That will be 100g per healer, thank you!

I do find it fascinating how worked up everyone gets about suggested changes to World of Warcraft. There are so many outraged voices making a lot of noise about how “stupid” the devs are and how this is the final straw and they’re quitting WoW.

Just another day in overreaction city.

So what’s all the drama about? Well, it’s this:

Essentially, on the Legion alpha at the moment, there is a charge being applied for switching specs. I will say upfront – the cost here is mostly irrelevant, which Celestalon has reiterated:

For me, I’d like to discuss whether or not assigning a cost (of some sort) to switching spec is a good change for the game, and what is the real issue Blizzard is trying to combat with this change?

You can skip right to the end for the tldr if you don’t want to read my justification for my opinion.

Disclaimer

As regular readers will know, I play a shaman. I consider my restoration spec my main spec, as this is the one I (usually!) raid with. However, more often than not I am in my dps elemental spec to “survive” being out in the world on a pvp server, to do my dailies, to run old raids/dungeons and to raid with when fights get easier and we need fewer healers. I constantly switch between these two specs. So I do have an initial bias about this topic that I am going to put aside for the moment to try and get to the bottom of what these changes are getting at.

Gold sink vs. stick to one spec

For me, this change points to two possible dilemmas that Blizzard is trying to combat:

  1. there’s too much gold in the game
  2. players are not committing to specs.

These are two very different issues, and right now I don’t feel it’s clear which Blizzard is aiming to combat here. But let’s explore these ideas a bit further.

The gold sink

It’s Rho’s fault I’m writing this, because he got me thinking with this post that he wrote about how this change could be considered a gold sink, and what that meant. This part really struck a point:

rho_goldsink
Read Rho’s whole post at http://www.twitlonger.com/show/n_1so7d6e

It’s very easy, as someone who’s greatest gold accomplishment was getting to 500k on all her toons just this week, to feel upset about the argument that there’s just “too much gold in the game” and that “players are too rich”. I, for one, don’t see it because I’m not “rich”. But that’s because I only see how much I have. Don’t get me wrong, I’m well aware that there are plenty of people out there who are rolling around in gold like Scrooge McDuck. I see it on the Black Market Auction House all the time, when items hit gold cap within minutes of being released, or players going out and buying whatever mounts they want, or not being affected by price hikes in enchants/gems etc. But I, like everyone else, don’t see the overall numbers and can’t fathom how much of a problem it is for the game. So I have to trust Blizzard on this one.

I don’t like gold sinks. I understand their purpose, but I don’t like it. I feel like there are too many rewards/items associated with the gold-making mini-game. And let’s face it – making gold in WoW is a whole other game in and of itself. If gold-making isn’t something you like to do, there is an awful lot of content in the game that you can miss out on – there are loads of cosmetic items in game that simply cost a bucket load of gold, and if you don’t have that gold, you’re going to have a hard time getting them.

The point is that Blizzard needs to find ways to get players to let go of some of their gold, and perhaps tying it to something many players do often is one way of going about it. But is assigning a gold cost to switching specs a fair gold sink?

Not all classes are created equally

My biggest concern with the proposal to charge to change specs is that it’s not an activity that is spread evenly across the specs. Hybrid classes are definitely getting the raw end of the deal here, as they are more likely to change their specs often (as I have explained for myself above). This isn’t an uncommon activity for hybrids at all, and in some cases it is expected of us to switch our specs based on the needs of the group we are raiding with.

DPS will definitely change their specs as well, but this is not as often as hybrids.

So for this argument, I say that no, this approach is not equally balanced across all classes.

New players

I think my biggest concern with specifically a gold sink being attached to a spec change is how that will impact new players. I’m talking about the shiny, brand new players who will come in to the game because of the movie. They come in to it with nothing – no gold, and also little to no knowledge of the classes/specs available in the game. Because of this they may end up switching specs to “try them out”, which they won’t be able to do if it costs a small fortune. There is the possibility of the cost scaling by level, or the cost only being implemented at a certain level to help alleviate this, but I think saving up for flying feels more satisfying for new players rather than paying to change their spec.

As a slight side note, if it was decided that the cost would be something other than gold, it’s important that this is available to non-max level players. So I don’t feel that it could be attained with valor, conquest etc.

Cost per healer

There is an argument for hybrids in that they could charge for their services. Much the same way mages would charge for others to use their teleports, healers and tanks could take a similar approach and sell their services (and their faster queue times!) on a cost recovery basis. Or at a profit if they so desire. Likely? I’m not sure. I do think this would depend on the cost of switching specs in the end. It could get out of hand, though, but it is an option if the gold cost ends up being a bit high.

