9/14 Reddit AMA with Game Director Ion Hazzikostas Reply Thread

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#1 - Sept. 14, 2018, 9:10 p.m.
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Hey guys! Like I mentioned previously, I will be taking Ion's answers on reddit and posting them here so that anyone who prefers to not go on Reddit and would like to see this in the forums can now read them :)

I'll do my best to grab them all. Please try not to make too many duplicate threads on each answer if you can.
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#2 - Sept. 14, 2018, 9:12 p.m.
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Does the dev team agree with the above characterization of the state of Azerite armor? If so, what sorts of things are being thought about and planned to address the issues with the system, and what sort of time frame are we looking at to see those changes landing in game?

We’re certainly not entirely happy with how the system is playing out, and all of these are very valid concerns. We agree that it’s a problem for someone to look at a 30-ilvl upgrade under normal circumstances and feel like it’s not worth equipping. I know this risks sounding like a cop-out, but a few of the problems you've outlined simply boil down to tuning.

Once you get to Heart Level 18 (a process that will become increasingly fast as the weekly catch-up system continues to ramp up, effectively letting you gain AP 30% faster with each passing week), you can activate the outer ring of any item in the game, and that’s where the most powerful traits lie. That was by design, so that you wouldn’t feel as much of a loss when upgrading to a higher level item that isn’t yet fully unlocked. There’s a ton of primary stat on Azerite pieces in part to bolster the importance of item level there, and the power of traits is directly proportional to the ilvl of the item that contains them, so a 370 Heroic Uldir helm will have a ~30% more powerful trait than a 340 Raid Finder Uldir version of the same item.

Where all of this breaks down is when both of the traits on your 370 piece are significantly worse than the ones on your 340 piece. Reducing the number of situations in which that is the case is one of the system team’s top priorities right now. We made hundreds of unique traits for BfA, and 216 spec-specific traits for the outer ring alone. Many of those are undertuned. A handful are overly powerful, to the point that they stomp out the entire decision space for a spec, and the game becomes about getting a piece with one specific trait. We’ll be fixing the outliers on both ends (probably buffing dozens of weaker traits and nerfing a handful of too-strong ones).

While the generic traits are deliberately fairly straightforward, some of the spec-specific ones are indeed too passive, or interact awkwardly with spec rotations. We’ll be retiring some of those in an upcoming patch and adding better replacements to the pool. And of course we’ll be adding all-new Azerite traits on new tiers of gear from upcoming content as the expansion continues. Again, tuning is a big part of the current problem. If you look at a guide and most of the recommended traits for your spec are various flavors of “proc damage on your target” or “proc a buff on yourself” then yeah, that’s really underwhelming – no argument there. But there are dozens of traits out there with deep interactions on par with Legion legendaries, old set bonuses, or gold-border Artifact traits, such as interactions between abilities or resource generation in ways that vary rotations, talent selection, stat priority, and so forth. The problem is that they’re just mostly too weak to feel worth using right now. But we can fix that.

In terms of long-term prospects, we see the current system as a foundation upon which to continue building, not a treadmill to throw out there and let sit passively for the rest of the expansion. We’ll be adding loads of new traits in future content updates, for starters. But tuning work is something that is already ongoing, and which will ramp up in the very near future as we now have most of the data we need to make these adjustments.
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#3 - Sept. 14, 2018, 9:28 p.m.
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How do you plan to resolve the issues that Shamans are facing, both with performance for healing and DPS, and with the actual class design itself? (Examples include: Significant mobility issues, poor defensive options, lack of spell interaction, low rotational complexity for DPS specs, QoL fixes locked behind talents or removed with artifacts)

How to you plan to rebuild trust in Blizzard from the Shaman community, a group that has felt sidelined or antagonized by Blizzard for years (Going back as far as the Bus shock incident in Vanilla or Dot shock incident in BC as examples)?

I want to preface this by noting that these days my focus is on the full breadth of the game, and so I'm not the best person to get into the details of specific class changes, so I'll likely address philosophy more than a specific rotational problem.

