Developer Q&A with Ion Hazzikostas
Ion Hazzikostas answered some questions today!




Patch 7.3

  • The team learned a lot from how Patch 7.2 unfolded. Day 1 it felt like there wasn't a lot to do after the intro.
  • With Argus, there is a ton of stuff available right away.
  • There are multiple chapters split into sub-zones.
  • You will be able to play through the first two on Day 1, and unlock world quests and other world content.
  • Week 2 unlocks Chapters 3 and 4, Mac'acree.
  • Week 3 you get the final chapter and Netherlight Crucibile.
  • This helps to provide some pacing, allowing players to experience the content before


Unlocking Argus Content

  • Many of the content unlocks on Argus are account wide, such as the dungeon, travel, and Netherlight Crucible.


Artifact Unlocks

  • The third relic slot is unlocked right away in Patch 7.3.
  • You don't need to do the quest to unlock more Artifact Traits.
  • Artifact Knowledge will be unlocked automatically, there won't be any more need to research, just wait.


Legion Invasions

  • Invasions will remain active in Patch 7.3.


Order Hall Champions

  • There will be catch up tokens from missions and chests that help you quickly increase the item level of your followers.


Netherlight Crucible

  • The Artifact Trait tree is a steady form of progression.
  • The team wanted to offer two trait relics in Patch 7.2, but ended up removing it.
  • Relics point to a trait by index (1-9). Each class and spec in the game has a relic that maps to trait 5, but that is a different trait for each class or spec. This means relics can't be customized as much as the team wanted to.
  • Relics in the Netherlight Crucible solve some of the problem of Relic availability. Any relic can now have another trait that you wanted.
  • In Patch 7.2 players didn't have enough choice or control over the RNG.
  • In Patch 7.3 you can use the Netherlight Crucible to make a choice, giving you some level of control instead of total randomness. You won't have to have your worst trait, because you can choose not to pick a bad trait.


Reforging

  • Reforging had lots of downsides, such as trying to perfectly get the hit or expertise cap.
  • Every item that doesn't have your best two stats you would reforge to have your best stat. This didn't really make for interesting choices.
  • This also narrowed the distinction between items, making them feel more similar.
  • It also made it harder to evaluate upgrades, as you had to look at the item in its current state as well as how you could reforge it.
  • There were some good parts, such as giving players choices to make.


Artifact Power and PvP

  • The Netherlight Crucible traits don't work in Rated PvP.
  • The item level upgrades (+5) from the Netherlight Crucible do work in Rated PvP, but it is a very small power bump.


Artifact Appearances and Transmog

  • The team isn't satisfied with just letting you keep the Artifact Appearances you have unlocked during Legion, as you feel like you have to rush and unlock all the appearances before the expansion is over.
  • The team is looking at a different system that allows you to unlock the appearances by completing Legion content in later expansions.
  • The exception to this is the appearances from the skill challenge and the +15 Mythic ones.


Artifact Appearances

  • The team is done creating Artifact Appearances.


Prestige and Artifact Appearances

  • Prestige isn't account wide because PvP on different characters means something different.
  • The experience you have when playing a Rogue vs a Healer is very different.
  • Unlocking things per character reflects the experience you had on that specific character.
  • If prestige was account wide, you would probably focus on getting a high rating on one character, but what would you have to work towards on other characters if everything was already unlocked?


Mythic+ Changes

  • The team is very satisfied with the changes they made in Patch 7.2.5.
  • Now the most challenging content gives the best rewards.
  • If you wanted the gear from doing a +8 or +10 previously, you needed better gear than was rewarded by the +8 or +10.
  • Mythic+ participation is up across the board in all regions.
  • People are actually doing higher keystones now.
  • The system was structured differently than challenge modes because they didn't want it to be about speed runs again. All that mattered previously was cleave and AoE, making the single target specialists not valuable.
  • There has been a lot of positive feedback from people doing higher keystone runs.


Mythic+ Rewards

  • Class sets have always been one of the things you can get from raiding. Even if you can get similar item level loot from other sources, you had to organize a larger group to earn the sets.
  • There are mini-sets from Mythic+ dungeons that you can earn, such as the items from Court of Stars.
  • The team doesn't want to remove too much of the incentive from raiding by providing the same rewards to players doing Mythic+


Mythic+ and Older Content

  • The team isn't currently planning on expanding the Mythic+ system to dungeons from older expansions.
  • The Mythic+ system allows dungeons to remain relevant during the entire expansion.
  • This is something that could be expanded on in the future, maybe tying it in with Timewalking.