So is it about the gold?

Personally, I don’t think this is about a gold sink. There are too many limitations for new players if it is. And honestly, there’s just something yucky about putting a gold cost against game functionality, and I don’t think Blizzard would do that. But I do understand that gold sinks need to exist – there should definitely be some more thought and discussion given to this.

Which leads me to believe it’s not about the gold at all.

All about that spec

I feel that class fantasy and sticking to one spec is what this change is about. “But why would Blizzard want players to stick to one spec?” I hear you say! I asked the same thing of my lovely twitter followers and they said the following:

specs

I think Marie really nails it on the head here with her comment about identifying with one spec. Artifact weapons really emphasise this. Players will need to choose which weapon they are going to focus their energies and time on. And whilst we can get artifacts for the other specs, it will be very time consuming and not quite as strong as your primary artifact.

It’s about the fantasy

It’s pretty clear that class fantasy is high on the priority list for Blizzard in Legion. It was the focus of the first blog posts that came out after Blizzcon, and is reiterated time and time again when talking about class changes. It is really hammered home with Artifacts – each spec has its own specially crafted quest chain to obtain the artifact. It’s allllll about the class fantasy.

It could be argued that if class fantasy is so important, why are there multiple stats available on gear? That allows us to use that gear for multiple specs. So why limit access to the other specs? I suppose the answer here is that they don’t want to take the option to change specs away (if they wanted to do that they would completely lock down classes so that you could only ever play the 1 spec), but by introducing the cost element they want to limit how often it happens.

Having a cost associated with changing spec can reiterate class fantasy. By changing spec you’re changing in to a different mindset, and to emphasise that, it should be acknowledged that this is happening. Having a cast time to switch specs helps with this, as does wiping our resources and having a spell effect like we already do. But perhaps there can be more to it. Adding some sort of cost to this is another step that could make players pause for a moment to actually think about what they’re doing before they do this. Or it might just annoy them.

But class fantasy can’t be ignored. It’s important, it’s a focus for Blizzard and we need to adapt to this.

Why am I being punished all the time?!

So this is where my bias is going to come back in. Like I said above, I switch specs all the time. I don’t want it to cost me *insert price here* every time I do it. It feels like a kick in the gut. It’s already going to be incredibly time consuming for me to get 2 artifact weapons – it’s further punishment to make me pay to change specs. Artifact weapons already limit a player’s ability to play multiple specs – why does there need to be a cost added to it, too?

Another personal gripe is the impact it would have overall on our raid team. As many of you know, I’m already cross about mythic raiding being limited to 20 players (read this and this). Our team is small and rarely has over 15 players. As such, we don’t get to do mythic raiding not because we’re not good enough, but because we just can’t get the numbers. Because of our small team, we also have to do things large teams don’t – we don’t have “benched players” in our team. Everyone who shows up raids because we need the numbers. That means that if a fight requires an additional healer, one of our hybrids switches spec. If we need more dps, generally I’ll switch to ele to fill the gap. We are not the only teams to do this. So who would pay for that? The player who is just trying to help out their team? Or the guild who is already forking out for guild repairs/pots/food and not getting income from leveling members? Again, big kick in the gut for some of us.

Side note – healers can now dps

This, for me, is one of the big things I’d like the opportunity to test in the Legion alpha/beta. A lot of the arguments made about the cost of changing specs could be redundant if healer and tank dps is viable in all aspects of the game. Hybrids won’t need to change spec, so the cost (whatever it may be) doesn’t matter.

It’s a very big ask to get this balance right. I will be honest though, if I can charge through ICC on my ele shaman in no time flat, but it takes half an hour to do on my healer, I don’t care that my healer can dps, I’ll be switching to ele for it. And I don’t think I’m alone in that mindset.

This is a really big topic that I have loads of opinions on, so I’ll save it for another post. But it is worth having in the back of the mind while we discuss this.

Get to the bloody point, Cinder! What is your solution?!

Ok ok this has gone long enough, and you’ve done really well to get here if you have (thank you!)

Based on what we’ve gone through above, here’s what I think:

The ability to switch specs should not be used as a gold sink, as it punishes some players more than others (hybrids will generally switch more often than pure dps classes). Given that artifact weapons will already make it difficult for players to maintain more than one spec, adding another layer of difficulty (by charging) feels like a kick in the gut for those players.

