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BlizzCon 2010: World of Warcraft Open Q&A liveblog

Allison Robert

Aaaaaand we're back with another liveblog! The open World of Warcraft Q&A session will start in about 20 minutes, so we'll see you back here for that. With any luck we'll have ... um ... I don't know how to put this politely. Less whining than the last panel. We'll settle on that.

Seriously, folks, don't fly all the way to BlizzCon just to be a jerk at a mic. You can be a jerk on the forums for free! I probably shouldn't be encouraging that.

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!

1:27 pm A few minutes to go, and DirecTV's running a great interview with Bob Fitch, the lead software designer. Blizzard has changed a lot during his nineteen-year tenure, though maybe not as much as you'd think. Something tells me their default answer to all questions when they started was "Soon" too.

1:30 pm Here we go, folks!

1:30 pm Present: J. Allen Brack, Greg Street, Cory Stockton, Chris Robinson, Tom Chilton ("not Ghostcrawler, we look alike"), Alex Afrasiabi.

1:31 pm "Dungeon finder can put a 5-man team across the battlegroup but no LFG for raids. Any possibility of revisiting dungeon finder for raids with lockout changes?"

A: Still a lot of challenges with that. We tune our raids around certain compositions and buff representation, players are also picky about representation. We're also conerned about dungeon finder for heroic Cataclysm dungeons, because more challenging dungeons aren't necessarily a good fit for the dungeon finder's randomness. "You may not always have the best players with you." Diplomatically stated!

1:33 pm "Any plans to give races a little more customization than they have now? They all look alike in the same armor."

A: We completely agree, and would like to address. No solid plans but we'd like to address it. We want players clearly distinct.

1:33 pm "Any plans to add a guild merging system?"

A: Merging two guilds together? No specific plans to make a feature, but as far as that's concerned, the UI should make it easier to do anyway, more intuitive controls. Present rank system makes it tough, but the beta UI is a lot cleaner. Once guild starts earning achievements, it should make you want to stick together a little longer.

1:34 pm "I love what you've done with Warcraft and strong female characters. If we could have anyone who HASN'T stepped out of a Victoria's Secret catalogue?"
Cheers from women, boos from men, very mixed reaction!

A: Which catalogue do you want them from?
A: we want to vary them so ... we'll pick different cataclogues.

Q: Which catalogue is that tauren female coming from?
A: Not one you want to read.
A: Some sort of agricultural ... (laughs)

1:36: "Any plans for female druid forms?"

A: Might have seen a concept yesterday for that, but difficult to balance. We would like to do it, but it's tricky. We'll do what we can.
A:I notice you guys aren't asking for new druid forms now!

Q: You could make the moonkin curvier with boobs

(Audience laughs and laughs)

1:37 pm "Any plans to make Fury 100% viable in PvP?"

A: Fury got a good deal of love in Cataclysm. We think it'll be a lot better, shorter Heroic Leap. Also keep in mind that we think ther'll be a big renaissance in PvP in Cataclysm with rated battlegrounds, less focus on arenas.

1:38 pm "Question regarding the 'dog' hunter pet, I love its special ability but it just doesn't look like the actual pet you'd want to fight Deathwing with. Not looking for a ferocious guard dog, but I want something more combat-oriented."

A: You talking about the mastiff?
Q: Yes.
A: Mastiffs are pretty brutal, but maybe we made it too soft, give it rabies, raise the hackles
(Audience laughs)
A: We'll do that, we'll give it rabies.

1:39 pm "With the talent tree overhauls, there are still a lot of things no one really takes, e.g. Improved Searing Pian."

A: We're still tweaking. Once things go live and everyone's playing Cataclysm, more information. Players often think they've got a good handle on everything before they even set foot in the game (guilty as charged) but things don't always work out that way.

1:40 pm "Crowd control -- potential to CC someone for 20 seconds consecutively. Switch to PvE, and the button works for 1 minute. No planning or skill involved with that, but some mobs are immune to CC."

