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  1. #1
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    Exclamation Talent trees, class roles, and player choice

    (1) INTRODUCTION

    In the coming class revamps and talent tree decision, though we don't know the details of course, one thing is for certain--moving away from free-form class traits means LotRO will lose one of the few things that made it unique among MMOs.

    Here are the dev quotes of interest:

    Q36 @katabendroth Other classes don't have to give up DPS to survive, why do hunters have to do so? #LOTRO
    A36 Hoarsedev - With upcoming class changes ALL CLASSES will have some difficult choices.
    Feb 21, 2013
    Q7 Aleatar - With the future class revamp, are there any plans to make the trait system more determinant in the classes. #LOTRO
    A7 Jared - Absolutely. We want the selection of a trait line to be vital part of the player’s progression and as such, each line should be distinct and exciting. #LOTRO

    Q23 MrWarg - Can you give us any more information on the major class revamps taking place later in the year? #LOTRO
    A23 Jared - Our goal is to reduce the hybrid-homogenized nature of our classes while bringing definition and excitement to the primary role of each line. #LOTRO

    Q36 @sethbar1 How can the devs fully grasp the needs of a class when they are working with multiple classes and moving around so much?
    A36 HoarseDev this pass on classes is intended to address their interactions as a whole in groups. We have to look at them all at the same time in order to see "how each piece fits into the puzzle." (Quotes from JWB)

    BQ10 Delaney - In the class revamps, will underused class trait lines be re-evaluted to encourage their use again, such as the burg MM line?
    BA10 Not so much lines as trees, but yeah, that is central to the changes coming. While we will never get to the point that every build will be equally popular we do think that we can make your character build full of rewarding choices. - HoarseDev
    March 21, 2013
    Q32: MrWarg - Can we have more details about the class revamp please, specifically the implementation of skill trees?
    A32: Matt "Hoarsedev" Zimmitti - Three trees per class. Some degree of blending at a higher cost than sticking with a pure build. Bonuses granted based on an early-level specialization choice that grows as points are spent. You can have multiple specs. You can respec.

    Q39: @MikeWestYYC Do you feel the current state of LOTRO is not challenging enough (too easy) to keep new players engaged? #LOTRO
    A39: Matt "Hoarsedev" Zimmitti - Our present classes don't require difficult choices in how to play. Future changes should increase the challenge level. Because you won't be able to do everything as any class.

    Q45: @angelohouston Is it fair to say that you guys are now firmly committed to this "tree" revamp? #Lotro #Devchat
    A45: Matt "Hoarsedev" Zimmitti - Yes.

    (2) WHAT WB-TURBINE IS "REALLY" SAYING

    Obviously, I can't read minds, but WB-Turbine's intentions regardless of players want (because they didn't survey/poll players about this type of significant change, naturally) are, as I interpret them based on the quotes:

    * They want to make class balancing significantly easier for themselves, especially in group play, by enforcing (or "highly encouraging") a classical Trinity Role approach to MMO class design.

    * The only way to enforce ("highly encourage") clearer role paths is by tightening each "line" and removing the ability to freely pick and choose traits from each line in any combination we choose. This means a railroaded tree design is ideal for that intent, particularly forcing players to choose a "role" early in the leveling process and thus stick with it.

    * Rather than reinvent the wheel, they're going to clone what WoW (and its clones) did with talent trees. (See below for competitor discussion, however.)

    * They honestly believe that enforcing a railroaded talent tree design to give players "difficult choices" is the same thing as giving players "interesting choices."

    And furthermore, by my analysis:

    * WB-Turbine is more interested streamlining content and mechanics specifically to lower adoption challenges for players from other MMOs where trees abound and where classes tend to have highly differentiated and easy-to-understand roles like "you only do damage ever." All this debuffing, buffing, cc stuff in LotRO is clearly too complicated.


    (3) WHY LOTRO PLAYERS SHOULD CARE

    In some of the discussions, a number of folks have expressed disappointment, dislike, and fear over the coming tree change, specifically that we're going to lose the freedom to make our own choices. All of these posts are from players who have played other MMOs containing trees. Then there are a few who don't understand what the issue is and even some who claim LotRO's traits are already trees--clearly they don't know what they're talking about, though, because none of LotRO's main class traits are hierarchically gated by anything besides level and the matched deed. Once you earn all your traits, you can mix-n-match without any prerequisite gating, besides the Legendaries. Trees by design always require hierarchical prerequisite gating: warsteed trees.

    From my experience and point of view, moving from the free-form trait system to any tree system is a significant step down in terms of "real choice," though there are creative ways to offer additional customization options. Forcing a "difficult choice" into one of the trinity roles while leveling up is by no means "interesting" nor automatically "exciting" as WB-Turbine would like you to believe.

