BlizzCon 2010: DirecTV Ghostcrawler interview

Gregg Reece
G. Reece|10.23.10

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Between panels, the DirecTV folks had an interview with Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street (lead systems designer for WoW) on some various aspects of both Cataclysm and the recent 4.0.1 patch.

Just a warning, this is essentially a live blog and a lot of things will get paraphrased to get it out. We'll try to clean it up a little bit on a second pass, but just think of it as a live blog and you should be golden.

Everyone wants to know where their moose is.
They can't handle the moose.

Are wintersabers still available or should we get them before the sundering happens?
No, they'll still be available. We're not doing anything with them.

What about the mounts in AQ that we use in the instance? Now that it's going to be a zone, can we use them there?
AQ or ZG? AQ mounts will still be there. So you can still get them.

What is getting ready to happen with the sundering? Are we going to be able to watch it happening or are the servers going to go down and when the come back up it's all done?
Pretty much that assuming all goes well. The two old continents will go away and the new ones will just appear almost over night. Players will experience that and then shortly after that Cataclysm will go on the shelves and people will be able to level their goblin, worgen, or go up to 85.

Yesterday during the live raid, Deathwing came out. He's huge. He's a massive size. I can't even image how you're going to have an encounter. Is he going to be that big in an encounter?
We would really like to deliver on something that epic. We feel it would be anti-climatic if you've got a guy with a shield and Deathwing is just doing that standard dragon claw attack. We' have some crazy ambitious plans and I'm not sure if we'll be able to deliver on it, but it's definitely on our minds.

So, everyone will need to roll ranged DPS immediately?
Yeah, because Blizzard hates melee *laugh*

We had class specific quests for people around 50. Will they be brought back in an updated form?
We have added some new class specific quests and they're centered around dungeons. I'll probably remember the dungeons wrong, but I think they may be Shadowfang keep and BRD? Where at level 20ish and level 50, they get a set of quests to go into the dungeon and kill a boss and they'll get a blue item custom tailored to their class and specs.

You recently announced on combing 10 and 25 man raids. Did you feel you would be killing 25 man raids?
No, I mean honestly, we talked about it. The bold move here would be to just kill 25 man and go with 10. We didn't want to do that and I mean a lot of us ... I personally do a lot of 25 player raids. We're trying to support both groups. The original Lich King designs was "oh, just do what you want to do" but because of the loot structure, you feel like you have to do both every week which is a good way to burn themselves out if you have to kill the boss twice a week per character it gets old really quick. Hopefully players will decide which is better for their group or themselves, they'll pick 10 or 25 and go with that.

So this was meant to prevent players from burning themselves out?
Yeah, yeah. I know they hate that. Don't be a nanny state Blizzard. When the game asks them to ridiculous things, the players will do ridiculous things.

Are there any plans to do any achievements to seperate 10 from 25 man?
for the most part they're the same. the 25 mans will drop more loot so that will be more prestigious so the hardcore guilds can still focus on that. I think a lot of the world and server firsts they'll want to be distinct between 10 and 25.

Will achievement points become currency for anything inside the game?
We are really trying to keep achievement points pure. We really want them to be a reward for getting achievements and not turn into something else. There are those who love achievements and those who hate them and those who kind of dabble in them. We don't want to force players to do that. The mounts and pets are about the closest we'll have to a mandatory achievement.

Going back to when the patch 4.0.1 came out. We saw a lot of hotfixes. What was happening behind the scenes? What is it like when the patch first launches and you see the things out of balance?
There's a whiteboard in my office and when we see a problem, it goes on the whiteboard. Shadowpriests were easy, because they were just spamming shadow word death because they weren't worried about hurting themselves and they were just hurting the healers.

How does that data get to you?
A lot of different things. The forums obviously. The designers have a lot of contacts out there in the game world and players will email us with feedback and that sort of thing. We play the game and notice stuff ourselves. We collect a lot of data and can pretty quickly get numbers from raids and see what players are doing to see what things go wrong. Not one particular source. A lot of different sources. We're always looking for new tools to add.

I've always imagined a mission command style room with big monitors.
A situation room? It's a little like that.

We had several mages on the forum (arcane and frost) concerned about their mana regen. They have evocation and mana gems, but except for that they have to be out of combat. Any plans to help with that?
Our general philosophy is that for DPS is that mana shouldn't be a big problem. You should generally have enough to do what they need to do unless the encounter is going too long because they're doing something wrong or their getting their ass kicked in PvP. The exception is arcane we're really trying to make mana part of the game for them, because if they can manage well they can do more DPS. They have to decide how high they can stack arcane blast before doing that. If you don't like managing mana, don't go arcane mage.

We recently change how badges work. With valor and justice, isn't this just the same problem over again?
The big change this time is that there will only ever be valor and justice. When the next tier comes out, valor will turn into justice and you'll start accumulating again. We could have done the same thing with Lich King had we just recycled the same badge names over and over again instead of converting your frost to triumph to conquest.

With the 31 point trees. There were some players who did do specs balanced between multiple trees. What was your thinking in enforcing people into a 31 point tree?
Players who claiemd to like the hybrid specs mainly were cherry picking the broken talent in this tree and the broken talent in that tree which made their class broken that could possibly be a problem in PvP. There were also the guys that said they liked to DPS, but also liked to heal a little on the side. We made sure there hooks to still do that. They just involved in finishing one tree and just dabbling in another. Players generally consider it a failure if they don't want to grab the bottom talents in their own tree. This just kind of the new design.

Will mastery be needed to get the most out of your class or will you be able to ignore it?
If we do our jobs right, mastery will be exactly even with say haste and crit. And then players will ideally want a little bit of both. It's a bit broke if they want all haste and nothing else. But, we hope that players don't ignore mastery. We hope that it's an exciting stat.

And you can gem for mastery as well. Can you get those in this patch?
I'm going to mess up here ... I don't think so, I think the only way to get it in this patch is reforge. At higher level there is actually mastery gems. And they have a lot of cool names like zen and stuff like that very inner focus stuff.

Since you changed the way glyphs work, do you think you killed inscription as a money maker?
On the one hand, we think some glyphs will become more popular than they were before. Before players could pick and choose and ignore some of their glyphs. When you give players a blank to fill something in they want to fill it in. It isn't healthy tying inscription that close to the glyph market. We want to give them other things to do. Fortune cookies. Darkmoon faire cards. We want to prop it up and not so focused on glyphs.

In archaeology outside of mounts and pets you'll be able to get beneficial buffs in raids?
Right now, it only works in the 5 man dungeons. You can get a special buff that helps you in that dungeons. It doesn't work for raids yet, but if we like it in dungeons, we'll add it to raids. Right now, it's kind of cool, because it is themed to the dungeon which helps the lore a little bit more than just walking in and getting a generic buff.

In Cataclysm, Lady Sylvanas has become a little more controversial. Is that an aim by Blizzard?
Well, Sylvanas has some interesting things happening to her. Right now, the orcs are having an internal power struggle of their own which has let her off the leash a little bit. Sylvanas has a bit of a problem. She's the queen of a people that can't procreate by themselves. In order to get more Forsaken for her armies, she's gotten the Valkyr from Northrend because they can create more undead for her armies. It'll be interesting to see where she goes. It's taking the Forsaken in a little more darker direction than they've been before. It'll be fun.

BlizzCon 2010 is upon us! WoW Insider has all the latest news and information. We're bringing you liveblogging of the WoW panels, interviews with WoW celebrities and attendees and of course, lots of pictures of people in costumes. It's all here at WoW Insider!
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