This is a transcript of the last part of the World of Warcraft Dungeon & Raids Panel led by Cory Stockton and Scott Mercer. The panel ended with a 30 minute Q&A with fans.
Stockton: Currently we’re planning for it to scale down. Although we talked about possibly instead of doing that, we could also just scale all of the monster’s power up, instead of — because we’ve been worried maybe just scaling the gear down might make people feel less powerful, because it’s going down.
An alternative to that would be scaling the monsters up and having the gear level be higher. Still a little give and take on that.
Mercer: Currently, we’ve talked about that a little bit. What we’re concerned about is will there be enough people to fill that queue. If a lot of people wants to go to those old raids because of the Transmog gear now, trying to do achievements for their guildmates or friends, or whatever — we ain’t sure if the random Raid Finder would be fit for those kind of cases. It’s not off the table, but we’ll have to see what happens in 5.0.
Stockton: It’s a question of would we have enough people in the queue to make it work.
You were talking about how the dungeons would be visible in the outdoor world, but as far as I remember in Burning Crusade there were plenty of examples where they were. Why did you decide to actually forget about it in this expansion?
Stockton: Over time, we had dungeons that have existed in the outdoor before. You can imagine players who went to Scarlet Monastery. We’ve seen it in the world. It’s one of the things that we didn’t focus on all the time.
And there’s a secondary thing to it, that you’re not going to see until you’re actually playing, but the Stormstout Brewery, since it exists in the outdoor world, the quest developers have quested up all the areas around it, but they’re also using the dungeon itself for quests on the inside.
So there’s actually some quests where you can go inside the dungeon and have to fight some of the bosses in the dungeon, but you interact with them on a quest basis solo.
It’s really opened up a lot of new gameplay opportunities for the quest developers as well as the fact that it has a place in the world.
Mercer: There have been a few like that. Zul’Farrak was one like that, but when you actually see the scale of these inside the game, it’s really super impressive. They really make the zone come to life. These huge visual focal points.
Stockton: Historically, we’ve had to scale them to be smaller, so here they’re at a 1:1 scale. They have an awesome impact on the zone.
Stockton: That’s a great question. There’s not a lot of reasons why we don’t allow that other than the fact that we don’t want a large number of people able to beat certain quest mechanics, but now with the advent of Scenarios and the fact that our group quest might end up moving toward scenarios. It might not be as much of an issue.
Mercer: I think we might be able to pull that for patch 4.3.
Stockton: I’ll have to check. We’ve talked about that repeatedly. It’s been talked about.
I have a question about the Kick process. Usually some groups you try to kick somebody for being stupid and it says like “three hour wait” period. When most 5-player dungeons are ten and twenty minutes long or an hour long.
Stockton: We actually have an internal algorithm that works for our kicking, and it actually keeps track of the number of times you’ve kicked someone, how many times that person has been kicked, and it actually modifies that number dynamically based on the history of your kicking.
So we can kind of know — are you excessively kicking people for no reason, or you are the kind of person that comes across someone ocassionally and they’ll get kicked right away, but that’s essentially what you’re seeing is the algorithm working, trying to help the fact that someone doesn’t get kicked that doesn’t necessarily deserve it.
Essentially, we’re just trying to have a system feel as best as we can, because you want to allow people to kick, but we don’t want people kicked for no reason.
Mercer: We want people to be kicked for the right reason. Not for the LOLs.
At the Cataclysm, you talked about having the three raids as well, and 13 bosses and the tier, and talked about doing that for Mists of Pandaria as well, but in the later patches in Cataclysm — like patch 4.2, you’re down to seven or eight bosses respectively. Is that just the nature of patches or do you plan of having bigger tiers and patches in Mists of Pandaria as well?
Stockton: We haven’t actually figured it out. We haven’t finalized what the tier plan will be for all the launch raids. We don’t know if we’re going to have two tiers, and split those up; or if they’re going to be combined into one tier. A lot of that comes into how we’re going to actually get loot to the players.
A lot of what we’re talking about today is there’s so many other ways to get loot, so we have to make sure the loot we give in the game matches with all the other ways we’re allowing you to get items in the expansion. A lot of that we still haven’t figured out.
In Cataclysm there’s a very big steep jump in difficulty between level 85 normal dungeons and lvl 85 heroic dungeons — which was great, but the side effect of that was the level 85 normal dungeons there were the only two or three that you end up running over and over and over again and it was quickly tiresome.
How are you going to handle that for Pandaria? Will there be more level 90 normals — then do two or three normals, and then jump to the Heroics?
Stockton: Currently not planning to have level 90 normal dungeons at all in Mists of Pandaria.
We’re planning to have the level up dungeons, the level 90 heroic dungeons and then the Challenge Modes. This is the way you’ll see them flowing in your progression of content and because of Challenge Mode, the normal and our heroics would be a lower difficulty than what you saw in Cataclysm, because people looking for that extra level of difficulty could do the Challenge Mode.
