Coffee with the Devs — The Role of Role

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What if the tanking role was changed to accommodate more specs?

Threat has been a debate for a while now. What if it was dropped and replaced with a "mezzing" role using CC, short duration taunts and debuffs actively during a fight to weaken/slow targets. Then you can start to include specs like say Affliction, Subtlety, Survival, Frost.

Take an existing fight with no tanks, like the Faction Champions. Now throw in two players with the specific role of actively silencing, CC'ing, slowing, fearing, etc. That sounds like it would be fun to me.

  • The "tank" has more interesting active choices, with a gameplay style more familiar to people when they hit level cap.
  • Rather than standing there getting punched in the face by 5 fire elementals, you're moving around and trying to stop things from killing people.
  • More freedom in how raid fights are designed, making them more chaotic and mobile, but not necessarily more difficult.
  • Healers role would be more fun since they're not just spam healing the tank and hitting an AOE occasionally.
  • It gives CC a purpose during a fight rather than just at the pull, and suits short cooldowns and durations (less frustration at being locked down in PvP)
  • All kinds of options for making tanking viable and fun in PvP.
  • Works well with the pet classes.
  • Makes AOE more tactical
  • Gives a reason to have more tanks in 25 man groups
  • Allows Druid tanks to get out of bear form or use it for specific things.

  • All that said, I'm not hating on tanking. Some people obviously find it fun, but it's not for me. A change like this wouldn't be without its problems or balance issues. Just some random thoughts.
    Or do we just test every spec for every raid encounter of the current tier and tweak class mechanics around for whatever is the current status quo? That implies a high rate of change, and I wonder if we’d lose a little bit of the fun of experimentation and theorycrafting if it was basically accepted that you could take any spec to any fight and do about the same damage. It’s more balanced, yes, but does it lack depth or flavor? Is it fun?

    I really have to wonder if we will hear anything about "bring the player, not the class" after a line like that.

    I like model one it keeps sensible raid compositions going and combined with competent encounter design will counter class stacking and generally improve inclusiveness for raid groups where every member does not have three raidable alts. Class stacking being something which as a Raid Leader I hate with a passion.

    I wonder if GC considers it fun to be for example 1)a melee dps watching helplessly from the sidelines on warmaster heroic or 2) a raidleader who is having to be horrible to his melee dps because of bad class and encounter design in world of rangedcraft.

    I guess a better question could be can any blizzard voice seriously claim that "bring the player, not the class" was ever a design goal, given that it never materialised ingame.
    There's merit in every model described in the blog, but I guess it essentially boils down to what is technically possible versus what the players would like to have ("the widest range of possibilities").

    My feelings on the matter of spec/class are that I always prefer to play what I like the most, and need not worry about what is "best" or "optimal". I like being optimal, sure, but that comes after I find something to have fun with.

    I'm a PvE-oriented player, and I play a tank-specced DK and a heal-specced Shaman in raids, despite reading and hearing numerous reports on how much better any of the other classes fare better. Heck, the hunter alt I leveled to give a hand in raids was BM, which was sub-optimal compared to MM. But I play those classes and spec because these are the ones I have the most fun with, and that's what matters the most.

    The trouble is that being optimal matters, albeit differently depending on what you're currently trying to achieve. I'm playing in a somewhat casual guild, where we do not care about "rankings" or optimality - we just have our fun clearing raids in normal modes and taking a shot at a challenge or two in HM or with an achievement. It'd be better if X was a good healer instead of an average one, but most probably, they're doing their best and can't throw in anything better - or they're playing an average spec rather than a good one, but they have fun with it and wouldn't have any with the other. From our point of view, fun is what matters, so we will still welcome that player in our raid like any other player from our guild, from good ones to even bad ones.

    But what would happen if, instead, we focused on being the best among our server ? Or if we simply focused on clearing HM rather than normal raids ? Then we would worry about being as optimal as possible, and where 10%, 5%, even 1% did not matter yesterday, it would matter today. But how, on a design point of view, can you make it so two separate specs, while still feeling different, fare equally as good on a given encounter (or worse, on any encounter) ? This is very, very hard to make, and in the facts, we're not talking about just two specs - but about 10 classes with each their potentially multiple specs - so it's not something I see as being possible to pull out.