    LotRO's free-form trait system is unique to MMOs in this way. Ignoring the efficacy of particular class lines at the moment, if you wanted to trait 3Y/3B/1R, you could. Or 7R. Or 4Y/1B/2R. You get the picture. The set bonuses and potential legendary cap are the "encouragement" to specialize, but you're not locked into that. For more difficult content, yes, it pays to specialize (this is the direction things should be going--you specialize for the large-scale "difficult" content, not "narrow down classes to make existing content more challenging"). But for a lot of LotRO content, you could hybridize as you wanted and still be viable. My view in detail:

    Quote Originally Posted by Trilwych View Post
    There is LESS player choice and customization in railroaded tree systems compared to the current LotRO system. It doesn't matter if you have 50 points especially if you only have enough points to go down a specific tree--you're forced to start at the bottom and are locked in. This makes sense for games where 5-mans and raiding content are a very significant portion of the entire game and the devs want to easily balance that content for specific roles, like WoW, but less so for games where 1-2-3-man content is more commonly experienced (hybrid roles/traits are perfectly viable and sometimes preferred) and some classes have different utility (buff/debuff, cc, etc.). If WB-Turbine intends now to significantly up fellowship/raid content, sure. That hasn't been the case since F2P was implemented.

    Another reason why you have LESS player choice with tree systems is that trees are hierarchical by "value"--and the only people who determine each talent value are the devs, not the players. This is certainly more "intuitive" in the sense that it makes decision-making much simpler for players. While LotRO's current free-form trait system means someone can take specific red traits they prefer over others (e.g. captain's red traits for pet DPS versus self DPS), in trees you have no choice but to follow a preset path laid before you by devs who've decided one trait is innately more valuable than another. And along the way, you will be forced to choose a "gate" trait just to unlock something else you prefer--maybe you don't want the enforced baseline -threat% in the Red Dawn tree in order to get the +DPS traits after that.

    A dev somewhere hinted that their future class revisions will "force difficult choices" or something to that effect. This would not be true with a tree system. Merely being forced to choose an initial role out of three at the root is nowhere near the same as deciding which specific individual traits in a line to pick for diverse set bonuses (potentially compromising a capstone) versus going for stronger set bonuses should you choose more to specialize. This means flexibility. More flexibility means more player choice, and in every case I've seen it (e.g. tons of feats to choose from in D&D), more truly "difficult" choices for players based on their own evaluation. Player choice is good. Enforced dev choices would be more akin to Instance Finder v1.

    Changing the current free-form trait system into talent trees would be simplification for both players and for the devs. The devs get to choose their trait priorities over player preference and players in turn would be forced to just go down a mindless railroaded color. ...

    Personally, I'd rather the devs keep the free-form trait system and add a slot and empower the class trait set bonuses and capstones even more--make the higher set bonuses particularly interesting, and that would certainly offer more difficult choices, but still keep the diverse lesser set bonuses.
    It's extremely cogent to compare WB-Turbine's direction in re clearly-delineated class role talent trees against existing systems, because there are certainly ways to allow player choice even with trees, and then other ways to completely destroy any room for originality. It is this latter potential that players should worry about, if you like having real choices at all.


    (4) SO HOW DO THE COMPETITORS HANDLE TREES?

    World of Warcraft is the big bastion against which all other MMOs are compared, typically, and many of us have had experience there. The original class talent trees were similar to LotRO's warsteed trees, except the trees were much larger and you certainly couldn't reach more than one capstone with the limited points.

    Quote Originally Posted by Trilwych View Post
    This is what happened in WoW when I was still playing... Hybrid or "cross-purpose" classes like druid and paladin, alongside the other classes with already clearly defined general roles (e.g. mage = DPS), became more and more role-defined by the talent trees with every revamp. That is, the "standard" must-haves for distinct group viability were moved towards the mid-high levels of trees such that viable hybridization became more difficult and less worthwhile. The roles defined by the three talent trees became divergent enough that even the hybrid classes could easily compete against other "primary" role classes, like druid versus warrior as main tank, and the counterpoint hybrid skills like druid healing were nerfed (or buffed-only-by-talent-tree) in such a way that they weren't viable for group play anymore. What that meant is the "jack of all trades, expert of none" model was discarded completely. The concept of a "hybrid" class no longer meant multiple secondary roles at the same time in a given combat situation, but rather "Sure, this class can tank or heal or do damage, but only one at a time and only if you're specced right."

