Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Ghostcrawler joins the crusade against efficiency

Larísa and Gronthe are discussing recent remarks of Ghostcrawler on the World of Warcraft forums, in which he speaks out against efficiency:
"Posts like this make me very sad. You're portraying yourself to be at the mercy of uninformed yet tyrannical raid leaders who are quick to judge your performance based on perceived "tells." I know you need some basis to evaluate potential recruits or even pug members. But I do wish there was some way to turn around this virtual phobia of inefficiency -- this terror of being WRONG -- that we have managed to instill in our player base. I honestly think it's one of the greatest challenges facing the game.
the WoW community has evolved in a direction where being badly informed is worse than being a bad player. We're all very quick to judge each other based on litmus tests, such as gear scores, achievements, or proper talent builds, that likely don't measure performance half as well as we want them to.
How many attempts can you name in your lifetime as a WoW player where your doing 1% more dps would have made the difference between success and failure? And how many of those attempts could you have gotten 10% more dps if you had just totally nailed your rotations etc. on those fights instead of worrying about a theoretical 1% dps gain from a different talent?"
Or as Larísa summarizes it: "If you’re just following the EJ recommendation to 99 percent and not to 100 percent you’re per definition perceived as a moron and a slacker, if not by everyone, at least by most other players." I don't know if anyone ever calculated how many different talent builds there are for one class and role; it must be thousands, but if you don't have exactly the cookie cutter flavor of the month one, you're not getting a raid invite.

From Ghostcrawler's "virtual phobia of inefficiency ... that we have managed to instill in our player base" follows a discussion of whether the situation is Blizzard's fault or the fault of the players. I think that question answers itself easily if you zoom out a bit, look at other games, and ask yourself obvious questions like "why is there no perfect strategy for Rock, Paper, Scissors?".

Back when I was still playing Magic the Gathering and judged tournaments, people were discussing two games: The game of Magic the Gathering, and the so-called "meta-game". The meta-game discussion went like this: "Knowing that deck X is currently so popular, should I bring deck Y (which crushes X) to the tournament, or should I rather bring deck Z, which crushes deck Y and does well enough against X?" At no moment in the long history of Magic the Gathering was there ever an unbeatable deck.

The problem World of Warcraft has, and specifically for dps classes, is that there *is* that one perfect talent build and one perfect spell rotation which works for everything. It is just a matter of number crunching, and given a large enough player base that number crunching is already finished before a new patch or expansion leaves the beta. And given that there is only one best build, and that one build is easy enough to find on the internet, the judgement that anyone not using that one build is a "moron & slacker" is quickly done. Whether some other talent is more fun doesn't matter once it has been proven that taking this other talent would be 0.38% less efficient than the standard cookie cutter build. In that respect World of Warcraft is in the worst possible configuration, being "hard to learn, easy to master". Somebody who *gasp* actually tries out different talent builds to see which one works best for him will take a long time to learn, while any idiot can find the perfect build in less than 5 minutes on Google.

The only way out is to change the game in a way that the same talent build and same spell rotation is *not* optimal in every situation. What if any given raid boss over time was developing a resistance against the abilities most often used against him, while simultaneously developing a weakness against the abilities used the least? What if damage wouldn't be possible to condense to a single universal "damage per second" number, but would depend on various circumstances, like random elemental damage types and resistances? What if players actually had choices to make, for which there was no single best solution? What if exotic talents could be extremely powerful in the right situation?

I don't think World of Warcraft will ever get there, but maybe some future MMORPG will. But I can answer the question why everybody is playing that one best cookie cutter build: Because it exists! And that isn't the player's fault.
As someone who raided on the high-end, 11/12 ICC10 HM and 8/12 ICC25 HM, let me give some perspectives on this matter.

I disagree with the sentiment that Raid Leaders demand absolutely min-max down to the last 1%. Yes, there are some mandatory talents, but frequently, the playstyle and stats choices are quite flexible. If anyone likes me to expand on this, I can.

