Friday, July 16, 2010

My 41 Points

The first iteration of the new talent trees was released the other day. They are in serious beta mode, as Blizzard have not delivered what they have promised just yet. We can only hope that beta participants will be able to communicate clearly just what it is that should be altered, changed and adjusted.

Step 1: At level 10, choose your spec

Step 2: Other trees are locked as you fill out your chosen tree

Step 3: At level 70 the other trees unlock and more choices open up

There is a lot of work to be done on the trees. Let's take the priest ones as an example. Here is what I posted to the priest forums:

So many of these talents should not be options; they should simply be part and parcel of being that spec. Why should we be given the option of taking something like shadowform as a shadow priest? It should be there by default when you click "shadow" as your chosen spec.

There simply needs to be less choosing talents that no one in their right mind will pass over -- it defeats the purpose of having a tree in the first place -- and more taking things that really do seem optional, that you are sure not everyone will take.

Every single talent that you choose should offer the question: is everyone going to take this because it is a mandatory talent, or is this an actual option amongst all the other options I have?

Sure, a disc priest will play the same as a disc priest -- and the same for all specs -- but wouldn't it be cool if cookie cutter builds actually had half the talent points floating so that there were literally dozens of different specs to give a little different flavour. Makes it more personal. Makes it so you can look at another person's spec and go, "Wow, we have quite a few different talents but we are filling the same role, and neither one of us suffers for not having taken the exact same build as the other." And there you have many, many options.

What should be options (I'm not talking about what should be simply available) are taking damage talents as a healer, getting cool effects and bonuses added to key spells, and having a lot of options in each tree that really complement that spec in different ways.

If Blizzard do anything, it should be to approach the trees from scratch, offering each class specialisation the passives without spending talent points, and a whole heap of option when it comes to utility, boosting spells and doing cool stuff.

Right now, that is not the case. But it will be. I have faith.

Right, so why can't we have, say, a few shadowform boosting talents? Something like: Talent A: Improves shadowform by boosting mana by 5%/10% (2 points); Talent B: Improves shadowform by increasing shadow damage by an additional x/2x amount (2 points); Talent C: Improves shadowform by reducing stun and fear effects by 10%/20% (2 points); Talent D: Improves shadowform by increasing movement speed by 7%/15% and reducing the resistance to snare effects by x%/y% and reducing the time of snare effects by x%/y%.

And that's just one example of talents where people will have real options that really affect how they play their chosen spec, and there will be a whole lot more variety amongst players of the same spec, with a lot of utility and boosting options. Talents that are optional skills -- where you are having to choose wicked skill A, awesome skill B, intense skill C, or crazy skill D -- need to be a cohesively large part of each specialisation, as well as optional supporting talents that make you choose between multiple options; the benefits of which are not immediately apparent, but none of which will make you feel inferior to a different "build".

So for now, we wait. We wait until they dig out these trees at the roots and design a whole lot of new talents that will feel like they are worth taking; but that give you the option of taking. I really do want to be able to open up each of my characters' talent trees and feel that I am choosing more than simply mandatory talents with a couple of extras thrown in with leftover points. It has to feel substantial and solid and unique, with the cool, fun, powerful factor increasingly growing as you go down your chosen tree towards that big, bad talent at the end.


Gaiwyn of Proudmoore

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Big Changes to Talents

The talent trees are getting a huge overhaul. You can read Zarhym's original announcement here.

The revamp will bring things closer to the original model of 31 talent points per tree. Players will choose a specialisation at level 10, when their first talent point is unlocked, and will then be locked to that tree until level 70. This will give choosing talents much more meaning as a. They make talents very cool and core talents available from level 10 (Mortal Strike, Stormstrike, Penance, etc); and b. Talents will be available about every two levels, with a total of 41 to spend by level 85, minimising confusion and giving much more meaning to choosing talent trees and the points themselves.

This means that only ten points will be available to give you the option of putting them in other trees from level 70. It will also mean that balancing each class-spec will be easier. People will know their role and have an expectation of filling that role from early on.

Dual spec will remain the same, as will being able to respec at any time. But expect to see a greater percentage of prot warriors and holy priests at the early levels, where levelling will be much easier as non-DPS specs and tanking / healing instances will be a lot more viable.

Because of the nature of how the trees will work, Mastery will be a learned skill at the high levels (around level 75), with the Mastery stat being on level 78+ gear. It will affect gameplay slightly differently now that the trees are being completely changed.

I'm excited about these changes. It seems to be moving more towards the design concept they originally had: removing bloat from trees; making the game more accessible to people; and making talents actually mean something for people. It sounds at first as if choice is being taken away from players, but the simplification of the talent specialisation process will make the game a lot more fun as people level and will give end-game characters a greater feeling of being the class-spec(s) they want to be .

It also means that in future expansions, expanding talents and skills will be much more flexible and allow for even more powerful and exciting changes without overhauling the tree system again.

On another note, I highly recommend checking out the following videos by TotalBiscuit at

For more, head on over to There are a lot of videos of changed areas from the air, such as Stormwind (7:20) and Stranglethorn Vale (6:50), not to mention new zones, such as Mt Hyjal (21:37) and Vashj'ir (9:36).


Gaiwyn of Proudmoore

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Preparing for the Cataclysm

The Non-disclosure Agreement (NDA) has been lifted on the Cataclysm beta. We are now swarmed with a plethora of information. You can find it all at this MMO-Champion post. This is more than enough to get excited about!

I'm especially excited about the professions. There are some absolutely amazing upgrades that can be crafted. I foresee myself gathering a lot of materials in the months following Cataclysm's release. With my casual playstyle, it sure will keep a player like me occupied, just gearing up to run instances, which in turn will eventually lead to doing them on heroic.

Can't wait to play around with class builds, either. And exploring the new zones for the first time, not to mention doing the revamped old zones is going to occupy a lot of my time, also.

I figure that there are now about four months left to finish off what I want to in preparation for the release of the expansion. Because once it hits, sticking to Northrend would be tedious and destroy all of my patience.


Gaiwyn of Proudmoore