    Now, I know raiders especially don't mind this and would probably welcome the ability to compete toe-to-toe with "primary" role classes (hey, I main-tanked in WoW as a druid), but this isn't a great thing for LotRO IMO because of the significant amount of 1-2-3-man content counter to the smaller raid scene, as I mentioned in my transcript reply, where experimentation is tolerated and still viable. "Spec as ye will" is a freedom many desire, particularly players who've experienced spec limitations and related side effects in other games.

    Here's a problem in the tree math for LotRO, though. Many classes have significant utility skills baked into the basic class description, like buff/debuff/cc, and in the interest of "fair balance," that would require talent tree roles to be still lesser to "primary" role classes. I don't remember the particulars very well now, but I think WoW got around this by homogenizing utility skills more, like adding and buffing cc skills in classes that didn't have or had minimal such skills. Hmm.
    But WoW has since moved to a linear system that's an extremely steamlined form of their original trees:
    Quote Originally Posted by Jeremi View Post
    I played for a couple of weeks on my paladin after the panda expansion came out and the new system basically amounts to the same thing in practice. You just pick which tree you want up front - Healing, DPS, or tanking - and it automatically gives you all of the best abilities that are associated with each role. They then allow you to choose between different and lesser talents as you level up. So your character is still defined almost completely by the tree (or role, which ever term you are more comfortable with) you pick. So I think your comparison with WoW and how the "specialization" of trees ended up being the death of support classes is still valid, even in the current system.

    Basically all Blizzard did was make the old "cookie-cutter" builds automatic and mandatory. So there is even less variety in builds on WoW now than there was. It's pretty lame in my opinion, and I feel more like a tool for the developers than an actual paladin when I play that game.
    (My emphasis)

    SWTOR follows the original formula set forth in WoW, though I have no experience with SWTOR. Limited points, three role trees, locked in specializations, blah blah blah.

    What about Diablo III? I haven't played Diablo, and D3 is either online single-player or multi-player instead of an MMO, but its evolution with regard to class talents/skill is interesting, especially since the original Diablo series is seen as the source of talent/skill tree popularity in games. Here's an article describing the limitations and evolution of game talent trees in Diablo 2 versus Diablo 3 and WoW:
    Talent trees: gone. You have exactly 6 slots for abilities, and you can put whatever you want in those slots. There are approximately 24 abilities per class, so your build involves making meaningful choices about what to keep and what to leave out.

    Here's how runes work. A rune is a modifier to an ability. Every ability (each of your class's 24 abilities) has 5 runes associated with it. And I don't mean the same 5 choices, these are custom for every single ability. You can only have rune selected for any given ability. So that means you have to choose if you want your Magic Missile to have 1) increased damage, 2) split into three shots instead of just one, 3) pierce through enemies and keep going, 4) generate mana ("arcane power"), or 5) track the nearest enemy and do slightly more damage.

    So the combination of possible builds here is ridiculously large, given that you fill each of 6 slots with one of 24 abilities AND for each of those 6 abilities you chose, you also choose one of 5 runes. Oh and you also choose any 3 out of 15 possible passive abilities for you class, so even more combinations.
    And more detail about the evolution away from skill tree to the rune system, and the dev reasoning for moving away from trees in Diablo III:
    Our high-level goal with this system has always been to give players a great degree of power to customize their characters. We believe we accomplished that early on by abolishing skill trees and moving toward an open-ended system where skills, rune variants, and passives are chosen at-will by the player in a flexible customization system.

    RIFT:

    A friend and I have been playing the Rift trial lately ever since we heard about the coming LotRO trees (and they have a built-in cosmetic system too), and we feel this is tree-done-better if you really must have them. Granted, we haven't played so much that we have a good idea about end-game balance, but our immediate impressions have been quite good in this regard. While the likes of WoW and its more direct clones have a uni-directional talent/trait/skill tree mechanic, where points increase ranks and unlock other talents, that also meant that any hybridization attempts would be quite limited; hybridizing into the lower levels of a second class tree usually do not give significant enough bonuses to warrant the effort with limited points.

    First, Rift's class system does not provide base class skills the way other MMOs do; in LotRO every captain has the exact same skill set, but in Rift, it turns out your class (soul) skills or powers are awarded alongside your choices in whatever trees.

    *** Edit to add:

    Rift has four major "callings" which are the umbrella classes (rogue, warrior, mage, cleric), and then 9 subspecialties under each one ("soul"). Each subspecialization soul has its own talent tree that contains passives and abilities. And you can slot up to 3 soul trees at the same time out of the 9. What that means is that your major calling class, like warrior, you can actually choose which three talent trees to slot first. Then you can choose how many points to put into each, as you like.
    ***/Edit

    Rift's tree system is interesting in that there are two directions of "bonuses." That is, to encourage specialization, you're granted increasing passives for number of points invested in a given tree, and of course ranked up passives and actives on the main branching part of the tree. But Rift trees also have roots, and you gain actual core skills (of that specialty) the more points you invest.