A: Seems like more of a statement than a question.

Q: (abashed) Yeah, how is that going to change in Cataclysm?

A: Different answer for PvE and PvP. We want people to use CC more in 5-man dungeons (audience cheers), and along those lines we want stuff in PvE to be as CC-able as possible. We want you to use these abilities. Anytime we make something immune, we ask, do we really have to do this? As it relates to PvP, we're trying to slow down the pace of combat. In lengthier fights, CC matters less, and that's what we want.

1:42 pm "I've played a mage since day one in vanilla, and they're the best class by far" (audience alternates cheers and boos) "Blade's Edge Arena, I blink on that platform and blink backwards, what the hell?"

A: Make sure you're facing the right way!

Q: You can teleport backwards on top of a rogue or warrior. Have you guys thought of fixing that?

A: Anytime we've come across bugs with how pathing works -- that's Blink, the game picks a path for you to Blink to -- we find problems with the geometry and we try to fix it, but it can still hiccup and that's what causes the problem. Anytime we can find bugs, we want to fix it, send in the direct spot you're having an issue.

A: I find it interesting how you talk about how you're pro with your mage and led into how you die!

1:44 pm Frostfright of Mal'ganis Goon Squad "Couple of months ago I would've been up here nitpicking about the death knight"

A: (quips) Time to go!

" But I thought I'd do something more fun. Lich King has a lot of cool abilities we could use! Could you give us Defile or infest?"
(Audience laughs)
GC: Level 90 ability right there!
Frostfright: (thinks) thanks.

1:45 pm "I play as an enhancement shaman. Ramp-up time for big abilities versus on-demand burst?"

A: Went through all talent specs to make sure that rotation for small and big fights works, ramp-up is something we want everyone to do. Enhancement has some particular challenges, dual-wielding but no given hit is ever very fast, but at 85 Unleashed Weapon helps a lot with that. Being able to cast on the move periodically is also a big bonus. Give it a shot at 85 and tell us what you think.

1:46 pm "The brotherhood has one simple question (questioner with a blood elf bandit mask!). Any plans for melee legendary DPS dagger?"
A: No specific plans, but we'll think about it. We don't make legendaries often and we want them to be usable by a lot of people when we do.
A: We decided on a staff yesterday
A: We'll put a dagger on the end of the staff

1:47 pm "Can I still get a Warglaive in Cataclysm?"

A: Yep, everything but Atiesh

(crowd boos)

A: Because teleporting to Karazhan is very valuable at 85?

1:48 pm "Avenger's Shield feels like it's trying to do too much. Possible to move interrupt mechanic to another skill?"

A: I think we've talked about how we want to make sure protection has an interrupt. It's a quality of life rather than functional issue. On the AS question, we were purposely using that as a showcase for the new glyph system. The Daze on AS is sometimes useful and sometimes not. We're trying to see if glyphs feel cool here. Abilities feel more useful if they *can* do a lot of things but you have to decide if it's the right time to use. We use it as a test of player skill rather than something always being, "Gotta hit that button."

1:50 pm "Has anyone ever given any thought to changing death knight eye glows from blue to red to green depending on what spec they are?"
(audience claps)

A: No, we haven't. It might get a little too Christmas tree-y. When you see the blue eyes, it means death knight -- death. But Chris - anything to add here?
A: Don't want to blur the lines on colors, they have different meanings in the game.
A: Red means demonic -- an easy distinction. Blue -- Scourge influence.

1:51 pm "Cataclysm PvP balance: With potentially all class specs getting a spot in battlegrounds once rated, can arenas finally be balanced around comp rather than individual classes?"

A: Rated battlegrounds will probably take a little pressure off the need to make every spec viable in arena, but not much. Still going to look at that. Battlegrounds are a more easily balanceable environment but we don't think that means we can forget about arena balance.
A: Arena balance particularly tricky for Mortal Strike-type debuffs. We've taken it down to 10% on the beta, scary but we'll see how it goes.

