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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Weekly Marmot - Firelands: Should We Be Worried?

Originally Posted By Tankspot

World of Warcraft Starter Edition

Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
With the launch of Rage of the Firelands (patch 4.2), we introduced the World of Warcraft Starter Edition, a replacement for the previously available free trial. The Starter Edition allows anyone to play for free up to level 20 without the time restrictions placed on trial accounts -- all you need is a Battle.net account and Internet connection. The Starter Edition also opens up some new features that weren't available in the old time-limited trial:

  • Players with the WoW Starter Edition can create draenei and blood elf characters, which were previously unavailable with trial accounts.
  • The two starting zones associated with these races are also available to people wishing to try out the game.
  • The gold limit has been raised to 10 gold, allowing Starter Edition players to purchase mounts when they reach the appropriate level.

When you reach level 20, your characters will stop gaining experience. However, you are free to continue playing and exploring Azeroth for as long as you wish -- or you can roll an entirely new character to try out a new race or class. You can also choose to upgrade to a full, paid account at any time and continue your adventures beyond level 20.

With the launch of the Starter Edition, all existing trial accounts, including expired ones, have been reactivated. That means if you've tried WoW in the past, your trial-account characters are now accessible once more.

As you may have already seen, our Recruit-a-Friend program has also been upgraded as a result of the changes introduced with the WoW Starter Edition.

Now's a better time than ever to try out World of Warcraft. If you’re thinking of getting into WoW or know a friend who's been interested in joining you in Azeroth, it's easy to give it a try today.

For more information on this exciting new feature and a full list of restrictions, please visit the Starter Edition FAQ.

Swifty Among Others Banned For Mass Emoting Causing Servers Crashes (He Has Recently been unbanned)



We recently monitored a situation where a large number of players intentionally disrupted access to multiple realms by gathering together and mass-spamming game emotes. In some cases, individual players spammed an emote upwards of 30,000 times.

As a result, some accounts found to be active participants in this activity were permanently banned. Upon further review, we have made the determination to reduce some of these permanent bans to temporary suspensions. We’re currently in the process of identifying all offenders who acted to purposefully disrupt game service and will administer proper action to each participating account.

We’re dedicated to providing a fun, stable, reliable gameplay environment for our players. While an exception was made in this case, accountholders who intentionally participate in events that contribute to realm instability will be subject to significant account actions, up to and including a permanent vacation from the game.

Please keep discussions related to this action within this thread. Related discussions outside of this thread will be locked, deleted, and/or fed to Murlocs.

Have fun and please remember to play responsibly.

Some Responses To Questions Below


Posted by Jadden
Bashiok, will you please comment on what Razers participation was in regards to getting certain members unbanned? They clearly said on their facebook page that they were working diligently with Blizzard to do that.

If by diligently they mean their community manager texted me after we had already begun the process to reverse the ban and contact those involved, then yes, they were a big help. ;)

Posted by Alein
Does Blizzard have any concerns that by appearance..they caved to stop people from crashing the Darkspear server...and have by proxy given a green light to this form of protest when people want something?

None at all. We took appropriate measures to review existing suspensions and address them appropriately, and as stated in the original message, anyone found to be involved with intentionally disrupting the service will be receiving the appropriate action taken against them.

I think there are situations where people are very loud about something, they happen to be right, and we address those situations appropriately. But one doesn't influence the other. We're more than willing to make unpopular decisions if they're the right ones to make.

             Normal players don't get Blizzard calling them to tell them what's up.
             Sorry Bashiok.
              Not buying a thing you say. Your process is for sale if a guild or player has enough pull.
              Disgusted.

We call players all the time. We have an entire customer care team dedicated to doing just those types of things.

And we overturn suspensions, not too commonly but it does happen. We have many official processes, email replies, support pages, etc. dedicated specifically to allow players to challenging them.

I just don't believe that any amount of time spent explaining these types of things will actually net any change in perception of the situation. If someone wants to believe that within shady parking garages briefcases full of money are being handed off, that's their belief, and in that belief I'm one of the people holding the briefcase. So I guess I just don't see how I'm going to win anyone over. It's an unwinnable situation.

And unwinnable should totally be a word.