    I've played a DK since the first day of WotLK, and I loved the initial design direction : three specs, three different feelings, three possible ways to play as a DPS, three possible ways to play as a tank. I had fun playing with talent calculators, creating my own specs, testing them out on the field, switching them when I felt a particular encounter could use a certain spec more than another. Of course, those were impossible to balance, and that's probably why that design direction was scrapped.

    But, as a matter of fact, I don't really have any issue with performing somewhat less good than another class or another spec, as long as I stay viable (i.e. no "sorry but you just can't tank that encounter with that spec (or even worse, that class)"). I do believe having fun and being optimal, while often pursued together, are two separate goals. One most probably matters more to someone than the other (or you could say that for some, having fun IS being optimal, while that may not necessarily hold true for others), even if if you're pursuing fun, being good makes you feel better (but you do not really care about being "the best"). Thus, given the choice, I'd much rather have the possibility to choose between three different viable specs with one standing slightly above the others, rather than only having the choice between two equally viable specs, or worse, only having one possibility.

    In other words, I'd much rather have the possibility to play as a blood-, frost- or unholy-specced tank, with blood standing slightly above as the "optimal" spec, rather than just being given the blood spec as my only option. Sure, from an "optimal" point of view, there would be no difference at all - I'd be playing blood anyway, so why bother considering other sub-optimal options ? - but from a "fun", "variety" point of view, the difference is big.

    (part II of my post follows)
    I'd like to comment on a quite different matter : the difference between an hybrid class and a pure one.

    First, as stated above, when I choose to play a class, it's because I like it. I play a DK because I love tanking and I have more fun doing it as a DK than as a Warrior, Druid or Paladin. I also play a Shaman because I love healing, and similarly, I have more fun doing it as a Shaman than as a Priest, a Druid or a Paladin. Since I love both tanking and healing, why did I not go with a Druid or a Paladin, which can do both ? Surely, it would have been much, much easier to maintain (no need to level another character, no more seeing +int mail disenchanted while playing my DK) - and yes, I did try out a druid and a paladin, but I just had less fun with them than with my DK or shaman.

    Do I want a paladin to fare worse in raids than my DK, because I can't spec healer with her, and the paladin can ? What about paladin tanks that play as that class/spec combo because 1) they only like to tank and 2) they have the most fun doing it as a paladin ? Should they be "punished" because they have the possibility to spec healer or DPS, while other classes can't, even though they don't care at all about those specs ? That really would not make any sense in my book.

    The root of the problem is that paladins can spec healers and DK/warriors can't. That's a design choice, and you cannot say if it's better or worse than the alternatives - though you may or may not like it. Here, we come back to my earlier point - variety is better from a "fun" point of view, and unnecessary from an "optimal" point of view. You're a paladin, and you want to give a shot at healing ? Well, good for you, there's a spec here just for that. You're a DK, and you want to give a shot at healing ? Well, too bad, you can't. And that's the end of the line. Would it be better if DK could be healers ? Most probably. Should other tanking-able and DPS-able classes that can also be healers be "punished" because DK can't be ? Neither from the "fun" nor the "optimal" point of view does that make any sense - the "optimal" player would just avoid playing the "punished" classes, and the "fun" player would have less fun because their favourite class just can't fare as good as the others, even pushed to its limits.

    For instance, I don't like DPSing. I sometimes do it because it is necessary, but I'd much rather tank or heal. I like having the possibility though. What I wouldn't like, is not being able to fare as good as, say, a rogue with my DK, or a mage with my Elemental-specced shaman, because a rogue or a mage can't be healers or tanks. That would be frustrating, because I'd be stuck in a choice between playing what is optimal (and having to maintain another character on the side), or playing what is fun to me.

    Since you can't switch specs in the middle of a fight, a mage or an Elemental-shaman are both ranged DPS at that exact same encounter. There is no reason at all that the mage should fare better. You can switch specs between fights, as you can switch characters - the mage can bring their heal-specced paladin for the next fight, just as the shaman can respec to Restoration. Still no reason for one of them to fare less well in that environment. Thus I don't see any reasons to make a distinction between pure and hybrid classes.

    (part III follows)
    Similarly, I raided as a rogue during BC. I had fun with my class, but I felt bad with it, because I brought almost nothing in terms of utility to the raid. A warlock, for instance, brought healing stones, soul stones, and beneficial buffs and debuffs (not mentioning being able to tank certain encounters, such as Leotheras or Capernian). As a rogue, I brought nothing, except my DPS, which was on the same level as a warlock. I thus felt useless - why would a raid bring me as a rogue, when it could bring a warlock and have the same DPS PLUS all the utility is brought with it ? I ended up respeccing to a hybrid combat/subtlety build with Hemorrhage, just so I felt I brought something useful to the raid. Utility is both about having fun (buffing another player with Hysteria as a blood-specced DK tank was so rad), and being optimal (bringing X k DPS is worse than bringing X k DPS plus an useful buff), and should matter.