I'm obviously sorry it feels that way. We really don't play favorites internally - every class and spec in the game is worked on by multiple people, and our goal as a team is to always push towards a wondrous endpoint where we have 36 specializations that each have flavor, and varied strengths and weaknesses such that the answer to "which spec is the strongest?" is always "well, it depends...."

Increasingly, WoW effectively has 36 classes to maintain and balance, and certainly in the case of full hybrids like Shaman, the considerations that go into each of the three specs vary very heavily.

We knew Restoration were coming up on the low end in the initial weeks of BfA, and applied some measured buffs to their AoE healing in particular, but we expected the value of their Mastery to rise significantly once higher-end raiding and M+ became more of a competitive focus, and we wanted to make sure not to overbuff them. Resto still has a strong and varied toolkit, and should particularly excel at healing when the group is clumped (a common scenario, in raids especially). We agree that they're lagging a bit behind in terms of pure throughput right now, but that's a question of tuning and not underlying design. It's worth noting that they're currently an extremely strong PvP healer, which is another facet of balance that we have to take into consideration.

For Elemental and Enhance, they both could use their niches more clearly defined, and there are some rotational/talent issues that we've seen raised, which are beyond the scope of hotfix-level tuning and will have to wait for an upcoming patch.

Broadly, we've tried to define areas in which specializations should excel (single-target, cleave, AoE, spread, clumped, burst, sustained, etc.), and areas where they should lag behind. We've restored some unique tools like Tremor Totem or Soothe, and are open to adding more going forward as needed. Philosophically, there should always be a reason why a group is happy to have X class/spec present, and situations where a group says "man, I really wish we had a Y to deal with this." At the same time, it's essential that classes have weaknesses, or else everyone ends up too similar to one another. Elemental Shaman is intended to be a less mobile spec, for example, while Hunters overall have mobility as an explicit strength. So when we receive feedback that a less mobile spec wishes they were more mobile, frankly, that's working as intended. But that only really works if you feel like you have offsetting strengths, envied by other classes, that justify the reduced mobility. And it certainly doesn't help if we aren't communicating that vision of what strengths and weaknesses are intended to be. We know that we need to do better there.
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#4 - Sept. 14, 2018, 9:36 p.m.
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Island expeditions

The rewards seem lackluster and the expeditions themselves are extremely repetitive.

Are there any plans to make improvements or changes to the expedition system?

Edit: beyond the changes to drop rates that were announced 10m ago - more gameplay wise.

(Yes, we're applying a hotfix that makes the various cosmetic bonus rewards more common.)

Island Expeditions represent a stab at an entirely new type of content, and we're certainly planning continued improvements and refinement to the system over the rest of the expansion (as well as new locales with varied mechanics to explore). In particular, we want to add more new events to increase the variety of the experiences players have when jumping into Expeditions, or running the same pool of islands repeatedly. We've all probably that giant clump of Azerite stalagmites and elementals pop up a zillion times, and while it's always lucrative, it doesn't exactly help build a sense that you never know what's going to be around the next corner when you see it four times in a row. We're also looking at how we spawn islands, from a layout perspective, to add a bit more variety from visit to visit.

We've heard feedback that the pace of Expeditions in general feels too frenetic, and the "gogogo" race to gather Azerite detracts from any ability to really explore your environment or fully process the events that are unfolding. Ultimately, the Horde vs. Alliance theming of Expeditions in particular requires that competitive feel, which we know isn't for everyone, but we'd love to explore applying the underlying tech upon which Expeditions were built to other settings that don't have that same pacing.