    *** Edit to add:

    It'd be like the captain Threatening Shout being awarded only when you have 8 points in the Yellow line, or Inspire awarded only when you have 6 points in the Blue line. Actually, thinking about Captain as a major class under this type of system, it'd be like having the following available talent trees: Tank (mitigations, threat), Healer, Pet DPS, Buffs (including banners), Melee DPS... Then if you want to go DPS, you'd slot the Pet/Melee/Buffs trees, or you can hybridize Healer/Pet/Buffs, or Tank/Melee/Healer, etc. All related skills would be limited to their respective trees.
    ***/Edit

    In other words, both specialization up a tree and hybridizing across trees for additional core class skills are valuable; rather than being overtly penalized for experimental builds like most games that use trees, you can think of Rift's bi-directional tree system as offering different tangible advantages for either specialization of hybridization. A description with screenshots here. Both my friend and I really like this system compared to our days in WoW. Of course, we like LotRO's trait system too, but since it's going away...




    (5) HOW WB-TURBINE CAN FAIL

    WB-Turbine have certainly made decisions that don't benefit players at all (e.g. nerfing some mechanics and steering to the store), other good decisions that were actually fixing poor ideas and implementations (e.g. LI legacy swapping, removing radiance), and some genuinely good and player-friendly decisions (e.g. adding duo content). The question comes down to how WB-Turbine's planned implementation of class revamps and trees will match existing player desires and those of potential new players. I really do not recall the forums being buried with requests to change traits to a tree system.

    The problem I noted before for LotRO is that there are distinct hybrid and utility support classes for which balancing against Trinity Roles doesn't quite work. As a captain, I fully expect the captain hybrid capability to be removed the way WoW's druids and paladins went, because none of the dev chats have given any indication that giving or maintaining more player choice is a priority. I don't expect players of already-specialty classes like hunter to care as much (though my gaming partner plays a hunter and hates the tree idea too).

    Whoever makes the business decisions that control the devs--the underlying rule in games is that player choice is good. Yes, you'll want mechanics that are easier to balance and maintain on the backend, but haven't you learned anything from radiance, the LI system, the Instance Finder, forced emote toggle, and so on? Why not just go all-out WoW instead and go with the linear forced auto-talents if you want to make things easier for yourself and ignore player choice?

    By the way, increasing content "difficulty" by forcing "difficult" railroaded Trinity Role tree choices is not a great way to make your game content more interesting and challenging. This smells more like a cop-out of convenience.
    Last edited by Trilwych; Mar 26 2013 at 07:59 PM.
    [url="https://www.lotro.com/forums/showthread.php?506048-Talent-trees-class-roles-and-player-choice"]Talent trees, class roles, and player choice[/url]
    Crafting crit chance analysis: [URL="https://www.lotro.com/forums/showthread.php?410893-Sample-size-THREE-THOUSAND"]3000 sample size[/URL], [URL="https://www.lotro.com/forums/showthread.php?420198-Sample-size-ONE-THOUSAND"]1000 sample size[/URL]

  2. #2
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    Good read. The core assumption though might be off, you are over thinking it.

    I know this might be a stretch but they may be introducing the trees to give you something new to grind. The hope being you wont want to grind and you will buy whatever the change is in the store. I think there is a very popular myth that there is some effort to balance or make the game more appealing on a game play level but Im not sure where it stems from.

    You eloquently pointed out some of the history, it certainly dosent support it. No, I think its really another distraction that isnt very substanative in terms of impact on the game (i suspect tanks will still tank, etc) its just forcing people into a new way of achieving the same end. The only logical reason you would expend resources to recreate something that already exsists is you believe you can get more income from it.

    Who knows, apathy seems to be the flavor of the day at least from what I am seeing in my time here. I hope turbine is successful. Sadly I think they are coming to the point where more and more people are tiring of nonsensical changes. Like warsteeds, you hearing a lot of chatter about them on your server? Everyone rushing out to grind that xp to develop the tree line on their light steed?

    Good luck to them, I hope it brings in a massive influx of new players and excites older players.



    f'IFHihfAFN'klasn'ASKND'kasnd' KANSD'knasd'ASKND'kasnd'KASND

    sorry my head smashed into my key board from holding my breath. Good post though it was a great read, someone will be around shortly to shout you down.