This, right here, is the problem, and is what makes it so very hard for people to believe that Razer's sponsorship didn't have anything to do with the issue.

They admit an exception was made. Given that they're proposing to ban people for the same thing Swifty was banned for, I think the community as a whole deserves to know exactly why that exception was made. If it's celebrity, they need to rethink that exception.


A poor choice of words, to be sure.

No exception was made. If a suspension or ban is to be overturned or reduced it's because the original action taken was not appropriate. I can't specifically comment on actions taken against any specific players, as that's between us and them, but in non-specific terms we haven't made any exceptions to overturn punishments that were not based on an inability to back up the action with appropriate proof of cause.

i.e. we're not going to unban someone unless we messed up or just got the severity wrong.

It looks like there's some confusion regarding our original message -- in large part due to some poor word choice.

Just to clarify, the decision to change some of the bans to supsensions was actually a correction, not an exception. We reviewed the activity and felt that based on the evidence, the original decision to roll out the ban hammer was incorrect, and the appropriate action, for those bans that were undone, would have been to issue a suspension.

The key words are "based on the evidence," not "based on the activity." The activity of intentionally trying to crash a realm is exceptionally ban-worthy, and we won't hesitate to permanently ban accounts that are involved in that kind of malicious behavior. However, we tend to base the degree of disciplinary action on the evidence we have indicating to what degree the account in question is involved. That was not done for some of the accounts that initially received a full ban, so we corrected the initial mistake and reduced the ban for those accounts to a suspension.

For those concerned with this particular issue, I hope this clarifies things somewhat. I've edited the original post to hopefully avoid similar confusion moving forward.

Ask The Dev's: Healers Awnsers

Welcome to the answers thread for our World of Warcraft "Ask the Devs" global Q&A. These answers are in response to the round #11 questions on Healing, which can be seen here: http://eu.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/2226267974
Q: I spend a lot of my time in raids keeping Water Shield up, which I rely on to maintain enough mana.  There have been times I've neglected to heal someone because I had to refresh Water Shield. Why are shaman healers less effective compared to other healing classes?  – Epistemology (NA), Ерз (EU-RU)

A: We’d like to be more consistent about what does and doesn’t trigger Water Shield.  Having the shield trigger when taking direct damage, and consume an orb, is consistent with how all shaman shields work.  On some encounters though, constant pulsing damage probably burns through those charges too quickly and doesn’t need to do so – that said, if you’re having to refresh Water Shield often, that also generally means that you’re getting a large amount of extra mana from all those procs that are burning through it.  A situational glyph (like we have for Lightning Shield) could help with this issue, and that may be something we consider in the future.

Shaman raid tank healing is, if anything, underrated.  With a combination of Earth Shield, Riptide, and Greater Healing Wave fuelled by Tidal Waves, a shaman’s throughput can be quite impressive.  Yes, a Holy paladin using Beacon can more effectively heal two tanks who are simultaneously taking damage, but on the other hand, a shaman can deal better with multi-target damage or healing clumps of players.  Healers have different strengths and weaknesses, which is fine as long as it doesn’t get too extreme, but we recognize that the core functionality of being able to heal a single tank who is taking heavy damage from a boss is something all healers need to be able to do, and we’re satisfied with the current balance in that regard.  We will, of course, make adjustments if inequalities begin to appear.

The Mana Tide change in 4.2 was primarily aimed at reducing the mana available to non-shaman healers in raids.  In short, shaman are balanced around always having their own Mana Tide, but other healers are instead balanced around their personal cooldowns (Shadowfiend, Innervate, etc.).  Adding Tide on top of those often led to other healers having access to so much mana that managing the resource became a non-issue in many situations.  The change from Improved Water Shield to Resurgence was designed to offset the Mana Tide reduction’s personal impact to the shaman.

Q: Is it intended for “smart” heals and target capped aoe spells to heal companions/pets like bloodworms instead of players? Can you redesign Shaman’s Chain Heal, so that it can jump over full HP players to a target without full HP? Do you have any plans to make chain heal stronger/more appealing for 5man/10man content?  – Epicfail (NA), 珍妮佛羅培根  (TW), Pikapika (NA)

A: True AoE heals (e.g. Healing Rain) will heal pets and guardians, but will not count those units towards the AoE cap.  We’d prefer for “smart” heals to prioritize players over non-players whenever possible, and we’ll continue to improve the logic on such heals until that is the case – it certainly doesn’t feel particularly satisfying to see that you’ve just delivered a critical heal to a Bloodworm.

