MMO’s are all about progression, permanence, and in my opinion a lot of decision making.  All roads lead back to your character.  What used to be a hot topic, but lately has been mostly ignored or looked over, is the idea of respeccing your character or undoing decisions you made to customize it a long the way.  There was a time when any decision you made was absolutely permanent without any chance whatsoever of a redo.   It was crazy stressful but at the same time it made every decision an important one.

On the complete opposite side of the spectrum is today’s willy-nilly spend your points wherever and redo them whenever mentality.  There are no more important choices after you choose your class (and in some games even that is gone).

Respeccing should be extraordinarily difficult and something you rarely ever do.  I’m not a fan of the 100% inability to undo a single mistake but players need to be held accountable.  Back in the SI days of DAoC you would have to find a rare drop from a boss.  There would usually be 20 or 30 people going and only a couple would drop.  That’s one option that I liked.  Another option is to go the SWG route where it’s not a leveling mechanic but a skill tree that you can spend experience into and consume a skill point.  If you want that skill point back, you unlearn the skill but lose all the exp you spent on it–this is my favorite system since it is more liberal with the ability to undo while maintaining the drawback of absolute loss.  Another option is to make you go on some epic quest and spend an inordinate amount of resources.  Whatever the option, it has to sting.

Don’t think of the sense of quasi-permanence as a punishment, though.  Think of it as an encouragement to use your brain and come to a decision about something important. Consider your character more than a whiteboard that can be erased at will and an opportunity to appreciate what you have even more because there was some weight behind the decisions you’ve made.  Look at the bigger picture that comes into focus when the game plays less like an arcade game and more like a persistent world.

Update: The comments have turned this towards a discussion of the bigger picture: how MMO/RPG’s are designed.  A piece of that bigger idea is the loss of connection between the player and the virtual world. Players are not living with the consequences of their decisions, social interactions are non-existent, and instead of fluid character development it’s this idea of constantly changing to be the best at any given moment in time.  I recommend reading the comment left by filch as it is quite insightful.


  • Problem with that is what happens when they redo a talent? Are you still stuck with something you never signed up for?
    Ultimately I don’t like the idea that a new player is making choices that will involve 10-15 hours of work later on teh undo. I just don’t see specs as that big of a deal, nor do I like the idea of a game where you are punished for not being on elitist jerks from day one. So the talent ree would have to a lot looser concept that mostly adds style points but don’t ultimately matter.

  • I’m with Toxic on this. In a perfect world, maybe, but when companies are always changing/balancing things I like to be able to change it. I also like the ability to try things out.

    I also don’t see this as any kind of big issue. On the list of things that bug me in MMO’s this isn’t near it.

    I do agree with you on the idea that nothing makes you nervous anymore because you can always undo it. The last thing in a game that made me “nervous” was in Torchlight. Their system to enhance weapons by increasing the odds of losing all of your enchant with each new enchant is brilliant in my opinion. Not to mention a great gold sink.

    I can’t tell you the amount of times I spent building up a weapon, just to get greedy and say, “OK one more increase” only to lose it all. That hurt…and I mean REALLY hurt since I lost an incredible amount of gold.

  • Honestly, asking a player to make a (semi-)permanent decision based on incomplete information (“Is this a good talent?” “Will I have fun using this?”) is terrible MMO design. In fact, it is MORE punishing than the exact same mechanic in single-player games because typically you can reload a prior save – you might lose some time reloading a save, but at least you can demo the skill a bit. Nevermind the scenarios in which a talent choice (etc) makes sense to choose at the time (helps you level faster, revolves around weapon type you currently use, etc), but no longer makes sense as you get to the endgame.

    You have to look at what you are trying to accomplish. There are better ways of making decisions and customization matter than simply making them impossible or difficult to undo. All that the latter does is encourage your players to endure bad decisions and manifestly have less fun in the game.

  • In a perfect world, I could see the system Trion proposes for Rift’s AA system working – the “irreversible” choices only arrive at endgame, when the player is hopefully sufficiently well-informed to make them, and it’s eventually possible with large enough quantities of exp to pick up the stuff you missed.

    Unfortunately, as Toxic points out, the probability that there will never be a change that causes the irreversible decision to be retroactively incorrect is basically zero.

  • This is definitely interesting. This relates a lot to the game’s design too, in fact it’s probably completely based on it. WoW needs to have easy respeccing and dual specs because every fight is scripted differently. Rift needs to have even more with how many builds are out there (remember that game?)

