Regional FlagRogueSource
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#1 - 2012/06/13 04:44:00 PM
For rogues, the only code is the contract, and their honor is purchased in gold. Free from the constraints of a conscience, these mercenaries rely on brutal and efficient tactics. Lethal assassins and masters of stealth, they will approach their marks from behind, piercing a vital organ and vanishing into the shadows before the victim hits the ground.

Rogues can dip their weapons in paralyzing toxins that render foes unable to defend themselves. These silent stalkers wear leather armor so they can move unencumbered, ensuring that they land the first strike.

With the rogueís poisons and speed, the first strike is often the last step before the killing blow.

Rogues sneak about the battlefield, hiding from enemies and delivering surprise attacks to the unwary when opportunity arises.

By coating their dual-wielded blades with deadly poisons, rogues can deliver catastrophic damage to their targets.

When endangered, rogues have many tools at their disposal to avoid their enemiesí gaze and, if necessary, their attacks.

By planning and combining successive melee attacks, rogues can build up combo points that allow them to deliver devastating finishing blows in combat.


So Blizzard, you ever wanted a idea of how to design rogues? Why you don't follow what you put on your game site's description of the class?

Game Designer
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#59 - 2012/06/14 02:46:00 AM
Rogues are in a pretty good place in Cataclysm in both PvE and PvP. We don't see a lot of huge glaring problems that need to be fixed. I realize there are several players out there asking for change just because they're getting bored of the same class or at the very least wanting to spice it up, and that is a totally valid way to feel. But you also have to consider the risk we'd take for all of the rogues out there who are totally happy with the way their class is playing now, thank you very much.

As an example, we changed paladins in Cataclysm because we thought they needed a resource mechanic to make their gameplay more interesting. Overall we're happy with the way that has played out, and it's even better in Mists, but it's also very easy to find "please remove Holy Power" posts regularly. While we disagree with those players, the fact remains that we made the class worse for them.

To use a second example, we are changing warlocks pretty extensively for Mists because we thought they had several fundamental problems. Is every warlock going to like those changes? Of course not. Are there going to lots of players who beg us to revert the changes? Absolutely.

(And this is all ignoring the risk that even changing a mechanic from an acknowledged bad design to a good design still risks frustrating or annoying many players just because they have to relearn something.)

We are trying to fix some of the annoying things rogues have had to deal with and we are trying to offer some options in talents and glyphs that can help spice up the gameplay for someone who has been loyally Sinister Striking for these eight years. But we also don't want to fix what isn't broken. We try really hard not to change classes for the sake of change. It's hard. But we try.

I'd go as far to say that most of the class team would probably agree (and I didn't poll them, so I may be sticking my neck out) that the rogue is the best designed class. And much of that design was in place before virtually any of us started working on classes, so we can't even really take credit for it. The rogue has the best resource system (energy), a strong kit, a good toolbox, and a clear role in PvP and PvE, yet it still has disadvantages to go along with the advantages and can't just do everything flawlessly all the time. It's a good design, again in our humble opinions, which is why you see so few changes to the class overall. But please don't over-read that as my stating that we won't fix bugs, add polish, balance numbers, undo bone-headed design flaws when the need arises, or yes, add a little bit of newness once in awhile just to keep things shiny.

Game Designer
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#200 - 2012/06/14 08:11:00 PM
What annoying things have we had to deal with that you're fixing?

I'll just use one example because in our opinion it's the biggest. Layered ramping mechanics were the single biggest weakness rogues have in Cataclysm (and have had for some time). Some ramping is desirable, but too much can really hurt target switching, prohibit fast burst damage, etc. (Don't take this to extremes -- we don't need posts from every class pointing out situations in which they can't go from 0 to 60 when target switching and therefore arguing how they need to be redesigned.)

In Mists, we want combo points to be the ramping mechanic. Deadly Poison doesn't need to be a ramping mechanic. Bandit's Guile doesn't need to be a ramping mechanic. We changed the way both of those work.

You may not have thought it was a problem, but we did, and we heard about it a lot from rogue players, so we fixed it.

I sincerely want to know by what measure and according to what data you conclude rogues are "fine" in PvP right now.

