What exactly are "Class Devs"

Battle for Azeroth Items and Classes
Genuine question. I'm curious how the "teams" are structured over at WoW/Blizzard HQ.

Is there a dedicated group of 5 to 6 employees whose 9 to 5 job is to run simulations, experiment with new talents and abilities, tweak numbers, test different builds, and analyze each spec's performance in all facets in gameplay (raids, mythic+, arena, BG's, etc)? Or do you haul in people from other departments every week or two to discuss the classes they're currently playing?

I hate to be rude, but if it's the former then I think Blizzard either needs to do a serious audit of how they spend their time, or re-evaluate the orders they're giving them. All players seem to agree that with the exception of the artwork, music, and maybe Uldir, everything in BfA seems like a discount version of what we had in Legion. All classes are more or less exactly as they were in Legion except pruned beyond belief, and rotations are no more than skeletons of what we spent the last two years doing.

Take the recent changes to Enh Shaman. They, along with Ele and SPriests were told months ago that these Class Devs "didn't have time" to complete the necessary changes before 8.0, and that the changes they required would be so extensive that they couldn't possibly be implemented via a mere hotfix, but would have to wait until a future patch. This obviously led players to believe that these Devs had big changes planned for the specs, and led to much anticipation about what they had in store.

And what was the result of months and months of supposed behind the scenes work? Numbers tuning. Nothing more. Damage buffs are nice and all, but none of the concerns players had been bringing up since beta were even remotely addressed. These changes COULD and SHOULD have been implemented WEEKS ago. How the Class Devs even let it get to the point where a 40% damage buff on certain abilities is utterly beyond me. Why simply buffing unused talents had to wait an entire patch is truly baffling.

The community is already under the impression that the Class Dev team spends their workdays PvP'ing on their rogues. If you want to keep people subbed, you might want to address this.

/End Rant
I think it's more like 3 or 4 people, and they have class design duties in addition to whatever their real job is. I honestly don't think all the blame rests with those 3 or 4 people. Somebody higher up made design decisions that they're stuck working around, and somebody higher up made the call that the players who spend countless hours theorycrafting and playing the specs they love can't possibly know what they're talking about when they say "this won't work" or "this is going to be impossible to balance with haste scaling" or "nobody is going to enjoy this".
11/10/2018 05:53 AMPosted by Linjea
I think it's more like 3 or 4 people, and they have class design duties in addition to whatever their real job is. I honestly don't think all the blame rests with those 3 or 4 people. Somebody higher up made design decisions that they're stuck working around, and somebody higher up made the call that the players who spend countless hours theorycrafting and playing the specs they love can't possibly know what they're talking about when they say "this won't work" or "this is going to be impossible to balance with haste scaling" or "nobody is going to enjoy this".

Guess thats the problem with bigger companies, its always someone elses fault. and in the end, its no ones fault. cause you cant blame any of them when they all take decisions from someone else :)
i honestly think that one or two class devs who knows the game should be enough.
its not like theres much complexity to the balance these days anyway. everything is pretty straight forward compared to what it used to be, not a lot of spells, glyphs or talents, they use a different template for pvp etc.
I mean they have had years of making the expansion followed by many months in alpha and beta, and after all that it feels like for some specs the best they could come up with was removing a few abilities and calling it a day.
11/10/2018 05:53 AMPosted by Linjea
I think it's more like 3 or 4 people, and they have class design duties in addition to whatever their real job is. I honestly don't think all the blame rests with those 3 or 4 people. Somebody higher up made design decisions that they're stuck working around, and somebody higher up made the call that the players who spend countless hours theorycrafting and playing the specs they love can't possibly know what they're talking about when they say "this won't work" or "this is going to be impossible to balance with haste scaling" or "nobody is going to enjoy this".


I think this personally hit the nail on the head. Understaffed team doing multiple different things, as well as class design, with a schedule and deadlines for multiple different things, leaving them little room to iterate a concept more than a few times, and even less space to make changes from feedback on the fly. Probably pretty capable people in their own right, but unable to do much without the approval of higher ups, and a fair amount of time to do it when they don't have to also be doing multiple other things.
Looking at BFA, monkeys, monkeys paid in bananas.
"Ele and SPriests were told months ago that these Class Devs "didn't have time" to complete the necessary changes before 8.0" . This right here says it all. Just from the outside looking , this seems so lazy and money hungry. Their stance was always we wont release till its done. Now its like every 1st tier is paid beta testing.
Honestly, I'm not sure what they use for a class development team any more. From older interviews in TBC and Wrath, it seamed like each class had 2+ people dedicated to it. The Developers at that time made changes based in Lore, and game play value.

For example their is a article of the 3 Developers (2 Senior, and 1 Junior) talking about Warlock in TBC, and Wrath. They were discussing what new abilities to give the class, and what direction the specs should go in. At that time the discussion of Meta came up. Those developers said No, as it was a part of Demon Hunter Lore, not Warlock and they hoped to add DHs at a later date.

