WoW Removed Talent Trees

Today’s Blizzcon announced many exciting things, including the removal of one of vanilla WoW’s crown jewels, the talent tree system. Completely gone. You now pick a “spec” and then get to pick one talent every 15 levels. No more points, no more trees.

I remember it being so damned impressive when the game started. Obviously many choices were crap. Obviously there would be a few “correct” builds and most other setups would be rendered moot. But it still made me feel invested in my character as I leveled, even after we knew the “correct” choice. Now all those choices are gone. Except every 15 levels, when you will pick the one correct choice (as soon as min-maxers figure out what it is for you). This is a total misstep and the wrong thing to be working on.

They just couldn’t get it perfect. They redid it and redid it, making the choices smaller each time, until ultimately the only way to perfect it was to remove it.

Sometimes I’ve worried that I’ve been too hard on Ghostcrawler and company. Turns out I wasn’t. Can you imagine how many cool new game mechanics WoW could have by now if they didn’t feel the need to incessantly rewrite the combat systems? How many rewrites does it take before they accept that there’s no such thing as perfect? What is this, six total rewrites now? But don’t worry, I’m sure they have it right this time.

I post this here not as commentary on WoW, which I don’t play anymore. I post this as a reminder to myself not to get caught up in trying to perfectly balance things. I am a balance-aholic, I admit it. And I don’t know how I’m going to avoid this fate on my own MMO.

I mean, nerfing stuff is one thing — especially during the first year that’s gonna happen as you try to get the game within some semblance of balance. And buffing underwhelming abilities is almost always a good thing, not a bad one.

But rewriting the entire advancement system from scratch? Okay, sometimes a design is a total flop, so maybe a rewrite is necessary one time… maybe. But at this point, it just feels like a cry for help. So if I get to that point, somebody please help me. For now, go help Ghostcrawler, because by God he actually thinks his latest efforts make the game better. No, for real, he does. That’s the saddest part.

EDIT: some more nuance:

There are two topics here. First of all, is the new design better than the old? I obviously don’t like the new advancement mechanics, but that’s not my big gripe.

The second, more important, topic is this: having just rewritten the talent system from scratch in the last expansion, and having finally worked out the major kinks over the past year, does it make sense to erase everything yet again in order to try something new yet again? The answer is no. There are better things for the systems designers to be doing. After each rewrite, the return on investment is rapidly shrinking.

Players aren’t quitting because they made bad choices in the talent tree. (Not anymore, that is.) The number of players clamoring for skill rewrites is at low ebb. And talent tree rewrites aren’t even particularly grabby anymore: Blizzard has played that card with every expansion pack, and a few times in between. This is no longer a good use of developer resources.

So the reason I say that Ghostcrawler is wrong is his priorities. They seem to be focused on making the existing game perfect instead of adding more stuff. With Blizzard’s manpower, it would be easy to add all sorts of new stuff to WoW: deeper and more interesting craft systems, new combat mechanics that require you to use your skills in different but familiar ways, new monsters with more diversity. Entire new classes designed to deal with the new monsters in new ways. You know, game design.

But they add very few new mechanics. Instead,they rewrite the core combat mechanics over and over. Their actions speak a lot louder than words: to Ghostcrawler and team, perfecting the existing game is more important than adding new stuff. The trouble is that nothing is ever perfect, so revisions will never end. And in the meantime, there’s no cool new stuff.

In short, I don’t believe Ghostcrawler’s priorities are smart for the long-term health of WoW at this time.

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64 Responses to WoW Removed Talent Trees

  1. Nils says:

    Just deleted all my chars and documented it on youtube. WoW started to become worse with TBC and the separation of PvE and PvP. Then it started to become really bad with WotLK and the emblems. It became a shadow of its former self with Cataclysm and raid-or-die. And with Pandas this game is not a game I want to play. Even if they had the best talent trees in the world … which they might once have had.

  2. Ashen says:

    It’s time for a guessing game: what system will they streamline out of the game next? Between this and the next “quality of life” improvements they must be planning, soon enough there’s barely gonna be any game left.

    It’s sad in a way though. They pretty much pioneered the skill/talent tree in Diablo2 and it’s been such a success most RPGs (and just RPGs) nowadays use it. Now they’re dumping it themselves in their quest for perfect balance.

  3. Ibn says:

    Eric, question… what do you think is the best way to minimize subscriber churn once an MMO has peaked? As far as I can tell, the only “successful” method anyone has found is to go free-to-play. Other than that, it seems like the only two choices are “more of the same”, which leads to the slow bleed as players get bored and drift away, or “massive change” which inevitably fails to pick up new players and instead drives away the existing players faster.

    Or is there no means of success? Is the only solution to just plan for the slow bleed and try to minimize it?

  4. darkeye says:

    I don’t always think adding new systems is always better than changing old ones, streamlining and refining and creating additional links between systems is just as appealing to me at least. Adding new systems such as Pet Battle (Pokemon) and Scenarios (Lotro skirmishes), can be less exciting because it just feels like pilling stuff on top of the other just to appeal to as many people as possible. They seem to have a good balance of adding new things and revamping old.

    I’ve never liked the WoW talent trees, they’ve always been boring, and Rift is even worse being more similar to the older style of WoW talent trees. From the talent panel, it seems that each tier gives 3 choices of talents and each tier is themed such as survivability, CC, movement or heal, the examples they are giving seem to really break down the current specs. That to me is more interesting than Scenarios, it comes down to which will likely occupy more of the players time and interest, of course if you are Blizzard and have the resources and money to do both then there is no decision to be made.

  5. Michael Kujawa says:

    When WowInsider put “Talent System Overhaul” on their Blizzcon 2011 Bingo, I thought to myself, “They wouldn’t do that, they just overhauled the talent system!”

  6. Rauxis says:

    For me GC is quite a nut case – time and time again he stated “we want to have more fun abilities in the game” – and than he removed the ability of Ferals to shift out of roots, which was incredibly fun (especially against Frostmages).
    He removed Treeform – because (for him) it’s more fun to look at armor, incapable to see that the Druid community is completely divided over this issue and a “disguise like” spell might have been the real answer.
    He is so proud of LFD (and now LFR) without seeing that these tools destroy the little community WoW ever had – there are no technical solutions for social problems!
    When he was still working on the forums he often told how untouchable his feelings are – only to lock/delete posts in the next moment criticizing his work.

    I think he’s simply not suited for this position, for he thinks too much in numbers and not enough in terms of fun.