I've never been refused a raid because my choices are not considered "optimal". However, if you're applying for a top-200 guild, then I believe that every ounce of performance needs to be gained and this includes that extra 1%.

In short, I believe the poster frequent Elitist Jerks a lot and is a keen theory-crafter. But I dispute that this occurs for the vast majority of raids.
Gee, what a surprise. They make content that requires split-second reaction times (on often 300+ms pings) and push players to the limit, and shock of shocks, people want to optimize as much as possible to simplify things. Especially in a game focused around... a few numbers, that you can easily optimize in a spreadsheet or a simulator.

But there seems to be a horrible backslide in terms of content in Cataclysm that surprises me, to the point I think there's two different mindsets warring at Blizzard. Where you have the majority of the changes that make things more efficient and easier to understand; trimming down the talent trees, changing the questing flow of the old world, clarifying the UI, and so on.

And... then you have the paradoxical changes to make things harder and more exclusionary. Enemies do four times as much damage as before; heroic dungeons are tuned to be deadly wipefests; they've even removed the the teleporters in Shattrath and Dalaran so people would have to slowly fly around the old world.

I really wish I knew what the hell Blizzard was doing, but sometimes it seems like even they don't either.
I agree with Azzur, and this is really the problem.

People who genuinely know the game understand where there's some leeway. And will happily discuss it, suggest changes but settle down quietly to play as long as the person is basically good enough. (Note: Good enough.) If you want to be in a top 100 guild then yes you'd better be optimal. If not then be good enough, attend regularly and pay attention and every raid leader on the planet will love you and beg you to join them.

PUGs are a different matter -- people have seconds to decide if they want to take you. I actually suspect PUG leaders will quickly check gearscore and scan talents for any obvious issues rather than obsessing about that last talent point, but there may be an addon that gives a yes/no decision based on talents.

But basically a lot of people are obsessing about perfect talent selection when no one really cares that much, it's dwarfed in many cases by how well they actually play, and players in regular raids have a lot more leeway.

I think the answer would be either tone down the difficulty of PUG raids (make some big open world PUGgable raids for people instead), stop making people's talent and gear choices easily viewable by others (then they'd have to judge you by performance), and put more content into the game for non raiders.
No, there is not a perfect talent build and perfect spell rotation that works for everything. Any build has its ideal rotation, but no build is ideal in every situation and not every situation allows an ideal rotation.

EJ builds in WotLK have been based on Patchwerk/target dummies, yet the majority of fights in Northrend have required one to move, stop casting, change targets, etc.. 1% peak single-target dps is not worth the 5% that build loses a third of the time due to bossfight gimmicks.
They're conducting a beta.

I've also moved to more "hardcore" raiding in the last few months with only heroic LK 10/25 and heroic Halion 25 left to complete. I agree that particularly at the high end, the sort of picture Ghostcrawler paints in the selected quotes, and Tobold in this post, is inaccurate.

The talent trees are designed around a limited number of "supported" specs, groups of core talents that function synergistically and define a certain playstyle. How big that core is for any given spec varies but it is in no case that I know uniquely defined as such. There is always some scope for personal preference, circumstance, or the necessities of particular fights. For example, I might as a Warlock spec into +hit range talents in order to hit targets at greater distance on fights like Heroic LK. Doing so requires sacrificing a talent that reduces the amount of threat I generate making certain parts of the same fight potentially dangerous. Other classes might change talents with different levels of gear and in many cases the “optimal” build is just a theoretical curiosity – any one of four or five possibilities will do just fine.

As focused as a lot of high end raiders are on optimizing their performance, they are far less likely in my experience to cast aspersions on others for experimenting with talents, glyphs, etc. The people Ghostcrawler is most singling out are somewhat lower on the raiding and maturity food chain. Those individuals put far too much stock in numbers they have no context for as a way of demonstrating some small measure of dominance over others. Everyone else doesn’t care, knows enough not to, or lets this vocal minority get to them. I think Cataclysm will help to assuage these problems if only by encouraging and supporting guilds more in which players can find likeminded companions for their adventures.
Azzur is right in my experience. The people who focus on best specs and call those who don't conform idiots are just the "sky is falling" trolls on the official forums, those who put together bad PUGs and the very very elite who the vast majority of players will never see.

