Monday, October 15, 2012

Ask Coriel: Diablo 3 Abilities and WoW

Songen writes:

I was thinking about WoW the other day while I was playing Diablo 3. The thing I love most about Diablo 3 is that you can switch your abilities up anytime you want. So I started thinking about how you might be able to implement that in a way that might fit WoW.
What I came up with was taking all the spells that the WoW classes have and boiling them down to what all the specs share. Like making Crusader Strike available to all specs for example (which Blizz has already done). Then making glyphs work along the lines of the rune system in Diablo 3, where major glyphs change the spells dramatically (Crusader Strike turning into Hammer of the Righteous) and minor glyphs making smaller changes to the spells (increased or decreased  cost/cooldown/range of use/area of effect).
Right now I’m thinking that your specialization would change the glyphs available to you, if we would even need specializations but the many hybrid classes leave me thinking that specializations are necessary in the game today. 
I thought it was an interesting idea, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. Do you think it could work? What do you think would need to change to make it work? Would it make the game better? Worse?

It's an interesting idea, but I'm not sure it would be a good fit for WoW. I think an MMO would have to be built from the ground up to work this way.

If you look at D3, it has very simplistic rotations compared to WoW. A builder and a finisher is the main part. That allows D3 to have many options for the builder, and many options for the finisher. In
contrast, the standard WoW rotation has about 5 buttons. You would need different options for each of those five buttons.

Plus, WoW players really like having all their abilities available to them. I think they would react badly to seriously limiting the cooldowns and special abilities available. As an example, would you be happy if Blizzard said you can either have Cleanse, or you can have Blessing of Freedom? I think most paladins wouldn't, because they're used to having both.

That's not to say that this style can't work. The Secret World and Guild Wars both limit the number of abilities you can have, forcing you to pick X abilities from a larger pool of abilities. But rotations in those two games are notably simpler than rotations in WoW. For example, TSW is basically Builder + Finisher 1 + Finisher 2, where the builder builds 2 different resources, one for each finisher.


  1. I love the simple rotations in tsw. It really moves your brain away from your skill bar and into the fight, so the boss events are way more dynamic and complex.

  2. This is what glyphs should have been but across specs and not classes.

    If you look at the problems with healer balance for 2 or 3 expansions they all basically boil down to the decisions on tank vs raid healer split. In BC and Wotlk because classes were split tank healer or raid healer if you weren't competitive you were basically worthless. In Cata it was trying to balance classes that could do both in the same gear / spec, affecting one role without the other.

    Add to this the bring the player not the class revolution which applied for everyone but healers. 2 healers of different classes were, almost as a rule, always better than 2 healers of the same class.

    What should have happened is that glyphs should have allowed healers to specialise as either a tank healer or a raid healer. Have some baseline abilities needed to just heal and some special abilities that depended on glyphs to be effective (eg beacon could either translate all single target healing to one other target, or double all Aoe healing across a different set of targets)

    Then you could have 2 pallies (or Druids or whatever), one set up for raid healing and one for tank healing. You could also balance raid healers against other raid healers without worrying about crushing their ability to tank heal.

    Unfortunately the decisions was made to focus on increase the number of abilities, not the depth of the toolkit. In fact toolkit depth has been ignored since down ranking was abolished. Wonder why balance is almost impossible?