    In summary, my feelings about the topic are as follow :
    - It is impossible to perfectly balance different classes and specs while making sure they feel and play out differently.
    - From the "optimal" point of view, there will always be one spec that will stand out above the others. Having more possibilities than just one spec is just adding more work/challenge to the theorycrafting, but it changes nothing in the end.
    - From the "fun" point of view, it is okay if a spec or class stands out above the others, as long as it is subtle and not major (5% is okay, 15% is out of the "viable" scope). Having more possibilities than just one spec opens up as much different ways of playing a class or the game, and that's always good.
    - Hybrid classes should not be faring less well in raids that pure classes, because all that matters from the "optimal" point of view is what you're bringing during the exact same encounter.
    - Utility matters, both from the "fun" and the "optimal" point of view.
    10/02/2012 01:54Posted by Lunaphiro
    - From the "fun" point of view, it is okay if a spec or class stands out above the others, as long as it is subtle and not major (5% is okay, 15% is out of the "viable" scope). Having more possibilities than just one spec opens up as much different ways of playing a class or the game, and that's always good.

    I agree with this, but I also wonder if it's like that in practise.

    To me it seems as if the players who want to play a specific spec, they do so regardless of how viable it may be. They're just stubborn ^^

    And the players who care about performance, they tend to always switch to the spec that's regarded as the best, even if the spec they really want to play is only marginally worse.
    It just seems as if for those min/max oriented players, the desire to be the best trumphs the desire to play whatever spec they enjoy, even if the dps difference between the specs is only a few percentages.

    But alas, I do agree that it's more fun if the specs/classes are as close to each other in terms of performance as they can be, because having the choice to spec as you please is preferable to not having that choice.
    I'd say my biggest concern is my reluctance at seeing yet more sweeping changes to the classes I enjoy playing. I'm all for improvements and changes when and where they're needed, but I feel that the developers need to be very careful not to erode away the things that make each class feel unique and enjoyable for many players - particularly those of us who have invested in them for quite some time!

    For example, many players - particularly the role-players amongst us - have been rather annoyed at the removal of class based reagents. Some remain, though the more in-depth ones have pretty much been altered to remove the additional layer of depth they once added.

    Whilst a lot of the changes set for the next expansion certainly look promising, I just hope the classes I play do not feel as different as they did during this expansion compared to previous ones.
    Thinking about it some more I think where Blizz is going is the right route in respect to the new talent system only I would offer some more tweaks.

    Place both really good pvp and pve talents amongst the three you get to choose. Basically always one talent that is very good for a PVE encounter, one that is a sweet PVP tool and finally one that is either a balance or issimply something cool and fun to do. But having one talent that is defo a PVE boost and a PVP boost per talent tier I think would be a big move forward.

    This could then leave your choice at level ten almost exclusively one of flavour and allow more each spec to fully specialize without the worry some may have on which is best ofr PVE or PVP.

    What I love about the possibilities of the PVE Scenarios is that without class roles needed players can join in withoutt he pressure of say the healer in a typical 5 man dungeon. There they are basically doomed to sit back and only heal, I know Blizz is trying to think of different ways to heal but the ideology of being "stuck" in one role creates far more ain than gain.

    Shifting the focus away from the numbers and stats of who deals best damage or who tanks best or who heals best and enriching the different aspects of each spec to really make a fire mage feel and LOOK like a fire mage through spells and their effects on eneimies and themselves and bringing more flexibility to the game in so far as options to the "traditional" raid/dungeon system I think is the way to go.

    I mean what would players prefer, always doing,ob-boss, mob-boss, mob-boss or something more dynamic like what these PVE Scenarios might bring by doing diferent and fun stages to an encounter. You could take that philosophy into raiding by having players actually do more than just mob-boss and repeat and have them working together to perform fun and relavent story/lore inspired tasks.

    I guess I am just advocating PVE Scenarios and cant wait to hear more on them but I truly believe Blizz cannot kep doing the exact same mob- boss rins e and repeat and keep the rigid class roles of damage, tank, healer for much long.
    I'm more in favor of adding a fourth spec that allows certain classes to be hybrids and more flexible.