We are 11/12 heroic ICC10 and we have a frost mage sometimes, we have a beastmaster hunter, I am constantly asking my arcane mages to give up dps talents to take utility talents like slow. We have a ret paladin who swaps specs on the fly between fights (depending on whether we need aura mastery for that fight or not). It's a flexible and fluid process of teamwork.

The raiding game of mindlessly learning a dance from internet videos and then mindlessly doing your dps rotation that Tobold and Nils portray is unfortunately not a raiding game I recognise. My raid team need to think on the fly, to improvise and to optimise during the fight, and to cast the right spell for the situation when they have the chance. I do not want robots, since robots will not beat Putricide heroic or LK (normal or heroic) and I pick gamers over robots every time.
Ghostcrawler's and your crusade will fail. You properly describe the gamed without perfect build. However expecting THINKING from players is blasphemy. If they are too lazy/dumb to google, what will happen to them if they would actually have to THINK!
I really don't think it's a game design problem. It's a player perception problem, though Ghostcrawler is right that Blizzard should think about ways to change player perceptions.

However, as a practical matter, GC's 110% right that the difference between the amount of DPS one loses because of sloppy play outweighs the DPS one loses from mildly non-perfect speccing is absolutely massively greater in the first case.

Raid leaders that dump on people for having non-perfect specs aren't doing so because they think the 1% loss is important. They're doing so because they are lazy and insecure. They don't have a lot of time to make judgments about which players to bring, so they use shorthands that are often pretty sloppy.
So basically Tobold, you want a game that forces people to respec every week ?
That would be annoying...
"The problem World of Warcraft has, and specifically for dps classes, is that there *is* that one perfect talent build and one perfect spell rotation which works for everything."

Tobold, sometimes you can be very insightful about WoW but if you really think the above is true you must play a very different WoW from me. I've been playing WoW for over 5 years and this has never been true. Any class, any spec, any rotation, depend on several external factors which make any attempt to find a "perfect" spec/rotation totally useless.
Once upon a time there was no way to view another players' talents at all. Why do you think that was altered?
I can understand that there are some cases that might look like you describe Tobold, but I think they only apply to pugs and a minority of raids. Never since I've started raiding have I been declined a raid spot based on some minor difference between my build an ej one. Especially since most of the builds I looked at had some points to spare that could be put into different talents depending on need - as a shadow priest I must decide myself if I need less threat, cheaper spells or a tiny bit more dps - there's no right answer to that, since it depends a lot on things like the current tank etc.

You described different builds for different fights and that's a lot how things have been in my guild, which is not a hardcore one by far, yet people have been reglyphing for specific fights, priest healers switch from holy to disc depending on boss.

In my opinion if your guild assigns raid spots based on how well you follow EJ and to on your performance, then you need to change your guild. Even on my server - EU Saurfang - one of the least progressed in whole WoW it's not that hard to find a good guild.
I doesn't matter for raid success if someone is at 95% or 80% effectiveness. It does matter that people manage to hover at 30% or 40% of what their gear allows them to do. 1.2k DPS with 5k GS - we've all seen it, haven't we?

Here's an idea. Give people a reference to compare themselves to (e.g. Potential single target DPS: 7453; HPS/TPS) and also implement a display of current effectiveness. If there is a bar (e.g. epeen) trust people to try to make it bigger. Oh, make sure their average is visible to others. =]
All the measurements provided by GS-lookalikes, how complex they may be, can and will be wrong. Some classes do well on some fights, some other on other fights. Some classes deal well with specific assignments (dispel/interrupts) for other classes it's a mess.
Why do you think that high-end guilds take people for a test period, which can be LONG?

