Monday, October 13, 2008

Game Facets and Multiple Specs

I've been following Blizzard's comments about the dual-spec system that is probably coming after WotLK. I am a little worried that the system they are designing solves a different problem than the one many players want to be solved.

Let's start at the beginning. There are three "facets" to WoW: Group PvE, solo play in the world, and Group PvP. Many individual players want to able to participate in all three facets without going to a capital city and respeccing. The system Blizzard is designing theoretically allows you to do this, but it also allows you to change spec *within* a facet, as well. As Ghostcrawler puts it, "Since dps is your primary concern most of the time, this gives you a way to have say a trash spec and a boss spec, or a cc spec and pewpew spec without hurting your performance on either. "

Effectively, there are two goals:

Goal 1 - Participate in all 3 facets
Goal 2 - Have flexibility within a single facet

The problem here is that there is a conflict between individual and group. The individual wants to be able to participate in all three facets. The group prefers that the individual optimizes for the group's specific facet, and exerts significant pressure on the individual to do so. The group does this because it wants to be successful, not because it's on a power trip, and having the individual members optimized for the group's purpose helps significantly.

In the past, people have always optimized for the group. Spec, loot systems, loot priority, role, professions, buffs. Dual-spec systems will be no different. The system Blizzard is outlining will succeed with Goal 2, but fail to meet Goal 1. Both specs will be dedicated to a single facet of the game, especially for hybrids.

The only way to meet Goal 1 is for the game system to mechanically enforce the separation between facets.

For example, if one spec was only enabled in instances and the other spec was only enabled in Arena and Battlegrounds, then that would enforce an individual's ability to participate in all facets of the game. A group cannot pressure the individual into using two PvE specs, as the game physically prevents it.

The price here is that you lose the flexibility within a facet, you've now failed to meet Goal 2. Even so, I suspect that most individuals would probably prefer this solution, to be able to switch between PvP and PvE, or raiding and farming.

There are other solutions. For example, if you expanded to being able to switch between 3 or 5 specs, you could do:

Spec 1 - enabled in PvE
Spec 2 - enabled in PvE, world, PvP
Spec 3 - enabled in PvP

This would allow you to participate in multiple facets, but still have some flexibility in the group situation of your choice.

The ideal amount of flexibility would be something like:

Spec 1 - enabled in PvE, world
Spec 2 - enabled in PvE, world
Spec 3 - enabled in world
Spec 4 - enabled in world, PvP
Spec 5 - enabled in world, PvP

Note that spec 3 simply cannot be used in PvP or PvE. It's a guaranteed farming or personal spec. The game needs to enforce separation of facets, and prevent one facet from monopolizing all the character's resources. However, this is not as simple a solution, and might be too much flexibility.


  1. Considering we have very little information to work on, most of this is pure speculation. I would hope that the design stays true to its original goal of allowing a player to have different specs for two different aspects of the game.

    However, I agree that it isn't a stretch to see players having both dual specs optimized for raiding, either as two seperate hybrid roles, (i.e Prot Paladin, Ret Paladin) or worse, one spec dedicated to improved buffs and other obscure utility. It's easy to foresee a raid encounter that needs x DPS and y healers, followed by one that requires y dps and x healers, forcing a hybrid to dual spec two raiding specs.

    I can also see Paladins being "forced" into having one of their dual specs with Kings in the event that (an)other paladin(s) do(es) not have it.

    I can also see exclusive PvPers having two different arena specs, one optimized to fight a specific team or class combination, and simply changing whilst in queue for another game.

    This change, while well intended, seems to have a high possibility for abuse.


  2. I would hope that the design stays true to its original goal of allowing a player to have different specs for two different aspects of the game.

    That's what I want too. But judging by Ghostcrawler's comments, Blizzard is intent on allowing a player to have two different specs for the *same* aspect of the game. It's really hard to interpret "trash spec and boss spec" any other way.

  3. The new system is bound to get taken over and abused by raid leaders, but that's inevitable. I've come to the sad realization that someone, somewhere, will find a way to call you selfish because you're not playing how he wants you to play. It's a bit ironic.

    At least now people aren't losing 100g every switch back and forth. When I was prot I hated dailies. I either had to spend 100g round trip, canceling out a huge piece of the rewards from dailies, or stay prot and deal with the tedium of having terrible damage.

    This fixes absolutely nothing, but it at least makes the unfixable problem a lot less painful.

  4. It's not that raid leaders are selfish, it's just that they want to be successful.

    Will the raid be more successful if people use a PvE spec instead of a PvP spec? Yes.

    Will the raid be more successful if people use PvE gear instead of PvP gear? Yes.

    Will the raid be more successful if people are flasked and use full consumables all the time? Yes.

