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WoWOct 14, 2016 12:54 pm CT

Legion patch 7.1 developer Q&A liveblog

In just a few short minutes, World of Warcraft Game Director Ion Hazzikostas will be going live on Twitch with a Legion Q&A focusing on the upcoming patch 7.1. For those of you who can’t watch it live, we’ll be liveblogging the event right here. Please be aware, depending on the speed of this Q&A, developer responses will not be recorded verbatim and should not be considered direct quotes. For the latest updates, you will need to refresh the page.

Update: The stream is live! But there’s no audio. Uh oh.

…and now we have sound! Ion Hazzikostas has officially been introduced as Game Director. He thanks players for their well-wishes and hopes he can do right by the playerbase.

Q: Are you and the team happy with where classes have ended up after the initial tuning pass? Can we expect to see more before patch 7.1?

A: They’re happier than where classes were before the tuning pass, but there’s still more work to do. The challenge with class balance is there are so many aspects to it — PVP, raiding, dungeons, solo play, etc. The developers view class balance as an ongoing process rather than something that reaches a point of completion. Some classes are getting buffs in 7.1, but there may be tuning changes after that, too. Another challenge is the numbers players see are the numbers players are actually producing rather than simply what’s coming from sims. Players who are exceptional and min-maxing their performance set the numbers people look at on logs; if there aren’t as many min-maxing players playing frost mage, for example, logs won’t necessarily reflect the maximum capabilities of frost mages. That doesn’t mean frost mages are as good as fire mages, but the difference isn’t necessarily as large as logs may reflect.

If they then buff frost mages to match fire mages on the logs, those min-maxing fire mages might jump to frost mage, and then the frost mage numbers may leap far, far ahead of fire. That would happen not only because of the buffs, but because the best players in the game are taking advantage of those buffs and making it more dramatic.

Q: What can be done to make Hunter Barrage less annoying eg. pulling mobs directly above you?

A: They would like to make Barrage more consistent in regards to Z-axis and similar things, but the challenge is making sure you don’t eliminate cases where players actually want to shoot upwards or downwards. Sometimes you do want to shoot mobs below you. A solution may be to make other talent options more comparable for cases where Barrage might be a problem. Currently, Barrage is the most viable DPS option.

Q: What can bed one to curb heavy RNG elements in regards to legendaries that is causing a lot of frustration?

A: Legendaries are fundamentally RNG. Philosophy: Should there be powerful random elements? Or should everything be linear and skill-based? If these items were just on a vendor where you had to progress toward it, it would seem like a huge grind — you’d be relieved when you got there rather than happy or excited. Legendaries are complementary to Artifacts. While you’re always making constant progress with your artifact through Artifact Power, legendaries fill the role of a rare item which will cause excitement. Ion says he himself does not have a legendary yet.

Q: What are your plans for legendaries for people who haven’t gotten one or one notably subpar for their class?

A: If you haven’t gotten one, keep playing. It’ll happen. If you haven’t gotten the one you want, keep playing, and you’ll get more eventually. Ion believes players underestimate the legendaries which provide utility — legendaries which give you additional survival can still help you live through burst damage in mythics, or might open strategic options in raids. That said, Ion admits some legendaries aren’t quite as good as they’d hoped. In those cases, where a legendary is objectively bad, they’re going to buff or redesign them. A tank Demon Hunter legendary which increases DPS against high-health targets might receive a buff where the chestpiece also gives the Demon Hunter lifesteal.

…and the stream crashed!

And we’re back!

Q: Is the current design of hardcore for casual players and carual for hardcore played intended? Mythic cleared on day 1.

A: Some confusion about the meaning here, but they decide to discuss the difficulty of mythic raids. Ion says Xavius probably wasn’t as difficult as they wanted, but the progression of difficulty felt pretty good otherwise. They “dropped the ball” on Mythic tuning. That said, this raid zone is the first raid tier of an expansion and it shouldn’t be comparable to the endbosses of previous expansions. There needs to be room for progression throughout the expansion. Still, the best guilds in the world aren’t necessarily representative of the entire playerbase. Only a dozen or so guilds have full-cleared mythic raids in Legion. Balancing only for the best guilds in the world would create a frustrating experience for everyone else.

Q: What is the design intent behind Protection Warriors and why was the rage from damage taken model brought back?

