Here at Blizzcon 2007, Blizzard held an excellent panel on raid and dungeons, lets the information spill. I attended the panel and jotted down some information of interest.
First the good stuff, because I know you are dying to know. So here are the highlights:
- Possibly one new 5 man before next expansion.
- KTM and Deadly Boss Mods built into game.
- Ideas for an Item Rack functionality that has extra storage space for alternate sets of gear.
- New 25 man before expansion that is higher level/better gear than Black Temple. It was hinted, but not confirmed that this could be related to Sunwell and Northrend.
- Naxxramas could be redone as an introductory raid dungeon for Northrend to allow those who didn't get to see the fight a chance to see the fight.
- Horde will be getting fear ward.
- Healing Priest raid vitality is being looked at.
- Possible guild based attunement or account based attunments.
Blizzard also spent quite a bit of time talking about their reasoning and thought processes behind encounters.
Ideas for raid and dungeon encounters typically come from:
- Lore - (Black Temple, Deadmines)
- Fills a gameplay void - (Maraudon, Ragefire Chasm, Zul'Aman, Zul'Gurub)
- Geography - (Maraudon, Wailing Caverns)
- Metzen wants it (:D)
In general, Blizzard plans a lot more than they can launch with. For example, Dire Maul was originally a level 30 instance, but was taken out and later released at a level 60 instance after release. They expect change and are able to adapt.
They want more 10 man dungeons. Karazhan is the most played instance currently and they want to expand upon the interest there.
Things Blizzard takes into account when thinking about encounters:
- Number of Players
- Should the instance be winged?
Progression! Here are things Blizzard thinks about when working on Progression:
- Sense of purpose
- Escalating Rewards
- Attunements and keys (Karazhan and Heroic-type keys are good. Tempest Keep key, not quite as good.
- Possible guild/account based attunement.
- Unlocking content. Expect more AQ-like server events.
Trash is in for a reason. It allows for individual classes to shine and allows for pacing. Don't expect trash to be going anywhere.
Relating to trash:
- Denisty - Gnomeragan, Hyjal Past, Karazhan Library, Scholomance, Shadowlabs, Underbog are all examples of where density has gone bad.
- Killtime - Hit points, disruption, immunities - Examples of things that take too long to kill include (Defias Miner, Fel Overseer, Greyheart Technicians (suppossed to be AOE mobs), Mana Feeders, Boglords)
- Difficulty - likelihood to kill, complexity, requires bosslike attention/skill. Failures here include (Anh'Qiraj Anubisath's, Defias Pillager, Molten Core Lava Packs, Anything post Twin Emperors in AQ, Karazhan Skeletal Ushers.
- Respawn - adds a sense of urgency, can allow for unlimited tries on a boss, can often be coupled with the boss encounters. (Examples include: Stratholme respawned too fast, Razorgore has unlimited tries and no trash, Broodlord Lashlayer had trash that was considered to be part of the fight, Vaelastrasz had no trash, Skeram/Attumen type trash is the kind they are aiming for, Reliquary of Souls is similar to Broodlord Lashlayer)
- Reward - gives money, items, rep, and a chance to progress. Hyjal trash will be giving Sands of Time Rep. Monstrous Kaliri will be getting loot and rep as well.
A lot of thought also goes into encounters. How many people are needed, what gear is expected (Onyxia Scale Cloak, Resist gear, Kael'Thas Weapons). What makes sense based on the lore? Ragnaros is obviously going to hit with fire and do big damage because he has a big hammer. Thaddius is going to have something electrical related to his fight because of the room he is in. How does the enounter fit overall?
A lot of it boils down to what is called "Math Problems". Can the player survive burst damage? This is what is called a gear check. Also fights can consist of dps/beating the clock checks. Examples include Patchwerk which is a tanking/healing check. Gruul which is a dps check.
Many fights have multiple phases and targets. Kael'Thas is a multiphase fight with multiple targets.
Movement and positioning can also add another element. Shade of Aran has 3 different movement phases, fire, frost, and arcane.
Black Morass adds a completely different type of instance mechanic.
Players must be able to assume individual responsibility. Encounters are designed to reward situational awareness and raid groups are only as strong as the weakest link. (Think Geddon, Heigan he Unclean)
All encounters have a random element to them. You can get lucky or you can get unlucky. The random element adds tension and drama and another dimension to the fights. Random, does not mean that they are unknown however, and they can be overcome with gear and other improvements like having gear or a specific strategy. Randomness can also favor a player (Think Prince in Karazhan).
Many fights are Endurance tests. These are typically long fights that increase the chance of mistakes and increase the chances to get unlucky. They also bring about issues of mana management. How to help endurance tests: great dps. Examples of endurance tests are the Illidari Council, Nightbane, and Illidan Stormrage.
Overall, summary of points made at the Raid and Dungeon Panel & Q/A at Blizzcon 2007.