UPDATE – We have the official VOD for you at the bottom of this post.
On December 9th, 2014, Community Representative Nevalistis hosted a live stream post-mortem of the Legendary Workshop with Lead Technical Artist Julian Love and Associate Game Designer John Yang. We saw the latter two on stage at BlizzCon doing a version of the Legendary Workshop that involved community participation from social media as well as a select few in attendance at Anaheim. However, this workshop was rolled into the Evolving Reaper of Souls panel and, as a result, didn’t get to talk about the process of picking Legendary powers and item design in much detail. This stream was organized as an opportunity to do exactly that.
The event lasted for a little over one hour and contained time at the end for questions from the community, pulled directly from the stream’s chat.
Here are bullet points that highlight the main components of what was discussed by the developers and Nevalistis in loose chronological order:
Legendary Workshop Post-Mortem
- Vision for the workshop was to engage with the community and bring them in for interaction. Have a back and forth while also showing off the process.
- Some of the problems were time constraints, entertainment value, and how to mitigate issues like dead air. That’s why they decided to have a “combo” panel of sorts.
- Went away from the idea of voting because they don’t vote ideas in and out back at the office. They’d rather keep all ten good ideas and let the design process flesh them out. They don’t want to put restraints or limitations on the process.
- Viability of item ideas – a. must have a really strong fantasy and b. must have good gameplay. Both are important for compelling creations.
- Yang threw out an idea of “Strafe piercing” and how that would change gameplay since it moves from the iconic way that builds like that or Whirlwind would normally play.
- Went over some of the ideas – directing where Caltrops is dropped; Poison providing a slowing mechanic; Witch Doctor’s head exploding; Gargantuan splits into smaller Gargantuans.
- Even if something is comical (cat mojo shown at BlizzCon, for instance), but they have no idea for it, they’ll try to work gameplay into it or find a way for it to make it into the game.
- Speaking on power that was chosen at BlizzCon – rotating power boost for different element types – they liked it especially because it can help to bring back builds that were left behind with the addition of +elemental damage % becoming an affix in Reaper of Souls, which narrowed players into focusing on only one element.
- They want to balance creating powers that break the game because they want to make sure they’re providing options to change gameplay, but not deleting the playing of the game completely.
- Concentrated Coolness – Don’t want to give specific powers from one class to another to maintain the integrity of what makes that class specifically unique and awesome.
- Offensive Potions – Don’t want to break intended use. Potions are supposed to be defensive; they don’t want players having an issue where they are taking what was originally intended to be defensive and not having it as that option when they need it.
- Granting monster powers to players is tough because they want there to be a clear delineation between what’s friendly and what’s deadly.
- Before BlizzCon, they went over 15 pages of ideas and then whittled them down to 30 ideas, with only 10 making it to the whiteboard at BlizzCon before the guest panelists from the community added their own.
Item Design Specifics
- Energy Twister increasing the size of the actual twisters was an interesting idea to them. Rather than doubling damage for everything, increasing the area size is another option so that more enemies are affected by the skill. Energy Twister with a knockback component was also a possibility, but because of the issues of using Energy Twister (hard to aim, for instance), they liked going the other route of designing an item to give it a Vortex effect (Ranslor’s Folly bracers in Season Two).
- Barbarian pulling a body from the ground: A cool idea, but it creates art assets/production costs that would possibly make this function better as a skill rather than a power for items. Love said the budget for something like that might be equivalent to designing ten more items.
- There was an idea that an item would have a chance on hit to summon a portal to Durance of Hate Level 2. This is a hyperbolic example of what they had just discussed as far as creating way too much in terms of production costs, especially within the realm of items.
- Mirror Image changes have issues because there’s a huge performance budget there. If the images were to mimic you with everything you casted, this would be an example of mechanical/performance limitations that could prevent an idea from taking off.
- Yang talked about server issues that came out from the high end Elemental Arrow – Ball Lightning build that put way too many assets on the screen. Ideas that might add more spenders or more sources of graphics, again, might end up being tabled for reasons that don’t have to do with their coolness or changing of gameplay. There are technical limitations that players don’t think about sometimes.
Item Changes In Patch 2.1.2 and Patch 2.2
- Back to the Legendary power selected at BlizzCon – rings are their most powerful item slot currently (Unity and Ring of Royal Grandeur) and as such, the developers feel comfortable making exorbitantly powerful rings to compete in that slot. That’s why this power moved from a Wizard source to a ring usable for all classes.