1:53 pm "Any plans for frost mages to have additional abilities on water elemental?"

A: No specific plans right now. We're still seeing how the permanent water elemental shakes out, as that's still fairly new. We'll consider it in a future expansion.

1:54 pm "Too many prot and ret abilities to keep up, did you guys ever consider cutting out one or two abilities and which?"

A: Hand of Justice, Hammer of Justice
A: Divine Shield. Lot of cooldowns now, we wanted the kind of gameplay where you have to decide what to use. Baked Avenging Wrath into Zealotry. We like the big, "Now I do higher damage" ramp-up thing we have with rogues and druids, seemed good for pally.

1:55 pm "Thank you for making PvE subtlety viable again. Based on that, it seems Shadow Dance has become an energy producing ability rather than DPS increasing ability?"

A: We want it to be the rogue spec that's sneaky, attacking people out of the shadows, but too much of it sneaks into the problems we had with rogues -- pull it off and they're dead, or make a mistake and you're dead. Going to see how Shadow Dance plays out a little more. We didn't go out of our way to change the function of the ability, but wanted to make it less binary where it either works or it doesn't.

1:56 pm "During the Olympics, Stephen Colbert gave the moose the Colbert bump. Do you hate Canada for not introducing it?"

A: We hate Canada. (all laugh)
A: Naw, we have Canadians on our team.
A: We want moose, but you can't always get what you want.
A: Moose mounts? Special ability would be standing in the middle of the road with the goblin car coming to hit it.
GC: Sparkle moose.
A: With wings!

1: 58 pm "Love what you're doing with healers, but I play 3 out or 4 healers and I'm kind of stuck on what to do with paladins. Stack spirit or mastery or what?"

A: All healers should want spirit up to a point. Players sometimes look at reforging or regemming and zero in on only one stat to stack. We want them to look at more. When it comes to spirit, you want a certain amount.

Healing plate doesn't have as much spirit on live as other classes have, pallys just didn't want it earlier, but we'll see how it goes.

1:59 pm "Are we going to see any incarnation of Emerald Dream? Not just a phase? Dungeon, expansion?"

A: Count on it, and it's a matter of when, not if. When the time is right, you will see the Dream -- and the Nightmare -- again.

1:59 pm "Little suggestion - I think dwarf shaman should have beer keg totems. I'm an achievement fiend; ever planning to let people use achievement points?"

A: Depends on what you mean by "use." They're really intended to be just a "High Score" mechanic. We have no plans for players to translate it into abilities or stats as that would just cause achievement-stacking.
A: We wanted to add the ranking just as a pride thing for guilds.
A: I like the beer keg totem idea, can I use it?

2:01 pm "Shout out to the Earthen Ring RP community. I was wondering about multi-person mounts in Cataclysm and I think engineering should get a minivan."

A: Have you heard about the Alchemy mount?
A: That'll be hard to get but it'll be awesome, fun to see who gets that first. Who doesn't want to mount their friend?


2:02 pm "Will the new legendary be available on both 10 and 25 man raids? Will it scale the way Val'anyr did?"

A: We want it to be avilable for both 10- and 25-man (huge cheer from the crowd). As far as how far it scales, well, we do like it when legendaries are useful for a bit, but it does depend on where we are in an expansion cycle when it comes out.

2:03 pm "I liked the idea of lowering the talents, but I hate the fact that there's no uniqueness anymore. No one will have a unique tree. Ever thought about extending it, more options?"

A: Do you think the older talent trees had a lot of picking and choosing?
A: No.
A: New design, ongoing thing, last 10 points are meant to be more exciting -- spend them all in one tree or put them elsewhere?
A: there were definitely cookie-cutter specs before this change and there will be again.

Q: Some mages used to run with Frostfire, half frost and half fire, which was fun for players. We can't stop halfway and go into the next tree. We HAVE to go to 31 to get to the other tree.

A: Not entirely accurate but we did take away some of the ways for people to gimp to themselves!