In short, future BfA updates will include not just more content within the existing structure, but refinements to that structure. We've been following all the feedback closely, but in general have just been 100% focused on working on the game and haven't had a chance to come up for air and discuss our thoughts with the community. (That's sort of a recurring theme lately, I realize.)
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#5 - Sept. 14, 2018, 9:48 p.m.
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I'm the owner of <Big Dumb Guild>. I've spent a lot of time studying every detail of your game, and I'm hoping you can talk about internal processes and system design decisions. 2 Questions:

1) Raid QA Testing: With Fetid being mathematically impossible for the first 10 hours of progress on US realms before receiving 2 round of substantial nerfs, I'm hoping it's possible to shed some light on your internal QA process for cutting edge raid bosses?
2) WoW's "System Homogenization" Problem: Previous 3 expansions fought against "Class Homogenization." What are your thoughts on the continuous "System Homogenization" in WoW? I'm talking about things like:

    World Quests (random rewards, WF/TF, chests)
    Mission table for 3rd expansion in a row
    M+ (random rewards, rolls, keys, affixes)
    LFR (bland, no player connections or even shared experience)
    Artifacts (neck/azerite are the same as artifacts/relics)
    Forced personal loot (less loot agency, not more)
    Forced camera distance
    Rewards having 3 levels of RNG across the board: If they drop, who they drop for, and what ilvl/sockets they have
    Forced abilities onto GCD (adds artificial depth, in reality interrupts flow & creates frustration)

Yeah, the first few hours on Fetid were pretty rough. We do a final tuning pass right before Mythic opens, based on the latest data we're seeing from players in the live environment during the first week of Heroic. That last-minute change simply had some bad math to it, and the result was a boss that was legitimately "mathematically impossible" - sometimes memes CAN come true. The second nerf was a bit different - the boss was killable before that last 10% change, with a bit more gear and with Vantus Runes, but for a boss 5 of 8, a DPS check that required the very best guilds in the world to play perfectly and also get their ilvl to 370+ was just going to be too much, so we made another adjustment and feel pretty good about where it stands now.

We have an internal test team (including a number of folks who used to raid at a world-top-10 level) that helps us immensely with tuning and functionality passes on these bosses, and we complement their experience with data from PTR testing, from Heroic on live, and from past experience and general rules of thumb regarding how much better the best guilds are compared to our internal team. Sometimes we go wrong there - for example, we'd gotten some new additions to our test team right before Kil'jaeden and didn't realize how much better that group had gotten, so when we applied our usual X% buff to account for Method being way better than our internal team, that overshot the mark.

I'm not entirely clear on the second half of the question, but WoW certainly has a core of systems: Level-up questing, max-level repeatable quests, PvP (BG, Arena, World PvP), dungeons, raids, etc. And we've added new pieces to that mosaic over time (M+, some sort of real-time/offline mission system, etc.). We're not looking to change those up just for the sake of change, but obviously where we feel like we can do way better in a specific area (e.g. War Mode to spice up world PvP), we will.
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#6 - Sept. 14, 2018, 10:03 p.m.
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Is the tremendous downtime of Warfronts and the reset for world boss/rares intended? Such as it is, there's just a huge amount of time where nothing is happening. Any thoughts about allowing us to contribute during the attacker phase or something? Because as an Alliance player, it really sucks that after our one evening of killing rares and a world boss, we're sitting around with nothing to do while Horde players do stuff for two weeks.

We did a pretty poor job of communicating in advance exactly how the Warfront rotation was going to work, since it was very different on beta for ease-of-testing purposes. The gap between player expectation and reality didn't do us any favors here.

On a factual note, the whole cycle is likely to be more like 3.5 weeks, and not 5. There are basically three stages you progress through as an attacker:

Donating to fund the war effort, turning in materials for AP (tuned to take 4-6 days depending on player contributions)

Warfront active, able to queue, with a once-per-cycle 370 reward and then repeatable 340s (7 days)

Zone control, can kill world boss for a shot at a 370 reward, 340s from the rare spawns (11-13 days, while the opposite faction does steps 1 and 2 on their end)

There are two reasons Warfronts are paced this way: First, it lets us give them generous rewards relative to other core content like dungeons, without completely obsoleting that content. Second, we want to make sure most players feel like they have a decent chance to participate in each step; if the Warfront were only available for 3 days instead of 7, the whole thing would move faster, yes, but someone who wasn't able to log in for a few days would miss the activity entirely.