World First Race

  • A week and a half to two weeks is a reasonable time for the world first race.
  • Heroic Ragnaros took around that long to kill, people thought it was a well tuned boss, but Paragon was the only one to kill it in that time. Otherwise he would have lived longer.
  • When the team tunes the last few Mythic bosses of a new tier, they are keeping the world first race in mind.
  • Those bosses should be hard enough to allow the top guilds in the world to distinguish themselves from each other. This is a very hard target to hit and evolves over time, especially as guilds do more split runs or stack classes.
  • The internal testing team has lots of people that pushed for world firsts in the past.
  • Mythic Kil'jaeden was overtuned. They made it a little too hard, but that allowed them to nerf it. Hundreds of hours of testing took place internally.
  • This tier increased healing requirements across the board by increasing raid damage, but they went a little bit too far.
  • The internal testing team was better than anticipated on this fight and has been getting better over the years, so when they increased everything by a percentage to make it challenging for the top guilds that was a little bit too much.
  • Should the team tune the end bosses to be very challenging for the world first race and then nerf them a bit so that regular guilds can kill them?


Raid Damage

  • Fights are designed and mechanics are added or removed to address problems.
  • There wasn't enough coordination between encounter designers, resulting in similar solutions to problems. Lots of soaking.
  • The team realized this too late, but it shouldn't be a problem in Argus.
  • The team was happy with the individual fights, but want to create a more diverse set of fights in the raid.


Nethershards

  • Nethershards will continue to be used on catch-up gear and cosmetics.
  • The Relinquished vendor is moving to Argus, 910 items, target a specific relic, like a Holy relic.
  • Existing Relinquished items won't be expanded or upgraded.
  • Don't hold on to Nethershards or worry about them, Patch 7.3 has a new system.


Class Design

  • If your role is damage dealer, you can compete as a damage dealer.
  • There is a disparity between the utility different specs bring. The team would like to address this by shoring up the utility of some specs.
  • Rogues have individual survival utility, which can be useful for the group if they use them to soak mechanics.


Spec Damage Auras

  • Rather than manually adjusting all of the abilities for a spec, they now use a single aura to increase the damage on all of those abilities.
  • In previous expansions the team would focus buffs on specific abilities, but that would change how things played.
  • The team still targets individual abilities when the ability needs to be changed, but there isn't a need to change all of the spells individually to bump up damage by a few percent anymore.
  • Changing all of the individual spells resulted in errors in the past, so this also helps to reduce errors.


Class Balance Changes

  • The team is mostly happy with how often class balance is tweaked.
  • Cathedral of Eternal night probably took too long to adjust down. It probably could have been done faster and more aggressively. The team wasn't sure if it was new and unfamiliar or just too hard initially.
  • The team doesn't want to make players feel like their spec or class is constantly changing due to hotfixes.
  • Changes are bundled up to make all of the hotfixes happen at once rather than adjusting things more frequently.
  • If a certain spec is seen as being slightly better, all of the best players will switch to that spec. This makes the other specs look significantly weaker, as the people logging other specs aren't as strong of players.
  • Balance is always a moving target.


Raid Finder Difficulty

  • Keeping all of the mechanics but making them weak didn't feel great. There were a lot of mechanics that you could just ignore.
  • The team's biggest balance concern is for the people that are only doing Raid Finder difficulty.
  • Instead, the team moved to having fewer mechanics but making them meaningful and challenging.
  • There is no longer a desire to make Raid Finder a tourist mode.
  • The team is hoping to make difficulty closer to Mists of Pandaria difficulty than Warlords. There are some fights that are too easy still.


Challenge Artifact Appearances

  • Any unlocks that require doing a thing while using another appearance are being changed to doing the thing.
  • Now you can get your 10 Rated Battlegrounds spec wins as any spec or appearance.


Split Raids

  • Both the developers and players don't enjoy split raids.
  • The team wants to make sure that the cure isn't worse than the disease.
  • This is a behavior that takes place in a tiny percent of the playerbase, maybe a couple thousand players in the world and only takes place for a few weeks.
  • Sharing loot lockouts across difficulties would have a big negative impact.
  • The team doesn't want to punish the entire playerbase because of the actions of a few.


Worgen and Goblin Models

  • The team hasn't forgotten about the new models.
  • The priority right now is the new casting animations, but it is still on the high priority list!



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