I asked the following questions via the Internode interview with Ghostcrawler. In hindsight, it seems like have room to ask more questions and I maybe should have tried to hone my points clearer. That said, the responses are definitely interesting.
What is the developer perspective on the state of the Balance Druid and what conclusions have been drawn from Beta community feedback from prominent posters?
Greg: Wow, that’s a really big question. The challenge with the Balance Druid has always been that you have two very similar types of spells, one is arcane and one is nature, but other than their spell schools they don’t have much difference going on and so encouraging druids to switch between them or use them more than once has always been a challenge. We think the new mechanic will do that, that and some of the talent tree changes we’ve added, I know several Balance Druids that are really prominent in the theory-crafting community are really excited about the potential. We may find problems along the way, there’s always PvP concerns, I know there are some mana concerns, and some spells that still don’t get used often enough but overall we’re pretty happy with the way it worked out.
While raiding as a Moonkin seems perfectly viable, do you feel that you achieved your stated goal bringing the spec into competitive PvP for Cataclysm?
Greg: Things look good so far, competitive PvP for Cataclysm is going to be very different from what it was in Wrath of the Lich King. For starters, there’s a big emphasis on rated battlegrounds, you’re not necessarily going to have the 3v3 arena death match being the very dominant form of PvP that players are talking about all the time. Also, just by increasing the health pool so much and changing the way things like the spells work, we just think the environment is going to be different, there’ll be more chances to respond to mistakes and we think matches will be determined more by strategy and how players respond to a dynamic situation, rather than who got in that lucky first hit.
Furthermore, what is your opinion on their PvP issues such as lack of survivability, lack of depth and options and importantly the disputed usefulness of Wild Mushroom?
Greg: The Wild Mushroom is definitely a different spell and we heard a lot of the same things from Warlocks about the Demonic Circle which allows them to do short distance teleports, players were like “What is this? I’m never going to use this, it’s got too many restrictions!” and now it’s a pretty fun ability, a lot of Warlocks would admit that they can get a lot of use out of it, but it took a while for players to figure out the best use of it. It asks for a little more skill from the player, and I think Wild Mushroom’s going to do the same thing, we think there will be Druids who figure out good ways of setting up little minefields or stacking all their mushrooms together or things like that, it’s just such a different ability that it’s hard to say “Oh look, it’s the new Starfire that Balance Druids will be spamming all the time.”