Monday, 9 February 2009

Dual Specs and Bartle's gamers

So, dual specs will be with us soon. Assuming there will not be any bugs with the interface, the switching and all that... there are few things worth considering.

The first thing is the mechanics. How will the switching take place?

It has been mentioned in the past:

Swapping specs (going from A to B) will truly be free in towns and possibly during the prep phase of PvP. In an instance it may cost a nominal fee (think reagent level). We want you to be able to do it when you want to do it, but we also don't want to slow things down if everyone is constantly flipping spec from fight to fight. But if it's free in town, then obviously it can't be more of a burden out of town than just hearthing and being summoned back is or nobody will use the remote option. (Ghostcrawler on Dual-Spec)

Interestingly, there is no mention of such a thing in these `preliminary' info. To be honest, I appreciate that there needs to be some policing of the changes, but from my completely lazy point of view I'd rather there was not. Still, certain assumptions like not being able to switch in an arena game, or in combat, go without saying. It remains to be seen what the devs will think about it. Besides, the mechanics might as well change along the way. What is mentioned, and could not have been otherwise, is that the glyphs and bars will change accordingly. Very convenient indeed, almost like having two separate chars (but with the same Achievements :P )

Second is the effect they will have in the game:

For starters, it is a massive addition in my opinion in the game. Almost groundbreaking. The reasoning is simple. For that, we must first look on gamers types. I have been fortunate enough to be in the same University as the controversial Richard Bartle, the 'father of MUDs' as we used to call him. He probably does not know my existence as I was under the supervision of another researcher there, who nonetheless always spoke highly of him. During my stay there I encountered his Bartle Test of Gamer Psychology (rough info here) which essentially classifies gamers in three categories:

  • Achiever
  • Explorer
  • Socialiser
  • Killer

These categories exist within each gamer by some percentage, as you can see in the aforementioned link. I'd like to think myself as a 50% Achiever , 25% Explorer, 20% Killer and 5% Socialiser (no, I did not take the test, its a rough estimate :-p). An AEKS for short. With all respect to R. Bartle, I am going to use his classification in a crude way.

Dual specs will appeal essentially to Achievers and Killers. Possibly under certain circumstances to Socialisers. But mainly the first two categories will see DSpecs as more appealing. Achievers will be able to use the dual specs towards... achievements. For example Holy Paladins might be able to go Prot, tank the odd instance and have higher chances of completing dungeon achievements. Others might do the same in raids or pvp. Arena teams can become more flexible. All in the name of going further, higher etc. On the other hand some achievers might think of gearing up a second spec almost to the bone is an achievement itself. With DSpecs switching between the specs and being in groups becomes easier. I would place in this group even pure DPSers, which may see less benefit in DSpecs, like say healers or tanks. Having the option of getting two tweaked specs (whether PvP-PvP, PvE-PvE or the more common PvE-PvP) is a step towards increasing the means for achieving more.

Killers will be benefited even more (killers can be healers, this is not a dps tag, more like a 'I crunch number and I pwn' tag, although the closest paradigm to Bartle's definition is the PvPer). The option of raiding like Holy and smacking things, like Retry in my free time, is hugely appealing for me. One of my paladin guildies wanted to tank for ages but due to our Holy heritage from the MC days, never put his mind to it. Now he has the chance. We all get to see another aspect of tha game, for which we were `cut-off' to a certain extent. We can explore the ‘art’ of that other elusive spec that we only tried the odd-weekend or in the PtRs and Betas.

Overall, I think Dual Specs will add a subtle variety in the game - the art of tweaking your toon, collecting the gear or mix and matching with your friends in groups. Its quite funny, but yesterday I was looking for groups to complete my Elders of the Dungeons achievement. One of my guild mates was in there with an alt, asking for people to join. But he was looking for a DPSer. Where is that secondary retry spec when you need it...


P.S. The next post will be about the negative aspects of Dual Specs. Or to be precise, the issues that might arise once they are ingame.


I Like Bubbles 9 February 2009 at 19:34  

I'm excited because it'll allow healers to swap to a more questing/daily friendly spec.

Take that, horde! I will be able to lolret you to death!

Ruhtra 10 February 2009 at 21:50  

The only concern I have regarding the thought of a duel spec is that it may create players who do not know how to play one spec well.

Point in case, my main is a Holy Paladin. I have been Holy for what seems like an eternity. The mechanics between holy, protection, and retribution are mind boggling; at least if you wish to play it well. I realize this and will probably not look to switch my specs, but for those out there who feel they can level/grind/quest better I wonder what the effect will be on their main ability?

If you go running off pretending to be retribution for quite some time and then you "poof" switch and return to healing, will you remain sharp at what you do? The obvious answer most players will say is absolutely. I am not so confident in the fact that if I ran around all the time and worked on learning my hot keys and my DPS rotation, that then when I am called on to heal that I will not get those same hotkeys confused and forget the suttle aspects of healing. This would in turn have other players having not so happy thoughts towards me.

I think a bigger area for individuals to accell with this will be the true DPS classes, where there are differences in builds for PVP and PVE. Hunters switching between BM, Sur, and MM. Mages who may like being frost for instances but arcane or fire for PVP (or maybe vice-versa, lol, never leveled a mage very far).

Only time will tell!

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