BlizzCon 2018: World of Warcraft Q&A

This year’s BlizzCon World of Warcraft Q&A was hosted by Scott Johnson, host of The Instance podcast and recent recipient of a Podcaster Hall of Fame award. Panelists included Alex Afrasiabi (Senior Creative Director), Ion Hazzikostas (Game Director), John Hight (Executive Producer), and Chris Robinson (Senior Art Director).

Some questions were submitted by players via the forum here; however, most were asked live. At the end of the panel, Ion said they would be doing their best to go through the forum and answer any questions they weren’t able to during the panel. So if you’re interested, be sure to check out the thread for any updates that may come along.

Additional questions and answers here.

Original transcript can be found here.

Questions and Answers

Loot

Q8 Why is there so much RNG in the game and do you have plans to move away from that i.e .where the time we spend we know we’re actually working towards something attainable?

A (Ion): We’ve always tried to strike a balance in this. If things were just completely deterministic and purchasable off a vendor, you could mark your gear rewards on a calendar – no excitement or reward on the way, just progress to a goal. The flipside is a world where nothing feels predictable and that’s a problem also. Now there’s more loot but more variability within it. Going forward, we’re adding some azerite-related vendors and we’ll be pulling back a tiny bit on the RNG there.

 

Q9 Can you put a smart loot system on our mythic caches?

A (Ion): Yes, the pool of items here is gigantic so it feels so random. It would be great to have improvements in breaking streaks of seeing multiple weeks of boots in a row. There’s more that can be done there.

 

Q10 What is the future of Azerite gear?

A (Ion): Tides of Vengeance is bringing a set of improvements. Currently, not enough choice within the gear you get. Season 2 means you’ll have more rings/traits to choose from. We’re continuing to add traits, and replacing some lackluster ones. This is how this gear will progress. We’re also looking at additional ways to grow the system, including adding depth to the Heart of Azeroth.

 

Q22 Any plans to bring back tier sets or gear to give definition of class identity?

A (Ion): In BFA we’re trying something different. We really wanted the gear to feel like it’s from THAT raid i.e. troll raid looking item versus what does a DK set look like from a troll raid. But it’s likely you’ll see class sets return but for now we like the high level fidelity of the current set up.

 

Q5 Class relics?

A (Chris): Yeah might have jumped the gun on that blog post. You’d be amazed at how hard it is to put a book on someone’s hip in game!. We’re still working on this, maybe in heritage armor, probably more related to individual armor sets but not as an item.

 

Lore

Q1 Lots of Choices and Player agency in this expac in story– how important is it to the team that these moments of agency happen throughout the game and have repercussions?

A (Alex): We don’t want to have too many, can trivialize the issue. Backing Sylvanas or Saurfang is a more important and better choice. We are right now testing the waters with that kind of choice. Want that choice to matter.

 

Q2 (Asked by Chris Metzen) When is the horde getting its true Warchief back?

A (Alex): Thrall? I’m gonna guess there may very well be a job posting up soon on the Orgimmar war board looking for a new Warchief. And If there is, we’ll call you.

 

Q15 When are you develop Gallywix’s backstory and how has being part of the larger Horde affected him as a leader?

A (Alex): When they let me make the pleasure palace into an actual pleasure palace, Azshara will be covered in his skyscrapers. But really, we’re going to look into it. The canon? We’re gonna fire that canon.

 

Q17 How are you going to differentiate between what Sylvannas is doing and what Garrosh did?

A (Alex): The story’s not done. Can’t really answer, much left to discover and explore. If I were Sylvanas looking at what Garrosh hath wrought, I’d probably think Garrosh was an amateur.

 

Systems

Q3 (Reckles, WTBGold Youtube channel): 20% AH fee has hurt a lot of casual players, what were the ideas about implementing it and will it be removed?

A (Ion): Only applies to items that don’t sell, and select stackable trade goods so that people wouldn’t sell 1 of those items. It’s only a band-aid – a rework of AH code is needed. We need to rebuild the foundations and we’re actively working on it.

 

Q6 Character progression when leveling is not quite satisfying i.e. not a lot of talents or new abilities come up while leveling, you don’t gain as much good feelings as you level.

