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The QueueDec 28, 2015 11:00 am CT

The Queue: I am searching for an apprentice

Welcome back to The Queue, our daily Q&A feature for all of Blizzard’s games! Have a question for the Blizzard Watch staff? Leave it in the comments!


Blizzard has said they intend to balance healers and tanks so they can deal enough damage to level up as efficiently as DPS. Do you feel like they will be able to accomplish this goal? I’d hate to be behind on leveling my prot warrior’s artifact weapon, yet each expansion I always level him as DPS.

Sure, I think they can do it. Tanks and healers don’t necessarily need to do as much DPS as pure DPS classes to be able to quest on their own with a decent level of efficiency. They simply need to do more than almost-zero. Tanks and healers likely won’t have as many DPS tools to be a fun and exciting spec to play as DPS, but to be passable for questing? All they need to do is avoid the situation we’ve seen in prior expansions where healers have almost zero offensive power at all. I’m not a game designer so maybe I’m oversimplifying the situation, but I imagine they’d only need to tune healers’ limited offensive abilities a bit higher than they once did.


When creating new characters (or using the barber), do you make your characters look like you IRL, or do you model then based on what looks good on that race/gender?

I usually have a concept in mind for a specific character before I create it. When I created my Paladin, probably all the way back in 2005, I basically had Johanna in mind before there was a Johanna — that iconic blonde-haired, blue-eyed, stoic crusader of the Light bearing sword and shield. I don’t roleplay in WoW (or any game) anymore, but that’s still my approach when making a new character: Who is this person?

Playing myself in a game is the last thing I want to do.


Who do you think the most underutilized NPC in the game is?

For myself, I’d have to say Shandris Feathermoon. The night elven general who lets Malfurion and Tyrande do the leading, while playing daughter to Tyrande.

Hopefully she’ll be used in Legion, but not holding my breath…

World of Warcraft is full of characters like these — enough of them that I’m not able to settle on just one. So I’m going to cop out and not pick one. Instead, I’ll say I wish the quest designers pulled more heavily from existing characters rather than creating a full new stable of people we’ll never see again every single expansion. Warlords of Draenor did this really well with a few characters. Milly Osworth, for example, showed up in one of the Spires of Arak outpost options for the Alliance. She owned a vineyard in Elwynn Forest last we saw her. Unfortunately, orcs destroyed it — and she ended up joining the Alliance military and used her last harvest to help you establish a trade route with the outcast arakkoa. That NPC could have been anybody, but because it was a (minor) established character, it felt deeply compelling.

Often, it feels like Blizzard reserves the vast majority of their recurring characters for the most epic moments possible. Unfortunately, those moments might come for those specific characters once every 4-6 years. By then, you’ve mostly forgotten about those people. You don’t care anymore. Or you haven’t been playing Warcraft long enough to have an emotional attachment. How many people had no clue who Khadgar was when he showed up in Warlords of Draenor? Based on comments left on our site, and chatter in general chat during the Warlords launch, very few people knew who Khadgar was.

Characters need a presence for us to care about them. Most of World of Warcraft‘s cast is horribly underutilized. That is, I think, an important thing for them to tackle to maintain a compelling long-term narrative.


What was your reaction to the Kanai’s Cube bug?

I know ‘Watch tends toward Warcraft tunnel-vision (no criticism there), but I’m kinda surprised the D3 Kanai’s Cube bug hasn’t gotten more (any?) press here.  Pretty odd response from Blizzard too: a week old post saying “hey we fixed it” vs. nearing 1,000 posts saying “um, no you haven’t” (plus the obligatory !@#%$ Blizzard forum-speak).

I’ve been playing Diablo 3 more in the last week or two than I have in my entire life, and I didn’t encounter that Kanai’s Cube bug. If I had, I probably would’ve said something — but I’m not at the stage in my Diablo 3 gameplay where I haunt the forums like I do other games.

We’ve actually scaled back on our Diablo 3 coverage and put those resources elsewhere because people weren’t reading what we were writing. It came down to resource management and Diablo 3 content didn’t seem to have the level of interest games like WoW, Hearthstone, and Heroes of the Storm did. That’s what happened with StarCraft 2, too. There’s always that question as to whether people aren’t reading because we aren’t doing it well or providing enough of it, but even our most popular Diablo pieces — pieces we were really quite proud of — pulled in something like 1/10 of the viewership of anything else.

That isn’t to say we’ll never do Diablo 3 content ever again, but we do have limited resources. There’s a lot of stuff we’d like to do, but are limited by funding — whether that be Patreon or advertising. That’s the unfortunately reality of the thing. We have to make hard decisions about what we do here.


When is it socially acceptable to change out of your holiday avatar? I miss scowly Arya.

The solution is simple: be like me, celebrate nothing, never change your avatar, and be eternally associated with The Smurfs.


What legendary creature from folklore or mythology that doesn’t yet exist in WoW would you like to add in future content releases?

The kelpie. (Warning: Artistic depiction of nudity on the previous Wikipedia link.) Water beasties in World of Warcraft are getting a bit repetitive. You have the standard aquatic life like fish, crabs, sharks, eels, all that. Then you have the Warcrafty kraken, naga, lobstrok, and murlocs. We have the same aquatic beasts over and over and over again. Let’s throw some new ones into the mix.

Let’s get weird. Let’s have water horses. No, not seahorses. Horses which are sea monsters. Shapeshifting sea monster horses. Which murder people.

Alternatively, I’ll keep it local and say we need a hodag.

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