World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Developer Diary

World of Warcraft lead systems designer Greg Street paid a visit to the game's official website to pen a new developer diary that seeks to explain the team's strategy when considering which bonuses to add to any shiny new gear.
Hit and expertise have real caps so it's intended that they are very good up until their caps. It's a longer discussion than I can fit in this blog, but we like how cappable stats affect the gearing decision -- the puzzle of which gems to use or how to reforge is often played because you want to hit that hit number without going over. Likewise, Spirit is the kind of stat that healers will only need "enough" of, and once they feel comfortable with their mana regen, additional Spirit will be less attractive than other secondary stats. (This sort of thing also depends a lot on the encounter mind you.) Mastery is a new stat for us, and while it's working great for some talent specs, we'll almost certainly have to tweak it for others in a future patch (Unholy and Retribution come to mind, because their masteries currently affect sources of damage that just aren't large enough to be competitive).

One additional point worth mentioning: we don't design every item to be perfect. While we try to avoid actual booby prizes (I'm looking at you, Vendorstrike), we definitely go out of our way to make some items more highly optimized than others. If you knew every loot drop was certain to be an upgrade, then there isn't much reason to have stats on equipment at all -- you could just reduce everything to "power" that scales with item level. It's quite intentional for example that Ashkandi 2.0 has a very generous weapon speed.