- Patch 2.2 was mentioned. They’re pushing some of the major changes to the other rings for that patch. Some of the items (the reworked Skull Grasp, for instance) are earmarked for this patch. Yang also mentioned the new sets for Barbarian, Demon Hunter, and Wizard coming in that patch.
- No ETA for when Patch 2.2 and these previously mentioned items will be added to the game.
- Talked about the history of Shard of Hate and how it was bugged initially. The internal cooldown was cleared every time the off-hand weapon swung (which is why Barbarians benefited so strongly from it in combination with Whirlwind). In the latest patch to the 2.1.2 PTR, Shard of Hate was “unnerfed”, so it will proc a lot more and have a lower internal cooldown.
- Love thought that they did achieve the goal of trying something new with this Workshop at BlizzCon and thought that it was fun. It’s hard to say what they will do again a year from now at the next BlizzCon, but they would love to do something with a similar spirit or vibe. He thought that the reflection part didn’t come across as well as it could have, which is why they ended up sitting down today for this.
- Yang also noted that it’s important for them to show that they realize they are not greater singularly in design than the entire community, so some of the crux of this Workshop is to make sure that the community has the most information available in order to create the best item ideas to give to the team. It’s about teamwork of all parties involved.
Next, they went over community questions pulled from chat and here are the answers:
Answers to Twitch Chat Generated Q&A Session
- They want the BlizzCon ring to rotate through elements that are specific to your class, so it won’t use ones that you don’t have elemental runes for. They are still trying to determine the rate of the rotation, but they do want it to be on the shorter side.
- Band of the Untold Secrets was removed, since it essentially morphed into the new Wizard Ice Armor ring, Halo of Arlyse. This was just introduced in the latest PTR patch.
- The Helltooth set will hopefully see a rework for Patch 2.2. Yang said Witch Doctors will not be receiving a new set in this patch, so they want to see what work they can do on Wall of Zombies for that patch.
- The ring will hopefully have a set rotation of the elements it goes through. They’re not sure yet.
- Buffing weak sets for classes that don’t have viable builds is the priority. They’re hoping that every class will end up with at least one and hopefully more than one choice going forward.
- The rarest items (The Furnace, Starmetal Kukri, etc.) are now 2 and a half times less rare than they used to be, but because they’re adding more items to the game, that won’t be exactly the number.
- They don’t want to make all sets exactly the same, so that’s why there isn’t an Akkhan set for every class, for instance. In regards to Barbarians, they don’t want to give them a cheat death passive because of the fantasy of the class. They’re not against adding it if it proves to be absolutely necessary, but for now, they’re letting the nerf in monster damage serve as a way to help Barbarians out.
- Leaderboards don’t determine true priority of how they go through changing or adding items/tweaking classes. The boards give some information, but it’s more about the overall game and the overall player base, since not all players are represented within the Leaderboards.
- Yang believes pets are not doing badly, specifically in regards to Witch Doctors. He believes the changes to monster damage will also help their survivability.
- They don’t have plans to add a Ramaladni’s Gift type of item for jewelry. It would be power creep, but they don’t want to introduce that right now.
- Ancient Items are there solely for more grinding. They’re there “for streamers, for the paragon 800” type of players.
- There will be a Patch Test Realm (PTR) for Patch 2.2 and that’s where we will be able to test the sets shown at BlizzCon.
- Rotating through buffing generators as a Legendary power is an interesting idea. It’s kind of rolled into the BlizzCon ring, at least conceptually, but they might explore the specific generator idea.
- Specific answer from John Yang to the rarest items rarity change: The rarest items are now 4 times as common as the most common items in the game (100/50/10 scale previously to 100/50/25 scale going forward).
- An heirloom item that you mark from one season that you could take into the next season is an idea they have thrown around. Could be a cool way of giving a boost from season to season.
- They are happy with where Kadala is at and her control over what you can target for drops.
- They want to remove skills that operate solely as passives and spoke specifically about Wizard gameplay in this regard. They have plans to change them, similar to the Demon Hunter’s Companion skill.
- Buffing the other regular gems to the power of Emeralds is doable, but they’d rather design specific Legendary gems for weapons that might do more interesting things.
- The new Wormwood and the change to the Haunt rune coming with Patch 2.1.2 should help out Jade Doctors.
If you missed the live show, you can currently watch the past broadcast here. As soon as an official VOD is available, we will put up a post to share that with you. Let us know what you thought of the live stream event below!