Archive for the ‘Official Forums: Community Manager Posts’ Category

Blizzard seems to have an affinity for announcing Warcraft updates in the afternoon/evening on Fridays. For those of us who like to report on game updates for the benefit of others, we call this practice “RUINING OUR WEEKENDS.” (In the case of the announcement about new types of buyable in-game items, we also may sometimes call it “burying the news.” Ahem.)

In my case, there was no ruination this time: I said “screw it” and ran away to have myself a WoW-free, blog-free, Twittah-free weekend. Nyah.

As a result, the two developments that broke on Friday regarding rogues in Patch 5.4 likely aren’t news to many of you. But I’m going to note them here nonetheless, ’cause that’s how I do — and because there’s some new stuff to report about player reactions.

One of the two developments announced Friday is a preview of two Combat changes: an upcoming buff to Sinister Strike and the re-introduction of a former talent (no, not Versatility) for Combat rogues. The second development is a nice little quality-of-life fix for the Glyph of Blind.

I’m gonna mention the glyph fix first because it’s quick. This was the only rogue-related change in Friday’s update to the official Patch 5.4 PTR notes: The Glyph of Blind is receiving a tweak so that, if you’re specced into Dirty Tricks and you have the glyph equipped, your poisons and bleeds will to continue to damage your enemy while it’s Blinded. (In the live game now, if I’m recalling this properly, Glyph of Blind currently wipes out those DoT effects because that’s what it’s meant to do; it doesn’t care that Dirty Tricks is already ensures that Blind won’t break due to those effects.) It’s a handy fix both for PvP and for PvE soloing/questing (including Brawler’s Guild fights).

Now for the Combat spec stuff. Posting in the same thread he poked his flaming kittyhead into on Thursday, Blizz Community Manager Lore popped back in on Friday to offer a far more specific sense for where the developers are planning to go in an effort to make the Combat spec feel less oh-my-god-I’m-mashing-buttons-so-quickly-there’s-no-flesh-left-on-my-fingertips at higher gear levels:

Here’s a couple changes we’re going to try, hopefully in the next PTR build:

  • Sinister Strike: Weapon damage percent increased from 145% to 190%. Energy cost increased from 40 energy to 50 energy.
  • Ruthlessness: This new passive has been added for Combat Rogues at level 32. When you do a finishing move, you have a 20% chance per combo point spent to immediately regain 1 combo point on your current target.

So the goal here is that, by buffing Sinister Strike and causing it to spend energy faster, that will reduce the button mashing just slightly. Again, we want Combat to be faster paced, it’s just too extreme at the moment. Sinister Strike hitting harder is a nice perk as well.

However, that by itself would slow down Combat’s combo point generation, which is where Ruthlessness comes in. It should allow you to Eviscerate at about the same rate you do today, despite getting fewer Sinister Strikes in in the same time period. Although it’s configured like a proc, our intent is that Rogues will usually use finishers when it has a 100% chance.

(If Ruthlessness looks oddly familiar to you, that’s because it’s come back from the dead: It was a talent in the Assassination “tree” before the Mists talent overhaul, back when there was such a thing as a separate talent tree for each spec.)

A good number of us welcomed this change, at least in principle. However, several players quickly pointed out that although it provides a net buff to Sinister Strike (20% higher energy cost, but 31% more damage), it would also probably slow down how rapidly we cycle through our Bandit’s Guile Insight levels. Since our Insight level increases whenever we cast four Sinister or Revealing Strikes, hitting SS less often (due to the higher energy cost) means we’ll spend longer in no/Shallow/Moderate Insight, but the same amount of time in Deep Insight (which always lasts 15 seconds no matter how many times you mash SS/RvS).

This problem could easily be fixed by turning a few knobs on various abilities — and as Ghostcrawler reminded us again this weekend, serious DPS tuning hasn’t even started yet on the Patch 5.4 PTR, so it’s likely we’d see such a fix before the patch went live. (That’s assuming it wasn’t their intent all along to make this a DPS-neutral change by indirectly nerfing Bandit’s Guile.)

But Fierydemise, who during this expansion has established himself as one of our class’s most prominent theorycrafters, posted a detailed explanation for why he felt that — regardless of number tuning — this entire approach wouldn’t actually help to resolve Combat’s spamminess during the times when we’re spammier than a truck stop that’s run out of pork and beef. Here’s an excerpt:

The proposed changes make zero difference in spamminess during AR+SB which is the primary source of the complaints and slows down the spec the rest of the time. This seems directly opposite to what theses changes should do. Additionally these changes only further serve to prop up the T15 4pc which has been an overpowered set bonus from day 1 and is unlikely to be replaced during T16 without substantial nerfs.

