In general, how well do you think Patch 4.3 went?
We are pretty happy with it, as it was a huge patch for us. Large patches like this always come with a risk that we will screw something up, but it was a pretty smooth launch for as much content as we had in there.
Are you happy with the difficulty of the Dragon Soul heroic encounters, or do you think the bosses are dying too fast?
We are pretty happy with the current difficulty, the first boss is designed to be pretty easy, and the next tier of hardcore raiders are at the second or third boss, which is pretty much where we want them to be. The top tier guilds are going through it quickly, as they always do, but they make hundreds of attempts on each boss. Everyone is about where they should be right now.
Recently you made it so that casters with shields can no longer roll on offhand items, but in previous tiers those items have been very competitive for those specs. Why was this changed?
That's only in Raid Finder, and we made the change to restrict certain items to certain classes to prevent things like hunters needing on strength swords. We debated the offhand change a lot and we knew that some of the shaman might be unhappy with the fact that we are making them use the shield when they might want to use an offhand, but we also thought the mages, priests, and druids would be upset that the shaman got to roll on the offhand and the shield when they could only roll on the offhand. It could have gone either way and we understand that some players are upset at the way it went. Once players progress to normal mode, they can still use the offhands, so it is only a Raid Finder issue.
You can easily max out Justice and Valor points right now, so do you plan on adding anything like pets, mounts, or vanity gear to provide some use for the points?
We talked about it in the past, but we like the way it works now where players hit the cap quickly by doing whatever content they want. We don't want players to feel like they have to log in every night to earn as many Valor points as possible.
Some guilds are doing up to 20 LFR runs in a week to maximize the amount of gear they can get...
Yeah, fortunately that isn't very widespread. It is hard to discourage, and if they are enjoying it and it doesn't hurt game balance, we are okay with that.
Is LFR going to remain a current raid only tool, or will we be able to use it from Dragon Soul onwards?
Nope, we want to use it from Dragon Soul onwards. We would have loved to turn on LFR for all of the old content in the game, but Raid Finder was actually going to be a Patch 5.0+ feature. Fairly late we thought that it would be great to get into Patch 4.3, but up until the very end it wasn't clear if it would be ready for Patch 4.3. However, we were able to finish it in time with Dragon Soul functionality. If there is time in the future, we would like to go back and get at least some of the older content into it.
Will there be another patch before Mists of Pandaria?
We said that we are not going to do another tier of raiding content and PvP season, but we will do the normal pre expansion launch patch. This would include things like the new talents and the other big mechanics changes coming in the expansion, along with the launch event that deals with the Horde vs Alliance story and the introduction of the new continent. The launch event will be similar in magnitude to what we did for Wrath of the Lich King and Burning Crusade.
Cataclysm brought us guild perks to make raiding easier like Mass Resurrection, Mass Summoning, and lower durability reduction on death. How high do you think the guild level is going to increase to in Mists of Pandaria and what kind of new guild perks do you think we will see?
We aren't going to double the number of guild levels or anything like that. We had to make up for the lack of it in previous expansions this time around. Players can expect a few more levels, nothing like thirty or forty more. We haven't talked much about the perks guilds will receive yet, but they will be similar to the existing perks. One idea was cheaper transmogrification, which could be fun for players.
Has there been any progress made on making items account bound and not server bound since you last commented on it?
We would still love to do it, it isn't a design problem as much as a technical one. We are doing a lot of work to get achievements to be account wide, and it is possible that some of the work we do there will let us do the same thing for items. We can't promise anything though, because it could be the case that the first 90% of the work is really easy, and the last 10% is more difficult. Catching all of the exploits and bugs are part of what makes this something that is hard to do.
Will the under construction parts of the Darkmoon Faire get filled out before Mists of Pandaria, or is this something that won't be done until later?
We have vague plans, along the lines of "Hey, we could add a haunted house here", but nothing solid. I would be surprised if it was expanded upon anytime soon, we might add something for the launch event. This depends on the players' reactions to the current one, if they feel like they are running out of things to do, or if there is a lot of love for certain minigames or parts of the Faire, we might be able to add something else. It is hard to provide enough content so that people never run out of things to do, so we are pacing ourselves with the Faire, expanding on it over time.
Items from Archaeology have low item levels compared to the new and easy to access gear added in Patch 4.3, Are there any plans to scale or add new Archaeology items that will be relevant to the current content?
We will likely add new items, we didn't want to compete with heirlooms and give alt characters more gear than they could possibly use, allowing them to level without caring at all about loot gained while leveling. We like the idea of artifacts remaining something that you can trade between characters on your account. If you get a healer trinket that you can't use right now because you don't have a healer, it could be something you use one day, rather than solving your healer trinket problems forever.
With the advent of LFR, casual players can see all of the content, while Heroic raids seem to be harder now. Is this type of difficulty something you want to move forward doing?
The advantage of having three difficulty levels is that we can tailor each one to the audience. Before LFR we could target Normal difficulty raids at organized guilds, which left nothing for PuGs to do, or we could target them at PuGs, making them too easy for organized guilds. This would leave normal guilds only Heroic difficulty for a challenging encounter, leaving nothing for the more hardcore guilds to do. The three difficulty levels let us tailor each difficulty so that everyone has something to do.
Are there any plans to promote Voice Chat use?
The Voice Chat we included is not a good feature. We tried, we made some mistakes, and we accept that it isn't something used by a lot of players. It is on the wishlist of things we would eventually like to improve. A big thing it is missing now that we would like to fix is the ability to communicate with people before you get into the game, having to be logged in to use it makes it less useful than something like Ventrilo or Mumble.
Are you planning on adding chat channels for healing, DPS, and tanking in LFR?
We haven't thought about it, but it wouldn't be hard to do. We would just add people to the channel based on their role.
Okay, great. Thank you so much for your time!