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The Daily Blues

Each day, takes you through all the blue posts and other Blizzard news from around the internet. From the latest posts from Ghostcrawler (lead systems designer) to the lowdown on StarCraft 2 and Diablo 3, we'll keep you informed.

In which the blue arrows really should have been red.

Table of contents


Ghostcrawler -- Talent issues

Despite the nearly 350 posts, everyone of them agreed, about arrows in the talent trees needing to be more intelligent, they're back and with more of a vengeance along their seemingly senseless paths then ever before.

I'm going to post here in the dps forums because most of the changes need to happen there. But 1st, what do I mean by intelligent arrows and senseless?

Intelligent arrows: An arrow placed in the talent tree that connects an ability or talent to another ability or talent in which it is in some way associated with beyond sharing the spec school; nearly always in a flexible or globally usable way.

Sensible arrows: A middle ground between these two. As in it make sense even if it isn't associated.

Senseless arrows: Arrows placed in a talent tree to force players along a predetermined path and force them to acquire abilities or talents that are largely situational in order to reach their core mechanics. Nearly always these talents are unwanted due to their situational nature or bloat the tree preventing the player from acquiring maximum points for sub-specing; and are placed like so to force players to get the abilities whether or not they would find any use for them.

Now, an example for each, I'll choose a different class for each.

Intelligent arrows: Bestial Wrath > The Beast Within.
This makes sense because without Bestial Wrath there would be no effect to apply to you.

Sensible arrows: Subtlety Rouge: Blood Splatter > Sanguinary Vein
This is reasonable, they both deal in bleeds and share similarities due to that.

Senseless arrows: Dragon's Breath > Living Bomb
Completely senseless. Aside from the fact these abilities both do fire damage they have absolutely nothing in common.

Now the senseless arrow that caught my attention and filled me with indignation when I first saw it was the Hungering Cold > Howling Blast arrow. However, the Wyvern Sting > black Arrow, Blast Wave > Combustion and Dragon's Breath > Living Bomb arrows are equally horrible. However these are just a few.

All these do are railroad players into situational abilities they may never need or want. If a player wants it, let them get it, why must we be forced into things of this nature. Why would any hardcore raider ever want Hungering Cold? It would last ½ a sec in a 25 man raid, it fails even as an OH CRAP!! button. Fervor will just get macro'd in as a trinket unless its on the GCD which would make it almost useless.

Too, too many talents are set up like this, requiring super situational or pvp talents in order to achieve viable pve functionality. Flexibility should be key, that's what was announced after all. We lost ½ of our talent points to promote choice and fun and yet the exact opposite is happening here with talent arrows like these. This is not the way to prevent cookie-cutter builds. Instead it has the opposite effect because we have fewer points to spend as we'd like. Instead to get what we want we have to get what we don't which leaves fewer points left at the end.

EDIT: I'm not saying they arn't or couldn't possibly be useful. What i'm saying is every player is different, some will find it useful some wont, the option should be ours.

This is the kind of feedback I categorize as thinking like a player not like a designer. As a player, removing prereqs in talent trees removes restrictions. Rather than having to make a hard choice, you can take what you want. Under that logic, it makes sense to you for the developer to remove the prereqs. But you could make a similar argument about the talent tree tiers as a whole. If I didn't have to spend those 5 talent points in tier 2, then I could get that extra talent point somewhere else! Wouldn't that give me as a player more freedom, and doesn't more freedom always lead to a better game?



Neither "Thinking like a player," nor "Thinking like a designer" is a meaningful criticism. The tone is disparaging. It's really just name calling. Both types of thinking are necessary, and neither is superior.