    Ideally you should have all viable builds being useful in every fight. To be “optimized” a player shouldn’t have to focus in so hard on one fighting style that they become a one-trick pony. Undead slayers and fire mages are cool sure, but you’re going to need respeccing as an option.

    This is turning into quite a rant, but I’d like to see passives that are more broad in what they affect, and this isn’t directed completely at WoW but gaining a bonus effect upon casting elemental spells is better than getting the bonus for casting “that specific spell”, or even for casting fire spells. It would take a different approach to game design but it could let players get more creative with their play styles. Now obviously you can have the +fire stuff, and +undead killer stuff sprinkled in there, that stuff is cool sure but don’t force it down peoples’ throats.

  • Once upon a time, before 2004, there were plenty of games that did not have constant change like WoW. I think a game that changes and rebalances as often as WoW is actually a sign that something is wrong.

    Now keep in mind that I gave at least three easy examples of ways to have respecs while still trying to maintain the idea that decisions have weight and you can’t just slap a bandaid on every little booboo you make.

  • Toxic beat me to it. If I make a permanent decision to be a riftblade and they nerf the crap out of it I’m supposed to be punished for not using my brain?

    If games would actually test and not cave to forum qq I might agree with you

  • One could also forego the whole talent trees to begin with. GW2 seems to be going down the path of the more you use a skill the better you get at it/unlock new abilities.

  • You guys are sounding like you’ve never known a game that didn’t let you be whatever you want whenever you want. I think Rift’s system completely sucks. The ability to swap to anything on the fly and drop some coin to undo and redo it all trivializes the entire character progression side of the MMORPG. It’s like playing an arcade game where you die but can pop in another quarter to jump right back in as any character you want. Where’s the substance? Where’s even the attempt at a quasi-persistent world in that? It’s just not there.

  • I remember when WoW forced you to spend 50g a week (and that was real money at that point) if you want to PVP and PVE. It made me grind money and have less fun. It sucked. I also remember when I was a noob warlock who hit max level with a totally fubar spec.

    I vote no. But the, I don’t actually play MMO’s anymore, because paying for the privilege of a part time job didn’t do it for me.

  • You’re citing the worst possible game for the topic at hand and you’re admitting you think of MMO’s as a part time job that costs you money. I got nothin’.

  • The trouble is almost all MMO’s these days are chasing the casual market who basically wants an arcade-like experience. Here’s some perspective:

    I was 18 when I got into F&F EQ beta 3, and played it non-stop from CB beta 4, through retail, until WoW was released. During those early years I had much less in the way of responsibilities, and could play for hours on end. The EQ model fit that type of disposable time requirement like a glove.

    I’m 31 now, have a mortgage, job, all that fun stuff, and I no longer have 10 hours to play / raid 4-5 times a week. Sounds like the casual model was tailor made for my situation now, right? The problem is I do not care for the 15 minute McMMO design that the industry is flocking to. I rather find it pretty insulting that I’m being treated like a child; that cannot think for myself, requires a guiding hand to walk me through things, and lets me revoke any mistakes made with the minimalist of effort. I’m not the only one that feels that way, and if you want to classify it we’re pretty much the very niche of niche player: casual in time but hardcore in gaming values, aka gluttons for punishment.

    I think that’s why I continued to play EVE so heavily, it was so unforgiving and you could have hours, weeks, months worth of work wiped out in minutes. That gave my time investment a huge return value, and even though they were space pixels in a video game, my exploits were just as much of a personal achievement as when I built my MAME cabinet from scratch, re-did the yard fence, etc.

    Time puts a huge value on things, and when freely given away, the experience becomes cheapened to the point that it really isn’t worth playing. That’s what’s happened to WoW for me, that’s how every new MMO released in the last 5 years has been, and unfortunately that is how 99% of all the releases in the pipe are being structured.

    If you don’t find dual specs and the like absurd, just imagine a super hero that changed costume to fly, then put another costume on to shoot lasers from his eyes, and another costume to lift 10 ton trucks like feathers. That superhero suddenly has no downsides to go with the perks, becomes entirely generic and loses most of the appeal that singularity brings.

    /ramblemode off

  • @Darkstryke: Alright, that’s an awesome line.

    “Casual in time but hardcore in gaming values”

    Can I use that?

    Amen to everything.

  • I don’t think punching your customer in the dick for not knowing he made a bad choice is good design…regardless if that is what they did at the beginning of MMO’s.

    I played Anarchy Online for a very long time and they had no respec option until fairly recently…unless they did a major balancing pass then you might get all your skills refunded. ANd even though I put up with that (and had fun in spite of it)does not mean it was good design.