We also do intend to add additional Warfronts over time, so that these cycles will be interwoven in a way that hopefully makes it feel like there's more to do, more often.
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#7 - Sept. 14, 2018, 10:20 p.m.
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Regarding the M+ weekly cache:

Three of the people in my consistent M+ group received 370 Azerite pieces that are not worth using over our 340/355 items due to having inferior traits. I can assure you this felt just as bad as only getting one item instead of three.

We're also in a position that the dungeons are the source for a lot of the strongest traits for a lot of the classes - further making it likely that the Azerite piece you may, or may not, get is likely to just be a waste of your weekly cache.

This is exacerbated by the fact that the cache is the most reliable source for a high item level weapon due to their inability to Titanforge.

Would a better solution not have been to have one Azerite piece and one other piece of loot drop from this chest? smoothing the RNG whilst also making the cache feel more rewarding as was the stated intention

First off, some clarification on the M+ cache in particular. We wanted to make sure that M+-focused players could count on getting a reasonable amount of Azerite armor over time, and a purely random system would have too much variance. The way it worked on beta during the early Summer was that there were three independent chances to roll for an Azerite piece (rarely), a weapon (rarely), and then a guaranteed pull of non-Azerite, non-weapon loot. The chance to get an Azerite piece would increase over time until you got one (bad luck protection, in essence). The goal wasn't to make M+ more rewarding overall than it had been in Legion, since we feel like it's in a pretty good place. Being able to get an infinite amount of Heroic-raid-quality pieces (unlike raids which have a weekly lockout) and a guaranteed Mythic-raid-quality piece each week is kind of nice. The concern was with access to Azerite armor.

Anyway, that system was observed by people who experienced a range of 1-3 drops, and we did hear feedback pretty quickly that so much RNG felt frustrating. We knew that MOST people would get only 1 item per week, so we risked having the most common outcome turn into a feels-bad moment where rather than celebrating your 30 ilvl gloves upgrade, you felt like you got screwed because you saw screenshots of people who got a helm, an axe, AND gloves that week.

So we consolidated the loot table to a single guaranteed drop, but we kept the bad luck protection for Azerite armor in place. If someone ONLY does M+ as an endgame activity, we want to make sure that over the course of a tier you're getting a healthy amount of Azerite gear.

The other part of the question/concern ties back to my earlier reply on Azerite trait tuning. If you're exclusively looking for one or two traits because they're your BiS, then the potential for frustration is pretty large. But if basically every piece of 370 or 385 armor had at least one trait on the outer ring that was competitive, then an upgrade would be an upgrade. That's a problem we need to solve. If you have a 355 helm equipped, ANY 385 helm you see should make you happy, even if it's not your theoretical BiS item.

And as a final point, while I know this may not sit well with folks who really just want to focus on M+ as their sole endgame content, the fact that it's harder to target specific pieces of gear in M+ versus raiding is deliberate. As I mentioned above, you can run a huge amount of M+ dungeons each week without a lockout, and the activity requires four other people as opposed to coordinating and scheduling a full raid group. Each format has its advantages: M+ awards a far larger total quantity of loot, with a guaranteed top-end weekly reward, while raids have a finite quantity but offer more control over targeting specific pieces.
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#8 - Sept. 14, 2018, 10:34 p.m.
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The only real problem is how long it feels, that more or less fixes itself if there’s 2-3 more warfronts.

Yeah, I recognize that right now, literally one month into the expansion to the day, a whole week feels like an ETERNITY, let alone waiting 2 full weeks to get a shot at it on your faction.

We're crafting systems with an eye towards the grand scheme of the game as it unfolds over the course of many months, and viewed each Warfront in the same vein as something like rotating events such as Timewalking, which comes around every third week. Island Expeditions were crafted as an always-available complement to core content, while Warfronts were envisioned as more of a periodic special event. (Again, saying that up-front would probably have been smart. But we clearly weren't.)

