Monday, March 15, 2010

Newbies Should Have Access To Training Wheels

My post yesterday, nominally about motivation for illicit RMT, drew a fair amount of debate over my assertion that dual spec enables a more solo/group-friendly hybrid playstyle.

One of the comments came from Shintar, a blogger who has all four of WoW's healing classes at 80 and a post about how only the hardcore need dual specs on his blog about being a healer. I would imagine that he's got the basic skillset reasonably well down. But what about those of us who actually need to LEARN to play?

A huge part of the value of the low level group game is the opportunity for players to learn group roles (i.e. aggro control for DPS, tanking and healing for everyone else) in easier content, so that we don't arrive in Northrend clueless. Does it really make sense to turn around and tell newbies to try and learn with irrelevant solo talent builds? When did Gevlon of all people become an advocate for players not doing everything in their control to ensure the success of the group?

A strange place for a gold sink
The irony is that high end players - until the very top of the min-max curve anyway - actually have less need for dual specs than newbies. Solo mobs have gotten so easy to kill that a raid-geared healer would be losing more time to refilling their mana bars after swapping over to their DPS spec than if they just killed the mobs on their healing spec. It's the undergeared lowbie who needs all the help they can get with the appropriate spec for their current activity.

You could argue that the better fix would be to scale respec costs to character level, instead of lowering the price of dual spec. Switching to a group spec for the weekend and then swapping back to a solo spec afterward means dungeon run price tags of 6G, 25G, 45G, 65G, 85G, and 100G thereafter. That number is nigh trivial for level 80's, and nigh ruinous for most level 40's. Or, if you really wanted to, you could argue that the dual spec feature shouldn't be available at all to players too low to take full advantage of it (which I'd say is no longer true by level 40).

What does not make sense is to restrict the feature ONLY for players who do not have a level 80 main paying their bills. Dual spec affects gameplay far more than any mount training ever did, and that makes it a bad place to put a gold sink (i.e. a timesink, since gold ultimately costs time to earn).


  1. I agree with you in that level 40 is a strange place for a gold sink. I also have four level 80 healers (one of each healing class) and six 80s total, and I have to agree with Shintar. Dual spec is not necessary, because it's entirely feasible to heal and tank as an offspec into the 60s. A new player can mish-mash their talents (as most of us did the first time around) and still do just fine with the content as it is now.

    If a new player want to experiment with talents, even given dual spec, they'll still have to pay for a respec, because the dual spec feature only allows you to switch between two established specs, so we're adding respecs to the already prohibitive cost of a dual spec.

    Personally, I think a better solution would be to allow unlimited free respecs to players under about 70 or so. That would give newbies their "training wheels" and would encourage them experiment.

  2. The funny thing is that below lvl 50 you can't even access the game-changing talents.

    A priest gets CoH, a druid tree form, a shaman earth shield at lvl 50 (poor pallies have to wait 60 for their first real perk). A lvl 49 healer druid does not heal significantly better than a lvl 49 balance druid (feral in +agi gear is different).

    So there is absolutely no point for dual specs before 50.

  3. Just for reference, I'm a she. :)

    And we seem to have a very different view of what dual spec does. You see it as something that makes it easier for new players to succeed in different roles, I see it as something that makes their lives unnecessarily complicated.

    I levelled my first priest with a horribly dodgy shadow spec and healed through most levelling instances in the game like that - still it took me a lot longer to figure out how to distribute my talents the best way than how to use my healing spells. So to me, suggesting the additional confusion of filling out two talent trees at once to a new player who hasn't yet figured out how to earn money or how to use the abilities of just one tree to the best effect doesn't seem helpful at all - they've got enough other things to learn without worrying about that. Maybe Blizzard should have hidden the option away somewhere at a specific "dual spec trainer", so a player who just dinged 40 doesn't get the impression that dual spec is something he should have the same way as the next rank of one of his base abilities.

  4. I think a better implementation of dual-spec would have been to use account bound "books of dual-spec" only purchasable by a level 80.

    I see no particular reason why I shouldn't have dual spec on my tenth level 20, but I can see why a new player shouldn't be shown that complexity.

  5. I have a buddy who recently started playing WoW. He had never played an MMO. He had never really played many PC games in general.

    I can say, with certainty, that he did NOT need the added complexity of dual specs.

    I believe there are some brand new WoW players who could take full advantage of dual-specs at level 40. I also believe that MOST new players should be focused on learning one role / talent spec.

  6. I have to agree with Dorgol. Dual specs would be overwhelming for the average new player. The ability to feel comfortable switching specs/roles is something that seems more likely to happen once you've had a chance to explore the game as well as see how other people fulfil their roles.

  7. I play a Warrior and I use Dual-spec all the time now that he is 80. Oh, and I am not a hardcore player. I am soloer with limited time in-game and it is very useful to me.

    I use Prot for PvP and any light tanking I need to do (Chillmaw is a good example) but for doing dallies, farming mobs, etc... I prefer to play Fury. Could I do it as Prot? Sure but it wouldnt be as fun for me as Fury and I do like to actually enjoy my limited time in-game. And dont forget that respecing is more than just a base gold cost but the cost of new glyphs as well. I like being able to switch as the need or mood strikes me.

    Otherwise, I agree that cheaper respecs for lower levels is probably better than trying to juggle two specs. At lower levels the cost to experiment with talents should be a lot less for a new player trying to figure out what they want to do.

    I agree with Guin that the Dual-spec feature should have been like the cold weather flying tomes purchasable when you have a character up a the level cap. That makes a lot more sense than getting a letting in the mail telling you to try it out at level 40 - if you have the 1000g that is.

  8. Are talents really so complex that dual specs would make people collapse in confusion? I don't think so. If there's a problem, it's that talents are poorly explained in WoW, giving the impression of complexity.

    @Gevlon: The talents that merely affect spells without adding flashy new ones certainly change the game. Disc priests don't spam PW:S because they have Penance, they do it because their earlier talents support that style.

  9. Have to agree that dual-spec would have made me curl up in the fetal position on my first toon. Or, more likely, I would have just totally missed that it existed, nor cared.

    But I have it on my DK to have a tanking/DPS spec, and a priest I leveled to 80 to Shadow-quest and heal instances. And I'm glad I did because I found that I hate healing, but I love Shadow DPS! And of course I have it on my main for raiding spec and PvP spec.

    The cost is an appropriate sink for me. As is cold weather flying.

  10. Quoth Dorgol: "I also believe that MOST new players should be focused on learning one role / talent spec."

    We've seen this world, as this was the only option prior to dual spec. Half of the players went pure DPS and ended up at the level cap with no significant group experience. The other half claimed that not having a solo spec contributed to their healer/tank burnout.

    Meanwhile, as numerous others have point out, this model forces players to choose a role relatively early on in their careers. See the comments on this post for a variety of arguments why that can be a problematic, underinformed choice.


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