  3. #3
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    Well ... AC2 had/has skill trees, and they're pretty cool. I was able to specialize my Tonk Mage Healer to the point where she had six or seven each Health and Vigor heals, making her one of the sharpest healers in the game. Of course I couldn't fight worth sour apples, but then I wasn't trying to. I belonged to a good-sized Allegiance and I could keep them all alive.

    Nobody seems to have addressed yet how the change to skill trees will affect characters already at or near level cap. I guess we'll find out.
    Eruanne - Shards of Narsil-1 - Elendilmir -> Arkenstone

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trilwych View Post
    By the way, increasing content "difficulty" by forcing "difficult" railroaded Trinity Role tree choices
    The "difficult decisions" thing is inexplicable and horrible-sounding. The decisions should not be difficult. Other MMOs like Rift are making things easier by letting you change roles on the fly. I was assuming this was the main reason for this revamp, since they really need this, and they already have a ready template in the way Warhorses work.

    But why should the decisions be "difficult?" That sounds contrary to what is really needed.

    Even worse would be dumbing down LotRO with this system. LotRO has a niche. It's a big risk to throw it away to chase the current console-MMO trend. But they made that bet with F2P in the first place. They went after the masses at the expense of their existing player base, and at this point maybe statistically they have to go all-in.
    Elven Adventuress UI ~ Newbie Guide To Playing LotRO ~ Guide To Dual-Boxing LotRO

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Silverangel View Post
    Even worse would be dumbing down LotRO with this system. LotRO has a niche. It's a big risk to throw it away to chase the current console-MMO trend. But they made that bet with F2P in the first place. They went after the masses at the expense of their existing player base, and at this point maybe statistically they have to go all-in.
    Excellent point here, hope it dosent get lost in the discussion.


  6. #6
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    DJH brought up AC2... Yes, AC2 (Turbine's second--once and future--game) uses skill trees. The major difference I see here is that the AC2 trees *are* your skills. They are not a modification to or channeling of your skills. That system would be the equivalent of ripping out every skill your character has and making you re-buy them, but in a tree structure...with the limitations already noted by the OP.

    What I keep thinking, seeing the repeated use of "exciting" in the quotes from Turbine is the old description that an "adventure" is somebody else in a hell of a fix. I get the distinct feeling that we are going to have an "adventure", only *we* are the somebody else.

  7. #7
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    Very nice summation, except for the digression into the Diablo games which has no place in this discussion as those are ARPGs, not MMOs, and that is a gigantic difference.

    One of the best things about this game is the lack of one single cookie-cutter spec for any class. Oh sure, it can be said that class's red traits are the most used and that the blue traits need more love; but there is nothing equivalent to Elitist Jerks, the World of Warcraft theorycrafting site where everyone used to go to find out exactly what talents to pick for the optimal build. Sites like EJ grew out of the tree system.

    And now finally Blizzard gave in the towel, and declared their own trees obsolete. They now auto-bestow players with abilities that we formerly had to spec in to - the abilities that the theorycrafters deemed to be the best. And they came up with a much simplified, non-tree kind of talent thing - I don't even know what to call it - that ironically enough, provides a lot more options.

    I'll be very sad if traits are going away. I've grown to loathe talent trees.
    [charsig=http://lotrosigs.level3.turbine.com/2b2250000000dceda/01007/signature.png]undefined[/charsig]

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    I'm sorry, I'm a bit distracted listening Dino's greateast hits I can't remember skill trees beyond Diablo 2.

    Skill trees are a way to flexibilize roles, always under a reasonable class/race concept. LotRO is limited because its classes are oriented to the "holy trinity". No matter what, if the instance devs continue designing bosses that require a tank, a healer and a dps the we wont move a yard beyond that.

    The "problem" of making all classes trees flexibles, it means that every class should be a "jack of all trades" or at least capable of fulfill two or more roles.

    I'm afraid, if this is going through, wont be more than a carbon copy of other games that already has similar features. GW2, SWTOR or even RoM with its double classes.

    However, if this is true, it will add a lot of talking and the most important: the chance to choose another role. Actually, this already exists but it is not complete and it is not for every class.

  9. #9
    The only times you hear people talking about making "difficult decisions" are usually only times when something bad is soon to follow. If something is really good, you won't need to sell someone on it, it'll sell itself.

    Changes, especially big ones, can be pretty scary. Let's just hope they don't keep us in the dark on what is to come.

  10. #10
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    I dont like it.

    I think they should have focused on the content for the first time in 5+ years. I guess it is every dev's dream to make a new class.

  11. #11
    Honestly, I don't see how skill trees are "dumbing down". If anything, it's the opposite. I like how LOTRO works because it's nice and simple. You have certain traits and you slot them how you want - you can experiment to see what you like best. They tell you exactly what they do, and what happens when you have so many of those traits. You also gain them slowly.