Chain Heal is inherently a situational spell – that situation tends to arise more often the more players are present, but we don’t have any plans to redesign the spell to make it the go-to heal when there are fewer players present, or they are all spread far apart.  We’d rather augment other tools, or add new ones, if it appears that Shaman healing is inadequate for particular situations.

Q: At the start of Cataclysm, the the idea was given that developers wanted to step away from niche healing and let all healers be capable tank or raid healers. Has this goal since changed? Is there any plan to change the dogma “Holy Paladin = Tank healer”? As I remember, devs said that they wanted to change this formula in a past interview but Holy Paladins are still considered as a tank healer, indispensable for raid. Even thought other healers can heal tankers, there are people who say that this job is hard for other healers.  – Frazlo (NA), 트롤학개론 (KR)

A: The goal hasn’t changed. We added three new heals for paladins and changed their resource model to make them a better group healer. You can argue that we didn’t go far enough and we should have given paladins even more new heals, but we didn’t want the Holy spec to be unrecognizable for a long-time player.

We suspect several paladins would turn your question around and argue that it’s not that they are indispensible tank healers, but that they can’t compete against other healers for group healing. Ultimately, we think the problem is Holy Radiance. Light of Dawn is a finisher so it’s never going to be continuously available for periods of intense group healing without unshackling it from Holy Power. Holy Radiance could be changed however. Our original concept of Holy Radiance being a tool the paladin used to heal those around her never quite panned out – we had to keep bumping the range to make it a useful heal, which removed much of the positional gameplay.

Currently it is potent, but fairly “fire and forget.” A paladin is never choosing not to use Holy Radiance, unless perhaps mana is very tight. A better model for Holy Radiance, and something we are considering for the next content patch, is as a cast-time spell with no cooldown that generates Holy Power (for Holy paladins at least). This would give Holy paladins an actual area-healing rotation – Holy Radiance and Light of Dawn – that they could use instead of the single-target heals. Currently Holy Radiance can just be layered on top of the other heals, so the paladin isn’t shifting into group-healing mode the way a shaman can focus on Chain Heal or a priest can focus on Prayer of Healing.

Q: Are you still considering creating a new heroic class of healer? Are there any plans for adding any new class with a healing talent tree in future expansions?  – Molatuna (EU-FR), Elvenadoren (EU-EN)

A: Obviously, we can’t talk about future expansions yet. What we can share is that whenever we have discussed adding a new class that can heal, the biggest question we debate is whether the healing model should be similar to the existing classes or something radically different. Something different has the potential to attract players currently burned out on healing or maybe even new healers. On the other hand, it would be much harder to balance. We know the three-heal, mana-and-Spirit based system largely works.

Q: What are the developers' thoughts on perhaps giving Discipline priests three strengths/types of shields/absorbs, in a similar manner as all other healers have three main heals? Discipline priests (especially those purely going for absorb) always were unique through this absorb, I mean: Shields. Why does this become shorter and shorter, always saying we should go for direct healing instead? In that case you could play another healing class that has better direct heals.  – Kahlan (NA), Zerreshju (EU-DE)

A: Balancing the Discipline Priest is often challenging because they can provide so much more damage prevention than the other healers. If Discipline priests had all absorb spells instead of heals, it might make them mandatory for all raids but weak when healing a 5-player dungeon. That said, replacing one of the three mainstay heals with an absorb for Disc is certainly something we’ve talked about before. It’s too big a change for the current expansion but something we’d like to explore in the future. Power Word: Shield is instant so it’s hard to build a whole rotation around that spell. If Discipline had an efficient cast-time absorb and then used Power Word: Shield more for instant healing, their toolkit would feel more fleshed out. However, players who cling to the attitude of “I’m a Disc priest; I should only shield,” aren’t really understanding our design for the class. Ditto with druids who only want to cast hots, or paladins who only want to drop heal bombs on the main tank. “I’m good at something” isn’t the same as “I only do that thing.”

