Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

Oddly, the *least* interesting news of the week for rogues was the release of the first update to the official Warlords of Draenor alpha patch notes on April 18. There were no rogue-specific changes in the notes that we hadn’t already known about. This is kind of odd, since we’ve seen datamining *and* Blizzfolk tweets that suggest some pretty noteworthy tweaks have already been made.

Here are the new odds and ends we *have* learned over the past several days, along with a smidge of analysis from y’all’s truly. (I’ll create a single home for the up-to-datest info when I have the chance; right now I’m posting updates sequentially, so some of the stuff in my huge, initial alpha notes post is no longer true.)

Combat AoE: The Changes Are Changing

The initial alpha notes and datamined info included a few bits that all but screamed, “We want Fan of Knives and Crimson Tempest to be part of the Combat spec’s arsenal.” Er, no, sorry, I meant: That all but screamed, “WE WANT FAN OF KNIVES AND CRIMSON TEMPEST TO BE PART OF THE COMBAT SPEC’S ARSENAL!”

The initial batch of leveling perks — which we’ll earn randomly on our way from levels 91 to 99, with each spec getting a different set of perks — included benefits for Combat that made FoK cost less energy and turned CT into a powerful instant-damage finisher instead of a smack-and-bleed.

As was pointed out, though, the FoK energy reduction (from 35 to 25) felt unlikely to be enough on its own to make a difference. The designers apparently agreed — but rather than find a way to make FoK more desirable, they appear to have scrapped the whole idea and buffed Blade Flurry instead.

As of the latest Warlords alpha datamining from Wowhead and MMO-Champion on April 16:

  • Fan of Knives is no longer even in the spellbook for a Combat rogue — it’s labelled as Assassination and Subtlety only.
  • The Combat-only leveling perk that had reduced FoK’s energy cost now does something completely different: It removes the target cap from Blade Flurry entirely.
  • In addition, technical game designer Chadd “Celestalon” Nervig (whose last name I always feel the urge to spell “Nervigg”) tweeted that Blade Flurry would be able to spread both lethal and non-lethal poisons in Warlords.

Now, yes, this sounds exciting and powerful, it does appear to be an all-around buff to BF, and it’ll also make Combat burst damage look very pretty in some very specific situations. But in regards to the target cap specifically, keep in mind that Blade Flurry currently has a range of just 8 yards (just like FoK), and in the present game we don’t often see that many enemies bunched up together. Certainly not in PvP, and although it happens more often in PvE, it’s usually not in critically important situations (unless we’re trying to, say, solo an achievement).

Meanwhile, it leaves behind an unresolved issue with Crimson Tempest. As things currently stand, Crimson Tempest for Combat uses combo points to generate a large amount of instant physical damage (but doesn’t apply a bleed) to all nearby enemies. If that description sounds familiar to you, it’s because using Eviscerate with Blade Flurry on will do exactly the same thing: use combo points to generate a large amount of instant physical damage to all nearby enemies.

We know that BF will spread poisons, so regardless of whether CT does the same in Warlords, there’s an obvious question right now regarding how they plan to make choosing between these two AoE finishers more interesting than consulting a guide that tells you which one hits harder.

Other Developments

  • The much-maligned Subtlety-only “Enhanced Premeditation” perk has been scrapped (for now, at least), though it is still showing up in datamining. But the designers still plan to find a way to make Premed into a passive ability without actually making it worse. (As a reminder, the initial plan was to make Ambush and Garrote automatically generate two extra combo points when used from stealth — but *not* when Shadow Dance is active.)

As I mentioned earlier, the new version of the official alpha patch notes don’t include anything we didn’t already know about rogues. The following changes had been previously announced:

  • A note was added to mention that combo points would essentially stack on the rogue — the exact phrasing is “shared across all targets,” which suggests the underlying tech isn’t as simple as “CPs on the rogue,” but barring any bugs or quirks, the effect we experience should be the same.
  • Also now in the notes is the Smoke Bomb nerf: It’ll reduce incoming damage within the area of effect by 10%, down from 20%, to bring it in line with other DPS classes’ defensive raid cooldowns. Celestalon also engaged in some back-and-forth on Twitter to justify the nerf and state that rogues, as well as other DPSers, had many other ways to contribute to raid utility.

Designers Conversate

  • In Twitterland, Celestalon confirmed that a gnome Assassination rogue with Glyph of Energy active and Venom Zest talented would have 163 maximum energy instead of 100.
  • Will its heavy reliance on a newly buffed Deep Insight make Combat almost useless in PvP, especially considering it was already looking dicey thanks to the removal of its damage-over-time spells? Celestalon says they’ll keep an eye on it.
  • Why are efforts being made to reduce Windwalker monk spamminess, yet Combat rogues will still have a half-second global cooldown during Adrenaline Rush? Celestalon suggests uberspam is OK for “temporary effects.” (Personally, I wonder just how “temporary” AdRush will be in Warlords given how Restless Blades and the new cooldown-reduction stat greatly increase the frequency with which we can use it.)
  • The Redirect spell still appears on the Warlords alpha even though it’ll be unnecessary. Lead class designer Kris Zierhut confirmed in an interview with Wowhead at PAX East that it’s definitely going away. (As a person who apparently mains a Feral druid, he also bonded with Wowhead’s content chief Perculia — who mains a rogue — over the impending change to essentially have CPs stack on the player.)