In two days, Alliance will begin their contributions, and a week from now you'll be jumping into the Warfront yourself. The initial rollout was regrettable, and we should have had a minimum item level requirement on the experience sooner. In the grand scheme of things, the number of true fresh alts that geared up during the ~48 hours when it was unrestricted is small, and from a competitive perspective, most folks who'd been doing other endgame content for weeks prior to the Warfront had little need for the repeatable 340s it offered. That initial window should never have existed in the first place, but we didn't feel like it was the right answer to leave an unrestricted source of 340 loot in place for the entirety of September just to make sure everyone got a shot, relative to the harm it would cause to the value of other content for fresh 120s, to say nothing of the degraded experience in the Warfront itself from having a bunch of folks wearing 280 gear and unable to pull their weight.
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#9 - Sept. 14, 2018, 10:57 p.m.
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How am I supposed to solve the problem of what is my best gear to wear, without a program that simulates all of the possible combinations of traits and items?

This is something we discuss a lot internally, and it's a massive challenge inherent in designing rewards and systems for a game that's as heavily analyzed and understood as WoW. Even without any sort of special effects, traits, procs, or the like, high-end players still sim (or use tools like Pawn) to decide whether a 10 ilvl potential upgrade with different secondary stats is actually worth wearing. I think we'd have to literally strip itemization down to stamina and primary stat and nothing else if we wanted it to be truly obvious without any external reference which was optimal. And of course that cuts directly against our own desire to craft interesting choices, and the community's desire for customization and progression.

The route we've settled on is trying to minimize the actual gap in performance between someone who obsessively sims every possible choice, and someone who makes intuitive decisions like always equipping higher-ilvl pieces or saying "hmm, that trait sounds like it's good for AoE, while this one makes my single-target finisher better, so I'll use this helm on Zul and that helm on Fetid Devourer." Where those gaps are unduly large, as seen with all the "this 370 helm is a downgrade from my 340..." examples, we have work to do on that front.

When writing tooltips, we balance trying to give relevant information with clarity. If the exact proc rate of Overwhelming Power were contained in that tooltip, would you honestly be taking out a pencil and paper and calculating its effective uptime based on that information, and weighing that against the alternative? As long as it's clear that it's a proc, as opposed to an always-on effect, or one triggered by an action, that seems sufficient.
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#10 - Sept. 14, 2018, 11:13 p.m.
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As someone who participated in the beta and personally submitted multiple bug reports and feedback about various issues, I can't help but feel that i wasn't the only one who's testing feedback was ignored. Let's not even talk about how it feels that every fifth quest or item has a typo of some kind, almost like it hasn't been proofread... So i wanted to ask - what was the reason the game launched in the state it was, despite the issues being known?

If these issues were reported, why was the expansion still pushed forward in the state it was in? The beta testing period for BFA was much shorter than for previous expansions - and it shows. Was it just an overestimation on the development team's part, or?

Going forward, do you plan to continue with the goal of "faster expansions", or is there any discussion about return to the previous method of "slower, but more testing" approach?

Each WoW expansion is larger than the last in terms of the sheer amount of data that goes into it, and human error along the way is inevitable. There have been over 30,000 bugs entered and tracked over the course of BfA's alpha, beta, and release. 95% of those have been fixed, with most of the open issues being ones that were reported recently and are either being worked on or will be resolved in our next major patch. Legion had very similar numbers, for reference.

Player reports, on PTR/beta or on live, are essential to our work, but they also come with an inherently high signal-to-noise ratio. We have tens or hundreds of thousands of people providing feedback, and we are just a couple hundred developers all in all, so we physically can't directly process all of it, so we rely on support teams and other processes to streamline major issues that bring them to our attention. When it comes to bugs, due to the overall complexity of WoW, what seems like an obvious bug to a player may actually require specific timing, or a sequence of events or interaction between multiple players, so when a QA analyst investigates a report saying "NPC X is stuck and won't follow her path so the quest can't complete" and spends an hour trying various approaches but can't get the issue to occur, that bug may be filed away as "Could Not Reproduce" as we move on to one of the other thousands of reports. Then when millions of people hit the quest on live servers, it may crop up again in a way that gives us enough information that we're able to actually isolate an underlying cause, and deploy a fix. That's how WoW has been made since 2004, and nothing significant has changed there, except for our capacity to hotfix issues directly to the live servers, whereas in the past we would've had to wait for a full patch.