Although I feel like these teams shrank, or disappeared in Cata and on ward.
Maybe all the class devs have moved to mobile games. They aren't even trying to make classes fun and balanced at this point.
Come to think of it, I’m honestly wondering what responsibilities a Lead Developer has, or how much influence they have over the finer points, like class development.

I can’t imagine Ion being entirely happy with the direction his main has taken. And if they honestly gave preference to Mythic raiding guilds, port warriors would be powerhouses right now.
I have to believe at this point that whatever "they" are, they have been given strict directives to follow with class design from higher up and that it is only one part of their job.

One directive is specifically not to go with changes recommended by the players, because if you give in once you'll be expected to give in across the board and that would be total chaos and unamanageable.

Otherwise, I can't even imagine how or why some of these changes (or lack thereof) are being made because they honestly make no sense. And the length of time it takes to make number changes in some situations must mean that it isn't someone's full time job.
I think what would have really helped is an explanation like the water cooler talks we used to get: what direction your spec is going in, and what steps are taken to get there.

None of this vague “class fantasy” nonsense: one man’s fantasy is another man’s utter turn-off. Give us an explanation and get us excited about it! Like elemental shaman: it’s one thing to say “yeah, we want lightning to come back to the front stage” and “so remember that last scene from Thor: Ragnarok?” (Which they’re totally not aiming for - I mean, a fast-moving melee spellcaster with a focus on AOE would just be...no.)
11/12/2018 08:18 AMPosted by Swigneous
I have to believe at this point that whatever "they" are, they have been given strict directives to follow with class design from higher up and that it is only one part of their job.

One directive is specifically not to go with changes recommended by the players, because if you give in once you'll be expected to give in across the board and that would be total chaos and unamanageable.

Otherwise, I can't even imagine how or why some of these changes (or lack thereof) are being made because they honestly make no sense. And the length of time it takes to make number changes in some situations must mean that it isn't someone's full time job.


Your first directive is false. I have seen ELE sham request maelstrom on Frost Shock and that is now implemented in a talent. There have been requests on adding a root, which is also implemented in a talent. Requests for duration extension on Flame Shock which is now baseline etc.

Its clear they read and listen. They have a vision, in which we have to accept and come up with reasonable solutions within that vision. For instance, they want Damage classes to have mobility or survivability, but not both. They have said they want shaman DPS to have survivability not mobility. Yet I go to Shaman forums and I see post after post about returning Gust of Wind. The reason why shaman want Gust of Wind back is irrelevant. The fact is a "survivability" class asking for burst mobility doesnt fit into their vision.

Here in lies the hypocrisy in our community. We ask for communication and feedback from Development, they tell us (us being the Shaman community as an example), we want Shaman to have Survivability not Mobility, we removed Gust of Wind. They community asks for Gust of Wind back. Blizzard doesnt implement Gust of Wind back. The community says they arent listening to us and need to communicate better... What? We also need to learn to listen better as well as entire community.

And no I am not pleased with class design in its current state, but thats just my opinion.
It's one guy with a dart board, and talents in the place of the numbers.

"Hey Lou, can you do Shaman today"
"No problem"

THWOK, THWOK, THWOK.

"DONE!!!"
11/10/2018 04:26 AMPosted by Astrae
Genuine question. I'm curious how the "teams" are structured over at WoW/Blizzard HQ.

Is there a dedicated group of 5 to 6 employees whose 9 to 5 job is to run simulations, experiment with new talents and abilities, tweak numbers, test different builds, and analyze each spec's performance in all facets in gameplay (raids, mythic+, arena, BG's, etc)? Or do you haul in people from other departments every week or two to discuss the classes they're currently playing?

I hate to be rude, but if it's the former then I think Blizzard either needs to do a serious audit of how they spend their time, or re-evaluate the orders they're giving them. All players seem to agree that with the exception of the artwork, music, and maybe Uldir, everything in BfA seems like a discount version of what we had in Legion. All classes are more or less exactly as they were in Legion except pruned beyond belief, and rotations are no more than skeletons of what we spent the last two years doing.

Take the recent changes to Enh Shaman. They, along with Ele and SPriests were told months ago that these Class Devs "didn't have time" to complete the necessary changes before 8.0, and that the changes they required would be so extensive that they couldn't possibly be implemented via a mere hotfix, but would have to wait until a future patch. This obviously led players to believe that these Devs had big changes planned for the specs, and led to much anticipation about what they had in store.

And what was the result of months and months of supposed behind the scenes work? Numbers tuning. Nothing more. Damage buffs are nice and all, but none of the concerns players had been bringing up since beta were even remotely addressed. These changes COULD and SHOULD have been implemented WEEKS ago. How the Class Devs even let it get to the point where a 40% damage buff on certain abilities is utterly beyond me. Why simply buffing unused talents had to wait an entire patch is truly baffling.

The community is already under the impression that the Class Dev team spends their workdays PvP'ing on their rogues. If you want to keep people subbed, you might want to address this.

