Ask The Devs #10 - Damage Dealing (Answers)

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06/24/2011 01:01 PMPosted by Pikapika

Q: A majority of the fights in T11 favored having little or no Melee DPS. Are there plans to fix this? – Merissa (NA), Espiritu (NA)

A: We view this more of a class problem than an encounter problem. It used to be the case that casters really suffered whenever they had to move, which was the penalty they paid in order to make up for the fact that melee took a lot of extra damage. Nowadays, melee classes don’t really take that much extra damage, and we’ve also given casters a number of movement-oriented tools designed to keep their DPS from dropping as much as it used to when they are asked to shoot-and-scoot.

Whenever there are situations in an encounter that encourage grouping, the ranged often move into melee (with the occasional exception for hunters), but melee never move to ranged. Any of the fights that punish clumping also tend to punish melee more. We recognize all of these problems, as do many players, but it’s challenging to address them quickly. For example, without compensation, casters would suffer a lot in PvP if their movement tools were suddenly stripped away.

In the meantime, we don’t want to over-constrain encounter design, or worse, make it feel very formulaic by getting to the point where players expect the “melee fight” to be followed by the “adds fight,” followed by the “Patchwerk fight,” then the “ranged fight.” We’re making sure that melee have some fights where they can shine in Firelands. To use just one example, the Sons of Flame on Ragnaros tend to be better handled by melee than ranged.

They already answered it "Shrug"

But see they don't like that answer and pretend it doesn't exist because it didn't say:
"Melee we know we nerfed this tier for you about 3 times already, but here's even more for you even though we know it's become fine for the most part and we're fixing it so the front only encompasses 120 degrees of the frontal bosses with the patch"
I was worried all the questions would be about shamans.

Good post blizzard, a little short but good.

This was the longest Ask The Devs we've posted. I was a bit surprised when I had to split it into two posts.

Well, don't take this the wrong way but...

There's 22 dps specs all looking for answers to their particular problems. 12 questions simply doesn't cover it, especially when some of those questions are horrible ones about ingame recount that's been answered before.

This round of AtD has left a large group of people feeling particularly sore (rogues/locks/hunters seem especially displeased).
Not very many questions answered this time, kind of disappointing.

Good post blizzard, a little short but good.

This was the longest Ask The Devs we've posted. I was a bit surprised when I had to split it into two posts.

I was surprised too, when only 12 questions of 500 were answered. Four of those dealt with one class, Shamans. Not that I have anything against Shamans, but there are other classes that are actively looking for actual answers to problems faced within their classes.
I think warlocks are the most over powered class in the game.

The are the REAL Dungeons and Dragons WIZARD Class in the Game.

Warlocks, don't really have problems, well the problems are warlocks need to be tuned down i think.

A warlock is the Spellcasting Demon Wizard class that can..

Drain life, Soul Link, and health stone, having Near Perfect Self-Healing capabilities....

Summon Pets, Control Demons, and also use spells to enhance demon pets and make them strong, and those demon pets can use powerful abilities...

Warlocks can deal decent AOE damage, via rain of Fire, seed of corruption, and Hand of Guldan. They also tend to be Very mobile when working with afflection, and somewhat with demonology. Destruction to, is pretty hampered i think...

Warlocks can give you breath water, summon health stone, summon allys, in addition to giving you see invisiblity to alchemist, as well..Well as...

AS WELL... Neutralizing enemies, like Fear, Horror Effects, in addition to Seduction to incapacitate an enemy. They also can tuant monsters off of themselves with Voidwalker or Doom Guard if planned right.

Yea Warlocks are Fine. You may not deal the best damage, but you have a Wizards Tool box of useful stuff to more then make up for you're "Lack" Of damage dealing numbers...

Wow have you ever played a warlock? That right there is a fine example of reading the class description from the manual and selling us on tool tips. Clearly you have little or no experience on the application or synergy of these talents, or the practicality of their use.

On our self healing: Its barely enough to keep up with our life taps. You know, the core mechanic of mana regen for our class that takes away chunks of our health and necessitates self healing or external healing to be able to do damage. We are not able to heal through damage from outside sources so "perfect" self healing is a myth.

On Our Pets: Our Felguard damage is laughable, making the choice to spec demo unattractive because our special demon is out shined by the succubus and the Felhunter.

On Our Mobility: Affliction is rather mobile as long as you have time to cast haunt and keep shadow embrace up, other wise you loose 38% of your "mobile" damage. Demo is only mobile while AoEing, otherwise it is very much an plant and spam spec. Destro is like a race car that has to stop every 100 yards at the intersection of Improved Soul Fire Lane and Yawn Street.

