[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:
We always have issues with the server being able to accept input fast enough to support very small GCDs (say less than 1 sec or so). In this raiding tier in particular we unfortunately had some widespread server lag problems, which made it harder to evaluate whether the 0.7 second GCD alone made rogue abilities feel unresponsive. Our hunch is the low GCD solved this specific problem with tier 15, but we’re unlikely to do it often.
I… am unsure what to make of this answer. I read it through a few times, trying to figure out what the heck they could possibly have meant by “this specific problem” — the only problem they refer to is the widespread server lag that occurred on some raid fights, but I can’t see how lowering a GCD could possibly *solve* that problem (it would, in fact, probably make lag problems worse).
I wrote to Icy Veins’ admin, Damien (who posted the interview), to get his take. He was a little befuddled too, but offered this:
My guess is that the specific problem is about rogue abilities feeling unresponsive when you need to spam them (i.e. during Shadow Blades). So they reduced the GCD of abilities during Shadow Blades to allow Rogues to spam their abilities during that time (especially during Time Warp or Adrenaline Rush for Combat Rogues). But, they had server issues and widespread lag, so they are not sure how positive the 0.7s GCD is (their hunch is that it is).
An alternate view was offered by Neïna, a member of the Elitist Jerks’ forums (and an EU rogue player on a top-500 raid team):
I read the problem as being tacitly know as “energy capping during AR”. I would translate it as: They tried a lower GCD to solve Energy capping, weren’t sure if it would work because of the possible lag induced by a low GCD, and can not exactly evaluate the output because much lag is currently induced by other factors, preventing them to measure exactly how much lag is induced by the low GCD.
I think both of these explanations make sense. I don’t necessarily think either is the actual reason the developers were referring to in their interview response. :)
This kind of semantic quibbling is super-extra nit-picky and may not mean much either way. But the risk of energy capping will only increase (especially for Combat rogues) as we move into what’s likely to be the final gear tier of the expansion in Patch 5.4. So the better we understand how successful the designers feel it was to lower the GCD in this tier, the more insight we’ll have into how (and whether) they plan to address the issue for the next tier.
Speaking from my limited perspective (I’m only doing LFR in this expansion, and only got my four-piece bonus a couple of weeks ago), the drastically lowered GCD has been an adjustment. I spent my first few fights spamming my abilities during AdRush+ShB waaay more often than I needed to, leading me to sometimes double-hit Eviscerate with 5+ CPs and do other less-than-efficient things most unbecoming a proper rogue. But the MUST MASH ALL THE BUTTONS panic has matured into a better feel for how long a half-second actually is, and I’m handling my cooldowns a bit better now. I also have only rarely experienced the sorts of lag issues that have been widely reported in this raid tier.
But assuming the verdict on this approach is “we don’t really have a verdict,” then what’s in store for us in the new raid tier? Energy-capping issues are frustrating — and they also near inevitability as haste values increase during an expansion, particularly for the Combat rogue spec, which features high energy regeneration rates and low-energy ability costs. Another GCD-lowering bonus feels unlikely — but so does another bonus that reduces the energy cost of our abilities, which only exacerbates problems when we’re already close to energy capping during our major cooldowns.
Meanwhile, designers may have painted themselves into a corner by crafting the Tier 15 four-piece the way they did. The bonus is basically aimed right at the Combat spec — and as a result, it is *tremendously* powerful for Combat rogues. It may be the most disproportionate tier bonus we’ve ever seen, with ShadowCraft estimates suggesting that the four-piece may be somewhere around nine times more powerful for Combat rogues than the other specs, boosting Combat’s DPS by something like 10%-15%.
So how do you craft Tier 16 set bonuses that will be strong enough to ensure it’s worth it for a Combat rogue to upgrade to the new tier — yet not so strong that they make rogues as a class overpowered in PvE?
UPDATE 5/29: In a series of tweets this morning, Ghostcrawler clarified the devs’ response to Icy Veins’ question about the rogue Tier 15 four-piece bonus:[tweet https://twitter.com/Ghostcrawler/status/339753189488345088 hide_thread=”true”] [tweet https://twitter.com/Ghostcrawler/status/339753430786658304 hide_thread=”true”] [tweet https://twitter.com/Ghostcrawler/status/339753592250593280 hide_thread=”true”]
This nicely ties up the “what the heck did they mean by ‘problem'” issue. (And I agree with the “no Street Fighter” approach; Combat is actually my least favorite spec precisely because its spammy style doesn’t fit with my own gameplay preferences.) But it leaves mysteriously unresolved the question of how the design team plans to address energy capping concerns for the *upcoming* raid tier.
So let’s let the speculation run wild! Should Sinister Strike get the Shuriken Toss treatment — when Shadow Blades is active, it hits twice as hard but costs twice as much energy? Should the next 4pc tier bonus increase the rogue energy cap? What will they choose? WHAT. WILL. THEY. CHOOSE?