Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Cataclysm Changes

Update: Made an addition following Ghostcrawlers responce.

Blizzard recently did the Cataclysm Press Tour for official fan sites and I'm sure all of you guys have seen the flurry of information that has been released as a result. Here are my reactions to the news.

Path of the Titans: Gone!

It's hard for me to have a strong opinion about this one way or the other. It kind of sucks that something was removed, but how can I get up set about it when I never new what it would be in the first place.

If I am honest with myself, I have to assume that this is a good thing for me personally. I don't play my toons just to play them. I play them to do something specific. For example, when it is raid time I play Graylo. I am rarely on him otherwise. I never long on and think "what should I do with Graylo today." I always pick my activity before I pick which toon I'm going to play. If I want to level, I pick Graybel. If I want to explore the Horde side of things I pick my other Graylo. If I want to run some heroic I will probably pick the lock or the priest.

So, what does any of that have to do with the Path of the Titans? Well, with the removal of PotT i have one less thing I have to do. In my opinion that is a good thing. I was not looking forward to doing that with 5 toons. The real question is will I do Archeology now?

Guild Talent Trees: Gone!

The guild talents are gone and your guild now gets extra bonuses depending on its level. There are 25 levels and each level will automatically reward with more cool stuff. The leveling process remains unchanged and your guild will gain experience through PvP, Dungeon and Raid progression, questing, etc ...

Guild currency has also been removed and rewards will just be "unlocked" after you reach a specific level or complete a guild achievement. Once a reward is unlocked, members will be able to purchase it with gold. Some of the rewards include guild tabards, mounts, heirlooms, and it looks like you will finally be able to have a guild tabard on your mount. (Just like the Argent Tournament banners)

New members of a guild won't be able to buy everything directly, they will have to contribute to the progression of the guild before they can access the top rewards. Each time a player helps towards the leveling he will gain reputation with the guild, the best rewards will require players to be exalted with their guild before they can buy it.
I am a little disappointed that Guild Talent Trees are being removed, but it is hard to argue with Blizzard's logic. Ultimately how the guild is specced would be up to one person, the GM, but would impact several dozen players. This has the potential to cause drama, and I agree that people shouldn't make guild choices based upon a guild spec.

I love how they have changed it though. I think guild reputation is a great idea. First, it encourages new members to participate in the guild. Second, it gives guild members the incentive to stay with a guild. I don't think it will be or should be strong enough to keep someone from transferring, but hopefully it will be strong enough to prevent some of the silly "grass-is-greener" transfers. Finally, it provides another indication of seniority within the guild. I know that guild ranks already provide this to some extent, but that isn't necessarily true depending on how the guild is managed. With guild reputations you know who is new and in the same boat as you are. You know who is been with the guild for a couple of months and may be able to answer your question without bugging an officer. As long as it isn't a barrier I think it will help to create community.

Glyphs/Inscription

Honestly I don't have a clue where to start this topic. It sounds like Glyphs and Inscriptions are getting completely redone.

Medium Glyphs: Medium glyphs are the kind of glyph you'd take if you had more choices. Medium glyphs are good for situational abilities, cooldowns, defense and utility. These sound a lot like optional talents to me. My guess is that things like Glyph of Innervate and Glyph of Rebirth will be Medium Glyphs for druids. Those are both great glyphs but there is no way they can complete with the DPS glyphs. The problem with medium glyphs is that they will just be nice. I doubt they will be anything to get excited about.

Non-Consumable Glyphs: Glyphs are in a weird place where they’re not consumables like potions but they’re not as permanent as say, talents, either. And we know that some players walk around with stacks of glyphs that they’ll swap in and out depending on the situation.

So the new glyph UI is designed more about collecting all the glyphs for your character and storing them there. Any time you want to switch glyphs you can just use that. Glyphs are now permanent.(src)

This is a big change. From a player's perspective I like it. I hated carrying around a stack of Typhoon Glyphs and Thorns Glyphs when we were running both ToGC and ICC. I know I didn't have it that bad off, but for anyone that was swapping glyphs frequently this is a great change.