  7. Kierbuu says:

    I’m kind of wondering if this isn’t the whole “Path of the Titans” thing that got scrapped at the beginning of “Cataclysm”.

    No matter. It won’t solve any of the problems the dev team says it will. There will still be cookie cutter specs. There will still be unbalanced (over and under powered) classes.

    The only thing I can see coming out of this system is a continued divesting of player choice and control over their character. In the old system I made a choice about how I wanted my character to grow ever level. The choice may not of been major, but it was mine and I grew closer to my characters through that choice. In the current system I stand a bit too far apart in my opinion since I only get to make a choice ever few levels. One choice ever 15 levels is just going to be zero investment and more of an annoyance.

    I don’t know. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe players will love it. I just know that out of all the news from Blizzcon I’ve heard today, this is the only bit that actually caused my jaw to drop (with the thought of “No, they couldn’t of wasted time on something that silly.”)

  8. Jason Brodsky says:

    Have you actually looked at the new talents? They’re actually quite impressive. There’s a real conscious push towards talents that aren’t min-maxable and perform better in different circumstances and playstyles.

    http://www.mmo-champion.com/content/2517-World-of-Warcraft-Class-Talent-Systems-Panel

    Would I prefer these talents in a more flexible format, with lots of options and playing around to pick from? Yeah.

    But is the choice between these talents looks much more interesting than the choice between talents in WotLK, the last time I played.

    I don’t see this as a “balancing” move at all. There wasn’t any problem “balancing” the old talent trees–they tweaked the best talents until the dps meters lined up, then called it a day, leaving the worst talents to rot.

    This is a diversity move–that’s what they keep saying in every discussion of it, and if you examine the talents on the slides, that’s what I think they’ll get.

    This *is* the cool new game mechanic they are getting instead of rebalancing the system. What they’re getting rid of the the vestigial system that was once designed as a customization feature but is now just a trap for inexperienced players.

    The more I think about this, the more it sounds like your own writing on classless games. You create diversity by offering discrete choices between complexly different playstyles, not by offering a million mix-and-match options.

  9. Azuriel says:

    I agree with Jason.

    The traditional talent tree system was crap. The “choice” you had was between expected output vs designer gotcha! moments. If you didn’t max out Crusade as a Ret paladin, you were doing it wrong; same with Rule of Law, Sanctity of Battle, Sanctified Wrath, Inquiry of Faith, and so on and so forth. As a new player, you might not understand that your Shadow priest was functionally useless without Evangelism/Archangel in the Disc tree, or that Shadowy Apparition contributed so much to your dungeon/raid DPS – both were useless while questing and in PvP, after all.

    Blaming this on Ghostcrawler’s naivete is a pretty specious argument. Diablo 3 is not going to have a formal talent system either, so this is clearly a company-wide philosophy shift. I pointed out back in September that Bashiok came out and said:

    Diablo (1) did not have skill trees, it was a feature added to Diablo II, and then more or less copied by World of Warcraft. Some could say to World of Warcraft’s detriment as it’s been struggling with how to cope with a skill tree system, which has huge inherent issues with very little benefit, for years. Diablo III, like Diablo II, is an evolution of the series and game systems.

    Saying that Diablo III shouldn’t learn from the successes and mistakes in World of Warcraft, let alone Diablo II or any other game, is just nonsensical.

    Maybe he was being a mouthpiece for Ghostcrawler, but the fact is that Ghostcrawler has nothing to do with D3. We know nothing about Titan, but I’d bet you that it won’t have a formal talent tree either.

    And, honestly, I’m glad they’re scrapping it. A choice between being normal or being gimp isn’t a choice at all. I went over a few of the new talents myself, and most of them are legitimately good customization choices.

  10. Eric says:

    There are two topics here. First, is the new design better than the old? That’s a trick question, because it prioritizes different things. It’s probably got more fun choices, but far fewer of them. So it boils down to asking which makes the game stickier: numerous small choices or a few major choices? That depends on what sort of player you are. I assume most people reading this blog will prefer the new system because you’ve been doing this a long time.

    But at the same time, new players generally bond with their first character more strongly if they have many small choices to make during its development. Their investment goes up. And WoW already did a fantastic job of making the game easy enough that even terrible character choices are completely viable for solo play. When they reach high level they can respec… they would have anyway!

    But I know the whole question of “is this system better” is a contentious topic… and I don’t even feel that strongly about it myself. There are certainly good points to the new system. I just think they are slightly outweighed by the negatives.

    The second question is a lot less murky: having just rewritten the talent system from scratch in the last expansion, and finally worked out the major kinks over the past year, does it make sense to erase everything yet again in order to try something new yet again? The answer is no. There are better things for the systems designers to be doing. After each rewrite, the return on investment is rapidly shrinking.

    Players aren’t quitting because they made bad choices in the talent tree. (Not anymore, that is.) The number of players clamoring for skill rewrites is at low ebb. And it’s not even particularly grabby anymore: few retired players will run back because the talents are revised yet again. Blizzard has played that card with every expansion pack, and once or twice in between. This is no longer a good use of developer resources.

    So the reason I say that Ghostcrawler is wrong is his priorities. They seem to be focused on making the existing game perfect instead of adding more stuff. With Blizzard’s manpower, it would be easy to add all sorts of new stuff to WoW: deeper and more interesting craft systems, new combat mechanics that require you to use your skills in different but familiar ways, new monsters with more diversity. Entire new classes designed to deal with the new monsters in new ways. You know, game design.

    But they add very few new mechanics. Instead,they rewrite the core combat mechanics over and over. Their actions speak a lot louder than words: to Ghostcrawler and team, perfecting the existing game is more important than adding new stuff. The trouble is that nothing is ever perfect, so revisions will never end. And in the meantime, there’s no cool new stuff.

    In short, I don’t believe Ghostcrawler’s priorities are smart for the long-term health of WoW at this time.

    [I also added this comment to the end of the blog post.]

  11. Eric says:

    @Jason Brodsky – but the problem is, the new system will have the same number of “traps for newbies” as the old one. If there are choices, then some will be perceived as good and others as incredibly stupid.

    This is a fact of life for WoW because of the audience it’s attracted.

  12. Eric says:

    @Azuriel – so your claim is that the new system will have only good choices and players will stop being ostracized for their character builds?

    Want to bet money on that? :)

    I think the choices this time are definitely better. But there are far fewer of them, and there will still be “right” and “wrong” choices. So this doesn’t feel like a huge win over revising things… or just leaving classes the heck alone to focus on something else for once.

