Posts Tagged ‘Ghostcrawler’

What can I say? I missed doing these recaps. :)

Balancing life, work, gaming, WoW Insider and a couple of other endeavors has proven to be… well, to be honest, about as much of a brutal challenge as I feared it might be (but held out hope that it wouldn’t), so this blog and my time on public forums have been a-mightily neglected by me as a result.

But man, I liked This Week in Rogueball. I mean, c’mon: The title alone is enough of a reason not to give up on it. And I found it as useful to compile a list of recent rogue community goings-on as the millionsthousandshundredsscorestwo of you who regularly read them found them useful to read. They helped me stay disciplined about keeping up to date on what the Webby world is saying about our class.

So! No promises, but I’m gonna try to start this up again and see how it goes.

Blizzfolk on Twitter

We saw a flurry of tweets over the past week from Ghostcrawler (a.k.a. Greg Street), our soon-to-be dearly departed lead WoW systems designer, and Celestalon (a.k.a. Chadd Nervig), a previously under-the-radar game designer who over the past two weeks has established himself as GC’s “replacement” as a question-and-vitriol magnet on primarily PvE-related WoW issues.

Hop over to the Tweets From the Shadows page to see the full conversations, but in short, here’s what they talked about:

  • Celestalon affirmed that there’s no massive “Warlock-style” overhaul planned for rogues in the new expansion (roughly the umpteenth time a designer has said that), but that they’re definitely focusing on making each rogue spec feel different to play.
  • Celestalon also confirmed that positional requirements are being removed from abilities like Ambush and Backstab in Warlords/Patch 6.0.
  • He dodged a question about improving rogue AoE damage, subtly implying that it’s unlikely to change.
  • Ghostcrawler reflected back on some rogue-related game design choices, like the move to make Subtlety a more viable PvE spec over the past few years and the ever-controversial-among-a-minority decision to keep combo points stacking on the target (rather than on the rogue directly).
  • PvP maven Brian Holinka suggested that DPS cooldowns like Shadow Dance, which actually change our gameplay while they’re active, are the models they want to hold up as examples as they ponder how to refine cooldowns gamewide for the next expansion. (This makes me suspect that more “boring” cooldowns like Vendetta may not be long for this world, at least not in their current form.)

In the Blogosphere

  • Also more of a “month in rogueball” thing, but OneRogue has been blogging roughly every week or two with personal perspectives on the class, as well as community updates similar to the one you’re reading now. He also recently launched a pretty detailed “Resources” section that links to some of our best go-to spots for class info.

Within the Fora

Actually, I’m still pretty brutally behind on the rogue conversations happening on the official WoW forums, MMO-Champion, ArenaJunkies and the like. If you saw any particularly useful or productive discussions, please give ‘em shoutouts in the comments!

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[UPDATE 9/19: An official hotfix note posted late on Sept. 18 suggests this problem has been fixed. My original post appears below.]

Patch 5.4 brought with it a huge quality-of-life improvement for Combat rogues: the ability to ensure that Killing Spree deals all of its damage to a single target, even when other enemies are within melee range. Unfortunately, it’s not yet Spree-ing as well as intended.

Since the patch landed, a number of folks have taken to the Interwebs (e.g., MMO-Champion, official forums) to point out moments when they’ve tried to use Killing Spree and have been unable to — not because of traditional reasons, like sudden horrible terrifying death, but because the game was telling them they were too far away from their target. A few players have reported seeing this error on the Galakras fight in the Siege of Orgrimmar raid, even though they’re close enough to the boss to be actively stabbing it in its bodily areas with their autoattacks.

The bulk of the complaints appear to stem from attempts to use the single-target form of Killing Spree, which occurs when Blade Flurry is turned off. This makes sense, what with that mechanic being new and all. I did a smidge of testing on the PTR during today’s maintenance, and found that I had to move closer to a target dummy in order to activate KS if Blade Flurry was off. (My personal theory — shared by a few others — is that single-target KS isn’t correctly handling a target’s hitbox, a.k.a. the distance you can be from the target and still hit it with melee attacks.)

A few players have also reported seeing errors when they try to use single-target KS on a target that’s slightly above or below them, though claims of this have been more spotty (probably in part because raid fights take place on level ground).

Fortunately, the Big Guns appear to be working on at least part of the problem:

Clearly, single-target KS wasn’t nearly as simple a mechanic to implement on the back end as it might seem to many of us on our side of the game. (“What? Just make it hit our current target. How hard could that be?”) Hopefully these teleport issues won’t prove too much of a beast to address.

Combat has long suffered somewhat as a raid and PvP spec due in large part to Killing Spree’s fragility, though before now those problems tended to revolve around either 1) the inability to focus on a single target (now resolved) or 2) the teleport mechanic itself leaving a rogue dead or trapped (not-so-resolved). Between these issues with the new KS and the issues I mentioned earlier with Ruthlessness, the Combat spec isn’t getting any favors as it strives to reach equal footing with Assassination in the final raid tier of the expansion.

