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Greg 'Ghostcrawler' Street Presenting During Blizzcon


Hildegard: Today I welcome Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street, lead designer of World of Warcraft, as an interview partner for our Arena Junkies interview. We will start with my trademark question. What did you eat today?

Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street: I just had salad with beets and blue cheese.

Hildegard: Sounds nice. When you started responding to players on the WoW boards you said "A year from now I will probably be the most hated person in the gaming industry." Do you remember that quote?

Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street: Haha. I don't remember it, but it sounds like something I'd say.

Hildegard: Did it come true?

Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street: Oh I am sure there are people that are more hated than me. Which is not to say I'm universally loved, but it goes with the territory.

Hildegard: Did you follow the recent online arena tournaments like NAO, Yaspresents, Curse Invitational or Bleached Bones?

Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street: Yes, we follow all of that stuff. That's the work we live for.

Hildegard: The start of Mists of Pandaria will offer a tournament realm soon after the launch. With the PvP mechanics overhaul in Mists of Pandaria and streaming becoming massively adapted among more and more players, this all sets a great foundation for PvP to grow in popularity. Is a new dawn for the WoW arena scene coming?

Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street: It would be awesome if that was the case. If you are talking from a professional level or about people watching it - arena always suffers a bit that it's fast paced and it's hard to tell what is going on. It has never been the most easy to watch game out there. It may be a pipe dream that it is going to grow in popularity like Starcraft. But can we make it more fun for the players who are interested in arena. Absolutely that would be great.

Hildegard: You recently said over Twitter that you would like to work on the tournament UI. This would be a huge boon to the PvP community and could start bring organizations like MLG to take WoW back in.

Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street: We don't have any announcements. I totally get how valuable that would be. We would love to support it. It's just a matter of finding the time and resources to get it right and come up with a system that people would actually use and be excited about.

Rapture: Do you have any opinions on the tournament UI people have been using for the tournaments?

Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street: We usually let the community come up with a UI mods that are filling holes in what we currently offer. From that standpoint that is awesome. It's something we don't provide, yet, but hopefully can at some point.

Hildegard: How about announcing player-made tournaments on official resources like the website or even the launcher?

Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street: That would be cool. It's a little outside of my area, as it's about the PR and community aspect of the game, but it sounds like a cool thing to me.

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Snutz and Venruki during the WoW 2012 North America Arena Invitational


Hildegard: Do you think there is a place for professional players in World of Warcraft?

Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street: That's a really good question. I watched tons and tons of arena and battlegrounds and I just don't know if it ever will have the spectator experience that a game like  Starcraft or hopefully Blizzard AllStars will have. We will always be challenged from that point of view. It would be awesome and we surely have nothing against it but I don't know if it will ever have the kind of popularity that professional players would expect.

Hildegard: A lot of ideas to increase competition and participation for arenas have been thrown around: Shorter seasons, region-wide queues and titles, cosmetic rewards and rating decay. Do you have plans to work over the matchmaking and reward system for arenas?

Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street: I think the matchmaking system is pretty solid. It's not unlike the one we use for other games. The same people design all these systems. I know there is a lot of concerns about rating decay and should we discourage people from getting high ratings and then just camping and not playing again. That's a valid concern. Right now we are in this lame duck season where the patch has been going on for a long time and people know there isn't going to be another season until the expansion comes out. So it's understandable that the participation is off a little bit, but I think it's unfortunate anytime players want to play and feel like it's risky to play because, God forbid, it might hurt the ratings. That is an aspect of the rating system we can improve.
The reward system overall works pretty well in terms of the gear you can get. We think the changes to PvP Power and resilience will make PvP gear more attractive, than it has been traditionally when we ran into problems where sometimes they were weaker than weapons or trinkets from PvE. That change will help. I don't know how popular cosmetic rewards would be. The mounts are certainly exciting, as are the titles. I don't know if adding tons and tons of toys and transmog gear will make the PvP community as excited as the PvE players. We approach it more from the point of "what can we do to make the games themselves more enjoyable" and look to make it more surprising in good way when you are doing arenas with your team or are running battlegrounds over and over.

Hildegard: High rated arena players hate the long queue times, especially the long wait for cross-battlegroup queues that can take up to ten or 15 minutes. Any chance to make the search for cross-battlegroup teams shorter?

Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street: Yes. We have a lot of opportunities to improve that. The battleground queuing system is pretty ancient at this point. Players could only meet players from their own realm and then we extended it to battlegroup level. Meanwhile we created this whole new system for dungeon finder that then developed into raid finder and it is much more clever and advanced system. Occasionally players can still hit queues for it, but I think there is a lot of promise in taking that system and try to integrate the battleground queuing there.
We would like to able to support things like letting five players queue together for rated battlegrounds instead of having a whole group of ten before you go into it. That would be really cool. We talk more about letting players queue together as a group, even for the non-rated battlegrounds. But only matching these pre-mades with other premades. It's a lot of fun to get together with a bunch of friends and be coordinated and we would like to support that rather than work against it.

Hildegard: According to early numbers heroic PvE weapons will be stronger for PvP than tier 2 PvP weapons. Is this true?

Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street: We follow that math, but I am still not convinced that this is the case. The PvE gear is higher item level but when you consider the PvP power and also the resilience that is on the weapons that should be enough to make up for the difference. The PvE gear item level isn't so high that that should overcome it. There is always a possibility that if we introduce another Gurthalak or one of the trinkets that there will be procs that will make up the difference. Based on the stats alone we believe that PvP gear will still be superior for PvP.

Hildegard: Why do the PvP trinkets have different stats? Mastery/Crit/Spirit for the Medallion and Battle Master, PvP Power for the on-use and proc trinkets?

This question was skipped at first due to audio problems, but answered later on.

Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street: I will follow-up on this.

Hildegard: I know this is not your field of expertise, but the recent title disqualifications haven't touched players that stated themselves they were boosting or wintraded with other teams. Do you plan to correct this?

Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street: We have a team that looks for players exploiting and abusing the system. They try to catch it, when it happens and follow player reports. We try not to go into too much detail on how they do their job because the whole point of them is to catch exploiters. It's not something that is up to me. It's a system that we have in place as a company. I do think that, when listening to the forums, it's happening a lot more than it is. It's a fairly isolated case. It can have ramifications on the highest rankings, just because the population size is smaller in that group. Not sure what else to say about it. We try to have open channels for players that feel like they were disqualified unfairly or that other players got away with it. It's always tough when you are trying to mediate punishments like that.

Hildegard: Many players are worried that overpowered abilities will allow players to reach high rating within the first two weeks and camp it for the rest of the season. We talked about camping, what about balance? Examples such as BM Hunter Burst, Frost Bomb, Totemic Restoration, Blood Fear, Wild Charge, hybrid healing or Psy Fiend get mentioned a lot. Will you make fast balance fixes if classes are not competitive or other too strong or do you prefer to do changes only with major content patches?

Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street: That's a really tough decision. Players really recent it if you suddenly go through and do nerfs particularly. We do have a break in between Mists of Pandaria launching and the season starting. It's a time to catch the problems at level 90. We have seen PvP at level 85 and have seen some players at level 90 on the beta realms. That is nothing compared to having millions of players on live. If BM burst or Wild Charge or Avatar are overpowered we will have a chance to get them. Whether or not we make huge sweep changes is just going to depend on the magnitude of the problem. It really pisses players off to suddenly be nerfed. Particularly say two weeks after the season started. If you build your arena team around this synergy among these class and then we suddenly pull out the rug from under you, players understandably get upset.

Voice from the off: We have time for one more question.

Hildegard: Let's try two. I'll be quick. Do you read Arena Junkies from time to time?

Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street: Sure.

Hildegard: I personally like the approach you took to crowd control on monks, where every cc except the disarm has a downside: you either need to be in melee range, are rooted yourself, have to be behind or in front of the enemy, the projectile has a travel time etc. Is this a general approach to give crowd control a trade-off that we may see in future designs?

Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street: We didn't want to copy a lot of existing abilities and give them to the monk. So we tried to have some interesting quirks on them. We were also super careful not give them tons and tons of crowd control.  Monks are a very mobile class and they have a lot of off-healing capability and the healers have a lot of damage dealing abilities. So we think that a combination of these two advantages would be so much that they did not need mage-level crowd control or we would end up in a situation like we were with the death knight were the class was just kind of a joke.

Hildegard: Thank you for your time. Will you continue to write over Twitter after the launch?

Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street: I will be traveling after launch. I don't know how much access I will have. But I have been enjoying it so far and so I'm planning to keep it up. It can't answer every single question that players send in, but so far I really enjoyed the communication.

Hildegard: Well thank you again for the interview.

Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street: Sure. I will follow up on that trinket question.
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Comments

#1 Guest_Talbadar_*

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 04:24 PM

On the argument of viewing WoW vs SC2 as a person who's never played... obviously SC2 is a lot easier to watch how is this even being talked about?

