Posts Tagged ‘Brian Holinka’

Inscrutable headlines ftw!

This is what happens when I put off updates for too long: THINGS. SO MANY OF THE THINGS.

A gaggle of notable rogue players are now running around willy-nilly in the Warlords of Draenor Alpha and learning all sorts of odds and ends about how our class appears to be playing so far. A couple of them — Rzn and Haileaus — are even streaming their Alpha bits all over the Twitchesphere. But for the purposes of this post, I will now pretend that this momentous occasion has not yet occurred, so that we can focus here on the same stuff we focused on in my earlier updates: “official” statements, clarifications on Twitter and datamining.

I realize this is all getting awfully unwieldy: Five separate update posts in addition to my initial rundown of class changes does not make for a neat, pretty picture. At the moment, the best all-in-one recap by far is over at Wowhead, where Perculia and Olivia Grace have teamed up to take most of the bits and pieces we’ve learned about Warlords rogues and tie them up into a neat package.

If you just want a look at what we’ve learned in the past two weeks (not including player observations from within the Alpha), here’s what went down specifically in relation to rogues in Warlords:

Datamining Teases Possible Raid Set Bonuses

Although we’ve been warned by WoW’s designers not to take these remotely seriously, the first datamined glimpse of possible set bonuses for Tier 17 raid gear and PvP gear — spotted by Wowhead and MMO-Champion on June 10 — range from dull (Combat/Subtlety two-piece) to interesting (Subtlety four-piece) and perplexing-because-it’s-likely-a-typo (Assassination’s two-piece appears to buff a hunter ability, which is about as insulting as you can get.)

Quoting Wowhead — and again, remember, this is datamining that WoW’s designers have warned us are almost entirely just placeholders right now:

No Assassination PvE four-piece bonus appears to have been datamined.

Spec “Attunements” Datamined

Another noteworthy rogue-specific tidbit from the June 10 datamining (the rest of which appear to mostly be tooltip corrections, typos and in-progress adjustments that aren’t worth trying to analyze) is this set of “Attunements” that passively boost the value of one of our secondary stats when we hit Level 90.

Again quoting Wowhead, our Attunements currently appear to be:

  • Mastery Attunement [Assassination]: You gain 5% more of the Mastery stat from all sources.
  • Haste Attunement [Combat]: You gain 5% more of the Haste stat from all sources.
  • Multistrike Attunement [Subtlety]: You gain 5% more of the Multistrike stat from all sources.

Don’t be surprised to see these change significantly as the WoD Alpha (and Beta) progresses. Something feels odd about a passive buff being granted to a single secondary stat, which feels like it would inherently increase that stat’s value relative to the others — something that goes directly against designers’ repeatedly stated goal for Warlords that they wished to keep secondary stats close to one another in value.

There has also been no official comment regarding whether we need to have first obtained a Shadowforge Key in order to unlock these attunements. (HYUK!)

On Combat Swapping Autoattack Buffs

In the last update, I noted that the Ambidexterity passive was being removed from Combat, which — as stated within the official patch notes — “was done to reduce the amount of damage coming from auto attacks.” Which is a lovely sentiment, but one that gets muddied a bit given that Combat is also getting a perk called Improved Dual Wield, which removes the 19% reduced hit chance we suffer by default for using a pair of one-handed weapons — and thus increases our autoattack damage. Rogue theorycrafter Fierydemise took to Twitter to call attention to this; technical game designer Chadd “Celtictron” Nervig parried the debate.

Sap Stays Sappy

PvP honcho Brian “Holinka” Holinka affirms that, despite upcoming adjustments to other forms of crowd control, Sap’s duration is not likely to change.

Band-Aids vs. Knives

Holinka also rebuffed a request to combine Slice and Dice with Recuperate, saying it’s a good choice to force players to choose between offense and defense. (Nevermind Leeching Poison. Speaking of which…)

Versatility Won’t Uber-Boost Leeching Poison

Lead game designer Ion “Watcher” Hazzikostas noted that Versatility, the newly announced secondary stat that will enhance our healing and damage absorption in addition to our damage output, won’t allow Leeching Poison to “double dip.” (Because Leeching is a self-heal that is based off of the amount of damage we deal, it could theoretically benefit from Versatility twice unless the designers do something to stop it — which they apparently plan to do.)