A (Ion): We agree we’re not happy. No talents, no new content as you level, really. A level squish would be a big ordeal and maybe weird psychologically. But good leveling progression is something that is a big deal and we’re actively discussing it.

 

Q18 This expansion was set up at Horde versus Alliance – in warfronts or island expeditions why don’t we have PvP talents?

A (Ion): Mostly because it’s not against actual players. We don’t want your abilities to fluctuate too granularly. Just going to and island shouldn’t be drastically changing your abilities.

 

Q18What about using Island Expedition technology in PvP brawls?

A (Ion): In that case we would probably turn them on since your opponents are reconstructed player types.

 

Q19 Is it okay to just level in Island Expeditions?

A (Ion): Yes! Absolutely. We’re adding an item in Tides of Vengeance that will unlock flight paths for alts.

 

Classic WoW

Q4 Will the items found in WoW Classic be moggable on Live? Items?

A (John): No, they will not be. Those ecosystems will be separate.

 

Q14 With CRZ and Phasing off the table for classic wow, how will you deal with population concerns?

A (Ion): Currently there is sharding on Classic WoW Demo, this is a special case. We understand sharding it antithetical to the feel of Classic WoW. But we may use sharding in the first couple weeks but we understand that doesn’t work well with World Firsts, etc.

 

Q23 Classic – are we staying on this patch forever or will it get an expansion?

A (Ion): Right now we’re trying to restore 2006. Once the game is out there next summer we’ll listen to the players and do what’s right for the game but we’ll have to see.

 

Social Features

Q7 What steps are you taking to combat toxicity in public chat?

A (John): We want everyone to be having a good time. That is super important to us. It’s worth it to us to lose 1 toxic person versus losing all the people we affect. We have been taking more steps in the last year. We are instituting new technology from other Blizzard games to use AI to read more chat messages and have a faster response time. We’ll be more thoughtful and better at this in the future. (Ion notes: Play Nice, Play Fair panel expands on this company-wide initiative.)

 

Q20 Will there be a revamped M+ Leaderboard?

A (Ion): Sort of. It’s not enough information right now, we’re looking to add that information directly to the armory profile.

 

Gameplay

Q11 Global cooldowns – are you going to pull more things off the GCD? Popular request.

A (Ion): We noticed in development that more and more, abilities were coming off the GCD over time. We started by pulling way way back on this, slowing adding more things back. Tides of Vengeance will add more back. Currently we’re fine with the offensive portion of this. The biggest area of concern is movement and utility – even though we shortened the GCD, they are still on the GCD. We’re going to take movement abilities back off the GCD in Tides of Vengeance.

 

Q13 Can you bring back some unique abilities like we had in MOP?

A (Ion): We did it to shore up some issues, instead of actually making cool abilities, so we have to be careful.

 

Q21 Low performing specs get a bad reputation that persist long after they are buffed? Can you help them pug?

A (Ion): Yes, this is a big motivator for us in terms of balance. Community perception matters almost more as a factor than pure numbers. Balance and buffs are a part of it, socializing is a part of it, sometimes we need to overbuff things to get the message across. There is a fine line between getting our attention, or putting down our own class with memes so people aren’t doing themselves many favors but yes, Blizzard is responsible as well for those perceptions.

 

Transmog

Q12 Sometimes I gear a piece of gear that looks cool but doesn’t fit my mog! Are we ever going to gear armor dye?

A (Chris): Not for everything, or every existing item in the game. Color changes don’t work super well with how we do the painting in wow – nothing is really just ONE color, to give it depth. Tinting or dying doesn’t always work with that system. We’d have to shift things to grey and then add a color on top of it and we’re concerned this wouldn’t really work.

 

Q16 Transmog restriction – can we expect more freedom with respect to armor type, etc?

A (Ion): It’s really about silhouette etc. That’s why those restrictions exist, for themes, etc. We have been loosening them over time like heritage armor which fits all armor classes. We are excited to keep introducing heritage armor. We are going to let you transmog over fist weapons with several types of one-handers. Wands we still can’t fix, but fist weapons will finally be moggable to other types.

Original transcript can be found here.

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