It wasn't meant as criticism. I also disagree that neither is superior. Designing as a player typically means trying to change the game's design in ways that make your character more powerful. "Hmm. I have to get talent X in order to get talent Y. But I don't want to get talent X, because then I couldn't get these other talents I want. Therefore, Blizzard should change the talent tree so I can get Y without X." I would say something like 95% of the posts in the role forums are from players wishing their character was more powerful, or other players arguing against those sentiments. I wasn't saying anything about whether designers or players are better people. Just consider your forum suggestions as to whether they would benefit the entire game or if you're really just making them to better your dude.

Players wanting to remove the prereqs is almost always because they want the bottom thing but don't want to also have to get the top thing. In essence, the talent tree design is cramping their style and not letting them just cherry pick whatever talents they want. But that isn't the intent of talent trees. The intent is that you make some choices, and sometimes that means having to spend extra points to get a talent you really want.



I think the problem that GC is alluding to is that without the pre-reqs a player will min-max freely which will may lead to combinations of talents that create give a player unbalanced levels of power or effectiveness.

One of the OP's original complaints was that the pre-reqs prevented him from getting all the good stuff in his primary tree AND everything he wanted in his subspec tree. I suspect that from the designers point of view that's a feature, not a bug. The pre-req exists specifically to force players to choose between getting their tree-defining ability and all the bread and butter talents from their main tree or sub tree but not both.

Given that the whole thrust of paring down the trees was to make them more interesting and force more hard choices on the players makes me think every spec is eventually going to be in a place where we want 1-5 more talents points to get those last few abilities but are forced to do without.


You can take the cynical point of view that every time a player complains about a talent prereq then the prereq is actually accomplishing something. If they don't complain about it, it's probably because it isn't really affecting their decision -- perhaps they would have gotten both talents anyway.

Yes, sometimes talent A is needed for B (because B affects A), but to be honest, we face the same issue when we want to talent an ability that you get at higher level, and what we do in that case is just bundle the talent with something else. It isn't strictly necessary to link the two with a prereq arrow in those cases.

Some of you are sounding defensive, but it wasn't my intention to insult anyone here. I was just trying to challenge you to think about *why* those arrows are there. They aren't random or arbitrary. If they are forcing you to think about things differently, then they are doing their jobs.



Alot of you seem to be missing the point GC was making.

Thinking like a player means trying to maximize your potential within the game system.
Thinking like a developer means trying to design the system to make the game fun and balanced when players .... think like players.

Players want to be as powerful as they can and there's nothing wrong with that. If players can, say, select a bunch of talents to be overpowered that's a problem with the developers and how they designed the system.

Asking for more freedom, more power, or, in this case, less utility in exchange for more power is thinking like a player because it's all about you being better.

Developers need to think about the game as a whole. About designing the talent trees to make players make choices and not just grab everything they want.

It's about imposing structure on your choices to balance the game. It's not just about you and what you want to do, that's what thinking like a developer means.

As GC said in his example, an arrow in a talent tree that forces you to take Talent #1 to get to Talent #2 you really want is no different then being forced to spend 5 points in Tier 1 even though you'd rather skip all them and put 10 points in Tier 2. You don't want to, but that's the way the system is designed so it's balanced.

Yes. Exactly.



Thinking like a player is a perfectly valid criticism of your feedback because it's similar to a D&D player complaining about how he can't reduce his WIS and CHA and INT and DEX to 1 and dump all the other points into STR for his Warrior.

Yes. "I should have the choice to reduce my Wisdom to 1, because that lets me improve my Strength. Having some dumb rule get in the way is restricting my flexibility and making the game less fun for me. I would have more fun if I had more freedom (and ultimately the freedom to make myself more powerful)."



Does spending points on talents I don't want or use that prevents me getting other talents I do want make a better game?

We think so.

Let's take your argument to the next level. What if there is nothing in the first tier that appeals to me? Why can I just skip over tier 1 and spend points in tier 2 directly? For that matter, why do I have to spend down a talent tree at all. If I would use both Earthquake and Feral Spirit, shouldn't I be able to get both of those? Is it a better game that I am denied that option?