  13. JeremyT says:

    I have a completely unsubstantiated theory that WoW has massive churn. I suspect that few people actually play the game for more than a few months straight at a given time; rather, they play for a while, then they quit, and when they quit they either go away for ever, or they go a way for a while… and then come back for a while to do it all over again.

    I think Cataclysm was a response to this trend which Blizzard had observed. Cataclysm revamped all of the classes and much of the old world content. It drew people back. It moved boxes. And then, they left again.

    Constantly revamping the combat system means that the game is never the same game twice, and people coming back will always have new systems to dig into. I’m not sure it even matters if the change is good, so long as there is change.

    This isn’t sustainable, but I don’t think there’s any way to make WoW sustainable, at least not with its current numbers with its current business model. I think they’re desperate to bring as many people back as frequently as they can, and this kind of change is how they hope to do it.

  14. Eric says:

    @Ibn – well, I think they aren’t adding enough new stuff. But in terms of long-term planning, I dunno.

    One of the things they did in the last expansion was rewrite the entire world. They wanted to excite old players into coming back, but in the process they destroyed tons of player knowledge, which we both know sucks and makes players feel robbed.

    I don’t have a great answer to that, but I do think the industry should consider sequels again. Basically, Blizzard could ship WoW2 with higher-res graphics and all the gameplay tweaks they want. Then tell players that WoW2 is free for WoW subscribers (and vice versa). And let WoW subscribers migrate their existing characters during a trial period. (The migration wouldn’t map up 100%, but enough.)

    The problem with all the stuff WoW is doing now is that it feels hard to jump in. If you’ve never played WoW, you are likely to feel like you missed the boat and can never catch up. (I feel that way with EVE, and with M:tG too. I missed those boats, I can never catch up.) A complete relaunch is an invitation for players to try again. Even if the game is only 50% new (new content, modest gameplay tweaks) it could still do the trick.

    Worth a shot, anyway.

  15. Azuriel says:

    @Azuriel – so your claim is that the new system will have only good choices and players will stop being ostracized for their character builds?

    There will always be excuses for players to ostracize each other. The designer goal, IMO, should be to reduce the delta between “we balance your class around this” and “functionally useless” so the ostracization is less justified. If the cookie-cutter build can do 20,000 DPS and you “explored” a combination that results in 10,000 DPS, people have a legit reason to tell you to L2P. If the difference is 20,000 vs 19,000 + 2,000 free raid healing, there is room to tell the L2P guys to STFU.

    I mean, tell me you looked at the example talents. I’m most familiar with paladins, who have zero DPS talents choices until the level 90 one, which will need to be extensively theorycrafted because as it stands there is no clear winner. Mages have two tiers where it will probably matter DPS-wise. There are some that are more obvious PvP choices than PvE ones (like hunters). But, overall, it does not appear that any class/spec will be “accidentally” missing those talents that sound boring, like +50% auto-attack damage, which end up making them laughably underperform.

    The other two things going on is that Blizzard is returning to Wrath heroics difficulty-wise, so there will be less of a reason to care how someone is specced. Finally, since you are only really making 6 choices out of 18 possible and can respec at any time out of combat, you can easily fix any “mistakes” the group insists that you made.

    Yes, there are diminishing returns on tweaking the talent system every expansion. No, I do not believe that any development time was actually lost as a result. If they kept in Cata’s talent model, they’d likely have to spend just as much time fixing/balancing it as making something entirely new. Indeed, this just might actually save them time as anything.

  16. Rauxis says:

    I went through the Druid talents – I don’t claim do know much about WoW beyond Feral and Resto play – but for those talents I’d say there won’t be a “right” or “wrong” choice. The talents are far to different, all look useful – but in different situations.

    But as respeccing will be so incredible easy there is no real choice in the first place. Apart from the choice via spezialisation there will be no further distinction. Every Feral will be identical.

    As player you will also quite often suffer the “oh my god, I I’m in triple escape mod specc, and can’t do my overpower maneuver now”. The number of possible extra spells triples. Do you really think that’s a good option? Compare it to now – it’s like saying “as long as your specialisation remains intact, you can change specc out of combat, but with 2 times the number of useful abilities”.

    And I bet it will lead to a lot of headaches, maybe even more so then current “you are specced like a noob”. I can already hear the PUG crying “why didn’t you use XYZ when the boss breathes fire, everyone knows that….”

    I also doubt the system will be easier to balance then the previous one. The abilities appear to me as far too strong (strictly speaking PvE here). They are exactly of the type that might become incredibly overpowered in some encounters and thereby trivializing a boss.

    GC once again proves he is not interested in the journey 1-90. The current system means you get something new every level. For me that is an important part of the game. Without it – why use level in the first place?

    The whole system puts you deeper and deeper into a tunnel. Similar to a Star Wars ego shooter – at first it looks like an open world, but really you are in a very narrow channel running along a strict path. A MMO should be about learning and experiencing – errors are part of the process. Without a talent system there simply will be less deviation, less errors. And as in Disneyland – the same ride is fun once or twice, but then it grows stale.

    At first I thought this is really looking good, and got me interested enough to almost imediately re-subscribe (for a year). Then I considered that I would not buy Diabolo III in the first place and started thinking again. And the longer I think – the more I can’t say I like it.

  17. Eric says:

    @Azuriel – Okay, let’s assume for the sake of argument that this is overall a modest improvement to the game. I don’t think this changes the crux of my concern at all.

    No, I do not believe that any development time was actually lost as a result. If they kept in Cata’s talent model, they’d likely have to spend just as much time fixing/balancing it as making something entirely new. Indeed, this just might actually save them time as anything.

    My point is that the real way to save time is not to keep mucking with the system at all. This is not a winning move for the game right now.

    And if, as you say, changing the game’s content model will already make people care less about specific specs, then why is this the best time to rewrite all the specs again? They’re just going to feel the need to redo everything six months after the expansion ships anyway.

    If the team wasn’t weighted down with the R&D, implementation, and QA of yet another complete advancement rewrite, the number of cool systems in the expansion could be significantly higher. After that expansion shipped with tons of new systems content — say six new classes and eight new races and forty new monsters each with unique combat mechanics, then I would understand why a rewrite is required. Or even 3 classes, 4 races, and 20 new combat mechanics.

    As it is, it’s one piddly new class/race. But we all know that advancement will get rewritten again soon after the expansion comes out anyway, because that’s what they do.