Q: When healing, it is hard to see the overall screen because healers must keep an eye on the Raid frame. And due to PVP balance issues, dispels are only allowed for healer’s. This situation makes it too harsh for the healers and gives to much responsibility and also a burden because healers have to heal and move at the same time during raids. Isn’t this a little too harsh?  – 스페이드 (KR), 신기하군 (KR)

A: Well, raiding isn’t only hard for healers. In fact, most of the time the damage seems unhealable, it’s probably because it is intended to be unhealable and there is some aspect of the fight that you’re missing or not executing as well as you could. While raiding healers have a lot of responsibility. It is our sense that most of them want that responsibility – that it is what attracts them to healing.

While we agree that we’ve had fights with too much “urgent dispelling” as you put it, we’ve tried to be better about that in more recent content. The dispels on Valiona and Theralion or Ascendant Council need to be done at the right moment, which is emphatically not as soon as the debuff appears. You need a smart dispeller for those mechanics, not a quick dispeller. We also had fairly “urgent interrupts” in Blackwing Descent and Bastion of Twilight, which are often the responsibility of melee, we continue to have situations where tanks need to respond immediately to something (say a tank swap or incoming adds), and we have mechanics where anyone who isn’t aware of their surroundings can wipe their whole group.

We definitely use incoming damage as a tuning mechanism, but we also use berserk timers to set a high bar for the DPS specs. There is a risk that if berserk timers are too tightly tuned that raids may attempt to replace healers with more DPS, which isn’t doing the healers any favors either. Note that limiting dispels to healers isn’t just a PvP balance issue. We wanted to know for sure that every 5-player group would be able to dispel magic. The alternatives were that there could never be important debuffs to dispel or some healers just wouldn’t be viable for some content.

Q: Healers are usually responsible for the loss of the teammate, but not all the mistakes are made by healers, such as over taunt or damage zone avoidance. This also happens in the 5 man dungeons frequently. Is there any chance to add a design to punish damage classes with inappropriate behavior?  Is there ever going to be a clear indicator that the indivdual died from "unhealable damage" in combat logs/on screen warning?  –  明亮 (TW), Galadruin (EU-EN)

A: We see the mindset slowly changing from the notion that anytime someone dies, it’s the healer’s fault. We agree that there could be more situations where we make it obvious that the healer couldn’t realistically save the DPS from their mistake. On the other hand, saving other characters is part of the fun of playing a healer, so we don’t want to totally remove that gameplay. We also provide many specs with sprints, self-heals and emergency buttons of their owns, so the answer shouldn’t always be unhealable damage. We also are making more and more use of mechanics where “standing in the fire” doesn’t cause damage, but causes a debuff which lowers DPS, hitting those players where it hurts the most. Finally, we are exploring more on-screen warnings for dangerous debuffs in the same way we alert you when certain class procs have gone off. We just have to be careful not to turn the default UI into an unrecognizable sound and light show.

Q: How do you plan on addressing our inflating spirit and mana pools later in the expansion to keep mana a resource, rather than a solid blue bar?   Do you plan to preserve a principle of rational use of mana, which makes it interesting to play a healer? In the beginning of Cataclysm we had to use almost every spell to succeed, while now everything is about pushing a couple of your best healing spells. With the release of a new patch the level of equipment will raise significantly, and we won’t have to think about mana regeneration any more. Do you plan to somehow adjust encounters or healing mechanics perhaps?  – Nehalim (NA), Ксенас (EU-RU)

A: Our plan was always that healers could gradually grow out of being very mana-limited, but we didn’t want that to happen in the very first tier of content. If it happens in the final tier of content, that’s fine. It will help healers feel like they have actually become more powerful from accumulating so much gear. Consider that tank health, mitigation and avoidance increase with each tier, as does the size of heals and the rate at which you cast them, and those are probably sufficient to offset the increased damage being done by bosses and trash.

In heroic raids, even today, healers often rely on their inefficient heals a great deal, so there isn’t a ton of room to expand into becoming even more inefficient (and therefore requiring more mana regeneration). As such, you should consider Spirit somewhere in between the stat continuum of hit and something like haste or crit. For the former, there are hard caps. For the latter, there are inflexion points where the value of a stat grows faster or slower, but in general more is always helpful. For Spirit you need enough to feel good about your healing longevity and anything beyond that is probably of diminishing value. We think this actually makes itemization as a healer more interesting for the player than just grabbing more and more of a particular uber stat.

