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Blue Posts Round-up: Feb 12

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The latest round-up talks about the current situation in PvP, Heirlooms in 7.2, the Balance of Power quest line and improved developer communication.

The Current Situation in PvP

A Live PvP Q/A is coming in March. The devs are happy with Mage/Rogue comps in Arenas, but they will be buffing other classes too, so there is more strong comps.

Blizzard LogoLore (Source)

Regarding overall class balance: in Arenas, we're overall pretty happy with it at the moment. We've been hearing a lot about the prevalence of Rogue/Mage comps lately, and may end up making some changes, but we're more likely to focus on buffing some underperformers than specifically nerfing anyone right now. To put it another way: Rogue/Mage is (and should continue to be) a strong comp, we just want to make sure there's a good number of other strong comps as well.

We made some changes not long ago to Random BG matchmaking to help with healer balance, and have been very happy with the initial results. There's still some edge cases we're looking to iron out (specifically, we're sometimes seeing games where one team has 2 healers and the other has none), and so we're still working on some additional improvements. So far, though, there's been a very noticeable difference overall.

Lastly I'll mention that we're planning another PvP-focused Live Dev Q&A, probably sometime around early to mid March. We'll get a proper announcement out once we've finalized all the details.

No Heirlooms in Patch 7.2

There are currently no plans to make leveling faster via heirlooms come Patch 7.2.

Blizzard LogoLore (Source)

Will 7.2 add the ability to upgrade heirlooms to 110?

No.

Balance of Power Drop Rate

The drop rate of Corrupted EssenceCorrupted Essence will be increased in the future.

Blizzard LogoAerythlea (Source)

Personally i would like it if they would upgrade the drop chance on the friggin essences from EN
Switched character in november (was a feral druid and the RSI just wasnt worth the output) But now ive had 2 essences drop per full EN heroic clear. Just make it 100% from EN heroic that way even alts can speed it up a tiny bit
.

Good news, we're looking into increasing the drop rate of Corrupted EssenceCorrupted Essences in the future, to avoid having players stalling out for too long on this step. I don't have an ETA right now, but it's definitely something on our radar.

Improved Dev Communication

PTR communication has been terrible during Patch 7.1.5 and with 7.2, Blizzard has made a few steps toward making it better. Lore talks about what has been achieved so far and what still needs to be done. Stealth changes were also discusseds as being something unintentional. 

Blizzard LogoLore (Source)

We've been working extremely hard to improve communication. I'm sorry that you're not seeing all of it, so here's a short off-the-top-of-my-head rundown of what we've done in just the past month:

1) Increased Blizzard presence on the PTR forums at least 10-fold compared to 7.1.5
2) Added the Class Development forum to discuss changes that aren't necessarily tied to the PTR
3) More than tripled the frequency of responses via @WarcraftDevs compared to the 7.1.5 timeframe
4) Re-introduced the PTR Patch Notes
5) Started posting PTR Development Notes to give insight into what each build is bringing
6) Made significant changes to Community team structure, and formed a team dedicated entirely to developer communications (on the PTR and Class Development forums, that's Kaivax and me)
7) Revamped several of our internal feedback delivery processes to make sure that when you post something, the developers see it
8) Significantly increased the rate of communication between our Community and development teams, so that CM's can be much more informed on the changes to the game (and take on more of the burden of communication ourselves)

On the list to still do in the next month or so:
1) Significantly increase CM presence on the forums, now that we're more able to answer questions ourselves
2) Begin posting more direct requests for feedback, as 7.2 development has begun to reach a state where we're testing more than just stability (I'll be posting a thread asking for 7.2 Artifact Trait feedback later today)
3) Dramatically increase the rate of live developer Q&As as we get closer to 7.2 release (similar to what we did leading up to Legion launch)
4) Explore new methods for communication, especially for complicated topics like Class Balance or often-overlooked topics like RP, both of which don't fit well into a standard live Q&A
5) Improve our internal knowledge tracking resources so that everyone posting in blue text is on the same page (this sounds a hell of a lot easier than it actually is at a company the size of Blizzard)

Again, I'm really sorry and disappointed that the work we're doing isn't always coming across to you. I'm confident that things will continue to improve, especially as we grow more accustomed to our new processes. A huge part of this is also identifying pain points - you're absolutely right that there are several specs that deserve answers, and we haven't been doing enough to say "yes, that's an issue, we'll talk about it" or "no, we disagree, for these reasons."