/End Rant


Come on now, Activision Blizzard is a small indie company that can't afford to structure and pay legit class developers who interact with the community and create fun, engaging, and fundamentally strong classes with their own flavor too, to keep the community engaged. I mean...come on.... :(
I really wonder this also. How does class design work internally? Who is doing it? It seems like they need more resources devoted to it regardless, but it would be interesting to know how it works or why we are where we are with class design and communication.
11/12/2018 09:05 AMPosted by Meadamemnon
Its clear they read and listen. They have a vision, in which we have to accept and come up with reasonable solutions within that vision. For instance, they want Damage classes to have mobility or survivability, but not both.


You and I are playing a different game then. Because there are more than a few specs that have damage, mobility, survivability, and utility. They're just all melee classes.

11/12/2018 09:05 AMPosted by Meadamemnon
Here in lies the hypocrisy in our community. We ask for communication and feedback from Development, they tell us (us being the Shaman community as an example), we want Shaman to have Survivability not Mobility, we removed Gust of Wind. They community asks for Gust of Wind back. Blizzard doesnt implement Gust of Wind back. The community says they arent listening to us and need to communicate better... What? We also need to learn to listen better as well as entire community.


Wrong. Anyone in the above example can just point at Havoc (as one very easy example) and say, 'wait, wut? they have all that, they break the paradigm you're telling us you're working within, explain that!' And then the white knights flock in to fall all over themselves explaining away why the community is the one that is hypocritical lol
I'm going with the monkeys and bannana's thing.
At this point I think they just go to home depot and shout "hola, you work?" Then they drive to work with a new druid class dev.
11/12/2018 01:20 PMPosted by Nyhlia
11/12/2018 09:05 AMPosted by Meadamemnon
Its clear they read and listen. They have a vision, in which we have to accept and come up with reasonable solutions within that vision. For instance, they want Damage classes to have mobility or survivability, but not both.


You and I are playing a different game then. Because there are more than a few specs that have damage, mobility, survivability, and utility. They're just all melee classes.

11/12/2018 09:05 AMPosted by Meadamemnon
Here in lies the hypocrisy in our community. We ask for communication and feedback from Development, they tell us (us being the Shaman community as an example), we want Shaman to have Survivability not Mobility, we removed Gust of Wind. They community asks for Gust of Wind back. Blizzard doesnt implement Gust of Wind back. The community says they arent listening to us and need to communicate better... What? We also need to learn to listen better as well as entire community.


Wrong. Anyone in the above example can just point at Havoc (as one very easy example) and say, 'wait, wut? they have all that, they break the paradigm you're telling us you're working within, explain that!' And then the white knights flock in to fall all over themselves explaining away why the community is the one that is hypocritical lol


First off, Utility is not on the list that Blizzard laid out. Its damage, mobility, and survivability with sub categories for damage (ie: AoE vs ST). So no ranged make the list but melee classes do? Lets go into your second point.

Havoc DH is squishy if you can catch them. I play ELE and ENH and I am not concerned with their survivability at all and if I can catch one they are an easy kill. IF I CAN CATCH ONE. They are not usually the first or primary target because their mobility is easily unmatched.

I am no white knight for Blizzard, I have plenty of posts where I think they failed. Class design is atrocious. At the same time how realistic can you expect Blizzard to be if you cant be realistic yourself? Just because Blizzard may be hypocritical that doesnt mean the community cant or isnt.
11/12/2018 04:03 PMPosted by Meadamemnon
First off, Utility is not on the list that Blizzard laid out. Its damage, mobility, and survivability with sub categories for damage (ie: AoE vs ST). So no ranged make the list but melee classes do? Lets go into your second point.


What? They talk about spec utility all the time. Moreso to the point, cherry picking this one thing to argue about out of a list of things is laughable.

11/12/2018 04:03 PMPosted by Meadamemnon
Havoc DH is squishy if you can catch them. I play ELE and ENH and I am not concerned with their survivability at all and if I can catch one they are an easy kill. IF I CAN CATCH ONE. They are not usually the first or primary target because their mobility is easily unmatched.


Are you confused? Do you think anyone in this thread, besides you, is talking about PvP solely or even primarily? It's even more hilarious when you consider the state of casters in pvp. How did warlocks fare? What about shadow? What about elemental? You know, all the casters that aren't mages with blink/shimmer. It's rhetorical, you don't need to answer. We know the results of the tourny. And casters performed poorly in general. It was heavily melee dominated, which even if we were primarily talking about pvp (no one was) your position would still be a joke because it's mongoloid melee 4tw there too.

11/12/2018 04:03 PMPosted by Meadamemnon
I am no white knight for Blizzard, I have plenty of posts where I think they failed. Class design is atrocious. At the same time how realistic can you expect Blizzard to be if you cant be realistic yourself? Just because Blizzard may be hypocritical that doesnt mean the community cant or isnt.


While your point is sound and I understand what you're saying, it is entirely reasonable to point out when the logic given not to buff an underperforming spec, whether in pve or pvp, isn't consistent with the methodology they're clearly balancing other specs with that are far superior. More importantly, quibbling over insignificant details which doesn't change the overall situation, which is what you're doing, isn't productive at all. Sorta like pointing out you aren't a white knight while you are obviously doing so, regardless of whether you have shared opinions in the past that clearly weren't.

Join the Conversation

Return to Forum