A: A mix of tanky and mobility. Rage is a throwback to the old warrior days, where taking damage makes you angry and fight better. Tankiness needs to scale with content. Rage scaling on damage taken is what makes Ignore Pain work. If you got the same amount of rage in Normal dungeons as Mythic dungeons, it would make you invincible in Normal.

Q: Will the level 100 Shadow Priest talent change happen in patch 7.1 or later?

A: Not in patch 7.1, but hopefully not much later than that. Surrender to Madness is problematic/pigeonholding, meant to be fun and flavorful, but dominates endgame. When tinkering with it, they realized they were causing more problems, so they need to approach it carefully. They want to provide alternatives which are equally as powerful. Surrender to Madness shouldn’t become awful, but it should be one option of three rather than the only option.

Q: Will secondary stat values be tuned? Feel like item levels are not in most cases nothing but a budgeting portrayal.

A: Ion says he has few regrets about Legion design, but how primary/secondary stats played out is one of them. Players only want gear with their favorite stat on it and view everything else as worthless. They want to be careful, however, to not change things so much players view their current gear as much worse. They want for item levels to determine whether or not something is an upgrade, not necessarily the secondary stats. They don’t want players turning down a huge item level upgrade just because there isn’t any (or as much) crit on it. It’s on their radar.

Q: Any chance of reducing crafting material requirements?

A: Also on their radar. They want to see how the Blood of Sargeras trader plays out in patch 7.1. The trader might result in tons of materials flooding the market, driving down the price of materials for potions and flasks for raids. They do, however, want the process to be more involved than it was in Warlords — getting potions and flasks was far too easy in Warlords. Part of the demand being so high in Legion is because Warlords drove players to abandon the professions which would have provided those materials. The problem may end up fixing itself as players adjust to Legion, but they are still keeping an eye on it.

Q: With Mythic+ being a huge part of Legion, are there any plans to help specs that don’t have strong consistent AOE so they can take part in higher keystones?

A: A little, but not entirely. Ion asks “Can all specs have strong consistent AOE?” The answer is no. There should still be differentiation between classes. Consistent AOE is powerful in farming lower difficulties. Shadow Priests don’t have the most powerful AOE, but Shadow Priests are still clearing very high keystones. Some affixes like Raging makes using tons of AOE not that helpful, sometimes you’d much rather have high single target damage. Rather than changing classes to be able to do everything perfectly, they’d rather tweak keystones and affixes to make de-emphasize one specific playstyle.

In some cases, what players perceive as the best thing to do isn’t actually the best thing to do — the playerbase leaning on heavy AOE might not be the best way to go. Burning one mob down at a time, depending on the situation, might be the faster/more efficient way to do something.

Q: Could rewards from World Quests (not cashes) adjust according to Loot Spec? Would be really nice for focused gearing.

A: Two reasons why it doesn’t work this way. They went with class-based loot rather than spec-based loot because the entire map of World Quests changing every time you change spec would be strange. You might want to change to every single one of your specs before questing to see what your quests would give you and min-max that way. Also, World Quests giving you rewards for other specs might give players the opportunity to try specs they haven’t otherwise played. If you’re Feral and getting good Resto relics, you might give healing a try.

Q: How does the bad luck protection for legendaries work? I feel like the system is time-based only. Are there other considerations?

A: There’s no time component to it. It is mostly random. If you log off for a month, you aren’t more or less likely to get a legendary when you come back. There was a brief bug that allowed some players to get multiple legendaries more quickly, but in most cases, it’s based on luck. Ion jokes they should have put in “good luck” protection to eliminate cases where players have gotten so lucky they got three legendaries in one day. That’s the nature of random. In a random landscape, you will get players who get very lucky — it’s not a big, it’s just how it works.

Q: When will the action cam come back? I loved the extra immersion it brought to the game.

A: Patch 7.1. However, it will need to be re-enabled every time you log back into the game, so you may want a macro to enable it. It’s a safeguard against it accidentally being enabled and causing problems for players. (Editor’s Note: Probably protection for players who became violently motionsick due to accidentally enabling it, or it being accidentally enabled.)

I missed a question about Mythic keystones and lockouts. Sorry, everyone.

Q: Will there be a system in place where we can move all AP to another weapon? Can’t even properly test other specs now.
A: No plans for that, but the way AP scaling works, it’s relatively straightforward to keep other weapons pretty close to your main weapon. You might be surprised how quickly you work through traits to make your weapons comparable. Ion references Ask Mr. Robot’s blog post about trait scaling.