  • I like the Asherons Call method better and it uses 2 different methods.

    2 ways to re-spec.
    1st: a fairly easy quest that you have to travel to a far and remote place to get to, once there you solve a riddle and enter the dungeon. Once inside you are now flagged to pick up a respec gem that is given by a NPC at which point you now have a 1 week timer before you can re-enter and each time you go in the dungeon the timer gets progressively longer by 1 week. I think my toon has a 2 month timer to get back in now.

    ‘this method is ideal for people who make a mistake in a single skill investment’

    2nd: You can spend an onscene amount of XP to do a full respec (basically at least a weeks worth of casual hunting worth of XP). this has a 1 month timer on it and each time you use this method it costs progressively more xp.

  • Ohh forgot to point out to answer toxic and Howdy above. thats why there is paramount importance on balancing the game prior to launch. You might think its a pipe dream but in reality the olden MMO’s had amazing balance, in fact so much so that AC over the last 11 years has never nerfed 1 skill, all they have done is balance upwards.

    Thats the problem in todays themepark MMO’s though. Developers tweeking skills/talents/abilities becasue a certain spec performs 1% better is an asanine way to balance.

  • They aren’t jobs?

    Let’s see— if you screw up and pick the wrong spec because you aren’t already up to full speed from the first talent point, you’re supposed to have to a “crazy stressful” time deciding what to do and it’s supposed to be very difficult or even impossible to fix?


    C’mon dude. MMO’s, especially old school MMOs, are an alternate world where you can be highly successful with minimal amounts of thought or effort. That’s ultimately the whole point. The amount of effort it takes to be the king of WOW or EQ is nothing compared to the amount of effort that goes into achieving at a comparable level in any other field.

    (Most) people don’t want to play a game that is “crazy stressful” in any respect. It defeats the point of recreation.

  • If you consider real world, nobody should be so limited as typical MMO character is with one build. Normal people have lots of skills that are variable and can be used in different kind of situations. As humans we are capable of improvising and can use different skillsets in new situations when trying to find out which works best. Therefore I like Rift class system where you can have several different roles and you decide which you want to use.

    Problem in MMO skill systems in my mind is that you don’t learn the skill by using it but instead you gain the skill when you have enough levels/skill points etc. That’s why system in Guild Wars 2 at least promises to be interesting one.

    So my solution for the skill system would be an open skill system where you have to learn the skills. Nothing is so annoying than ‘getting’ a new skill on level x when the skill has been decided by game developer and not me.

  • Honestly, I disagree somewhat. The decision you make at level 5 shouldn’t have a massive impact on what you do at level cap. You have incomplete information when you are a new player, and while a host of others and I have no problem researching on the internet from the start to maximize knowledge, I have trouble believing that such research should be mandatory. You have no idea the efficacy of anything you get until you use it for yourself, unless it is a flat stat bonus. It is impossible to make a wise choice early on without advice.

    Even then, something that is a good, reasoned choice early on may not be later on.

    Still, I guess I agree fundamentally that you shouldn’t be able to change it willynilly, but any system NEEDS to take into account the fact you should be allowed to make mistakes early on and correct them without giving an arm and a leg.

  • Zederok, so what you say in your last sentence is the old games didn’t have awesome balance or even better balance than the “new” ones do (I’d like to object to calling WoW “new” at this point) but the players did not ask for it no nobody minded being unbalanced. I can see myself agreeing with that but I don’t think that somehow makes the new games worse.

  • The Rift system is awesome! I love how you can try out different stuff and change back really fast. I like to make the best char I can, so it would suck if you have to make a new char or make some long quest.

    It can be hard to say for sure how things will turn out when your lvl 5 and have to put down your first talent point.

    Oh, and being a healer that has to do a long quest everytime to respec so he can solo? Not fun at all.

  • If MMOs now were more static and balanced then a more punitive re-spec system would be fine with me.

    I suspect it would be a very bold move these days because the market has come to expect more casual-friendly mechanics/systems and also because MMOs are evolve quite fast now. They change not just because they can never deliver on all their ambitions but because they are reacting to the release of other MMOs/Games.

    The good decision of today could be a terrible choice very quickly, especially in the early months of an MMO when the carefully designed plans have come into contact with hundreds of thousands of players…..

  • There are variations on this design that can yield the benefits of “permanent” choice of skills or talents, while not punishing the player with repeating a boring 10-15h grind to develop a new character. Just not fully explored by the MMO genre yet.