Having said that, I do feel that class fantasy is important, and that some form of acknowledgment when changing a spec could have an impact on a player and make them more “aware” of the fantasy of their class. I feel like this could be achieved by using a Tome of the Clear mind for 50 silver. This is a minimal cost that new players could afford, that can also help players get in to the mindset  and appreciate the class fantasy.

I think the most important part of this change is that players need to feel like they still have the choice to change their spec if they want to.

 

So that’s what I think. What do you think?

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11 Comments Add yours

  1. Anon DK says:

    “there’s just something yucky about putting a gold cost against game functionality, […]. But I do understand that gold sinks need to exist”

    As someone with millions of gold who could easily afford the 100g fee, I totally agree with this statement. Gold sinks are needed, but attaching them to something like this isn’t the right way to do them.

    “I think Marie really nails it on the head here with her comment about identifying with one spec.”

    However this statement, I say balls to this statement. I am not a Blood DK, I am not a Frost DK, I am not an Unholy DK. I am a Death Knight. And I encompass all those aspects. Just like in real life I’m not just a “businessman” (my job), or a “chauffeur” (driving kids around), or a “teacher” (raising kids), I am all those things in one package.
    If they had made the game unfriendly towards alts to push you into identifying with one character, I could see that (though I wouldn’t like it), but pushing us into one spec and punishing us when we want to switch? Yeah, no. I am a whole being who possesses many different aspects, and I identify with my DK in a similar fashion, as a complete unit.

    The artifacts I can accept because in life there are things I’m better/faster at and things I’m worse/slower at. So having my Blood weapon lag behind my DPS weapon is understandable. But compartmentalizing my character for some misguided notion of “class fantasy”… well like I said, I say balls to that.

    As an aside, I can tell you one thing which will happen though; queue times will go through the roof. There will be fewer OS healers and fewer OS tanks out there willing to pay(!) to join LFG.

    Like

    1. Cinder says:

      ““I think Marie really nails it on the head here with her comment about identifying with one spec.”
      However this statement, I say balls to this statement.”

      I should have been clearer here in that I meant I thought Marie nailed what Blizzard’s reasoning behind pushing for one spec was, not that I thought it was a notion I completely agreed with.
      I actually agree with you – we are more than the one spec. For me as a shaman, I commune with the elements and ask them to help me. Sometimes they help me to heal people, other times they help me to destroy my enemies in a bolt of lightning doom. Whatever the case, I’m a shaman and I’m capable of many things.

      I agree with Blizzard that each spec does have its own fantasy, and I like that they have their own fantasy. I think, though, that we as a class are capable of appreciating all of specs and should be able to move between them as the world around us changes. It’s like real life – we need to be adaptable. These days you can’t go in to a job and say you will only do that one thing for ever until the day you die. The environment changes around you and you need to adapt to it. It’s the same in game – sometimes you’re out in the world alone and need to be able to defend yourself – other times you’re raiding a dungeon with fellow warriors and you need to keep them healed up.

      I think there’s a happy medium to be had here, which is why I’ve suggested using the tomes to change spec – it acknowledges there’s a change, but it doesn’t punish anyone for doing it.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment – I appreciate it!

      Like

      1. Anon DK says:

        With that quote I meant more as I was commenting on Marie’s/Blizzard’s statement, but since it was a picture I couldn’t easily copy it.

        Other than that, yeah, I pretty much agree with all that you replied with.

        Tomes would be fine with me, and I think they’d fit better than just a straight up monetary fee.
        That’s another thing I don’t really like about a flat fee like this is where does it go? You click a button and the money goes poof. That doesn’t connect me with my class/spec at all. If we had to go back to our class trainer and pay the fee to switch there that would tie me into the “lore” or “class fantasy” of my character more than just money going poof out of my wallet, but that’s regressing several expansions and a huge pain in the butt.

        So a tome, or an ankh, would work. Or if they want to get away from inventory items “meditating” or “focusing yourself for your new role” (long cast time?) would fit even better. Pretty much anything would fit my “class fantasy” better than just a raw fee.

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  2. Zeirah says:

    Wow ok, this is the first time I’ve heard of this possibilty and my intiial reaction is what an utterly stupid addition.

    So I can have access to my four specs all at once come Legion (as you know Cinder I don’t purposely keep up with legion news atm, so please tell me that addition is still in there) but I have to pay a nominal sum to change my spec – Bollocks to that!