Think about a family member sitting down and watching a WoW tournament vs a SC2 tournament. How easy is it to explain what is going on in each? My parents and siblings watch some of the WoW tournaments and they only know to watch for "the dark looking character" (let alone know what that dark character is doing) and "the green bars on the side". If they spent 30 minutes watching SC2 matches and I just told them yeah you just try to destroy the enemy base... they'd understand it a lot better. There's very little indication in WoW of "who is ahead" (because 1. the game swings back and forth so quickly and 2. there is no real ahead because sometimes your whole team is dead and you just kill someone 100-0) where in SC2 you can usually assume whoever has the bigger army and bigger base is winning and whoever wins the fights is winning the game. That makes it much easier to understand what's going on.

#2 saffie

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 04:26 PM

The thing is WoW might not get too much attention on streams and such but it has so much more players than LoL and SC2 combined, playing it. What needs to be done is not getting people who do not play the game to watch it, but to make the people who already play the game watch it. Make it appealing for the casuals and the pve'ers, if they start focusing arena because they get some sort of mount/pet/title from lower ratings as well as high ones on top of other things like making the streams and the game fun to watch, then we will see some sort of improvement esport wise.

The crowd is there, the potential of viewers is there, they just need to make arena appealing to them, most of the people playing the game love mounts and achievments but they feel bad that they cant play well and give up. There needs to be more competition in lower ratings, more 1800 rated guys trying to get that 2k and feel good about themselves, get rewards etc.

TLDR; Rewards and more spotlight in arena as well as other things could help get PVE'ers and casuals interested, and it would certainly increase the number of viewers. You don't need people who don't play the game to understand it.

#3 Guest_Talbadar_*

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 04:29 PM

View Postsaffie, on 20 September 2012 - 04:26 PM, said:

more players than LoL

are you sure about this?

#4 khuna

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 04:43 PM

Lol has the biggest playerbase,(LoL streams are on launchers tho and they use Viewer Bots like Neilyo too, dno if it changes that much tho)  WoW 10millions arent true cause of chinese i'm pretty sure.
Ive seen countless sc2 games where your army count or killing the t3 of your opponents doesnt necessarly means you won (ok maybe not against protoss xD)
You can be way ahead at sc2 and loose in 1second too, the vortex example was a good one imo.
But yea its probably harder to understand who is ahead, i still think the commentators can overcome that if they do a great job tho.

#5 Helia

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 04:53 PM

Just one thing on the SC2 vs WoW legibility.

It really sounds like Football vs Rugby to me. I really love watching both. Football is way more accessible to people. But when you play Rugby and understand not only the rules but also the positionning it's a wonderful sport to watch. Even better than football imo.

It's definitely not the same audience. And ofc Rugby World Cup has way less viewers than FIFA world cup. That doesn't mean there's no audience at all. And that doesn't mean TV channels didn't work hard to make that sport even more "understandable" working on replays, technical 3D systems to show the field under many angles, recruiting ex-champions as consultants. That brought alot of people into that sport. And I think it's definitely the same here : ofc it won't bring as many viewers into WoW as SC2 has, but it doesn't mean working hard on improving the whole "e-sport" side of WoW is worthless

#6 Absoqt

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 04:54 PM

I never understood this desperate need to make the spectating easier to grasp.
I would assume that someone tuning in has at least have a vague idea what is being shown, just like in... any other (e)sport in the world?

How often do you only watch a(n) (e)sport event that you know nothing about, in order to get to know it?

Try out the game, read the rules, listen to the commentators, use your brain.
Gooby pls

#7 saffie

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 05:23 PM

View PostTalbadar, on 20 September 2012 - 04:29 PM, said:

are you sure about this?

No, I assumed it would be less than WoW but just googled it turned out to be more or less same as WoW. Still, since its free to play its much easier to get the players but it was a bad example.

I'll make a better comparison, I'm on dota 2 right now and it says there are 77400 people online at the moment. Dota 2 tournaments have over 1 million dollar of prize money, they make weekly talk shows about it on streams and it is a proper esport.

My point was that there are potential viewers playing WoW right now(Perhaps not more than LoL and SC2 combined but more or less as much as LoL), they just need more incentive to play arena and then PvP will get the attention from both the crowd and therefor developers that it needs.