    Druids for example, as the manual states.

    As master shapeshifters, druids can take on the forms of a variety of beasts, morphing into a bear, cat, storm crow, or sea lion with ease. This flexibility allows them to fill different roles during their adventures, tearing enemies to shreds one minute and surveying the battlefield from the sky the next. These keepers of the natural order are among the most versatile heroes in Azeroth, and they must be prepared to adjust to new challenges on a moment’s notice.

    Now, it would be cool if I could actually do that and bring that to the table in a (raid)group but I am tied to one spec unless I lug around different gear sets all the time to switch around between combat. I am either balance, resto or feral damage dealer/tank with the option to dual spec into an extra role provided I carry around the gear as well. Technically, yes, I could turn into a bear in the middle of combat to try and tank, but without the right gear i'd be too squishy since I miss out on a whole bunch of hitpoints and dodge rating.

    Now in the MoP *ahem* talent shrub there seems to be a skill that allows druids to very briefly become an actual hybrid and be able to tank, feral dps, heal or do ranged dps on the fly like the manual promises.
    I'm not saying it's a bad thing there are specs that focus on a specific role as some people prefer that, but I think that being a hybrid that can perform various roles on the fly (a little less optimal than a "pure" spec) would be interesting to people as well.

    Personally I love to play something between balance and resto which I can do right now, dropping my dps for a few moments to throw in a few quick moderate heals to help support the main healer in a tight spot. that is what makes me love the druid class so much, but I feel that in other areas this same flexibility misses out like going from ranged dps to melee dps should my mana run out or effectively taking over should the tank or healer die.

    I'm sure people would bring up a lot of balance issues or claim this would make things too easy, maybe it could, but it could also make the game and class roles more interesting and varied as you'd have pures and hybrids in certain classes and while the pures would in most cases be preferred, the hybrids could still bring something valuable to the group. It would also require dedication as you'd need to be familiar with aspects of the main specs to be able to perform adequately, which would make for a fun challenge for some people.

    I could also see some classes getting more ranged capabilities such as warriors and rogues which would make thrown weapons a viable option instead of just a stat slot or means to pull.
    These hybrid specs could essentially become a sub class of their class providing new and interesting play styles.
    I think this overal debate is a case of both the players and the devs not "Seeing the forest for the trees" in respect to many players forgoe the spec the "enjoy" for the "best" spec for any given role.

    I am leveling a warrior as protection and have no plans to ever tank. I simply love having the toughest armour availible and getting buffs for thunderclap and using a sheild. Prot is not the best for leveling but I simply enjoy it best. Or Resto Shamn I prefer leveling as Resto because I love the who water theme and love using water spells, I only wish Blizz did not make it so healing exclusive in its abilities. Elemental or Enhancment could have a minor earth centred healing ability so why not give resto a nice lil water blast or tidal wave attack?

    The game needs to get back to placing fun and enjoyment first not this popularity contest of who daamges, tanks or heals best.

    In my opinion. :)
    Well...each of the proposed models has problems.

    Model 1 essentially keeps the specs the same, with differences attributed to playstyle. The problem? Playstyle often isn't that big a factor - players gravitate towards the best spec. But that also means many are forced to play a spec they don't like simply because it is "better".

    Model 2 emphasises one spec for dfifferent situations. The problem being that it can be sub-optimal to switch in various fights and wioll lead to constant spec swapping.

    Model 3 ties the specialisations into utility. The trouble here is when you add so much utility that the class needs to be nerfed in other areas, or so little its seen as a one trick pony.

    Model 4 separates out PvE and PvP roles. You select your spec simply by determining what aspect of the game you want to play. The trouble here is that this is a bad model. The lines here need to be blurred - not emphasised and Blizzard seems to be going this way with its changes to resilience.

    Model 5 simply equates one spec with one role. You don't get two or three specs for the same role. The problem here is that a player backlash is soemwhat likely were this to be implemented...and that certain specs/ overlapping abilities would need to be removed and potentially - others added.

    However - Blizzard are removing talents which are the core of any current class. They are keeping specialisations though. And its been noted in the past that many people...maybe even most...ignore playstyle in favour of optimum performance.

    Makes you wonder how much of a backlash there would be. Undoubtedly soem...but maybe not as hevay as some would expect.