When it comes to things like typos, those will mostly get fixed in our first major patch. Since our game is localized into many languages for global release, as we get to the later stages of development we have a hard cutoff (known as "string lock" internally - referring to text strings) beyond which we can't make changes to text. We have literal millions of words of text in WoW, so some typos are pretty much inevitable, as much as I hate it. Seeing things like "Ogrimmar" on a portal in Shrine for two months back when Mists launched hurt my soul.

Finally, I know there will be skepticism when I say this, but the pressure to release content is driven solely by our desire as developers to keep you all happy. That's all. Blizzard prides itself on maintaining high quality in its products, but one of the quirks of a live service is that quantity and timeliness of content ARE part of quality. We could literally always add more content, or polish things further, but at some point we have to draw the line or you'd still be on Argus waiting for the next thing to come. I know we have a history of endless final tiers, but I genuinely don't think what happened with Siege of Orgrimmar or Tanaan/HFC were acceptable, as a player or as a developer.
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#11 - Sept. 14, 2018, 11:35 p.m.
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Hey Ion, can you explain the reasoning behind the excessive time gating that seems to be present in BFA (and in older content as well).

The only metric we care about as a development team is whether you're having fun. And even if you don't believe me and take a more cynical approach, from a business perspective, one of the nice things about the subscription model is that our only commercial incentive is to make a game that as many people as possible think is worth their time and money. Which pretty much comes back to us just wanting you to have fun.

If you feel forced to play far more than you want to in order to keep up, and you burn out, that certainly doesn't do anything positive for us, no matter how many minutes you might have spent logged in along the way. We certainly got our share of feedback during Legion from raiders with limited free time who vastly preferred the WoD approach where you pretty much could just log in to raid and didn't have to worry about character progression along any other axes. On the other hand, if you get bored waiting for new content and find something else to do, that's a problem too.

Part of how we design and pace our content is with an eye towards multiple player types, in a game with a huge array of different playstyles. Things like weekly lockouts on raid content have been part of WoW since the very start, to ensure that people who don't have unlimited playtime can progress at a comparable rate. These days, our systems tend to offer a balance of time-limited incentives that kind of are that system of diminishing returns you're mentioning. If you want to do world quests, then just doing your Emissaries will give you the best reward for your time if you just have a little while to play, or you can scour the outdoor zones more thoroughly. You can do one higher M+ and stop there and get a great weekly reward, or you can run as many as you want without any limitation for repeated rewards a tier down. Ditto for PvP. On the collecting side, people with less time can pretty efficiently do mount/mog raid runs, while those who want to spend more time have dungeons and other systems that are infinitely repeatable available, not to mention alts.
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#12 - Sept. 15, 2018, 12:04 a.m.
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1: What do you plan to do to eliminate Rep grind on alts? It has been stated before Blizzard has no plans in this area but we have reached a point where 82+% of the of the community agrees that Rep should be Cross-Account. Several others have suggested compromises like previous systems in place from other expansions as seen here.
2: Many players are dissatisfied with your current the new Azerite systems. Some players think the new abilities are boring, but most people agree that they are too grindy to unlock especially with an alt. Many players are sick of the carrot and a stick approach to the game which feels like it is directly designed to keep people subscribed and grinding to keep stock holders happy rather than designed to be fun. What plans does blizzard have to alleviate this issue?
3: Why are classes pushed forward clearly unfinished? The two biggest classes that jump to mind are Shadow Priest and Shamans. Edit: Adding Feral Druids to the list from a comment below.