    This expansion is their chance to drag people back. This is the most important expansion for WoW, IMO. This is it for at two more years. And it feels underwhelming. It’s too conservative. More concerned with perfection than with injecting tons of fun into the game.

    When I look at why this struck an emotional reaction in me, it’s not because I think the redesign is a bad call. It’s because this was the wrong thing to do right now.

  18. Sofie says:

    “Yes, there are diminishing returns on tweaking the talent system every expansion. No, I do not believe that any development time was actually lost as a result. If they kept in Cata’s talent model, they’d likely have to spend just as much time fixing/balancing it as making something entirely new. Indeed, this just might actually save them time as anything.”

    Good point. Sometimes drastic changes are more effective than keeping the old stuff.

    Beyond that, it doesn’t seem like there’s a lack of new stuff to me. New class, new race, pet battles, challenge dungeons, scenarios… It will be interesting to see how everything works out.

  19. Eric says:

    @Sofie – well, if the stuff in the expansion is enough to bring old players flocking back and create buzz for new players, then my point is moot. It doesn’t feel like enough to me: it mostly seems like easy-to-implement stuff that should have come out during live updates. But you (and others) seem excited by what’s been announced, so maybe I’m just too jaded.

    My expectation would be that the kung-fu panda will be underwhelming in terms of driving people to the game. And the other features are good, but the expansion feels pretty small in terms of true effort: that is, the number of hours put in by Blizzard. For the last expansion, the number of hours was clearly phenomenal. Redoing all those zones was a huge undertaking. By comparison, this feels like the efforts of a half-sized team working for a fraction of the amount of time. (Which is why I’m annoyed when they “waste” their manpower doing the wrong things, like rebalancing instead of adding more new stuff.)

    But the proof is in the pudding, and I’ve been wrong more than once. Maybe this expansion will turn things around for WoW’s share of the market.

  20. darkeye says:

    It won’t attract new players in the slightest, but I doubt that is the intention, it will only affect current players. It’s effectively putting the current specs in a blender and letting players mix and match their preferred skills, “I can get Typhoon in feral spec now?”. Skill balances do nothing for new players, and it is arguable for wavering people getting fed up of the constant change but it does create excitement of something ‘new’ for players already invested, which for a 7-year old game is where the money’s at.

    I don’t think the one talent per level is all that great for getting new players interested, trying to decide between +1% fire damage or +1 crit is boring and it can be ignored until the player has a glut of points to invest in the tree and make a good start on a build they choose. On the other hand picking spec at level 10, then two new abilities at 15 and 30, might be a better timeframe for players to get a handle on things and make more confident choices, despite being much faster nowadays to reach those milestones.

    Going forward this new system should be easier to balance, they can restrict problematic skills to one or two specs, they can even introduce new specs (PvP only) and then designate what skills are accessible. Reducing the number of skills each spec has on the actionbars is a good idea, balance-wise and increasing the impact of player choice. Having to add 3 talents per expansion, or only every 15 levels (75, 90, 105? which would be 3 expansions away) is easier than having to add 10-15 compelling talents every expansion. It looks like the establishment of a more sustainable talent system.

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  23. Paul says:

    Is this change going to enable them to fianlly balance low level PvP?

    If so, it’s a WONDERFUL change.

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  25. Bruce Baugh says:

    There’s going to be a drive toward cookie-cutter homogeneous use of talents so long as the end game is loaded with bosses that can only be defeated with singular strategies (or a very limited spread of closely related alternatives, same diff) in gimmick phases. That’s been getting worse with each expansion, I expect it to continue, and so I expect there to be a real need among players interested in end game victory to converge. Then those who aspire to be them will copy, and so on down the line.

  26. Michael Kujawa says:

    @Azuriel re: lost dev time
    I had this thought too: I wondered if the possibility for level 90 characters to access the third tier of two trees completely undermined the current talents to such a degree that they had to invest a lot of effort in talents again.

  27. BryanM says:

    Re: Wo/Warcraft

    I think everyone is over thinking things and should try to relax. Things get old and moldy and inevitably end up as old cat food. How many episodes of House M.D. do we really need, after all?

    So naturally it doesn’t make sense for them to try hard now. They already drained the well in the first two expansions, there are no old lolore raid bosses anyone would care about, stick a fork in it already.

    Though yes, they’ve been pretty disgustingly truant in adding in basic features that have been universal in the genre for years now. Specifically, decoupling item stats from item art.

    Re: M:tG

    Its popularity has actually been on a strong upswing. It isn’t shiny enough to feel the grasp of hype hypnotism, but “missing the boat” is rather tough with this game.

    The most popular format by far is Standard, where only cards in the past two years relevant. And trust me when I say most invested players are completely unfamiliar with dozens of sets, which they can go back and abhor or get excited by if they wish (Ravnica is very popular for example). And there are cheap formats like Pauper where many cards are given away since they’re worth less than $0.01 a piece.

    The latest set (which is horror themed) has been pretty popular. It has a couple interesting cards, at least..

  28. Azuriel says:

    My point is that the real way to save time is not to keep mucking with the system at all. This is not a winning move for the game right now.

    If you are suggesting here that Blizzard stops caring about class balance as a whole, then I have to question the validity of any of your arguments. Class balance is THE most important thing in WoW – it may have the least development returns in a holistic design sense, but I guarantee you that if they allowed, for example, DKs to be overpowered for an entire expansion Blizzard would see a mass exodus from the game. I about damn near quit the game myself in Wrath because I felt that, as a paladin tank, I was holding my raid team back in Ulduar. Then things got completely flipped around in 3.3 when paladin tanks were god-mode.

    Blizzard could NOT, under any circumstances, just “left things alone.” The level cap was raised, ergo we have more talent points, ergo every class/spec would be able to reach the 3rd tier of talents in their other trees. That has to be balanced around. Otherwise you have Sub rogues running around with Deadly Brew/Cold Blood, Survival hunters with Silencing shot, and basically every spec having the iconic ability of their alternate specs. Can you imagine Arms warriors with Gag Order + Concussion Blow on top of Throwdown? Madness.

    I would like to see your MMO after a few expansions, after you have not bothered to re-balance anything. Revamped (again) talent trees aren’t a selling point, sure, but an actually balanced MMO sure as hell is.

