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Interview with Patrick Magruder and Ray Cobo on Tides of Vengeance & More

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Oxygen sat down with Lead Gameplay Engineer Patrick Magruder and Lead Producer Ray Cobo to ask them some burning questions in regards to Battle for Azeroth and the team's plans for Tides of Vengeance.

If you want to see more of our BlizzCon 2018 coverage, check out our BlizzCon News Hub.

Blizzard LogoPatrick Magruder & Ray Cobo

- Given that you are open to introducing Heroic Warfronts, will there potentially be Mythic ones added in the future (or even PvP), or will they stay strictly as a PvE event?

Magruder: I don't want to ever say never to anything, it is definitely something to consider.

Cobo: We want features that engage all types of players. It is relatively early to say something about this issue on Warfronts. The format we have for them is working for now. The Darkshore Warfront, which is coming in Tides of Vengeance, is very different compared to Stromgarde and has a unique thematic.

- With the community expressing worry towards the lack of communication from Blizzard, is there any chance of returning to the old “Dev Watercooler” series from Ghostcrawler, which gave detailed information on the thought processes behind changes and what it was supposed to mean for the classes for every patch?

We have a lot of plans .

- How important is sharding for maintaining server stability? Players have continually quoted it as a reason for issues with immersion and enjoyment of the game.

Magruder: There are a lot of types of sharding. Some say it's phasing, CRZ, etc. Sharding is different technologies and it is essential. For example, is important because it allows people to not have queues.  There's still a sense of community with CRZ because we try to put you with the people from the same server(s)/battlegroups.

- Will players with War Mode on or off be able to see each other outside of instances? This can and does cause issues with trying to summon raid and party members.

Magruder: No because you are in a different world. We understand it can be weird, but there can be exploits, for example, healing a party member that's PvPing someone without actually being there with him/her.

- With tools such as Raider.io being so hugely important in the decision-making process for forming groups, will Blizzard eventually introduce their own tools for tracking stats, such as Mythic+ dungeons completed? This would potentially allow for much more information to be tracked, rather than just the Top X number of clears.

Magruder: We provide a lot of data in the game and external sites use it in varying ways. We try not to share data directly with third-party sites.

- The Mythic+ vendor in Tides of Vengeance is a step in a better direction but does the team feel that the presence of titanforging can ruin the sense of character progression that is vital to an RPG? In previous expansions, you would have a goal and grind towards it, with your “best” item in sight. This is no longer the case, with the potential for Titanforging, sockets, and tertiary stats.

Magruder: Personally I think it's a positive thing, although I understand where these concerns are coming from. A good titanforge can be the source of excitement for a player: it's still an upgrade and something cool. I like that if you see a high item level upgrade, you can just instantly equip it without having to sim it and go through the process of determining if it's good or not.

We also don't allow titanforging for Azerite gear. In Tides of Vengeance, we are getting rid of bad traits and buffing traits for Azerite Gear piece, there's also a fifth ring. A higher item level Azerite piece should be better than anything else, no matter the traits.

- Are there any plans to improve upon the current state of professions in Battle for Azeroth? With how expensive it is to craft “necessary” items for raiding, it currently is unsustainable for a typical guild to manage their expenses without being forced into either pooling gold, farming huge amounts of materials or selling boost runs.

Magruder: I hear you; I've had to turn off guild repairs and ban people without flasks. In Tides of Vengeance and beyond, we are paying attention to that. There are significant improvements, with awesome signature key items for each profession.

Cobo: We are calling them Tools of the Trade, every profession has its own max level thing. For example, there's a Blacksmith hammer that instantly repairs gear and can potentially craft indestructible items.

- Will Expulsom eventually be tradeable?

Magruder: This is more of a designer decision. that needs to be made based on the economy. As far as I know, there are no plans for this.

- With the graphics and system of WoW becoming more demanding as each expansion passes, are Blizzard working on new methods to optimise the load GPUs and CPUs have to keep up with? Even with top-tier equipment, people are experiencing issues in some areas of the game, despite not being in a 40-man raid (where you would expect it).

Magruder: In Tides of Vengeance, we are doing some significant strides forward when it comes to the game engine. We are multi-threading the engine based on the varying GPUs and CPUs that players have, we see the statistics. There are also advancements with DirectX 12. In short, we are doing a lot of stuff on that regard and it's extremely important to us. The more people who have good FPS, the more to enjoy. And it's good that historically WoW never required the latest hardware stuff. Increased view distance is a great example of that. Lastly, in Tides of Vengeance there will be artistic upgrades on battlegrounds.

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8 minutes ago, Zadina said:

I like that if you see a high item level upgrade, you can just instantly equip it without having to sim it and go through the process of determining if it's good or not.

The only reason you can do that is because you did the simming beforehand and punched the numbers into Pawn. And even then, people who care about this kinda stuff are gonna do another run of sims anyway. What a garbage argument...

8 minutes ago, Zadina said:

A higher item level Azerite piece should be better than anything else, no matter the traits.

Then what's the point of traits if they don't matter? This is the whole reason why I think azerite gear as a concept is a failure. You either make the traits matter like Legion leggos and thus mandatory to have certain ones, or you make them boring and insignificant. Right now you are trying to combine the worst parts of both of those directions.

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Thanks, about a million miles better questions, than what was asked on the Q&A panel, even though the guy dodged some of them.
 

2 hours ago, jinsu2301 said:

Then what's the point of traits if they don't matter? This is the whole reason why I think azerite gear as a concept is a failure. You either make the traits matter like Legion leggos and thus mandatory to have certain ones, or you make them boring and insignificant. Right now you are trying to combine the worst parts of both of those directions.

Just because they don't matter from an item level/performance standpoint, doesn't means, they shouldn't have a bunch of different effects on the gameplay or rotation. I think ideally, you should be able to pick like Eye Beam traits as a DH, and do the same damage as someone, who picks a Fel Rush trait. It should change the way you play (Eye Beam traited DH should be less mobile) and on some bosses, you may even fare differently, but in general those choices should be balanced out to be equal on the long run.

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I like that if you see a high item level upgrade, you can just instantly equip it without having to sim it and go through the process of determining if it's good or not.

Oh, really? Dear blizzard, please tell me how it work with the rings, it's you who deleted main stats from them.
I really don't get why they are thinking that simplification of itemization is a good thing - it's just boring. When i saw appearance of passives on items in Legion i hoped to see even more of them in BfA... Except they forgot about it.

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52 minutes ago, MrOger said:

Oh, really? Dear blizzard, please tell me how it work with the rings, it's you who deleted main stats from them.
I really don't get why they are thinking that simplification of itemization is a good thing - it's just boring. When i saw appearance of passives on items in Legion i hoped to see even more of them in BfA... Except they forgot about it.

The Problem is that they are keeping the really exciting stuff for future dungeons. Right now, there is just the Waycrest set. But they already announced interesting and unique stuff on items in Mechagon. Maybe several items like the drape of shame from Karazhan.

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16 hours ago, MrOger said:

Oh, really? Dear blizzard, please tell me how it work with the rings, it's you who deleted main stats from them.
I really don't get why they are thinking that simplification of itemization is a good thing - it's just boring. When i saw appearance of passives on items in Legion i hoped to see even more of them in BfA... Except they forgot about it.

I had actually added a question about rings, but unfortunately it was the last on our list and there was no time to ask it! I agree, it's an issue - they should really consider adding back main stats to them.

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