    I’m a druid full stop, not a resto only druid – When I’m a bit tired of my rustling leaves, I can be a kitty today or a flappy owl tomorrow and heck if I’m feeling particularly savage I might even don my bear form but to say I now have to pay for that privilliage is utter crap. And while I know the 100g you mentioned is a place holder for now.. if I have to pay any form of currency, well that takes away part of the whole fun of playing a class that has such spectacularly different specs. Even if it comes down to requiring a tome or ankh, instead of raw gold, as mentioned above, that still destroys my class fantasy – I’m supposed to be a master of shape shifting and taking on the different forms of nature… but only if I buy a book?

    I try really hard not to do knee jerk reactions but if the need to spend a currency to change to my spec remains, I’ll be incredibly disappointed and more than a little annoyed.

    And the sheer practicality of it is ridiculous, will they build the cost into the UI or do I have to go to a trainer.. even further breaking class immersion and adding delays to game play… “oh wait guys I know we don’t really need my heals here so more than happy to be a swing dps on this fight… just hold up while I port out, change spec, port back and rinse and repeat the next fight..

    Blizzard have made some decisions that I haven’t agreed with over the past expansion (their right I know) but if this stays in, I think it will definately add to my internal questioning of “do the developers that make the decisions about this game even actually play the game anymore”?

    Like

    1. Cinder says:

      It’s my understanding that the “all specs available” situation is still happening.
      I don’t mind if I have to “buy a book”. If I have a main spec chosen, that should be the one that I’m best at, so maybe I need a bit of extra help to get in to the others? I don’t know. It’s a very good point for druids – you are supposed to be masters of shape shifting – hell, there’s even crossover of abilities in each of the specs – so it does seem silly to limit swapping like that.

      If the cost is an item, I think it would work the same way as the tomes, which would be the same as it is now.

      I’m thinking that they’ve put this in to see what the reaction would be. It’s definitely got people talking. And remember, it’s Alpha, so things are going to change. We just have to say that no, we don’t like this for these reasons. I can’t see them keeping this… but maybe I’m just being optimistic?

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  3. kurn1701 says:


    i think these 2 posts from celestalon pretty much wipe out the idea that gold will be used. its a placeholder.
    but i do think they want us to choose 1 spec and stick to it. personally i will be hitting it hard, with bm for raiding and sv for pvp. see if i can keep up 2 specs. 3 might have to wait for the end of xpack.
    as with anything its only alpha so stuff can change.
    sidenote, i can see why the devs arent saying much and after this i expect to get less info. look at what happened, they stated what they were thinking, said it was a placeholder only for gold and the internet exploded all over them…… if we thought it was quiet on the news front before, just wait, i think we will get sweet fuck all now.

    spankyhunter

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    1. Cinder says:

      I don’t think they’ll stop giving out info. I think they do these things to test the waters and to see how players feel about things. I think, even though a lot of people are really pissed off, the discussion and arguing about it is better placed because we are in Alpha, whereas the whole flying debacle happened when things were live so people felt “cheated”. Alpha is the time to test these things out and see what people think. So I think they’ll just continue on as normal.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thathanka says:

    I personally feel more involved in class fantasy when being able to perform all its roles rather than dropping golds to the ground when i have to change roles. Knowing how to play many specs is already a cost, getting and leveling many artifacts is already a cost, being versatile to favor guild progression is already a cost. Why should a positive behavior be taxed?

    Like

  5. Gopta says:

    Have you heard anything about the cost of getting an offspec weapon in Legion? I hope they are going to make it easy. Example: If I am deciding on playing a paladin or DK for Legion, I have to choose DK because I will be able to use the same weapon for all specs ( I think). My character since vanilla is a Druid and I love all the specs, but that doesn’t sound like an option. Am I missing something? But what am I saying I’ll still level about 5 characters, sigh
    Cheers

    Like

    1. Cinder says:

      Unfortunately I’m not in the Alpha, so I don’t have any hands on experience with the Artifact weapons. However from what I’ve read from Blizzard and those who are in the Alpha, you can only use the artifact weapon for ONE spec. If you want to play any of the other specs, you need to do the quests to obtain the artifact weapon for those. So you won’t be able to use the one DK artifact for all of the DK specs – you’ll need to go get Maw of the Damned to play Blood spec, Blades of the Fallen Prince to play Frost, and Apocalypse to play Unholy.
      Getting offspec artifact weapons is possible, and is supposed to be well supported, though isn’t in Alpha testing at the moment. We just have to wait and see. Either way, you will need to get an artifact weapon for each spec, so be prepared for that. 🙂

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