Additionally these changes create substantial quality of life issues of leveling and low gear level players. Combat can already be quite frustrating at low gear levels because of limited haste and this will only serve to exacerbate that issue. In fact with these changes it is entirely possible that a poorly geared player could have their BG stacks fall off while using BF.

We’ll need to wait and see how Blizzfolk address or counter these concerns. There’s still a lot of Patch 5.4 PTR left, so it’s good that these sorts of issues are out on the table and being openly discussed so early in the process. Helps increase the likelihood that they’ll be ironed out before the patch goes live.

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Bit of an off-the-cuff post here, apologies if I get rambly.

Newly minted Blizz Community Manager Lore has been dipping into various conversations in the official WoW PTR Discussion forum over the past couple of weeks. He’s focused on addressing major class-specific concerns related to Patch 5.4. He’s talked about Shadow priests, warlocks, Holy paladins, Windwalker monks and hunters, among others — and now Combat rogues have gotten their turn.

Posting in a brief thread filled with some really nice feedback from players on Combat rogues in Patch 5.4, Lore wrote:

Combat is supposed to feel faster-paced than the other specs, but we agree that it’s gotten a bit TOO spammy, particularly where the Tier 15 set bonus is concerned. We don’t have any solid info on any changes we might make yet, but we definitely see the concern and are discussing it.

The challenge we always face when balancing between different specs that perform the same role is that, even if the benefits are relatively small, some players will feel “required” to play whichever is “best”. Even in cases where each spec has a clearly defined niche that they excel at, some players still feel like they should change specs from fight to fight to match each encounter’s mechanics.

We’re not sure it’s even possible to ever balance things out completely perfectly so that all specs are equal in all areas, but we do our best to at least minimize the differences. It’s far too early to guess at which specs will be “best” once 5.4 launches, but our goal is to allow you to play whichever you enjoy the most without feeling like you’re making a huge sacrifice.

This is essentially a long-winded way of saying, “The developers have heard your complaints, they understand and agree with them, and they’d really like to do something about them.” There’s no resolution promised here, but that wasn’t the point of the post:

Lore really nicely explains in his post just how dastardly a conundrum this is. Rogue specs are a microcosm of WoW classes/roles in general: There is a perpetual tug of war, particularly within the massive playerbase, between the desire for all roles/specs to be similarly valuable on all raid fights and the desire for all roles/specs to have clearly defined differences in their usefulness and style.

Combat arguably lost its “niche” back in Patch 5.2, after the spec’s long-standing strength on two-target fights became stunningly obvious on Stone Guard in Mogu’shan Vaults, where Combat blew all other DPS specs out of the water. Blade Flurry got a bit of a redesign as a result — instead of copying 100% damage to one target, it now copies 40% damage to up to four nearby targets — and Combat has hardly been seen or heard from in higher-end raiding since then.

This has led to a fair number of calls for some kind of niche to find its way back into the spec (and ditto for Subtlety), or at least for more raid fights to be designed that favored (or at least stopped punishing) Combat’s mechanics. While I get the allure of that idea, I’ve never felt quite comfortable with it for exactly the reason Lore stated: Rogues are usually a black-or-white class in raids. They’re there to perform a specific role (usually maximizing DPS), and if one spec performs that role even slightly better than the others, it will be widely regarded as the “go-to” spec even if the difference is small.

I don’t think it’s realistic or wise to expect the playerbase to master all three specs and then feel pressured by our playerbase’s culture to switch from one to the next depending on which is viewed as the strongest. That may actually be worse than the current situation, in which Assassination is largely viewed as the only spec worth bothering with right now in a raid environment (even though that’s actually not true — all specs are fine to use even for progression raid groups, unless you’re seriously hardcore).

I’m similarly wary of suggestions that heroic raids in particular should be tuned to “require” that a pure DPS class use different specs on some fights in order to be successful in its role. Some folks may find that fun, sure. But that sounds like a fight design nightmare to me, not to mention a very thin wire to attempt to walk across (they’d have to ensure the same niche value for every other underplayed spec in the game, not just rogue specs) with very little gamewide benefit to be gained from it.