2:05 pm "Warriors used to have talents to reduce disarm duration. Rogues can have offhand weapon chain and berserking at the same time, warriors and ret paladins can't. Any plans?"

A: We got rid of a lot of the anti-crowd control measures, became an arms race, too many talents trying to counter each other. More important to make sure people don't die within short periods of time, that you won't die just because you were Disarmed.

2:06 pm "Any plans to make things account-bound, titles, mounts, achievements?"

A: Certainly where it's appropriate we do like doing that, we know people level up a lot of alts.
A: Many Archaeology items are account-bound.
A: Guild mounts in the new guild leveling system are account-bound.

2:07 pm "Can we get a closet similar to the keychain? All these wonderful items like holiday clothing and no place to put them!"

(huge cheer from crowd)
A: Yeah, that's something we hoped to get in with Cataclysm. More something to do with resolving data storage but it is something we'd like to do.
A: How excited are you guys to play World of Dresscraft?

2:08 "Horde currently has two very shoutable, very good battle cries. Wondering what I yell as an Alliance character when someone yells 'For the Horde!'?"

A: Have mercy?
(crowd laughs and cheers)
A: We've experimented with a slew of battle cries but nothing has ever really matched up to For the Horde!
A: We'll keep trying.
A; That's not the battle cry, just to point out. "We'll keep trying."
(crowd laughs)

2:09 pm "Mastery: You stated you want mastery to change up or affect gameplay, but some are just flat boosts (mages and warlocks). How does this change gameplay?"

A: Intended to do different things for different classes but ultimately intended to make you better at what you already do. The hope is that there's no one right answer, might want more crit for one build. No intention necessarily to change up rotations with mastery (haste is good for that).

2:10 pm "Working on Insane in the Membrane achievement, will I still be able to get it in Cataclysm with the changes to Dire Maul?"

A: (asks to clarify)
Q: some of the changes to Dire Maul North make it hard
A: Bloodsail Buccanneer is actually tougher, changes make it tough
(crowd boos)
A: If it changes we'll put something equally brutal in the game.

2:12 pm "Pandaren going to appear in the game? Neutral race even?"
A: Uh, I don't see them flying out of the cracks in the earth, if that's what you're saying. But super-cool race and awesome concept.
Q: Their home's on some secluded island, maybe the pandaren suffered a similar fate, sending their people out into the world (e.g. goblins)?
A: we'll see.

2:13 pm "Engineers represent" (people cheer) "Voice acting: I notice that Metzen's not on the panel, every new major character sounds like Thrall. Would you guys be willing to open up auditions?"

A: Deathwing is not Metzen.
Q: Sounds like him.
A: We have a process, believe it or not, and we have a lot of very talented actors and actresses, and so yeah, we'll keep doing V.O.
Q: Extra characters? Contest to voice NPCs?
A: Did we use Metzen for any voice in Cataclysm?
A: Metzen's back for a few ... dozen.

2:14 pm "I'm Anastasia and I'm an altaholic and I'm DESPERATE for another character slot."

A: 12 to go with your 12-step program?
Q: Sure!
A: I can offer you another 10 slots for another $15 a month! (laughs)
A: We'll have to wait and see, it's been discussed.

2:15 pm "Reforging as a warlock: Mastery is good for destruction, haste is good for affliction. Penalized by having to reforge everytime we switch specs?"

A: Intersting question, we want players to be able to switch, but too easy to get one set of gear and never change. It's a problem if mastery is dramatically better for one spec though. Reforging got bigger and bigger and we realized what it was going to do, underestimated the potential impact on the game. Feels like one of the smaller stealth things that will wind up having a huge impact.

2:17 pm "Incentive to do a 25-man when all the gear is the same in 10-man?" Doing it harder for the same reward?"

A: Something you might enjoy more, but jury is still out on whether it's harder. It's a daunting task to balance them but we're working on it.