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After a series of vacations and international trippin’, Ghostcrawler returned to his regularly scheduled Twittercast this week, addressing questions and feedback on a wide range of WoW gameplay topics. On the rogue front, he responded to lamentations that the rogue class is being ignored, gave one of his most detailed hints yet about how he’d like to make our specs more different, and addressed concerns about Combat rogues in end-game PvE.

“Pretty Happy With Rogues”

I wouldn’t be surprised to see this statement cause some garment-rending; it can easily be interpreted as flippant or dismissive. But keep in mind the many, many, many things Ghostcrawler has said recently about rogue class issues, including this exchange last night:

[NOTE 8/7/13: Since this initial exchange, GC has had some additional back-and-forth on Twittsville; I'll write a new blog post about it soon and link it from here, but in the meantime you can see the full "thread" over on my rogue tweet page.]

What this amounts to is:

  • As Blizzfolk have stated many times (most famously last summer, when GC called rogues the “best designed class”), they like the way our resource system works (earn combo points with small things that use energy, spend them on bigger things that use less energy); that’s not on the table for an overhaul, and they’ve got no plans to make each spec “work” differently in that respect.
  • As Blizzfolk have also stated many times during Mists, they understand — and agree with — the common complaint that specs have become too similar, and they plan to address it. Just not in the middle of an expansion, since that would likely confuse the thousands upon thousands of rogue players who may not be thrilled to see their gameplay suddenly turned upside-down.
  • Yes, Blizzfolk are actually listening, and yes, they actually care, and yes, they actually discuss and debate about these issues. There just isn’t necessarily a simple or obvious solution to the problem, no matter how many of us may believe we personally know exactly what the simple, obvious solution is.

Combat Spec in 5.4: We’re Not Done Yet

(The “ST” in that tweet stands for “single target,” not “Shuriken Toss,” in case you were confused. :) )

This question, and GC’s response, pretty nicely encapsulate the conversation many raiding rogues have been having about how our three specs have performed throughout most of this expansion. Assassination has shined basically from the moment Mists launched; it’s pretty consistently been the top-performing melee DPS spec, and on many fights it’s been right up there with the top specs overall.

By comparison, Combat and Subtlety have both languished in end-game obscurity. Combat had its moment in the sun on the first raid fight of the expansion (Stone Guard), where its two-target cleave absolutely blew all other DPS out of the water — so much so that the designers realized it was finally time to change the way the ability worked. So they did. Since then, its special niche largely removed, the spec has been selected by relatively few high-end raiders.

Subtlety, meanwhile, perennially suffers from two main issues in raids: One, the spec has the widest “skill gap” — meaning the difference between playing it well and playing it poorly is larger than for the other two specs. And two, the positional requirement of Backstab, which two prominent PvE rogues (Fierydemise, Haileaus) recently blogged about.

With the tuning phase of the Patch 5.4 PTR likely to begin within the next few weeks, we should start to see theorycrafters picking apart the numbers and calculating how competitive Combat and Subtlety will be, on paper, to King Mut in the upcoming raid tier. There are a lot of variables at play here: DPS potential isn’t just about simulations, it’s also about how our funky new Tier 16 set bonuses will work, and about our wacky new trinkets, and about how many of the Siege of Orgrimmar raid fights are designed in a way that’s more “friendly” to one spec than another. So don’t expect any quick or easy verdicts.

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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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The extraordinary Cynwise published his latest class distribution numbers over the weekend; let’s take a quick look at the rogue bits.

I very much recommend reading Cynwise’s summary of the new data, in which he takes snapshots of various class-population measurements on U.S./EU servers at the start of Patch 5.3 and compares them to earlier patches (and expansions). There are oodles of charts and lots of numbers and it’s all very overwhelming for a former English major like me, but there are several key takeaway points worth noting:

  • At the start of Patch 5.3, 6.2% of toons at max level were rogues. That’s up from 5.8% at the start of Patch 5.2, but still the lowest percentage of any class other than monks.
  • Not including monks, rogues were the least-popular class in heroic raids and the second-least-popular class in competitive arena (after hunters). It may be that the PvP overbuffing we got for Patch 5.2 wasn’t around long enough to seriously alter rogue representation in arena, although it does look like the proportion of arena players who were rogues did increase quite a bit. (It’s just that the percentage was so low to begin with that increasing the proportion “quite a bit” still wasn’t enough to make them objectively “popular.”)
  • Despite their low overall representation, rogue popularity at endgame grew more than any other class except monks during Patch 5.2. The number of level-90 rogues jumped 32%. (They just appear not to be finding their way into heroic raids or arena as frequently as other classes.)
  • The total number of rogue toons in the game (across all levels) dropped during Patch 5.2. The drop was slight — only about 1% — but rogues were the only class who saw a reduction in total toon number between the start of Patch 5.2 and the start of Patch 5.3.

