Saturday, April 17, 2010

[Druid] Solar Beam?!

From the Blizzard Twitter Chat:

Q. What change are you most excited about?
A. Some of the new Balance talents for druids, like Solar Beam, which works like Freya’s spell where it instantly silences a target and they have to move out of the beam to get rid of the debuff.

Holy moly, druids are actually getting a silence! And it's ongoing too. I wonder if it'll have to channeled. They must think highly of it if they'd call it out as one of the changes they're most excited about.

Talk about throwing balance druids a bone!

Now I have this funny mental image though of a moonkin charging up a big ball of light between its antlers/horns before letting it fly. >_>

Other Twitter tidbits for us:

Q: How will haste affect channeled spells. Will it be similar to DoTs and HoTs?
A: They will channel faster but their duration will remain unchanged. You will get more ticks on the same cast.

Nutshell: More haste will do more for our Hurricane (and our Tranquility for the times we use it).

Q: Will relics and wands be getting any new attention in Cataclysm?
A: With relics, the plan is to make them class agnostic. In other words, there might be a +strength relic that a death knight or paladin might want to equip. We think that will let us add more of them to the game without them being so specialized. They will feel more like wands.

How to make wands and relics a bigger part of gameplay is something we’ve had many, many discussions on. Ultimately though we’d rather see warlocks, mages and priests casting their spells, not zapping someone with a wand. In Cataclysm we don’t expect to see much wanding, even at lower level.

The relic thing has always been uncomfortable. I didn't have one my entire vanilla career in WoW, because there were only a few in game I could possibly obtain; three of which were feral/resto drops I never got, the other (moonkin) which was a world drop BoE. Gold was a lot harder to come by in vanilla, so I wasn't about to spend what little gold I had buying a blue off the AH (and blues were worth something back then!).

My first idol ended up being [Idol of the Wild] from Hellfire Peninsula, and it was for a spec I didn't play.

Things were a little better in WotLK with a emblem purchasable idol available right off the bat, but I remember while I was raiding Naxx I would occasionally get asked why I was using [Idol of Steadfast Renewal] instead of [Idol of the Shooting Star], because the latter was clearly the superior of the two. And I had to answer quite frankly that the stupid idol had never dropped for my guild. I eventually got it, but not until the last week or two before Ulduar came out!

Again, things improved. Last tier's emblem started getting added to the Dalaran vendors, and then Blizzard took things a set further and just made them always purchasable. But they're still quirky things to balance around and they're really only usable by one spec.

I'm not sure making them into another stat stick is the answer, but it certainly would be easier for the designers to balance around, and prevent the creation of idols that everybody passes on. I had to explain to my 25-man guild why I didn't want to spend my EPGP on [Idol of the Crying Moon] because it was simply outperformed by the Starfire one from Naxx. Being the only moonkin in the raid, I didn't want to sound like I was passing on it so I could get it for free.

Q: When you say you're going to make relics class agnostic, does it include druids' idols as well?
A: Druid, shaman, paladin and death knight. It’s possible we will still keep some that are very specific to certain classes and specs. Overall though we’re not happy with the current design where an ability procs a buff on you. If it’s an ability you don’t use often, then the item is terrible, so they end up feeling really passive already. At the same time, the fact that we have to offer so many prevents us from ever giving you the choice of which one to use. So we make the Resto druid or Enhance shaman version every new tier. It would be a more interesting decision if there was a crit + Intellect relic and a haste + Intellect relic, and you can choose which one to use.

So it looks like goodbye ability procs, hello stats. They don't say they'll actually fold relics in with wands, but what's going to make them different? Aside from the fact we can't shoot them. And that it would be silly to have a death knight equipping a wand.

And that's pretty much it for druids. I didn't find the paladin-specific portion that interesting (what there was of it), so I'll leave that to the other bloggers out there. But we did get a few other general tidbits for everyone.

Q: Do you intend to have all 280% flying mounts scale to 310% when a 310% mount is earned, or will only purchased mounts do so?
A: Our current plan, is that in Cataclysm, you can learn a new rank of flying that lets all flying mounts move at 310% (even current 280% mounts). That will probably be as fast as mounts will ever get. We don’t like it that when you get a 310% mount that you stop using your old ones.

