Thursday, August 15, 2013

Honorary gnomes

All this WoW blogging has brought some traffic back to the site. Maybe I should just turn this into a WoW blog. (Won't happen, but I've had worse ideas.)

One of the traffic sources was from the Gnomeregan Forever guild website, apparently impressed with my post on Operation: Gnomeregan and an offer to make me an honorary gnome.

My favorite character is and will always be my draenei paladin, but I actually do play gnomes. Well, sort of.

Hassium, Warlock Supreme Totally not a warlock, and I have no idea why that demon is following me around.
Halanium, Warrior of Gnomeregan and part-time gardening enthusiast
The above screenshots are both of my gnomish characters. Hassium made it to level 80 in Wrath, but didn't get played in Cataclysm. I was volunteered as raid leader not too far into Cataclysm, so there wasn't really time to level a bunch of alts. It doesn't hurt that it was taking me a while to adjust to the changes Warlocks received in Cataclysm. I also had been wanting to try out a Warrior for quite some time.

That's when Halanium appeared on the scene. My plan had been to level him as a tank in the dungeon finder, as my main was a Paladin tank and I wanted to see how the differences between the two classes played out. Then I remembered that I hadn't really explored any of the changes to the questing experience after Cataclysm was released, so Halanium went out into the world to kick butt in the name of Gnomeregan.

Oddly enough, all this talk of gnomes convinced me to play Halanium again. He'd gotten to level 85, but I've been well occupied in Mists with my Paladin.  (Okay, and a druid healer.) I have no idea how long that'll keep up, but it's been fun getting back into another character.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Community Blog Topic: Adding fourth specs to WoW

You'd think this was turning into a WoW blog, but it really isn't. I have all kinds of other things to write about. For example . . . um . . .

Hey look, another WoW blog topic!
With 11 classes, 34 total specializations, and 13 different races, you have plenty of options for the game. A few more couldn't hurt . . . right?
If you aren't familiar with the class specializations in WoW, let's start at the beginning.

WoW has always had three specializations (specs) for the classes.  These would allow you to distinguish your character from others of the same class, as well as offering different gameplay.  This could be minor, such as the difference between two different DPS specs, or it could be major, such as the difference between a tanking and a healing spec.

A few classes have bucked the three-spec rule at various times.  Death Knights started out in Wrath of the Lich King where each of the three specs could be a tank or a DPS spec.  Blizzard eventually removed this capability, making one spec exclusively a tank spec, while the other two stayed DPS.  Druids always had three specs, but the original melee spec, Feral, supported two druid playstyles and shapeshift forms.  Cat form was the druid melee DPS, while bear form was the druid tank.  Although each spec had its own talent tree, most of the abilities in the druid talent tree had caveats in the form of, "If you are in Bear form, X; if you are in Cat form, Y."  Eventually, Blizzard simplified this by making each a separate spec, resulting in druids being the only class in WoW to have four specs.

The question of how to add a fourth spec to the other classes has been a popular topic of speculation since that change.  I certainly wouldn't mind it being done, although it's not like we lack for options in the game as is.   Where I'll disagree with others when this topic is broached is in the right way to make it happen.  As I see it, there are a few principles to consider in any proposed changes to the classes:
  1. Does it fit with the lore/theme/flavor of the class?
  2. Does it require changing the mechanics of the class?
  3. Does it require changes to any other game features?
  4. Does it fill a niche, or conflict with existing archetypes?
  5. Is it intuitive to new and/or existing players?
To my mind, most of the ideas floated for new specs clash with at least one of the questions above. Some simply don't fit thematically, either in WoW or with classic fantasy tropes. Others would mandate adding a lot of new abilities to the classes, to the point that the classes might not be recognizable for it. Asking for certain pieces of gear to have more demand is fine, but generating unheard of themes for the classes is the wrong solution.

I won't say some of these ideas would never be introduced, or that it would be impossible to change the game to make these things possible, but their implementation would be significantly more complicated than many people realize.

All the same, some of these ideas aren't without merit. I'd like to address most of the most popular suggestions for new class specs. You might want to get comfy.