I just wanted you to be aware that this is absolutely a priority for us, for the WoW development team, and for Blizzard as a whole. We've been working our butts off to make it happen. I'm sorry it hasn't happened as quickly as all of us may have liked, or possibly in the way that everyone was expecting, but I do think we've improved fairly dramatically since 7.1.5, and we will continue to do so.

After over a year of feedback from people talking about how much people dislike Vulnerable, we should never see a tweet like this one from Muffinus:

To clarify this - Muffinus is a great guy who does a lot of really important work on WoW, but is not on the class design team. What you saw in that tweet was him just trying to find out what the issue was so that he, as a swell dude who wants to help, could ask the class devs about it. It was very much not "the guy who makes Hunters didn't know what Hunters were upset about."

Also a quick suggestion to add to new patch notes: Stealth Changes. NEVER DO THIS. EVER. We will find them and call you guys (the devs) out on them. Please do document ALL changes, even if it's a 0.01% change; at least put them in an "extened patch notes" that are readily available.

This is absolutely, categorically, unfailingly and without exception, NEVER intentional. Most commonly, it happens because something simply got missed (see my previous note about revamping internal communication processes). Other times, it happens because a simple bugfix has unforeseen consequences.

I just wanted to be clear that "lets nerf this spec and just not tell them" is not a strategy we employ. As you said, even if we wanted to, it wouldn't work anyway.

Topic of the thread got derailed a bit and Kaivax came to answer some healer-related questions.

Blizzard LogoKaivax (Source)

Can Healers please receive dev attention? Everything we see, everything we read, all feedback, all dev posts, it is always about DPS. Why do the devs ignore Healer feedback and focus only on DPS?

You totally read my mind. I've lately been asking this same question.

The answer seems to be kind of simple: with activities like healing or maintaining aggro or crowd control, a spec either has the capacity to do enough, or it doesn't. There's a sort of binary "working or not working" aspect to it. Yes, healing is much more complicated than activating a taunt every time it's up, but in general, you don't see many healers pointing at healing meters and feeling bad. They have the capacity to do enough healing. Also, there's constantly a cap on how much effective healing you can do.

But there are some concerns, and we're keeping an eye out for them here and elsewhere. I've observed discussion among our class designers about all six healing specs at some point over the last month, and of course, it was abundant during development of patch 7.1.5 (November and December).

Here are some threads in this forum that we've been following:

https://us.battle.net/forums/en/wow/topic/20753355673

https://us.battle.net/forums/en/wow/topic/20752552599

https://us.battle.net/forums/en/wow/topic/20753336110

https://us.battle.net/forums/en/wow/topic/20753246437

https://us.battle.net/forums/en/wow/topic/20753215956

Chiming in, this is the kinda stuff I want to see more of. Curious choice of threads though.

I have huge lists of threads I keep an eye on for various reasons in notekeeping docs that I refer to when corresponding with different groups of designers. Those were just the most-recent five links in a long list.

Incidentally, that includes threads from our EU forums.

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      Updated with the latest news and the PvP section.
      April 24
      The hub has been updated with new links to our latest news and previews and Battle for Azeroth Beta is now live!
      April 5
      Blizzard revealed the release date of Battle for Azeroth. We also added the latest information to the hub, including Dark Iron Dwarf & Mag'har Orc playable classes, latest talent updates, Azerite traits, and more!
      March 26
      The hub got updated with a bunch of new articles including new customization options for Blood Elves, talent updates for Alpha Build 26287, new creature models and a post dealing with global cooldowns in Battle for Azeroth.
      March 22
      A new Alpha Build arrived on Battle for Azeroth Alpha realms. Blizzard added the Dark Iron Dwarf racial mount, two Dwarf Paladin Ram mounts and more!
      March 21
      We added our preview of Island Expeditions to the website.