This is sweet. I'm sure some people will complain, because they earned their 310% speed mount through crazy raiding skills or crazy PvP skills, but I've missed the fact that I don't ride Malfas anymore because he's 280% speed and my Violet Proto-Drake is faster. Malfas has a story behind him. The Violet Proto-Drake is something that arrived in a mailbox.

Q: What will happen to our gems and enchants on gear that give us stats that are being removed in Cataclysm ?
A: We are going to change most gems and enchants that have obsolete stats like armor pen and defense..

This is probably going to result in some regemming for some folks, assuming the 4.0 patch drops before launch as usual. Last time healing gems turned into spellpower gems, which resulted in very little change for either my balance druid or my holy paladin, but this will be something all the plate tanks and physical melee dps will be concerned about.

Related to that, when the spirit to hit conversion in Cataclysm hits this means our Purified Dreadstones are going to end up looking more like Veiled Ametrines and moonkin will probably end up way over the hit cap.

Q: What kinds of UI updates are planned for Cataclysm. Eclipse and Soul Shards are two, but any others?
A: We have already moved professions from the skill tab to an awesome new page on the spell book. In fact, in the absence of weapon skills, we got rid of the skill tab entirely. We have a new talent tree UI that shows all of the talent trees without scrolling and provides the passive bonuses as well. We’re changing the glyph UI to support Paths of the Titans. We’re changing the PvP queue UI to support rated Battlegrounds. We’d like to improve the V-nameplate feature. We’d like to provide more information when you level up about what new spells or features are now available to you. We’re experimenting with better ways to organize buffs and debuffs and communicate procs and cooldowns too.

Sounds like quite an overhaul! I'm looking forward to it. I admit I'm not so great at designing my own UI. I pick up a mod here and there because someone suggests it and I think it looks useful, but it's all piecemeal and I don't build a whole "look" from scratch.

I'm glad Blizzard is hoping to clear things up for folks who aren't as big on designing their own UI, and they're just going to take a whack at it as a whole. They've made a lot of improvements lately (the tutorial is actually quite nice now, if you've made a new alt recently) and given the age of the game it's nice to know they're not resting on their laurels. Just because it works doesn't mean that it couldn't be better.

Q: What change are you most excited about?
A: We are changing the old zones probably more than most players realize. A place like Stonetalon is virtually unrecognizable. It has all new quests and item rewards and dramatic changes to the landscape. A zone like Western Plaguelands has actually been updated to reflect the fact that the Scourge are in retreat (which is not to say that the zone is without its dangers). Everywhere you’re going to see something new and surprising. I think a lot of players are excited about the level 80-85 experience (as they should be!) and the goblin and worgen zones (which if anything are better than the death knight starter zone, if you can believe that), but I think a lot of players are going to want to reroll new character of existing races and classes just to see how much everything has changed.

This quote almost makes me want to take one of my alts out to Stonetalon for one last romp, except then I remember some of the lowbie issues I had with that zone, like how far I had to run on foot to get anywhere. I guess it's better now that mounts are at level 20, but there's probably a good reason that we're not going to recognize it anymore. It needs the makeover--bad.

Western Plaguelands I have an alt perfectly positioned to do a final run through, and I plan to do it before Cataclysm lands. I might even do some Scholomance runs with her for old times' sake if I can get some saps (*cough* party members) from LFD to land in there with me.

I guess it's a good thing that the goblin and worgen zones are going to be interesting, but I admit I'm a little reluctant to believe they could be better than the DK starting zone. Maybe it just means they're more personal or there's more going on. The battle for Light's Hope Chapel was really a crowning moment for me. I did it on launch day so there really was a horde of death knights bearing down on the chapel and it made the climax of the starting zone epic. I don't think it's possible (or even reasonable) to make the end of a low level zone epic, because those characters haven't earned their mark on the world yet.

But maybe Blizzard will surprise me. There's still plenty of time before the expansion comes out.

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