    Will the raid be more successful if people have professions geared towards raiding rather than making money? Yes.

    Will the raid be more successful if people have dual-PvE specs rather than 1 PvE spec and 1 PvP spec? Yes.

    The group wants to be successful, and pressures the individual to optimize for the group's success. Where is the line drawn? You probably object to raid leaders asking for dual-PvE spec, but are you happy with a rogue showing up to a raid with some PvP Shadowstep build, for example?

  5. Everyone is selfish in their own special ways. We're all unique and beautiful flowers that want everything. Selfishness isn't as bad as people claim. It drives everything. If we were truly selfless we'd all shoot ourselves and plant seeds in our corpses to fertilize plants. That would be pretty stupid, wouldn't it?

    Why does the raid leader care about the group? It's in his own interests. He's selfish. He wants to advance and he's going to figure out how to get 9-24 other people to work with him to do it.

    I'd tell the rogue to get out unless he planned to spec for his role. A PvP specced DPS is no different than a holy paladin trying to tank. For my own specs, I'll spec whatever gives the best combination of fun (with getting into raids being an aspect of fun) and RLs can take it or leave it. With two specs to pick from, the odds are good that I'll get at least one that I like.

  6. I really don't see the issue with people using the dual specs to min/max raiding or arenas. Blizzard is (possibly) giving us the ability to change specs as we want, how people utilise that tool is up to them. Hardcore raiders will welcome being able to swap to the best utility for the raid.

    For me, my pally will be holy/prot specced because tbh I've never had an issue with doing damage and levelling, and I really enjoy tanking.

    People will use this ability however best suits them.

  7. I posted a couple of days ago about this as well.

    I am not sure how this is going to shake out either. Having dual specs will be game changing to say the least.

    One way I see to limit the forced speccing (although I would leave the guild that tried to force me into a spec) would be a cooldown on this.

    Thinking maybe an hour or so between changes.

  8. Indeed this was what I was thinking...

    Instant thought... WOO I can dual spec Korath for PVE tanking and then a Ret PVP spec! Funky!

    Then more or less straight away I thought oh bollox its not going to happen like that. I'm going to have to have a Tanking Spec and maybe an off-healing spec purely for PVE.

    Ok its my choice if I wanted to do that right? Wrong. RL has the choice between 2 tanks... 1 tank has a 2nd spec which can off-DPS or off-Heal and I have a 'substandard' PVP 2nd spec. He's going to take the other tank :P

    I agree with your Idea that you should have a spec that switches when you go into Arena or BG areas.

  9. I don't want forced spec switching based on location (instance, BG, etc.). My paladin's healing spec works well enough when I do PvP. I want my second spec to be tanking, so I can help when we are short. And, yes, this means two sets of gear and inscriptions, but it's better than running up a second paladin so that I have a tank.

  10. The specs should be switchable at any time you are not in combat. Period.

    Why? As a Prot pally I am next to useless in solo, and totally screwed if going as the OT in part of the instance where you only need a MT. In this scenario I can switch to my other spec and add healing or damage.

    You can sub in any of the classes that have more than one role; be it dps, healing, or tanking.

    There will be so many times that this is advantageous to the community to make the situations where it hurts totally moot.

    If it is implemented as a pvp vs pve spec, then its totally useless to raiders, and totally useless to me.

    This is not abuse of a system, this is a totally new way of playing the game. In affect the system design has changed to make several roles in the game viable. I welcome it, and hope they make it far easier to get groups, runs, do events, etc. Thats why we pay money for this game.

    Leave it to the player to decide what spc they choos eto use for what activity; not forcing a pvp spec.

  11. For my paladin I'm probably going to wind up with two PvE specs; a holy and a prot. I'm already holy, but I also enjoy tanking. I probably would not want to raid tank, especially on progression content (I don't think my nerves could take it), but I like the idea that I could swap between healing one day and tanking the next. I'll never lack for a group.

    What I don't like is the instant switching. That just seems abusive and as mentioned, it could open up both specs being spoken for by a raid. If there was a cooldown then it's more likely the player could keep the second spec for him or herself.

    Considering that I like healing, tanking, and pvp, it would be fantastic if I could have specs for each, but I think that's a little greedy.

  12. Even an hour cooldown may end up being too short (though they say that the average instance will take 45 minutes - 1 hour and a half). If they wanted to prohibit switching in one run, I'd imagine it would have to be a 4 hour - 24 hour cooldown.

    That said, I would want to be able to spec and glyph Ret for dailies, events and solo leveling, then spec/glyph holy for instances. I share your fear that the "hardcore" player would be forced to spec one flavor of holy (or prot, or whatever) for trash and one flavor for bosses. Or even have two identical specs with different glyphs to take advantage of the Avenger's Shield glyph or not depending on fight. But then these hypothetical hardcore people are the kind who level enchanting to max in order to get ring enchants then drop it for jewelcrafting/blacksmithing for the sockets.