    Take Guild Wars. Essentially your skill choices for that particular map/instance are locked and unchangable until you reset the game state completely by going back to town. The importance of proper skill selection and living with the consequences of your choices are still there, yet doesn’t waste a player’s time needlessly if they made the wrong initial choice.

    Desktop Dungeons is an interesting compact game of meaningful strategic decisions. In its case it works as each game state lasts 10-15 mins or so. MMOs could implement this over a longer timeframe with game resets (ATITD’s multiple Tellings) or character resets via a more frequent permadeath (but so far no one’s dared yet.)

  • I remember in WoW vanilla where I needed to respec my paladin multiple times in a single raid due to varying healing requirements. One fight was a DPS race, the other an endurance marathon. If anything, WoW has gone further down that route as the game has progressed.

    As long as games impede progression without the proper combination of roles and skills, respecs are going to be required.

    This is an area I think Rift has done wonderfully, where all classes have a viable build in all circumstances – barring you have the gear to support the role. Half the players can heal, 3/4 can tank and all can DPS, either in Melee or Range. It makes the game a whole lot more fun than sitting on the bench because you need to stand in the fire to do damage…

  • I think one should get a chance to respec for free every so many levels (10 would be good) and/or on special respec days every month. I want to play the game my way and I don’t like the lingering thought that I made a error in choosing talents/points either through bad judgment or even hitting the wrong button that is severely punishing to reverse. I also like the idea of experimenting with different specs; Draconian respect mechanisms kills originality in games that offer more flexible specing options. Perhaps a respec should be reversible say for 48 hours while one sees if they like their new toon’s playability; after all people have put in a virtual lifetime of nurturing their character, why not let them enjoy it maximally? I see readily available respecing as a relatively victimless crime that yields far more player contentment than detrimental effects on the game.

    btw if you haven’t seen this, hurray for gamers!

  • I will agree that respecing at will (say for different raids) undermines game believability and uniqueness/individual identity of a character.

  • I see this all going back to game design again and again. WoW is one of the worst offenders when it comes to this. Rift might actually be even worse. Your build shouldn’t be totally awesome level 10 – 20, only to be total crap at 20 – 30, and then get moderately better at 30 – 40. I know this happened a lot in WoW, especially with the constant class changes. It happened constantly in that Rift mess.

    I saw something about not having the right info at the beginning of the game and I think Keen has a post somewhere recently about “The first 5 minutes”. There has to be a good way of showing this info right off. At level 1 I want to be able to see the progression paths, talent trees, skill charts, whatever is in the game. (I downloaded the addon for WoW that let you open the talent window at level 1)

    Oh, and I just thought of something while typing this up, read this. Imagine training your skills could be more than just running up to a trainer and paying a small fee. Every game I an think of, besides EVE, uses this method but what if you ran up to that same trainer and in order to fully learn the skill you had to use it on him multiple times while he explained the advantages of it and how it would evolve over time?

    Guild Wars could do something cool along these lines since they go up on use from what I hear. Talking to the trainer about the skill could give it to you at level 0 and you’d have to use it on him a few times to level it up to 1 while he explains some things about the skill.

  • @Gringar: This is why I referenced SWG in the entry. You used weapons to gain skill in them. If you used a pistol, you gained pistol experience. You could then spend that pistol experience in the pistol tree.

    (1) You spent time using the weapon to earn exp to spend on that weapon’s skill tree which consumed skill points for each rung of the tree/ladder.
    (2) If you do not like the skills you chose then unlearn them and regain your skill point, but lose your exp.
    (3) If you don’t like pistols at all, you’re free to unlearn (or keep them and be deficient in allocatable points) and go another direction but you lose the time spent raising those skills.

    Keep in mind, all, that I did not say 100% permanent. I too do not like the idea that I have made a mistake that can never be fixed. However, I like that each choice I make must be thought out. DAOC had respecs stones and SWG allowed you to lose exp spent on skills; both great systems.

  • This talk of wanting / liking / needing fast, easy respecs makes me think we focus more now on the Player than on the Character.
    This is probably part of why we now have “MMO” games and not “MMORPG” games.

    I didn’t feel as strong a need to min max my toon when I was playing out his adventures because flaws and mistakes made the experience more entertaining.

    As humans we tend to bookmark unique experiences in our memory. I believe that having shortcomings lead to more of these bookmark moments.

