#0 - Jan. 29, 2010, 6:37 p.m.
Blizzard Post
Our raid item philosophy has evolved a lot since vanilla. The tier sets were once considered a badge of honor. Someone stalking around (or mailbox afking) with their full set bonus might as well have been sporting a legendary item. These days, we virtually guarantee that any player with an interest in raiding is going to be able to complete at least the lowest level version of their set with just a minimal level of persistence. This ultimately serves as a powerful reward mechanism and is in line with our philosophy of letting more players actually see the content.

This design though also has its risks. One of the big ones is that item progression becomes very predictable and deterministic. Imagine (just as an example) a model where all bosses drop emblems and every item you want is for sale. That may sound cool for a few weeks, until you hit the point that without any kind of random element to progression that you can calculate to the day/week at which you will finish gearing up your character. The excitement of what the boss drops would be gone and we feel this would end up making the purpose of clearing new content very underwhelming.

Trinkets are really the one item (weapons are to a lesser extent) that we use to try and capture that old slot machine feel from the classic Molten Core days. Yes, completely random loot with huge loot tables can be frustrating but we are pretty far from being completely random these days. Trinkets however are still somewhat random, they can be hard to acquire, and there is often a lot of competition for them.

Trinkets are also tricky to design because we don’t want them to be just a pile of stats like other items. We generally want them to be unique by having a random proc or an on-use ability or something similar. These types of things are always trickier to balance, but this is also what makes them interesting. We also don’t necessarily want every trinket to be a guaranteed upgrade just because the item level is higher. Knowing what works or doesn’t work for your particular character and play style is one of the ways players have to demonstrate their mastery of the game.

There are some aspects of trinkets for which we think we can do better. For example, it’s annoying when a superior item is on a lower tier of content to where you feel like you have to argue with your guild to go back and farm easy bosses or run a 10 player version when everyone else wants to do 25. Many of the trinkets probably represent too big a dps (or equivalent) jump given how difficult it can be to acquire them. It’s also easy for us to fall into a rut of offering basically the same one every time (often because we know players like it) rather than experimenting with different things. We like to try new things to keep gear interesting for players as we know some have been evaluating trinkets for over five years now.

We also probably just need to drop more of them. That doesn’t mean they should be trivial to acquire, but when say a caster only has 2 good options in Ulduar and 1 requires a hard mode, then there is going to be ton of competition when they do drop. We know it’s rough when the trinket you have been wanting finally drops and you have to roll against 10 other people for it. Having more trinkets would mean more variety, which means players may want different ones and ultimately will be a little more different from their friends/guildmates.