Posts Tagged ‘Preparation’

In the run-up to Patch 5.3′s launch this week, Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street and Brian “Holinka” Holinka, among other senior WoW designers, have been making the round on various fansites to preview the patch and explain their thinking behind many of the changes in store.

The Arena Junkies interview with GC and Holinka, which posted over the weekend, includes a few highly rogue-relevant bits, as does today’s interview with Gary Gannon and Olivia Grace on a special episode of gamebreaker.tv’s Legendary. Notable roguey excerpts are copied below. (In the case of the Gamebreaker interview, the transcription is mine, since the source is a video. The AJ transcript excerpts will be copy-pasted as-is from AJ’s site.)

The Find Weakness Change: Making Spells Different in PvE/PvP (Arena Junkies)

(I ranted about this one early this morning.)

Sam: PvE and PvP changes seem to collide very often, do you guys believe that balancing both may require a lot of specific PvP and PvE only changes? An example would be Find Weakness in 5.3.

Brian: Yes, and when we do it. Find weakness is a great example where PvE needed a buff and it would’ve cost big problems to PvP. We keep it in mind and Frost bomb is another example. We try not to do it too often, it’s a lot of things to keep track of. We’re the designers and people on Arena Junkies are really passionate players that really keep up on all the changes, but a lot of players are not. To ask our general player base that your spell does this and it does half damage or 25% or something like that, it’s really not something we want to do too often. Especially hey we want eviscerate to hit 10% less on players. That’s really inconsistent and a tough thing. We usually do it when it’s really a significant thing such as Find Weakness is 50% less and Frost bomb is 40% less.

Greg: There’s also this persistent, I’ll just call it a myth, that if we just bite the bullet and make 2 versions of every spell suddenly we’ll have class balance nailed and it’ll never be a problem again. I’m pretty confident if we went ahead and split sub rogues into 2 abilities on every ability with different damage numbers you’ll still see players saying why they can’t just tune down this one ability that’s costing pvp burst problem. In other words players will still want us to make changes even if we have the numbers split up, I don’t think it’ll suddenly make players feel their class is viable in every situation

Why Rogues Are Being Nerfed (Arena Junkies)

Sam: In the history of changes a lot of nerfs and buffs are really large, which usually changes the “balance” of one class from one to another such as warrior and rogues last patch. Warriors were arguably the top notch class in 5.2 but kind of went to the bottom barrel. Rogues basically had the opposite happen to them. Do you guys think smaller changes would be more ideal or how would you look at it?

Brian Holinka: Obviously when we can we would like to make smaller changes. I think what you saw with rogues in 5.2 was that there were a lot of calls for their survival to be improved. So we made Prep baseline, took Cloak off, so they weren’t constantly unpeelable for 12 seconds, and moved it to a short CD. I think these were good changes, but what pushed rogues over the edge was we tried to create some talents to make them more attractive and give them variety. Shuriken Toss, Mark for Death, and Cloak and Dagger, those were all probably a little bit too much. 5.3 Rogues were really about reigning in those talent changes. We kept the survivability changes the same but we wanted to reign in the unpeelable Cloak and Dagger, the ranged play style of Shuriken Toss, and those were I think really smart changes. We didn’t also nerf Mark for Death and a bunch of other changes. The Find Weakness change was mainly for burst on higher armor targets. We thought that wasn’t appropriate. We made some changes in 5.2 that didn’t mean to be buffs, but for talent choices to be more interesting and we needed to reign those in.

Revisiting Rogue Talents for PvP: 5.2 and 5.3 (Legendary)

Gary Gannon: How do you feel the [PvP class] balance has been in 5.2?

[...]

Brian Holinka: I think there were some situations where we were trying to make some talents more interesting from 5.1 to 5.2. For example [...] there was a rogue ability called Versatility, and it was not really seeing much play. So we created a new one called Marked for Death. In other situations, like, for instance: [...] Preparation was another ability that we actually thought all rogues could benefit from having. So there we had to create a new one, Cloak and Dagger.

So, we were doing a lot of talent work, and in some places, we just overshot a bit. We felt like it made some classes a little bit too good and the talents were just a little bit too good, so we tried to rein those in.

We base our balance feedback on a lot of factors: We look at representations; distribution of ratings across all specs and classes; how people are faring within our team, how they’re playing; we talk to some of the very high level players on a very constant basis. We try and get a sense of where problems lie, and then we try and fix things that we feel are big problems for the overall gameplay of the game — where it just makes everybody’s life a little bit less fun — and we try and affect those.

