We’ve been closely following the discussion around 7.0.3 camera changes, and especially feedback regarding specific sources of visual and physical discomfort. We recently released a client hotfix that addressed a number of mount-related camera issues, and we have another update in the works that addresses screen/FOV distortion resulting from addons that alter the viewport. Many developers on the WoW team are sensitive to various forms of motion and simulation sickness, and it’s an issue about which we care deeply. The last thing we want is for anyone who loves the game to feel unable to enjoy it due to physical discomfort.
Obviously, the cap on CVar-controlled max zoom distance has been a major focus of both community and our own internal discussions. My original post on the matter was not as clear as it could have been regarding our motivations for the change in the first place. It placed too much emphasis on “competitive advantage” in terms of a level playing field, when the core concern I was trying to convey is that “whatever the maximum allowed, that’s what competitive players will use in order to maximize performance, even at the expense of the game’s overall look and feel.” That shouldn’t be a terribly controversial statement: When you’re trying to dodge Fel Outpouring waves on Kormrok in Hellfire Citadel, the farther out you can zoom, the sooner you can see when they’re headed your way; why wouldn’t you zoom out as far as possible? (Corollary: Around what expected zoom level do we tune the speed and lethality of the waves?)
In the course of working on Legion, and trying to improve the overall look and feel of our combat, class abilities, and the ways in which players interact with the world, we took stock of all aspects of that experience, including the camera. World of Warcraft is an avatar-driven open-world RPG, placing the player in the shoes of a hero who adventures throughout Azeroth, yet with the previous max console zoom, that hero would commonly take up less screen real estate than characters in isometric games like Diablo or Heroes, or even many Starcraft 2 units. At that zoom level, details of your character get lost, and details in the world vanish. The game ultimately is designed to be experienced with the camera zoom range available in the default UI.
Now, that is not to say that we don’t at times fail in creating an overall experience that is smooth and free of frustration at those zoom levels. When a tank can’t see around a boss like Archimonde to know where incoming demons are in order to corral them, that’s obviously not ideal. There is much we can do to keep WoW’s scale from spiraling out of control, as well as UI and camera improvements to the experience of fighting huge monsters, and we’ll be paying close attention to feedback along those lines as we move into Legion.
We intended to limit the console-overridden camera zoom very early on in the Legion Beta, which would have left us with many months to iterate on gameplay and feedback that arose from the change before releasing Legion. However, due to an oversight (we capped one way of overriding it, but not another) the change did not properly go through until the very end of the development cycle. Since then, we’ve heard from many players that they’ve relied on increasing the camera zoom to counteract a number of sensitivities, ranging from motion sickness to headaches from spell effects.
Recently, a number of players have reported some relief through using a new addon that allows them to bypass any and all limits on zoom distance. That addon takes advantage of a bug that has existed for some time but gone unnoticed (passing a negative value into a function). In an upcoming hotfix, we will be fixing that bug and thus causing that addon (and others like it) to honor the standard camera limits.
However, in that same hotfix, we will also be raising the hard cap on camera zoom to a midway point between what was possible prior to 7.0, and what is possible through the in-game interface options. This increased cap will allow power users to once again be able to extend their camera distance via a console command, should they so desire. The choice of the new max was informed by reports from players regarding what zoom distance eased the discomfort they were experiencing. Ultimately, we would prefer to address the underlying issues rather than relying on increased zoom to mask those issues, but now that patch 7.0.3 is live and we cannot properly iterate on the sort of changes that would be required, reapplying the band-aid is preferable to leaving an open wound.
We look forward to hearing your feedback once these changes are live. We want to continue working to improve the readability, usability, and accessibility of our game from a visual standpoint, including camera functionality, and community feedback and discussion are invaluable when dealing with such an inherently subjective area.