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The staff of gets together to bring you some behind the scenes insights on stories, the industry and the site itself.

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Contributors: BillMurphy,MikeB,garrett,SBFord,Grakulen,

The Necessity of Re-Specs

Posted by BillMurphy Wednesday April 14 2010 at 5:32PM
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I recently was playing Champions Online with a Supernatural/Might character I’ve been slowly building since launch, when it dawned on me that I didn’t particularly enjoy playing with the combination of skills I’d chosen. I was a powerhouse when it came to survivability, but my fights consisted of me simply spamming one attack most of the time and occasionally using an AOE stun. I know it would have gotten better as I leveled and gained more powers, but really I couldn’t wait. I wanted to progress this character more than any alts, and that meant I needed to redo my powerset.

Luckily I had a free re-spec still sitting and waiting on this character and with the sweeping changes to several powersets coming in the game’s next patch I knew that I’d be given another one soon. And since you can only ever have one free re-spec at a time, I took my disillusionment with my current build as a reason to spend the one I’d been holding onto for months. What’s beautiful about re-speccing in CO is that you don’t just get to tinker with a few choices within your class. Since the game essentially lets you design your own class through the choice of powers, a re-spec is like reimagining your character altogether.

I’ve been playing Wolfenstein, my werewolf-looking hero since before launch on and off, and in that time I’d only ever had him with the Supernatural/Might mix. Yes, I’m a Robert Kirkman fan. Mind you, I’m the world’s slowest leveler ever, and with a penchant for alts, Wolfenstein is only level 20. I decided to ditch the thematic Supernatural choice and instead made him into a mostly Fire build (with some Supernatural utility… namely, Regen). Of course I made some wrong choices and because I left the Powerhouse, I ended up spending a fortune to re-spec again a few days later, but the core of Wolfenstein being now a whirling dervish of flame and explosions is the same.

The re-spec basically reignited my love for the game’s combat and for the first time in a while I’m not using a slew of alts with the majority of my playtime. It’s like playing a whole new character, and one that’s enormously more fun.

Essentially I’m writing a love letter to re-specs in our MMOs. I remember when Torchlight released to eager gamers it shipped without a re-spec option. There was significant debate as to whether a game like Torchlight should have one, and the developers’ official viewpoint seemed to be that it shouldn’t… but a mod was quickly released by the studio which allowed interested players to put a re-spec potion into the game allowing such a feature.

I know the old days of having to learn from your mistakes the hard way by rerolling are fond to some, but not to me. I like that in most of today’s games I can count on some feature being in place that allows me to retool how I play my character. I think that as long as some form of cost is in place such a feature is not only welcome but necessary in games with a multitude of options. Now I don’t know about charging real money for the ability, but if people want to pay the cost of two foot-long subs to change their characters skills, more power to them. Paying real cash for a re-spec is a much better form of RMT than paying real cash for unfair advantages like weapons and armor.

Simply put, every game with a modicum of choice in terms of character development needs to have some form of re-spec in place from day one.

daltanious writes:

Agree ... respeccing at some point brings new energy to old champion. And I hate to pay real money for respeccing .. but still better this then buying some advantage with money. And I hate criminal price for respeccing with ingame currency. Price should be for full respec i.e. 5g or alike. With exception of citizen quests :-)) I hate most this respec problem.

Thu Apr 15 2010 10:29AM Report
Sovrath writes:

I sort of believe in the respec but don't think it should be something that is always easy to get. Doesn't have to be "hard" but if one has to pay for it or can do it every 10 lvls, etc then that would help.

It's important because you just don't know where you will be in the game and what you will find fun. Especially with games that have more skill based advancement. Recently I tried DAoC and as I was leveling my skills all I could think was "oh, I hope I don't burn myself in the butt for these choices".

Thu Apr 15 2010 1:27PM Report
Gabby-air writes:

I was kind of against it earlier on but I've come to love the idea of re-specs, like you stated i've fell in love with games again because of the totally new play style im able to get after re-specing.

Thu Apr 15 2010 5:24PM Report
MindTrigger writes:

This was always the beauty of Star Wars Galaxies back in the day.  You could always respec to a completely different set of skills.  That along with the ability to dabble in various skills was pure maic as far as creating a character that was unique to your needs.

I left Fallen Earth shortly after joining once I found out you could not respec your character. Considering the strange system they use, and the complete lack of decent information how to get started with it, Fallen Earth should be one of the last games to deny respecs.

The notion of the "Template of the Month" is way overplayed by the Fallen Earth developers, and some of the community members.  To some extent this problem exists in every MMO, and always will no matter what restrictions you make.  Some class or  'template' will be favored over the others, and will get more players than others. Who cares if it's a moving target?

By taking away respecs, you take away a whole lot of freedom. Imagine if you had embarked down a path in real life, and then could never change your mind and go learn something else?  My adventure games should *at least* offer me basic freedoms like this.  I shouldn't have to abandon a character I have built, along with his reputation in the game world, just so I can go try some other skills.

I don't mind there being a cost, grind or game currency, to respecs in games, but forbidding them is a deal breaker for me and a lot of other people.