    Thank god my guild is seven people I eat lunch with and not some far flung group of Type A crazy people.

  13. I hear what is being said, but honestly I think any more then 2 specs and we start getting a little crazy. A raid boss would start demanding 3 specs if we had 3. Or 4 if we had 4. Really it's all about how YOU want to play. Is getting in that raid worth giving up your personal speccing?

    Me personally, I'd tell Mr. Raid leader to take a flying leap. 1 spec I will have for grouping (My Prot spec) and one I will have for ME (Likely Retribution). And if he don't like it, then I simply will find somewhere else to play. Of course that's easy for me to say. I think the raids are far more trouble then they are worth. I'd like to see the content... ONCE. I don't care about the "ub3r l33t g34r", and honestly I could care less about trying to repeat the same part of a raid for months just to get everyone geared up. Not worth it to me. For me, my grouping spec is for the 5 man instances that I occasionally run with a friend, or to cover my friend while we Duo our way through new content.

    - Polecat

  14. I think its gonna be great. A lot of these comments & analysis sound like pure speculation. I dont know what sort of guilds ppl move in, or even if these comments about guild/raid leaders come from real experience. For my guild its going to solve a lot of issues eg with tanks being unneccessary for certain parts of the fights - cue switch to healing/dps gear. People will always find excuses to be selfish, and if thats the case, you must be in the wrong guild. Us players are always blaming blizzard for factors they cant control, whereas they're trying to make the game more fun for ppl - assuming you're playing with good people, that is.

  15. To be honest, despite being in one of the top PvE guilds (Death and Taxes), I've never been "forced" into anything I didn't enjoy. Rather, I felt like I was letting my guild down if I did not perform to the best of my abilities, maximize my gear, enchants and talents. I've raided in the past as a sub optimal spec, with pvp gems or enchants, or without the use of consumables.

    Successful guilds don't usually have harsh requirements. Generally, the people in the guild want to be successful, and will do their best for the sake of the guild. If the game becomes a job, and people start to view it as such, what's to stop them from simply joining another guild if it offers better benefits, or a higher chance of items? I'd assume that the majority of guilds would rather their members enjoy themselves. Player burnout is a problem for every guild, big or small, successful or not. If this change lessens it even a little, it will be very welcome.

  16. I think you're right that you can't give players the choice or they will choose (voluntarily or otherwise) to optimize. It may actually be even worse than you're suggesting, as they're saying that the second spec will a second set of glyphs. You may be looking at two copies of the exact same raid boss spec in order to work around the ban on swapping glyphs in the field.

    That said, I think you may also have put your finger on why Blizzard isn't going the route you suggest - by the time you're allowing players access to FIVE separate specs (2-3 different ones at any given time), you might as well just allow people to respec on the fly at any time. Even the dual spec plan as it exists takes away a lot of the cost of having a highly specialized spec.

  17. I can see my utilization of this being two PvE specs, from two different trees. Some bosses you need more tank than others, so I'll likely be carrying multiple gear sets for Prot and Ret specs as the situation requires. I'd love to just have PvE/PvP for Ret - but my guild values my utility to competantly play either role.

  18. Even if it only solves goal #2, it is an improvement and a good thing. Many people WANT to make their hybrids more effective inside one single facet. If I am more likely to help my raid by being able to switch to healing on one fight when the needs change, I think that rocks that I can now attend the raid and contribute.

    I believe that in all but the most catass of guilds it will also solve goal #1. If a person’s time is not mostly dedicated to raiding then they will save a spec for PvP or whatever they love to do. If they love PvP they may dedicate both specs to that activity.

    Bottom line is people are free to put their specs in the activities they like to do. If they are in a guild that forces them to use both specs for raiding, that person probably loves to PvE. Or they are stupid and in the wrong guild.

    I see this as the single greatest improvement to the game I have seen in my 3 years of play. I think sometimes we can really sometimes be a bunch of whiners just looking for the next thing to complain about.

    ~ Jason DPS Liberation Front

  19. I see this as the single greatest improvement to the game I have seen in my 3 years of play. I think sometimes we can really sometimes be a bunch of whiners just looking for the next thing to complain about.


    They throw us a bone and people want the world. Be happy they are even giving us the ability to have two spec's, stop bitching and suck it up. If you don't like it feel free to not use it and pay 50g every time you want to respec.

  20. I agree with what Azrael said, by and large.

    I'll likely have two PvE specs, but that's because I want to, not because my raid asks me to. I simply don't enjoy the PvP game, and as a shadowpriest, my main spec gives me plenty of solo capabilities.