The real question is what this will do to the Glyph market. I've seen some people predicting doom and gloom, but I don't think that is necessarily true. Assuming you still have to by glyphs from a scribe, all this will change is who buys your glyphs and which glyphs they buy. The people who swap glyphs in and out will buy less of course, but there are plenty of people who will buy all the glyphs even if they don't have any intention of ever using them. So we may sell fewer Glyph of Starfall, but we will sell more Glyphs of Wrath.

That of course is only going to happen if my assumption is correct. Unfortunately the following quote makes me doubt that assumption. "We’re going to focus inscription on more of the non-glyph aspect of the trade skill. So, Darkmoon Faire cards, trinkets, offhand items, things like that. We also want to tie the ability to change glyphs into inscription. We’re not sure of the name yet but the idea is that scribes would basically sell a kind of eraser and the eraser is what allows you to blank out your glyphs and write in new ones." To me this sounds like scribes won't be creating glyphs anymore.

Reforging:

The interface opens and you place the item in it. It then asks you to pick a stat to reduce, and then pick a stat to add. You can’t use primary stats like agility, strength and intellect, but you can use all of the secondary stats like hit, crit, haste, parry, dodge, things like that. Then you reduce one of the stats by – at the moment it’s 40% but to make the example easier, say it’s 50%. If you have 100 crit, you reduce that by 50, that then gives you 50 points to put on, say, hit.
Out of all the new features in Cataclysm Reforging is probably the one I'm most exited about, and GC finally spelled out how it would work. I've heard a few different interpretations on what GC said, so this is what I took it to mean. If you have an item on it with 100 crit rating, you can take it to the reforger and turn 50% of that crit rating into another secondary stat. So, you start with an item with 100 crit rating and end with an item with 50 crit rating and 50 hit rating and no loss of itemization. If I'm correct this sounds awesome.

The only question I have is what stats are Primary and what stats are Secondary. More specifically, which category will Spirit fall into. Some of you may have seen the post I made on the official forums, but here is the issue I see.

GC specifically states that Int, Agi, and Strength are primary stats and that all the rating stats like Crit, Haste and Hit are secondary stats. All of that makes sense, but Spirit has traditionally been grouped with Int, Agi, and Strength as Base stats, and Blizzard is making a big deal about how mana regen will be very important for healers in Cataclysm. Since spirit is the core stat of healer mana regen in Cataclysm it is easy to see how Spirit could be considered a Primary stat.

However, for Moonkin, Ele shaman, and to some extent Shadow Priests, spirit will act like Hit rating, a secondary stat. If we are expected to share gear with our healer specs then it is quite likely that we will have a ton of spirit on our gear and will likely be way over the hit cap without reforging.

Now, I will admit that reforging isn't the only way this issue could be resolved. First off, there is no reason that we have to have spirit on our tier set. So that is four or 5 items where we could ignore spirit all together. It's also possible that Blizzard will have both Spirit and non-Spirit leather drop from the bosses. But if all the leather has Spirit then we will need reforging to stay at the cap.

Reforging Update: Woot! Ghostcrawler stopped by the thread I started concerning Spirit and Reforging. (First time a blue has commented on a thread I started. This must be what it feels like to be Murmurs.) There is his comment:
We don't want players changing Agi, Str, Stam or Int (or armor!) on items for probably obvious reasons, but converting Spirit to something else or something else into Spirit shouldn't be a problem.(src)
As of now it sounds like Spirit is a secondary stat though GC did leave some wiggle room if they change their minds. All in all, I think this is good news, and not just for Moonkin, Ele Shaman and Spriests. It is a good deal for healers to if an abundance of non-spirit caster gear drops as well.

25man vs 10man loot: More badges marginally more loot

I know we debated this in early May, but let me try and reiterate my concern. People as a general rule will follow the path of least resistance if the rewards are the same. I know there are exceptions, but for a majority of people this is true. So if you provide two paths of raid progression with the same rewards then people are going to flock to the easier one.

