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Liveblog: World of Warcraft PvP Panel at BlizzCon

Mike Schramm

Hey folks, we're still here live at BlizzCon, and just minutes away from the start of the PvP panel, with dev Tom Chilton. We expect to hear about balance between classes, PvP troubles (including how they're going to fix AV, hopefully), and hopefully some new info about PvP in the next expansion.

Drysc just said it's time for a "calm and rational discussion on PvP" (with laughter from the crowd), so let's do it.

3:59pm: Jeff Kaplan is also here-- let's talk about kicking ass!

4:01pm: Talking about how hardcore and players both need a place in PvP-- hardcore need to shine, and casuals need to have fun. Players should be able to compete in PvP using PvP rewards if they choose.

4:02pm: First up, Battlegrounds. They are a destination for rewarding objective-based team PvP. They're also meant to reinforce Horde vs. Alliance theme-- tie them into the overall feel of the war of Warcraft. that's why no HvH or AvA-- we need constant struggle between the two. "For the Horde" cry from the crowd. Yeah!

4:03pm: BGs are "Warcraft III meets Battlefield 1942." Devs liked those games and combined them. They also have to complement the game world that they exist in. Even though BGs are "gamey," they should feel like they have something to do with the rest of the world. They should feel like natural extensions of the game.

4:04pm: Tigole will talk about process of development. Asks how many people are actually playing AV right now, just AFK (tons of hands raise haha). AV was originally supposed to be a non-instanced zone, and hopefully Lake Wintergrasp will be that. Quests and NPCs were to provide content even when there were no players around. Eventually, it had to be instanced.

4:06pm: What they learned from AV: Map differences are cool but they put balance into question (Alliance bridge is an example). Players can be AFK, and Honor is given away for just being there. And while NPCs are cool, they're also quirky. We're making a lot of corrections, more on that in a bit. AFK "is going to be fixed." Applause from the crowd.

4:07pm: When a loss in AV is more honor than a win in the other battlegrounds, that's a problem. "The Horde can win AV, it's kind of easier for everyone if they don't right now. That sucks."

4:08pm: Creative pulling mechanics are another problem, including the Vandar Stormpike pulling move.

4:09pm: Warsong Gulch is the next battleground they worked on, meant to be something more quick (haha from the audience). Prototyping started much earlier-- they were playing it in a field for a while, and during prototyping, they thought of a CTF mechanic. They brought in Quake designers and makers to create Warsong Gulch and other BGs.

4:11pm: After creating it, they placed it inside the game world and put it in the middle of an existing conflict.

4:12pm: Gurubashi Catacombs was a 5v5 deathmatch map that they worked on for a while, but they found deathmatch wasn't satisfying on its own. Arathi Basin was the next one they worked on, and that's where BF 1942 came into play, with nodes and points. Wanted lots of players but accessible to everyone, so with one glance everyone can know what to do and where to go.

4:13pm: created clear points of interest, and really clear sightlines, to see across the map.

4:14pm: Now talking about EOTS-- originally the flag was a mobile objective that floated around the place.

4:15pm: The future of Battlegrounds. In AV, players won't spawn in the cave until there's nowhere else to spawn. Anti-AFK measures gets applause from the crowd. What we're going to do is give the players ability to report other players for being AFK, like the spam reports. Once enough players have reported that person, and a debuff appears that only goes away when they show up in combat. If they don't get into combat, another debuff which makes them have no honor gain.

4:18pm: Honor distribution will change-- more honor gain near end of the BG, which should push people forward. Reintroducing queueing as a group for AV (lots of applause). We're considering going toward a model where players can choose different sizes of the same battleground-- 15v15 or 20v20.

4:20pm: Also thinking about Guild Battlegrounds-- letting guilds challenge each other, and joining up a battlegroun as a guild, even tracking a rating for the guild in a certain BG. Siege weapons and destroyable buildings are coming as well, of course. Thinking about bringing those to old battlegrounds as well. Example of an Undead Meatwagon that throws Corpses, or a catapult that damages buildings.

4:22pm: World PvP philsophy. Meant to be spontaneous, but should still be objective driven, and reward participation. World PvP should also impact the world-- players want a feeling that they have an impact. Example of capturing spirit towers.

4:24pm: What did we learn? From Silithus, we learned it has to be compelling, not just tacked on. From Eastern Plaguelands, we learned the reward has to feel meaningful. From HFP, we learned that pacing is very important-- we need an outcome. And from Zangarmarsh, we learned that clarity is very important, and Zangar is a little too hard to understand right away. And from Bone Wastes, we learned that persistence is important-- a long reward time is good, so expect to see more of that in WotLK.

4:26pm: The future of World PvP: Lake Wintergrasp. Siege weapons will be there. Multiple objectives. Persistent effect. Surprisingly little details, just promises that they'll use the lessons they learned.

4:27pm: Arenas-- we wanted to have players express skill. Rating system was supposed to reward skill vs. time. Also want a feeling of steady progress, so that's why ratings become points every week. Using small, simple maps for arenas, as well as a random map selection.

4:31pm: Learning from Arenas: Difficult to balance classes for use across different formats. What works in BGs and raids may not work in Arena, and vice versa. "But we're still trying."

4:32pm: Learned to avoid map gimmicks, example of cyclones. Tried to make them less random by making them predictable, but it turned out that arena is already complicated enough without map gimmicks.