BTW good players know that optimization is very much dependent on what you want to obtain, which can be very different from one fight to the other, and thus not be in the results of an ideal simulation. It's the ones which parrot EJ without having understood what they read which will slam you for the "wrong" spec.
Helistar, you are right - effectiveness is influenced by the situation. That isn't license for a 0/0/71 spec, having bad glyphs, bad gems or gear for the wrong spec though. Or being AFK. Or not selecting the target. Or not being effective after death to avoidable damage.
Groups will always choose the players that they think will perform the best.

Let's face it - nothing is easier than using the EJ spec/glyphs/rotation.

You could change the 'rules' of being optimal and the people that failed the Google test would fail these new rules too...

First, Blizzard introduced a quick and easy way of obtaining maximum information about players (ingame or via armory). Then, players made use of that quick and easy way. And in the end, Blizzard wonders why the players do that.

I still remember the days when in a raid, there was no quick and easy way of knowing whether a priest was specced holy or whether a druid hat that then coveted ultimate talent, the only way of regaining mana fast, innervate.

So, advice to the creeping spirit: hide the information, and people will not bother using it anymore.

That would mean *gasp* no armory, no talent and achievement inspection.

Would the problem be solved? To an extent, yes: although the external datamining sites will continue to exist, they won't offer as much info as fast.

Would Blizzard ever do it? I don't think so. Achievements have been a success story, and the LFD/R has made organising groups easier.

Would I like the game more? Yes! I don't like the influence of the achievement system on the player base. And I also don't like the armory and how it tells many things I don't want it to tell. Lastly, I am very sorry that the game doesn't require much communication anymore. I'd prefer a different LFD/LFR. But that's another story.

But it's good to see a Blizzard representative openly worry and admit mistakes. Looks like he cares.
If guilds on a specific server cannot work amongst and between themselves, then no amount of efficiency tweaking will ever overcome the problems that Blizzard introduced with things like the Dungeon Finder tool.

I can only speak to my server, but I remember a time when players gained a reputation for playing their classes well and it got them constant invites from people who *GASP* were often on their friends list.

I dont care if it sounds elitist or not, but before the Dungeon Finder tool was implemented, players who consistantly caused wipes, couldnt/wouldnt use the CC and utility aspects of their abilities with a basic understanding, just wouldnt get invited once their reputation became known.

This isnt about efficiency moreso than it is about the old insanity addage of "Doing the same thing over and over, yet expecting different results".

Just give me the ability to populate my friends list with players of my choosing, give me the ability to develope relationships with people who "I" deem to be good players from other guilds and I'll be as efficient as I need to be.
Actually, I think the fact that most specs are 99-ish% effective and there is that one spec build for absolute effectiveness is very deliberate on Blizzard's part. It could easily be designed out, albeit with the unwanted side effect of increased homogenization of builds.

At some point, right at the cutting edge of raiding (or PvP), everyone has the same spec and the same gear, the same enchants and the same glyphs. And this is the area where players can only better their numbers with skill, and comparisons between players can truly indicate skill as all other variables are equal. There is a class of player this caters to.

For most of us, that extra 0.98% efficiency won't ever be noticed with the wide deviation in gear and skill.
@Captn: Wrong talents/glyphs/equip? I'd be careful.... I tanked Sindra10HM with a glyph of Moonfire (group overstuffed, optimization irrelevant), DPSed with Corroded Skeleton Key (the problem was not dps, it was survival), and other countless idiotic things (can you imagine a druid cat recounted at 40k healed with lifebloom? :) It's VERY difficult to evaluate an answer without knowing the question, weird questions have weird answers at times.....

@Kyressar: what you say won't indeed happen with the current Achievement-oriented thing. Still, would it really solve the problem? People look for a quick and easy solution to the "is he good enough?" problem, take one route away and another will appear... with no guarantee of being better...
As for the game not requiring communication, you'll see the 1st time ou chain-wipe on the 1st trash pack in Cataclysm. Sure, at the end it'll be an AoE-fest, but not at the beginning. On the dungeons I did in beta it was communication which made a good group, in the other cases it always ended badly.
The problem tobold is that there is a "most efficient" way to do anything. In WOW they've given everyone the ability to look at all the details of your character which allows groups to force perfect spec or refuse to play with you if you don't have it.
This can't be addressed by anything short of removing the ability to look at peoples spec and gear. Then they'd have to pay attention to performance which means they'd have to actually play with them and see how they did.

