Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Does he ever stop typing?

One thing I've noticed from my posts, that I think I always knew but didn't consciously know was that I was not very concerned with "what might be", "what could be" or "what should be". I've always been concerned with "what is", "what will be", and "why it is the way it is". This means that a lot of my posts use another post as a springboard, because others love to think of what might, could, or should be, and this is my form of a reply.

Well this is another one of those posts. Coriel (really love her blog!) posted about two types of hybrids. Fluid and modal. Now, when I saw this, it was in interesting read just because of the concepts presented, and how they applied to all hybrids, and specifically myself and guild leader I mentioned earlier. I knew something about this was more important than just the idea of hybrid types.

As I mentioned above I'm concerned with "what is". In this case, thinking about how you wish the game was a certain, doesn't explain the why. Why did Blizzard design the game to encourage modal hybrids? I spent most of the day, yesterday, with this information churning through my brain as I did other stuff. I've found this works best for me, because part of my brain will process information, while allowing me to continue working on things that need to be dealt with right now. Shortly after the end of my workday, I was walking towards the subway station, when the pieces fell into place. In a way, it was the culmination of two previous posts I've made here:

Alternate Armor?
How much should speccing give?

This going to be a long post, but for the tl;dr folks, there's a summary at the end.

The two posts I mentioned above emphasized modal hybrid gameplay, because I was focused on "what is". The post about armor says instead of aiming for one perfect set of armor so you can try to do it all, you should aim for two or more separate sets each one dedicated to a specific purpose. This relates to the Modal vs. Fluid debate (is that even the right term?) in as much as by aiming for one set to do it all you are gaining fluidity while giving up focus in certain areas. I know I'm just restating what's already known, but I want to try to put it all out there.

The second part was the more important part. Unless there was a massive overhaul to the base game mechanics, it looks like it was the basis around which the idea of modal hybrids originated. Even if they removed the increasing cost for respecs, you still are paying a fair bit of money for a respec. After you go over 10 or 15g, that's the lowest you're going to pay for a respec ever again. As the game mechanic exists it's there to emphasize choosing a role and centering you on that concept. It is possible to spec in a way that will give you flexibility, but much like having a set of armor that's multi-purpose, you are giving up access to talents that will improve your ability to do a certain job in order to gain the ability to more easily do whatever is needed.

Looking at what I said above, you can see that as you become more fluid it's at the price of your specialized power. And you can't make a fluid hybrid equal to more than one "whole" single class equivalent. By this I mean two fluid DPS/healing hybrids could equal one pure DPSer and one pure healer. If either of those two fluid hybrids were equal to both a DPSer and a healer at the same time, there would be no reason to bring the pure classes when a hybrid can really do it all, and do it equally well.

Now, for small group content. 5, and maybe even 10 man instances fluidity is not a negative thing. For 10 man raids, the fluidity is really only DPS > Healing or Healing > DPS, since the required type and amounts of defensive stats changes immensely to survive against level 73 or boss mobs, but do not significantly change between 10 man and 25 man (I'll be going into detail on defense rating, and other "tanking" stats in a later post). But the point still stands, being able to throw out some DPS, hop back and start healing, or pick up the mob if the tank dies is a definite boon in small group activity where you are limited in who you can bring.

The problem arrives when you get to large group content. 25 man raids have enough people that you will have multiples of each type of person thus you can bring enough tanks and healers that even if one dies, it's not "...game over man, game over!" This decreases the need for fluidity.

This is where modal hybrids shine, and why Blizzard made the design decision to make hybrids modal. Going 31 or more points into a given tree will put you close to, if not equal to an equally geared single purpose class. A Feral bear druid is generally considered about equal to a warrior, and the same could be said for Prot spec paladins. Holy paladins and priests and Resto druids and shamans are all generally considered about equal in regards to healing. Feral cat druids, boomkins, and enhancement shamans are all considered more than good enough to bring to raids along with rogues, mages, hunters and warlocks. I think we all know the general feeling on Ret paladins (and more specifically my disagreement on that feeling) and I'm not really sure where elemental shamans stand in it all. But that's beside the point, those class/spec combos I listed above, despite being hybrids are not shunned, but accepted, because they can and do specialize to the point where they are equal to single purpose classes.

This was the purpose of making hybrids modal. The reality is that in endgame, a majority (I would guess, I have no hard numbers to back up this statement) of the leaders are only willing to accept those that fit into the category of ideal, and balanced fluid hybrids never would.


Okay, for those of you who didn't bother to read through all of the crap I just wrote, it can be summed up as such: Fluid hybrids cannot be equal power to single purpose classes, for game balance. In raids, underpowered classes or specs would (and are) shunned. Balanced fluid hybrids would never see endgame except in limited circumstances. Making hybrids modal allows them to be brought up to similar or equal power as a single purpose class without disturbing game balance too much, thus allowing them a place in endgame.

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