4:33pm: Because weapons aren't as distingushed against raid gear (players were raiding, and just doing arenas for the weapons), there's going to be a rating requirement to buy a weapon-- can't just save points, have to do well to get the weapon.

4:34pm: Q&A Session, and tons of people run for the line. This is going to be interesting.

Q: Will you implement a LF-Arena group system, because it's hard to find one?
A: Even if you have five people, it's hard to get them all at the same time. Realm forums are a great place to find people, too.

Q: On Tichondrious, the queue times are crazy for Arenas.
A: That's because there are too many 2v2 matches going on . The way the matchmaking system works, while there's an instance spinning up, it can't do matchmaking at the same time. Too many queuing people creates a backlog. No quick fix, but we're encouraging players to play at off times, especially for 2v2.

Q: Creating 19 and 29 Arenas?
A: We're considering it-- the problems are rewards for it, and player demand for it.

Q: Rewards for turning in Battleground marks?
A: The marks are really there to encourage people to move around from BG to BG. We'll probably add more things that you can get for your marks. Rep probably won't be one of them, because we don't think right now that the rep is worth much.

Q: Where is the arena server where we have pregenerated character and can choose our opponents?
A: We're doing that with actual tournaments-- pregenerated characters that can play any kind of match you need. What we may integrate is allowing teams to match up their choice to practice, as a skirmish.

Q: Crowd control balance-- I think the Warlock fear needs some work (applause and boos), because everyone's getting chain feared, dotted up, and with Death Coil... (lots of yelling) how about a cooldown?
Nethaera: Calm down, kids.
A: We're always looking at the balance for CC. I want to lessen the strength of warlock in small formats, but I don't want to do it at the cost of their viability in 5v5. Fear isn't overpowered in the 5v5 format.

Q: Rogues vs. Warriors-- are there plans to fix rogue mobility in 5v5?
A: Yes, that's a problem we're looking at. They have their one out with improved sprint or vanish, but that's something that needs to be better for rogues. No details yet.

Q: I'd like to ask why Hunters have to spend 2750 more points to get their arena set compared to every other class, because we have to buy two weapons. It sucks.
A: That's a natural extension of the fact that Hunters get most power out of their ranged slot. We're looking at it, we've got to find a way to fix the cost. We're looking at creating 1h or 2h made specifically for Hunters that's cheaper than the other weapons.

Q: Doing anything to bring Arena players back to Battlegrounds, since they've abandoned them?
A: With each new arena season, we do intro new BG awards, so there are reasons to bring them back. And guild battlegrounds will compel high end PvP guilds to do it.

Q: Will you bring back Warsong Guich based loot for PvP, instead of just the High Warlord stuff?
A: No, we'll just incorporate that stuff into the honor system as a whole. We'd rather spread people around in different places rather than getting an item from only one battleground.

Q: Why is resilience missing on the Paladin PvP sets
A: Season 3 set does have resilience. We won't change the older sets, because players bought them knowing what they were.

Q: Rating system-- with the new changes for ratings and weapons aren't you worried this will go back to the old honor system?
A: No, because you won't get rewarded for playing more and more and more like the old system. The arena system rewards skill, not just time investment.

Q: Any plans to do tokens for PvP to match up sets for builds?
A: We want to build sets for all the different sets for PvP.

Q: There's an arena set up in Aszhara-- what was that going to be?
A: that's Aszhara Crater, and we never went for it, because it was similar to AV. And since we've never been really happy with AV, we haven't gone forwards.

Q: I'm a big jumper in the AV cave-- can you install trampolines? (laugh) no seriously, wouldn't just taking out the caves solve the problem?
A: No, we think it's deeper than that. If taking out the caves solved the problem we would have done it already.

With season 3, you'll see season 1 gear become available through the honor system, so players just hitting 70 will like that. Also, Zul Aman gear will patch up some holes as well.

Q: I play a holy priest in PvP-- will there be improvements to how fun it is to heal in PvP?
A: That's hard to answer. Holy priests are a viable spec in PvP-- high end arena teams have them. (sarcastically) Yes, it'll be way more fun. Soon!

Q: City raids are super fun. Any plans to encourage that? (lots of applause from the crowd)
A: Definitely integrating some PvP quests that encourage players on occasion to invade places. We're learning how to take advantage of the quest system. Daily quests should encourage that behaviour, but too much incentive, and that'll be all that happens. Want to make sure that it's balance.

Q: Prot warriors in Warsong Gulch-- we can carry the flag with BoF, but in AV and AB, it's just "hit us some more."
A: We do have the intent to make the disparity between the prot warrior and other specs less dramatic, in terms of both dps and tanking capabilities. For now, no immediate suggestions-- talent for what you enjoy doing the most.

Q: Resilience affecting DoTs. Why wasn't it included in the initial discussions?
A: Originally, when we were developing resilience, it was before we improved the way DoTs scaled. We didn't think they scaled to a degree where people were really scared of them. But now that's obviously not true.

Q: Make rogues more viable for 5v5?
A: We're going to include mobility improvements, and more utility. Sap is useless there, and we'll look at that.

Q: You're pretty hot, Tom Chilton. Want to take me to dinner?
A: Absolutely.

Ummm, great. Turned into the PvP and pick up Tom Chilton panel. Good times, thanks for coming everybody!

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