Mercer: It’s as you noted, like there wasn’t really enough content to support a full tier with level 85 normal, and we’d rather spend time working on the heroics, making that tier super awesome, making the level ups really amazing and just we ended up — we couldn’t make that one super awesome, so we decided to cut it. In this weird middle ground, so hard to make them feel as heroic.
Mercer: The idea that you could choose multiple difficulties for the fights was very compelling, but in the end it was very difficult to come up with that kind of mechanic for every single boss.
It worked well with Freya, because she had other sub-bosses with her. It worked out great with the Iron Council because there were three of them — in which order you made it in. Mimiron was awesome.
If we could make another boss like the big red button is a total win in my book. We make things consistent with a toggle. Heroic toggle. It makes it more understandable to the player. A lot of weirdness that went on where it’s like oh we kind of screwed that up. Let’s stop this and stop this. It’s much clearer. That’s why I think we’re talking about the “Goal for Mists of Pandaria”, making things understandable for all players.
My question is about the Legendary items. Right now you guys currently randomly choose Legendary to a class that hasn’t gotten one for a while. Why can’t you make a universal Legendary item quest chain to give the item to the most dedicated raider that deserves it. One guild may give it to the healer, another to a tank, but they have different abilities?
Stockton: We could do something like that, but I think you lose the luster of the fact that anyone can get it at that point.
What we like about what we have now is you build up around that one Legendary. Rogues are about to get the next Legendary now. They’ve been waiting a long time to get their Legendary. We can design what’s really cool about it is that the quest line to get it has all the specific Rogue gameplay. You are sneaking around, you are pick pocketing, doing all using Rogue abilities all over the place, specifically for it.
So I think for us it feels like making sure that it’s for one specific type of gameplay, like a class, makes it really feel right.
So that’s what we did here. We could open it up, but I think it would lose some of the luster. Some of that exclusivity.
Mercer: You want unique and awesome, or generic and mushy? We go with unique and Awesome.
Stockton: It’s a good idea though.
I know the raid finder will help and give me something to do so if I have a main spec of a Tank, and my alt spec is healer — I can’t do the content as a healer.
The raid finder can we join that as a group with our guild and is the content going to be satisfying enough?
Stockton: You can definitely join as a group in raid finder. And I believe we have no lockout on raid finder.
Mercer: No lockout on raid finder, but only once a week per boss. You can totally like do your normal or heroic mode raid, and with the same character go into raid finder and get loose in there and have a fun time.
As far as satisfying for you, we’re trying to make all of the encounters super fun regardless of which difficulty you’re playing it at.
Stockston: Just a general concept of 10 / 25 and having the lockout unified is something we always talk about when we made that change originally. We’re still ways to go, but we always try to figure out what’s the best for the players at this time. That’s not completely out of the picture. Might go back. You never know.
For Cataclysm, there were like three raids that came straight from the expansion, and right after that we had Firelands. Then there were like 7 bosses compared to 12 we used to have before. So I was just wondering like have you thought about maybe like be some way to make it seem like this is not overwhelming in the initial part with three raid dungeons and seven bosses in there, that seems a little like too focused on one raid for a long period of time and one — it’s like two sides of the spectrum. Is there going to be like a middle in the next expansion or something? (Blizzplanet Note: what in the world was the question again? LoLs)
Stockton: Right now we’re talking about having, what, Six or five and two. Something like that. Something pretty similar, like 14 bosses on line, the same way, but we’re not sure how many of world raid bosses we want to do that will be in the exterior world. We’re going to have raid bosses like that as well. But definitely, we want that to not feel like it’s such a big jump all the time where maybe one time you get seven and then thirteen, and then you get five.
Essentially the number of bosses comes down to we need to have enough bosses to distribute loot correctly. There’s kind of a minimum number we have to have to spread the loot around. But other than that, I mean, it just comes down to the time of us being able to get a patch out with the number of bosses we think feels right for that zone.
Mercer: You never know. It might likely be in a future patch. We might do more classic dungeons and patches. They’re a lot of fun to do for us. We love doing those. Everyone loves Hogger. We’ll see.
Stockton: Cool fact is that originally Deadmines and Shadowfang Keep were supposed to be for patch 4.1, but the dev team thought it was so awesome we were like “No, we’ve got to have these done for launch, because these are just too cool”.
That’s the kind of thing that whenever we’ve got time, and we can get one in and it kinda fit, it’s something we want to do.
When you guys announced 4.3 you announced there was only going to be seven bosses, but I thought you were going to focus more on making the bosses feel more epic and put more work into them, and this is just my opinion, but I didn’t feel like the bosses were anything special, and so when it came down to it Fireland only felt like half a raid and with the patch 4.3 already on the PTR, it felt like you kinda nerfed all these bosses because we need to push this next patch out right away so guilds can get through it and push out the next patch. I didn’t really like that. I was just wondering is this something we can expect to see in the next expansion Mists of Pandaria?