    There are other possibilities - for example - are "specs" such as Arms warrior or Holy Priest really needed for example? What if model 6 was to do away with specialsiations and concentrate on classes - maybe give each discrete roles simply by virtue of their class...a warrior can ONLY be a tank....or implement a role differentiator such as stances into the class....a Paladin could choose to be a tank or healer or dps. Or maybe just tank of healer. Of course, the trouble with that would be the pures.

    Or what about an archetype system where each class simply denotes a style - warrior being a plater wearing melee class but can spec into sveeral treees, each representing one "job" or "class" such as Knight, Soldier, Blademaster, Archer and so on.


    Instead of asking for a feedback on all the ideas that were presented in that blog article, Blizzard developers should ask them selves another question first. If we are not able to balance PVP (being a huge part of this game unlike at beginning of wow) right now, how are we going to balance PVP once we start making classes into hybrids or allow different talents from different trees etc.
    I mean, if you are honest with your self you will realize you never balanced the classes in PVP... ever! If your goal is to get classes to be even more hard to get balanced, then go for it, make `em all hybrids with 100s of possible combinations and this time you will actually have an excuse for not being able to balance anything.

    So far, you had MOSTLY 1 talent tree that shines in PVP for each class, wonder what will happen when people star making some incredible mixes of talent hybrid trees... I see a bunch of urgent instant patches shortly after release.

    Final thought, I dont get it why is it so bad if you tell someone he cannot play mage as arcane in PVP?
    Someone likes arcane and OOOOOOH we HAVE to make it viable for PVP?

    Make more classes if you have to... just make the game balanced and able to be a REAL eSport so everyone enjoys it fully.
    That I believe will get you more satisfied customers and make this game even better.
    Making a chaos out of it with a load of hybrid classes WILL NOT!
    I have always been intrigued by the idea of the utility role.

    [snip - sorry]
    I mean, there would be some coolness about having a spec that revolved around being able to buff players with everything from Heroism to Replenishment to Power Word: Barrier and save people with Battle Resurrections and so on, yet not having any special dps or healing capabilities. A true utility spec if you will.
    And if such a spec was offered to ~6 classes, it could almost be as common a role as that of a healer.

    I have been thinking much along the same lines. IMO, such a spec should be much more than 'I bring buff to raid and whenever I cast this everybody gains mana'. I would like such a spec to have a number of spells he/she would be actively using to increase the performance of other raidmembers. For example a mitigation buff for tanks, on a cooldown, to be used in a tight spot, an ability that gives the target increased crit (can be used on healers or dps), a raidwide mobility boost, mana returns etc.. Probably a complete rotation filled out with utility spells would be a bit too much to ask, and it would, for pretty much any class, mean a big overhaul, but I think it'd be pretty interesting to play a proper support class.
    Ghostcrawler, you said "It’s here only for completeness and because I suspect some of you will bring it up.". Well, I had the idea of of "Arcane Healing". BUT I DO NOT NECESSARILY WANT IT TO HAPPEN :D Just saying if you ever want to destroy the class and make pure DPSers cry, here is how it works:

    Player picks a spell talent: Instead of damaging, all the spells heal the nearby players after they damage the target by a reduced amount. Yes, kind like disc priest.

    Then, the shields of mage can be used on a player.

    Other stuff can occur such a 'beacon' type of spell that gives increased healing on a player.

    I know, I know, I'm genious, but don't do it:D
    I would prefer a mix of Model 1, 2 and 3 where the spec would mainly be a choice of playstyle, managing different secondary resources and cooldowns. Utility would be tied more to the class and specialities via talent/glyphe choices. I think by differenciating more the playstyles of the specs, people would be more attached to specs and not think of them as the number 1 specs vs the others. Then the talents and the glyphs could be used to choice specialities : do I want a cleave ? a bit more burst ?

    Maybe boss encounters could be designed in a way where execution is more important than raw dps :
    - what if the boss didn't berserk after x minutes but after x mistakes ?
    - what if, instead of just bursting the tendons, you had to avoid debuffs (like the hit debuff on putricide for example)
    Dps required in this situation would be more lenient but boss and mobs hp would be tuned assuming a (near) perfect execution. The dps difference on a fight between crappy execution and perfect execution should be more important than the difference between the top spec and the worst spec.

    But I think the main problem is endgame is too much focus on raiding only and raiding is too much focus on boss. So there is not a big enough sample of situations so that lead to specs more favored than others during a tier. I hope the PVE scenarios and the general direction of character progression in MOP will help going away from this and introduce a bit more diversity in endgame.