What I meant was that we didn't see any crippling design flaws in rogues that needed overhauling in Mists. Sub rogues probably are too good in Cataclysm PvP, or at least 3v3 Arenas, which many players use as synonymous with PvP. It's hard to tell if Assassination and Combat are really weak, or if Sub is so strong that any sensible rogue just plays Sub. It's also entirely possible that it isn't even Sub that is too powerful but just Prep and Shadowstep. In any case, my comment was addressed towards the group of players that believe rogues have this giant list of issues that must be addressed, and at another (perhaps overlapping) group of players that just want us to change things up for the rogue because they're getting bored. Sorry for any confusion.

The combo points issue is a symbolic one, though. This is something a large number of rogues have wanted for a very long time, and the issue gets consistently ignored. I often feel as if there's no point in giving feedback at all when the devs can't even see eye-to-eye with players on how our resources should work.

The feedback doesn't get ignored. We just disagree, which we have to be allowed to do if we're actually going to design the game rather than just letting players vote on how every mechanic should work. We like the way combo points work (meaning on the target). I also suspect you're being a bit presumptuous assuming that all rogues want combo points on the rogue. Yes, rogues would be easier to play if you didn't have to worry about which target your combo points were on. Do rogues need to be easier to play? If so, are combo points the right change? We could eliminate combo points and just give Eviscerate a cooldown. Would that be easier? Would it be more fun? I'm not trying to be dismissive -- I think those questions are legitimately hard to answer.

Game Designer
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#201 - 2012/06/14 08:13:00 PM
A lot of people say killing spree is poorly designed because it doesn't work on those fights, but I firmly believe those situations are a failure of encounter design, not class design. Killing spree and backstab are fine; Blizz needs to learn to take them into account when they design bosses.

We do. But it is not our design intent that every spec can perform the exact same rotation on every fight. I'm certain that if we solved the backstab issue then the next complaint to come up (from some class) would be that every boss fight needs to have 3 targets, because multi-dotting works the best with 3 targets and their DPS will be lower when there is only one target. What do you think the DPS difference is among the 3 rogue specs on Ultraxion? (You can't just look at posted logs to answer that question, because mostly what those logs tell you are that most rogues (and presumably many of the best ones) go Combat for that fight.) What is an acceptable difference? 5%? 1%? 0%?

Obviously I don't have the numbers Blizzard does, but we do know that at least before the legendary daggers rogue was one of the least active classes. No matter if that remains true or not I think it says something when one of the, if not the best designed classes is also one of the least popular. It says that maybe it works great from a design standpoint, but how is that translating to the players?

We look at those numbers of course, but it's really hard to determine cause and effect there. Paladins are nearly always the most played class, but there are just as many paladin players demanding change as there are rogue players (actually, given the population sizes, probably more). So why are some classes more popular than others? It's probably a mix of need, power, kit, flexibility, visuals and a host of other objective and subjective criteria. The hybrid vs. pure issue plays into that a little bit, but it's not the whole answer by a long shot. I definitely don't think it's as simple as if we make a bunch of changes to rogue rotations, now more players will play rogues (consider for starters that we'd almost certainly lose some rogues as well).

Game Designer
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#258 - 2012/06/15 01:47:00 AM
I agree that this is how the design should be, but this raises the question of whether or not our finishers are powerful enough to warrant this design decision. Compared to the power we lost by having the crit bonuses of our primary abilities taken away, they just don't feel like they're as strong as they should be right now. There are fewer combo points flowing in due to generating talents being taken away, so the gaps between finishers feel unrewarding because the finishers themselves feel unrewarding.

I think it's safe to say that if we find we need to buff rogue damage for any of the specs that we'd look to finishers as a place to increase damage.

My big problem right now is that I feel very similar to feral druids and Windwalker monks, without the added benefit of being able to radically change my gameplay on a spec switch. I don't need that radical change, I suppose, being a pure DPS. In PvP it's not a problem as I feel very much like a rogue there, but it's hard to translate into PvE and I end up feeling like a warrior in leather that attacks a bit faster.

I hope Windwalkers feel different. :( Cat druids were designed from the outset to play like rogues, the same way Bears were designed to play just like warriors. We've eroded that a bit over time, but the bones of it remain.