2:17 pm "I have a lot of low-level friends. Planning anything so a high-level can quest with low-levels without penalizing their XP gain?"

A: It is our philosophy that we want people to play together whenever possible. Talked about sidekick systems where they could play as a higher level or you could play as a lower level, as in you as a level 80 could play with a level 30 friend in SM. Talked about it but nothing concrete.

2:18 pm "People love legendaries and they want them to last longer. Any way to trade them in for an heirloom version to level on an alt."

A: That would be pretty sweet, pretty awesome. At the same time it gets dangerous in terms of encouraging players to go back and farm for legendaries. Just heard from the questioner who wanted to know if she could still farm the Warglaive, and that's fine if it's just for fun, but if you feel you ahve to do it for an alt, that's not good.

2:19 pm "Tab for tabards soon?"

A: We'd like to do it, but we're getting clickable on-use tabards. We'd like to do it the way we do titles, scrolling menu.

2:20 pm "Blizzard did a great job incorporating races into the lore, but draenei seem left out. Any plans to get them back into the story."

A: You're right, we've done a poor job incorporating the draenei into the WoW culture. It gets better in Cataclysm but it's not 100% there.

2:21 pm "Balance between Horde and Alliance characters on PvP servers; leveling alts on Horde or Alliance-dominated servers is really hard, my server is 20 Alliance to 100 Horde."

A: We've seen this cultural shiftin PvP gravitating toward the Horde, some of it's the mythos and psychology and coolness of the Horde (cheers from the audience). Making the Alliance proud to be the Alliance is what we want to do, don't want to make you more powerful just for playing a faction, but we're working on it, little things.

Someone shouts, "Give us Saurfang!"

2:22 pm "Heroic training dummy more interactive?"

A: We'd like to do more with the dummies, just a question of priorities and time.

2:23 pm "We know that in Cataclysm we'll get arenas and rated bg's going again, but for PvE-oriented folks, maybe we can get skirmishes back for arena if we promise not to cry about balance?"

A: (laughs) Just revamping how skirmishes work but you'll see them soon.

2:23 pm "Wondering if you were going to implement any new dance moves or the studio?"

A: Goblin and worgen dance moves are pretty awesome, but been doing some work. Some of it is actually done, but not for Cataclysm but you will get it, ability to customize.
A: We want to give people a lot of options. Something for animators to do when they don't have other obligations. When we have enough we'll release it and start dancing.
A: We want it to be a cool feature too, barbershop was cool but no real gameplay there. Don't want to make the same mistake.

2:25 pm "Professions: Recipes you can't get because no one runs the content. Any way to bump older recipes to research, maybe?"

A: Like in dungeons?
Q: Like in AQ40, nobody runs anymore, Karazhan almost impossible to get a group.
(crowd disagrees with this assertion)
A: Always difficult, if you pull everything out from older dungeons it makes them completely dead rather than a place you want to see for these items.
A: If you wait enough expansions just solo it!

2:26 pm "Any plans to do anything with the blood elves in Cataclsym? Lor'themar not a leader, just a regent, any plans for belf leadership?"

A: New belf called the Reliquary, all blood elves, they're the counter to the Explorers' League. Lor'themar -- not sure if we've released our leader stories yet, but we're absolutely trying to develop him into a more serious leader. We felt we ignored him through BC and Wrath, belves now taking energy from Sunwell so a different direction.

2:27 pm "Endgame healing model -- predictable high damage spikes where you can plan cooldowns, or more spur of the moment?"

A: Both. Spur of the moment and planned damage spikes where you absolutely want to coordinate. Plenty of variety.

2:28 pm "Thank you for bringing back the old battleground style where they're useful! I play a shadow priest, haven't really touched him because he's not really a shadow priest, he's a glorified mage. Why did you change them from mana batteries to just another dps, I liked the support role."

A: Feedback from players is they didn't want to just sit there and make other people awesome, they wanted to be awesome themselves.

And that's it, folks! As with the other panel, I'm going to clean up any stray messy bits.

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