18/11 Kalgan on mages

#0 - Nov. 18, 2006, 6:35 p.m.
Blizzard Post
Players: Combustion and POM currently share a cooldown, or at minimum are not usable in conjunction with one another. Is this an oversight or a bug?
Kalgan: Initially it was a balance protection against the potential "shotgun" feel of POM/Combustion. However, since combustion isn't really a true burst damage ability anymore we'll remove the shared cooldown.

Players: Similarly, Dragon's Breath shares a cooldown with Cone of Cold. Many mages feel that investing 41 talent points in a tree warrants the addition of a new ability, rather than the replacement of an old ability.
Kalgan: Dragon's Breath and CoC share a cooldown as we were worried about adding another instant cast burst damage spell that stacked with the others, especially when both spells have a cc component. We feel that replacing CoC for a fire mage can be a viable talent since it gives the mage a new cc option, better synergizes with the talents of a fire build, and has more damage potential.

Players: Invisibility has numerous built-in limitations: A short duration, an 8-second vulnerable fade time, and the inability to see others while invisible. Combined with the long cooldown, these limitations seem to be a bit overkill. Have the developers given any thought to lessening or removing one or two of these limitations (i.e. shorter cooldown, shorter fade) in light of the other limitations already imposed by the ability's base mechanics?
Kalgan: There's no disputing that Invisibility has quite a few limitations built in. However, as the ability was game-breakingly good at one point in our original beta test, we've been very conservative about its reintroduction.

As it is now, it's intended to be used for a handful of scenarios, but all of them having a tradeoff. It's a proactive aggro dump, but not a "free" one as it costs you 8 seconds of dps (depending on the fight, this can be anywhere from no big deal, to a significant hit). It's a content bypass mechanic, but not without limits (the duration).

It can be used to surprise an enemy, or increase your chance to not be the first one targeted in pvp, but it requires some co-ordination with others to do so (ie: somebody telling you where to position yourself, or just some intelligent anticipation).Finally, under some circumstances it can be used as an escape tool (although this part isn't as meaningful in my opinion, as mages already have fairly impressive escape tools).

I definitely believe that there is some potential to relax some of the limitations (right now I can't commit to any in particular, but a shorter fade time is a possibility). However, from a philosophical standpoint we're trying to make sure that if anything, we start off with this ability being a bit too restrictive and loosen up on the restrictions rather than the opposite.

Players: Counterspell was put on the GCD for consistency, which limits much of the "twitch" aspect of its reactive nature. In a completely objective sense, though, it is now arguably less effective than the Felhunter ability Spell Lock, even when talented for a 4-second silence (effectively 2.5 for the mage). Are there any plans to compensate for the lack of usability with a buff to other features of the spell (i.e. extending the silence/lockout durations by 1.5 seconds)?
Kalgan: There's certainly no question that counterspell being on the GCD doesn't improve the ability in any way. For us, it's more of a question of consistency. Other classes have their interrupts on the GCD (other than cases where the pet is casting it), and even though there is some variation regarding how impactful that is, other classes are often caught in the global cooldown when they want to interrupt a spell yet they deal with it, and spells still get interrupted by things like earth shock, pummel, and kick.

None of those abilities had their duration vs cooldown ratio extended to "compensate" since when we determined the duration/cooldown for CS we assumed it was on the GCD, it was simply an oversight that it wasn't.

If we were to undo this, why wouldn't we undo it for the other classes? What's the philosophical distinction? I'd say that it's common sentiment among casters that it's already pretty hard to get a spell off in group pvp that has a cast time (witness the QQ'ing about unstable affliction having a cast time... yes, I just called it QQ'ing), so would we really want cast time spells getting interrupted more often in pvp than they are now?

I totally get that mages feel at a disadvantage in a 1v1 versus other casters (particularly warlocks), and that getting beaten consistently in a 1v1 by warlocks can give you the impression that a mage is an inferior warlock. However, that sentiment isn't necessarily reflected among your other opponents.