    In skill trees it's a nightmare. Every level you have to assign points to things full of jargon that don't make much sense. Get them wrong and you've ruined your character, so you have to go read up a guide every time you level. There's no room for experimentation or independent thought.

    In LOTRO, you can't ruin your character.

    And in LOTRO's case, its jargon is even more confusing than most games. I have no idea what anything means. Tactical? I know what the word means, but I don't understand how it pertains to stats. Same with mitigation. At least in other games it will say something like "If you spend 1 point, you will do 1% more damage" or "you will take 1% less damage".

    Here it would be like "Your tactical mitigation increases by 15.63"

  12. #12
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    Great write up. (+rep)

    I'd like to talk about what is fun. One of the core aspects of it, as revealed in research and the psychological concept of Flow is personal control.

    With the current trait system, we have complete control. With the mounted combat skill trees, we have no control. That is not fun.

    Currently, if faced with some tough content (as our group was last night), someone might comment, "I'm going to pop out and retrait". I have never heard of anyone changing their mount tree after initial setup. It's very set it and forget it, since there's no benefit to making a small change.

    Currently, my burglar is faced with "difficult" choices, I sacrifice capstones in favor of traiting rainbow. It gives me more utility, sacrificing a bit of DPS. This works well in groups, complementing other burgs who bring other attributes to the table. For specific content that calls for it, I trait for more DPS, or more CC.

    However the traiting system for captains isn't as flexible. It's pretty much all one color for a role, akin to a tree line. It's not fun. Every captain is pretty much a duplicate of every other. They do change a couple things to avoid overlap (one brings IDOME, so another slots Oathies instead), but either you are a healing captain or DPS traited healing captain or captank.

    Minstrels however have a wonderful trait setup currently. Folks mix all sorts of variety, 4y/3b, 3y/4b, 5b, war-speech healing with 3r/4y or 4r/3y. They all provide different ways of being effective, and multiple minstrels in a group complement each other.

    The current system offers ease of use, if you don't want to explore/learn it, it's easy, just pop in matching colors and you'll be effective. Want to dig a little deeper? Ask in forums or in game for optimal choices among those colors. Want even more efficacy? Read them individually and chose according to your playstyle.

    The trait trees for mounted combat offer none of that. I can't chose, Turbine chose for me. I had to spend points on things completely worthless to me and the way I play, because it was a prerequisite, because "Turbine said so". It wasn't fun to setup my mount, it was a chore to sort out what was required to unlock what I desired. I wish they hadn't bothered to provide the core elements, just made the higher ones cost more and roll the basic parts into the final ones. Why make me click multiple times to invest in an element I don't want so I can put a point into the one I do want that's a prerequisite? Just make them all one thing for 5x the points and one click instead of busy work!

    All that being said, it IS possible to overwhelm people with choices. Retailers and manufacturers of product lines know this. Give a consumer three choices, they'll buy the one they like best. Give them more choices, they won't buy any, unable to make a selection which they want more.

    Too much choice is not good.

    Trait trees are typically implemented to simplify the otherwise overwhelming options. At the base of the tree, you only have to pick one of three things. Then as you unlock more, your choices are similarly limited. Turbine suggests you'll have to make "difficult" choices, meaning "challenging" ones, which is true in the current trait system, as you have to sacrifice capstones for hybrid traiting, and the limited slots means significant sacrifice of other ability.

    Which brings us back to the current trait system. There are three basic choices. Good! With trees? Likewise.

    There's more complexity for those who seek it? Yes. With trees? Not at all.

    Is there flexibility? Yes. With trees? Not in comparison, no.

    Is there compromise/sacrifice/"difficult" choices? Yes. With trees? Always, as you have to accept things forced on you which you don't want.

    My biggest worry is this type of drastic structure change isn't one where they can go, "mea culpa", ya'll were right, we've eliminated a special aspect of our game, we've removed some fun, we've reduced the game-play depth, we'll return to you being able to customize your character as you desire. It's kind of a one-way path of reducing fun game play sadly.



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  13. #13
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    The real question is: why do this so late? Why do this when the game is already well established?

    Maybe this would have made sense had they done it at launch or closely after, but why now?

    I fear for my Minstrel the most.
    Last edited by Elemiire; Mar 23 2013 at 03:22 AM.
    And then, forever remains that change from G to E minor.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by trancejeremy View Post
    Honestly, I don't see how skill trees are "dumbing down". If anything, it's the opposite. I like how LOTRO works because it's nice and simple. You have certain traits and you slot them how you want - you can experiment to see what you like best. They tell you exactly what they do, and what happens when you have so many of those traits. You also gain them slowly.