In WotLK 10mans have been the easier option because, people out gear the instance with 25man gear and even Ghostcrawler said "Remember that in LK the 10s were specifically designed to be easier (with a couple of exceptions where we messed up)(src)" I doubt Blizzard will be able to perfectly balance the difficulty of 25man and 10man raids relative to each other but lets assume that they get close. In such a situation I think most people would agree that 10mans are organizationally easier. It's easier to find 10 competent players then it is to find 25. It's easier to manage the schedules of 10 people then it is to manage the schedules of 25 people. If this is true, I can see a slow but eventual death of the 25man raid structure.

That is why I am unhappy with these comments:

The amount of gear in the 25 person raids will be roughly equivalent on per-person basis to the 10 person raids. One thing to keep in mind it that we don't plan to allow players to upshift from 10s to 25s, only downshift from 25s to 10s on a given week.

The statements beforehand said that 25person would have more gear per person than 10s, so I wonder if "roughly equivalent" indicates a change in plans, or just not wanting to commit yet to either "exactly the same" or "more".
The number 6 per boss was being mentioned I believe, so slightly more I guess, but anything can change in testing so I wouldn't say that it is set in stone. But we all know you guys won't call us out if anything changes during a beta, right?

So basically there will be no real incentive (gear-wise at least) to run 25 man raids.
There are rewards like badges/gold for the additional coordination involved, but we are trying to avoid having gear be the reason that one style is better than the other.
Later on Ghostcrawler does go on to say:

I think this is one of those cases where it's not going to be possible to please everyone. Most players either prefer 10s and have no use for the 25s or want to run 25s and don't want to feel like they are being inefficient for doing so. In other words, half the community wants an incentive to run 10s and no incentive to run 25s and half the community wants the opposite.
I definitely fall in the bucket thinks there should be some additional incentives for running the 25man raid that is at the very least more organizationally difficult. However, I don't think more loot, badges and gold are a good incentive. Getting six items for a 25man is only slightly better then the five items 2 and a half 10mans would get.

I am also disappointed that Blizzard thinks Badges and gold are really any kind of reward. Badges are only valuable for the first couple of months of a patch and then are ignored for the most part, and gold is so easy to obtain that no one is going to go spend hours raiding to earn gold. Hopefully they will find a better system.

23 comments:

Thorn said...

You're taking some flak for the question from people who don't know the answer.

Try wording it in a way they understand..."if the spr on leather gear means taking it puts me at a greater disadvantage than accepting the penalty for wearing cloth dps gear then I'll be back in your raid stealing your cloth RAWR!!" ;)
(or not as it'll wind them up but it's a possibility given we don't yet know how much of a drawback dropping down an armour value will be)

Hoping you get a Blue answer to clarify.
The argument "spirit has always been primary so it always will be" is very much an assumption

Duskstorm said...

I remember GC writing that when you reforge, you'll lose a bit of itemization... e.g. in your example 100 crit rating would turn in to 50 crit rating and 40 haste.

The argument was, they want the "best" items for you to be actual drops.. but if an item that's not super well itemized for you drops, you can reforge it and get some use out of it.

Basically, as I read it, reforging turns a poorly itemized item into a decently itemized item, but it should never turn a decently itemized item into a best in slot.

I think the goal is to reduce sharding and to make it easier for Blizzard to give every spec items they can put to good use.

lissanna said...

We got an answer from GC about spirit on gear. He says we should be able to reforge items to get spirit off the gear.

Jay said...

The raid organization between 10- and 25-man's has been a huge topic of discussion over at EJ recently. I won't try to repeat it all here, but there are a lot of very live concerns for 25-man raiders.

I myself am not happy with the announced changes, from the perspective of someone who's almost exclusively interest in 25-man changes. No matter what, they don't benefit me in any way, although it's still unclear just how bad they will be.