  29. Eric says:

    @Azuriel – You haven’t been reading the blog long I guess? Don’t leap from my argument of “they shouldn’t constantly rebalance over and over every year like balance-addicted rats” to “I hate balance and will never ever do it.” This isn’t a black and white pro- or anti-balance issue, and I’ve never tried to make it one. (I love balancing, actually – the act of tweaking stats, perfecting the numbers, making it all a beautiful coherent whole. My fear is that I will over-balance my MMO, because that’s historically been a failing of mine. And it is for most systems designers.)

    Look, I’ve covered this exact argument so extensively over the years on this blog that I have a really hard time bringing myself to argue this yet again. But no, balance is not “the most important thing in WoW.”

    There are a lot of reasons why. One is how the MMO development cycle works. Blizzard can’t avoid shipping the game in an unbalanced state, which will end up just as bad as every other expansion at first. They’re adding a whole new class without having a few million hours of user data to analyze. Of course it will be broken. MMOs cannot be balanced in a vacuum. (I defend this argument in the blog history ad nauseum.)

    So the team should still do their best to perfectly balance it anyway, right? Whatever the cost? No. Not right now. The live team can balance things later, but the live team can’t make new content efficiently. Only the expansion pack team can do that, because the live team lacks the art resources and other infrastructure to do so.

    And I guarantee their balancing efforts are hampering what can go into this (already very small) expansion pack. Guarantee it. So yes, I think the sane thing to do would be to throw some new talents on the top of the trees, lock out talent combos that are especially broken, and keep going until the next rebalance. Guess what most other MMOs do? That very thing. People deal. They mostly don’t quit over it, as long as it’s fixed quickly. Which is good, since it’s literally impossible to get balance right the first time for new content anyway.

    Which leads to the next bit: our perception of balance is skewed. The Paladin issue you mention was pretty egregious because it went on so long. The DK issue before it was also pretty embarrassing because it took them so many tries to get it in the right ballpark. And there’s a few other memorable mess-ups. But WoW has had dozens of other horrendous imbalances, and most of them are completely forgotten by everyone, because they were fixed quickly. Pre-launch balance is a myth. Post-launch patching is a reality.

    Rage-quitting over balance is dramatic, and happens sometimes, and it’s a big spectacle. But don’t let it hide the reality. WoW has actually always been one of the better-balanced MMOs out there (aside from those few bad spots in its long history.) Most people who quit WoW do so quietly, slowly, and without a big tantrum. They’re people like me who quit from boredom, and this is why I say that adding more fun is more important than balance for WoW right now.

    But of course Blizzard should balance things. Occasionally. To a sufficient level that people remain happy. But not constantly. And most importantly, not right now!

    I’m going to stop now. If you really believe that class balance is the most important thing in WoW, we’ll have to agree to disagree. My blog history is chock full of my reasoning, in excruciating detail, sometimes with charts, often with embarrassing anecdotes.

  30. Rauxis says:

    Slightly reshuffling would have meant 2 extra talent points. Add in each tree one additional talent and forbid anything above tier 2 unless you are in this specialization. The effort to balance the new system is comparatively small – and (speaking PvE only) the current balance is probably better than it was ever before.

    Compare this amount of work to what’s required now. Even after PTR you are almost guaranteed for 6 months some things to be completely unbalanced and will force the class team to focus their work on regaining a state that resembles the current one. And as Eric points out – these man hours would be better invested in developing new game mechanics.

    Speaking from a developer’s point of view (though not an MMO): re-doing something from scratch I saw done for 3 reasons. Either because it’s broken, for job security (aka you don’t know what else to do with your time) or for marketing reasons (we need something NEW no matter what).

  31. Dave Rickey says:

    For about a year and a half I was the primary on class balance in Camelot. When I started it, I built a set of metrics that showed that there were huge differences in leveling speed between classes, the total spread being more than6 to 1 (the average player of the fastest leveling class would reach 50 in 1/6th the time of the average of the slowest leveling class). By the time I was done, the spread was less than two to one (and that only because of new classes, all the old ones fit into a 40% band) and I was no longer making fundamental class changes, but identifying poorly performing specialization profiles for boosting.

    The time was in sight when there would be no need for real class balancing at all, and my plans were aimed at eventually de-emphasizing that whole aspect and reducing future class changes to nothing but tweaks. Now, I’m not sure that would have been a good thing. Regardless of real balance, players will always believe that the grass is greener, that some other class is stronger than their own. If class balancing had stopped, they might have lost faith that there (perceived, unsupported by metrics, or required to offset other class strengths) weaknesses would *ever* be addressed.

    I might have been force to randomly buff, nerf, or otherwise change class attributes just to keep the players from growing too apathetic. Maybe that’s what happened in WoW, they were approaching such a egalitarian balance environment that they simply couldn’t make improvements that the players would see as a sign of ongoing improvement. So they had to break the system, throw it out.

    –Dave

  32. Aufero says:

    One of my pet peeves about WoW (which I played for five years, and had a great deal of enjoyment from) was how much time the live team spent redoing classes over and over. The buff/nerf/start over from scratch cycle was relentless and seemed poorly tested, and there was no telling if the class you were playing would be nerfed into the ground or buffed to the skies in the next major patch. Talent trees went the same way. One month tree X would be up and tree Y would be down, the next month they’d be reversed. Three months later trees X and Y would be overshadowed by huge buffs to tree Z, which would then be nerfed the month after that.

    If you’ve got time to redo the combat system for the 30th time, you’ve got time to be doing better things – things that might actually be fun. So I can see the temptation to simplify the whole system to get away from the constant frustration of both developers and players.

    Unfortunately, this doesn’t sound like fun. This sounds like a way to almost completely remove a part of the game I liked because it had some complexity to it. I suspect this will reduce player investment in the characters at the same time, because I don’t see anything they’re adding in the way of player choices about those characters.

    As for the Pandaren, I’ll probably resub for a couple of months when the expansion goes live to level one and try out the new class – I always liked that part of the game. I suspect two months will be my limit before getting bored, though.

  33. Longasc says:

    Ghostcrawler should have become Community Manager, not Lead Designer.

    Mists of Pandaria and all things related to it are a slap in the face of people like me, age 30+ and probably younger players as well:

    WoW was always kid friendly but now they have gone too far and turned a Kung-Fu-Panda joke from Warcraft III times into reality. Plus go even so far to change the whole game to be even more kid friendly.

    I.e. the game worked for a wide audience of all ages, right now it’s shifting towards kids only. I have a harsher word for kids only, but got told it would be rude.

