I am putting this under Hunter because I am a Hunter main of course and know that class better then I could even pretend to know the others. However the concept of the gaming mechanics being dumbed down to the point of stupidity holds true for all classes.
I know Cataclysm is still in the works and there are chances a lot will change from what we presently know but thus far it really seems like the game is being pushed so far to complete simplicity that it is losing one of those things I found that made it interesting, the complexity.
I am not saying that playing a Hunter is extremely hard or that any class is extremely hard but it was not simple. Not like I hear about the "good old days" when all you needed was your steady shot macroed to every key and you where good to go. That would have bored the crap out of me. I doubt I would have fell in love with playing a Hunter if I were around at that time.
While, thanks to the theory crafters out there, we have the ideal spec for Marksman and ideal spec for Marksmen Armor Penetration so we never needed to look to far into it ourselves but there were so many talents to choose from that if you really felt the need to deviate from the formula there was something else to use even if it were not the ideal thing to use. You had options and you could still be competitive while using those options. Hell, for some specs of Death Knights having those options made for some completely amazing soloing videos. Same for extreme soloing from Hunters. All because the specs had options and lots of them.
Now with the limited spec designs you are left with nearly no options. If you where to give 100 hunters a chance to design their own marksman spec I would be willing to bet that 95 of that 100 would show the same exact spec in the end (maybe with 1 or 2 point deviation). The reason being is that there are no options any more. You do not need to be a theory crafter to understand what is good and what is not because there are not enough good things to choose from to begin with.
The 5 of the 100 that come back with different spec designs will most likely have a reason why theirs is different like "I wanted to go PvP" or "I was thinking of a mixed PvP/PvE type spec". Which basically means they are saying that they know theirs will not be the ideal spec so they do not count really.
It is not just about specs any more either. Simple things like the Trap Launcher being added is also dumbing down the game. No more dropping a trap, sending in the pet, making a nice line between you and the pet and then putting the pet on passive so the mob follows him right through the trap. Simple as that might sound most Hunters never grasped the simple concepts like that. Now they just shoot the trap to what they want to trap and go about their merry way. It was dumbed down for them so they did not actually need to use their brain. As if that was such a hard concept to begin with?
Removal of Volley is not only a loss for Hunters for many reasons I have griped about before it is also more dumbing down of the game. I do not know about you but while soloing some of the harder content we can solo knowing how many packs your pet can pick up and hold before you MD and Volley was the difference between a successful solo encounter or a complete and total failure.
Same for when you are going to be the center of attention and the one grabbing the mobs. You need to know how many mobs you can take without getting killed before you drop the volley on yourself to take them out. Now that it has been dumbed down for everyone without having volley any more there is no need to know how much our pet can hold before taking too much damage because we do not have the MD/Volley combo to use any more. Same goes for ourselves, we can no longer drop an AoE at melee range so we can no longer run around grabbing mobs to do that. So we no longer need to know about that. No need for Hunters to know their potential or their pets potential when there is nothing we can use to harness that potential. More dumbing down for the masses.
Another dumbing down because of the volley removal is the difference between when you use volley and when you use multi. Sometimes that is the difference between a good Hunter and a bad one. If there are 3 mobs, or even 2 for that matter, Multi will be a huge DPS increase over volley. A good hunter knows that and a bad hunter drops a volley. They dumbed it down now so there is no choice, so even the stupid hunter will do the right thing.
Removing the need for mana management is a huge dumbing down of the game. I am sure there will be a need for focus management but nothing like mana management was. At least with focus management you can spam some steadys and you are good to go again. That is for the mentally inadequate to better manage their resources. Mana management is basically the reason I've beaten several quality Hunters in DPS. Ones that where without a doubt more skilled then I am with proc management and rotation timing. I run out of mana less often and know correct mana management whereas they do not. I would finish a run 2K over them usually because of that reason only.
I love alchemy for the reusable mana pot. It might seem like nothing of real important but it sure means a lot on a long raid and even more so when you run with a "pull, pull, pull" tank that never stops as long as healers have mana. I drink whenever I get the chance even if I am at 95% mana. If it is off cool down and I am not 100% I use it. This keeps my mana higher, this gives me the ability to spend less time in viper and this means in the end my DPS is higher.
Not saying that taking alchemy means I am smarter then someone else for using the reusable pot but I learned something from it that others might not know. Feign death is your friend for aggro issues, it is also your friend for pot issues. There are many times you can feign death and get out of battle for a split second which resets your pot timer. Now that is intelligent play if you ask me. With focus that is no longer needed. Just fire an extra steady shot or two. No need for tricks to separate the good from the bad.
Moving to viper is also something that showed who the good hunters where and who the bad hunters where. There are many times in a battle that switching has a "best time". The good hunter knows when that best time is and uses it to their advantage. A bad hunter doesn't. Like when Sin goes airborne I go viper. Not exactly rocket science but I've seen many hunters that don't and end up in viper for a considerable time during the last phase. I enter the last phase with full mana and never have any issues during the fight. Another tip on that one. Let your pet chase Sin. It will unsommon itself and you can FD and reset your pot if need be, either for mana or for a wild magic or whatever you feel the need to use. There are many fights that have the perfect time for when to go viper. Now the skill of knowing when to go viper is gone. Just steady and you are fine.
The Armor Penetration switch for MM has always been what showed the difference between people who made the effort to know their role and people that just looked at the top hunters in the world and saw they used ArP so they decided to as well. I've seen hunters that completely gemmed ArP have 600 or maybe 700 after gemming and think they are the bomb. While things like that require theory crafting there are people that love to do that and there are enough places to read up on it. I did my reading, why could the other hunters not do it? Well, requiring someone to know how to read must be to much to ask, so lets dumb it down some for them and remove Armor Penetration.
For me it was the complexity of the game, even if minimal, that got me into it. Learning when it is best to do this or best to do that. Knowing what works here but might not there. Keeping an eye on a dozen different things and deciding on when to do what and even more importantly understanding why you where doing it. That was exciting.
Now, it is not like spec matters being there really is only going to be one spec you can have. Now, mana management will not matter because we have an endless flow of focus that we can still be doing nice damage with steady shot while we rebuilding it. Now, we no longer need to know when to use multi and when to use volley. Now, we no longer have to plan pulls to traps when we can put the trap anywhere we want. Now, we just all do the same thing and knowing the person with skill from the person with none becomes harder because it has been dumbed down so much that the things good hunters did are no longer needed. Good hunters will be a thing of the past because everyone will all look the same because we no longer have options. Everything is laid out for us.
It has been dumbed down to "this is your spec", "theses are your shots"... um... that's all I got. That is how simple it is now.
Wow, those old steady shot days from BC are starting to look complex compared to what Cata has coming up for us. At least back then you still needed to watch your mana.