As far as the pure vs. hybrid thing goes, that is a really tricky problem to solve. We could turn all classes into hybrids of course, though I'm also not sure every player would rejoice at such a change. It has been very challenging to make pure specs play fundamentally differently. If the Mists warlocks work out well, then they may feel pretty different (of course they also run the risk I mentioned before of feeling like 3 separate classes and not like warlocks). Some players in this thread mentioned that mages play totally differently, but I think to be fair they feel more different than they really play because fire vs. frost vs. arcane is such a strong theme. It's harder for "I'm an assassination" to have a completely different feel from "I'm a swasbuckler" or "I'm a sneaky guy." We've had the same challenge with hunters. Presumably Marksman hunters are great at using ranged weapons. Okay, what does that mean for Survival? They use traps? Melee? Poison?

Also, a lot of our skills are kind of boring and could use just an aesthetic change. Edit: Oh, the actual question is: Is updating rogue animations and making them more unique especially across specs on the table?

I think that's a totally fair criticism, especially of rogues and to a lesser extent warriors. Melee classes just have fewer opportunities for very showy visuals. We could add them anyway, but then the classes feel like they're casting spells and aren't doing melee attacks with weapons. That said, we have tried to give rogues a few great-looking visual effects in Mists. Longer term (meaning it's unlikely for Mists) we'd like to do more with character animation so that all rogue attacks aren't using the same one-handed stab motion (Mutilate at least has its own animation). Historically, player animations have taken us a very long time, and that time only gets worse as we add races. However, for Mists we have some new techniques that let the animators apply the animation from one model more easily to another. It still takes a great amount of time -- just less than it did before. It is most easy to see the benefits of this advance in all of the new animations for the monk class. It's too early to call that technique a success, but assuming it is, we could do the same thing for rogues and warriors and have a lot more variety in the attack animations. (Animation in this sense has a very specific jargony term, which is the movement of the model itself. All of the spell effects are a different system generally handled by a different team of artists.)

Then why did you make changes to rogue rotations? This is what people are complaining about. Go play Assassination on live and then go play it on beta at 85, then come back and tell us that Assassination is more fun without Puncturing Wounds and Ruthlessness.

Puncturing Wounds is just crit. We can add more crit if we need too (like we recently did for warriors), but it also risks making crit unattractive at high gear levels. "Why did those stupid designers put crit on rogue gear? Don't they know we don't value it?"

Puncturing Wounds (through Seal Fate) and Ruthlessness can deliver more CPs, but also contribute a lot to getting stuck at 4 CPs, which is something rogues have complained to us about, because it means you need to do a weak finisher or risk overflowing CPs on your next Mutilate. In Mists, Assassination does fewer finishers, but at the same time we introduced the Blindside proc to help the rotation from feeling too static.

Game Designer
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#265 - 2012/06/15 02:04:00 AM
To use one of my soon to be patented bad analogies; I feel like every expansion is kind of like Winterveil (to not alienate anyone) and all the classes are opening their gifts to see what this expansion is going to bring them. Some are getting entire new mechanics, some are getting new flashy spells and skills, but rogues are getting Auntie Maven's sweater for the 5th time. Sure it's gonna keep you warm and get you by, but you kinda knew you were going to get it and it's certainly not flashy or exciting.

I honestly believe this is one of those grass is greener deals though. As someone who receives class feedback from both barrels (not that I'm complaining), nearly every class argues that they got a lump of coal and the other guy got something awesome. You'll see a few players saying some new ability or talent is awesome, though they'll do so quietly for fear that we think they are content. :) In fact, I would challenge you to name those classes and specs (not counting monk) that you think got a really good deal in Mists. They'll be here in a second defending their argument that a new spell might appear flashy or sexy but it has Serious Issues or the Real Issues Have Not Been Addressed.

That probably sounds cynical, and I'm honestly not a cynical guy, but it's also what we've come to expect.

Game Designer
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#381 - 2012/06/16 01:13:00 AM
Ghostcrawler, I know you probably won't make your way this deep in the thread, but I just wanted to say thanks for all of this great information and feedback. I really appreciate the openness you've shared with us in these posts. Kudos.

We read everything. We just can't always respond to it all. But if you make good points, I promise we will consider them.

Game Designer
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#382 - 2012/06/16 01:28:00 AM
GC, Iíd say thanks for the posts youíve made, but they confuse me. Not the content of the posts, but that you take the trouble to post them yet the content of them is generally dismissive.