On Our Non-Damage Utility: Wow, underwater breathing. That matters now? Oh and yes we have a pet that can taunt, but then it dies in 3 hits or it loses aggro. "Working as intended" maybe?

On Our Control: All the nerfs to fear (many of them justified) have brought it in line with other spamable CCs, except that more classes have abilities designed to break fear instead of needing to pop a trinket. Death Coil is a 2 min CD and the health returns have not been scaled up to Cata stam levels.

On Our Damage: None of the serious post are about how good or bad our damage may be. We are balanced pretty well in terms of our potential. The issue is that we have to wade through clunky and counter intuitive mechanics to realize that potential, and that we have been over complicated for the sake of over-complication.
Frost Mages get an essay written. Enchancement shaman's get a an entire book.

Rogues get a blurb on the side of a napkin.
Aaaaaand not a single answer to any of the extraordinarily valid warlock questions we asked.

Why am I not surprised?
I liked the shaman comments for the most part. They went into most every topic we've been talking about, although I halfway hoped for more definite answers in a few cases, I wasn't totally expecting it. Some of this, we'll have to see if they follow though on in 4.2.2.

Few comments, though:

06/24/2011 09:00 AMPosted by Kaivax
That’s not the case for Searing Totem. We’ve just recently been able to get the totem to behave fairly predictably in a wide variety of situations – it has a lot of special case code designed to make it do what players want it to do. (Making an AI behave consistently isn’t that hard; making an AI read players’ minds is the hard part!) If assist works out well for pets, and some of the temporary guardians like Guardian of Ancient Kings, we’ll turn it on for Searing Totem.

The thing is, I'm pretty sure "don't attack anything", "attack the add we haven't even touched that's 30 yards to the left over the one we've been DPSing for 3 minutes with our only flame shock on it that we dropped the totem 5 yards away from" or "quickly switch to the mind controlled player as soon as they're a valid target", aren't things we have on our mind (well, maybe the last one... but that depends on which of our guildmates are MCed. Every guild has "that guy"... but I digress) - but totems do all of these things on a fairly regular basis - so we're quite used to having to destroy and redrop it anyway.

The "assist" stance could only be an improvement. I can't think of any possible situation where you wouldn't want your totem on the same target as you (or at least, wouldn't mind it being on that target). The only exception may be if a target was literally out of range of the totem's attacks -- but again, the current method has them generally sticking to targets they can't attack over ones that they can, such as the dragon that recently took flight in the Valiona/Theralion fight - and we can't even get them to change.

06/24/2011 09:00 AMPosted by Kaivax
We do want Enhancement shaman using melee-oriented Agility weapons, though, and one solution we’re considering is a mechanism that would make Enhancement shaman spells all scale from attack power, similar to what we did with Flametongue procs. In the meantime, we’ve taken steps (and will continue to take them) to ensure that while spell power weapons might at times, with certain gear setups, remain an interesting alternative, they aren’t the strictly superior route.

That's all well and good for single-target, but this doesn't address the problem where it currently exists - AoE. Right now, spell power weapons are the "strictly superior route" whenever you're AoEing. They're so vastly superior, you'd be crazy not to use a previous-tier spell power weapon over a best-in-slot melee weapon while actively AoEing.

That's a problem for itemization (you need to "steal" somebody's spell power weapon, and there are already 8 specs competing for the ones Shamans can equip without Enhance), and for simple logic.

A change to strictly scaling from AP rather than SP would of course solve that, but unless the devs are willing to go that far, something needs to be done to address this problem specifically for AoE - which likely involves changing the Enhance AoE toolkit to include a spell that scales primarily with weapon damage.

06/24/2011 09:00 AMPosted by Kaivax
We’d certainly prefer if haste were a more attractive stat for Enhancement shaman. For many other melee classes, the great value of haste lies in its ability to increase resource generation. Enhancement shaman are not generally limited by any resource, so aside from more auto-attack damage and Windfury/Flametongue procs, haste currently yields more Maelstrom Weapon charges. We’ve thought about taking steps to make Maelstrom Weapon a more central mechanic for the Enhancement shaman spec, which would in turn make haste potentially much more valuable, but don’t currently have any firm solution to announce.

I do agree with this line of thinking. If spells are going to stay at 150 rather than 200%, then something needs to be done with haste.