Personally, I can definitely see an argument for strengthening some of the anti-caster capabilities mages have in PvP, but I don't currently believe that maintaining an inconsistency in CS is a good way to do it (for the reasons stated above). Of note, one of the core reasons for adding the spellsteal spell in the expansion was to give mages a new tool in caster vs. caster combat. Also (on an unrelated note I suppose), I think it'll give mages some pretty cool new ways to shine in some of our new raid encounters. =]

Players: Ignite no longer "rolls" for free extra damage, but will still stack in such a manner as to give each crit the same 40% bonus. While the motivation for this change is sensible, it hurts players in PvP who must wait the extra ticks for damage they've already earned. In light of the fact that each Mage has his/her own stack and that sustainable Ignite rolling is highly unfeasible anyway, this additional change seems like overkill. Why have Ignites stack at all, in that case? Since each mage already has his/her own Ignite slot, the additional debuff slot taken by the occasional overlapping crit doesn't seem like it would be game-breaking.
Kalgan: I don't really have a lot to say on this one. Rolling ignites were a bit off the hook (not to mention that they were a side-effect of the way they were originally implemented due to some technical limitations).

At the same time, even though the debuff slots have been increased, I'm very leary of making each ignite have its own debuff (in fact, in this case I'm not even sure we technically could right now), as it's quite possible that raids will still have issues bumping up against the new debuff limit depending on class composition and strategy.

Players: Early reports from beta are saying that AoE spells are doing less damage to large quantities of enemies. The perceived reason for the lower damage is an overall damage cap that the spell is capable of doing. Since this is counter to the primary purpose of AoE, AoEs are already the worst scaling and least mana efficient spells in the game, and AoE is the Mage's main strength, is this an intentional and permanent change? Or is it a side-effect of beta tweaking that will eventually work itself out? What is the intended role of AoE given this new paradigm?
Kalgan: First, it's important to note that we've recently increased the spell damage coefficients on the affected AE spells (although this might not be in the version on the test realms yet). So, this change explicitly gave us the ability to improve those coefficients for the "normal" AE case, yet protect the spells against infinitely scaling against more and more opponents.

Our desire is to tune the AE spells so that the damage doesn't cap out until you exceed about 10 targets, as our AE encounters are actually designed around an assumption of players AE'ing around 10 mobs. Any more than that, we consider unintended and/or exploitive.

So, we're probably going to be bumping up the damage caps a bit to account for the now stronger effects of +damage gear and our desire for players to be able to AE around 10 targets without really feeling the effect of the damage caps.

Players: With Spellsteal operating on a random buff, many mages feel that it is too much of a gamble to spend the GCD and mana cost. Since many buffs that are generally very powerful are nearly worthless with a 2 minute duration and especially in the heat of combat (PW: Fortitude) and others are so situational they're basically useless all the time (Unending Breath), it doesn't seem worth the risk to steal a buff at random. Have the developers considered other theft mechanics (i.e. most recent buff, prioritized list)?
Kalgan: Spellsteal operating on a random buff is one of the tradeoffs I feel is pretty important for the fact that the spell has no cooldown. As much as possible, we prefer not to give powerful spells cooldowns, so you feel like you're the one making the decision about what to cast and when, not the game. However, that implies that we have to balance it against other elements such as mana cost.

On some level, I think the unending breath is more of a theorycraft example (and perhaps relevant to dueling or arenas, yet at the same time something you can overcome in the arena case with teammates that can dispel), but not something that will be meaningful in battleground or world pvp.

Ok, there isn't a #8, so I'll just insert my own note. I know that many of you are feeling like mages will be a "nerfed" class in the expansion. However, I think it's worth pointing out that in all of the testing we've done so far, the mage has been the clear-cut top damage class in the expansion at level 70, even against single targets (hopefully not too much so).

In test after test, our jaws are consistently dropping at the sheer damage output we've seen from the mage at level 70, so I do think that some of the panic here is unwarranted. These results are directly what have led to some of the changes such as the one to
#1 - Nov. 18, 2006, 6:37 p.m.
Blizzard Post
Continues: "...to elemental precision. Damage = zomg."

I know Kalgan's replies has been posted here in a thread already, but wanted to make sure everyone gets a chance to read it.
#36 - Nov. 19, 2006, 10:14 a.m.
Blizzard Post
Q u o t e:
Sweet Ommra, Kalgan is a .. who should be taken out of the development team. I doubt we have a need for his 'information'.

Thats all.

Being disappointed and/or angry is fine, express your feelings. But keep it relatively friendly and whatever you do, do not insult Blizz employees.