Thu Apr 15 2010 5:56PM Report
scuubeedoo writes:

^ If you really want to compare it with real life, make it fair. In real life people that usually end up being really professionals on something, study this thing from very young... take a random person and make him a football player at the age of 30... it simply can't be done. And it's the same with almost all things in real life. Of course you have the option to change what you are after in real life but that doesn't mean you will get any good...

Thu Apr 15 2010 6:36PM Report
MindTrigger writes:

@scuubeedoo: Changing careers several times in one's lifetime is commonplace today, and learning several different deep skills is only difficult if you aren't very intelligent in the first place. For example, I am 38 year old and just started taking a Wing Chun Kung Fu class a little over a year ago.  My instructor tells me I am progressing very quickly due to my level of dedication, and he has accepted my request to teach me to be an instructor in the future.  I have also changed the focus of my own career several times, and have had to learn completely different skillsets each time. All of which I am good at today, and none of which I had to learn since I was a small child. Today I have a mean toolset of skills I am now applying to my own consulting business. I'm not trying to show off, I am just using myself as an example.  Anyone else around here who has changed careers will give similar anecdotes.

Having said all of that, I didn't say that this game should be exactly like real life.  I said I expect some basic freedoms in the games I choose to play, and being able to reinvent my character whenever I want is one of those freedoms. The developers of these games are free to do whatever they want.  I will spend my money on the ones that match my play style. I consider respeccing a required feature.

Thu Apr 15 2010 7:23PM Report
Jacobin writes:

I won't play a game if I can't respec. I hate the idea of being forced to reroll if I don't like my choices, or getting stuck with a gimp character.

Thu Apr 15 2010 8:10PM Report
Liltawen writes:

I think Respecs are for pathetic losers who couldn't play the game right in the first place and would rather cheat than go back to the beginning and start over.                                                             Sometimes you win, sometimes the game does-that's why it's called a 'Game'.                                                                                                     I don't think they should exist at all and I have no respect  for games in which they do.

Thu Apr 15 2010 10:22PM Report
Liltawen writes:

I was a little harsh earlier and I'm sorry for that.                               But  I would rather win a game with a gimped character-either because the Devs nerfed it or because I screwed up-than win something that I changed the rules on in the middle of the game.     What's the point of winning that way?

Thu Apr 15 2010 11:52PM Report
theAsna writes:

I've come to acknowledge that respecs in MMOs are a necessity. One focus is combat performance combined with the fact that you are "competing" with other players. Another point to try another play style, without the need to completely reroll.

Personally I just use respecs very rarely. Even if I build a gimped in-game character.

Fri Apr 16 2010 1:50AM Report
someforumguy writes:

I agree with the article. Some games really need respecs. Although to prevent FOTM pvp builds, there should be a limit to them in some way. So that they are only used once in a long time for players that are in the OP's situation.

Im glad that the devs of FE will introduce respecs.

Fri Apr 16 2010 6:02AM Report
Kyleran writes:

I agree there should be respecs, Lineage 1 didn't offer them at all, even when Dev's made sweeping changes to classes that practically ruined my Bugbear mage and it ultimately led to me leavinng the game.

That said, I preferred DAOC's system where players were given a respec at 20, 40 and one final one at 50 to set the character's final skill set.  It let you change your character to correct any mistakes, specialize him towards pve during the leveling process and pvp in the final build.

And, for those who just had to respec after that you could get in on a dragon raid and try to get a respec stone to make another change, but otherwise you pretty much stuck with your final respec or rerolled.

Fri Apr 16 2010 7:58AM Report
lotharic writes:

Any game where changes will be made post-release MUST have a respec feature.  If your key skills get nerfed, or abilities that previously stacked are made to not stack, you need to be able to respect to something viable.

Fri Apr 16 2010 9:10AM Report
Nozzie writes:

I'm a fan of the occasional respec . It can keep a game interesting . It's part of the reason why my main toon in WoW is a Druid . I greatly appreciated the introduction of dual spec even though it meant carrying around more armour sets . 

Fri Apr 16 2010 10:19AM Report
hogscraper writes:

Why in the world would anyone play a game that forces you to delete your character in order to enjoy it fully? The main reason I play MMO's is to see my time that I invested embodied in some form. Deleting that avatar is in essence, deleting every second of time I have put into him. 

Fri Apr 16 2010 9:20PM Report
choujiofkono writes:

     I hate respecs.  Almost all MMO's are seriously ruined by the build of the month disease.  It's the players weakness and strengths in building their rpg characters that make an mmo exactly what it's supposed to be. 

     If you make a character you don't like to play (ridiculous in the first place), make another character and raise him from birth.  It's a much more engaging and immersive experience (or should be unless you don't really enjoy the game from the beginning!!). 

If immediate satisfaction is what you want and you don't like to "lose time" (you aren't losing time, you should be gaining fun the entire playtime instead of working toward a fantasy endgame or fun zone) then you should go play games that are designed to give you exactly that... SINGLE player games or map scaled MULTIPLAYER games IE: HL2 or dragon age. 

     It was the whining that ruined most of the real mmo's of the past and I'm sure it won't be getting any better in the future unless more developers deside to build a world with rules and stick to them and the immersion.  Reset buttons completely destroy immersion and the feeling of living a fantasy life in another universe. 

Sun Apr 18 2010 6:10PM Report writes:
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