Elemental Damage Should Matter

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#1 - March 4, 2012, 7:06 p.m.
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I read Ghostcrawler's recent article, and they are talking about how they going to take out spell resistance all together.

I really hope a Blizzard GM reads this, and perhaps I am living in the past but I honestly belief this is a serious step backwards in terms of gaming design. World of Warcraft can be accessible to everyone, without making the game overly simple. I have said this before, in which that simplicity is not really a good thing, it just makes the game more primitive. It just feels that World of Warcraft gets worse when it comes to game mechanics in which that it makes all these interesting concepts like elemental damage trivial.

Honestly, I was hoping that Blizzard would re-introduce the concept of different types of elemental damage in the future, including an emphasis on resistance. I want to make it clear that I am not saying that players should have specific armor sets that are suppose to be centered around resistance to fire, frost, etc, but at least make players aware that there are different types of damage. I want to talk about Asheron's Call, which was the MMORPG I played before World of Warcraft, in which that elemental damage really did matter. For example, many creature types didn't just had a resistance against certain types of elemental damage, but also were vulnerable against other types. It really made the whole combat in Asheron's Call really fun and dynamic. I am not saying World of Warcraft has to exactly be like that, but I think there should have been some influence. In fact, that design was around during Vanilla World of Warcraft. If you were in the Burning Steppes, there were many creatures that had a high resistance against fire, while when you were in Winterspring, it was the opposite, where many creatures had a resistance against frost. I was always thinking why didn't Blizzard just keep it that way. Now its down to the point where a mage or warlock can spam fire spells on a fire elemental, and still deal high numbers.

I understand people are going to say that mages and warlocks will enviably be in a bad situation, because a fire mage or destruction warlock will have trouble in a place like Blackrock Caverns, but people should see this as more of a challenge. It's not really a big deal if a player isn't dealing over 20k damage. At the same time, it should encourage players to use different rotations based on the type of creature, again games like World of Warcraft need to be more dynamic. What it really comes down to is that World of Warcraft is NOT a game of mathematics, buts its a game of roleplay and planning. The idea of seeing a destruction warlock spam fire spells on a fire elemental is an insult to the roleplay concept of World of Warcraft and more importantly, it's an example of how insultingly simple World of Warcraft as become.

To me different types of elemental damage are a fundamental part of the gameplay in any MMORPG. By removing resistance, and making elemental damage trivial, its just one other change that I do not like to see in World of Warcraft. I honestly think that making a game this simple is not the best way to make World of Warcraft more accessible, but instead the consequence is that World of Warcraft will be less desirable to play. I am just speaking as a concerned veteran player.
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Community Manager
#154 - March 6, 2012, 8:35 p.m.
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There were two primary problems with spell resistance.

First, the mechanic was implemented in a really confusing way. We could describe it all here, but it would take paragraphs, so instead we invite you to look it up on one of the fansites. The way a point of resistance leads to decreased damage is not an easy system for even experienced players to understand. We certainly could have redesigned the system, but to what end? Gearing for resistance sacrificed so many other stats that it was really only beneficial on those fights that the designers decided ahead of time would be "resistance fights," which generally meant getting a whole set of Nature (or Fire or Shadow, etc.) resistance gear. It felt more like an annoying speed bump to being able to progress to the next boss, rather than a fun challenge.

Secondly, the various resistance auras were passive things you'd just throw up, and pretty easy for any group larger than 5 to have. In designer parlance, we balanced around the assumption of their presence, rather than them feeling like awesome bonuses when you got to use, say, Fire Resist Aura. There isn't a ton of interesting gameplay there.

As we said in the blog, in some alternate universe, we could imagine a World of Warcraft itemization design where resistances are nearly as meaningful as stats like haste or crit. In that game there would be a lot of mobs that cast spells or use magical attacks, and stacking resistance might be an interesting trade off to stacking Stamina and armor. In the abstract, resistances could be cool. They aren't currently very cool in the actual World of Warcraft. We could spend a lot of design attention to make them cool -- and maybe someday we'll take that challenge on again -- but for Mists, we'd rather spend more attention on making sure the talent tree and spec revamps are as cool as they can possibly be.