The Armoury was a predicably bad idea. Give people a way to rate people and they'll screw it up every time. It just promotes "fake" elitism. Meaning I can crunch the data and show you I'm special and your not.
what azzur and spinks said :)

the gamers can't be made responsible for the way blizzard designed specs, but at the same time it's not true that there is only one valid spec, not for healers or tanks and not for most DPS either. it's up to you how far you take the pressure and as long as you aren't in ensidia or something, you can afford more variety in builds while still seeing all of wow's content.
Is this a problem with game features, player culture, or both?

Scripted fights beget scripted solutions -- which beget comparisons.

Imagine if the holy trinity of heals, tank, dps was modified -- and suddenly every toon had to find a good balance of survivable traits that included heals, damage mitigation, and damage. It would be a totally different game and I think it would be more fun too. No more "tank can't hold aggro", or "healer sux" or "dps is lame". LFG would be quicker. Things like CCs, cc breaks, quick thinking, and target order would all be important again.
The idea of the boss gaining resistances over time would simply shift the best build to be the one that had the most diversity. There would be no more specializing deep into fire or frost.

The over all problem also seems to exist at the raid building level as well. Everybody know there are certain classes that always have a spot in a raid and some classes have a much harder time getting in. Sometimes 1 and only 1 of class X is needed and never more. Sometimes the only reason that this decent guild brings class Y is because he has been their main tank since vanilla and it would create different problems to shut him out. So ultimately it is not just a matter of each random person bringing the right spec for them it is much more a matter of the raid leader finding the specs he wants to bring rather than the people he wants to bring.

For as difficult as PvP games are to balance, their one upside is that they tend to be much more the rock/paper/scissors type of setup. And a the level of having 100 players on each side of the battle it usually ends up being a matter of getting as many people on your side as you can regardless their class or spec.
That's not actually what the thread was about; if you read it, the thread was about players lacking choice for "optional" talents due to so many optimal "mandatory" points being present.

Lots of people here and there replied saying that playing optimally isn't really all that important, which I think shows a large disconnect with how people actually measure their performance playing the game. I don't know about you, but I want to do the best I possibly can.
Everyone forgive me for being uninformed about WoW but I haven't been following it closely for a long time and not to derail the thread but quick question:


They are removing ALL the teleports from Shat and Dal?

Or are they leaving at least some way to get back and forth to a place that has an AH and trainers?

Or are they adding an AH and trainers to these cities?

Or are they planning to make leveling from 60 to 80 an absolutely dreadful experience now?
What Tobold wants is a game that can be played without the pressure of not being optimal. Without someone constantly saying "What? you messed the talents here, why did you do that?" or "Ok, come on, but you could do this build better."

And what he tries to say is that there is a finite number of measures that apply to a character and you can now easily line up all the chars from the best to the worse depending on what is needed. This way a real lot of players feel like losers just by the fact that someone made a better SPEC, beacause there is just so little you can specialize in.

In RL if you suck in one thing you're probably better in something else, there's a whole lot of SPEC you can do. In WOW, depending hoe you look at it, there's either one or three things you can do really good, and if you fail at that you're just a failure.
I don't know if there is a perfect talent build for EVERY class in WoW, but for many there are. For mages, I've heard it debated that arcane is best, unless you have crit/int/whatever maxed and then it's fire or frost-fire. For my ret paladin, it's pretty much set.

If I have a few choices for one class, but only one real one for another, then I see this as a design failure on Blizzards part.

I only blame Blizzard because as a LotRO and EQ2 player, I don't see as many threads about the one optimal spec on their forums. There are a few that say these X stats are the best and none other, but the majority will suggest a pool of virtues and talents to pick from and tell you they are all equally suited for your purpose.

But one more thing, the other reason the trees are like this is because of PvP. There are pvp talents in trees that are useless or just not as powerful in pve situations. Blizzards trees are designed with both in mind. So hopefully, with this redesign of the trees, this will change, but I doubt it. There will still be people out there posting the optimal pve talent spec.

