WoW – Dual Specs and originality? /disbelief

Taking a break from the amount of mmo design theory I’m been pushing through The Aphelion lately, I thought this the perfect chance to talk about Blizzards new dual spec system. Lets first overview what we know…

  • It’ll cost 1000g
  • You must be level 40
  • It’ll change your hotbars, gear, glyphs and of course talents
  • Must be out of combat, can’t be in arenas or battle grounds

So what is so interesting about Dual specs that I’d actually bring it up in general mmo design blog? 

Think about the past few months of WoW for a moment. We have seen more technical advances, bolder power plays and, for the first time, actual original ideas out Blizzard then we ever did the previous 4 years combined!

Over the years I’ve been critical of Blizzard for sticking to time tested ideas to make their money. I’ve always felt they took without contributing anything back to the mmo community aside from the “you MUST release polished content” mantra. While one shouldn’t forget that fact… really has anyone other than LotRO really payed heed?

In the spam of 4 months though they’ve been pushing ahead with interesting and new design ideas that I honestly believe will be industry standards in the years to come.

  • Phasing – great technology used in story telling, eventually could we see out door raids using it? The possibilities are endless.
  • Modification of abilities – inscription, for everything it lacks as a true profession, is original and fixes many balancing issue by allowing the gamer to play developer.
  • Scalable boss difficulty – While this only works because of the Achievement system (since it effectively defeats the glory of conquering a particular boss) it does allow a larger audience to see content, gear up quicker and generally enjoy more success than otherwise possible. It provides a definite ladder for guilds to climb (you’ve beaten Sarth? now beat him with an additional drake up.) while not penalizing top tier guilds. As an aside, expect Uldar to fix many of the “easy content” issues.
  • Dual Specs – Yes, other games including WoW have allowed you to change your spec on a whim (for a cost) but never like this. Allowing for the change mid raid, mid leveling, or mid dungeon crawl opens so many possibilities for content balance , it is hard to put it in perspective. Again much like inscription, Blizzard is allowing the gamers to play developer in deciding how best to balance their raid composition around a boss encounter. “Lets try again but with 3 tanks instead of 1… should we have a healer switch or dps?”

My question though is where was this creativity the past 4 years?

Rep grinds (originally EQ), talents (originally AAs from EQ), battle ground (DAoC), heroic dungeons (EQ2), arena (GW), flying mounts (really Vanguard beta), achievement system (LotRO deed system), armory (SOEs player station from EQ2/Vanguard) ect….

This leaves jewel crafting (the modification of the stats on one’s gear) as the only semi original idea to come out of the Blizzard offices. Even then what is Jewel crafting but a localized version of enchanting equipment which has been around in mmorpgs forever.

No, this has been a surprisingly interesting 4 months since Wrath’s release and with some of the rumored changes for later this year, WoW may actually start to build a case as being billed as an original mmorpg, and not just the largest.



3 Responses to “WoW – Dual Specs and originality? /disbelief”

  1. Spriggan Says:

    I don’t want to admit it but you have a point.

  2. I have to wonder… Did the idea of “dual specs” come from the player, or from Blizzard? Just a thought.

  3. Good call Miss Elf. I think it was during the naxx (40man) era that the phrase really took off on the forums so yes, technically dual specs is not a truly original product of Blizzard.

    All the same, I don’t think the old fashion Blizzard, before this economic down turn, would of bet their game on an unproven, possibly game changing function; for that I give them credit. ^^


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