With the raid content we have released for Cataclysm so far, we feel like we can put pressure on healers to keep tanks alive without repeating the gameplay we had in Wrath of the Lich King, where the smart way to play was to keep heals constantly going because of the risk of the tank dying in two back to back hits. Even with increasing regeneration, we don’t think we’ll get back to a two-shot the tank situation for Cataclysm. If your tanks are dying faster than you can heal them currently, again, you’re probably missing something about the encounter or aren’t quite ready for it yet.

We had originally planned on having bosses in later tiers scale so that players would need more crit, hit, expertise, dodge and parry for later tiers. We ultimately decided not to do this, at least for the current expansion. That decision was driven partially because we couldn’t figure out an elegant way for stats like haste to scale with boss power and partially because we weren’t convinced our planned UI would communicate the concept clearly enough to players. For example, would just bosses be affected? Just raid bosses? If not, would you want separate sets of gear for dungeons vs. raids? Those are solvable problems, but we weren’t convinced the path we were on would solve them as well as we would like.

Our current numbers wouldn’t work if we had a dozen raid tiers before increasing the level cap, but that’s not our plan.

Q: Are there any plans to give Holy Priests access to a viable 3-minute raid cooldown? There are concerns that without a cooldown along the lines of Power Word: Barrier, Spirit Link Totem, or Tranquility, we may need to play disc a lot in firelands. Maybe simply an improved Divine Hymn?  – Maladi (NA)

A: You can make the argument that the Holy priest doesn’t have a similar raid cooldown like Power Word: Barrier, or that Divine Hymn isn’t as powerful as Tranquility. However, we feel the Holy priest toolkit overall is strong, that they provide meaningful contributions to raid healing, and are well represented in actual raid groups. It’s possible we may make Divine Hymn more of a Holy (rather than Discipline) priest thing in the future, and bump it up to around where Tranquility is, if the need presents itself. Overall, Holy priests are fine. They have enough benefits that few guilds seem to be sitting them for want of yet another raid cooldown, and Guardian Spirit remains an exceptional tank cooldown.

Q: Looking at the healer changes with patch 4.2, there are changes being made to paladins and druids, but there doesn't appear to be any for either the priest or shaman. Do you feel comfortable with where these two classes are? Where do you feel the other healers are at currently?  – Sergan (LA)

A: As we write this, heroic attempts on the Firelands raid have just begun and the new PvP season has started. At this time, we are happy with all five of the healing specs. We don’t think there is a weak or mandatory healer. We try not to change things just for the sake of change. We know that constant changes can be exhausting for players, so we try to resist the urge to tinker with mechanics, specs or classes that are basically working fine. We suspect that sometimes players fall into a mode where if they don’t see copious patch notes for their character that they feel like we don’t love them anymore. We love all of our classes. If you don’t see any changes in patch notes it either means that we don’t think changes are warranted yet, or that we have future plans to change things that we haven’t quite solidified or lack the ability to implement exactly how we want. This doesn’t mean every class is now perfect and requires no additional tweaks – far from it. Just try and distinguish between “my dude hasn’t changed lately” and “my dude is fundamentally broken and the developers don’t know or don’t care.” We can assure you the latter sentiment is never the case.

Q: What is the reasoning behind certain classes that lack a healing spec (such as a rogue) being able to self-heal better than a dps spec of a healing class (such as a balance druid)?  – Idej (NA)

A: A great recipe for class homogenization is to go down the list of every ability and make sure that every class has their own version of that ability. We don’t think powerful self-healing is mandatory for every character. Some classes are inherently better at it than others. As long as the overall package is competitive, it’s okay for specs or classes to have strengths and weaknesses. If the overall package isn’t competitive, we’ll certainly hear about it.