There’s situations where maybe you can say this or that has made this class even more competitive, but there’s also situations where this talent is just one-shotting people. So we have to look at that, and we have to understand that it’s made the game less fun to play.

Our goals are basically: try and make specs and classes competitive; try and make the overall gameplay environment fun; and then, we wanna say, try and make some talents interesting, and try and make rotations interesting and fun to play. Sometimes we make changes that are a little bit out of priority there, but that’s generally what we try to do. And I think, going in from 5.2 to 5.3, that was a lot of our goal, was to kind of rein in some of the things that got out of control.

Though these three chunks were especially rogue-directed, large sections of both interviews are likely to be of great interest to any PvPing rogue, so be sure to read/tune in to them for a more complete discussion of upcoming changes — and some changes potentially in store for 5.4 and beyond.

 

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There are few rogue-shaped horses that are more dead right now than the issue of removing Preparation, the most meta ability in our toolkit (a cooldown that resets cooldowns).

The topic resurrects itself periodically around new expansions, discussions about revamping rogue gameplay, and when upcoming patches tweak the list of abilities Prep impacts. In Patch 5.2, we’re going to see Cloak of Shadows removed from the Prep list (CoS’s cooldown will be halved to compensate). When we learned of that, the WoW forums wept with rogues’ calls for Prep’s elimination from the game.

A couple of weeks ago, I highlighted a few Twitter exchanges in which Ghostcrawler briefly explained why he thought Prep should stay (and offered my own take). But not everyone reads the twitterses. Or is satisfied with what they read there.

So, the topic was raised again within the uberthread “PTR Class and Set Bonus Issues, Part II” over in the official WoW forums. Last week, GC decided to use the opportunity to say more on the subject than can fit into those teeny tweetboxes.

He wrote:

I don’t think we’d remove Prep. Would the design be stronger without Prep and lowered cooldowns? Possibly. But we’re convinced what would happen is that all the rogues that love Prep for whatever reason would come out of the woodwork. It’s been a core ability forever and all that. Years from now when we did threads asking players what to fix about their class, I’m convinced we’d see “Bring back Prep!” I really don’t mean to sound cynical; I’m trying to sound practical.

I know many of you are smart players and you expect all players to be just as logical and objective and see that there is no massive difference between a cooldown that finishes the cooldown or other spells and those spells all having shorter cooldowns. I don’t think the reaction would be universal praise though.

I still feel this is more about the design team’s uncertainty over whether it’s a “good idea” or not to remove Prep. If they were convinced it was, I think they’d do it regardless of any abstract concerns about an indeterminate number of rogues being sad.

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A new Patch 5.2 build hit the PTR today, resulting in some confusion thanks to a couple of unexpected rogue-related changes datamined by MMO-Champion and Wowhead.

Thing is: The unexpected changes all appear to just be tooltip corrections.

First up, I’ll summarize those naughty datamined rogue findings that stirred up drama:

  • The tooltips for Crimson Tempest appear to have been changed so they correctly explain how much damage is dealt by the DoT bleed. On live, the tooltip says that CT causes targets to “suffer an additional 30% of the initial damage over 12 sec.” This is incorrect, though; as others have explained (and I’m pretty, but not absolutely, sure is accurate), CT actually deals an additional 40% of the initial damage *per tick* over 12 seconds, with one tick coming every two seconds. That’s six ticks times 40% each for a total of 240% — and that’s what the datamined tooltip now reads: “suffer an additional 240% of the initial damage over 12 sec.”
  • The tooltip for Vanish appears to have been changed to correctly show the cooldown length. In Patch 5.1, the cooldown was reduced from 3 minutes to 2 minutes. Sometimes, though, the tooltip on live says our CD is still 3 minutes (even though it ain’t). It looks like Blizz may have fixed that problem in the new 5.2 PTR build.

The other datamined rogue changes *do* reflect actual changes — and they match up with the official Patch 5.2 PTR notes updated by Blizzard CM Rygarius later in the day. They are:

  • The cooldown on Blind was increased from 90 seconds to 2 minutes.
  • The cooldown on Cloak of Shadows was cut from 2 minutes to 1 minute, and it was taken off the list of abilities that are reset when we use Preparation.

All of *those* changes were no surprise, since Ghostcrawler gave us a heads-up last week that they were coming.

