Ghostcrawler Discusses Cataclysm Changes

Greg Street, aka Ghostcrawler

Our friendly neighborhood forum moderator and lead systems designer for WoW, Ghostcrawler (aka Greg Street),  recently had an interesting interview with Gameplanet.  The Q&A session helps shed some light on a few of the questions raised when we received a massive info dump this week regarding raid lockouts and the scrapping of new mechanics.

Take a look at the full interview for some interesting angles on what we’re learning about Cataclysm. The main highlights that he covered were:

  1. Clarification on incentive for doing 25s vs. 10s.
  2. More exact info on the Reforging ability we’ve heard very little about since it’s announcement back at BlizzCon ’09
  3. Reasons for removing certain plans for new mechanics – ie. Path of Titans
  4. New Glyph plans
  5. Major Profession changes
  6. Rated Battlegrounds, and their logistics
  7. Changes to Guild Levels
  8. Mastery Bonuses talk

Amatera already detailed some of these topics, so let’s jump right in by taking a closer look at a few of the other issues Ghostcrawler talked about, starting off with the upcoming changes to stats.

Gameplanet interview with Ghostcrawler

Gameplanet: What precipitated the removal of spell power, defense and similar item statistics?

Greg Street: The problem was that we had these competing stats, like intellect and spell power. Intellect didn’t really do much except affect the mana pool for spell casters, so it wasn’t super-exciting for them. Spell power is what they really cared about on their gear and we felt that instead of having one lame stat and one exciting stat, let’s just make them the same thing.

We removed armor penetration because it was just not balanceable. It was a thing where the more you got the better it was going to be and it was just never going to work out.

A stat like defense: Instead of being something exciting that tanks could try to gear for it felt like a barrier to entry so that they couldn’t even do their job until they hit some magic number.

So we just tried to get rid of anything that was problematic like that. Our philosophy is to try and make gear as widely attractive to lots of different types of characters. We want dropping a piece of gear to be exciting, we want players to make a choice about it, rather than having players say, ‘Well, this boss has one item I want and this boss has one item I want’ and feeling like the choices are limited.

Ghostcrawler, you are my idol. When I heard about the drops of these stats back at BlizzCon ’09, I was naively pissed. After calming down and regaining my Volkhan stoicism, I understood the process behind making this choice. In fact, I welcomed it.

As a tank myself, when I first hit 80 – I had to hit that “soft cap” threshold of 535 defense, and afterward, 540. GC was dead-on when he said it felt more like a barrier than an enhancement stat, especially when you had to choose between defense and say, block, on gear. This can easily be said about the other stats that are getting the cut.

The bolded section in the quote above is something  I, and so many others I’ve raided with, can relate to. Apparently, Blizzard has heard that, and is making plans to change it. Up until now, Atlasloot has been my best friend because I can sort through which bosses have what I need / want, and which bosses are simply a badge grab.

Now on to glyphs and professions. The main changes that Ghostcrawler summarized are:

  • The introduction of new “medium glyphs” that will “affect abilities that you don’t use constantly but you do use, and they can be DPS or healing increases, but not necessarily straight-forward ones.”
  • The changing of the glyph system to be permanent. “So the new glyph UI is designed more about collecting all the glyphs for your character and storing them there. Any time you want to switch glyphs you can just use that.”
  • The switch for inscription to now focus on non-glyph related aspects such as “Darkmoon Faire cards, trinkets, offhand items, things like that. We also want to tie the ability to change glyphs into inscription. We’re not sure of the name yet but the idea is that scribes would basically sell a kind of eraser and the eraser is what allows you to blank out your glyphs and write in new ones.”
  • Blacksmithing and leatherworking will no longer have specializations, but “We’re keeping them for alchemy and engineering.”
  • Crafting certain items now may grant multiple skill points
  • Many new trade skill recipes will have a random stat on them. “There’ll be a slight variable range, so that you can surprise yourself by discovering you’ve made a really good item on this particular occasion instead of cranking out fifty identical items.”
  • Also, professions will now have better starter PvP gear sets

This is a large amount to take all at once. I’m glad that Inscription is getting an overhaul with the changes to Glyphs. With two friends as high level Inscriptionists, they complain a bit too much that their real source of income is glyphs and on occasion Darkmoon cards if they make them. Perhaps they’ll get their own recipes to drop in raids to make offhands and whatnot.

It’ll be very interesting to see how these glyph changes  play out, and the real uses of these new Medium Glyphs will be. As Blizzard hasn’t really expanded on this topic yet, we can only speculate.

As for professions, the changes to Blacksmithing and Leatherworking should be nice, and welcomed – but I’m very curious as to what they have in stock for Alchemy and Engineering.

For professions in general, it should be a nice welcome of the multi-skill gain – because it will take less time and resources to power level that profession of choice. The craftable PvP gear change and should make professions such as leatherworking, tailoring, and blacksmithing more important for PvP gear and not just PvE. On a somewhat related topic, GC also delved into the topic of reforging:

Gameplanet: You’ve talked about the reforging system in the past, where’s that at?