    If I were in a guild that required their raiders to have two PvE specs, I'd probably say bye bye.

    But you're right - we can't even fathom what people will use this for.

  21. I personally think it's great, I am going to use one spec for holy and one spec for prot. I like the utility that if my guild needs heals, I can do it to a good degree and if they need a tank, same thing. All it does is improve our versitility.

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  23. Rohan,

    The Master of the Modal vs fluid hybrid debate why complain about Blizz making it possible for us modal types to almost be fluid again?

  24. It's still Modal. Fluid requires being able to switch in combat.

    I'm not saying it's a bad situation. It's just that it comes at a price. If you switch between tanking and healing, you cannot switch between PvE and PvP.

    Flexibility within one aspect of the game vs. flexibility to participate in multiple aspects.

    It's further complicated by the interests of the group vs the individual. The individual may be focused on multiple aspects, but the group is only focused on one aspect. That will cause tension and drama if/when the interests conflict.

    What it comes down to is "what problem do we want dual-specs to solve?" If we want to provide more flexibility in raiding--rather than port back to capital, respec, and summon--then this solution will work well. If we want to have one spec for PvE and one spec for PvP, I think this solution will work less well.

  25. in 90% of cases it solves both goal #1 and goal #2.

    In the 10% of the cases where a person is in a guild that does not share thier focus of interest (usually the catass raiding guild is where the conflict might occur), then it solves only goal #2.

    You've not explained how this leaves us worse off than we were before...

    ~Jason, DPS Liberation Front

  26. "But judging by Ghostcrawler's comments, Blizzard is intent on allowing a player to have two different specs for the *same* aspect of the game. It's really hard to interpret "trash spec and boss spec" any other way."

    I actually don't see this at all. If you actually looked at the whole of the comment (and all the other comments), this specific snipped was used in relation to a pure DPS class' worry about raiding. That's it, nothing else. In may other comments they've specifically said that it's to allow players to better switch between game styles, or to allow OTs/OHs to switch when they're not needed.

    Many other comments have stated that they want this to be used for a player who PvPs and PvEs, and needs a different spec for each (say, a Paladin). Here's a really good example, in fact, where GC talks about how they don't want to impose too many limits SPECIFICALLY because they want to allow players to switch between game modes quickly as situations occur:

    But in general I have to agree with some of the other comments so far. The blues have been pretty clear in saying that anything they say now is to be taken with a grain of salt, because they haven't really figured out any details.

  27. Maybe I am missing something obvious, but why don't they just make respecs free, and keep everything else the same as it has been?

  28. Because its a waste of time, and effort.

    Respeccing costs little, and is basically a portal+summon to get back, its already nearly instant, the 50g merely puts it out of the range of casual respeccing (my record is 500g in a day respeccing characters).

    For Hybrids like Paladins (or rather especially Paladins) you really need the ability to shift between multiple "forms" to use abilities because we don't get many baseline abilities that are useful. Sure as protection I can spam flash of light till the end of time, but I am not actually healing or enjoying it, just spamming (literally, as Prot I have spammed FoL for an entire illidan fight bar the running parts :P).

    I don't think its really an issue to stop respecs, or adding a big cooldown to it, people will just respec normally. What you are instead punishing is the person that wants to actually be useful, to enjoy some pvp then go tank for their friends, or swap tank to healer to help you in a run. Sure pure DPS classes suffer a little in terms of what they can do, but my lock could swap to a demo build and have more fun in trash (I can't dps or I pull, though pulling is fun), or keep an sl/sl spec around for pvp, or heaven forbid a destro spec without nether protection (since being immune to bosses makes them go and hit others). It has a lot of uses, and a lot of ways to make it fun, I like the idea of something like Diablo 2, switch gear out, but this time with glyphs and talents as well, WoW isn't a fixed talent game, its a fluid game, if you want fixed talents then you need to have a game like diablo.

  29. The feral druid's natural ability to switch between tanking and dps roles without respecs has shown both how this is valuable, and how there isn't too much need for it. I anticipate a couple people happily using their dual-specs for tank/dps options, and a couple people using their dual-specs for fight-optimization (such as lock tanking leo). Most raids won't make requirements on most people's dual specs because it's just too complicated to organize and provides little benefit.

    Further, an unrestricted dual-spec feature will significantly improve the current 'healer tank disincentive'. Players who raid as prot warriors/paladins or healers must choose between expensive respecs or participate in farming and dailies with an ineffective spec. DPS classes, on the other hand, have no such disincentive. They can participate broadly in their one spec (even if not entirely optimized for any area). I doubt raids will expect tanks to have two different tanking specs, or healers to have two different healer specs, leaving them their other spec for some type of dps or balanced dps/pvp spec for other areas of the game.