Been a while. Let's jump right in!

Recently, the Cataclysm talents have been released, critiqued, and slated for complete overhaul, as they felt it was a bad idea to just tack on a few extra talents to the current trees. Their new talent tree model will be 41 points total at 85. 1 point every two levels. When you place your first point, you are locked into placing points only in that tree until you have reached the end 31 point talent, after which you can put your remaining ten points in the other two trees. Each tree gets its own passive and signature abilities to make that tree feel like it is that spec (as it "feels" at 80 now) right off the bat at level 10. Ret Paladins get Divine Storm immediately. Sub Rogues get Shadowstep immediately. I'm not too big a fan of removing choices from the game (the choice to spec 30/31/10 for example), but the choice that's being removed here is one that no one even remotely successful ever makes. So in the "let everyone, including the facerolling 400dps in heroics retards, be successful" model that Blizzard is trying to adapt, this is a good choice.

The true subject of this post is on how something like Talents would work in an open system like the one I've been discussing. Players choose what spells and abilities they learn by questing, learning from instructors, and can even learn them by watching other players or NPCs. Classes are merely an abstraction for the purpose of providing a unified feel for how a character plays, and can be switched freely at any time to suit the situation needed.

In this kind of game, Talents wouldn't exactly work too well. So why have them? Well, I think it's a good idea for every player character to be entirely unique. Even if players go and learn the same spells and abilities, train their spells and classes up to the same levels, or even wearing the same gear, they need some way to differentiate from each other. I feel like talents would be the way to do this. However, under a system with no levels or classes, talents that are attached to the character would need to be the exact opposite of the Blizzard design: Talents which are entirely bland and boring to appeal to as many different classes as possible. Want to crit more often? Put points in the +crit talent. Want to be able to fire free shots when a proc goes up? The talent for that is pretty specific for a certain class and would require major bloat in the tree to add talents for all the possible classes.

So I thought.

Why not have the spells automatically talent themselves?

I'd had an idea that all characters would have a set of "stances". Each stance would represent what a character was trying to do. One stance would be the Accuracy Stance which improves your aim with abilities. One would be the Speed Stance which would reduce casting times, swing speed, etc. One would be the Power Stance which would cause you to hit harder or put more oomph into spells. (All of these are just examples, by the way. There could be other stances such as Range, or Special, or whatever.)

Originally, every ability would have its experience bar, that as players used it would grow and make the abilities more powerful. Instead, each ability would have several balanced stats. Let's say 50 Accuracy, 50 Speed, and 50 Power. When a player gains experience after a battle, they also gain some for whatever stance they were in when they used the ability. As each of the stats goes up, it affects the others. For example, Accuracy improving might reduce speed. Speed improving might reduce power. And so on. At different levels of each stats, the abilities may change. Improving the speed stat on an arrow shot might give it armor penetrating abilities. Improving the Power stat might give it multishot. Improving Accuracy might give it homing capabilities.

The idea is something similar to the original Glyph system WoW originally planned to implement where there would be multiple glyphs for each spell, each of which changed the spell in some way such as Frostbolt having greater range or doing shadow damage in addition or freezing enemies (a system which was nixed, likely for complexity reasons). The only difference is that instead of needing an item to change the spell, you just change it by playing your character.

That spell is now "talented". Your character is now more skilled with that particular spell in a specific way. A gunman who tries to be more accurate with a rifle becomes more a more talented sniper. A monk who tries to be faster becomes more talented at dodging incoming attacks.

The idea needs a LOT of polishing and development, but I think it's a good start.

Posted by Glyph, the Architect | at 7/08/2010 09:59:00 PM


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