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With all due respect to the dearly departed WoW Insider hunter column. ;)

Following the initial dump of the Warlords of Draenor alpha novel last week, WoW technical game designer and celery-gnawing glitter maniac Chadd “Celestalon” Nervig took to the twitwaves, as he is oft wont to do. And the interviewed-by-Olivia-Grace-waves, as he is not oft wont to do. And the live-interview-on-major-WoW-fansite-shows-waves, as he has never before been wont to do.

Across all of these various and sundry forms of interaction, Nervig answered a ridiculously large number of questions from players seeking clarifications and further info on the changes we have in store for us in Warlords.

Meanwhile, Warlords datamining began as the first alpha client hit public test servers, bringing with it brand-new waves of speculation and misinformation — as well as some intriguing glimpses of what may yet to come to pass for we wily ones.

So. To supplement my post last week summarizing (nearly) all of the rogue info in the first alpha novel – a masterfully organized, but depressingly ugly and text-heavy, tour de force of bullet points and explanations — I will now unceremoniously dump a scattershot list of (nearly) all the rogue-relevant odds and ends we learned over the past several days.
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On March 11, this hotfix was posted:

Worgen

  • Darkflight’s movement speed increase no longer stacks with Burning Rush or Burst of Speed.

Almost immediately, rogues started noticing. And it wasn’t just the worgen-only Darkflight-BoS combo — which had reportedly allowed worgen rogues to briefly experience run speeds of up to 425% — that had apparently been affected. Burst of Speed no longer appears to stack with any other movement-speed enhancing spell, including the engineering perk Nitro Boosts.

This, in and of itself, appeared to cause only a small amount of grumbling. Worgen players have long been able to stack Darkflight with Burst of Speed, giving them a huge advantage in select situations — for instance, as a flag carrier in Warsong Gulch. Establishing better balance, even at this late stage in the expansion, is hard to argue against, particularly when the change is ultimately such a small one.

Regardless, though not explicitly laid out within the hotfix, the change appears to be “pretty much” intended:

What may be less intended is a side effect: While Burst of Speed is active, rogues appear to be locked out from using any other movement-enhancing spell, including Sprint. This prevents a rogue from, say, hitting Sprint just as BoS is about to wear off to maintain their 70% speed buff without interruption. Instead, BoS must actually drop off, briefly slowing the rogue, before Sprint can be activated.

Whether this is part of the intended changes or not — and whether it’ll be tweaked or not — remains to be seen. But it looks like at least the design team is keenly aware of the complaints.

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If you follow MMO-Champion’s posts, you’re already aware of the Warlords of Draenor early gameplay footage that the Korean site Inven posted this week. These videos are indeed legit; they stem from a press tour that some Blizzfolk (among them PvP honcho Brian Holinka) are doing out in South Korea.

And they include footage of someone playing a Level 90 Combat rogue, very badly, in the “new” Shadowmoon Valley.

I really want to stress that what you see in this video is not necessarily an indication of *anything* that is or isn’t changing about rogues in Warlords. As tech game designer Chadd “Celestalon” Nervig noted in a tweet last night:

So it’s very possible that what we see in this video no longer reflects what we’ll see when we get our hands on the Warlords beta.

That said, a few bits stand out as new/different about the rogue experience in this video. (The player clearly didn’t prioritize looking at spells, talents, glyphs or anything else related to class mechanics in this demo; they were focused entirely on creating a character and playing in the zone. So we only got to see a very small chunk of rogue stuff.)

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(UPDATE 2/9: I’ve added a full “transcript” of the tweets I’m reporting on within this post down at the bottom. It’s loooong.)

Earlier this week, WoW Technical Game Designer Chadd “Celestalon” Nervig sidled up to his Twitter account and handed us a feedbag filled with bite-sized bits of information regarding Shadow Reflection (SR), one of the three new talents slated to make up the Level 100 rogue tier. For now, I’m gonna just stuff my face into that bag, gobble up all the details and spit them out here. Barring more important news worth covering, I’ll follow up on WoW Insider next week with an Encrypted Text column that provides a more in-depth summary and talks about what’s spiffy and not-so-spiffy about what they seem to have planned.

The Tooltip

As far as I can tell, the talent is still being designed to match the tooltip we saw at BlizzCon last fall:

20 yd range
Instant, 2 min cooldown
Summon a shadow of yourself on the target that will watch you and memorize your ability usage for the next 8 sec. After this time, it will mimic the memorized abilities on its target over the next 8 sec.

Here’s the new stuff Celestalon tweeted about SR this week:

The Gist

  • SR has been a huge challenge for the design team to make work properly, but he’s confident they’ll get it right.
  • This’ll definitely be a skill-testing talent: It will be hard to use optimally, but will have “pretty crazy potential” when timed well.
  • C-talon is especially eager to see it used in PvP, where it could allow a rogue to basically use crowd control (CC) and burst at the same time.

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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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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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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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