Totemspot Interview

Mage
Post Limit:
Lots of questions, including some Mage questions (some from yours truly), and some good detailed answers from Ghostcrawler. Good news for those of you who hate the L90 talents, discussion of what happened with Water Jet, Frost's soft caps, and more:

http://www.totemspot.com/vb/content.php?r=143-5.2-Interview-with-Greg-Street
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Find answers to questions about Mage mechanics in
Lhivera’s Compendium • http://lhiveras-library.com/compendium
We know the forums are only one of your many feedback pathways. Do you find that the level-90 talents are more popular in general than they appear to be on the forums? How do you feel about them at this point?


The level-90 Mage talent tier is actually one of the better balanced tiers of talents in terms of usage, power and diversity. In that respect, they are “good” talents. Despite that, many players don’t think they feel good and that opinion still carries a lot of weight. One of our design tenants is to “make it a bonus,” and this is a classic example of failing at that. Sometimes lacking the bonus feels like a penalty. The level-90 talents are strong, and they fill their function, but you don’t feel better when they’re up–you feel lousy when they’re not. There’s some really fun potential gameplay with min/maxing them, but we acknowledge that it takes a pretty dedicated Mage to do so.
The biggest problem with these talents is that they’re trying to do too much. They’re very much tied to mana, but Frost and Fire don’t really care about mana. We’ve strongly considered changing them, but have decided to hold off for now. It would be a huge change to Mage gameplay, usage, power, etc. One might even need to be completely replaced (I’m not sure how you can take the mana-management gameplay out of a talent whose core premise is removing the cooldown on Evocation). Since they’re still solid talents, all get a lot of use, and are a distinct, meaningful choice as is, we’re going to leave them for now, but plan to change them in the future.


I other words, they're here to stay in some form, but might be tweaked a bit more. Blizzard thinks they're potentially fun but only if you're a dedicated mage. They think the problem is that they're tied to mana.

Not exactly good news IMO, but I'm pessimistic about the entire thing.
I don't read it that way for the long term. Short term, yes, but long term, I expect significant changes. Note that he said one of them would have to be completely replaced — that's not an indication that they're planning subtle tweaks.
03/01/2013 06:17 AMPosted by Lhivera
I don't read it that way for the long term. Short term, yes, but long term, I expect significant changes. Note that he said one of them would have to be completely replaced — that's not an indication that they're planning subtle tweaks.

See the reason he gave, though:
(I’m not sure how you can take the mana-management gameplay out of a talent whose core premise is removing the cooldown on Evocation)

Only one is slated to be replaced, and only to remove the mana management component. The damage component doesn't seem to be going anywhere.
03/01/2013 06:21 AMPosted by Mumrit
Only one is slated to be replaced, and only to remove the mana management component. The damage component doesn't seem to be going anywhere.


I think the barebones of Rune of Power could be reworked into something awesome, so I am not reading into that with such a pessimist slant.

I recall many of us making suggestions to how the bare mechanics of these spells could be used to make them better than upkeep buffs.

I am just really glad for actual acknowledgement of our concerns, finally.
You're ignoring his other points, which mirror the complaints many of you have made. People don't feel awesome when they're up, they feel bad when they're down, etc. I would expect to see a pretty major redesign of the tier for 6.0 (that's another hint — if they were just doing tweaks, they wouldn't wait). Likely see them turned more into cooldown-type abilities, something more people can more easily recognize as a buff.

It makes me a little sad, because I find the current design much more interesting than having Yet Another Damn Cooldown, but I'd lay money down that the tier will look pretty different in 6.0.
03/01/2013 06:29 AMPosted by Lhivera
You're ignoring his other points, which mirror the complaints many of you have made


Oh, I didn't miss them. I was overjoyed but what I was reading. It was almost like reading a a synopsis of several posts I have made on the topic in places.