  • That’s perfectly said. MMORPGs really need to make a return…

    Keen, I haven’t played SWG but that does sound like a good system it’s not too harsh but it is pretty realistic. If you maxed pistols and later decide to use lightsabers you should have to practice with them. No suddenly using lightsabers like a Jedi Master just because you leveled in pistols.

  • Just because they give you respecs doesn’t mean you have to use them. I very rarely respec because I really hate “specing” to begin with. It’s like a horrible chore I have to get out of the way before I can do something enjoyable.

    Once I’ve spent my points on a character that’s where they stay, unless and until some bright spark of a Dev changes things so much they decide to give us a mandatory “free respec”. I really hate those.

  • @Bhagpuss: That’s a great philosophy for a singleplayer game, but I want my mmorpg’s to have a human component. I want other players to somehow influence or impact my play and that’s facilitated by the design of the game (respecs being but just a small part).

    As mentioned above, the primary point of concern is the design of the games shifting away from the traditional “mmorpg” and more towards the “mmo” which in and of itself is now easily interchangeable with the core values of a singleplayer experience.

    Additionally, given how games are designed today, if my enemy is constantly changing their spec to the latest and hippest flavor of the month then I am at a disadvantage if I do not do the same. The same is applicable to PvE in today’s “WoW-Generation” content.

  • This is obviously one of those topics that divide along a fundamental perception of what is fun. Clearly a great number of people dislike limitations and claim the most fun to be had is by being able to do everything at peak efficiency with as little barrier as possible; that it is the most fun to be the best at all things and all times, even if everyone else is also the best at all things at all times. It’s just a perception of fun so clearly I can’t say that’s wrong, only that I disagree.

    I’m a proponent of virtual worlds. In my experience, when a player is required (to at least some reasonable degree) to live with the consequences of his decisions, the connection to the character and the challenges he faces becomes much more real. I see a challenge and I say, “this is who I am, these are my tools, my skills and abilities, how can I use them to overcome this obstacle.” It’s important to note that those “tools, skills and abilities” encompass more than the icons on my hotbar. Things like reputation, personal charisma, social leverage, raw manual dexterity, these things are all who you are and a factor in your ability to solve your problems. A player who built his character to be particularly adept at aiding others is probably going to be less capable of handling a challenge alone. That same player is also more likely to have built a reputation that makes them less likely to be alone. That’s a very simple example – a social game with an actual community can be much more complex.

    Succeeding in a modern mmo isn’t like that. It doesn’t matter who I am, because my character is just a bar of hotkeys that changes to suit the situation. There’s always a best, and I’m always it, or else I’m doing it wrong.

    Granted, it takes more than a respec system to bridge that gap, and perhaps people who weren’t playing mmorpgs back in the “old days” might have a hard time believing that it actually worked that way – it’s more than just a theory on paper that couldn’t possibly play out. It could be that way again.

    Ideally, though, there’s a better solution. Even I don’t want a character that is terminally screwed because of a misclick at level up, and realism aside there’s fun to be had in variety. Hopefully the best answer involves moving away from “builds” (maybe even levels) and more towards fluid character development. I didn’t play SWG, but that sounds like a system I’d like.

  • Hot topic 😛

    I don’t think removing respecs or making them hard to get makes the average player use their brain any more. What it does is promote the use of guides/character builds. Now if a player is following a guide that says put x points here then how is that any different than the game automatically choosing them (stat points).

    Players are always going to use guides, but allowing them to respec will encourage them to learn and enjoy more of the game. In the land of no repecs a player’s usual reaction to a new skill would be: “hmmm I wonder if this fireball spell is awesome? Nah better not take it as i won’t be able to change my mind. What does that guide say?”. I think the reaction should be: “Hey i’ll get fireball now and give it a go, and if it isn’t any good I can always respec later”.

    Respeccing also allows players to not fall into the trap of hoarding skill points until a later stage (i.e. end game) where they know they are not going to want to change their build. Having the ability to respec makes leveling much more enjoyable. I’m sure all Diablo II players remember being restricted to a few skills (and even auto attack) during the first 30 or so levels. This != fun.

    I guess at the end of the day it comes back to the softcore vs hardcore argument 😛 To me ANY game is about making the player’s experience fun. If respeccing for you isn’t fun then don’t do it. It almost feels like some traditional MMORPG players glean fun from knowing that there are “noobs” out there that didn’t choose their skills right, giving them the “I am better” feeling.


  • @filch: I love reading the insights from a kindred spirit. We both clearly see the greater issue at hand and understand how respecs play into the thought process that goes along with it.