In other words, this shit’s hard. I don’t deny that it feels crummy to feel strongarmed into playing a single spec throughout an expansion, particularly if it’s a spec you don’t especially enjoy playing. That’s a good recipe for burnout. But I don’t see any simple alternatives that avoid creating the same problem in different ways, or that avoid making already-similar specs into an even more poorly defined melting pot of gooey rogue gameplay.

I also suspect we’re stuck with this reality until at least the next expansion. We’ll see some tuning changes and maybe some mechanic adjustments in an attempt to convince players that it’s not some kind of cardinal sin to go Combat or Subtlety in the new raid. But ultimately, there *will* be a determination made by theorycrafters and raid strategists as to which spec is “best” to use on a particular fight (or all fights), and players will flock — many of them kicking and screaming — to that spec regardless of the margin by which it’s deemed to be superior.

Man. I really need to start adding more images to these posts.

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Your once-mighty enemy falls to the earth with a crash, its last vestiges of life dissipating from its body. You and your raidmates rejoice: Another foe vanquished, another victory for the forces of whatever-it-is-we-are-because-I-mean-sometimes-it’s-kinda-hard-to-tell-whether-we’re-the-good-guys-but-whatever-we-killed-this-huge-pile-of-pixels-yay!

And what’s this? Your eyes catch a glint of metal amidst the hills of meat that were the villain and its minions. Your stomach flutters. Is that… could it be… finally??!

You approach quickly. You kneel down, shoving aside torn cloth and shattered armor, heaving corpses out of the way. You reach out, grab onto an ornate hilt, tear it free…

A mace! A glorious, incredible, powerful mace! It’s a thing of beauty! It’s exactly the weapon upgrade you most needed!

… If you were a Combat rogue.

But you’re not. You’re an Assassination rogue.

So you basically just won yourself a glorious, incredible, powerful sack of 27 gold pieces.

Assassination rogues have rent their garments over this issue for ages. So the cries of joy were loud and multitudinous when a hotfix was implemented during Patch 5.2 — and then again when loot specialization was introduced with Patch 5.3 — that promised freedom for the Mut spec from the shackles of non-dagger weapon drops from raid bosses and heroic scenarios.

Only… it frequently hasn’t worked as advertised. Forums are littered with reports of players in Assassination spec still seeing “slow” one-handed weapons — axes, fist weapons, maces and swords — fall from bosses like rain from the sky, causing not a little bit of consternation. Blizzard had largely been silent on the issue, and some players reported Game Master responses to in-game tickets telling them to basically suck it up, because that’s the way it was meant to work.

Well, late last week, we got the most official word we can get that no, it’s *not* working the way it’s meant to work:

We are treating that behavior as a bug. I don’t have any eta for a fix but it’s something we’re aware of and plan to resolve.

Those were the words of Sapperwix, a congenial blue poster and Blizzard quality assurance rep who moderates the official WoW U.S. bug report forum. He was posting in response to a player reporting a number of fist weapon drops after killing Raid Finder bosses and using bonus-roll coins while in Mut loot spec.

So. We know they know about the issue. (And we also know it’s definitely worthwhile to post bugs like these in the official bug report forum.) We know they know it’s a problem. Now we just hope they can fix it reasonably soon.

In the meantime, me and my still-no-dagger-drops-this-entire-expansion-despite-roughly-75-kills-and-coin-rolls-on-bosses-with-daggers-in-their-loot-table ass will go cry quietly in this lonely little corner of my blog over here.

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What happens when passionate rogue players find themselves in a lull between patches with nothing much to talk about? Overanalysis. :)

As often as WoW developers warn that we shouldn’t put too much stock in numbers when it’s very early in a PTR, people are inevitably gonna do exactly that — especially when no additional information has been provided and there isn’t a whole lot else for us to obsess over. We’ve seen extensive number-crunching on our Tier 16 raid set bonuses, for instance, even though we’ve been told they’re “very place holder” at the moment.

And why not? Conjecture and theorycrafting can be fun and even downright helpful.

Until it gets stressful and stops being helpful. Which is what’s begun to happen with Killing Spree on the Patch 5.4 PTR.

In PvP, there’s some hubbub at the moment over how strong Killing Spree appears to be against a single target on the PTR. Yep, you heard me: Killing Spree, one of the signature DPS cooldowns used by Combat rogues. Combat rogues. In PvP. I’ll let that sink in for a moment.

This video from Conclusion (one of a few that folks have posted) illustrates the issue:

 

The cries of alarm have been numerous enough that Blizzfolk have taken both to Twitter and to the official forums to encourage people not to freak out. This is from PvP chief Brian Holinka a couple of weeks ago:

 

And this is from newly minted Blizz Community Manager Lore earlier today:

Looks balanced to me.