#8 Pritchard

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 07:02 PM

View Postsaffie, on 20 September 2012 - 04:26 PM, said:

The thing is WoW might not get too much attention on streams and such but it has so much more players than LoL and SC2 combined, playing it. What needs to be done is not getting people who do not play the game to watch it, but to make the people who already play the game watch it. Make it appealing for the casuals and the pve'ers, if they start focusing arena because they get some sort of mount/pet/title from lower ratings as well as high ones on top of other things like making the streams and the game fun to watch, then we will see some sort of improvement esport wise.

The crowd is there, the potential of viewers is there, they just need to make arena appealing to them, most of the people playing the game love mounts and achievments but they feel bad that they cant play well and give up. There needs to be more competition in lower ratings, more 1800 rated guys trying to get that 2k and feel good about themselves, get rewards etc.

TLDR; Rewards and more spotlight in arena as well as other things could help get PVE'ers and casuals interested, and it would certainly increase the number of viewers. You don't need people who don't play the game to understand it.

i entirely agree on this, which is funny because gc mentioned adding in no more rewards because the titles and glad mounts are enough.  this does not promote interest in arena from people who might be new to the game, or collecters/etc.  It would be awesome to have silly things like multiple tabards (upgraded per rating or something idk)  or some vanity titles or pets, something to aim for if even at a low end.  i personally do not have a problem with all these people coming in, even if they are 1500 players trying to get 1600 for that awesome tabard!   then once they get that maybe they want to get 1700 for that pet! they practice more, get better, arena is more active, i really cant see a downside to that.  do pvpers really have a problem with more people playing?  even if the rewards are some dumb silly pets or tabards/etc?   i would think not as it promotes ACTIVITY

#9 WildeHilde

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 08:09 PM

View PostmiKeifgf, on 20 September 2012 - 03:51 PM, said:

Anyone know what exactly was the response to this

"Why do the PvP trinkets have different stats? Mastery/Crit/Spirit for the Medallion and Battle Master, PvP Power for the on-use and proc trinkets?"


Thanks,

The exact answer is: I will look into this.

Regarding viewing SC vs. WoW:
SC2 is slower from a viewer point of view most of the time (200vs200 battles aside) and also less things happen at once (although SC2 games have more actions/second). Often times it's very hard to see what is actually happening and I think better CC signs (on the players for example, instead of the frames) or burst indicators could help. I have seen a match in which Conrad and Azael missed a kill for about ten seconds. But I really think we can improve the UIs more to get that done better.

#10 cbit

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 08:12 PM

I'm not surprised by Ghostcrawler's answers, given the questions and (as someone else mentioned) his "PR"-like role. But I'm confused by some of Hildegard's question choices.

With such a great opportunity to talk directly to GC, why waste the time to ask pointless questions (i.e. Do you remember saying you'd be the most hated person in the gaming industry? Did it come true? Did you see the Arena Tourny's recently? Although that last one isn't as pointless as the previous two) and extremely vague questions (i.e. Is this a new dawn for the WoW arena community? Is there a place for the professional WoW player?). Not really sure what you were hoping to get from these questions...

That being said, many of the other questions were much more specific and interesting. But with only 20 minutes, I expected all the questions to be better thought out, not just some of them... Just my 2 cents...

#11 Layback

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 08:27 PM

definitely needs to be more incentives for lower rated players than the sole 2200 rewards. I think it would be a great idea if blizz put in rating requirements every 100 rating or so for a transmog of older arena sets similar to the arena-tournament server. i.e. s1 armor at 1600, s2 at 1750, something like that.

#12 kannetixx

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 09:15 PM

View PostTalbadar, on 20 September 2012 - 04:24 PM, said:

"the dark looking character" (let alone know what that dark character is doing)

what do you mean  ... "dark looking" !?

:P
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#13 ardnut

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Posted 21 September 2012 - 06:59 AM

View Postcbit, on 20 September 2012 - 08:12 PM, said:

I'm not surprised by Ghostcrawler's answers, given the questions and (as someone else mentioned) his "PR"-like role. But I'm confused by some of Hildegard's question choices.

With such a great opportunity to talk directly to GC, why waste the time to ask pointless questions (i.e. Do you remember saying you'd be the most hated person in the gaming industry? Did it come true? Did you see the Arena Tourny's recently? Although that last one isn't as pointless as the previous two) and extremely vague questions (i.e. Is this a new dawn for the WoW arena community? Is there a place for the professional WoW player?). Not really sure what you were hoping to get from these questions...