We're often torn when it comes to questions about alt progression, alt catch-up mechanisms, or account-wide systems. Philosophically, what's the point of an alt? For one group of players, the primary desire is to jump into participating in endgame activities from a different perspective (a PvP alt, or a healer alt for a change of pace from your usual DPS main, or whatever). In that context, almost any required progression can feel like a nuisance - an obstacle in the way to the desired endpoint of being raid-ready, or arena-viable.

For another group of players, an alt represents a fresh set of goals to pursue after reaching a point of diminishing returns on a main, whether that's someone who hits max level and then promptly begins leveling another character, or someone who doesn't have many available gear upgrades left on their main and hops over to an alt where progress can once again come quickly. For this type of player, the more things are account-wide, the fewer new goals they have to pursue.

On the topic of reputation, the main question I'd ask is why most reputations feel mandatory on alts. Champions of Azeroth is the obvious one, and we'll be adding catch-up mechanisms to that rep in particular in an upcoming patch, since as epic gear becomes increasingly accessible over time, it's frustrating to have your Heart of Azeroth lagging so far behind in power. Other than that, we've made several content unlocks (e.g. Kings' Rest and Siege of Boralus) account-wide.

For Azerite/AP, the ongoing weekly reduction in AP requirements should make catch-up increasingly quick, just as it did in Legion. It's a bit less obvious than the Legion version where AP rewards scaled up to the billions, but in BfA your is still essentially 30% more effective with each passing week. Soon a fresh 120 alt will be able to do their Expedition weekly and get ~3 Heart levels straight away.

We do want to strike a balance between offering meaningful progression, and wanting to avoid tedium on alts. The examples above are helpful, but I'd love to hear more about specific elements that feel like they discourage playing alts.

Finally, on the class front, I'm not sure any class has even been something we'd say is "finished" - there's always room for refinement, tweaking talents to improve unpopular ones or fix rows that feel dead because there's just one dominant choice, fixing awkward mechanical interactions, adding new tools, and so forth. We do have plans in the works for the classes you mentioned, informed by both these communities' feedback and data from the first month of BfA. I do wish we could have gotten to addressing this feedback sooner, and I'm sorry for that - it sucks to feel like you're last in line, but hopefully the end result will be worth it.
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#13 - Sept. 15, 2018, 12:17 a.m.
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Are defensives like Touch of Karma and Shield of Vengeance intended to be a major part of a specs damage? For example, it’s easy to find Windwalker raid parses of a variety of skill levels where Touch of Karma is 10-15% or more of their overall damage.

Do you think that's healthy for the game?

Are there plans to address this?

No, we don't think that's healthy. It's a similar situation to the gameplay AMS used to yield for Death Knights. Defensives with a backlash component are an interesting space to explore, but when your "defensive" gameplay turns into actively seeking out sources of damage, that's pretty degenerate.
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#14 - Sept. 15, 2018, 12:19 a.m.
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What happened to paragon reputation? It seemed like a decent concept, even if there was room for improvement (You can farm legion WQs for the better part of a decade without getting a paragon mount). Right now though i am already exalted with 7th Legion (Gotta get my dark iron!). Island Expeditions, War fronts are mostly meaningless due to this. But i still get 7th legion follower missions just as i still see those obnoxious supply quests in Boralus. Zandalar is mostly useless aswell.

Half the expansion zones, and several expansion features, expired by a single reputation farm. Seems like it could be improved.

The Paragon system in Legion felt like a way to keep reputations relevant for those who wanted to continue doing outdoor content or missions later on in the expansion. We plan to reintroduce the system for BfA reps in an upcoming patch.
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#15 - Sept. 15, 2018, 12:20 a.m.
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Some professions have no use at all or limited use of Expulsom, Hydrocore, and Sanguicell. Do you have future plans to make the aforementioned reagents usable by more professions?

This is something we've been discussing a bunch. On the one hand, we'd like to add a way to get at least Hydrocores through doing non-Mythic dungeons, so that the professions that DO have a use for them don't feel like they hit a brick wall in their crafting if they only do matchmade content.

