Questions & Feedback: On the Flying Debate


One of the “recent” things over the last week has been the re-confirmation that there will be No Flying In Draenor, with the added possibility of No Flying In Future Expansions. This, of course, has brought much outrage from the community for reasons I’m not exactly sure of. While I’m not discounting the fact that those who want flying back have valid points, I’m concerned with the How of the discussion.

Not Being Listened To

Any time I see someone complain that they’re “not being listened to” because the specific changes they want aren’t being implemented is a bit delusional. Almost everyone is being listened to, and those that aren’t are either because they’re so abusive in their responses that they get banned, or are posting in places where Blizzard CM’s aren’t watching.

As for everyone else, the CM’s & Devs are actually paying attention to what is being said. I’d imagine that internally there may be voices of dissent, where they disagree with the design decision and agree with some of the community, but as an outwards facing group they need to have the same viewpoint which aligns with their design goals.

Incorrect Response

A lot of the complaints about the No Flying discussion has been about how wanting the return of flying isn’t a valid response to the “How can we make your no-flying experience better?”. In this I think the complaints are a bit off, as the way the question has been framed is specifically aimed at not changing this design decision to not have flying.

It’s like responding to “Would you like this in Red, Blue or Black?” with “I want it in Green”. You’re not really answering the question and in demanding that your response is taken seriously you’re beginning to act like a spoiled child.

Wanting Flying Back Is Still A Valid Viewpoint

I’m not saying that this isn’t a valid viewpoint, but I feel that a number of people need to split the responses to developer questions from their desire to get flying back in the game. Continue to make feedback on this, but please remember to actually think about how you respond to questions rather than “I just want flying back”.

One of the examples I’ve seen is that Archaeology is “less fun” without flying. From my own experience, the problems mostly revolve around the fact that dig sites are often too large to cover effectively with ground mounts. A solution to this, and keeping within the “no-flying” bit of the question, would be to reduce the size of many or all dig sites.

Better Feedback Makes A Better Game

Feedback on anything is useful, but only if it’s clear, concise & understandable. Make sure that you understand the questions being asked, frame your responses with that in mind, and together we can help make World of Warcraft a better game.

ERC 6.2.0 PTR r038


ERC 6.2.0 PTR r038

Continuation of the “engine” rework. L60/90/100 talents + set bonuses should be fully functional & evaluations of those should be mostly correct. Stat weights are also working, but only single target as yet.

T18 set bonuses have been updated to account for yesterdays PTR updates.

ERC 6.2.0 PTR r037


ERC 6.2.0 PTR r037

Major Overhaul of Calc “Engine”

Currently I should have the primary Calcs page finished, but anything working out individual DPS values of talents, stats, etc is still using the “old” method if it hasn’t been completely ripped out.

The overhaul is to handle the Legendary Quest Ring proc, which also means more elegantly handling cooldowns like Bloodlust, Ascendance and Elemental Mastery. Have also updated some calculations for other things like Unleashed Fury & Elemental Fusion.

Feedback

Only stuff I’m interested in at the moment is if something isn’t working correctly with the configuration settings & the resulting DPS output. Everything else is pretty much broken at the moment, so there’s no point in saying anything :p

The controls for the class trinket & legendary ring will eventually be tied into the Items page, so they’ll only trigger when you have them equipped. Will also see if I can do something with Ascendance delays to line up with the ring, but that’s something for later on.

Archive: Simulation Tips & Tricks


This entry will be my collection of random tips & tricks for using SimulationCraft. I’ll update this as I find/use more things on a regular basis.

Simulation Settings

optimal_raid=1

Optimal Raid gives all relevant buffs/debuffs (Haste, Mastery, etc).

html=blah.html

The HTML setting allows you to specify the name of the html report.

calculate_scale_factors=0

Calculate Scale Factors is a switch to generate all possible stat weights, which will be based on adding 1000 to each stat.

scale_strength=200

In addition to this, you can set the interval for calculating the stat weights (default = 1000)

iterations=25000

The Iteration setting controls how many times a particular combination is run. The higher the number the more accurate it is, but the longer it will take. 25,000 is a good number to use.

fight_style=heavymovement

Changes the fight conditions. Possible fights are lightmovement, heavymovement, helterskelter (a chaotic fight), patchwerk (no raid events/movement) and ultraxion (based on the DS fight with temporary invulnerabilities)

Data Exports

reforge_plot_output_file=imreallyaplotfiletoo.csv

Exports reforge & plot results to the specified CSV file

Multi-profile Simulations
We can use multi-profile sims to compare classes, raiders, talents or other configuration changes. To do this we create a new simc file, but instead of the rotation/gear profiles we refer to secondary simc files.