I understand your point of view and I sympathize, but it is something of a no win scenario for us. If we agreed with any particular feedback and there weren't compelling reasons to not make a change, then we would do it. Everyone is happy. That happens sometimes. More often, we disagree or we agree but there is some other reason we aren't going to make a change. The way this comes across to players more often than not is that ideas were suggested and ignored or dismissed. They are never ignored or dismissed.

It would be great if it was possible for us to debate those issues every time they come up, but I don't know a reasonable way to do that. Sometimes I find a bit of spare time to make a forum post or a blog to try and explain our design intent so that at least you have some frame of reference, and the other developers and the community team do likewise.

As I said in one these recent posts, it often feels like the only kind of post from us that is going to be acceptable to some players is "Yes! You are spot on! Buffs and / or changes incoming!" But imagine what the game would be like if we did that every time a suggestion came up. Yes, we should only make the good changes and not the bad ones, but we have yet to find a litmus test to easily detect good from bad. (Let us know if you know of one!) Instead we use our judgment, which is a mix of gut instinct, experience and feedback.

Realize that some of the time we choose to post nothing at all it's because we want to avoid the "But you just dismissed all of our concerns" responses. It's a bummer for players to read a post that says "We disagree" or even worse, "we agree but we have a good reason not to make the change." I get that.

Game Designer
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#449 - 2012/06/16 06:12:00 PM
He hasn't answere anything about the Prep/Step issue.

Again, I feel like we have made plenty of responses to the topic. I think it's one of those deals where because some players don't like the answer, they say the topic has not been addressed. :)

For the record, as many players will tell you, Sub is nearly impossible to balance with both Preparation and Shadowstep. On the other hand, having two talents that are both so good that you want them both and have to think long and hard about which one to take and perhaps even swap back and forth from time to time is pretty much exactly what we are trying to deliver with the new talent system. Are rogues doomed in PvP without both? I doubt that. Is it hard t o choose? Of course, and that's the point. If we conclude that it's just too cruel to ask rogues to choose between them, we'd likely just cut Prep from the game and perhaps lower a few cooldowns slightly. I really hope though that we aren't in a space where every cool talent has to become mandatory or deleted.

Leeching and paralytic locking each other out

Again, asked and answered. We said that we understand that very optimized rogues won't want both talents because you can only use one at a time. That depends a very great deal on how often you'd use the competing talents. If you find yourself using leeching poison then swapping to paralytic often, you may be better off just keeping both talents than constantly swapping. A Disc priest (on live) doesn't necessarily drop the Atonement talent evey time they think they might not Smite, though very min/max players probably do.

We're going to be underfunded for the first patch of MoP

Do you have any evidence of this? Even anecdotes are better than nothing (though not much better). :) The classes on beta are getting pretty well balanced at this point at both level 85 and 90 (modulo the occasional bug that creeps in), so if you think you're seeing something we're not, please let us know.

As an aside, I'm not a huge fan of simulations as evidence, because it requires us to debug them first. I used to spend more effort doing that, but it's a chore, and my time is probably better spent elsewhere. Sims are fantastic for suggesting to you that you might want to try a different rotation or stat allocation. They aren't great for "Hey Bliz, my dps is low. Please buff."

Edit: Grr autocorrect.

Game Designer
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#450 - 2012/06/16 06:19:00 PM
Dirty Tricks just sounds like a bug. I don't have our bug database in front of me, but it's hard to make assumptions about neglect based on when a bug gets fixed, so long as it does before launch. It could be that the developer is waiting on a code change to fix the bug. It could be that he or she is pondering how to fix it or if a redesign in the functionality (not the base design) is warranted.

I've been doing this a long time, and one of the truths I have uncovered is that apparently easy bugs are often the hardest to fix and things you predict would take weeks of programming time can be done in a few lines. It's hard to diagnose from the outside.

If you see bugs, report them in the bug forum. Once you have done so, stop worrying about it until we get close to launch.

Game Designer
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#502 - 2012/06/18 08:36:00 PM
I disagree. Simulation and formulation need to be debugged, yes, but if you don't like looking at math, what would constitute as evidence? Math can, has been, and will be improperly constructed, but without some logical/rational evidence qualitative data means nothing. It's just hearsay.

We like looking at math. You wouldn't last very long in this gig if you didn't.