Street: Yeah, it’s really cool! It’s actually completely functional now. The way it works is, instead of being tied to trade skills, now there are NPCs in the major cities. You go to this NPC and tell them you want to reforge an item. The interface opens and you place the item in it. It then asks you to pick a stat to reduce, and then pick a stat to add. You can’t use primary stats like agility, strength and intellect, but you can use all of the secondary stats like hit, crit, haste, parry, dodge, things like that. Then you reduce one of the stats by – at the moment it’s 40% but to make the example easier, say it’s 50%. If you have 100 crit, you reduce that by 50, that then gives you 50 points to put on, say, hit. And the cost of that transaction is the vendor cost of the item, so if you later decide to sell that item, you’re not really out of pocket…

You can do it on any kind of item, a green leveling item or on a purple item if you didn’t need all that hit on it, for example. We don’t want it to be a way to get the “Best Possible” items, we still want those to be rare drops, but we want it to make the difference between an item being no good for you and making it useful.

This is one of the few new features in Cataclysm that hasn’t been changed dramatically from what was showcased back at BlizzCon ’09. To more thoroughly explain this new mechanic, here’s the basics of reforging.

  • Stats are split between two categories – Primary and Secondary stats.
  1. Primary Stats are Intellect, Strength, Agility, Stamina – stats you would normally see in white below the item name.
  2. Secondary Stats are Hit Rating, Crit Rating, Haste, Block, Parry, Dodge – stats you would normally see in green.
  • Reforging is only done on Secondary stats.
  • It’s done at a 40% reduction to increase.
  1. For simplicity with numbers, let’s say the reduction is 50%. If you reforge your Hit rating of 100 on an item into Crit rating, Hit would become 50, and Crit 150 (if it was at 100 to start with).
  2. GC didn’t mention higher or lower amounts, giving the idea that you can only do it once per item (like enchanting) and that you can only reduce / increase by 40%

Finally, let’s explore the Mastery system a bit.

Gameplanet: The Mastery system: Do the bonuses change based on what talents you’re selecting within a tree, or is more “40 points gets you this much”?

Street: Yeah, the point is to give players more flexibility in how they spend their talent points. As soon as you spend a point in a tree, the Mastery system says, ‘OK, you’re this kind of player.’ So if you’re a Paladin and you spend your first point in the Retribution tree, you’re now a Retribution paladin and you’ll get those bonuses. You can get up to a maximum of 51 points worth of bonuses because we actually want players to get to the bottom of a talent tree, if you spend more than that there’s no additional [Mastery] bonus but no penalty either. So we’re assuming that most players will get the full 51 points worth of passive Mastery bonuses from their talent tree.

Gameplanet: How does the Mastery system feed into other systems?

Street: There is a Mastery rating bonus as an item stat that will start showing up on gear, levels 80-85. If you have that, it’ll improve the passive bonuses unique to your mastered talent tree. There’s 30 of them, and that’s a way of ensuring mastery is important to everyone because it affects something that’s important to them.

There’s also a slight Mastery bonus you’ll get for wearing the correct type of armor, so for example, it’s a way of making sure warriors wear plate instead of taking mail or leather.

This last information on Mastery sounds like we have a base amount with 51-point talent specs, that is then stacked with what we gain off our gear.

Here’s one example describing how I think the Mastery system could work. This is only my interpretation, and could be very different from what is introduced in-game.

Hypothetical example

Let’s say I have 51 points in Protection, so my Mastery would be the following:

  • 8% Damage Reduction
  • 5% Vengeance (stacking buff of 5% increased AP up to a total of 25% of my Health)
  • Critical Block Chance (Normal block is 30%, with this I have a 60% chance to block)

Then, let’s say a tanking helm drops and it has these stats:

  1. 3052 Armor
  2. Primary Stats: +200 Strength, +250 Stamina
  3. Secondary Stats: +75 Dodge, +50 Parry, +50 Block
  4. Mastery Stats (I’m guessing it’s going to be in blue underneath Secondary stats, that only you see for your spec and class): +.5% Damage Reduction, .25% Vengeance

Those stats could stack on your Mastery ‘base’ from your 51-point spec. Making my theoretical Mastery stats:

  • 8.5% Damage Reduction
  • 5.25% Vengeance

Overall, I’m of the opinion that things are definitely moving in a great direction for World of Warcraft’s future. What do you think?

I’m eternally waiting for Patch 4.0 to hit so that we can experience these new features. Now to just get Patch 3.3.5


  1. Well, atleast now I won’t be bombarded with tells like,


    That was one thing I thought woulda sucked from having something like that. :P

  2. Well Mordil before we all knew about the npc doing the reforging, we thought only the person with the profesion could do it, and before we knew only secondary stats could be reduced. So if Ghostcrawler and the team didnt change reforging like they said they are/have, Nextgener would be getting loads of /w from tanks who want extra stam etc. They can just go to the npc and do it ^^ hoped this cleared things up.

  3. Yep, that’s basically it in a nut shell. But not just stam either, they never clarified at blizzcon the limitations. So if you could change Every Stat at a whim, alot of people with professions (bs, lw, enchant) had the fear of being constantly bombarded with requests to change every stat on there gear at every waking moment.

    And if that became the case, I would so delete my BS skills. This Change ^=Good

Comments are closed.