--

It's nice to get a confirm on Spirit being secondary. Not surprising, since it's merely a regen stat for healers anyway, and it's been treated as a secondary stat already in Cataclysm (e.g. not affected by Mark of the Wild).

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the thoughts! One thing, though. You say badges are "only" interesting for the first fre months of a patch?

That's still quite a lot. Frost emblems have been available for months, but I still see lots of people trudging through daily randoms just to get two measly emblems.

Emblems might just be enough to keep 25s alive.

-Ohken

Anonymous said...

If reforging is as GC said, then you can convert for example 100 crit into 50 crit and 50 haste. If they keep it that way point for point then this opens a lot of doors. We all know that stats are not the same point for point. So taking an item with plenty of a poor stat and reforging will improve the item a lot. If for example haste is much better than crit in cata, then imagine the benefit. This will also help us manage those soft and hard caps much more easily getting much more out of gear without any penalty. Just one question I hope they answer. How many times can you reforge an item? Can you reforge a stat more than once?

Moonlyt

Mattrickhoffman said...

I have no issue with saying that 25-mans are harder to organize than 10 mans. That is completely true. What I have issue with is that it's really only an increase in difficulty for a few people. The raid leaders are really the only people that feel the added stress there. Sure, there are more people to position yourself around for encounters that demand you keep a certain distance between players, but raids these days are designed to fit 25 people so that's not really that big an issue. Using the increased organizational requirements as an argument for better rewards is a pretty shaky argument. Unless there's some way to just reward the raid leaders, I have to disagree.

lissanna said...

Moonly - according to their original designs for reforging, it was going to allow you to just reforge one stat per item, and you'd only be able to reduce that stat once.

Superku said...

If 10 man raids are more fun for those organizing, and more fun for those raiding, why should 25 man raiding be artificially propped up by better gear just to be kept alive?

Do you miss 40 man raids?

Graylo said...

@Mattrickhoffman

I disagree.

For clarities sake when I talk about organizational difficulty I am largely talking about recruitment and raid attendance. I am sure it is a little more difficult to explain a strat or make healing assignments to 25people rather then 10, but I doubt the difference is huge.

There are big differences though when it comes to staffing a raid. I agree that the job of recruiting largely falls to officers, but that is only one aspect of the issue. The officer may extend the offer, but the player chooses to weither to accept it or not. Existing members choose weither to stay in a guild or not. When someone does not show up and you can only raid with 24 people that affects all 24 raidiers not just the officers.

Look at it this way. By joining a 25man raid guild you are accepting a higher level of risk due to the greater organizational requirements. Since it is more difficult to get 25 people togeather rather then 10 your raids are more likely to be cancelled so there is more risk.

If finance teaches us anything, its that with greater risk there should be greater reward, and that risk does not only impact the officers.

@Ohken

I doubt it. I would be interested to see the people still farming emblems. My guess is that they either don't raid much, feel the need for multiple offsets, or turn them into gold. Most of the players I know haven't need an emblem since February.

Graylo said...

@Superku

Who said 10mans were more fun for the organizers or the raiders? In fact I've specifically said otherwise.

What I've said is that 10mans are easier to organize and it will be much easier to attract people to 10man raiding then it is to 25man raiding if all things are equal. This could result in the slow but eventual death of 25man raids because people will choose the path of least resistance. People like me who prefer 25man raids may eventually be forced to raid 10mans because raiding 10mans is better then not raiding at all.

As far as 40mans go, I can not miss them because I never experanced them. I started playing wow right before TBC was released. However, a quick look at the official forums will show you that there are people out there who miss them since a blue has to comment every few months that "no, they do not intend to bring the 40man raid size back."

Mattrickhoffman said...

Ok, yes, in 25 mans there is a greater risk of a player not showing up, just due to sheer numbers. However, there is also a greater margin of error in 25 mans, just due to sheer numbers. I'm not saying at all that 25 mans are easier, they are, 90% of the time, more difficult. But, there is more room for people to mess up.