03/01/2013 06:29 AMPosted by Lhivera
It makes me a little sad, because I find the current design much more interesting than having Yet Another Damn Cooldown, but I'd lay money down that the tier will look pretty different in 6.0


I was thinking about this last night after reading the post. I also don't want YADC, although tweaking them into that to tide us over for awhile wouldn't be intolerable. What I would like to see is some type of group utility tier. It is the thing we are sorely lacking as a class right now. So Rune could be edited into something like;

Rune of Power - Standing in Rune gives caster and one member of party also in Rune +X to Y stat as long as they remain within Rune. 20(ish) second cooldown (so you still add a movement penalty)

Hell you could even up the cooldown on it, to make it clear this is a BONUS and not an always up maintenance buff.
Oh, I meant Mumrit was missing that, not you.

Unique group utility is a tough sell. It runs counter to BTPNTC. They do it occasionally, but I think they'd look at something like that pretty skeptically.
I'm not ignoring it, I just don't think there was much emphasis put on it. They recognize that perception of the talents is an issue. That's different than saying what the talents do is an issue (Which they did say the mana management component is a problem for frost/fire)

Unique group utility is a tough sell. It runs counter to BTPNTC. They do it occasionally, but I think they'd look at something like that pretty skeptically.


Except every other class has such a thing (maybe not rogues, nothing comes to mind. All hybrid classes have it baked in with the ability to drop heals. Some have even more bonuses (fear wards for priests). Warriors got their banners of buffing. Hunters get to be the myriad of utility since they can bring about every ability/buff based on what pet they use.

GC said himself that people get too hung up on that BTPNTC.
The problem I have with the talents is that RoP and IW seem like they were put in for the sole reason of reducing mobility. They're like a punishment for reaching level 90, rather than a reward.

I'd be perfectly happy if they removed the talents completely and just buffed our baseline damage. Or gave us back flame orb or some other stupid reason to push a button once in a while. Those at least wouldn't affect playstyle to the degree IW and RoP do.
03/01/2013 06:56 AMPosted by Mumrit
I'm not ignoring it, I just don't think there was much emphasis put on it. They recognize that perception of the talents is an issue. That's different than saying what the talents do is an issue (Which they did say the mana management component is a problem for frost/fire)


Right, and he's correct on that, in my opinion — but since they can't go door to door and fix people's perceptions, they have to tackle it from the talent side.

Note that he specifically said that the changes they're considering would result in a huge change in gameplay and the usage of the talents.

But, hey, if you want to go the Eeyore route, I won't stop you :P
03/01/2013 07:27 AMPosted by Lhivera
But, hey, if you want to go the Eeyore route, I won't stop you :P

It's a conditioned response at this point, lol

Unique group utility is a tough sell. It runs counter to BTPNTC. They do it occasionally, but I think they'd look at something like that pretty skeptically.

Warriors got their banners of buffing. Hunters get to be the myriad of utility since they can bring about every ability/buff based on what pet they use.


OK, fair enough. So let's talk about that.

Imagine that the L90 talents are getting reworked to perform no mana management (assume this means we'll all be evocating once every couple minutes for mana purposes), and to make it easier to view them as a bonus when they're up rather than a penalty when they're down.

Given GC's answer on movement niches, it's probably not safe to assume the talents won't encourage stationary play, but it may be safe to assume they do so for shorter periods of time (for example, Icy Veins and Arcane Power both give you more if you're stationary throughout their duration, so something like that might be expected).

What would you like to see done with them? What would you not like to see done with them?
What would you like to see done with them? What would you not like to see done with them?


I could see this as a whole thread topic on it's own as I have several ideas of unique utility functions that we could bring.

03/01/2013 07:52 AMPosted by Lhivera
Given GC's answer on movement niches, it's probably not safe to assume the talents won't encourage stationary play, but it may be safe to assume they do so for shorter periods of time


I've used that as one of my arguments before about the double punish nature of the level 90 talents in their current incarnations. We already have movement penalties baked into our class being cast time based, we didn't need another thing to furthur restrict us on top of it.
03/01/2013 07:57 AMPosted by Grizzlebees
What would you like to see done with them? What would you not like to see done with them?