Stockton: That was certainly not the reason why those bosses were nerfed at all. It doesn’t have anything to do with timeline. It had to do with we need as many people as possible to experience that content. So we were looking at the number of people that were getting killed by the raid bosses and it was extremely small. For all the work everyone in the dev team puts into something like that — that’s why we did the hotfixes right away instead of waiting because you want to get that content to as many people as possible and that’s why you saw that.
So really, the issue is us probably overtuning the bosses to begin with . That might come off a different way, but it’s not about us trying to rush and get to the next content, and making sure guilds are ready.
Mercer: The Deathwing stuff is extremely epic. You guys haven’t seen that yet in the PTR, but when you do — you will be blown away.
Mercer: We’ve discussed it. There are some differences between 10 and 25 like the difficulties on heroic. It depends for some raids. They were harder some of the initial Cataclysm raids, some of those heroics were really, really hard. And viceversa from Firelands 25 ends up being harder. It’s hard for us. It’s difficult to keep those perfectly balanced. So that’s something we’ve talked about and can’t make any promises, but we’ll see.
You were talking how challenge modes can be done for dungeons, but are they also going to be for raids, and will those be going to be unlocked immediately, or like you have to do ten to unlock the next tier, and 15 to do the next tier.
Stockton: There’s a chance we could do challenge modes for raids, but we want to start those for dungeons, and see how they work out, and if they’re popular, and a chance to tune them and feel right. Raids aren’t out of the picture.
As far as the unlocking, there’s one thing we didn’t mention but we’ve been talking about once you get say the Gold Medal, after that we’ve talked about then actually the item level of your gear could get nerfed by like 5%, and then you a chance to run it again — almost like a prestige mode — and if you beat that, then we can lower your gear by 10% and then 15%, so not only would there be the three levels trying to keep going, depending on your skill level, that’s another way we could possibly unlock so you could do more. We haven’t finalized that to be honest.
I feel like one of the strengths of being able to have two raids on a single tier usually comes with giving the raiders a choice aas to how they will progress through content like they can choose — oh, we want to focus on this strength of bosses to get to the end, this beginning of this week or focus on this string of bosses to get to the end this week.
Whereas a single raid can seem to burden you toward getting to the end at times.
Have you considered maybe having a single raid where if you have progressed through one of two sides of the dungeon like with heroics, you’ve defeated both of these two bosses later on you can just progress through one side to the end of the boss and maybe have a little more time to work on him without having to slug through as many bosses week after week.
Mercer: We’re talking about that, and it came up because something we haven’t talked about with looking for Raid is, Dragon Soul is eight bosses — but the way the raid works you don’t choose all of Dragon Soul because doing eight bosses in one night looking for raids that’s a very long time commitment. Big commitment.
It breaks it up into two halves. The first four bosses, and you beat those, the last of those four you get the big battle reward.
Same thing after you’ve beaten those choose the second half and then it breaks up. Again, try to keep the content to smaller chunks. So along with that, essentially if we’re going to end up building in the backdoors, you know, Karazhan. The backdoor half way up, that’s something as a group we’re starting to see more about the logistic of getting raids through. That’s something that might happen in the future.
Stockton: We don’t have any plans to release the raid at this point. What Abyssal Maw was is a raid we were doing for. Talking about doing Cataclysm, that was going to fit into Vash’jir, and ended up — it jut turned out that the storyline that we were telling within that raid and the bonds we were going to use didn’t fit with where we were going for the patch cycle.
It wasn’t that there was anything wrong with it, or that we’re just trying to not do it on purpose. It ended up not fitting. We ended up having better ideas for some other stuff we wanted to do, so we actually lost all that concept art. About as far as we had gotten with that concept was showing it at that Blizzcon. From a story perspective we’ve moved on from Cataclysm so I don’t think we’re going to go back to it. That’s what happened.
New dungeon challenges you’re going to be reducing people’s item level to a certain level. I wanted to know how you would handle the secondary stat like hitting expertise since those get lowered and people just take those to the cast and stop. The lower geared people are still going to be at their task where the higher group people will get that flag chopped off the top and will suffer the DPS loss from that.
Mercer: That’s a good point and that’s something we’ll certainly have to work out.
Stockton: A lot of other details like how do we handle trinkets.
Mercer: We have top men working on a solution for that. Have faith.
I was wondering how in old heroic Lich King you’d get Invincible, and the no head mount. 100% on hard mode. But in Firelands you made normal mode people get the Firehog mount and made people that got the firelord mount like a bummer that you could see like these noobs or whatever around on mounts that kind of work for it to get it. Like plan on continuing to do that or do you want to give these awesome mounts to people who don’t deserve it?
Stockton: Oh, goodness.
Mercer: Now on heroic you did get them every time you killed them and on normal I don’t think that was the case. So, you were rewarded more, as far as …
Stockton: and it’s a different color. That’s part of why the raid finder is going to be separating out so that the mounts like that will only come from normal and heroic and won’t come from Raid Finder.
Raid Finder is an intro to raiding for most people. What we were talking about earlier, all the prestige items will stay in normal and heroic modes.