    In skill trees it's a nightmare. Every level you have to assign points to things full of jargon that don't make much sense. Get them wrong and you've ruined your character, so you have to go read up a guide every time you level. There's no room for experimentation or independent thought.
    That is the point exactly. LotRO's talent allocation system is unique and DOES allow for experimentation and creative thought. I've never seen another system that has you able to slot abilities in skill areas, which give you set bonuses - and you can mix and match those set bonuses according to your needs. It's remarkably flexible. The more I think about the idea that they may be about to break this unique ability in favor of an outdated skill tree system that the top MMOs have already abandoned, I get twitchy. But then I remind myself that I haven't seen their plan.

    And in LOTRO's case, its jargon is even more confusing than most games. I have no idea what anything means. Tactical? I know what the word means, but I don't understand how it pertains to stats. Same with mitigation. At least in other games it will say something like "If you spend 1 point, you will do 1% more damage" or "you will take 1% less damage".

    Here it would be like "Your tactical mitigation increases by 15.63"
    Yes, coming here, having to mentally translate everything from devspeak to common was a bit jarring. Adding to the hilarity is the often whimsical descriptions of the abilities pasted on next to the technical explanations, that tell us even less what we need to know. Runekeeper ability explanations are especially bad about that; it's as if everything was run past an editor who had a rubber stamp that said "NEEDS MOAR CRYPTIC".
    [charsig=http://lotrosigs.level3.turbine.com/2b2250000000dceda/01007/signature.png]undefined[/charsig]

  15. #15
    There really is not anything nice I can say on WB Sugesting tree's at this late date within the game, unless they are ultimately out to create a variety of money pits to increase their income off of this product wich for the most part they are slowly destroying just by their simple choices to do things like : Not polling the community , Not Fix some of the well overdue things like Lag issues, the memory leak etc. etc. etc.
    During the time when Lotro was Turbines game things seemed relatively smooth, most things were taken care of as it all should be then WB got into the act and it's more like the game has bee shot in the foot with a cute little bugs bunny bandaid over it and told to run a couple of marathons before it may or may not be allowed to see a doctor.

  16. #16
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    Trion's Rift aside (due to the Soul system providing the underlying flexibility) every MMO I've played that has talent trees invariably ends up with cookie-cutter builds that are the defacto "correct" set up.

    What Blizzard worked out (correctly IMO) was that a talent tree just does not provide choice at all. The 5.0 talent system in WOW went some way to incorporating those defacto choices into the core class line and providing players with some genuine options. But for sheer choice and flexibility nothing comes close to LOTRO's trait system.

    Would be a sad day if we lost this.

    However... if Turbine were to give us a means of switching between two predefined builds when needed and out of combat then that would be a very useful addition.
    It must be your PC...

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Funniez View Post
    That is the point exactly. LotRO's talent allocation system is unique and DOES allow for experimentation and creative thought. I've never seen another system that has you able to slot abilities in skill areas, which give you set bonuses - and you can mix and match those set bonuses according to your needs. It's remarkably flexible.
    Also, all traits are equal in terms of costs, the only "point tax" we have to pay is required by line bonuses and capstones. So, technically, we already HAVE tree system (so: srsly, Turbine? :P), but with different names for different parts. Well, not *really* trees - with line bonuses being... linear, it's more like inverted "T" (or 3x"T" if player mixes colors like crazy).

    So who knows, this entire "revamp" might be genuine only in parts where traits, line bonuses and capstones are mixed, globally renamed to... Branches? Leaves?, reduced in number and assigned price tags (read: point tax). Great number of choices at the bottom with limited choice at the top (color mixing) will be replaced with fair choice at the bottom with... limited choice at the top. Um... Yay?

    That makes me wonder... aside from updating every class at the same time, how do we benefit from this revamp? Re-distribution of points on-demand, like warsteed system? Grant everyone 10x Bard Summoning per week - there, problem solved using existing features, so you can upgrade/revamp classes within old trait system.

    I hope there's more to it than it looks like from this perspective...

  18. #18
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    Trees can be done badly, they could be done well.

    I think being able to pick anything you choose as it is at the moment, means you don't have to think as much as you would if trees were done properly.

    Best way I can put this into words is to use the following.

    crawl, walk, run, marathon

    before you can take part in a marathon, you would need to be able to run and of course before you could run, you need to learn how to walk.

    A tree can make sure that you crawl before you can walk etc.

    The current system allows you to skip the crawl/walk completely if you choose and go straight for the run or marathon.