Q: Is Artifact Knowledge working as hoped? Any plans to adjust research rates or make account/server wide?

A: Pretty happy with how it’s playing out. They didn’t want a hard weekly cap like Mists of Pandaria valor points, where you run out of reasons to play — or if you didn’t hit the cap, you felt like you were falling behind. The current system lets you play as much as you want, but it does have diminishing returns due to the scaling. The research rates are the main balancing knob for alts or people who have fallen behind. Players who are completely current have 5-day research times. Players who have fallen behind may see 4 or even 3-day research times. The catch-up measures may need to be more drastic later, but that’s a long-term view. Right now, they’re happy with how it works.

Q: What is the logic behind gating some of the “hidden” appearances behind RNG/time walls while others are on a vendor?

A: They’re not one-size-fits-all. Didn’t want a formulaic approach. When appearances are on a vendor, they’re aimed at players who like very specific playstyles. Some hunters simply do not want to use a gun, so making bows available was important. It’s important to remember appearances do not provide player power, but are cosmetic prestige. In some cases, they want it to be really cool to see a player has invested a lot of time into acquiring an appearance. Rarer, more difficult to acquire appearances will be cooler and more prestigious to have. In some cases, like if the random world boss schedule is causing artificial difficulty, they’ll keep an eye on that.

Q: Will Karazhan be an account-wide unlock?

A: Ion can’t remember off the top of his head, but feels like it should be. The unlock/attunement is there to give players the story/narrative basis for what’s going on there, which isn’t something a player should need to do multiple times.

Q: Can we please get something other than gold for non-loot bonus rolls? Even a slight amount of AP would feel better.

A: Ion says that would feel better, but currently there is a technical limitation. The gold bonus was an experiment in Pandaria. The gold was hard-coded into the system as a consolation prize. They want to change it, and they’re working on it, but it’s more difficult than flipping a switch. Gold does feel like an insult right now rather than a consolation.

Q: World Quests were supposed to have a large variety, but I have found since launch we see many of the same ones repeated quite frequently. Will this be addressed?

A: There are a large variety of world quests, but there are some UI and automated World Quest planner problems. Because overlapping World Quests don’t display well in the UI, the planner avoids stacking World Quests. If a World Quest has not been active in three weeks but there is already an active World Quest in that position, the system will avoid populating an overlapping World Quest, so the one which has not been active in awhile still will not be triggered. They’re hoping to fix this.

In a question about class balance, Ion discussed the “bring the player, not the class” dynamic. While bringing the player and not the class is a good thing, there’s a balance to be found there, too — they don’t want to create a situation where people don’t want to play with their friends because they’re the wrong class, but they don’t want class to be completely irrelevant, either. Classes should have some unique abilities or strengths, but not in a way that recreates Burning Crusade’s raid comp Tetris.

Q: With the higher maximum ilevel in Trial of Valor, will the overall ilevel ceiling be raised? (Titanforged rerolls, etc.)

A: Not with Trial of Valor, but it will in the future.

Q: Ursoc’s Rending Paw and several other Emerald Nightmare trinkets are undertuned. Will this be looked at?

A: Yes. Trinkets with primary stats and a proc are easy to balance, but other trinkets are more difficult. They’re working on it.

Q: Can you comment on the state of Fury? Single target damage doesn’t justify taking 30% more damage.

A: Fury single target damage will be buffed, and the damage-taken will be reduced to 20% from 30%. The extra damage taken can be frustrating, it’s out of your control, but inevitably you’re going to die from some spike of damage you might not have otherwise died from. Patch 7.1 will apply a band-aid, but in longer term, there may be some redesign to that berserker fantasy.

Q: Why must relics be destroyed? Very easy to mess up if you’re not up to date on theorycrafting etc.

A: There are some outliers where traits are incredibly powerful, but they want item level to be the largest consideration on relics. They don’t want players to have bags and bags full of alternate relics where they swap them in and out from fight to fight. Specs and talents should serve that purpose, but relics should be a more long-term decision.

Last question!

Q: Patch 7.1 release date?

A: “As soon as it’s ready.” They don’t want to rush anything, they want the content to be as polished as possible, they can’t commit to patch dates etc etc. Generally, they say Soon(tm)… but how about October 25th?

Trial of Valor will not be open day one, but there will be a waiting period of two weeks. They don’t want Trial of Valor progression to happen during BlizzCon, both because players won’t want to progress during that and because the developers won’t be available to watch progression, roll out hotfixes, etc.

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