Let's Talk about Talent Trees

I'll start by saying I haven't been able to find much on this topic. I was able to find some information about the classes but nothing as unique talking about builds. From my understanding we have 8 classes planned. You have the option to choose a "main" class that cannot change and then a "sub-class" that you can change. Opening up the possibility of 64 classes. (Apparently you can pick a main class and then pick the same class again as your sub-class.) I'll break my post into two general sections. First I will try to plead my case for the positive values of a talent, or skill, tree system. The second will be to try to argue against counter points to this system.

With that said, I think something has been lost in some recent MMOs with the loss of Talent Trees. There is some kind of charm in the simple progression of a talent tree. A talent tree provides simple things such as a small "carrot on a stick" while leveling on to much greater things such as giving the player the true feeling of customization/uniqueness.

Some of the Pros:

<strong>1) Makes each level-up feel a bit more satisfying.</strong> (Sometimes just little stats increases while sometimes gaining those important skills)

<strong>2) Allows you to individualize your spec.</strong> (I like the idea of making your character a bit uniquely yours. Will you ever truly be entirely unique in skills? Maybe not. But why not provide players that feeling of customization? Letting them explore how combos might work out.)

<strong>3) More Player choice.</strong> (I remember back when Dragon Age 2 had come out. One of the flaws of the game was that it forced players to be Human only, rather than the options provided by it's predecessor. After this had come to be I remember a developer talking about the female dwarf. He mentioned something like less than 1% of all playthroughs used a female dwarf. However they had discovered that players enjoy being given options, even if they don't take them. Meaning that, even if not executed players enjoy knowing that they had the option to make a choice, even if they personally don't choose to take it.)

<strong>4) Nostalgia</strong> (From what I've read in the BLOG and videos released it appears that AoC is trying to "Make MMOs Great Again." Really meaning that the devs feel the genre has gone "off the tracks" and they are trying to bring it back to its roots while expanding upon the genre's strength. With that said, I think something has to be said for players coming back to some concepts they might have experienced in previous games that would be welcome.)

<strong>5. It's worked before and can work again. </strong>(Some of the most successful MMOs have utilized this feature in the past. Many of them during the "golden ages" of the game's existences. Also, when I heard about the "main class" and "secondary class" I can't help but think about another MMO called Rift that utilized a similar feature. So we have examples of where it worked in well know games, like WoW and then also some other variants with multi-class dynamics)

Now I'll attempt to counters some of the Cons I've heard attributed to Talent Tree systems.

<strong>1) Talents Trees only provide illusion of choice.</strong> (My initial response would be to refer back to point #3 of my Pros. But to face this question more directly... The answer is kind of a yes and no. In some ways classes/specs will always have a mathematically superior build for specific functions. However this game appears to be less linear in that regard. For example, what's best for a castle siege is likely not best for dueling, which is likely not best for attacking caravans which is likely not best for defending them. So why not give people the ability to specialize? I should also add that even generic things like stat boosts can add dynamics to the game if needed.)

<strong>2. Impossible to Balance.</strong> (Is this really true? Do we have any evidence that games with talents trees are balanced much worse than games without them? Unless the devs seek to homogenize all classes then intrinsically some classes/specs will perform some functions better. Also, I'd rather devs "go out on a limb" a bit and try to add uniqueness rather than play defensive and make the specs too boring.)

<strong>3. Unnecessarily Complicated.</strong> (I think some levels of complexity can be a good thing. Quite honestly I'd rather the game challenge players intellect rather than seem mindless. This is one of those areas where complexity can be added but not in a way that is so insurmountable. It should also help to build communities as players will have reason to discuss and debate choices.)

In closing, I liked our Skill/Talent Trees and would like to see them in this game. At least in some form. I don't know how much of this has already been decided on the development side but I thought I'd throw this out to see how the community feels on the topic.

What are the thoughts out there in the community?
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