    Trees done properly would mean more thought having to be put in as you level

    I like the idea of never having enough points to complete all the trees, it means you have to make decisions and think about what you are doing, rather than simply waiting until end level and having the lot.
    Last edited by Glumposneak; Mar 23 2013 at 05:46 AM.

  19. #19
    Our goal is to reduce the hybrid-homogenized nature of our classes while bringing definition and excitement to the primary role of each line.
    Means what exactly? Some sneaky way to force grouping? The only thing that kept me playing this game was the hybrid structure, my mini being viable dps my champ being viable tank/soloer. That was fun for me. I dont want to be stuck in "primary role" no matter how much Turbine may think its exciting, for me that is simply boring.

    I loved Spellborn among other things just because there was not much distinction between classes, the only game I played that went beyond the holy trinity and made it great. Grouping worked perfectly even though there was no classic tank or a healer.

    Ah well, not that I have been logging in LotRO much lately anyway so one more disappointment makes little difference. I was an idiot to hope...

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Glumposneak View Post
    Trees done properly would mean more thought having to be put in as you level
    Unless content does not require anything from you after you learn how to walk, target mobs, arrange skills on your skillbar and use mouse. Then it couldn't matter less how many points we have, how we trait or frankly, whatever:/ In such environment any class revamp is superficial.

    I wouldn't say current system allows me to skip everything and slot for both high-end DPS and high-end CC on my Hunter. Or SDPS *and* healing on my RK. Or both tanking and DPS on my guard... oh, wait, nvm :P

    I feel for eg. Captains, that are funneled into unicolor boredom, but at the same time there is certain balance to this: classes that can perform multiple roles are limited in their traiting choices to remain truly effective, classes that are more flexible in their trait choices are more limited in their roles (eg. Guard *can* take DPS slot, but... srsly...:P).

  21. #21
    Skill trees can be fun and add varied play-style on-the-fly (like GW2), or a disaster (like STO). Both are good MMO games but GW2 is more flexible and skills can be altered easily from battle to battle at no cost, while STO character respecs are gated by costly ($5) respec tokens. The question is which path will Turbine take.

  22. #22
    I do not like this at all. Whenever the looming class changes come up during a waiting time in raiding or in GLFF, or impromptu conversations all are against it that I have heard. Not saying there are some that would welcome it and I really only get a 4 hour period to play a day (at most) but all...ALL have agreed they do not want this.

    I guess it seems the same as traits on the surface but yet again it is change just for the sake of change. I play hunter alot(I know, sorry) we are already specialized...squishy burst damage. I have played CC hunter quite a bit back in OD when we were short on CC classes in my kin. It already costs us one thing to get another...we have it in the game already, you think I was dps'ing all the adds while watching a timer on my first stun and backing up the burg? Even if I wanted to it would be like throwing a rock at a, ok not tank, not taht bad, like a uhm guy with chainmail maybe, you feel the impact and if it is a big rock it may hurt. Basically it sounds like they are doing nothing.

    Champ....I give up dps for a tanking role. Can I go Hybrid...sure with a good healer for hard-ish bosses. Can I tank a raid boss, well not me, some can, but it is not the norm.

    Guard: I tank. Sometimes I solo and do a sort of hybrid. No one ever asks for a DPS tank.

    This change is very like when they gave the -30% healing to fervour stance, except one thing. They are not balancing anything, they are not specializing (from what I have read) anything more than it already is, it is just...well silly.

    They should stop all effort into this until they have the Player Council together...get feedback, then go from there.
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  23. #23
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    I really liked how the trees were done in Rift and the diversity they offered. I wouldn't mind a similar system here. One of the best things is that you are able to set multiple configurations and switch between them at any point (Without cost).
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  24. #24
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    Why "fix" what ain't broken.. and after 6 years at that. Personally I'd have preferred the time and development to go into fixing the stuff that needs it, like bugs, or into developing new content rather than mess with a system that I actually rather like in its flexibility. I'm not a fan of trees.
    Blaize, Ellorien, Melica, Rhedyn, Finriel, Aerynna, Merywen, Faelarth, and Tathriel, wandering the shores of Middle Earth.

  25. #25
    I think it would be helpful to go back to the developer diary when class trait sets were introduced in the Mines of Moria. What part of the original design is no longer desirable, relevant, or sufficient?

    Traits Sets were created with the idea of bringing forth some of the secondary and tertiary roles of the classes. Do you wish your Captain could heal more effectively? Do you wish your Warden was more focused on his spear? Trait sets make this possible! These changes enable some variations between players of the same class, and give players the ability to focus on some of their characters’ secondary roles.

 

 
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