On the other hand, it's awkward to be swimming in Sanguicells with no use for them as an Alchemist or Enchanter. I don't have a specific fix to announce right now, but we're discussing plans to address that problem.
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#16 - Sept. 15, 2018, 12:21 a.m.
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shamans get trounced in damage, mobility, and soaking/immune ability by hunters. What's the offset? Shamans have a healing class? DPS spec shamans can heal a tiny bit while sacrificing even more damage?

Right, it's valid criticism that DPS spec shamans don't feel like they have sufficient offsetting strengths right now. I wasn't saying that they do. We have work to do there.
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#17 - Sept. 15, 2018, 12:23 a.m.
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What is being done in the immediate future to prevent shamans from further sliding down this slope of irrelevance and can we get some details on what to expect?

We do have further overall short-term balancing to do (via hotfix). We can't fix mechanics and rotational issues that way, but when it comes to numbers, we'll definitely be looking at shaman performance in the near future.
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#18 - Sept. 15, 2018, 12:27 a.m.
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Do you see under-performing traits as something that will just be buffed in some way, or do you think some will see reworks to change the power to be similar but work more effectively than they do now? Some traits like surging tides have very little pve use because it requires trying to actively snipe healing to get it to work at all, where if it worked something like Deceiver's Grand Design and consumed the riptide buff for the shield upon hitting the hp threshold, it'd be more competitive with something like swelling streams for example. Every spec seems to have traits where they're just considered to be not worth considering and it really seems like the system would greatly benefit from more balancing to give players more choice in how azerite powers get used without feeling like they're taking a massive power hit to do so.

Additionally, is there a design reason why two armor pieces with the same ilvl require different heart levels to unlock tiers, even if they are largely similar traits on both? It feels weird to see two 370 pieces and have it require 1-3 extra heart levels which can be an extra week or two to see the same amount of unlocks for minimal gain.

For some traits, numbers adjustments will be sufficient. Others, as you note, may require more redesign.

The requirements are staggered slightly based on slot, where one slot may require 16/19/22/25, another 17/20/23/26, and the third 18/21/24/27, such that an artifact level is more likely to unlock a new trait rather than just being a passive ilvl increase to the Heart.
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#19 - Sept. 15, 2018, 12:29 a.m.
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Do you plan to go back and retool the Alliance's BFA mounts?

When we make a new expansion, we look at the broader ecologies of the new zones and identify which creatures would make cool mounts. However, at the start of recent expansions before flying can be earned, we also avoid giving out mount models that really work best when flying. As it turned out, the Horde bestiary had a lot more ground-based models which led to the first wave of rep mounts being skewed. But we plan on rectifying that as the expansion unfolds. Speaking of which, that Bee is pretty wonderful, isn't it?
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#20 - Sept. 15, 2018, 12:49 a.m.
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Thank you to everyone for the time and energy that went into all the questions, and thanks again to the r/wow moderators for wrangling this beast of a thread. I tried to refresh the thread and go down the list of Top-upvoted questions as best I could, but I know that I missed the majority of the questions due to the sheer volume. I apologize if I wasn't able to cover the topic you wanted to hear about. I also look forward to going back and digging into the reply threads underneath my comments later on, since it was a bit too much to process in real time.

When it comes to a lot of the questions asking for specific change, I know that my replies often trend towards explaining why we did a thing you're upset we did, rather than just saying we're going to change it immediately. At the end of the day, if it simply feels bad, an explanation from me probably isn't going to fix that. Change can and will still come to many of these areas, but that's something for the appropriate folks on the development team to discuss, and not something for me to just unilaterally declare here. From Azerite, to Warfront pacing, to Island Expeditions gameplay and rewards, to shamans and other classes, we have a lot to talk about.

As I mentioned at the outset of this AMA, this is a beginning of an ongoing conversation. In some of my responses today, I referred to plans for our upcoming content update. That patch will be coming to the PTR very soon, and we'll be doing a livestream on Tuesday, September 18 at 11am PDT on the Warcraft Twitch channel where we'll discuss the major pieces of content in the patch. I look forward to continuing the discussion.

Again, thank you so very much for your passion and feedback.