That being said, many of the other questions were much more specific and interesting. But with only 20 minutes, I expected all the questions to be better thought out, not just some of them... Just my 2 cents...

Sigh... he was trying to get a rapport going so he was more likely to answer more pressing questions later.  It's pretty obvious.
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#14 ardnut

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Posted 21 September 2012 - 07:00 AM

View PostLayback, on 20 September 2012 - 08:27 PM, said:

definitely needs to be more incentives for lower rated players than the sole 2200 rewards. I think it would be a great idea if blizz put in rating requirements every 100 rating or so for a transmog of older arena sets similar to the arena-tournament server. i.e. s1 armor at 1600, s2 at 1750, something like that.

I think that's a great idea... there was a lot more participation when you needed rating for each piece of gear in TBC.  Majority of arena players will not get past 2.2.
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#15 Pitiless

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Posted 21 September 2012 - 10:48 PM

View PostWildeHilde, on 19 September 2012 - 09:09 PM, said:

The DK in S5 was that strong because the devs listened to forum feedback, among that AJ. The community claimed DKs would be easily kited and were very weak overall. This is one big reason why the devs listen less to the PvP community. When was the last time a top-notch player explained why his class was too strong? We need to make feedback of higher quality, like Elitist Jerks does for example.

That never happened. I literally have no idea what you're talking about.

#16 Rylexcamel

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 05:40 PM

wtf u all missed the clear statement he said about what's going on

Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street: I just had salad with beets and blue cheese.

#17 Synkz

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 09:37 PM

View PostLayback, on 20 September 2012 - 08:27 PM, said:

definitely needs to be more incentives for lower rated players than the sole 2200 rewards. I think it would be a great idea if blizz put in rating requirements every 100 rating or so for a transmog of older arena sets similar to the arena-tournament server. i.e. s1 armor at 1600, s2 at 1750, something like that.

this is a great idea

#18 hordesucks1

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 10:18 PM

Nice interview!

#19 andysc

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 11:51 PM

I'd like to point something out: I played a Hunter in this game for a very long time. There were honestly changes and patch notes that I found to be maddeningly ignorant. I'm not sure how many hunters still play this game that would agree, but for a long time it was like we were playing a different game. The balance made no sense, other classes could be as good or better than me while being worse players - very frustrating.

League of Legends is the perfect game, in my opinion. I do have some problems with the engine and Adobe Air but the balance has been spot on. Most times when I see a change I think, "damn, good idea." and the game is so easy to pick up and so hard to be the best at that it's always fun to play. SC2 and DotA2 are interesting to me, but speaking strictly as a consumer here they lack the ease of understanding that League, and even WoW had. Plus, I don't just want to 1v1 people. I got that out of my system in Durotar years ago. I always disliked DotA because it prides itself on the dumb mechanics that were in WC3 that didn't make sense to begin with. Denying is a stupid system, in my opinion.

I played WC3 professionally before I played WoW and that game was quite fun in my opinion; clutch plays, macro, micro. League is very similar in that regard. I used to love the combat system in World of Warcraft but at the end of the day all it is is a great engine, fluid mechanics and animations in a game that isn't balanced at all whatsoever.

There are websites that show every piece of relevant data for every champion - it's so easy to find an outlier or an anomaly from a statistical standpoint. It was sort of shitty for me to go from being great at a game to shitty at a game, but at least I know the game is balanced. It's also insanely popular, and the streams prove that. Did Khuna really say they use viewer bots? The treacherous are ever distrustful. Why are you so jealous of Neilyo? How is it worse for him to use bots to up his viewers than it was for you to steal Hydra's identity?

????

Anyway, if you haven't played League seriously I'd highly recommend it. Once you can understand the genre and the basic parts of it(CS, lane position, relative power to your lane opponent) you can really climb and some of your, "skill" in this game does translate. I'm only 1900 Elo at League, but I can communicate and conceptualize strategies in teamfights and early game invades better than most players who have no team-based competitive experience, even ones who are 2-300 points higher rated than me.

Really, just try it. Once you get a basic understanding and play a lot you can have a ton of fun. Plenty of streams to watch, huge community, always a new champion to try or new build to investigate. Rune/mastery system offers so much in the way of outplaying your opponent before you even meet him, champ select/picks/bans eliminates cheese before it begins.

It's a fair PvP game for people who don't want to play FPS. If you're playing this game, and any good at it, chances are you'll enjoy League.

#20 khuna

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 11:58 PM

try harder scrub

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