I know it seems like a Catch 22, but really I think it just illustrates that estimating DPS is not at all straightforward. If it was even moderately easy to do, everyone (including us) would know exactly what all of the targets were and how far everyone deviates from those targets.

There are two problems with simulations. One is that we just don't know if they are accurate. We could determine if they are accurate, but that takes a lot of our time (which is what I meant by debugging). In my experience, they tend to be as accurate as the dedication of the the group of players working on them. What this tends to mean is that certain specs are modeled very well and others... less so. That changes over time as the commitment of key players waxes and wanes. Several systems designers got their start in the theorycrafting community. It is one we are familiar with.

The second problem with simulations is they assume perfect gameplay on a static boss. Now on the one hand it makes more sense to do that than it does to compare DPS on every boss. It's often hard, even for the community, to decide when a fight has a gimmick versus being a legit comparison fight. On live, Ultraxion is the closest thing to a one-target fight with no movement, but even then it sprays the warriors with rage and the length of any fight has relevance because of how many times everyone's cooldowns are available. On the other hand, players tend to care more about how they can actually perform on a fight, not how they could theoretically perform on a boss that doesn't exist (unless you are in Naxxramas perhaps). As an aside, it's fun to go back and compare some of the predicted simulations for various tiers with actual parses.

I mentioned already the problem with comparing parses. They are reasonably good for comparing say rogues to mages, but terrible at comparing the various specs of rogues. The reason is because of the sampling bias, where all of the good rogues (and many of the not-so-good ones) swap specs to whatever spec the highest DPS parses use. There are some problems with this. Some of the highest DPS rotations are challenging to execute. Just because the best rogue in the world hit those numbers doesn't mean you ever can. It also doesn't mean that your DPS will go up by a certain percent just because you used his spec. Some fights just work out really well for some specs, because of adds or movement or burn phases or fight duration. Are these gimmicks that should be tossed out? At some point, you're tossing out every fight. Now to be fair, I'm not saying that Subtlety is secretly the highest DPS fight on Ultraxion and nobody knows about it. However, the delta between Sub and Combat is probably smaller than most people think. The sample size for Sub is much smaller and presumably its numbers are diluted by a lot of uninformed or lesser geared or skilled players or other people just messing around.

The best test I can come up with is to do a fight as one spec and then do the fight as another spec, trying to keep all other factors equal, and see how you do. That might be feasible in Dragon Soul today where you're likely looking for something to spice things up a bit. On the other hand, your guild leader might not want to hear on cutting-edge content "Hey, mind if I try an experiment?" :)

As I said, it's hard. I have used the thermometer analogy before. If you want to know the temperature outside, you can use a thermometer (or more realistically, a phone app) and be pretty confident that the number you see is reasonable (72 degrees F / 22 C in SoCal at the moment, as it very often is.) There isn't a thermometer for rogue DPS. There are a lot of stats and a lot of estimations that when taken collectively can give you some idea of where things lie.

Nevertheless, if you have any numbers from beta that suggest one spec is below the others, please share them with us. We are comfortable with our testing mechanics, but they have been wrong before, and reconciling them with the numbers from other people is never a bad idea. It's really not possible to have useless data, as long as you take everything relevant into consideration as part of the analysis.

Game Designer
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#505 - 2012/06/18 08:48:00 PM
do you think you could answer whether combat rogues are intended to viably dual wield 2.6 weapons in MoP? I've heard it may be possible, but I've yet to see it conclusively proven that we can drop our daggers for a sword or axe without losing significant DPS.

We made some changes such that Combat with a pair of 2.6 weapons will be much closer to someone wielding a fast offhand than they are today. Last I looked, I believe wielding a fast offhand was still theoretically slightly better. Hopefully it is in the realm where you can use whatever drops.

Posted by Pins
So... you think there's a place for damage vs utility, you just don't think Blizzard can pull it off?

It's an incredibly difficult design balance, exacerbated by any variables in which a player can interact with a target or variances that a target makes towards the player and the playable environment.

It is very difficult. I'm also not sure it would be very fun even if we did pull it off. In the theoretical example where you were choosing between a DPS cooldown and a healing cooldown, the pressure would often be to take the DPS cooldown and ask the healers to step it up a bit or just trust to random chance that you won't take that much damage. If the utility were group utility and not survival, then it gets even worse, because you'd always want the other guy to be the buff er... monkey so you can choose the DPS cooldown.