As for "optimal" crafting choices, that is the player. I could get 60AP more if I switched to JC on my pally from alchemy. And every ret pally I've played with that has done this has sometimes done about 1% more dmg than I have, but not always. If you believe you need that 1% more, occasionally to down a boss, then you probably do.

They are removing all of the portals which lead to the other capitol cities. In their place, they will be adding class trainers and Auctioneers. These cities will basically function just like the faction capitols, except they are neutral.
As someone who doesn't really raid and only sees restrictions through the pug-raid filter, it's impossible for Tobold to understand the logic behind requirements. Most players, despite their belief, aren't even close to performing as well as the very best can. But why allow someone already only 70% as good as the cream of the crop to further shoot themselves in the foot by bringing their favorite solo spec to the raid?

Raiding is a team activity, not an individual one. If you aren't doing everything within your control (including speccing properly) to help your team succeed, why should they bring you?

And GC's comments are disingenuous. Playing a boomkin (like many specs) have some talent point flexibility, and you won't be excluded for having a preference. But would you want a boomkin in your raid that didn't take eclipse? How selfish.
I was 11/12 HM ICC + Halion HM in my 10 man strict guild.

From our perspective there is no best cookie cutter spec. It depends on the amount of movement involved in the fight, the stats on your gear, and other fight mechanics.

Thanks, that wont be so bad. And perhaps a bit more realistic than the artifical getting your level 5 alt a port to dalaran so he can set his hearth for the rest of forever.

As to feeling the pressure to optimize I have sometimes wondered if it wouldn't be better for blizz to simply give you 3 or 5 standard choices in how to configure your character and then let the system do the rest. That way people could quit agonizing over whether your tanking spec is the correct tanking spec or not. Flip switch to tankings spec and boom, you have the standard setup for a warrior tank just like everybody else.

Why have freedom when knowing your correct is so much more satisfying?
Cause for those who can creating the *right* build is more satisfying.
This is not about how difficult it is to create a good build.

It's about the fact that there should be more than one way to do something and that there should be no way of comparing two or more ways and detemining which build is the best, as this would always cause people to scratch other builds as not optimal and to call those using them morons.
My point was at least some what sarcastic. I think given the chance more people would choose to be given and use the "correct" spec rather than be given the freedom to use a fun spec.
I've seen the term 'over-optimization' used in this argument. There's no such thing. It is either optimal or it isn't.

A player's ability can't change. Over time they might get better but at any point in time their ability is fixed. Meaning the only way to get better performance is by taking the better spec.

Choosing a flavour talent when a dps talent is available seems like a stupid choice. It's like saying "please make the game more difficult for me". The sort of player who wants more challenge is the same sort of player who isn't interested in the 'flavour' talents!

Having fights that work better for different specs isn't a solution. That just promotes changing specs between fights.

I don't know if it is possible but what I think is needed is choices in the talent trees which are equally balanced. So, rather than choosing between flavour and more dps, you are choosing between two flavours or two styles of dps.

Quite often, where this does get done in talent trees, players will moan about not being able to get both the dps talents, and how they could get both if they didn't have to take useless flavour talent to get the dps talent.

The more I look at this issue, the more I wonder whether the WAR approach might be the better one. I found it a bit dull at the time but as this discussion keeps cropping up I'm thinking it was just more simple.

I do wonder whether GC's frustration is lead in some part by the bottom line. Why spend money developing so many talents if the vast majority of players ignore them in favour of the cookier cutter fotm builds?
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hmmm deleted a post to make a better one, since it kept a slot I should have just added one.

@Sean: "over-optimization" means attempting to optimize beyond the noise threshold of your measurement. Since you cannot detect the effect, you can't prove that it's useful but others can't prove that it's useless. The result is a discussion thread which goes down the drain.