#!simc
optimal_raid=1
html=Ele_T15H_Talents_LM.html
calculate_scale_factors=1
iterations=25000

fight_style=lightmovement

Shaman_Elemental_T15H.simc name=Untalented talents=000000 glyphs=unleashed_lightning
Shaman_Elemental_T15H.simc name=PE_Echo_UL talents=000302 glyphs=unleashed_lightning
Shaman_Elemental_T15H.simc name=PE_AS_UL talents=000202 glyphs=unleashed_lightning
Shaman_Elemental_T15H.simc name=PE_EM_UL talents=000102 glyphs=unleashed_lightning

We can use virtually any line reference from the normal profiles to carry out an override on a particular profile. In the following example I’ve changed the meta gem used by overriding the head setting, and also disabled the T15 4pc bonus.

#!simc
optimal_raid=1
html=Ele_T15H_Talents_LM_N4B.html
calculate_scale_factors=1
iterations=25000

fight_style=lightmovement

Shaman_Elemental_T15H.simc name=Untalented talents=000000 glyphs=unleashed_lightning tier15_4pc_caster=0 head=headpiece_of_the_witch_doctor,id=96696,gems=burning_primal_320haste_180crit,reforge=spi_mastery
Shaman_Elemental_T15H.simc name=PE_Echo_UL talents=000302 glyphs=unleashed_lightning tier15_4pc_caster=0 head=headpiece_of_the_witch_doctor,id=96696,gems=burning_primal_320haste_180crit,reforge=spi_mastery
Shaman_Elemental_T15H.simc name=PE_AS_UL talents=000202 glyphs=unleashed_lightning tier15_4pc_caster=0 head=headpiece_of_the_witch_doctor,id=96696,gems=burning_primal_320haste_180crit,reforge=spi_mastery
Shaman_Elemental_T15H.simc name=PE_EM_UL talents=000102 glyphs=unleashed_lightning tier15_4pc_caster=0 head=headpiece_of_the_witch_doctor,id=96696,gems=burning_primal_320haste_180crit,reforge=spi_mastery

You can also use stats= to define the stats on an item. This is useful to zero the stats on trinkets so you’re evaluating only the proc.

Batch Running Simulations
It’s also possible to use a batch file to launch multiple copies of the command line tool to generate multiple report files.

start “simc” /d c:\simc\ /wait simc.exe foo.simc
start “simc” /d c:\simc\ /wait simc.exe foo2.simc

This will launch each simulation in sequence, ie: wait for foo.simc to complete before starting foo2.simc.

Elemental Rotation Calcs r36


Re-host of the existing r36

ERC 6.1.0 Live r036

Feedback Part 3: Mobile DPS


In this edition of the Feedback Post I’m going to talk about Mobile DPS for Elemental Shaman, and how this ties back into ongoing problems with the spec. Some things briefly mentioned here will be elaborated in other posts, as both the Rotation & Talent posts I plan on making later on are heavily interconnected with this post.

Molten Earth: Doing the job for us

As I mentioned in my initial post on Mastery, Molten Earth deals a large part of our mobile damage. Combine that with Searing Totem and over 50% is passive damage, which means that a) we can’t do much to improve mobile DPS, and b) not much can be changed while both of these still exist.

100% Player Input

If we’re to return to a state where what we do matters both Searing Totem & Molten Earth need to be removed, so if you’re running and not doing anything you have zero DPS output. On the flip side of that is that you can also have more impact on the results. Having a slider of 0-100% vs 50-100% may seem a bit of a backward step but it means more control for the player.

Dual Functions

There’s also the problem of odd ability interaction & behaviour. The biggest two of these are Primal Storm Elemental & Unleash Flame.

Primal Storm Elemental has a small movement speed aura, which normally would be fairly useful except for one small fact: the elemental guardian doesn’t move with you, it just stands in one place. Having a movement buff that doesn’t move is odd, and most likely the unintended result of the fact that the Storm Elemental is tied to its totem rather than the player, as you would see with Water Elementals for Frost or other player pets.

Unleash Flame, on the other hand, is primarily a movement ability for Elemental, a “something extra” to do while waiting for procs or shock cooldowns. It even has a perk to give you a speed boost for 4 seconds. The only catch is that it effectively prevents you from taking the Unleashed Fury talent if there is any movement, or you sacrifice a movement ability in the name of more DPS. Normally for a mostly stationary fight it’s not an issue, but you only need to make up a few hundred DPS via better movement to offset that difference.

For some actual numbers on that Unleashed Fury has a gain of less than 1% of overall DPS over Primal Elementalist. Adding one extra Lightning Bolt per minute, or buffing 1 Lava Burst cast with Unleash Flame results in ~1% more DPS each. That’s a fairly fine line to run, and assumes that your Unleashed Fury uptime is nearly 66%.

Moving Forward

As I mentioned, removing both Searing Totem & Molten Earth should happen so that more of a players damage is a direct result of them pressing buttons, not something that just happens automatically. To fill the gap two things could happen:

Either add a new low damage spam-able spell or change Earth Shock to not trigger its own cooldown
Remove Lava Surge, so that it’s not possible to throw out a hard hitting spell while moving (more on this in the Rotation post)

#1 is very important, so that there’s no time where a player can say “I have nothing to cast”, or at least can say that without going through a complicated decision tree of minimal impacts (Do I use Thunderstorm? Drop Healing Stream Totem? Recast Searing Totem that I dropped 20 seconds ago?). Everything needs to feel important, relatively clear, and not overly taxing (executing a complicated rotation while moving generally means you either mess up the rotation or take extra damage).