    I would hate Model 4 or 5. I love being able to switch between specs whenever I want a bit of change.
    My suggestion is not a very simple one: You need not be equal, the encounter compensates.

    At the start of each boss fight buff/nerf boss(es) (and adds) health, AOE DPS and single target DPS based on the spec statistics of the type of specs in the raids.

    I.e. if DPS spec X statistically does 50% less damage than average nerf boss health with (600-550)/600= 8% for 10 mans or (1700-1650)/1700 = 3% for 25 man. (Assuming 2 tanks doing half average damage, 3 / 7 healers doing no damage, 5 / 16 DPS doing 100% damage). A similar example could be done for healing.

    I think it would require much less implementation and tweaking effort than model one. Also I think it is all server side. I.e. no changes to client software. I am assuming that Blizzard will (over time) know which specs fall behind or are OP on each boss fight.

    An interesting extension of this could be making slightly smaller raids possible. (I.e. 9 man raid with one DPS missing nerfs boss (and adds) health by (600-500)/600 = 16%).
    At least you can start the raid with some chance of success even when you are one DPS or healer short.
    I am not advocating the possibility of doing raids with just one or two tanks, and one healer... (Loss of buffs should work against this, but the partial and total adjustment %'s could be set to a maximum to prevent this.)

    My views on the models which started my original post:

    Model 1 (equal all the time) = hard to implement. Unless there is only one specialisation and one class (for DPS, tanking, healing). Decreasing the differences exponentially increases the programming efforts.

    Model 2 and 3 (match/swap specs) = very hard to play. Each spec has its unique playing style, timing, gear, enchants, gemming etc. Most players are average at best, with their preferred spec. Worse with other specs. In most cases you only have good gear for one of your possible specs. It depends too much on the flexibility of the players. And having good gear for multiple specs.

    Model 4 (1 PvP, 1 PvE best spec) and 5 (single DPS spec/class) = possible, but not acceptable (to many players).

    I do think it makes sense for every one to get a PvP specialisation to switch to beside dual specialisation. I now have players that do not want to switch in raids because they do not what to change or give up their PvP specialisation.

    And for model 4: It is possible to slowly bring in tanking (and/or healing) specialisations to currently pure classes. The Shaman tank was supposed to exist in vanilla WoW ;-)
    I generally agree with @Jito.

    I thing that every spec should have "tag" attached to it: healer/tank/"booster"/Pure DPS. This is a no-no to model 1 where everybody are equal. We are not equal in real life and shouldn't be. That said, I'm against the no-numbers-for-utilities idea. I'll use my druid for example. Lets say there are 3 priest specs specs
    1. Shadow - Pure DPS spec - uber DPS, no buffs, no healing, no added value. just awsome DPS.
    2. Resto - healing spec. BUT the priest can place some cool mechanic - lets say 3 orbs - on the floor and for every effective healing the orb will cause AoE dmg or some stacking buff on damage spell as with the shadow orbs. Talented resto priest will be able to make 70% of the Shadow's DPS by placing the orbs correctly and be focused on real healing rather than spamming. did I mention lower mana pools? MUCH lower mana pools. this way healing will have meaning and challenge.
    3. Discipline - utility spec - the opposite of the resto spec - the priest won't have any static raid buffs, but all the party/raid will regenerate 0.1% mana/rage/focus for every 0.01% that the priest does on the boss (just throwing numbers), just as the resto, a talanted player will be able to produce 70% percent of the puer dps specs, while buffing everybody.

    When fight ends, there will be clear devision among the players - pure dps will be on top of the charts while utility classes will be in the lower palces without feeling as 2nd class.

    Every utility should have diferent mechanic and the utility bonus will vary based on the players performance (for example locks aoe-spec will be utilty that will increace the party crit when the lock crits, hunters will increase the AP/SP based on their dmg on the last 5 secs, roges will increase the resistance of the party when they use specific attack and etc.)

    All classes should have single "pure dps" spec that will provide just the huge DPS rush but will not give and added value to the party, and one one (or more) utility spec that will boost the whole party but the DPS output will only 70% of the "pure dps" spec.

    This way players may, on some very specific fights be asked to change their role, but it will have a price - asking utility to dps may increase the overal dps butt will require the players to move/avoid more or require the healers to use more CDs and may even lower the dps in some situations.
    Ick. Horrible and rambly.