  34. Paul says:

    This change will let them add more trees to all the classes, like they’re doing to druids — potentially, many more trees. This could be a very good thing.

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  37. Ephemeron says:

    The biggest advantage of the new system is that, unlike previous incarnations, it’s infinitely sustainable. They can keep adding new triads of choices every X levels without affecting lower tiers.

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  40. Puzzelled says:

    You know what I really really enjoy in Rift? trying out new specs, there is so much choice…yeah sure your minmax hardcore players go with the ‘best’ spec, but I like to play around and find that odd spec which works for me.

    I came back to wow recently, and I really really miss it. I miss the old talent trees. And with this proposed changes I just dont see the point of haveing the illusion of choice anymore, just pick your identikit role on the character creation screeen and let Bliz do all your work for you…..boring as hell and its no longer my character, its a model charaacter I am letting bliz make for me….

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  42. Scott Jennings says:

    GC once again proves he is not interested in the journey 1-90. The current system means you get something new every level. For me that is an important part of the game. Without it – why use level in the first place?

    This is what leapt out at me. Level 90 raiding grognards see the system proposed and think “Cool! I get cool new toys!”. New players will only get rewards every 15 levels. When WoW shipped it was every level. With Cataclysm it was reduced to every other level. It really smacks of “we’re lazy and don’t want to come up with discrete rewards during the levelling process because we raced through it on our 14th character with all-heirloom gear anyway”.

  43. Marty Brown says:

    Having played WoW for 5 years and having been “in the industry” for 10, I can tell you exactly why they do rewrites to the combat systems: change.

    Complain all you want; point out missteps if you like (it’s far easier on this side of the screen, after the fact). But, without change, your player base will dwindle. Everyone eventually tires of the same old, same old. And, as you know, a healthy population is the only thing that can keep an MMO alive. Players may complain about change (and I know I have) but, in a nutshell: for MMOs, it’s change or die.

  44. Eric says:

    Marty Brown: well, that’s the old chestnut, yes… but do you have evidence about the efficacy of changes? Specifically, have you been able to distinguish between “adding new mechanics” versus “rewriting mechanics”? How about any data on “rewriting mechanics once” versus “rewriting the same mechanics repeatedly”?

    It’s common knowledge in the industry that “change is good.” But common knowledge is often wrong. And the fact is that every single MMO has evolved over time, but nevertheless every single MMO has subsequently dwindled. So saying “change keeps your game alive” seems to be too primitive.

    As for my data, I don’t have a ton, but it’s more than nothing. On AC2 we tallied statistics on a couple of major changes: rewriting the fairly-broken crafting system had a significant impact for a long time (at least six months, and probably longer but the numbers run out there). Rewriting character classes only had a “bump” effect for 1-2 months. And adding new mechanics (for example, we added “treasure maps” which worked exactly like WoW’s archaeology) had various results — generally big (way better than rewriting classes), but sometimes new systems were duds that did almost nothing.

    So my hypothesis is this: change is important, but change has varying impact. I don’t know for sure what would happen after the third or fourth rewrite of the same system, but I’d expect the returns to be diminishing. And we can all think of examples of changes that were provably damaging to the game (SWG’s NGE being a nice shiny example).

    In short, I don’t like “change or die” for MMOs: it’s not precise enough to be useful, and most of the time when it’s used, it’s to rationalize a bad design. But if you have data from games you’ve worked on, I would love to hear it, and I am very willing to change my mind based on new data from new games/audiences.

  45. Steve Schulz says:

    But Ghostcrawler also came up with the dungeon finder, which has I think been an incredibly boon for the game. Whenever I play another MMO that doesn’t have a similar feature, I yearn for it. GC hasn’t been perfect, but no one has. I do agree that WoW really needs a lot of help in terms of its core game design, however. I’ve seen saying repeatedly that the game fundamentals need some work. Otherwise, no amount of additional content will fix the game’s issues.

  46. MoP is EPIC...FAIL says:

    Let’s look at the bigger picture, people are losing jobs left and right, everyone is getting squeezed. Whilst mmo’s are a cheap form of entertainment, people are more choosy, savvy, picky, selective, then they have ever been. Especially when interest rates are at an all time low. I think people are finding other, cheaper, more basic forms of entertaining, hosting parties is becoming more popular, everyone needs to eat right.

    If people do chose an MMO as a form of entertainment, rather than spending that time updating job skills because they are scared, rightly so, that will lose or have lost their job. Then they need to be 100% sure that they got great entertainment from it. I don’t think an ageing game on it’s fourth expansion just excites people enough to fork out money. Especially if it is based on a joke, Easter egg, largely unpopular race from a game released 8 years ago.

    I think someone should document all the times Blizzard revamps the talent system, because they think it makes people excited when you screw about with fundamental game mechanics.

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  48. Rauxis says:

    @steve

    I disagree regarding the LFD – it was both a boon and the probably biggest factor in destroying what little community WoW had. Forcing us into a completely random and anonymous group without establishing cross server communications at the same time removed a lot MMO from the game. Before LFD I frequently found new friends via randoms, afterwards not a single one until end of WotLK.

  49. Daniel says:

    I like the new talent trees and the new direction Blizzard is taking World of Warcraft in this regard. Here’s why:

    The end goal was to have choices. True, proper choices. Not the illusion of choice. In the former, you can have two viable Combat Rogues standing next two each other with varying talents. In the latter, you never did because the different between the optimum and not was so vast. You either “spec’d” right, or you’re doing it wrong. How is that a choice? It just isn’t, in practice.

    By simplifying the talent system in the way they described, you now have a system that apparently presents less choice than before, but if they are true to balancing the talents at each tier, the players will end up with more choices than before. In theory, the new approach has less choices. But in practice the new approach provides more choices. (All the while remaining viable and competitive in power.)

    I’m glad Blizzard doesn’t have your attitude of “if a system works well enough, leave well enough alone.” There is always an opportunity cost, whether you redesign a system or work in new systems around the flaws of the already existing ones. It makes sense that thinkers are there to consider what works, what doesn’t, and come up with something that will make it work. If it requires a redesign, so be it. It will confuse some veterans at first. But the old will come around (if they try it) and the new will come in with a better experience form the beginning.

    I’m a fan. The pursuit of perfection is not a futile exercise.

  50. Vontre says:

    What’s good for an initial game launch is not the same as what’s good for a 7 year old existing game community. First off, six new classes is not even remotely feasible for a single expansion without introducing massive redundancy, poor mechanics or both – they have enough trouble making the existing 10 classes feel unique as it is.