The only thing is, if MW were more central to the spec, then it could potentially tip the balance more towards spells than melee again, and just have the result be that mastery ends up getting a relative scaling buff, which in the end accomplishes little - the point is to make another stat attractive such that there's another worthwhile stat to put points into once the hit cap is reached (as well as have enhance scale a little better with raid buffs).

Perhaps a way to have one (or more) of Enhance's cooldowns be reduced by haste would be appropriate?
I really appreciate the effort they're putting in to addressing player issues. It's good though that they're wrapping up AtD, because this one in particular really highlights the issues that are wrong with the mechanism.

Players don't really care about classes (and to a lesser degree, specs) other than their own. How about continuing the genuinely awesome effort to stay in touch with players by having a short little something once a month for Every Class and Every Spec. Like 2-3 classes a week you address all 3 specs within that class to reassure us you know what's going on.
Oh, and one more:

06/24/2011 09:00 AMPosted by Kaivax
As an aside, there were several questions that we didn’t answer about whether Enhancement DPS is too low overall. It is, and we buffed it for 4.2

Kinda wish you guys had picked a question about AoE rather than that one (which was unfortunately a fairly useless comment).

Single-target DPS for both specs has improved, but AoE only improved significantly against very long-lived AoE packs (which don't exist in firelands). While AoE isn't as significant a part of Firelands as it was in T11, that's still going to be a noticeable "hit" to both Shaman Specs.

In addition to the spell power problem for enhance as mentioned above, there still needs to be a way to cut down on the complexity, the ramp-up, and the currently unlimited top-end in order to skew the damage more favorably towards the (much more common) "burst" AoE packs rather than those that live for 30-60 sec (or more), which is what the current system favors.
06/24/2011 01:02 PMPosted by Powerangers
This is one of those interesting phenomena you observe when you do game design. According to our testing, Frost does comparable DPS today


Seriously though, Frost is one of the lowest dps specs currently ingame, doing about 18k dps avg in 372 heroic gear. Imo, thats not comparable to Arcane, or Marksman Hunters.

Ya, nice try on that one

Maybe you just don't know any good frost mages.
06/24/2011 12:24 PMPosted by Gigahorn
I think warlocks are the most over powered class in the game.

You have clearly never played a warlock, and if you have, you haven't done it end-game.

Maybe there should have just been ask the Devs Class threads that way each class had an opportunity to have their questions answered. Im sure people would still find a way to complain about it, but maybe it would have made the community happier overall.
With all the recent questions, I thought it would only make sense to answer some hunter questions. Ctrl-f, the only place the devs even mentioned hunters was in a question about rogues...

Same deal with warlocks too, the two most commonly posted classes over the last few days and they don't get any answers at all.

Well, what was I expecting, unbelievable.
Yeah Rogues do low low dmg, Look at warriors 60k crits? 80k crits? Look at rogues, 20k? 40k? (Sometimes if your lucky) 45-50k's? Isnt this a bit low? Warriors are doing double the dmg, while combat sits at the bottom.
    A: We generally introduce ramp-up time for two reasons. The first and most important is so players have a decision about when to switch targets. If there was zero cost for target swapping, then it would always be the right thing to do. We want to reward players, modestly, when they know when they should swap targets versus sticking with the original. The second issue is that ramp-up time helps us reduce burst in PvP.

    The intent for Shadow Orbs was that procs weren’t guaranteed so that there is some unpredictability involved to add gameplay. We could easily make it less random, but then they wouldn’t be something you think about or factor in your rotation. Sometimes you won’t get Shadow Orb procs and your DPS will be lower than it could be if you get really lucky. Shadow Priest DPS is balanced around the average of those two extremes. If you get lucky and get good procs, that’s an unexpected bonus.

    There’s a thin line between something that’s frustratingly random and something that is boring and has no gameplay. We have learned that when percent chances are too high, then rather than feeling like a bonus when it happens, it becomes very frustrating when it fails to happen.

The problem, and one of the big problems Combat Rogue has been suffering under is the stacking of multiple ramp-ups.

Combo Points is a ramp-up.
Deadly Poison is a ramp-up.
Slice and Dice is a ramp-up.

On top of all these baselines, you also added the ramp-up of Bandit's Guile. It's simply too much, and one of the major contributors to combat crushing under its own weight. Redirect simply isn't enough to mitigate the problem with as frequent as the target switches are.
Aaaaaand not a single answer to any of the extraordinarily valid warlock questions we asked.

Why am I not surprised?

You didn't gather enough warlocks to vote on your questions good sir!

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