    To make the decision of which method to use, you need to forget about the existence of the methods. You need to go back to the start.

    What is the aim? - To increase the fun people can get from the game.

    What is fun? -

    1. Being viable for what I want to do.
    2. Being wanted.
    3. Being what I envisage the class to be.
    4. Having a chance at "my" loot.

    To sensibly be what you envisage your class to be, then you need to have the ability to get your chosen class to learn the things you need them to learn.

    To be wanted, then you need to bring something desirable to an arena/raid team that they aren't likely to already have.

    To be viable, your character must bring sufficient capability to a raid/arena team.

    To meet the first requirement, an idiotic way of looking at it, would be to say "All classes + specs are the same". This is the equivalent of method 1. The capability a rogue brings to a raid, should NOT be the same as the capability of a feral druid, thinking so is moronic, as it causes the second requirement to be violated.

    To meet the third requirement, you cannot rely on forcing people to change to something else. This requirement rules out methods 2 and 3.

    Method 4, is a little more difficult to reject, however, if it truly relies on there being specific PvE and PvP specs, then you cannot meet both the first and third requirements. If you envisage your rogue as being as stealthy as humanly (or orc-ly) possible, but the subtlety spec is PvP, then you aren't going to be thought of as being viable in PvE.

    Model 5 is just ridiculous. It just flat out states that it will ignore the third requirement entirely.

    The real answer (from a PvE standpoint only) is to:

    1. Come up with an increased number of PvE roles. Right now, we're stuck with DPS, Tank, Healer, and thats it. How about "Self-sufficient"? How about "scout"? How about "Battery"? Go and brainstorm a bit and you might come up with more, but here are some starters:

    The role of Self-sufficient, would be to go off on their own (yes, in a raid), and handle minor, but incredibly annoying mobs, who, for example, would buff the real enemy if they got too close (about 120 yards). I'd suggest paladins, shamans and druids for this, as they can reasonably be expected to have to heal themselves, tank and kill those mobs. Point being, you'd need 1 to 5 "self sufficients" on this, depending on raid size.

    "Scout" would be people who can find problems and fix them before they become problems. You're talking hunters (with camouflage), rogues (in stealth) etc.. To make them useful, place traps, put levers in various places to get help/stop enemies, let them get to places where they can kill normally unkillable mobs, etc.

    "Battery" would be people who spend their time continually buffing friendlies, and doing minor dps.
    Imagine going into a fight with the ability to put 30sec shaman weapon buffs on other people, innervate, the ability to reset potion cooldowns on other people, temporary strength/spirit/intellect/haste/crit/hit/dodge/parry buffs, lifegrip. - Who would this be? Mages? Warlock? Warrior? You'd probably want 1 battery that could increase the potency (that means either dps or tanking or healing skill) of 3 to 4 people by about 40% each. (would you rather have 3 people doing ~70k dps (and 1 battery), or 4 dps doing ~50k dps?)

    2. Design raids (in terms of layout, composition and loot tables) that make use of these roles + class information in numbers that makes sense.

    3. Observe the role + class numbers closely. Tweak upcoming raid designs to need numbers more in keeping with what's actually available.

    4. Observe the role, spec and class numbers closely. Whenever there is a disproportionate amount of people playing 1 role, spec and class, seriously consider adding another spec to that class, for the purpose of increasing the variability of the class. If theres an abundance of fire mages, maybe you need a classic "fire mage", and a slightly more warlock-esque fire mage. If theres an abundance of shadow priests, maybe you need another "evil" form of priest, a voodoo priest that summons spiders or something.
    The whole role vs role, class vs class discussion stems from the fact that roles are tied to classes and classes are fixed to character. If that chain was broken, the whole problem of, say, Sublety not offering Rogues as much as a spec a Holy does for a Paladin, would cease to exist.

    With Cataclysm you took efforts to separate Specs from Classes. Certain abilities can only be gotten by picking the spec and then on top of that you are forced to spend 31 points in the tree of this spec, something which other specs not even can do. The MoP approach, to simply take everything you would HAVE to take in that tree and grant it passive by picking the spec is only logical and right in every single way. I am a big fan of the whole "pick your spec and be that!"-design of cataclysm. I just prefer to be the "Protection Warrior" instead of being the "Warrior who spend 51 points in protection, 12 fury, 8 arms and does tank". It creates more immersion for me.

    I ask Blizzard to take this design one stepp further: Remove Classes.