Furthermore, adding extra rewards to 25 mans doesn't really add to the enjoyment of the game for anyone. For people like you, who enjoy 25 mans, you have to deal with people who don't really like 25 man raids but are only showing up for whatever increased reward there is. For people like me, who legitimately enjoy 10 mans more, you feel obligated to do the 25 mans so you can have the best gear and perform to the best of your ability. It's not a cycle that is pleasant for anyone involved.

Anonymous said...

@Mattrickhoffman
You mention positioning as the only thing that made 25 mans harder. "but raids these days are designed to fit 25 people so that's not really that big an issue." This sounds like you haven't done Putricide 25 or LK 25 Hard yet. While some fights are more difficult because of positioning thats not the biggest reason. 1. You have to get 25 people to show up. 2. You have to get 25 people to work together. 3. You have to get 25 people who do their jobs and don't wipe the raid. 9/12 fights in ICC can be wiped by 1 single raider making a mistake or not doing their job. To have a successful 25 man raid you need to have more skilled people making less mistakes then doing a 10 man. While raid leaders help with some of that, its still up to each raider to not screw up, and still do their jobs.

Anonymous said...

@Mattrickhoffman
"But, there is more room for people to mess up." This isn't really the case until your raid overgears the fight. If you remember the first month and a half of ICC, Saurfang wasn't a push over for most guilds. The guilds who blew through him were decked out in 258 ilvl gear and were used to healing though Anub 25H. After you outgear a fight all bets are off.

Graylo said...

@Mattrickhoffman

Again, I disagree.

1. First off, I completely disagree with the arguement "I enjoy 10mans raids more, but I am forced to run 25mans raids for the better gear." That is complete nonsense. If you truly enjoyed 10man raiding more then, you would only run 10man raids.

What that arguement really is saying is "I perfer the 10man size over the 25man size, but I value the better gear of 25mans more then I value the smaller raid size."

Now, I realize you're enjoyment would be increased if you had a smaller raid size with the better gear. I think that is a perfectly fine position to have, but no one should kid themselves into thinking they are being forced to do something they don't enjoy.

2. Second, lets assume for a second that Blizzard is able to perfectly balance 25man raids vs 10man raids. The only difference between the two is raid size. This would result in three types of raiders.

A. Raiders who prefer 25mans for what ever reason.

B. Raiders who prefer 10mans for what ever reason.

C. Raiders who don't care what size they raid.

Raiders who definately prefer one raid size over another will gravitate to the size they prefer. The battle is over the people who don't care, and they will choose the side that offers them the most reward. If everything else is equal then that side will be 10mans most of the time because of the ease of organization. This will likely result in a larger 10man community and smaller 25man community. When the 25man guilds go trough the normal organizational issues that all guilds go through the 25man raiders will have a harder time finding new guilds that fit their desires due to the smaller 25man community. Some will find new 25man guilds. Some will settle for 10man guilds, and some will quit the game (granted this can occure in reverse but I don't see it happening as frequently). In the end I think this will result in an ever declining 25man raiding community resulting in its eventual death.

Now, I realize that that isn't a big deal for people who prefer 10mans. In my opinion it would be a shame if 25man raiding died, but I don't see how it will survive as a significant community if players aren't given an incentive to participate given the increased organizational issues.

Mattrickhoffman said...

@Graylo

You make some great points, but the issue still is what type of incentive you're looking for. The problem becomes finding something that rewards people for the extra organizational difficulty and yet doesn't feel as though it's penalizing all those who prefer the smaller sized raids.

There are two ways I can see that working out. One is through the ideas they've already proposed of a) more loot per person and b)more emblems. Obviously, as you said in this article, you fear that won't be enough. The only other option I see, and this is tentative given the nature of gamers, is to implement 25-man specific rewards such as mounts or titles. Even that may not work, the allure of a cool title or mount could shift a lot of players toward 25s. I do, however, see it as a viable way to reward the extra organization of 25s without penalizing the 10s.