I kid. We generally wait until later in the PTR cycle (once we’ve gotten all the underlying mechanics where we want them) to start tuning numbers. I wouldn’t be too concerned at this stage.

I understand the consternation here. There’s concern that this won’t be noticed; that “place holder” numbers will be allowed to stay in place and that we’ll accidentally launch with something that’s clearly imbalanced. I believe it’s solidly a good thing that players are testing this stuff out now and are raising red flags where they see issues.

But it’s now abundantly clear that WoW’s developers are aware of these issues. Players have already ensured that. There’s no need to continually beat the panic drum; Blizzard can’t get any more aware of the complaints, and the devs are literally not going to do anything about it until they begin actual balance/damage adjustments later on in the PTR.

Once we see those tuning adjustments begin — if they go on for a week or so and we don’t see any modifications in places that we feel clearly need attention — sure, go ahead and raise the issue again, along with cogent explanations for why tuning adjustments feel necessary.

In the meantime? Take a breath. Take two, even. It’s OK. Move on to another topic for a while. Perhaps consider joining me in a little game of fake rogue patch notes?

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For once, I don’t have 1,500 words to say about something a Blizzard developer recently said about rogues. Please don’t be too disappointed in me.

The “a lot” that Ghostcrawler is referring to may include this recent thread over in the EU WoW forums, in which a player tongue-in-cheekishly (I think) proposed eliminating Recuperate entirely and replacing it with a range of enhancements to our first-aid skill. Blizz Community Manager Taepsilum was so moved by the conversation that he felt compelled to respond with his personal support. For a Recuperate buff, I mean, not for the bandaging thing:

Personally, the healing effect of recuperate does seems a bit underwhelming to me, and fitting it into the rotation doesn’t feel as rewarding as it used to during Cata. As always, we’ll make sure to share your concerns with the dev team.

Clearly, those concerns appear to have been shared. :)

Complaints about the power of Recuperate stretch back about as far as the ability has existed — as have calls for it to be buffed or nerfed depending on who’s doing the calling. The recent adjustments to PvP Power and Battle Fatigue may have pushed things to a new tipping point, though, with players offering detailed arguments to support the contention that Recup is distinctly too weak despite getting a boost from the new bonus on PvP gloves.

I’m starting to get my first tinge of a sense that Patch 5.4 may provide at least a minor reprieve to PvP rogues who feel that 5.3 went too far in reversing the gains 5.2 had brought.

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Homogenization: It’s not just for milk anymore. Or so the wails of many a rogue this expansion would have us believe.

But in the Mists era, have our three rogue specs truly lost all of their unique flair?

In the context of a thread that discussed class uniqueness more generally, Blizz Community Manager Daxxarri (who has been known to prowl the WoW rogue class forum in the guise of a stealthy Protoss) took a detour to specifically address a person who asked why all rogue specs feel the same:

Rogues are something of an edge case, and moving previously spec defining abilities into the talent tree probably contributes to this, though I’d argue that it’s resulted in a class that’s more fun to play overall. Still, I find that Combat feels different from Assassination feels different from Sub. The differences are admittedly more subtle (no pun intended) than some other classes, though.

It’s Daxxarri’s last point that, for me, gets to the heart of this particular issue. He concedes the point made by many that what “feels” different about each rogue spec can be hard to tease out. But depending on how each of us plays, and on what particular characteristics of a class/spec are most important to us, the three rogue specs can be either glaringly different or impossible to tell apart.

(more…)

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Just over a week ago, the Vicious Talisman of Shado-Pan Assault — a PvE trinket purchased with Valor points — was nerfed, after many players expressed concerns (and Blizzard agreed) that it was too strong in PvP. The nerf reduced the strength of the trinket’s proc by 21.5%, in hopes of curbing the amount of burst damage it granted. (The same change was made to the Strength version of the trinket.)

But it didn’t take long for Blizzard to start to feel like the proc nerf might not be enough. So, as of a newly implemented hotfix, they’ve further reduced the value of the proc in PvP situations only — but they’ve doubled the proc’s length. The end result should be the same amount of damage, just more consistent and less bursty. The tooltip doesn’t appear to have been updated to match yet.

For your reading-what-official-people-write pleasure, I’ll dump all relevant tweets and Community Manager forum/blog post quotes below.

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