    Instead of picking you Class on Creation, you will just pick you Specc a little later (~lvl3). This will work exacly as it does now at lvl10. But instead of choosing from 3/4 specs, you will choose from all Specs of all classes availble to your race now.

    Instaead of creating a male Orc Warrior, you will simply create a male Orc. At lvl3 you would then pick Fury, Arms or Protection to become that kind of Warrior - but you would also be able to pick from Enhancement, Elemental, Restoration, Sublety......etc. 21 Specs, as there are 7 classes currently available to Orcs.

    All restrictions that apply now would still apply. As you pick a warrior-specc, you would only be able to pick from would not be able to cast Shaman-Spells or are the same Warrior you are now...but you would be able to respec and CHOOSE from all specs.

    This would eliminate all the problems concerning roles. If two Specs become to alike to each other...just remove one and modify the other! Noone will loose anything. You would like to add a monk class but only have great ideas for melee and tanking while healing looks like a shaman/paladin ripp-off? No Problem! Because you can just add the two really great, new trees - no thrid (or fourth) is required.

    In fact, the changes to the current game would be really small. Right now, I play Warrior, Priest and Hunter. If i am logged in as a Hunter but my raid needs a tank...well...i log toons. After my suggestion i would just respec to Protection Warrior.
    Doing that, everything that made me a Hunter goes "poof". I have a rage bar now instead of focus, no Pet, my equipped Bow becomes red just like the offhand-weapon of a fury warrior that swaps to prot/arms does now. The agi-mail i wear does nothing for me...i change to str-plate now. I would just be the warrior my twink is now, but:
    a) I dont have to log
    b) If you ever choose to remove one of the three Hunter specs....well...i dont care, because there are still two to pick from and those will become much more distinct if the third is removed!

    This would not only quench the whole "role discussion" WoW has suffered ever since Hybrids became Hybrids in will give you, Blizzard, a much, much easier time to add and modify Specs in the Future...or change what kind of gear a Spec uses. Something almost impossible in the current class-System.

    You could even add in some cool flavor features that have always been requested...for example: A female Nightelf with a Hunter Specc and Dual-Spec to Priest could get a class label "Moon Priestess"...likewise a Hunter/Warrior could be a "Sentinel".

    Again: Almost nothing compared to the current role-abilities/gearing etc. would change. But every Character would have so much more Specs to choose from and since every race now has at least ONE Spec for every of the four roles available....complaints about spec/role balance would cease to exist.

    Flavor added to classes now (Death-Knights for the most part) would be added to the Character as soon a one of his two specs is a DK spec...and removed if he chooses to ever dismiss this spec.

    I wished for a system like that since i started playing almost 8 years ago...but with the deep talent trees and shared class abilities above all specs (not even really having a distincted "spec" until 4.0) it would have been a FAR way to go. Too far. In the MoP sceme of specs however, it is just a little step further!

    I for one urge you to take that step!
    Hello everyone.

    I am a long term player and I saw many changes. After I read today the Dev Watercooler's post I decided to join the topic.

    On the question "But Which is the Best Model?" I can answer: let all specs at the same level. None should be more or less powerfull in temrs of damage or healing but only as type. Combat, subtlety and assasination should give different combat expirience not because are stronger or less but because provide different style of gameplay. The challenge then will be how we use those skills in PvP and PvE and the better guy is better becasue of his skills, not becasue of his gameplay spec desition. Infact I play Survival Hutner not becasue I like it more than Marskmanship but because I think its more powerfull in PvE.
    I'd like too see a new way to expirience my spec. A new design that increase the prefered spec should be introduced for everyone so we can follow the path that will boost the favorite spec. Give us 3 unique paths for every class (4 for druid) that will have a leveling story line. Each path will let us discover his unicity. Completing it will maximize players knowledge and increase his power. However the ability to learn this knowledge will cost something difficult to be earned so players will need to empty their cups and work hard until they learn the benefits of the next choice if they decide to change the old one. This can be introduced via area quests and PvE zones. Once the player expirienced all different ways of his class he will be able to start the path of supremacy that will let him change without the need to request.
    The few real hardcore guilds should be able to get into Brutal Mode letting hardore for less good and normal for those hat wonna simply discover the PvE world without any hard resistance. Brutal mode should finally pay off with legendary items for real gamers.
    Unique class items should be discovered through Archeology so players wont need to transform visually all their gear. Constant developenet of unique stuff should continue to be discovered underground and in the water of risk zones.

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