BTW side question: EvE seems a game very much oriented to "do your best": does it suffer from the same mentality ("OMG you made one wrong choice in outfitting your ship!!")?
I did want to add that I have been in PuGs with people with a spec that was not suggested on EJ and I've been that person. If you can explain WHY you chose what you chose, then most people don't mind, especially if your changes don't affect dps as much as buffs or other abilities. The fact is most people either won't feel comfortable to break out of the listed spec or they won't feel comfortable having to explain why they did, so they stick with what gets them community acceptance.
"What if any given raid boss over time was developing a resistance against the abilities most often used against him, while simultaneously developing a weakness against the abilities used the least?"
Which will turn into a buff/debuff that bossmods can pick up and turn into a "Spam spell/shot/ability X now" :) Also from a hunter perspective, I already use everything at my disposal and spam steady shot when the rest is on cooldown.

"What if damage wouldn't be possible to condense to a single universal "damage per second" number, but would depend on various circumstances, like random elemental damage types and resistances?"
Making it random doesn't make too much sense imo. One day you would rock at a boss, because lady RNG smiles at you, while the next time at the boss, she's pissed and gives you crappy random factors.

"What if players actually had choices to make, for which there was no single best solution?"
For a "no single best solution" there have to be various outcomes. Again from my hunter perspective, there's one: damage done.

"What if exotic talents could be extremely powerful in the right situation?"
The right situation... Like exotic talent X is no use at all at boss A, B, C or D. but will be almost mandatory for boss E? Now that's simply annoying!

WoW's talents easily allow for minimaxing no matter how much and often they change them. It's a symptom of the system.

As for Blizzard's talentpoint system. It's directly derived from Diablo 2. During which this minimaxing was already done alot. So while Ghostcrawler's motives are admirable, he's about a decade late.
I found this discussion very interesting in light of the talent changes that are coming in patch 4.0 (currently on PTR).

In 4.0 players will have to put 31 points (out of ~34 I forget exactly) into their specialist tree before they can put any points into another tree. 31 points gets the player to the key talent for that tree much like today. However there are only around 36 total points in each tree (again I forget exactly) which means you basically take almost all the talents in that tree. Naturally most of the ones you'll take are completely obvious. Then there's a few (like 3) left over to sprinkle around.

If you think that cookie-cutter builds are an issue today, wait till this patch hits.


@Helistar : yes that does happen in EVE.
I can't believe I'm saying this, but this is clearly a SOCIAL issue. Gevlon is horrifyingly right sometimes.

The pressure to spec a particular way is social. The reason to spec a particular way is laziness.

And if I can kill 2 birds (not looking like an idiot AND having a viable spec) with a Google stick...why wouldn't I?

The other option is studying all the arcanely written talents and figuring out the difference between defense SKILL & defense RATING and what my HIT CAP is against a level 83 fart monster. I might as well go do some homework.

The combat game is designed by & for egghead mathemeticians who make most of us feel dumb. The rest of us want to play, too, so we copy what they do, and pretend that we know why. Then we make fun of YOU if you didn't do what we did.

Makes perfect sense to me.
@Mike: it's 31 points over a total of 41, so it's not that there are no points to place around. It's just that it's like before, less talents, less points, same problem of "no optional talents".
This is missing the forest for the trees. The problem isn't the people who are at 99% vs 100%. For that matter, even 80%.

The problem is the people who do things that are just flat out lazy or wrong. The people with no enchants. The people with empty gem slots, or with the wrong gems (like tanks with spirit gems). The people with a 0/71/0 spec.

These things correlate extremely closely with being terribad. The more mistakes someone has (poor talents, missing/bad gems, missing/bad enchants, mismatches set bonuses, etc) the worse a player they are going to be overall -- raid mechanics, awareness, rotations, all of it.

It's the way the world is. Right now, it's fairly easy to detect 90% of the terribads. The only thing changes would accomplish is to reduce that to 70% or 50% of the terribads.
Not true, Phelps, I often enough got negative comments for 99% efficient builds, e.g. when experimenting with Lightwell.

And frankly, I doubt that if this was a problem only terribad players had, Ghostcrawler would make such a fuzz about it.