Our definition of hybrid class is a class that has a tank or healing spec. We don’t spend much effort to make sure that the DPS specs of hybrid classes are more “hybridy” than the DPS specs of mage, warlock, rogue or hunter. Sometimes hybrid DPS specs might be able to throw out a heal, but unless used very strategically, those contributions are often in the rounding error of the healing provided by the dedicated healers. And when DPS specs are healing themselves (Frost and Unholy DKs before 4.2) or others (Ret paladins before 4.1) too much, we take action there as well. So it’s not a priority for us that Balance druids are great healers. We recognized going into Cataclysm that rogues had a lot of down time while solo, that they didn’t have many options for spending combo points after a target died prematurely, and that too much rogue survivability was based around crowd controlling an opponent. Thus we thought there was a need for Recuperate. If Balance druids have similar challenges, then we’d look for solutions for them as well, but they would hopefully be unique or at least kit-appropriate solutions.

Q: With the changes being made to critical heals, do you feel that crit will become a more prominent stat for healers, up there with haste and mastery? Or is it a less important change aimed at balancing between the pve and pvp aspects of the game?  – Derëk (LA)

A: Even with the 4.2 changes, haste may very well be a more attractive stat for healers. We’re just trying to narrow the gap. It’s not important for all stats to be identical as long as they aren’t so far apart that you’re tempted to keep perfectly optimized gear from a previous tier instead of less perfectly optimized gear from a new tier. We want a healer to take gear with crit seriously (even if he would ultimately prefer haste) rather than passing or sharding it. We made the change mostly for itemization reasons and for any PvP vs. PvE concerns. PvP healers tend to have low crit chances anyway and we have other ways to balance healing in PvP should it become too powerful (predominantly the Mortal Strike and related debuffs).

Q: Do you feel that the three-heal model you implemented at the start of Cataclysm is a success? Have you changed your expectations or goals in regards to the three-heal model after watching a tier of raiding? How do you feel about how the various specs are using or avoiding these three core heals?  – Anohako (NA)

A: Overall, we still like the model and we intend to keep supporting it. One flaw with the system is that healers in 5-player dungeons often have to make harder choices about which of the three core heals to use at any given moment. In raids, especially in 25-player mode, healers can afford to specialize more. To be fair, raids often replace spell-choice complexity with encounter complexity, but overall it would be nice if players graduated from less complexity to more complexity as they went into more challenging content rather than the reverse.  As a theoretical example, imagine that priests didn’t have access to Greater Heal in 5-player dungeons, so the choice would be between the fast, expensive Flash Heal vs. the slower, efficient Heal (in addition to all their other tools of course). It’s hard to develop a system that would make such a restriction make sense, but you get the idea.

When comparing classes, the intent was always that the druid and Disc priest would use those three core heals the least. It is a design problem (though not a massive one) that those two specs can specialize so much in 25-player raids that they can forsake their three core heals to a great extent. In smaller groups, they still need to look at their full toolbox. We like the way the shaman works, particularly with Tidal Waves providing synergy among the three core heals.
 
The paladin model is close but as mentioned above, they have to rely on the three heals too much because they don’t have another heal like Riptide or Penance to add to the mix. Holy priests still suffer a bit of the reverse where there are so many heals that it’s hard to provide niches for them all. We’ve talked about a spec model where there are even more specialization spells (like the ones you get at level 10) so that we can have more spells for each healer without players having to spend talent points on them.

Trading Card Game Art Gallery Update

The Trading Card game art gallery has been updated with ten new pieces.



Tier 11 Valor Point Hotfix

Originally Posted by Daxxarri (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
Due to some recent player feedback we’ve made the decision to implement a hotfix that will put Valor Points back on the bosses in Blackwing Descent, Bastion of Twilight, and Throne of the Four Winds (except Argoloth).

We agreed that players should have some additional options for earning Valor Points beyond Firelands, Zandalari dungeons, and tier 11 Heroic difficulty raids. We don’t want raiding guilds to feel like they have to raid Firelands AND the old raids every week, but we do want players to feel like they have some options besides running ZA/ZG over and over.

Bosses in these raids will award 35 VP on 10-player normal difficulty, and 45 VP on 25-player normal difficulty, to match the rewards currently offered for the Heroic versions of those encounters.

This change should be live within the next few hours. You can stay informed about the latest hotfixes by checking the Patch 4.2 Hotfixes article for updates: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/3019413