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(Post updated Feb. 4 with some additional back-and-forth from GC.)

For the second time in about a month, Ghostcrawler has tweeted about what appears to be the primary reason the class design team is leery about removing Preparation from the game:

 

Early last month, GC said something similar in response to a request that Prep be axed:

 

Taken together, these tweets seem to suggest that fear of widespread player displeasure is the main motivation for keeping Prep in our spellbook. I suspect there’s more to it than this, though. After all, is WoW’s evolution not liberally peppered with examples of class design decisions that were made for the long-term good of the game even though they were unpopular at the time? (I’m actually asking; I can’t remember specific examples off the top of my head. What, you think I’m some kind of encyclopedia?)

I’ve long felt that Prep was an interesting ability. In my mind, it adds an extra strategic element to rogue play that requires a player to make complex, on-the-spot decisions about when the “right” time is to reset key cooldowns. In that sense — ideally, at least — it’s a skill separator. It’s one of those buttons whose proper use helps mark the difference (in PvP, anyway) between a good rogue and a great rogue.

The question is: How often, in reality, does Prep truly make that kind of difference? Do the cooldowns it resets, and the PvP strategies it can impact, really help set great rogue players apart from the rest of the pack? Do they often make the difference between a win and a loss? Or is Prep just an uninteresting, frustrating, unhelpful hassle to juggle, whereas more consistent cooldown lengths (and fewer buttons to worry about) might actually end up allowing for better (and more balanced) strategic gameplay?

HeckifIknow. I just do dailies. But I think that when GC says he doesn’t want to kill Prep because players will go nuts, he’s not merely saying that it’s a popularity issue. My personal, completely unsubstantiated feeling is that he’s only saying this because the designers are genuinely unsure whether Prep’s pros outweigh its cons — and thus whether the rogue class, and the game in general, *would* be better if it were rebalanced around Prep not existing.

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Ghostcrawler just added this set of rogue changes to the massive, ongoing “PTR Class and Set Bonuses” thread in the official WoW forum:

  • Blind – cooldown increased to 2 min (from 90 sec).
  • Preparation – no longer resets the cooldown of Cloak of Shadows.
  • Cloak of Shadows – cooldown reduced to 60 sec (from 2 min).

Keep in mind that, prior to patch 5.1, the cooldown on Blind was 3 minutes. This change will revert part of the cooldown reduction introduced with 5.1, but it’ll still be lower than it was when Mists launched.

I haven’t been reading up on the discussion that led to the Prep changes. I’m also far from a PvP maven, so I can’t even really make an educated guess. Seems like this’ll increase the versatility of Prep by not “forcing” a rogue to use it solely to reset Cloak, but it’ll also mean we lose the ability to “chain-Cloak” in order to double the length of our immunity and spell resistance.

These three changes were included among a batch of class adjustments that GC said were “mostly for PvP purposes and were based on a lot of PTR feedback, much of it from high-end PvP players.” He noted that they “are not set in stone.”

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The decision to make Preparation baseline in patch 5.2, as revealed in the patch preview notes before the holidays, has resurrected a side question: Why not just get rid of Prep entirely?

 

 

Ghostcrawler’s response feels odd to me, since player concerns/demands have rarely been the sole driving force behind Blizzard’s class design decisions — they make the choices they feel will be good for the game as a whole, and if those sync up with widespread player demands, then it’s a win-win. I’d have expected his answer to focus more on how integral and critical a spell Prep can be when used well.

In my four-plus years playing WoW, I don’t think I’ve *ever* used Prep (leveled mostly as Mut; been mostly Mut/Combat since; once new talent tiers were launched, have used BoS or Step), so I’m not in much of a position to talk about its practical applications. But on an illogical, almost sentimental level, Prep feels to me like one of those abilities that makes the game more interesting for players — particularly in PvP, and especially particularly in arena — who know how to use it strategically. Meanwhile, to everyone else, it’s one of those abilities that feels like useless flotsam, yet another cooldown they feel forced to juggle but with no clear, game-changing benefit.

It may be that baselining Prep is the first step (ha) toward ultimately removing it entirely and rebalancing our cooldowns around its loss. But would we miss it if it were gone? I suspect the majority of us wouldn’t, but those that do would *really really* miss it sorely, and feel like we’d have lost yet another tool that helps separate skilled rogues from not-so-skilled rogues.

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