Wander said...

@Graylo
If I understand your argument you are saying that there aren't enough raiders who actually prefer 25 mans to keep the community alive.
If that's so then why should Blizzard support them at all?

Talsh said...

I think a brilliant way to solve the 10 man/25 man dilemma is to offer the same ilvl loot in both raids, but not the same pieces. That way, people will want to run both 10 and 25 man, but there won't be burned out on either because you couldn't run both in one week. It would also add to progression challenges, as 25 man guilds would strive to be the both to complete both 10 and 25 man content as they are now, but there will still be incentive to run 25 mans, which is the chief concern of those of us who fear that 25 mans will fall by the wayside.

You could make this even better if BOTH instances dropped TWO DIFFERENT ilvls of loot simultaneously. For example, make some of the ilvl 300 pieces drop in 10 man, and make some of the ilvl 310 pieces drop in 10 man. Similarly, some ilvl 300 drop in 25 man, some ilvl 310 drop in 25 man.

lissanna said...

wanderer - In my blog posts, I've been predicting a swift death of 25's to the point where Blizzard will eventually stop supporting them (likely 5.0).

Why is Blizzard delaying the death of 25's? Mostly as an experiment to see if equal loot and two raid sizes (with heroic/regular modes) can actually work in a game.

Graylo said...

@Wander

That is not what I'm saying. I'm saying people prefer raiding over not raiding and that preference is stronger the the preference of 25man vs 10man, and that all otherthings being equal the players will gradually shift the more accessable format.

To be clear 25man raiding won't go a way completely unless Blizzard removes it, but the community will dwindal much like the BG community did after Arena became the main form of PvP.

The other question I have is where does this stop? Why shouldn't we be able to kill Arthas on 5man? I bet if we had access to the stats we would see a lot more people participating in 5mans then raid either format. Heck, why not get down to the 3man format like LotRO?

Ultimately Blizzard needs to deside what they want to do, do it, and deal with the concequences. If that is a permanent move to 10mans, then it sucks for me but I then choose to play this game or not. But I don't think this situation were Blizzard is trying to have its cake and eat it to will work.

Inxhaine said...

Hmmmm...I do not beleive Blizzard will kill of 25-man...they try to support the majority of their gamers and give them what they like....its part of their business-plan...I think!

But I believe that the decision to equal 10-man and 25-man gear is a brilliant decision...so you can get the best gear no matter what raid size you prefer.

I think we will se raid size being choosen more by how your guild is organized than anything else.

If your guild is small....you choose 10-man.

If your guild is large, but has small groups of people ussually playing together, you will properly gravitate towards 10-man raids.

If your guild is large and everyone is knows each other well....then you will probably choose 25-man raiding to have a good time with as many of your friends as possible.

One more thing that I believe wil influence what raid size a guild chooses, is how many people wishes to lead a raid. If you have many people who wish to try and lead a raid, then there are likely more 10-man raids, and if your guild have few raid leaders, then you will probably gravitate towards 25-man raids.

I believe there are far more variables in choosing the right raid size than merely how easy they are to organize.

Anonymous said...

The solution is to go back to 40 man raids. ~nods, completely seriously~

Brad said...

I have a possible solution to the 25 vs 10 gear problem. 25s and 10s could drop the same name gear (much like Icc and H Icc), but the gear would have different stats in 25 and 10 man. The 25 man gear would become identical to the 10 man gear in 10 mans, but the 10 man gear would not scale up to the 25 man. There would then be the incentive to run 25s for "better gear", but 10 man guilds would not feel forced to run 25 man content. There would be some funny hit cap scaling issues, but there could also be a higher hit cap required for 25 man bosses. This would keep the "better gear" in 25 mans, but it would also keep the 10 mans from being plowed through with 25 gear. Possible advantages to having 25 man gear would be bgs arena, world pvp, and heroics although if there were severe blancing issues and complaints related to this then I could see blizz equalizing the gear in ranked pvp.