I'm not trying to be hyperbolic here. A lot of the game is about making choices. If the choice is hard, that means both options are compelling. If the choice is easy then the game has less depth because instead of picking left vs. right you are picking right vs. wrong.



The OP is saying "make followups to logical prerequisites," not "eliminate all talent prerequisites".

I understood that. I'm saying those categories of prereqs don't do anything, except perhaps add a little visual interest to the trees by making them look distinct from each other. If you want A and you want B that connects to it, then the arrow didn't do anything. That's what I meant about the designer vs. player thing. Imagine prereqs that just happened to connect together every single talent you were going to get anyway. How elegant! But are the arrows doing anything at that point?

Ghostcrawler -- Clearing up some of the latest misinformation
To clear up a lot of misinformation...

Soul Link is a trainable ability.
Hunters still have a minimum range.
Demonic Rebirth has a significant cooldown.
Warlocks still have a cast time to summon demons, but can dismiss them instantly.
Hunters can summon pets instantly, but have a cast time to dismiss them. They cannot switch pets in combat.
Call Stabled Pet has been removed since hunters can call any of their 5 active pets.

Ghostcrawler -- Polymorph and haste

Actually it makes perfect sense. It's right in line with Blizz's philosophy of making dispels more expensive and increasing HP to allow for people to be able to react to situations. Polymorph being so quick as to be almost uninterruptable is fine in Live but doesn't fit into the new model.

GC actually did state that CC's may need to get nerfed since they may become too powerful now that it's harder to dispel them. I see this as a step in the right direction. It will now be risky to cast a CC just like it will be risky to dispel one.

Pretty much. The crowd control spells were never designed around the existence of haste. Asking anyone to interrupt a 1.1 second Polymorph isn't reasonable. Health pools are going to be a lot larger, so control is going to play a larger role than burst compared to the live environment. On the other hand, dispels are more expensive in Cataclysm and you can waste a dispel now if there is nothing there to dispel.

Ghostcrawler -- Rhumba (BM Hunter Talent)

So, why delete Rhumba?

We were sad to see this talent go, because we thought it was cool too. However, BM just had too many damage-oriented talents, which was preventing those hunters from being able to pick up the utility or fun talents, which in turn violated a major goal of the talent tree revamps.


Valnoth -- Sounds like a bug

In one of the previous patches devs decided to raise monster's hp and damage, presumably to make quests more challenging. At the same time, they added those huge annoying blue arrows that point right at the quest objectives - presumably to makes quests less challenging. Does this make sense?

We now end up spending much more time healing and bandaging (sitting in place) and much less time exploring the world (actually playing the game). More hp and damage to mobs does not make combat more challenging, just much more chancy - because now we get punished with a corpse run for having a lag spike or for not noticing a stray pat. While at the same time this hand-holding with quest objectives really takes away from the whatever sense of immersion there was, making the entire questing experience just a string of annoying downtime after every few fights.

EDIT: The constructive part.
So maybe the way things were is not really that bad? People in general very much liked questing in WotLK, in fact personally I think it was the best part about this expansion. Yes, maybe some tweaking is needed on monsters to make them more interesting - like some very strong AOE spells to avoid or some specific adds to control. I really think these changes try to fix something that wasn't broken.

Blue arrows? Sounds like a bug. We'll check it out.

Valnoth -- Goblin and Worgen death knight starting zone

I finished all starter zone quests - or at least I THOUGHT so - but there seems to be nowhere to progress to - I ventured to eastern plaguelands (which is where i recall having to go pre-cataclysm) - but there were no NPCs, no mobs. Just empty plaguelands.
Did I miss a quest line to get out?

If this has been addressed elsewhere in the forums, I apologize - i did search prior to posting. Please provide a link if there is information out there.


Both goblin and worgen will be unable to finish the DK starting zone until we get back to it and add the goblin/worgen "Special Surprise" quests. Until then you'll be stuck.


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