There’s also the elephant in the corner with Spiritwalker’s Grace. This is a useful cooldown, but is a crutch for Elemental Mobile DPS. This will probably need to be removed for Elemental as well, in order to properly balance DPS both with & without it. Another alternative here is to make it into a “stance” type ability, with some sort of DPS cost to have it up. One option could be that it only works with Lightning Bolt & has a -50% cast speed penalty, making movement an active choice while bringing back some of the mobile LB that many people enjoyed in Mists of Pandaria.

In the end it doesn’t really matter how the mobile rotation is changed, as long as players aren’t faced with gaps where they can’t use any DPS abilities, and that all of the damage is a direct result of actions they take rather than being hooked in via secondary functions.

Feedback Part 2: Themes


In Part 1: Molten Earth I wrote about how Molten Earth works mechanically, and the flaws with how it was designed. In this post I’ll look at the idea behind why it was added, and how that can be effective while also making for good gameplay.

Needs More Earth

“Another reason is that we feel like we’ve failed on fulfilling one aspect of the Elemental fantasy: the elements. Fire (check). Air (check, lightning falls under this). Water (that’s more of Resto’s thing). And Earth. Where was the Earth? Ele shamans were feeling too much like the “Fire+Lightning Wizard”, and not enough of the “Master of the Elements”. That led us to including Earthquake, and adding Molten Earth.” – Celestalon

This quote on the Warlords of Draenor Beta Class forum (via Wowhead’s Blue Tracker as the Beta forums were removed) explains why Earthquake was kept, and why Molten Earth was created.

The first question to ask here is whether Elemental needs to use all the elements all the time. Looking at each element on a theme basis we have the following:

  • Air: agility, lightning, speed
  • Earth: strength, toughness
  • Fire: burning, heat
  • Water: cold, healing

It’s pretty obvious that Water doesn’t really lend itself much to the Elemental damage playstyle, although we do have a few healing spells so that’s somewhat covered. Similarly, Air & Fire are covered nicely by all the Fire & Lightning based spells.

Earth is a little harder to fit in. It’s possible to argue that Earth is already represented well enough in the rotation without needing extra stuff like Molten Earth, as you can’t really have Lightning without somewhere to ground it, so it’s really a combination of Air + Earth (and Lightning is all Nature damage too). The same thing can be said about Lava, being a combination of Earth + Fire, as Lava is really just molten rock. In fact, the only spell in the Elemental rotation that doesn’t have some connection to Earth is Flame Shock, as everything else is Lava, Lightning, or actually Earth related.

Design Around The Theme

If we want additional Earth related spells, we’d first need to consider a few problems, the first being the same issue that resulted in Earthquake getting a new animation: spell effect clutter. Usually earth based attacks happen via the ground, be they spike projection or wave type attacks (for the latter, think the Sundering ultimate for Thrall in Heroes of the Storm). Adding something like these in could increase ground effect clutter, making it hard for people to see bad stuff on the ground.

However, if we look for spell ideas from other sources, it’s possible that Earth could fill more of a utility role rather than being direct damage. Using the strength & toughness traits of the element could result in defensive abilities similar to Ice Block (but stone instead of ice, obviously). Other options would be looking at abilities that Thrall has, like the molten hand used during the Nagrand cinematic. Many people have commented previously about how various spells used by Thrall should make their way into the Shaman spell book, and it’s not a bad idea.

Theme vs Gameplay

One important thing to remember when talking about themes and spell ideas is to remember that they have to be usable, not overpowered, and most importantly: fun. This was why the 6.1 change for Enhanced Chain Lightning was so important. Interrupting multiple casts & multistrikes of Chain Lightning to spend the ~2.5 seconds to cast Earthquake felt off, as CL was fun whereas EQ wasn’t, especially if you had to micromanage the eCL charges. Now, with a fixed buff & instant cast mechanic, using Earthquake is more engaging to use as it’s an easier decision to make and doesn’t interrupt the flow of the multi-target rotation.

Making sure that abilities are both fun and also fit into the theme can be a hard task at times. There should be a time when if something is fun but doesn’t fit the theme completely, or where a themed ability isn’t fun, that the theme should be revisited. In that original quote from Celestalon, they envision that Elemental is a “Master of the Elements”, and thus why more Earth based abilities should be included. To me, Shaman are masters of the elements in general, so each specialization should have a more specific area. Restoration is primarily water based, while Enhancement seems to be more of the Air (speed) & Earth type, leaving Elemental to be Air (lightning) & Fire.

The design process should never be Theme leads to Design leads to Gameplay, but an iterative feedback loop where the gameplay results feed back into the overall theme design.

PS: General reminder again that I created a Patreon campaign last week. Getting some more people on that would be helpful & appreciated.

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