And then there’s this (quoting Cynwise):

At all levels, there are more Rogues than Monks, Warlocks or Shaman. There are almost as many Rogues as there are Priests! But Rogues are not making it to level 90. [...]

Some of this might be due to Rogue populations swelling in late Cataclysm for the legendary daggers. A large number of leveling PvP rogues might also account for it? I’m sure that the Rogue community will have much greater insight than I over it.

But right now, Warriors are behind the other hybrids by a little, and Rogues are behind the other pure DPS classes by a lot.

[...]

Rogues are more popular than they seem but are struggling to make it to the endgame. Those Rogues who make it to the endgame can do well, but so few of them do compared to everyone else that there’s something abnormal with them. Rogues are less likely to experience Pandaria than any other class, and that is worth investigating.

To illustrate his point, Cynwise showed us this chart:

It shows that, compared to all other classes, people are much less likely to finish leveling a rogue. This made me wonder: Where the heck are they “stopping,” and why?

(more…)

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The first time I published this new weekly roundup, I proceeded to immediately skip a week. Let’s give this another shot. :)

To make up for lost ground, this recap of what’s up in rogue gameplay and the rogue community covers the past two weeks.

If you feel I missed anything or would like to see additional topics/sites/discussions included in TWIRB, please comment!

In the Live Game

  • Some patch happened or something, I guess? I don’t know, I don’t keep track of such things.
  • Overall, rogues are about the same in PvE post-patch, and are weaker in PvP. How much weaker — and what the result of that will be on rogues’ presence in arena ladders and RBG teams — has yet to shake out. (It’s only been a week and a half, remember.) There’s been a fair amount of new interest in Assassination (and, to a lesser extent, Combat) as specs worth exploring in PvP; more on that below.
  • There have been no reported hotfixes for rogues since the patch launched.
  • There have also been no confirmed bugs, although PvP chief Brian Holinka said they’d look into reports that Shroud of Concealment is failing to properly conceal allies.
  • As with every single patch in the history of patches, there has been a smattering of reports that stealth isn’t working as well post-patch as it was pre-patch. I haven’t seen any kind of consistency to these reports, so if something new *has* gone wrong, it’s likely something pretty obscure.

New PvP Guides & Blog Posts

In just the past few days, a bevy of capable PvP rogues has published or recorded a range of Patch 5.3-ready guides and tutorials:

Theorycrafting and PvE Optimization

Blizzfolk Get Roguey

  • The entire WoW design team answered a range of raiding-oriented questions from Icy Veins. Of particular interest to us (imho) are their comments on the melee DPS role in raids (my rant) and on the success of the Tier 15 four-piece bonus (my summary/analysis).
  • Elsewhere in Blizz interview news, Holinka and Ghostcrawler answered questions from ArenaJunkies’ Vanguards on the PvP changes impacting rogues in 5.3, including the Find Weakness nerf and why rogues were toned down overall.
  • Similarly, Holinka and Ghostcrawler joined the Legendary Webcast by video to discuss, among other things, the rogue PvP balance changes. (Read my summary of both the AJ and Legendary interviews.)
  • EU Community Manager Taepsilum responded to a Recuperate complaint thread in the official WoW forums to say he agreed that the self-heal “seems a bit underwhelming to me, and fitting it into the rotation doesn’t feel as rewarding as it used to during Cata,” and added that he’d bring the issue up with the dev team. (If this perked your ears, it should — we don’t see CMs directly express their views like this very often at all — but it doesn’t mean we should expect to see a change anytime soon. Taepsilum was just expressing his own opinion, and there’s no reason to believe the devs would necessarily agree — or have a solution they like better than the status quo.)

And that’s TWIRB. Or, well, TW(s)IRB; let’s see if I can stick to a weekly schedule with these.

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[UPDATE 5/29: Ghostcrawler responded with a clarification of the Icy Veins interview response; I've added his tweets to the bottom of this post.]

Welcome to today’s edition of WoW’s Developers Used Confusing Wording When Responding to an Interview Question, So Let’s See How Badly We Can Misinterpret It. Our topic for this particular WDUCWWRIQSLSHBWCMI is: the success/failure of the rogue Tier 15 four-piece bonus.

Tier 15 is the raid gear that was introduced in Patch 5.2 with the Throne of Thunder. In the first incarnation we saw on the PTR, the rogue four-piece bonus only reduced by 40% the energy cost of abilities we used during Shadow Blades. The designers listened to player feedback and decided to break one of the game’s basic commandments: “Thy global cooldown shalt not fall below one second, howsoever thee may cryeth about it.”

Yielding to concerns about Combat rogues energy capping if they tried to use Adrenaline Rush with Shadow Blades while the four-piece bonus was active, the designers chose to add to the set bonus a .3-second reduction to our global cooldown. That effectively gave Combat rogues a half-second GCD during Adrenaline Rush + Shadow Blades, thanks to the AdRush glyph that is considered all but required for raiding Combat rogues.

Last week, Icy Veins asked the WoW design team how they felt the experiment turned out. The WoWdevs responded: (more…)

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