Legion character is a lot stronger than a level 30 Cataclysm character. You can kind of run around even without Heirlooms, and one shot quest mobs. So my question is: with the new level scaling, will mob health and damage be rebalanced as well, and how will Heirlooms be impacted by the new leveling process?

Matt: So there is a lot there is a lot going on. As of 7.3.5, level scaling… we have done some work to make it a little bit more sane. A lot of it is going back into items and giving them items that aren’t heirlooms the same kind of power that they should have if they were a level 110 item.

So using the item budget correctly, when we are looking at it for 8.0 — I think we are looking a little more holistically about the tuning of the game, and what kinds of things we can make better. A better experience, like the one-shotting is. You know, it is kind of fun, but it also really kind of degrades the way that game used to be.

So those things are what we are looking at. Heirlooms… still in debate. Still talking about it.

Ion: In a big way, and like Matt just said one of the hugest advantages to Heirlooms are giving you right now is that if they’re actually properly itemized in a world where there isn’t other properly itemized gear to compare it to. So rather than nerfing Heirlooms, we are often taking the approach of just making the other options better shrinking that gap a bit, and then as we tune the scaling curve, and combat times, and pacing the difference between a player with heirlooms, and one without won’t be nearly as big.

Of course you have the XP bonus, and those other things that are still a factor.

 

Participant 7: My question today is about the Heart of the Azeroth, the new amulet that is coming up in Battle for Azeroth. During the What’s Next panel, there was some discussion about the progression system, and the ways we would be powering it up; and you could draw some pretty clear parallels to the current artifacts in Legion, and the artifact power system. Could you make any comments about the artifact power, artifact knowledge itself, something you liked or disliked, and if it influenced in the design decisions going forward?

Matt: There is a lot we like with artifacts, and I hope you guys like it too. We liked the choices. I think we talked about it on the panel yesterday. The choices that you got to make early on were really cool, and we felt like that was a decision we wanted you to make more and more of; and coming from that, the Azerite Armor… each piece giving you a little bit of progression and getting a new piece — giving you some more progression; and again, more choices to make. For artifact power (almost called it Azerite power),
I think the biggest takeaway was “I’m not sure I like getting trillions of artifact power, and so that is one of the things that we are looking at ways to solve.

Ion: I think one of the big differences with artifacts, there is no question that having tons of items in your bag it is pretty clunky. It is an unwieldy experience. We needed to do that with artifacts, because there was a different artifact weapon for each spec that was a core part of the fantasy of what these weapons were, and we didn’t want somebody who was primarily a fury warrior but their friends needed a tank saying “Well, sorry I don’t really want to do that as prot, because I want the artifact power for my fury weapon”.

So you wanted it to be able to get it as an item, choose where to put it. With the amulet, there is only one for all your specs, and so we don’t need the artifact power items, which means they can go right into the amulet right away; and we don’t have items anymore: it means we also don’t need a way of inflating knowledge in a way that makes the rewards constantly scale up more and more and more.

Instead imagine a version of knowledge that is simply slightly reduces the amount of Azerite you need to infuse into your amulet to get the next level where a raid boss might always give you 200 Azerite as a consistent value throughout the entire expansion, so you can easily compare the numbers, understand how rewarding something is, and you are not dealing with billions, let alone trillions.

 

Jenny: So we will be sticking with specific armor that the Azerite will be going in, correct?

Ion: So the Azerite doesn’t go in the armor. The Azerite is actually leveling up your amulet. The level of the medallion is what will determine how many powers on your armor you can access, but you are not making a permanent investment in your shoulders.

Like if you have a pair of shoulders with two tiers unlocked, and you get a different pair that has better traits– that will also automatically have those two tiers unlocked if they are comparable in item level; and so your progression is permanent, and it is more about the choices you are getting as you get the gear.

 

Participant 8: Hi I’m Novos from Zeroes to Heroes in Stormrage. My question is: what was your thought process in deciding to bring back great buffs like Arcane Intellect, and Mark of the Wild.

Matt: I think the short answer is we like them. We thought they were cool. A lot of what we are looking at– there is a couple of different things here. So first there was something cool about that moment before you pull a boss, and you get to see all of the buffs go out, that is just kind of felt like : “Yeah, now we are ready.” Right now, you kind of sit down and eat some fish, and this is one more moment.

So I think that was one, and then we are always looking at classes as: “I bring something as my class that makes me feel special, and you bring something in your class that makes you feel special, and we like to have each other around;” and that is something we are trying to find the right balance because we don’t want that to be a reason why you don’t bring somebody to a raid, but at the same time it is like: “Hey, if I’m a paladin, you are happy I am a paladin; or if I am a warlock, you are happy I’m a warlock because I provide this thing.” Buffs is one way to do that.

 

Participant 9: How do you feel about PvP templates and specifically how do you respond to PvP players who miss getting to manage their own stats through gear choice and reforging gems?

Matt: So there is a lot of impact there. We like the gameplay the talents provide. I think we like having a little less power gap between the top-tier itemized players and the lower, and I think that is really good with it. The problems that we have with it are it is hard to put that in the outer world: when does it turn on, when does it turn off. So that is one of the things that contributes to world PvP balance being a little off.

Ion: A little is a slight understatement there. Just saying.

Matt: Yeah, you are right. It is a problem, so we are really looking. The other thing was the itemization… being able to customize your character more… we knew that there was a problem before, and I think we might have over-solved it with both reducing the power gap, and also taking away all choice and itemization.

So we are trying to see like we look at the text that we use to scale zones, we think we might be able to do something there for PvP and where we can kinda take the character, squish the power level so that it is not quite as big in PvP combat; but it is not this huge change where all your stats change, and if I am not wearing mastery, you are suddenly getting all crit gear.

Ion: In principle, it is kind of the same approach that lets a level 108 and a 105 player fight alongside each other against the same mob and has the combat work out. The huge advantage of that is even in the outer world this would let us have a consistent rule set where there is never a situation where your template applies and all your stats change. You have different health than you used to.

You want your character to feel like your character, and for sure in an RPG that means making choices about what you are wearing, and what your stats are.

Matt: One quick follow up to that too. I think one of the things we are going to have to do (when we do that) is look at the reward structure in PvP as well, because I think it is really hard to get stats that you want right now given the structure that we have. So we are going to take a look at that too.

 

BlizzCon 2017 World of Warcraft Q&A panel transcript
1. Part 12. Part 23. Part 3

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