I could see this as a whole thread topic on it's own as I have several ideas of unique utility functions that we could bring.


It could, but let's assume for the moment that I may have more success in directing dev attention to a single thread of feedback in response to the interview than I would have in trying to get them to look at multiple threads on different topics.

(And let's assume also that if the quality of discussion isn't high and constructive, they won't stay long and won't be as likely to do it again.)
Another topic for discussion: the Frost haste cap.

Do you have any long-term plans for getting Frost out from under pretty attainable soft caps on both crit and haste?

Haste, yes. Crit, no. It’s intentional that Frost has a low soft cap on crit, and that they switch to haste (or potentially mastery) after that. The Glyph of Icy Veins helps with that, but there will pretty much always be some instants in your rotation, leading to some haste soft capping, but it is potentially too easy to reach that with the number of temporary haste effects we’ve given out lately. We don’t really like that that Glyph becomes (unintuitively) “mandatory” once you’re at a certain gear level, but it’s a necessary evil for now.


A problem here is that Haste is actually more valuable than Crit even before reaching the Crit soft cap. So far, the BiS Frost profile for T15H has about 56% passive haste, including Frost Armor, and crit is only at about 23%. Shifting haste to crit (either by reforging or switching to Molten Armor) results in a DPS decrease.

The result is that from T15H through the end of the expansion, Frost will be haste capped all the time, even without counting temporary haste buffs.

How would you address this? Reduce Frost's instant casts? Somehow convert haste in excess of 50% to something else? Any ideas?
I don't see haste being valuable over crit or mastery as an issue, really. I like the idea that frost uses haste, arcane uses mastery, and fire uses crit. I wish that was pushed more if anything.

A 23% crit rate nearly guarantees that your FFB and Ice Lances are going to crit. Beyond that the only damage effected by extra crit are your frostbolts, your pet, and your bomb spell. I don't see a problem with it.
From Ghostcrawler:
If only uninformed, stubborn or bad players play Frost Mages while anyone remotely informed plays Arcane, it makes sense that Arcane will appear to do much higher DPS than Frost simply because of the sampling bias.


I feel as though Ghostcrawler has taken a direct shot at me as well as a few other notable frost mages (Kuni, Pete, etc.). Stubborn is not the same as uninformed or bad.

We spend a lot of time trying to prove the viability of frost and continue to come up short. Yes, we are stubborn, but it does not mean there are no good, solid parses from frost mages on each fight.

If frost representation in raids is so low, you cannot continue to tout that the spec is fine, the playerbase is wrong. There's a reason frost mages get benched or told to go fire. The very fact that they do is reason enough to look into why they are pushed out of PvE even when damage is good.

I think the answer is in the mechanics of frost. Fire works better and scales better (which is why CM gets played with frequently - understandably so). Frost cannot even use frost bomb in our ideal gear setup due to trinket design (it doesn't count as a DoT) and we are unable to benefit from mastery (waterbolt damage isn't enough).

All that said, it's an uphill battle with perception. Frost is more than about numbers and I wish the top tier guilds would realize that. My guild has become kind of a frost mage safe zone. For example, I recruited Leviatron because his old GM would not allow him to be frost. I recognized he is an incredible player, and now he is one of my strongest DPS who learns quickly and executes mechanics of fights better than most I've seen.

Unfortunately, and in Ghostcrawler's defense - there is nothing devs can do to fix the perception of top guilds. But we in the community can.
I'm glad its bee acknowledged, but it still just means that changes will be happening in a far future. I had really hoped for the invocation QoL change to go through in 5.1 so I wouldn't have to channel over and over pre-pull. I was hoping we'd see some ideas for a rune of power change somewhere. I'm just not seeing these happening, it seems like these things are being pushed back because blizzard has reached a state of balance with mage talents. Ultimately, for them balance > fun, until they can ensure any of their changes don't disrupt everything they'll stay as is.

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