The problem is the devs putting a lot of work into making lots of talents, and then everybody just using the same set of it, and not daring to experiment with even minor variations.
And frankly, I doubt that if this was a problem only terribad players had, Ghostcrawler would make such a fuzz about it.

I would disagree with this, in that it's GC's job to support the players in general, and terribads are a significant portion of the playerbase. Not the majority, but significant.
Yes, but the terribads actually don't have the problem Ghostcrawler is talking about. The bad players have all the freedom, only the wannabe good players are limited to cookie cutter builds.
I don't see a distinction between the bad players and the wannabe good players. They are one-in-the-same. In fact, the first step to getting out of that category is... to get your spec, gems, and enchants in order.

I get it, you had a bad lightwell experience. One talent that is sub-optimal is a very weak correlation to terribad. But a pile of those problems, and you've got a guy who is going to drag your raid at best and wipe it if given a chance.
I don't see a distinction between the bad players and the wannabe good players.

Well, the wannabe good player category contains you and everybody else who just copies the best build and rotation from EJ, which is pretty much nearly every raider.

A terribad player won't even try to improve his build / rotation / enchants / etc.

A truly good player will try out variations for himself to exactly understand the limitations of "sub-optimal" talents. E.g. Lightwell in some specific fights is the best healing spell in the game if the other players in the group use it right.
I don't get it, Phelps (and others, above). I consider myself to possess a sufficient amount of brain cells working sufficiently well in conjunction to be able to pass more or less unscathed through society and life in it. I make no claims at being representative of any group or collective, though, so bear that in mind when reading what I write.

I really like the feeling of levelling a new class and reading through the talent descriptions. I like deciding which ones would work well for me and which ones would do something nice ("Lightwell! A... well... of light! Cool stuff!"). I like looking into the other trees, thinking ahead which ones I can and cannot take, prioritising. All of that is fun stuff. And really, the descriptions aren't that hard to read. Why would I want to spoil that fun by googling the right answer?

So maybe I lose some throughput by choosing crit chance over spell power on my shaman healer (or maybe I don't). But I like the big heals. That doesn't make me terribly bad.

I have met many, many terribly bad players. I'd be willing to bet that the vast majority of those have optimal talent specs, picket straight from wowpopular or EJ.
It's more the 23/27/21's that bother me than the 0/71/0 -- the latter is inefficient, yes, but the former is generally pretty useless.

Which is why I understand the change Blizzard is making to lock people into a tree for the first umpty levels. For those who know the importance of the lower levels of a tree, not a problem -- for those who *don't*, it's going to be a real benefit.

For others: Look into Guild Wars 2. The ability to change specs (at least somewhat) between fights and no Holy Trinity make for an interesting potential game. With no release date yet, unfortunately.
Well, the wannabe good player category contains you and everybody else who just copies the best build and rotation from EJ, which is pretty much nearly every raider.

You are making incorrect assumptions that fatally flaw your conclusion. I haven't even visited EJ since Wrath came out. I don't look at BiS lists. And I don't have a "rotation" as a shadow priest.
And I don't have a "rotation" as a shadow priest.

I happen to know that EJ does have a shadow priest rotation on their site, so that remark right there would make most raid leaders not invite you any more, or even call you a moron. And it is exactly that what I and Ghostcrawler consider as a problem.
Except that it doesn't. You know as well as I do, and most raid leaders that ask do, that SPs have a priority list, not a rotation, because our DOTs fall out of sync. You seem to be making a lot of assumptions about "most raid leaders," and they all seem to come back to "raid leaders are stupid."

Generally, when your assumptions require stupidity on the part of a lot of people who are succeeding at what they do (getting raids going and downing bosses) you better be very, very sure of that before you rely on it.

Going back to the original post, I still fundamentally disagree with it. Raid leaders don't look at the indicators that GC has a problem with because they have a "phobia of inefficiency." They look at these indicators because they correlate strongly with being good or bad. People who pay attention to them generally do the other things that make a good player, and the people who don't generally do not develop the other skills that make a player good.
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