    Secondly, talent trees which are fascinating to explore when nobody knows anything about the game are far less compelling seven years later when community information permeates the entire game world. What makes the talent model compelling is the inherent dichotomy between specialization and power – many did not notice that in the original trees some of the most powerful talents were very early in the respective trees. You could choose between deeper builds which focused more on a specific thing, or broader builds which picked up more powerful talents but were less effectively specialized. This is why one of the favored rogue pvp specs in original WoW was actually a tri-spec.

    Now, Cataclysm’s revamp was a halfway measure that destroyed this advantage without really offering much in return. The new talent system simply finishes the job. At this point anything new and different is exciting to me, simply because it is new and different. And the abilities they showcased frankly looked cool as fuck. So good on ya Blizzard for finishing the job, this looks like the right move for this stage in the game.

  51. Vatec says:

    In my decade of playing MMOs and following the MMO history, I have come to the conclusion that change is actually pretty bad for MMOs. The “common knowledge” is simply incorrect. Change is far more likely to alienate happy players than it is to revive the interest of bored players, address the concerns of lapsed players, or pique the interest of new players.

    I’ll elaborate.

    New players don’t care about change. If they were interested in the game, they’d have played it already. Change does almost nothing to bring new people in.

    Lapsed players might be brought back by change. But for every lapsed player who comes back, there are an indefinite number of players who say “too little, too late” or worse, don’t bother following the game enough to even know about the change.

    Bored players who are still playing might enjoy change. This is, in fact, the only group that could show a significant positive effect from change. But only if the change is to something relevant to them. Non-crafters don’t care if you utterly revamp the crafting system, for example.

    And finally, the huge downside of change. Hundreds, maybe even thousands, of players who are currently happily playing might actually dislike the change. This is what happened with the Star Wars Galaxies NGE, for example.

    Personally, I’ve played six major MMOs so far. I’m still playing one of them (Rift). Of the other five, three and a half of my departures were caused by ill-advised change.

    Asheron’s Call – Left to play Dark Age of Camp-a-lot with some friends. BOREDOM
    Dark Age of Camp-a-lot – Left because of the changes introduced with Trials of Atlantis. CHANGE
    Everquest II – Have played off and on since 2004. Will not be returning because the latest expansion dumbed down character stats to the point that there’s no longer any sort of decision-making involved. CHANGE and BOREDOM about equally
    Age of Conan – Left because of changes to the combat system introduced in Update 1.5. CHANGE
    Lord of the Rings Online – Left because of changes resulting from the migration to a hybrid F2P model. I was very much in favor of the Turbine Store as initially envisioned and described. But the model has increasingly tilted toward store-exclusive items that offer in-game advantages. CHANGE

    I’m willing to bet there are quite a few players out there like me who are perfectly happy with their current MMO until the devs decide to “spice things up” with some change. Well, anyone who has studied marketing can tell you that it’s far cheaper to keep existing customers happy than it is to acquire new customers. I’m sorry, but the MMO industry is not the exception to this rule….

  52. Sandra says:

    Vatec: Given that you went to DAoC, I suspect you left AC1 before I got there. So you probably missed my big mistake with the treasure system. (I hope you did!)

    I will merely say that I was smacked upside the head hard with that lesson when I changed the AC1 treasure system. Three months of pointless tweaking to make things incrementally better … I should have been implementing quests instead.

  53. Wolfshead says:

    I agree with you that Greg Street tinkers far too much with the talents. A cynical observer might say that it’s in his best interest as his continual tinkering is a “make work” project for himself that guarantees he’ll have a job for life. In reality trying to ensure equality (among classes) is a fool’s errand. True equality only exists in mathematics.

    You make an excellent point that many more features and improvements could have been made (player housing, etc.) if Blizzard would just stop tinkering with class talents and PVP for that matter.

    However, I do agree with Greg Street that the current talent system was too complicated. It reminds me of the tax code in the USA — far too complex so that you need to hire an accountant to figure it out and benefit from it. Sounds very similiar to having to go to the Elitist Jerks temple of theorycrafting to find the “correct” build. Almost every patch in WoW and in RIFT they keep changing the talents and frustrates me to no end that I have to learn them from scratch all over again.

    The best game design lies in simplicity. As Leonardo Da Vinci said “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”.

  54. Ashen says:

    I guess I live in an altenate pocket universe, because the words “complex” and “talent system” do not compile together for me. Comparing talents to taxes? Really? Reading through a simple tree of choices then picking the ones that seem useful to you is now rocket science?

    If it’s so darn complex how come almost every single action rpg adopted this? How come games like Orcs Must Die, Borderlands and countless others all feature skill trees and yet noone complains about them being an illusion of choice. In fact, the games praised for their character advancements systems are very often games that took the skill tree approach and made it more complex and convoluted (Rift, Titan Quest).

    There is, and has never been, nothing wrong with skill trees. The problem is with the MMO raiding mindset where only the optimal configuration is valid and everything must be perfectly balanced or it is useless. Which is why the talent system became a casualty and all for the wrong reasons.

  55. Davide says:

    In terms of balancing skills and the art of overbalancing. How about employing Mathematics for balancing?

    1 Point Damage = 1 Point Healing = 1 Point Utility.

    Damage and Healing are straight forward.

    Utility is harder, but now you are only balancing one thing against the system.

    Assign a number of utility points to a given skill, such as Root, for example. It might need to be adjusted upwards or downwards to get a good fit.

    Whats awesome about using this strategy is that you are balancing SKILLS and not CLASSES, and every skill can be compared to each other because they are all of the same relative strength…

  56. Whorhay says:

    I think that making Utility = ? points is a flawed approach, utility skills are almost always about modifying or improving, if not downright making some other strategy viable. So instead of raw points make them multipliers of some sort.

    I haven’t played WoW since before WotLK but I can see how the LFD ruined the social dynamics of the servers. I was surprised that they implemented such a system when all most people I knew wanted was something like the LFG window that had been in EQ for years. It didn’t do match making but just let people mark themselves as LFG and post a brief comment about what they were interested in doing. And it gave groups the same functionality. It didn’t work accross servers and it certainly didn’t teleport you to an instance.

    The removal of the talent trees does sadden me though as it was a fun aspect of the game. I was never in any guilds where absolutely maxing your characters abilities was required. And in my experience most players weren’t that concerned about it because raiding was less than 5% of the game to them. And half the time I was raiding spec’s mattered less than just getting 100% of the participants to focus on what they were doing at the moment. I finished MC and Onyxia maybe six months before TBC launched and Kara about 6 montsh before WotLK.