    Fluid character development is indeed the key here if you don’t want to restrict players the way EverQuest (the original) did with just picking a class and having zero skill points to allocate. It sounds like you would have truly appreciated SWG’s skill system.

  • I notice that many of the proponents of the easy respecs are basing their decision off games with a hotkey ability system.
    One where your selection of spells and abilities are limited. WoW and CoH are good examples. (Newer)

    The opponents mention games with more open skill systems like Asheron’s Call and SWG. (Older)

    If one has not played both types of games, it stands to reason that their opinion would be skewed.
    Trying to picture hard/slow respecs without a firm grasp of how the other game mechanics compensated is not giving the idea a fair trial.

    To boil it down to a basic idea: You were not gimped(useless, unable to win) because of not having a 10/0/21 FotM build.
    Freedom was in the hands of the players. Now we have games where the developer tells us how to play and then actively restricts any deviation from the golden path.

  • Keen, how about an in-game system that allows a player to go into a special one-room arena-type area and effectively “demo” any combination of skills and talents that he chooses? All skills sampled this way, obviously, are only within the confines of the demo arena. It could be set up to choose any difficulty setting or grouping of monsters and this way the player gets hands-on experience with a skill or skill-set before hammering it in. Does any current game do this?

    I think this would work nicely with a system where respeccing is not as simple as a click of a button.

  • Agree with you on this one Keen. A person should not be fatally punished for making some “wrong” choices, or picking a playstyle that they do not find fun.
    But people should think twice before changing around.

    Of all the games I’ve played I still think SWG’s system had the least flaws and was the most fun. Want to be a different profession, sure, start at “level 1” learn to play your character.
    The fact you could only have one or two toons (on a server) made those choices really matter.
    Will admit I would have liked more toons per server to try more things but also understand why they didnt allow it. (didnt have the money to pay for 5 accounts and never felt like changing servers to try new toons, had too much time invested in my original one)
    If they would have added a cool quest/story to it that would have been even more awesome.

    Needing to be able to change talentspecs alot to beat certain encounters is just flawed game design imho.

  • Not directly on-topic (with apologies to Keen), but I think one observation to be made from this discussion is that when Keen (and a few others) say “MMO”, many (way too many) readers hear “WoW”, with all its luggage. And that is kinda sad.

    Just try and forget about WoW, about its end-game-is-the-only-game setup, about its this-season-we-nerf-rogues balancing, about … whatever.


    No, not good enough, try harder.


    OK, this might do. Now go back and re-read Keen’s post.

    (ftr, imnsho, allowing any respecs at all in AO was a mistake)

  • Concur with Darkstyke’s original comment.

    One comment about WoW’s revamps; a lot of this is done not just for balance or dumbing things down, but also for player retention. I wouldn’t still be playing WoW or the Hunter class if it was almost identical to what it was on release. Not that there was anything wrong back then, it’s more of an issue with playing the same game, the same way for 5+ years. Without some of the changes and revamps, I’d have been bored a long time ago.

    I don’t mind respecs too much, but it’s so easy to do now that the spec starts to mean little. One thing it does add is the ability for designers to create encounters that add value to given talents where as with respec you might have to blow points on something you’d never normally use or you might be declined because you don’t have X or Y ability.

    I was content without specs at all. A class is what it is and it has X abilities by Y level. The specs aren’t really adding flavor when most people go the same route; you might as well just have sub classes with the same benefits (i.e. you go Frost and you get everything you’d get from the spec tree – forget about the tree itself).

  • just from reading the main post…

    I agree there should be a very serious consideration involved with each skill earned, and a difficult task to respec. On the other hand, I believe developers and whoever is running the game to have serious consideration before making massive spec changes every hotfix / major patch.

  • I realize I’m a bit late to the party. I feel obliged to share my feelings on the issue. I agree with the sentiments shared by Keen’s OP as well as Filch and others. However, I think you guys have missed the boat with the solution of ‘hard’ respecs. Rather, I would propose a system where *specializing* is a) engaging b) challenging c) comes with pro’s and con’s and d) requires interaction with the game world. For example, players would need to visit a hermit and complete a quest chain to specialize from “warrior” to “monk”. He gains a speed bonus and the use of martial arts, but loses the ability to wear heavy armor and use two handed weapons. If at any point he wants to be a regular warrior again, he can /abandon_monkhood. If he wants to specialize differently, he can.

    In general, spec’ing isn’t about specializing anymore. It’s about maximizing your X per second. I think a system where players can semi-permanently distinguish themselves (in addition to providing meaningful content!) would be fun and challenging without being punishing.