Main Gauche Still Combat’s Main Man

Even though the Multistrike stat will give our attacks a chance to proc for additional damage, Nervig says the designers have no plans to change Combat’s mastery, Main Gauche — which also gives some of our attacks a chance to proc for additional damage. He notes that they’re open to revisiting the issue, however.

Pre-Potting Won’t Break Stealth

Nervig gave a straightforward answer to a request that drinking a potion would no longer break a rogue’s stealth: “Yes.”

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When the datamining robots of doom at Wowhead and MMO-Champion caught an extremely odd tooltip change for Burst of Speed last night, they did what any good Internet robots do: spit the data out into the ether.

Only, thing is, about robots: Sometimes they data they spit is wrong.

What Wowhead and MMO-C saw was an alteration to Burst of Speed that appeared to change it from a 70% speed buff that lasts four seconds to a 1% speed buff that lasts a tenth of a second.

Let’s reread that together: a 1% speed buff that lasts a tenth of a second.

I know there’s a bunch of us who are utterly convinced that Blizzard is trying to actively destroy a class that the company itself designed and that hundreds of thousands of people play regularly. But, c’mon. It doesn’t take more than a tenth of a second of rational thought to realize: This datamining probably isn’t accurate.

Nonetheless, it didn’t take long for folks to freak out. Thankfully, it also didn’t take long for WoW’s designers to clarify the situation.

In fact, not only is what’s happening here not a nerf to BoS — it’ll make BoS *better* by resolving an inadvertent problem the designers introduced several weeks back.

Overlooked in the hubbub over the tooltip text change was an adjustment in the spell effects to the way BoS provides immunity to snares. Specifically, quoth PvP czar Brian “Holinka” Holinka:

So, say it with me, dear peoples: Datamining is not official. Datamining can be wrong, or it can reflect something the designers put in the game accidentally. In fact, pretty often, what datamining sees actually *is* wrong. It’s OK to wait a little while for confirmation before freaking out, throwing cats around the room and eating glass in fury.

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In the week and a half since my last update, we’ve seen a flurry of conversations with WoW game designers on Twitter (a Blade Flurry, some might say, ahahaha, ahaha, ha), but no major new developments to (or alterations in) our planned class changes, and only an incremental nudge in our understanding of the changes that are planned.

In thoroughly bullet-riddled form, here’s what we’ve learned since April 20:

  • Backstab’s positional requirement: Technical game designer Chadd “Cellphonealon” Nervig stood bravely against a storm of players that mercilessly flung tweet after tweet at his kneecaps regarding the design team’s decision to remove positional requirements for the feral druid abilities Ravage and Shred and the rogue ability Ambush — but to continue to forbid the use of Backstab from the front (though side attacks will be okie dokie). Quoth the dragon, they have chosen not to allow a facial Backstab due to “iconicness” and “how well the gameplay and ability fits the Subtlety kit.”In the same conversation, Nervig affirmed that Backstab is intended to be more powerful than Hemorrhage, and should be the preferred ability to use unless attacking from the front or “if backloading damage is more useful than frontloading” (a reference, I assume, to Hemo’s damage-over-time component)
  • Subtlety’s DPS reward: Nervig confirmed that because the Subtlety DPS rotation is so hard to execute perfectly, the spec is given a little extra bump when it’s balanced against other classes/specs. The implication here is that, if you’re able to maximize the spec’s potential, you will outshine everyone else in the damage meters. (Well, except for any other difficult specs that have been similarly compensated — Nervig implied that feral druids get the same treatment.)
  • Enhanced Premeditation — GONE: Because clearly not enough people have gotten the message yet, Nervig fielded two separate complaints about the Enhanced Premeditation perk — the one that they already announced weeks ago was being scrapped. Try passing along word of this reverted change via a fun game of telephone with friends! See if you can start with “They’re getting rid of the Enhanced Premeditation perk, so you can stop screaming about how horrible it is” and end up with “Celestalon is a big stupidface and porkchop diner muffin lady.”
  • Venom Zest won’t be so bad: Nervig pushed back against the notion that the Level 100 talent Venom Zest (increase maximum energy by 15, increase energy regen 5% for each of up to 3 enemies you poison) is crappier than the other options in the tier.
  • Shadow Dance cooldown unchanged: It’ll still be 1 minute in Warlords, Nervig said — though Readiness (one of our new secondary stats) will reduce it.
  • Energy regen rates unchanged: We’ll still regenerate 10 energy per second at baseline, with our haste levels increasing that rate. Nervig implied that the haste-conversion rate is unchanged as well, but did not explicitly state it.
  • Rogue autoattack damage is not a problem: Nervig said that none of the rogue specs have a “hugely” high chunk of their damage coming from autoattacks, suggesting that no major changes on this front are planned.
  • Make us pretty! Lead game designer Ion “Watcher” Hazzikostas said that they could “definitely do more” to make rogues “feel more epic” when using our melee abilities. That’s pretty much the same thing we’ve been hearing from designers for more than a year now: They feel our aesthetic pain, but aren’t making any promises about a makeover.
  • Don’t expect mobility talent changes: PvP designer Brian “Holinka” Holinka, a.k.a. Holinka, pushed back against the notion that our Level 60 talent tier needs any serious adjustments — or that rogue mobility is currently suffering.
  • Slice and Dice is here to stay for Sub: It requires skill to juggle, Nervig notes.
  • Reading datamined tooltips? Bring many grains of salt: Nervig reminds everyone that any numerical or formula changes we see to abilities mean basically nothing at this point — and that we certainly can’t draw any conclusions about whether those changes are a “nerf” or a “buff.” Particularly not for an expansion like Warlords, in which so much is being dramatically altered about class and spec balance as a whole.

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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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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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Let’s take a quick break from the Patch 5.4 madness for this important little nugget from WoW’s PvP mastermind.

[tweet https://twitter.com/holinka/status/344941420152508417] [tweet https://twitter.com/holinka/status/344942573896466432]

These tweets refer to the stealth issues folks have been reporting since Patch 5.3 hit. We got a confirmation from Holinka last week that the issue is related to zoning into a new area. While we wait for a permanent (fingers crossed) fix to the problem, Holinka’s advice above should provide a handy workaround.

At least, a handy workaround if you’re in battlegrounds or arenas. If you’re out in the world on a PvP realm — or if, say, you’re about to start a Challenge-mode dungeon in which you need to use Shroud early — you may want to periodically hit your stealth button in order to “keep it fresh,” since the same problem may be occurring whenever we pop into or out of cross-realm zones, instances, etc. (I have no confirmation of this at all; it’s just a hypothesis.)

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Think obvious bugs in WoW — like, say, the fact that stealth has been behaving oddly since Patch 5.3 launched — should be easy to find and fix? Take a look at this:

Firstly: Man, I duno who that Kumquat loser thinks he is, but he sure made a lot of stupid assumptions about stealth bugs in the new patch.

Secondly: Holy sleuthing, Batman! The new problems people have been experiencing with stealth recently appear to be linked to zoning into a new area? How many of you would have guessed *that* was the cause of a bug like Shroud of Concealment taking three seconds before it actually concealed a rogue’s party members?

I’m getting weirdly nerd-giddy over this, I realize. But keep in mind that the entire reason I started this blog is because I enjoy learning about virtually everything there is to know about what’s going on with our class. Getting to the bottom of what causes certain problems to occur — and how to fix those problems — fascinates me.

This is a potent reminder that sometimes, especially in a game as complex as WoW, the cause of a bug may not even be remotely close to what it might seem or what one might guess. And figuring out to fix that bug — without breaking something else in a completely unpredictable and hard-to-track way — can prove to be an extremely complicated challenge, as it clearly has in this case.

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