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  59. Nils says:

    Since blogger doesn’t really support pingbacks, here’s my extensive talent tree review.

  60. Eric says:

    I agree that the constant changes to the talent trees made me jump ship once and for all. The most fun I had with WoW was in the Burning Crusade on my Warlock. The build was (I believe) Demonic Sacrifice and Ruin. Sac the Succubus, turn on Curse of Shadows and spam Shadowbolt for some pretty 1337 dps. It may have been mindless and OP but it allowed me to enjoy playing the game, not micromanaging a spreadsheet in order to be viable in Black Temple. It ultimately led to me getting sick and tired of relearning how to “properly” play my character. I imagine that if I were to be a brand new player in MoP it would work out that I wouldn’t have had the same frustration, but I did nonetheless and feel as though Blizzard betrayed me. /endrant

  61. Vatec says:

    @Sandra – I actually went back to AC for a brief stint after dropping Dark Age of Camp-a-lot and before EQ2 launched. So I do remember you from … was it Crossroads of Dereth still? Or had they already changed the name to Warcry?

    In any case, from a player point of view, evolutionary change is probably OK. But yeah, most players would probably rather have something new to -do- instead.

    I may not be an MMO developer, but I -have- been playing them for twelve years. So I have a pretty good idea what I like and don’t like. And new content is about equal to new gameplay dynamics/systems. Fixing bugs and tweaking balance is harder to quantify. There’s no doubt that there are some players who quit over such things. But the key is figuring out when things have been fixed/balance “enough.” The game needs to be stable enough that a majority of the playerbase doesn’t start referring to it as “bug-ridden” and balanced enough that a majority doesn’t constantly complain about the exact same imbalances. But beyond that, as you and Eric clearly know, additional revamping provides very little bang for the buck.

    My rule of thumb is, for the first year, devs have free rein to revamp things based on player feedback. A system isn’t fun? Replace it. Classes are horribly imbalanced? Buff and nerf as desired. But once that first year is done, revolutionary change is far more likely to drive off your hardcore fans – the ones who have supported you loyally because they love your core gameplay; the ones who are willing to put up with your game’s quirks.

    Ignore the MMORPG.com crowd. Ignore the IGN.com crowd. And, quite frankly, ignore the players who’ve quit (for the most part). It’s far more important to determine why people are =staying= rather than why they are leaving. Needless to say, the feedback still has value. But if a hundred thousand players leave, citing that gear isn’t “important enough,” while a hundred thousand players have stayed, citing the fact that they appreciate the lack of a gear treadmill, guess which group you should listen to? If the trolls on MMORPG.com complain that your combat system is too complex, but your current players refer to the “innovative combat system” regularly, KEEP your combat system the way it is.

    This isn’t rocket science. Marketing is not a particularly complex process. And the MMO industry is not “the exception that proves the rule.” Priority Number One is always to keep current customers happy. Bringing in new customers is Priority Number Two.

  62. Vatec says:

    @Whorhay and others – LFD tools are a mixed blessing. Yes, they do hamper social interaction. But without them, many players like me wouldn’t do dungeons at all. Quite frankly, I wouldn’t have done a single dungeon in Rift if the LFD tool there didn’t exist.

    As a player, there is =nothing= I despise more than standing around trying to get a group organized. I don’t play MMOs because of a deep-seated desire to sit around Twenty-first Hall spamming “4/6 for Grand Stairs, need tank and heals.” And the earlier LFG tools really don’t work all that well, because they require -someone- to actively use them to find other players. You can still end up with a dozen people who want to do the same content, but none of them want to waste the time fiddling with an LFG tool to make it happen.

    Add in the convenience of being able to teleport directly to the dungeon once the group is full, and I’d say that the trade-off is more than acceptable.

    Fact is, several games =have= sophisticated LFG tools. EQ2 and LOTRO both do. No one uses them. That whole “actively use the tool to find other players thing,” don’t ya know?

  63. Tyler says:

    I must admit, this blog is very interesting and informative, a lot of interesting things have been said here.

    However this post I completely disagree on. You also said that you no longer play WoW, which makes me wonder how much you know of how the game currently plays out, and everything that will be included in Mists of Pandaria? If I had to guess, I’d say very little.

    I’m a bit uneasy with the new talent system, but I’m definitely open to change. They did not “redesign” the talent system over and over again. As a player since Vanilla, the only thing they’ve done is changed/added talents over the years. The biggest overhaul they’ve ever performed on this system was in Cataclysm, and the only thing that did was reduce the number of talents you had available. Remember those “+1/2/3/4/5% Spellpower” talents? They weren’t fun. Those were 5 levels worth of points that you obviously put into one talent. If you DIDN’T go down those raw power increases, you sucked. This meant that you had very few points leftover for fun or interesting talents.

    The only thing they did with Cataclysm talents was take out many (but not all) of the boring talents that do nothing but increase a stat that you don’t actively watch. This left us with less talents, but dare I say it, more fun and meaningful choices. There are definitely “correct” and “incorrect” spec’s in today’s game, but instead of having no real choice to where to put the last few points, you actually have several interesting talents you can use.

    This new system gives us actual choices. Each choice is a very similar concept, meaning you are comparing apples to apples to apples, just like Ghostcrawler said. While there are definitely a few that need some tuning before Mists, we’re not even in Beta yet. I’m not too concerned about the current tree setup, even if I do believe (as a player and a designer) that a few need some tweaking.

    Do you have less choices? No. Your choices are made less frequently. That’s it. These choices are also meaningful game-changing decisions.

    I’m not a WoW fanboy. I play the game, I like the game, but I’m one of the first to go shouting on the forums when they do something I don’t agree with. Of course I do so constructively. Point is, if this is done correctly, this will be FAR better than the talent system since both Wand Spec priests, and today’s talents.

  64. MrMe says:

    They are removing the theory crafting from the game to appease the youth idiot fanbois. Ghostcrawler has long had a WAR on hybrids he likes two kinds of classes, ranged dps and melee dps, he destroyed enhancement or any other spec that had cross tree hybridization. Also they overly gear the game towards carebears (raiders) but turning your game into Everquest2 is not a feat worth writing home about, Greg Street is a bitter angry and bad player who took out his frustrations with getting his but kicked on the players.