Updated Sat, Dec 19, 2009 by Messiah
Author: Byron "Messiah" Mudry
Day two of BlizzCon started for me with attending the professions and Items discussion panel. As the title implies the discussion focused on two major pieces. Really though it broke down into three parts. The first part was a discussion around the basics of profession created items, the new profession of Inscription. They then moved on to talk about a trio of closely related items: what works and will have more added, what doesn't work and is being changed, and what new features are being added. The last part of the discussion focused on the items in the game, how stats are allocated to them, how that has changed since release, and upcoming item changes.
The members of the panel for this discussion were Tom Chilton, Travis Day, and John Lecraft.
That's a lot of choices
Jon Lecraft started off the discussion by explaining how many recipes are truly available to crafter's. The current number is slightly over 1900 with over 1/3 of those coming in the Burning Crusade. The expectation is at least that many more in the second expansion.
From there he went on to explained the basic steps Blizzard goes through to create and implement a new profession recipe. The steps they follow are: deciding what to make, materials, skills, and how to get the recipe. They all interact in a very complex way to determine the final items. What I list here is only the briefest overview of an incredibly complex analysis process. Hearing them discuss it makes me amazed they they have been able to implement so many recipes without more issues than they have had. Briefly, the details about each of the steps are as follows:
In the first step they decide what it is they want to make and why. It could be a very cool idea, something missing from the game for itemization, or any number of other reasons. They then do on to decide how good it should be (green, blue, epic), which helps them determine most of the other criteria around the item such as materials, skills, look, etc.
An entertaining presentation
The next step is determining the materials. Here they look at several things, and try to match the materials needed to the quality of the item. In this way, crafting an epic item feels epic since it will take a long time to gather the materials. Crafting simple green items should be fast and painless. One important exception that was noted was creator only item. They like to give a significant discount on wither the materials created or a bonus to the stats on creator only items to encourage their use, since they are limited.
Next the design team looks at the skills for the item. They base this on several things such as the items use level, its stats, its quality and what it is used for. If it is an ingredient for another recipe then it will have lower skill requirements, if its epic it then has a high skill requirement.
After the skill level to create the item is set, they look at how long it provides skill points for. This turns into a balancing game, largely based on how difficult they feel it should be to advance your skill at that skill range. They also assign longer skill point gains to more complex items.
Where do I find it?
The last thing that is determined when designing the recipe is how players will gain access to it. Should they get it from the trainer, vendor, a world drop, a quest, or some other method. This is determined largely by two factors, how common they wish the item to be and how good the item created is. The better the item, the rarer it generally is.
This topic was discussed but only briefly as not all the details have been set in stone. The idea is there, but they do not want to promise players one thing and then have to release something different because it didn't work out. What was passed on was extremely interesting.
First, inscriptions are not additional effects for your gear or weapons as everyone initially thought. Inscriptions are like enchants, but for your spells and abilities! That's right, you get an inscriber to inscribe your ability with additional power or functionality. This could come in the way of extra crit chance to an attack, +healing on a heal, an effect such as knockback or any number of other cool abilities.
An example was given of the potential to add knockback to a mage's fireball. We were then very quickly told that it was a possible example, but not to hold our breaths as it could create hue balance issues.
It was also passed on that Inscribers will be able to pass on the inscriptions via items so that they can sell them in the auction house. Also mentioned was a new type of item that inscribers will be able to create. No details were given though as they are early in development.
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